Wednesday, November 13, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Speaker: I wish to draw the attention of the Members to three guests in the Gallery. The Hon. Dennis Rocan, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba and his wife Connie and Binx Remnant, Clerk of the Assembly of Manitoba. They will be attending the 1991 Canadian Regional Seminar of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which we will be hosting later this week. I am sure that all Members will join me in wishing them a warm welcome to the Yukon and to our Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling the draft trading strategy update.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Devries: I would like to give notice of the following motions:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should implement a five year capital planning program for the construction of schools and;
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should examine the feasibility of providing first-time home buyers with a one-time forgivable loan to a maximum of $3,000 and report its findings back to this House during the spring session.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Yukon Training Strategy
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It has given me great pleasure to table a draft revision of the Yukon Training Strategy today in the Legislature.
The original strategy was tabled in the fall of 1986, early in the Yukon 2000 process. Since that time, a number of legislative and policy initiatives - the Education Act and the College Act, the Yukon Economic Strategy, the Yukon Conservation Strategy and Kwiya - the Final Report of the Joint Commission on Indian Education and Training, as well as new federal/territorial agreements, have altered the Yukons training environment.
Land claims agreements will also have a major impact on training priorities, training delivery and training funding.
The accomplishments of the past five years pose new training challenges to the territory. This, along with the fact that many of the training needs identified in the 1985 training strategy have now been met, has made it necessary for the strategy to be reviewed and updated.
The draft training strategy I am tabling today is meant as a basis for consultations toward establishing a strategy that will take us into the next century. It is a framework for the development of training that refocuses the principles of the 1986 strategy in line with the present goals and identified needs, and it lays out fundamental approaches toward training.
The draft addresses how we can develop the human resources of our territory - the people who live here - to better meet both territorial development needs and their individual desires. In the Yukon, there is already a large pool of expertise. We must encourage those who have skills to impart them to others who need them.
We must also create a training culture, where the training of Yukon people by Yukon people is part of everyday business in the territory, and where training is regarded as an investment, rather than as an expense.
The direct link between training and employment is central to the strategy. One model where this linkage is well-developed is the apprenticeship system. This draft devotes a chapter to further improving the effectiveness of apprenticeship as a training system, fully integrated into the economy, where people earn while they learn and become progressively more productive.
Another chapter of the draft strategy deals with public sector training, where this government commits itself to developing the Yukon residents it employs to handle greater responsibilities and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government.
The draft also addresses the need to provide basic literacy programming for many Yukon people. Literacy training will not only be part of formal institutional training, but it will take place right in the workplace, in cooperation with employers and trade unions.
The draft strategy will commit this government to working with groups in our society that have not yet achieved equitable participation in the labour force to meet their special training needs - groups such as First Nations people, women and people with disabilities.
The draft Yukon Training Strategy being presented today is only a starting point. The staff of the advanced education division will be meeting with training institutions, labour and industry, First Nations, and a diversity of interested groups to make it better. The staff of the Public Service Commission will similarly conduct a thorough consultation with the Government Employees Union, the communities and other public sector employers.
The Yukon Training Strategy was always meant to be a living document, to be shaped and reshaped by the people of the Yukon. In this way it will always be relevant to the training needs of Yukon people - needs that change with time. The 1986 training strategy put us well into the 1990s. By spring, we intend to have a strategy that will bring training in the Yukon into the 21st century.
Mr. Lang: We look forward to seeing the document the Minister addressed in his presentation, as we have not received it yet.
There are just a number of points that I would like to make with respect to the statement made by the Minister. First of all, the Minister talks about training and employment being directly linked. This side also says that training, employment and the economic diversification of the territory are all linked. In other words, in order to train our young people, as well as those who are in transition in the workplace, it is incumbent upon us to look at our economy and the general direction in which the Yukon is going. As we have said in this House - and I think it is becoming more and more evident to the general public - we have been presented with a budget in which there is an increase of 31 person years within the civil service, and very little for the mining community, and very little in the way of direct contribution to the tourism industry, it says to us that the preferred place to work will be within public administration. That is of significant concern to us because we do not believe that the government should necessarily build the economy. It is the private sector outside of government that actually builds and fuels the general economy.
I say to the side opposite that we cannot accept the principle that economic development in the Yukon is building government buildings because, in the long term, that is folly and we know that.
I want to impress upon the side opposite that, as I go around the territory and talk to Yukoners from all walks of life, especially those who are in the construction trade and those who are involved in businesses other than government, they are feeling more and more as if they are being trod upon by the government and looked down upon by society as the preferred place to work is within the government.
I recognize that government has a responsibility to be a model employer, but the general direction of the economy has to be taken into consideration in employment and training. I will have more to say with respect to this issue on Monday when I reply to the budget. I feel that we are making some fundamental errors. There is no point in training people for jobs if we are locking up Kluane National Park and things of this nature as time goes on.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member mentioned, I think it is clear that he has not read the draft training strategy document. If the Member had read it, he would be eating his words right now.
Certainly the major thrust of the training strategy document is to develop liaisons and relationships with the private sector. We have made great strides in this endeavour - everything from developing co-op education programs that work jointly with the private sector to providing both in-classroom training as well as paid, on-the-job training. Recently, we provided a half-million dollars to the mining industry, in particular to the mine in Watson Lake, to undertake training to support that industry.
We have also developed relationships in other areas of the private sector. Our record is good and it will get better.
I have to take issue with the point that the Member has made with respect to the focus of our training activities. Clearly, I think that he is wrong.
I would also like to point out that in order to preach a good game with the private sector and to encourage them to take more interest in the training activities of their employees, it is very important to prove that, as an employer, we can undertake the same initiatives with our employees. Not only because we wish to preach it to the private sector, we do believe that good training will provide a more efficient public service. It will address the employment equity objectives that we have already stated in this House which I believe the Members opposite support; it will ultimately reduce outside hire, and based on our training strategy, improve training opportunities for other public-sector governments such as First Nations, municipalities and non-government organizations. If Members care to support this objective, it will also improve employee morale, which I think is important as well.
Clearly, we believe that active training in both the private sector and the public sector are absolutely essential and we believe we can accomplish this through such relationships as we are developing now with the private sector and with other community organizations.
Construction of correctional facility in Teslin
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am pleased to announce that this government intends to construct a 25-bed minimum security facility, for men and women, in the community of Teslin.
This project is part of the Department of Justices long-range planning for correctional facilities in the Yukon and will help alleviate demands being put on existing facilities. This initiative supports this governments commitment to investing in healthy communities and community partnership will play an essential role in developing programs for the new facility. The new correctional centre will bring an economic benefit to the community, and will provide training and employment opportunities for those who live there.
One hundred and twenty thousand dollars has been earmarked in the departments budget this fiscal year to plan and design the facility. The target for completion is the summer of 1993.
It is no secret that at any given time 60 to 80 percent of the offender population is of aboriginal descent.
Participants at the recent Aboriginal Justice Conference stressed repeatedly that there must be fundamental and sweeping change in justice initiatives for aboriginal people. The construction of the new facility in Teslin will help the department increase its delivery of a culturally relevant treatment program. Locating the facility in Teslin will complement the tribal justice infrastructure already in place in that community.
The facility will allow First Nations personnel, through tribal justice, to become more involved in the custody and programming of aboriginal offenders and begin to establish the resources and expertise in corrections for First Nations people.
This facility will not be a typical, concrete correctional centre; rather it will fit the surrounding environment, related community expectations and the planned programming focus for the new facility. The community of Teslin has shown considerable interest and support for the new facility.
Since many inmates in the system are victims of physical, sexual and alcohol abuse, there will be more emphasis on treatment programs for those inmates. The Teslin facility will help the Department of Justice lead the new challenges facing corrections by providing culturally relevant programming for male and female aboriginal offenders. The time that inmates spend in correctional centres must be used to help them rebuild their lives to break the cycle that leads to repeated offences.
This facility represents an innovative approach to correctional programming in the Yukon.
Mr. Phillips: We, on this side, support the concept that a new facility, or an addition to the existing facility, should be undertaken, because of the problems we now have with overcrowding. However, we do have some conditions about the new facility the Minister has just announced. First of all, could the Minister tell us what effect this will have on the Whitehorse facility? I have to refer back to the Na Dli facility, which was built earlier by the same Minister.
The concern we all have is that the Na Dli facility for young offenders was supposed to be a secure facility. We later found out that it was all but secure, and we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars since then trying to make it secure, as we have had young offenders walking out of that centre almost weekly.
I would be interested in looking at the design of the new facility. I would be scrutinizing it very closely to see that it is not some far-out design the Minister has in her head, like she had with Na Dli, that will not work.
When the government planned this facility, it must have put together a cost-effectiveness analysis of an out-of-town facility, namely 100 miles from the court house, lawyers and judges. I would like to formally ask the Minister a question. Could she provide this House with that cost analysis?
Point of Order
Mr. Nordling: Point of order.
Speaker: Point of order to the Hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West.
Mr. Nordling: I rise on a point of order regarding this ministerial statement. I think the record should show that the Independent Alliance has serious concerns with the direction and priorities of this government. It appears obvious from the budget and this announcement, that it is the governments policy that, in order to get effective alcohol treatment, people must be put in jail. We would like to know what their plans are for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre ...
Speaker: Order please.
Speaker: I ruled yesterday that I await the House decision on when the two Members will be recognized as a third party.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am responding to the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale Norths response to my ministerial statement. I would dearly love to respond to the other comments from the Independent Alliance.
Of course, this facility will be a 25-bed facility, which would take a bit of a load off the facility in town. If anyone here has toured the existing facility, they will know that it has been overcrowded for years. It will relieve some of the overcrowding there.
Regarding the Na Dli facility, we are going back quite a few years. The Member knows that we had to meet certain requirements in order to build the facility, which was later called Na Dli, although it no longer is.
At that time, the biggest concern of the individual appeared to be how many kids could get out, and not the kind of services that are offered to them.
The main concept at that time was to include the kind of programming. What he forgets is that these individuals who end up in our care, and especially the young people, are not the ordinary kid on the block like the Members children. They are children who have problems. There are going to be problems. You cannot expect them to come in there and act like the ordinary kid on the block. We did have problems and they have been dealt with.
The facility will be a minimum-security facility. The inmates will have to meet certain requirements in order to go to that facility once it is open and ready for use. There will not be any fences such as there are around the existing maximum-security facility. Any other minimum-security facilities in most parts of Canada do not require that those kinds of security measures be a part of it. I have had the opportunity to visit many other facilities before making a decision about the construction of this facility.
We do have a plan. I think it is a good one. We will be providing further information to the House when it is available.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period
Question re: Mental Health Act
Mr. Lang: I had intentions, as I did yesterday, of leading off in another area. Unfortunately, I have to raise the issue of the proclamation of the Mental Health Act.
As I told all Members yesterday, the previous Minister of Health, the Government Leader, stated to this House on May 14, 1990, and I quote; We do not see the regulations taking a great length of time. Many of the regulations we will be talking about will be the forms for application and review, which will be new procedures contemplated under the act. I assume that work will proceed and conclude within a few short months after the passage of the act and the bill will be proclaimed. That was May 14, 1990. Over one and one-half years later, we have witnessed one of the worst travesties one can imagine with respect to the implementation of legislation.
Yesterday I asked the Minister of Health a very direct question. I asked her how she could proclaim the act without implementing the new regulations. The Minister of Health gave this response: The advice I have is that the old regulations are legal and useable, along with the new act. For whatever reason, I chose to announce the implementation and proclamation of the act at what seemed to me to be an appropriate time, which was at a meeting with the physicians here in Whitehorse. There is certainly no problem with the patients.
I do not know who heard the news this morning but we learned via CBC news the following: a doctor made the following...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the question.
Mr. Lang: I want to ask the Minister why one of the local physicians made the public statement today that, in order to deal with a patient, the only alternative available to her was under the old act, and that was that all she could do was have that person arrested and transferred to a facility outside.
Why did she tell us yesterday that there was no problem with the patients?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Certainly, the advice that I was given was that there was no problem with the old regulations as the act was proclaimed and if a patient was in need of committal at that time, there was a section of the Yukon Act that could be brought into play. As I had indicated previously, just one week prior I had been advised that, finally, the act, as it now stands, could be proclaimed. Previously, because of the court challenges in Ontario and other places, it appeared that I would have to bring this legislation back to the Legislature for amendment.
As the Member himself has said, it seemed very important to have this new legislation in place for the people of the Yukon, so that we were not using what was an old, out-of-date act.
As I said, the advice that I was given just a week ago, was that I could go ahead and proclaim the act. I did that.
At the present time, no Yukon person is in jeopardy. They knew there were simply a couple of things that had to be done with the new regulations; I knew that, and the regulations have been proclaimed. That particular doctor has long since...
Speaker: Order please, would the Minister please conclude her answer.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes, Mr. Speaker. ...been informed and there is no patient in jeopardy.
Mr. Lang: I am very concerned about the information that is being provided to this House. We were assured by the previous government Minister of Health, the Government Leader, that that bill was going to be put into effect maybe a couple of months after its passage. Yesterday, the Minister said that there were no problems with patients.
I want to ask the Minister if she was aware when she proclaimed that act - with no regulations accompanying it - that, until such time as the regulations were put into effect, the only recourse was under the Yukon Act where the physician would have to go to the Commissioner, have the person arrested and transferred to a facility outside?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: No, Mr. Speaker. As I have reiterated, I had been advised that the old regulations continue to apply to the extent that they are consistent with the new act. The new forms will apply and be used as they provide the information required under the new act.
It was only after that that we became aware that there was a patient in transit. I certainly expressed my concern that that was not discovered prior to this happening. I have no defence on that issue.
The federal justice department then disagreed, so we had a disagreement between two lawyers - several lawyers, I might add. At that point, it became evident that the only action that could be taken to alleviate the situation, until the new forms or the new regulations were actually proclaimed, was the section in the Yukon Act; had there been a need over the weekend, then it could have been used. Certainly, it was not my intention for it to happen that way. Hindsight is 20/20. I could wish that it had been different, but that is the way it was, and I was certainly not under that impression at the beginning.
Mr. Lang: I am pleased to hear that the Minister is sorry for the action she has taken, but there is a broader question here and I want to direct it to the Government Leader as he was, at one time, the Minister of Health and very familiar with this.
I would like to direct a question to the Government Leader: in view of the fact that the Government Leader was the Minister of Health responsible for the passage of this bill and also knew the requirement that regulations had to be put into effect to accompany the proclamation of the act ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Could I ask the Government Leader why, in his capacity as chairperson of Cabinet, would he allow that bill to be proclaimed without the regulations accompanying it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As always, I thank the Member opposite for his question but, as with many of his questions, it is based on a false premise. It is based on an assumption about Cabinet government; it assumes that the First Minister has some kind of dictatorial role in which he or she alone makes certain decisions. That may be the model the Member opposite would advocate, but it is not mine. Under our system of Cabinet government, the minister-of-the-day responsible will make recommendations to Cabinet; Cabinet will make decisions, decide matters, and then the Minister will be accountable for those decisions to the House and to the public. The Minister has already answered the question in the several forms that it has been reiterated by the Member opposite.
Question re: Mental Health Act
Mr. Lang: I asked a very direct question to the Government Leader. It is nice to see him dance the two-step, but it was a very direct question. I do not understand how any Member of Cabinet, especially the Government Leader, who is the Chairperson of the Cabinet, would allow the Minister who just assumed that portfolio last January, to allow the passage and the proclamation of that act without regulations. It is on the record.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the question.
Mr. Lang: The Minister of Health knew that regulations had to accompany that act. I asked him, in all deference, for the public and those people concerned about this act, why would he as the chairperson of Cabinet allow the proclamation to go ahead on that act without regulations accompanying it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The question is misdirected. When it suits the Member opposite, he claims great knowledge of parliamentary procedure, but of course when it suits him also, he completely ignores the rules of this House.
The questions about the matters of responsibility of the Department of Health should be directed to the Minister of Health.
Since the Member opposite refuses to listen, which is often the case with him, let me explain it again very simply. As the Minister of Health explained to the Member just a few minutes ago, at the time she made a decision to proclaim the act, she had advice that the act could operate with the regulations of the old legislation - the previous regulations. That is what the Minister explained to him. There was a dispute between lawyers on that point, including I think, as the Minister of Health explained, the federal Crown dissented from that view. As a result, we had to proceed in a different fashion.
Had the Member been listening rather than talking, he would have heard the Minister of Health explain that.
Mr. Lang: The Government Leader has not answered a direct question. He is the Chairperson of Cabinet. Cabinet makes the decision on whether or not an act is proclaimed. He stated in this House, when he was the Minister of Health, the need for new regulations and he knew that the bill had to have regulations to accompany it. Instead of passing the buck to the Minister of Health and Human Resources...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: I want to ask the Government Leader why he allowed Cabinet to pass that particular act and proclaim it when he knew that regulations had to accompany it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, there is massive confusion in the Members mind. There is not only an illogical link between the preamble and the question. I have previously explained that, in our democratic notion of Cabinet and government, the Premier is not a dictator.
In response to his question of why did I not allow, we have a principle of collective responsibility in Cabinet, which goes back many hundreds of years. The Member opposite is clearly advocating a previous forum.
Finally, on the only point of substance in his question, it has already been answered by the Minister of Health.
Question re: Mental Health Act
Mr. Lang: I want to redirect a question to the Minister of Health with respect to this issue. Yesterday, I asked how much consultation had taken place with the Yukon Medical Association and other bodies, such as the legal fraternity, as far as the drafting of regulations was concerned. The Minister said there was a considerable amount of training.
Could the Minister further indicate to this House how much information was made available to those organizations, as far as the drafting of these proposed regulations was concerned?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I would be happy to bring that information back to the Member. I do not have that information right here.
Question re: Educational leave pay
Mr. Phillips: Yesterday in this House, I asked several questions about the cost to the taxpayer for the education leave granted to the Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Many Yukoners I have talked with on this issue are extremely concerned. They feel that a Deputy Minister is the most senior civil service job in this government, and the government should be hiring adequately qualified people to fill this position, and not hiring them as Deputy Minister trainees.
Could the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission tell us why we paid Mr. Graham his full salary of $92,000 a year for the years prior to his education leave, when he did not then possess all the necessary qualifications for the job in the first place?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will answer the question generically, with respect to the appointment of people in the public service, because I am not personally responsible, as the Member knows, for appointing Deputy Ministers. Let me answer the question this way. All people who join the public service are either qualified or hired on an underfill basis at the time of hire. When they are hired, of course, there is an understanding that the world does change from time to time, that it is desirable to upgrade peoples skills, to ensure that they are current with the latest management techniques or technical requirements associated with their job. That is an underpinning of the reason for training in the public service and for provisions such as educational leave.
I explained yesterday, with respect to the issue of the deputy ministers educational leave, what our position is with respect to the future use of the educational leave policy. I cannot add much more to that at this time but I can say that it is the governments desire to improve our training activities within the public service, because we want to be a model employer and encourage the private sector to do likewise. Consequently, there will be other educational leaves taking place, I am sure, in the future. They will be consistent with the educational leave policy that the government has adopted.
Mr. Phillips: I think if the Minister had taken the time to talk with a lot of other Yukoners out there, he would know that they feel strongly that this government should be hiring adequately qualified people for those jobs and should not be training them on the job. That is the highest senior civil servant job in the Government of Yukon. That $92,000 could have put 10 Yukon students into university or 14 or 15 people in the trades field.
When this Deputy Minister receives his accreditation that the public is paying for, and that the Minister seems to think he is lacking - because of course it is the Minister who told us that he asked the Deputy Minister to take the course - will the Deputy Minister receive a higher salary and, if so, how much will that higher salary be?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, I did not ask the Deputy Minister to take the course. The government asked him to return to school.
I cannot tell the Member how fundamentally and strongly I disagree with his approach to training for the public service. It is completely contrary to the draft strategy I tabled today, which does encourage training, on the job, for people in our public service to do a number of things. It improves the efficiency of the public service as conditions do change.
Every corporation that I know of, every significant corporation in the Yukon, engages in a lot more training than the public service of the Yukon does, for the same reasons as the Government of Yukon wants to engage in training. I fundamentally disagree with the Members approach to training. I hope to have the opportunity to change his mind, because I do not think he sets a good example by making those remarks.
To answer the question directly, the Deputy Minister, upon return, will receive the same salary that he had when he left, as far as I am aware.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister made a comment about corporations training their people, but I can bet you that there are not too many Yukon corporations that are paying $92,000 to one of their employees for one years education leave.
Yesterday, I asked about other associated costs of this move. The Minister has had time now to obtain that information. I wonder if he could tell this House what he has discovered.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is wrong. I have not had time to obtain that information because the Member asked a lot of questions, including questions about the costs associated with backfilling positions in the Department of Community and Transportation Services. The Member, I am afraid, will have to wait until another day.
Certainly, the costs associated with training can be very high. I would dispute the Members allegation that training such as this would never be undertaken by a private corporation. I would like to point out that there have been times in the past when the Government of Yukon has sent people out for long-term training. There have been 23 cases in the last 10 years. During the time when the Members were in government, there were times when people went out for two year long Masters of Business Administration courses or public administration courses at costs significantly higher than $92,000, albeit with expenditures made over two years.
The precedent for government investing in its employees is not one we created with this particular situation.
Question re: Hazardous waste storage facility
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services concerning the proposed hazardous waste storage facility. I might add that I gave notice to my good friend across the way that I would be asking about this today because I wanted at least one Minister over there to appear competent in todays Question Period because we do have guests from other legislatures here.
A lot of time and money was spent on laying the groundwork for this hazardous waste facility, and we understand that two sites were recommended by the committee that was set up for the purpose of finding a site for the facility. That occurred some time ago and I am wondering what has happened since? We have not heard any decision from this government about which site the facility will be placed on.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for the notice he provided approximately an hour ago. I am quite pleased to join my colleagues in this display of competence and knowledgeable information and the sharing of same.
With respect to the hazardous waste facility, the Member is correct. There has been a considerable amount of legwork and groundwork done over the past two years. The Advisory Committee on Waste Management that was struck a couple of years ago has done a very commendable job in the span of its life to educate the Yukon public, visit Yukon communities and devote considerable time and effort to investigating where to locate an appropriate hazardous waste facility.
The committee has reported to me; it has made a recommendation and I am in the process of reviewing that recommendation and sharing that knowledge with my colleagues. It is my intention to announce, within the next week or two, precisely what course of action we plan to take as a government in the location of that facility.
Mr. Phelps: Then, can we take it that the public musings of some of the Members on the committee perhaps can be met by the announcement to the questions they have raised, and can we be assured that the government will be choosing one of the two sites that were recommended, or are we going to be facing a situation where the recommendations of the committee are going to be scrapped?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot comment with respect to the public musings, because they have been fairly broad and it would take several hours to debate the series of issues surrounding that question.
However, in respect to the intended announcement, I can tell the Member that the issue is a very complex and serious matter. It is a decision that I do not take lightly and I do not intend to pass on lightly. There is considerable work that has gone before us by the committee. There has been considerable further work by my staff and experts based on the recommendation of the committee. I will be sharing those with the public at the same time that I will be releasing the recommendation of the committee. A final decision will be made. Ultimately, it is still our intention to have the facility constructed in the course of the next building season.
Mr. Phelps: We realize that it is a very sensitive decision and we are concerned that it has taken so long to come to a decision on this very important matter. I am wondering whether or not the fact that both recommendations were for sites within Whitehorse West - his bosss riding - has made coming to a decision any more difficult?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The suggestion put forward by the Member is somewhat preposterous. However, the Member has accurately reflected on the importance of the matter. The issue of locating a hazardous waste facility is not a small matter. It is a decision that we will have to live with for decades. It is a decision that is of paramount concern to many people. It is imperative that we make a thoughtful and educated decision on the matter, and that is what is occurring.
Question re: Hazardous waste disposal
Mr. Phelps: If it takes money to make such a decision, that kind of money has certainly been spent. If you look back in the budget and the two supplementaries just passed, so far some $500,000 has been earmarked in the 1990-91 and 1991-92 budgets.
After all that money has been earmarked, and pretty well spent, I am concerned that we are facing a situation where, in the main estimates, there is only $25,000 earmarked for spending in the 1992-93 fiscal year.
Is this fact significant, in that the government is hoping to drag its feet for a full year before moving on to the implementation stage and actually building the facility?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members speculation would not be put forward if he had been listening to my earlier answer. It is our intention to construct the facility over the course of the next budget and construction year.
The reason that more appropriate figures for the facility are not in the budget is because we could not, at this stage, calculate precisely what such a facility would cost. We have not done a design. It is currently being worked on. We have not selected the precise location, which will also affect costs relating to foundation and access.
To put it bluntly, the cost of the facility could range anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million. It would not be appropriate to inaccurately speculate on a budget figure. It would be my intention to come back and seek new appropriation at the time when we have the actual figures.
Mr. Phelps: So, the fact that on page 109 of the main estimates, the multi-year capital projects total estimated cost of all years, the special waste storage facility is estimated there to cost exactly $2,443,000 does not mean that very much work has been done in the estimates. It is just a rough estimate, is that right?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have the luxury of having the budget in front of me, so I have a difficulty debating specific numbers. However, the facts of the matter are that we cannot accurately budget for the next fiscal year the known figure that we will spend on construction. We have the planning money in, we have the completion of the consultation process available to us, and we will conclude that exercise and proceed.
Mr. Phelps: Then, we should not be surprised if the figure is out somewhat. It might not be $2,443,000, or even $400,000. It might not even be $2 million.
Are we saying that the estimate here is really of no significance whatsoever?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the question is. There is a multi-year cost identified in the budget. If I have to accept his information as accurate, I accept that. That is a multi-year cost figure. The actual budget dollars are not in the next years budget because we do not know precisely what we will spend on that facility over the course of the next year.
Question re: Department of Government Services mandate review
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader with respect to the Department of Government Services.
Yesterday, the Government Leader denied knowledge of the mandate review of Government Services. The mandate review of the Department of Government Services was ordered by Cabinet, and a consultant was hired to do the review. Now that the Government Leader has been reminded, what direction did the Cabinet give to the consultant, or what terms of reference were provided to the consultant?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me respond to the false information the Member has attempted to put on the record. Yesterday, I did not respond as he said to his question. Yesterday, he asked me about plans to abolish the department, and I said that the position of the government, reiterated by the Minister of Government Services, was that we have no plans to abolish the department. It will not matter how many times the Member opposite repeats that information, it will not become more true by his reiteration.
Mr. Nordling: Yesterday, the Minister played cute to avoid the question. Today, he just did not answer it at all.
What direction was the consultant given? What terms of reference were given to the consultant by Cabinet, with respect to the review?
While the Minister is answering that, could he also tell us why a consultant was needed to do what the Minister of Government Services termed an annual review of the mission statement of the department?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not characterize it as an annual review, but I did characterize it as similar to reviews that take place in all departments virtually every year.
The work that is being done in this particular case is to identify problems between departments in terms of providing the delivery of services to the public. We want to improve services. We want to increase the accountability of line managers. We want to determine if there are better ways of achieving government goals than the way we currently operate.
The purpose of the review is to seek, from senior managers in other departments, their views and vision of what a central agency, such as Government Services, can do to improve the quality, level and type of service they provide. This does not translate into a dismantling of the Department of Government Services, which the Member characterizes. This is a situation where the Department of Government Services itself is determining what constraints currently exist that make it difficult for line managers to manage, and to identify ways that the relationships ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ... and to identify ways that the relationships between the Department of Government Services and line departments can improve.
Mr. Nordling: The Ministers attempt at answering the question begs six more questions. He has not answered why a consultant was hired. He was talking about the Department of Government Services doing it themselves. If they are, I would like to know why a consultant is being hired? I would like to know specifically what problem with the department was identified that caused, what appears to be a review that will dismantle the department.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I must state that the department is responsible for undertaking the review. They hired the services of a person who, I am sure, is well-known to the Members opposite, Mr. Bill Klassen, who was a Deputy Minister of long standing with the government, to speak to other line managers to get an honest appraisal of their vision of Government Services. This is a different process altogether than the one that ravaged the departments in the early 1980s, when the government-of-the-day went to consultants outside the territory and imposed upon all the public service a regime that we spent some years recovering from. This is a different process. The Department of Government Services is responsible for leading it. I am certain the delivery of services and the relationship between central agencies and the line departments will improve as a result.
Question re: Department of Government Services mandate review
Mrs. Firth: Yesterday, when the Minister responded to this question, he used the term less controlling three times in Hansard. We would like to know exactly what less controlling means. Does it mean that the Deputy Minister of Education can pick up the telephone, order some Atco trailers without anyone checking up on him, documenting it or seeing that he is observing the rules? Is that what it means? What is going to be the check and balance system? The government is obviously giving the direction that the function that Government Services provides be less controlling.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Obviously, Question Period is a difficult venue for responding to questions such as that, but I will respond to it this way: less controlling means less bureaucratic, and less bureaucratic means more efficient. It also means more accountability by line managers who are responsible for the delivery of programs. There is not less accountability; there is more accountability.
I would like to point out the obvious truth that regulations, which control and govern the way we do business, will remain in place and, consequently, all public servants will be responsible for ensuring that the law is not broken and that our regulations and policies are respected.
Mrs. Firth: If the Minister finds it too difficult to answer the questions in Question Period, perhaps I could ask him to table, in this House on Monday, the terms of reference that were given to the consultant who was hired for the Department of Government Services mandate review. Will the Minister table those terms of reference here in the House on Monday?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I certainly will and I find it very, very strange that an attempt by the government to encourage its departments to become more responsive to the needs of its clients, an attempt by the government to become more efficient and less bureaucratic, is so roundly criticized by the Members of the Independent Alliance.
I must say that the Department of Government Services will Trojan on to provide better services to the public. I am certain that, over the course of the review I have cited, their mandate will be made more clear and they will be able to perform even better than they do today.
Mrs. Firth: We look forward to receiving those terms of reference. Perhaps I could follow up on a question asked by my colleague, that was not answered by the Minister. Could he tell us what exactly the problems were that required this whole mandate review, why it was not working efficiently and effectively, and how it was being run too bureaucratically? Could he explain to the Members of the House just what the problems were? Who was running it too bureaucratically for his taste?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There has always been the attempt to make our systems less bureaucratic and more responsive to clients; more service oriented. That is the purpose of the review. We can always do better. We are good. The Department of Government Services is good, but it can always do better.
I thank the Member for asking that particular question.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Special Adjournment Motion
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move
THAT the House, at its rising on Wednesday, November 13, 1991, do stand adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday, November 18, 1991.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader
THAT the House, at its rising on Wednesday, November 13, 1991, do stand adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday, November 18, 1991.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In speaking to this motion, I would like to inform Members that, as House Leaders have agreed, it is our intention to adjourn business today at 5:30 p.m., in order to allow the Clerk staff to hobnob with our guests and, also, to permit Members to get to know the incoming Members colleagues from legislatures and parliaments across the country this evening, if they choose to arrive early.
As a matter of due respect for our guests, and a desire to get ready for the exciting proceedings of the regional seminar that is about to take place, we felt it necessary to adjourn a little earlier today.
Motion for special adjournment agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Motions for the Production of Papers?
MOTIONS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Mr. Phelps.
Speaker: Is the Hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Mr. Phelps: May we discuss this another day, Mr. Speaker?
Speaker: So ordered.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Mr. Phillips, debate adjourned.
Motion No. 7 - adjourned debate
Speaker: The question before the House is
THAT this House urges the Minister of Tourism to establish a Yukon Ambassador-at-Large Program for Yukoners who travel outside the territory and who wish to promote tourism travel to Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As you recall, we spoke to this motion on December 12, 1990. Many Members took the opportunity to make references on the pros and cons of establishing the program. You will recall that Members had similar concerns about the benefits of such a program, and if it was indeed measurable or if you could tell how many people it would attract to visiting the territory.
We had examples from other jurisdictions such as Saskatchewan, who themselves admitted that they just do not have information as to how many people do visit their jurisdiction once they receive materials from their ambassadors.
We know that from some programs in other jurisdictions, the program basically involves providing a kit and some materials. Most of these materials are provided in other packages of information provided by the government through their marketing activities, such as the Vacation Guide and a map and an ambassador pin.
The kit allows them to show potential visitors the materials, hand out some pins, but essentially to pass out a visitor information inquiry card. Potential visitors then send it to the government tourism department to receive information. What these potential visitors are receiving are the same kind of form that Tourism Yukon inserts in many publications that enjoy wide distribution.
We also argue that, in reality and in many ways, we already have an Ambassador Program in place. They are, of course, our visitors who are our satisfied customers. We all know the benefit that can be derived from having our satisfied customers spread the good word about their holiday in the Yukon Territory.
The Department of Tourism, working in cooperation with the industry, provides a great number of programs that are designed to improve the service that we deliver to tourists, provide a more responsive service and provide it in a more friendly way. We have, for example, the Good Host Program in place, basically designed to achieve the purpose of making visitors to the territory happy customers so that they will go home and tell their friends and neighbours and encourage them to visit the territory and of course to come back themselves. We have many, many tourists who are repeat visitors to our territory.
That speaks highly for our industry here in the territory, in making people feel welcome. That, we all know, is one of the very strong points that many visitors tell us is why they enjoyed their visit to the territory: it is the people. I think many Yukoners involved in the tourism industry are very friendly people providing a service in a very accommodating way. It encourages people to relax, enjoy their stay, linger long and return.
You may recall that toward the conclusion of my speech I unfortunately ran out of time. I was going to use those last few moments to suggest that I present the matter before the Yukon Tourism Marketing Council for their review. That is what I did do. I asked the Tourism Marketing Council, at their meeting in March in Whitehorse, to review the merits of our program for their recommendation.
Just to remind the Members about the mandate of the Tourism Marketing Council: it is an advisory body to the Department of Tourism and is mandated to provide advice to the Minister and to the department in the development of its marketing policies, objectives and strategies, to generate economic and social benefits for the industry, the Yukon and its people.
I will bring your attention at this time to who sits on this council because there was some confusion when we spoke to this motion last December. There are 12 members who sit on this council. One could be considered a government bureaucrat; he is the director of marketing of Tourism Yukon. One is the executive director of the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon. The other 10 members represent all aspects of the tourism industry and are recognized leaders in marketing of tourism. They have a variety of duties and responsibilities and the most important, of course, is that they provide input to the department on the development of annual marketing objectives, strategies and programs of the department, to ensure that the objectives, strategies and programs are in compliance with the agreed upon direction of the department.
They undertake an annual evaluation of effectiveness of the marketing programs, and further, provide to the Minister advice concerning the appropriateness of the departments marketing programs and budgets in relation to market needs and competitive spending. Basically, that is the makeup of the Yukon Tourism Marketing Council and its role.
I presented this matter before the Tourism Marketing Council in March. It was the opinion of members of the council that there are many other programs, both existing and new, where we can realize a better return for our money and get better value for our dollars than we can with this proposed Yukon ambassador program.
I spoke with some of the members of the council and other members of the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon at its annual general meeting held about a month later in Haines, Alaska. A recommendation was made not to consider the matter any further. I agree with the conclusion reached by the council and its recommendations. Therefore, I do not support the motion.
I suggest that we continue to market the Yukon through existing programs in which we are successful in achieving our goals and where we can measure that success. Programs such as Destination Yukon, Rendezvous Yukon, Tourism North, joint marketing with Alaska, the Canadian image campaign, and the Yukon Anniversaries Commission are just a few of the many in place which are raising the profile of the Yukon in a variety of markets throughout the world. We are encouraging more tourists to visit our territory.
I want to make it clear that there is room for new programs to meet ever-changing needs of the visitor and to promote our products, attractions and heritage. I think the new Yukon passport program, one that was just announced in the budget yesterday, is one such example, and is one that I confidently predict will encourage more visitors to learn more of our heritage and to explore more of our territory.
In conclusion, I want to thank the Member for Riverdale North for bringing forward this motion for consideration, but in accepting the recommendations of the Yukon Tourism Marketing Council, which I believe has thoroughly reviewed this proposal, it does not have my support.
Mr. Lang: I have been listening with a great deal of interest to the debate on this particular proposal, that has been brought forward and advocated by my colleague from Riverdale North, the Yukon ambassador-at-large program. I appreciate what the Minister has said, in that he has gone to the Tourism Marketing Council and sought their advice in looking for some direction with respect to the tourism industry in general.
I am a little concerned, however, about how it was approached and presented to that particular body. The Minister did not elaborate on that in his presentation here this afternoon. The impression I am receiving as a Member of this House - perhaps this is not shared by all Members - is that this is to be a large, costly program and would have significant financial implications to the overall tourism marketing strategy and subsequently could well have an effect on other areas that the government is directing their efforts. I can tell all Members that that is not the intent of my colleague, the Member for Riverdale North.
Getting down to simplistic terms, we are talking about perhaps 30 to 80 or even 100 Yukoners who this particular program would apply to. The Minister, in his presentation of last December, talked about terms of reference and who would be an ambassador-at-large on behalf of the Yukon. I think it is clearly envisaged, at least from this side, that one of the stipulations would be that those individuals going out for the winter and spending the winter in places such as Arizona or California have a commitment to those particular areas. One comes to mind, and that is the former Sergeant-at-Arms, who left here not too long ago and retired from his post to spend a portion of the year with his wife in a large recreational vehicle area.
When you have persons like this, with the personalities they have, who, like others I know who do this, know the Yukon, why can we not provide them with a short video and more information than is normally made available to others who are just going out on business?
These people are living at a destination point. They are obviously meeting people in that area on an ongoing basis because of the way they are set up. Basically, they are retired people, affluent to some degree, and during portions of the year travel to various places, generally in North America. It would seem to me that this is a clientele we should be doing everything we can to encourage over and above our present marketing - which could include some of the tours that the Department of Tourism, in conjunction with the marketing council, as well as other individuals, conduct in the United States when they do their shows and demonstrations at the various parks.
If we have individuals like this who are prepared to spend the time and be ambassadors on behalf of the territory, I do not understand why the Minister would take the position that we cannot provide them with certain information over and above that normally made available.
I take the example of some of the people I know who now have this type of lifestyle and I know they are very proud of the Yukon; they have contributed to the Yukon. In most cases, they either have children or grandchildren in the Yukon and are, whenever possible, speaking of the virtues of this great territory in which we have the pleasure and privilege of living.
The kit described by my colleague is not going to be financially cumbersome to the department, because of the number of people about whom I am speaking. I would be very surprised if it was more.
I realize it was put into effect in the Province of Saskatchewan and that they are discussing whether or not it provided the dividends it should have for the investment the government of Saskatchewan made.
I may say this with some prejudice, but I think the Yukon is a little more unique, with deference to the Province of Saskatchewan.
The Yukon has a symbolism that no other part of Canada has. The Yukons location is much more advantageous to those travelling from the United States and for the clientele about whom we are speaking - those who are retired.
In view of the facts, I would go so far as to suggest that it is probably everyones dream in the United States of America - since they were children - to be able to go to the great State of Alaska. With that knowledge, it seems to me that we should be providing a few more tools for the type of person my good colleague, the Member for Riverdale North, spoke of and that I described earlier, to help convince them to come to the Yukon.
I should also point out that we are not only talking about the prospects of retired Americans. There are also numerous retired Canadians, obviously retired in resorts of this kind and who do travel. As I say, I do not think that we can underestimate the affluence of these particular citizens. I think that the Minister would agree that we spend a lot of our tourism marketing strategy in trying to ensure that these people know where Yukon is, what we have to offer and why they should come here.
It seems to me that if we have somebody who is living there, who is not passing through for a 24-hour period, setting up and dismantling a show - basically an hour and one-half show - of the Yukon for those who are available in the park to attend at that time, it seems to me that we might get a lot more mileage from somebody such as we talked about earlier. I do not see it as a major program. I appreciate the fact that the Minister has gone to the Tourism Marketing Council, but I am a little concerned that maybe it has been presented in such a manner that it is, as I said earlier, going to impinge on some of the other projects that were agreed to by the council and subsequently, was seen as another option for what they already had in place.
I do not see it in that light. A video perhaps accompanying the kit, with a little more information, I do not see as a problem. We have numerous videos available that have been produced by this government and previous governments. It is a question of just going through the steps to get one that could be applicable and providing it.
I want to conclude my comments by saying I feel that the program has merit. I think that any time we get an individual who will be an advocate and become an ambassador for the Yukon, at no substantive cost to us, we should be giving them more tools than normal, to allow them to do that.
We are arguing about a program that one would have to examine from a cost point of view, but in conjunction with what is already provided, let us say an initial pilot program would cost another $10,000 or $15,000. We know that we are sending people to school for $92,000-plus a year. Take a look at some of the ways in which the money is being spent. For example, if we want to talk about priorities, half a million dollars was spent thus far on a proposed hazardous waste facility and we have not even got to the point where it is going to be built. Yet, we are talking about an idea that unfortunately emanates from this side of the House, so therefore it cannot have credence. We cannot look at it as a pilot project to see how it could help us.
I just make this point: if one of these individuals takes an ambassador kit and convinces four, five, eight or 10 people to come to the Yukon - say 10 people, five couples - then it has probably paid for the whole program.
I realize the Minister has just spoken and cannot speak again, but I would like to put this before him for his consideration: in the spirit of the motion that has been presented, perhaps he could take it upon himself to look at a pilot project with some guidelines as far as who would be eligible to receive the information brochures and video and just try it. Perhaps he could limit it initially to just 20, 25 or even 30 Yukoners - whatever is in his financial capabilities. Perhaps he could take it out of his travel allowance, since it has been cut back. That announcement was made in his budget. I know he will be spending a lot more time here in town and there will be much more money for things of this nature as far as the tourism industry in concerned.
I do not know if the Minister is smiling because he is happy about this or because I have raised this idea and he realizes that he is going to be homebound for some time. It seems to me that we could start a small pilot project with a time limit, such as three years, and contact these individuals once a year to see what the success is. They have no axe to grind. They will tell you that they were successful if they convinced 10 or 20 people to come up or if they think it was a total bust because we charge too much for gas up here. These are not people who have a vested interest or are in the employ of the government.
I think there is a genuine idea being presented to the House that has merit. I do not think it will need a lot of money so that it will adversely affect any other marketing program. I would recommend that the Minister consider the motion and the good debate that has gone on here, although he has indicated they are going to vote it down. Perhaps then he could take it upon himself to see what more he could do, as the Minister of Tourism, to put a pilot project together and see how it works for a couple of years.
It would be very interesting to bring back the results to the House for the Legislature to look and see how successful we have been. We are all heading toward retirement age. Believe it or not, nobody in this House is getting any younger. I would submit to both sides of the House that if anyone who was in a situation where they were spending part of the year down in an established location for a period of time, and if they had these tools, they would be a very good ambassador for the Yukon. They would probably be the reason, at least in part, why people would come here and perhaps spend more time here as well.
I support my colleague for Riverdale North, recognizing the comments that the Minister of Tourism has put on the record. I hope that he sees his way fit over the course of this coming winter and spring to see if he can put something together and maybe encourage some of our long-time, committed Yukoners with a bit more information - as I described as a few more tools - to convince friends, associates, and acquaintances, most likely down in the lower forty-eight to come up to the Yukon and enjoy what we have to present to them.
Mr. Devries: I would like to speak in support of this motion. As most people know there are a fair number of individuals from Watson Lake who follow the geese south every winter. I am sure that they already encourage many people to come north for a visit. By being able to utilize these Yukoners in promoting in a more organized fashion, it could be the cheapest advertising we could ever hope for. They could have stickers on their vehicles indicating that if anyone wishes to talk to them about the Yukon that they are open to discussions, or might have pins, brochures or videos similar to what the Member for Porter Creek East talked about. I am certain that most of these people would be proud to carry this message to our southern neighbours. These people are proud to be here and they can speak with vigour and passion of their love for this land, much more so than a person who is being paid to do a promotional thing.
If this motion does not get passed it will only be obvious that this government is afraid that someone else may get credit for a great idea. I urge you all to support this motion.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks.
Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Phillips: I would like to thank all the Members of the House who spoke on this motion. It was a reasonably good and friendly debate. I thank everyone for their contribution.
I would like to make a few comments about what the Minister has said about his opinions on this issue, as well as the Tourism Marketing Councils.
Right from the beginning, I made a fundamental error when I brought this motion into the House. I apologize for that. The error is that I did not plant the seed in the Ministers office to let it become his idea. I am sure that if it had become the Ministers idea, this would be implemented in the budget we have in front of us today.
I am sorry I did not do that, but I have learned a valuable lesson from that. I have a few other ideas I am working on that I am trying to get in through the back door, so to speak, so the Minister will think they are his and can take the credit for them.
I raised this issue because many long-time Yukoners have approached me over the last few years and said that they wanted to be a representative of the Yukon. They went to the Department of Tourism, and they were given a couple of pins, and perhaps a brochure or two, but they just did not feel that was adequate.
Some of these people are very knowledgeable about the Yukon and would enjoy sitting down around a campfire in an RV park with many people, and telling them about the beautiful land we have here. They felt that they could be an asset to the Yukon, and it would also give them something to do while they were down there.
That is the reason the idea came up. I think there has been a misunderstanding that this program is going to be a multi-million dollar program. It is a misunderstanding that the Minister has, as well as the marketing council.
I never once envisioned this program as being something that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, I will bet that every individual who talked to me about the program was prepared to pay the $20 or $40 for the kit - for a little sticker that says I am a Yukon Ambassador, for a videotape, a brochure and a handful of post cards. The person would hand them out in the RV parks, after making their presentation, and the persons receiving them would fill in their names and addresses. They would come back to the Department of Tourism, and it could be clearly marked on the card that they were from the Yukon Ambassadors, so you could know how many replies were from that program. You then send out a full package on the Yukon to these people, and could follow up on that, as with every other mailing you receive.
It would have been a worthwhile program. I am asking the Minister, as the Member for Porter Creek East did, to give it serious consideration as a pilot project. We are not asking you to spend a lot of money. We are not talking about a lot of people, but we are talking about a lot of very valuable people to the territory.
We are talking about a lot of people who are very valuable to the territory and who are long-time Yukoners, who know what this country is all about. They love to sit down and tell stories about the country and make it a little more intriguing for someone in the Southern 48 to come up here. Even if one person goes down there and tells one other person, so that they come up here, it is worth the $40. I think they leave $400 a day here when they travel through, or a $100 a day. If they stay here three or four days, you have paid for your package 10 times over.
I am not asking the government to put $60,000, $70,000 or $100,000 into this program. All I am saying is that this is an idea that was brought forward by Yukoners who think that they can make a contribution in their later years. I think that you should give them that opportunity. I think that they will be good Yukon ambassadors, and that they will make a valuable contribution. I think that we should give them the chance to do that.
I had an individual come into my office this fall. This individual was not a senior citizen, but was someone who has worked for a recreational vehicle park in Whitehorse for the last few years. On her own volition, this person sat down in the evenings and had many campfire talks with the tourists in that RV park. This person received a very positive response from people in that park, just talking about the Yukon and Whitehorse in general. This person approached me and said, I want to go down to the Southern 48 this winter. I am going to spend five months down there travelling around to all of these parks, and I want some support. Is there any support that I can get? I told her about this program I had proposed to the government, and that we had not resolved the issue as of yet. I told her to go to the Department of Tourism and get some brochures and whatever other information they could provide her with. She went to the Department of Tourism and did not get a lot of satisfaction. They gave her some basic brochures, like they give everyone else.
This individual went south anyway, with her own money, and she is going to carry on the best that she can with the same idea she had when she was here. If we had provided her with a video and the reply cards that people could send back, it would have cost us nothing. Like I said, she would have paid $40 for the package. She would have paid for everything that she received.
There is going to be an initial setup charge for a program like this but, after it gets set up, the people in the Department of Tourism who now look at all the letters that come in and reply with the information that is requested would be able to handle it all. They would not have to hire another person to do it, because there would only be several hundreds of replies, not thousands.
I think that we are always looking for other avenues to explore and other ways to attract people to the Yukon. I cannot think of a better way than to have someone like Mr. Ursich, who knows so much about this country and who has great stories to tell, to sit down with a group of 30 or 40 people and tell them how great the Yukon is and that they should come up here. He has a little bit of pride in being a Yukoner. He has a Yukon ambassador sticker on his vehicle, a Yukon flag, and a few other things that we have given him, and it has not cost us anything.
All I am asking the side opposite to do is give some serious consideration to looking at this program as a pilot project and not just cast it aside as an idea that was a bad one.
We did a study one time and the Minister of Tourism said that the reason it was not very good was because it did not cost a lot of money. I hope the reason for throwing this idea out is also not because it is not going to cost a lot of money. It is not going to cost a lot of money and I think it is an idea we should look at. I am sure you would get a lot of long-time Yukoners who would be more than happy to apply and be very proud to be Yukon ambassadors. We could set up basic criteria and allow 20, 30 or 40 people to do this in the first year. It would be very easily monitored. First of all, you could interview them when they come back; secondly, you could have various cards for them to mail out. They would be required to put a number in the corner, which would be their number. They could receive these cards before they leave and when the cards return to the Department of Tourism, one could very easily look at them and know it was from one of our Yukon ambassadors and see how well the program has worked.
All I am asking the side opposite to do is to reconsider and to give it very serious consideration, because I think it is an idea that merits that consideration.
Motion No. 7 negatived
Motion No. 8 - adjourned debate
Clerk: Item number 2, standing in the name of Mr. Devries, debate adjourned, the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Speaker: The question before the House is
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the transfer of control of the forestry resource in Yukon from the federal government to the territorial government has been held in abeyance since April of 1987 because the Government of Yukon has not treated this transfer as a matter of priority; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to reach an agreement on the transfer of this important resource so that the people of Yukon will have control over forests in the territory in relation to forestry management, timber harvesting, silviculture, economic development proposals and environmental protection.
Hon. Mr. Webster: When I last spoke to this motion, on May 1 of this year, I detailed for Members the steps that this government has taken to prepare for forestry devolution. I informed Members that the devolution of forestry responsiblities remains a high priority of the government. I indicated that we had evaluated forestry management policies in other jurisdictions and had prepared to release a discussion paper that proposes a forestry policy for the Yukon. I also indicated that a forestry management framework would be provided by the Environment Act.
I want to remind Members that as a result of debate of that act in the House, the forestry management and planning provisions will apply only to forest resources on territorial lands. Consequently, the development of comprehensive forestry legislation and regulations for federal lands will be developed in parallel with devolution negotiations.
Since the House last sat, other steps have been taken to support the sustainable development of the Yukons forests. I may have mentioned last spring that we are continuing to work with federal officials on a steering committee to develop the south-east Yukon forest management plan. I understand that a near-final draft of this plan is currently being reviewed by government agencies and it will undergo a public review in the coming year.
In recognition of forestrys potential to broaden the Yukons sustainable economic base, the Yukon Departments of Renewable Resources and Economic Development have finalized a forestry cooperation agreement with forestry Canada. The agreement, which now awaits Treasury Board approval, will provide $2.86 million to assist the development of the forestry sector over the next five years.
In regard to devolution itself, Cabinet has now assigned my department a negotiating mandate and several discussions have taken place with senior officials in recent weeks to determine the federal governments position on the funding and scope of devolution negotiations.
Preliminary discussions with the union representing federal forestry workers in the Yukon are scheduled for the near future. We have identified the components of a forest program transfer unit in the Department of Renewable Resources to coordinate, with the devolution coordinator, the Yukon governments input into transfer negotiations.
In short, we are ready to get on with the job. I believe that the progress that I have reported today is clear evidence that transfer and control of the Yukon forest resource has not been held in abeyance, as stated in the Members motion. Therefore, I cannot support the motion as drafted. We have acted prudently, deliberately and constructively to prepare ourselves to negotiate the devolution of forestry management. We have also actively worked to further the wise development of the forestry sector in the Yukon.
Consequently, I would like to move what I trust will be taken by the Member for Watson Lake as a friendly amendment to his motion.
THAT Motion No. 8 be amended by deleting the words following forestry and substituting the following words: resources of the Yukon to the Government of the Yukon is consistent with the Yukon Economic Strategy and the Yukon Conservation Strategy and
THAT this House supports the Government of Yukons continuing discussions with the Government of Canada on devolution of this resource to ensure that the people of the Yukon will have control over forestry management in the territory.
Mr. Lang: Could we just have a brief recess to be able to assess the implications of the amendment that has been brought forward?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I, unfortunately, am not familiar with the rules permitting breaks. Nevertheless, we have no objection to such a break.
However, I would ask the indulgence of the Member that we afford the Minister responsible a brief opportunity to initiate his explanation of the amendment prior to the break so that Members can take into account his remarks.
Speaker: I will ask for unanimous consent to take a ten-minute break while we wait for the Minister.
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: The matter before the House is that it has been moved by the Minister of Renewable Resources
THAT Motion No. 8 be amended by deleting the words following forestry and substituting the following words:
resources of the Yukon to the Government of the Yukon is consistent with the Yukon Economic Strategy and the Yukon Conservation Strategy; and
THAT this House supports the Government of the Yukons continuing discussions with the Government of Canada on the devolution of this resource to ensure that the people of the Yukon will have control over forestry management in the territory."
Order please. Unanimous consent has been granted to hear the Minister speak. Following the speech, we will take a ten-minute recess.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I wish to speak briefly to the amendment. I would like to simply remind Members that there are compelling reasons to seek the transfer of the forestry management responsibilities of the Yukon Government.
The management of forestry in the Yukon at this time is not unlike federal management of the freshwater fishery before that responsibility was transferred to our government. Little inventory work has been done. Very slow progress on a southeast Yukon forest inventory and management plan is symptomatic. Even less inventory work has been attempted elsewhere in the territory.
Management decisions have been made without the benefit of completed and publicly endorsed management plans for the regions in which there is an active forestry sector. Consequently, forestry development proposals end up being handled on a case-by-case basis.
Although the Yukon government has been asked to comment on some of these proposals, the decisions ultimately made by federal authorities have not always reflected our input. One clear example of this is on the whole question of the export of raw logs. This is a subject on which the Government of Yukon has taken a very clear and publicly supported stand. The Yukon government opposes the export of raw logs from the Yukon. It is our position that resources harvested in the Yukon should be processed here to the maximum extent possible.
As stated in the Yukon Economic Strategy, the outcome of the Yukon 2000 consultation process, we seek to ensure that the maximum income is derived from forestry through more Yukon processing and better use of waste products. It is our belief that the export of raw logs would not allow us to meet this commitment. It would not be in the territorys best interest.
The government is also committed, through the Yukon Conservation Strategy, formally adopted in 1990, to, encourage processing of forest products in the Yukon to ensure maximum employment and income and to restrict whole log exports.
I have reiterated the above in a letter dated October 28 to the Hon. Frank Oberle, the federal Minister of Forestry. Copies were also sent to the Hon. Barbara McDougall, the Hon. Tim Siddon, and the Hon. Jean Charest. I had the opportunity to express these views in person to Mr. Oberle at a forestry Ministers meeting called three weeks ago.
The same position has been consistently expressed to previous federal Ministers on each occasion where we have been made aware of proposals for the export of whole logs.
Nevertheless, the federal government issued 13 licenses to export whole logs between 1985 and August 15, 1991. It is actively considering new applications.
Until the Yukon has successfully negotiated devolution of forestry, it would appear there is little likelihood that the views of the Yukon people will be adequately considered when decisions about the Yukons forestry are being made.
I believe the amendments I have proposed to this motion accurately reflects the Yukon governments continuing commitment to forestry devolution and better management of the Yukons forestry sector. I encourage all Members of this House who share those goals to support this amendment so that we can continue our devolution negotiations with the full support of this Legislature.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to take a ten-minute break?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted to take a ten-minute break.
Speaker: I call the House back to order. We will continue to debate the amendment to Motion No. 8.
Mr. Lang: On the amendment, I rise to talk in general on the state of our fledgling forest industry and perhaps go back to some historical terms to speak about the involvement of the Government of Yukon in the forestry industry since 1985, and then talk about what the future should hold for us as far as this area of our economy is concerned, which, managed properly, should provide us in Yukon, and in most part in the Watson Lake area, with a long-term, sustainable industry that is providing jobs for the people located in those areas.
What we have witnessed in the past has been an environmental travesty as well as a human tragedy, when one sees what has happened with Hyland Forest Products and the situation that developed over the past six years when the government decided to get into the sawmill business.
From the human side of things, I do not know how many Members are aware that a great number of people were hurt when the government so poorly managed the assets of Yukon Forest Products. There had been problems previous to that, significant problems, but at the same time I think that, in fairness to the company that was involved in the Watson Lake area, they were well intentioned. Over a period of time, it was proven that they were underfinanced and, to some degree, the finger of blame might be pointed at management as well.
The reality at that time, prior to 1986, was that the forest industry in Watson Lake was providing jobs with, to some degree, in a minor way, some security to people directly or indirectly involved in the forestry business.
I go down to Watson Lake on a number of occasions during the course of the year. I recognize that even if there were two, three or four logging trucks working, it was still money that was circulating throughout the community.
As well intended as it was, the real tragedy after the government decided to go into the sawmill business was that they did it in such an impractical manner.
We talk about the losses that were incurred at that time. There were $11 million projected. We still do not, to my knowledge, have a full accounting of the actual dollars spent in that particular area. The fact is that, over and above that, there was estimated in the neighbourhood of an additional $7 million in losses experienced by not only banks, but businesses as well. We sometimes forget, in debates in this House, that businesses are people. These people were prepared to take risks and mortgage their homes with the hope that if they invest their time and labour, eventually they will reap the benefits of what they have created, not only in a monetary sense, but also in a sense of freedom and fulfillment from being able to work for oneself and provide jobs, in many cases, for friends, acquaintances and other people. A lot of these businesses were small businesses. In many cases, the people on the payroll were lifelong friends. It could have been friends they grew up with, played sports with and, in one case I know of, went to school together in Watson Lake and then went into business. The tragedy of it is that a lot of nice people were hurt.
The tragedy is that a lot of nice people were hurt, not only financially, but within themselves. In many ways these people felt betrayed and misled by the pronouncements that were made by this government on behalf of the Yukon Development Corporation, during the time that this government managed that asset from Whitehorse.
You will recall that this House and Members of this Legislature were denied information about what was taking place regarding the sawmill. You will recall that this was all under the guise that this matter was going to court.
Unfortunately, as time passes, we, as legislators, and the public, forget. It seems to me that the full story is never going to be told unless an instrument of this House, such as the Public Accounts Committee, goes further and examines exactly what took place with respect to the financial mismanagement of the Yukon Development Corporation.
Let us turn our attention even further to the financial implications of what took place with a policy that did not ever have a chance, from its inception, to work. If one was to take a step back and analyze what the government was doing, it is a reality that everyones constituents are paying the price to some degree for the decisions that were taken at that time. What I mean by that is that these constituents are paying the price on a monthly basis. We all get our monthly light bills and wonder why they have gone up in the neighbourhood of 14 percent to 20 percent. We are looking at another possible 5.7 percent increase. I guess that we can thank the good Lord for the fact that we had a terrible summer and the reservoir at Aishihik filled to capacity and subsequently allowed us to forego an additional 10 percent that would have increased our monthly power bills somewhere in the neighbourhood of 25 to 30 percent depending upon whom you talk to.
I recall during those days, when the Government Leader went down and transported the media down - if I am not mistaken, I think it was an air charter that the taxpayers paid for - and announced in the community of Watson Lake that he was very pleased that they only had a $1 million overdraft. I recall at that time - and I fault the media to some degree for this - that everybody thought that it was a great deal. Of course, the reality of the situation was that there was an election coming up and there had to be certain political steps taken in order to try to negate, or neutralize, the damning financial consequences of the decisions taken across the way and within the civil service.
It was very interesting, as we learned later on, when more information came to light, that approximately a month or two months after that particular press conference, the figure of $6 million all of a sudden appeared, instead of $1 million. But then, I guess it is not necessarily what is fact; it is what the public has to know at certain times in order to reach ones objectives.
I, for one, know how betrayed the people in Watson Lake felt when the actual facts surrounding that particular sawmill, that ill-fated investment, began to unfold. It seemed to me at that time that we were sadly lacking in a very fundamental area of government and that is in the area of policy framework and objectives for what we were trying to accomplish down there. I will get to that in a minute.
The other area that I referred to earlier was the environmental travesty. I guess what took place there with the log inventory was very symbolic of how that organization was run.
Hectare after hectare of timber area was harvested for that mill. Thousands and thousands of metres were taken to that particular yard and stockpiled. Because of the mismanagement that took place, thousands and thousands of metres of raw logs became bug infested, and subsequently had to be burned or used for firewood.
I realize that it was not raw-log export. It was even worse than that. It was a total mismanagement of a sustainable resource that should have provided jobs for people in the Watson Lake area and provided people with lumber for building homes. Instead, what the ratepayer in Yukon received was a vacant lot that had gone up in smoke.
You can go to Watson Lake and talk to the residents of that community. They went for days with the smoke coming into the community from the burning of those logs. Yet, because it was 300 some odd miles from Whitehorse and a smaller community and perhaps did not have the direct links to the media, not all that much was made of the environmental damage that was done in that community. I think that from where I sit - and we have heard the debate go on and on ad infinitum in this House and at other forums - I really believe that the side opposite, and specifically the Government Leader, had, and still has, a responsibility to apologize to every Yukoner for that terrible, terrible display of government ineptness that took place.
If you were in the United States of America, or any other jurisdiction, I think they would be calling for impeachment. Then, of course, we are covered here in the Yukon. That then means that we do not have responsible government. Where we are covered is evident in the budget before us.
Out of $418 million tabled in this House, 13 percent is raised locally. The balance comes from the Government of Canada. That compares with an average across the country, taking the Yukon into account in that average, of 58 percent that is raised locally in other provinces.
When you get handouts like we have received from the Government of Canada, it is very easy to hide, disguise and even forget what has taken place, when someone else is partly paying the bill.
Because of the debacle that occurred in that area, to some degree that has brought into question what the definition of responsible government is in the territory. What took place for incompetent, political expedience, and any other reason one could conjure up, rivals, and probably surpasses, the attempt in Newfoundland to grow cucumbers. At least, in Newfoundland they did grow some cucumbers, and some people had the opportunity to eat them. Here, we had the opportunity to breathe smoke.
Therefore, in many ways, I would say that the Yukon is unique in this particular situation, where we even surpassed a situation such as the cucumber-storage greenhouse debacle in Newfoundland.
That leads me to another area I think has to be addressed: the question of what has happened as a result of a lack of policy. Since 1985, this side has raised some very fundamental questions on an ongoing basis as to what the government was doing as far as a policy framework was concerned, and what were the long-term objectives for the forestry industry in the Watson Lake area in particular and other areas.
I want to highlight the Watson Lake area because I am more familiar with it than others. It is ironic that down in Watson Lake there are three active small businesses involved in the sawmill industry. At least one of those businesses has been there for many years. They have raised their family there; they have their home there; and they have been there in the business for at least a decade, if not longer.
The government never developed any policy framework for those small businesses. In fact, up to now they have been dismissed out of hand. In my judgment, that is totally irresponsible of the government and I feel the government, within any policy framework developed, has to consider how organizations such as those can prosper in years to come. Under the present policy of harvesting rights, my understanding is that a very limited area is available on an ongoing basis,and once a person has done what he has set out to do in harvesting that area, then one can apply for another area. It seems to me this should be looked at.
How can a small business be developed with the idea of prospering - maybe expanding from three or four or eight people - if one has no idea or any commitment on how much of the resource one will receive over a period of five years?
It seems to me that the government has a responsibility and had the responsibility. I use the past tense had here. They had the responsibility to develop a policy and bring it forward for the Government of Canada, if necessary, if devolution had not taken place, in order to ensure that those businesses in the area could prosper and expand. We have not had that come before this House. What we have had are vacancies in forestry listed in the Government of Yukons directory that have never been filled because there were other priorities and this was not a crisis situation and therefore needed no attention. Subsequently, no policy was developed.
Meanwhile, Kaska Resources brings forward a proposal in good faith which outlines a way of perhaps developing the resource in a way that would be acceptable to the Watson Lake area and provide the opportunity to build a resource industry there. We were asked for our position on that application. We found out from our enquiries that we were unable to give any definite comment because the information was not available to tell us what could or could not be done to provide a sustainable harvest in that area.
We concur with the side opposite. We do not want to see the export of raw logs. I do not think anyone wants to see that. It seems to me that within the policy framework the government should have put in place a long time ago, these policy statements and objectives should have been stated well before now. The Kaska Resources application presently before the federal government is an example. That particular application takes time, effort, money and people. It does not just take days or weeks, but months to put forward a credible application or business plan that would be acceptable to investors and the people affected.
Yet they get to the point in their application where they are now, and finally the Government of Yukon, after weeks and weeks of deliberation, comes up with their overall decision, which was to have no raw log exports.
I defend the right of the government to come up with that, but where I take umbrage is in the lack of policy framework being provided by the government. Yet at the same time, we, in this House, have voted hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past five years for devolution.
We have succeeded in having the Northern Canada Power Commission transferred, which took place in 1985, and the Government Leader may stand up and pontificate and tell us that he was the one solely responsible for it. However, most of the work toward the transfer of the Northern Canada Power Commission was done prior to the 1985 election.
Secondly, most of the work that was done to expedite that particular transfer was done at the federal level when it was effected, primarily through the Deputy Prime Ministers office.
It seems to me that when that transfer is set aside and the government is asked what it has accomplished in six years with respect to devolution, fisheries is the only program to devolve to the territorial government during the past six years. The Hon. Minister of Renewable Resources may correct me, but I believe that there were two or three positions transferred with that program. It took years to accomplish that. It took a lot of trips to Ottawa, numerous banquets and hotel rooms at the taxpayers expense to accomplish that. That is two or three personnel.
Another accomplishment achieved - and it took years of diligent pursuit by the government side opposite, as we strove toward responsible government - was Mine Safety.
Members or anyone listening would probably say, Gee, that must be quite a large program. It would have taken a lot of time and effort on behalf of the government to do that.
First of all, for those who are listening to the debate or who would want to read it at some other time, it should be pointed out that the legislation for mine safety was already in place years ago.
It was taken care of. We did not have to hire a consultant to write legislation for us, or to check the Charter to see if we were on the wrong side of the law, or anything of this nature, similar to the Mental Health Act. We got a transfer out of that. I may stand to be corrected, but I think it was one position transferred to this government.
We now turn to other areas where the government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for the purposes of devolution. One area is health. It would be very interesting to find out how many direct and indirect dollars have been spent over the past five or six years for that particular devolution. It is on hold. I can appreciate, to some degree, the concern the side opposite has, about the financing. However, we have gotten nowhere with it. We have unsettled a lot of people. There is a lot of anxiety among employees. We have seen the status quo maintained on our health services, which I will speak to at a later time.
Where did we get with our forestry transfer, to which question the Minister of Renewable Resources has stood up and spoken to? Previous ministers have stood up and spoken to it in this House. Where are we? We have a paper called Options floating around the territory, with very broad parameters. It does not give a clear indication of what would happen with forestry. Now, we are back into the House to debate whether or not we should carry on with the forestry transfer.
Yet, this particular debate started some five months ago, when this motion was put on the Order Paper. What have we accomplished since then? The Minister of Renewable Resources talks about how he is looking for policy and working very hard at it, how he has been in touch with the Government of Canada about the transfer. I know, and he knows, when they really got in touch with the Government of Canada. It was approximately three weeks ago, when they received the proposal from Kaska Resources.
All of a sudden, the Government of Yukon Territory, in its crisis management of the organization, wakes up to the fact that, hey, there is a proposal here and we are going to have to give it serious consideration. Maybe we should look at the question of transfer and what it means to the territory.
We had months and months go by where there was total inactivity - years go by. The side opposite has to take responsibility for that. The Minister of Renewable Resources later on in debate will probably stand up and blame the federal government. If the Minister recalls, the last time there was any serious discussion about the forestry transfer was just prior to the territorial election. That was approximately two and one-half to three years ago. What did we accomplish? The Government Leader placated the employees and did everything he could to promise them something so that he could get their votes. What happened after the election? Two and one-half to almost three years later we have organizations such as Kaska Resources wandering around in a policy vacuum. As I said earlier, we cannot just talk about Kaska Resources. We cannot forget about those other small sawmills in that area.
I was down in Watson Lake this past weekend. I had the opportunity to go on site of one of the sawmill yards. It was a small business with two partners. They figure that by the time they get everything organized there may be as many as 10 Yukoners working, doing the falling, logging and sawing. If the business did not have a mishap with machines or anything or this nature and with hard work and weather permitting, he was quite confident that he could make a fairly good living with the structure that he had put in place for the workers, who, for the most part, I believe, do what is called piece work. People being hired in the Watson Lake area were quite excited about the fact that they would be able to work by piece work and subsequently, if they really worked as a team and really moved, they might be able to beat what they would normally get through wages.
What policy is in place for that?
It is a very, very general overview of policy; it is almost the status quo. I want to say here that I do not think that these individuals are running down the federal forestry. I think that, in fairness to the personnel within the federal forestry department, they are doing their best, with what they have, to be able to ensure that they can provide some direction and, at the same time, work within their financial capabilities.
I just want to point out that the amendment that the Minister has brought forward in some ways really brings into question the integrity of the government because they talk about, and I quote, the Government of the Yukons continuing discussions with the Government of Canada.
We are not going to bring forward an amendment for that but I think that for the record it has to be pointed out that it never could have been continuing discussions because for two and one-half years, at least, nothing - nothing - has been done, contrary to the statements that the Minister tried to put across to Members of this House in debate on the Environment Act, about where the forestry resource was going.
It seems that the only time that this particular issue becomes a priority is when we sit in this House, and the issue is primarily spearheaded by the Member for Watson Lake. Then the government has to try to present some position of some kind and we find them running around trying to bring forward some kind of policy. They are not too sure what it is. Or they are confronted with some very real possibility, in a very genuine business plan, that they are forced to deal with, such as Kaska Resources.
I want to say, as a Member of this House, that it is unfair to the public and it is unfair to the business community that this has been drawn out for so long that we are now again in the situation where the government has to deal with a crisis. It seems to me that the government has, in most part, abrogated its responsibilities. Anyone who is knowledgeable in the area - whether they be coming forward with a business plan or whether they be involved in the federal civil service at this time and working in that area, or anybody in the business - knows that the Government of the Yukon Territory has not been committed to this transfer.
When we ask the Minister of Renewable Resources questions, he stands in his place and talks about the Northwest Territories and how they got a raw deal. I am not knowledgeable enough to judge how good an arrangement that particular transfer was - what areas were the strong points, what areas were the weak points - but I do know that the people of the Northwest Territories know who is responsible for the policy and the administration of forest management. They know who to go to and that is their territorial legislature, not Ottawa.
I would assume, and perhaps I will be corrected by the Member opposite, that those involved in those areas that can sustain a forestry harvest and are close enough for the purposes of providing that harvest to a market are probably doing quite well and genuinely like the fact that they are only dealing with one government instead of two.
I am sure it is frustrating for anyone in this business to have to go to two levels of government, especially two levels of government that really have not been talking to each other over the past number of years - contrary to this, what they call, continuing discussions.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member that he has three minutes to conclude.
Mr. Lang: Another area in this motion that we feel should be debated and should be considered by the side opposite is the question of the transfer; it should not be done in isolation of its effect on the administration. I propose an amendment to the amendment.
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 8 be amended by adding after the words in the territory the following:
THAT this House urges the government, in preparation for the transfer of control of the forestry resource, to examine the feasibility of locating the forestry administration in Watson Lake.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 8 be amended by adding after the words in the territory the following:
THAT this House urges the government, in preparation for the transfer of control of the forestry resource, to examine the feasibility of locating the forestry administration in Watson Lake.
Mr. Lang: I guess this is what is called a friendly amendment, to paraphrase a colleague of mine, the Minister of Renewable Resources. I know it was an oversight in the amendment the Minister brought forward. We feel that the amendment we are proposing is going to be of significant importance to the territory. Perhaps only a portion of the transferred administration would be located in Watson Lake. You will notice the careful wording here in the phrase examine the feasibility. We feel it has to be looked at from the point of view of effective management and effective delivery of the particular program in order to justify a transfer.
I understand that there are some problems...
Speaker: Order please. The Member has one minute to conclude.
Mr. Lang: That will be tough. A difficulty one might find is that in the present federal bureaucracy, the people doing the job are doing a number of different functions and not only in this particular area. We feel that this helps to finish the motion, especially in view of the fact that we are prepared to accept the amendment from the government with the understanding of the caveats that I spoke of earlier.
I hope that the side opposite will find time to look at this very serious question. It is an issue that has to be addressed in conjunction with the transfer of that responsibility.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will not speak very long on the amendment proposed to the amendment, except to begin by saying that I am pleased to see the side opposite has expressed their support for the amendment I proposed. I realize it is with some reservations. I want to emphasize that I strongly disagree with the position that we have done nothing for the last two and one-half years.
We have been continuing our discussions with the federal government. I want to point out to the Member that these discussions take a long time. There are a number of issues to consider in the transfer of a major resource, such as forestry management. There is the question of fire suppression and the money that we will inherit from such a transfer for the annual operation. We have to take a look at the assets we would be assuming, and their value, so that we do spend our money wisely in the transfer. We have to take a look at the money available from the federal government for some inventory studies, and for management studies, such as the plan for the southeast Yukon. Naturally, we also have to take into consideration the good point the Member for Porter Creek East has raised concerning the welfare of the employees.
For a moment, I thought that the motion had changed and that we were actually debating the governments record on devolution from the speech provided by the Leader of the Opposition. We talked about some failures of our government, especially the one we have at hand right now, forest and health, which are two major areas. We have been successful in devolving other responsibilities, such as NCPC, the Arctic B and C airports, some major highways in the territory, and we are making progress on the Alaska Highway, which will be good news for the Member for Kluane.
In my Department of Renewable Resources, the freshwater fishery has been devolved, and we are working on obtaining greater responsibility for environmental protection from the federal government.
We have a good score in our government on the progress of devolution of programs. As the Member has correctly noted, the major outstanding ones are health and forestry. I will repeat, these are not easy. We know we can always point to the Northwest Territories, and say that they have had success in those areas, but I wonder how much success the transfer of those programs have brought to the delivery of programs and the management of those areas.
The legislators of the Northwest Territories have conceded that the transfers went through too fast. As a result, there were too many problems and they have some regrets.
I am thoroughly convinced that the position that this government is taking with respect to the devolution of responsibilities, a slow and cautious course, is the right one. It has proven itself in the many examples I have provided. I think that, in the end, we will have a good agreement on the health and forestry transfers.
I am not going to blame the federal government for the lack of progress as the Leader of the Official Opposition predicted that I would. As I say, these are very difficult matters before us and they are going to take a lot of time and consideration. I would also like to point out that devolving this responsibility is also made alongside of getting the job done on some other major priorities of this government. These priorities are not small tasks either, such as the settling of land claims. My own department, for example, worked long and hard in introducing policies and programs on the environment and the production of the Environment Act.
To be fair, all of those things have to be considered in the equation of how quickly we do make progress on devolution. I think that if one looks at that equation in a fair light, they will have to concede that we are continuing to work on the question and make some progress.
Incidentally, I also agree with the Leader of the Official Opposition that people working in the forest industry do want to report to one government, but I would like to suggest that they would much prefer, from the discussions that we have had, that the people involved in the forest industry in the Yukon, would like to be working with our government, the Government of the Yukon -8 the one that is near at hand and the one that will involve them in the industry, in the consultations about developing policies and management strategies that will benefit all people in the Yukon.
With respect to the proposed amendment, I want to assure the Leader of the Official Opposition, who introduced this amendment, that I do accept this as a friendly amendment. We will certainly look at the feasibility of locating the forestry administration in Watson Lake. It is something that we plan to discuss with the union representing the forestry employees. We plan to meet with the union and discuss this later this month.
I would like to say on behalf of all Members on this side of the House that we can support the amendment proposed by the Member opposite.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to enter into debate at this time and make a few comments about this interesting subject and about the amendments. It is interesting to get the impression, as I just did, that at least some Members opposite seem to think this is simply an argument about devolution and whether or not they are moving quickly enough or not quickly enough - yea, yea, we are so, we did this: a somewhat schoolboy activity at recess. I do not think that is really what the issue at hand is about at all. I think the issue really has more to do with things such as economic diversification and whether or not we are ever going to have, in the Yukon, the semblance of a healthy economy that is not totally dependent on the largesse of government spending, with most of the money coming from Ottawa.
The reason I say this is that, if one is looking at the various potential for industry of any kind - light industry, heavy industry, whatever - obviously one of the areas one has to consider is the forestry industry in the Yukon.
The concern I have is not merely that the issue has not been paid appropriate attention; it is not that we have not yet achieved the devolution of the resource to the programs of this government from the senior government. That is not really what concerns this Member. What concerns this Member is whether or not, by inaction as well as a rather negligent approach to the problems of the Watson Lake sawmill, we may have destroyed any chance of this resource getting off the ground in the foreseeable future. That is what I am concerned about.
I am not concerned that the Northwest Territories received a transfer four or five years ago and that we did not. I am not concerned that when I questioned the Minister in the House in 1989 about that transfer, he seemed to think that it was merely a transfer of the fire fighting program and not much more than that - to his credit, he did admit that he was wrong.
It is not that Yukoners lost millions upon millions of dollars in the Watson Lake sawmill fiasco. That is not my deepest concern. Nor is it my deepest concern that in that process, a lot of money that ought to have been utilized to enhance the energy situation in Yukon - profits from the Yukon Energy Corporation, were peeled off as dividends and spent on the Watson Lake fiasco. That is not the primary concern, although all these things do concern me.
My concern is this. We seem to have frittered away this resource and any potential for it. We know as a fact, firstly, that the federal government has been ready and more than willing and able to negotiate the devolution of forestry. That goes without saying. We also know that in the anticipation of that transfer being on the horizon, they have been more than willing to pay attention to, and indeed more than willing to follow the lead of the Government of Yukon with regard to what forestry policies ought to be in the Yukon. In fact, they have pretty well indicated that in terms of export licences for logging companies they were quite willing to fully consult with, and probably follow, the guidance of the local territorial government in this regard.
What bothers me is that it is bad enough that we have not developed any policies, but what has that meant with regard to forestry? First of all, what are we talking about here, in terms of policies? Well, in my humble view, surely, if we are interested in economic diversification and in somehow or other seeing that this resource is utilized to the benefit of all Yukoners, we ought to, as a first step, have grappled with the fundamental issues about that resource, particularly in the Liard Basin of the Yukon. We ought to have very quickly, as a top priority, developed policies regarding the sustainability, the kinds of yields that make sense, but more importantly, the allocation of the resource among the users, because you see, we have been going along here in an ad hoc fashion, without really coming to grips with whether or not it makes sense to have one or two large operations in that area, with a virtual monopoly over all the timber, or whether it is more prudent, and our desire, to see the allocation of the resource split up among a smaller number of operations.
For example, as the Leader of the Official Opposition has already said, we know that some families have eked out a living in the area, running a sawmill and supplying lumber, raising a family and hiring people.
We know that others would probably be able to do so as well. We have the example of other small mills and each of these small mills brings a lot of economic benefit to the Watson Lake area - indeed, to all the Yukon. But we have not dealt with that key issue of what we ought to be doing with the resource and how it ought to be allocated, of how it ought to be utilized, of whether or not, in the opinion of top-notch experts, one big mill or two big mills is the way to go, as opposed to other options.
I have always had the analogy in my mind of the way in which the federal government attacked the problem of the closed down mine in Faro. I do not want to get into the banter about we did something, they did something, or anything of the sort, but I can vividly recall that the federal policy of the Liberals and the NDP was to throw some money at it and subsidize it, because there was a bunch of people out of work. I clearly recall what was done when the new Conservative government in Ottawa got into power.
They engaged two of the top-notch experts in the field of mining in the free world. Lassand was one and, as everyone knows, he is an expert in minerals and in selling minerals. He runs all sorts of large corporations that deal in mining stock, and in the buying and selling of precious metals. His advice is sought worldwide. I just read a lengthy article by him in the Northern Miner about a recent trip he made to Russia, and his critique of the mining industry there. As well, we engaged the services of a well-known mining engineer.
Their task was to go to Faro and have a careful look at the entire operation and infrastructure, and report back as to whether or not, and under what circumstances, this could be a viable business. They did this. They looked at the entire operation and discussed it with their various colleagues in mining towns across the nation. In essence, their report was that the mine, just before it shut down, was the second most costly mining operation for base metals in the entire free world.
It was unhealthy, and without certain changes it was pointless to try to let this lame duck carry on. They made a series of recommendations about what could be done by various parties: the territorial government, the federal government, the union, the new management, NCPC and so on. If certain conditions were met, they said, then the cost would be brought down to the average, or just below average, of all the mines that would be competing against them in the free world.
Why is that important? Well, of course, mining, as is lumber, is a very cyclical industry. No one would invest in a company if they knew that, as soon as there was an economic downturn in the free world, their mine would be the first or second to start losing money and would have to shut down. In simple terms, that is why. The rest is history. Steps were taken by all levels of government and those directly connected to the company - the union and so on and we now have Curragh.
I have always been rather dumbfounded as to why that kind of approach was not taken by this government with regard to the forest industry, the Cattermole leases, the mill and so on, in Watson Lake. More than that, because the whole issue of allocation of resource was, at that point, up in the air, that they did not go further at the policy end and thoroughly analyze what kind of allocation for the Liard Basin would be the best policy to recommend to the federal government in the absence of the transfer of the resource.
What happened, of course, was that they jumped in. They were given some advice, although, for the most part, it was not very good advice, about what could be done to run the mill and make a profit in the present circumstances.
The issue of allocation was not really looked at. The role of government with regard to infrastructure and whether or not something could be done to create a situation in which the private sector would have taken it over - for example, as occurred with Cyprus Anvil, now Curragh - was not really examined.
So we have the fiasco that was the Hyland Forest Products operation and, subsequently, Yukon Pacific operation. We have gone through that and I do not want to appear to be letting the side opposite off lightly for not dwelling on it too greatly here.
As I said in my opening remarks, it seems to me that this is more about the resource and more about economic diversification and more about whether we are, in effect, losing this resource because of the lack of a comprehensive policy that should have been developed with the best expertise that was available in the world. It could have been there when the licences were up for grabs and Cattermole was on his way out and before a whole bunch of money had been, as it turned out, wasted and the reputation of the industry in that area being even more sullied throughout the rest of North America than it had by previous operations.
We have gone from bad to worse. I understand the government wants to avoid the issue and is not really interested in forest transfer; it feels it has been hard done by because it did what it did - buying the Cattermole operation and throwing money at it and getting it going - in good faith. I understand that. I understand the position being taken by the side opposite that we are somehow or other being heartless by pointing out the errors of their ways.
We still do not have the fundamental policy that is needed, and the resource has now been sold to a consortium made up of the Kaska and some private backers.
That has been done without any consideration regarding the allocation of sustainable yield, particularly allocation. Now we are being told that the purchasers are going to have to rape the resource and sell logs in order to have a chance to be viable. They have the licence? They may carry on, and it may be impossible to get the resource back from these owners. It is now entwined with land claims and all of those other factors. We have no idea of what the best use of the resource is, what potential it has or what we really want to see happen down there in Watson Lake with our forest industry, a major part of it.
That may not be a big deal. It may be that any number of excuses may be forthcoming from the side opposite. I stand by what I say, that this really is a debate about economic diversification. It is a debate about what to do with an important resource in Yukon and about whether if something is not done soon, it may be too late.
I do not think for a minute that this government is going to be in a position to say that it has now decided that the resource, the subject of the tree farm licences, ought to be divided up among a bunch of companies, including the existing ones. I do not think for a moment that is politically possible. I do not see any kind of consultation or public debate about the fundamental issues concerning the resource.
Of course, it is very easy for us to blame Ottawa. It is, after all, Ottawas fault and its problem. All we did was come along and try to bail out the company, and we failed. Surely, everyone can see that it is about much more than that. It is about whether or not we have frittered that resource away forever, and with it, what I see as a very important area of economic diversification for the southeastern Yukon.
I intend to support the motion as amended and subamended. I will not get into any detail at this time about the other area where there seems to be a gap in any kind of a sensible policy, that being the area of decentralization. Much of what I have said with regard to this issue applies to the way that the government is being decentralized. Too much is being done in an ad hoc, political-natured way and not enough on the basis of well thought out policy with an objective - at least as objective as possible for a policy such as this criteria against which to measure decisions about decentralization.
In the case of the amendment to the amendment, in theory we can support the notion that we ought to look at Watson Lake. Up until recently, that was the place where most of the marketable timber grows in the Yukon. It is not a situation where we are decentralizing departments that existed within this government in Whitehorse to another town. Certainly, we would like to see a study on the feasibility of situating the administration in Watson Lake. We would like to see it done in a very carefully thought out manner. We would like to think it was not political, but that the criteria used to measure were as objective as possible.
I hope the side opposite does not think that I am simply trying to make some tired political points. I feel very strongly about what I have said. I firmly believe the issue really is that of economic diversification and whether or not we have frittered away a very important resource in the Yukon, or whether what we have done, or the mistakes that have been made, are salvageable at this time. I hope that the government will do more than simply discuss a transfer with the federal government.
It will see setting fundamental policies as an urgent priority before they get into the issue of the transfer and they will be in a position to advise the federal government as to what they see best with regard to the allocation, and that sort of thing. The devolution of the resource would not have cured the problem; a good, clear policy would have.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I had not intended to enter this debate until invited to do so by our colleague, the Hon. Member for Hootalinqua. What provoked me was the recitation of the facts that were described by the Member for Hootalinqua, items I shall affectionately think of as Phelps facts. I hope the Member will understand that I have a different point of view, and a different sense of history, on a whole number of points that he made. This afternoon, I am not going to try to persuade every single Member of the House that my knowledge of these matters is superior to the Member for Hootalinquas. I would simply want him to know that I think he is wrong about several things he said, and do not impute any ill intention to his statements. I only want to point out that I think, in certain respects, he is misinformed.
In the last session, we heard many statements from the Member opposite, indicating support for the Reform Partys view of the world. In this session, he is now indicating a new affection, or fealty, to the federal Conservative Party, which is ironic at a time when his own party has just changed its name to disguise its affinity with that organization.
I do want to respond to his claim that the federal government has been willing to do the forestry transfer because it is a claim that the former Leader of the Opposition has made, I think, in respect to every single item that has been the subject of negotiation at the devolution table over the last several years.
Now he is right to this extent, that if this government had been prepared to take the forestry program or the hospital program - or any other program, such as the freshwater fisheries program - on an as-is, where-is basis, on the basis of under funding, on the basis of a cutback program, on the basis of severely impaired services, then we could have had the program right away. The federal government would have achieved one of its two objectives in devolution: the first being devolution, on the face of it, and the second being deficit cutting. We would have helped the federal government contribute to cutting the deficit and we would have had, I suspect, found some satisfaction in in certain circles from doing that. But the people of the Yukon would have paid an extraordinary cost if we had accepted devolution on the terms that the Members comments indicated we should have done. We certainly would have made a colossal mistake if we had accepted forestry under anything like the terms the Northwest Territories did. Indeed, I think that if we had accepted the health transfer in the way they did and the hospital transfer in the way they did, we would have been facing a very, very serious financial situation today. I believe we made the right decision in refusing to accept devolution on those terms and insisting that we only will have transferred to this government fully funded programs.
There are two exceptions where we have not done that and I think that the freshwater fishery program was an interesting one. Even though the Minister of Renewable Resources, the former Member for Watson Lake, bargained very hard, insisting at one point that it would take at least 10 person years to properly manage the freshwater fishing operation in this territory, the federal governments position was, throughout the negotiations, that they were only going to offer one person year.
Anybody who knows anything about the fishery resource in this territory - and I happen to believe that the Member for Hootalinqua probably knows more than I - knows that we could not have managed the resource with one person year.
Well, the Member for Hootalinqua is indicating that he is not sure if we could have managed with one person year. My view is that we could not have done it.
We believe that the resource was being so badly managed - and I believe the Member opposite has moved a motion or two in this House arguing the same point - that it was an imperative that we take it over and absorb the extra costs involved. Some of those costs would be passed on to the users of the resource.
The other case was the Prospectors Assistance Program, where the federal government just did what they have done a number of times. They just dropped the program and invited us to pick it up. We had the extraordinary suggestion in, I think, just the last sitting, that the minute the federal government drops a program, we should stop and pick it up right away. That is a pretty stupid bargaining position. If we ever gave the federal government any indication that we were prepared to do that, we would have a bankrupt territory very quickly.
I want to conclude on this point by saying that the federal government has been willing to talk about devolution, but that is not all there is to it. If the federal government is only going to offer us 50-cent dollars to operate the program, if it will not offer the adequate resources, if we are not going to have the proper inventories of not only the resource, but not even of the equipment, if we do not have adequate negotiations with the people affected - the employees - we cannot proceed. I remember the Member for Riverdale South indicating the other day, on decentralization, that the employees should perhaps be forced to move. We do not have a policy of treating our employees that way. We have a very different approach. We have given employees options. We want to treat the employees that work for the federal forestry with respect and decency and include them in the discussions on how we proceed.
The second point made by the former Leader of the Official Opposition, the Member for Hootalinqua, is that the federal government is prepared to follow our lead on the question of policy. I have dealt with successive ministers of Indian and Northern Affairs. I would like to see, from the Member for Hootalinqua, some indication that that is the case. They have made all sorts of policy decisions in the resources area in this territory. I cannot think of a single case where we have been singled out for consultation about that policy.
He made specific reference to export licences. During my time as Minister responsible, I know of cases where export licences were issued by the federal government without any consultation with us whatsoever, and we protested very loudly about that. In fact, I remember very clearly that, on one occasion, a decision was made by a Minister of External Affairs without the courtesy of any contact whatsoever with the Government of Yukon. It is simply wrong to say, as a blanket statement, that the federal government has been prepared to follow our lead on it. As the Minister of Renewable Resources said earlier today in his speech, he could cite 13 instances where they have issued export licences.
The Member for Hootalinqua is quite right when he talks about these being fundamental issues. The questions of sustainability and allocation are important questions. They are questions to which we have devoted some time. In fact, as I will mention in a minute or so, the Minister of Renewable Resources is at this moment engaged in a consultation process with the people of the Yukon, especially interested parties on both the question of sustainability and the question of allocation.
I might have let all the comments of the Member for Hootalinqua go by if he had not then really iced the cake for me by describing and recommending to us that we should have followed, in the case of the Watson Lake experience, the precedent established with respect to the re-opening of the mine at Faro. To use his words, he suggested that we should have used top-notch experts. If there was one thing we did with respect to the Watson Lake experience, it was that we went out and hired the people we were told were the top-notch experts, the best people who were available.
We followed the advice of the top-notch experts. Remember, we did not get into the Watson Lake situation as a planned initiative of the government; we did it because the constituents of the Member for Watson Lake were crying out for us to do something because their economy was on its knees. Mining was down, forestry was down, everything was down in the area and they wanted us to do something. That is how we got involved. We did not have the luxury of months of planning. We did not have the luxury even, in the relatively short time frame we had, to get involved in helping to put the deal together to re-open the mine at Faro.
It is fascinating to listen to the Member for Hootalinquas recitation or description of who was the key and the pivotal players in the re-opening of the mine at Faro. I can tell the Member with absolute certainty that all involved, including the federal government people, have a different view of who the key players were. I would love to have a private conversation with the Member for Hootalinqua about that sometime.
The Member is saying that that is the issue. It is not. We had a number of experts available to us, as did the federal government. Some of the people who were expert were in the employ of the federal government. In fact, I have heard it alleged that one excellent person in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, who is truly an expert on the Faro mine, having studied it for all of its years of operation and has the same kind of technical expertise as the Member is crediting to the other gentlemen over there, had a plan to re-open the mine at Faro even before it closed.
That may well be the case. The Member is also right - and let us not forget this one - when he says that the problem with the mine at Faro was that it is one of the highest cost producers in the world and in fact, it was in the second percentile of the high cost producers. The Member for Hootalinqua is quite right about that. I do not think Mr. Lassand or Mr. Stein could claim that they discovered that.
I am sure that they are not the people who discovered that. It was fairly obvious to anybody working in the industry, including people who are still working for the current company and those who worked for the previous owner.
The fact remains that it was necessary to reduce the operating costs of that mine and, in operation, it became not one of the second highest cost operators, but one of the second lowest cost operators. Let us not have any illusions about where some of those costs went. Let us admit here that some of the costs were taken from the private sector and absorbed by the public sector. Let us also admit what most people involved would admit, that since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement, those kind of arrangements would not be permitted because the competitors of Curragh would probably call them subsidies.
There are a number of, as the Member from Hootalinqua says, complex questions around the operation of the forestry industry in Yukon. The Member talked about sustainable renewable resources and allocation. A related question is the question of the concept of renewable. It is a serious question to ask when you are talking about trees that take as long to grow as the ones in the area of Watson Lake or anywhere in the territory. What does it mean to talk about a renewable resource and is a tree that takes more than 100 years to come to maturity really renewable in any meaningful sense of the word? These are difficult questions.
The Member said that he would spare us today his recitation about government inaction and negligence. The Members opposite have never been clear about whether or not we did too much or too little in respect to the Watson Lake sawmill, but we do accept that it is their view that whatever we did that it was wrong.
It is generally their view that, whatever we do in anything, it is wrong. The Member has repeated the false information that the government used the profits from the power company to finance this operation. That is not true. As the record will show, we put in excess of $30 million from the Government of the Yukon into the Yukon Development Corporation in the relevant period. That is an item that always seems to be left off the list of facts described by the Members opposite.
The Member opposite suggests that, somehow, this government would have been in a position to make certain policy decisions without access to even the inventory information available to the federal government. As compared with other jurisdictions, I know that even the federal governments information about inventories in the territory is not as well-developed as it is in some of the southern jurisdictions. I know that several potential investors were dissuaded from getting more heavily involved in the Yukon forest industry simply because the responsible government, the federal government, was not able to describe adequately for them the extent, character and quality of the resource.
The Member for Hootalinqua talks about raping the resources, and he talks about the export of raw logs. Let me share something with the Member that he may not know. I will pass it on to him, because I think it is relevant to this discussion. It may say something about the way potential investors view the resource here.
In my experience, every single potential investor that has come along, talking about the Yukon forest industry, the Liard Valley timber, what some of the people call fibre, has had, as the first point in their proposal, the export of raw logs. I have been around long enough to have heard the argument made by every single one, including major multi-nationals, that it was impossible to finance a mill, or mills, or forestry operations in the area if they were not allowed, just for a few years, to export the raw logs.
There are a number of reasons why Shieldings ended up becoming involved here. One of the reasons it became involved was because at the outset it was not the stated intention of their company to be involved in export of raw logs. In fact, it had committed itself initially to a very substantial investment in a new mill - in other words, value added to the resource that would have been harvested here. We all know well enough the history of what happened there. Northern Diversified Ship Building, that unfortunate company that was also involved in a project that went sour because, interestingly enough, the federal government decided not to go ahead with an ice breaker project, in some way may have been affected by that.
The Member for Hootalinqua suggested that we do not have any forestry policy to speak of. Let me just point out to him, as he may have forgotten, that the Minister of Renewable Resources issued an options paper on forestry development last year. That consultation is still going on. The paper indicates very clearly that prior to the full assumption of the responsibility for us, we will have to have legislation and regulations in place. That is something that we have anticipated. That legislation will be extensively debated in our House.
None of this should be a surprise. We know how difficult it has been to complete some of the devolution negotiations. We have been actively involved in trying to transfer provincial-like powers as part of our on-going constitutional development. We are intending to engage in negotiations to accept transfers that have served a long-term interest to our territory. As a pre-condition, the Yukon Government will only accept responsibility for a program where adequate funding is provided. It is not a policy to accept a transfer at any cost.
The basic principles of our negotiating position are reflected in a Canada-Yukon memorandum on devolution, which was executed by both governments back in September, 1988. We have completed a number of important transfers, including Northern Canada Power Commission, freshwater fisheries, mine safety, D and C airports, and inter-territorial roads. We are now working on very important ones, like health services, the Northern Accord, land titles, the Alaska Highway and forestry. I have every hope that we will be able to successfully conclude negotiations on these important questions, including the forestry management question.
I move that debate on this motion now be adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that debate be now adjourned.
Motion to adjourn debate on Motion No. 8 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday, November 18, 1991.
The House adjourned at 5:20 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 13, 1991:
Yukon Training Strategy: Investing in People (McDonald)