Monday, November 18, 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: Before starting with the Daily Routine today, I would like to tell Members that our guests from across Canada who were here to attend the 16th Commonwealth Parliamentary Seminar on Friday and Saturday found all of the business topics to be of great interest. I believe each of them went away feeling very satisfied that their time here was productive. I know that they found it most enjoyable. I would like to thank our Members for their participation and their assistance in hosting this seminar.
It is my pleasure to introduce to the House today, Arnold Tusa, the former Speaker from Saskatchewans Legislative Assembly, who attended our seminar.
Mr. Phillips: On behalf of our caucus, we would like to extend our congratulations and thanks to the Legislative Assembly Office for the outstanding job that they did this weekend for the seminar. We would also like to thank Missy and Patrick for the all of the work that was involved in organizing the seminar and all of the other Legislative Assembly staff members we do not see, but who are always so valuable in these types of seminars.
I think that it was more difficult to organize this year, as we were in session and our staff was very busy with both the session and the conference. Our hats have to go off to our staff for the excellent job that they did.
As well, I would like to thank Terry Moore from Ottawa who came up here to assist us.
I think that we can be very proud of the seminar that took place this weekend. From the comments that I have heard from the participants at the seminar, they felt that it was very interesting; the topics were very good and they enjoyed the social activities that we took part in.
Again, I would like to thank the Legislative Assembly staff and you, Mr. Speaker, for the very outstanding job you did in hosting the seminar.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to join with you and with the Opposition House Leader in congratulating all of those who partook not only in the discussions, but in the organization of the meeting. I, too, on behalf of our caucus, thank Missy Follwell and Patrick Michael. I want to give their full names to distinguish them from the other Pats and Missys in the Legislative Assembly Office. They put in yeomans service in putting this conference together and making it as valuable as it was.
On a personal note, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting beside the resident expert on the Alaska Highway during our discussions on national transportation policy. I can tell you that it was a joy sitting beside him rather than behind him or in front of him when he engages in that particular subject.
Again, on behalf of our caucus, I would like to thank everyone who participated and particularly the people who put so much effort into organizing it.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling a document entitled Implementing the Yukon Conservation Strategy: Progress Report.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling the third progress report on the Yukon Economic Strategy.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
NOTICE OF MOTION FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mrs. Firth: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT the House do issue an order for a return of all the documentation and data assembled by the Deputy Ministers committee to develop a strategy on fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), as well as the recommendations on an FAS action plan.
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Kassi: I give notice of motion:
THAT this House congratulates the Gwitchin Nation, the Porcupine Caribou Management Board, the Alaska Coalition, the Gwitchin Steering Committee and the Government of Canada, the Government of Yukon, the dozens of environmental organizations and thousands of individuals who successfully lobbied for the withdrawal of the United States Senate bill which would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development; and
THAT this House support continued efforts to protect the Yukon and Alaskas north slope for the preservation of the land, air, water and wildlife for the survival of the people who depend on those resources.
I have another notice of motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the youth of this territory represent our hope for the future; and
THAT this House:
1) congratulates the Voices of Northern Youth Committee and other Yukon youth who take direct responsibility for the world in which they live
2) encourage the young people of the Yukon to continue their efforts, as demonstrated at the recent youth conference, to lead healthier lives, to end discrimination, to promote self-help groups, and to improve their understanding of the world.
Mr. Joe: I give notice of motion:
THAT this House support the principle of self-government for First Nations.
I give notice of motion:
THAT this House support the right of free collective bargaining for workers including fair wage settlements for the public service; and
I give notice of motion:
THAT this House endorses and supports the Yukon Conservation Strategy and the protection and wise use of the Yukons wilderness.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before I deliver my comments on municipal finance, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the recently elected mayors and municipal councillors as a result of the municipal elections last Thursday. These community leaders will be playing a very critical role in nurturing and advancing their community interests for the next three years. I look forward to continuing a positive relationship with these councils. I believe that the record number of candidates in the municipal elections speaks very well for the health of municipal government in the Yukon. I wish all elected people well in their deliberations and their decisions.
Municipal finance: comprehensive block funding and extraordinary funding
In keeping with our goals of healthy communities and good government, I am pleased today to announce a significant enhancement to our policy of financial support for Yukon municipalities and the people they serve.
By increasing the comprehensive block fund and grants-in-lieu-of-taxes the Yukon government will add $1,100,000 to municipal funding in the 1992-93 budget year, an increase of 7.7 per cent. When this years extraordinary funding is included, this governments commitment to the municipalities reaches almost $17 million.
The new comprehensive block funding program, passed into legislation this past spring, consolidates municipal grants for operation, recreation, water and sewer deficits, transit deficits and capital infrastructure, and places them into one grant from the Government of the Yukon. Each municipality can then decide for itself where the money is actually spent.
Through the comprehensive block fund, municipalities will receive a total of $12.1 million in the next budget year. That is a 5.5 percent increase over last years total of $11,470,000. This increase will provide more dollars for municipalities to undertake the projects that they see as important to the health and stability of their communities.
Grants-in-lieu of taxes have also been increased by $440,000, an increase of 17 percent from 1991-92. Including this near one-half million dollar increase, a total of $2.9 million will go to municipalities in lieu of property taxes on Yukon government property. Our ongoing support through these grants-in-lieu is a major financial contribution to municipalities around the territory.
In addition to these increases, the Yukon government will provide extraordinary funding for a number of municipal projects. As previously stated in this House, we are committed to one-third of the cost of a new sewage facility for Whitehorse. In 1992-93, $580,000 has been budgeted for engineering and planning. This is in addition to $150,000 that we paid out this year to the City of Whitehorse for sewage treatment.
Dawson City will also receive $810,000 for sewage repairs, which were undertaken this fall. These dollars were advanced out of next years budget, largely because the City of Dawson opted to complete the project ahead of schedule.
There is $1.3 million to go to Mayo in 1992-93 for its sewage treatment system. The total commitment on that project is $2,495,000. Eligibility for extraordinary funding will be based on consideration of municipalities infrastructure needs, on its financial capacity and availability of other financing options. Priority will be placed on sewage treatment infrastructure and other projects of critical environmental importance, as borne out in the extraordinary projects I have just cited.
Total funding to municipalities has more than doubled since 1986-87. I believe this is hard evidence of the governments commitment to investing in Yukons future. In addition to increased funding, the new system provides a more equitable distribution of funds. It provides more control over expenditures, and it provides more flexibility to municipalities in making those financial decisions.
I believe the Yukon is in the lead when it comes to devolution of decision making and municipal financing to the municipal level of government, and this is a position the Yukon government plans to maintain.
Mr. Phelps: We are generally pleased with the ministerial statement today. We are somewhat concerned, though, that we not lose the momentum that has been gained because of the strenuous lobbying on the part of various people regarding resolving the sewage treatment problems in Whitehorse and on the Yukon River and Lake Laberge. We want a commitment from this government that they will continue to press for a solution, that they will not simply stand back and expect something to happen if the federal government does not cough up what this government demands as its fair share.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the positive comments of the Member opposite. Certainly, it is not the intention of this government to relax its efforts or its level of commitment to the City of Whitehorse. On an ongoing basis, we are participating at a staff and political level with all three levels of government to encourage the necessary financing and conclusion of research required to make a system work and have it put in place.
For the Members information, I am meeting with the new Whitehorse City Council this coming Friday morning, and the sewage treatment facility is on the agenda so as to brief the new members and plan the next course of action to put it into reality.
Speaker: This, then, brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Civil service
Mr. Lang: The overriding concern to many people in the territory is the size of the Government of Yukons civil service and the fact that it continues to grow year after year after year, and yet our services do not seem to be improving to the extent that the size of the civil service has increased.
On Friday the Government Leader stated in a newspaper article that there were only 1,550 positions in the government and he also maintained that same position on a C.B.C. radio talk show.
Approximately two weeks ago, the second quarterly report of the statistic review of Yukon was released by the Executive Council Office. On page 12 of that document it states that the estimated personnel for the Government of Yukon in April, May and June of this past year was 3,000 employees. Could the Government Leader tell this House why he is trying to convince the public that there are only 1,500 employees in the employ of the Government of Yukon, yet his own statistical branch estimates personnel at 3,000?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is a regret that we always have to spend time in Question Period correcting the preambles and the misrepresentations from our Members opposite.
We did not say that we had 1,500 employees. In fact, I think that we said something to the effect of there being 1,550 person years in the government. The Member will also know that there was a policy decision made as we devolve responsibility for education to local community control to stop using person years to describe the number of teachers in our system, consistent with the practice elsewhere in the country.
It should be obvious to the Member that there are a great number of people who work for the territorial government, either as part-time or as auxiliary staff, whose total contribution can be translated into person years, but who do not, by themselves, occupy a full person year and do not work for the government 40 hours per week or for 12 months a year. I think that is probably known to the Member opposite.
Mr. Lang: In deference to the public that we serve, I do not believe that there is one truck driver, carpenter or waitress in the general public who listened to that reply who can tell you what a PY is. All they want to know is what the size in the Yukon Territory is as far as the number of people employed by the employer, Mr. Penikett.
I would ask the Government Leader if it is true that there is an estimated 3000 employees within the employment of the Government of Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With the greatest of respect, I suspect that the truck drivers and servers in the coffee shops and motels in the territory enjoy one skill that the Member opposite does not have: that is that they can add. They know that if two people hold a part-time job working 20-some hours a week, that represents one PY or is equivalent to one person working full-time. It is of course the case that we did not invent the PY system - for all of its flaws - when we came into government.
It is not a perfectly accurate description of the size of the public service as we discovered when we came into office and discovered that the Members opposite had hidden several hundred people in the PY count by not even describing the contractors, auxiliary workers or casual workers that they were abusing when they were in office. That was not right and we reformed that. We now have a much more accurate count of the people who are in public service.
Mr. Lang: We have been in the House three days and the Government Leader has been consistent: he has not answered one question. The Executive Council Office released a second-quarter report two weeks ago. The Government Leaders office that he is responsible for states on page 12 that there are 3000 employees within the employment of the Government of the Yukon Territory. I want to ask the Minister if that is an accurate estimate.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It probably is not for today, but as I recall, the last report describes, if I remember it correctly, a certain point in time.
I will explain it to the Member, as it is very probably very difficult for him to understand.
For example, we have in the Department of Health and Social Services, I think, some 55 people who work in the home-care area. None of those people are full-time workers, but if you compute the value of their labour and their contribution to the public in the course of the year it can be converted into the equivalent of full-time person-years, and that is the way that it is expressed in the government budgets for this House. Of course, it was with less accuracy, but in somewhat the same fashion during the days when the Member opposite was a Minister, so it should not be a mystery to him.
Question re: Civil service
Mr. Lang: I do not see Question Period as a place to joke around. It is a place to disseminate information for the general public. I believe the government has a responsibility to truthfully answer, to the best of its ability, the question posed by this side on behalf of the public.
I asked a basic question. We have a report that says that there is estimated to be 3,000 people in the employ of the Government of the Yukon Territory. There are a lot of listeners out there who would like to know the answer to my question. Can the Government Leader tell us if that figure is accurate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member can repeat his misunderstanding of the staff establishment of the Yukon government any time he wishes. I will try to explain it to him as many times as he needs.
The number of people working for the government, provided for in the budget before the House, is in the estimates book and in the detail presented to the House.
I will try to explain it again, as the Member seems to have trouble with this. If there are two people who are job-sharing, which the Member may have heard of, there are two people doing a job in this government that would be listed as one person year. There may be two employees, but it is one person year, and it is equivalent to one person working full-time.
If you have a number of people working only for a certain number of months in the summer, of which there may be several hundred, that number of people can be converted into person years.
Let me explain how it is different from the days when the Member was in government. In those days, they used to deceive the House by having several hundred people, who were summer casuals and who did not receive benefits or union rights, who they said were not included in the person-year count. We changed that. Now, if you take a look at the person years within government, there is more accurate representation of the total contribution by our employees, represented in person years; in other words, the amount of work contributed by people.
If you simply include the number of people who may be working for a day, or people who work part-time, or casual, you will not give accurate, fair, or truthful information to the people of the Yukon. That information, expressed in the terms the Member opposite is doing is designed to confuse the public, rather than to inform it.
Mr. Lang: I assume that my information is correct: there are 3,000 people employed within the Government of the Yukon Territory.
I have another question. The Government Leader speaks about the budget and says how well it has been laid out and how informative it is. As he knows, the staff of the Department of Education is not included in that figure, nor is that of the Yukon Liquor Corporation, nor that of the Yukon Housing Corporation, nor that of the Yukon Workers Compensation Board, nor that of the Yukon Development Corporation or the Yukon College. Could the Minister tell us how many person years are allocated to these various departments?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That information has been regularly made available to the House, and I am happy to tell the Member the number of teachers has, I think, been described by the Minister responsible and he will be happy to do so again. For the record, there are 28 person years in the Workers Compensation Board, eight in the Yukon Development Corporation, 30.5 in the Yukon Housing Corporation, and 44.3 in the Liquor Corporation. That information is contained in the letter that I signed for the Member today.
Mr. Lang: It is funny. I never even corresponded with the Minister and he is writing me letters; other letters that I do send him, he sometimes ignores.
I will ask the Minister this: could he provide us with the number of secondments that have been provided from other governments for the purpose of working for YTG and also, could he provide us with the number of secondments that this government has provided for the purposes of working with other governments outside of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Without notice, I cannot possibly answer that question off the top of my head, but I will be happy to come back to the House with the information the Member has requested.
Question re: Minimum security/inmate escape
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Justice, regarding the details of an escape that took place from the minimum security camp near Carmacks on August 18. One of the individuals who escaped had a record of four previous escapes before he left the Carmacks camp. To me, this seems not to be the most desirable person to be put in a minimum security institution.
The department carried out an extensive investigation into the events leading up to and including the escape, and I would like to know if the Minister would make those findings public?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I did make available to the public the recommendations that came about as the result of that investigation. I will not be making the whole report available because it contains some confidential information.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister tell us if any official of the corrections branch had any reason to believe that, prior to the escape, that escape may very well take place?
Hon. Ms. Joe: When one is dealing with people who are inside our corrections facilities here in the Yukon or anywhere else in Canada, there is a general understanding that one is not going to get model prisoners, although that would be ideal, and in each and every case, one cannot second-guess what that person is going to do. There is a process they have to go through in order to be put into one of those work camps, and that process was carried through in regard to this work camp, as it was in others. We had an incident we were not too pleased with but, as I said, certain things happen within corrections facilities everywhere in the world that are not ideal. This was one of them.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister did not answer my question. This inmate who escaped was far from a model prisoner, I hope, because he escaped four times previous to this. Did any official within the corrections branch ever notify the director of corrections that there were concerns, and did the director do anything when she was made aware of the possible problem that could lead to an escape attempt, which in fact happened two days afterwards?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not aware of that situation, nor was it included in the report. I cannot answer that because I am not entirely sure whether or not that information is correct. It appears that the Member has information that I do not have.
Question re: Minimum security/inmate escape
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister confirm that the contents of a letter sent to one of the escapees gave officials in the institution reasons to believe that the inmate in question may very well try to escape? Could she bring that information back to the House?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot give that commitment here in the House. There may well have been confidential information that individuals might not want made public. If there is, I will not table it. I will take this issue under advisement.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister advise the House or confirm that the director of corrections was made aware of this and that the director of corrections decided to take no action? As I said earlier, the inmate escaped two days later.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member, as always, is making certain allegations in the House. It is a habit that goes on and on and on. I will try to provide the information that he seeks. If this information is confidential, I would have to deny that request.
Mr. Phillips: I do not feel that a letter, which points out that an inmate may want to get out of an institution and officials are made aware of it and then they do nothing, is confidential. I think that it is fairly serious in the whole process. I would like to ask the Minister when she will bring this information back to the House? I think that it is important that we know sooner rather than later.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have already said that I would take these questions under advisement. I will try to provide the information to the House if I can.
Question re: Watson Lake Airport
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister responsible for airports. It is my understanding that the flight service station at the Watson Lake airport will be closing as of December 1, 1991. Also, I am quite aware that the closing is not under the Ministers responsibility. However, I would like to ask the Minister if his department has done an analysis of the safety of landing at the Watson Lake airport without the existing services.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct in recognizing that the responsibility for the Watson Lake airport rests with the federal government. The Member is also quite aware, and has acknowledged, that this government has worked very cooperatively with the community, aviation interests, Transport Canada and the Member himself, in addressing the very severe problem that has been created by the cutback in services to Watson Lake.
The Member is also aware that through those efforts, cooperatively with various interests, my department has provided substantial analyses, support, expertise and personnel to addressing the problem and attempting to persuade the federal government to change its mind.
I cannot answer as to whether or not the department has conducted a formal study. Certainly, on an informal basis, the Member can be assured that we have provided a substantial analysis of the cutback of those services.
Mr. Devries: I would like to know if the Minister sent a department representative to Ottawa in an attempt to personally persuade the Minister of Transport to reverse the decision regarding flight services to Watson Lake. Was there any one-to-one confrontation on this issue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I remember, it seems to me that in the very extensive work that has gone on in the last six to eight months regarding the reduction of services at the Watson Lake airport, we have provided considerable personnel, expertise and various measures of support. I also recall that personnel from my department travelled to various meetings held in Watson Lake and Edmonton. I recall that the Mayor of Watson Lake and I attempted to meet with the federal Minister of Transport earlier in the year.
I would have to take notice on the question of whether or not an official of my department participated at the Ottawa level meetings. I honestly cannot remember. However, on a personal basis, I have raised the matter with the federal Minister on numerous occasions.
Mr. Devries: Apparently, we are also losing services in Mayo and Burwash. Does the Minister plan to have his department intervene on these closings? Are they also reviewing the safety implications of these two closures?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can answer in the affirmative. Throughout the discussions that have taken place surrounding Watson Lake, Mayo and Destruction Bay, matters of safety have been paramount. We are refining our analysis of the potential impact to aviation safety by a reduction of services in those communities, and we are communicating those to the federal government. It is probably too early to say whether we are successful or not.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, wage settlement to former president
Mrs. Firth: Some time ago, a letter was written to the Government Leader, requesting information about the wage settlement that was given to the former president of the Yukon Development Corporation, upon termination of his employment with the corporation. At that time, the Government Leader did not present us with the information in his response. Will he now tell us what the wage settlement was to pay out the former president of the Yukon Development Corporation, Mr. Alex Raider?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation, I will take responsibility for any outstanding commitments that may have been made, or requests for information that have been sought.
On the specific question the Member raises, I take notice. I will research the matter and respond directly back to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: The previous Member we asked refused us the information. Is the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation saying he will bring that information back to this House? Are we going to get the amount of the payment to the former president of the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I am telling the Member is that I understand that she has a made an information request about a personnel matter. I have undertaken to research the matter and advise the Member directly. Whether that constitutes the detail of information that she seeks, only time will tell when I will have the information to give her.
Mrs. Firth: I will make it very clear for the Member. The only detail that we want is the amount. This amount has been paid by public funds and surely the Minister can stand in his place and say that he will bring that back. There is no good reason for them to keep this information secret, because public funds have been expended here.
Perhaps the Minister could give us a commitment that yes, he will bring the amount tomorrow. That is the only detail that we are asking for. I am sure that it will not require a tremendous amount of research or analysis as to what that amount was. Can we have that amount tomorrow?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I repeat to the Member that I have undertaken to research the information requested. I have yet to see a copy of the specific request. I recognize that it is a personnel matter, and it may have complications therein. It may also relate to board decisions over which the Member can quite readily seek information from the board. I have simply taken the Members request as notice and will respond directly to the Member.
Question re: Service organization client lists
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader and Minister of Finance with respect to client lists from service organizations.
My understanding is that this government has requested client lists from service organizations as a condition of their funding. I would like to know exactly what the policy of this government is with respect to wanting the names of people using rehabilitation services, and what evil the government is trying to combat by asking for peoples names.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot suggest that there is any evil that the government is trying to combat by asking for peoples names and, in fact, it is my information that the government is not asking for names. I am sure that in a reply to a supplementary the Minister of Health and Social Services will explain that.
There is a long-standing practice of auditing government expenditures to the final dollar expenditure, a practice carried out by the Auditor General, who requires us to be able to account for public expenditures, consistent with that same principle. In evaluating the economy and effectiveness of government expenditures, clearly the numbers of clients served by a non-government organization or a social service agency must be looked at. The same people may be served by one or two or more such agencies and that is relevant in evaluating the economy and effectiveness of public expenditures in this area. So the only perspective I have on the question is from the audit point of view. As I understand it, the method employed by the Minister of Health and Social Services guarantees that there will be no invasion of privacy but does ensure that there is a proper degree of accountability from the funded agency to the government.
Mr. Nordling: Again, of the Government Leader, the Minister of Finance, I would like to know if, in his budget tour, he spoke to the 20 agencies involved and got their input and their comments in response to his concern about the level of funding they receive and the request for peoples names?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On only one occasion, from a representative from one organization, did the matter come up. As I recall, they were happy with the resolution of that matter, which had been facilitated by my colleague, the Minister for Health and Social Services.
Mr. Nordling: Again, of the Government Leader and the Minister of Finance, I would like to know if the government has reversed its policy decision to ask for client names and if agencies do not provide the lists of names of people who use their services, will the government withhold their funding?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: It would seem to me common courtesy to direct questions about health and social services to the Minister.
I met with representatives from all affected groups to explain what we wished to accomplish by accessing the names and to offer an alternate way of collecting that information. There was general acceptance of the departments proposal to have the independent researcher be the only person to see the actual lists from the various agencies, as a way to get the information, or client numbers, trends and patterns needed for planning rehab services in a coordinated way.
We are not going to have a list. The department will be meeting with each group individually to determine details of how the necessary information will be accessed. It was the suggestion of organizations that they would be willing to provide information to an independent person, who would give each name a code number of some kind.
We require this information to build an information base so that we will know what services are being provided and to whom, and what services are requested.
Question re: Energy Corporation/Mayo-Dawson transmission line
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation regarding Yukon Energy Corporation and in particular about the proposed transmission line to link Mayo to Dawson City. Can the Minister tell us where we are on this issue and when we can expect a decision to be made with regard to building the line?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is that a final decision is expected to be made in January of 1992. The details surrounding the route of the transmission line are currently being worked on; it is undergoing an environmental review process now. That is the update.
Mr. Phelps: Has there been a fairly detailed cost estimate done for that line and, also, for a line from Dawson City to link the main grid near Carmacks? If so, are the actual cost estimates available?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There has been considerable costing done on the Mayo-Dawson transmission line. They have not refined any costs to ones that I would consider final and in a form that should be released and upon which decisions would be made. From my understanding of the costing analysis being done, there are various options of standards and routing being contemplated. Those analyses should be concluded in time for the January 1992 decision, which will be able to be made as a result of the environmental review process currently going on.
With respect to the second part of the question, relating to interconnection with the Whitehorse-Aishihik-Faro system grid at Carmacks, it is fair to say that is one option that is being explored, but I am not aware of any final costing figures having been done.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us whether existing transmission poles used to link Hendersons Corner to Dawson City, which decision was made during the last election, will be used for the transmission line linking Mayo to Dawson City?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hope so. I would take the specific question as notice, because I cannot honestly answer as to whether the specific poles will be used.
Question re: Haines road, beaver dam
Mr. Brewster: I was going to ask a question to the Minister of Education but he was so complimentary that he kind of messed me up. I will now try to ask a question to the Minister of Renewable Resources.
I would like to ask a question on the famous beaver dam subject. Since the Minister failed to take any action to correct the beaver problem, the owner of the hay ranch has lost between 2,000 and 3,000 bales of hay, which is approximately $12,000. This is very important to his livelihood. Also, there is now another piece of property that is being threatened by the beaver dam.
Could the Minister advise the House if these individuals will be entitled to some compensation for their losses as a consequence of the inaction of the government?
Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I cannot advise the Member that the department will be providing any kind of compensation to these individuals.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform the Member that my department is preparing a response to the matter that he raised last week, as to when the culverts will be installed and the record of the trappers take for the year in that area.
Mr. Brewster: Although we are getting answers, it is a little late. The area is now all frozen and the beavers are sleeping so we do not have much of a problem right now. Does the Minister really understand what the beaver-proof culvert would entail in cost, and also if it will work?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I must confess that I do not know what the exact cost will be to install such a culvert, but I do know that some do have a great deal of success, such as the culvert at Coal River Springs, for example. Quite frankly, others are not successful in other situations.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister has been made aware by my letters that, previous to the Shakwak project, the Department of Highways dynamited and destroyed these beaver dams every year to save the highways. Are there two policies - one for damage of property owned by the government and another policy for property owned by private owners and taxpayers?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not aware of a double standard existing in terms of compensation in these examples that the Member has provided. I will ask the department to prepare a response to that question as well.
Question re: Whitehorse Visitor Reception Centre
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism. It is regarding the reception centre currently under construction on top of the hill.
I would like to ask the Minister if the project is on time and on budget.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can assure the Member that the project is on schedule. It will open in May, 1992. The budget has been revised. The total cost of the facility is about $400,000 greater than was anticipated last year.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister tell the House what changes have been made to the interior or exterior of the building that would reflect this $400,000 change?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes. A variety of changes have been made to the exterior, such as the stonework materials. There has been a sprinkler system installed. There has been more money required for the foundation as a result of the testing of the soil in the area. The revised foundation also involved adding a basement for the storage of materials. Some changes have been made to the mechanical room to make the design more efficient. There have been a number of design changes made over the year that will improve the use of the building in serving the public. Obviously, that has added somewhat to the cost.
Mr. Phillips: I find it rather interesting that, prior to the building even being finished, we are making all kinds of changes to it to the tune of $400,000. I thought we talked about those types of reviews being done internally, even before the contract is put out to tender and that everything would be included in the building in the first place.
I wonder if the Minister could advise the House who received the contract and how many local sub-trades are working on the project versus out-of-town companies on that particular project?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I know that the contract was awarded to a local firm. Takhini Southern Lakes submitted the lowest bid. I cannot recall, at this time, if there were other local companies who bid on the project. I know there were a couple from outside, as well. I will return to the House with that information for the Member.
Question re: Carcross cut-off, safety
Mr. Phelps: I have a constituency question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services with regard to the safety conditions on the Alaska Highway at the Carcross cutoff, south of Whitehorse.
In the past few months, we have had several factors impacting on that area. One is the additional ore truck traffic from Watson Lake. Another is the new school that has been built at Golden Horn. There is more bus traffic and children crossing the highway now in the area. At the present time, there is no speed zone on the highway at that very busy intersection. I would ask the Minister to look into the situation and examine the feasibility of creating a speed zone in the intersection area and, as well, installing a flashing amber light there.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member did flag the issue with me last week and it gave me the opportunity to review with department officials how serious the problem may be. The Member will recall that the area that he refers to was part of the Alaska Highway corridor study that was undertaken over a year ago. The corridor in the Whitehorse area along the Alaska Highway was extensively reviewed through public meetings and engineering expertise to determine what improvements should be put in place to make the highway safer. It came out during the corridor study that at the Carcross turn-off there may be some justification for turning lanes being put in place. The department is currently evaluating this to determine if the addition of the Sa Dena Hes ore trucks justify turning lanes at that junction.
I would like to point out to the Member that highway lighting has been improved at that junction. However, his suggestion of speed zones or a flashing amber light are reasonable suggestions. I will take those back to department officials and try to determine if those are appropriate prior to their conclusion of whether or not turning lanes are justified.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for this. I am sure that he recognizes that some things have changed since the Alaska Highway corridor study he referred to was completed and I can assure the Minister that parents in the area are quite concerned, particularly with children crossing the Alaska Highway - which they will do from the school to the restaurant across the Alaska Highway.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members concern and I can assure him that matters of highway safety are of critical importance in any kind of decision-making relating to the upgrading of that particular corridor.
With respect to the matter of installing a pedestrian crossin; that may or may not be suggested. It appears that could very well be less safe than not having them. However, the whole matter of turning lanes, flashing lights and speed zones will be looked at more vigorously.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government Bills.
Bill No. 19: Second Reading - adjourned debate
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 19, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Penikett. Debate adjourned, Mr. Lang.
Mr. Lang: I would like to take a few minutes of the time of the House to share some thoughts about the budget that was presented to us by the government last week. I intend to point out a number of fallacies in the way in which the budget has been presented, as well as a number of what we deem to be weaknesses that the government has acquired in overall policy over the space of the last six years. As well, I intend to point out areas of the budget that I feel are of benefit to the territory, that are going to be of significant consequence to our future in the territory. I also, over the course of the next few minutes, intend to lay out some of my feelings as to how this budget should have been directed.
The budget that we are being asked to examine, that has been presented to the Yukon public, is an all-out effort and attempt to be everything to everybody, but it is my contention that it falls short in a number of areas.
First of all, the budget has not been presented in a straightforward manner, although I am sure that the Government Leader would argue that it is technically correct. It is my contention, however, that one could describe it as politically dishonest in some ways.
Why do I say that? I feel I have a number of valid reasons for my position. First of all, the Government Leader has stated that there is only a four percent increase over and above the forecast estimates.
The fact is that one year ago, last November, the Legislature passed a budget of $356 million. This year, we are being asked to consider a budget of $418 million. This is not a four percent increase from last year. It is an 8.5 percent increase.
What the Government Leader failed to inform the public was that the government could not live within its budget of $356 million, voted last year. Over the course of this past year, it spent almost $46 million more than what vote authority was given during the last budget debate. In other words, the government over spent considerably.
Another reason I feel the budget is deceptive is that the government claims it is requesting only an additional 31 new government positions. Yet, we are told this does not include any new personnel requirements for the Department of Education teaching staff, the Yukon Liquor Corporation, the Yukon College, the Yukon Housing Corporation, Workers Compensation, or the Yukon Development Corporation. Almost half the government departments are not included in the personnel count in the budget.
It is interesting to note, as I raised in Question Period, that the Government Leader has done everything he can to convey a message to the general public that the growth of the Government of the Yukon Territory is not taking place, and he cannot understand the criticism that is coming from various quarters of the population.
In fact, he still has not directly answered the question regarding the employment figures quoted in his own second quarterly report, which indicates an estimated 3,000 employees. Knowing government, that undoubtedly means more than 3,000, not less.
I have just come from a number of the small communities throughout the territory, and they are realizing that this increase in the size of the government is not necessarily helping them. I had the opportunity to speak to a number of private citizens who complained to me that when they come to the City of Whitehorse to do business, they become so confused about which building to go to and which department to go to that it takes a whole day to even come close to doing their business. Generally, when they come to the end of that day, in search of that elusive government department, they, nine times out of ten, get the reply that the officials cannot see them because they are in a meeting.
The message I am conveying to all Members today is that big is not necessarily better.
The budget we have before us is designed to hide the truth about the size of the civil service and to hide that truth from Yukoners. How else could we present a budget to the public that eliminates almost half the departments from accounting for the number of personnel within their various programs?
Another reason I believe this budget presentation is not above-board is the obvious attempt by the Government Leader to try and convince the people of the Yukon that our territorys dependency on Ottawa is becoming less and less. In fact, he tried to convey that message during the talk show on Friday, prior to slamming the telephone down during the break. It is hard to believe that any grown adult would attempt to convey this message in view of the facts.
One only has to refer the Government Leader to his own budget charts. On page 29 of his budget address is a breakdown of the revenues by source.
This clearly tells the story. Of the $418 million budgeted and to be expended by this Legislature, 84 percent comes directly from Ottawa through transfers or other agreements. How can anyone having that knowledge try to convey to the public that we are becoming more self-sufficient, when the opposite is true? If the Government Leader thinks that the people of Yukon do not understand this, then he must believe all Yukoners came up the Yukon River in a wheelbarrow.
The results of six years of mismanagement is beginning to become clearer to the general public, and, I might add, it is a tragedy. The rich formula financing agreement that was negotiated back in 1985 is unfortunately having the opposite effect that it was supposed to have on our territory. One of the overriding principles behind this agreement, or window of opportunity, was to make the Yukon self-sufficient by improving our public infrastructure and working with the business community and the public at large in putting into place an economic social environment that would help create wealth as well as promote private investment. The opposite has occurred. We are today, in 1991, six years later, more dependent on Ottawa than we have ever been before, with very little economic diversification.
With the exception of the new zinc-lead mine out of Watson Lake, Mt. Hundere, there has been very little diversification in our mining community. Unfortunately, and I say this sincerely, the development of the mine in the Watson Lake area has been countered by the closure of the Ketza Mine, Mt. Skookum, United Keno Hill Mine, a slowdown in the placer mining industry and, probably most important as far as our long term future is concerned, a dramatic drop in mining exploration.
We now have a government that is afraid to even indicate a positive position on the future of one of our perhaps world-class mining prospects - Windy Craggy - which is subject to environmental standards being met.
A little further on in my address, I will be making some recommendations that I feel should be considered to help this important sector of our economy and the mainstay of our private business.
Since 1985, this government has spent over one billion dollars. It has continuously touted the successes of its economic diversification plans. I think the time is appropriate to take a few moments to review some of the results.
If economic diversification were defined as massive government growth and the building of government buildings, then I could say we have been successful. Every office building in Whitehorse and the communities - including, in some cases, the recreation centres - now houses some government offices.
Let us shift our examination to some examples of the governments initiatives to diversify our economy to some other areas of the economy. What happened to the chicken farm that was funded under the Economic Development Agreement? Guess what? No chickens. What happened to the pig farm that was funded under one of the government programs? Guess what? No pigs. What happened to the Watson Lake sawmill? Guess what? It went up in smoke.
The real fall-out is that our light bills are going up.
What happened to the idea of the people on the north highway to increase tourism and try to negate the declining figures of visitors to their part of the Yukon? Guess what? Our government recommended, and was successful in, closing Kluane National Park. This government had Kluane Park declared off-limits to our travelling public. The list goes on.
It is our contention that in some quarters there has been incompetence and a lack of policy, or misguided policy that is causing us to become more and more dependent on the largess of the great white father in the east more than ever before.
How have we gotten ourselves into this situation? We cannot blame it on the fact that we have not had access to financial resources.
I want to take a few minutes and examine the top personnel of our administration to see if the Yukon Cabinet is receiving good and sound advice. Let us look at the Department of Economic Development. The Deputy Minister has a background in social work. The result is that Yukoners, including the mining fraternity, are becoming less and less confident that this government supports mines. Why would we not have a Deputy Minister with a background in mining?
Let us look at the Department of Tourism. The Deputy Minister originates from Ottawa and gets lost driving to Haines, Alaska. Would it not be more appropriate to have people who are familiar with the Yukon for our tourism industry?
Let us look at the Department of Health and Human Resources. Yukoners have a brand new Mental Health Act, but no way of implementing it, because there were no regulations in force. Unfortunately, one particular individual had to suffer the consequences.
Let us look at the Department of Community and Transportation Services. The Deputy Minister is being paid $92,000 to go to school, plus, plus, plus. We still have not received the final bill. I guess we can now understand why the Ross River arena, for example, went from an estimate of $500,000 to an eventual cost of over $3 million.
Let us look at the top administrative officer of the Executive Council, new to Yukon from Saskatchewan, and an ex-NDP cabinet minister. This government has to share some responsibility in the loss of our 600 square miles in northern Yukon.
Let us look at the Deputy Minister of Education, who can take credit for the notorious Watson Lake sawmill fiasco and, now, can take some credit for the lack of planning for new school facilities in the Yukon.
The accomplishments speak for themselves. These positions earn approximately $100,000 a year and I submit that the public deserves better. The Government Leader, the other day on the open-air show, challenged the public on where it wants to cut. I submit that he could start at the top floor, where his top management lives and works, and instead of rewarding incompetency, he could start dealing with it as if he were spending his own money.
My observations will appear harsh to some; I feel it has to be said. We are paying top dollar for the management of our government and the public deserves better.
I want to turn our attention to the results of what is occurring because of the many free dollars from Ottawa. It is becoming more and more apparent that much of this money is being allocated to wield what could be described as raw political power.
I just came back from a number of our small communities, as I said earlier, and the message received from some of these residents is loud and clear: you agree with the government, or else. This attitude is unacceptable because once we have lost our right to the freedom of expression, as a people we have lost our dignity, our pride and the basis for our democracy.
I know of what I speak when I speak to people in the small business communities, and I am sure that the side opposite has heard this phrase not once, but many times. I think it is a tragedy that when you go to these communities and people say look, I do not want to become politically involved because the consequences of my being able to do business with the Government of the Yukon Territory will be put in jeopardy.
It is wrong and we are definitely - definitely - stifling the creativity of our communities when we consciously, through the political will and the administrative arm of government, stifle active political debate, no matter where it should occur in our territory.
Year after year after year, the constant issues of contracts and consultants have come up in this House because of the way they have been administered and the fact that people feel they have not been fairly dealt with. To back up my statements about how the people feel, especially in these smaller communities, go and ask the media. The media phones these people, they phone the companies and individuals, and ask for comments. How often have we seen, Do not publish my name; I cannot afford to have it published? Or no comment, because I may be adversely affected? That cannot be tolerated.
I expressed earlier that dependency on government by Yukoners is becoming more and more evident. The most troubling statistic in this budget document is the number of people on welfare, and we are projecting an increase to over seven percent next year - seven percent of our population, at one time or another, will request the services of our social services branch. This only confirms our position that this budget is not achieving the purpose it was set out to achieve: economic diversification.
The social degradation, the lack of pride and dignity that occurs when people are put into this situation - in my judgment, in this day and age with the affluence that we have had in this government over the past five or six years - there is no reason that we should be seeing an increase in welfare recipients.
Another weakness in the budget is that there is very little mention of our energy problems in Yukon. I am very disappointed that there are no proposals going to be set forward during the course of this session to consider alternate solutions.
Our energy problems are fast becoming a crisis. It is my contention that we cannot even begin to discuss economic diversification without having a clear energy policy that will, in the long term, provide the public and business community with affordable, reliable power.
Meanwhile, we are experiencing dramatic increases in our electrical power rates, month to month. This issue, the issue of energy, and the issue of the monthly power rates is becoming more and more a cause of concern to home owners. As a Member of the Legislative Assembly, I can say that this issue is probably the one that has been raised the most consistently to me over the course of this past year.
In conjunction, we are not only paying more for our energy requirements but at the same time, we are experiencing less quality of service. As we all know, numerous power outages have taken place over the past year. They are becoming more and more consistent and regular. The public has a right to know why and the public has a right to know what is going to be done to resolve this.
In the budget, dollars have been allocated toward the sewage treatment facilities in a number of our communities. The Minister responsible made a further statement today, in respect to that particular area of concern. I want to impress upon the House that we have a very basic concern here. We hope that the sewage treatment facility, especially for the City of Whitehorse, which is the worst environmental problem facing Yukon at the present time, is not delayed again.
I note that, in the budget, there are only dollars allocated for planning and none for construction. I think it was evident, from the elections that were held last week, that this issues resolution is of paramount concern to the public.
I am very concerned that we do not find ourselves in a situation where the Government of Yukon blames the federal government for not coming up with its one-third, and, subsequently, the City of Whitehorse and the city council, in particular, not being able to proceed with the project.
I am pleased to hear that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is going to be meeting with the city council this Friday; we will be following those events carefully. I want to say to the side opposite that, if we can be of any assistance in resolving this problem, we definitely will be.
Another area of satisfaction for us is that, after one year of procrastination, appropriate action has been taken on behalf of foster parents and foster children.
We are pleased to see the budget addressing, at least in part, some of our education facility requirements. But, as all Members know, the critic for the Department of Education has put forward a motion to discuss the long-term plans of the Department of Education regarding facilities for the communities that are short of space. That does not only involve the City of Whitehorse. My understanding is that there could also soon be problems in Dawson City. It is going to be interesting to see what the government has developed for our perusal over the course of this session.
Another area of concern for education facilities is one that we will be scrutinizing carefully - it is the Yukon College. It is amazing that we have spent $55 million for that brand new facility and we are already starting to experience some classroom shortages.
I also want to say that we are looking forward to the completion of the extended care facility. I think all Members will agree that it is very badly needed. If there was a criticism about the facility, it would be that we delayed the construction of the facility far too long. In fact, a constituent of mine who passed away a number of weeks ago should have been in an extended care facility three or four years ago.
Another area that I would like to ask all Members to turn their attention to is the question of housing or lack thereof, together with the question of lack of rental accommodations and the land problems being experienced in some of our communities. I realize that the government has some programs in place, but it is my contention, when you examine those programs closely, that they are not helping very many people. In fact, very few people are receiving direct benefits from the dollars that we allocate. At the same time, our housing and rental shortage is becoming worse and worse. As we mentioned at the outset of this session, the vacancy rate in the City of Whitehorse is zero percent. At the same time, when you would think that investors would be investing in a market of this kind, very little private rental accommodation is being built. I believe that the government, in their budget, should have brought forward proposals to promote private investment to provide rental accommodations as well as options for private home ownership. It will be our intention to pursue this issue since we believe that it is a social problem and a very real problem for people out there, which, in part, government can participate in and help resolve.
I would like to take a couple minutes of our time this afternoon to comment on the Department of Health and Social Services. As I mentioned earlier, I am very concerned about the projected increase in the number of welfare recipients for the forthcoming year.
I do not think that any Member of this House should accept the fact that seven percent of our population should be on welfare. It is my strong recommendation that an inter-agency review should be done in this area to see whether or not we can revise and strengthen our programs to put in place incentives for people to rejoin the work force. It is not only to the benefit of the taxpayer but, more importantly, it is to the benefit of those individuals who are caught in that very vicious cycle. With statistics we have been confronted with in this House, with an economy such as ours, with the money that has been made available through our financial agreements, surely we could find and utilize some policy revisions that would encourage and put incentives in place for at least some of these people to provide them with another option, as far as living is concerned.
In this department there is also a broader question. More and more people are asking why our present alcohol and drug programs are not being as effective as they should be. When one looks at the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Services, we see a group of people in our society being recycled, year after year, through the system.
Over the past year, the judiciary, RCMP, and some members of the medical fraternity have been critical of some of the programs, or lack thereof, being provided by this government. As a Member of this Legislature, I, for one, was very disappointed that there was no call in the budget to do an in-depth review of our present programs. Instead, the government is going to increase the budget and pretend that everything is fine.
At the same time, the Yukon Health and Social Services Council sent out an information bulletin, dated October 30, 1991, recommending that a task force be struck to work intensively, over a period of several months, to develop a comprehensive alcohol strategy for all Yukoners, incorporating the plan envisaged in the First Nations proposal.
This area of concern is Yukons number one social enemy. It is not only in one particular community, but all communities throughout the territory. It is one that, I think, some new thoughts should be allowed to come forward on, with some revision of policy, so we could try some new ideas.
When we examine this budget, between the Department of Justice and the community programming area, and the Department of Health and Human Resources, in the area of alcohol and drug programs, we are spending over $13 million. I am not necessarily advocating more money. I am advocating an independent review of this particular portion of these two departments to see what we can do to give a better chance to those who are addicted and suffering from substance abuse, and to see what we can do to help them.
I want to touch on another issue and that is the question of the health transfer. I can understand the need for an iron clad agreement for the transfer, in view of the ever-escalating cost of health services, but what I feel is of paramount importance to the general public and the people we serve is the fact that we still have not received any word about a new hospital. Further, I note that there is no mention of this in the budget.
I guess, as a long-term Member of this House, what grates on me more than anything else is that our sister territory, the Northwest Territories, received its new facility a number of years ago, yet we are no further ahead than we were in 1985.
When we visit the existing hospital, more and more work is being done on that particular facility. I will give you an example. Approximately six months ago all of the windows were replaced. Some work has been done on the heating system. I think it is safe to say that that particular facility is becoming more and more permanent.
I feel that a number of steps should have been taken prior to the tabling of this budget. First of all, I feel that last spring the government should have had very intensive discussions with representatives from the various business and mining groups throughout the territory, as well as representatives from our non-profit social agencies and the Association of Yukon Communities. I know that there were some preliminary meetings but I feel, and I think a lot of those who attended those preliminary meetings also feel, that it was lip service. Such a review, I feel, if done properly and done with the right emphasis, could have brought forward some new ideas, new initiatives and perhaps new policy directions that the government could have undertaken.
It is unforgivable that the government has not provided an energy policy for this session. The government should have been prepared to bring forward an energy policy for consideration in this legislative session.
As I stated earlier, I believe strongly that an overview of the Department of Health and Human Resources should have been undertaken, with special emphasis put on alcohol and drug rehabilitation - Yukons greatest social problem.
I also feel that initiatives, either by the territorial government or, in some cases, in conjunction with the Government of Canada, should have brought forward initiatives that would have strengthened primarily our mining exploration as well as our tourism industry.
Another area where I feel policy has to be provided to this House is a long-term planning document for future educational facility needs, especially schools for our communities.
As an MLA, I feel this past year has been a fiasco. I appreciate the work the Minister of Education has tried to do in this area, but I do not think the government can escape from the responsibility they had to plan for new education facilities, primarily schools. In my riding, we have seen neighbours fighting with neighbours; we have seen delays; we have witnessed almost everything that could go wrong concerning the building of a new school facility.
I think the Yukon needs a long-term education facility capital program that they can look at and examine, to see what is going to happen in their communities if their school populations meet certain numbers.
Another thing I feel the government should have brought forward in a clear and concise manner is a document on their definition of Indian self-government. No one, but no one, knows what anyone is speaking about on this subject, yet it is probably one of the most important issues that is going to affect every man, woman and child in Yukon.
Another area that we are going to pursue over the course of this session is a clear and concise guideline and criteria for the government decentralization initiative that should have been tabled in this House and brought forward in the budget document.
Many of our social needs are being met in this budget. One can only think about education and things of this nature and say, yes, they are being met. At the same time, our major critique applies to the future. There seems to be little, if any, long-term thought being given to the very basis of our future. I am speaking of the energy, mining and transportation infrastructure, especially if we intend to become less dependent on Ottawa.
Steps obviously have to be taken to meet our energy requirements. I believe that if we are going to have a long-term commitment to the mining industry, we must come forward with a clearer understanding and definition of our environmental laws, in order that the uncertainty created in Yukon is resolved.
Further, it is my strong recommendation that the mining community, the Yukon Territorial Government, and the federal government should be considering a flow-through share policy to encourage mining exploration in Yukon. In fact, I would like to table a motion in this House for debate during the course of this sitting, in order that this particular issue can be discussed and debated to see whether or not we can find some commonality to help to support the mining industry of Yukon.
I could go on, but I feel that I have made my point. It is my feeling that if we continue to go in the direction that the government is intent on following, I believe that the ultimate end will be that all Yukoners will be on welfare. The only difference is that most of us will have suits on.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a pleasure to respond to the budget address today, although I must tell you that what has happened to me here this afternoon has happened consistently over the last few years, as I have the dubious pleasure of following the Member for Porter Creek East in the debate. I always look forward to being able to explain the budget, particularly my elements of the budget that have been presented before the House. I constantly become sidetracked and distracted by comments that have been made by the Member for Porter Creek East. That is an unfortunate occurance, because he has a lot more time to speak than I.
Nevertheless, I always feel obligated to respond to some of the comments the Member makes, particularly the last one, which I found very fascinating. The comment would seem to suggest that everyone who works for the government is on welfare, but dressed up. I think that is truly an unfortunate characterization of people who perform a public service.
The Member spoke of competence in government. Again, I was sidetracked into thinking about the past and the Department of Economic Development we inherited in 1985. I juxtaposed that with the criticism that the Deputy Minister of Economic Development currently has a background in social work. The Member indicated that the Deputy Minister had to be one with a mining background in order for there to be real progress shown by the department to support the mining industry. I draw the Member for Porter Creek Easts attention to the time when we took over the department and remind him that half the positions in the department were, at that time, vacant. There were no mining programs. There was only a tote road program when it came to road construction support for the mining industry. I find it passing strange that the Member now suggests that, if only we had, with all our mining support programs - even though we do not have responsibility for the mining sector, as it remains under federal jurisdiction - a Deputy Minister with a mining background, things would be better. It shows gross ignorance of what it is going to take to improve the mining sector in this territory.
The Member suggested that the Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services - in a broad-brushed slander campaign - is going to school and consequently, this denotes a large measure of incompetence that this particular person is supposed to possess. The Yukon public could be better served by someone who did not have to attend school. I would like to suggest to the Member that people who go to school are not necessarily incompetent, but rather they are upgrading their skills. I would suggest for all of the people in the Yukon - I would like to tell the Member that one in five Yukon adults attend school in some form or another - should not feel belittled by the Member simply because they are going to school.
I would remind the Member that this particular Deputy Minister is a person who is a local hire. He was a bank manager in Watson Lake when he first joined the public service. He has risen through the ranks from an entry level position, to the position of Deputy Minister and we are proud to have him in that position.
During the Member from Porter Creek Easts broad-brushed slander campaign against our senior officials, he has suggested that the Deputy Minister for the Executive Council Office is somehow to be blamed for the federal governments imposition of a land claims settlement on the Yukon, against the objections of this Legislature. That is a terrible position to take. It is distracting peoples attention from the real cause of these events and making the events seem very simplistic. I find that the personal attack is unbecoming of a Leader of the Official Opposition.
The Member then went on to talk about the alleged lack of planning for new schools and the fact that there are schools that need more space. Yukon College now requires more space and the cost he quoted was $55 million dollars and of course it was not, it was $39 million dollars. Nevertheless, that does not really matter because that is not a feature of the Members argument. I will go on to talk about the half-truths and the repetitive myths that are laced throughout his speech.
It is true that there are shortages of space here and there, but I will tell you that the government has already built two new schools, with new schools under construction - one next year and two the following year and has a darn good record when it comes to building new classroom space. I will enjoy the debate about the planning for schools, because I recall talking about planning for the Granger school in this Legislature, only to be criticized for proposing to build a school that did not have a sufficient education area to justify it.
I think the facts have proven both critics wrong in that particular respect. We have a lot to discuss, when it comes to the design of schools and school sites. The Member for Porter Creek East will know that the major difficulty we have had in the past year, with respect to finding a site for the schools in Porter Creek, was that the design of Porter Creek does not easily accommodate new schools. I cannot remember who designed that subdivision, but it is a lesson for land planners, when it comes to anticipating future public demand.
I will have a lot to say about that, because we have precious little debate about education in this Legislature, and I am more than happy to engage in it at any time the Members wish to discuss it.
The problem I have had in the last couple of days, having listened to the Member for Porter Creek East explain his version of the budget, is that we seem to be debating two different budgets, sponsored by two different governments, which have two different records.
The Member for Porter Creek East has suggested, on a number of occasions, that not only was the budget a bad budget, in his view, but that people were afraid to talk about it. He said that, when he was out in rural Yukon, on one of his few visits, people were telling him that you had better agree with the government, or else. Perhaps they were referring to him, that he had better agree to the governments agenda, or else he would never get elected in rural Yukon.
I have been in rural Yukon extensively over the past 10 years - not only over the past year - and I do know that there is tremendous support for this governments agenda and this governments expenditures in rural communities. I would suggest that the Member take more than a whirlwind tour to determine exactly what impressions are being left with people in our constituencies.
The budget we have before us is one where the government has put forward expenditure proposals for which there is no need to borrow to make those program expenditures, which means that we, as a government, are not living beyond our means.
The Member for Porter Creek East would suggest that because we receive federal transfers, that somehow that makes the Yukon a welfare case and perhaps makes the people who work for the Yukon government, welfare recipients. There is no reason to belittle Yukoners. There is no reason to make Yukoners feel small because they are the caretakers of a national agenda. It is not essential to economic development in this territory to maintain the Dempster Highway but we do. We spend millions of dollars every year maintaining that highway. It is not because it is essential to the Yukon population; it is essential to the nations agenda. So because we cannot pay for that item out of our own tax revenue, or the maintenance of the Alaska Highway, or some of the other high-cost items, because we cannot pay for that out of our own tax revenues, we should not feel small - and the Leader of the Official Opposition should not make us feel small.
We have in this budget a healthy surplus. This accumulated surplus is many, many times greater than that which we lived with in the early 1980s, when I first joined this House, and the surplus was precious small. There was talk about shutting down the government one day every two weeks, just in order to make sure that the operations could still continue. We are not faced with anything like that now; those days are gone. We will have a healthy accumulated surplus in 1993. We have run year-end budget surpluses in almost every budget year since coming to office, the only exception being when we gave $29 million to the Yukon Energy Corporation to stabilize energy prices in this territory.
There are no tax increases in this budget but the Leader of the Official Opposition did not mention that. Nevertheless, given the record of virtually every government in this country, the fact that there have been no tax increases ought to be an event worth noting.
Not only are there no tax increases in this budget; there have been no tax increases for the last five years. In fact, we have lowered the tax burden to Yukoners. In an effort to assist the economy, we lowered the off-road fuel tax and, in an effort to help our poorer citizens, we eliminated medicare premiums. I believe the Official Opposition, which included every Member on that side of the House, disagreed with the latter action.
We have reduced the Yukons dependency on the federal government. The Member drew our attention to page 29 in the budget book and suggested that 84 percent of our budgetary revenue comes from the feds. The Member cannot read; it does not say that at all. The following page does not say that either. The federal transfer is a percentage of the budget income and is projected to drop another two percent next year, but this is nothing new. The Yukons dependency on the federal government has been declining virtually every year we have been in office. This is not hocum; it is reality, which is another feature of this budget.
The estimated expenditures for next year are expected to increase by four percent. That is approximately what the anticipated rate of inflation is projected to be.
The Leader of the Official Opposition suggested this is deceptive because we ended up voting revotes, and the wage settlement for public servants. Both items were well telegraphed to the Opposition Members. We have been voting revotes every year that I have been in this Legislature, including years when I was sitting in Opposition.
Those capital projects that do not go ahead come back to the Legislature for the purposes of voting the money again. We vote these monies over and over again. This is not a new occurrence. This should not be a mystery to the Leader of the Official Opposition.
There is another feature of this budget. The employment of people by the Yukon Government has remained, and is projected to remain, at 20 to 21 percent of the total employed workforce in the Yukon. It has always been, since we have been in office, 20 to 21 percent of the Yukon workforce. Does this denote to you - it certainly does not to me - a growth in government that is unwarranted? The size of government as a percentage of the workforce has remained constant for the last six years.
One of the things that seemed to preoccupy the previous government, the government of the Progressive Conservatives, prior to 1985, was the rate of inflation. They designed and built their entire budgets around stopping inflation. Let us look back at the inflation rates in this territory over the period of the last six years. It has either been the same as or lower than the national rate of inflation for all those years.
This used to be all we ever talked about in this Legislature. They would talk about financial restraint. They would talk about squeezing social expenditures in the name of inflation fighting. I remember the Government Leader of the day, Mr. Pearson, cajoled me for not understanding that inflation was the biggest problem that this territory faced. There has hardly been a mention of inflation in the past few years. There has never been a mention of it because inflation has not been a significant problem here. It has not been a problem and it has not even been addressed by the Members of the Opposition. Does that not mean something to somebody - people who describe what happens in this Legislature? Does that not mean something to anybody?
These economic indicators are not just a sample of unrelated markers that constitute good budgeting. They are the essential markers that constitute good budgeting. I would submit that any fair-minded person would suggest that this record cannot be equalled by any other jurisdiction.
Now, what is happening in the economy? The Yukons gross domestic product - the sum total of all goods and services transactions - was the fastest growing in this country. In fact, since we have come to office, it has increased 100 percent. This is the stagnant, do-nothing economy that has been described by the Leader of the Official Opposition in 1991 and also by the Leader of the Official Opposition in 1985. This stagnant economy is the fastest growing in the country. It has increased one hundred percent in the last three years. More than 3,000 jobs have been created, and the vast majority of those jobs have been in the private sector.
One might be legitimately concerned about the unemployment rate in this territory. That is usually something opposition parties pick up on immediately, whenever a budget is being brought down. They ask what the government is doing about the unemployed - those unfortunate people who simply cannot find work. The government is doing a tremendous amount. It just so happens, although this was not picked up by anyone yet, that the unemployment rate has declined one percent every year since 1985. For six years in a row, there has been a decline in the unemployment rate. Does that not mean anything to anyone in the Opposition?
What do we hear? We hear that the budget is too much, too little, too slow, too fast, too big, too small, too high, too low or it is just another election budget. This, despite six years of responsible budgeting and a very buoyant economy.
Members of the Opposition have talked about the government getting too big. This, despite the fact that the government work-force has remained at about 20 percent of the employed work force in the territory. The Leader of the Official Opposition cajoles us for not counting this particular year - the potential growth in the college and growth in education. When we calculate the 20 to 21 percent of the work force, we do calculate those items, but I am happy that the Member has raised the issue of growth in services in the education and college field, because I am proud to defend those. I hope the Leader of the Official Opposition comes to his senses and supports them, as well.
It is important to note, in percentage terms, that the largest increases in territorial administration took place between the years 1979 and 1983. It grew at a rate of 20 percent every year. I am using the same indices for growth and for our burgeoning government that the Member opposite is using when he tries to criticize this government. Some of the Members opposite are really upset because they do not like their record being thrown in their faces, but whenever I hear that particular howl from the Members opposite, I always think about the wicked witch of the west, who made much the same pathetic squeals when water was thrown in her face.
Reality is that their record counts, because it is upon that which we can judge their sincerity in making their criticisms today.
In 1979, the government represented four percent of the gross domestic product. In 1983, the government represented 12 percent of the gross domestic product. In 1988, the government represented 10 percent of the gross domestic product. In fact, from that indices, one would realistically and fairly suggest that government size has not grown at all.
During budget debate, the Members opposite criticized the Yukon NDP government for the size of their expenditures. However, immediately after the debate is closed, people go home, the media goes home, the debate on the estimates starts, it is one incessant request for more services in one area, and more services in another area; more money in this and more money in that.
I will give you an example. Last year, the growth in person years for that particular year was 117. Half of that increase in personnel resources went directly into the schools. I remember asking the Members opposite the rhetorical question, and I will truly ask it now, and I hope they will answer it during the sitting: how can they be opposed to that increase in personnel services for education, and for all the other things, without actually saying they are opposed to those increases? They were opposed to the overall growth in personnel, but they were not opposed to the 50-some persons who are dedicated to the school system.
I would suggest to you that is dishonest.
The Member for Porter Creek East, in his rhetoric today, said the government has so many people that they are afraid to count, because the government is worried about the sense of growth in the government, despite the fact that government personnel are only 20 to 21 percent of the total workforce and has been consistently so ever since we took office.
The Leader of the Official Opposition, the Member from Porter Creek East - and I tried to pare it down to a quote, however, I cannot read my writing here - said, We know how government works, there are probably more personnel. YTG hides the truth. Well, I would suggest that he was not referring to our government when he was talking about YTG hiding the truth, because our government counted the personnel and legitimized personnel that were hidden by the previous government through employment contracts. It was the scandal of 1984.
I clearly recall when there were hundreds of people working for the government during that time who did not officially exist. Our government, in the interest of honest accounting, counted these people and the moment that we counted them the Conservatives screamed, Growth in government. That allegation is dishonest.
Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the government payroll, as a proportion of the total Yukon wage bill, has remained virtually constant for the last five years. The Members in the Opposition are suggesting that there is no economic growth in the territory, no jobs and that the economy is stagnant, despite the fact that Yukons economy is the fastest growing in the nation and the fact that the Yukons economy has doubled in the past six years.
Our government has proven that there is economic growth and economic activity within the territory - there are no statistics to support bankruptcy; there is no sense that there is a huge unemployed work force in the Yukon, because the unemployment rate is decreasing. Every time we prove that there is growth and vitality in the Yukons economy, the refrain is, Well, it is all a mirage.
In 1985 the Leader of the Official Opposition told us that all of the economic growth that was taking place in the Yukon was a great, big mirage. It was not real economic activity at all and that if we ever thought about suggesting that those mine workers who were starting to work in Curragh, or any other economic opportunities that were taking place, we were told that it was all a mirage and that it was going to collapse.
We are still hearing the same refrain from the Members in the Opposition six years later. After six years of solid performance, we are still hearing that it is all a mirage, and it is not real and that there is nothing happening in the way of economic growth.
We have invested, in this budget, millions and millions in infrastructure, in roads. We are one of the highest spenders on roads, as a percentage of our budget, in this country. We are spending money on construction and on business programs. The business development fund and its many predecessors, and the Economic Development Agreement, account for a very large proportion of our budget.
When we provide support for the development of new businesses and when we provide for the expansion of old businesses, we recognize that the task before us is a long one. A lot of the funding that we have put into the business sector has been into the small business sector - not big, flashy projects, for the most part, though there are a few of those; there are mines opening up; a couple of mines have opened up since we have been in office.
Incidentally, in this last year, the Member made it seem that because the Yukon only had one mine open up, that somehow the mining industry was stagnant. Only two mines opened up in Canada this year and one of them was in Yukon, so we could say, if we were to use the Members statistics, that 50 percent of the new growth in the mining industry was in the Yukon.
Most of the support being provided in the last number of years has been in the small business sector, but we feel that our greatest strength is in the small business sector, so we do not apologize for putting our energy there.
There is always a question being raised about where the government is going with respect to its expenditures. It is an easy criticism. People always think that all you have to do is say that the budget is directionless and everybody will be frightened by that - just call it directionless. This is despite the fact that we have a Yukon Economic Strategy, which is being updated every year. It was updated this weekend, through the good efforts of so many people in the public and private sectors. We have a conservation strategy; we have the Education Act and we have a training strategy. We have planning processes that set a very real, very firm, very clear direction for us when it comes not only to our expenditure patterns, but also to our philosophical direction.
The question is, what do the Conservatives want? For the sake of the argument, I am going to call the people on the other side Conservatives, because it is an easier shorthand than trying to draw an artificial distinction between the members of the Yukon Party and the Independent Alliance.
Clearly, the difference is minimal at best, in any event.
What do they want? After some goading, the previous Leader of the Official Opposition blurted out that all we had to do was to build roads and hydroelectric projects and that once we had electricity and pavement, we would have it made. I went to Mayo and said, listen folks, taking the cue from the wizards on the opposition benches, now that you have had a paved road for a couple of years and hydroelectric power for 30 years, why is not something in this economy happening? They knew that prescription for economic development was absolute hogwash. It is hogwash, simplistic hogwash.
There is no discussion about the limited markets that exist in small rural communities with limited private investment capital - there is plenty of public capital. There is no discussion about the entrepreneurial experience of many of those community people; consequently, their prescription for economic development will doom rural Yukon to second-class or third-class status virtually for ever. For their sakes, I hope the Members of the Opposition are never allowed to take the reins of power with respect to providing economic leadership in this territory.
As an illustration to explain this a bit more, I recall, when I was a brand new Member in this Legislature and I was sitting on the opposition benches, I was told by the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Penikett, that we had to wait for the budget speech because that would give us a sense of where the Conservative government was going. They said nothing between budget speeches; they did not have things like economic strategies so we had to get a real sense of where the government was going from the budget. I remember the first line of the budget in 1983 was the government taking credit for the reopening of United Keno Hill Mines. This was after I had spent a whole year trying to get the government to even recognize United Keno Hill Mines. They had nothing to do with the reopening and did not put a dime into it. That was the brightest spark on the horizon, the one mine.
We have a long way to go to achieve a better appreciation for what the Conservatives feel is a better prescription for economic development. They complain about there being no diversification in the economy, certainly not to their liking. Their prescription for economic diversification is roads and hydro-electric power, and a few loans programs. We have had loans programs for years. Many of the small communities have hydro-electric power, and they have paved roads, which they have received only in the last few years.
We have provided comprehensive support, strategic planning and lots of investment in those communities, and we know that the benefits of our economic strategy will come slowly, because we understand the complexity of the problems that rural communities face. They still need private investment; they still need entrepreneurs; they still need to encourage markets.
It is grossly unfair for the Leader of the Official Opposition to cite one chicken farm and one pig farm, both of which he alleges are failures, to characterize all the economic development that has taken place in this territory in the last few years. It is a bacon and egg prescription for criticizing economic development.
It is a dishonest one, and it does not recognize the tremendous effort put forward by people in all the sectors. Some of whom have received support from the business loans programs, and some of whom have received support from the Economic Development Agreement, but many people have devoted their energies, as well as their own cash, to making the economy work. It is a disgrace to dismiss them as failures.
It is also a disgrace to criticize the energy policies of this government to the extent that the Members have. This government has probably invested more in this particular area. There was $29 million when we purchased NCPC. In my own constituency, there was $5 million or $6 million for building a power dam. There have been tremendous efforts made to improve the price of energy in this territory, and there will be more. I am sure the Member responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation, the Yukon Energy Corporation and Economic Development will have more to say about this.
I will undertake to pass on the Members criticism to Yukon Electric for the brown outs. I think that Yukoners deserve good service and if the frequency of brown outs is unwarranted, certainly Yukon Electric should hear about it. I will pass on that criticism directly to them.
This government faces constantly conflicting messages. Today we heard the Leader of the Official Opposition speak of the lack of rental housing, lack of housing and lack of land. I remember, as the Minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation, enormous criticism of the Housing Corporation for trying to improve the housing stock in the territory in some of the smaller communities. I remember the very lukewarm support received for the home ownership programs that we introduced back in 1987-88. The development of land and housing is another high-cost item that the Government of Yukon has been investing in for some years.
I wish to get back to the message that we need more schools because I have a lot to say about that. We have a very good record respecting the construction of new schools and we will be doing more.
Every time we build a new school, we get the incessant question of why is there so much government construction going on? Build those schools. Get them going and get them up, but why is there so much government construction?
What we must do is turn peoples attention from one argument that they make to another argument that they make, so that there is some effort at consistency. If we are building two schools in Whitehorse today, it is because there is a need for those schools, and it is not justified for them to criticize the fact of the construction at the same time.
On a number of occasions, we have heard from the Opposition that we should be cutting social spending - we should just put more money into the economy, much more than they ever put in when they were in government, and we should be cutting social spending at the same time. Between those arguments, we hear the incessant refrain that we should be spending more on social spending in various program areas. We hear this constantly. It is like an incessant din in the background all the time. Every time somebody speaks up in the public, we hear the same refrain in the House, mimicked over and over again.
They say we need to spend more money in mining exploration and tourism. But, when we spent money in those areas - and sometimes for the first time, because there was no record of this prior to 1985 - we often hear, as we did last year, the refrain, but you are interfering in the marketplace, if you spend more money there; the marketplace cannot handle that; it is artificial; you should not spend the money. But then they say, do not forget, we got that money; we negotiated it, but do not spend it; save it for a rainy day.
Has it ever occurred to anyone on the Opposition benches that the federal government is not going to give us money, some of which they have borrowed, so that we can put it in the bank for a rainy day? The justification for receiving money from the federal government is to provide for programs and services that are the equivalent of the Canadian average of programs and services. That is the justification for the funding. If we betray that original justification, we can expect that the funding will not be forthcoming.
We hear that it is an election budget and that we are giving everything to everybody.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member that he has one minute to conclude.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a great deal more to say, unfortunately.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have my doubts as to who is in trouble.
Let me just say that the budget that is before us is, in my view, a responsible budget. It is a budget that is well-targeted. It is a budget that I would be proud to take into an election. It is also a budget that is not unlike all the other budgets that we have delivered in this House with no possibility of an election on the horizon. It is well-targeted. It is a fiscally responsible budget. Despite the criticism from the Members of the Opposition, some of which are completely incomprehensible, I believe that a no-tax-increase budget and a budget that allows us to live within our means is a budget for this territory, and I support it.
Mr. Devries: It is always a pleasure to speak after the Hon. Minister of Education. When he speaks he almost always converts me when he starts, however, he keeps babbling and he loses me after awhile.
Another thing that I find interesting is that he keeps looking in the rear-view mirror. It was my understanding that this budget was about investing in the Yukons future. This is the third budget that I have had the opportunity to respond to as the representative for the people of Watson Lake. Upon review of my past responses I find a recurring theme and I must say that the Hon. Minister of Educations speech is also recurring.
The Hon. Minister of Educations speech may be best described by using a Sunday school song that I learned as a child. The song speaks of a wise person who builds a house on a base of rock and when the rains came down and the floods came up, the house withstands the deluge. That is how we all would like to see the territory develop, on a solid base. However, the second verse of this song speaks of a person who builds a much more elaborate house, built on a base of sand knowing full well that the rains will come and assuming the house that was built on sand will be as strong as the neighbours, because it is much more elaborate. We all of course know the results of this parable. I think that the message is well worth revisiting in the context of the way that the Yukon is being developed today. The Government Leader recently toured the territory. I had the pleasure of attending his Watson Lake presentation. I was very impressed by the charts and the graphs, telling us how all was well and how well we are doing and how our dependency on the federal government funding is becoming smaller and smaller each year under his guiding hand.
This is all very impressive, until one sits down and actually looks at the figures. The Government Leader stated that federal transfers of funds accounted for only 53 percent of the budget. He then went on to discuss the other revenues and I notice that he did not elaborate on the source of those revenues. Upon closer examination, if you add the other revenues and the federal formula transfers together, in fact 84 percent of our revenues come from the federal government, and the balance of the funds are raised by the territory.
Apparently, I have not learned to be a politician. I thought our job was to give the people who employ us the facts in an understandable form. Perhaps the next time the Government Leader goes around, he could explain this in a way that all could understand it.
The Government Leader is building an elaborate house, built on a base of federal funding. This year, the government is adding more floors to this elaborate house, with little regard for the foundation. We developed this territory on a solid base of mining and tourism, and I realize those industries are subject to factors that we, in the territory, have little influence or control over.
However, we can provide a more friendly infrastructure for sensible development in both of these bedrock industries by having the courage to support controlled access to Kluane Park, to support improved road access to proven mineral reserves, and to have the vision to aid in sustainable development of natural resources, of which, I must agree, a certain attempt is being made.
I realize these concepts will come under fire from various special interest groups that have the ear of this government but, with all due respect, those are not the people who build the foundations that will allow the territory to wean itself from the federal government.
Now, we will get down to some of the specifics. In Economic Development, I see the forestry sector at almost a standstill. Only in the last month or two has a breath of life come back into the forestry sector in the Watson Lake area. I am sure the Minister responsible for forests understands the urgency of devolution from the federal government, as a result of the recent application by Tenaka Forest Products and Kaska Resources.
I question the Minister of Renewable Resources in saying that progress was taking place with devolution. In reviewing two consecutive government phone books, the forestry transfer unit is listed as vacant.
The workers in the forest service have not heard a word, although I am sure they would be hard-pressed to turn down a six-plus-six-plus-six wage for a zero-plus-three-plus-three one.
I would like the Minister to present me with some hard evidence that progress is actually being made, such as dates of when meetings have taken place and copies of some of the correspondence. After all, it is easier to balance a castle on three rocks than on two.
The proposed correctional facility in Teslin has the potential of creating economic opportunities in that community. I would like to know what has been done in the planning process to train local people in Teslin for positions, such as security guards, maintenance personnel, in food preparation and counselling, et cetera.
If these things have not taken place, does the government plan to move people down there, rather than to allow the local population maximum employment opportunities, or is this another decentralization plan with no prior planning?
Since most of the positions being decentralized are new positions, it is essential that long-term planning take place so that the local population can fill most of the positions that are created. Fortunately, in Watson Lake, this has been the case, up to this point. However, I will be monitoring the second-year initiatives closely, to ensure that Watson Lake people get the opportunity to apply for the so-called decentralized positions.
We see a substantial increase in education spending, and I also question where the teacher person years went. The Minister has sort of explained that. Again, it is important that the money is spent where needed and not to meet some secret agenda.
As the Minister of Education is aware, there were some problems that arose during the end of the first year of implementation of the Education Act. We had students walking out of school, parents refusing to send students to school, and several school councils did not have enough candidates come forward to run in elections or by-elections.
I accept the fact that some growing pains were to be expected. I also have several outstanding requests for information from the department and would appreciate the Minister responding to those before budget debate.
In the area of capital planning in schools, there seems to be a recurring problem, and I would urge the Minister to take a long, hard look at those rather than run into the snags that appeared in projects such as the Porter Creek and McPherson schools. I realize it is not all in his hands; the main problem seems to be with lands.
I feel Yukon College has been largely neglected in this budget. As the Member for Porter Creek East stated, the college is already experiencing overcrowding in the lecture rooms and in the classrooms. I understand the student smoking lounge is being converted into a classroom. There are rumours of classrooms being moved into the gym.
At the same time, announcements of several new training initiatives are being made. I question if there was long-range planning to see if the space was available to facilitate these new initiatives. I also question the amount of money dedicated to the upgrading of equipment, as there are rapidly changing technologies and it is essential that students be trained with up-to-date equipment. I understand that approximately $5 million worth of equipment exists at Yukon College but that only $200,000 has been dedicated to replacement on an annual basis.
In the budget address, we see the government congratulating themselves on the amount of land developed into lots, but to obtain a lot is a joke. There just are none available. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services is aware of the problem surrounding the Watson Lake land lottery last spring and I would like to hear what policy has been put into place to prevent that situation from happening again.
Also, the Minister should take a lesson from the man who travels - Mr. Clifford Frame. The Frances Avenue project and the construction of the mine both started at the same time. A $70 million mine has already been in production for several months and the $1 million Frances Avenue development just went up for lottery last week, with a warning that the road would be soft next spring - obviously still incomplete.
Perhaps we should look at more private developers being used to get the housing sites on stream. Yukon Housing is another area that cannot seem to keep up with demand. My feeling is that much of the problem is lack of land for development...
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Mr. Devries: The Minister is looking in the rear-view mirror again. One must look ahead. If one keeps looking back, we will get nowhere. That is a big problem we are running into all the time.
Private developers are lacking confidence in the economy and are, therefore, reluctant to get into any long term projects. On the bright side, with interest rates coming down, in conjunction with new initiatives from Yukon Housing and cooperation from this side of the House, it is hoped that things will improve in the near future.
I find the way the personnel and financial figures are juggled in the budget book to be deceiving. We have to face the fact that almost one-half of the work force is employed, directly or indirectly, by government. I am not just talking about the Yukon government, but also municipalities, the federal government and all the other government-related agencies. There is also another 25 percent in the service industry relying on government-worker spending to stay in business. If something should go wrong with the federal formula financing procedures, which would also mean cutbacks in all the other revenues as well, we would be in big trouble.
There are some fine initiatives in this budget. I still feel, however, that the overall government strategy is nonexistent. Much of the spending is questionable. There must be some way to offer the services we have in the Yukon in a more economical manner.
In summary, I see some positive aspects in this budget. I see some concern for the well-being of the people of the territory. However, I am concerned about this government building an elaborate house with our childrens money on a foundation that would wash away with a modest rain shower through cutbacks in federal funding.
I look forward to a constructive debate on this budget.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not believe, in the comments that I have made surrounding the budget, that I will be as selective as the Member for Watson Lake was in making his comments. I expect that I will not be as articulate or passionate as my colleague, the Hon. Minister of Education. Neither will I be as misleading as the Leader of the Official Opposition in some of his comments surrounding the representations in the budget.
Both Members of the Opposition who have spoken have made a substantive claim about how the budget does not reflect a wise investment and how the budget is somehow not representative of those things that are needed to make an economy work.
In particular, the Member from Porter Creek East charged that the economy is in a decline, that mining is devastated and that there is chaos in energy policy. He further charges that nothing is working - even diversification has not produced anything. The Member for Watson Lake likens what is happening in the economy to a house built on sand, and called on the budget to restructure its building of an economy on something more substantive. As one of my colleagues has already indicated, Members must be reading from a different budget and talking about a different time frame and about a different region of the country.
I cannot imagine what grounds Members could find to criticize the only economy in the country that has withstood the ravages of recession and has maintained a steady, albeit slow, and constant growth.
Already pointed out is the simple fact, substantiated by statistics, and supported by representations of the industry, that the gross domestic product of the territory, the GDP, has not only doubled since 1985, or grown at the fastest rate in the country, but it has also shown modest increases in every sector of the economy.
There is growth in mining, in manufacturing, and in construction in our economy. Members, particularly the Leader of the Official Opposition, made an emphatic point about how bad the mining scene is. I think he even said there was concern on his part about the drop in exploration in the industry.
The facts speak otherwise. The Yukon is the only jurisdiction in the country that has shown an increase in mining exploration this year. It may not be a massively significant amount; it is only several millions of dollars worth of increased exploration over last year, but it is the only jurisdiction in the country that has shown an increase. Throughout the other territory and provinces, there has been a decrease in virtually every jurisdiction.
We have shown the only increase in exploration. Some of the reasons are because our mining picture is attractive; we have a basic infrastructure in place; we have a very open and cooperative attitude and approach with the industry, and it is also because of the very geology of the situation itself. In comparison to other parts of the country, many of our minerals are very close to the surface. They are minerals that can be extracted quite often more profitably than anywhere else in the country because of the various other infrastructure components in place, not to forget the access to tide water.
The suggestion that mining is on the ropes and exploration is down, is clearly misleading. Yes, mining is in trouble, but not because of a lack of support by this government. We are the government who restructured the support to the mining industry by creating, in the past couple of years, a streamlined delivery of services to the industry, with the Yukon mining incentive program. The Yukon mining incentive program is so popular that it was oversubscribed this year. What this government did, as shown in the supplementary tabled here in the House, was inject an additional $100,000 to meet the oversubscription of the applicants. Under the Economic Development Agreement, there is a mineral component, a mining resources subagreement for $9 million over five years, of which this government contributes 30 percent to the program. In cooperation with the industry, over the next several years, we will be developing a geoscience office here in the territory. This office is going to be of tremendous support to the industry. The industry is looking forward to seeing that centralized service here in Whitehorse, where we are going to have all the regional geological work done so that the industry can have a better handle on what the mining potential is in the Yukon.
The support to the mining industry does not stop there. It does not stop with just programs for exploration, programs for development, programs for risk capital and programs for feasibility. It goes quite a few steps further. We are currently involved with the Chamber of Mines in an exercise that will encourage support for the industry from elsewhere in the country. We are involved in a fair promotion of information to support not just the potential of the industry here, but also to enhance and improve the knowledge about the industry and its importance as a mainstay of our economy; in other words, it is an exercise in public education.
The Member for Watson Lake implied that there was stagnant growth in the economy. I think the simple fact that our gross domestic product has increased each year, in excess of the rate of inflation, substantiates the fact that we are not stagnant, that there is growth, that diversification is working. There are more jobs out there; there are more businesses being created; there are more investments being undertaken. And, at a time when the rest of the country is reeling in reduced activity, when the rest of the country is suffering from a severe recession, where less spending is taking place, we are showing steady, albeit slow, growth. That is not an economy that is destroyed. That is not an economy built on sand. That is an economy built on planning. That is an economy supported strategically, not just by the government, but in cooperation with the private sector.
Members do not have to be reminded where that plan originated. It originated in the public debate over two or three years in the late 1980s, from which evolved the Yukon 2000 Economic Strategy, where people made it very clear that where they wanted to see investment was in the Yukon. People said they did not want to have to leave the Yukon to find a job or make a living. Not always did they want to have to stay here, but they wanted the option; they wanted the choice of having to live here or not.
They wanted to see a fair opportunity here in the territory. They wanted to see more local control. They wanted to see any measures undertaken by the government built on those principles, and that has developed into the programs and mechanisms of support this government has placed into its budget for economic growth and health and stability. That is precisely what we have been able to achieve.
Members have made mockery of the amount of federal assistance that is provided. I do not know how they want to cut numbers, but page 30 of the budget address book - as well as being referred to in previous debates - makes fairly clear the reduced dependency on the federal transfer payments as a portion of our budgetary income. For all but one year from 1985 to the coming budget year, there has been a reduction in the amount of federal transfer payment as we make up more and more of our own expenditure requirements.
At the same time this government has maintained a budget that speaks to an economy that is stable and growing. It is a remarkable feat in my opinion. Not only have we had to rely on more and more of our own revenue sources, but we have been able to do it without tax increases. That is an achievement that I dare say has not been accomplished by any other government in the country, in six successive years.
This is the sixth year in a row that we have not had tax increases. I do not think that any other provincial or territorial government can say that. At the same time, we have responsibly maintained a healthy surplus, and, as I have previously described, our economic picture reflects a reducing unemployment scenario from 17 percent in 1985 to a current level of 10 to 11 percent. That is an average reduction of one percent per year over that period.
I have already said that the gross domestic product has increased by 100 percent during that period and I believe that my colleague the Minister of Education, pointed out that over 3,000 jobs have been created. Most of these jobs were of course in the private sector. Some jobs were extended by programs that were put in place by this government and some jobs were created.
When Members talk about this government spending $1 billion in the last five years, what are they really saying to us? Are they saying that the $500 million dollars spent on education is wasted, or that the $200,000 or $300,000 spent on new road construction is a bad investment, or that the support programs for businesses and the mining community and other interests in the Yukon should not be carried out? What are they saying when they say that this government spent $1 billion dollars, and then try to create the impression that it has all been wasted. I say that these are phony accusations.
There are roads being built and services being provided and greatly improved. Many educational facilities are being constructed. That is the contradiction. They say that this governments spending is out of control and that there is a massive growth in federal dependency and government should curb its spending and reduce its activity and terminate people. At the same time, they, in every breath, ask for more services. An example is $500,000 for a 911 service. They want $200,000 for the Mendenhall Road. We have to find that.
What are they saying? Should every request be taken away from teachers in the schools? I remember $100,000 being requested for the Yukon River jungle safari. This would have been a cost item which, if we had supported it and put it into the budget, would have had to have been found. I recall a Member asking for a second licence plate. This would have been a cost. I remember Members opposite putting forward the argument that we should have upgraded the Alaska Highway with our available billion dollars. The Alaska Highway is fully a federal responsible. We have taken the more rational approach of negotiating the responsibility for that road, as we ought to,and that will be achieved.
The Members have said that we should not have supported Polar Seas Fisheries, which employs several people and provides a diversified economy to the people of the Yukon and to the markets of Canada. Should we perhaps not have supported the Chamber of Commerce in several of their efforts to address different economic initiatives?
I notice that we have supported a number of agricultural initiatives, which would serve to expand our economic base and ensure that diversification does take place. I do not want anyone to misunderstand, or get the impression that this government does not support the two principal pillars of the economy: mining and tourism. Mining and tourism receive massive support from this government, and that will continue.
The Yukon 2000 Economic Strategy made it quite clear that there was a desire by Yukon people to move beyond those two principal pillars of support and expand the base of activity where people could be employed, where resources could be exploited, where employment could be generated, where markets could be built, and that is occurring.
The health of our economy testifies to the wisdom of the past several years of effort to build it, and it is built on solid foundations, not sand.
Members have alluded, through their presentations, to how well they seem to have operated things when things got tough in the early 1980s, and there was a suggestion that the wage settlements that have taken place are, somehow, unwarranted.
The fact is that, between 1981 and 1985, the Yukon government wage settlement was consistently more than inflation for each year - during that period of the previous Conservative Party administration. Since 1985, to the present, the wage settlements have been virtually equal to the inflation rate.
So I guess the point has to be made, and the rhetorical question asked: does that make this past five-year period somehow unstable, containing inappropriate spending on employees? Are we somehow less dependent? Was the economy somehow worse off in the past five years in that comparison?
As pointed out previously, government employees today make up - give or take a percent - 20 percent of the employed labour force. That is the same as it was in the first half of the 1980s, so in terms of the number of government employees, compared to the labour force, we have virtually an unchanged picture. I suppose one could get refined and precise and detailed, and you could find a tenth or two of a percent variance, perhaps from 1983 to 1988, but on balance and on average, the percentage of workforce employed by the government is the same now as 10 years ago.
I guess Members must find it extremely annoying that, in spite of how they cry wolf about the economy, it is clearly an economy that has stability, an economy that is relatively healthy, an economy that is growing, an economy that is diversifying and an economy that is providing the critical support to the kind of programs presented in this budget.
The Member for Porter Creek East raised the issue of energy and suggested that we are facing an energy crisis; he proceeded to chastise the government for the lack of a policy. At some point, I think he even suggested that somehow the recent power outages were the result of that lack of policy and ability to manage energy efficiently. I believe the Members colleague espoused that line in a previous debate and I challenge it vigorously.
The energy situation facing us today is not one that was totally unexpected as of a few recent months ago. To put things into perspective, one has to remember that, in 1987, when we took over the utility from NCPC, we undertook the asset and immediately hired private sector management to maintain the utility. Yukon Electrical, as all Members know, were contracted to be the day-to-day managers of the entire facilities. They were the administration of the utility. The Energy Corporation undertook the broad management of energy policy and development. It was quite clear that, in the first couple of years of the utility where rates were frozen, Yukon people enjoyed rates that did not even rise to the rate of inflation. Members will recall, in fact, that in 1989, subject to a utility board ruling, a rate decrease was instituted.
Leading up to the current year, all consumers in the territory enjoyed a reduction in electrical energy rates, at a time when inflation during that period was in the order of 16 to 17 percent. That has to be quite clear. Between the period 1987 to the summer of 1991, inflation ranged to 17 percent. Rates effectively were reduced during that time. It is not unreasonable to expect that rate increases eventually would have to come. It costs money to operate a utility and rate increases are based on costs of operation. They are based on estimated costs of the operation in the coming year. They are never based retroactively and they are calculated, to be frank, in a very complicated fashion.
In the last couple of years, the Energy Corporation has pumped millions of dollars into utility upgrades. It was interesting that the Member for Porter Creek East suggested that the power outages are somehow the result of bad management. I do not wish to come to the defence of either utility. The Energy Corporation is ultimately responsible for the provision of electrical energy, even though the Yukon Electrical Company is responsible for the day-to-day administration and is in charge of the management of that utility. It is interesting to note that there are no differences in the number, length, sequence, timing or pattern of the energy outages in the past year from previous years.
As I said, I did not want to sound like I was coming to the defence of either utility, but an initial analysis indicates that there is nothing extraordinary or unusual. During the same time, massive amounts of money are going into energy upgrades. In fact, part of the rate increases address some of the anticipated capital expenditure. What Members were partly criticizing was the lack of policy. The fact is that policy does exist. What I previously announced in the House to Members, and it is currently in progress, is the consolidation of that process.
Members will recognize that policy is inherent and any statement relating to energy policy is part of any program that is put into place respecting energy or energy saving. The initiatives that have been undertaken in the last couple of years are part of that policy. What is currently needed and is occurring is a consolidation and refinement of that policy, so there is a clear statement to all people of the Yukon as to where the government and the Energy Corporation are committed on energy matters, in the long term.
Part of that policy exists in documents that have already been tabled in the House and in the strategic plans, plans that I am not sure all people have read. Nevertheless, I challenge any suggestion that we are facing a crisis or that there is a lack of policy. There is a requirement to refine some of that policy and that refinement is now taking place.
The Member for Watson Lake took issue with a number of educational matters. I guess it would be important to put on the record the simple observation that more has been done in the area of education in the past several years than was done the decade before that. I say that with some measure of knowledge and confidence on the subject, because I recall touring the entire territory - including all of the communities - back in 1983 and 1984 at a time when Members opposite were in government.
During the task force, which also included the current Minister of Education, I recall the outspoken statements of people throughout the communities, calling for many improvements in the area of education: in programming, in personnel or in facilities or policies. A real frustration was expressed by people about the education system. Not to be overly critical, there was always a number of favourable elements in the system, but there was a clear expression that education was not meeting the needs of Yukon people, and that it needed revision and a broader-minded approach, and it had to more adequately and properly address the needs of Yukon people in education and training.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member that he has three minutes to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What has been achieved in the past several years, mainly through the initiative of the current Minister of Education, is a completely revamped Education Act, which paves the way for the kind of improvements we only talked about six and seven years ago. Built into that has been a tremendous financial commitment by this government for the improvement and upgrading of physical and support facilities for education.
It is entirely unwarranted to suggest that education in the Yukon has much room for criticism.
I gather that, with your reminder, Mr. Speaker, I should conclude by making the emphatic point that I believe this budget demonstrates this governments commitment to economic health and growth, and to the enhancement of necessary social programs. It is built upon the track record of our commitment to building healthy communities and settling land claims, as well as our commitment to build a sustainable economy and, at the same time, provide good government.
It is a budget that, for the sixth year in a row...
Speaker: Order please. The Member has one minute to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: ...has not included a tax increase. It is a budget that reflects, again, for the sixth year in a row, decreasing unemployment in our economy. This budget reflects a healthy surplus. It also reflects the ratio of public sector to private sector jobs remaining stable. No jurisdiction in the country can claim a record like this. I submit to you that this is good government and that this is a good budget.
Mr. Brewster: I am a little afraid to get up and speak after I find out what a wonderful place we live in and how wonderful this government is. I will relay that to the young boys in Haines Junction and Burwash Landing who have not worked for years. I will relay it to the two boys, 18 years of age, who were in my place crying for work. They cannot find work and they cannot get unemployment insurance because of bureaucracy. I am sure they will agree with the Minister that everything is all right.
The Ministers speech reminds me of a story. It may not be quite as good as some of the ones you tell, Mr. Speaker, but it is a pretty good story. I was at a political meeting one time with a friend of mine. A Minister came in and talked and talked. Unfortunately, we did not have a speaker who could shut him up after 45 minutes. He went on for about one hour and 10 minutes. After it was over, a friend of mine said boy, that was a good speech. I did not want to get in a row with him so I just said, yes, it was a pretty good speech. He said that it was one of the best. By the way, he said, what did he say? Well, I think we just witnessed a similar thing.
Perhaps he is the MLA that a group of farmers were talking about once. They said he is a wonderful MLA. He is one of the best. You could not get a better one. But the big trouble is that he never really gets down and says what he means. He never really answers a question. One can never really pin him down on anything. There was one old farmer there who said, I will show you young fellows. I will make him do it. They said no, you cannot do it. He said, yes, I can do it.
They told him they would buy him a case of beer if he did it. He told them to be behind the hedge beside his house the next day and listen to the conversation. All the young farmers got up early and waited behind the hedge to hear. The old farmer put the halter on his big milk cow and brought it over. He started talking to the MLA. The MLA asked him where he was going with the cow. The farmer said well, this cow is pretty fat; I think I will take it to market. The MLA said that is a good idea. The old farmer asked the MLA if he thought the cow was pretty fat. The MLA said, well, this side is.
Maybe that is the kind of MLA we have. We do not have many farmers here. No one is catching on. I am sorry.
I realized that I have all politicians but no farmers. I am very sorry. I will keep that for somebody else.
Anyway, I had a speech all made up here and I have written all over it because there are a few things that I did not like, quite frankly. Number one, they brag about the education system, saying that it was not very good when we were in there. I admit that it was not the best. I can remember fighting for grade 10 and 11. I can remember a bureaucrat telling us that we would get grade 11 over his dead body and I can remember going up into the Commissioners building. The Commissioner asked what it was all about; we told him and he said, Well, we will get you grade 11. I turned to the Minister of Education and said, Will you lie down so that I can step over you - you are dead.
He did not see anything funny about that.
That is right; that is true. I do not tell you anything that is not true, Mr. Speaker. I tell the truth when I speak. I will tell you this: there are more families sending their children outside for education than I have heard of or seen in my life. Now, that says something about our education system and if anyone wants to dispute that, I will give names to them. I could not believe it when some people told me that they had sent their children outside. It is a crime that they are sending them out and paying to get them into schools outside.
The Minister of Community and Transportation Services had to get back onto the subject of the Mendenhall Road. I thought we would have a nice, quiet session here. We just about got everything that we wanted, thanks to the Minister of the Department of Education, who was very cooperative. We did not have a big, long battle. He saw the sense of what we were talking about and went along with it. But then the Minister who just spoke had to come back about the money that was spent there. Yes, there was money spent there - really, too much money - but why was that done? That was done because this government signed agreements but the government did not honour its name. Any time a government signs its name, I insist that it keeps its word. It costs them a lot of money to keep its word, but at least they can say that they kept their word, now.
Then he made a crack about the second licence plate. Well, for $2.30 - oh, I see the Minister of Justice wants to say something. Would you like to speak? Anyway, for $2.30 you have the best and cheapest advertising that you can get, anywhere in the world. It also helps the police force all over the world. It might help these poor metermaids who have to get out in the middle of the road in Whitehorse to read the licence plate in order to give a parking ticket. It might help them. For $2.30 it will save money, so they can go to Sweden and all over the world.
We did not have to save money there. But we are going to save money and interfere with police work, so they are having problems. Save on cheap, free advertisements and make the poor metermaids stand out in the middle of the road. We did that for licence plates.
I am not very good at juggling figures but everyone seems to be having a lot of fun with it; they are bringing out statistics and so on. Let me point out how these figures can be thrown around. I will be bringing some more up on tourism later, but let me give an example. Say we have 500 unemployed here in the Yukon, which would be a lot for our size. Say we put 10 percent of them, or 50 of them, to work. Say that we went to Ontario; with its huge population it would have around 30,000, in proportion. To get 10 percent, they have to get 3,000. We can juggle that 10 percent and it can come up big or little. Figures can do anything one wants, but the facts are what we see out on the street.
I will leave the rest of the figures and the statistics for the experts. I am going to stay away from it and will get back to the things that concern me. They concern me very greatly. In the last six months, I have witnessed more and more and more people who are very concerned about what we are doing with money, and when they saw this budget, people phoned me to ask what we were doing. I am not very bright and I said I did not really know. I know the Members will now jump up and say I am against all their programs, but I did not say that. I am saying that the money could be spent in better places, in better ways and when a different way would bring money back. It will return money, not just give it away and have nothing happen. We have to get it out there where it can turn around and bring money back to us, such as infrastructure.
They talk about all the money they have in surplus. The Westours buses, those big 65-foot buses, had to contract with a lodge to serve coffee to their customers because the road was so damned rough that coffee could not be served on the bus. That is our tourist business - for the end of the main trans Canada route. It is a fact and I can bring sworn statements for anyone who doubts it.
Now you are saying you have all this surplus and you have used all this money, but that it is the federal governments and we want nothing to do with it. We build the Dempster Highway, a wonderful road, but we did not build it because the federal government did. The federal government gives us money for it. I was up there last August. I passed 12 cars, but we have a beautiful road like that up there - and I am not condemning the road; it is wonderful - but we cannot fix 280 miles so that we have a decent Alaska Highway with all its traffic. We cannot do that; it is federal. Sure we are getting federal money. We will spend that. We can go on like this forever.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Brewster: He is going to make a deal. I have heard of these deals before. I hope that he is a good horse trader because he is going to get clipped. Do not worry about that.
Many, many people are very concerned, especially those not working for government, about what is left for them in the Yukon. I am talking about people who have been here for years. They are saying, what is there in the future for us here; where are we going; we have nothing. This is a fact and it is all over the place. The average working person right now is very, very concerned about whether he has any future in the Yukon.
Nearly all the top deputy ministers that we bring into the Yukon are from southern Canada. I would bet that very few of them have ever made one trip around the Yukon, to understand the real Yukon. They sit at their big, fancy oak desks all year. That is the new industry here in the Yukon. I have been here for 42 years and I have not found an oak tree yet, so I suspect the stuff must have come from somewhere else.
With respect to the nail and screws issue, I guess we must have a factory somewhere making them. The government tells me that that is a Yukon product. I do not know where they manufacture those screws or those nails. I do not have a clue. Anyway, government told me and I certainly do not doubt the government when they tell me something has happened.
The deputy minister for Tourism is a very good example of a southern bureaucrat. I see that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is leaving. He cannot stand the heat and is leaving. We have so many roads in the Yukon that the Deputy Minister of Tourism got lost. She got lost completely on all those roads and wound up in the wrong place.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Brewster: Maybe that is why the people around the Haines Junction area and from there north call her Wrong-Way Corrigan.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Brewster: That is her name, already, just since she came to the Yukon.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Brewster: Let us go on to the Department of Tourism and the way that they juggle figures. They turn around and say every year that tourism is going down a small percentage. Yet, if you travel the highway and speak to lodge owners and others, there are very few of them who will tell you that they have had increases. Most of them are very, very happy just to be holding their own. They are only asking to hold their own. They are not profiting and they are not getting rich.
Just look at the latest border crossing statistics, issued by the department of Wrong-Way Corrigans. Look at Fraser, from January to September: Americans, 169,854; Yukon residents, 48,732; other Canadians, 18,261; foreigners, 13,977; for a total of 89,758. Yet, when they cite this percentage, there is no place where I can find where they deducted 48,732 tourists. They are not tourists; they are Yukoners. I have never been able to find this in five years, yet they say their percentage is down.
If you take that 48,732 away from the 250,824 people who came here, we now have 102,092 tourists. We have dropped considerably. Then, when you consider the other places, the figures for which I do not have with me now, they are not quite as great. However, there are a lot of Yukoners crossing. We did not even get that many tourists.
Again, you can juggle a percentage. You can throw it around all you want, and include Yukoners. I talked to one the other day who he said he was proud. He went down to Skagway, had a few beers, came back and was counted as a tourist. That is very misleading.
You can juggle figures and do what you want with them. I would suggest to the Minister of Tourism, being as he is listening closely to me, that from now on, when they break this down into percentages, they make sure the Yukoners are out, and that it is publicized that they are out. They are a big percentage of the crossings.
Talk to placer miners and, in my area, absolutely no placer mining went on at all. They could not cut the mustard; they could not handle the environment, they could not do this and that. It is not all the fault of this government. They will admit that. The gold prices are down, but they could probably hold the gold prices if they did not have all these environmental assessments and all these bureaucrats arriving in $250 an hour and $500 an hour helicopters, causing them to stop working so they can entertain him while he fills out a bunch of papers. That all costs money, and these people have to work 12, 14 and 18 hours a day to make a living at it.
The Hon. Minister of Community and Transportation has just left. I am sorry to see him go, because I would really like him to tell me what the placer miners told him at the Dawson Gold Show. He says that relations are so rosy and that everyone is getting along so well. I would like him to tell me that. Perhaps he would prefer to tell me in private, and that is fine, I will listen to it in private.
I would like to go into one other thing that really bothers me and I am not too sure, in fairness to the Ministers here, that this is their fault. However, the buck stops here where these Ministers now find themselves. I am receiving more and more complaints from people working within government. These government employees are telling me that they see where they could save thousands of dollars, because there is a lot of money being wasted. I have a lot of examples, but I will not use them here. I would rather use them in the Committee of the Whole debate where we can really discuss the money being wasted and find out why.
Again, I have another issue that I am not going to blame the Ministers for, but these people are coming to me and the first thing that they say is, I want to talk to you, Bill, but please do not use my name and do not ask a question where the government can trace me back to my job. I have some examples where I did not follow those instructions very well and these people were worked over pretty good. These people are being told by this government to mind their own business and do their job. The top bureaucrats of this government are telling the poor little guy down the road to do all the work, but the little guy is being bawled out because the road has not been plowed and he does not have any more money to plow the road. The little guy knows where there are other graders sitting around and doing nothing for two months at a time. As I said before, the buck stops with the Ministers and it is up to them to find out what is going on.
I find it very strange for us to be living off a surplus like we do, when the rest of the world, including all of the provinces - except for Ontario - are trying to cut their budget and get their spending in control, at the demand of the people. The people want the spending and the taxing stopped. We brag that we do not have many taxes. That is indirectly wrong, because we all pay federal tax so we are paying taxes. I talked to a person the other day from Ontario who is very interested in politics. When I told him what we got from the federal government, per person, compared to what they get in Newfoundland, he looked at me and said that we had better shut our mouths and keep quiet because if some of the large cities in Ontario where the sewer and water systems are breaking down knew what we were getting up here, there would be a riot.
We are certainly getting more than our share from there, but we are not even trying to conserve some of this. We are not even trying to get this into an investment that will bring money back in, such as improving our tourism and our transportation. We are not even making an effort at that. We are running around doing other things. We are building capital things and, in most cases, I do not have a problem with that. I do have a problem with the Workers Compensation building, but that is another subject. I have a problem with that, when other peoples money is used instead of government money. No one has stopped to look at the operation and maintenance costs for this year, next year and the year after that.
When I first came to this House, I was not a very good politician. I am not a very good one now. Anyway, the first thing I found there to be quite a ruckus about was the fact that we were going to have a deficit budget. I remember Chris Pearson saying that we were not going to have a deficit budget. I had just got there. Anyway, they finally said that they would just close down the government every other Friday. We took a lot of heat, but that budget was balanced when we came out. We showed that it could be done.
People will say that we were picking on the government people. Well, that is the fastest way to turn things around. After all, some of those Deputy Ministers were responsible for us being in debt, not the Ministers.
I often take a position like a private business. If the business makes $100,000 one year in profits and it is all given out to the shareholders, and the next year it loses $50,000, one cannot just take $50,000 out of the $100,000 and put it somewhere else. A business cannot do that. It is still $50,000 in the hole. That $100,000 was a profit that was gone the year before. A business cannot survive that way. If it tries, it is in for a lot of trouble. The fact that bothers me most is that if the government keeps this up, they will not have an emergency fund. That was another thing that Mr. Chris Pearson taught me. There must always be an emergency fund in case Dawson washes out or Teslin has an earthquake. The money would always be there. The government could react immediately instead of having to get a supplement. We are just throwing ours away, because we think it is better that way.
As I have said before, every province in Canada, except Ontario, is trying to stop the budget deficit; it is a demand by the public. I am saying that that demand is coming right here. I hear more and more people, including government people, saying what are they doing; we have got to stop this, because this is not working out; just because we have a surplus, we are going to throw it away.
If you cannot run a business and balance it, or come close to it - oh, but government says that that is no problem, we can just come in and supplement it; the taxpayer has got lots of money; we will get some more out of him. Well, it cannot continue; it just cannot.
I am not going to say a great deal more on this. I have a lot that I will be debating very seriously with Mr. Renewable Resources and I will find out why I have not got some answers. I want some answers. I will be saying some very strong words to the Minister for Community and Transportation Services when we can debate back and forth - not here while I am making a speech - on the subject of why my letters have not been answered and why the government has not moved on the issue of land that should have been dealt with two or three years ago. They can no longer blame the delay on land claims because I have a signature from the chief saying that the land was released, two or three years ago, but the bureaucrats find it easier to hide it that way than to help anybody in the public.
I have done pretty well. I started out being nice and friendly, but sometimes people aggravate me and some of the things that they say are just not correct. I am not happy with that. Some of their programs are good, but they cannot keep getting into capital projects year after year until the operation and maintenance costs are known. I will give you a real good example: Haines Junctions million and a half dollar arena. Right now we are paying between $35,000 to $40,000 a year to try to keep it going and they can hardly make the ends meet. It is a beautiful building.
This goes on all over. Sure, in some of the communities the government has rented the buildings and put people into them to pay the operation and maintenance costs, so the taxpayers get whipped both ways; they cannot win. If you try to stand on your own feet, you get whipped. In half these cases the government rents the buildings beside them; the taxpayers are paying for it. It is the same shot.
I think all over the world the taxpayers have said, just as they said in California - and I personally think they went too far - no more taxes. In a referendum, they said that is it.
I do not think that you can go that far. I think the government has to have some leeway - even this government - but I do not think they have to have as much leeway as they have. I do not think a government should be completely tied up.
They have to increase every year, but they do not have to increase the way they are doing now.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I cannot tell jokes like the Member for Kluane, but I do want to respond to the budget speech.
In 1989, I ran for this Legislature for the first time. I ran with a team that stood for action; a team that had common goals and philosophies; a team that asked for cooperation, instead of conflict, as a means of developing legislation, policy and programs; a team that would work together as a government, and as participants in community consultation.
Today, I am proud to say that this team is still working together for Yukon people. We said we would deliver, we have delivered, and we continue to deliver those programs that matter to the people of the Yukon. We said we cared about the environment. After many rounds of consultation and community visits, we delivered on our promise and introduced the Environment Act. That act guarantees protection of what we love the most: this unique Yukon.
We said we believed in our arts and our heritage. We have delivered, and will continue to deliver, with the new arts branch and arts acquisition endowment fund that will spur on and support arts, the new arts centre, nearing completion, and the Heritage Resources Act, which provides for protection of our heritage and our history.
We said we had an economic vision. We have delivered, and we will continue delivering, through consultation with Yukon people. We developed an economic strategy that we are following to this day. In doing so, we have decreased unemployment from 17 percent to 10 percent; we have seen the territory grow from 25,754 people in 1986 to almost 30,000 in 1991. We have expanded the economy, making it possible for more people to live and work in their own communities.
We have started a decentralization of Government Services to communities in a planned and sensitive way to ensure all Yukon people, including civil servants, are treated fairly and equitably. We have seen the goods-producing sector of the gross domestic product go from $62.8 million in 1985 to $213.6 million in 1988.
We have excellent housing programs. The Member for Porter Creek East, the Leader of the Official Opposition, is incorrect when he states that there is a zero vacancy rate in Whitehorse. He referred earlier today to the statistical review published by the Executive Council Office. If he would refer to page 29 of this review, he will notice that the vacancy rate during the first quarter in 1991 was five percent, and 3.4 percent after the second quarter. Some of the housing programs I am proud to talk about are the joint venture strategies that are in place, so that the corporation can facilitate construction by the private sector.
An example of a cooperative approach is the recent construction of four turnkey homes in the Granger subdivision. We have a home ownership program that is offered by the Yukon Housing Corporation to assist lower and middle income renters in buying or building a modest home. The applicants total household income must be between $30,000 and $55,000 to qualify. Applicants whose total household income is below $30,000 may be eligible for an alternate type of housing assistance.
We have an owner-build program, which was introduced to assist clients in building their own homes where they are unable to obtain extended construction financing through the private market.
We have a rental suite program, which was introduced to increase rental accommodation in areas where there is a current shortfall, as well as to assist Yukoners with upgrading their existing illegal suites.
We have the home renovation program, which is in place to assist all home owners in the repair of deficiencies, thermal efficiency and accessibility for disabled people. These are all to be brought up to minimum standards.
Assistance in the form of a low-interest loan, a portion of which may be forgiven, to increase the standard of the building is available, to a maximum of $35,000.
Those are some of our Yukon Housing programs. Others, of course, are programs for people who require social housing, who have no place to live and do not have enough money to buy, build or rent some of the very expensive rental housing. We also have seniors housing.
Land is very hard to come by in Whitehorse. One of the reasons for this is that lots that were for sale one or two years ago for $50,000 are now selling for $1 million, or more. It is very difficult to afford to put up housing units on $1 million land.
We have delivered, and are continuing to deliver, on our economic agenda, while the Canadian economy fell, and continues to fall.
The Leader of the Official Opposition spoke about social assistance and the number of people who were on it. Yes, a big chunk of our Health and Social Services budget does go to social assistance and health care programs. These are the safety nets in our society. We support young mothers to stay at home and raise their children. We support the disabled, and the physically and mentally challenged. We provide top-ups for families when their jobs do not even give them enough income to live on. We support people who are destitute.
The number of people on social assistance was referred to as being seven percent of our total population. That seven percent refers to the total number of people supported in a 12-month period. Therefore, a person on social assistance in January, and off in February, and then back on the next December, would be counted twice. He or she would be counted as two people.
The real figure, at any one time in the Yukon, is that 1.6 percent of our population is on social assistance, not seven percent, as was indicated.
The Leader of the Official Opposition raises the number of people on social assistance, but he has not talked about the programs we have for people to climb out of the safety net. They are programs such as the inter-agency agreement for planning new incentives for social assistance recipients to re-enter the work force, and the SAR, or Social Assistance Recipient agreement, which is in its final stages of negotiation with the federal government, and which will provide new funding for job re-entry and enhancing the employability of social assistance recipients.
In our health care programs, we can be proud of our services and support to people, as well as our safety net programs. These are support of seniors. We probably have the best health care system in the country. We are proud of our ability to care for our parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.
I make no apologies for the social assistance program that we have in this territory.
We said we would improve child care. We went out and talked with our local experts: the parents and the care givers. With their input, we designed and now deliver what is, in all probability, the most accessible child care program in Canada.
We have the highest number of child care spaces available per population than any other jurisdiction in Canada. Currently, the Yukon has 133 spaces for 1,000 children. The national average is 58 spaces per 1,000 children.
We have forecasted investment for child care in 1991-92 for $3.7 million dollars, which meets the four year commitment of this government. We continue to contribute substantially to the funding of good quality child care, and we plan to spend $4 million dollars in 1992-93 to support access and development of quality care. We have developed, and are in the process of implementing, a new funding formula for centres that provide incentives for the development of a full range of quality child care services.
We have continued to make child care accessible to Yukon people. In the 1989-90 budget, we estimated that child care subsidy programs would be approximately $378,000. In the 1992-93 budget, the subsidy program has risen to $1.3 million.
For our 1992-93 budget, we plan to invest $1.7 million to ensure that Yukon children and parents will have the quality child care they need, through the direct operating grants program. We continue to provide needed services to child care through $50,000 in child care services capital development.
We said that we care about the future of our children. We have delivered, and continue to deliver, support that ensures that our children have the opportunity they deserve. In doing so, we have invested in their future by providing support and encouragement to the Child Development Centre, in that they have moved from being a relatively small Whitehorse-centred organization to one that is responding to the needs of most of the communities in the Yukon. The Government of the Yukon has increased its support to them from $150,000 in the 1988-89 budget to $795,000 of investment for 1992-93.
We have invested approximately $900,000 to bring our foster care program base to a total of $1.9 million. This includes funding for the residential therapeutic care facility, regional services and Whitehorse services, and increased financial support for foster parents. We are also investing in people with the development and implementation of a treatment centre for our children and training for foster parents and Yukon care givers.
We continue to support, and applaud the hard work of, the teen parent program and the teen mothers who are balancing the needs of motherhood while continuing their education. We are investing an additional $15,000 from the Department of Health and Social Services, so that they may have a future that is more than simply living below the poverty line. This is a well-used program that will, no doubt, be expanded. In 1991, there were 62 young women between the ages of 13 and 19 who became mothers. At some point, these young women and their children will need the services this department provides.
I am pleased that we can provide assistance to the Department of Education in delivering this program. This is a good example of the way two departments cooperate to provide the best possible programming.
Speaker: Order please. The time being 5:30 p.m., I will now leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m. this evening.
Speaker: I will now call the House to Order.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will now continue my response to the budget speech.
We said that we care about our communities and the need to develop a healthy community. We have delivered and will continue to support increased accessibility in Whitehorse for seniors and the physically and mentally challenged by increasing support for the operation of the Handybus from $86,000 in 1988-89 to $134,000 in 1992-93 as well as providing approximately $60,000 to the City of Whitehorse for the purchase of a new Handybus this year.
We increased the accessibility of counselling services through the Yukon Family Services Association where our investment has risen from $133,000 in 1988-89 to $323,000 in 1992-93. We have more than doubled the funding of the Hospice Society from $28,000 last year to $60,000 in 1992-93. This will allow the society to have a full-time worker who will complement the many long hours put in by many volunteers.
Continuing our support for transition homes and safe places in the Yukon, in 1989-90 the Yukon Womens Transition Home received $300,000. This year we will be investing $502,000 to be used to provide shelter and programming for women and their children who are victims of abuse. This investment does not include the land that we provided for $1 and the $424,000 that we provided toward the construction of Kaushees II as well as the support from Yukon Housing Corporation.
In addition, Help and Hope House has just opened in Watson Lake, thanks to the dedication and hard work of the Help and Hope Society and the community of Watson Lake.
The Yukon government contributed $113,000 to the building of this safe house. We are also providing $45,000 in operating funds, in addition to funds provided by the Government of British Columbia. We will be watching and supporting the society in its good work.
This is a community that saw a need and did something about it.
We are also continuing our funding of the Dawson womens shelter at $55,000. As well, we are continuing our support and our investment in community groups such as the Association for Community Living, Teegatha OZeh, Challenge, Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon, Special Olympics and Yukon Employment Incentives programs, by providing additional funding. In the 1989-90 forecast, $349,000 was set aside for these non-profit groups in the 1990-91 budget. That figure has risen to $600,000 in the 1992-93 budget.
These are concrete actions, which demonstrate our commitment to the people of the Yukon. One only has to look across the river to see the new extended care facility currently under construction; it is almost $11 million worth of commitment and action. The facility will be completed by the end of next year and it is another promise on which we are delivering.
Contrary to what has been said, health transfer negotiations are proceeding and the transfer target date remains September 1, 1992. The hospital is part of the transfer agreement and is not reflected in the budget because it will be federally funded.
Repairs and maintenance of the old hospital must continue in order to have a safe and functional hospital to serve people of the Yukon until the new hospital is completed in 1995. New hospitals are not built overnight.
In attempting to address the problems of abuse, we have taken deliberate action and are investing resources in programs for our children and our youths as a priority. The purpose is to provide real options to kids in pain, with the hope that this can be a substantial contribution to the breaking of the cycle of violence and substance abuse.
In the area of alcohol and drug abuse, we are doing the following: this years contribution to Crossroads will be $444,000, compared to $350,000 in 1988-89. This year our operating and maintenance budget for Alcohol and Drug Services will be approximately $1.7 million, as compared to $1.3 million in 1988-89.
We are continuing with alcohol and drug education. We are maintaining the detoxification centre. We have community addiction workers in many communities. Our waiting list for service providers is at zero in the communities and with additional staffing, is being reduced in Whitehorse.
I consider it a major accomplishment, not of myself, but of our government, that we now have an aware Yukon population. People are more aware of the problems that drug and alcohol abuse cause. It was only as recently as 10 years ago that Yukon people were proud of their reputation as hard-living, hard-drinking Yukoners. People vehemently protested the law that made it illegal to drink in the street, just as we later heard protests against the law that would make it illegal to consume alcohol while driving. That debate took place in this Legislature as recently as six years ago. On April 27, 1983, there was a motion put forward by then Opposition Member, Roger Kimmerly. The motion covered outlawing drinking while driving.
The Conservative government of the day, of which this Leader of the Official Opposition was a member, voted the motion down. How times change.
Times really are changing. I am proud to see Yukon people demanding more treatment facilities and more counsellors. I am proud that people are demanding more from us to help stop the abuse of alcohol and drugs. This is an issue that affects our health, both physical and mental. It is a factor in family violence.
The problems are all too common, but awareness is the first step toward healing. Witness the recent conference on fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects here in Whitehorse. It was sponsored by professionals in the legal, medical, social and education fields. People are becoming aware that exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can profoundly affect the life of the unborn. Most people now accept that the consumption of beer, wine or hard liquor can lead to problems. These problems include possible impaired mental capacity and possible physical and facial deformities. They accept that it is not good for a pregnant woman to drink. They are now accepting that alcoholic parents can produce a child at greater risk of alcoholism. I am told that the son of an alcoholic father is 95 percent at risk of becoming an alcoholic if he drinks at all.
The results of the recent alcohol and drug survey give us a base of information. They also give us some idea of the success of raising awareness of the dangers of alcohol and its potential for abuse.
All we have to do is look at the way the Yukon is changing. It is no longer acceptable to leave a party drunk and drive home. We do not talk about how cute it is that a three year old loves beer. Our world is taking a positive turn.
The alcohol and drug survey has provided an excellent base of information for strategy development and future program and service development. Strategy development is underway, with the department taking the lead and involving the Health and Social Services Council and other stakeholders.
The challenge for my department and for the government is to keep up with the needs of the rapidly changing world. The alcohol and drug survey gives us some of the information we need and with this information we are building a strategy in cooperation with non-profit societies, First Nations and other drug counselling programs - a strategy that will meet the needs of this generation and the next; a strategy that will help us help Yukon people break the cycle of dependency.
There are many other things that government is doing that help create healthy Yukon communities and help the Yukon people. We are investing $75,000 in a housing project supported by the Yukon division of the Canadian Mental Health Association. We are investing $87,000 for AIDs education and we are investing $250,000 in the health investment fund, a fund to help communities help themselves.
We listened to the people of the Yukon and they told us what mattered to them. They told us that they wanted a protected wilderness. They told us they wanted quality child care. They told us they wanted growth and diversification but that it had to be in harmony with the other segments of Yukon society.
We listened and then we delivered and we are continuing to deliver on the things that matter to Yukon people.
We have not raised taxes in six years. We have six continuous years of a healthy accumulated surplus. We have created over 3,000 jobs, the majority of which are in the private sector. We have held the size of government to a consistent nine percent of the total population of the Yukon.
At the very beginning, I spoke about the team I belonged to. This team has accomplished all I have just spoken about, and more and it has done so within its means.
There has been considerable discussion this afternoon about what we build the Yukon on and I suggest that the most solid base for our economy and our society is helping the Yukon people.
Mr. Phelps: It is not often that I have had the luxury of speaking late in the budget debate. I have that luxury now that I am no longer critic. I thought I would not take very long with my remarks but, having heard all that has been said before I stood, I may be a little longer than I had originally estimated.
I want to begin by just making a few points. As everyone knows, I have some difficulty with the way in which we have been moving in the Yukon. I have a certain amount of sympathy for what the Member for Kluane was speaking about, when he was complaining that statistics could be manipulated and used in ways that would support almost any conceivable argument from any conceivable speaker, whichever side of the House they happened to be speaking from at any given time.
The same Member could probably change sides halfway through the debate and cross the floor, and I invite anybody over there to do so and take up the argument on the exact opposite side, using some of the same statistics, and be almost as convincing as that person was before he crossed the floor.
I do not wish to go on and on about this problem but, from time to time, I will be referring to some statistics and why I think they are relatively meaningless, as used by some of the Ministers we have already heard in this debate.
For example, we have the almost amusing assertion that the private sector has increased, relative to the government sector, from a certain imaginary point in time. I gather this is being used as an argument by the side opposite to try to make the point that there has been economic diversification in the Yukon, after all.
The plain facts are that once the Formula Financing Agreement went into effect, a tremendous increase in dollars was made available for YTG to spend. The increase was largely due to a shortfall in capital. The reason that we were able to have the Formula Financing Agreement signed and ready for the new government to take over in 1985 was due to the federal government, in part, being convinced that we had to spend a lot of money upgrading our capital in the Yukon to build schools and roads. That argument was bought, to some degree, and that is why the Formula Financing Agreement was so rich.
What happened was that the capital budget roughly doubled. Government employees, for the most part, do not build capital projects in the Yukon, so naturally you are going to have an increase in the construction industry to service a capital budget that had doubled - the richest capital budget in the history of the Yukon. Naturally, we had more construction firms in the Yukon, performing more construction jobs for government. That is not a new industry and that is not economic diversification as most of us mean when we speak on the subject. Again, if our money from the federal government was cut back, those firms would be the first to suffer and the first to disappear - those firms are almost exclusively engaged in bidding on and, when successful, building capital projects for government in Yukon.
That is not what we consider to be valid economic diversification, leading to new industry in Yukon. One can play around with the figures and try to pretend that we should perhaps consider the Yukon Liquor Corporation people as being engaged in an industry, or Yukon Housing Corporations employees to be engaged in some new industry, and therefore not appropriately considered to be government employees. We, on this side, and most commonsensed Yukoners do not consider the Yukon Housing Corporation - as flagrant a spender as it may be - to constitute a new industry in the Yukon.
Many of the figures and facts used by previous speakers, it seems to me, are figures that simply do not bear up under any kind of objective analysis. About this time last year, I entered into a rather interesting debate with the then Minister of Finance. We took the position, very simply, that the bar graph attached to the budget address, showing the federal transfer payments as decreasing as a percentage of budgetary income, was really extremely misleading. We took that position because normally, when one looks at figures such as were contained in that graph, one is examining the issue of just how dependent this government is on revenues it gets directly from the federal government.
The transfer payments pursuant to the Formula Financing Agreement constitute only some of the money that we use in this government and spend as part of our budget. On page four of the main estimates, we see projected total expenditures of $418 million and total income of just under $400 million. Transfer payments are only one of the three sources of federal income. The established program financing of $9.5 million are transfer payments. Indeed, Kenneth Dye refers to the established program financing as transfer payments in our Public Accounts Committee. The so-called recoveries are primarily monies paid to us by the federal government for the express purpose of maintaining the various highways in the territory.
It is interesting that the recoveries have been increasing at a tremendous rate each year. In this particular budget - the present one - they show a projected increase of 16 percent, as opposed to a mere two percent for the transfer payments from Canada. The established program financing have decreased by 12 percent, but they are a very small part of the equation.
I guess if we are going to talk about to what extent we are dependent upon receiving money from the federal government to spend here, surely the appropriate formula would be to speak in terms of established program financing, the transfer payments and virtually all of the recoveries. When one does that, a figure comes out that is much closer to 80 percent and a figure that really is not trending downwards.
Bar graphs are always rather fun. When one looks at page 30, the federal transfer payment, as a percentage of budgetary income, it does not take a genius to realize that what looks like a tremendous decrease, bar by bar by bar, only has that appearance, even using their figures in their way because the percent column only goes from 50 up to 62, when it ought to go from zero to 62. Then, the decrease would look rather meaningless, indeed.
The concern that I have, and that Members of this caucus have, is the fact that the economic diversification program of the government has been a bust. It has been a complete bust. I am not saying this to make political points; I am saying it because I am concerned about the failure of this government to do anything meaningful regarding economic diversification. After all, it was certainly one of the pledges of this government when it ran for office, and succeeded, in 1985. It disturbs me greatly to sit in this House and listen to people trying to make cheap political points, using all these graphs and misleading figures that do not really bear on the issue at hand.
I know, and have seen, the result of the failure of this government to provide economic diversification in many of our small communities. I live in one of those communities, and I will talk a bit more about Carcross later in my speech. Let me say right now that the community has been going nowhere when it comes to providing new jobs or anything outside of government employment. It is something that is of deep concern to me, particularly when I see the government failing and not doing much at all with regard to providing much-needed infrastructure in that community.
I have mentioned Mayo. It seems to me that we have families moving out of Mayo, families that have lived there for years and years, for generations. Certainly the people I speak to in that community are disappointed, upset that there is not any economic diversification occurring in Mayo. This has a very severe human cost to families raising children, who cannot get employment in their home town. They have to leave when they do not see any kind of progress in developing any kind of opportunity for new businesses. It is a case where most people have to rely on government for jobs or they have to sit back and hope that perhaps land claims will do the job for them. That is a promise, of course, that has been out there for something like 15 or 16 years and I would hope that the government would not sit back with the vain hope that land claims may somehow solve its problems.
I have mentioned Mayo and Carcross. What new industry is there in Carmacks or Pelly Crossing or Teslin? How about Ross River?
I go to Ross River, and there is not much happening there in the way of economic diversification. In Faro it is the same thing. They have had committees trying to come up with some ideas to broaden the economic base of Faro, but nothing much, if anything, has been accomplished in that regard during the past number of years.
I see economic diversification, the creation of new industries of various kinds, as being a goal that all governments should pursue. My main concern is that one gets the impression that this government has given up, has no fresh and new ideas, and is really quite content to rest on its laurels of marginal competence, in terms of getting a whole bunch of money from government and spending it, without going into debt too heavily, and without having any terrible financial scandals ensue.
I am disappointed that it has not occurred, but it seems to me that government really ought to be trying harder to work with the communities and with business and industry to come up with some plans that will bring hope to those in the communities I have mentioned.
Whitehorse is a different story. Right now, Whitehorse is reasonably well off, economically. So long as we have all this money coming in from the federal government there will be no problem. However, I am sure that most competent business people in Whitehorse are well aware of the problem, that being that if you start shutting off the tap from Ottawa, then government is the only game in town. The direct consequence of that kind of action would be devastating.
Somebody may ask why should we worry about that eventuality; it is not something that is likely to happen. Right now, we have a situation where it is quite possible that Canada, as we know it, will break up. It is quite possible that Quebec will leave Canada. We have all of the brave words of people who live in western Canada who say that we can go it alone, and that we do not receive much support from central government. We in western Canada would only be too happy to see the country break up; however, the provinces of western Canada are in a far different situation than we are.
If the country breaks up, you can bet your bankroll, your considerable bank roll, Mr. Speaker, that if Quebec leaves, we will very quickly see a tremendous decrease in the transfer payments of every type that we now receive from Ottawa. If that happens, we will have nothing to fall back on. You would be looking at a Whitehorse with a lot of empty buildings.
I spoke briefly about the figures that were being used and I said that those figures are misleading. I want to deal very quickly with some of the arguments that concern me.
One is from the Minister who spoke prior to me before we recessed for dinner, who was rebutting the Leader of the Official Opposition with regard to the vacancy rate for rental housing and apartments in Whitehorse. She said that the statistics branch have all of these wonderful figures indicating that there is no problem in Whitehorse, with regard to the lack of affordable apartments on the rental market.
I do not care what the statistics say. Let me assure the Minister that in Whitehorse right now it is almost impossible to rent affordable housing - almost impossible. I know personally of people who have been looking for decent accommodation for the past three months but have been unable to find an apartment to rent. These people go to such lengths that they have friends at some of the newspapers phone them first to tell them if there is an apartment in the want ads for rent. These are people who have been looking hard for affordable housing in Whitehorse for the past three months but who have been unable to find a place.
I respectfully submit that there is a critical problem out there and that the figures of the statistics branch perhaps do not jibe with reality.
As critic, I will of course be concerned primarily with the Department of Community and Transportation Services. I am concerned about the issue of economic diversification, which goes beyond the mandate of that Minister. I will also be extremely interested in, and will be debating, issues such as plans to install adequate sewage treatment facilities in communities, particularly Whitehorse, the issue of the hazardous waste facility and what is happening there, and I will be concerned about the transportation issues that we normally discuss in the House.
I think the Member for Kluane has a very valid concern with regard to the deplorable state of the couple of hundred miles of Alaska Highway in his riding. I would go further and say that he has a point, that this government should perhaps have sat down and made an offer to spend some of its money in order to lever money from the State of Alaska and from the federal government to upgrade the road there.
It seems rather sad to me, that, by trying to sit pat and say, it is really not our responsibility so we will not do anything about it, that will, in his mind, justify not sitting down and negotiating and being willing to put something up. We have a surplus, as the Member is so fond of bringing to our attention from time to time to time to time. Perhaps it would have been the right thing to do, to sit down and offer to pay some small part of the cost of upgrading that road.
Another of my critic responsibilities is that of the Yukon Development Corporation. I think the Minister knows what to expect in terms of debate during budget with regard to that corporation. Our primary concern at this time has to do with the Yukon Energy Corporation and how it is being run. We are concerned about the rate increases and why they have become necessary. We are concerned about the woeful neglect that has been given to hydro development planning in the territory. We want to see steps taken to ensure that any profits that are earned by the Yukon Energy Corporation will not be given to the Yukon Development Corporation to spend on such things as the forest industry or the Watson Lake sawmill, or on a convention centre in Whitehorse, or an office building across the river. Those profits should be retained to be spent on power generation facilities, transmission facilities, rate-equalization, rate subsidy, alternate energy and energy conservation.
I want to turn to my own riding for a moment. I am really concerned at the lack of progress we have seen with respect to the development of infrastructure and the development of land in Carcross, in particular. As the Minister is well aware, there is some pretty heavy feeling in Carcross about the lack of action. We have been talking about and studying the relocation of a garbage dump now for five or six years at the very least. We have spent money on studying the options to move it. We have the water and sewer issue in Carcross, which has been ongoing for a long time.
We have a situation in Carcross where, although we keep getting told that the government is spending a lot of money there and it will do this and that, nothing ever happens. There is never a go-ahead, so the money lapses. Yet, because there is some kind of a big promise to develop infrastructure in Carcross - namely, water and sewer - that is used as a reason why there cannot be money spent on other facilities.
I am speaking, of course, primarily about the curling facility in the community. I know that we will undoubtedly hear that here we have a Member who complained about how big the budget is and now he wants something for his community. That is not an argument I would make if I were the Minister standing in Carcross, but I rather think I will hear something along those lines during debate on the budget at one time or another, or during Committee of the Whole.
This government has paid a lot of lip service to the very real problems we have in communities, particularly regarding substance abuse and family violence. I know that Members on the side opposite, as well as this side, are worried about strained racial relationships, particularly in small communities and about some of the problems that have been surfacing in Carcross for one reason or another.
I wrote the Minister, about six months ago, about the need for a curling facility with artificial ice in Carcross. My plea was then, and prior to then in debate in this House, that artificial ice and a good curling facility could be added on to the community club and would go a long way toward addressing some of the social problems we have in Carcross.
I tried to make the point that there is a very real need for something like this in the community that would bring all people together, as curling does. It would provide a sport and a facility for the kids in the community because, for the very short time that we have in Carcross to curl - because we have, of course, the most tropical climate of any climate in the Yukon and because of the climate, we do not have good ice - when people do curl, we do see a coming together of the community. We see something that is a sport that could do a lot of social good in the community. So, when I do ask for something like a curling rink, it is not simply to try to grab some money and have it spent in a community; it is because I see the need for something like this to bring the community together.
We, as Members know here, had a lengthy meeting in Carcross last week. The meeting touched on some of the areas that I already mentioned. Certainly I think that it is fair to say that residents of Carcross feel very strongly about the lack of action in their community. I do not want to indicate that that is the sole responsibility of the Minister or of this government. There are a lot of problems that need to be sorted out and worked upon. I have indicated my willingness to do what I can in trying to find solutions.
It seems to me that there has to be a commitment by this government to get on with resolving those issues. It seems to me that there ought to be a commitment made by this government to ensure that Carcross is getting its fair share of the capital funds that are being distributed to all parts of this territory, each and every year. Because of the lapses, that has not happened, and unfortunately now, not only do we not have the water and sewage system that should be in place by now, but we also do not have the curling facility that I think is so important.
In looking at the budget, at the community-by-community breakdown, and how the capital budget is allocated, let me just say that, when I look at Carcross, I see huge sums of money in the breakdown being addressed as if they were somehow or other of benefit to Carcross. There is money for upgrading the Skagway Road out by Fraser and for upgrading the Conrad campground, something the people in Carcross did not want to see the money spent on, and there is money for reconstruction of the Atlin Road, which is no closer to Carcross than it is to the City of Whitehorse. I see about $400,000 of the $1.1 million earmarked going to those kinds of capital projects, and I see most of the balance earmarked for the sewage treatment disposal at Carcross - which we are pretty sure is not going to happen next year. Then none of this will be spent, because we still have not figured out what kind of a facility it should be, or where it is going to go. I would urge the Minister to try to make the breakdown by community more relevant to Carcross and more realistic to what is likely to happen. The government has gotten away with this too many years in a row and, each and every time, almost none of the funds to be spent on the community were spent. They were lapsed.
While I am at it, I might also note that Tagish does not seem to be getting anything, according to the capital budget this year, and I am rather curious about that, particularly since, when one looks at the list of communities, other than the extremely large ones, the people of Tagish probably pay more property taxes than five or six of the other communities on the list.
Speaker: Order please. The Member has three minutes to conclude.
Mr. Phelps: Those are some of the concerns that we have in my home riding. I mentioned the concerns that I have about the statistics and how they are used, and I have already made my concerns quite clear. I realize that economic diversification is difficult to achieve and I know that Members on the side opposite will be upset about my criticisms, particularly because they are true. I am concerned about the small communities in the Yukon and I do not pretend to have all of the answers. I would like to see a sincere attempt under the leadership of this government, that they will sit down with the people of the communities in order to try to find ways in which to diversify the economy in each and every one of those communities.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is a pleasure to once again respond to the budget, to speak to some of the features of yet another solid, New Democratic budget that invests in the Yukons future.
As I said last year, it is rare in this day and age, and anywhere in North America, to have an opportunity to speak to a budget that imposes no tax increases. Once again this year I have the same pleasure.
For six years in a row this government has brought in a budget that features no tax increases. Once again, this governments budget features a healthy, accumulated surplus. For the sixth year in a row, there is strong evidence that our economic policies and diversification efforts are working. For the sixth year in a row, the Yukons rate of unemployment has fallen. Over our term in office, it has dropped steadily at an average rate of one percent per year. For the sixth year in a row, the Yukons gross domestic product has risen. In fact, since 1985, the total value of goods and services produced in the Yukon has doubled, increasing by almost 100 percent.
It is fascinating to note that in the Yukon this stable growth has been maintained, despite the desperate economic climate created by a variety of federal government policies and strategies.
Our record of steady employment growth and steady growth in economic output is the exact opposite to that found in many other areas of the country that are in deep recession.
As the government, we appreciate the value of investing in our future, while the conservative Opposition continues to suggest that this economic stability has been achieved at a horrible cost - the great growth in the size of government.
Unfortunately, my conservative friends across the floor failed to put government growth in its proper context. The Yukon has grown since 1985, when we received our first mandate. Thousands more people now make their homes in the Yukon than in 1985. I accept the argument put forward by the Member for Hootalinqua. Yes, we are having difficulty right now with people in the Yukon finding housing. There is a shortage. There has been a shortage for the last three or four years. I think that is a sign that we must be doing something right here with our economy.
As I mentioned, employment is up. All the doom and gloom I do hear year after year at these budget addresses from the side opposite cannot be true.
As I mentioned a moment ago, our gross domestic product has doubled over the same period. Scores of successful businesses have established themselves, not only in Whitehorse, but all over the territory.
Responsibilities poorly exercized at one time by the federal government have been turned over to territorial hands. Our five-person fresh water fishery unit and the good work that they are doing comes to mind. Our recently created environment unit is doing an excellent job making the public more conscious of our responsibilities to promote sustainable use of our natural and heritage resources.
There are more children in school, and more teachers and teachers aides are helping to prepare them to meet the demands of the future. Schools have been built and more are planned.
Demand for courses at Yukon College outstrips the capacity to accommodate students. People who never imagined a return to school have started at Yukon College and graduated with certificates and diplomas.
Community needs are being met. More roads are being chipsealed. There are now well-established recreation programs in most communities.
With each successive New Democrat budget, infrastructure in each community is improving. This year, almost $17 million will go to local governments to be administered by them to meet their priorities.
People participate much more fully in decision making now than they did in 1984. Whether it is deciding on appropriate economic strategy for the territory or on the steps that we should take to protect our environment, people from all over the Yukon have been involved.
The Yukons economic and population growth, our continuing investment in healthy communities and our commitment to good government, which involves Yukon people in decision making, has, without a doubt, required growth in government.
It is noteworthy that all this has been achieved with a modest growth in government. People employed with the government still make up nine percent of the total Yukon population, or 20 percent of our workforce. These are the same ratios that existed in 1985 when we received our first mandate.
The real story here - missed by the media, considering that it is pretty important - is not that government has grown but that it has grown in direct proportion to the growth in our population and workforce.
I would like to take a few minutes here to review some of the comments that were made by Members of the Opposition who have already spoken, beginning with the Leader of the Official Opposition. He began by saying there is a four percent increase over the forecast, suggesting that this was dishonest. The main estimates, since at least 1981, have been prepared showing the percent change over the forecast, not the previous years. If these figures are so dishonest now, why were they not dishonest when the Conservatives were in government? There is, in fact, nothing wrong with the comparison at all. The most recent data available should always be used for comparison with the current year.
The Member for Porter Creek East also indicated that, when one compares the main estimates to the main estimates there is an eight and one-half percent increase. His math is wrong. Of course, there is a big increase from main estimates to main estimates because the 1991-92 main estimates contained no provisions for the negotiated wage settlement, while the 1992-93 main estimates contained such a provision for the three years worth, which is a considerable $23 million in the O&M portion of the budget. There is a big increase in the RCMP contract, which of course is controlled by the federal Tories; there is an increase to help the college pay for their negotiated salary increase; there is an increase of $18.5 million in capital between the two sets of main estimates.
I would be curious to find out how many of those capital projects the Leader of the Official Opposition would like to cut.
There is also an increase for foster and child care; an increase of over a million dollars for health services resulting from increased demand. These are all things I would strongly recommend not be eliminated from the budget.
It sounds to me as if the Leader of the Official Opposition wants to cut some people from the payroll, especially those on the top floor - the Deputy Ministers level. I would like to know which one he is thinking of, so that everyone has it clear in their mind who the conservatives are thinking of cutting out. Obviously he has already singled out the Deputy Minister of Tourism and suggested that the Yukon public deserves better, that we should hire someone who is more familiar with the Yukon. I think the Yukon is very fortunate indeed to have someone of this persons administrative talents and many years experience over the years in both the both the private and public sectors.
I was quickly shown that she knows the direction in which the Department of Tourism should be moving, according to the tourism action plan and the Yukon Economic Strategy. She is someone who has already earned the respect of everyone in the private sector and members of the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon.
I strongly refute the suggestion by the Member for Porter Creek East that she is incompetent. We have many new initiatives this year in the marketing and development area, with new facilities in Carcross and Whitehorse. We are starting a new arts branch. We are starting to implement the Historic Resources Act. I think Tourism, under the direction of our new Deputy Minister, is doing a fine job.
I think in the opening comments made by the Member for Porter Creek East, with all of his rhetoric about improper management of the budget and trying to compare apples and oranges, I do not think he can stand the fact that this government has almost consistently done more than balance the books each year and at the same time increase the accumulated surplus.
The Leader of the Official Opposition stated that the Supplementary No. 1 budget means that we are over spent. This is rubbish. The supplementaries, when they were in government, did not mean that they were over spending. The fact is that when you table these things, you will not be over spent.
Once again, which items in the supplementary budget would the Leader of the Official Opposition like to remove? Nine hundred thousand dollars for the Granger School? Money for the foster parents? The F.H. Collins upgrade? Monies for community water and sewer?
The Member also spoke of person year increases. The person year increases do exclude the corporations, the college and teachers. That seems to be a fairly standard procedure in other places in the country. I do not think it would be appropriate to include them here in the territory. We have also eliminated the school staff and teachers from the count. It seems appropriate, in accordance with the Education Act and the fact that people are largely hired on a well-known formula, which has existed for years.
To their credit, the Opposition has never complained about the new teachers this government has hired. Perhaps there is now a change in the Oppositions policy that accompanies their name change. We will have to wait and see where they stand on that matter.
Finally, in responding to a comment made by the Member for Porter Creek East, the person year numbers do not match the quarterly economic report. They never have since at least 1981. A person year is a different thing from an employee. I suggest that the Members should be well aware of this.
The Leader of the Official Opposition has raised the whole matter of dependency, as have other Members of the side opposite, of this government on the federal government. They say that the dependency is 84 percent in 1992-93, and has increased. He was referring to the chart on page 30 of the budget book, which clearly refers to the transfer payment. It represents the federal formula grant to the Yukon. That is the one item that is unique to us in the Yukon. It is decreasing, and all the ranting and raving in the world by the Member for Porter Creek East will not change that.
The matter of the 84 percent dependency was also raised by the Member for Hootalinqua. What they are doing is taking the sum of the established program financing, the EPF, the formula grant and all recoveries as a percentage of our total revenue inflow. There are two things wrong with this. The first is that EPF recoveries are not unique to the Yukon. All provinces and territories get them. The second point, and the most important one, is that the Member is assuming that all recoveries come from the federal government. They do not. People purchasing land from us, municipalities repaying interest on loans we have arranged for them and individuals for whom we have done third party work will be able to straighten out that fact for the Member.
In fact, over 20 percent of our recoveries come from non-federal government sources. Even if recoveries from the federal government go up, and it is due to the federal government implementing a new program, or asking us to do something on their behalf, does this really increase our dependency, in the conventional sense of the word? Is the Member suggesting that we should refuse to accept all dollars from the federal government?
I find this point ironic, this dependency of our government on the federal government that the Opposition is hammering over and over again. Back in 1985, when the new formula financing agreement was arranged with the federal government, it was the Conservatives who were, at that time, saying that we have just negotiated a fantastic financial deal on behalf of the people of the Yukon. The federal government is going to give us lots and lots of money. We are going to become very dependent on the federal government. It is the richest package ever.
Now, six years later, as we decrease our dependency on the federal government slowly over the years, all of a sudden, they are coming out saying how dependent the Yukon government is on the federal government. What a change of tables in six years.
One thing the Opposition is forgetting is that the federal government receives a lot of taxes from the Yukon. Every province and territory does receive money from the federal government through the Canadian assistance plan and the established program funding I mentioned earlier. I do not know why the Yukon should be any different.
Turning to the comments made by the Member for Watson Lake, who also mentioned the 84 percent dependency figure, he did comment that half of all the employed people in the Yukon work for one of the three levels of government. That is not quite true. In the second quarter of 1991, the employed Yukon labour force was 13,163. Of these, 4,500 were employed by all three levels of government. That is not quite half, at all.
I will agree with the Member that there is a lot of service industry here, and it does depend on the government, and that is a fact of life in all northern economies.
I also appreciate the remarks made by the Member for Watson Lake about the concern he has with the local economy. He mentioned that the Government of the Yukon should be putting more money into roads. I suggest to him that one of the reasons why the Mount Hundere mine is in operation as early as it is, is the fact of this government putting in some money, through the resource transportation access program, to provide that access.
I also note his concerns about the forestry sector. There is a great potential there, but as he informed me the other day, there are three local mills that will be operating by next month. I think that is encouraging.
The Member from Kluane, as always, had a few interesting comments. I always enjoy listening to the Mayor for Kluane - sorry, the Member for Kluane. He talked about using numbers and statistics any which way that you can. I think that he is right on that score, but it does not really mean that we should not talk about them.
You can interpret these statistics properly - and I want to impress upon him the fact that when he makes an argument that visitation is decreasing and that we really should not count Yukoners, for example - I want to let him know that we have, in a very persistent manner, over the years applied the same formulas so that you really can compare apples to apples. It is not a case where you use some figures one year and not another, which really makes it appear that a situation is better than it really is. The fact of the matter is that it was just an average year for tourism. We probably had the same number of tourists this year as we did last year: about 180,000. I think, considering the number of factors that were fairly unique to this year, starting off with the war in the Persian Gulf and the recession in North America and the industrialized world in general, there was good reason for a downturn.
I also think that just prior to a special year for the Yukon, where we are planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the building of the Alaska Highway, a year that has been extensively advertised and promoted, I think that it is very significant to note the number of people who are holding off their holidays for another year so that they can come next year.
I think it has been another year, especially in the southern Yukon, where we had the worst August on record for rain and lack of sunshine. I think that it was a fairly good year in Kluane.
I take a look at the statistics provided by the park service about the visitations to the Kluane Park and those figures suggest the exact opposite as to what is being claimed from the side opposite - that we denied all access to the travelling public into Kluane Park. The Sheep Mountain reception centre had 33,000 visitors. The Kathleen campground was well attended this year, recording 2500 campers. The number of back country campers, especially those who accessed the park on foot, was up considerably.
I also think that, in comparing our record this year with those of other Canadian jurisdictions, by the fact that we held our own in numbers, we had a good year. I attribute that to the effectiveness of a variety of marketing programs put in place over the last two or three years. I think that they are putting us in a strong position to improve on this years performance, especially as we go into the first of many years in which we celebrate some very important dates in Yukon history.
The Member for Hootalinqua made several comments that were primarily focussed on what he claims to be the lack of success of this government to diversify the economy, particularly in rural Yukon. All I will say in response to that is that it was the very same speech that the Member for Hootalinqua gave in response to last years budget speech. I refuse to give the same rebuttal, which lasted for at least five minutes, that I gave in last years speech. So I will just basically ask the Members opposite to please refer to my budget speech of last year, on November 5, 1990, in which I rebutted - I thought very successfully but obviously not according to todays speech - those comments made by the Member for Hootalinqua on diversification of our economy.
I could spend more time commenting on some of the misleading remarks made by the Members opposite, but I would like to use this opportunity to focus on some major initiatives, which this budget outlines for the Departments of Renewable Resources and Tourism.
The Department of Tourism has several new features planned for 1992-93. In recognition of the fact that 1992 has the potential to be a bumper year for tourism, we plan to establish a visitor attraction passport program, to encourage visitors to see more of the territory, and to enjoy our museums, historic sites and other attractions. Visitors who have their passports stamped at all of our visitor reception centres and museums will be eligible for prizes.
Tourism will also be expanding its involvement in the arts in the upcoming budget year as programs scattered among several departments are consolidated. Over the coming months, our department expects to be busy in consultations with the arts community, as we develop the Yukons first comprehensive arts policy. The sum of $246,000 has been identified in this budget to establish a branch to develop policy and deliver new programs.
Another initiative for the arts is the establishment of the arts acquisition endowment fund. For the first time, we will be guaranteeing a portion of capital spending on specified projects to be devoted to a fund for the purchase of Yukon artwork to enhance schools and other public buildings.
In the Heritage Branch, our efforts over the coming year will concentrate on implementation of the Historic Resources Act. In the budget there is funding to further this work as well as an appropriation of $250,000, the first of four contributions to the historic resources trust fund. The interest from this $1 million dollar fund - over four years - will be available on an on-going basis to support the preservation of the Yukons historic resources.
The Heritage Branch has also budgeted a modest increase to annual funding grants for community museums.
In the Department of Human Resources, work continues on negotiations and the implementation of land claims. Over $1 million has been budgeted to further this work. Specific funding has also been identified to support the departments decentralization commitments. Decentralization of parks superintendent positions and increased clerical support for conservation officers will offer improved service to the public in a number of communities. To support the work of departmental staff, $275,000 will be invested in a new Renewable Resources compound in Faro, in addition to our facility in Haines Junction.
The environment will receive a good deal of attention in the coming year, with almost $300,000 budgeted for the environmental protection program, $500,000 for the environment fund, $165,000 for the youth conservation core and $40,000 for environmental awareness contribution agreements.
In preparation for increasing numbers of visitors over the next decade of anniversary observations, the parks resources and regional planning branch has identified a total of $250,000 for planning of new campgrounds, campground relocation and campground construction.
An additional $30,000 will be spent to identify and correct natural hazards in or near our facilities, $110,000 has been targeted to replace and repair damaged or obsolete equipment, such as picnic tables, garbage containers, wood boxes and signs, and $127,000 has been earmarked for park management plans for a number of proposed parks, including: Conrad, a historic park; the Carcross dunes; Kusawa Lake; Coal River; and the lazulite deposit.
These expenditures and investments, along with others, will help us to ensure the wise use and management of our renewable resources.
I look forward to additional discussions on these and other items when budgets for my departments are discussed.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate that this budget is an excellent one that, again, involves no taxes. It allows for a modest increase in government spending. It directs us to the four major goals of our government. I believe, very strongly, that the measures put forward in this budget will address the social and economic needs of people throughout the territory.
Ms. Kassi: On behalf of the Vuntat Gwichin, it is an honour for me to respond to the budget speech and the report on the activities that have been taking place since the last session.
This past year has been a busy one for us all. In Old Crow we have taken some very significant steps toward making our community a better place and toward making our lives healthier and happier. This summer, our community voted in a plebiscite to ban alcohol from Old Crow. This was not a decision that was taken lightly. It was difficult, at times, to convince people that this was the route we had to take. As leaders, we had to step in and take a strong stand on the issue, with the advice of our elders. We had to be strong, make statements and provide some tough medicine in order to heal ourselves by intervening on the community in this area. Many people did not agree. They said it would split the community in two. They said there was enough pain and sorrow there because of the drinking and to ban alcohol would only make it worse. They said that the Charter of Rights would not allow us to do these things. We went ahead anyway. Our first responsibility is to obey our elders, because it is from their words that we know what our rights and freedoms are. That is our first law of the land. The people spoke and voted in favour of prohibition.
I recently attended some workshops in Old Crow. We are now setting up the rules and procedures for prohibition. A committee has been established. The leaders continue to be strong on this issue and they are working toward a goal of putting this in place as soon as possible.
I would like to thank this government for its support of this issue and to ask for its continued support as we go to the next step, which is enforcement. Our needs are many in this area. In community and social development, we have to see that the life skills and communication programs continue in the community. We also would like to see the wilderness treatment centre up the river supported and continued.
This past summer, in my area, we had some drastic effects on the land from the climate changes. We were facing floods, forest fires and tremendous climate changes. Right now, in Old Crow, there is hardly any snow, so there is very little precipitation in the Arctic nowadays. We are having to face all these floods, and so on. I would like to thank the government for its quick response during the summer. Of the flood we had last spring, most of the damaged houses now have new foundations, and our people are very grateful for this. We expressed this at a feast we held to honour the people who did the work in this area, and our gratitude is extended to the Yukon government, CMHC, the federal government and, of course, the Emergency Measures Organization. As a result, there was a lot of employment in the community this summer.
The people of Old Crow are also very thankful for the new campus of the Yukon College. A wonderful building was put up in my community, and we honoured the people who contributed to this with a feast. We thank those people very much. It will make it a lot easier for our people to learn the skills that are necessary to educate themselves, not only with the white mans knowledge, but it is my hope that it will also allow for lessons in traditional knowledge, which is happening in the village right now. In many respects, this is more important to our people than anything else. This college is being well used. Every evening there are classes, as well as during the day, and it really feels good to see 50- and 60-year old people sitting in college trying to learn to read and write. That is why we wanted the education centre, and the people are using it very well.
Another important issue is the preservation of the Porcupine caribou herd. Recently, there has been some good news about this herd and the people. As you know, this herd is vital to the existence of the Vuntat Gwichin.
The government has been very supportive of our lobby efforts, and I would like to personally thank the Premier for his support, for his lobbying, for his words of encouragement, and for the direction he has given his officials in this matter. As sweet as this victory was, it was also very short. We are currently up against a wall again because of the greed and power of the oil lobby.
The Minister of Renewable Resources said that he will take a trip to Hawaii and talk to the senator anyway, and try and change his mind there.
The threat of drilling in the refuge is not over yet, as this matter changes almost daily. I would like to encourage this government to continue its support, particularly to encourage the Prime Minister of Canada to put it on the international agenda with the United States.
The young people of Old Crow have the beginnings of a new skating rink. I would also like to thank the government for this. We have been waiting for this for a long time. We look forward to its completion next summer, and to the North Yukon Eagles hockey games next winter.
The road to the mountain is completed to the bottom of the mountain. We wanted to have it completed to the fireplace. Now, we have some of our oldest people going up there to take part in cultural activities. A sweat lodge has also been built there. We now have a lot of cultural gatherings there in the summertime. I would like to thank this government for giving us the support to build that little piece of road to the mountain.
It is also encouraging to see the government continuing with its policy of healthy communities with this new budget. Many people in the Yukon are facing critical problems in their lives. In some cases, there is little hope of ever pulling themselves out of their environment. It is absolutely critical that these people be given every opportunity to better themselves and the lives of their families.
It is my trust that the initiatives set out in this budget will address some of these. It is also my desire that, as soon as other ones are identified, this government act swiftly to present solutions that will, at the very least, keep people alive.
I am encouraged by initiatives like the family violence protection, the wilderness training, the health investment fund, child care and foster care, which need all the support they can get. We are not just here for ourselves. We are here to make sure that our children are able to live healthy lives. As leaders, we were chosen to make sure that there are enough resources put toward treating our problems in an effective and meaningful way.
It is important to build a community that is strong and healthy and, to the best of our abilities, self-sufficient. I see $103 million put toward capital projects in the territory as a good example of this. The quality of lives and our work will be better.
Education is vital to our future. We must learn as much about the world as we possibly can, in order to be prepared to face the trials that the future presents. It is good to know that this government also feels the same way, as represented in the $12 million committed to education in the territory. I trust that some of this money will be spent meeting the exact needs of the students, such as traditional lessons, aboriginal language instruction, natural medicines and bush skills. We have a great deal to learn from each other and I hope this will present an opportunity for us to do better. We are here to represent the needs and concerns of our people, not to force our ideas onto other people. I am thankful that this government continues to listen to the people and respond to some of their concerns in this budget.
Mr. Joe: I would rise today to talk about the importance of this budget the Minister of Finance recently brought forward.
But first of all I would like to congratulate the people who have been doing all the hard work toward settling land claims. This is an important time for First Nations people. I hope that this work will continue and we can look forward to legislation being passed very soon.
I believe this budget is good for the Yukon at this time because more than anything, we need to prepare for the future.
We are not here just for today, but we must look to the future so that our children will be able to lead healthy and happy lives.
With the highest capital budget in Canada, it is good to see the government helping its people by putting up buildings that they want and need. Buildings like skating rinks, recreation centres, non-profit housing, and day care places will help make everyones life better.
As a rural MLA I am happy to see such strong support for the community, with the $19 million investment in the communities. I have no doubts that this government is living up to its policy of healthy communities.
Now that the Environment Act has been passed, it is good to see environment funds set up and an agreement to continue to support the important ideas in this act.
There are many pressing social needs in the Yukon today. The family is the most important group in society. It is from the family that we learn how to respect and treat other people.
The support that this government has given to child care, foster care, family violence and the health investment fund are important steps toward making the family stronger.
It is very important that these steps go quickly. It is important to talk about what we need and how to proceed, but it is also important to actually do it. We must commit ourselves to acting on these things as soon as possible.
Giving Yukoners a better education is the same thing. The largest amount of money in this budget is going to our schools.
I believe that this is one of the wisest uses of our money. It is a direct investment in our future. We are not here just for ourselves. We must do everything we can to help our young people learn more about themselves and the world around them.
Some children are not so fortunate and they need special attention. The money for the special education treatment centre will help provide some of the vital resources for these young people.
The same is true for adults. It is good to see this government supporting the adult literacy program. Many people do not have these basic skills. They are important to have in this day and age because, without them, people will not have as good a chance at being successful.
Our young people are starting to get very concerned about our environment. With the new Youth Conservation Corps, our young people will now be able to start by helping to clean up the land and preparing it for their children.
In closing, I would like to say a few words about this House.
In this session, I hope that we will respect one another more than we have in the past. It is very easy to fight among ourselves and to think that what we are saying is more important than what someone else is saying.
I would like to encourage each and every one of you to stop and listen sometimes. We are elected to make the Yukon a better place for all of our people.
We are elected to be leaders. We must do this by example. We cannot do this if we are always yelling at one another, or fighting all the time.
If we expect other people to work together, we must set a good example for them to follow.
As a leader in our community, we should respect each other, so our people will also respect us.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister of Finance gave his budget address a title. That title was Investing in the Yukons Future. I would like to give my address in reply a title, too. The title of my address in reply is Time To Go. It is time for this government to go.
The budget address, and the speeches of the government Members in support of that address, say five things to me. Firstly, the government is dishonest. Secondly, the government is tired and worn out. Third, the government has no vision. Fourth, the government has no political will to tackle the real problems facing the Yukon; it is content to treat the symptoms. Fifth, the governments purpose now is simply to hang on, to get what they can for themselves and for their friends. If anyone speaks out against the government, they will suffer the consequences. They will suffer the wrath of big bully Penikett. That message has been made clear.
Those are strong words and serious allegations, but let us take a brief look at what Yukoners have been presented with when they received this budget. Let us start with dishonesty.
I have in my hand a Yukon government news release, dated November 12, 1991. Attached to that news release is a little sheet prepared by the Cabinet communications advisor.
It outlines the main features of the budget. There are four main features. The first main feature is no tax increases, for the sixth year in a row. The second main feature is approximately $19 million in new investments in Yukon communities. The third main feature is a healthy surplus and the fourth main feature of this budget is that it is the highest capital budget in Canada - $103 million or 25 percent.
Let us take a look at these four main features. No tax increases. Big deal. Virtually every Member over there stood up as if their greatest accomplishment was that they did not increase taxes. The government is getting millions of dollars more this year from the federal government than they did last year. Any tax increase would have been scandalous. It would have caused a riot here in the Yukon because there would be no reason in the world for it. There have been tax increases that Yukoners pay. The federal government has put the goods and services tax on. All Yukoners are paying that seven percent tax. That money goes to the federal government and is available for transfer payments to the Yukon. Let us not have this government tell us that we are not paying taxes because they are doing such a good job.
The other thing that this government has done is cut funding to the municipality of Whitehorse. The constituents of Porter Creek West are paying more property taxes because of it. Let us be truthful. This government cannot make a big deal of the fact that taxes have not increased. It is absolute nonsense. It is like a big lie. If you keep saying it and saying it and saying it, maybe people will believe that it is true or that it is some grand accomplishment by the Minister of Finance himself. Let us move on in talking about the honesty of this government.
The second main feature is approximately $19 million in new investments in Yukon communities.
Let us look at where that money is. In the news release I have in my hand, the $19 million is laid out and titled Investment Highlights. Twelve million dollars of the $19 million is for schools. Do you know why there is $12 million there for schools in this budget? It is because that government has no vision; that government did not plan for schools - for when and where they were needed - and we have seen the mess that this government has put us in over schools: the Granger school was controversial; the school that we do not have on 14th Avenue and Holly; the school that we are going to get whether we like it or not in the McPherson subdivision, and the school that is planned for Wann Road and Basswood. That is nothing to brag about and neither are the problems with the school in Dawson City. Twelve million dollars of the $19 million is attributable to incompetence and a lack of vision - not great investment in Yukons future.
The next big amount is another $1.1 million for the community and business development funds. This new money is for three government ministers to hand out personally to those well deserving Yukoners - well deserving in the opinion of those three ministers. What we are doing here is not investing in the Yukons future but investing in the NDPs future.
The rest of that money, or most of it, is treating the symptoms not the problems that we suffer in the Yukon and I will come back to that when I talk about the lack of political will we see from that government.
The third feature, and this is really honest - I am saying that sarcastically for the record - is the healthy surplus. This news release says that the 1992-93 capital and operating budgets main feature is a healthy surplus. It is a $19.3 million deficit.
The fourth main feature is written as the highest capital budget in Canada. Well, how stupid do they think Yukoners are? Then, in brackets, it says $103 million or 25 percent. Well, if they explained that they are talking about a percentage of the total budget spent on capital, they may be headed toward a bit of honesty. But if they went further than that, they would say that traditionally what happens with this government is that 30 percent of its capital estimates lapse. That means that money is not even spent, so that the $103 million that is being touted by this government is really $70 million and the Minister of Finance admits that on the last page of his budget address. He says that the departments do not spend the money they are allocated in a year. So that is not being exactly honest either. I do not know how this government expects us on this side, and Yukoners, to swallow that nonsense.
Now we come to my second point, and that is the fact that this government is tired and worn out. The Government Leaders address and comments in this House indicate that he does not want to be here, which is very obvious to those of us who are present at this moment. He is still living in the past. He spends most of his time referring to what the previous Conservative government did to justify his own secrecy and his own abuses.
The former Minister of Finance, the Member for Mayo, looks done in. He got up and made the same speech he has for the past six years. Even he must be tired of hearing himself whining about the lack of recognition he gets for his efforts and bemoaning the fact that he has not received the congratulations that he thinks he deserves.
The most the other Members could do was to stand up and say that, for the sixth year in a row, there have been no tax increases. It is pretty sad.
My third point is the lack of vision of this government. This government has no vision, except to carry on spending federal government money and complaining that it is not enough - $417 million this year. What they are doing is looking one year ahead, to the next election, and looking back 10 years to justify what they have been doing. There are no plans for the future. That is why the title of this budget reply is Time to Go.
The fourth thing the budget address told me was that this government has no political will to tackle the real and serious problems that are facing Yukoners. They are satisfied to treat the symptoms and throw a few coins here and there to satisfy the largest number of people, without making any commitment. I have mentioned it before, and it has been in the press. There is a lack of commitment to deal with the problem of alcohol abuse in the territory.
Dr. de la Mare was on the radio, talking about his patients. I do not want to get it wrong, but I think he said that 80 or 90 percent of the visits to him were due to alcohol-related problems. Staff Sgt. Ryan appeared before city council, pleading with them to try and do something about the alcohol abuse problem, and to do something with respect to residential alcohol treatment and follow-up programs in the City of Whitehorse. What do we hear from this government? We hear about the political will. We hear the Minister of Health and Social Services standing up and saying that she is happy with the budget. That is not enough.
Another problem that I see and that I have taken an interest in is the problem of suicide in the territory, and especially among the young people. I looked in the budget and this government has taken out the statistics with respect to suicide. Well, this governments position is: we have a problem; we will just ignore it. We will wait - perhaps until after the next election to tackle these tough problems - for now we will give $100,000 here and $200,000 there and buy a few interest groups. We will threaten anyone who speaks out against us.
All of the studies have been done with respect to alcohol abuse. The statistics have been gathered, and the government has those statistics. There has been no decision to do anything different with the statistics. The excuse for years has been that we do not have proper data; we do not have updated statistics. Well, all of those statistics are in place and what do we have in this budget for 1992-93? Zip. No capital spending, and the increase that the Minister of Health and Social Services was so proud of was from $1.3 to $1.7 million dollars, which only covers the 19 percent increase in salaries that the government gave to the employees. There are no new programs.
There are several other issues where this government has not shown any political will. Another issue that I brought up in the past is the issue of hazardous waste. In 1985, the year that this government came into power, a hazardous waste committee was set up to find a location for hazardous waste. The years went by and nothing happened. No tough decision would be made. When things got hot, what did the government do? They set up a new committee. You know what happened when that new committee spent a couple of years working and gave a report and recommendations to the government? What happened was that they kept it a secret. We may be going into an election soon; we would not want to have to deal with the recommendations of our committee.
I called the Ministers office and asked for a copy of the recommendations of that hazardous waste committee. I was refused a copy. It is a secret, because that government will not face the issue of locating a hazardous waste facility in the Government Leaders riding, not until redistribution, not until after the next election.
Another issue where there has been no political will is with respect to the Mental Health Act, which was passed a year and one-half ago. That government would not get down to drawing up, researching and preparing proper regulations for that act. What happened? I will tell you what happened. The Leader of the Official Opposition got in the newspaper and screamed at the government that the Mental Health Act had not been proclaimed.
The Minister went to a meeting, with no notice to anyone, in a knee-jerk reaction, and passed the Mental Health Act. She had no idea what effect it would have on Yukoners and mental health patients. I do not think the Leader of the Official Opposition did either. He wanted the act passed. There should have been something properly done.
There was no research done, and the tough decision was not made when it should have been. For that, both the government - the Cabinet Members who passed those regulations - and the Leader of the Official Opposition - although he does not want me to attack him on this issue - must assume some responsibility for the handling of that affair.
These are just a few examples. I believe that every Member, including those on the government side, have issues that the Government Leader will not deal with. He will not deal with them because they are not politically safe. They may cause a little upset; they may lose an interest group or they may not get quite as many votes as they had hoped for.
The Government Leader directing traffic over there has not invested in the Yukons future, as is claimed in his budget; what he has done is stifle the Yukons future. He has refused to get down to work and deal with the problems, for political reasons.
That is what the Member for Tatchun was talking about when he got up and said we should lead by example. That is not what we are seeing from this government. The people out there want to see some honesty and integrity. They do not want petty partisan political games, like those being played in this House right now. They do not want that style of government. They do not like the style of government that is being brought by this NDP front bench, which brings me to the fifth thing the budget address told me.
In view of the time, perhaps what I should do is move that we adjourn debate at this time. I will carry on with my remarks tomorrow.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for Porter Creek West that debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In view of the time and the merciful actions on the part of the Member for Porter Creek West to relieve us from such a disgusting speech, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 18, 1991:
Implementing the Yukon Conservation Strategy: A Progress Report - September 1991 (Webster)
Yukon Economic Strategy: Third Progress Report to August, 1991 (Byblow)
The following Legislative Return was tabled November 18, 1991:
Consultants Terms of Reference for Mandate Review by the Department of Government Services (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1245