Monday, November 25, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Recognition of French Heritage Week
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I want to take this opportunity to say that French Heritage Week is happening in the territory. The Yukon is richer because of the francophone presence and its contribution to a stronger, healthier Yukon community.
Monsieur le President, je souhaite a tous les Francophones du Yukon une semaine Culturelle Francaise, riche en experience et en satisfaction.
Speaker: Introduction of Visitors
Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling some legislative returns as well as a package of information regarding the Yukon waste management program.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introductions of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Mr. Phelps: I move that An Act to Amend the Yukon Development Corporation Act be now be introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for Hootalinqua that a bill entitled An Act to Amend the Yukon Development Corporations Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading agreed to.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
NOTICES OF MOTION FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mr. Phillips: I move
THAT the House do issue an order for return of all documentation and contracts relating to the provision of locally made office furniture, including the amount spent on the furniture, which departments received the furniture, and the correspondence from those departments for those furniture requests.
As well, I move
THAT the House do issue an order for the return of all documents and contracts relating to the educational leave for senior government employees and senior government contract employees negotiated or agreed to in the past three years.
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion?
Statements by Ministers.
Special waste-management facility site selection
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have tabled a package of papers on the Yukon special waste management facility site selection. Having done so, I want to commend the members of the Advisory Committee on Waste Management and all of those who participated in the proces for the extra effort that they devoted in this project.
The committee has spent the last year investigating specific sites for the facility. The package I presented today contains the results of the site selection process and contains the detailed analysis of the three most promising locations.
We are now seeking final public input by January 10, 1992, so we can get on with the job of constructing the facility, a facility that is intended to provide a safe, secure way of storing special wastes, prior to shipment to an approved disposal site. This is a chance for people with opinions about the committees recommendations to make their views known before a final decision is made.
The option recommended by the committee is Whitehorse Copper Road mine site. This site is approximately a kilometre from the Alaska Highway, just east of Whitehorse. It is in an area that is designated for heavy-industrial zoning, on the official community plan.
The second site option is identified within the City OF Whitehorse also: the landfill site. It is considered suitable for integrated waste-management because people could bring their household garbage and special wastes to that site, in one trip.
The third option is at Jakes Corner. Its distance from potential users and emergency services lead the committee to consider this site unsuitable.
The design of a facility that can adjust to the needs of the territory is just as critical as the selection of the site on which it sits. We cannot continue to dispose of waste into the environment. We must develop a safe, affordable, efficient and accessible facility that will answer Yukon peoples concerns for a healthier environment.
Safety is the number one priority for the facility. With that in mind, the facility will have the following safety features: it will be of non-combustible materials; it will have separation of non-compatible waste types; there will be spill-collection systems within each area of the facility; there will be an on-site collection system for surface water and any spill that may occur outside the buildings. There will be alarm systems for both fire and forced entry. It is expected that there will be fully trained staff, with 24-hour surveillance. There will be periodic testing of the water from drill sites around the facility to ensure no contamination can exist. As well, there will be operational contingency plans.
Once a site has been selected, a citizens committee will be formed to participate in the planning, developing and implementing of the special waste facility itself.
While we continue to work toward an overall special waste program for the Yukon, pilot projects are being undertaken on a smaller scale to ensure that other waste materials are not dumped into the environment. For example, used motor oil amounts to 70 percent of all special waste produced in the Yukon. A pilot project to accept used oil from do-it-yourself oil changers will officially begin on November 30. The oil will be collected at the Recycling Centre and shipped to a refinery to be recycled.
A solid-waste management policy is being developed by the department in cooperation with the Waste Management Advisory Committee and extensive community input. A workshop with community administrators and dump operators was held on November 22 to identify issues for a discussion paper on managing the Yukons garbage.
The discussion paper will be released by the advisory committee for public review and will be followed by a meeting with community representatives to help outline a waste-management policy. That policy will guide the development of waste-management regulations under the Environment Act, a process that also will include extensive public review.
I am confident that, with the continued support of the advisory committee, the City of Whitehorse and the Yukon public, we can achieve the best balance of economics and safety for the benefit of all Yukon people. Together we will provide a clean environment for future generations.
Mr. Phelps: I raised concerns earlier in the session about the delay we have been experiencing with regard to the government dealing with the recommendations of the committee. At that time, I suggested that it might be because the two recommended sites were within the riding of Whitehorse West.
At this time, I want to say that I am very pleased that the recommendations and other papers of the Advisory Committee on Waste Management have not been lost and have not disappeared down some dark hole. I hope the government will be getting on with the job of constructing a facility.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question of privilege
Mr. Nordling: Question of privilege.
Speaker: Question of privilege to the Hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West.
Mr. Nordling: I have for tabling a letter that the Independent Alliance has written to the Commissioner of the Yukon. I would like to refer you to Standing Order 11(8), which states: On Ministerial Statements, as listed in Standing Order 11(2), a Minister may make a short, factual statement of government policy. A Member for each of the parties in opposition to the government may comment thereon for not more than five minutes, and the Minister may then give a reply of not more than five minutes."
As a member of the Independent Alliance, I have the right to comment on the ministerial statement. Pursuant to the laws of the Yukon and, specifically, the Legislative Assembly Act, which governs this House, the Independent Alliance is a party. The definition in the Legislative Assembly Act is as follows:
Party means a registered political party as defined in the Elections Act, which has one or more members who identify themselves with that party in the Legislative Assembly.
The Independent Alliance has met those requirements as laid out in the Legislative Assembly Act referring to the Elections Act and is, in fact, a party. The Independent Alliance must be recognized until the law is changed. To deny us recognition in this House is a breach of our own legislation.
The Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges cannot change the law. Until the law is changed, we, the Independent Alliance, are a party and under the standing orders have a right to respond to that ministerial statement. I will not sit down until I am heard.
Speaker: The Hon. Government House Leader, on the question of privilege.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the point that has been made by the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West, this Legislature dealt with this matter last week in a sense that a similar question was raised by one of the two independent Members. At that time, you ruled according to your understanding of the issue. Following that, the Legislature did debate a motion that referred the question of the status of the two Members as a party to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges. That resolution passed in this Legislature. As chair of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, I have informed the Member for Riverdale South that the standing committee has now seized the issue and will be having its first meeting to discuss the matter, as was directed by this Legislature, tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.
The opportunity that will be given to all Members of this Legislature, including the members on the committee, will be to discuss the very issue the Member cites, that is, whether the Independent Alliance is a party in fact. The Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges will not be making the decision, nor will it be passing legislation but, rather, it will be making recommendations back to the House for further debate. At that time, I am certain that, as Mr. Speaker has directed already, the Members themselves will deal with this matter, and I am certain that the Members on the committee, and ultimately the Members of this Legislature, will make a sound and fair decision. In the end, we will do the things that Mr. Speaker charges us to do in his opening prayers.
Speaker: The Hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South, on the question of privilege.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you. As law makers, we have to observe the laws of the Yukon Territory. We have done that; it is the rest of the Members of this Legislative Assembly who have not done that.
The law is stated, and the law cannot be changed by the Rules, Elections and Privileges Committee. The law has to be changed by the government bringing in an amendment to the Legislative Assembly Act. Until such time as that law is changed, the rules and laws have to be observed. They have not been observed. We have been denied our privileges according to the law for two weeks now, and it is going into the third week. The Rules, Elections and Privileges Committee can make all the recommendations they want to the government but they cannot change the law.
It is not a matter of choice. It is a matter of the law being observed. The law, the Legislative Assembly Act, states: The definition of a party means a registered political party as defined in the Elections Act. We have already established in the letter from the Chief Electoral Officer that we have been recognized and registered as a political party according to the Elections Act.
Then it goes on to say ... which has one or more members who identify themselves with that party in the Legislative Assembly. We have two Members in this Legislative Assembly who identify themselves with the Independent Alliance. It is not up to the Members to make a decision in the back room as to whether we are a party or we are not a party. They have to observe the law.
The Standing Order 11(8) says: On Ministerial Statements, as listed in Standing Order 11(2), a Minister may be make a short, factual statement of government policy. A Member for each of the parties in opposition - that includes us, that includes the Independent Alliance - may comment thereon for not more than five minutes and a Minister may then give a reply of not more than five minutes.
All we are asking is that the Members of this House observe the laws on behalf of the constituents that Mr. Nordling, the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West, and I represent. We are tired of our constituents being treated as second-class citizens. We are tired of people in this Legislative Assembly telling every other Yukoner out there that they have to observe the laws, yet they do not have to do it here in the Legislature.
Speaker: Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition, on the question of privilege.
Mr. Lang: As the longest sitting Member of the House, I have a couple of comments. The decision has been made by the Legislature to deal with the question of whether or not the two independent Members are, in fact, a political party and should be recognized as such. Until that decision is made by the committee that was set up by this House, with its membership unanimously elected by all Members of this House, the House is not in a position to make a decision on rules and privileges and how they are going to affect the Members of this House.
I share the view of all Members that this particular issue should be dealt with expeditiously. The House is making every effort to do that. As the House Leader has indicated, there will be a meeting tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. to deal with it. I am hoping that, with whatever evidence can be brought forward to the Members, a fair and just decision can be made and recommended to the House for further debate.
If one only reviews the precedents on parliamentary procedure that have been set across this country, one can see that the House is taking the proper action, contrary to some of the statements that have been made to the House so far. I share, with all Members of the House, the hope that a decision will be made soon with respect to the situation that exists in the House today.
Mr. Speaker: The Hon. Opposition House Leader on the question of privilege.
Mr. Phillips: I am a little surprised by the move made today, because I believe that you, Mr. Speaker, have previously made a ruling on this very issue, and all Members are aware of that. As well, it was the majority of this House that decided that the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges would be the appropriate place to deal with this matter. The Members agreed to that.
The meeting we are talking about is not going to be a month or six weeks away. It is less than 24 hours away. All Members of the House plan to deal with this matter as quickly as possible. It is a very serious matter, and one that all Members of this House are concerned about.
I would also add that that meeting will be public. Nothing is going to be done in the backroom, nor is any deal going to be cut in a backroom. It will be a public meeting, and the public is invited to come to the meeting, if they so wish. That point should be made.
In this particular case, I do not think the Members who raised this issue have a point of privilege. The issue is going to be quickly dealt with first thing tomorrow morning.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to take this matter under advisement, and I will report back to the House at a later date.
Point of Order
Mr. Nordling: On the question of privilege. This is not a complicated issue. The Speaker had no trouble making a ruling over two weeks ago, one which was erroneous, in my submission. It is a breach of the law of the territory. The Legislative Assembly Act is clear, as are our Standing Orders. If it takes a few minutes adjournment of this House for Mr. Speaker to consider, we have no objection; however, I will stand until we have a ruling, or until I am heard on the ministerial statement.
The Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges cannot do anything about this issue, because the law has to be changed to take away our right to speak in response to a ministerial statement. Tomorrow morning at 9:30, the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges cannot change the Legislative Assembly Act. A change to this act would require an amendment that must be brought into this House by the government. Until that is done, we have the right to be heard.
The standing committee may consider the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly as long they want and do anything that they want and recommend anything that they want, but until something is done to change the law, the Independent Alliance has the legal right to speak to that and comment on the ministerial statement.
Speaker: I find there is no point of order and I would like to inform the Member that the Chair has the right to take any issue under advisement. I will take the question of privilege under advisement and report back at a later date.
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, resignation of president
Mr. Lang: I would like to ask all Members to turn their attention to a very serious issue facing the territory. That issue is the resignation of the President of the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation, Mr. Jack Cable. Mr. Cable informed the public that he is not prepared to defend the relationship between the corporations and the politicians. It is no secret that, since the inception of the Yukon Development Corporation, there has been continuous political interference by the government in the Yukon Development Corporation and its day-to-day involvement in the Yukon economy.
One has only to look at the Watson Lake Forest Products $11 million, the old Yukon College, which cost $6 million and the hotel that, we are informed, will have an additional $2 allocated to it. As well, we have seen Yukon Energy Corporation light bills increase at a steady rate.
I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business.
In view of the statements that were made by the ex-president of the Yukon Development Corporation - and he stated in a local news broadcast that he was not prepared ... he was uncomfortable with the way the territorial government views the two Crown corporations, and further, that he did not defend the relationships between the corporations and the government. Could the Minister tell this House why the government has interfered, politically, once again in the corporation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To correct the record about the Members preamble and question, there has not been political interference of the corporation. The matter of the relationship between the Crown corporation and the government is clearly laid out in the Yukon Development Corporation Act and it is no different than any relationship that exists between Crown corporations and governments in other jurisdictions.
Mr. Lang: Obviously there is a problem. The president of the Yukon Development Corporation has informed the public of the political interference that has obviously taken place between the government and the two corporations. I want to know from the Minister why his government is continuing to interfere in the day-to-day business and policy area of the Yukon Development Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is making a bold assumption that somehow, in his view, there is political interference. The facts of the record speak more clearly than do the Members statements. The relationship is spelled out in an act that governs how the relationship is carried out. The Yukon Development Corporation Act is clear in describing the corporation as an agent of the Government of the Yukon, that the Energy Corporation functions, not as a department of a government, but at arms length from the government, as a self-financing Crown corporation.
The act spells out the matter of how affairs shall be conducted by a board of directors that are responsible to the Executive Council Member. On matters of policy there is also clear direction respecting how the corporation shall be providing its role as an instrument of government policy.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling this House that the ex-president of the Yukon Development Corporation has no substantiation for his position and that he is not prepared to defend the relationship between the corporation and the government? Is the Minister telling the House and the public that everything is being done properly and therefore the grounds on which the president of the Yukon Development Corporation resigned are not founded? Is this what he is trying to tell people?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not prepared to offer speculative comment on the floor of this House about Mr. Cables public statements. I am telling the Member precisely how the corporation is set up, and arrangement that was struck through legislative means during a time when the Member was in this House, and I was not. The corporations relationship, role and mandate were clearly articulated during presentation of that act. The matter of the relationship is clearly spelled out and is being followed along those principles.
Question of Privilege
Mrs. Firth: On a point of privilege.
Speaker: Order please, on a point of privilege to the Hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South.
Mrs. Firth: I wish to be recognized at this time during Question Period and be allowed the opportunity to ask my question, as has been set in the past by precedence dating back to 1978, when the other opposition party was allowed to ask the second question in Question Period.
I will refer you to the Standing Orders of the day, Standing Order 11(9), that says: The Assembly may, by unanimous consent, suspend its Standing Orders or waive procedural requirements and precedents. I would like to point out that this has not happened. The Independent Alliance feels we should be recognized at this time in the order of questions during Question Period. A law is being broken in the Yukon Territory and I will not sit by and let this happen.
I can refer to several precedents. In 1978, there was a time when there was one Member in the Legislature. The now Government Leader, who had third-party status in 1978, was allowed to ask the second question in Question Period. The second precedent was when there were two Members in Opposition who were allowed to ask the second question. No one debated it and no one asked for it to go to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges. These were two Members who were given the second question in Question Period.
There was another turn of events, when the Liberals became a third party. They had two Members in the House. They were also given the second question.
That precedent has not been changed by the unanimous consent of this House. According to the law, we are a party. We feel we should be recognized, at this time, for our question to be put to the government on behalf of our constituents.
Mr. Speaker, I just will not sit down until I am heard.
Speaker: Order, please. I find there is no question of privilege. The Chair will follow the Question Period rotation as set out by this House.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, resignation of president
Mr. Lang: I want to get back to a very important issue, as I stated earlier, that continues to be interrupted. It is the question of the Yukon Development Corporation and the revelations today with respect to the obvious political interference between the government and the Yukon Development Corporation.
It is a very critical time in the Yukon, where the rate application for the rates for energy costs is being dealt with by the Yukon Public Utilities Board. This is a very inopportune time for the resignation of the President of the Yukon Development Corporation. Obviously, there are significant problems between the government and the corporation for this to happen.
Could the Minister tell the House if he or his departmental officials were directly or indirectly, verbally or in writing, involved in any way in the preparation of the electrical rate application by the Yukon Development Corporation, prior to the tabling of the proposed rate increases to the Public Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members preamble reflected on the timeliness of the departure of the president of the corporation and, in that respect, I can agree with the Member that the timeliness of the departure is most inopportune; however, I have every confidence in the competence and capability of corporation officials to carry out their respective duties and provide the hearings with required technical and professional advice and information. So, although it may be untimely, I have every confidence that the public will be well-served by the officials in attendance.
Mr. Lang: The Minister did not answer the question. I asked him very specifically if he, as the Minister responsible, or his departmental officials, directly or indirectly, verbally or in writing, were involved in any way in the preparation of the electrical rate change application developed by the Yukon Development Corporation prior to the tabling of that proposed rate increase to the Public Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is no. As the Member is fully aware, a rate application that seeks a rate increase is based on calculations by the Energy Corporation on its projected costs for the coming year or for the coming period of a year. Those calculations are conducted by the Energy Corporation in concert with the utility that manages the day to day affairs of utility operations around the territory, and those calculations make up the presentation that is outlined in a very detailed rate application before the board now.
Mr. Lang: Exactly what is the involvement of the Minister and his officials with the corporation? Over the past number of months, the financing of the new hotel in Whitehorse has become a matter of public debate.
It has come to our attention that $2 million has been made available for the financing of the hotel from the Yukon Development Corporation. Could the Minister tell us whether he or his department officials in any way, directly or indirectly, involved themselves in approaching the Yukon Development Corporation to approve this allocation of $2 million for the construction of the new hotel?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, as the Member is fully aware from his participation in the debate that surrounded the Yukon Development Corporation Act, he knows that decisions by the corporation are taken by the board. Understandably, administration of the corporation will present matters of fact and make recommendations to board-level meetings, and the board will direct particular decisions.
With respect to the question he raises, the facts are quite simple. Direction relating to Taga Ku was given by the board and, no doubt, acted upon.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, resignation of president
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions on the same subject for the same Minister. I am curious about the timing of this news release, wherein the president of the two government corporations has announced his resignation, and has said that he is uncomfortable with the way the territorial government views the two Crown-owned companies.
Can the Minister advise us whether the president has expressed pleasure to him with regard to the fact that the Yukon Development Corporation stripped more than $16 million out of the profits of the Yukon Energy Corporation and, then, spent a lot of that money - over $11 million, as far as we can see - on the debts incurred by the Watson Lake sawmill?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I am not prepared to comment on a corporation officials public statements on the floor of this House. It should be made clear that the allegation proposed by the Member in his question is entirely inaccurate.
With respect to the dividends that were paid by the Yukon Energy Corporation, they were deemed surplus at the time and the corporation and its board of directors were perfectly within their right to choose what they wished in terms of the profitable side of the corporation.
Mr. Phelps: I am not sure what the Minister is trying to say. We had the profits stripped away by the Yukon Development Corporation, and we had at least $11 million spent on debts incurred by the Watson Lake sawmill.
Is the Minister now trying to say that did not fall in ill favour with the person who was president of the Yukon Development Corporation up until today?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I must remind Members that it is not appropriate for any Minister to divulge any conversation or discussion that may take place between deputy heads and ministers.
I would also note for the Member that both Mr. Cable and myself undertook our respective responsibilities surrounding the corporation between last February and March. I repeat to the Member that it is not appropriate or decent to comment on private discussions.
Mr. Phelps: The obvious inference from the news release of the last president of these corporations, Mr. Cable, is that there has been government interference in the operation of these two corporations. Can the Minister tell us whether or not the president was concerned about government interference with the way in which the ongoing civil lawsuits were being carried out against the various parties involved in the Watson Lake sawmill fiasco?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the Member is asking me to interpret the view of the president of the corporation, and it is entirely inappropriate for me to do that. If he wants to understand, precisely the view of Mr. Cable, then he should ask him.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, resignation of president
Mr. Phelps: Of course, Mr. Cable does not come into the Legislature to answer questions; the Minister does. I am rather curious that the Minister would think it is unethical for him to speak to it, yet it would be appropriate for Mr. Cable to speak of private conversations. That seems a little bizarre, to say the least.
Perhaps the Minister can attempt to answer a question that I am sure he would be comfortable in answering, and that has to do with the lawsuits I referred to in my last question.
Can the Minister advise us as to just what is happening with respect to the various civil lawsuits that were embarked upon by the Yukon Development Corporation against the various other players in the Watson Lake sawmill fiasco?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Numerous legal transactions are occurring and they are in various states of development. I will undertake to provide for the Member, in writing, the relevant status of each legal proceeding.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for that undertaking. Perhaps he could also advise at this time whether or not any of the lawsuits have been dropped by Yukon Development Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I duly note the inquiry and will give the same undertaking.
Question re: Education leave pay
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. In the past few weeks, the Minister has revealed a rather handsome education package that was granted to the former Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and the Minister has clearly told this House that the reason this individual received those special benefits is because the government requested that the Deputy Minister take the education leave. In fact, on November 12, 1991, the Minister clearly stated, The original rationale for providing the particular employee that the Member mentioned with 100 percent of his wages while on education leave was, firstly, that it was felt that the education leave in that particular case would be a valuable resource to the government and, secondly, that the education leave was requested of the employee. It was not the employee requesting it of the government.
On November 13, the same Minister stated again, first of all, that he did not ask the Deputy Minister to take the course; the government asked him to return to school.
In Fridays Whitehorse Star, there was a direct quote from the individual in question, which clearly contradicts the Ministers statement to us in this House. The Deputy Minister stated, and I quote: I was accepted at Queens, then approached the government to explore the possibility of receiving education leave to attend school, and it was granted.
I am sure the Minister did not intentionally want to mislead this House, so I would like to ask the Minister to tell the House who is telling the truth: the Deputy Minister or the Minister himself, when he stood up in the House and said that the government asked this individual to take the course?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Perhaps I could be helpful to the Member and suggest to him that the answer to the question is that both the Minister and the Deputy Minister are correct. I happen to know that the government did, indeed, recommend that the Deputy take education leave as a career development initiative, but I also know that the person in question had, for a number of years, been seeking education leave. So, both statements are correct.
Mr. Phillips: It is sad when another Minister jumps up to cover up what a Minister said in the House. We were told very clearly by the Minister of the Public Service Commission, very clearly, and I repeat the quote: It was not the employee requesting it of the government. The employee has now said that he did request it of the government, and I am asking the government to come clean. He cannot have it both ways. The individual says he requested it; the Minister is saying that they asked the individual. We want to know who is telling the truth - and not from the Government Leader; we would like to hear it from the Minister who is responsible for the issue at hand.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect, I say to the Member opposite that this is one of those rare cases where it is possible to have it both ways. I know for a fact that both statements are accurate.
The Member can repeat his question, but it does not change the answer.
Mr. Phillips: My question is to the Minister of the Public Service Commission. He said, on page 1232, November 12, 1991, that it was not the employee requesting the leave of the government. I would like to ask the Minister if that is what he said at that time and if that is what he meant. Does this not contradict what the individual said at a recent interview in one of the local newspapers?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Premier indicated, I did indicate that it was the governments request to have this individual take educational leave. At the same time, the individual also suggested that he should be taking educational leave.
The point of the matter is that the request or the insistence by the government that this individual take educational leave was what prompted the governments desire to not only approve the leave but also pay 100 percent of the individuals salary.
I have also indicated, on a number of occasions, that the policy respecting educational leave, in all circumstances in the future, will be respected to the letter.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, resignation of president
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Government Leader regarding the abrupt retirement of the President of the Yukon Development Corporation. I know it is the Government Leaders policy to fire Deputy Ministers who attend political conventions. I do not think it is any secret that the former president of the Yukon Development Corporation attended a political convention last week. I would like to ask the Government Leader if this individual quit, or was he fired? Was the government telling him that it would give him an honourable way out?
The public is having a great deal of difficulty accepting that this gentleman just walked away from this job on the first day of the Public Utilities Board hearings. Could the Government Leader tell us whether or not this policy is still in effect? Did Mr. Cable retire, or was he fired?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The president of the Yukon Development Corporation quit. As a matter of fact, I will tell the Member that last week I received a complaint to the effect that a deputy may have violated the Public Service Commission Act by attending or participating in a territorial political party convention. For the record, that complaint was still under investigation when I received notice of the resignation this morning.
Mrs. Firth: Did either the Government Leader or the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation have words with Mr. Cable with respect to his attending the Liberal convention?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I did not discuss the matter personally with Mr. Cable. There was no opportunity, as he had been out of town for much of last week. In order to ascertain the facts of the matter, I did, however, instruct the Cabinet secretary to have a conversation with the gentleman in question.
Mrs. Firth: All Yukoners would be very interested in hearing what the contents of that discussion were and what directions were issued by the Government Leader to his Cabinet secretary to give to Mr. Cable. If the Government Leader would be so good as to share that information with us, we would find it very interesting.
Is it still the policy to fire Deputy Ministers who attend political conventions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The instructions to the Cabinet secretary were quite simple: to ascertain the facts of the matter. No further instructions were given until I was fully aware of the facts. I had received no recommendation as to how to deal with the question whatsoever, nor had I considered any.
The Member asks about government policy. It is ironic that the Member should ask the question, because it is not so much a question of policy as it is a matter of law. In my view, the Public Service Commission Act is quite clear as to the restrictions on political activity by deputies. This act has been in place for many years, including the years when the Member opposite was in government. However, I must note that there has been a recent Supreme Court decision on this question, which I have also asked my officials to look at.
Question re: Taga Ku convention centre project
Mr. Nordling: The Taga Ku convention centre is one of the largest projects undertaken in the territory for some time. The Government of the Yukon is one of the players in this undertaking. Would the Government Leader give us an update on the overall project?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps the Members can recognize how often the Minister responsible is called upon to speak to daily activities that may involve either or both corporations.
With respect to Taga Ku, the Member should recognize that the government, through the corporation, is not directly involved with the activities of the convention centre. The corporation has lent the Champagne/Aishihik Band $2 million, through their corporate arm. That money is secured, but there is no form of further involvement or decision-making provided to the corporation on the project.
Mr. Nordling: We have heard concerns about the project as a whole. Could the Minister update us on the Yukon governments commitment and involvement in the project. He said the government is not directly involved. How is the government protecting its involvement and investment?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would prefer to take notice because of the legal instruments involved. The security is fairly complex, and it relates to the shares of the corporate arm of the Champagne/Aishihik Band, land claim settlement dollars but, for fear of erring, I would prefer to provide the details surrounding that security in writing to the Member.
Mr. Nordling: Is the Yukon government satisfied with the financing and the progress of the project to date? Who is monitoring the project on behalf of the Yukon government?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As indicated in my answer to an earlier question, the Yukon Development Corporation is charged with monitoring the project, making appropriate inquiries and updates as necessary and as is called for in the financing arrangements. The short answer to the Members question is that the corporation is in charge of monitoring the project.
Question re: Kaska Resources, timber harvest agreement
Mr. Devries: As the Minister of the Yukon Development Corporation is aware, the sale of Yukon Pacific Forest Products is of tremendous economic importance to Watson Lake. I understand that the receiver has imposed a deadline of November 25, 1991, for this transaction to take place in regard to Kaska Resources and the purchase price being paid into the court. Can the Minister tell this House if it has happened, or if he knows if it is going to happen today?
IHon. Mr. Byblow: Again, Members are proving the point of how they expect the Minister responsible to be intimately versed on daily and legal issues that are addressed by the Yukon Development Corporation. I cannot answer the question. The matter is before the court, and it will rule on this matter. This is certainly not a Minister who would think of interference.
Mr. Devries: It was the Minister who mentioned the deadline date to me the other day. Could the Minister inform this House as to what level negotiations are at and the Yukon governments involvement in reference to the transfer of the timber harvesting agreement?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I just want to answer the Members question dealing with the Yukon territorial governments involvement in negotiations over the timber harvest agreement. We have no direct involvement in the negotiations.
Mr. Devries: Maybe I should reword that question. Is the YTG involved at all in these negotiations, through the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, regarding the transfer of the timber harvesting agreement? Is there any information forthcoming that I could pass out to my constituents, in respect to that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: All I can say right now is that the matter is under consideration by the federal government, which has the responsibility for issuing the timber harvesting agreement and issuing any other permits, like the export permits that are being requested in the business plan put forward by Kaska Forest Products. So, we have no further input into the matter, whatsoever.
Question re: Alaska Highway, brush-clearing contract
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister for Community and Transportation Services. On September 25, 1991, I wrote to the Minister, asking for information on a brush-clearing contract on the Alaska Highway. I have also hand-delivered a copy of that letter and would like to ask the Minister why I have not had the courtesy of a reply to my letter.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am struggling to recollect the issue. I believe the matter was raised in a letter from the Member, to which I did respond. The Member subsequently inquired of me, through a second letter, on several more matters pertaining to the issue. The Member will indeed get his response. Part of the delay, as I recall, is that the brush and clearing contract involved concluded, and I was interested in providing the Member with the most up-to-date and current information. Again, I am working from memory, but the Member did flag the issue with me last week. I know that I had notes on the matter in my budget material, which I would be pleased to share in more detail, when we get into Committee. I believe the contract concluded in mid-November and we were providing the Member with the most current information; it is still coming.
Mr. Brewster: That was a reply without saying very much.
In the Ministers letter to me, dated September 19, 1991, he informed me that the winner of this contract had, in fact, not won because of an error in addition by another contractor. I can accept that; however, what I am not accepting are the errors in the Ministers own interpretation of the contract. Can the Minister tell me why the rest of the figures in the contract were not checked by his department?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would not take it as an article of faith that the rest of the figures in the contract were not checked. The Member has me at a disadvantage until we get into Committee, at which point we will have the answer.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: My addition shows the contract was for $50,995.08. The Ministers letter of September 12, 1991, states that this contract was for $53,995.08. Which amount was paid to the contractors?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In 15 minutes, when we get into Committee, I will have the answer.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I will do you a great favour and ask that you leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will now have a short break.
Chair: I will call Committee to order.
Bill No. 18 - Second Appropriation Act, 1991-92 - continued
Community and Transportation Services - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I undertook to report back to Member regarding outstanding questions. I will proceed to do that now with some of them.
Questions were raised about the status of the Robinson and Mendenhall roads. In respect to the Robinson roads, the departments transportation and maintenance section completed approximately $19,000 worth of road improvements during 1991, and they assure me that the infamous lake will not be there next spring. Should it be there, I have asked that a sign be put up.
The upgrading has caused the roads to now meet the required standards to permit year-round maintenance, including winter snow removal, and that will be carried out under the terms of the year-old rural roads maintenance policy that we introduced.
I do, however, expect in all seriousness that there will possibly be some spring road conditions that will see some potholes and puddles and soft spots, but there should not be any problems similar to those we experienced in the past.
With respect to Mendenhall, the Member for Kluane will recall some of the background leading up to the consultation with the people in the subdivision about the level of upgrading and the commitment to permit, I believe, a thousand dollars worth of assignment to their property and the government would pick up the balance - in the magnitude of $200,000.
During 1991, approximately $70,000 worth of road improvements were done. The work that was done included clearing, grubbing and stripping of all of the roads in the subdivision as well as some ditching, drainage and culvert installation. Two particularly bad sections of road on Cranberry and Harrison Roads were hoped to be completed this fall if the weather holds. Unfortunately, I cannot tell the Member if they have shut the project down over the weekend or not. The work done in 1991 will amount to improved access to the roads, but we did not complete the job and we can anticipate that there will be some problems in the spring. I hope that we can complete the job as soon as it dries out. We plan to spend about $150,000 in 1992 to finish the work. That should see some minor surfacing on all of the roads and realignment of three sections on those roads relating to ditching and straightening sharp turns and curves. There will also be some more culvert work carried out.
We have also made arrangements to ensure that there will be snow removal this winter. We have not worked out the exact frequency; that is in discussion with the residents there now. That is a summary of those two roads.
There was also a question raised by the Leader of the Official Opposition regarding Arkell Mobile Home Subdivision in Whitehorse. The Member was inquiring about the current status. Members will recall that the Arkell Subdivision is a mobile home park in the Granger Subdivision for trailer lots.
The overall development plan of the subdivision calls for 203 mobile home lots. They range in size from 469 square metres to 1120 square metres. The average size is about 550 square metres. The development costs on those lots is $25,000. A development agreement was entered into with the City of Whitehorse in August and the plan of that subdivision was approved by the old city council in August.
We are doing it in two phases. Phase 1 is going to be 105 lots. Phase 2 is going to be 98 lots. In both phases we already have the legal survey work done. We have the clearing, right-of-ways and all of the grubbing and stripping done. In addition, some of the pre-grading work has been done in getting the roadways ready.
The water and sewer for phase 1 is not complete. Weather has hampered our completion of that for this year. We expect to complete the water and sewer work in May or June of next year. We will have the electrical work done next spring. We expect to do the paving on phase 1 next year and expect to have the lots scheduled for release by next fall.
There were questions raised about tenders and, in particular, bridge work and painting. We checked through our entire list of contract jobs being done in 1991 and could not find any particular project that may have been awarded late, especially for bridge work. The only one that comes in as a late tender is the Tuchitua bridge. That bridge work was tendered in August of this year. The reason that it was tendered late is because we changed our decision from planning to do the work in 1992 to doing as much as we could this fall and winter.
In other words, we were trying to advance capital works. We recognized that there was a need for improving economic activity and preparation for that particular road. The Member for Watson Lake has often lobbied me about the Campbell Highway. We saw an opportunity to advance some work so that the bridge would be in place early next season, rather than having to be worked on all through the season. That is the only late bridge work that was done. Everything else was tendered in July or March, including the Takhini River bridge, that had a painting job done on it this year. That bridge work was tendered in March.
I have had some difficulty finding what could have been tendered late that would have raised the concerns of Members and generated complaints.
Quite similarly, the work done on the Alaska Highway appears to have been done through early tenders. There were three August tenders on the Alaska Highway. These tenders are all to do with shoulder widening, sub grade repair, minor stabilization and reconstruction of sections of the Alaska Highway.
There, we have very little influence, because it is Public Works personnel who do the tenders and manage the projects. So I would be more than pleased to have Members specify what they can about the complaints on late tendering, because the evidence suggests, and my knowledge of past practice suggests, that we have done a fairly good job of staggering the contracts and projects, to avoid any kind of late season activity that would be counter-productive to cost control.
I am going to have to ask the Member for Kluane to help me better understand the issues surrounding the brush-clearing contract at Canyon Creek, to which I said, 15 minutes ago, that I would have the answer. Upon reviewing the correspondence, I find the Member is correct; he did write me a letter in July, to which I responded in September, and provided him with detail surrounding the contract award for brush clearing near Canyon Creek, specifically, kilometre 1602 to 1635 on the Alaska Highway and kilometre 199 to 221 on the Haines Road.
The Member was correct in Question Period, when he talked about an error discovered during tender opening in the extension of figures, where an award was made.
In Question Period today the Member suggested that there was some further miscalculation. My officials have been scrambling to understand what the Member may have been referring to in the past 15 minutes, but we cannot determine what further error in price extension there may have been.
The $53,595 appears to be an accurate figure; I thought I heard the Member say that it is not so.
Mr. Brewster: In the figures I have, 22 miles were bid at $966.14 per mile. That was where they caught the mistake. They had $31,000; it should have been $21,000. It calculates to 33 by $900. In my calculations, that comes to $29,700, not $32,000. Perhaps your arithmetic is better than mine, but I had three other people calculate it, just in case I was wrong.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will have to give the Member the undertaking that I will sit down with my officials when we conclude this Committee work and try to work it out. I am not following his suggested calculations that there was an error. We should not waste the Committees time - not that the matter is not important and should not be addressed - but I would suggest that my officials would be more than willing to sit down with Mr. Brewster, some time after Committee concludes with it, and resolve this.
Mr. Brewster: I have no problem with that.
Over the weekend, I happened to be up in Burwash. There is a problem there they are scared to bring up, because they feel they might lose everything. That problem is with the streetlights, which I would like to thank the Minister for moving on. We talked about them last year. However, the cost is $23,000 for four lights.
They want to put in steel lights, which they say is the standard all across Canada, but I do not see it in any small community, yet. They could put in cedar poles at $800 a pole. This would give them a surplus, and they could put in a few more lights. There was no consultation. They said the engineer simply came up and told them that this was what they were getting, and this is what they have all across Canada.
Again, we are driving around in a Cadillac instead of a Ford. I would like to point out that these lights are right on the road. If the Shakwak Project ever went ahead, they would be torn down. If it went in five years, we would lose $23,000. If the cedar posts are put in, they could be pulled out and moved, and there would only be four of them. This comes to $3,200.
The maintenance on the steel posts has to be out of Whitehorse, because nobody Iout there has equipment to put light bulbs or anything in, whereas the cedar posts can be maintained by the electrician in the area. They are scared that, if they bring this up, they will lose everything. I assured them this would not be the case. They might end up with the $23,000 light posts, or perhaps the Minister of the department would see the light and look at cedar posts, which are in all the other communities.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I respect what the Member is saying. I agree with him that $23,000 for four street lights is a bit exhorbitant. I am not sure who is responsible for the community at Burwash. I will take notice on whether we do that with our own forces, or whether we call in Yukon Electric to do that for us. In some communities, we seek a bid from Yukon Electric to do certain light installations. They give us a price, and we either let them go ahead, or tell them it is too much, or we defer, or whatever.
We do have a street light policy that has some very strict criteria about what areas of a community are eligible for street lights. It has to do with crossings; it has to do with traffic; it has to do with distance from buildings; it has to do with whether there are public facilities in the area, such as a school. I remember reviewing that policy one time and saying that more factors should be taken into consideration.
There is a policy; it governs where the street lights go and when a community is eligible for more street lights. I do not know whether Burwash was an entire cost or if a portion was done by our forces or whether it was entirely contracted to Yukon Electric. I will undertake to obtain some further detail on that, but I share the Members consternation at the price of four street lights.
Mr. Brewster: I am glad the Minister agrees with me. The engineer there is from the government department. Whether it was contracted out after this or not, I do not know, but I do know that the maintenance alone is going to cost us more. Every time a light goes out or breaks, they have to come all the way from here with a big truck to fix it. With cedar posts, the man in that area could climb up and do it.
The thing I resent most is that the engineer went up and told them that this is what they were going to get. He did not consult with anybody. That is what this government calls consulting. I have checked with the community club, with the band and with a number of other individual people; all they know is that they were just told that that was what they were going to get, and that was the end of it. To me, that is not consulting.
The engineer was from the Yukon government department, somewhere.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I am concerned about what the Member says about consultation; we have, as a matter of policy, directed department officials to communicate and consult with communities in matters of service levels. When talking about putting four street lights into a community, somebody from the department, if it was the department engineering this, clearly ought to have talked to some authority in the community. Given that it is Burwash, it clearly would be most appropriate to talk to the band council.
I will take the matter as notice and get back to the Member.
Mr. Brewster: I think that some people in government consider consultation as simply telling them, We have the money and that is what we are putting in for you. I can remember the street light fight that we had in Destruction Bay many years ago.
The other thing that I would like to correct the Minister on is that the band is not the only one there; there are 74 members in the community club as well, and these people should be consulted as well. I phoned and checked with the band and some of the community club members. They both get along well and they both agree on these things. I do not think that the Minister can say that one has been consulted and not the other. The government should be consulting with both factions up there.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is entirely correct and I accept his observation.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Office of the Deputy Minister
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The principal component of this apparent large increase relates to the recovery program that we put in place following the Old Crow flood. Eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars of this figure relates to that exercise where we went in and assisted community members to correct the damage done as a result of the flood. It involved putting in new pads, in some cases leveling houses, in other cases repairing water and sewer fixtures. I should also point out that this is 90 percent recoverable from the federal government. Though it is a high amount, it shows up on the recovery side for 90 percent of the amount.
The balance of the money relates mostly to personnel costs as a result of the collective agreement, which, as was pointed out in opening remarks both by the Finance Minister and me, in opening remarks, constitutes a large portion of almost every line item where there are personnel involved. There are additional monies identified for a search and rescue study being done by the emergency measures branch.
There is an anticipated $20,000 increase in communications. There is an additional $35,000 for repairs to facilities, mainly at Carmacks; that is also in communications.
Mr. Phelps: Has all the work on the repairs been completed under emergency measures at Old Crow?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot seem to locate my status report on the project but having been in the community just two or three weeks ago, I can tell the Member that it is not completed. There are still a number of houses that have yet to be raised and have pads put properly in place. What I believe I was told by the chief, at the time, was that the work would be deferred until spring, simply because it could not be finished, given the inclement weather. As I recall, it was in the magnitude of 70 or 80 percent done.
Office of the Deputy Minister in the amount of $1,115,000 agreed to
On Corporate Services Division
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, this can almost entirely be attributed to the collective agreements increase in costs. It actually would have been about $130,000 but it was offset by some decreases that are anticipated in the branch. So there are lower costs in supplies, some lower costs in travel and some reduced costs in one vacant position. So, even though the collective agreement costs would have been $132,000, we were able to keep it at $87,000.
Corporate Services Division in the amount of $87,000 agreed to
On Transportation Division
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, this is almost entirely attributable to the collective agreement increases. Of this, $2,127,000 is personnel costs, of which $11,000 is recoverable through the National Safety Code agreement for those officers.
There are minor costs: for example, $9,000 for the transportation of dangerous goods. There is $7,000 anticipated for increased costs for some extra work that the driver control board is expected to do. Also, $140,000 of that amount is for increased activity in the National Safety Code work by the officers, but that is 100 percent recoverable.
Transportation Division in the amount of $2,205,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Members push me, I would, with great reluctance, try to explain the machinations that took place here.
This is the item in which we have done the consolidation of the comprehensive block funding. This is where we have rolled money in from the capital side, combined it with all the existing municipal operating grants that historically were provided and came up with the new amount.
Of the $7 million, just under $500,000 is personnel costs related to the collective agreement. There is a couple of hundred thousand dollars related to some increased costs related to the ambulance service. There is a reduction for this particular year for the waterfront. We have budgeted $50,000. As it turns out, we will probably only spent $25,000. But, about $6.5 million of this is for the consolidation of the comprehensive block funding moved over from capital.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister says there is some $200,000 more for the ambulance services. Has there been an upgrading in the training provided to the rural ambulance groups?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is actually a considerable amount of work in the area of ambulance training. In part, the budget reflects that increased level of activity.
The department is now reviewing the standards and needs for training. The objective is to ensure that the level of training and skills of attendants appropriately matches the demands placed on these people. That review will be completed by the spring of 1992.
In the meantime, there are numerous programs being provided by the department through the ambulance services. They are fairly detailed and extensive. I can provide some of the program offerings within the ambulance services - separately, if the Member wishes - that in part will justify this increased need for funding.
Mr. Phelps: I have one observation. I know there is some frustration among the volunteers in some of the communities with regard to the on-again, off-again nature of the training that has been provided in the past. I would like to make the point that there is a need for some certainty about programs going ahead once they have been promised. A lot of these volunteers take time off and are not able to change their plans to attend training sessions at the whim of government.
This was a problem about a year ago, and the department was crying poverty and making the claim that they were out of money for training in the fiscal year that ended the end of March 1991. I would make the observation that we have a very high quality of volunteers - at least the ones I know, particularly in Carcross - and it is very important that they be given a great deal of certainty in their planning so they can take time off from their personal and business lives to take advantage of the training and keep current.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can relate to the Members concern and I can give him every assurance that the matter of training for ambulance service attendants has been dealt with at some considerable length. I will separately supply the Member with a summary of some of the programs that are being provided.
I should note, for the record, particularly because the Member raised the issue of certainty in funding, that our budget levels have increased year by year over the past several years, quite substantially, in comparison to what was being spent back in 1987. We have increased the budget by over 50 percent. Back in 1987, we were spending about $50,000 on ambulance service requirements; today we are budgeting $117,000. In fact, we are going to be spending over $200,000, so even though we budget by 50 percent more, we seem to be spending, on a fairly regular basis, nearly 50 percent more again, such that the budgets double each year. That has not happened every year, but in this current year, this budget will reflect an over expenditure of $84,000 by the original budget of $117,000, which is 50 percent more than three years ago.
We are trying to meet the very rapidly rising costs associated with training. I agree with the Member wholeheartedly. I have met with a number of the ambulance people and I have had quite a bit of communication, as the Member may know, on the subject in the last few months.
I agree with the Member about the sincerity and competence and skill level and quality of ambulance services we have in the territory; they are very good.
Mr. Phelps: We do not begrudge any of the money that is being spent training these ambulance workers in the communities. They are becoming more and more qualified, and it is costing money to bring the qualifications of the individual workers up.
In order to maintain those qualifications and skill level, the government is going to be spending more and more to ensure that these people stay at this new, highly qualified level that each of them are obtaining.
Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of $7,152,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $10,559,000 agreed to
On Office of the Deputy Minister
On VHF Systems Replacement
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is just a revote amount to complete phase 2 of the program. Within the budgetary arrangements, there is a bit of an offset of anticipated under expenditure. This is what we are pulling forward from last years vote.
VHF Systems Replacement in the amount of $28,000 agreed to
On Community TV & Radio
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the main budget book there is a table of statistics that speak to which communities have radio broadcast and where community television exists. This particular vote speaks to a revote amount of $14,000 to complete the relocation of a community television project in Carmacks. It is being relocated to a better reception area on a more preferred hill site. Twenty-two thousand dollars speaks to the highway radio broadcast coverage program. This is the Paint Mountain transmitter site that is being improved, essentially to relocate equipment to a building and to remove the old shack from the mountainside.
Mr. Phelps: I cannot let this one go by without once again raising one of my pet peeves. That is, during the Yukon 2000 write ups on policy from various branches, the previous Minister, the predecessor to this Minister, came out with a policy that would ensure that every community had at least two television channels that could be picked up by residents in the area.
I have stood in my place year after year on that issue, and I am particularly concerned about Tagish. There are a number of senior citizens who live in Tagish, and they are stuck with one television channel from the receiver-rebroadcast unit located at Tagish. It is my view that it is time that the government lived up to its commitment as contained in the Yukon 2000 policy and installed a second channel for Tagish residents.
I made the same pitch with respect to the community of Carcross. The Minister is undoubtedly aware that we now have someone from the private sector attempting to provide pay television of some three channels, at a fairly expensive cost. I understand that the company undertaking this task has obtained CRTC approval to provide three additional channels other than CBC, to the Carcross community, at a cost of $30 per month. I do not know how it is going to work out financially, but I doubt very much that we will see that type of initiative take place in Tagish in the near future.
Tagish has one channel: CBC. It has a very good facility now that was put in by this government at some considerable expense. The Minister may recall that we lobbied to have a station set up near the Northwestel facility on the mountain just up from Tagish. It is now accessible, and I am sure that the government is saving a lot of money in operation and maintenance costs, because previously they had to hire a chopper every time there was a problem with the original broadcast unit and that was incredibly expensive.
What I find rather irksome is that for a very modest amount of money, in capital dollars - something probably less than $10,000 - the people who live in the Tagish area could be provided with an additional channel to double their TV choices. For those of us who have been stuck with just the CBC for many years, as I have, it would be remarkably good for the mental condition of many of the senior citizens who reside in the Tagish area to have a choice.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hear what the Member is saying and I guess, unfortunately, that I have no particular good news for him in respect to Tagish - or even Carcross, for that matter. As much as we would like to bring into place a second channel in all the communities, there are financial problems to meet that obligation. There are communities that do not have any channels and we are trying to get those communities cleared up first, as a matter of priority. I expect we will be debating this one in the mains, when he sees the capital plans for next year.
I do hear, though, and I sympathize with what the Member is saying. I suppose that something I have not explored, that maybe is worth exploring - and I can almost imagine my officials cringing somewhere, listening to this - is that there may be a possibility that we could share equipment in communities on some basis, where there are existing communities, to provide for that second channel. I know that happens in a couple of communities already and maybe Tagish has an opportunity to cost share an expansion of the service. I do not know if we have pursued that and perhaps that might be the avenue, instead of trying to fund it, once other priorities have been met: that is, of providing basic service in all communities.
Mr. Phelps: It does currently have the policy whereby they will allow the various communities to use their facilities, as long as the community pays the capital costs of the additional channel.
In the situation of Tagish, the government came out with its new standard that the basic requirement for each community should be at least two channels for TV. I am sure the Minister is right when he says that we will probably hear more about it in the main estimates.
We have a situation in Tagish where the property taxes the government collects far exceed the taxes it collects from many of the other communities. Tagish has, and asks for, very few services. Next year, in the 1991-92 budget, there is nothing for Tagish. It seems to me that the request for such a modest expenditure, which would raise the quality of life to a remarkable degree for many residents out there, is something government should consider. I know it would be very much appreciated.
Community TV & Radio in the amount of $36,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The emergency measures reduction is what is calculated to be the reduced expenses associated with the business of river dusting - as I referred to it in last years mains. It is a new technology we were planning to use to cause ice jams to be prevented. It is a technology where you dust the rivers from an airplane with non-toxic dark material, which causes the sun to thaw it faster. It prevents ice jams from developing in spring breakup.
Preliminary costs were over-budgeted, and we have been able to pull some back.
Mr. Phelps: For a great many years, the White Pass Corporation used to use lamp black to dust the trail through Lake Laberge, in order to have it open sooner for the riverboats to go through. Was the material they were investigating nothing more than simply carbon, which is inert and would be much the same as using lamp black?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member would accept my taking notice, I will have to get back to him on that. I am sure Mr. Albertson has thoroughly briefed me and told me 100 times precisely what they use, but I forget.
Emergency Measures in the amount of an under expenditure of $10,000 agreed to
Office of the Deputy Minister in the amount of $54,000 agreed to
On Transportation Division
On Highway Construction
On Planning & Engineering
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $555,000 is essentially made up of three items. There is a $30,000 revote relating to a spring load restriction project and research work that we are doing; $225,000 is the impact of the collective agreement; and $300,000 is anticipated expenditures surrounding the collection of technical information we are doing in conjunction with our devolution talks on the Alaska Highway. We expect that will mostly be recoverable from Public Works Canada in the final agreement that is reached.
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $555,000 agreed to
Klondike in the amount of an under expenditure of $169,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member for Watson Lake, I am sure, smiles when he sees this. As he knows, we needed some extra money on the Campbell Highway to prepare for the ore haul, so of that $879,000, $823,000 is the additional funding we required to work on the 0 to 44 kilometre section this year. We opted to do some widening and strengthening of the road. I am sure the Member is quite familiar with the shoulder work and minor repair work that went on for the better part of the summer. The vote also reflects $56,000, being a portion of a revote for some crushing and stockpiling we had budgeted the year previous.
Mr. Devries: As the Minister may recall, last spring was fairly dry and there was a lot of concern about dust control on the Campbell Highway. It seems as if nobody really got their butts in gear until about July to do anything about it. Has the Minister any explanation on why it took so long? After they got it on there, it never quit raining so it was not really needed
I wonder whether the Minister could supply me with a copy of an engineering study that I understand was done on the whole Campbell Highway. I do not want a great big thick document. Is there a condensed form that would indicate where the engineering study recommends the road be widened, et cetera? As the Minister knows, there was a very serious accident on the Campbell Highway not too long ago and it is a concern to a lot of people.
It is a very important transportation route for the people of Watson Lake. The Minister always argues with me about the fact that the numbers of vehicles that use the road do not warrant a major upgrading of the road. But, I would like to turn that around and suggest that if a major upgrading was commenced on the road, many more vehicles would use it. This would also provide an economic boost to Watson Lake, as well as the Ministers constituency of Faro - and also Ross River. I think that the Minister should seriously consider this if he plans on getting re-elected.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member should know that re-election options never play a part in decisions relating to the public interest, which I feel a tremendous obligation for territory-wide.
The Member is raising again the matter of the Campbell Highway section from Ross River through to Tuchitua as a road that does have some frequency of traffic and is a very lengthy stretch of, for the most part, narrow, winding road. Certainly, what we have attempted to do over the past several years is a slow and methodical upgrading through regular maintenance procedures - in other words, spending additional time on the road, widening shoulders and curves and straightening curves. We have attempted to do what we can under capital maintenance. The Member will recognize that to try to upgrade the road would be a multi-million dollar project to bring it up to a standard that we might like to see.
The Member referred to a study that was indeed completed - I am working from memory here. The study I believe is a fairly thick document and I am sure that the Member would not want that reproduction effort to occur. I am sure there is also some form of executive summary that provides some summarized information on the current standards of that road.
From my review of the study, I recall that there are parts of the road that are indeed narrow, but it boils down to a matter of what standard you are using to measure it against. From the traffic volume that occurs on that road, the standards are quite acceptable - and from the point of view of traffic loads, which is a different factor than volumes.
Clearly, there are sections that would not meet road subgrade standards, and there are sections that are narrow, in terms of acceptable standards that engineers use. The concentration of capital, of course, has been on the ore-haul section, both at the Watson Lake end and on the Faro end. Members will have seen, in every budget in the last few years, that we have identified some upgrading between Faro and Carmacks - not very much, a few kilometres each year. That has been where we have assigned priority for capital upgrading.
I can undertake to see what I can provide the Member relating to the standards that were found, on the portion between Ross River and Watson Lake.
Mr. Devries: The Minister did not answer my question regarding dust control and why it seemed to take forever to get that going.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have not got an answer because I do not know why there may have been some delay in providing adequate dust control earlier in the season. I am assuming the Member is correct and that it was delayed and there was some reason for the delay. I will provide that to him, either by the mains or before then.
Campbell in the amount of $879,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This figure is actually the result of some reductions, as well as a project that I have already mentioned. The sum of $500,000 is identified here for the Tuchitua bridge. This amount is being brought forward from next years budget. The sum of $200,000 is for the work on the walkway at the Pelly Crossing bridge.
We are only requiring $260,000 because there was a considerable reduction in estimates of tendered projects. There was $400,000 saved on bids lower than estimated on some of the bridge work and a $40,000 reduction was the result of a project cancellation on the South Canol Road.
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of $260,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This reduction is entirely due to a tender coming in under estimate. I thought it was a fairly high amount. I asked why and the explanation was that they found materials much closer than they thought for an erosion control project that was being awarded. In other words, they did not have to haul the materials as far as they thought they would.
Dempster in the amount of aa under expenditure of $520,000 agreed to
Canol in the amount of an under expenditure of $10,000 agreed to
On Top of the World
Top of the World in the amount of an under expenditure of $10,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
Mr. Devries: My understanding is that some work is to be done on the Nahanni Range Road, as there is the possibility that the Canada Tungsten Mine is being reopened, so they do not have to go into the abandonment phase.
In addition, there are fuel tenders being called in the Watson Lake area for major amounts of fuel to be shipped up there. There is definitely something happening. My understanding is that the government will be doing some work on a washout, just before it gets to the area where Canada Tungsten maintains the road.
It could all be Canada Tungstens responsibility. I am not 100 percent certain on that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am only somewhat familiar with the information the Member relates. In anticipation of that, we are budgeting some $80,000 to $90,000 in next years budget for the upgrade of a washout and some deterioration that has taken place. Perhaps we could leave that item to the main estimates for next year where money is identified. There is none here.
Chair: We will now have a recess.
Chair: I will now call the Committee to order.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If Madam Chair will permit, I will just provide some information on an earlier question of a line item. I undertook at that time to get back to the Member; I can speak to the matter of the street lights at Burwash now.
I have been advised by officials that the request for street lights came to the department from the band, and the band identified where the lights would be preferred on the highway through Burwash. Subsequent discussions with the community club indicated that there was a desire for more lights than were originally proposed. The department resolved with the community association and the band that all the budget could afford this year was for four lights. The $23,000 cost was a contracted cost from Yukon Electric. Yes, it is exorbitant, but it is for steel poles, so the beavers would not cut them down .... no, that is not true. It is for steel poles and wiring. Additional wiring was put in place on those poles to permit future lights to be installed, so there are some costs for future purposes built into this.
The policy is not to use wooden poles on highway locations at intersections because of the danger resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Todays standards require - and these standards are accepted in this governments street light policy - that poles adjacent to a highway have to be of a steel breakaway standard. That simply permits the pole to yield if it is struck by a vehicle, and therefore the force of that collision reduces injury to occupants. In other words, the pole will give as opposed to a wooden pole, which will not. The cost, as deemed by the department, is largely because of the distance from Whitehorse, but yes, indeed, it is the contracted price for that project.
Mr. Brewster: I presume that the Minister is telling me that Yukon Electrical agreed with this?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would assume that Yukon Electrical provided the cost estimate and undertook the contract. To the extent that they may or may not have agreed with the policy of installing steel poles on highway intersections, I cannot be sure.
Mr. Brewster: Could the Minister tell me what other small community in the Yukon has steel poles, besides Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is apparent that the Member wants more information on the subject and I will get it for him.
Mr. Brewster: All we are trying to do is show the Minister where someone has blundered in spending a whole lot of money that is not required. I have already pointed out that if the Shakwak project comes in, that is all going to be torn out of there anyway.
Why are we not using our heads? Let us stop running around in a Cadillac; let us get back in a Ford. It is the same argument for the Alaska Highway. Why do we not use common sense and put up something that is going to save considerable amounts of money. For one pole, it is $800. It is $3,200 for four poles, as opposed to $23,000, plus the fact that a vehicle has to come from Whitehorse to put the lights in. The distance is long; the people are paid both ways and the truck is paid for both ways. If there is a wooden pole, the man out there can climb up and put the light in.
If the Minister can justify that expense, when he can go the other way and save a considerable amount, I would like to hear from him.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Having heard the passion of the Member on the subject, I will undertake more extensive research and get back to the Member in writing. He seems to have some difficulty with the current policy.
I do not disagree with the Member that it is cheaper to install a wooden pole, but if national highway standards have identified the saving of a life by having a steel pole that bends and yields to impact, that is justification enough. If it saves one life, that is adequate justification.
However, having heard the Member and his concern, I will ask my officials to provide the rationale behind the policy, as well as information as to where else on our highway intersections we might have these expensive poles. I will also ask them to speak to the alleged higher maintenance and installation costs, because of the unique poles.
Mr. Brewster: I presume those four poles are probably going to kill someone, yet Destruction Bay has all cedar poles, as does Beaver Creek. Haines Junction has almost all cedar poles. I suppose we are going to replace all these at about $10,000 a post. It does not make sense to go to that expense for four posts when that money could be used where the people want it. The Minister keeps saying they are going to do what the people want. They came back with a suggestion and were told, No, it is not the same standard as down in Toronto, Calgary, or somewhere. As I said, let us quit riding in the Cadillac and use common sense.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To put the matter to rest, for now, I will undertake to have the Member provided with rationales for the policy and the additional information that he has requested. I will duly note his Cadillac references. In my mind, however, one cannot place a price on safety.
Just before the break, I believe we were on the line item other roads. That $75,000 is a single, project item. It is the replacement costs for the Indian River Bridge near Dawson. I believe that one or two Members across the House may have been involved in some of the debate earlier in the summer about that issue. The bridge went out. We were strenuously lobbied by a number of placer miners in the area to replace the bridge. We originally looked at the resource transportation access program. However, due to the urgency of the situation, given the seasonal requirements of the placer industry, we had to work quickly to do anything.
The placer miners on that portion of the river quite willingly offered their equipment. They provided free time for the preparatory work for the installation. We provided the bridge. We had requested the management committee of the program to allow the funds to move to the department so that we could do the work speedily, in light of the fact that the miners were more than willing to help us put the bridge in. We provided the bridge and they put it in. We oversaw the work and did the engineering. This is the item. It will be reflected by a reduction of $75,000 from the resource transportation access program.
Other Roads in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On South Klondike Highway
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is a revote on servicing and guardrail work that did not get completed last year between kilometre 61 and 65.
South Klondike Highway in the amount of $230,000 agreed to
On Resource Transportation Access Program
On Management and Control
Mr. Devries: I have some questions about this program, in relation to what we are undergoing now in Watson Lake, and this is in regard to the timber harvesting agreement, where it would be transferred. If it gets transferred to Kaska Resources, we have got roads there that were put in with 50/50 public funding and possibly something is going to be taking place on these roads that obviously neither the public nor the government agrees with: the export of raw logs. I think that perhaps in developing policy we have to do something to address something of this nature. Also - I will have to discuss it with my colleagues - I am entertaining the notion of bringing a motion forward that a policy be established in this program that would prohibit the road access funds from being used in relation to a project involving the export of raw logs.
I am not sure how the whole thing works, if some of that has to go through Ottawa or if the policy is strictly regulated by YTG. Does the Minister have any enlightenment on this subject, that he could give to me?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what I could share with the Member on the issue that he raises. He certainly does expose a delicate matter. Under the program, proponents come forward with their applications for assistance to do a particular infrastructure development, whether it be an airport, a road or a dock. We do not advance any funds until the job is complete. In respect to the resource transportation access program money, that may have flowed in the past in the Watson Lake area in the region of the timber harvesting agreement. I do not know what measure of control could be exercised now. I doubt if any controls could be exercised now because money flowed under approved criteria and approved guidelines of the project.
The Member will provoke an interesting debate. If you put in a requirement that no roads can be constructed where the proponent may export logs, the question immediately arises, how can you determine that? You could very well have a proponent who has a plan to harvest and mill locally. Somewhere down the road, those plans may change. There may be export involved under the authority of the federal government. It really creates an impossible situation. How do you apply previous public funding in some regulatory fashion for the export-of-log criteria?
The Member raises an interesting prospect. If he is lobbying me to consider one of the criteria to be to not allow any infrastructure development that may lead to log export, it is going to be a difficult criteria to enforce.
It might be an easier criteria to enforce if it is up front and says that no proponent can be involved in the export of logs at the time of application. That might work. We should have an interesting debate if the Member puts the motion forward.
Management and Control in the amount of $21,000 agreed to
On Evaluation and Inspection
Evaluation and Inspection in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Project Funding Assistance
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is just the wrap-up of the program and will reflect about $180,000 worth of revoted money. It will reflect $140,000 of projects that will not be completed until next year, so we do not need the money this year. It reflects the $75,000 I talked about earlier on Indian River, and a couple of other minor miscellaneous amounts relating to smaller projects that changed in their final accounting.
Project Funding Assistance in the amount of an under expenditure of $40,000 agreed to
On Facilities and Equipment
On Engineering and Design
Mr. Lang: The Minister has committed himself to respond to my letter concerning the situation of the Elsa curling rink and recreation centre, and I wonder if he could table the information.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I signed that letter this morning. I am sure, as we speak, my assistant, who is listening, will be running a copy of the letter down here. I do not have it with me.
Engineering and Design in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Weigh Scales
Mr. Devries: The Minister knew that this was coming. In the legislative return that I received - and I understood the figures prior to originally asking the question - I still do not understand how a government official could possibly come up with an estimate that is so far out of whack from what the contractors estimate is on what he feels he can construct the building for. My understanding of what took place is that the contractor was quite happy with the aspects of the building itself, but when they brought forward what had to be put in the building, it seemed that the counter could have been built for $6,500, but because of the specifications in the contract it was going to cost $20,000 upward. It is the most elaborate counter that this government has ever seen. I do not think that there would be any other counter like this ever built in the Yukon.
The government kept changing its focus in the mechanical aspect of the contract, saying that they needed more air and heat exchangers. The information that I was given was that when the mechanical alone was reviewed, the sub-contractor would charge $72,000. Obviously, I think somewhere along the line, someone in the Ministers department screwed-up, so to speak.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member refers to the legislative return that I did indeed table today, that showed the variance between what was budgeted and anticipated for expenditure compared to what was received in the tenders. The Member is quite correct, the return does not address the question of why there was such a variance. I have sought some explanation for that and a preliminary explanation is that the departmental estimates were obviously much lower than what came in as the tendered prices, aside from the simple fact that they did not match up.
This still leaves a question mark in my mind. I have asked for some explanation of the discrepancy. Is it over spec-ing and under estimating? Is it inflated tendering? Is there a changed scope and materials?
I agree with the Member. When you estimate a counter for $6,000, and it comes in at $25,000, there has to be a better explanation than someone being out on their figures. I have sought that. Given that the Member has raised it again, I will be getting back to him. I did want to provide as much of the information as I could in as timely a fashion as I could.
Mr. Devries: The Minister participated in the Public Accounts Committee, where it made recommendations to Management Board that it also pass these recommendations on to the various client departments. Obviously, something has gone amiss. This was not supposed to happen anymore. The Minister of Education ran into it on the arts centre several times, where the bids came in higher continuously. Obviously something went wrong there.
We have to make sure we follow the Management Board procedures. The Ministers department is obviously lacking in that area, in this instance.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is duly noted.
Weight Scales in the amount of an under expenditure of $87,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Branch Facilities
Mr. Phelps: Could we have an explanation on that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member insists, I could provide more detail. Of that amount, $143,000 is a revote. Unfortunately, I do not have what it is revoted from, or from which of the maintenance facilities we moved money from last year on work that was not completed. I suspect it is across the territory at most of the camps. The remaining $2,000 is for some audio-visual equipment for training.
Miscellaneous Branch Facilities in the amount of $145,000 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: The Minister was going to get back to me on the status of the Haines Junction airport. He was anxious to do it at the end of general debate. I suggested bringing it forward here. I am sure he has the answers.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I recall, the Member was raising some questions about the personnel involved in the decentralization effort.
We have just hired the director of aviation. The successful candidate originated in Whitehorse and will be moving to Haines Junction. He will start work there on January 7. It is anticipated that he will be in the community by early January.
The administrative officer position is vacant, as well as the program officer and a projects planning officer positions. These three positions will be advertised early in 1992, to coincide with the completion of the facility and its relocation into the community. An operations officer is currently employed. However, the employee has opted not to relocate, so that position will also be required to be advertised. There are four positions, then, that have yet to be recruited. Members will recall that the positions came with devolution. The ultimate objective is to have that done by the fall of 1992.
Mr. Brewster: Maybe the Minister could tell me where, in our big community of Haines Junction, he has offices that will start operating on January 7? I do not think there is any building down at the airport, as yet; the big offices have not been started. Maybe he can tell me where he is going to go and where he will be operating out of. I presume he will need an office and a home.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to beg the indulgence of the Member. I appear to have erred and unintentionally may have misled the Member. The position of director, which has just recently been filled, is a position that will begin on January 7. He will not relocate, at that time, to Haines Junction. He will work in Whitehorse until such time as office space is available. I stand corrected and apologize profusely.
Mr. Brewster: Well, I suspect that the Minister would have to concur with me that it will be 1993 before the director is out there.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Not to my understanding. According to current plans, the facility should be in place by late summer. The office space is expected to be ready by the fall of 1992, and personnel will be permanently located there at that time.
Mr. Brewster: That is the governments prediction; I have said 1993 and I will stick by that. They have to put lights and so on in, but they have not started anything yet. I expect I will be pretty close to being right with 1993.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask a few more questions about that special airport project. The mayor of Haines Junction criticized the government with respect to its consultative measures; I read that in the minutes from the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. Perhaps the Minister could tell us what kind of consultations he had with that community with respect to the location of the office space? Could he explain to us why the community seems to be unhappy with the direction the government is taking and with the consultation process they entered into?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct. The point has been made by the mayor and the council. They were not entirely pleased with the location of the office at the airport. The council and the mayor felt having the office space located in downtown Haines Junction would be in the best interests of the business community. That is a fair position to take. I had extensive discussions with the mayor and council at the time when they raised their concern about the office location. I believe the decentralization officer also spent some time in the community.
We resolved in the end to go ahead with the office facility at the airport. We were prepared to be flexible, but in weighing all the pros and cons surrounding the funding for the project, it was agreed to stay with the airport location for the office space. That was concurred with by council. I will not attempt to hide from Members that it is one of the two airport projects that we took over in the devolution exercise as part of the deal. We committed in the deal, when we signed it a year ago, to upgrade the airports at Carmacks and Haines Junction. We were able to incorporate office space into the terminal as part of that deal. Effectively, if we had relocated the office into downtown Haines Junction, it would not have permitted us to include that element or dimension of funding. Following fairly extensive discussion and sharing of information on the subject, we agreed, along with the council, to proceed with the airport location.
In the longer term, as a government, we have undertaken to give every consideration to office space location within the community and downtown Haines Junction in the future and to encourage office space to be constructed, leased, or arranged in whatever form it may take.
Mrs. Firth: That just does not make sense. The chances of the Junction getting another opportunity for that kind of office space are probably few and far between. What the Minister has said is: we consulted with them but really we told them that they were going to have to take this option or leave it. Mostly, they were going to have to take it, because there was no other option.
I think it is unfair to say that it is a consultative measure. From what the Minister has just said, the government stepped in, met with the council, told them what they were going to get, and that is all that there was to it. It does not make any practical sense - economically or for the whole objective of the decentralization program that was supposed to strengthen the community itself - to locate the office space at the airport. It is not even consistent with the objective of the whole decentralization program.
I think that the government has made a mistake in forcing the community to accept that they are going to have to have the office space at the airport. I understand that the building that is being constructed is going to cost something in the neighborhood of $600,000. That building could be downsized, and they could fulfill their commitment to the federal government and still support the community.
Is this all a fait accompli? Is it useless for us to be standing up here asking the government if they are going to do what the community wants and look at having the space downtown? Is the community just going to have to accept this with no opportunity for change?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is not accurately articulating the course of events nor the positions that were put forward. It is entirely inaccurate to suggest that it was a take-it-or-leave-it approach.
As I explained earlier, the decision to locate the office at the airport was originally taken with the department involved, and the community was apprised of that. When the community recognized that the office was going to be at the airport, they quite legitimately expressed concern and objection. I met with the council on at least two occasions; I believe that the decentralization coordinator also met with it on at least two occasions. I also met separately with the mayor once or twice. It was a fairly lengthy period during which we discussed the pros and cons of what to do.
As I indicated, we were quite prepared to be flexible and, if the community was adamant that the option of the airport was totally unacceptable, we would be quite prepared to reconsider. The problem we discussed was that we had to find several hundred thousand dollars either to do capital construction or to tender for such a construction, which might involve some measure of delay. We tossed all the options around and it was finally agreed, with the support of council, that we should proceed with the airport location.
I would also note that the presence of several people involved in the exercise is of a substantive benefit to the community, and that was recognized by the council. The simple fact that you do not have the office location of their activity in the downtown core does not detract from the impact of those people in the community in any substantive way, in terms of their payrolls, their participation in community activities or their involvement in the school. Name what you will, the economic impact is as significant in either location, and it was recognized that the people in the airport location would be able to do a more efficient job, in terms of the types of work and activity that they are engaged in.
The long and the short of it is that there were extensive discussions; there was considerable consultation; there was no take-it-or-leave-it approach. In the future and over the long term, in any future decentralized effort, we will look at trying to meet the council and communitys ambition to develop their commercial and downtown core.
Mrs. Firth: We could go around and around in this discussion. The only real options were the ones the government had considered. I think the Minister has made that clear both times he has spoken to the issue this afternoon.
I disagree with the point about the economic impact it will have on the community. Someone in the community could have provided that office space. The people who are going to be working for the government could have run across the street to get a doughnut and coffee for their break. One cannot say that it has not affected the economic situation in the community. The Minister and I will agree to differ on what happened and what the economic benefits are.
This new facility is going to cost about $600,000; is the project on target? Is it costing more or less than the government had anticipated? Have the tenders been let yet? Perhaps he could fill us in on exactly what the status of that structure is.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will undertake to confirm the status of the construction. I am not sure about what stage it is at. I know it has proceeded to the tendering and award stage. I am not aware at the moment of the degree of construction.
Earlier this year, the surfacing was done. The access road was completed. The perimeter fencing, which is part of the project, will not be done until next year. Similarly, next year, we still have to finish the lighting on the strip. I will have to undertake to bring back more precise information on the contract award and status, financially and otherwise.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate having that information. The last time I checked, the tenders had come in over cost, and there was some concern about that. I would like the Minister to specifically tell us what the tenders came in at, whether the project has been tendered or not, whether or not a local Yukon company was successful with that particular tender. I would appreciate if the Minister would get the rest of the details of the project.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will provide that undertaking. At this moment, I am advised that the final award has not been made. There is some negotiation going on with the low tender, but I will provide those details to the Member in writing.
Mrs. Firth: The negotiation with the low tenderer the Minister talks about is a very interesting point. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean that all the other people who tendered on it but were higher are going to be part of that negotiation as well? What is this negotiation business?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It may have been an incorrect term. An award has not been made as the responsible people are making a final determination of an award. The Member, I believe, is correct, but I do not have the information at my fingertips. The tenders appear to have come in over budget and have created some problems. I will provide to the Member in writing details of the current status.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate that, because the Minister has raised an issue now on which we have had some debate in the past in the Legislative Assembly. The concern is: if the government is negotiating with the low bidder without having formally accepted them as low bidder to the project and awarded the tender, then they are being given advantages that the other bidders have not been given. I want to caution the Minister that we want to be absolutely specific about this issue: that the playing field is level and if there are some negotiations with the low bidder to get their costs down, those negotiations should carry on with the other bidders also if the project has not been awarded. Otherwise, there will be the accusation that there was not a level playing field will be valid and that, after the fact, people are allowed to enter into negotiations before the tender had been awarded. I caution the Minister about that. We have to be absolutely impeccable about remaining within the laws and regulations, particularly in order to maintain the confidence within the contracting industry that everyone is being dealt with fairly.
I will look forward to the Minister bringing that information back as soon as possible.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hear the cautions of the Member and this subject matter goes back quite a period of time, I think that the Member knows from past performance and track record that we are very sensitive to, and respectful of, tendering procedures. It would not be likely that anything inappropriate will be done, but because I do not have the detail I repeat my undertaking to provide it for the Member.
Airstrips in the amount of an under expenditure of $263,000 agreed to
Transportation Division in the amount of $1,071,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That $61,000 is a combination of several things, again: some reductions, some increases and some revotes. A quick summary: $161,000 is a revote on industrial dry-stage development at Haines Junction; $125,000 is for McLean Lake Road, MacPherson Industrial; there is a reduction of $100,000 on MacRae Industrial; there is a reduction of $75,000 at Faro, due to low demand on industrial; and there is $50,000 at Dawson on Callison stage 3, deferred to next year. It is just the roll-up of all of those changes.
Industrial in the amount of $61,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, there are a number of items here for which the department officials are predicting changes, at this point in the year, or at the point at which the budget was prepared, which was the end of July.
It was made up of a number of increases and decreases. I will provide a summary. There is a revote of $70,000 for the Carmacks residential; $73,000 for the Keno City residential; $543,000 for Francis Avenue in Watson Lake because of high priority, but not originally budgeted. There is a revote of $5,000 for an Arkell mobile at Granger and $100,000 new money for Granger neighborhood feasibility work relating to water and electrical. There is a reduction of $250,000 because the Campbell subdivision at Watson Lake was completed under budget; there was $100,000 reduction because of a delay on Range Road pending further discussions with the city; $25,000 is a net deficit of a number of other small projects. All of these reductions and increases net out to $896,000.
Residential in the amount of $896,000 agreed to
On Rural Residential
Mr. Phelps: Has any of the rural residential reduction of $88,000 or the country residential of $565,000 reduction to do with the Watson River subdivision not going ahead?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No. The $88,000 is reflected by a $61,000 revote for work at Rock Creek in Dawson, offset by a reduction of $50,000 for the Klondike Highway South at Annie Lake being deferred until next year, $75,000 by another deferral of the Whitehorse Homestead project and $24,000 from a surplus in various other projects - no Watson River.
Rural Residential in the amount of an under expenditure of $88,000 agreed to
On Country Residential
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The principal component here is the deferral of the Wolf Creek country residential development that was planned. It has been deferred by request of the city. Whether it will go ahead or not will depend on the advice of the city.
There was a $35,000 increase in the costs related to the work at Destruction Bay for a development we put in there.
Country Residential in the amount of an under expenditure of $565,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is a reduction of two significant items. We do not expect to spend $800,000 from earlier budgeting on the Kopper King commercial project. There are some discussions still ongoing with the city regarding arterial access and some other aspects of the development.
I do not expect that to conclude until next year, so we will probably be bringing that forward.
The $75,000 at Watson Lake for commercial was deferred at the communitys request, I believe, because they wanted to concentrate on residential and all of our energies were directed toward housing developments in that community.
There is an increase of $80,000 for the Haines Junction commercial highway sites project. This was at the request of the community and explains the increase.
Commercial in the amount of an under expenditure of $795,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Recreational in the amount of an under expenditure of $100,000, consists of $30,000 at Haines Junction, where the expenditure will not be completely used this year. The $20,000 at Teslin/Morley Bay is because the project was scaled down and thereby reduced and the $50,000 is the deferral of a proposed cottage lot study in Whitehorse.
Recreational in the amount of an under expenditure of $100,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The budgeted funds for Hootalinqua North are in here. As the Member will recall, and we have debated this in the past at some length, we have consistently budgeted money to complete the Hootalinqua North planning exercise, which has not proceeded at the speed with which we hoped. It is not a sin, in that a hamlet council has been formed within that time; some ideas have come forward from the council on structuring a refinement of that plan, and we will not need the larger dollars for the larger exercise we had originally planned.
That is $75,000 of the amount. The rest is made up of a reduction of $25,000 in a plan at Dawson, $50,000 for a plan of extensive holdings in Watson Lake, and that should be it.
Agricultural in the amount of an under expenditure of $150,000 agreed to
On General/Miscellaneous Recoverable
General/Miscellaneous Recoverable in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Central Services
On Miscellaneous Projects (Non-recoverable Central Services)
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is a significant amount and I am sure that Members would want to know that it is required principally for Robinson Road upgrading and the Arkell mobile home site roads.
Miscellaneous Projects (Non-recoverable Central Services) in the amount of $55,000 agreed to
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Waterfront Development
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Premier has cited this in his opening remarks. This is the land that we bought from White Pass in the spring, that is along the waterfront. I think all the Members know the detail of that. It also includes about $140,000 worth of improvements that we undertook, late this summer.
Whitehorse Waterfront Development in the amount $3,599,000 agreed to
On Public Health and Safety
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of an under expenditure of $39,000 agreed to
On Water Supply, Treatment and Storage
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The amount is made up of $459,000 for the improvements to the water supply line that was installed at Haines Junction.
It was tendered and came in substantially over budget. Due to our cost-sharing arrangement, we agreed to pick up our share of the unbudgeted amount.
Water Supply, Treatment & Storage in the amount of $824,000 agreed to
On Water & Sewer Mains
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This reflects another one of the projects we advanced. This is the $810,000 we moved from next years budget into this year to provide Dawson City with the money that originally was not going to be spent until next year. They accelerated the project and we obliged. It is also made up of some $50,000 of a revote for the Mayo fire hall improvements. There is also a reduction of $150,000 at Mayo for the piped water and sewer.
It reflects $39,000 in various minor amounts of reductions in various projects.
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $671,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of an under expenditure of $130,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Mr. Phelps: Is any of this money directed at the issue of solid waste along the Carcross Road, for example, the Mile 11 dump?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not believe so, no.
This $34,000 is made up of three items. There is a reduction of expenditure anticipated on the Klondike Valley waste disposal project at Dawson for $108,000; there is an increase, on the other hand, of $68,000 for Golden Horn/Mount Lorne.
That $68,000 is a revote. That may be the mile 9 dump.
Madam Chair, this may be an opportune time for me to check my facts and report back to the House when we reconvene at 7:30 p.m.
Chair: We will take a recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call the House back to order.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just prior to recess, I was in the process of giving a convoluted, controversial and contradictory response about the solid waste line item for $34,000. To clarify, the vote is the result of two revote increases: $74,000 has been revoted to complete the Carcross dump and sewage pit relocation the Member from Hootalinqua is quite familiar with, and $68,000 is a revote to complete and address the issue of the mile 9 dumpsite - and I will come back to that in a minute. There is a reduction of $108,000 in the Klondike Valley - a project which is being deferred in preparation for completion next year. That covers the $34,000.
With respect to the mile 9 dump, the Member also knows that the subject has been a matter of some public debate and controversy. At the last meeting that I had with the Mount Lorne Hamlet Council approximately three weeks ago, there was an undertaking to utilize the funds that had been voted last year and are being revoted this year toward a pilot project that might see the creation of a transfer station. It is clearly in the early stages of concept and discussion. There will be a need to address the City of Whitehorse, because the transfer station would probably entail the use of the Whitehorse landfill site.
If the mile 9 dump is in that location - and I should point out to the Member that in our discussions we talked about other possible locations in the area that would be explored as part of this exercise - Wolf Creek residents may also use that facility, as well as others within the City of Whitehorse.
Clearly, we are attempting a pilot project in that area, in conjunction with, and in full consultation with the City of Whitehorse. A steering committee will address the problems surrounding this issue, in conjunction with the Advisory Committee on Waste Management.
That is approximately where the Mile 9 transfer station sits at at this time.
Solid Waste in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is simply a reduction in light of less-than-anticipated equipment costs for application.
Mosquito Control in the amount of an under expenditure of $15,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This $79,000 is a roundup of a number of items occurring. There is $25,000 identified as a revote for the fire alarm upgrading at Pelly Crossing.
There is $90,000 related to water supply at Golden Horn. This was anticipated to be spent next year. We brought the $90,000 forward from next year. There is $20,000 related to various deficits in a number of locations. There is a $90,000 reduction of a fire truck at Pelly.
Fire Protection in the amount of $79,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Service
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is a revote of the purchase of, I believe, two ambulances; I would have to check that. It is revote monies from last year that were moved forward and spent this year.
Ambulance Service in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Hazardous Waste Storage
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is the anticipated expenditures required to carry out the special-waste activities for the current fiscal year. This will meet committee expenses and costs related to the fees of the consultants who are being used by the committee. It will also pay for the anticipated design work that the committee will be engaged in between now and year end.
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister break down the costs into the cost of the design work and the cost that the committee is expending? It seems a lot for consultants.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have that at my fingertips but if the Member would agree to an undertaking that I provide that to him separately, or by the time of the mains, I could easily do that.
Mr. Nordling: I can wait for that information. As part of that information, I would like to know how the Minister came up with the figure of $250,000. It seems like a nice, round figure. I suspect it may have just been put together. I thought that with his announcement today - in the ministerial statement that I was not able to respond to - the Minister would have kept this information at the his fingertips and he would have it, but I will wait.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take it that constitutes the Members response to the ministerial statement this afternoon. If the Member would permit, I am sure we can break down the $250,000 anticipated expenditure into design funds, committee expenses, travel expenses of the committee, research work, expertise work and consultant work. I am sure that is available.
Hazardous Waste Storage in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On Roads and Streets
On Road Upgrade
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This $116,000 reflects several activities. There is a reduction of $16,000 net in a number of road projects around the territory. There is $60,000 on street upgrading at Burwash Landing that had been budgeted but did not proceed due to the chipsealing crew not able to get that job done in time this year. I expect we will revote it to ensure that the work does get done.
There was also $60,000 not spent at Destruction Bay for the same reason. The chipsealing crew was neither in the area nor able to do the work in this season. There is a reduction of $80,000 that relates to street upgrading and gravel walkways at Pelly, which are now deferred to next year. There is an increase of costs related to a second access road out of the college.
Road Upgrade in the amount of an under expenditure of $116,000 agreed to
On Recreation and Community Facilities and Services
On Recreation Facilities
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
On Capital Block Funding
Capital Block Funding in the amount of an under expenditure of $8,885,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of an under expenditure of $4,202,000 agreed to
Community and Transportation Services in the amount of an under expenditure of $3,077,000 agreed to
On Capital Recoveries
Capital Recoveries in the amount $545,000 agreed to
Mr. Phelps: Before we move on to Department of Education, could we perhaps have an explanation of the Porter Creek C Litigation under Capital Recoveries?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot give any detail at this time. Working from memory, I understand that there was settlement achieved. That is the amount of the settlement. I will undertake to provide more specific details surrounding the legal steps of this.
Mr. Phelps: Is this in effect the contractors paying the government this amount?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should be very careful speaking from memory without the detail at my fingertips. I think it was an out-of-court settlement achieved with the insurance company or bonding company agreeing to pay. I undertake notice to provide detail.
Chair: Is there general debate on the Department of Education?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The bulk of the O&M request on the operations side of $8,749,000 is to cover salary increases negotiated with the Yukon Teachers Association, the Yukon Government Employees Union, and the College union as well as those that are required for management salary increases.
The total wage component amounts to $6,557,000. The balance, which brings it up to $8,749,000, is for a number of things. I will list those items now: the arts centre board grant for operation and maintenance at $240,000; an increased number of teachers and teacher aides at $788,000; the stay-in-school initiative, which is a federally funded program at $332,000; native language instructors at $56,000; reclassifications for custodians and secretarial support in schools at $90,000; professional development funding under the YTA collective agreement at $137,000; television in northern Canada support at $142,000; $274,000 for Yukon College; the busing contract increase associated with the new contracts that were signed this summer, for $149,000. This adds up to the operation and maintenance increase for this department.
Perhaps, if Members want to focus on operation and maintenance, I could provide explanations later for the capital.
Mr. Devries: The Minister caught me off guard. I was working on economic development and we suddenly switched to education. I had not heard that we were switching these around. I was not quite prepared for it.
First of all, I would like to question the Minister on the teacher aides and special needs teachers. I had understood that we had covered that in the supplement for the previous year. I would think that the department would have budgeted that into the 1991-92 budget and not have to go into the supplementary for that aspect of the budget. Am I incorrect?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, with respect to last years supplementary that we just went through, the main estimates were developed this time last year; the supplementary we have just concluded was developed in the spring of this year. The new teaching staff was approved in June of this year for implementation into the schools in September of this year. This is only for partial year funding, of course, because we are only covering salaries until the end of the fiscal year, not the end of the school year. The additional teachers were a result of the increased population in the schools and the requirements under the collective agreement. I will hand out, at this time, enrollment statistics, which has a number of background sheets. The first sheet is the total student population for the 1990-91 school year and the 1991-92 school year; the second sheet breaks out the student population by school by grade; the third sheet shows the increase in staff for the last five or six years; the next sheet shows the Yukon population in comparison with the student population, the staff and the student/teacher ratio for the last five years or so. The next sheet shows the student/teacher ratio by school - the number of teachers, the number of students, and the ratio.
The last sheet I have included, simply for Members information, is to show how the Yukon stacks up against other provinces and territories, respecting student/teacher ratios, so that Members can get an impression of how the Yukon is doing regarding this one indicator.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has given us a list of expenditures that come to just over a couple of million dollars, and in the supplementary they are asking for almost $9 million, so perhaps I could suggest that we go through each line and the Minister could give us a breakdown of what everything is, so that we can get a more accurate idea of exactly what all the money being asked for is for.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was waiting for other Members, who wanted to discuss the department in general, to present their questions now. I did give all Members a total listing of expenditures. I mentioned that $6,557,000 was the wage component of the financial request. The approximately $2 million balance was the list of items that I read.
Mr. Devries: I just have a comment on the general aspect of education. As I am sure the Minister is aware, last fall, as the schools closed, there were a bunch of walkouts and it just seemed like the Department of Education was experiencing a little bit of turmoil. Perhaps it was the transition from school committees to school councils; perhaps school councils were not sure what their mandate was. My feeling is that the Department of Education was perhaps a little bit negligent in not communicating properly about what was the role of the school councils.
I would like to know if sessions have been held this fall, where the school council members were going to be coming to Whitehorse to be fully briefed on what their role as members of the school council is in relation to the Education Act.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not want to be accused of becoming apoplectic simply by responding to the somewhat critical assessment of the departments role in the events that took place last June. However, I think that it is important to point out that while one might be tempted - and I think that I have done this myself - to chalk everything that happened last June - there were two walkouts: one at F.H. Collins, and one at Porter Creek Junior High - to growing pains under the Education Act, it would be very simplistic, and consequently, not very accurate.
There were some concerns expressed about the roles of school councils, primarily with regard to personnel matters. The Member will recall that, as a Member of a school committee some years ago, school committees quite commonly become interested in the futures of teachers and principals who work at their school. This is particularly acute in the small rural schools. What I think, in part, precipitated the walkout of students at F.H. Collins last year was what would be referred to as a personnel matter between departmental supervisors and the school, with respect to the organization of the school. In this particular case, it was not that the school council was not informed of what was going on, it was that the students felt that they had not been given enough information to allow them to feel comfortable with what was happening with respect to personnel matters within the department and between the department and the school. It is a touchy subject because it is particularly difficult to manage personnel relations, maintain the confidentiality that those relations deserve, and at the same time, allow people sufficient information to know that people are being treated fairly and appropriately.
The walkout at Porter Creek Junior High School had everything to do with students who simply took issue with a suspension that was given to another student for smoking. One might stretch this incident into thinking that this is an example of growing pains under the Education Act. It would be a pretty tight stretch to make that claim. It may well have been something that was encouraged by the previous event of a walkout at F.H. Collins School. If one does not like the discipline, then one protests.
However, I hasten to point out that - not being close to the action myself, but simply being informed on the events thirdhand - I am somewhat hesitant to draw lasting conclusions from those two particular events.
For their part, over the course of last year, the school councils had one person in the department dedicated to assisting them through training sessions so they would become more knowledgeable about what their role would be, what their rights and responsibilities under the Education Act were, and how that would translate into practical action at the school level. The individual from the department also provided lessons in financial administration that would be particularly appropriate to a school council, so they would feel comfortable with the procedures.
There was also a school committee conference, sponsored by the Education Council, which has, since the Education Act was proclaimed, served a major role to allow the school council members, or their representatives, to become more familiar with their rights and responsibilities under the act, and how they can use the legislation to further the goals and objectives of their own schools and parents in their communities.
Consequently, different school councils are going at a different rate of pace, unless they are trying new things and using the raw power under the act to provide some subtle enhancements to the operations of those schools to make the schools better from the parents perspective.
I know that there was suggestion by some people that the Minister of Education should have intervened in all these issues that arose last June. There was an allegation made that the role of Minister, particularly under the act, was to interfere in school-based decision making. Given the debate that took place in this House on the Education Act, that is completely contrary to the spirit of the Education Act and to the letter of the Education Act. Despite the encouragement from certain quarters, I did not interfere, not only with personnel matters but in matters that ought to be addressed at the school level.
There will be a growing period where everyone who is associated with education will be developing new relationships - superintendent to parent and parent to teacher. Children in the system will be attempting to understand new relationships and develop new relationships with each other that are based more on partnership and less on a more authoritarian structure that was the order of the day under the old school act. There will be some tensions as people feel their way. I would be hesitant to suggest that the difficulties at F.H. Collins or at Porter Creek Junior High School last year were a result of those tensions. I think there were extenuating circumstances, to be sure.
Mr. Devries: In this instance, I was referring more to the situation in Mayo and Ross River. Some people are upset about certain teachers being transferred and some not. There was some controversy in the Ministers own riding surrounding the principal there. Again, I recognize that much of this may be of a confidential, personal nature.
If the Minister wishes to make any comments on that, I would appreciate it. I realize he is restricted in what he can say.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I made a brief reference to the J.V. Clark School and the Ross River School with respect to the school councils wanting to be more familiar with the futures of the teachers and principals who work in the schools, perhaps more so even than the parents in the larger Whitehorse schools. It is probably a common feature of small schools - rather than large schools - where parents take an interest in the individual teaching staff and what their personal situation is.
The Education Act is fairly clear on the point of who has the responsibility for the evaluation of teachers efforts and who is obligated to provide that information and with what frequency.
In the case of Ross River, the judgment call was made by the newly constituted regional superintendent regarding the future of the probationary instructor. In that particular circumstance, the news came as a surprise to the school council - after the evaluations had been done and the action had been taken - to terminate the probation.
Having discussed this matter with the Ross River school council since then, it is my opinion, and it is now the departments policy, that, even though the department superintendent has final responsibility for teacher evaluations and is responsible when it comes to discipline of teachers, school councils in the rural schools - given that the members take an oath of secrecy and confidentiality - must be informed of what impending decisions may be made by superintendents regarding the future of teaching staff at the school. There is an obligation under the act that they do that with respect to principals.
In my view, and in the departments view, this should be extended to the teaching staff so that, even though the council does not have the authority to decide an issue with respect to discipline of teachers, they should be afforded the opportunity to receive information about what is happening with respect to evaluations, and in particular those evaluations that may lead to severe discipline or termination.
I will not go on all night about the Mayo school, but that was a particularly difficult circumstance. In my view, it was not related directly to the Education Act. I think there was some bad personal feeling between some community members and some teaching staff, which simply was not aired or resolved for many months. As the situation in Mayo festered over the dead of winter and became worse, and the lines of communication were not as open as they should have been, the matter blew open at the end of the school year. Unfortunately, the public meeting I had with the community acted as a bit of a catalyst for the venting of some of the frustrations on both sides of the issue.
Certainly there were some raw feelings expressed respecting, on the one side, a perception, at least, that people came into the communities to do some work for months without understanding community mores and the communitys social structure, and, on the other side, some community members did not give the student teachers the chance to show their stuff or labelling them as being unfriendly.
All of that is public record - public record in Mayo - and as difficult as it was at the time, I believe that, in the current year, things have improved dramatically. Things are working much better with the principal. The principal is working very much better with the council and with the parents and the lines of communication are more open this year than they were last year.
I cannot rule out the possibility of further tensions but, nevertheless, I think there is probably less of a chance that we have the kind of disruption this coming year as there was last year.
Mr. Devries: I must admit, I have to agree that there have been significant inroads made since the time that I was in the school council in Watson Lake. I think all across Canada there is an increasing dissatisfaction with the public school system by the general public. We see private institutions, home schooling and many of these other optional areas of education being used more and more frequently by parents.
If I remember correctly, last year the Minister gave us a list of statistics in regard to how many people in the Yukon were being sent out, both for schooling outside of the territory and how many are home-schoolers.
I believe some interviews were done, asking why some of these people were doing what they were doing. Much of it ranged from academics and moralities to the fact that people had higher expectations for their children than they felt the public education system could ever achieve.
This year in Watson Lake, there is an increased number of people sending their children out. It is of concern to the rural schools especially. It always seems that the children who may show a more active interest in the school and are the leaders and achievers in the school, tend to be the ones who are the first to be sent out.
It seems that every time I look at my desk, there are photocopies of various things regarding education from all across Canada. It seems to be an ever-increasing problem in the public school system. Recently, in Alberta, there was the Dinning report about the situation. I have read so many of them, I cannot tell one from another any more.
What I am getting at is that many of the traditional-type families are having problems with the value system in the schools when it comes to moral issues. It is very difficult for any public school system to approach that. The other day, I was talking with some people about it. For instance, in the areas of AIDS and sex education, if it is brought into the school - I am not sure of the correct terminology - in a secular way, to balance it out, perhaps the people with the traditional family concepts could also present their case to the students, and allow the students the option of deciding which route they want to take. I feel that there are two factions of differing opinions in society today.
Does the Minister have a comments about that, if he understands what I am getting at?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I understand very well what the Member for Watson Lake is talking about and there is actually quite a bit to say about this matter. I will be brief.
There is a growing dissatisfaction, probably in North America, with the results of public school education. There are those who feel that the education system generally is not up to standard with what people would commonly refer to as their competitors, meaning Europe and Japan in particular. Those schools in those countries appear to be doing very well in the sciences, maths and technical pursuits. That is laced with some common mythology about high school students not being able to read and write. At the same time, there is an appearance that the public system is soft on discipline and soft on results.
I think that it is extremely important for anyone in a decision-making role in respect to education to separate the mythology from the reality when analyzing which directions we should be pursuing in public education policy. Clearly, there are some elements of truth, if you want to characterize it as such, in both positions: those who feel there is a requirement for more discipline to education and learning, and less of a feel-good response to the pedagogy of the system, and those who feel that the system, in order to accommodate all of the children that it should, should be teaching children not simple facts but teaching children how to think critically for themselves and how to problem solve for themselves, because the world that these students are about to embrace is one that is changing so rapidly that the common set of facts and figures that one would memorize in school would put all children quickly out of date by the time they reached post-secondary education. This is not a black and white equation. This is something that requires considerable thought and careful reflection.
In order to accommodate all the children, they should be teaching children not simple facts but teaching children how to think critically for themselves and how to problem solve for themselves. The world that these students are about to embrace is one that is changing so rapidly that the comments, facts and figures that one would memorize in school would put all children quickly out of date by the time they reached post-secondary education.
This is not a black and white equation. This is something that requires considerable thought and careful reflection.
For my part, I believe that we should care about certain results in our system. I believe that the vast majority of students who go through our system turn out to be very literate by the time they graduate from grade 12. The few exceptions, those students who are for some reason passed through the system and simply cannot do the basic functional problem solving or reading and writing, are, in fact, rare exceptions. Certainly, in our system, they are rare exceptions.
I do not think our legitimate concern over the reasons why those children are allowed to pass through the system so easily that that should somehow change or cause a massive change of direction in education policy.
As we discussed last year, part of the reason that some parents are pursuing home education, home schooling and private schools is that they are concerned about the participation of parents in the system. They remember and they see elsewhere a system that is very rigid, one that does not allow for very much parental involvement and not very much of a role for parents collectively to have any decision-making power within the system.
Because they do not feel empowered, they feel concerned about the system generally and wish to replace that lack of control with a consumer/purchaser or customer/supplier relationship. In the case of a private school, they feel that, as the purchaser of a service, they can have more say in controlling the kind of education the children are provided with.
With respect to that position, our school system is one of the most participatory systems anywhere I know of. We have almost hyper-democratic conditions in our territory. Anyone who feels that they are not participating enough, or should be participating more, have every avenue available to them to do just that.
There are some concerns the Member mentioned about what is taught with respect to moral convictions and ethical standards in the school. Particularly those people who have strong religious beliefs feel that the school should supplement what the children are taught at home but, at the same time, they are concerned about the influences that those children who do not have the same religious instruction might have on their children.
We had a discussion during the Education Act about the role of the school system when it came to moral instruction. The Member will recall that we concluded that the parents have a significant role here, but when it came to things like family life education, the subject matter would be presented as objectively as possible to students in our system.
With respect to family life or sex education, we have always had the outlet where parents who do not like the curricula, or do not like the instructor or the way the instructor presents the material, can exempt their children from that programming. That is to ensure that those parents who feel very strongly about that kind of material - and we have seen a very serious drama being played out right now in F.H. Collins, for example, with respect to these kinds of issues - do not have to have their children exposed to the actual curricula, if the parents do not wish that to happen.
In a public school setting, there is not a lot we can do, nor should we, to try to insulate those children, whose parents feel strongly about this area, from other children who are not exposed to the same religious instruction. We are running a public school system, and we take in every citizen who comes to the door; we embrace every child who comes across the threshold, no matter what their condition, no matter what their social circumstance, no matter what their religious belief. That makes for difficult decision making and choices in our system.
There are some parents in Canada who are concerned about the under funding of education. They feel they could get a better result if they went to a higher cost institution, provided they have the money to pay the tuition.
Given the size of our smaller communities, and given the emphasis this Legislature has put on education, I think it would be a very hard case to make to say that the education system in Yukon is under funded. We probably even compare well with private institutions. When it comes to the quality and calibre of instructors, I think we again compare extremely well with just about any place I know of.
When it comes to the quality of equipment and our school facilities, we compare favourably with just about any place I have been to. We have nothing to be ashamed of, and a great deal to be proud of, when it comes to our funding levels.
The Member mentioned the Dinning report, Jim Dinning being the Minister of Education in Alberta, who has been championing something called the school achievement indicator project. This was proposed by Alberta and Quebec about three or four years ago to give all provinces that participate some indication of the results of the education system respecting literacy and numeracy for children aged 13 and 16 years old.
This has been resisted by some jurisdictions - not by the Yukon. The Yukon has also supported this particular project, because we believe that, despite the fact that our curriculum direction - which is B.C.s curriculum direction - is to encourage children to be problem-solvers and independent thinkers, we do not feel that we have lost sight of the basics, typically being reading, writing and arithmetic.
We feel that, even under a project like this, and even given the difficulties that come with any standardized testing like this, that our system will produce very good results overall. The parents not only want their children to be good citizens in society, people who can think for themselves and be independently minded, who can problem solve, but they also want their children to have certain basic skills.
Despite the fact that it has been characterized as an either/or situation, upon some very long reflection on this subject, I do not think the two are incompatible at all.
I think that we can impart basic knowledge to children and at the same time encourage them to think independently and creatively.
I do not know how much I covered. If I have jogged the Members memory about something, I would be happy to proceed.
Chair: I will declare a brief recess.
Chair: I will call Committee back to order.
Mr. Devries: I just have one more general question before we get into the details. This is with regard to the Year 2000 process to keep up with the B.C. curriculum in the primary grades. My understanding of it is that, starting next year, the parents will not be getting a report card with letter grades, but will get a progress report of some kind. Perhaps the Minister could elaborate on that, as it seems to be a concern to some school council members as well as some parents.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The primary program of the Year 2000 initiatives that were sponsored by the B.C. government following the Sullivan Task Force report involve a number of things including the use of anecdotal reporting in core students report cards. The one feature of anecdotal reporting is that it tries to explain exactly how the child is doing, as opposed to giving the child a letter grade. This is consistent with the philosophy of the program itself. If a student or parent wishes to have their child receive a letter grade, they can ask that of the teacher and the teacher will provide it. The purpose, however, of the anecdotal report card is to provide a more thorough assessment of how the child is doing in the primary years, by explaining it as opposed to simply providing a letter grade. If the parents still feel that they need a letter grade in order to really understand the reporting procedure, they can have one.
Mr. Devries: It seems as though some parents cannot grasp the idea of the new system and that seems to be what some of the problem is. I do not know if it is improper communication with the department, or what it is.
My question would be with regard to the Carmacks school. My understanding is that the school does not have any handicap access. Again, going back to the Education Act, my understanding is that the act states that all the schools should have access for the handicapped. Also, some parents are concerned that the hallway in the Carmacks school is so narrow that it does not meet the fire regulations and things like that. Plus, parents do not think that, if there were a handicapped person with a wheelchair in the school, that there would be any way that anyone could run past - I do not think you would want to run past the wheelchair, you should be pushing it along with you when you are trying to get out - but there could be a traffic jam; let us put it that way.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, I would like to quickly respond to the efforts of the department to disseminate information regarding the Year 2000 initiatives. They have spent a lot of time, not only with the curriculum advisory committee, but also with the Yukon 2000 committee, which is focussed on the primary program and is made up of teachers, departmental personnel, parents and representatives from the Education Council. As well, they have had numerous meetings with school staffs and school councils around the territory, to explain features of the program.
Because it is somewhat new, one might argue that one can never do enough to explain the program.
Certainly, we have put an enormous effort into communication and I am trying to improve, not only parents information, but also trying to improve the professional development opportunities for teachers. This includes such things as collaborative time that has been provided to school staffs. If the Member would like to have a blow-by-blow account of the efforts to date, I have at least one copy in front of me and I can make one copy for him.
The rural facilities study conducted by Boreal Engineering identified the desirability of replacing the old wing of the Tantulus School in Carmacks. I have probably been to Carmacks a dozen times since becoming a Minister, and to be perfectly frank with the Member, I have never had the issue of replacement of that facility raised by either school staff or the school council.
I had meetings with both the school staff and the school council very recently, a month ago, and the replacement of the old wing and the handicap access was not presented as an issue - I am sorry, I met with them two months ago, and these items were not presented as an issue by either the school council or the staff.
That is not to say that it is not been a legitimate request in itself, simply because they have not chosen to discuss the matter with me.
It is true that the Department of Education is committed to renovating all of our school facilities to be handicap accessible. As the Member may be aware, we have always voted some sums to improve, on a year-by-year basis, handicap access for students. We have put a number of chair lifts into Whitehorse Elementary and into F.H. Collins - into the schools, particularly, that were designed to handle students who were all individually mobile. Schools are now built that are handicap accessible from the beginning. This is basically a new occurrence.
We have not made any decisions yet as to the ability to replace the old wing of Tantalus School. The hallway is a little narrower than is usual. I am still having the department review whether that constitutes a safety hazard.
I, like the Member, would prefer to think that if there was somebody sitting in a wheelchair and there was a fire alarm, people would ensure that the wheelchair went first rather than tripping over the wheelchair in trying to get out.
We should be making an effort, and we have been making an effort, to make all the schools accessible to the handicapped. The school council in Carmacks wrote to me very recently, within the last week or so, to inform me that it is their desire to see not only the old wing become accessible to the handicapped, but also that ultimately it be replaced altogether. I am certain that would be a major project, should we choose to undertake it.
I am aware of the matter. It is not specifically addressed in this budget because it is somewhat new to me, but nevertheless, it probably still has considerable merit and should be addressed through the capital planning process.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister about the issue with respect to the F.H. Collins students protesting in the foyer of the building. Why did the Minister not put in an appearance and address the students when they were there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The students came to address the issue of a personnel matter with the department officials who were responsible for personnel matters. At the time the students came to the administration building, I was in a Cabinet meeting with my colleagues. I cannot remember what we were discussing at the time, but we were discussing Cabinet business. As the students had a case to make with the superintendent, they had every opportunity to make that case. I am sure that if they felt the Prime Minister was in town they would have asked to see the Prime Minister, but the people who were responsible for the personnel matter were present and available to discuss the matter with those students.
Mrs. Firth: There was a great deal of disappointment expressed by the students. I do not think it would have been asking too much to ask the Minister to leave his meeting for a few minutes to address the student body. He did not have to discuss personnel matters; he just had to represent the government and tell the students that he was at least listening to their concerns and to express some recognition of them as a force, as people with opinions. That was the criticism I had heard of the government: that they did not care, since they did not come to listen to the students as being people who had opinions they might want to pass on.
Perhaps the Minister of Education will reconsider for the next protest.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Members style and my style differ on this point. I do care deeply for all students in our system. I have had discussions with the leadership of the students council, but I am not the sort of person who will respond the way the Member would like me to respond. I make no apologies for that. I feel that, to an extent right now, the education system is over-politicized and that the people who are involved in the system - administrators, teachers, parents and students - should make efforts to resolve issues for themselves.
It is always a politically popular thing to stand in front of a crowd and pontificate about how much we care. With respect to providing leadership to the Department of Education and the education system, my style is to operate differently from what the Member has suggested. We will have to agree to disagree on this point.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister just said that he thought that the education system was over politicized. I would like to know what he means by that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Without wanting to take up half an hour of time, I will simply say that from time to time there are accusations made that are intended for making political points. It is my view that the way in which people state their case should be done carefully, in view of the impact it could have on the system.
In the early years of my tenure, in virtually every school where I had discussions with teaching staff, they felt that the avenue for parents and students to go directly to the Minister to have all their problems resolved was far too easy. It did not encourage discipline, or encourage schools, teachers and parents resolve issues themselves. Instead, it had the great father and mother of the department - the Minister - deciding issues for everyone. They felt that was inappropriate. I agree with them and the Education Act agrees with them.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister is saying that the department is not over politicized because he does not get involved in making decisions and talking to parents personally. Is that his position now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is virtually the silliest thing I have heard all evening.
Since being the Minister of Education, I have been in every school in every year I have been Minister, speaking to parents and teachers about education policy matters. They have been more than accommodating in discussing those matters with me. I have also spoken to students every year, in many of those schools, with respect to the general direction education should take. We have set up systems to problem solve within our system. They encourage parents, teachers and administrators to solve the problems at the school level, where they ought to be resolved.
Consequently, the discussion between the Minister and the public has been extremely thorough, in my view, and will continue to be so, on the general policy matters that affect the system. It is my contention that the administrative problems - the school-based problems - should be resolved, if at all possible, at the school level without resorting to having the Minister come in and simply impose a decision.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister is not being very clear. Is the over politicization of the Department of Education because the Minister has been to every school and talked to everyone? Where, exactly, is the over politicization of the education system?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have already explained the matter to the Member and have, I think, done it very clearly. I have indicated that there has been a contention, in the past - it is not a current contention - that the problems that people face should be resolved at the school level. That is where the Education Act focuses the problem resolution and that is where I believe much of the resolution of problems should take place. There is, and there continues to be, valid discussion among the government, the Minister and the public, respecting education policy. I do not regard those items as being politicization; that is a discussion among policy makers, parents, teachers and all other stakeholders. That particular element is well-served in the relationship that currently exists, in my view.
Mr. Nordling: I am having trouble getting this clear. Is the Minister saying now that the Department of Education used to be over politicized, but it is not any more, because of his effective management?
On Operation and Maintenance
On Finance and Administration
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The $371,000 is a combination of two things. It is for the salary increase for the employees in this branch of $131,000 and the Yukon Arts Centre board operations in the amount of $240,000.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Yukon Arts Centre board operations include the position for the Executive Director that was filled by Mr. Boyle?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes it does.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us how that position was set, who prepared the job description for it, who set the salary range and who did the interviewing and the eventual hiring?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Yukon Arts Centre board established a director search committee. I cannot recall who was on that committee, but the board established the committee and the committee sought some advice from the Public Service Commission in terms of seeking a wage salary range that was commensurate with job duties.
I believe that the committee developed a job description and then recruited for the position. I cannot recall the exact procedure as it was never clearly explained to me. The job search committee of the board itself was responsible for the process from the beginning to the final selection and it was the board that chose the successful candidate. I believe that the committee did; I am not sure if they were empowered to make the decision themselves or whether they referred it back to the board. In the end, the board selected the successful candidate.
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if I could ask the Minister to bring back the detailed information about how it worked, because I have had some concerns expressed to me about the salary range that has been set. Also, when the salary range was announced in the paper, it was some $5,000 more than what individuals who had applied for the job thought it was going to be. There were also some people concerned about the process and why they had not been short listed or interviewed. I would appreciate it if the Minister could bring back a detailed outline since it is quite a substantial expenditure of funds.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will ask the Arts Centre Corporation for that information.
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up on that. Now that this individual is in place, can the Minister give us some idea of exactly what kind of budget they are going to be given on an annual basis? I notice that they are hiring assistants as well. Who makes the determination as to the position description and the salary level? Is it the executive director or does that have to go back to the board? Perhaps the Minister could fill us in on that process.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: All personnel decisions for the Arts Centre Corporation lie with the Arts Centre Corporation board itself and to those whom they delegate to make selections and to seek candidates. They are not bound to follow Public Service Commission rules, although I understand that they have consulted with the Public Service Commission in at least that one case that I cited - the salary range and job description for the director.
I will give a general breakdown of what the costs are. Then, I will come back and provide specific information at a later time.
Outside the Department of Education, the Department of Community and Transportation Services is being allotted a portion of money for the grant-in-lieu to be paid to the city for this facility in the coming year. That would take place almost entirely in the next fiscal year, although there will be a little bit of carry over in this fiscal year. For its part, the Department of Government Services has been accorded funding for utilities for the Arts Centre in the neighbourhood of about $200,000 for a full year. Most of that is for costs associated with the facility in the next fiscal year. There is funding for maintenance in Government Services, and I think I have a break-out of it in the main estimates review for the facility. That will be almost exclusively in the next fiscal year. I believe there is about $370,000 funding for the operation of the Arts Centre, as a core grant, to include the director and office staff, as well as custodial staff for the centre. Incidentally, that includes the position of half-time curator of the art gallery.
The $240,000 is core funding for this fiscal year, and it includes the hiring of a number of people, which will be determined by the Arts Centre Corporation board. These people will be responsible for doing a number of things: developing user policies for theatre and visual arts groups; reviewing the user agreements between the Government of the Yukon and the Arts Centre Corporation, and Yukon College and the Arts Centre Corporation; it will be responsible for establishing user policies, which would have to be in effect for the opening of the Arts Centre, and all other management policies associated with the operation of the corporation. It will also be responsible for doing the administrative work behind the opening, and for managing the arts festival scheduled to take place at end of May, beginning of June next year.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister a question with respect to the hiring practices. I understand from what he said that all the responsibility lies with the board or those who are delegated to the job. I assume that means that the executive director could be delegated all the responsibility to hire people, set the wage scale and set the job descriptions without having to follow any of the guidelines of the Public Service Commission. Does that give the Minister any concern? I have heard some concerns expressed to me by people in the arts community. Is the Minister just going to let it go, or keep an eye on it? Is he concerned about that particular aspect of the process at all?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am careful not to interfere with the operations of the Arts Centre Corporation. I have my limitations under the act, as the Member is aware.
With respect to the custodial services, which is one portion of the $150,000 total cost, it is my understanding that the Arts Centre is going to contract with Yukon College to provide this. It makes sense, from an administrative perspective, to do that. We will be hiring people and paying the cost in accordance to what it would cost Yukon College to provide custodial services.
With respect to the other jobs at the Arts Centre, I am not aware of the criticism the Member mentions, other than what was directed at the director. I do not think that, with the exception of one other position, there are any other positions established yet. They may be doing something I do not know about, but I have only heard criticism about the size of the directors salary.
My understanding of what has happened is that the Arts Centre Corporation sought advice from the Public Service Commission, after having made up the job description, as to what the person would receive if they were working for the Yukon government.
Also, I did an analysis of what was available in the arts community, across the country - because they intended to run the competition outside of the Yukon - of what kind of candidates they could expect to consider if they put the salary range at a particular level.
The Member and the arts community can draw conclusions for themselves as to whether or not they have made a good decision, with respect to the salary range for the director, once they see the job description.
I think it is fairly important at this stage, and particularly with the arts community, that I am not perceived as interfering in their affairs. Certainly, if something was hopelessly out of touch, there would have been some discussion between the chair of the board and me but, barring that, it is my vision - and obviously my vision is dictated to by the legislation itself - that my influence over the board is limited to the appointment process and the overall budget.
Mr. Lang: Just adding up the amount of dollars allotted for running the Arts Centre, it looks like it is going to cost in the neighbourhood of $1 million for operation and maintenance. I wonder how much of that $1 million is expected to be recovered through what I guess one would refer to as user fees from clientele using that particular facility.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Not to be quibbling about this, but my assessment of the cost is in the neighborhood of $750,000. I know there are intentions to recover costs from productions. The bulk of the costs that are being paid for include utilities, the taxes, grant-in-lieu, maintenance and custodial services, plus the director, office or clerical help and the half-time curator.
The cost of putting on productions locally or bringing in acts is in no way subsidized by this expenditure. The corporation is going to have to recover the costs associated with bringing in performers from ticket sales. They are also going to have to cover the costs associated with productions from ticket sales. If, for example, the Arts Centre brings in Rita McNeil, and the cost is $10,000 to bring her in for a couple of nights, all costs associated with that - the performance fee plus the travel costs - are going to have to be made up through ticket sales. There is nothing that we are giving the Arts Centre that would pay for that. The ticket prices would probably range in the $20 to $30 range, depending on the cost of the performance and the number of performances.
The Arts Centre Corporation understands that there is going to be a requirement to recover costs, as well as to try to get sponsors for certain events that they would hold throughout the year that may be more than they can expect to recover from a reasonable ticket sale price. I know they have discussed $20 to $35 as a reasonable ticket price.
Mr. Lang: To pursue this a little further, is the Minister telling us that the requirement to pick up any of the operation and maintenance costs will not be part of the agreement with the board? Therefore, if profits are made by the corporation, they will not subsequently be put toward the operation and maintenance. Is that the agreement the Minister has, and is it in writing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is nothing in writing at this time. There still has to be a transfer agreement developed between the Arts Centre Corporation and the Government of Yukon, as well as a user agreement, because the Government of Yukon, particularly Yukon College, will be expected to use the facility for its purposes. Negotiations have to be undertaken between the two boards and with the Government of Yukons help to ensure that there is a satisfactory, but not overbearing, level of use of the Arts Centre by the college for its purposes - for large lectures, conventions, and that sort of thing.
The basic O&M costs of the operation will be covered by an operating grant, which will cover all those basic items I mentioned.
Even considering that, it will be a major task for the Arts Centre Corporation to ensure that it can recover the costs associated with its productions. There is an expectation that there will at least be a reasonable ticket price associated with the performances there.
If there was not a subsidy by the public of the Yukon, then I would suspect that the ticket prices would be in the $150 to $200 range to cover the basic operation and maintenance of the facility. That was taken into consideration when considering the amount of the subsidy to ensure the successful operation of the facility.
Mrs. Firth: Was it not a commitment that the Minister had made years ago when we had the public meetings discussing whether the arts facility was going to be up at the college or whether it was going to be downtown? I was at those meetings and I recall the Minister making the commitment at the time that if the arts facility was up by the college that there would be some financial support systems in place for the operation and maintenance costs, but if the facility was downtown there would not be any financial support in place for the operation and maintenance costs. I think that is a long-standing commitment that the government had made, is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes it is correct. It was because there was expected to be some use by Yukon College itself that we would be subsidizing the operations of the Art Centre. There was a recognition that because no other art centre in the country was self-supporting or even came close, we would have to make a fairly major commitment if we were to build any kind of centre.
I would like to speak longer on this particular point, but there is a small item to address today and I would like to have time to do that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Madam Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 18, Second Appropriation Act, 1991-92
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by the Hon. House Leader that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 18, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1991-92, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Motion No. 90
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to request the unanimous request of the House to deal with the following motion that I submitted to the Clerk earlier today. I move
THAT the Hon. Margaret Joe, Member for Whitehorse North Centre, and Alan Nordling, Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West, be appointed to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections, and Privileges.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.
It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader
THAT the Hon. Margaret Joe, Member for Whitehorse North Centre, and Alan Nordling, Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West, be appointed to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:26 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 25, 1991:
Yukon Waste Management Program (Byblow)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 25, 1991:
Diesel generator installed at Whitehorse Rapids capabilities (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1318
Watson Lake weigh scale construction (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1293-1294
The following Document was filed November 25, 1991:
Letter to Commissioner: Statement of concern, dated November 25, 1991, from Bea Firth, MLA, and Alan Nordling, MLA