Thursday, December 5, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time we will proceed with Prayers.
National Day of Mourning
Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise in the House today to ask Members to acknowledge December 6 as a National Day of Mourning. This is the day that 14 women died in 1989 in what is commonly called the Montreal Massacre.
It is my hope, that tomorrow across the country people will take part in activities to remember that tragedy and take action to eliminate the daily occurrence of violence against women in our society.
I invite you to participate in tomorrows events, which will be taking place at noon in the law building. Let us take that opportunity to reflect on the pervasive nature of violence; not only physical and sexual assault, but emotional and verbal abuse.
Violence against women takes place not only in the home, but in the workplace and other public arenas. Let us join together tomorrow to remember, grieve and then work for change. The war against women must end.
As Minister of the Womens Directorate I ask the Members of this House and women and men of the Yukon to take action to stop violence against women.
An ad hoc mens group in Ottawa demonstrated their commitment to end violence against women this year, with a national white-ribbon campaign. The campaign is called Breaking Mens Silence to End Mens Violence. I am pleased to see the men in this House wearing white ribbons and demonstrating their support for women and for ending violence against women.
Lastly, I would ask that we observe a moment of silence in commemoration of the 14 women slain, and send our prayers to their families.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: With due respect to the solemn moment just preceding, it is with pleasure and some free-wheeling humour that I draw the attention of Members to the presence in the gallery of a new found friend of the Arctic Winter Games, the mascot Paddy Wheeler. Paddy represents the theme and the spirit of the 1992 Yukon celebrations. I ask you to make our visitor feel welcome.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a study done by the Department of Economic Development, entitled Economic Impact of the Arctic Winter Games.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Nordling: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that a public inquiry, under the Public Inquiries Act, be called to investigate all of the business affairs of the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Economic benefits of Arctic Winter Games
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the spirit of this governments policy to encourage economic benefits from major sporting and cultural events, I am quite pleased to apprise the House today of significant developments regarding the Arctic Winter Games.
As you are no doubt aware, in 1992 Whitehorse will host the Arctic Winter Games, for the fourth time in the 22-year history of the games. The Arctic Winter Games provides an opportunity for our athletes to participate in major international sport and cultural events.
I am pleased to formally announce that Russia and Greenland will each send teams to the games. This is the first time that Russia will be participating and only the second time that Greenland will be involved with the Arctic Winter Games.
Their attendance will provide a truly international flavor to the games.
Over 1400 athletes, coaches, officials and special guests from Russia, Greenland, the Northwest Territories, Alaska, Northern Alberta and, of course, the Yukon, will gather in Whitehorse from March 15-22, 1992. Cultural performers and visual artists representing each of these jurisdictions will also participate in the week-long cultural festival that will be an integral part of the games.
A recent study done by the Department of Economic Development, which I tabled moments ago, shows that the Arctic Winter Games are not only an important sporting and cultural event, but hosting them is of significant economic benefit as well. This study has determined that the Arctic Winter Games will increase the territorys gross domestic product by approximately $3 million and will create the equivalent of 16 person years of employment. For every government dollar that will go into supporting the games, there is an estimated benefit to the economy of $4.60. The Arctic Winter Games, like so many other sporting and cultural activities carried on in the Yukon, provides a significant return on investment, in addition to the benefits derived from physical and mental well-being and community development.
With a budget of $1.5 million, the Whitehorse Host Society has been hard at work since September, 1990. They are well on their way to meeting their fund raising goals through public and private donations. I was apprised this morning that they have reached $500,000 in fund raising, of a goal of $800,000.
I am pleased that this government is a partner in the 1992 Arctic Winter Games. I congratulate the City of Whitehorse, the Host Society and the hundreds of volunteers for their efforts. I personally look forward to taking in the many sport and cultural events that are planned, and I invite all Members to join me in this very significant northern event, next March.
Mr. Phelps: When I think about the Arctic Winter Games, I cast my mind back and recall that it was really a concept that originated in Whitehorse, in the Yukon. I think of all of those people who got this event off the ground, including, but not confined to, of course, Cal Miller and Ken McKinnon, our Commissioner, who had a lot of support from Arthur Laing, the Minister-of-the-day.
It has grown into a great event with a lot of participation, from all kinds of countries. It is growing year by year. Certainly, aside from being a welcome break and a very important event in the sports field, for northern people, it brings with it a great deal of economic benefit, as well.
I join with the Minister in congratulating the City of Whitehorse, the Host Society and the hundreds of volunteers for their efforts. I wanted to make special mention of those who started the ball rolling in Whitehorse, many, many years ago.
Mrs. Firth: We, too, would like to join with all other Members of this House who have stood up and supported the ministerial statement brought forward by the Minister.
We are particularly pleased to see that Russia and Greenland will be sending teams to the games this year. I was very interested in the report that the Minister has tabled under tabling of documents. I was going to be asking about that. He has provided it to us so we can look at it.
We would like to join the other Members in congratulating the City of Whitehorse, the Host Society and the hundreds of volunteers for their efforts. We are looking forward to participating in the games ourselves.
Yukon Arts Festival
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is my pleasure today to announce that the Yukon Arts Centres long-awaited grand opening will be held on May 29, 1992. Actually, the grand opening will not be a one-day event but a 10-day gala, celebrating visual and performing arts.
For the last several months, a joint planning committee from the Arts Centre Board and the Department of Education has been meeting to put together the inaugural Yukon Arts Festival. Although the festival will be focused to some extent on the new centre, it will also have participants and performances in many other Yukon communities besides Whitehorse.
The festival will be national and, indeed, international in scope with visual artworks, singers, musicians, actors and dancers from across North America. But there will also be a very strong Yukon component, not only from experienced Yukon artists, who will take the stage beside the big names, and who will have the opening night to themselves, but from our artists of tomorrow, students from across the territory whose work will be a highlight of the festival.
In the beautiful new art gallery we will have, in effect, three spectacular exhibits in one, which will open May 29 and be on display for four weeks. Two will be national in scope, one of which will have an exclusively First Nations focus, with the best of aboriginal art from across the country. The third exhibit will be a juried show of Yukon art, mounted especially for the festival. We have already advertised for submissions to this competition.
In the new 430-seat theatre, some of the greatest names in entertainment will be joining us. There will be Kashtin, the celebrated group from Northern Quebec, Canadian country music star, Michelle Wright, and for the rock fans, a really rad, awesome band, Grapes of Wrath. On the folk side, we will have the hilarious and rollicking Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers from Newfoundland.
For lovers of classical music, one of Canadas foremost pianists, Anton Kuerti, will be here, as well as the distinguished McGill Chamber Orchestra from Montreal under conductor Boris Brott. A Yukon performer will be selected to perform with the orchestra.
First Nations performers will include actress Margo Kane in her acclaimed one-woman show, Moon Lodge, as well as the Jones Banally Navajo Dance Troupe from Arizona. The Winnipeg Dance Collective will be here, as well as the innovative Theatre De La Marmaille from Quebec. The latter group will be sharing an evening with the new Nakai Theatre production of Last Rites, by Yukon playwright Leslie Hamson.
For the younger audience we will have Bob Berky, an internationally renowned mime, clown and juggler, as well as the return of Rocky Rolletti and the Junior Noodle Wave, following their success last summer at the Dawson City Music Festival.
Many of these performers, will be touring to other Yukon communities for public and school concerts. Several will also be available for workshops, classes or tutoring sessions. We want to be celebrating the arts in as many venues as possible during the festival.
To defray the costs of this ambitious program, the Department of Education is contributing a base grant of fifty thousand dollars to the festival, and will further match corporate funds the Arts Centre is able to raise. This fund raising will be at a national level, so as not to compete with local arts groups, and will ensure that these wonderful performances will be accessible to all Yukon people.
Yukon performers in the festival will be selected, like the Yukon visual artists, through competition, and we have already advertised for proposals. Although Yukon acts will appear throughout the festival, the opening night will be exclusively for them, and we fully expect it to be the most spectacular performance of all. May 29 will, in fact, be a grand day for the arts in the Yukon, inaugurating a new festival, a new Arts Centre, and a new era of self-confidence in artistic and cultural expression.
Mr. Lang: This side is looking forward to the Yukon Arts Festival, but at the same time we have to question the Minister about to his very ambitious plans for spending $50,000 to hold this festival, as well as matching any corporate funds raised for the Arts Centre.
I should point out that we all represent constituencies throughout the territory, where there are single mothers having a tough time meeting their monthly obligations. When they see something like this they wonder what the priorities of the government are as far as the financing of various events is concerned.
In view of the fact that there is $50,000 and a further commitment to match any corporate funds raised, could the Minister give us an indication of what the aspirations of the Arts Centre are with respect to corporate fund raising?
Mr. Nordling: We are very pleased with the announcement and excited about the prospects of having a new Yukon Arts Centre. We hope it can live up to its advance billing and to its expectations. What is curious is how this announcement falls within the definition of a short factual statement of government policy, which is the definition of a ministerial statement.
We have a wonderful five-page announcement, which I am sure we will hear three or four more times between now and May 29.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, I would like to respond to both Members by stating that I thank them for their somewhat qualified support for the festival, at least in the case of the Member for Porter Creek East. I am a little disappointed that the Member equates this funding to be somewhat of a frill, given that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services has just announced a sports festival that has a contribution of at least $250,000 of Yukon government funding.
I would like to point out to the Member that there is a large body of opinion in this territory that believes that the support of the arts community is every bit as much a part of the cultural fabric of this territory as the support of the sporting community.
Consequently, I am pleased to state that the funding the Yukon government will provide will go a long way to supporting the festival. The total commitment would be no more than $100,000, which is less than one-half the commitment the Yukon government has made to a very worthy cause, the Arctic Winter Games.
I am pleased with the Member for Porter Creek Wests acknowledgement that the festival will be a major new contribution to the arts community in the coming year. I would like to point out that, after having very recently tabled an announcement about new government programs that would probably not fit the definition the Member just read out for ministerial statements, to then be criticized by the Members opposite and some people in the media that this was somehow gamesmanship in the Legislature is inconsistent as well as dishonest.
It is a pleasure - and I want to make that very clear, at least from this side of the House - to be supporting the arts in a more aggressive way than the government has done in the past. I think this kind of initiative is long overdue. I think it will expand our cultural activity dramatically in the territory and I think public expenditures in this area are well spent. I am happy that the Member for Porter Creek West at least acknowledged that element of the ministerial statement, and I am hoping that the festival will not be marred by the rather qualified remarks of other Members.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Executive Council Office staffing
Mr. Lang: I would like to turn Members attention to a concern of people in the territory, and that is the size of the government. It was quite a revelation last evening when the review of the Executive Council Office, which is the Government Leaders personal fiefdom, showed that it has been increasing steadily over the years. In fact, if we eliminate the French and aboriginal language services as a program from that department, we will see that, since 1985, there has been a substantial increase in the number of positions within that department - a total of 16, or over a 30 percent increase.
I want to ask the Government Leader how he can justify the increase in staff, which has been going up consistently every year in this department, while at the same time requests to fill positions such as an occupational therapist are being denied.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, one has to deal with the preamble of the question. I think the record will show that the Government Leaders office, as it is constituted under us, is smaller than it was under his former leader, the Member for Hootalinqua. The Member will note in the budget - and we are in the middle of budget debate - that there are no person year increases requested in the budget before the House. As a matter of fact, I believe the requests for additional occupational therapists, the position he cites, have been responded to very favourably by the government. Indeed, even during my time as Minister of Health and Human Resources, I believe that, in terms of people providing additional person years for the area we are talking about, including extended care, were in the double digits.
Mr. Lang: If the Minister checks the record with respect to permanent staff, he will find that his personal staff and the staff from the Executive Council Office has increased dramatically.
Prior to becoming the government, the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Penikett, called the appointments of assistants, and I quote, ludicrous and unnecessary, considering the small size of the government and the work load of the Cabinet. Why they need a whole herd of executive assistants up here is an indication of how weak the Cabinet is. Could the Government Leader tell us the reason for this dramatic increase in staff over the last number of years. Is it the result of having a weak cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. The Member is really pumping a dry well. This was a debate we had in the summer of 1985, when we were having an extensive debate about the staff in the Executive Council Office. The record will show that in the staffing in my office - the Principal Secretary, the executive assistant and the special assistant - is the same staffing level that existed when my predecessor, Mr. Chris Pearson, was in office. Of course, the office is much smaller now than it was during the leadership of the immediately previous Government Leader, who had established a 25-person policy unit in the Government Leaders Office, immediately upon coming into office. We, of course, dismantled that unit following our election.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is always dancing around the issue. The fact is that this department has grown dramatically. There seems to be a certain inconsistency with regard to the Executive Council Office, where there are 85.25 person years for the running of this small division of the government. Yet, if you open the telephone book, the same document that that illustrious group publishes, you see that there should be 100 positions, comparing one to the other.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: There should be 100 positions indicated in this particular department. Can the Minister tell us why there is such a discrepancy between the number of names in the telephone book versus what is actually in the Executive Council Office?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Believe it or not, I have had better things to do with my time than count the names in the telephone book, but I suspect it is because there may be some names listed twice, in the multi-capacities of the employees.
I think, for example, that you will find my name listed there as Minister of Finance and also as Minister of Executive Council Office. You will also find that to be the case for Ministers who...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know why the Member finds that funny. I am glad that he has plenty of time to sit around and count the names in the telephone book.
He did have a preamble in which he asked why there has been growth. Again, I repeat: there are no new person years in the budget now before the House for the Executive Council Office. Let that be repeated again for the record. But the Member will recall that, in addition to the French and aboriginal languages people, which I think is 18 person years, which he has mentioned, we have also had additional staff in the land claims area and, I think, in the statistics area, in the last few years, but I do not think we are talking about extraordinary growth at all, given the importance of the work that we are talking about.
The Member is giggling.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me conclude by saying that, compared with the increase in staffing and funding for the Opposition, which has multiplied 10 times since we were in Opposition, we have had very modest increases.
Question re: Executive Council Office staffing
Mr. Lang: Just for the record, I want to inform the Government Leader that - and I do not want to hurt his ego - I did not count him in those numbers; neither once, twice nor three times. I did find it rather interesting when looking at the budget, it is supposed to be an honest assessment of what the government needs for staff. I just happened to compare it to the telephone book and it did not add up. I want to know from the Government Leader why, if you take the complement of staff that he needs to do the job - 85 person years - and coordinate that with the number of names and telephone numbers, it does not reflect the actual 100 positions that he has in the department.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I suspect there is a very obvious explanation. I resent, and I am sure the officials in the Department of Finance will resent, the allegation by the Member that it is a dishonest budget because it is quite the opposite. If the Member wants to put those kinds of allegations on the record, I will challenge them.
Let me tell the Member that I know one reason why there may be more names in the telephone book. One of the things that we have supported in this government is job sharing. There are a number of situations in this government where there are two people working half time in a single position; that may be one explanation. There may be others that do not occur to me on my feet, because the question has not been put to me before.
Mr. Lang: I recognize that the Minister is scrambling. I wonder if he could bring forward to this House why there is such a discrepancy with respect to the number of person years reflected in the Executive Council Office as opposed to the telephone book.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am extremely surprised that the Member did not ask this during the budget debate - of course, I am not surprised, Mr. Speaker, because we have been at it for a while now - but I will certainly take notice of that question. I am absolutely certain that we will be able to reconcile the numbers in the phone book with the numbers in the budget book. As soon as Question Period is over, I will ask the people in Finance to check into this.
Mr. Lang: Another area of major concern to the general public is the question of the public affairs bureau, which has consistently stayed at 10 positions over the last number of years. At the same time, we have seen communication coordinators being hired in at least six different departments, while the public affairs bureau has remained constant.
Why has the public affairs bureau maintained the same number of personnel when, at the same time, communication advisors or coordinators have been hired for various departments?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Because the demands for, not only the government central agencies to communicate on behalf of the government, but the requests for information and the demands for material from a number of the large departments, particularly, have created the demand for those departments to develop staffing themselves.
For example, I know that the Department of Education, the Department of Renewable Resources and the Department of Community and Transportation Services publish a wide amount of material about their programs and their activities by way of brochures or newsletters. I am sure that this information is very useful and very helpful to the public.
This is an area, of course, where the government gets damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-do-not. If you do not provide the information, you are criticized, as we were just last night, for not providing it. Yet, if you do expend an appropriate amount of money trying to communicate with citizens, no matter how difficult that is, you are also criticized.
The option of locating all of the communications people in one place in the public affairs bureau has been looked at, but rejected as not being a practical response to the needs of the line-departments with many and various programs, in particular those with new programs.
Question re: Taga Ku convention centre project
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. Two weeks ago, we asked the Minister questions about the Taga Ku convention centre project and the Minister was supposed to report back to us, as to how the government was protecting its investment in that venture. I would like to ask the Minister some specific questions about the Yukon Development Corporations involvement in this project.
Can the Minister tell us what the conditions were with respect to the advance of the full $2 million to the Taga Ku Development Group Inc; their new name.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That information is being assembled and will be tabled in the House early next week.
Mrs. Firth: I would like some specific answers. Can the Minister not answer that question specifically? Does he not know what the conditions were? His Development Corporation gave Taga Ku $2 million dollars, what were the conditions?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I indicated some of the conditions last week when the Member first raised the question. I undertook to provide detailed information on the arrangements of the loan. That information is being assembled and, as the Member knows, corporation officials have been extremely preoccupied with the hearings last week, and in follow-up matters to the hearing. Therefore, assembly of the information has taken longer than I anticipated. I will be tabling this information next week, and the Member will have the correct, accurate information in writing.
Mrs. Firth: When we asked the question on November 25, the Minister did not give us one answer - not one. Is the Minister standing here today and telling us that he cannot tell us what any of the conditions were with respect to the Taga Ku getting that $2 million? That is what I am hearing the Minister saying, yet the Development Corporation gave them $2 million. Were there no conditions attached?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think that the Member is attempting to create the impression that there were no conditions. I indicated to the Member that there were legal stipulations surrounding the loan; I further indicated that these conditions were relevant to land claims and to shares of Taga Ku. The Member also knows that all she has to do is pick up the phone and call the Development Corporation and I am sure that information would be available from senior officials.
The details surrounding the loan to Taga Ku will be outlined in a tabled return for all Members, with nothing undisclosed or shredded, fully apprising Members of the terms.
Question re: Watson Lake flight services
Mr. Devries: As the Minister of Community and Transportation Services perhaps knows, we have had two occurrences, as they are called, at the Watson Lake airport since the decommissioning of flight services, which took place on December 1 - four days ago.
Does the Minister have any plans to inform his federal counterparts of these serious problems that have developed there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member is aware, we had a brief discussion on the matter yesterday. It is something we all flagged to federal officials and politicians in the course of discussions surrounding the reduction of flight services at Watson Lake over the course of the past year. It is a potential tragic development that the reduction of those flight services may endanger the safety and health of travelling passengers. I certainly am bringing that to the attention of my federal counterpart.
Mr. Devries: I always wonder what it takes to get Ottawas attention. Has the Minister had any response from Ottawa in regard to his suggestion for going to a CARS system - I believe that is community aerodrome radio system?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot answer definitively. I did have a discussion with the federal Minister on Monday of this week, concerning Watson Lake as well as the issues surrounding the Whitehorse tower services. The matter of CARS was raised; the issue is under discussion, and I can only undertake to provide Members with detail once the federal position is more clearly known.
Members have to understand that what we are talking about are federal service cutbacks and, in the devolution of airports that took place just over a year ago, we undertook the responsibility for 10 B and C category airports. Those did not include Whitehorse or Watson Lake; those are still the responsibility of the federal government who, at no time during those devolution talks, discussed with us any sharing of responsibility or willingness to devolve those two airports. In the meantime, however, they are cutting services on them.
Mr. Devries: Is the Minister prepared to send his new airport head honcho to Ottawa to discuss these important matters, so as to really get the Ministers attention?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am prepared to do anything reasonable at any time; and this government has. My officials, even the most senior of them, have met with representatives of Transport Canada and have participated, in Ottawa, with representations by people from Watson Lake to put the case forward. I am in constant communication - there must be nearly half a dozen exchanges of letters and numerous phone calls - with my federal counterparts.
The short answer to the Member is yes, any reasonable suggestion to prod a further airing of our concern about the cutbacks of these air services to Yukon that are so vital in our transportation network will be acted upon.
Yukon Energy Corporation/Hendersons Corner transmission line
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation and for Community and Transportation Services with regard to Hendersons Corner transmission line and the answer he filed by way of a legislative return in this House the other day.
It now appears that the main line extension out to Hendersons Corner is not practical for carrying electricity from Mayo, yet that was the excuse used by his predecessor when we brought this matter up a year and a half ago in the House. We are concerned because this freebie to the residents out there - the gift of the cost of the main line extension - was announced in the middle of the last territorial election. It conferred special treatment on residents of one part of the territory who did not have to pay for the main line extension, while all kinds of residents in other areas, including my riding, have had to pay their share of a main line extension for electricity.
My question is whether the government, in order to be fair, will carry the cost of all main line extensions of electricity where there have been programs under the electrification program and, where appropriate, rebate money to people who have already paid their share of the main line extension in order to receive electricity.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the Member was getting at in his preamble, but the entire Hendersons Corner decision revolved around the full expectation that it could be used as the Mayo-Dawson intertie or as a connector for North Fork, both very viable propositions.
The decision was made by the board of directors to proceed on that basis. Subsequent refined engineering has indicated that is not the most practical or economic route. It still could be done, but one would have to upgrade to a point where the economics shifted the wisdom of the decision to another route.
The route was decided on the basis of the best information available at the time.
With respect to the Members real question surrounding what amounts to rural electrification programming, it is one of the areas that I have asked be addressed during the comprehensive energy strategy review. So we are certainly looking at the rural electrification program and certainly looking at criteria, a review of existing criteria and will...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: ...ultimately be seeking public input on that review.
Mr. Phelps: The announcement about the Hendersons Corner mainline extension - the freebie - was announced at a meeting in Dawson in the midst of the election and was clearly nothing more than crass politics.
I have all kinds of constituents who were incensed by the fact that they have had to pay because they applied for and received their electrical extensions, when there was no campaign on. I gather that I will be able to tell them that the government is going to rebate the money that they have already spent on the mainline extensions to their various subdivisions, such as the Taku subdivision in Tagish.
I would like to ask the Minister to make another commitment, in addition to this: will he ensure that the government transfers an amount equal to the main transmission line, the cost of extending the line to Hendersons Corner, rebate those monies to the Yukon Energy Corporation, so the government, rather than rate payers - the electrical consumer - will be paying for that political gift?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There was no political gift. There was a judgment taken, by a board of directors of the corporation, based on the best information available, related to an extension of electrical services.
North Fork is now being reconsidered, given what is occurring with Brewery Creek. Because that operation may undertake a heap-leaching process, in a summer season only, it lends itself extremely well to the hydro potential at North Fork. So, to even suggest that the original consideration is entirely dead, is inaccurate.
Mr. Phelps: We know about the board of directors. If I were a member of that board of directors, I would walk around the Yukon with a bag over my head.
When did the government, or the Yukon Energy Corporation, discover that the Hendersons Corner transmission line was not suitable to transmit electrical energy from Mayo to Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would hesitate to give anything in the form of a firm date. It occurred during the current assessment of the economic feasibility study, the environmental aspects and analyses relating to the Mayo-Dawson transmission line decision that is taking place. Specifically when, I could not tell the Member. I can tell him that, as a result of refined engineering work and analysis, particularly in relation to the location of a step-down substation, it became apparent that a new routing on the Mayo-Dawson transmission line would be more practical and economical.
Question re: Teslin correctional facility
Mr. Phillips: With respect to the new correctional facility planned for Teslin, several constituents in that area have contacted me, wanting more details about that facility. The people of Teslin are wondering who was consulted in their area about this proposed facility, other than a phone call several months ago to some community leaders, telling them they were one of several communities being considered for a new facility.
Can the Minister of Justice tell us who she or her officials consulted with in the community of Teslin, prior to making this announcement?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There was some consultation with band members and the Mayor - I personally had a discussion with her. There was also consultation with other individuals in that area. My officials have been to Teslin a number of times, to talk to different people. The Member is correct in that there was no public meeting held in which to talk about the facility.
I have already made a commitment that I would be available at a public meeting to talk to the people, along with officials from my department to answer any questions that they might have. The information that I have is in the form of a letter, and that letter states that there is no objection to the corrections facility. The problem that they have right now, and I agree with them, is that they need more information. As always, with any venture that we propose, there is some opposition to it. However, the support is there for the facility; they just need more information.
Mr. Phillips: That is exactly my point. The people in Teslin whom I have talked to are not necessarily against the facility, but they are saying that the government talked to a select few, and very few people know what is going on. The Minister said that she is going to hold a public meeting. Can the Minister tell us what date she is going to set for that public meeting and if she is going to set the date within the next 30 or 60 days, or is it going to be within the next six months? When is the Minister going to hold the public meeting in Teslin?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have not set a date yet as we are in session. There will be the Christmas holidays, and I would like to do it as soon as possible. They have asked that we not do any work in regard to the facility until the consultation does take place. The meeting will be held as soon as I can - I am not going to wait 60 days; it will be before then. They do know that we are in session and that it is a little bit difficult to go to Teslin, especially around Christmastime, but they will have all of the answers to any questions that they might have.
Mr. Phillips: Part of the confusion here is confusion about the Ministers own statements in the House. She said that her officials were having ongoing discussions with the community of Teslin. Some people I talked to in Teslin say that there are no ongoing discussions taking place at all, so the Minister has an obligation to tell us who she is talking to in Teslin and to call a meeting as soon as possible.
The Minister told this House a few weeks ago that this new facility will be built on band land. Can the Minister tell the House if the Government of Yukon will maintain full ownership of that facility, or is there a plan to transfer ownership over time, to the band in lieu of rent for the land that the building will be on?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Those are all of the issues that have to be dealt with. This government has held meetings with the land claims secretariat and the band in regard to that land and how it can be used once this facility is on it. The information that we have right now is that it would be quite proper to deal with the band through a certain process. All of the details have not been ironed out but they will be. That information will be made available whenever it is received. I will be happy to provide this information to the Opposition.
I would be very pleased to have a meeting with the people of Teslin to assure them that there are no games being played; we did have prior consultations with them. Teslin was not the only community that wanted a facility. There were a number of other communities that were also interested in having it in their community as well.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation/Taga Ku project
Mr. Nordling: My question is for the Minister in charge of the Development Corporation.
I am amazed that after two weeks, we have not received a response to our questions. The Minister says that we could just pick up the phone and get the answers from the Development Corporation. I am surprised that he could not do that himself. We understand that arms length is a telephone away for him.
What we asked for back then was a general update on the project. What we are asking today are some specific questions. If the Minister does not know the answer, perhaps they could be answered in a legislative Return.
It has been reported that the financing of over $31 million US for the Taga Ku convention centre is coming from a European source, through a Texas bank. Did the Yukon Development Corporation play a role or assist in any way in arranging or obtaining financing for the project?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the Members expect from me. If I do have the information, I am interfering; if I do not have the information, I do not know what is going on. Members have to recognize that information they are seeking, and answers to many of the questions they are asking here in the House, are available by simply contacting the Yukon Development Corporation, sitting down with officials and seeking direct access to that information. The financial statements are open. There is public disclosure of information, and Members are perfectly entitled to receive that information.
The answer to the Members question is, to my knowledge and understanding - and the Member has to understand that I do not interfere in the business of the Corporation - no.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Minister tell us if the government is satisfied with the financing arrangements, the progress of the project and their monitoring of it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: With respect to the Yukon Development Corporation involvement surrounding Taga Ku, a loan has been granted to the project. There was no involvement by the corporation in securing the additional financing for the overall project. That is clearly within the private sector nature of the project.
Mr. Nordling: There is a new company name on the scene with respect to this project: Taga Ku Development Group Inc. They are the title holders of the land now, in the land titles office, and I would like to know whether the Minister can tell us who comprises this new Taga Ku Development Group Inc?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure that there must be 3,000 businesses in the Yukon that have commercial operations taking place, in one form or another. It is hardly likely that I would be in a position to respond as to the corporate structure of those operations, their financial health, or their intended activities here in the Yukon.
With respect to the Yukon Development Corporation, a loan was granted to the project. It is fully secured. The Yukon Development Corporation is not participating in the management of the project; it is monitoring it. I have said that Members will receive a full accounting by some time next week of questions that are legitimate for us to answer. However, Members have to understand that I am not going to undertake, on their behalf, their homework or research on corporate entities in the private sector.
Question re: Bison/importing
Mr. Brewster: It appears my little buffalo are causing problems again. Can the Minister of Renewable Resources tell the House if it is true that the government is planning to bring in more bison from outside this winter?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can confirm that the department is planning to bring in another shipment of bison sometime early next spring.
Mr. Brewster: I will be able to ask questions on this for the next 10 years in the House.
Is it true that, once the number of bison in the territory reaches 200, they will be deemed not to be an endangered species and will be subject to a permit kill?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member is correct.
Mr. Brewster: Boy, that is going to be expensive buffalo. Could the Minister table in the House the breakdown of the total cost of the bison project to date, as it was not in the Ministers undated letter, which the letter stated it was.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Do I take it that, when the Member says to date, he means from the inception of this program, which was originally approved by the former government? If that is the case, I will be pleased to provide that information for the Member.
Question re: Tagish well
Mr. Phelps: I have a couple of questions for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I attended a meeting last night at Tagish. There are a number of issues right now in that community. One of the more topical ones has to do with the much delayed and very expensive community well. As I said to the Minister the other day, it does not work. To paraphrase a Johnny Cash song, the chickens dont lay and the well, shes run dry and is busted. I wonder if the Minister could tell us what his department is going to do about the well.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I know the Member often feels that he is pumping a dry well when he is asking questions. I have to tell him that this well is not dry. There is water.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible).
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Oh, yes, there are dividends in every community effort.
On the issue of the Tagish well, the Member raised, privately and in Question Period, his concern about an apparent problem with the well, in that it cut out, mechanically, during its pumping cycle. I am advised by my officials - and they stake their professional reputation on it - that it is merely a mechanical problem. They say it is reparable and it will be repaired next week.
The people who are responsible for the work will be at the site early next week. I understand that the problem is expected to be rectified at that time.
Mr. Phelps: If the well is not dry, the Minister should go out and study it for a while. He may do better in Question Period in future.
I understand that the department feels that there are some mere mechanical problems with it. I am advised by people out there, though, that the flow is not as great as it ought to be. In addition, therefore, his officials should look at reducing the size of the pipe from two inches to one and one-half inches, or choking it off, so that it does not produce volumes of water that will run the well dry when it is being used.
Would the Minister undertake to have his officials consult with the president of the community club and some others out there who know something about wells?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Members suggestion. It is on the record, and I am sure that option will be examined. I understand the municipal advisor for the region was at the same meeting as the Member last night and I am sure that those kinds of discussions took place, for the simple fact that the community association president chaired one of the meetings.
Yes, I duly note the Members technical suggestion regarding the well, and I am sure that option will be examined as my officials address the problem.
Mr. Phelps: If that option does not work, I hope he does not blame me. I am just reporting back.
My final question has to do with the snow ploughing that takes place in the subdivisions around Tagish. Residents are concerned because they have been led to believe that the snow ploughing may be discontinued because the budget is running out for that service. With all this snow, they are understandably concerned.
Can the Commissioner tell us whether or not we can assure the residents of Tagish that the subdivision roads will be ploughed out on a regular basis throughout the winter?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As Members may recall, there was also an unduly severe snowfall last winter. Looking at the way things are occurring to date, we are going to have a worse winter for snowfall this year. Last year, we went over budget by some $900,000, and my colleagues saw fit to appropriate those funds to ensure that adequate snow ploughing took place throughout the season.
I am sure that, if our budget levels do not meet the requirements of maintaining highways, we will look for extra funds. I guess the assurance I can give the Member is that the highways department will continue, on the basis of current practice and policy, to maintain the highways and keep them open throughout the season. That would include the Members constituency.
Speaker: Point of order to the Member for Hootalinqua.
Mr. Phelps: I want to go on record as inadvertently referring to the Minister as the Commissioner. While I have a high regard for the Minister, I did not mean to promote him to that exalted position.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will now take a break.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will be discussing Bill No. 19, First Appropriation Act, 1992-93.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act, 1992-93 - continued
On Land Claims Secretariat - continued
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We covered a lot of ground last night. First of all, on behalf of an official of the Government of the Yukon, I have to make sure something is perfectly clear on the record. Last night, the Member for Riverdale South used the name of a Yukon government official in this Legislature. I am referring to Page 1528 of last nights examination of the budget estimates for the Executive Council Office. I was hoping that the Member was not shredding facts, but I find that in reference to a discussion about the Development Corporation, the Member made reference to a Whitehorse Star newspaper article and named a Charles Sanderson. This created the impression that the person being referred to was the Deputy Minister of Finance of the Yukon Government.
Mr. Sanderson was quite upset that this impression was created. This, of course, was probably known to the Member, but she did not make that clear, so, I am doing so today.
For the record, the person referred to by the hon. Member was not the Deputy Minister of Finance in the Yukon government but a person who works on the 28th floor of an office tower out of the Yukon, who may well have never been to the Yukon, who is not registered to practice law in the Yukon, and who did not attend nor see any documents related to the matters before the Yukon Public Utilities Board. In my humble opinion, he is hardly a reliable source or a person able to give informed comment on anything in the Yukon. That is, of course, assuming that he was accurately quoted in the first place.
Point of Order
Mrs. Firth: On a point of order, Mr. Chair.
Chair: The Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South, on a point of order.
Mrs. Firth: The Government Leader is making an accusation that I intentionally did that. That is absolutely incorrect. The Minister cannot prove that I did it intentionally. I mean, if I forgot to identify the person as not the Charles Sanderson here in the government, I do not see how anyone could have made that connection. I was not referring to anything to do with this government. I thought I made that fairly clear. If I did not make it clear, then I take responsibility for not making clear enough who the person was - and that person somehow feeling that I had used his name, and not really clarified who he was - but there was certainly nothing intentional about it.
I think the Government Leader should be careful about making the accusation that I did it intentionally, when that was not at all what happened.
Chair: There is no point of order.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I appreciate that the Member has clarified her intent and I accept her statement that that was not her intention.
Last night we were talking about the land claims line item. With delightful inventiveness, the Leader of the Official Opposition, during question period today, quoted the phone book at me, which is the first time that has happened. I am assured by officials in the Department of the Executive Council Office, that they believe the Member opposite cannot count. However, we are now reconciling the figures and we will be making those figures available to the Member and to the media this afternoon, I hope, unless we have another ludicrous headline based on some faulty arithmetic.
Since we were on the land claims line, let me first of all provide a copy to the Member for Riverdale South, who asked for a statement of duties of the special council on constitutional affairs, and then elaborate a little bit on a question that was asked by the Member for Porter Creek East. I hope that you will appreciate that I am not able to give him a final, ultimately complete answer here, and this is the best information that I have been able to get since last nights discussion.
This answer is with respect to the Nisutlin Delta National Wildlife Area that we were discussing last night. As I told the Committee last night, the area is being created to protect waterfowl and animal habitat, pursuant to the special management area provisions of the umbrella final agreement, which says that there can be areas of unique biological or cultural significance set aside. Previously, I had indicated the general boundaries of the area.
It would be a national wildlife area, government by federal legislation, namely, the Canada Wildlife Act.
In addition to what I told the Member last night, I have been able to find out this morning that the issues to be addressed in the management plan, which will go on for two years following the completion of the Teslin final agreement coming into effect, will deal with the issues that he raised questions about. The position of the Yukon government is - and this is what we expect to occur - that hunting of migratory birds by aboriginal and non-aboriginal people will be allowed but the aboriginal hunting will be consistent with the Sparrow decision, subject to considerations of public health, safety and conservation. In other words, if a conservation issue is raised or if there is concern about the conservation of the species, then, according to the Sparrow decision, government is allowed to regulate that harvest, even in subsistence terms.
It is contemplated, as I said, that both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people may be able to hunt there. That will be our position and of course the non-aboriginal hunters will be required to have a permit, as they are in order to hunt in other areas. I am told that our position is actually quite consistent with the practices in other wildlife areas such as this in the country, which are created under this particular piece of federal legislation. I am not assuming that there will be any great problem in our seeing the position that we are advancing secured here.
Mr. Lang: We had a briefing this morning with the land claims secretariat, and I also asked him a number of questions on this issue. This further clarifies it.
Could the Minister undertake to tell us what national wildlife refuges are now in effect, and what hunting regulations for Indians and non-Indians are in effect in those particular refuges, so we know what is happening across the country - or perhaps the Minister of Renewable Resources could provide this when we debate that particular budget.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take notice of that question.
Mrs. Firth: When the Minister provides a list of all the people who are working within the Executive Council Office, so we can get an accurate listing of how many people work there, would he also provide us with an organization chart, a printout, of all the people who work in that office, including all the interpreters, the statistics officers and urban and rural interviewers on staff?
I think there are even more people working within that department than are listed in the phone book, from the information I have. If the Minister could provide us with a printout of all the positions, all the individuals names and all the jobs there are in that department, that would give an accurate reflection of exactly how many people are working in the Executive Council Office.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I take the Members question, she would like to have an organization chart including the location and number of part-time auxiliary people who are involved in data collection in the rural communities. Obviously, they are not broken down by person years. She would obviously like to have them broken down by the portion of the person year they may be occupying. I cannot do it this afternoon, but I can do it.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking how many people are working there; that is what we want an answer to. I would like a list of all the names of people who work in the Executive Council Office and what job they have, whether it be a .5 or a .6 of a person year or whatever. Then we can get an accurate idea of how many people are working in that department and the government can tell us what it means to them in numbers of person years.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is fine.
Mr. Lang: I want to pursue this a little further. Comparing the telephone directory with what we have in the Executive Council Office - which is something I just stumbled on today - I came up with 100 positions. There may be a couple of .5 positions, I do not know. I assumed that there were four in internal audit and evaluation. I think they call it the bureau of management improvement now. Also, French and aboriginal services came to a total of 18. I did not add those together; I just said there were 18 positions according to our budget. I assume that those are positions within the government. That is how I determined that there were 99 or 100 people there. Perhaps the Minister can clarify that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: All I can tell say is that there is someone upstairs right now, counting away and reconciling the numbers to the budget and the charts.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister a question about land claims, specifically in the public accounts of 1990-91. Page 49 talks about the land claims agreement and makes reference to the government being committed to contributing about $6.75 million toward certain implementation costs of land claims settlement over a period of 10 years, of which an amount of $1 million was spent in 1991.
Can the Minister tell us where that money was spent because I do not think it was in this area, was it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: From the education budget, from the training trust fund.
Mrs. Firth: The whole lot?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The million, yes.
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $1,297,000 agreed to
On Public Affairs Bureau
Mr. Lang: I want to register our concern, as I did in Question Period, that we have this number of staff in the public affairs bureau. I recognize some are for photography and a few other things; at the same time, we put communication advisors in all the larger departments throughout the government and I really question the need for this. I just want to register that point, but I do not want to belabour it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand what the Member is saying. In fact, I think what I will do - because I would like to respond to the concern of the Member about the demands on the public affairs bureau in terms of communication services - especially the large departments - is try, in fairly short order, to provide the Member with an accounting of the kinds of workload that not only these people have, but the people in the branches. I am not sure exactly in what form that can come because simply counting the number of press releases put out in a year does not help. There are a lot of pamphlets and publications, as I mentioned before, and a lot of inquiries that come. I will endeavour to ask the department, in their coordination capacity here, to respond with some data that will demonstrate to the Member, I think, how the workload on this function in the government has increased over the last few years.
On Operation and Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $212,000 agreed to
On Information Services
Information Services in the amount of $281,000 agreed to
Photography in the amount of $174,000 agreed to
On Inquiry Centre
Inquiry Centre in the amount of $148,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $815,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: I would just like to pay a compliment to the people who work there. They do an excellent job and anytime that I do make a call, if I am out of town or something like that, they are very polite, very forthcoming with information and efficient in getting through to other departments. They should be commended on how they do their job.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I, too, am an admirer of those people. Like many people in front-line staff, they do an excellent job and are not often complimented for doing so.
On Photography Equipment
Photography Equipment in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
Public Affairs Bureau agreed to
Chair: Any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
On Policy and Planning
On Operation and Maintenance
On Policy and Planning
Policy and Planning in the amount of $387,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of nil agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments and person year establishment?
Policy and Planning agreed to
On Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations
Mr. Lang: Would the Minister provide me with the total amount of money spent on devolution. If he does not have the information, I am prepared to clear this just with the undertaking that he will provide it for us.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Last night, the Member said he had asked for this in the supplementaries. I had some poor person up most of last night checking to find where in the supplementaries he had asked for it, but they could not find it. Perhaps he intended to ask me the question, but it is not there in the record. So, somebody actually went to a lot of extra work last night.
He did ask the question last night, and I will attempt to give him the answer. If he had asked it in the supplementaries, I would hope I would have had it by now. It is not on the record in the supplementary debate, but we will come back with the answer.
Mr. Lang: I apologize if it is not on the record. I did intend to ask him, and thought I had asked. Perhaps I did not. I apologize to the staff member if I did not put it on the record.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations
Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations in the amount of $408,000 agreed to
On Federal Relations
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister elaborate on that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: While my official is trying to locate the detail, I can tell the Member what he may already know. The basic staff of the federal relations office in Ottawa, which is what this line covers, consists of two people. There is a senior fiscal relations officer, who is an employee of the Department of Finance, there is an intergovernmental relations officer, who is the ranking person in the office, and there is one secretarial staff person.
In that office we also have some contract work. I will give the Member a breakdown: personnel costs, $163,200; travel costs, $32,800; contract services, $130,000; repair and maintenance, $1,500; entertainment, $3,500; rental expense, $8,600; supplies, $4,000; postage and freight, $2,000; advertising, $2,200; program materials, $6,000; communications, $22,400; I believe that - I am sorry I have my numbers wrong here, pardon me. Did I say $22,400? It is actually $21,700 - giving us a total of $258,000.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister give us with an undertaking that he will provide for last year, the number of dollars that were paid for service contracts from that office and who those service contracts were to?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Certainly, but off the top of my head, I would guess that the principal contract issued out of that office is the one for Jody White and her services. That is the strategic consultant whom we employ in Ottawa to facilitate, not only access to the federal government, but also to provide us advice about the thinking of the federal government on various issues.
I cannot remember whether it was in last years budget or in the year before, but I think I did describe who this person was and the service they performed.
Mr. Lang: At this point, I will accept an undertaking for who we contracted, with the amounts and for how much last year.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would not be surprised if that is the only contract, but in any case, I will find the information for the Member.
Mr. Nordling: Before we go on, I thought the Minister said there was $130,000 in contracts and that the main one was with Jody White. Does the Minister have a breakdown of that $130,000, which I thought I heard him say was contracts?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sorry. Perhaps I misspoke myself, but it is a $37,000 contract. Perhaps I could give those numbers again just to make sure Members have them, without wasting the time of the House. Personnel costs are $163,200; travel costs - I am sorry; I may have calculated those wrongly, but the travel costs as I have them here, because we have reduced them, are $10,000 in this budget; contract services are $37,000; rental expenses are $8,500; supplies $5,000; postage and freight $2,500; advertising - I am sorry; this is again a case where we have reduced it to $500 from $2,000. That is a mistake. Program materials are $9,200; communications come to $21,700; and that makes the total of $258,000.
Federal Relations in the amount of $258,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $666,000 agreed to
Mr. Nordling: I have a question before we go on. We have just received a statement of duties of special counsel, which talks about that person assessing federal proposals and what the federal government is doing. The Minister said that Jody White performs the function of monitoring the federal government for us, too. Do those two positions overlap?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: They have not. If we were now dealing with the Meech Lake situation, for example, during the later days of the Meech Lake crisis, Jody White played an invaluable role in helping us gain access to certain federal people whom we wanted to lobby and gave us - I think - good advice about the thinking of various Ministers, various people in the federal Cabinet and various senior officials. The kind of advice that the special counsel provides is more in the nature of legal and constitutional analysis. The special counsel will, in fact, also do that in terms of scanning and scoping what the provinces are doing, what the thinking of the provincial premiers are, what some of the provincial Attorneys General are thinking, and what the Ministers of Constitutional Affairs are thinking.
Jody White will provide us with that kind of information on whatever the issue of the day is, whether it is a constitutional question or an economic one. We have consulted her on a wide range of questions when we are dealing with the federal government on something like the Northern Accord, the ANWR issue and the languages question - I remember dealing with her on that question. Those are a number of examples of the kinds of issues.
Constitutional Development, Devolution and Intergovernmental Affairs agreed to
On French and Aboriginal Language Services
On Operation and Maintenance
On French Language Program
French Language Program in the amount of $865,000 agreed to
On Aboriginal Language Program
Aboriginal Language Program in the amount of $1,394,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $2,259,000 agreed to
French and Aboriginal Language Services agreed to
On Bureau of Management Improvement
On Operation and Maintenance
On Internal Audit
Internal Audit in the amount of $365,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $365,000 agreed to
Bureau of Management Improvement agreed to
On Bureau of Statistics
Mr. Lang: I know that these people do a lot of work similar to those at the inquiry desk. I know there is a lot of good base information coming out of the bureau. It is of benefit to Members and to the general public and should be seen as such.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is no secret in this government, even going back to the days when I was in Opposition, that I was a great fan of the statistics bureau and the people who work there. I think we not only have an excellent statistics unit, better than governments many times larger than ours, but also that they are now doing innovative and pioneering work that will serve this territory very well in the years to come.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister a question about the bureau of statistics. There is a director, statistics officers, project supervisors and then there is urban and rural interviewers. Do they have a little statistics office in every rural community in the territory now?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. As I previously explained, when I made my first ministerial announcement about the labour force survey work, that would require us to have auxiliaries in a number of rural communities who would be doing periodic interviews to gather the Yukon data for the National Labour Force Survey, of which we are now part. As of the effective date, we will be included, for the first time, in the national statistics of employment rates. They are published periodically. This is a project underwritten by Canada.
There are a number of difficulties with collecting data and coordinating the activity of a large, relatively underpopulated area. It is not possible for us to employ full-time people, so we employ people who are on-call auxiliaries who work a few hours a month, gathering data in the communities that is included in the survey. This does not involve us setting up office functions. These are people who will probably work out of their homes and do the surveys as part-time employees.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us how much it is going to cost to do that? Is this a temporary situation? Does this just go on for the time that we participate in this national labour force survey? Could he be specific and give us the dates when it is going to take place and for how long?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me say to the Member that this is not temporary; it is permanent. The Yukon is now going to be included, from now on, in the national labour force statistics. The project - which I think last year cost a few thousand dollars but will, in the coming budget year, cost $117,000 - will be 100 percent funded by Statistics Canada. We will employ about 15 part-time auxiliary staff, in communities throughout the Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: Is Statistics Canada going to fund this forever? Is the funding permanent?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I just explained that that is the agreement. This is a Statistics Canada activity and we are, essentially, managing the project for them in the Yukon. This is a national survey, it is going to cost $117,000 and Statistic Canada is paying the bill.
On Operation and Maintenance
Administration/Management in the amount of $138,000 agreed to
Information/Publications in the amount of $165,000 agreed to
Method/Analytical in the amount of $729,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,032 agreed to
On Statistical Support Materials
Statistical Support Materials in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Surveys and Data Development
Surveys and Data Development in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Labour Force Survey Equipment
Labour Force Survey Equipment in the amount of nil agreed to
Capital in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Bureau of Statistics agreed to
On Office of the Commissioner
Mr. Lang: I had the opportunity to go to the reception the other evening for Project 92. As we know, the Commissioner was there and is taking a lead role as far as this particular function and festivity is concerned for the territory. I, for one, want to say that I appreciate it very much. It is well beyond the duties called for in the office of the Commissioner. I think he has done a good job with the neighbouring jurisdictions in trying to pull this thing together.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As Members know, in spite of the fact that the Commissioner is a federal appointee and, in some crude sense, a federal employee, on a number of occasions the Commissioner has been willing to carry out projects on behalf of this government, including on one occasion, at great personal sacrifice, he and his wife went to Japan on my behalf on a Tourism trade promotion. I actually filled in for the Commissioner at a speaking date in Juneau, instead. He thought that was a very good exchange.
The Commissioner has also served us well since the inception of Project 92 and in a number of other ways, as well. We are pleased to have that kind of working relationship with the Commissioners Office.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Office of the Commissioner
Office of the Commissioner in the amount of $130,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of nil agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishment?
Office of the Commissioner agreed to
On Cabinet Support
On Operation and Maintenance
Mr. Lang: The way I read the actual Cabinet support, there are now 19 personnel. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am told it is 18.
Ministers in the amount of $189,000 agreed to
On OIC Personnel
OIC Personnel in the amount of $1,132,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,321,000 agreed to
Cabinet Support agreed to
On Public Inquiries and Plebiscites
On Operation and Maintenance
On Public Inquiries
Public Inquiries in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Plebiscites in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Capital in the amount of nil agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on allotments or person year establishment? Are there any questions on grants or contributions?
Mrs. Firth: Before we clear the whole department, I would like to ask a question of the Minister, if I could. It is about the statement of duties that he gave me in the House this afternoon, relating to the job description for the special counsel of constitutional affairs.
I had expected something more in the way of a position description like everyone else in the government has. I believe other position descriptions consist of approximately nine pages, unlike the one that I have here, which is the working title of a student counsellor. I was looking for a statement of the purpose of the position, the duties and responsibilities, problem solving, decision making, freedom to act, financial accountability, management and supervision of human resources. This really is not a job or position description; it is a brief statement of duties for someone who is working at a Deputy Minister level and receiving quite a substantial salary. Would the Minister provide me with a complete job description?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not see why one should use nine pages to describe a persons duties if you can do it in one. It is true that the person we are talking about, the incumbent, was recruited as a Deputy Minister, still retains the Deputy Minister rank and has a full understanding of the responsibilities incumbent with that position. This is a special assignment to this talented individual. It is a special assignment reporting to me, in recognition of the fact that not only constitutional development questions, but indeed the constitutional future of Canada, requires the exclusive attention of a very senior and experienced official. I believe that the single-page statement provided to the Member succinctly describes the duties of this person in his present role quite well.
Mrs. Firth: I gather then from what the Minister is saying that this was not a job that was put out for competition, there were no other people considered and this job was given to this individual because of his special talents, as the Minister has said.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is correct. The need was identified for this kind of advice for the Premier and for Cabinet, and my colleagues and I recognized that we already had in our staff and in our senior management group a person who was capable of carrying out those duties.
Mrs. Firth: I can recall standing in the House and asking the Minister in his capacity as Government Leader about appointing Deputy Ministers, and he goes into this big, long tirade about how he has to advertise and people apply for the job and he does not just go to someone and give them the job. Then we turn around and he has gone to someone here and given them the job.
I do not understand why he does not have the same kind of job description requirements as every other employee in this government. It should be just as comprehensive as every other employees job description as opposed to just being this one-page statement of duties.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, the remarks the Member is making about my previous comments were, as I recall, in response to her suggestion that what she would do if she were Government Leader would be to just go out and talk to some of her friends and get them to become Deputy Ministers. I explained to her that that was not a procedure I followed, nor did any government that I know of in the country.
This is an entirely different situation in respect to someone who is inside the senior management group. As long as the person is willing, the Member may know that it becomes possible to reassign people to other duties. This is a very special task - a task that, I think, is not a permanent assignment; it is a task to deal with the current, rapidly developing constitutional situation, not only locally with respect to land claims and self-governments but also nationally in terms of the potential separation of Quebec and therefore a fundamental change - perhaps even the demise of our nation.
It is not a position that, like other senior management positions, involves supervision of large numbers of staff. It is not a position that involves the management of significant sums of money. It is a position that is to bring a certain kind of intellectual weight to bear on some of the most basic and important policy questions, to advise me and to advise Cabinet, to develop positions for me and for the government on the range of constitutional questions and, of course, to stay in touch with counterpart officials in the federal and provincial capitals so that we may know what the state of play on these constitutional issues is at any given moment.
It is, therefore, a significantly different position than one of a Deputy Minister or an assistant deputy minister who is a line manager. It does not require, in my view, the kind of job description that would go into a detailed exposition of the financial management, personnel responsibilities or interrelationships with other officials in the government structure.
Mrs. Firth: I want to begin my comments by saying that the Minister misquoted me, and he knows he did that.
The issue here is how this job was given and whether it is consistent or not with the policy of the government. I would like to know why this person is an employee, then. What the Minister is describing sounds more like someone who would be doing a consulting contract with the government. Perhaps the Minister could address that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If we were talking about a person with this kind of experience and education who was in the private sector, no doubt we would have an arrangement with him as a consulting contractor. We are sometimes criticized, I believe, even by the Member for Riverdale South, for spending money on consulting contracts. I do believe that if you have the skills available to you within the administration, as we do in this case, then it is quite proper that we make the best possible use of those skills.
Mrs. Firth: Again, the Minister has misquoted me, but I will not go into the details. He knows he has misquoted me.
This person was a Deputy Minister of Justice. He went out to the college for leave, then came directly back into this position. This position did not exist until this person came back. The Minister has to agree that it looks all very convenient. When was the Minister considering having this kind of position? When did they identify a need to have this intellectual weight here to be able to handle these constitutional affairs and all the other duties that have been listed on the statement of duties?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member asked when the need was identified. The need was first made clear to us in an indirect way the day after Meech Lake happened, when it became quite clear that we needed to call upon the skills of people like this in our public service, as well as to have senior people devoted to this issue, this policy area and this problem.
In my view, this was a case where we had a very good marriage of a person and a position, and the person was available to us at the time when we needed to create the position. We were very fortunate to be able to persuade Mr. Byers to take on this responsibility.
Mrs. Firth: I have one last point I wish to make. I can remember when that individual was just about to finish his education leave, or his special term at the military college. I asked the Minister in the House where he was going to go as he was going to be returning from his leave very shortly. The Minister did not know what job he was going to have and got quite annoyed with me for asking this question in the House. It is not as though there were years of planning and job hunting spent with respect to this position. The individual returned and it was just convenient, or a coincidence, that the job happened to be available in the special council. That persons education leave was finished and everything worked out quite nicely.
When circumstances present themselves in that way, it does present an opportunity for questions to be raised. It does look very convenient and coincidental.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, things did work out quite nicely. I think the Member is misquoting me - not for the first time, though. As I recall, what I took umbrage with was the notion that I could be discussing someone elses personnel prospects with the Member opposite before I discussed them with that person. That is something that I will never do.
Mr. Lang: I would remind the Minister that he was going to provide me with the number of personnel in the various corporations and the Workers Compensation Board. I do not believe I have received it yet. Has there been any increase in personnel? Would the Minister undertake to provide that information to me, as well as the staff complement and information we asked for earlier?
With that understanding, I am prepared to pass the budget.
IHon. Mr. Penikett: I did confirm last night that I will come back to the Member with that information.
Executive Council Office agreed to
Chair: We will move on to the Department of Education.
On Department of Education
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Department of Education estimates before you represent a total of $82,702,000, for both operation and maintenance and capital allocations. The department will continue a second year of implementation of the Education Act. As well, and of special significance, are the areas of special needs and curriculum development.
In addition, the department will be completing consultations on an implementation of the draft Yukon Training Strategy. Many new policies and initiatives have already been announced. We intend to provide a large degree of emphasis on the labour force development agreement obligations in the Yukon.
Our operation and maintenance estimates of $68,318,000 provide for an increase of three percent over the 1991-92 forecasted level.
Capital estimates of $14,384,000 represents a decrease from the 1991-92 forecast. That was due mainly to the anticipated completion of the Arts Centre, as well as partial completion of other public schools projects. I would like to highlight for Members some of the major accomplishments achieved by the department during the last fiscal year, which will have ongoing impact on the budget and plans for others for 1992-93.
The public schools division has sponsored the new teacher education program, which is currently being delivered at Yukon College, in addition to the native teacher education program, which is in its third year. The division also undertook a series of initiatives under the stay in school joint federal/Yukon program. The achievement culture environment service program has proven to be very successful in its second year of operation and we plan to expand it in the coming semester to grade 11.
Our curriculum branch continues its cautious implementation of the primary program, with close consultation with, of course, teachers, school councils and members of the Curriculum Advisory Committee. The division is currently planning for the hosting of the Circumpolar Conference on language development next spring.
The public schools division plans to carry out the following major activities in 1992-93: increased training and support for school councils, an implementation of a teacher exchange program with other circumpolar nations, provision of clerical support for school librarians, the pursuit and possible expansion of the federal/territorial stay in school initiative, the implementation of Yukon-specific curriculum, the articulation between the college and F.H. Collins and the possible development of co-op education programs, the implementation of a new behavior treatment program and the enhancing of counselling and assessment and general support services to students. On the capital side, the public schools division will continue its very ambitious and active program in facilities maintenance and construction. We look forward to the opening of three new schools: one is in Watson Lake, one is in Granger and one on the north highway north of Whitehorse.
In addition, planning will start for the replacement, or partial replacement at least, of the Grey Mountain Elementary School, the Mayo community education centre and construction of the new Porter Creek Catholic elementary school. The operation and maintenance budget of $49,040,000 for public schools represents an increase of five percent over the 1991-92 forecast. This is due to the addition of five positions and the impact of the collective agreements with the Yukon Government Employees Union and the Yukon Teachers Association. The five new positions have been allocated as follows: one for the new ACES 11 program and four positions for the new behavioural treatment program.
I would like to highlight briefly the capital activities in the public schools division for next year. The total capital budget for 1992-93 of $12,190,000 represents an 11 percent reduction from the 1991-92 forecast level of $13,767,000.
G.A. Jeckell School is expecting some expansion and upgrading this coming year to construct an addition at the north end of the school. Due to the urgency of the need for this project, it has been moved ahead one year.
Granger School will see final construction. It will be a 4,000 square metre school and will accommodate 350 students. The Members know quite a lot about this project, so I will tell them briefly that it appears to be on schedule.
The Mayo education centre will be in the second year of a four-year project. This coming year will involve the planning, designing and ultimately the construction of a public elementary school in Mayo to accommodate approximately 120 students, a public library and Yukon College.
F.H. Collins is slated for further upgrading and this will include a general upgrading of school finishes and more ventilation in the old wing. As well, there will be upgrading of windows.
Watson Lake Elementary School upgrade/expansion - I do not think that I need to say anything more about that, the Member for Watson Lake knows just about all there is to know. With one exception and that is that the shingles were part of the original design. We will pursue that later.
Grounds improvements is a standard item of $200,000; the installation of a computer lab at Christ the King Elementary School in the amount of $30,000; gymnasium floor upgrading of $100,000 is a large sum for upgrading the gym floor at F.H. Collins, but because the floor has been refinished so many times, it has come time to replace the gym floor and that is the reason for the very significant allocation in this particular area.
There are further capital projects and there are some that I know will be of interest to Members opposite, and I will wait for the line items to explain them further.
The advanced education division has been extremely active, as Members know, in addressing the labour force and the adult education needs of the Yukon. Initiatives that have been completed or underway include the finalization of the labour force development agreement with Canada, which I have announced in this sitting of the Legislature.
The draft Yukon Training Strategy has been completed, which I have also announced in the Legislature; the establishment of the Watson Lake training trust fund; the establishment of the coalition for literacy for the development of the Yukon literacy strategy. The implementation of the wilderness training programs, consultation on changes to the Students Financial Assistance Act and consultations on a land endowment act for Yukon College.
The branch plans to undertake further major initiatives in the 1992-93 year. There is the implementation of the bachelor of social work program, which I have announced and the implementation of corrections officer training, volunteer training and the development of a permanent wilderness guide training program.
Furthermore, there will be development of further training trust funds in conjunction with both labour and industry, as well as the completion of the Students Financial Assistance Act for introduction into the Legislature this coming spring.
Planned operation and maintenance expenditures of $15,682,000 for the 1992-93 year for Advanced Education show a decrease of $597,000 over the 1991-92 forecast. This is mainly due to the temporary elimination of the departments contribution for the land claims training trust fund, which is balanced by the increases for the implementation of a new bachelor of social work program, literacy program, wilderness guide training program, and a corrections officer training program. I will explain that further in general debate, or whenever the Members wish.
The capital estimates for advanced education for the 1992-93 year of $1,640,000 includes $200,000 for community campus construction and another $200,000 - which represents a five percent increase over last year - for furniture and equipment at Yukon College. An additional $1,240,000 is requested for the costs associated with the soft and hard landscaping around Yukon Place.
The libraries and archives division will continue its emphasis on increasing access and the level of services for Whitehorse facilities and community libraries. The branch will increase its books and audio visual collection by $100,000 and is currently implementing an automation project for its entire collection.
The expanded library space in Whitehorse will house more books, more videos and new youth and childrens programming.
The operations budget for the libraries and archives branch of $1,979,000 is an increase of seven percent over the 1991-92 forecast amount of $1,856,000. A major part of this increase can be attributed to the impact of the collective agreement, the introduction of the new youth and childrens programming, and increases in contribution agreements to community library boards.
The principal capital activity in libraries and archives, of course, will be the completion of the renovations and expansion of the Whitehorse Public Library in the amount of $375,000 for the coming year.
In the finance and administration branch, the requested operation and maintenance budget for 1992-93 represents an increase of $183,000 over the forecasted 1991-92 expenditures. The majority of the increase is for the Yukon Arts Centre boards full year of operations, and the remainder is due to the Yukon Government Employees Union collective agreement. There is no increase in staff.
The total expenditure recoveries for 1992-93 of $2,651,000 are the result of a decrease of $311,000 from the 1991-92 main estimates. This is due to reductions in the French language bilateral agreement and a termination of a secondment agreement with Alberta.
Revenues for 1992-93 show an increase of $10,000, due to an anticipated increase in revenues from libraries and archives photocopy service.
That is a brief, thumbnail sketch of what is happening in the department. There are other things that I would be more than happy to explain and expand upon at length.
While I am standing here, I will take the opportunity to respond to a couple of things that Members raised during the supplementary estimates.
A Member asked a question respecting Yukon Colleges lease for space in Teslin, and I indicated that I would explore the matter with the college and come back with an answer. The information I have is that a signed lease is expected in the very near future. The college has accepted responsibility for some leasehold improvements and has agreed to pay the band a monthly rate, over three years, to cover those improvements.
The proposed lease, when and if signed, will expire at the end of November 1995.
There was some discussion about cedar shingles at the Watson Lake High School. The information I have is that this roofing material was part of the originally designed school and no changes have been made with respect to the roofing. I have been told that it is in full compliance with applicable building codes and regulations, and I have been given an indication from officials in Community and Transportation Services that the type of brush fire the Member mentioned having taken place near Oakland, California, is very rare in the Yukon and is not considered to be a hazard to building construction. So the Member for Riverdale North, whose house is covered with cedar shingles, can take comfort in that reassurance.
One Member asked a question respecting the Arts Centre Corporation and the selection of the director. I put the question to the Arts Centre Corporation and the chair of the corporation replied to me in writing, and I will table his reply.
Mr. Devries: Before I begin my line of questioning, I would like to ask the Minister if the Yukon College president and board of governors is going to appear before us because, as the Minister might be aware, Yukon College indicated that they were developing a program development strategy. I have been given a copy of it and, after leafing through it, I had quite a few questions regarding the direction the college is going in. I think it is important to have them here so we can address that question with them personally. I understand that the Minister maintains an arms length distance from the college.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Minister knows anything about my relationship with Yukon College, he will know that it is not only cordial but it is arms length. The College Act, which I introduced in this House, makes reference to the college not being subject to the Financial Administration Act and it not being an agent of the government. Clearly, it does have a large measure of independence. There are ongoing projects we work on together; we have advanced education in the college, which calls for regular liaison between the department and the college administration. I do have regular contact with the chair of the board, and I have had the opportunity to visit the board in the last year.
There is some need to ensure that the services that are provided by the college and those that are provided by the Department of Educations advanced education branch are coordinated. We do our best to make sure that happens.
I will ask the college to appear before the Committee, as has happened in the past, because I assume that we will be in the Education estimates on Monday, as well.
There will be opportunity, if they can make themselves available to come and visit us on Monday sometime. If for some reason they cannot, I am certain that we can hold over discussions until they can come before us.
I would like to point out to the Member that the college is very open to answering questions from Members and have shown a very respectful relationship with all Members in this House. I would suspect that they would be more than happy to answer any questions that the Member wishes to put to them, if the Member wants to set up an appointment or give them a call. Certainly, the president of the college, as I am sure the Member knows, is a very approachable person. For the purposes of getting some comments on the record, I will ask that they do come and join us for an hour or two.
Mr. Devries: I had a meeting with the president of Yukon College on Monday, so I am fairly up-to-date on some of the things that have been happening there. Again, at times, you get a different perspective when you speak to some of the members of the board themselves. Perhaps the board can also put some lobbying pressure on the whole Legislature for funding, if they need it.
There was one thing that came up during discussions at the college that I found very interesting, and this is in regard to the space allocations at the college. My understanding is that if someone went in and looked at the structure, they would find that only 40 percent of the college is actually usable space.
We have a huge structure worth $55 million - depending upon whom you talk to; I do not have an exact figure but we have a huge college that costs millions of dollars - and yet only 40 percent is usable space. Of this 40 percent, only 40 percent is classroom space. Basically, you are looking at less than a quarter of space for the whole college that is actually classroom space. I was involved with the building committee of the Watson Lake School and I was walking through that the other day. I also recognize that perhaps it looks very nice when you have all of the big hallways, but realistically, to get value for dollars, perhaps you have to look at trying to make things a little more compact and useful and to try and build more usable square feet for your dollar.
Eventually, all this castle building is going to come to an end, so to speak. I am not saying I have anything against building schools and so on. Even in Watson Lake, I believe we may be getting a little too carried away in trying to make something very nice rather than very practical. If the Minister has any comments on that, I would appreciate them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Of course, I have some comments on it. I think, to an extent and in the nicest possible way, the Member has thrown down a bit of a gauntlet, and I feel obligated to respond obviously.
First of all, I am glad the Member has had a meeting with the president of the college. It will mean, consequently, that I am sure I can indicate to the board that we will not have to spend a lot of time in the Legislature; the Member will have some questions he will want to put to board members and board members will respond, providing whatever information they can.
The comments the Member made with respect to usable space at the college is certainly a matter of public record. The design of the original college facility was done with very, very, very extensive, very thorough consultation with the staff of the college. I would venture to say that the college staff got a lot of what they wanted out of that facility. There was also public consultation, and I would say that, no matter what people think of the facility, certainly there was a great deal more participation by virtually everyone else than there was by me, even though I was responsible for the project, because it was going to be a community facility and because the people who were expected to know best were the ones who were involved in the design. At that time, I even recall there being public demands that the Minister keep his grubby hands off all the design of this facility, because it was important that others be involved.
This was accommodated and I guess, to an extent, the people who were involved in the original design have now gone on to other things. I am still standing here with that college facility.
Now, having said that, I think that the college facility is a fantastic facility and I think that, despite the fact that some of the space could be used more efficiently - meaning more hard classrooms, more space that is exclusively focused on teacher/student relationship - there are features of that college that make it livable. The pit area, for example, when you come in through the front door, and the staircase up to the second floor, have often been cited as an example of a nice feature but not the optimal use of space. I think we could put in something that is extraordinarily functional, a la Soviet Union functional: a concrete block with not an inch wasted and all of it made of square boxes. We could have been happy that we had not wasted any space at all, but we could not feel quite so proud of the facility. The facility might not have been so livable.
There were some design tradeoffs that we had to obviously take into account. Even though I acknowledge the general proposition that there is space at the college that is not usable - there are wide hallways; there are spacious staircases; there are some classrooms that are fully dedicated to a particular program area, with state-of-the-art equipment and everything else - I think that was a very conscious decision made at the time, and I still support the general intent of those decisions.
That was how it was then and I do not back off from supporting it now.
I am sure that the president will have told the Member that the classroom space is not being used to full capacity. As I recall, dedicated classrooms were used on average six hours per day. Anyone who has been to a college or university institution will know that sometimes classes will go from eight in the morning until eight at night. Through the process of rescheduling, there is obviously still some excess capacity there that can be used up. Tighter scheduling is a very common feature in institutions like this. There is no reason that instructors should have their own classroom for their own program. There has to be sharing, guaranteed.
The college has indicated to me that it will be doing a space analysis of their facility, to be submitted sometime late next spring or early next summer. This analysis will take into account all factors that are relevant to the equation, and will provide some sense of where they would like to go with respect to space.
I think that it is important to point out that one of the problems we face, is, in fact, a delicious problem to have. This college facility was originally designed for so many students. At the time we made the decision to build the facility, we anticipated far fewer students than it has now. The college is now facing a rush to take advantage of its services.
One in five Yukon adults attends Yukon College, either part-time or full time. That is an incredible statistic. It reflects a real respect for what the institution has to offer. It would be nice to have just the right amount of space dedicated in the proper manner, but if we are going to have any problems associated with space, I would rather have problems with overcrowding.
That has been the case in that the enrollment has skyrocketed in the last few years. The issue is being addressed and analyzed. We will be in a better position to indicate how we should respond to construction if that is the response next spring.
There are other things that will have to be considered, such as the use of other space. The college has access to Closeleigh Manor; that is, the space that was the career services centre is now classroom space for the college.
I am not opposed to seeing something happen in Whitehorse that happens routinely in the rural communities, and that is that classroom space in schools is used regularly for adult classes and by community organizations. There is no reason in the world that the hundreds of classrooms in Whitehorse should simply be vacant throughout the early and late evening. I would be more than amenable to the concept of sharing some of that space if there are some obvious needs.
To respond to the Members comments about castle-building, I think some of the building we are doing now is going to last well into the future. It is a reflection of the interests of the parents and the community people who have taken part in the design of the facilities. Robert Service School is a good example. The Watson Lake School and Granger School are good examples of ones where there has been a fair amount of community participation in the design, so that it is very much a reflection of the interests of the people who were involved. They will be able to take comfort that their thoughts and aspirations in the late 1980s will be carried over for decades to come, because these are not temporary facilities. They will be around long after we are dead and gone.
Mr. Devries: One other aspect of the college in which the Board of Education is quite involved is the development of the bachelor of social work program the Minister announced a little while ago. My understanding is that when the native teachers education program and some of the other programs were developed, the board of governors and the leadership of the college were concerned that they did not have enough involvement and input into some of those courses and, if something went wrong, it would reflect on the credibility of the college - naturally, if things went right, they would jump at taking credit for everything.
My understanding is that more dialogue was established on this last course, and I am very happy to see that. Several people have mentioned to me the way some of the other programs had been developed, where not much dialogue took place between the Department of Education and the college; it was just pushed upon them, and they basically had to go along with what the Department of Education had decided.
Maybe I am being a little too harsh, but that is the impression I have gained over the past three years of discussing this. Does the Minister have any comments on this?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do. I presume the Member is making a claim that they have complained to him that they have not had sufficient participation in the development of the teacher education programs. I am surprised at that complaint, and I will take it up with the president and chair of the board when I have the next opportunity.
First of all, those two programs were originally paid for by the public schools branch in order to encourage more teacher education in the Yukon. The public schools branch budgeted for the full development and ongoing maintenance of these two programs and could easily have run them without the college at all. It was felt, though, that it would be beneficial to the college to be able to share the resources associated with the development and delivery of these programs, so that there could be some collegiality between the instructors of these programs and those of the northern studies and the academic transfer programs.
The development of the teacher education programs was done in concert with two universities that had very specific and rigorous criteria it was necessary we all comply with or they would not have sanctioned or accredited these graduates.
We felt that it was absolutely inappropriate to develop programs that were good only for the Yukon. We felt that there should be accreditation that was portable - meaning that they could carry it to other jurisdictions. So, when people graduate from the Yukon native teachers education program, they will be carrying a University of Regina degree. When they graduate from the Yukon teacher education program, they will be taking certification from the University of British Columbia.
This was an important feature. Much of the design of the programs was essentially dictated, if you can use that term, by the universities involved.
As the Department of Education and Yukon College have become more familiar with the delivery of post-secondary and university-level programming, it is, of course, easier at this stage to pass over the baton at an earlier stage of development, than it was a few years ago when the college was still taking on the responsibilities of managing its own affairs, let alone managing university level course work that led to a degree. I feel more confident now that, when it comes to the development of a bachelor of social work program, or when it comes to the initiation of other training projects, that the government wishes the college to sponsor - and if the college agrees - the college will do a masterful job of putting the programs together, because there is a track record now.
Chair: The Committee of the Whole will now recess.
Mr. Devries: The Minister mentioned today that, last year, there was a joint venture training agreement in Watson Lake with the Sa Dena Hes mine, the Kaska Nation and Yukon College. I was upset with the Minister for not inviting me to the unveiling. We will blame it on his staff, unless he did not want me there.
I would like to get a copy of that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Sure.
Mr. Devries: Last year, several times, the Minister promised to keep me updated on any curriculum that was developed. I understand a textbook was recently unveiled. I received an invitation to attend this at CYI but could not make it. I believe it was developed jointly with curriculum development, CYI and some other organization. Could I get a copy of that textbook?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will do the Member a favour. Within the next few minutes, I will ask for a copy of the textbook to be brought down and I will send it over right away. The inauguration of this book was organized by the Council for Yukon Indians, who took great ownership of this particular project. A working committee between the curriculum development branch, the Yukon Teachers Association and the Council for Yukon Indians was struck to work with the author, Julie Cruickshank, to produce a history of the Yukon that predates the gold rush and the introduction of European explorers to the Yukon.
It introduces the wide new world of aboriginal history of thousands of years to Yukon students from the perspective of aboriginal people, as well as from the more traditional perspectives, when it comes to social sciences and the sciences themselves. It gives a nice balanced perspective of how things were prior to our more immediate history, but from a very understanding and sympathetic perspective to the aboriginal culture, customs, history and traditions.
It is a very popular project and a very marvelous product. This will be the text for grades nine and 10, at least, to ensure that their understanding of the Yukon is not as limiting an experience as it might have been without it.
Mr. Devries: I appreciate that quick action and I will be very interested in reading it. Those are some areas that really interest me.
Are the majority of full-time students attending Yukon College funded through advanced education, to a certain degree?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The students who attend Yukon College could be funded any number of ways. They could be funded through Canada Employment, through the sponsorship of seats; they can receive funding from Indian Affairs if they qualify for that funding; they can receive the Yukon grant if they have taken two years of high school in the Yukon, or they can receive the Yukon training allowance if they do not qualify for any of the other funds. I am not sure whether they qualify for Canada student loans, but I am under the impression that they do.
Mr. Devries: With respect to the ongoing land claims negotiations, has it been established what the native representation will be on the various councils? Is that negotiated with each council individually?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That has been negotiated with each council individually. Those band councils that have expressed an interest can have guaranteed representation. Not all band councils have expressed such an interest. We have responded to a few. I can get a list if the Member would like. The results vary community by community. In no case is the guaranteed representation greater than the percentage population of the Indian students in the school.
Mr. Devries: That is interesting. The teaching staff person years have been juggled around in the numbers game. The reasoning behind that was that the teachers are more under the jurisdiction of the school councils. I believe that was the way that he mentioned it.
As the councils assume more and more authority over the teachers - I guess, it is not really authority at this point - would we be cutting back in the administrative staff in the hierarchy of the Department of Education at the Old Yukon College building? Are we going to see a decline in the administration component as more and more responsibilities are turned over to the councils?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think I am grasping the gist of the Members representation or question.
The role that the school councils will be assuming is a role that provides for more control of the school operations for which they are responsible. So they will have very specific school-based responsibilities. They will have control over the hiring of the principal. They will have responsibility for the approval of the school operational plan and all school policies. They will have control over the discretionary elements of the schools operational budget - not the salary dollars. Those are the kinds of control that the school council will have.
A school board, on the other hand, which is anticipated in the Education Act, will have more responsibilities: responsibilities for management of employees. When those responsibilities are turned over to school boards, there will be a transfer of resources from the department to the school boards, depending on the number of school boards and the measure of responsibilities that they cumulatively take over, depending upon how many schools are under one board.
It is virtually impossible to anticipate what that will be, but when the college was devolved, a large amount of funding was devolved from, not only the Department of Education, but from the Public Service Commission, from the Department of Finance and even from the Department of Justice.
Ultimately, if there is the devolution of school councils to school boards, then there will most certainly be reallocation of certain staff within the Department of Education. When it comes to such areas as curriculum development, there will, of course, still be an exclusive role played by the department to develop new curriculum units. There may also be more opportunity for the school boards themselves to develop local curriculum units, as permitted under the act. That would have to be negotiated and discussed when school boards are developed. It would very much depend upon what configuration of schools would be assumed under a single board.
Mr. Devries: Since the Member for Hootalinqua brought up the subject of busing on the Carcross Road, I have also received several calls from some of the teachers and people from rural communities who are concerned about whether or not it is legal to have teachers driving students home after extra-curricular activities. Can they continue to do this without any problems with the motor vehicles branch? It is very unclear.
They have read the media reports on what has actually happened there and they are confused. They would like some clarification on that .
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Good grief, we would not want to depend on the media reports to tell us what is happening with respect to this situation.
It is my position that the services that we provide now, the services that do take place around the territory, where teachers drive vans - the wilderness ACES program is a good example of this - with students in them, to various functions or part as of their programming, or as extra-curricular trips, are legal services that are legally accommodated under our legislation.
We have sufficient insurance, even more than is provided for by our contractors who provide the more traditional school busing service. We take great care to ensure that people are well qualified to perform this service.
I do not know what would happen to our school system if, for some reason, somebody took a rather loony interpretation of the Motor Transport Act, to suggest that all of the activity that has gone on for years and years in this territory - all of the volunteer activity, even - is somehow, because of a complaint about one situation, now illegal.
The legal advice that I have with respect to this matter is very clear. That advice is that there is a feeling that the Motor Transport Act does not bind the government. It is important to point out, as I mentioned in Question Period, that it does not bind any contractors who contract with the government, either. That is the reason why our major contractor, Diversified Transportation, has not sought any permits from the Motor Transport Board for operation.
The suggestion that it is illegal is, in our view, wrong, completely and utterly 100 percent wrong. The situation that we must face, however, is that the Motor Transport Board has taken the position that a permit is required, and we intend to challenge that contention.
The service provided around the territory is safe, whether it be like this one or whether it be on a volunteer basis for extra curricular activity, or otherwise, and we will go to great lengths to ensure that there are no further disruptions to this kind of service or, in particular, to the service for the Carcross school students.
Mr. Devries: It might be wise for the Minister to write a letter to the various school councils and schools just to inform the teachers that basically nothing has changed. I have received several calls about it and some of the people are concerned. It is a volunteer service that is very important to a lot of the kids. In the Watson Lake area, for instance, at Two Mile and Two-and-a-Half Mile, there are a lot of parents who do not have cars and the only way their children can get to sporting events is if teachers pick them up on their way to the school and drop them off on the way back - things like that. I think it is very important that we do everything we can to accommodate them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Despite the fact that the busing budget for the Yukon government has literally doubled, and the number of buses have doubled since 1985, the system absolutely depends, and continues to depend, on volunteer activity by parents and teachers. Without that, I think the system would become not only very rigid, but it would become extraordinarily expensive to maintain the same services that are provided now. That would be an incredible shame.
I can commit absolutely to the Member that we will do whatever we can and whatever is possible to ensure that this situation will not come about again. It is difficult for me to respond, in the sense that we do believe we have a legal service. We do believe that everything is legally and properly sanctioned. We are quite frankly dumbfounded that this event has occurred.
Mr. Phelps: I wanted to get into the involved general debate at this time with respect to a letter to the Minister from the building advisory committee of the north highway elementary school, dated December 2.
In that letter to the Minister, concern is being expressed about the size of the school. To quote briefly from it, From our inception as an advisory committee, we have urged the Department of Education to include in the present construction the extra classrooms for which the plans allow. We are convinced that our school will otherwise be over crowded - if not at its opening, then soon thereafter. The comfortable capacity at which the department suggests the school will open will, we feel, be stretched to full capacity with just the present development of Hidden Valley. The letter goes on later to say, ...we argue that there is an immediate need to construct the additional classrooms and that this necessary expansion would be comparatively inexpensive, if included with the present construction underway.
There are several questions. May we have your commitment, in writing, to our community that our new school in McPherson will not be over crowded nor that our children will be bused to prevent the over crowding we foresee. Will you guarantee in writing that another new school will be provided to prevent over crowding prior to the development our government proposes in our area. Finally, may we meet with you this week to resolve these urgent issues of the need for an elected school council for the north highway and added classroom space to be constructed now.
Has the Minister met with that committee, or is he going to?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I met with the committee yesterday afternoon for about one hour. We discussed that matter and the other matters that were addressed, which included the timing of council or committee elections for the north highway school.
The one area where I could not provide satisfaction was to guarantee, in writing, that some future government would absolutely build another school prior to further land development. I told them that, while I could, it would not mean anything, because I cannot guarantee that I will be in this position five, 10 or even 20 years down the road. I did not want to tell them that I did not want to be in this position five, 10 or 20 years down the road.
Nevertheless, I did take the issue about extra classrooms very seriously. It appears that, since the design was originally struck, the growth at Jack Hulland School in September was, again, beyond what was expected.
Apparently much of that growth took place from north highway residents - at least this is the contention that the parents made. I am having the matter of the demographics checked, to ensure that we are all working from the same information and feel comfortable with it. Following that, if that contention is in fact true and does justify the construction of more classrooms, it would obviously be preferable to build those classrooms now, rather than wait until after the contractor, who is on the site now, is demobilized.
There is the one problem, of course, and that is the need to find the necessary funds. If we all agree that there is a need, there still has to be the search for funds, and I will have to find what opportunities there may be in my budgets to accommodate this request.
I want to point out that when the school was originally designed, it was designed with an activity room. The building advisory committee requested a full-size gym. That request was looked into carefully, as this one will be. We were able to accommodate that earlier request by finding money from within our budget to do it, so we have already been able to accommodate escalating requests by the building advisory committee, and if they made a good case, we would do what we can to accommodate them in the coming year. If we cannot find the money, then I will certainly make that clear to them and indicate the reasons why.
Mrs. Firth: I have a general question for the Minister. In the Education department, there is now an activity called human resources, but I do not see it shown anywhere in the budget. I noticed it in the phone directory when I was looking at the new structures of the directory. Could the Minister tell me why it is not here? I do not see it under any administration line or program activity at all.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Human resources is a term personnel officers like to give themselves: managers of human resources. I realize this is an old term; it has probably only been in use for two or three years, and it is not a term I particularly prefer. Nevertheless, it is the personnel branch of finance and personnel. If the Member would turn to page 138 of the budget book, she will see a line item under operation and maintenance, finance and personnel. That would be the personnel branch, who call themselves the human resources office.
Mrs. Firth: The other department is included on their organization charts. I am wondering why this one was not. Is it a new section or area, or has it been there before? It was not identified in the phone directory before.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, after today, I think we are going to have to have a new look at the phone directory, because that seems to be where we are getting our budget information.
The finance administration branch of the department has always had a personnel section. The personnel section staff are now calling themselves human resource managers, and we let them do that because that is what they want. The person years, positions and the functions have not changed; only the name has changed.
Look at the Department of Education organization chart on page 137, under finance and administration, and break that out into finance. Then look on page 138; it is set out in administration, finance and personnel. The personnel section is the human resource section.
Mrs. Firth: The point that should be made is that it would probably be a good idea to keep the terminology consistent, so that these types of questions are not created.
On Operation and Maintenance
Mr. Devries: I missed the Ministers opening statement, so I have to assume he gave us a breakdown of what had changed there, because there is a 14 percent increase.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The major items that have increased in this area are the collective agreement increases, as well as the operation and maintenance for the new Arts Centre.
If the Member wants to look down at the bottom of the page with respect to allotments, he will see it is the same money that is under operation and maintenance but it is broken down differently under personnel, other and transfer payments. I can give the Member some indication of what the increases are there for, if he wants.
In personnel, there is $119,000 that incorporates an increase due to the collective agreement for both the administration portion and the finance and personnel portion. Under the O&M other allotment, it shows a decrease due to less travel within the Yukon by employees of the department and not as much budgeted for services contracts.
The increase of $110,000 in the transfer payment allotment is due to the increased payment for a full years operation of the Arts Centre board. As well, there is also the membership in the Canadian Education Association of $6,000 incorporated in there.
A decrease in capital personnel allotments, in other, is the expected completion of the Arts Centre. I have just explained all the changes of allotments.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister has gone back to the 1991-92 forecast and explained a little bit of it, but I would like him to comment on the fact that the administration actual, back in 1991-92, was only $610,000, and now we are up to $938,000. In total, from $1,070,000 to $1,617,000, we are talking about a $500,000 increase in the last two years. That is in administration, finance and personnel.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have my budgets for previous years, but I think that one of the significant items is $368,000 for the Arts Centre. That shows under transfer payments. It is $374,000 here in the budget, and that also includes the Canadian Education Association membership of $6,000. The major increase in this area has clearly been the Arts Centre. One would have to roll in the collective agreement increases that we have just approved, and that would account for the major portion of it. Obviously, the personnel have not increased. My explanation would account for, by far, the vast majority of it.
Administration in the amount of $938,000 agreed to
On Finance and Personnel
Finance and Personnel in the amount of $679,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,617,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration agreed to
On Public Schools
Chair: Is there general debate on public schools?
On Operation and Maintenance
Mr. Devries: I am assuming that this amount is due in part to the collective agreement and that is the reason for the increase of 13 percent.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason for the increase is the YTA and the YGEU allotments throughout the public schools branch.
I also indicated that there is an increase of five positions in public schools. One position was for the wilderness education program. The other one was for the special education treatment program that I announced in the Legislature.
There have been a number of things that have decreased and increased. I will give the Member a list of these. There has been a decrease of $250,000 for travel in and out of the Yukon. Some of that has been offset by an increase in the transfer payment allotment, as some of the funds dedicated for travel were dedicated to professional development.
It is transferred to YTA and then managed by a committee of government and YTA.
There was an increase, of course, in honoraria for school councils, of $42,000; a decrease of $282,000 in contract services; a decrease of $3,200 in repairs and maintenance; a decrease of $4,500 in rental expenses; and an increase of $23,500 in supplies; a decrease of $142,000 in teacher relocations; a decrease of $4,300 in advertising; a decrease of $141,000 in program materials; an increase of $11,500 in utilities for the schools; an increase of $3,880 in telephones for schools; a decrease of $145,000 in other miscellaneous items throughout the $49 million budget; an increase of $429,000 in support for professional development under the YTA collective agreement - under the transfer payment allotment; an increase of $132,000 in the transfers to school councils, which I announced earlier; and an increase of $6,349 in the Yukon teachers education program.
There is an increase of $35,000 in student accommodation due to fewer students in private accommodations. That is a branch-wide explanation.
Mr. Devries: How many teachers do we have out on educational leave right now? I understand there is a program where they can have their salary deferred for two years, and I believe the third year they take 75 percent of their salary and the government picks up the other 25 percent.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the exact number of people on educational leave, or under what categories they are on leave. There is the deferred-salary leave plan and there is also the sabbatical. Historically, four teachers have been givensabbatical leave, in which case they receive full salary, I believe, for a full year. Of course, there are other teachers on leave of absence without pay.
I will undertake to bring back a list of those teachers on Monday.
Administration in the amount of $3,830,000 agreed to
On Program Delivery
Program Delivery in the amount of $34,899,000 agreed to
On Program Support and Development
Mr. Devries: Would this include curriculum development or is that in a another area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe that is in this area.
Program Support and Development in the amount of $2,033,000 agreed to
On French Language Program
French Language Program in the amount of $1,351,000 agreed to
On Special Programs
Special Programs in the amount of $1,241,000 agreed to
On Facilities and Transportation
Facilities and Transportation in the amount of $5,686,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $49,040,000 agreed to
On Facility Construction and Maintenance
On G.A. Jeckell - Expansion/Renovation
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As indicated in the supplementaries, we budgeted some planning funds of $50,000 to plan for the expansion of Jeckell school. The expansion consists of a couple of classrooms and some miscellaneous renovations to the existing school. That also includes a small office. This is as a result of the expanding population in the area and the needs identified by not only the school council, but by the department.
G.A. Jeckell - Expansion/Renovation in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Granger - Construct Elementary School
Granger - Construct Elementary School in the amount of $2,200,000 agreed to
On Mayo Community School
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated in my opening remarks, this is for the design stage of the replacement to J.V. Clark School. It will accommodate, not only the school, but probably the library and other services that the building advisory committee feels they can include in the overall cost.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister give us an indication of what the projected costs of that particular school will be?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pretty certain that it is incorporated into the budget in the long range plan. It is $7,400,000.
Mr. Lang: There has been a decline in school population there, has there not? I think there are 85 students. Is that correct? Does this figure still stand, even though there is this decline in the school population?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We will still build it for 120 students, anticipating that there will be a growth in the student population one day. It will still be a K to 12 school; there will still be college space; there will still be a community library. It will be an education centre.
Mr. Lang: I would like to go back to the Granger School, if I could, and the estimates there of $8.8 million. Can the Minister verify that there will be significant overruns over and above this forecast figure?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know of significant overruns. Some extra work was done on the sub-base to deal with some groundwater problems, but I do not know that that is going to cause the significant overruns that the Member mentions.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister verify that there are significant problems with the initial plans that were issued for tender and subsequently changed as the building proceeded?
Could the Minister bring back that information? It has to do with the plans and perhaps some of the architectural differences.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Madam Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 19.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move 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 the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1992-93, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Webster: 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. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled in the House December 5, 1991:
Economic Impact of the 1992 Arctic Winter Games (Byblow)