Monday, December 9, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling two annual reports. One is the Motor Transport Board report for the year 1990-91, and the second is the Fire Marshalls report for the year 1990.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a couple of documents for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Hon. Ms. Joe: I give notice of motion.
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, accord to Mr. David Brekke and Ms. Rosemarie Blair-Smith the right to be members of the Yukon Human Rights Commission.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Community Contract Policy
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to inform the House of a new initiative aimed at promoting local employment and developing stable economics in rural Yukon communities.
Through its new community contracting policy, this government will use its purchasing power to promote economic development in the Yukons communities. The policy directs government departments to purchase goods and services in the communities where they will be used, whenever possible.
The community contracting policy supports this governments decentralization initiative. Besides moving people and jobs into the communities, the Yukon government is taking steps to ensure that community-based businesses receive a fair share of government contracts. The Yukon government will encourage the development of community-based businesses by purchasing from local suppliers more of the goods and services it needs to carry out programs in rural Yukon communities.
The Department of Government Services has taken a lead in developing this initiative and has suggested guidelines to help other government departments implement the policy. The department has also given greater contracting authority to its own community-based employees and recommends that other departments do the same.
Government Services regional offices in Watson Lake, Haines Junction and Dawson City are developing communications with business organizations and contractors in all Yukon communities to help local businesses anticipate government needs. At the present time, our regional managers are coordinating community source lists and setting up purchasing agreements to make it easier for government departments to do business in the communities.
Government Services is working to ensure that the needs of local businesses are considered when contracting decisions are made, and has made a number of suggestions in its guidelines for departments. For example, there is a need for advance planning to give local businesses the opportunity to meet government requirements. By anticipating government needs, businesses will be able to spread their work out to provide steady employment for local workers. Also, there is a need for government to match the size of contracts to the capacity of community-based businesses to meet our requirements.
The community contracting policy was developed in consultation with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and local chambers and incorporates their suggestions. Consultations with Yukon business and community interest groups will continue as the policy is implemented.
Through its community contracting policy, this government intends to give community businesses the opportunity to compete for government business on a fair and equitable basis. The policy will ensure that community benefits are considered when government purchasing decisions are made. It is a clear demonstration that the Yukon government is willing to do business in our communities.
Mr. Phillips: We, on this side, are pleased to see that the government is taking this initiative. We feel it is a bit like the gestation period of an elephant: it has taken six and one-half years for it to come about.
We raised this issue many times in the past in this House about purchasing locally in the communities where possible. We are getting closer to another election so we are hearing about all these new programs arriving daily from the government now. I would be very interested to see the actual policy as laid out by the government, and we support the initiative that government should purchase locally whenever possible.
Mrs. Firth: The concept and intention of this policy announcement and the initiative the government is taking is certainly a motherhood issue that we support. However, I would like to reserve comment with respect to the details of the policy until I have had a chance to read the details. I understand the Minister has just tabled that today, when he stood up to table documents.
I have not had a chance to look through it yet. It is about four pages long. We will probably be commenting on the specifics of the policy then.
I was going to ask the Minister to table it, so I thank the government for tabling the policy for us. We will have a look at it, specifically to see what the guidelines are, what the community contracting policy is going to be and what the contracting authorities are going to be. We look forward to analyzing that.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Indian land claim
Mr. Lang: I would like to deal with an issue that has been before us for a lot of years. It is the question of the resolution of the Indian land claims. Some information was made available this past weekend to the public about some of the information contained within the general self-government agreement.
As all Members know, there has been a lack of specifics on the negotiations made available over the past number of years.
I would like to ask the Government Leader when he is going to table the general self-government agreement.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The agreement made among the three parties was that once all three parties agreed, it would be tabled. It was understood that it would go to the Cabinet and some Ministers of the territorial and federal governments before that would happen.
We have no apprehension, ourselves, about tabling the documents, but we want to do it according to the agreements with the other parties. I cannot give the Member a precise date. As he knows, we have already begun briefings on the subject. As we move into public briefings in the weeks ahead, it will be necessary not only to have those documents but also some supplementary information to help the general public understand them.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister give the undertaking that, prior to any public briefings, this particular self-government document will be made public and available to the public long enough before the public briefings for people to have an understanding of what they are dealing with?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: From my past experience, the best way to introduce the actual document is sometimes in a public briefing. The Member is suggesting it should be available in advance. It is a matter of opinion about whether some people will be better enriched by the briefing if they have read the document in advance, or if people are led through the document by someone who has participated in the negotiations.
Needless to say, it would be our objective to make the actual documents available as part of the public briefings. At this point, I cannot comment on which will come first, or whether they will come together.
Mr. Lang: There is a question of ratification. My understanding is that the Council for Yukon Indians ratified the umbrella agreement, as well as the self-government agreement, this past week. At the same time, the ratification of the four final agreements has been left open.
Could the Minister inform the House what ratification process is going to be undertaken for the beneficiaries of the land claim?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are two points: firstly, the four First Nations who have a final agreement and model self-government agreements will individually have to ratify those agreements by the democratic processes within their First Nation, however they choose to do that. Those are final agreements for each of those First Nations. As well, both the federal and territorial governments, at the Cabinet level, will have to ratify those documents. The two governments will have to legislate the agreements before they can take effect.
As previously stated, it is our intention to bring legislation into the spring sitting. For that purpose, the federal government, I assume, following their ratification will do so according to their own parliamentary calendar, which is a question that I cannot speak to.
My own view is that we will move very quickly now to make information available to the public and arrange for public information sessions, in order that we can bring this matter to the Legislature in the spring.
Question re: Indian land claim
Mr. Lang: The implications of the land claim are going to affect all Yukoners, whether they are beneficiaries or non-beneficiaries. A concern that has been expressed to me as well as other Members is the question of what kind of process is going to be made available so the general public can review what has been agreed to, and also be in a position to comment with respect to how it is going to affect everybody individually or collectively.
My question to the Minister is, what process is going to be made available for the public to review the agreements and, if necessary, recommend changes if they feel it is going to have an adverse effect on individuals or the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In terms of the briefings to the general public, the officers of the land claims secretariat and my staff will be soon considering a schedule for public briefings. The basic position we will take is that there will be as many public briefings as there is public demand for them.
As we did with the land claims agreements, we will also have briefings with groups and organizations that request them. I make a distinction there only because the public briefings tend to be most useful in the evenings and on the weekends; sometimes with organized groups you can do much of that work during office hours or lunch hours.
In addition, there will be volumes of written material, coming not only from this government, but possibly from the other parties. I do not know what the federal government anticipates doing in this area.
The best I can suggest to the Member about the particulars of the agreements that individual citizens may wish to see changed, short of textual errors or serious flaws that are brought to our attention and may be dealt with by negotiations, ultimately the place where changes to the actual agreements would have to be proposed, I assume, would be at the legislative stage, which is the final stage we will go to. In the meantime, I hope that there will be lots of public discussion and that the public will be persuaded that the agreements are, as a complete package, acceptable to them.
Mr. Lang: I am not clear on the public review process. Is the Minister telling the House that there will be no changes unless they are brought forward through the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As with every negotiated agreement between two parties, we have to go through a ratification process; but also, in negotiated agreements there is a lot of give and take. Negotiated agreements are inevitably the form of a compromise and, in going to the public, we will be going to the public from the point of view, not that we are neutral about these agreements but, rather, we will be recommending them for public acceptance. We will be communicating them to the public on the basis that we think this is a good deal for the people of the Yukon. If there are people who disagree with that, then they will have lots of opportunity to say so. If, however, there are people who, for example - if I can make a different kind of point - identify some kind of errors in the agreements or inconsistencies or flaws of some kind, we may well be able to take those up with the other parties between now and the time when they are finalized in law.
Mr. Lang: I am not clear on the ratification process. Could the Minister clearly outline to us just exactly how these agreements are to be ratified? I understand, within the First Nations, within the Indian bands themselves, they will have a process of perhaps one person/one vote, or it may be the Council making a decision on behalf of the people they represent in order to ratify their agreements. What ratification process is going to be undertaken as far as the general public is concerned?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We will be following the ratification process followed by governments in this country since the formation of this country: the actual ratification of the negotiated agreements will come to the Cabinet of the Government of Yukon and the Cabinet of Canada. Final legal adoption of the agreements will not take place until they are passed into law, which will require legislation both in this Assembly, and in the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada.
Question re: Taga Ku development/government space
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Government Services.
I have been communicating with the Minister regarding the rental of office space in the new Taga Ku convention centre development. The last communication was in July of 1991. Because of the delay in the construction and the modified schedule of the project, I would like to ask the Minister what the contingency plan is in the event the office space is not available for the employees to move into.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are any number of hypothetical situations that could occur prior to the office building being open for the government to move into as a tenant. I do not want to engage in such a hypothetical exercise with the Member. I can tell the Member that, based on the set-back in the occupancy dates, we have determined that we are in good condition with respect to existing leases within Whitehorse, and we can still accommodate ourselves well enough until such time as the centre is open for occupancy, which we anticipate will be between September and October of next year.
Mrs. Firth: Will the government be moving the employees into the offices prior to the hotel/convention centre complex being built? I think it is fair to say that they are going to have to move them in prior to that being completed. Can the Minister tell us how long the government has given the development corporation to complete the hotel and convention centre, and continue to occupy the office tower?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If my memory serves me correctly, it is my understanding that the government will not be obligated to move into, or take occupancy of, the premises until such time as the construction has begun on the convention centre. We have made that clear in the agreement to lease with the Taga Ku Corporation.
Mrs. Firth: That is very interesting information. In the Ministers correspondence to me, he has made reference to the terms of the offer-to-lease agreement. Could the Minister table that offer-to-lease agreement with us here in House sometime today?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take the request up with department officials to determine whether or not there is anything that may breach a commercial confidence. If there is a breach of commercial confidence, I will not take a look today or any other day. If it is a public document, I will table it as soon as I can.
Question re: Skagway Road year-round maintenance
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services with respect to the Skagway Road, and in particular, the hints we have been receiving in the press that the Alaskans are not very happy with the expense that they incur in keeping the road open on the American side. In fact, one has the distinct impression that they are threatening to shut the road down if it gets too expensive to maintain in the wintertime.
Can the Minister tell us if he has met with his counterparts in Alaska to discuss this issue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thank the Member for the question, because it does provide me with an opportunity to provide to the House the reassurances that I received from my Alaskan counterparts as recently as Friday. I did travel to Juneau with a couple of my officials, and we did meet with the Alaskan transportation commissioner and a number of his staff. We did have a productive and useful exchange about problems the Alaskans are facing on their portion of the South Klondike highway.
We were provided with an internal report done by the Alaskan transportation department, that outlines some of the financial, personnel and operational problems they were facing, but we did receive every assurance that they intended to uphold the spirit and intent of the 1986 operating agreement, signed between the two jurisdictions.
Mr. Phelps: Then, Yukoners can rest assured that they are not going to be refusing to spend maintenance money during the winter, once their budget becomes very low, and that they are going to continue with the 1986 agreement, for the next number of years?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes. The Alaskans did provide us with the assurance that they intend to maintain their portion of the South Klondike Highway under terms of the 1986 agreement. That essentially means keeping it open. The concerns that Alaskans have were documented for us. We are reviewing them. A lot of it is fairly technical, but it does highlight some of the financial difficulties they are facing. We, of course, are concerned about that, especially in light of the fact that, under the agreement, the Yukon pays 50 percent of the costs associated with the 12 or 13 miles of road on the Alaska side.
The undertaking we have is to review the documentation they have provided and continue discussions to determine if there is any need to review the terms of that agreement.
Mr. Phelps: I am a little confused. I realize that we have to pay 50 percent of the maintenance costs, but surely that, in itself, would not be enough to move the Minister to travel to Alaska to speak with his counterparts there. Surely he went for more of a reason than simply being concerned about how much money they are spending under an agreement. Is there anything to suggest that the agreement might be opened in the near future by the Alaskans?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There is no specific undertaking to open the agreement. There is an undertaking to review the documented report of problems, as seen by the Alaskans, relating to their financial costs. In short, their costs are escalating drastically. We do not know why. We want to know. We received every assurance that they will uphold the terms of the 1986 agreement, and that the road will be maintained in an open state for the duration of the agreement.
What we have undertaken is to provide an analysis and enter into discussions to review whether or not the problems faced by the Americans can in any way be assisted by our knowledge of the highway system and winter operations.
Question re: Skagway Road winter maintenance
Mr. Phelps: I am still concerned because the reports that we receive in the media seem to go a bit further than has been suggested in the House right now with regard to the attitude that our friends across the border are taking with regard to the maintenance of the Skagway Road.
I would like to get it clear: the Minister said that he travelled to Alaska and they met and, as a result, they are going to review documentation. I am wondering why we had to travel to Alaska to discuss all of this. Are we going to be suggesting ways in which the Alaska government can cut their costs?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That may well be an option that we will examine. Let me emphasize for the Member that we, too, were concerned with the number of reports that were being circulated in the media and at an officials level. I felt that it was important enough, in terms of maintaining that road in an open condition throughout the winter, to address the issue head on. I undertook to meet with the transportation commissioner; there were additional staff present; there was an exchange of the views about the problems that were facing the Alaskans.
In specific answer to the Members question, yes, it may well be that with our expertise and knowledge surrounding winter operations of highways, we could well assist them in reducing their costs, which are rapidly escalating and fundamental to the problem.
Mr. Phelps: I am sure that they are very thankful for the Ministers support. I also want to say that I am very pleased that there is not any suggestion that the Alaskans are going to open up this agreement or change any of the terms with regard to maintenance. I find that reassuring.
I am concerned about another issue regarding the road and that has to do with the unusually heavy snowfall that we are facing right now. Can the Minister tell us what the situation is with regard to the potential for snow avalanches on the Skagway Road?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member may be aware, provisions of the agreement do call for avalanche patrol and monitoring. That is occurring. I do not have any current information on any escalated threat from that potential, but I take the Members question as notice and will duly find out for myself, as well.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for that undertaking. This year in particular, I presume that his department will be paying a great deal of attention to the issue of snow avalanches and the training of people in the event of an emergency.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe that probably even later today we will be into the mains for the Department of Community and Transportation Services where, in fact, I could probably detail specific budgetary allocations in that area.
Question re: Access House
Mr. Lang: I would like to address a question to the Minister of Health and Social Services. It has to do with one particular group home in the Whitehorse area that is sometimes referred to as Fifth and Lowe Street or, as I believe, it is now termed Access House. This group home has seen some major renovations over the course of this past year as far as the home itself is concerned, and as far as the program is concerned.
I understand that that particular program can hold up to a maximum of five youths at a time. I understand that is presently the number of young people enrolled in the program. I am also told that, up until last month, there were only two young people involved in the program for the eight months when it was first opened.
Can the Minister confirm that there was only a maximum of two young people involved in that program up until last month?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I do not have that information here but I can bring it back to the Member.
Mr. Lang: I am also told that when the program first began, it required the recruitment of a psychiatric nurse from outside the Yukon. The recruitment was done and the position filled, but the home was not available to start the program. Subsequently, the position was filled for quite some time prior to the actual program beginning.
When the Minister goes back to her department, could she find out how long that position had been filled prior to the individual actually having a program to run?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will take the question as notice.
Mr. Lang: It is my understanding that, at the same time as we are changing these various programs, we are still using the resources of institutions outside of the Yukon, and a substantial number of young people are involved as young offenders and other wards of the state.
Could the Minister confirm that there are presently up to 12 youths, between those who are young offenders and other wards of the social services department, using institutions outside of the Yukon?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I do not have the specific numbers. I know there are some young people and children outside the territory for treatment. My understanding of this specific home is that it does not provide the kind of services that will be provided when what we have been calling the therapeutic group home is established.
Any young person who has severe difficulties of various kinds, most of them having to do with sexual abuse, I believe are still sent outside the territory if they are past the age of 10. Under the age of 10, we provide treatment here.
I will bring the figures back to the Member.
Question re: Electrical bill-relief program
Mr. Nordling: I would like to try to clarify the situation the electrical consumer is facing. My understanding is that the Yukon Energy Corporation uses its retained earnings to fund the governments bill-relief program and to pay dividends. Could the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation tell us how much money would be required under the bill-relief program to offset or eliminate the increase requested by that corporation for all customers for 1991-92?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am sure the Member will appreciate that, in the spirit of providing and sharing information, I will take the question under advisement and provide him with a return.
Mr. Nordling: I know that the Minister is intimately involved in this issue and I was hoping he would have the numbers at his fingertips.
While he is at it, I would like to know what the currently projected rate increases for 1993-94 are, and how much would have to be paid out under the governments rate-relief program to offset or eliminate those projected rate increases for all electrical consumers. Would he do that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Ditto.
Mr. Nordling: Thank you. I have one more short question.
Can the Minister confirm that if the approximately $20 million - or whatever the dividend figure was - had not been paid by the Yukon Energy Corporation to the Yukon Development Corporation, those monies generated from the electrical consumers would have been available for repayment to those consumers, through the governments bill-relief program?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It amazes me why the Member never appeared at the rate hearings to ask those questions, where he would have had instant answers and instant figures and instant detail from the corporation officials who know that stuff and are obligated to provide that information.
Of course I will undertake to provide what I can to the Member, in light of his question, but his three questions led to one conclusion that he has obviously made, and that is that the legitimate dividends paid by Yukon Energy Corporation to the Yukon Development Corporation, which is the parent company and the company that made the investment - and under the terms of the legislation provided by this House, was fully entitled to take those dividends - have no relationship and no bearing on the rate increase being requested by Yukon Energy Corporation now.
We are talking about an occurrence of several years ago. We are talking about a rate increase and projected costs for next year. Those issues are entirely separate.
Question re: Access House
Mr. Lang: I would like to go back to the Minister of Health and Social Services again, on the question of the therapeutic group home - what they refer to as Access House - and the work that has been done with respect to that particular group home. I understand thousands of dollars have been spent renovating the home and that it is now complete with weight room, pool table, video machines, et cetera. Could the Minister bring back to this House, since she is going for information in any event, just exactly how many dollars were spent on the renovation and exactly what was done to that particular home?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Did I hear the Member correctly - is this for 503 Lowe Street or the place called Access House? Yes? I do not have that information here, but I will bring it back.
Mr. Lang: Further to that, when the Minister goes back to her officials, could she verify that, for a program of a maximum of five adolescents who may attend that program, there are eight positions necessary to run it? Would she be able to verify that?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I expect to verify that we have a management contract with the person who runs it, and I would assume that they require staffing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but I will bring back those figures.
Mr. Lang: Further to that, I asked about the breakdown between the young offenders and other social wards of the state as pertains to young people outside in institutions. Could the Minister break that down into young offenders under the Young Offenders Act who are sent outside to other institutions, rather than using our facilities here. Would she provide us with that information as well, for the past year?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I think what I heard the Member asking for was a breakdown of young offenders, or wards who are not young offenders, in outside institutions. Is that correct? The Member is nodding, so, yes, I will do that.
Question re: Whitehorse visitor reception centre/audio-visual production
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Tourism regarding the audio-visual production Parks Canada is producing that is going to be a main attraction at the new visitor reception centre in Whitehorse.
In 1986, we paid $300,000 to Scribblers Ink to produce our own Expo video. This video won much acclaim from people all over the world. The then Minister of Tourism told us this very expensive and well-done production was not dated and could and would be used later in the Yukon as a feature presentation. I would like to ask the Minister why we decided to let Parks Canada spend another $200,000 of taxpayers money to produce a new video when we already have a first-class production and equipment in hand and in storage in Whitehorse.
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is a clear case of deja vu here. I think this question has been asked three times already. If the Member wants me to answer it again, that is fine. As I said on the first three occasions, I believe, the Expo 86 production was, indeed, a fine production. It was a very brief one, designed to encourage people to travel to the Yukon. It is still in date, but the purpose of the audio visual presentation in the new visitor reception centre is designed to encourage people to travel round the Yukon, now that we already have them here.
That is one of the reasons why Parks Canada, in making its contribution to the new visitor reception centre, has put forward this proposal, with the very specific purpose of getting people to explore more of the territory.
Mr. Phillips: Are we going to be able to use the existing equipment, including the projectors, for the new audio visual production or do we have to buy all new equipment to accommodate this production?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not aware of the answer to that. I imagine that we will be using all the audio visual equipment that is in good working order.
Mr. Phillips: In questions the other day, the Minister did not give us a clear indication of how much editorial control we would have on this new Parks Canada production. I would like to ask the Minister if we will have the final say for editorial control on the new production being produced by Parks Canada for the Government of Yukons new visitor reception centre.
Hon. Mr. Webster: We will not have the final say. We will not have the final editorial control of the contents of the audio visual presentation. But, as I mentioned last week in the House when this matter was raised, Parks Canada and the Department of Tourism are cooperating on this together to come up with the content.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation/dividends
Mr. Nordling: I am so pleased that I can follow up with the Minister in charge of the Energy Corporation today instead of waiting until tomorrow.
Although my understanding is that Yukon Energy Corporations retained earnings have been used for dividend purposes and the bill-relief program, the Minister has said that the dividends that were paid were completely separate from monies repaid to consumers under the bill-relief program.
I would like to ask the Minister, if they are two completely different things, is the Yukon Energy Corporation going to continue to pay dividends to Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot answer for the board of directors, which may, in its discretion, choose to do so or choose not to do so. I can say that I know for a fact that the board has not paid out any dividends in 1990, has no plans to do so in 1991 and I have been assured by the chair that there are no plans to issue dividends in the foreseeable future.
Part of what is taking place is that the corporation has undertaken an ambitious capital upgrading program and, as demonstrated in the tabled return the other day, to the end of 1991, over $20 million of capital upgrading will have been spent by the corporation, and an anticipated $10 million more will be spent over the course of the next year.
Mr. Nordling: Is the Minister saying that the board has taken our suggestion and made it their policy not to pay any more dividends to the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure that I ever heard the Member make any kind of a suggestion other than that the money invested in Watson Lake was a big mistake and should never have been done, even though the Member supported it at the time.
That fact that no dividends were issued in 1990 was a clear statement that the money was better utilized in capital upgrading for the corporation, and that was done. As I have indicated, there are no intentions to issue dividends, although the corporation has every right to do so in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Nordling: I am glad that the legitimacy of that dividend payment has been questioned. I would like to ask the Minister what the Yukon Energy Corporations policy is with respect to monies available for the bill-relief program?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will have to take that under advisement.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Government Services 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 and declare a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call the House to order. We will continue with Bill No. 19, under Education.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act, 1992-93 - continued
Education - continued
On Public Schools - continued
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have some information that may be useful for Members, respecting not only Granger, but also other questions that Members have posed before about some other items.
I will send a copy across to each caucus. I have the Watson Lake training agreements with the Mt. Hundere joint venture for Members. I believe that the Member from Watson Lake had requested a copy of this; it is on its way over now.
Second, there was a question about staff turnover and the number of people who are presently on leave from among the teaching staff and I can tell the Member that currently we have four people on education leave, eight on maternity leave, nine persons on leave without pay and one person on leave with the Department of National Defence. For whatever reason the Member had to ask for that information, that is the information and details of who is on leave and for what reasons.
There were questions about Granger School on Thursday. I have some information that may be useful.
When the excavation took place last summer, there was some difficulty encountered with the abundance of water that collected on the site, as a result of the very rainy summer. This factor caused the contractor and the subcontractor to face some difficulties in excavation. The amount of work that the contractor had to go through to accommodate the extra water is now a matter of discussion with Government Services, as to what the extent of extra cost is and what is claimable. We will be working with an independent body to assess the fair value of the work that was done and approved by the owner, meaning the Government of Yukon.
That is the only significant change order that has been required that may cost more money, but Government Services is still confident that the extra work can be handled within contingencies and that the $7.1 million construction price will still be maintained.
There have been five other change orders from the time that this project was approved or construction started, but none of them have resulted in a change in any contract amount.
I am not aware of any other substantial difficulties with this project. In my experience, there is certainly nothing out of the ordinary.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister give us his assurances that there are no difficulties about the initial plans for the project - architectural or otherwise - that would result in significant changes, such as bearing walls and things of this nature? Is that what the Minister is telling us?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To be perfectly frank, I have heard a few concerns expressed by friends that I have on the site, similar to those expressed by the Member. I have taken those concerns to Government Services and asked them to investigate. Every time that I have relayed these concerns, I have been given the assurance that there is nothing significantly out of the ordinary and no significant problems.
If there are concerns that have foundation, I am going to have to get some really hard, fast specifics because I have exhausted the well so far in my approaches to the officials in that department.
Mr. Lang: I just hope that my information is incorrect. Quite frankly, I have been told, as has the Minister, that there are significant problems with the plans and will require some substantial changes as far as the overall building is concerned. I am assuming from what the Minister is telling the House, that he has to take the word of his people within Government Services, and I am prepared to accept that.
I just want to make this point to the Minister. If it is found that the information that I have provided to the House and the Minister is aware of turns out to be true, then I would expect that the Minister would take appropriate action in respect to his department. I have heard concerns from a number of areas, not just one. It is a cause of some concern, I think.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Whenever something like this happens, it substantially raises my anxiety level. I have relayed concerns to the Department of Government Services. I would point out that, if there are problems that originated with the architect, design consultants or others, my experience and track record have been that we do pursue those problems through legal action, if necessary, right through to completion.
As a matter of policy, I am not prepared to permit these matters to go unchallenged. The Government of Yukon has a long-term reputation to develop and maintain with respect to insistence on first-class work. When trouble does occur, which we, as owners of the project, must encounter, then we will pursue every avenue available to us to ensure we get satisfaction on behalf of our taxpayers.
As a general proposition, that is what the Member can anticipate me doing.
Mayo Community School in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On F.H. Collins - Upgrading
F.H. Collins - Upgrading in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Watson Lake Secondary - Upgrade/Expansion
Watson Lake Secondary - Upgrade/Expansion in the amount of $1,850,000 agreed to
On Grounds Improvement
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This $200,000 is the amount that is regularly approved for this particular line item. Members can anticipate two projects that are not covered here: one is the playing field at the Granger Elementary School, and the other one is the playing field at the Watson Lake High School. These will not come out of this budget, but they will be undertaken this coming summer, as the costs have been identified in the overall project costs for those facilities in construction.
The other items that are thought to be high priorities at the present time and on which the department is making plans to see action undertaken include landscaping of the Porter Creek Junior Secondary School, $30,000; $25,000 has been identified for capital maintenance on playground equipment around the whole school system; $25,000 will be earmarked for improving the driveway and parking areas of Christ the King High School and lEcole Emilie Tremblay; we have identified $90,000 for contracts for grounds maintenance at various Yukon schools and $30,000 for maintenance of urban schools around Whitehorse. That is how the $200,000 is apportioned.
Mr. Devries: I would appreciate it if the Minister could give us a list of all the contractors who were used for the various school projects; or perhaps it will be included in the contractors list for government services. As long as we get a list within the next month or so, that is fine with me.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can undertake to provide a list of grounds contractors around the territory.
Mr. Devries: If I could go further on that, could he also include the maintenance contractors who were used? I do not think we received that yet, for this year; I am still going by last years.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Would the Member mind explaining further what he has in mind in terms of maintenance contractors?
Mr. Devries: Are contractors ever used for minor jobs like installing computer labs and minor maintenance jobs in the schools?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will provide him with as complete a set as I can. I am not sure I know exactly what the Member is looking for, but I will provide as much as I can. Some of it will be what he wants.
Grounds Improvement in the amount of $200,000
On Install Computer Labs
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister about computers generally, and specifically with respect to the computer equipment that used to be at the career services branch in Closeleigh Manor. There was a lot of very expensive computer equipment there. Can the Minister tell us what happened to it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I cannot, but I can find out.
Install Computer Labs in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Gymnasium Floor Upgrading
Gymnasium Floor Upgrading in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous School Facilities Alterations
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The projects under this line item are under negotiations with school administrations and school councils. They are likely to be finalized by the end of January.
Miscellaneous School Facilities Alterations in the amount of $400,000 agreed to
On St. Elias Community School - Upgrade
St. Elias Community School - Upgrade in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
On New Catholic School
Mr. Nordling: This is the new Catholic school in Porter Creek. There was some talk, though, of Christ the King High School being expanded or an elementary school being built in that area. Has there been anything done with that or have those plans been scrapped in favour of the Basswood and Wann Road school?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The proposal to build on to Christ the King Junior High School in Riverdale was a proposal that was actually floated by me, in the event that no other school site within Riverdale, downtown or Porter Creek could be sought. It found some currency with some of the instructors at Christ the King Junior High school. I, unfortunately did not find support from school councils and, consequently, the Catholic school councils nor the Bishop.
There was some concern expressed by some people that the number of schools in Riverdale is already considered to be quite excessive. To add a larger student population in that area would not be peoples first choice.
Consequently, we cast our eyes very quickly back to the Porter Creek district, bearing in mind that we wished to encourage a school site that was as close to a walk-in population as we could find - essentially, as much of a neighbourhood school that we could create.
Consequently, we once again pursued the Basswood and Wann site, which was originally designated, at least in the departmental plans from way back, as a possible location for a school.
The Member was here when we discussed this, so I discussed this with the Member from Porter Creek East and I have had some discussions with department officials. There were very few sites in Porter Creek if one has to ignore the Hidden Lake green belt area. There are very few sites that are suitable, both in area and in proximity to the more populated crescents and streets. We at this point are still looking at Basswood and Wann. I have sent a letter to the Member for Porter Creek East respecting the matter of the site near Stan McCowan Arena suggesting that it is a very small site and probably half of the area that is available at the Basswood and Wann site.
I still have it in mind to speak to department officials about that, just to be certain that we have exhausted all possibilities.
Mr. Nordling: Is the Minister saying, then, that the absolute, final decision has not been made to put this school at Basswood and Wann?
I have another question. My understanding is that this school that I thought was going at Basswood and Wann was basically the same design as the MacPherson School. I remember the comments made in our discussions that the school at MacPherson was designed for expansion. It would obviously not be practical to expand the school if it were put at Basswood and Wann, or perhaps near Stan McCowan Arena. Is that the situation that the Minister is facing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no question in my mind that the Basswood and Wann site is the preferred site for this facility. The school at MacPherson was originally designed as the Catholic school. The design was undertaken by an architect whom the Members know. That architect is the same person who designed the Workers Compensation Building and he is a local person.
The Catholic school building advisory committee worked with the architect on the original design. We did indicate to everyone, though, very early on, that this school design we were developing for kindergarten to grade six, approximately 150 students, would be used elsewhere. We would not simply use the design for one school and then start again for the next school. If we liked this design, and we do like this design, then we would use it over and over again.
The design does happen to incorporate the possibility for expansion, if that is desired and if space permits. I would think the space at Basswood and Wann would not permit much expansion in the future. The site at MacPherson would permit expansion. It is the same plan we would also consider as the basic plan for the rebuilding of the primary school.
Have I covered all the questions the Member asked?
Mr. Lang: Further on the new Catholic school in Porter Creek, I did contact the chairperson of the school council, as well as a member of the Catholic school council with respect to looking at a site other than the one on Basswood. The conclusion I gleaned from those conversations, primarily with the individual from the Catholic school, was that they feel they have gone to the nth degree to try to find a site and are not prepared to look elsewhere. On the question of the size of the site, it depends on what you are talking about in terms of size and where the structure would go.
As far as I can make out, the participants are not interested in the site behind Stan McCowan Arena. I think the Minister is correct in saying that is the preferred site, in view of the fact that Holly was not made available because of the situation that developed last year.
To most people, that would have been the preferred site for a school facility.
I just thought I would update the House so people are aware that I followed up on the commitment I made to the House a couple of weeks ago. I guess we will go ahead with the Basswood site.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to thank the Member for Porter Creek East for all the effort I know he has put into resolving this very difficult problem. There is no question that we are dealing with sites that are perhaps not considered to be the best available, but there are other neighbourhood considerations we must respect.
Consequently, we will have to do the very best with what we have available to us. I must say that, between now and the time the final design and layout of the site is complete, every effort will be made to ensure there is neighbourhood representation from people who live in and around the Basswood and Wann site to ensure that all details respecting the layout of the busing routes, parking lot, playground and the orientation of the building itself are covered, so we do our best to resolve any difficulties we may have with neighbours of the site itself.
We are not of the view that the decision has been made until the building committee has reviewed site layout and vehicle accident concerns and issues.
New Catholic School in the amount of $3,150,000 agreed to
On New Urban Elementary - Riverdale
Mr. Devries: When would this Riverdale elementary school be scheduled for completion?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The occupancy date is scheduled for July 1994 - that is for Grey Mountain School. As I said before, the base design we use will be the MacPherson/Catholic school design. Any revisions will be undertaken next year and geotechnical work will be done with this funding that is available to us.
Mr. Lang: I want to ask a general question here; I hope I have not missed it in the course of debate. My question is about the projected demand and the plans for schools in the forthcoming years. When we first started out in this session, the question was about a junior secondary school and, in time, the question of a high school will come up. Can the Minister provide us with what he has to date as far as projections are concerned? One can see the number of elementary schools coming into play here, and I hope the intent of the Department of Education is that these kids will move on and successfully complete their elementary grades and be able to go on to junior secondary; or, subsequently, change the year between public school or public and secondary.
I would like to hear from the Minister if he could provide us with the information. I know they refer to the Boreal report and that other report that was made in 1985, but it seems that it is no longer of any significance as far as the numbers we are dealing with. Perhaps the Minister can update us about his capital planning.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member, of course, is quite right. It is one of the major policy objectives of the Department of Education to have children graduate through to grade 7 and then onwards to grade 12. Consequently, we will have to ensure that there is adequate space to accommodate those children.
As I mentioned last week, the Department of Education has asked the statistics bureau to put together a terms of reference for a comprehensive demographic survey of Whitehorse, to be undertaken in the early spring, in order to determine what the population pressures of Whitehorse are.
Concurrently, we will be sending out a discussion paper to school councils in Whitehorse to discuss the issues surrounding the elimination of junior high schools in the city, and reconsideration of kindergarten to grade 8, and grade 9 to grade 12 school configurations.
The information from both of those exercises will help us determine where we should be going with respect to the management of school populations over the next five to 10 years.
The effort to replace the Grey Mountain school is not so much an effort to build new school space, but to replace old school space that is considered to be deteriorating rapidly. There are some population pressures at Grey Mountain and Selkirk schools that can be accommodated, more or less, at the same time. Grey Mountain normally has approximately 120 students and Selkirk, as Members may know, is jam-packed presently. There are a number of reasons for that but certainly, to construct a little extra space at Grey Mountain School, in order to have a 150-student school, which is the same size as the Catholic and McPherson school, would be seen as being a positive move.
That is not the primary objective in the reconstruction of the Grey Mountain school. We are looking at the long-term student population projections and the advisability of continuing with junior high configurations. I hope to have discussions beginning on this in the early spring with the school councils in Whitehorse, which have taken a great interest in this subject.
Mr. Lang: I want to make the point that, all of a sudden, another year has gone by. When the decision is made to build a school, such as a high school, there has to be a significant long-term lead time. Generally, this is two years, but it can sometimes be as long as three years. Subsequently, depending on the demographics, as the Minister has indicated, we could be putting ourselves in a very difficult situation a couple of years from now.
The demographics of the school are pretty much laid out in the numbers you presently have attending and entering school at the kindergarten level versus graduates. It seems to me that it does not require a major study to indicate what your school demands are going to be, vis-a-vis our population.
If you take a look at Jeckell Junior High and a decision to now go with two more classrooms, it is going to make that school that much larger. If we continue adding on as we have in the past, we are going to wind up with a situation similar to F.H. Collins, where every couple of years there is something added on to the school and, all of a sudden, we wind up with a high school that can house over 600 students. I would hate to see this happen, but it appears to be happening.
I want to voice my concern about the long-term planning. Work could have been done by now, as opposed to waiting until next year. We are going to lose another year as far as any concrete plans or anything being put into effect.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Let me just start by saying that we have given this a fair amount of thought. We do think we have time to study this matter properly. This is assuming, of course, that there will be the need for major construction. I do not think that is a particularly safe assumption to make. If we have classroom space in the City of Whitehorse, with no population growth it would be fair to say that, with some renovation, we could configure our schools to accommodate the elimination of junior high schools and provide for extra high school space, if that is desirable.
Incidentally, it is not unanimous within the City of Whitehorse that there should be another high school. As high schools go, F.H. Collins is considered to be very small. If you are from Mayo, it seems very big. There are certain economies of scale that you have with schools of various sizes. There are some tough questions to ask ourselves if we decide to go to a dual high school.
I can tell Members that I have a predilection to support two high schools in the City of Whitehorse and I have been informed in no uncertain terms by a fair number of teachers about some of the drawbacks to this approach. No one seems to feel frightened about telling me where I have gone wrong. Nevertheless, I think there are some good reasons for two high schools. But, I also believe that some of the issues people have identified are real enough to engage in public discussion. There certainly will be an opportunity to do that.
The school councils have expressed a very real desire to discuss this subject in some detail. The demographic review we did supporting our last capital plan, the capital facilities report we tabled in 1987, was, I thought, based on reasonably thorough population projections. It certainly was not as elaborate as the one we are proposing to do now, however there are enough people who feel that the original plan did not properly, scientifically, anticipate certain population and programming pressures in the City of Whitehorse.
They feel that we should be doing something more, this time around. They would regard the additional classrooms at Jeckell School as an admission of failure and not a response to an identified need. They argue that we should have anticipated, a number of years ago, the population pressures, not only of Jack Hulland School, but of Jeckell School, and accommodated that in the facilities study.
I, personally, am of the view that that criticism is unfair. Nevertheless, I am personally persuaded that we do have the time and that there is some necessity to do a proper and comprehensive demographic survey. We would do this, not only because we want to anticipate where new residents of Whitehorse will reside, but also to anticipate the associated costs of busing, and future programing considerations. Our busing budget in Whitehorse has doubled in the last five years and the numbers of students in the area have certainly not come anywhere close to doubling.
So, there are some fairly complicated equations to address when anticipating the need for new school space, and while we are addressing those items, we will also address the issue of the advisability of continuing on with the junior high program. I do know that there are some very strong feelings on both sides of that issue and we want an opportunity for people to discuss it thoroughly. I am certain that if we were to take what some would consider to be precipitous action, then we would be lighting a time bomb and I think there would be very unpleasant consequences to that.
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up on the Grey Mountain School. Will that be K to 3 or K to 6? I also want to follow up on the junior high thing.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The school council has suggested it be a K to 6 school. We will give that consideration in the planning over the course of the next year. The design of the school could easily house K to 6, as we have already acknowledged that this school design is essentially the same one for two other K to 6 schools: the Catholic school and the MacPherson school. The design features will not be a major factor.
In concert with the Selkirk School council, we will discuss the proposal to make the school K to 6, and we will make a decision in this coming year as to which one it will be.
Mrs. Firth: I have some more questions about whether we should have junior high schools anymore. Did we not have this discussion a few years ago? I remember the school committees talking about it, and some parents calling and specifically asking whether or not the department was going to get rid of the concept of junior high schools, and perhaps have the elementary schools go one more grade, with the rest of the kids going to one high school.
Was there any questionnaire done? I was of the impression there was. Does the Minister still have that information? Were there any conclusions drawn from that discussion?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was no thorough review of the situation. There were no conclusions drawn from discussions that have been taking place on and off over the course of the last decade or more. I do not know how long it has been under discussion.
The department has sponsored no discussions on this subject. Until now, the department has expressed no interest in changing the status quo. We are now saying that we are prepared to discuss a change in the status quo, given the intensity of feeling, both by many parents, as well as by many of the staff at the junior high schools.
If there has been any discussion or information provided in the past, I am certain it is still part of departmental files and can be brought forward. There is no question but that the school councils of today want an opportunity, starting now, to discuss this situation in some detail. We will afford them that opportunity and indicate that, if we do come to any conclusions respecting whether or not there should be junior high schools, that will drive our capital plan for the City of Whitehorse over the next five to 10 years.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that the department has a couple of options: they can look at changing the status quo, or they can look at identifying possible new junior high schools. There have not been any new schools identified in the budget, and personally, I do not think that there has to be a huge demographic survey of the kids in Whitehorse. I think that the Department of Education could pull that information quite quickly as to the numbers of children in the elementary schools and what the projected growth and demand is going to be for junior high schools.
Does the Minister have any immediate plans for junior high schools, or are they going to wait until they get all of this demographic information and discuss the status quo before they start making any plans with respect to whether or not there is going to be some new junior high schools.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for her representation respecting the desirability of having a demographic review in Whitehorse. I can say with all sincerity that I think it is very much a minority view in the education community in Whitehorse, but I thank her for it anyway. We have not made any decisions to construct new junior high schools or to allocate the grade ranges to something other than what they are currently. That would only come after the new capital plan has been developed.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister can tell us how long this survey is going to take and how extensive the demographic survey is going to be.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The terms of reference for the survey have not yet been developed. I have already twice indicated over the course of the last couple of days, that the information should be available this spring as we are intending to have discussions with school representatives and school councils in late spring, on the development of the new capital plan.
New Urban Elementary - Riverdale in the amount of $260,000 agreed to
On Capital Maintenance Repairs
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Every year, the Department of Education budgets a certain amount for various miscellaneous repairs. The projects are priorized over the course of the spring. The amount we budget is, generally speaking, an amount we consider to be appropriate based on historical need. This is the money that had been housed, up until a couple of years ago, in the Department of Government Services capital budget. It is now contained in the Department of Educations capital budget. It can be for everything from leaky roofs to maintenance of heating systems, ventilation systems and so on.
Capital Maintenance Repairs in the amount of $575,000 agreed to
On Air Quality
Air Quality in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On North Highway School
Mr. Nordling: I would like an update from the Minister on how the project is going. I have a couple of specific questions with respect to it. I will ask them now and the Minister can get up and tell the whole story for us.
I asked about the water and sewer for the school a while ago. I got a legislative return - the Minister answered me in writing - but I read what was written about the sewage disposal and I could not tell whether it meant that sewage would be pumped out and hauled away, or if the field was going to be tried to see if the soil was suitable for drainage and seepage. I wonder if the Minister could clarify that for me.
The other thing a couple of my constituents mentioned was that the specifications and design called for the hallways to have patterned flooring of PVC, which is polyvinylchloride - a thick linoleum with patterns of little footprints and stuff. I understand now that the hallways are going to be carpeted. I wonder if the Minister knew about this change, who authorized it and how such changes are made.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am glad the Member asked those two particular questions, because if the Member talked about any of the other changes the building advisory committee has been recommending I do not think I could have answered; I would have had to have taken notice. The Member just happens to have touched on a couple of areas I, for some strange reason, know something about.
First of all, the legislative return does refer to the sewer system consisting of an improved septic tank and drainage field, which means that there will not be any sewage pumpout. Based on information from the city and from Environment Canada, it was felt that this was certainly supportable from an engineering perspective and from a public health perspective. However, there will be water delivery, as the return suggests.
The building advisory committee, which is made up of people in the area and from the MacPherson subdivision itself, sits with department officials to discuss the plans as they are being approved, and does express, from time to time, a desire to change various features of the plans, if it is considered to be economically feasible and appropriate.
In the case of the linoleum-versus-carpet discussion, I am aware, from correspondence I have had with the North Highway Building Advisory Committee, that there is a desire to put down carpet instead of linoleum in the school for the purposes of sound control, cleaning and general appearance.
I am not certain, because I have not had a chance to meet with department officials about this, whether or not there has in fact been a change to the design, only that the building advisory committee had made a recommendation for a change to the specifications. There will be an opportunity for department officials to consider that change and see whether or not they can accommodate the request.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know from the Minister, when he finds out, because I am sure this little issue is not going to go away about the linoleum-versus-carpet issue, what the difference in costs would be if, in fact, the linoleum is replaced with carpet.
The arguments that I have heard - and I am sure the building advisory committee has been all through this - is that linoleum is preferable, for the same reason that the Minister mentioned the carpet argument favoured, and that is for cleaning and for soundproofing. Linoleum is not much noisier than carpet. I do not know what the third point the Minister made was but could he just let me know what changes are made and how much extra it will cost?
The concern expressed about sewage by some residents of MacPherson with whom I spoke with was one of two things: either the sewage lagoon would not drain properly because of the soil, and if it did, it would contaminate their well water.
I know that the school is going to haul in its water. Is there anything in place, or has the department assured the residents that the wells that are closest to the sewage lagoon will be checked for contaminants? Has anything been done to reassure those people?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not been privy to those discussions between the departments building advisory committee and some of the residents with respect to this matter. Certainly, if residents immediately adjacent to the school were to make a request that their wells be checked to provide added assurance that their water is not contaminated, then I am certain the Department of Education could accommodate such a request.
The information that I have, second hand, respecting the engineering analysis, is that the proposal for a septic tank and drainage field at the site will not cause contamination of neighbouring wells. The experts in that area are convinced that this system will be completely safe and not a burden on neighbours, at all. This has apparently been backed up by Environment Canada, so I would assume that, by normal, fairly restrictive standards, there should be no problems faced by the neighbours.
There were no guarantees that could be provided with respect to the drilling of a well. Given the very low costs associated with water delivery at Golden Horn, the Department of Education considered that it would be reasonable to pursue water delivery at the MacPherson school. In terms of its cost-effectiveness, it would be a reasonable solution, so consequently, if only to provide some reassurance to residents of the MacPherson area, they would go with water delivery. That is about all I can tell the Member at the present time.
Mr. Nordling: I would like an overall comment from the Minister on the progress of the school. Is it on schedule and on budget? Is the department satisfied with the progress as it is to date?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To my knowledge, the project is on schedule. It is scheduled to be completed on July 15. We do not expect any problems based on the construction activities to date. We expect to be moving in at the beginning of September 1992.
North Highway School in the amount of $1,300,000 agreed to
On Instructional Equipment
On Public Schools Miscellaneous Equipment
Public Schools Miscellaneous Equipment in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
On Instructional Computers
Mr. Devries: In the last year, Apple and IBM have negotiated a contract where they are now working together in supplying educational programs and educational computers. Has this changed anything in the strategy that the Department of Education is using in the acquisition of computers?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, there have been no changes in the budget requirements. I am not familiar with what the public schools branch is doing to excite more interest from other companies, like IBM, but certainly, Apple has always proven to be a very good source of service with respect to software and of the computers. We have some supplier contracts with them to provide those services and equipment.
If new opportunities were available to us, I am certain, given how aggressive the Department of Education is in this area, that they would take full advantage of whatever opportunities are available to them to gain access to the best possible equipment available, software in particular.
The Department of Education now has, as I am sure the Member knows, allotted some funding in the past for IBM labs at the high school level in order to provide for equipment that is better suited to business education.
Certainly, the track record of the Apple computer suppliers has been exemplary and has met our needs over the past few years. As the Member knows, in the world of computers, you are only as good as your last product and if others come along who have better products and better services, then we will be the first to identify and use them.
Instructional Computers in the amount of $125,000 agreed to
On Special Education
Mr. Devries: Is there specialized equipment being used or is it general equipment upgrading of the special education classes?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is both. Funding for special education equipment is provided and the expenditures are made in accordance with the special education policy that we passed in 1988. It can include the purchase of items such as Braille equipment, video enlargers, hearing aids for the hearing impaired and special computer equipment and scanners for people with visual impairments.
This also provides equipment for the programs that are incorporated under the special education unit, including such programs as the PASS program, the teen parents program and the resource rooms that are available in those schools that have larger numbers of children with special needs. For example, there is a resource room at Selkirk Elementary School.
It is for all of that that this budget is dedicated.
Special Education in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On French Language Facilities and Equipment
On Materials - French Language Program
Materials - French Language Program in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Custodial Equipment
Custodial Equipment in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $12,190,000 agreed to
Public Schools in the amount of $61,230,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As Members may know well enough now, the college representatives will be coming into the Legislature this evening at 7:30 p.m. for an hour or so, and I am certain they will be prepared to answer Members questions with respect to college activities.
The $11 million figure in administration certainly does cover the grant to the college and, if there are other questions about it, I will do my best to answer them.
If one were to consider the allotments that are available in this area, I can indicate to Members that approximately $92,000 in personnel allotment is due to the collective agreement. There has been an increase of $371,000 in the O&M Other allotment, which is due to additional contracted programming costs to meet limits under the federal/territorial agreements, and includes programming, such as the bachelor of social work programming, literacy programming, wilderness guide training and the corrections officer training, all of which are well known to Members here.
If the Members have specific questions, I will answer those.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to see if the Minister can explain the little note I have in my budget book that I do not understand. Beside that number I have land claims trust fund written. Is that in that administration budget - this one million dollars, or whatever it was?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member will remember the Premier talking about the land claims training trust fund coming out of advanced education. It is in the current years budget; it is not in the main estimates for next year. We had agreed that we would provide some early commitment to the land claims training trust based on identified requests for training activity by the CYI. Last year, we advanced $1.1 million to CYI for the training trust after it was created, to pre-implement training activities associated with the land claims agreement.
No money has been spent out of that training trust as of yet. Consequently, we are planning to advance our further commitments under the training trust fund when activity begins to take place in this particular area.
Mr. Devries: In the area of advanced education, the position that was decentralized to Watson Lake was a career counsellor of some type. I believe that I have brought up before in the House. There is a concern the outreach workers have. They feel there is too much duplication in that area. It is very difficult for a federal responsibility and a territorial responsibility to be put together to come up with something that would address the needs of the community in a better way.
I will be asking the people at the Outreach office to put a letter together, explaining exactly what they had in mind. Perhaps we can come to a consensus on implementing something that would meet the needs of the community in a better way without a duplication of services.
They showed me a copy of the career counsellors work description. Except for two or three specific areas, the work description is very similar to what is already being done by the community Outreach workers. It is all taxpayers money, and I think we could do something that would be more efficient and better meet the communitys needs.
I also understand this community Outreach worker possibly travels to Ross River and Teslin, and they may not fit within that parameter. I am not certain of this.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The training employment counsellors in the rural communities have a great deal of work to do. There are not many communities that have Outreach workers, but one does exist in Watson Lake. The training employment counsellor based in Watson Lake is a regional position. They will be expected to go to other communities besides Watson Lake. It would be a mistake for people in Watson Lake to feel that this person was dedicated to that community alone.
There is also more funding for training regionally based in Watson Lake than for any other community right now. I would suggest there is an enormous amount of work yet to do to implement the training trust fund that has been provided by this government to the college to support mining and job-entry training in Watson Lake.
The expertise of the advanced education branch will be employed to help make that happen, even though they are not in the drivers seat, setting priorities or in approving funding.
There is also a great deal of work to do in the area of career counselling for adults, as well as for public schools. One of the main reasons for the career counsellors to leave Whitehorse and go to the communities was to provide for career counselling for public school students. I would insist that the counsellors do their duty in this particular area.
I think that I agree with the Members proposition that there should not be duplication of effort. There is plenty of work for everyone to do and it would be a gross waste of time to be performing the same job functions as the person working down the hall. I do not think that is necessary, though, given what is required of both levels of government and, with the proper planning, I am certain that they can do a better job and not duplicate each others efforts.
Chair: I would like to ask the Committee if they would like to stand this whole section over until tonight or do they want to go on with this when the witnesses come here?
Mr. Devries: It is still unclear to me. Will Yukon College be giving us a copy of their annual budget tonight? Is that ready, or not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At the end of last week, I received a copy of their annual report and I think that they could provide the Members with a copy, if we can remind them to do so.
Chair: So would you like to go through each line and then open it again for discussion tonight or just stand this whole thing over?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If there are any questions that have nothing to do with the college, then I would be more than happy to answer those. Then, when the college officials come, we can deal with them.
Mr. Devries: Fine.
Chair: Then we will stand this over until tonight.
Advanced Education stood over
On Libraries and Archives
On Operation and Maintenance
Mr. Devries: There is an eight percent increase. I would like the Minister to give us a rough rundown on what the reason for this is.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The increase overall on the personnel allotment reflects the costs associated with the collective agreement, merit and performance pay increments, Yukon bonus, and costs associated with the change in family status of some employees. That is the reason for the increase here. It is not because there are more personnel.
Administration in the amount of $256,000 agreed to
On Technical Services
Technical Services in the amount of $167,000 agreed to
On Public Library Services
Mr. Devries: I understand that there were some renewed negotiations going on in Watson Lake with regard to possibly putting the public library into the school. Originally, this had been turned down by the library board. As the library board changed and the new school council came on stream, the concept was resurrected.
What is the status of this right now? I understand that they have been talking back and forth.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Recently when I was in Watson Lake, meeting with the library board and with the school council, there had been some discussion about combining the two libraries. After the plans for the new school had been set, they discovered that the new library for the school would be quite small. The plan was originally to incorporate both the public library and the school library. While there was at least one person on the school council who thought it was a good idea that should be pursued, I think that they recognized that there was a tremendous resistance from the library board and from a couple of other school counsellors. I think that the decision about amalgamation has been put in abeyance for the time being. The school council, for its part, is putting a lot of effort into supporting the principals plan to upgrade the school library facilities through improved collection and improved services. They hope that will provide better library opportunities for the students of the school.
Mr. Devries: It has been a concern every since I was on the school council. It did not seem like the libraries could be utilized properly, probably because there was not a librarian on staff for more than a half hour per day. I think that as students have to seek more information, it is very important that students learn the skills of being able to do research projects. It would be nice to see a little more money designated for school libraries - I realize that this line item is public libraries, but it might be something that the Minister should take another look at, especially in the rural communities.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Department of Education, as has historically been the case, has tried to improve the services available to rural schools gradually, over time, whether it be more administrative time, secretarial time or library time. As the Member will recall from his days on the school committee, there was much time spent talking about administrative time - about five, six or seven years ago - or alternately, more secretarial time. The pressure points in our system, over the course of the last four or five years have been addressed in the budgetary process through the gradual reallocation of funds to those areas.
The public schools branch of the department has undertaken to now work on the area of providing technical support to teacher/librarians, so that teacher/librarians can spend more time in programming and less time performing such functions as filing and putting books on shelves. I would think that over the course of the next few years we will see some fairly significant improvement in that area. It is very difficult for us to try and resolve it all in one year.
Mr. Phelps: I had a line of discussion I wanted to pursue, and I think this will probably be the appropriate place to do it. It has to do with the way in which librarians are engaged and paid in the smaller communities.
As I understand it, in many of the smaller communities, the library board hires and pays any staffing needs of their libraries. In many instances, this part-time work goes on and on with the same employee for many years. My observation would be that, in the case of that type of employee, perhaps we ought to be looking at the kind of benefits they might be entitled to under government and see whether or not that can be bridged. From time to time, we end up with people who suddenly realize they have no pension or benefits at all. In the small communities, this is just one example of the type of work that is very much appreciated but with no commitment or benefits that a long-time employee can look forward to.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When I introduced the Libraries Act into the Legislature a number of years ago, we were setting up library boards in the various communities. In those days, we were taking the major step of formalizing what had been practised for probably a decade or so. At the same time, we were moving from a system where volunteers managed the libraries to a system where volunteers were paid a small honoraria, to the stage where we were actually going to provide a grant to the library boards for them to pay people on a per hour basis.
The system has gone from one where things were done because the community regarded it as a priority and people volunteered their time, to something a little more formal that requires regular funding. We have tried to ensure that basic benefits are covered in granting some funds to the library boards who, in turn, pay their employees.
I will take the Members comments as a representation. Over time, things may improve, but we have a bit of a difficulty to face. The employees right now are employees of the library boards. The library boards have considered it to be a fairly important feature of the control over their library to actually be in a position where they can employ people and make management decisions about who gets the work and how it is managed. If we were forced to make them person years or provide some benefits, I am trusting that the Member for Hootalinqua would not criticize the person year count for climbing for that reason alone. I would not want him to have it both ways in this area.
I am particularly sensitive to, and sympathetic with, the need to provide people with appropriate benefits and security, whether it be a native language instructor or teacher aides. We have gone to great lengths, both financially and administratively, to encourage them to have that security and those benefits.
Any change to the current practice with respect to the payment of volunteers would have to come after some discussion with library boards. I would like to see what they would say about such a proposal.
Mr. Phelps: I was just thinking that some of the libraries have people working very regularly, part time. It just seems to me that what we should be considering is perhaps something like the act we have for staff for the political parties, where one can either be on contract or opt into the benefit umbrella provided by government for people in the equivalent positions. Where there are part time staff in some of the libraries around the territory who are putting in the kind of hours the part-time employees in, say, the schools or whatever, are putting in, and who are entitled to have these benefits, they would have at least the option to be plugged in to those sorts of benefits.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure that there would be a number of ways in which we could approach this particular dilemma. I am personally not of the view that the cost associated with providing benefits is not significant. There would be the issue of bargaining rights. There would be the issue as to whether or not our pension rules could accommodate non-employees. Certainly it is worth it to address all of these issues, because I would agree with the Member that the general objective is a humane and a sound one.
Public Library Services in the amount of $960,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archives
Yukon Archives in the amount of $596,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,979,000 agreed to
On Library Facilities
On Community Library Development
Community Library Development in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Library Development
Whitehorse Library Development in the amount of $375,000 agreed to
On Library Equipment
On Branch Library Equipment
Branch Library Equipment in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Audio Visual Equipment
Audio Visual Equipment in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Technical Services Equipment
Technical Services Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Archival Facilities
On Archive Relocation-Equip. and Furn.
Archive Relocation-Equip. and Furn. in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Archives Equipment
On Display Preparation and Maintenance
Display Preparation and Maintenance in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Conversion of Film to Video
Mr. Devries: Is this done through a bidding process? Is there a local person who does this or is the stuff sent out?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I understand that our staff does this itself.
Conversion of Film to Video in the amount of $14,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $544,000 agreed to
Libraries and Archives agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the following pages.
Mr. Devries: Before we move on to another area, I assume that we are going back to Yukon College tonight to finish Education.
I do have one question that I just ran into on Yukon College - if I may go back there - this is with respect to the apprenticeship program. Is there a needs study being done on students who, for instance, want to get into heavy duty mechanics and some of those other areas? If there is a shortage of workers who would be coming in from outside of the territory into those areas, does the government do anything to encourage students to go into certain fields where there is a shortage of workers, and encourage them into apprenticeships?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My response to that is basically twofold. We do have a general public education campaign, which sometimes is targeted to encourage various industries to identify apprenticeship opportunities. In the main, though, we respond to the private-sector lead when determining who shall be apprenticed and who will not be. We provide incentives to the private sector to take on apprentices, and if they identify a need for an apprentice, based on an assessment of their own industry, then we simply respond to that need by providing the incentive under the apprenticeship incentive marketing program to encourage that apprentice to be taken on.
When it comes to apprenticeships, per se, it is definitely the private sector employer - or the employer, period - who determines what their needs are, and we respond to those needs through our programming efforts. There may be some government sector that will bring on an apprenticeship, but there again, it will be the employer who identifies the need.
Chair: We will not clear the total of the department until tonight.
Education stood over
Community and Transportation Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before I make my general remarks about the budget, I would like to put into circulation a number of documents that will help Members to understand some of the allocations in the Community and Transportation Services budget. In some cases, it is information that has been requested by Members.
The first one I want to put into circulation is a map of the highway system in the Yukon and the facilities supporting that highway system. It was a map made famous by my predecessor, and I hate to break with tradition and not supply it at the outset of each years budget debate.
The second item I would like to put into circulation is a capital budget breakdown by project and by community. It is a branch-by-branch analysis of the capital portion of this budget. It is quite a number of pages long, but it will no doubt reduce the amount of discussion time necessary. At the same time, I recognize it will also provide stimulus for debate on specific items.
The third item I would like to put into circulation is a request by the critic of the Official Opposition surrounding property tax revenue of a number of communities. I provide that information to all Members.
The fourth item was also requested by the Opposition critic. It is the cumulative, unspent funds for the community of Carcross, with a specific notation of what project the money relates to. This goes back four years.
The fifth, and last, item that I will put into circulation is a copy of a couple of questions raised by Members relating to the Haines Junction terminal and questions relating to the special waste storage facility.
Members may wish to peruse those items. Later on in my remarks I will be responding verbally to several other questions that Members have raised.
The budget we are addressing for the Department of Community and Transportation Services for 1992-93 proposes to spend $66,860,000 in operation and maintenance. We plan to recover $17,006,000 of that portion. On the capital side we are proposing to spend $32,478,000 and expect to recover $10,825,000. Separate from those numbers, we plan to collect $5,961,000 in revenue.
A number of worthwhile and essential projects have been undertaken by this department over the past number of years, particularly in major land development and highway reconstruction. Considerable work has been done on upgrading and resurfacing - most recently, the conclusion of the Klondike Highway, and currently, work on the Campbell Highway.
In the area of government goals, where we have committed to build a sustainable economy, we have intensified our efforts in environmental initiatives. A major focus of the municipal and community affairs program is to provide for optimum environmental protection in respect of sewage treatment and waste management, as well as many other community infrastructure type developments.
Members will recall the creation of the advisory committee on waste management, which has analyzed the options for a site for temporary storage of special wastes that cannot be safely disposed of by conventional methods.
I previously announced in the House the intention to seek public input on the recommendation of that committee and I expect that, over the course of the next month or two, we will be receiving that input and addressing the final decision of site selection and construction.
The transportation division of the department is working on a policy respecting access to remote areas. This will reflect habitat, wildlife management and wilderness requirements as well as supporting the general goal of economic development. We are also working on a spring load restriction policy that we are hoping to have completed shortly. We have spent considerable time within the department addressing the broad issue of land claims, particularly self-government negotiations. The municipal services aspect of the negotiations will lie in the organizational and policy foundation for establishing a compatible and cooperative relationship with municipalities and unincorporated communities. The department provides a supportive role in the self-government discussions.
We also, as I have indicated in previous comments in the House, work closely with the Association of Yukon Communities on land claims matters. On an ongoing basis, we work with the land claims secretariat in terms of preparation of settlement legislation and land selections for band final agreements.
The lands branch role in the land claims process is expected to be intensified over the next year as various land selection processes gain momentum and final agreements are worked through to completion.
As a department, we play a number of important roles with respect to the objective of supporting healthy communities. We have an already very highly decentralized department throughout Yukon, and we are quite visible in most communities. Our year-one decentralization initiatives are either complete or well underway. Two municipal advisors were relocated to Dawson City and Teslin.
Our aviation maintenance electrician position has been moved to Mayo this month, now that the shop and office space is available. Five other aviation positions, as discussed during the supplementaries, will be moving to Haines Junction next year, when the office space at the new airport is completed. Of course, our communications branch will be relocated to Carcross early next year, as well.
We are undertaking several additional initiatives in decentralization. An eight-month seasonal mechanic position has been established at Dawson and is filled by a local person. In the course of the next year, a full-time parts person position will be established in Dawson City, to support the highway mechanics there and to support the activities of that region.
Survey crew positions will be decentralized to communities outside of Whitehorse, providing additional seasonal employment. A community operations advisor will be located in Faro, as will a driver trainer. I expect that both of those positions will provide a much-enhanced service to the Ross River/Carmacks general area. At the same time, we have a community planning advisor from the lands branch, who will be relocated to Dawson next year, as well.
Our communications branch supports communication systems for all Yukon people, and to support this, the Campbell Highway phase of the VHF mobile radio system replacement project, handled by that branch, should be completed in 1991-92. Once that entire system is in place, we expect to have improved communications, not only for government operations, but for new communications opportunities for all.
The Emergency Measures Organization will continue negotiations with the Government of Canada in order to clarify and approve emergency response on federal lands. The mutual aid agreement with Alaska is expected to be ready for signature next year. A specialized dangerous goods response team will be organized, trained and equipped to support local responders. Jaws of life extrication tools will be provided to Mayo and Beaver Creek to complete a five-year purchase program to provide all areas of the Yukon with that equipment.
As Members are aware, we have undertaken devolution negotiations to transfer the responsibility for the Alaska Highway to the Yukon government. We are addressing the responsibility for the highway from Watson Lake to Haines Junction. The portion between Haines Junction and the border at Beaver Creek is part of the Shakwak project. As such, we will not be devolving that portion of the responsibility until we have something final in relation to that project funding.
I should tell Members that in my recent visit to Juneau we were assured that the Alaskans were quite intent on continuing the Shakwak project. In fact, they advised us of a bill that has passed through the U.S. Congress that has effectively released some $9.5 million toward the Shakwak project for next year. A bit of a hitch has occurred in that, the way the bill reads now, it requires Alaska to put up 20 percent of that money. They have not budgeted for it yet, although they are trying to deal with that now. But, it looks very likely that we will see Shakwak work next year. I am looking forward to that.
We have had very good progress with respect to the Alaska Highway devolution talks, and I am hoping sometime in the near future to apprise the House in detail of progress on that front.
No major changes in highway maintenance are expected, although there has been a number of minor adjustments throughout the budget to reflect the various needs and expectations throughout the Yukon. There is however, one exception, that is on the Campbell Highway.
We are going to see considerable, additional expenditure on that highway related to the Sa Dena Hes ore haul. At the same time, the Alaska Highway budget also reflects a $1.1 million increase to meet the expectations of the increased maintenance related to that ore haul.
We are spending a little more money and time addressing rural roads. Funds for maintenance on non-numbered highways has increased by some $660,000 since 1991. Capital funding for upgrading of non-numbered highways - that is the secondary, rural roads - will be increased from the original 1991-92 estimate of $400,000 to $525,000 for next year. This is due to increased pressure, increased expectation and higher demand from people in the rural areas on those secondary and tertiary roads, where we have more and more people living and expecting an improved road network.
The Klondike Highway will see some reduced expenditure, largely because the main upgrade is fairly complete. We are going to be doing some strengthening of the paved section around Fox Lake. Some work has to be done at Flat Creek near Dawson. There is major road construction activity that will continue to focus on the Campbell Highway with a particular emphasis on sections impacted by the ore haul - that is in a plural sense, hauls, because at one end of the Campbell Highway we have one ore haul, and at the other end of the Campbell Highway, we have another ore haul. For this reason, we are concentrating money there.
The Campbell Highway, from Faro to Carmacks will see continuation of reconstruction, as well as some dust control and BST work.
The South Campbell Highway will see the continuation of major reconstruction in response to the Sa Dena Hes. Specific numbers are delineated in the budget. The Sa Dena Hes portion of the Campbell Highway will see some $1.2 million next year, but that is in addition to some $700,000 that we pulled from next year into this year, in order to get work started.
The Top of the World Highway will see the beginning of a program to improve the alignment and upgrade the surface of the highway. The $490,000 budgeted for 1992-93 will be primarily spent on developing aggregate materials.
There has been $1.5 million budgeted for phase 2 of the Two-Mile Hill realignment. I am sure that Members have been some of the preliminary work on that realignment. This will see some major reconstruction in the area of the Alaska Highway/Mons Road/Hamilton Boulevard area.
At the same time, we will be relocating the Whitehorse weigh station. We are estimating costs for that at $420,000.
We are also going to begin some work on reconstruction of the South Access at Whitehorse. We budgeted $600,000 for that job. I suppose I should provide some reassurance to Members, as I have to others who have raised it, that we plan to do the work in such a fashion so as to minimize any traffic disruption, particularly during next years anniversary celebrations.
We have a $1.3 million bridge program that will see completion of the Tuchitua River bridge, because that is our responsibility. We will also be doing some replacement work on bridges on the North Canol. We have an increase in funding for BST overlays this coming year; we have moved that budget from $800,000 to $950,000. Part of the whole idea of going to capital upgradings of highways and putting BST on, forces resurfacing as the roads aging cycle nears its end. As the statistics show on the budget, we have quite a bit of BST surface and it is necessary for us to protect that surface. It is not as if we upgrade the road, BST the surface, and it is finished forever; depending on traffic, flow patterns, depending on weight restrictions or weight limits, BST will deteriorate in some cases as soon as five or six years, and in some cases we see it lasting up to nine and 10 years, but a resurfacing of the BST has to be built into the capital program. We have the budget to meet that particular rising need.
We talked about the subject of Haines Junction and Carmacks airports during supplementaries so I will not go into any great detail. Perhaps I should mention that ...
Deputy Chair: Order, please. We will now take a recess.
Chair: I will now call the House to order.
We will continue debate on Community and Transportation Services.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not certain where I was when I was told to stop talking, so I will restate some of the things that I said earlier.
In concluding the general statements surrounding airports, I would note that we will be continuing work at Dawson for the site selection of the airport relocation in that community. We are also doing a site selection at Koidern, in the Member for Kluanes riding. A number of improvements are noted in the summary sheets provided to Members at Ross River, Teslin and Mayo.
In the area of land development, we are proposing a $9 million dollar program to address a broad range of industrial, residential, recreation, commercial and agricultural needs across the Yukon.
As Members know, we spend considerable time in consultation with communities on those land development projects. We have a commitment to put in place a land appeal process, which I expect to do over the course of the next year, and we will also be working with municipalities. Members are familiar with the financing changes that were announced over the course of the past year. I presented a statement to the House earlier in November on aspects about that new financial regime for municipalities.
In short, the grants that were provided to municipalities out of different categories of responsibility have all been consolidated. That is, all the operation and recreation grants, the water and sewer deficit grants, the transit deficit grant in Whitehorse, as well as all the capital block funding monies, have been rolled into one. This coming year, the budget before you, reflects $12.1 million, a 5.5 percent increase to municipalities of funding available to them.
I am quite pleased with that, and it does provide the municipalities with that greater flexibility and enough dollars to assign their priorities, based on community needs.
We are also quite active in the area of working with developing communities. As we have witnessed the creation of a couple more hamlets in the past year, we have increased the hamlet operating grants from $11,000 to $25,000 in the next budget year, which will be specifically earmarked to Ibex and Mount Lorne hamlet councils. Council members are eligible for honoraria in the course of their hamlet business.
Community recreation will also continue to be supported in the coming budget year. Two hundred forty thousand dollars is earmarked to the CRAG grants, the Community Recreation Assistance Grants, which also funds recreation directors and provides operation and maintenance support to communities.
Members will recall the acquisition of the waterfront at Whitehorse. We spent $145,000 on the landscaping this past fall, in order to have the waterfront area in a general state of preparedness for the 1992 season. We budgeted an additional $125,000 for the next year, to address the entire question of planning and further repair and maintenance work on the waterfront in the coming year.
I suppose I should briefly update Members on where the entire issue surrounding capital city commission and waterfront is. As Members know, we had proposed to do a Capital City Commission, which would address the broad spectrum of planning for capital city needs. When the waterfront became available - that is, when the land suddenly sprang free for negotiation and acquisition - we and the city changed our focus to address the waterfront. With the new city council, I will be finalizing the structure to deal with the waterfront, which I expect will be the rudimentary stage of the Capital City Commission. I have yet to deal in detail with the new council on that subject. When I am able to - very soon - I expect to be taking something to my Cabinet colleagues and subsequently, to Members.
The fire protection section is up to strength in the department with the recent filling of the fire marshal position. A very ambitious year is contemplated. Activities include training and technical support to all of the fire departments throughout the Yukon, as well as a very aggressive fire safety and public education program.
In the course of the coming budget year, we are going to see two new fire halls - one is for the Marsh Lake area residents and one in the Klondike Valley. We will also see the acquisition of a new fire truck for Upper Liard.
The municipal engineering branch of the department has also had a very busy year and will have a much busier year to come. They continue to provide support to the municipalities and unincorporated communities, in respect to engineering needs related to streets and roads, water and sewage services, waste management and dump sites. They have been closely involved with the committee on the special waste facility. Their department has also been working closely in Mayo, where a sewage treatment facility is nearing completion. This budget year coming will see $1.3 million allocated to the project: namely, for concluding the lagoon and lagoon access, a sewage lift station and a forced main leading to it.
We are going to be working with Ross River on the design of a wetlands sewage treatment. We are budgeting $150,000 for work on that front.
At the same time, in Whitehorse, we are providing $580,000 to assist the city in our commitment to fund one-third of the sewage treatment facility for this community.
At Carcross, as the Member will have noted, we are identifying $633,000 for a sewage treatment facility. Land-fill construction is planned for the Klondike Valley, as well as the Ibex Valley areas. We are budgeting $192,000.
As well, we are doing some work in Teslin. The budget on the engineering side shows the $150,000 recoverable item related to the rural electrification program. We anticipate having to replenish this, because it is generally oversubscribed, but until we get the applications, it is difficult to budget.
A number of other initiatives are contemplated in this budget. We expect to see some changes in the sport and recreation funding regime, in cooperation with the Yukon Recreation Advisory Committee and the Lotteries Commission, along with sport and recreation groups throughout the Yukon. This follows a study of funding sources and delivery mechanisms that we did in 1990. We expect to continue those consultations with recreation and sports groups throughout the territory and into the coming year. What we expect to see is a greater cooperation among groups and a greater efficiency in the administration of sports and recreation funding.
Members will recall that in 1991 the Home Owners Grant Act was revised to allow for the home owner grant to be deducted at the source when property taxes are paid. This revision was very well received by Yukon people. I heard many compliments on our providing that opportunity. I believe it has cut down the administration and handling costs of the taxation branch in the process.
Efforts will continue in the next year to ensure that the program continues in the smooth way it has begun and there will be prompt tax credits on an ongoing basis. I would note that home owner grant funding has increased from $1.5 million in 1991-92, the current year, to an anticipated $1.6 million in 1992-93.
Members are also aware that the agricultural policy, which was announced, will require implementation, and we anticipate that this policy will help us with a more orderly development of the agricultural industry while ensuring that other land interests and land users are respected.
Fire protection agreements for rural areas adjacent to municipalities will continue to be a priority of the fire marshals office. We expect this to lead to a more general review of the policy, once a number of matters have been dealt with on a municipality-by-municipality basis.
Additionally, we will be continuing in-house to improve on a number of administrative measures to assist us with the assimilation of data and information. In 1992-93, the department will conclude its first year of the employment equity plan. At the same time, we are looking at an improved computer system to permit more efficient processing of motor vehicle registrations. Members will recall the introduction of the staggered-licensing system, at the same time that the infamous licence plate was announced. As part of our streamlining and focusing government services provided to people around the territory, we have worked with Tourism and Health and Social Services to implement the transfer of the arts program and ambulance services effective April 1, in the coming budget year.
Those are the general remarks about the budget. Before I sit down, I would like to take the opportunity to respond to several matters that Members raised in previous budget debates and perhaps some in Question Period.
There was a question raised by the Member for Watson Lake concerning dust control measures on the Campbell Highway. The Member wanted to know why it took until July of last year before dust control measures were carried out. The explanation is that the dust control measures were not required until the ore haul began. Prior to that, the department had anticipated it and ordered the required calcium. At the time intended for calcium treatment, it did rain and the calcium was applied subsequent to that. The explanation is that it related to the ore haul.
The Member for Watson Lake also raised the issue of the engineering study on the Campbell Highway. That information is being assembled and will be provided to the Member. That information was supposed to be ready today, but it will not be ready until tomorrow.
I have to apologize to Members. There was a question raised about the Nahanni Range Road, and I indicated to Members that I thought that we had projected for some considerable increased capital upgrade in this budget. That is not the case, and I apologize if I may have said that we intended to do some major upgrading. To conclude that point, we have budgeted some maintenance. I believe there is $10,000 for maintenance, and we will continue to do that. We did spend some $157,000 on upgrading the Frances River Bridge. I may have mentioned that already.
The Member also raised the point that there was increased activity on the road. I have been able to check that out. We are aware only that Canamax went into their property and hauled out a number of trailers. Beyond that, there was no work done by that company. They did put some Bailey bridges across some of the creeks, but that was the extent of their activity. Cominco and Placer were in for a brief period last summer doing some exploration work; however, aside from those three activities, there is no increased activity of any proportion.
Members raised the matter of the Porter Creek C litigation. I can tell Members that an out-of-court settlement has been reached, prior to the matter going to trial earlier this year. A settlement of $1,502,000 was reached. It was the best arrangement that could be reached out of court. The original damage suit the government was attempting was marginally more, but it was anticipated that going to court would not achieve that amount. Therefore, there was an agreement to reach an out-of-court settlement, and that was the amount.
There was a question surrounding Destruction Bay and the road work that was done in that community. I think the Member for Kluane was the person who raised it. There was money being turned back. The reason for this was because our regular forces did the road upgrading in that community through the course of their regular maintenance activities. Therefore, the capital monies that were earmarked for the upgrading did not have to be used. I believe in my previous remarks I said the BST crew was not in the area and was not able to do the work. The work was actually done on the upgrading through maintenance, and the capital dollars were reappropriated.
I have provided separately to Members of the Opposition detailed information relating to ambulance training and budgets, so I will not speak to that.
There was a question about the Haines Junction terminal contract. Discussions are presently underway with the low bidder to explore ways of reducing the contract value. Community and Transportation Services and Government Services are actively exploring options to reduce the costs for the most effective use of funds. Those discussions are currently taking place, and the contract has not yet been awarded.
This concludes my general remarks and response to questions previously raised. I would invite any questions Members may have or comments they wish to make. I am sure no one will be as lengthy as I have been.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for obtaining the materials I had asked for when we were debating this department in the supplementaries. Some of my needs have been satiated by the efforts of his department.
I want to start a discussion this afternoon, and perhaps this evening, on an issue that is of some concern to me: the level of services provided in various unorganized communities and some of the problems that arise with regard to the fair treatment of these communities with respect to taxes and how residents in the communities might be required to pay for capital improvements that ultimately lead to services being provided. Earlier, in Committee, when we were discussing the supplementaries, I asked for a breakdown of the property tax revenues from some of the unorganized areas in the Yukon. One of the reasons for this was to try to get some sort of a handle on which areas, first of all, end up paying the greater amounts of property taxes, and then to try to achieve some kind of rationale, if there is one, for, particularly, the O&M monies that are distributed to those unorganized communities. The Minister has provided me with a one-page document entitled, Department of Community and Transportation Services. It says, On November 21, 1991, Mr. Willard Phelps requested current property tax revenue figures for those communities marked with asterisks.
All the communities, it so happens, have asterisks in the details below, except Carcross. That is right. I did not notice that before. That is some form of discrimination, I gather, that Carcross does not have an asterisk.
In any event, one observation I would make about the tax revenue side is that it seems rather inappropriate to separate Judas Creek from Marsh Lake. Judas Creek is right next door to Old Constabulary and New Constabulary subdivisions and the focal point for Judas Creek and Constabulary beach is essentially the Lakeview Marina. That is where the fire hall is located and very close by are some of the recreational facilities, used by residents. For example, the ski trails start there. Marsh Lake revenues, generally speaking, totalled together, would be approximately $124,000 a year. That is the unorganized area, of the ones that I requested, with the highest tax revenue. Interestingly enough, it is the lowest in terms of operation and maintenance, under the line in the 1991-92 budget.
The second highest is the Tagish area, which is almost $89,000, and while it is the second highest, it is also the second lowest in terms of operation and maintenance budget for the year that was given us in this particular document.
It seems that when I have, as I often do, complaints about the low level of service and the high taxes being paid by some of the people who live in those areas, what this chart does, to some extent, is lend a certain degree of credibility to that position.
I have some difficulty with the budget expenditure side of the document, simply because, I suspect, Carcross, with an O&M of $1.6 million, probably includes a great deal of O&M for the highway.
It is rather a different creature than an O&M that is strictly confined to community capital projects and running a community, if the Carcross grader station and Fraser were included, for example. Of course, Carcross provides services for the highway that goes through Tagish and Mount Lorne. Similarly, Beaver Creek, I suspect, is inordinately high for similar reasons. I do not know this; I am just surmising.
Those are my observations on the chart itself. It does lead me to make a few observations about the levels of service. My first point is that, with regard to both the Tagish and Marsh Lake areas, which have the highest yield in terms of taxation for this government and the lowest, by far, levels of service, I simply make the observation that more attention will need to be paid to those areas, particularly in view of the fact that they are growing very quickly and becoming inhabited by people who are of retirement age. A large number of people are retiring to their summer homes or cottages in both the Tagish and Marsh Lake areas. I would suspect that there will be some increasing demands for services, particularly those that might be required by seniors.
Second, we are seeing the provision, albeit slowly, of some services to both areas. We have the fire department, and the new fire hall now being built in the Marsh Lake area. Tagish has the infamous community well that does not work and is also in the process of organizing a volunteer fire department that, once the well works, will lead, we hope, to the location of a fire hall adjacent to the community well.
I want to point out that there are going to be more basic services required as time goes on. These two areas are certainly growing in terms of population and in terms of improvements and nice retirement homes.
I do not know if the Minister would like to comment on what I have said thus far, or if I should lead into the second part of my discussion.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to tell the Member that my greatest fears about tabling this document have been realized. I say that because, in my opinion, and I think that the facts will support that, this is a very poor assessment on which to build a case for provision of services, and that is largely because it is done departmentally only. It is only in the Community and Transportation Services budget that these figures relating to operation, maintenance and capital are drawn from.
The tax revenue is indeed collected by government, but the expenditure side is only the one department. I realize that the department is a big department. Overall it has a $100 million of expenditure and it is a large component of the services, but it does not speak to education, social services, tourism or renewable-type services provided to those areas. In that sense, it is inaccurate, but I think that the Member recognizes that. I really would not accept this as the measure of the full range of service, because that would require a much more detailed analysis of all budgets if the Member wanted to pursue that argument. I guess from a policy point of view, we address that through our different categories related to the taxation level of different communities and areas.
The other feature about this sheet that may be misleading is that it does not reflect expenditure in a previous year, or in previous years, nor does it project into the future. I think Members recognize that it takes a number of years to develop a basic level of services to communities.
In any given year, it is not a true picture of the full range of services provided to any region or community.
I do have some respect for the Members argument, but I do not accept that this is the barometer that justifies its accuracy.
The Member is correct about the highways money being assigned to some of the communities and not to others. The Member is correct that in Beaver Creek there is a portion of the highways budget that would be apportioned to that community. In the case of Judas Creek or Marsh Lake, no highways money is apportioned to them. One could argue, I suppose, for the sake of a debate, that those communities benefit from highway expenditures adjacent to them, even though they are not assigned to that community.
It becomes a very difficult exercise, in my view, to tie property tax revenue to the services the Member outlines as existing or not existing in respective communities.
I want to hear more from the Member about what he considers to be the poorly serviced communities or areas of Marsh Lake and Tagish. Certainly, from the developing evidence we have around the territory, where we have a growing number of people developing a community orientation, we have an increased demand for services in those communities and Tagish is not an exception. Tagish is seeking a greater level of services, whether it has to do with water or community recreation or facilities themselves. It is similar to what is occurring in the Ibex and Mount Lorne hamlet areas.
Communities, by virtue of their development and growth, do take on a local government level of thinking where, through the democratic process, they seek input into the service level that is provided to them.
I would not want this to be used as a definitive analysis of relating services to communities. It is much broader than that. Within our efforts to be fair and equitable in the distribution of funds for services, we attempt to balance the level of services with available funding, in proportion, to the communities that ask for and expect them.
Mr. Phelps: I will just answer a couple of those points and perhaps, after the break, we can get into the second part of this.
I agree with some of what the Minister has said, and I do not think I asked for the expenditure side to be broken down for one year. I asked for the tax revenues, as I recall.
I do think it is interesting because, despite the fact that there are some inaccuracies, there is some irony in the fact that the O&M for the two most productive areas, with respect to paying property taxes, are also the two areas that are, by far, receiving the smallest amount of O&M funds, even if you take away the highway.
The second point I would make is that it is true that government is trying to develop some that do not have equal treatment to the same extent. The problem with that argument is that this year Tagish, which is lagging far behind, is receiving no capital - zero - in the budget we are discussing tonight, although it is true that Marsh Lake is receiving a fire hall.
All I am saying is that the argument that we are playing catch-up with some of these communities really does not bear fruit if one carefully considers the dilemma of Tagish, which ranks second in terms of revenues.
I want to get into the issue of fairness and equal treatment of communities and debate that a bit after we come back from dinner, then move on to some other general observations about the budget.
Chair: The time being 5:30 p.m., the Committee will take a recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole back to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As we agreed earlier this afternoon, we would be requesting a couple of people from the Yukon College to come and join us this evening to explain the colleges objectives and programming budgets. In order to accomplish this task, I would ask that we consider a motion.
THAT at 7:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Mr. Seeth Seethram, President, and Mr. Nelson Ireland, Vice-President, Instructional Services, of Yukon College appear as witnesses before Committee of the Whole during debate on advanced education, Vote No. 3, Bill No. 19, First Appropriation Act, 1992-93.
Motion agreed to
On Advanced Education - stood over
Hon. Mr. McDonald: While the witnesses are preparing themselves to take a seat before us this evening, I would like to point out that I have just provided Members with a copy of the latest Yukon College annual report, which was delivered to me today. If all Members have copies, that will facilitate matters.
Unfortunately, we were unable to have the chair of the board with us this evening. I understand that he sends regrets. He is, of course, a resident of Watson Lake and a citizen chair of the college board. Consequently, he cannot simply come whenever he is requested. He was more than prepared to come before our gathering, if we needed him, but unfortunately, could not make it this particular evening.
In his stead, however, we do have some very articulate spokespeople for the college. The new president, Mr. Seeth Seethram, of the college and Nelson Ireland, an old hand at the college, are here to answer any questions that Members may have respecting college operations.
I would ask if perhaps Mr. Seethram would give a couple of minutes of introduction as to what the college is doing and where it is going. That, presumably, will get the juices flowing so Members will ask the questions they have of the witnesses. We can then proceed from there.
Mr. Seethram: I want to reply first of all that Jim Holt could not make it tonight, due to the short notice, but, nevertheless, I will speak for him.
I would like to present some very brief comments about the college itself.
As you know, we have essentially several categories of programs: adult basic education, personal development, career programs, about thirty certificate/diploma/degree programs, the Ministry of Education and Northern Studies Program as well as some research.
Finances have been relatively good. Last year there were expectations about deficits. We have managed to balance our finances for 1991-92; I believe that you have just received the financial statements. For 1991-92, we are operating with a balanced budget of $12.4 million dollars and we are in the process of developing a very comprehensive facility and equipment replacement plan.
Enrollments have been increased from last year to this year by about 20 percent. For this year we are expecting a total of 820 full-time students and about 2400 part-time students. That is about one in five adults in Yukon taking one course at the college.
In the last year, we have become more businesslike. We have become more service oriented. We have become more responsive to the needs of the communities. We have become more accountable. We are building partnerships with the government, with the First Nations, with the communities, and so on.
In the spirit of empowerment, we have also delegated a lot of responsibility and control to the communities around the Yukon. We now have a board that is working together very well as a team. They are putting the collective interest above the interests of the communities they represent. We are also working very cooperatively with the Department of Education, the board as well as the administration.
We have prepared, over the last year, a five-year strategic plan, which we intend to revise over the next two or three months. There will be ongoing revisions, I would think, as every time you prepare a strategic plan, things change so fast that by the time the ink is dried, you have to change it again.
We will continue to improve our flexibility and responsiveness to the communities. We will continue to increase our literacy and life skills programming. We will focus on the needs of the communities and the First Nations. Now, particularly with some of the land claims agreements coming on stream, there is an urgency to meet the needs of First Nations people.
We will increase our efforts in distance education, particularly now with our role in the TVNC. We want to take advantage of that. Our enrollment, I think, will continue to increase. There are more and more expectations of the college, moreso in the communities. I think 10 to 20 percent of the population in some communities are taking one course or another at the college.
We will continually improve our programs and services. We have introduced a total quality mandate as well. We look forward to a very, very challenging future. With that I will stop, and entertain any questions.
Chair: I would like to tell the witnesses they do not have to stand up if they do not want to.
Mr. Devries: I would like to ask a few questions about the development strategy that Mr. Seethram gave me a copy of, for 1991-96, which is the five-year strategy. I was quite interested in reading it. There is an area of concern and I am hoping that, when they are revising it, many of those concerns will be addressed. It indicates a lack of good systems and structures. I am curious what they mean by a lack of good systems and structures?
Mr. Seethram: The difference is in the various systems such as personnel systems, student information systems, facility baseline data, and so on. Last year, if 15 people were asked what was the enrollment of the college, you would get 25 figures. There is no consistent way of measuring things - not that it is important from the publics perception but it is for our own purposes in comparing year to year. It is important to have consistent measurements. When we talk about systems, we are talking about student information systems, personnel information systems, facility information systems, as well as the financial information systems.
Mr. Devries: Another area of concern is the uncertainty of funding levels. It is unclear to me how other colleges are funded in comparison to the way this college is funded. Does the witness have any comments on that?
Mr. Seethram: Compared to most other institutions in Canada and the U.S., so far at least, Yukon College has been well-funded. If we talk about funding constraints at all, it is only in this year that we see some. There have been no significant increases, other than for salary. Relative to most other institutions, the Yukon College is very lucky.
Mr. Devries: So, the witness is saying they have received an increase to cover the wage settlement, but they have not received a four percent increase for inflation. Is that correct?
Mr. Seethram: Yes, that is correct.
Mr. Devries: Another thing I find very interesting is excessive internal and external politics. Could the witness elaborate on that?
Mr. Seethram: With respect to internal politics - both capital P and small p - whenever people had complaints for which they had no resolution, they immediately made representation to the politicians, or the members of the board.
Externally, as a result, the members of the board, or the politicians, came directly to the president, or whoever would solve the problem. Sometimes, this was almost by dictum, You shall do that. I think we have gotten away from that. I have got the board to agree that their job is policy and lobbying the government, not day-to-day administration. Therefore, at this point, anyone who goes to the board members with complaints will simply be referred back to me. So, it is declining.
Mr. Devries: I am sure the Minister of Education often runs into an identical problem in that area.
Are we educating our students as potential students of the world, who have a sound base from which they are able to go on to higher levels of education, or are we educating to a lower common denominator? Where do you feel the college is with respect to its performance? Are we on the higher end of the scale or on the lower end of the scale?
Mr. Seethram: I think this being the only post-secondary educational institution in the Yukon, we have to be a technical institute, a vocational school, a community college and a university. We serve people at all these levels, depending upon the need.
There is a certain percentage of people who want to go on to universities, and we do provide university-level education. A certain percentage of people require job training, and we provide them with current education. There are also a lot of people who have dropped out of high school and want to go back for post-secondary education, so we end up doing a lot of literacy and a lot of adult basic education activities.
Mr. Devries: Another concern that seems to spring out of this report is inadequate staff development. Have workshops been developed? Are they referring to possibly some cross-cultural coordination problems? What are they referring to here?
Mr. Seethram: We need a lot of staff development activities for the college staff. At the facility level, we provide not only cross-cultural instruction, but a lot of technical upgrading and updating has to be done. At the management level, there has not been any management training at all. We have to introduce a lot of management training. At the clerical and administrative level, there is no training in place right now.
There is a $40,000 facility development budget that is provided under the collective agreement. That is really a very, very small amount when considering the number of people involved.
We are in the process of developing a staff development plan. A draft has been prepared and the union is reviewing it. Next year, we hope to set aside some money, specifically for the purpose of staff development.
Mr. Devries: Another concern I have heard regards the makeup of the board. It seems like the board - I understand that most boards are this way - is a real cross-section of a lot of minority interests. The biggest fear regarding some of these boards is when one minority gets its interests addressed, you hear a lot of me-toos, and at times it is hard to come to a consensus on programs. Does this happen very often or is everyone very open-minded?
Mr. Seethram: It probably used to happen, until about six months ago, to some degree. I have seen a little bit of that. I have made reference to that in my opening remarks. The board is working very well as a team. They are putting the collective interests above the personal interests, as well as the interests of the community that they represent. Right now, they are doing very well.
Mr. Devries: I will be careful with my questions to the Minister of Education. I do not think he wants me to ask questions about the board or put them on the spot. That is fine. I understand that.
I have a question on the Yukon teachers education program. I wonder if the witness could explain how the college deals with situations where the Department of Education has a program it would like the college to deliver. At what stage does the college become involved in the planning for the program? Is the college in the position to say no? I guess it would be up to the board of governors to determine if such a program would interfere, say, with the delivery of other programs or if it would be hard to put it into place with the existing structure. Does the college have enough flexibility in saying yes or no?
Mr. Seethram: Let me make some general comments before I answer that specific question. There are a couple of issues that the college has to address. First, the college planning is not good enough, as yet. The college should be in the position to present a 1993-94 program plan by about June 1992 to the Minister so that the program plan can drive the budget. Right now, we are not there. We hope to achieve that by next year.
The budget drives the programming right now. Secondly, I think that it is a question of credibility. The college has yet to build credibility and has to establish the trust of the Department of Education before we can totally drive the budget through our program plan. I have used the analogy of an 18 year old moving out of the house, well intentioned parents say, You are old enough to go out, but everyday you make sure that the kid is back home in time - all with loving intentions. Some of that happens and that happens with any government I think, in the early stages of automony of an institution. Having said all of that, in terms of the teacher education program, could we have refused to deliver that? The answer is yes, we could have refused to deliver that, but the Department of Education could have still delivered that, but in terms of the public image, to have refused to deliver that program would not have done the college any good. I think slowly and gradually we are getting to a stage where the department is beginning to trust us and is giving us full control of future programs.
Mr. Devries: Initially when this program was presented to the public, it seemed like there were a lot of questions about what degree teachers would come out with when it was completed. It is my understanding now that in the Yukon Teachers Education program, teachers who complete the program will be certified as teachers, whether they are certified as interprovincial teachers or as Yukon teachers.
Mr. Seethram: The graduates will be certified as interprovincial teachers, by the University of British Columbia.
Mrs. Firth: I have some general questions about the organization of the college. I have received the policy manual from the college, and I received that in May of 1991, from Mr. Seethram. I would like to ask Mr. Seethram if there has been any major organization changes at the college and whether the changes are few enough to describe to us or whether I need a whole new organization chart to follow the changes that have been made. I gather that there have been several changes made.
Mr. Seethram: Yes, there have been significant changes made since the beginning of this academic year. We put a new administration in place at the beginning of July 1991. I can send you a new organization chart. The result is that we have reduced the number of vice-presidents from three to two, we have reduced the number of deans from five to three, and we have built an organization chart that promotes cross-functional working instead of divisional barriers between divisions. One of the problems that existed was each division was operating as if it were an autonomous body and did not want to communicate with other divisions. We are trying to take down those divisional barriers. It has totally changed. I will send you a copy of the new organization chart.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate getting that. I would like to ask Mr. Seethram if there were a lot of people affected in a major way with respect to those changes. Did people lose their jobs or were they reassigned to other jobs? Could he tell us how many people were affected in that capacity?
Mr. Seethram: There were about eight people affected: six union staff and two managerial staff. Of the six union staff, we have been able to accommodate three of them in other positions. The other three we had to lay off. That was done painlessly. The two managers who were affected were given two other assignments, at least for one more year.
Mrs. Firth: Of the six union staff who were accommodated, were they given jobs with comparable salaries or did they take a reduction in pay? I understand the jobs of the two managerial staff are only guaranteed for one more year. What was the status of their jobs? Did they also take a pay reduction and get reassigned?
Mr. Seethram: None of the people took a pay reduction. Everybody was kept on comparable salaries. As far as the two managers are concerned, whether or not we will be able to accommodate them at the end of one year, I am not able to say right now.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps Mr. Seethram could tell us what other assignments they were given. How was it determined what assignments these two managerial people were to be given? We might then have some idea of exactly what the jobs involve, and we can make some kind of assessment as to how long they may last.
Mr. Seethram: At the time we were discussing downsizing the budget last year, I made a commitment to the managerial staff that they would have jobs for at least one year after the reorganization was done. On that basis, the two managers currently have some administrative duties and some teaching responsibilities, even though they are carrying managerial salaries. At the end of the year, if they are prepared to go into full teaching responsibilities, I am sure there will be vacancies available that they can fill.
Mrs. Firth: Would those teaching responsibilities carry a lower salary than they would be making at the managerial level?
Mr. Seethram: Right now they are carrying the same salary, even though that is partially in violation of the collective agreement. However, in discussions with the union, we have kept them at the managerial salaries.
Mrs. Firth: So Mr. Seethram cannot tell us whether or not the salary will remain the same if they are offered the other positions with teaching responsibilities. My guess would be that it is going to go down. I cannot see giving them teaching positions at a managerial salary.
Mr. Seethram: That is right. After August 1992, if they assume full teaching positions, that will be at the teachers salary not at the managerial salary.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask Mr. Seethram about the pay to the full time teachers versus the part-time and the student load. What kind of a balance is there? Do the full-time teachers have regular full classes and make a substantial salary, while the part-time teachers get bigger classes? I have heard some concerns raised about that balance and I would like to ask Mr. Seethram if he could address that, please.
Mr. Seethram: Nelson Ireland will address that question.
Mr. Ireland: The course load per instructor varies from program to program. I would have to address each program on an individual basis. When individual instructors do come in on a part-time basis, they are normally recruited from the local community. Those tend to be the courses we have a lot of student enrollments in. As well, the people from the local community are not available to teach two or three sections, so some of the courses are overloaded. The class sizes are larger than some of the full-time instructors.
In some cases, the pay for part-time instructors is done on a stipend basis, which is roughly between $3,000 and $3,500 per course.
Mrs. Firth: Could Mr. Ireland take it one step further and tell us what the average salary range would be of a full-time teacher, as compared to the stipend the part-time instructors would be getting?
Mr. Ireland: The wage range varies from approximately $35,000 to the top of the scale for a masters degree with full experience to about $55,000.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to go back to the three union staff who were laid off. Mr. Seethram made reference to that process going fairly smoothly. Could he describe what happened there? Were they paid out, or were other jobs found for them? Why did it go so smoothly if they were union employees?
Mr. Seethram: When we were planning the downsizing, we had discussions with the union. We discussed fully and agreed on how they were going to be laid off. Obviously, in all the cases, they would have been paid off with three-months salary, and they have the right to come back to vacant jobs for one year. When vacancies occur, many of those people have the right to apply for them. In fact, they should be given first priority on any vacancy.
Mrs. Firth: Has that happened with any of the three individuals? Are any of them back working at the college?
Mr. Seethram: Yes, indeed. It has happened.
Mrs. Firth: All of them?
Mr. Seethram: No, not all of them. I think one of them has come back. The other two have found other jobs.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask Mr. Seethram if any of the other employees or presidents took any decrease in their pay scale when this whole discussion about restraint and cutting back was taking place. Did anyone else take any pay cuts?
Mr. Seethram: No, no one has taken any pay cuts.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps, then, the president could explain to us - I find it interesting about the two managerial positions that were singled out. How was that decision made to look at cutting those two positions?
Mr. Seethram: In the reorganization, as I mentioned earlier, we cut the number of deans from five to three; which three we selected to keep and which two we selected to give other jobs was very much a value judgment based on their performance and the needs we had within the reorganized divisions.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I wonder if I could ask Mr. Seethram to elaborate a little bit on his observations about Television Northern Canada, TVNC, that he made in his opening remarks. I, of course, know in general what the program is and so do most Members of the Legislature, but I wonder if Mr. Seethram could elaborate a little bit and talk to us about when he sees our connection to that instrument taking effect and what form our initial involvement will take. Perhaps he might elaborate in terms of hours of programing, numbers of people involved, whether we are talking about additional staff or regular staff of the college and reflect, if I could ask him to, a little bit ahead - perhaps two or three years - as to how that involvement might flower or evolve?
Mr. Seethram: The TVNC involvement came about as a result of the Yukon 2000 consultations. As the Premier knows, Yukon College was named as the governments arms length participant in the TVNC. That planning has gone along and we are going to be starting programming on TVNC on January 22, 1992.
On January 21, there will be opening ceremonies that will be broadcast live from Whitehorse, Iqaluit and Yellowknife.
Starting in January, we are scheduled for six hours of programming per week. Initially, we had scheduled 10 hours of programming per week, but reduced that to six hours at our last board meeting. In trying to fill the six hours per week, we have chosen four informational types of programming, all of which are half-hour programs. These programs will be repeated to fill the six hours.
For the first six months, most of the programming will be of the information type, to get the people interested in television courses. After the first six months, we expect to expand the programming to provide both credit and non-credit courses via the television medium.
At present, we are buying programs from other sources and putting them on, rather than producing our own programs. The cost of producing programs is very high - approximately $150,000 for a half-hour program, therefore we would be looking at 12 times $150,000 per week of programming.
Right now, we are carrying on the efforts with our own staff. The Department of Education has provided us with $142,000 per year in funding. With that funding, we are going to hire a coordinator to find out what programming is available, what kind of modifications we have to make and who we can get to make the modifications. By June of next year, we hope to have some of our own productions on television and fill as many hours as possible with credit programming.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I wonder if you could elaborate about the initial programming. You talked about the very high production costs and a sentence or two later you referred to programming that we might get from somewhere else. I take it that we are not going to be contributing to TVNC by rebroadcasting southern productions. I further understand that you would want to look for low cost options. I am aware of many places in Canada with college based programming being very much the talking head, the professor in front of the blackboard with a fairly static camera. Unless you are interested in the subject, it is not usually fascinating television.
Will we perhaps have Mr. Seethram in the first program talking about Russian fiscal policy or what can we expect in the opening programs?
Mr. Seethram: No, Mr. Seethram will not be talking about Russian politics in the program. We would like to keep away from the talking heads as much as possible. In the first six months, we are going to have an introductory kind of psychology course, so to speak. We will have a program called Women Alive, which is very much a northern program, with various political, social and economic issues of interest to women.
We will be offering an introductory computer course, again, a half-hour program. We will be offering a business course, an introductory type of business course that will be more of an information course. It is not really a credit course at this point; our intention is to make it a credit course in the future. Images of Reality, which is very much a native program, we have borrowed from another institution.
That is the kind of programming that will happen in the first six months. About 50 percent of the programming is northern and the rest is borrowed from southern institutions.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the president if there have been any new jobs created at the college that were not on the last organizational chart.
Mr. Seethram: Yes. There have been one or two new jobs.
Mrs. Firth: Could we find out what the jobs are, please?
Mr. Seethram: Yes, you can. Some of the new jobs, if you want to call them new jobs, are really changed titles. For example, we have a title called executive director of support services, which is a new title. However, a person who was in a similar position before is now in that position.
We have a new title called manager of community education and devolution, which, again, is a retitling of a previous position, with broadened responsibilities. We have a new title called manager of marketing and college development. That is a new title for an old job with an expanded role.
Mrs. Firth: Do the presidents have executive assistants or administrative assistants, and do both the vice-presidents have them?
Mr. Seethram: Only one vice-president has an executive assistant. The president does not have any and the other vice-president does not have any.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps Mr. Seethram could tell us which one has the administrative assistant and what the purpose is of that position.
Mr. Seethram: Last year, the title of Nelson Ireland was Vice-President of Community and Continuing Education. In that role, he had an executive vice-president. In the current role, that executive vice-president is not necessarily performing the executive assistant role. That executive assistant has been assigned to the Mayo campus right now, doing a lot of program consultation at the Mayo campus.
Mrs. Firth: Would that job have been advertised and put to competition? Would it have gone through the normal processes that jobs in the Public Service Commission would have through this government?
Mr. Seethram: Nelson Ireland will answer that question.
Mr. Ireland: The position, when originally advertised, was called an administrative assistant. I believe it corresponds with about an AR-8 or AR-9 level. It was basically designed initially as a continuing education assistant to help with programming. Over the past year, with the recent absence of the VP First Nations, the role has expanded much more into one of program consulting. I am currently in the process of rewriting the job description to reflect that, and I am waiting to receive advice from personnel as to whether or not it should go to competition.
Mrs. Firth: Could Mr. Ireland tell us, please, when he expects that work to be done and when they will be determining whether or not the job is going to go to competition?
Mr. Ireland: I expect that process to be completed by the end of the month.
Mrs. Firth: I just have one or two more questions. I wanted to ask a question with respect to the community learning centres and exactly how the decision is made as to what each community is going to get. For example, how do they determine what the community of Faro will get, compared to a community like Pelly Crossing or Mayo or one of the other communities? Who makes the final decision as to what the community gets?
Mr. Seethram: First of all, we do not call them community learning centres anymore. They are community campuses of the college. The decisions on what programming and how much budget they get, and what staffing they get, depends upon the plans they have submitted and the budget submissions the communities have made. Each one of the communities has prepared a three-year program plan, which we will incorporate into our stated plan. On the basis of that and on the basis of the priorities within the budgets, we will make the allocations. The allocations are made by the senior managerial team, in one sense, with, however, considerable input from and consultation with the community campuses.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the president for clarifying the terminology. The president has made reference to submissions being presented with respect to community campuses. Who makes the submission? Who would compile all that and present it to the college?
Mr. Seethram: Each of the community campuses has a community campus committee, which is made up of lay people from within the community. In consultation with the college staff in the communities, the First Nations councils, and with a lot broader consultation with community members, these committees prepare the program plans, although we have said that, in the future, we want to make systematic needs assessments before the programs are prepared. Right now, the needs assessments have not been done, but plans have been prepared in consultation with the various community influentials.
Our allocations are based on these plans.
Mrs. Firth: Does that include capital things like computers, office space, and so on?
Mr. Seethram: Yes, it includes everything. However, we are limited with capital. We only have about $200,000 per year. The demand is very high, so we are not able to satisfy all the demands. As far as offices and classrooms are concerned, we are in the process of preparing a long-term plan. Right now, there are some very high-need areas. We have to address some of them very quickly but, in the absence of a long-term plan, it is difficult to do patchwork.
Mrs. Firth: Could Mr. Seethram tell us approximately what it costs on a yearly basis to operate the community campuses?
Mr. Seethram: It varies from community to community. If you are asking about the per student cost, I could give you some very rough estimates.
If it is the total cost for each community, I can send you a list of all the budget figures for each of the communities.
Chair: I will allow you one more, and then I will have to move on. Mr. Lang is waiting.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate Mr. Seethram sending that information to me, as well as the update of the reorganization. Have there been any policy updates, other than the information I received in May, 1991? If there are, could Mr. Seethram also provide that to us, please?
Mr. Seethram: No, there have been no policy updates. I intend to present updates and new policies to the board of governors in September. When the new policies are done, we will be very glad to send you a copy.
Mr. Lang: The question of the size of college and space came up in earlier deliberations in the Legislature. In respect to the present college and the classroom space, do you have enough classroom space to operate the programs that you have now?
Mr. Seethram: Unfortunately, that is a question I cannot adequately answer at this stage. So far, the operation of the college has been such that each division had been allocated dedicated classrooms. When people put on new programs or brought in new staff, there was no attention paid to the space availability, so space was occupied as and when it was available. This fall, we reached a crunch where we did not have enough space to run all the classes. When I looked around, it was very obvious that scheduling possibilities existed.
For example, one division had one and one-half hour classes and another division had one-hour classes. As a result, the half-hour overlap was a waste of time. Moreover, most classes are held from nine until 12 and one until four, which is only six hours a day, or 30 hours a week. The norm in an educational institution is 40 hours a week for full-time classes, plus the evening classes.
So, I am in the process of making some of those adjustments. Dedicated classrooms have been voided now. No classroom is dedicated anymore. The class limits have been standardized, so we have been able to find enough classrooms for the fall. There will be problems in the future if enrollments grow like this, but before I can ask for more funding of the government, I have to assess the utilization, what the short-term and long-term needs are, not only for the Ayamdigut campus, but also for all the rest of the facilities. I am in the process of doing this now, and I hope to complete it by about April.
Mr. Lang: Other than for the new facility on top of the hill, are there other classrooms being used throughout the community for the purpose of college courses?
Mr. Seethram: In Whitehorse, we are using Closeleigh Manor for a number of classes that are delivered to industry and the government. We have the WCC, the Skookum Jim Centre and, in each of the communities, we have separate classrooms, offices and so on.
Mr. Lang: Could Mr. Seethram update us with respect to the question of dormitories and the need for dormitory space?
Mr. Seethram: At the beginning of the year, there is a very high demand for dormitory space. We have 54 single student units and eight married student units in Whitehorse, and there are none on any of the campuses.
At the beginning of the year, we receive approximately 150 applications for these units. However, we are not sure if that demand will sustain if we charge them what we should. We are trying to find out from the various hotels in town if they would give us substantially reduced rates in the winter.
We also have the Carpenters Union building, which is another residence that has about eight units. We have the Fourth Avenue Residence, the St. Elias Centre, that the government has given us. We have cleaned it up and painted it, and we will have about 12 units available in January.
Whether the demand will sustain and we continue to need more residences will depend on the price.
Right now, we charge $320.00 per unit, per single student, including meals. The meals alone cost $340.00, so they are getting the residence more or less free. We cannot continue to operate the downtown facilities on that basis, so we will offer some facilities on that basis in January, and then we will assess what the real demand is.
Mr. Devries: As I am sure the witness is aware during the weekend the land claims process seemed to be moving along very quickly in the area of self-government. I understand that the college was doing a lot of prep work to create administrators for self-government and office workers, and so on.
It seems like this is moving along more quickly than anticipated. Is there going to be increased pressure on the college to help make this transition to self-government operate in a smooth, efficient manner? It seems like this is going quicker than we had anticipated.
Mr. Seethram: Yes. There will be increased pressure. There already has been increased pressure. I think one or two First Nations have already made substantial plans and have presented them to us. The expectation is that we will satisfy their needs and we have promised them that we will.
It has brought on quite a high level of pressure, but it is a situation of do or die for us, because if we cannot do it for one First Nation, then we can forget about it for the rest of them. If we can do it well for one First Nation, then I think we can repeat it 13 more times.
Mr. Devries: Personally, I have no further questions. I would like to thank Mr. Seethram and Mr. Ireland for appearing. I can interrogate the chair of the board when I get back to Watson Lake.
Mr. Nordling: I just have a few questions. Mr. Seethram talked about the classroom space up there. I would like to ask him if there is adequate office space up at the college for the staff and teachers. Is that situation satisfactory?
Mr. Seethram: No, it is not satisfactory right now. We will certainly need to improve that. The problem we have right now is to assess the capacity. We have to assess the need on a long-term basis instead of making changes on a short-term basis. That is why I am trying for a better plan. I think you have to maintain the functional as well as the financial value of the facilities of the college. That takes good, long-term planning.
Mr. Nordling: We also talked about the dormitory space and charging what I would term a more realistic rental for the students. If it is determined that the students can pay a more realistic rent and there is still a considerable demand, would the college undertake to build on or expand the dormitory facilities at the college?
Mr. Seethram: Certainly, if the government gives us more money, we will; but we will explore other ways of doing that, through private entrepreneurs if we can.
Mr. Nordling: I am going to get to Mr. Seethrams point but before doing so I would like to ask about the day care up at the college. Is that being looked at or subsidized in any way?
Mr. Seethram: Yes, the day care is being subsidized. Last year, 1991, our subsidy was in the range of $50,000 in addition to the free rental, free utilities, free cleaning, free maintenance and everything. For next year, the board has initially approved a subsidy of up to $20,000 in addition to the free rent and utilities and so on.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to come back to the big question of funding and money. Mr. Seethram has said that right now the budget drives the programming and the grant from the Yukon government now is essentially unchanged from what is forecast for 1991-92. If the college foresees any expansion at all in any other programming and development, it seems to me most of these things cost more than they bring in in tuition, and I wonder what the college plans are - how will they finance new programming and expansion, which I think we all hope for and expect to see at the college?
Mr. Seethram: I have one correction. The government has given us more money for 1992-93 for the new programs that have been initiated. I think that total is in the range of $500,000 to $600,000. Any new programs that we want to initiate, obviously we have to get funding from elsewhere. The tuition fee covers only four percent of the total cost. With that being the case, we have to go to the government to ask for more money, but we have to have a well justified plan before we can ask for that money, which is what we do not have right now.
Mr. Nordling: The figures that I was looking at were on page 162 of our budget book, where the 1991-92 forecast is $10,996,000 and for 1992-93 it is $10,988,000. This is a slight decrease is the money that we expect to transfer from the Yukon government to the college. I can see that the college will have its problems.
I would like to ask Mr. Seethram when he thinks that this long-term plan will be prepared? Who is working on developing the plan at the present time?
Mr. Seethram: We hope to have that long-term plan ready by about April or May 1992. Nelson Ireland has been busy working on this plan.
Mr. Nordling: If no one else has any questions, I will get back to a very specific question.
I have been keeping close track of the employees who were laid off as a result of the reorganization. Of the three union workers laid off, one is back at the college and the two others have jobs.
Does Mr. Seethram know which two positions are not back, and where those people are working at the present time?
Mr. Seethram: I do not have those details right now.
Chair: Are there any further questions?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have some opportunity to discuss the college further with Members, if they wish. I would like to thank Mr. Seethram and Mr. Ireland for having shared the college programming and budgeting plans with us. It is always a pleasure to have them provide some detailed information so Members might get a more accurate picture of the colleges aspirations and direction.
Mr. Seethram: Thank you, Madam Chair, and all the Members.
Chair: Thank you.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a couple of comments to make respecting a number of the items discussed. I want to reassure the Member for Watson Lake that any urgency I have felt about questions the Member asked regarding the board was exclusively due to the fact that appointments to the board are not Mr. Seethrams responsibility at all. They are essentially mine and the Cabinets. I did not want to put Mr. Seethram in the difficult position of trying to assess how the rest of the board members were doing. He is, of course, a board member. If the Member has some concerns about the makeup of the board, he should ask the Minister responsible for the board.
I noticed that Mr. Seethram handled the question fairly well.
I definitely have to take issue with comments made by the Member for Porter Creek West about the funding to the college. The funding has been very generously allocated. One will notice that, in the 1991-92 main estimates, the base grant was $9,036,000, and we are now talking about a base grant of approximately $2 million more than that for the year coming, on top of which, of course, there is a number of program enhancements that, I would think, would be the envy of any college or any university anywhere, especially in some jurisdictions in this country.
Obviously, I do not agree with the Members assessment that there is trouble in store for the college.
That is nothing new, though; we have disagreed on things before and we will continue to disagree on some things.
I am more than prepared to answer any questions that the Members may have respecting the colleges operation from the governments perspective. If the Members have questions, I will provide as complete an answer as I can.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up with a couple of questions with the Minister after the testimony by the president.
I think that a lot of Yukoners are going to find it quite astonishing that we have that huge $50 million college and yet we are short of classroom and office space. I would like to ask the government if they are concerned about that and what they see happening in the future with respect to that particular problem?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, I think that Members will have to put the office space and classroom space problem in perspective. The witnesses this evening have indicated that there are classrooms that are now not used to full capacity. When Mr. Seethram spoke of the lack of classrooms that are dedicated for a particular purpose, he is essentially indicating to Members that a particular instructor or program no longer has a classroom that is dedicated exclusively to it.
If one walked up to the college a couple of years ago, one may have heard complaints about the availability of classroom space, but one would have, in walking down the hallway, walked past classrooms, 75 percent of which were vacant.
In those days, essentially what was happening was that the classroom availability was hampered by the fact that there was a predominant attitude that a particular program had a classroom that was donated or dedicated completely for that purpose. What Mr. Seethram has indicated is that, in normal institutional programming of this sort, classrooms ought to be available for 40 hours a week. As indicated, classrooms are not currently being used on an average of 40 hours a week, so there is still some excess capacity.
As a general proposition, I think it is quite gratifying - and I think everyone in the Legislature should be gratified - to know that enrollments, over the course of the last number of years, have skyrocketed. In some programs, the number of students has grown to the extent that we now have a large percentage of Yukon adults attending college, both at the Whitehorse campus and the campuses in the communities.
Clearly, there are a combination of things that must be addressed: first of all, the better use of the existing space and, second, we have to understand and accept that the college has been extraordinarily successful at recruiting more students and in initiating new programs.
At the same time, the government has provided classroom space at Closeleigh Manor for use by the college. We are more than prepared to consider any well-considered, thoughtful, long-term proposals for increased space, bearing in mind that we would expect that the existing space be used to its fullest potential.
Chair: We will now take a break.
Mr. Devries: In the five-year plan it mentions that there is a facility transfer plan, that will assume the responsibility for all of the facilities. Now, my understanding is that when they want to make some changes in the college, if it does not come out of that $200,000 capital budget that is allocated to them, it is about a six-month process through Government Services to get anything switched around. I believe they are presently looking at combining two classrooms into one classroom. It seems very cumbersome and they have some concerns about that, I understand.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are developing a protocol with the college, at the present time, to delegate minor renovations to the college from Government Services. The transfer of the maintenance of facilities, et cetera, is not on the front burner, shall we say, but the college wishes to have more flexibility in undertaking some minor renovations. It has made a request that we develop such a protocol and we are doing that.
Mr. Devries: I have one question on the Sa Dena Hes joint-venture training agreement. One paragraph reads, ...where local residents shall mean those persons in the Liard Basin or Ross River area, having a valid Yukon health insurance card... It was always my understanding that this training agreement also encompasses the whole Kaska Nation, many of whom are from Lower Post and from Fort Ware, et cetera. These people do come to work at the mine. Would they qualify for training through this program or would they have to get funding from the BC government for that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am going to have to take the question as notice. My understanding was that we would be training Yukoners for Yukon jobs. The band, however, at Liard, has a number of members living in northern BC and traditionally, the Yukon government has considered them, for education purposes, to be Yukoners. This is a slightly different case, in that we would expect the BC government to provide training for their residents. Unless I am mistaken, the focus is on people who are resident of the Yukon.
Administration in the amount of $11,191,000 agreed to
On Planning and Support Services
Planning and Support Services in the amount of $2,992,000 agreed to
On Training Programs
Training Programs in the amount of $1,499,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $15,682,000 agreed to
On Yukon College
On Construction and Maintenance Community Campus - Construction
Construction and Maintenance Community Campus - Construction in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Furniture and Equipment
Mr. Devries: I think that the president touched on that slightly, that he feels that is far from adequate. Doing some electronic repairs myself, I have about $10,000 worth of equipment and I have to upgrade that at a rate of approximately $2,000 per year. If you have $6 million worth of equipment, it would not come anywhere near that. I think that is something that we are going to have to address in the future.
I know that the Minister indicated that they could use some of the other $200,000 for that, but I think that he may be skimping a little in this area. It is very important, especially in the trades area, that students have the opportunity to work with up-to-date equipment.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There will never be a year go by that the college, or any institution that we fund, will not be requesting more money than that that is allocated. I have enormous respect for management of the college, but let me simply say that the funding that we have provided - and I point out it is 5 percent more than last year, so it is a 5 percent real increase in available money. This is an amount that has historically been provided to the college.
It is interesting to note that the University of Regina receives from the Province of Saskatchewan $400,000 for capital - all capital - for any given year. That is equivalent to what the Yukon Government supplies to Yukon College for capital in a given year. Much of the facilities upgrading in the communities is done through other mechanisms and means than through the capital allocation.
Mayo is getting a new campus through the public schools branch. The Teslin community campus received new facilities through the business development fund. So there are other mechanisms that community groups employ to improve space for community campuses.
I realize that if the Legislature were to provide more funding in this particular area, the college would not turn it back. Much of the equipment that has been provided to the college was provided new when the college was constructed. The Member will recall us passing very large equipment budgets: $2 million in a given year.
It was in 1987-88 and 1988-89 - I think it was those years or the years immediately previous. This demonstrates that much of the equipment that is available to the college is, in fact, brand new. We are only talking about the equipment that is required to upgrade or replace broken equipment.
I am certain that in future years, as time goes on and enrollments increase, there will be a desire to provide more than inflation protection to the budget. If that is the case, I would be the first to fight for those expenditures, if I am here.
Furniture and Equipment in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Yukon Place
On Phase IV
Phase IV in the amount of $1,240,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $1,640,000 agreed to
Advanced Education agreed to
Education agreed to
Community and Transportation Services - continued
Mr. Phelps: I had not finished my comments prior to the dinner break, so I would like to continue on with the general debate.
One thing I would note is that I did ask for the property tax revenue figures for certain unorganized communities. I am sure that the two new hamlets would be interested in this information for their hamlet borders, especially when they hear tonights debate. The Minister may also want to consider doing the revenues for the Mayo Road/Hot Springs Road area.
There is no great rush. I just assumed those groups of people would be interested in the same issues.
The next point I would like to make is that I am not entering into this with any kind of a demand for a particular level of services for either the Tagish area or the Marsh Lake area. That is not the issue. I asked for these figures because, in each case, there has been a certain amount of contention over one piece of infrastructure. In the case of Marsh Lake, there was some debate a year ago with regard to the firehall, and the Minister did go out in the spring and address a crowd about that issue. With regard to Tagish, I am sure the Minister has full recall about the numerous times we have debated the ill-fated well in that community. As well - no pun intended - I am sure he realizes that, over the course of the next little while, there will be a logical sequence whereby, once the volunteer fire department in Tagish is up and running - it is in the formative stage - there will be a demand in due course for a firehall there.
Of concern to me is the lack of any coherent policy with regard to the manner in which levels of service or infrastructure, within unorganized communities in particular, bear on taxes. The same concern applies equally to hamlet status situations, since the hamlet council has no authority - at least in the formative stages of the hamlet - to levy any kind of revenue-producing taxation in the community that is being served by the hamlet.
I say this for several reasons. The first is that we entered into a situation where there was a fair amount of ill feeling over the way in which demands were made upon residents to finance the community well at Tagish.
We had a situation where the offer was made to apply some funds toward the well. This was a good many years ago now. The well concept found its way into the capital budget, lapsed several times, and it is finally now almost complete. There is a hole in the ground; there are a considerable number of fancy-looking machines, and so on, that are somehow or other related to that hole in the ground. There is a building, the pad on which the building sits and some pipes.
Until very recently, at least, there was not adequate water. If there is water now, I am very pleased.
Once the process was in motion and the well was at some stage of development, the people of Tagish were told they were going to have to pay for all or part of the well. The first time they were advised of this was long after the concept had become embodied in the budget and voted upon. The first suggestion that the cost would be allocated to the various properties and be paid off by all people, whether or not they have their own well, or wanted a well. There was quite a lot of dissatisfaction with this. Various other principles have been suggested by the good Minister and his staff. I now understand the end result is that a portion of it is going to be paid through a user-pay system.
In Tagish, there is a push now, as the Minister knows, for a rather large recreation centre, and a steering committee has been struck to at least look into the feasibility of building one and determining a site. The main impetus for this is coming from the band.
At the meeting where the steering committee was struck - three from the band and three non-band members, yet residents of Tagish - I recommended that, among other things, they have a clear understanding of what financial obligations would be imposed upon the citizens of Tagish, as a result of entering into plans to build the new recreation centre, should they decide on what they want and where it is to be built. It is my firm view that that is one of the factors that they ought to have a handle on, before they make any decisions.
We were also told at that meeting that it is the intention, at least of the band, to be demanding, next year, a school of some sort for Tagish. Again, it is hoped that this will go through steering committees and so on.
What I am getting at is the need for a clear understanding of the obligations of residents in areas such as this, when the time comes to make a decision to go ahead with building this kind of capital infrastructure. Unfortunately, a clear policy has not been applied across the board for all and each of the unorganized communities.
Mr. Phelps: I realize that there are various levels of taxation rates and that the lowest rate is applied to the two areas where the hamlets are on the Mayo Road and the Carcross and Tagish areas, and that some of the other unorganized communities pay a slightly higher taxation rate, such as we do in Carcross.
I also realize that, by virtue of creating facilities such as telephone, power, fire protection, ambulance service or schools, there can be an argument made that, of itself, this increases the assessed value of the property - the market value - but there is no clear correlation to the level of services and the value of property. There is no question that there is some relationship, but I do not think that it can be said that there is a one-to-one coefficient or cause and effect relationship to increasing the level of services in the community and the impact on market values.
There is the issue of operation and maintenance costs and how that should be borne, and who should bear the burden of operation and maintenance costs.
While the government is more sophisticated with regard to that issue, my understanding is that this is still being worked on and, as little as three or four years ago, at meetings in the communities where we were speaking about the possibility of organizing hamlets, we were told that, at that time, there was a review of that issue and of how operation and maintenance costs for services in communities ought to be paid for.
These are not easy or simplistic issues. My plea, right now, is that the government realize that this is an area that is pretty cloudy, and that there is a definite need for certainty, so that some of these unorganized communities can make logical and reasonable decisions about what they might want.
Certainly, the overwhelming sentiment of the two hamlets that have been created was that they were not being created as a vehicle to have more government. They were really being created so that citizens might be able to say we do not want much change out here. We are happy with what we see as a rural lifestyle. That is certainly the predominant feeling, except for very essential services, like fire protection, at Marsh Lake and Tagish.
Because we are reaching a stage in the Yukons development with land claims coming along, and more demands from some of the Indian bands who live in the unorganized areas - and many of them do - where their demands will have an impact on the infrastructure in the area. That is something we have to come to grips with.
In my riding, there are communities where there is a fairly considerable proportion of First Nation people. There are four who are heavily represented: the people of Laberge, Champagne-Aishihik on the North Highway area, Carcross-Tagish and Kwanlin Dun. All these people have aspirations and, in many cases, there is a genuine commitment to share both the planning and the operation of facilities, such as recreation facilities.
I do not want to go on forever about this, but I really want to underline what I see as a very critical importance here of trying to get our collective act together so that the communities, in implementing land claims as they come about, do not have problems simply because it has been left too vague and for too long a time.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to say to the Member that I sincerely appreciate his tone of presentation regarding the entire issue of determining criteria on which services are based. He has quite reasonably articulated a situation that exists, particularly in the rural areas of the Yukon where, often, some arbitrary judgment has to be taken about the provision of service for an item of infrastructure.
The Member has correctly noted that taxation in rural areas of the Yukon is based on different criteria that are contingent on the number of services. It varies from community to community. In the rural areas, there are fundamentally different taxation levels. Those levels are based on the numbers of services provided to a community - at least, that was the original concept. It is fair to say that that original concept has been tinkered with by virtue of time and because of the simple fact that, as services increased to a higher level, the basic taxation rate did not necessarily correspondingly increase as well.
Nevertheless, that was the original concept and it was determined on the basis of the numbers of services and elements of infrastructure that were being provided to communities. They related to simple things like whether street lights were being provided or what level of water and sewer service existed.
Again, that could be the simple level of water delivery and elements of fire protection. In the original contract, I believe ambulance and police services were brought into the equation, but they were eventually dropped, because they are funded from global pots. They are not funded by some local determination. Police and ambulance services are found territory wide and are not funded on the same principle on which these other services are funded.
The Member talked about his legitimate concern that there is a lack of a coherent policy regarding these levels of services, based on taxation. I have to say to the Member that, in the course of the development of rural areas, there eventually comes a point where an amalgamation does take place. In the very early stages of service delivery and community development, there is a tremendous amount of subsidizing to create a basic level of service.
As a community or an area develops and grows, the demand for an increased level of services grows as well. I think we have the very obvious case in the hamlets that have evolved around Whitehorse.
The Member is correct that they formed because they wanted to protect their rural lifestyle, but they also formed because they wanted to have a say in the level of services provided and how those services would be paid for. That was part of the discussions.
The next stage of evolution, I would expect, will be beyond the hamlet stage, where they start taking charge of budgets and the distribution of services from those budgets in their respective areas. That is an evolution. Once the municipal stage is reached, there should be very clear criteria by the municipality as to how it determines its service level.
What I could concede to the Member is that a good argument can be made that we could spend more time analyzing the criteria of a community to determine its level of service. We could probably spend time more clearly stating what level of support the community will provide to that level of service. The Tagish well is a case in point.
I am not up to speed, or I do not fully understand what historically took place that precipitated the well to occur, but I understand that the Tagish Community Association did agree to take on a responsibility respecting that well construction. It related to the principle of the old capital improvement program where a 90-10 cost-sharing was the rule of thumb.
I suppose the Member would argue, quite vigorously, why the community should have to pay anything if other communities had a well put in that did not cost them anything.
I think that is probably some of the anomalies that we have in the system that we need to spend some time on. I would be the last person to argue against provision of a service where there is an identified need, and where there is a community ready and willing to accept the service, and when a community is demanding the service and our funding levels are able to provide that service. Again, I would be the last person to argue against that community being granted the service as we are still developing basic services in those rural areas.
As a rule of thumb, we can use some of the three categories that were originally established in the taxation regime as something of the guiding principle, and we still do, but they have shifted around to the point where they are no longer consistent. It is something that I think we could clearly spend more time on.
The Member did note that residents do pay for an increased level of service, indirectly, on at least three fronts. One would be the level of taxation for the category of the rural area in which they are located.
The other would be the increased assessed value of a property that comes as a result of increased services in the area. The Member made note of the increased market values. There are indirect barometers that reflect an increased cost to a resident for a service.
Given the lateness of the hour, I will move that you report progress and request that I be allowed to continue tomorrow.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole passed the following motion,
THAT at 7:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., Mr. Seeth Seethram, President, and Mr. Nelson Ireland, Vice-President, Instructional Services, of Yukon College appear as witnesses before Committee of the Whole during debate on Advanced Education, Vote 03, Bill No. 19, First Appropriation Act, 1992-93.
Further, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1992-93, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled December 9, 1991:
Motor Transport Board Annual Report - 1990-91 (Byblow)
Fire Marshals Annual Report - 1990 (Byblow)
Community Contracting Policy Directive - Government of Yukon - December 6, 1991 (McDonald)
Expansion of Library Services (McDonald)