Thursday, December 12, 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.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Ms. Kassi: I would like to introduce to the House some really important people visiting Whitehorse from my village of Old Crow. These are some of our young people and, of course, these are the people we represent as their leaders here every day. They are some of the young skiers who are here to participate in a ski race on Saturday morning, as part of the TEST program.
I would like to introduce Patti Corrin, who is the coach and a source of real inspiration to our young people in Old Crow. Martha Benjamin, whom a lot of people know, used to be our champion skier from Old Crow, both in downhill and cross country. Martha is now a real supportive parent to these children. She is always travelling and working with them. She does a lot of work in cutting and maintaining the trails at home for these little people.
I am very proud to introduce the skiers. They are: Lance Nukon, Jeffrey Peter, Joseph Bruce, Philip Rispin, Nicole Frost, Cathy Peter, Jason Benjamin and Deanna Moses. All of this would not be possible without the strong support of Father Mouchet.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a document for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Energy conservation guidelines for public buildings
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to inform the House of energy conservation measures the Department of Government Services is undertaking to reduce the demand for energy and increase energy efficiency.
At the same time, I am pleased to inform the House that Government Services has produced guidelines to ensure that the design and construction of new public buildings are appropriate for the Yukon environment.
These initiatives are this governments first steps to incorporate the principles of our conservation policies within our own operations. The new document, entitled Architectural Design Guidelines for the Yukon contains many recommendations to promote energy efficiency in new government buildings. These recommendations concern insulation levels, air tightness, the shape and orientation of buildings, the position, quality and quantity of windows, and air, heating and electrical systems, to name a few.
As well, the guidelines encourage the use of new technologies that have applications in the Yukon. Buildings that incorporate technologies suited to the northern environment cost less to maintain and last longer.
The guidelines will be a reference for those involved in government construction projects: client departments, Government Services project managers and building design consultants. They will also give information and direction to consultants in the early stages of a project when many important decisions are made.
Besides planning for energy efficiency in new construction, Government Services carries out a wide range of building renovations to increase energy efficiency in government facilities. The department implements these conservation measures based on energy audits performed by the Energy and Mines Branch of the Department of Economic Development.
Many Government Services energy conservation activities are routine upgrades or retrofits where the cost may be recovered over a short period. In 1990, the department spent $167,000 on these activities; the forecast for this year is $267,000 - a projected increase of $100,000.
Energy saving activities of the department include the use of photocells on exterior lights, block-heater control systems, energy-efficient lighting fixtures and power-save cords on government vehicles; installing energy-efficient windows and doors; retrofitting all electrical water heaters with insulation blankets and turning the temperature down; and replacing or adding caulking, weather stripping and insulation. Other techniques where the energy payback comes over a longer period include installing computer-controlled mechanical operation systems, high-efficiency burners and radiant panel heating in such major facilities as the Yukon College complex, the Andrew Philipsen Law Centre and the main administration building.
In addition, Government Services has installed high-efficiency furnace burners in more than 50 Yukon government facilities around the territory.
Government Services is also working to develop alternate heating systems, that will allow the government to substitute imported fuel, such as oil; with fuels that use local labour in their production.
For example, wood chips will be used in a new dual boiler heating system being installed in the new Granger Elementary School in Whitehorse. The system consists of a remote heating plant designed to house two boilers; one boiler is the conventional, propane type, and the other is dual fired wood chip propane boiler.
In the dual fuel boiler, wood chips would serve as the primary fuel source, with propane as the back-up fuel. The propane boiler would operate as a stand-by unit. It is estimated that a savings of 33 percent would be realized if wood chips, instead of propane, were burned at the Granger School.
With support from the National Research Council, the Yukon Government recently pioneered a new energy conservation technology. Heat pumps installed in the firehall, in the government grader station at Ross River and in a garage at Old Crow are being used to keep permafrost under the building stable. Heat recovered from under the buildings is circulated through the buildings to supplement a conventional heating system. The Ross River firehall is the first building in Canada to use the new technology, and Government Services is considering using heat pumps in future building projects where permafrost is present.
These are some of the initiatives that Government Services is carrying out to support its commitment to sound energy management of government-owned operations, facilities and equipment.
Mr. Phillips: We on this side do support providing more energy-efficient government buildings in the territory, but I do have some concerns about the policy being announced today. First of all, I am concerned when I see something like this that there may be over-designing of the buildings. We have talked about that in Public Account Committees and in other areas of this House, and I think that we have to be careful of those types of problems that can develop.
I noticed that part of the ministerial statement talked about the policy dealing with the shape and orientation of the buildings, and I would be interested to know if the beautiful, new visitor reception centre in Whitehorse meets the new design concepts that the Government of Yukon has now adopted.
I notice the government talked about multi-use furnaces for heating in various buildings, but there was no mention of Yukon College and the design of that multi-use furnace there that has not functioned for many years. I do not know if it is even up and running today.
I also have a concern that some of the designs they talk about here are going to use wood chips. The new Granger School is an example. My understanding is that wood chips are not always available, and, in fact, they are very difficult to obtain if there are no operating mills or suppliers in the area. I would be interested to know if the government has an operating supplier in mind, because we do have a plant in town that was going to heat the central part of Whitehorse and the law centre. I do not believe that is in operation now. Exactly what does the government plan there?
All in all, it is a good idea to make government buildings more energy efficient. We will be reviewing the policy very closely to see exactly what the government has come up with in this area.
Mr. Nordling: We find ourselves in the same position, on this side, as the Member for Riverdale North. The only thing we can say is that we look forward to seeing these guidelines and looking them over to see if they make a lot of sense.
It makes sense that Government Services has produced guidelines to ensure that the design and construction of new public buildings are appropriate for the Yukon environment. Given this governments past record - some of which were mentioned - these guidelines are much needed. I will not mention the Ross River arena or the condominiums at Stewart Crossing. I will simply say that we look forward to looking over the guidelines to see if this will do something with respect to the problem that seems to have been ongoing for the last number of years that the government has not got a handle on.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to have designed a ministerial statement that was longer but, unfortunately, the rules do not permit me to say as much as I would like to say in so little time. This afternoon, when we get into Government Services estimates, there may possibly be more opportunity to discuss some of the accusations Members opposite have made.
I would like to reassure the Member for Riverdale North - or Riverside, or whatever it is called - that the purposes of the design guidelines is to provide good ideas, whether it be new technology or commonsense ideas, to people who are designing buildings for use by the public. The purpose is not to over-design buildings, in the sense I think the Member makes reference to.
With respect to the aesthetic qualities of buildings, it will continue to be difficult to satisfy everybodys taste in building construction. Not everything we build can look like a log cabin, of course, and, as Members have pointed out over the course of the last couple of weeks, there are differing opinions about a number of buildings that have been constructed over the past few years.
The comments of the Member for Porter Creek West are ones I would like to respond to this afternoon. I think the Member does not know of what he speaks, especially when it comes to Stewart Crossing staff housing. Nevertheless, I will have an opportunity to discuss that this afternoon when we have more time and a more informal environment to debate the allegations. I will also have an opportunity to more thoroughly explain the purpose of the design guidelines and some of the good work the Department of Government Services has done to improve the energy efficiency of public buildings, as well as to put on the record that, of the government construction projects over the last five or six years, most have been success stories and much appreciated by the public, despite the impression Members opposite would like to leave.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Dawson City medical/dental services
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health and Social Services. It has to do with the very serious situation in Dawson City. As we all know, the dentist has been having major problems over the past little while. I am now informed that the whole question of medical services in the community is coming under scrutiny, to the point that the doctors are very dissatisfied with some of the unilateral decisions that are being made by the Government of Canada about the medical services.
In fact, I have for tabling a stack of correspondence between the municipality and the Government of Canada with respect to the serious situation that the community of Dawson City faces from the present lack of service being provided. In that stack of correspondence, there is nothing in there from the Government of Yukon. I am told that the Minister has, as usual, indicated that she is very sympathetic with their problems, but nothing has been forthcoming from the Government of Yukon as far as help is concerned.
Can the Minister of Health and Social Services tell us why the government has been so reluctant to become involved in such a crucial issue in Dawson City?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Certainly, the department has been involved to the extent that it has the ability to be involved, because it is not our jurisdiction. I have had both telephone discussions and office meetings with the head of the medical services branch here in Whitehorse. I, too, have been receiving letters from individuals in Dawson City. I have certainly had discussions with the Member for Klondike, my colleague, and have provided him with a considerable amount of information around the issue.
I have just recently reviewed a letter that has gone to Dr. Helmut Schoener. Our concern is, of course, that services continue to be provided in Dawson City, and we are doing what we can, given that it is a federal issue.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is the Minister of Health, and we do pay X amount of dollars toward the health services in the territory. For the life of me, I do not understand why the Minister of Health, and even the MLA for Klondike, are not taking a direct role in respect to discussions. If we cannot get through to the federal civil service here, then we should contact Ottawa about this issue.
Is the Minister aware that, in Dawson City now, there has been a unilateral decision taken that a patient can only be in the nursing station for 48 hours? If it is any longer than 48 hours, the patient has to be medivaced to Whitehorse. That, incidentally, is a direct cost to the people of the territory. Is she aware of that? What is she doing about it?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes. I certainly have been aware of that. I would remind the Member that we do not provide full hospital services in Dawson City. We have been working with the Member for Klondike on the services that can be provided in that community. That is one of the reasons why we are anxious to see the health transfer completed.
Mr. Lang: I have pointed out in the information I tabled earlier that there is no correspondence from the government on this issue. I do not understand why the Minister has not taken a more active role.
Dawson City is only permitted three nurses over the winter months to run the nursing station. If you compare it to a community such as Mayo, with one-third the population of Dawson, Mayo is allowed eight nurses. Does the Minister feel that is fair, in view of the situation Dawson City is facing?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I do not know if the Member is suggesting that my department step in and take over from the federal government in this area. I have explained as well as I can that this is not a territorial issue. The federal government has its responsibilities. I support the residents of Dawson City in their desire to have good health care, as I do Faro, Watson Lake and some of the other communities, when they come to me.
I write my share of letters, but the Member knows that he can write a letter too. This is not a territorial issue.
Question re: Dawson City medical/dental services
Mr. Lang: Why are you not just called the Minister of Social Services? This is a territorial issue. It is an issue that faces the people of Dawson City on a day-to-day basis. The Member for Klondike is nodding his head, indicating that he thinks it is a territorial issue. The Minister of Health and the Government Leader have certain responsibilities they can exercise. This perhaps means having meetings with the individuals involved to see what they can do to change some of the unilateral decisions that are being made without consultations with the people of Dawson City - particularly the medical people.
As for the dentist situation, which has not been resolved, I do not understand why, after 12 years of providing a very good service to the community, the dentist is being forced to move from his present location in that building. If it is fixed, why unfix it?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Is the Member asking me this question, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Lang: Yes.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I would remind the Member that that is exactly the reason we are in health transfer, that is exactly the kinds of issue we are dealing with in health transfer, and that is exactly where we are going. Once the hospital is transferred, we will be going into phase 2 of health transfer and we will be negotiating ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Hayden: the Member says ... by phase 2, something or other will have happened.
I find this kind of attack on our own Department of Health ridiculous when the energy could be very well spent in supporting the people of Dawson by lobbying the federal people who are providing the programs. I will reiterate: I have met with the federal people; I have been making telephone calls; the department has been writing letters; we have been providing whatever kind of support we can. It is the people of Dawsons affair. They would not thank us to go in there and make the decisions for them. They know what it is they want from the federal government.
Mr. Lang: By the time we get to phase 2, there is a pretty good chance Dawson City may not have a dentist, and the Minister can be really proud of herself. The Minister asked the Government of Canada ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Lang: Has anybody across the way ever gone to the people across the river and asked them why the dentist has to move?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes. Last Friday afternoon, I met with Doctor DAeth and his officials to bring up this very matter. The federal government, whose responsibility it is to run that nursing station in Dawson City, has other plans for the dentists space, and that is why he is being moved - despite protests from me, the Minister of Health, the people of Dawson City and the dentist.
Mr. Lang: I am so pleased the Minister of Renewable Resources and the MLA for Klondike got involved in this issue this Friday. The correspondence started six months ago. They tabled it in the House. I want to ask the Minister of Health, and I underline Health, could she tell me whether she has been in touch lately with the Minister of Health for the Government of Canada, by telephone?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: No, not recently.
I notice that the Member keeps turning to the gallery. I gather there is somebody there he is playing to. It is too bad that I cannot see.
I think the most sensible suggestion around this whole issue came in the letter that was in one of the local papers - which was sent to me as a courtesy before it was published - by a Whitehorse dentist, suggesting that it would be appropriate that the whole childrens dental program be reviewed. I have been asking my department to open discussions with the federal people to begin looking at a review of this program. This program came into being in something like 1963. This would be an appropriate way to look at the broad picture, which is what we must do at the present time.
Question re: YDC and YEC/inquiry into affairs
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader with respect to the Yukon Energy Corporation.
I introduced a notice of motion calling for a public inquiry into the operations of the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation. That motion will not be debated this session. I would like to ask the Government Leader, in his capacity as Government Leader and as the former Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation, if he will order a public inquiry to restore the confidence of Yukoners in these government-owned corporations.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No.
Mr. Nordling: The Government Leader and former Minister, denied last year that any Yukon Energy Corporation money went into the Watson Lake sawmill venture. The perception is that the Minister was not telling the truth about that issue. The new Minister has provided only flustered responses, or no responses at all, to our questions and concerns about the operations of the Energy Corporation and the Development Corporation.
Why will the Government Leader not order that public inquiry?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me again put on the record that the Member has misstated me. From the beginning, we have asserted that the ratepayers of the electrical utility did not pay for the operations of the sawmill. The $39 million-plus that this government put into the Development Corporation paid for that operation. I will repeat that over and over again.
I did hear the Member himself the other day concede that the surplus from the Energy Corporation was quite legally and properly used, as I understood. The record will show that the affairs of the Energy Corporation have been regularly reviewed by the Yukon Public Utilities Board. They have been reviewed in the Public Accounts Committee in this House, as well as by the Auditor General in every year that the corporation has been in operation. There are no grounds for a public inquiry, except to the extent that the Member opposite, and the editor of the Whitehorse Star, think one is warranted in their imagination.
Mr. Nordling: Let us try and figure out exactly how this money went. Perhaps the Government Leader really was not misleading or not telling the truth about Energy Corporation money used for the Watson Lake mill. I suppose it would be like me handing Mrs. Firth a dollar and saying to give it to Bill Brewster, and then saying I never ...
Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Nordling: ... gave Bill Brewster a cent.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps what has happened is the former Minister has laundered the money. In light of the hundreds of thousands that have been spent on the public hearings and investigations, why will he not spend a few thousand dollars more in order to clear the air and restore peoples confidence in these corporations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have a sneaking suspicion that the last thing the Member opposite is interested in is clearing the air or restoring public confidence in the Crown corporations. In fact, everything he has said in his time in the House would lead me to believe exactly the opposite.
Given that the affairs of the corporation have been repeatedly reviewed by the Auditor General, the Public Accounts Committee and the Yukon Public Utilities Board, at considerable public expense, as mentioned by the Member opposite, I see absolutely no point whatsoever in spending several hundreds of thousands more to do the work that has already been done.
Question re: Dawson City medical/dental services
Mr. Lang: I would like to pursue the issue of the medical services now being provided in Dawson City, in view of the growth of that community and also in view of the ever-expanding tourism industry over the past number of years.
For a number of years, the previous Minister of Health, Mr. Penikett, I believe, commissioned a study of the medical services in Dawson City, referred to as the Kellogg Study. I want to ask the Minister what recommendations from that study have been implemented?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will take that as notice.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister also verify that there is another study of medical services underway regarding the need for medical services in Dawson City, referred to as the McQueen study. Is the Minister aware of that.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am sorry, I could not hear the name that Member referred to with respect to the name of the study. Can he tell me what name he used?
Mr. Lang: Well, I hate to surprise the Minister, but it is called the McQueen study.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will take that as notice.
Mr. Lang: When she is checking on this problem that she has been so involved with over the past number of months, can the Minister also find out whether or not there is a proposed study of the medical services to be done by the Dawson City Indian Band and funded by the Government of Yukon.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: If that information is available to me.
Question re: Campbell Highway upgrading
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Yesterday, the Minister released the condensed version of the engineering study on Campbell Highway south. This was a very revealing study for those of us who live near and drive on this highway on a regular basis. You, Mr. Speaker, are well aware of the risk and are not surprised by the poor condition of the highway that was stated in this document.
Does the Minister have a five-year plan for reconstruction of this important transportation link?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member is aware and as I have publicly indicated to the Member, the capital plans for the Campbell Highway, along with every other highway, are part of a planning exercise of the department. The plans are subject to available funding, budgets that are struck and to priority.
In the case of the Campbell Highway, the Member is aware also that we have identified several million dollars for upgrading portions of that highway, and those portions that have been indicated by the study as deficient, in one form or another, are receiving stepped-up maintenance and increased work in our regular seasonal operation.
Mr. Devries: How long has the Minister and his department had possession of the extended version of the engineering study? When was it completed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I stand to be corrected but it would appear to me that the study would have been completed this past season.
Mr. Devries: On March 30, 1989, in Hansard, the Minister indicated that he shared a special affinity with me on this road and that a feasibility analysis of reconstruction of the route was being done. Is this what he has been referring to or is this a different analysis? If it is a different analysis, would he table that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The reference that I made back in 1989 was indeed to the study, the summary of which I provided to Members yesterday. This is the analysis of the road conditions and the assessment of anticipated costs for upgrading it to higher standards. So, the study referred to is the one that I provided to Members.
Question re: Unemployment insurance payments
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. It arises because I have had a number of complaints from my constituents with respect to the length of time it takes between applying and receiving unemployment insurance payments. What has happened, as the Minister may be aware, is that the federal bureaucracy has made it more difficult to apply. Then, after the application goes in, it takes longer to get the first payments from UIC. It can take 10, 12 or even 14 weeks in many instances. Many families are suffering as a result.
I have been told that some of the applicants are being told by bureaucrats in Whitehorse in the federal government UIC offices that it is just their tough luck and they should apply for welfare from this government. I would like to know if the Minister has heard similar complaints.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister intend to get in touch with Ottawa to see what can be done and find out what is wrong with the officials and the procedure here? There are a lot of families in which the breadwinner is out of work. They are really suffering at this time of year.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am aware that we have a number of people who receive social assistance until such a time as their UIC benefits come through. It is my understanding that my department has indeed been in touch with Ottawa about this.
Mr. Phelps: Perhaps the Minister could consider asking her federal counterpart to delay payment of the wages of some of the UIC bureaucrats here and see how they like doing without their paycheque around Christmastime.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will take that as a rhetorical question, but I understand the sentiment behind it.
Question re: Sheriff position
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice. A few days ago I made an inquiry with respect to the sheriffs job, which still had not been filled. I would like to know if the job has now been filled and, if not, why not.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I suspect that the Member already knows that. She has been in contact with a couple of people in that office and did receive some information from them. I am sure that she was told that the position has not been filled, that the position will not be filled for a period of time, and that we are looking at filling the position in the near future.
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Minister why it had not been filled. Why has that job not been filled and why will it not be filled for some time?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Right now, the position is being taken care of by an acting sheriff, an individual who has been in the department for a number of years. There are some things that are being done in that program, and we are waiting to find out the results. A lot of these things are of a personal matter and we will be dealing with them. The position will be filled very shortly.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister still did not answer the question. This is a job that was filled by a person from outside. The person came here and then left after a very short time. Now, the job is vacant again.
I just want to know when this position is going to be filled. Is this position going to be filled by a local person this time, or are we going to be hiring somebody else from outside again? A local person is doing the job, anyway.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member has already received the information that she needed through her research and through her telephone calls to that program. I have done everything in my power in the past to try to ensure the job was filled by a local person. That did not happen. The reasons why that did not happen are of a confidential nature. I am not about to divulge any of that information here in the House. The position will be filled and it will be filled in the near future. We are hoping that at that time the position will be filled by a local person.
Question re: Kluane Park access
Mr. Phillips: My question is about the people of the Kluane area who have experienced difficult times in the past two years and are concerned about the downturn in tourism in their area. There is a new report out now by Parks Canada that describes the limited access to be granted in the Kluane Park area in the future. The type of access that will be allowed will certainly limit the number of senior citizens who can actually see the interior of the park unless they are very physically fit. The Ministers government supported that position.
I would like to ask the Minister what other plans he has for tourism development in the Kluane area that will keep the majority of the tourists who pass through the area, the senior citizens, in the Kluane area a little longer?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As the Member knows, the Government of Yukon has completed a regional tourism plan for the Kluane area, which raises a number of possibilities for the future development of tourism. In conjunction with Parks Canada, we are in the process right now of developing the Alsek Pass by making improvements in that area to permit more access to the park boundary from which more visitors will be able to access the park.
Mr. Phillips: Recently, Statistics Canada reported that senior citizens are the fastest growing group of Canadian travellers and I am sure the statistics are just as relevant for the rest of the world. Travel by Canadians aged 55 and over, in a 10 year period, expanded by 40 percent compared with 11 percent by younger Canadians. The report said that shifting the focus to older generations appears to be a potentially lucrative one.
Has the Department of Tourism identified this potential area of expansion, and what specific plans do we have to capitalize on this growth area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The department is aware of the changing patterns in tourists around the world and, indeed, those who come to the Yukon. In cognizance of that, along with Parks Canada, which is developing plans for the park, we plan to introduce some trails for easy access, even by handicapped people, in addition to elderly people, and over the course of the next few years we will be implementing those plans.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister mentioned that they are working in conjunction with Parks Canada. The only trail we know of in the Kluane area now is a mini foot trail circling Coghlan campground. I would like to know what the government is going to do now, in the very near future in Kluane - other than that one little job - so that we can capitalize on the expected increase in senior citizen travel to the Yukon. The majority of the people who travel through that park are senior citizens. We have to try somehow to get them to stay a little longer. What is the government doing in the next year or two to do that, other than this one little trail that is a few hundred metres long?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I can just refer to the plans for the development of the trail system within Kluane National Park, which will be implemented over a number of years, as money becomes available for this purpose. There will be a wide variety of trails that will permit access by all individuals, be they elderly or handicapped.
Question re: Predator control
Mr. Brewster: In the last year, the people of the Champagne/Aishihik area have lost 11 colts - seven in the spring and four in the winter, due to predators. Just recently, they reported to the game department the killing of elk by wolves. Can the Minister of Renewable Resources tell me how much longer the people of this area of the Yukon have to wait for predator control?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I guess the session has gone on a little too long. That is the same question the Member asked me two or three weeks ago. I can only reiterate what I said when the matter was first raised. The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board are meeting next week to review the recommendations of the subcommittee of this board, which has been looking at this matter for the past year. I will have some recommendations from the board on this matter after their meeting.
Mr. Brewster: With deep snow and no rabbits, the Minister is in for a great winter. The Champagne/Aishihik Band, the Teslin Band and the St. Elias Firearms Association have all called for predator control. How many more rural members and groups have to call for predator control before the Minister acts?
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I said before, I will be looking to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board for recommendations on this matter.
Mr. Brewster: There have been thousands of dollars worth of studies, dating back to 1984. Why were some of these studies not acted upon, instead of having more studies?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member knows full well that the recommendations of some of the studies have been acted upon. Again, I want to state, one more time, that final recommendations will be coming from the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
Question re: Occupational health and safety branch moving to WCB
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice. I asked her a question, last time we were sitting, with respect to the occupational health and safety branch and whether it was going to remain in the Department of Justice or whether it was going to go to the Workers Compensation Board. The Minister, at that time, told us that there was a committee to sort out the differences between the two Ministers, so that they could make a decision as to whether the occupational health and safety branch would stay in Justice or move to the Workers Compensation Board.
I would like to ask the Minister: has that committee made a decision yet, or not?
Hon. Ms. Joe: There has been a decision made in regard to the transfer of the occupational health and safety branch.
Mrs. Firth: Well, what is the decision? I sort of thought the Minister might catch my drift, that that was what I wanted to know.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There will be an announcement made shortly in regard to that issue.
Mrs. Firth: Why can the Minister not tell us now? I am asking the question - why can she not tell us now what the decision is? It was in May that they were supposed to make this decision, so they have had a lot of time in which they could have announced it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There are many individuals involved in something as important as that. I would like to have an opportunity to provide that information to those people, prior to reporting to the Member for Riverdale South. That will be done.
Question re: Snow clearing from woodlot roads
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. It has to do with the question of clearing snow from roads that are leading into commercial woodlots. As the Minister knows, I approached him about one particular situation involving a constituent. I must say that I was pleased with his response. The Minister has indicated that they are going into the Scout Lake area and clearing a length of road down that way.
Would the Minister be prepared to undertake some discussions with forestry, in respect to identifying the larger commercial woodlot areas and would he undertake to come up with a policy for clearing snow a couple of times in the year, to help these people who are involved in this type of business?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I expect that the Member is referring to all woodlot roads. With respect to the entire matter, the Member will recall that, about one year ago, we introduced a new policy that spoke to the subject of maintenance for secondary and tertiary roads largely due to an ongoing increase in use of those roads. There was a need for us to review the criteria by which those roads receive maintenance.
Currently, that policy is being operated on a trial basis. We are reviewing that particular policy to see if any adjustments are required to the criteria we have established that would regulate whether or not a road received maintenance. I would be quite prepared to entertain discussions with forestry in order to better define which roads have commercial value for woodlot purposes. I would even undertake to examine our policy, in the light of that commercial component for maintenance purposes.
Mr. Lang: I am only referring to the access roads to the commercial - and I underline commercial - woodlot areas specifically, in order to keep the work for the department to a minimum and, at the same time, provide a service to people who, in most cases, never venture into government offices and have very little to do with government, but very much appreciate it.
In conjunction with this, would the Minister undertake to take this as a priority to see whether or not he can come up with some clear policy on this, perhaps no later than the end of January? We are in the middle of the season, and it would be very beneficial to these people.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can undertake to examine the entire issue surrounding access roads to commercial woodlots. I would not accept, however, the Members assertion that the policy is not clear now. We have gone to great lengths to establish a policy that provides clear criteria, on an application basis, to maintain roads that were never maintained before. This is governed by the number of residents, amount of usage, whether or not there are families along the road and the extent to which the road has economic value.
We do have a fairly clear policy, but I hear what the Member is saying. The Member is suggesting, also, that there is an urgency for access to commercial woodlots. I will undertake to see if some compromise can be reached.
Question re: Kotaneelee gas field sale to Anderson Exploration
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. There was a recent announcement that the Kotaneelee gas field in the southeast Yukon has been sold to Anderson Explorations of Calgary. Has the Ministers department been in contact with the new operators to determine if there are any changes to their operational plans?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is aware, the matter of jurisdiction surrounding the Kotaneelee fields still rests with the federal government until our Northern Accord negotiations are concluded for any kind of a transfer that may take place.
Yes, the department is fully aware. They have been in communication with the new proponents. I cannot tell the Member today whether or not there are any new conditions.
Mr. Devries: The past operators of Columbia Gas made tremendous efforts to ensure that Yukoners were hired wherever possible. I wish to make sure this practice will be carried over by Anderson Exploration. Has the Minister looked into that at all?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I share the sympathy of the Member. That is, in part, the intent of discussions with the new proponents. Not only has it been reflected in the previous operators of the fields, it is also a principle by which we are entering into discussions about the devolution of oil and gas responsibilities: the principle of local employment, local procurement and support for local economies. That is clearly part of our continuing discussions, even with the new proponents.
Mr. Devries: Last spring, I asked the Minister if the Kaska Nation had developed a joint development agreement with Columbia Gas in the southeast Yukon gas fields. Does the Minister have any further information to verify if this is true? I gave him the documents.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The matter escapes me. I will undertake to check it. I am sure that if the Member gave me documents, they were researched. I would have thought that I would have got them back to the Member. If I have not, I certainly will.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
We will now proceed to Orders of the Day and Government Motions.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Clerk: Item No. 4, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to deal with Item No. 4?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Motion No. 95
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to section 16 of the Human Rights Act, appoint Mr. David Brekke and Ms. Rose Marie Blair-Smith to be members of the Human Rights Commission.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Over a period of possibly a year, there have been some developments in the Human Rights Commission that have caused me to bring this motion forward this session.
As you know, one of the commissioners, George Henry, is away in British Columbia, going to law school. It was at that time that it was proposed to me that he be allowed to continue to be a commissioner of the Human Rights Commission. This would not mean that we would bring him back for every meeting, but if his expertise was needed, possibly telephone conference calls would be made.
At the same time, there was a problem in regard to having a quorum for a meeting, in some cases because of travel involved, in other cases because of a conflict. In the act, there is provision for a minimum of three commissioners and a maximum of five. In order to allow the commission to work more effectively, it was my decision to bring this motion forward to include Mr. David Brekke and Ms. Rose Marie Blair-Smith.
As you know, Rose Marie Blair-Smith has been involved in a number of organizations over the years. She is now co-chair of the White River Band, has formerly worked in programs for the Council for Yukon Indians, and again as a chairperson of the Council for Yukon Indians.
I think most of us are familiar with Mr. David Brekke; he has been in the Yukon for a number of years and has been very involved in a lot of community programs. He is now a counsellor at one of the schools and is a very well-respected member of the Yukon. It is my hope that this motion will be approved by this House today.
Mr. Nordling: On behalf of the Independent Alliance, we would like to say that we think the choice of these two people is excellent.
Motion No. 95 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: Having discussed this with the House Leaders, I would request the unanimous consent of the House to waive the provisions of Standing Order 27 in order to debate Motion No. 96, Motion No. 97 and Motion No. 98.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.
Motion No. 96
Clerk: On the Notice Paper, Item No. 1, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader
THAT the membership of the Members Services Board, as established by Motion No. 2 of the First Session of the 27th Legislature, be amended:
(1) by rescinding the appointment of Mr. Phelps, Member for Hootalinqua; and
(2) by appointing Mrs. Firth, Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South, Mr. Lang, Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East, and the Hon. Mr. Webster, Member for Klondike, to the board.
Motion No. 96 agreed to
Motion No. 97
Clerk: Item No. 2 on the Notice Paper, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader
THAT the membership of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, as established by Motion No. 42 of the First Session of the 27th Legislature, be amended by appointing the Hon. Ms. Joe, Member for Whitehorse North Centre, and Mr. Nordling, Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek West, to the Committee.
Motion No. 97 agreed to
Motion No. 98
Clerk: Item No. 3 on the Notice Paper, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader
THAT the membership of the Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, as established by Motion No. 43 of the First Session of the 27th Legislature, be amended by appointing Mrs. Firth, Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South, and the Hon. Mr. McDonald, Member for Mayo, to the Committee.
Motion No. 98 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House now resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader, that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to Order.
I will now call a recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act, 1992-93 - continued
Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: When we concluded last night a question was posed by the Member for Watson Lake about provision of status reports of various programs for the current fiscal year. I have, only moments ago, put into circulation a number of documents that my staff spent the entire night assembling, at my special request, on Members behalf.
For the record, what I have put into circulation for Members is the program status to October 1 for the current fiscal year. I recognize that we are talking about a budget of the next fiscal year, but I believe because of past precedents, Members would be disappointed if they did not have the information during budget debate.
What I have provided is the program status of the Yukon Mining Incentive Program, the SEAL program, the three EDA subagreements currently in place: economic development planning, renewable resources and mineral development. As well, there is a fourth program under the old agreement, the Small Business Incentives Program, which is essentially revotes from last year, because the new agreement has not been signed.
The tourism agreement and the forestry subagreement have not been signed off. Members have copies of the three current programs that have been signed off under the economic development agreement and one of the carried-over, previous programs.
I have also provided details surrounding the business development fund. I have indicated the status of the interest-bearing, repayable loans and the non-interest-bearing, repayable loans and the non-repayable loans. I have provided to Members a breakdown of the community-by-community status of the BDF for the years 1990-91.
I have also provided the community development fund status report. Again, I have provided for Members, a community breakdown for the years 1989-91. In addition, I have provided a summary of the loans programs, as of March 31, 1991.
I am sure that Members will find that information in line with what they requested and see it as a reasonable effort to bring the current program status up to date.
While I am on my feet, the Member for Watson Lake raised a question surrounding Kotaneelee gas fields. Since that time, I have been able to determine a little more detail about his question. I can provide him the information in more detail. The operator of the Kotaneelee gas field was Columbia Gas Development of Canada. It has been sold, conditionally, to Anderson Explorations Ltd. of Calgary, for some $109 million. The parent company of the operation, which is Columbia Gas, has to go through a bankruptcy proceeding in the United States, because of its ownership role in the company. Department officials have been very closely involved with the transaction and the sale that is taking place.
We are taking the position that the existing benefit agreements that are in place shall be honoured with the new operator. We have every reason to believe, from the National Energy Board, that there will be no impact on the various benefits that were previously negotiated with Columbia Gas. The new operator will be bound by all of the agreements. There is currently a verbal agreement between Columbia Gas and ourselves that at least one of the two operator-trainee positions will be filled by a Yukon resident.
That is the current status. Until the bankruptcy proceedings conclude, the final status of the ownership of the field will not be known.
Mr. Devries: I have always been curious about what the potential royalties are on the field. Does the Minister have any information on that, once the Northern Accord is all straightened out?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I indicated in Question Period, the current jurisdiction and responsibility is still with the federal government until we conclude our negotiations for the transfer of oil and gas. The federal government currently collects the royalties from the operation. The royalties are $650,000 a year. Should we conclude our onshore transfer agreement, this would go to the Yukon government. Currently, it is collected by the federal government.
Mr. Devries: Does the Minister know how much is collected?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The royalties are $650,000.
Mr. Devries: A year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes.
Mr. Devries: Oh. That is pretty good.
I will go to general debate for a moment. Yesterday, during the debate on the Yukon Development Corporation, I found it interesting, as various Members of the government spoke; it almost seemed to me that we have a Minister here with two piggy-banks. One is through the EDA and the other through the Yukon Development Corporation, that can be utilized in various ways for economic diversification in the Yukon. It is still unclear where the money for the one piggy-bank comes from.
When you hear about the EDA funding, it always seems like people are saying, Oh, boy, there is $20 or $30 million to be spent over the next five years on economic things in the Yukon. The public often has the impression that this money is going to be made available to the public per se. I used to think the same thing. Later, when one looks over the various paperwork concerning who gets the money and why, essentially, you find that half the money is gobbled up by government infrastructure in various ways.
I would not argue the fact that much of it is used in a roundabout way to create economic development and economic potential in the Yukon. For instance - and it is not in this years budget - during the last few years, several hundred thousand dollars at a time of EDA funding went toward developing a southeast forest inventory. I believe there is another huge one this year: Department of Fisheries and Oceans - a salmon enhancement proposal of $117,000. In this instance, I am not sure how much of the money is actually earned by Yukoners. On the forestry one that was done a few years ago, where they did a forest inventory and a forestry management plan, many of the experts were people from outside Yukon - consultants, et cetera - and, in a sense, it only contributed to the Yukon in the area where they hired helicopters and some of the Yukon people who are directly involved in this type of work.
I am not disagreeing that it is definitely very important that it is done, but the general perception of the public is that all this money tends to go toward direct economic development projects. For instance, if they want to build a hotel, they can borrow money and pay interest or not - sometimes there is some interest-free money.
Could that be clarified? Perhaps they could zoom through the whole thing with a computer and determine exactly how much is spent by government, through arms of the government, and how much actually gets into the general publics hands?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To a large extent, many of the observations the Member makes are accurate in the sense that a wide variety of programs, and funding that flows under those programs, become available for stimulating economic activity. In supplementary debates, we had some discussion about the fact that the general objectives of this government and of society, because it is reflected in comments the public made through the Economic Development Strategy discussions, are that people do want to see a greater access to funding that will stimulate more economic activity.
The position we have taken is that, yes, there are certain pillars of support and core industries that are common to the Yukon. Principally, they are the mining and tourism industries. So, you do have to build up that pillar of support, or you have to at least make sure it is sustained and has enough support to continue growth.
The position we have taken is that we have to move a little broader than that. We have to move beyond strict mining and strict tourism. We have to move into more peripheral areas that, historically, have not been developed. That is why programs have to have enough flexibility to permit some activity beyond the traditional, safe industries.
Whether you are talking about aspects of the EDA that invite new technological development, or whether you have components of programs within the department that allow a community to develop an infrastructure support toward the enhancement of a business, all support the general philosophy and principle that we are trying to encourage.
What the EDA has done that I think is critical to what is going to happen in the future, is that all of the subagreements of the EDA have been structured, first, with a high level of flexibility in their area; flexibility in terms of what kinds of projects and activities they would fund and, second, with full participation of the industry involved. I think that those are two key components of a successful economic development program.
You have to invite the people who are the experts in the field to make expert decisions about how the money should flow. Our management structures for the program funding involved people from the Chamber, people from the public, First Nations and communities. I think that is part of the success story of efficient use of funds.
I think what the Member was getting at was that the measure of success of the program can only be determined by how much money has flowed to people for the enhancement or growth of the industry or the economic activity. I think that the Member may have been suggesting that a lot of the funding was going to continued government support.
I do not think that is accurate. If you look at the statistics that have been provided, they are very project-oriented activities. Probably the only one that does not fit that criteria is the mineral subagreement. We have made a conscious decision to develop an infrastructure in the Yukon that would support the industry. We are going to be developing a geoscience competence here that will be of extreme importance to the industry to find new resource production capacity.
I think that we have designed very flexible programs, both under the EDA and in-house. We have involved people in the decision making for the release of the funds. We have put into place secure enough funding, over the five year period, to give the necessary comfort level to the participants that this is not an overnight exercise and that it will be gone tomorrow. In that five-year period, we want to see a built up infrastructure, a built up resource, a better knowledge of the resource potential, and, in the process, more businesses participating in the activities that lead to the growth that we need.
Mr. Devries: I think the biggest fear that the general public has is that the money will get eaten up by the bureaucracy rather than getting it to where it is made. I agree that it is just a perception that some of the public may have. It was a question that was brought forward to me by someone else. I appreciate the way the Minister explained it and I agree that it is very important.
I have a few questions concerning the SEAL program. Most people will agree that the SEAL program is a very good and very popular program. Some questions have been asked of me. Are we getting a big enough bang for our dollar, so to speak? Has an analysis ever been done to see people are actually experiencing significant energy savings? For instance, if people spend $5,000 or $10,000 on a house and they have to pay it back over 10 years, are these people actually experiencing a savings of $10,000 in energy over that 10 year period?
That is quite often what people expect. When audits were still being performed, quite often it would indicate how much heat they were losing and people could figure out in their head how many dollars were going out of the crack in the wall. We do not have audits any more. I realize there were problems with the audit because it did not always take everything into account. My understanding was that when audits were done, people were told that their home definitely needed some insulation but whoever was doing the audit did not look at the roof. They would put new insulation in the ceiling or the walls, et cetera, and then the roof would leak or collapse, or anything like that. So one has to consider the whole building when one of these grants is given out.
Who makes the decision now on whether the person gets the grant? Does someone actually go to each site and have a look to see what is really needed?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the point the Member raises with respect to the value for money spent under the SEAL program. I think it is fair to say that, from our information within the department from the efforts that are going on surrounding the whole demand-side management effort of the Energy Corporation, there is no question that the money is well spent and achieves excellent value.
The Member will have to remember that the maximum SEAL loan is $3,000, and the savings incurred from a properly delivered upgrade will more than return that $3,000, over time.
The Member also has to recognize that $3,000 is merely our component to the program. The tenant or the applicant will often enhance those funds with his own.
I would venture to share with the Member that we have looked at the prospect of wrapping SEAL up with a general home-improvement program. We are assessing that to see if there are better efficiencies available for home improvements that lengthen the lifetimes of homes, and combine that with energy efficiency upgrading. By doing this, there may be even better value for the money. That is what we are looking at now. It would be premature to say that the SEAL program will be transferred out of this department into housing at this stage. This is something we are actively looking at now.
It has been suggested that I have provided more than adequate information, and I should allow more questions to be asked.
Mr. Devries: I am getting the feeling that the Minister of Education is getting in a hurry to go play Santa Claus or something. Someone who recently spoke to me had this concern. The Minister has covered that topic fairly well.
I am hoping that some of the other Members have had a chance to look over some of the material the Minister gave to us. If they have any questions about it, they are free to ask them for a few moments while I go over other things.
Chair: We will proceed with line by line.
On Operation and Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $658,000 agreed to
On Equipment Replacement
Equipment Replacement in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Administration agreed to
On Energy and Mines
On Operation and Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $145,000 agreed to
On Energy Policy
Energy Policy in the amount of $88,000 agreed to
On Mining Policy
Mining Policy in the amount of $156,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $389,000 agreed to
On Energy Conservation Fund (SEAL)
Energy Conservation Fund (SEAL) in the amount of $617,000 agreed to
On Yukon Energy Alternatives (YEAP)
Mr. Devries: In the information the Minister tabled, he did not indicate who has made applications through the Yukon Energy Alternatives Program, unless I missed it. Does the Minister have any information on that? How many applications were there and how many were approved?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is asking about the current fiscal year, similar to the information circulated earlier, correct?
Mr. Devries: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Yukon Energy Alternatives Program this year is funding one project. It is an evaluation of the potential for using waste heat from the diesel generators at Watson Lake and distributing that heat to various buildings in the nearby area.
This current year, we have transferred a portion of the money to the SEAL program. I think I explained to Members during supplementary debate how we had a rush on the SEAL program this year and, consequently, used some of the unspent YEAP money. I do not have the figure we are using in Watson Lake, but I can get back to the Member on it.
Mr. Devries: I know there were some announcements about wind energy, and things like that. Were grants given for that, which would have come out of YEAP?
My understanding is that there may still be some possible development on Montana Mountain near Carcross.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: YEAP, as the Member knows, is essentially a low-interest loan program. It often requires funding to be matched by the proponent. In part, that may explain why there is not a lot of takeup on it.
The Member raised the issue about wind-demonstration projects and the whole exploration of alternative energy. In a line item further on in this budget, I have identified the $100,000 for an energy demonstration project, which is not refined in a final decision at this point. We are exploring several options to become involved with. One option is an experimental wind-generation project; another is some specialized work at the college, in conjunction with a couple of other agencies. We are also looking at a photovoltaic solar demonstration project. We have not concluded which project we will be going ahead with. We are just refining the research on that.
I can tell the Member that we are spending $19,000 on the project in Watson Lake, through YEAP.
Yukon Energy Alternatives (YEAP) in the amount of $248,000 agreed to
On Internal Energy Management
Internal Energy Management in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Energy Demonstration Project
Energy Demonstration Project in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Yukon Mining Incentives Program (YMIP)
Yukon Mining Incentives Program (YMIP) in the amount of $750,000 agreed to
On Economic Development Agreement - Mineral Development
Mr. Nordling: I think that this a good spot for me to get up and pat the Minister on the back and put in a plug for him. I know that he is pretty good at it on his own, but sometimes I feel a sense of obligation. I would like to congratulate the Minister on the announced opening of the geoscience office, which will take place in the spring of 1992. I would like to quote the Hon. Tom Siddon, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, who said, ... Expanding geoscience knowledge today, means expanded economic opportunities tomorrow. I would like to also quote Mr. Byblow, the Minister of Economic Development, when he said, This operation will provide information and advice on geology and mineral prospects and promote development of Yukons mineral potential. It is a good example of how governments and private industry can work together to strengthen our economy.
I agree with that quote and we would like to express our appreciation for the Ministers efforts in this area.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am speechless, but as I recover I will tell the Member that we, too, have been quite excited by what we have been able to achieve, not only under the mineral subagreements, but in all of the agreements. The cost sharing is a 70/30 ratio, so our 30-cent dollars have levered 70-cent federal dollars into what amounts to an excellent development for the industry here in the Yukon.
Economic Development Agreement - Mineral Development in the amount of $2,050,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $3,865,000 agreed to
Energy and Mines agreed to
On Economic Policy, Planning and Research
On Operation and Maintenance
Mr. Devries: On planning and research, it is always very important that there is some continuity in programs. I think we are all aware that Mr. Poushinsky is moving on to greener pastures - we hope they are greener, I guess we should say.
What is the Minister going to do to ensure that there is a continuity in programs, such as posting the position as open? It is an appointed position, I guess. Is the Minister ensuring - I am not even sure that it is up to him; I guess it is the Government Leader - that somebody is appointed to the position prior to the Deputy Minister leaving, in an effort to make sure there is some continuity there and that they can share knowledge before Mr. Poushinsky moves on?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As the Member can appreciate, the final decision about Deputy Minister appointments rests with the Premier, but the Member can be assured that the Premier and I are acutely aware of the pending departure of Mr. Poushinsky at the end of February, and we will be taking steps to ensure that his position is filled by the time of his departure. There is considerable opportunity to do that.
Administration in the amount of $735,000 agreed to
On Research and Analysis
Research and Analysis in the amount of $185,000 agreed to
On Economic Policy and Planning
Economic Policy and Planning in the amount of $595,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,515,000 agreed to
NOGAP in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Capital in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Economic Policy, Planning and Research agreed to
On Economic Programs
On Operation and Maintenance
On General Administration
General Administration in the amount of $113,000 agreed to
On Industry and Program Development
Industry and Program Development in the amount of $102,000 agreed to
On Business and Community Development
Business and Community Development in the amount of $394,000 agreed to
Mr. Devries: This is the community development program. In Watson Lake, we are quite thankful that there is quite a bit of money pouring in. I believe the park is coming out of here somewhere.
With any project there is always some opposition, or some hesitancy to accept it. I must admit I was queasy about it as it was a considerable amount of money to develop the park around the Wye Lake. It was not until I had taken my grandson around it in a buggy a few times and jogged around it a few times myself that I really started to appreciate what they are doing there. However, by the same token, we have to ensure that communities do not get into traps of taking on some of these big projects and ending up with a big O&M somewhere down the road that no one can afford to pay. We are hoping that it will not be much with this particular park, but when one starts building fancy buildings and infrastructure, quite often the O&M chases the taxpayer right out of town, so to speak.
When the department approves these projects, do they look at the long term O&M complications that communities could run into?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is, yes. Part of the application process has to clearly identify the ability of the applicant or community to be able to handle the O&M. One of the things the funds do not do is fund O&M costs for the type of capital infrastructure that the Member is talking about. I believe the Member is referring to Wye Lake.
Additionally, on the Wye Lake project, the attractive features for that project came from the municipality itself. They made a substantial contribution to every application that came before the board for funding.
The matter of operational costs after the facility was in place, was clearly looked after, particularly by the sponsorship of the municipality on that particular project.
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $609,000 agreed to
On Community Development Fund
Community Development Fund in the amount of $4,000,000 agreed to
On Business Development Fund
Business Development Fund in the amount of $4,000,000 agreed to
On Economic Development Agreement
Economic Development Agreement in the amount of $6,252,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $14,252,000 agreed to
Economic Programs in the amount of $14,861,000 agreed to
Economic Development: Mines and Small Business agreed to
Department of Government Services
Chair: We will now deal with the Department of Government Services.
Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to thank the Member for Faro, the Minister of Economic Development, for being more brief in his remarks, allowing the rest of us a chance to participate in the time of the House this week. I know that it was a terrible and onerous burden to have to ask him to be so brief, but I am very grateful for his goodwill.
The operation and maintenance and capital budgets for the Department of Government Services for the 1992-93 fiscal year total approximately $31 million. Having reviewed the budget, Members will note that it reflects modest changes over the budget recently debated for the current fiscal year.
Operation and maintenance expenditures are estimated to be $24.7 million, which represents an 11 percent increase over the current fiscal year. The principal items impacting on the budget include the following: salary and benefit impacts of the collective agreement settlement, and salary and benefit costs for five new positions created in property management to provide service and support to the various new buildings that will be in full operation during the budget period under review.
There is a request for $622,000 for additional lease renewal costs for the Whitehorse operations across departments. The additional monies are principally required for the Old Yukon College, the Keith Plumbing Building and the Lynn Building.
There is $318,000 for increases in utility costs associated with the new Yukon visitor reception centre - $100,000; for the Arts Centre - $192,000, and $26,000 for accumulated differences for various buildings throughout Whitehorse.
There is $99,000 associated with a lease renewal cost in operations of the regional services structure, which will encompass the eastern and northern regions. There is $68,000 of additional funding for maintenance expenses, which is the result of increased number of square footage and complexity of control systems in the new buildings.
There is $53,000 that reflects a reduction in charge-backs paid to Government Services by other departments with respect to building lease expenses, and there is $25,000 for departmentally specific training opportunities for employees.
Through the capital budget, the incentive rebates to contractors and suppliers for the use of Yukon materials and labour in government construction projects will be supported through the business incentive policy.
The increase in anticipated expenditures is based on three percent of total forecast construction expenditures. Members will recall, during the supplementary debate, I explained that current year estimates for the incentive rebates has been adjusted downward due to claiming experience to date.
It is expected that rebate claims will increase in the next year due to the significant capital projects being undertaken during the current year. As contractors have one year to apply for rebates, projects being completed in late fiscal year 1991-92, or during 1992-93, will be eligible for incentive rebates during the budget period under review.
Government Services will continue to act as an agent for the departments undertakings with respect to ongoing decentralization activities. To this end, the budget includes funding for expenditures for computer work stations, expansion of the data communication network, vehicles and photocopiers. As well, the regional services operations throughout the territory will be supporting the relocation of positions into Yukon communities through the coordination of provision of office space. In addition to the existing complement of regional services staff, two more plumbers will be provided to support government maintenance needs - one in Watson Lake and one in Dawson.
As I mentioned in the ministerial statement, the strengthening of community economies will be enhanced during the upcoming year through the implementation of the community contracting policy. This policy will encourage the purchase of required goods and materials in the community in which it will be used. Already, regional managers are meeting with suppliers in the communities to identify the kinds of materials needed for the construction and maintenance activities, with resultant increases in store inventories and selection of products offered.
All departments of the government will be encouraged to purchase as much of the required materials through the community merchandising infrastructure, rather than purchasing through Whitehorse.
As introduced during the supplementary estimate debates, the department has entered into a contribution agreement with the Recycling Centre for the pickup of government-wide paper surpluses for recycling. This contribution agreement will continue in 1992-93 at a funding level of $40,000.
I think my comments express clearly enough the highlights of the budget. Perhaps we could continue with some general discussion now.
Mrs. Firth: I have some general questions for the Minister regarding the announcements that he made recently. Those announcements are specifically to do with the mandated review of the department, and the announcement regarding the new policy directive about community contracting policy. How do these two policy initiatives tie in to each other, or do they tie in to each other? I can see them having some relationship if the intention of the government is to decentralize the department somewhat, and how they may do that through the community contracting plan. Perhaps the Minister could give us some indication of how these two initiatives interact with each other.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: One of the features of the mandate review is to look at new ways of doing business in the government so that there is increased accountability for managers, and a more efficient operation overall. Sometimes this means providing two line managers who have financial authority for programming and the ability to purchase - in the case of community contracting - supplies directly in the communities in which the service is being offered. Clearly, there is a connection between community contracting and the general thrust of the mandate review.
I have tabled the mission statement and the terms of reference of the mandate review for Members to look over. I have also tabled a community contracting policy. I think once the Members read those documents, they will see the thematic consistency.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has not answered my question. I have read both the documents. I want to know what the relationship is. In the mandate review, is the government going to be decentralizing authority to the communities so that it is no longer required here in Whitehorse? I will give the Minister an example, so that we can better understand what is going to happen. Is the Whitehorse Education department going to have their own purchasing authority or will Government Services still do that? Will the Departments of Education in all of the communities have special authorities where they can do contracting and will that be widespread throughout the government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With the greatest of respect, I did answer the question, absolutely directly. The Member asked me whether or not there was a connection between the community contracting policy and the mandate review and if there was a thematic consistency. I indicated that there was thematic consistency and I explained why.
I have to be careful because, as the Member knows, the mandate review is not complete. It is currently under discussion and the consultant, Mr. Klassen, is now seeking input from deputies. He is not expected to report back until the end of the month at the earliest. Consequently, I have to be careful about anticipating what the problem-solving process is going to entail. But, in terms of the general thrust, which is to make line managers more accountable, certainly increasing their purchasing authority in communities could constitute a feature of making them more accountable for their actions.
When one compares the community contracting policy with the mandate review, they are quite sympathetic in terms of the objectives they are trying to promote.
Mrs. Firth: We are just trying to get some idea about how this is going to work so that we can answer our constituents questions in a well-informed manner.
Once the mandate review is complete, perhaps the Minister will be able to be more specific with respect to my question.
I would like to ask the Minister what the policy is regarding the community contracting. Government departments are supposed to contract for goods and services in the community. They are supposed to be provided with some guidelines. On the last page of the policy it says that, Government Services will develop guidelines to assist departments in interpreting and applying the policy in a consistant manner. Have those guidelines been developed and are they out in the communities to assist them?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, to my knowledge they are not developed. In the policy that I tabled on December 9, only a week ago, I indicated that the Department of Government Services would be providing some guidelines that would help line departments meet their obligations under the community contracting policy.
Incidently, I want to express to the Member that I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with questions being asked. I am simply trying to explain that I am answering questions the best that I can. I think they are being answered as completely as the Member is requesting they be.
With respect to the mandate review, the Member is quite correct in stating that the mandate review is not complete. In fact, only the initial stage of the mandate review, which is the problem identification stage, is under way currently. Clearly, I cannot anticipate precisely what will come of it, but I have been able to relay the objectives and the parameters of the review. From the general parameters of the review, one can then draw from them that the community contracting policy does support the general parameters of the mandate review. I cannot provide any details as to what the review will decide in the end.
Mrs. Firth: I would have thought that it might have been better to wait with the community contracting policy until the mandate review had been completed, but the Minister did not want to; that is just my personal opinion.
The effective date of this policy directive is December 6, so this is in effect and there are still no guidelines. Could the Minister tell us how the communities are operating or whether this policy has been given to them and are they, in fact, operating under this policy yet?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I announced it on December 9. The effective date was December 6. There is only three days difference there. I do not think that it is unreasonable, under the circumstances, to suggest that some time is still required to put the guidelines in place. I think there will be some further discussions with the departments as to what the guidelines will be.
This is not a rigid, bureaucratic policy, as the Member might be able to glean from the statement itself. It is a statement of policy principles, which the government expects line managers to abide by; each one will be accountable for how well they do. The purpose of the guidelines is to demonstrate ways that the policy objectives might be achieved, but we do leave it up to individual managers to make decisions about the supply of goods, because there are a number of factors that have to be taken into account. Previously, the only real exclusive factor was the cost. The policy indicates that there are other criteria that must be respected. Consequently, until such time as the guidelines are in place, line managers can decide for themselves, using their own imagination and their own ideas, how to implement the policy. There are some obvious ways to do that; one does not have to be a wizard of a manager to start meeting the intent of the policy. I hope that the guidelines, which will provide some extra guidance to line managers, will be in place by the early part of next year.
I cannot give a precise commitment for a precise date at this time.
Mrs. Firth: The issue is whether or not clear direction is being given to the managers, so that they can operate in a manner that gives confidence that people are being treated fairly when it comes to dealing with the government and doing business with the government. If there is no clear direction in the form of the guidelines, then a lot of discretion is left up to the managers, and some may not operate in the same way as others do.
I would like to recommend to the Minister that he get some guidelines as soon as possible so that people know what the rules are. It is fine to say that the managers are bright and creative, but I still think they like the comfort and security of feeling that the direction being given to them is clear and that it is not just being left up to each individual managers imagination.
I would like to make that recommendation to the government, particularly since the policy is considered to be in effect, which means that the old policy no longer applies. It is not really fair to tell people the policy is in effect and that is how they should operate, but that the guidelines are not ready yet. I just want to raise that point with the Minister, and I would like to ask him if he would provide us with copies of the guidelines when they are ready.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, I am going to have to stand corrected on one small point: guidelines have not been developed and have not been circulated. I was under the impression that they had now been completed, but in a technical sense I guess they have not been completed. However, some draft guidelines have been developed and have been circulated to departments and to community groups. If the Member wishes a copy of the draft guidelines, I can provide it.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Minister for that clarification.
I would like to ask the Minister again - he may have told us during the debates when we discussed the supplementary estimates - when is the mandate review supposed to be completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The mandate review is expected to be undertaken over the course of the next year. I guess, in a sense, it will be finalized in the middle of next year. We expect the first phase to be completed early in the new year, but we are going to go about the process very methodically and it would not be my intention to establish a rigid time frame for this process. The whole purpose of the process is so that the department will be able to provide a better and more efficient service to its customers - customers being other departments and the public. Ultimately, I would hope that this process will be ongoing. It is something that one would expect all organizations in similar positions to go through, and I think that it would be appropriate to have the intentions or the principles of the mandate review to be part of the psychology of the department and not simply a one-shot effort.
I can conclude that there is not an established time frame for completion, other than to ensure that the initiatives that are identified through the review process can be implemented as they are identified.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how the new policy directive with the community contracting policy is going to interact with the supply services department in the Department of Government Services right now? Are those people still going to have their jobs and still do the supply services for Whitehorse, or will there be some necessity for change there between this policy and the mandate review?
I guess the employees working in supply services may have some concern with this new contracting policy in that it may not be necessary for them to be there anymore. Perhaps the Minister could explain that to us.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The community contracting policy itself will not make a great deal of difference to the buyers in Government Services. The change will primarily be who we buy it from, not who will buy it.
With respect to the mandate review, which speaks to the issue of increasing the accountability of managers, I can only say that the Department of Government Services will continue to play a critical role in purchasing goods. The department itself, obviously, purchases goods. There is a situation now where the vast majority of goods will probably, despite our efforts in the community contracting policy, still be purchased either out of Whitehorse or outside the territory. When there is no difference to us with respect to the value-added component, we will always look for the best deal possible.
There is also, even with respect to purchasing goods inside the Yukon and inside Whitehorse, the benefits that can be achieved through local purchase. We have professional buyers in the Department of Government Services who will continue to provide a supply. There will also be a desire to store goods that are purchased. The department will provide that service, even if they do that on behalf of departments that will be making more decisions with respect to what exactly is bought.
I can provide for the Member the reassurance - and I know exactly what I am saying when I am saying this - that the people in the supply services section of Government Services should have no fear that their jobs are in jeopardy as a result of this or that the useful work that they do now will not continue. There will be, in all likelihood, some increased emphasis on allowing line managers to participate more in the decision-making process when it comes to purchasing, and there will be some more direct purchasing by departments in communities, directly between the department and the supplier, albeit in small amounts.
Mrs. Firth: That means the number of employees will remain the same in the supply services branch of the Department of Government Services. That is really what I was asking.
With respect to the mandate review that is to go on for a year, is the individual who has the contract with the government to do this on contract for one year, or is it for a shorter period of time? Could the Minister give us the details of that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The work the individual, Mr. Klassen, is doing now should be completed by the end of this month. Consequently, his part in the process, as far as the problem-identification stage is concerned, will be complete.
Mrs. Firth: There is another general issue I would like to follow up on, and that is with respect to the two assistant deputy minister jobs I asked the Minister a question about in Question Period yesterday. He said one had been seconded and one had been an appointment. Does he want to provide any further information for the House with respect to those?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding, now clarified, is that one position has been filled on an acting basis and one has been filled by secondment. I am certain that is the case.
Mrs. Firth: The concern I raised yesterday was the fact that secondments are supposed to be approved by the Minister. When we originally asked about it, the Minister was not aware of the incident. He said he was not aware of the situation I had raised. Why was the Minister not aware of the secondment, if the Management Board directive states that is the procedure?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To begin, I must start by emphasizing something I have stated in the House on numerous occasions. I do not get involved in personnel decisions, particularly those that involve who will get what job. From the very beginning of my tenure as a Minister of this government, I have made very clear to the deputies I have that I delegate these matters to them.
The only exceptions are that I do get involved in the selection of deputies. I am at least consulted with respect to the selection of deputies, and I do have some say in who is going to be an acting deputy, in the event the deputy is away.
I have been very clear with deputies, both currently and in the past, that they are hired to manage, not I. They are there to make personnel decisions and not to check them with me, and they will do so with the full knowledge that if they pull some bone-headed stunt in the selection of particular people, my only concern is that the work of the department gets done competently. The deputies themselves are held accountable for that work. But, I will not get involved in personnel decisions.
When the Member asked the question, I had been aware of the fact that a particular person was going to assume the ADM position in Government Services from another department. I was not specifically aware of the fact that it was a secondment, but I approve of the decision. Once again, personnel matters, as far as I am concerned, are delegated. They are delegated to deputies, who in my view, are more competent than I to make the decisions and also are paid to make those decisions.
Mrs. Firth: The reason I asked the question was that the Minister first said that he had no knowledge of the issue of the positions. When the Minister came back and said that one was a secondment and one was an appointment, I checked the procedure for both of those kinds of transactions.
Management board directive 23/87, titled Staff Establishment and Position Control, refers to temporary assignments between departments. Section 8(1) talks about whether person years are charged against the department, and 8(2) says that The temporary assignment of an employee to another department may be made only with, a) the authorization of the Minister concerned, b) the consent of the employee, and, c) prior notification to the Public Service Commission.
I am not asking the Minister to get involved in appointments of people or in secondments or in the hiring and firing of people. In this circumstance, he was supposed to be involved and I think he should have known what was going on.
The Minister made some comment today that he approved the matter, but I do not know what form of approval that was when he told me a week earlier that he did not know anything about it. I do not know how he could have approved it.
The Minister did talk about the two Deputy Ministers having to authorize it and that is, in fact, the case with the appointment. My concern is that perhaps the Minister should have been involved a little more in this, according to the Management Board directives.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Just to get something clear: I was aware that certain people were moving into certain jobs. The Deputy Ministers told me because they felt I should know. I did not seek clarification on the technical arrangements on how they got into the positions that they got into.
With respect to this matter in particular, it is my view that Ministers should delegate personnel matters to managers, as well as delegate other administrative matters. I have very clearly indicated to my Deputy Ministers - verbally - that these matters are delegated to them; that I delegate these matters to them; that they should not ask me whether or not a particular person should get a particular job, because that is, in my view, inappropriate. So, I approve of their decisions when it comes to selection of personnel or secondments or transfers. I approve of whatever their specific decisions may be. In the end, I hold them accountable for the performance of the department, overall, and for their ability to follow the policy direction that I provide to them. That is my purview and the Cabinets purview and this Legislatures purview.
I do not make a decision here. I go and talk to them, tell them how to do it or what to do, and explain it to them in case they do not understand all the idiosyncrasies of it. Then I expect them to carry out their responsibilities, but I have made a point, very specifically, of talking to them about personnel matters. In my own judgment, I have delegated personnel matters to them, whether it be a temporary assignment of employees to other departments under this Management Board directive 23/87 or anything else; they make those personnel decisions and I approve of their decisions.
I cannot really add much more than that. I think there are checks and balances in our systems or procedures in our systems to ensure that things operate smoothly and fairly. They are paid to make those decisions, and I think they should.
Mrs. Firth: The issue is not one of delegating authority. The issue is that the Minister stood up and said he was not aware of this situation; he indicated to me that he did not know anything about it when I asked him in the House. The question is: did he or did he not know about it, and did he or did he not authorize it? The authority has not been delegated to the DMs according to the Management Board; the authority is in the hands of the Minister concerned. I want a clarification on whether he knew or did not know, and whether he did or did not authorize it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Again, with all due respect, I did answer the question. I indicated that I was aware that people were being moved into various positions - I am repeating myself now; it is frustrating - people were moved into various positions, and I did indicate that I was not specifically aware of the technical nature of the transfers or of how the positions were filled. However, I have very clearly delegated this matter to my own deputies because I believe strongly in the separation of Minister and department with respect to personnel matters.
The Member may want me to be involved and the Member may not think that I should have delegated it, but it is my view that these things should be delegated. It is my reading of my responsibility that I can and I have.
Mr. Phillips: One of the rapidly growing areas of this department seems to be property management. Five new positions are going to be in property management in this budget.
I would like to go back to some of the things that were said last year with respect to office space and office space that we have in Whitehorse. I would like to ask the Minister if he could give us a list of the various offices that we have rented in Whitehorse, the length of the lease in those offices in the last year, the amount of the lease, the amount of square feet in each case and what departments have moved into those offices. I know that there were new offices recently put into the Lueck Building. As well, there are several other buildings in town where government offices have cropped up during the last little while and I would be interested in knowing where they are.
As well, the previous Minister told us last year that there was a plan of government moving from one office to the next. We have seen the Department of Education moving into a new building. We have seen other departments moving to various areas and I would like to know from the Minister where we are at with that. There was an announcement made last year regarding various departments moving. Which ones have moved; which ones are delayed; which ones are still planning to move and are the plans the same as they were last year? Maybe I will let the Minister answer some of that, then I have a few more questions in that regard.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can provide a written update of the office space plan for the Member. The Member for Riverdale South, prior to the session, asked for an update. I sent it over and I am sorry that I neglected to send a copy to the real critic - in a sense - I do not mean that pejoratively. I will send a copy over to the Member for Riverdale North.
As my memory strikes me, we are still carrying out the office space plan that was identified by my predecessor. We have made no major changes to that plan. There are two major outstanding items under that plan; the first was the convention centre and the plan to move into that convention centre. This would finalize one major feature of the plan with the original intention that portions of renewable resources move into the convention centre.
The second area that has not been carried out, and it would be my intention to review, would be legislative precincts and the Executive Council Office. It is my view that, given the length of time left in the mandate of the government, it might be most appropriate to review the plan with respect to that matter after the next election, so we would not be in any danger of trying to accommodate the space needs of the Legislative Assembly Office, the Elections Office, the Official Opposition, the Independent Alliance, the government needs, et cetera, only to have the situation change within six or eight months resulting in additional expense. I have asked Government Services to hold that element of the office space plan until things become clearer after the voters have spoken once again.
There have been a number of very small leases here and there that are slightly different from the original plan, but that is part of the update, and I will provide that.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister mentioned the Taga Ku convention centre project. That project is well over one year behind schedule already. In the last few weeks, there has not been a lot of activity taking place down there. There still is a schedule for the department to move in. I know at least part of the Department of Renewable Resources was planning to move into that facility. I am just wondering how that is going to affect our lease with the Keith Plumbing building up the hill. I understand it was running out. Have we had to negotiate a new lease there because we are going to be there one more year? Has it affected any other departments leases that are planning to move into that building? What costs would be associated with the one years delay or even longer? We do not know what is happening down there. Things are supposed to be on track, but there is not a lot of activity taking place. What future effect is that going to have on the leases we now have?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not aware of the plans of other departments that are going to move into the convention centre. The general situation is under review. By the next sitting, I will be able to provide an update about what we propose to do. I have been informed that we will not have any difficulty in acquiring an extension to the occupancy date for the convention centre. I believe that was supposed to be in September or October of 1992.
What else did the Member ask?
My understanding is that, if the department is comfortable, we can make arrangements to maintain our occupancy of the existing premises until such time as the opportunity arises to move into the convention centre.
Mr. Phillips: I really did not think that there would be a lot of problems, because there are not a lot of clients around that would rent a building as large as the Keith Building, so I figured that he would probably be stuck with an empty building if the government moved out in a rapid fashion. They gave very little notice to him when they announced that they were going to be leaving.
The Department of Education moved into the renovated Old Yukon College. I would like to know from the Minister if, when they renovated that building and moved in there, they took all of their old furniture with them or did they obtain all new furniture? Was that furniture part of the local furniture purchase or was it sort of a mixed bag of furniture, some of which was local and some purchased from other suppliers in Whitehorse? It seems to me that a lot of the furniture in the Department of Education was in fairly reasonable shape, and I am just wondering if it moved over with the department when it moved into the new facility.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Before the move took place, I ensured that the Department of Education would be taking its old furniture, and it has indeed taken its old furniture with it. There was a requirement for some new dividers and conference tables, and things like that, in meeting rooms, but all of the furniture that was here that was usable at all - bookcases, desks, computer tables, computers, everything - was taken.
Mr. Phillips: The government initiated a recycling program within Government Services. I would like an update from the Minister on how the program is working, how much paper we are recycling or if we are running into any problems in marketing the recycled paper. Is the program working, from start to finish? It is easy to gather these things up and store them in one place, but it is sometimes more difficult to recycle or dispose of them down the line, because we are a long way from those types of markets. How is that working out?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not heard any expressions of concern from department officials about the planned expectations of the recycling program. I believe the collection containers are spread out now throughout the government, at least throughout Whitehorse. I will have to take the question as notice and see if there is something that would constitute a problem area. No one has expressed any problems to me. Normally, I hear nothing but problems, but I have heard nothing in that area. I will pursue it with the department and come back to the Member.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Finance and Administration
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,348,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Policy and Planning in the amount of $242,000 agreed to
On Contract Administration
Mr. Nordling: I know that, under this line item, there are projected to be 100 tenders processed in a year and 250 contracts awarded. I would like to ask the Minister, though, about the tendering process in general, and specifically about one tender - the tender for the sale of the old fire hall, including the land, up in Porter Creek. I spoke to the Ministers executive assistant about this matter and we have been in contact since June. I believe a briefing note was prepared for the Minister. I do not have a copy of that briefing note; I believe it was read to me over the phone. Is the Minister aware of my questioning and of the details of this particular tender?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will wait for a more precise question on the tendering policies in general. Until the Member puts the question to me, I fear that I might just simply rattle on about tendering policy and not hit the mark.
I thought the briefing note was sent down today. I have a copy of it here. It is not often that I provide the Member with my own briefing notes, but I will pass it over. I think it clearly lays out exactly what happened with the tender for the sale of the fire hall.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to read the briefing note. I may have a question about it. Perhaps we could just set this line aside and carry on and come back to it after the break. Normally, we break about this time in the afternoon.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will call the House back to order.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to thank the Minister for the briefing note; it goes a long way in explaining exactly what happened with respect to the tender on the old fire hall.
I would like to ask the Minister a few more questions - they are general, as much as specific. On this particular tender, there was an extension for payment of the purchase price. In looking at the instructions to tenderers, which I think apply to virtually every tender, the third paragraph, under tender security, states that if the successful tenderer refuses or neglects to tender the balance of the purchase price, plus the GST equivalent to seven percent of the bid price, within a 10 day period, the tender deposit shall be forfeited to the Government of Yukon to be applied on account for damages incurred as a result of the successful tenderers non-performance. I would like to know the policy the government uses with respect to the extension of that 10-day period. While the Minister is talking about extensions to the 10-day period, I understand from the briefing note that that 10-day period is 10 working days, as opposed to a straight 10-day period.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Having read the briefing note, I am not as certain as the Member is with respect to whether or not the 10-day period, is 10 working days or 10 days. There is a reference here to working days and a refernce to 10 days. Whether or not the 10-day period applies only to working days is something that I have to check. I am not certain what the situation is there.
It is fascinating; we are both going to be operating from the same briefing note. Any information outside of the briefing note I am going to have to plead ignorance about and get the professionals to provide advice. My interpretation of what has happened here is that if the person submitting the bid refuses or neglects to provide the tender within the 10-day period, whether it be 10 working days or 10 days, then any deposits that they may have put down are forfeited and they go to the second bidder.
In this particular case, the assessment was that the high bidder showed no inclination to either refuse or neglect to tender the balance of the purchase price. Consequently, they interpreted that as not justifying a claim that the high bidder was not interested in pursuing this purchase in accordance with the guidelines.
Just to be sure, I checked the matter with the Department of Justice. Justice determined that the bidder was showing active interest and that because extensions were permissible, they permitted the extension. They then informed the second bidder that an extension had been applied for and granted. According to the note, I understand that in the eyes of contract administration, after checking with Justice, this was acceptable and permissible behaviour.
Mr. Nordling: This raises two concerns for me. Under the paragraph entitled tender security, there is the 10-day period spoken of with respect to paying the money. There is also a 30-day period spoken of where, All tenders shall be open for acceptance by the Government of Yukon for a period of 30 days from the tender closing date. My feeling is that that 30 days means 30 days, not 30 working days. If it is going to be different, the 10-day period should be clarified so as not to cause confusion as to the dates that payments have to be made or payments remain open for acceptance.
My second concern is with respect to the terminology, refusing or neglecting. That is a legal term and it simply means that the money has not been paid. Best efforts to raise the money or pay a debt are not a defence to the argument that someone has either refused or neglected to pay.
Again, to prevent confusion for the people making the tenders, that should be clarified. I am surprised if the Justice department said that making best efforts, or saying, I am trying, is a defence to refusing or neglecting. In the tender security, a paragraph in bold letters states, In order to ensure that they are in a position to complete the transaction in a timely manner, tenderers are urged to make the necessary arrangements in respect to any financing required prior to submitting their tender.
To me, that emphasizes the importance of time and that time is of the essence in these matters.
There is not a lot the Minister can do about that for me today. However, I would like to ask him a question. What authority is there for him saying that extensions were permissible? He may have to bring it back, but under what conditions or guidelines are extensions permissible? Is there a limit to extensions?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am going to have to admit that the Member has me at a disadvantage in a number of respects. First of all, I just discovered that he has the instructions for tender and I do not have them in front of me, but he has my briefing note. Second, he has four years of law school and I have no years of law school behind me, only four years of useless philosophy instruction, so I am going to have to decline to spar over legal points with the Member and leave that up to people who do that for a living. I will take the Members comments as a representation and put the matter to Justice officials to try to provide him with the detail of the response that he wants and needs.
Mr. Nordling: The concern is that this not happen in the future, and by this I mean the confusion, upset and bitterness caused when expectations are not met or reached. The second highest bidder, who is my constituent, knows that nothing can be done about this particular tender at the moment. What I would like to ask the Minister to do for me, as well as bring back information about when and how extensions are allowed, is to bring back information on how often these agreements for sale through the lands branch are used, or have been used, to purchase land that is sold by tender.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I appreciate the motive the Member is evoking in asking the question in the first place. Certainly, an objective of the Department of Government Services would be to have tendering processes that are acceptable to all persons who bid. While the Department of Government Services feels that the letter of the law has been respected here, I think it is important that we try to put peoples minds at ease, if possible, and I will attempt to provide the kind of information the Member wishes.
With respect to the frequency of seeking an agreement for sale from the lands branch for lands that have been sold by government in the same manner as described here, I will have to take that question as notice and provide the Member with an answer.
Contract Administration in the amount of $359,000 agreed to
On Business Incentive Policy
Business Incentive Policy in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
Administration agreed to
On Systems and Computing Services
On Operation and Maintenance
On Systems Administration
Systems Administration in the amount of $318,000 agreed to
On Computing and Network Services
Computing and Network Services in the amount of $1,710,000 agreed to
On Systems Development
Systems Development in the amount of $1,037,000 agreed to
On Information Centre
Information Centre in the amount of $670,000 agreed to
On Records Management
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister tell us why there is a 15-percent increase?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason for the increase is partly due to the collective agreement and partly to the fact that in the current year a number of positions were left vacant. We expect that the positions will be fully staffed for the full fiscal year. At least, that is the plan.
Records Management in the amount of $683,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $4,418,000 agreed to
On Systems Development
Systems Development in the amount of $700,000 agreed to
On Computer Workstations
Computer Workstations in the amount of $106,000 agreed to
On Central Facility
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We expect, in 1992, that we will need an upgrade to the central facility. We are currently at the end of the useful life of the existing mainframe, and we will have to invest in an upgrade that will increase the capacity overall. A number of things have been happening with the central facility to put strains on the system. The first one is decentralization, and the second is the addition of computer work stations. Additional demand is being made on the system. We have been doing this over the years and, consequently, unless we want to face a certain degradation of service - long response times, et cetera - we are going to have to bite the bullet and provide for an upgrade of the system so that we can accommodate further applications on the system.
Mr. Phillips: This upgrade is $1 million more than last year. How long into the future will this system be of service?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot answer this question precisely. I think it would have been fairly difficult to answer precisely when the existing mainframe was purchased. A lot would depend upon how fast computerization of the public service takes place. First of all, I am uniquely unqualified to talk about computer capacity. I can probably toss around some of the jargon - megabytes and all that sort of thing - but I am really not the best person to answer the question. I am certain that people in the computer services branch will be groaning when they read this debate as it stands, anyway.
If the Member wants a more precise answer to this, to the extent that it can be provided, I will seek it.
Mr. Phillips: I am starting to feel sorry for the Minister. He just rose in his place, a few moments ago, and told us he had no legal background. Now he has no computer background. It is slowly building up that he has virtually no background at all, so I think I am going to pass this item, but I would appreciate obtaining that information on what the potential life or estimated life of this computer will be, if he could provide that to us in the future.
Chair: I am sorry.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: You should be sorry, Madam Chair.
I am not qualified to discuss this matter. Unless the Member would like to discuss drilling, blasting, rock mechanics, Kierkegaard, Hegel and Nietzsche, I really cannot provide any imaginative insights on a number of technical services that this particular department provides. Thank goodness, there are people who know what they are talking about in this area.
Central Facility in the amount of $1,479,000 agreed to
On Telephone Equipment
Telephone Equipment in the amount of one dollar agreed to
On Records Services
Records Services in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $2,293,000 agreed to
Systems and Computing Services in the amount of $6,711,000 agreed to
On Supply Services
On Operation and Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $165,000 agreed to
Purchasing in the amount of $478,000 agreed to
On Queens Printer
Mr. Phillips: I would like to make a comment on the new, glossy newsletter that is printed by Queens Printer. It seems to be quite elaborate for a government. The Source, I believe it is called. I thank the Member for Riverdale South for that.
We talk about cutbacks and restraints in all the other programs we have here, then we produce this real fancy, two-coloured document. If you look at the local newspapers here in town, they are printing on paper that is a lot less expensive than this. It seems to be a bit extravagant for government to be producing these kinds of documents.
We heard about a lapel pin award. They were going to produce a lapel pin for the department. It seems like they are getting a little carried away in that department. Pretty soon, we will have a group of cheerleaders and a few other things going along with the department. I think things are getting a little out of hand. I would suggest that the government look seriously at their priorities, and this obviously should not be one of them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member obviously has not heard about the blue and yellow pom-poms we have issued to all employees. I think he would have cited that as the first example of an expenditure that should be reviewed.
The Source newspaper is a mechanism whereby the department and personnel can speak to each other. One feature of it is a reflection of a desire to increase the esprit de corps in the department; another feature is to exchange information about new ideas and activities the various members of the department are undertaking. It is not a vehicle to splash the Ministers name on the paper. I try to be as modest as I can when it comes to my own particular participation, but as an information vehicle the papers primary goal is to explain, department-wide, what various people in the department and in the public are doing and to explain the various policy issues of the government to not only members of the department but also to businesses across the territory.
One of the concerns we have consistently heard is that things are happening within government that people are not aware of, and there have been suggestions in the past that we improve our communication with the public and with businesses. Because this department does a lot of business with business, it designed a mechanism to get the word out in a way that does not look like a boring press release; it also serves to humanize the department and show that real people are performing real work in a variety of different work environments.
This is one mechanism to do that. The Member suggests this is too fancy. I do not think the Member has seen fancy until the Member has had a chance to see the super publications put out by the departments in the Northwest Territories. I remember reading one annual report that was hard-bound coming out of that particular government.
Nevertheless, this design is carefully put together. It looks good, and it is not a frivolous expenditure, and because it exchanges information, it is an appropriate expenditure.
The Member mentioned lapel pins, and I admit that is a fairly small, minor expenditure. I know the department can live without those things. However, sometimes it is the very small things that count a great deal. In this particular case, there was a contest throughout the department to design something that was distinctly for Government Services. The department is often characterized as being the whipping boy not only of government departments, but of this Legislature and of the public. People who work in that department, despite the fact that they provide valuable services, often go through an identity crisis whenever the criticism mounts to new crescendos and new heights.
Even though this is a small thing, it is an important thing to try to improve the morale and esprit de corps in the department. While I admit the department can certainly live without a lapel pin, I think it is important to improve the esprit de corps in the department, and you can do that through an information exchange like The Source newspaper. I hope the information will be freely exchanged with the business community, which, believe it or not, hungers for some of the things the Department of Government Services does.
Mr. Phillips: I am not disputing the fact that the Department of Government Services has to get out its message. I guess the concern I have is that, as MLAs in this government, we all, from time to time, have to put together a brochure, or whatever. We all know what these things cost. They are very expensive and when you get into multi-colour and the type of print they are and the size of paper, and these kinds of things, it is very expensive to do. I just think that the Department of Government Services could have taken a little more care in the type of elaborate production they put together. I think one could put together a very good paper that did not have to be as elaborate as this. That is the concern I have. I feel we are getting a little carried away with it. I would like to know from the Minister, who might not have it on hand right now, what it would cost, directly and indirectly, to produce The Source, annually.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can provide for the Member what it would cost to produce The Source with one colour, rather than two colours. If that makes a significant difference, then we can certainly review how we produce the paper. I do firmly believe in the concept of producing the paper.
As much as I love our dear confreres in the media - who are obviously so interested in what we are doing this afternoon that they have chosen to turn off the lights and go home - because they are not paying attention, we cannot necessarily count upon them to get the word out. We know, for a fact, that the business community wants us to get the word out to them. We also feel the need to do that, too.
We also want to be able to produce the paper so that people will actually read it. There are various ways of publishing it. Some of the ways are very inexpensive and not attractive and some that are very expensive and very attractive. We obviously have to find some moderate compromise so that we can get the word out and keep the costs down. I will bring back figures in terms of the cost of this publication.
Queens Printer in the amount of $1,136,000 agreed to
On Asset Control
Asset Control in the amount of $171,000 agreed to
On Transportation and Communication
Transportation and Communication in the amount of $1,953,000 agreed to
On Central Stores
Central Stores in the amount of $293,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $4,196,000 agreed to
On Office Equipment
Office Equipment in the amount of $391,000 agreed to
On Pooled Vehicles
Mr. Phillips: Last year we talked about an item for some time and that was the renting of cars and the long-term leasing of vehicles. Do we still have many long-term leases on vehicles, and is that still going on?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to return with the precise information, but I understand the usage of lease vehicles is kept to a minimum. I think reference was made in the department to encourage departments that do lease vehicles to actually purchase the vehicles, and some progress was made on that point.
There have been, there are and continue to be leases for vehicles commonly used in the government. I remember in Community and Transportation Services that there is extensive leasing of vehicles for summer construction. I believe that practice still goes on but, as a general rule - we will not be able to clear this tonight and I will be able to get back with this on Monday - my understanding is that there are attempts to lease fewer vehicles.
Mr. Phillips: I would like the Minister to bring that back. The issue was raised by the Public Accounts Committee previously, and that committee was concerned about not just summer leases. It ended up that we were leasing vehicles over a longer period of time, for almost half a year, and it would almost be better to buy the vehicle than it would be to lease it for a year or more.
Pooled Vehicles in the amount of $324,000 agreed to
On Queens Printer Equipment
Queens Printer Equipment in the amount of $221,000 agreed to
On Central Stores
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This funding is to replace the forklift in the central stores, which is now 15 years old.
Central Stores in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $960,000 agreed to
Supply Services agreed to
On Property Management
On Operation and Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $333,000 agreed to
On Building Maintenance and Plant Operation
Mr. Phillips: This is the department that is increasing in person years, and it is one of the more rapidly growing areas of government. We all know that the more buildings we move into, the more buildings we occupy, the higher the O&M cost, and these are mounting quite rapidly. I have a concern I would like to register. This government is growing a lot faster than a lot of people ever hoped it would. I hope this does not get out of hand. They should get it under better control than they have right now, as it seems to be escalating at a rather rapid rate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Allow me to respond the way I think Government Services would like me to respond. The debate about the growth and personnel in the government quite properly should take place in the departments where the growth is actually identified. The problem that Government Services faces is they are charged with accommodating, through computers, space and other things, the growth in various departments. When it comes time to meet the obvious needs, there is a perception that this is somehow the worst kind of expenditure.
When the Department of Education takes on more teachers, or when there is the construction of an arts centre, or any of the other numerous things that happen from time to time that translate into so-called growth in government, there has to be an understanding that Government Services is going to be required to take care of people so they are warm when it is cold, and they are breathing clean air, operating computers, and that sort of thing. They come along like tail-end Charlies in the debate and get their butts shot off because they are perceived to be yet another growth in government. Where growth in government takes place, I think, is in the line departments.
This is a natural extension of the decisions that originate when the EDA, for example, generates the need for six person years, three geologists, three engineers and they have office space under the EDA and all that sort of thing. Government Services comes along and provides and maintains some space.
As a government, we have tried to keep the needs of Government Services to an absolute minimum. I think if you were to talk to anybody in Government Services at the management levels, privately, they would probably complain that they do not have sufficient resources to operate the system. I think that they do have sufficient resources, but I do not believe that they have any slush. At least, we have tried to ensure that they do not.
That is all I would really like to say on behalf of the department. The department just does not want to get kicked around any more - and I hope that they are listening.
Anyway, I think I have explained what the additional person years are for.
Mr. Phillips: We have learned a lot today about what the Minister does not know, and we have also learned that he is an extremely sensitive guy and has an extremely sensitive department. I am sorry if I offended the Minister or upset people in the department. I have a responsibility, too, as a Member of this Legislature, when I see a department with an 18 percent increase in their budget, to come in here and raise it as a concern. I think that is also legitimate.
Maybe the Department of Government Services property management branch is the tail-end of the dog, but it is still connected to the dog. I think we have a right and an obligation, as Members of this House, to raise these issues here. I do not apologize for that. I do apologize to the Minister. I want him to have a nice Christmas with his family. I do not want him to leave here feeling upset and depressed, so if he does feel that way, I apologize to the Minister for making him feel so bad.
Building Maintenance and Plant Operation in the amount of $4,073,000 agreed to
On Regional Services
Regional Services in the amount of $2,238,000 agreed to
On Custodial Services
Custodial Services in the amount of $1,441,000 agreed to
On Buildings and Security
Buildings and Security in the amount of $6,077,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $14,162,000 agreed to
On Renovations Public Buildings
Renovations Public Buildings in the amount of $910,000 agreed to
On Energy Conservation
Energy Conservation in the amount of $230,000 agreed to
On Pre-Engineering Capital Projects
On Pre-Engineering Capital Projects in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Design and Construction Overhead
Design and Construction Overhead in the amount of $1,450,000 agreed to
On Office Accommodation Projects
Office Accommodation Projects in the amount of $393,000 agreed to
On New Facilities
New Facilities in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Property Management Equipment
Property Management Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
Property Management agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 19, and that the Speaker resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: May the House have a report from the chair of Committee of the Whole.
Chair: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, 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. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m., Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:26 p.m.
The following Document was filed December 12, 1991:
Correspondence regarding health and dental care services in Dawson City (April 1991 - October 1991) (Lang)
The following Sessional Paper was tabled December 12, 1991:
Architectural Design Guidelines for the Yukon (McDonald)
The following Legislative Return was tabled December 12, 1991:
Carcross Train Depot Visitor Reception Centre project costs (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1484