Tuesday, April 21, 1992 - 3:00 p.m.
Prorogation of Second Session
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Clerk: It is the will and pleasure of the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, that the Second Session of the Twenty-seventh Legislature be now prorogued and the Second Session of the Twenty-seventh Legislature is accordingly prorogued.
Second Session of the Twenty-seventh Legislature prorogued
THE THIRD SESSION OF THE TWENTY-SEVENTH LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE YUKON CONVENED IN THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER AT 3:00 P.M. ON TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 1992
Speaker: I have received communication from the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, stating that he would open the Third Session of the Twenty-seventh Legislature at 3:00 p.m. today, Tuesday, the twenty-first day of April 1992.
We are now prepared to hear the Speech from the Throne.
Commissioner enters the Chamber announced by his Aide-de-Camp
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Commissioner: Mr. Speaker and all hon. Members, it is indeed an honour and privilege to welcome you to the Third Session of the twenty-seventh Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Each time I address you, I am struck by the fact that we have good reason to be proud that we all live in a very special place. Many of the things we take for granted are difficult to find in other parts of Canada these days.
We are blessed by a degree of social harmony and economic energy. Our population is growing steadily. People are drawn here and choose to stay here, because the Yukon is a good place to live. It is a good place to raise a family, build a career and, for many, to experience a way of life away from the noise and pollution of southern urban centres.
It is also a place where people can develop their skills and talents and work to excel in their chosen fields. We have many examples of excellence. All Yukoners shared the excitement and pride felt by Jane Vincent and Lucy Steele when they competed as part of Canadas cross-country ski team at the winter Olympics this year.
We are a people with enthusiasm, as many saw last month when athletes from several countries took part in the Arctic Winter Games at Whitehorse - games that showed the Yukon as a healthy, dynamic community, full of hospitable spirit. They proved the people of the Yukon have the talent to host a truly first-class event.
We have a vibrant artistic and cultural community whose offerings are well-known and enjoyed by Canadians everywhere, and with the opening of the new Yukon Arts Centre this spring, the territory will have a much-desired venue for cultural and artistic presentations of all kinds.
We are a community reaching out beyond our borders to show other parts of Canada and the world what we have to offer. This summer we will welcome visitors to share in the many festivities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the building of the Alaska Highway. The Yukon will also host other important events: the Circumpolar Languages Conference, a national seminar on aboriginal self-government, and the Circumpolar Agricultural Symposium, to name just a few.
These are a few things in which Yukoners can take pride. They show the optimism and energy people have about our territory and about its future. Yukon residents have the will and the desire to make their lives better, and they are doing just that.
We have accomplished much as a community through our work together. Your government has been an integral part of this effort. It has worked in partnership with all sectors of society: women, aboriginal peoples, francophones, business, labour, environmental groups, and others. The government has consulted with Yukon citizens and listened when people have spoken. Together, we are building a vibrant community based on mutual respect and understanding.
Evidence of this partnership is everywhere. It can be found in work with the Teslin First Nation on its tribal justice program and in support to the people of Old Crow in their fight against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is evident in the new schools built and in support for other community projects, such as the child care centre in Faro and the Wye Lake recreational area in Watson Lake. It can also be found in cooperative efforts with business to encourage community purchasing, with the tourism industry on sectoral and regional plans, and with the womens community on the construction of a new Kaushees Place in Whitehorse.
We have achieved much together, but there is more to do. In partnership with all citizens, the government is committed to building for the future on the foundation laid down in the last few years.
New measures will be developed to support our industries and to continue the important work of diversifying and strengthening our economy. The government will continue investing in quality education, training and health services, as well as in roads and communities. Recognizing the importance of land claim and self-government agreements to Yukon First Nations, it will actively carry through on commitments negotiated in these agreements.
Early in your governments first term, it conducted an extensive consultation with Yukon citizens about what they wanted for the future of the territorys economy. The Yukon Economic Strategy that resulted from this broad public dialogue provided a blueprint for economic decision making. It embodies Yukon citizens desire for more control over the territorys economy, for the option to stay in the Yukon, for equal economic opportunities for all and for economic development that does not compromise our environment.
The government is working diligently toward achieving these goals.
When Yukoners said they wanted more control over the territorys economy, the government pursued the devolution of federal responsibilities to Yukon control. With the transfer of the Northern Canada Power Commission, interterritorial roads, B and C airports and management of the inland fisheries, Yukon people have gained control over important tools for building a stronger local economy.
Recently the government took over responsibility for the Yukon portion of the Alaska Highway and the Haines Road. This transfer comes with $23 million a year for the next 15 years for reconstruction and maintenance of the road, plus an extra $20 million over the next four years to help rebuild the worst sections near Swift River. At the same time, the federal government remains responsible for reconstructing what is known as the Shakwak Corridor and will negotiate with the United States government to make sure that the entire section, from Destruction Bay to Beaver Creek, is brought up to standard.
With this transfer, the Yukon is gaining control over a vital element of our infrastructure, with the added benefit of more local construction jobs. The government will continue to seek the benefits that come with local control over the economic and environmental management of our resources as it negotiates the transfer of responsibility for oil and gas and forests.
In keeping with peoples desire to safeguard the natural health and beauty of our community, the government is working with Yukon citizens on initiatives to conserve our natural resources and to protect our environment.
It is promoting direct participation in conservation through programs such as the Conservation Action Team for young people, a hunter education program and Project Wild offered in the schools. The new Yukon Youth Conservation Corps will involve high school students in working on environmental projects sponsored by community organizations and the public and private sectors.
The government has also worked with First Nations to have the Thirty Mile River dedicated as a heritage river, with the Fish and Game Association to restock fish and wildlife in areas where natural stocks were eliminated. During this session, Members will be asked to approve amendments to the Wildlife Act to ensure adequate protection for wildlife habitat.
The Environment Act passed last spring is evidence of the governments strong commitment to a healthy environment. Since its passage, Yukon people have said very clearly what their priorities are for environmental protection, and the government is acting on these priorities. Draft regulations governing beverage container deposits and recycling, prepared in consultation with soft-drink wholesalers and retailers and others, are now available for the public to review. As part of this initiative, return depots are being established in most Yukon communities.
A new anti-litter campaign is also underway. In the coming months, consultations will begin on other priorities set by Yukoners, including regulations for pesticides and solid and special waste management.
Work is proceeding on the wetlands sewage treatment project in Teslin, on a new lagoon in Mayo, and on efforts to improve treatment facilities for Whitehorse and Carcross. These projects represent examples of sustainable economic development, investments in infrastructure that create employment and benefit the environment.
Your government has also responded to the desire of all Yukon people to live and work in their communities. It is now in the second year of its plans to decentralize 100 government jobs to communities outside Whitehorse. More than three-quarters of these jobs have been identified for relocation. So far, almost 70 percent of the jobs filled have gone to local residents.
Decentralization has also fostered capital investments in communities, such as the new airport terminal building in Haines Junction, and new premises for the communications branch in Carcross. As plans for the third year of phase one are implemented, the government will review the results of the decentralization program in order to design the second phase.
The community development fund has been a key instrument in supporting healthy communities. A new curling rink has been built in Pelly Crossing, providing local jobs and training, as well as social benefits. Money from this fund is helping renovate the Yukon Transportation Museum and to build a new ski hill in Whitehorse. It has also assisted with training programs in Carmacks, Old Crow, Ross River, Teslin and Carcross for native trainee instructors for Yukon College.
In a similar manner, the business development fund and the Economic Development Agreement make vital contributions to a stronger, more diversified Yukon economy. Many enterprising and successful projects have benefitted from these projects and the Yukon has, in turn, benefitted from new technology and viable new small businesses.
Polar Sea Fisheries of Whitehorse, for example, has received capital funds to raise small fry for restocking programs in the Yukon and arctic char for Canadian and U.S. consumers. It represents the development of a new export- based industry for the Yukon, making a significant contribution to economic diversification.
Another new business with export potential will go into full production this year. Sidrock will use local raw materials and labour to cut and polish stone products for the construction industry. In addition to supplying these products to Yukon projects, the company has a contract in Alaska and is investigating other export markets for its products.
The government has also assisted efforts to build industries that will replace products we currently import with those produced in the Yukon. The agriculture policy, released last year, provides the framework for a sustainable agricultural industry here. To act on commitments in this policy, the government will be making changes under the Lands Act to ensure the orderly development of an industry that can decrease our reliance on imported food.
In addition to building toward greater economic diversification, the government is also actively supporting our major industries. Although the federal government remains responsible for mining in the north, your government has done much to encourage mining development in the Yukon.
Early in its first term, the government helped negotiate the reopening of the territorys world-class mine in Faro, with loan guarantees to its new owners, Curragh Resources. In this session, it will introduce legislation to loan Curragh $5 million for stripping the vital Grum deposit. This will extend the life of the mine and its contributions to our economy.
Financial support for grassroots prospecting led to the discovery of the Sa Dena Hes ore deposit near Watson Lake. Through the resource transportation access program, the government supported the opening of the mine, one of only two that opened in Canada last year. It is also working with the mine and the Town of Watson Lake to create new housing for workers, which will provide jobs and economic benefits for people in this community.
Other financial assistance is available under the recently renewed Canada/Yukon Economic Development Agreement, which will provide $9 million for the mining industry.
Your government is also pleased to announce today a new infrastructure program to assist resource industries. Under this program, loans will be made available to mining and other resource industries to cover up to 50 percent of the capital costs of a grid extension or alternate energy supply that will reduce dependence on diesel as a source of power.
Tourism plays an important role in sustainable economic development. Nearly one-quarter of the Yukons workforce is in tourism. All indications are that the industry will continue to grow in the coming years as the Yukon celebrates a decade of anniversaries.
To mark the first of these anniversaries, the new Yukon visitor reception centre will open this spring to provide tourists with information on all that the Yukon has to offer.
New investments are an important part of strengthening and expanding our tourism industry. The renegotiated Economic Development Agreement will, over the next four years, provide another $9 million specifically to encourage new tourist attractions and infrastructure for the industry.
The government is also working in partnership with First Nations and with business to diversify the Yukons tourism industry. Special emphasis is being placed on the growing eco-tourism market. Cooperative ventures with industry such as Destination Yukon, Rendezvous Yukon and a new convention marketing program, have resulted in a significant increase in Yukon vacation packages sold worldwide.
To support our cultural industries, the government created the popular writer-in-residence program through the territorys library system. It has assisted our seven community museums with initiatives that implement the Yukon museums policy. The passage of the Historic Resources Act last year has provided the means to protect resources that reflect our rich history and our cultural diversity.
Next month, as I mentioned, the Arts Centre will open, and a summer arts festival is planned for this new showplace. A new branch within the Department of Tourism has been established to consolidate the delivery of programs to the artistic community. As the next step, the government will be cooperating with this community in developing an arts policy to foster the further development of our territorys artistic expression.
The many efforts the government has made towards the goals of the Yukon Economic Strategy are reflected today in the vitality of our community and the economys strong performance. Yukons economy continues to grow. Unemployment has been declining. Mineral production has increased tenfold since 1985; however, we remain very concerned about commodity prices, exchange rates and low levels of exploration. Our gross domestic product is expected to reach $1 billion this year, more than double the GDP in 1985.
This economic vibrancy speaks to the positive view that Yukon residents have about our territory and its future. Encouraged by this attitude and the result we have seen in the last few years, your government will continue to build both a strong and diversified economy as outlined in the Yukon Economic Strategy. During this session, Members will be asked to approve an economic development act that reinforces the commitments made in this strategy.
Your governments investments in economic development and environmental well-being are matched by its efforts to build a strong social foundation in the territory. It has been a deliberate policy of the government to invest a major portion of its annual budget and infrastructure for the Yukons future. Funding has gone toward roads, schools and facilities that will give the territorys residents services comparable to those found elsewhere in Canada. This has been done without tax increases.
Government investments in the Yukons future extend beyond buildings and highways. It has put money into the services that define our quality of life - the improvements in education, training, health care and social services. These investments in healthy communities and people have helped produce a society that is both proud of the present and confident about the future.
In the area of health care, hon. Members approved a comprehensive new Health Act during the last session. This legislation is designed to promote our citzens personal well-being, rather than simply focusing on the treatment of disease. As part of its implementation, the government will be carrying out a health promotion survey to gain a better understanding of Yukon attitudes and the means of fostering health.
The health investment fund has assisted with more than 30 projects in its first year of operation, including parenting and lifeskills courses and initiatives to address the needs of our children and our elders. The level of funding will be increased this year to improve the governments ability to invest in the health and well-being of its citizens.
The Yukon Health Act committed the government to a health care system built in partnership with communities and sensitive to their needs. Several communities are now involved in examining their health and social service needs, as the first step toward developing community boards that can exercise more local control over these services.
To increase the responsiveness of health services to community needs, the government is pursuing the devolution of health care services from federal to Yukon control. The transfer of the Whitehorse hospital is expected this fall. With it will come construction of a new Whitehorse hospital, which will complement the new extended care facility scheduled for completion this year.
In the past few years, your government has taken steps to provide a broad range of social services that respond to the needs of Yukon citizens. Rates for foster parents have been significantly increased. A plan to address fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects was released last year. In the coming year, the government will present an alcohol and drug strategy addressing a range of concerns including education, training and treatment services. As well, construction of a new detox facility will begin later this year.
As it committed in the Education Act, the government has placed a strong emphasis on quality education, so that Yukon students can meet the challenges of the future. Considerable effort has gone into improving the quality of the school curriculum and making it more relevant. Enhanced programs include courses that integrate academic study with music, art and drama and with opportunities for hands-on learning in a wilderness setting. A popular program, now offered in Haines Junction and Watson Lake, gives all the senior grades the opportunity for the extensive study of a particular subject area over one-week periods.
The partnership with parents, embodied in the Education Act, is being strengthened through ongoing work with school councils. Public schools are also forging new relations with the business community; for example, through the cooperative program that gives students direct experience in the workplace.
The government has made a substantial investment in educational facilities in the last few years. New schools have been built in Dawson and Watson Lake. Others are being constructed or planned in Whitehorse and in Mayo.
In the area of post-secondary education, Yukon College has expanded its offerings, attracting one in five of the territorys adults to courses at campuses across the Yukon. Consultations are planned on establishing endowment lands for Yukon College. That will provide for the orderly growth of the Ayamdigut Campus, while protecting the natural heritage and recreational opportunities of the area. In response to the publics desire for more input on support for adult education, the government will also be continuing its consultation on new legislation governing student financial assistance.
In addition to substantial funding for Yukon College, several trust funds, which will provide seed money for made-in-the-Yukon training programs, have recently been launched. Established in cooperation with business and labour in Watson Lake, Faro and Whitehorse, they will help workers gain new skills to meet the change of a changing workplace. Other funds with groups such as the Tourism Industry Association are being planned.
These funds are an important component of the Yukon training strategy, to be released shortly. They will focus on strengthening peoples skills to support community economic development. As part of this strategy, your government is developing elaborate training programs for employees of municipalities, First Nations and community non-profit groups, as well as for Yukon government employees.
To ensure the Yukon has a workers compensation scheme that meets the needs of the 1990s, your government will introduce a comprehensive new act during this session. This legislation has been developed in close consultation with business and labour. It will improve benefits and expand coverage, while maintaining assessment rates at their current levels.
As well, during this session, Members will be asked to approve a new Employment Standards Act. It will ensure that the basic rules of the workplace respect the needs of both employers and employees in the Yukon.
Your government has worked diligently to address issues of particular concern to Yukon women. It has campaigned actively to end violence against women, children and families. In the coming year, this public-awareness initiative will be expanded and funding will be extended to community groups to promote a broad public understanding of the need to eliminate this violence from our society.
A new Child Care Act was enacted in 1990 to provide for affordable, accessible, quality care for our children. It has been accomplished by an enriched subsidy program for parents and enhanced wages and training opportunities for workers. Child care centres are also receiving increased funding through direct operating grants.
To further ensure that the government is responsive to the voices of women, a bill will be introduced this session to establish in law the Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues.
In keeping with commitments under the Languages Act approved by this House, your government is working to provide services and programs, such as education, justice and social service to our francophone population in their language.
To meet peoples housing needs, the government is continuing to make land available. As has been the case in the last six years, the supply of land is again expected to exceed demand this summer with the release of additional lots in the Granger Subdivision in Whitehorse. As well, another 100 trailer lots will be available for sale in the nearby Arkell subdivision later in the year.
In the field of justice, your government will continue to pursue efforts to have the Crown Attorney office transferred from federal to Yukon control. It will also introduce legislation in this session to improve services to victims of crime. This will include amendments to the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act and a new victims services act. This legislation will allow collection of a fine surcharge on territorial offenses. These monies will be placed in a fund to assist and support victims of crime.
The work camp program, which has been highly successful in communities, will be located in Mayo this year. Work performed under this program is aimed at enhancing and providing benefits to communities without interfering with job opportunities for local residents. In Teslin, the government will build a 25-bed correctional facility. When completed late next year, it will place a strong emphasis on rehabilitation and programs that are culturally relevant, rather than simply focusing on detention.
By working with First Nations, the government is making significant progress in the area of tribal justice. Specific projects include the Teslin Tlingit Councils efforts to coordinate crime prevention and advance other tribal justice initiatives, and work by the Kwanlin Dun to develop alternate sanctions and explore the delivery of probation services.
These advances in aboriginal justice demonstrate the governments commitment to building a society that reflects and respects the two major cultures of the Yukon.
Underlying this and other initiatives has been the ongoing effort to address the needs and aspirations of the Yukons first peoples and to build bridges between aboriginal and non-aboriginal residents through negotiations on the Yukon Indian land claim.
After many years, the final legal drafting of agreements and implementation plans are being concluded with the Champagne and Aishihik, Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Teslin and Old Crow First Nations. During this session, hon. Members will be asked to approve legislation to ratify these agreements.
With their enactment by this House, we will come almost to the end of a road that started when the late Elijah Smith presented Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow in Ottawa.
Elijah believed in a partnership among Yukon people. With the settlement he worked so hard for, our society will enter into a broad social contract, enabling aboriginal people to participate meaningfully and on their own terms in the social, economic and political development of the Yukon. It is your governments belief that this contract and the relationships it fosters will represent a lasting tribute to Elijah Smiths memory.
The agreements are, however, the product of the many people who have worked tirelessly for a settlement. As a result, the whole community will benefit. The settlement will, for example, remove the uncertainty over lands and resources.
Accordingly, the government will be pursuing the acquisition of additional lands that can be made available to all Yukon residents. It is in active discussions with the federal government to reach an agreement on lands that can be transferred shortly after settlement legislation and on a process for future transfers.
Mr. Speaker and hon. Members, your government has achieved much in the last few years. It has done so with a dedicated public service that has worked in cooperation with Yukon people throughout the territory. It has taken steps to ensure that citizens are involved, on a daily basis, in decisions that affect their lives, and it will continue to do so.
In this session, hon. Members will be asked to approve a legislative package that enshrines what have been the day-to-day practices of this government. It will include assurances of public consultation, representative boards and committees and the use of plain language, as well as reforms to the Access to Information Act and new rules governing conflict of interest. These measures will reinforce the commitment to responsive, open and honest government.
By dealing openly and honestly with Yukon people, your government will build for our future. With this in mind, it is the intention of the government to summon a constituent assembly to redraft the Yukons constitution, The Yukon Act.
By working together on this and the other initiatives outlined today, we will build a stronger, more cohesive society that at the same time respects our diversity. Together, we will continue to pursue our economic goal without sacrificing our environmental values. Together, we will invest in quality educational and social services and in doing so, invest in our people and communities. Together, we will build an even better tomorrow for the Yukon.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with Prayers.
Introduction of Pages
Speaker: It gives me great pleasure to inform the House that at this session Kimberly Clark and Lucas Riedl from the St. Elias Community School in Haines Junction will be serving as Pages. As well, today we have with us from Christ the King Junior Secondary School, Shelby Blackjack, Taleen Harasymow, Kieran ODonovan, Krissy Rodgers, Elizabeth Sullivan and Morgan Toombs. Andrea Edmunds, also from Christ the King, is not able to be with us today. I would ask you to welcome the Pages at this time.
Introduction of Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms
Speaker: I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to the House our new Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Ronald Bill, who is here in the gallery.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Speaker: Also, I would like to draw the attention of Members to the presence in the gallery of Don Taylor and his new bride, Jenny. As most of you know, Don is the former Speaker of the House and a long time MLA for Watson Lake. I am sure all Members will join me in expressing best wishes to Don and Jenny.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 1: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that a bill, entitled An Act to Perpetuate a Certain Ancient Right, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved that a bill, entitled An Act to Perpetuate a Certain Ancient Right, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 1 agreed to
TABLING OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Speaker: I wish to inform the Assembly that I have received a copy of the Speech from the Throne, which I will now table.
Consideration of Speech from the Throne
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that the Speech from the Throne be considered on a day following.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that the Speech from the Throne be considered on a day following.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I wish to inform the House that, pursuant to Standing Order No. 26, consideration of a motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne shall take place on Wednesday, April 22, 1992.
Speaker: May I have your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 3:36 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 21, 1992:
Speech from the Throne (Speaker, Johnston)