Tuesday, May 19, 1992 - 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
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have the honour and pleasure to introduce two dignitaries from the Russian Federation, who are in the gallery with us today.
The first is Vladimir Novichikov who is the first deputy minister for the Russian Federation. The second is Vladmir Batsin, who is the director of the national education program, for the ministery of education, Russian Federation. These gentleman are in Whitehorse attending the Circumpolar Language Development Conference, which is beginning this week.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is my pleasure today to introduce to the House, Reverend Donald Amos, a retired United Church Minister, who in 1942 and 1943, was one of four inter-denominational chaplains serving construction crews along the Alaska Highway. Reverend Amos was responsible for the section of highway between Ft. Nelson and Watson Lake.
Reverend Amos maintained a book of news clippings and magazine articles and photographs of this period; he was sponsored by the heritage branch to recall his experiences at the Alaska Highway Symposium organized by the Yukon Museum Historical Association this past weekend.
Reverend Amos has very much enjoyed his visit to the Yukon, recalling his past experiences, and he plans a return trip in July. I would like all Members to make our guest feel welcome.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Joe: As ruled by yourself, Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling a questionnaire filled out by a Karen Digby. Karen Digby used to live in a Riverdale riding. She does not live in the Porter Creek East riding, as I mentioned, but does live in the Hootalinqua riding.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Petition No. 1
Mr. Phelps: I have for tabling a petition that reads as follows:
WHEREAS there is presently a proposal by the owners of Lot 1004, Quad 105E3, Plan 59356, to develop this property into a residential subdivision of 43 parcels;
AND WHEREAS this development will have a significant environmental and social impact on the area and the residents of Deep Creek and Lake Laberge;
AND WHEREAS, in conjunction with the spirit of the Hootalinqua plan, which recommends that there be: 1) the orderly development and use of appropriate district land within an integrated multi-use setting; 2) protect and strengthen the existing rural settlement identify; and 3) recommend methods of fairly compensating for the impacts of future growth within the district;
THEREFORE the undersigned ask the Yukon Legislative Assembly to: initiate a plan for the orderly development of the Deep Creek-Lake Laberge area, in consultation and agreement with local residents before allowing any development which will affect the area.
This petition is signed by 32 residents.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 82: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 82, entitled Public Government Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 82, entitled Public Government Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 82 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Ministerial meeting on the Constitution
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I rise to report to the House on last weeks discussions on the Canadian Constitution.
As the news media has reported, the meeting in Vancouver focused, in large part, on aboriginal issues. At the meeting, the Ministers and aboriginal leaders agreed to constitutional recognition of aboriginal peoples inherent right to self-government within Canada.
As hon. Members are aware, this government has consistently advocated that their inherent right to self-government within Canada receive expression in our countrys Constitution. We are accordingly very pleased that Ministers and aboriginal leaders have built upon the progress made in Halifax last month and reached an agreement on an issue of significant importance to the Yukon.
It was also agreed in Vancouver that the jurisdictions aboriginal government will exercise will be determined through negotiation.
It is through negotiations that we have reached for the model self-government agreement in the Yukon. This government is of the view that this approach is the most responsive to regional circumstances and the particular interests of aboriginal people in those regions.
The commitment to negotiate self-government agreements is to apply to the federal, provincial and territorial governments and aboriginal peoples. This is an important expression of the political will to address aboriginal self-government.
Ministers and aboriginal leaders also agree that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should apply to aboriginal governments.
Overall, there is a strong commitment to address self-government and to provide for an orderly transition of aboriginal self-government in Canada. This accords well with what we have achieved to date in this territory.
Of course, everything the Ministers have agreed to at these meetings is subject to final approval by first Ministers at a conference that is yet to be scheduled.
I would also like to report that, at the conference last week, western premiers expressed concerns that their constitutional issues - Senate reform, treaty ratification, telecommunications and the creation of new provinces, among others - not be subordinated to Quebecs priorities in this Canada round.
The vital work of reforming Canadas Constitution will continue this week in Montreal and next week in Toronto. As I have committed to the House, I will continue to keep Members informed on the general substance of the constitutional discussions as we proceed.
Mr. Lang: We appreciate the information being provided to the House. We are very pleased to see there is an agreement that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would apply to all aboriginal governments. We had some concerns with the present umbrella agreement in Yukon as it would apply to the Yukon or not. Without an amendment, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms could not be applied to the native recipients of the Yukon Indian land claim, the way we understand it.
We feel this is a step in the right direction and is of significant importance to the people of the Yukon and Canada.
We are looking forward to hearing the position of the Government Leader and the government, at some given point, with respect to such issues as the Senate reform. I know a lot of these discussions are in camera, and obviously some of them have to be. However, we and the people of the territory would appreciate getting a firm position from the Government of the Yukon in matters of this kind so we know what message is being conveyed at these particular conferences.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for his comments. I would make the point about the application of the Charter to aboriginal self-governments that, unless and until the aboriginal self-government agreements are entrenched in the Constitution, I understand that the Charter would automatically apply. The case the Ministers were addressing is a situation, following entrenchment of the inherent right to self-government in the Constitution, on how the Charter would apply in that case. I have reported to the House what the resolution was.
On the question of Senate reform, I would be more than pleased to respond to particular questions in the House at any time about that. I have given a general statement of our position and indicated to the Member that it is not our highest priority in this discussion - in other words, the Yukons highest priority. In fact, there are poles of opinion between those who argue for an equal but relatively powerless Senate, and those who argue for an equitable and effective body. That debate is far from resolved yet; hence the concern of the western premiers at their meeting last week.
Having said that, however, I would be more than happy to brief Members in whatever way I can as the discussions proceed.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Curragh Inc., Westray mine disaster
Mr. Lang: If I may, I would like to direct a question to the Government Leader on an issue that is facing the House that will be dealt with fairly soon: the bill asking Members of the House to loan $5 million to Curragh for the stripping project in Faro. As we all know, that particular project is not going to cost $10 million; the total amount is going to be in the neighbourhood of $60 million. Unfortunately, the recent situation in Nova Scotia has obviously had some financial implications for the company - not just the results of the disaster that took place but also the financial implications on the market price and how it is going to affect the longevity of the company and its capability to finance such a project as the Faro mine and the stripping project.
I want to know from the Government Leader if he has had the opportunity to discuss at any length with any of the proponents of Curragh Inc. what their plans are in view of the situation that has taken place over the last couple of weeks.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have been briefed on the question asked by the Member, by our Finance officials. I have also had discussions with the vice-chair of the board for Curragh, Inc. and officials of the union representing the workers at Curragh on all of the concerns indicated by the Member.
The structure of the parent company is such that there is a financial relationship between the mine at Westray and the mine at Faro.
Within the next few hours, I will be endeavoring to determine the financial facts of that relationship. While I believe that we have to be concerned about the potential effect on the Yukon, in the wake of this tragedy in Nova Scotia, I am told that there is no reason for great alarm given the nature of the obligations at Westray.
I understand that most of the liabilities of the mine at Westray are covered by government loan guarantees, and by the Province of Nova Scotia and the federal government.
Beyond the examination that I am going to be completing in the next few hours, we hope to have further discussions with the principals of the company shortly, although I should say to the Member that the express purpose of the senior officers in communicating with me was to calm any alarm or any potential fears about the implications of this tragedy that we might have in regard to Faro.
Mr. Lang: I certainly hope that the Government Leader is correct and accurate about that. One of the concerns that we have is that the company just sold some of its assets in Europe; therefore, the company had in the neighbourhood of $60 million available to it. We were told by the witnesses that were here ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: ... that this money was very significant in the running of their company.
Is the Minister telling the House that the $60 million that the company acquired, through the sale of their assets, will not be directly affected by the disaster that was suffered in Nova Scotia?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Opposition Leader is asking me about whether the disaster at Westray mine will have any impact on the use of the $60 million cash that Curragh, Inc. recovered from the sale of their shares in the Spanish smelter. I am not in a position to competently give the Member any information about that. I think the Member will understand that while we have communicated with officers of the company, everybodys mind over the last few days has been almost entirely concerned with the human tragedies at Plymouth. It did not feel right at all last week to enter into detailed financial discussion. I hope that we will have answers to those questions in the next little while. I am not in a position to speak for the company at this point about the impact on the $60 million - or indeed, the companys overall financial position - of last weeks tragedy.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate that aspect of it. That is one of the reasons we did not pursue it last week. The fact is that we are dealing with a bill that is before Committee. Some definitive decisions are going to have to be made very soon.
In view of what has taken place, and the uncertainty of it all, can we have an undertaking from the Government Leader that if Curragh, Inc. comes back to the government for financial assistance, over and above the $5 million that is being requested here, will he commit himself to calling back the Legislature prior to lending any more money, so that the public is fully aware of the facts and details of the financial arrangements.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me give an undertaking to the Member about the business that is before the House now. I will certainly do my best, before we get back into Committee on the bill we talked about, to answer any questions I reasonably can about the implications for us of last weeks disaster.
The Member understands that he is asking a hypothetical question about Curragh, Inc. coming back for more financial assistance. If they do come back at any point in the future, it is my understanding that, under our obligations under the law, we have to come back to the Legislature to have ultimate approval of the measure.
If the Member is asking about Curragh asking for other commitments in the meantime, as large companies in the Yukon often do, whether it is to do with roads, energy or power, the Member will understand that some of these matters are dealt with in other forums than this one. However, if we are talking about a measure such as loans or loan guarantees, obviously I have to come back to the House to get ultimate approval.
Question re: Totem Oil
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. I have a presentation to convey to him from a constituent of mine. It is on the golden egg called Totem Oil. The constituent asked me specifically to let him know who he figures got the goose and he wants to make sure you get the golden egg. I will pass this on to the Minister responsible.
One of the principles on which the government lent the $3.7 million to an American-owned company is the fact that they keep saying that there is no competition in the marketplace. It has come to our attention that, not only are a lot of companies dealing out of Haines at the present time, without the benefit of a preferred loan, but also that there are a lot of companies getting fuel through the Skagway link. Now, it has come to our attention that such independents as the Burwash Landing resorts, Pelly Crossing, Rancheria and a number of others are receiving shipments of fuel from Alberta.
They are being received through Northern Petroleum Ltd. at a lower cost than Totem has been supplying fuel to the territory. Can the Minister verify that this particular company out of Alberta is wholesaling fuel cheaper than Totem?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot verify that a particular distributor out of Alberta is wholesaling fuel cheaper. I trust that the Member is including in any pricing structure the cost of transportation, because that is part of what is underlying the entire issue. While I am on my feet, I would ask the Member to pass on to his constituent, on behalf of all Yukon people, appreciation for the gift presented here today.
Mr. Lang: I will do that. I am sure that he will appreciate the large thank you that he has received from the Minister responsible now, I gather, for international trade. I would like to further follow up on a question to the Minister with respect to a talk show this afternoon, during which it was not made clear where the fuel was emanating from that was coming into either Skagway or Haines. My information is that the bulk of the fuel that we are presently consuming in the Yukon comes from Canadian fields. I was quite surprised to hear the Ministers comments, stating that it is all coming out of Seattle. I am wondering if the Minister can tell this House how he can substantiate that this fuel is coming out of Seattle now and therefore will not be costing other Canadians jobs, other than those in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Part of what was explained during the talk show by one of the proponents of Totem Oil was that the sourcing of fuel to the Yukon is very often unknown, just by the nature of the commodity itself. There is sourcing in a Canadian refinery; there is sourcing in the Seattle spot market; there is sourcing that may just be passing through respective coastal ports. The point was being made by the industry that, at any given time in the Yukon, you could not be certain that your fuel was originating from Canada but, more likely, it was a mix from various sources. That was the point being made by the industry and extended on the talk show.
Mr. Lang: I want to turn the Ministers attention to this document, which should be called Political Damage Control, that was being sent throughout Whitehorse and, maybe, other parts of the Yukon. It is called Lowering Fuel Prices in the Yukon. It was brought to my attention by an individual who owns a hotel. An employee came and just left these. He was asked why he just left them, and he said he was told he had to distribute them to as many public places over the weekend as he could.
Was the Minister involved in helping make this communication-strategy decision? Could he tell the House how much the taxpayer is paying in overtime for this type of distribution?
I will table the document.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can tell the Member that any cost to the taxpayer is absolutely minimal, given that it was prepared in my office under my guidance; at best, some photocopying costs may have been incurred. The fact sheet the Member refers to is a fact sheet that is in circulation; it is being requested by people who want to know more details about the deal. I was even party to discussions with various businesses and dealers about the facts surrounding this, and this document was indeed part of my discussion.
Question re: Appointments to boards and committees
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader with respect to board appointments.
I understand that, on May 12, the Government Leader wrote a letter to every member of every board and committee in the Yukon, attacking the Opposition and stating that the notion that a board or committee appointment is a reward is ridiculous. The next day, on May 13, the Minister of Education, in discussing board appointments, said in Hansard and I quote: There were four former PC MLAs on boards, two of which still are, such as the PC campaign chairperson. Is this not political patronage? Oink, oink. Give us a rest. Will the Government Leader tell us what his governments position is? Are board appointments political patronage or not? Or does it just depend on who makes those appointments?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure the colourful comments of my colleagues were very much an ironic echo of what we have been hearing from the other side. Yes, indeed, we do feel, as do many hard-working appointees to boards and committees, that much of the criticism emanating from the other side has been quite unfair and in some cases quite personally vindictive. It is our view, and has been our view since coming to office, that board appointments should be balanced and should be representative of the population as a whole. That is why we increased the proportion of women on boards; that is why we have increased the proportion of aboriginal people on boards and why we increased the proportion of people from rural Yukon on boards. It is also why we have endeavoured to provide a balance of appointees among people of all political persuasions during our time in office, and I believe a careful examination of the list of appointees to the boards and committees will show that that is exactly the case.
Mr. Nordling: I am not sure whether the Government Leader agreed they were political appointments or not.
I also understand that his office has demanded the current home addresses of every member of every board and committee in the Yukon, and that information should be back to his office by May 22.
I would like to know if the Government Leader wants those addresses so that he can communicate directly with members of boards and committees, rather than going through the departments that are responsible for those boards and committees.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know where the Member is getting his information, but I have not personally asked for such information. I believe that we are able to contact the members of these boards to give them notice of meetings. I would doubt very much if the information mentioned by the Member is not already available to all the departments and agencies of the government, with respect to the communication that they have with board members.
Mr. Nordling: I would have expected that it was and I wondered why this urgent demand went out.
I would like to ask the Government Leader if he is going to use those names and addresses to communicate with all of those people who sit on boards and committees to apologize for the comments made by the Minister of Education, who has, in effect, called them pigs - ironic or not as the Government Leader claims that the remarks of the Minister of Education were.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not going to do that. As the Member has explained, I have already communicated with these people to apologize for the unwarranted attacks made on them and their character and their contribution, by the Members of the Opposition.
My colleague, the Minister of Educations comments, I am certain, were directed at the kind of behaviour and comments of the Members opposite, not at the board members.
Question re: Young Offenders Secure Custody Facility, escapees
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services. The question is with respect to the two inmates who escaped from the secure facility in Whitehorse, a number of weeks ago.
Mr. Speaker, as you will recall, there have been some concerns about the information, or lack thereof, in respect to the break-out and the events that finally led to the inmates capture.
The Minister has consistently informed the public that the two youths were strictly misguided, and in fact, referred to the one youth as,"a big Saint Bernard pup. He is a young man who is not dangerous to others." The Minister went on to say in the newspaper article, ...they are not dangerous to anyone but themselves.
Further to that, for the record, on page 191 of Hansard on May 5, 1992, the Minister stated, ...they certainly have committed property offences and they would not be in the young offenders facility if they had not.
The Minister has conveyed the impression of at least one of these particular individuals as a very young, misguided boy. Yet now we find that we are talking about a young man, whom I understand is described as being over six feet tall, weighing 200 pounds and has been charged 39 times over the past three years.
A number of those charges were for assault, for forceable confinement, as well as two dangerous driving charges. They were very serious altercations, as far as the public interest is concerned.
Why did the Minister tell the public, as well as this Legislature, that the young man in question was incarcerated strictly for property offences, when she knew the charges were much more serious?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I assume the Member is referring to the newspaper article of last week. That would seem the only logical place he could have received any such information as that to which he refers. Frankly, I am appalled at that whole situation.
However, in order to be in compliance with section 38 of the Young Offenders Act, I cannot, nor should I, confirm or deny the alleged facts contained in the article regarding the young offender. The Member should keep in mind that there is always room for error in any communication process. Section 38 of the Young Offenders Act refers to protection of the privacy of young persons and prohibits making public information that could lead to the identification of the young offender.
The appearance of specific information in the newspaper article and that those statements have been attributed to a government employee, causes me great concern. I stand by the statements I made about the young person not being dangerous. The information provided to me, from my staff, was that the young person did not pose a serious threat to people in the community.
The decision to identify a young person as dangerous has certain ramifications and, as a result, is not one that is taken lightly. If the RCMP had considered the young person in question to be dangerous and a threat to the public, they could have invoked section 38(1.2) of the Young Offenders Act and made application to the court for the release of the young persons name.
I am certainly concerned that it appears that one of our employees may have breached his or her obligation to keep such information confidential. However, I stand by my statement.
Mr. Lang: I submit that the Minister cannot have it both ways. The Minister has continuously portrayed one of these particular escapees as strictly being incarcerated for minor offences. If the Minister is not at liberty to say exactly what those offences were, why did she inform the House and the public, and try to portray that this individual was incarcerated for property offences, when she knew that those charges were much more serious?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I did not, and do not, know what those charges are. I was aware that that young offender - that young person, that kid - would have to go back to court, because that was part of the discussion that went on. I think the Member is trying to turn these kids, in the publics eye, into some kind of massive fugitives from justice. The reality is that they are kids and at least one of them is out and about. He is no more dangerous now than he was before.
Mr. Lang: We are told that one of these escapees was convicted on a number of assault charges, dangerous driving and forcible confinement. The Minister is trying to tell this House that the public should not be concerned.
Why did the Minister try to convey the message to the public that one particular individual was only in for minor property offences when she knew the charges were much more serious? Why did she do that?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The Member appears to have information about the allegations that were made about this young offender that is not available to me and should not be available to him or anyone else in this territory.
As I quoted from the Young Offenders Act, the privacy of an individual and what they have done must be kept. I am appalled that the Member is using this to once again attempt to turn these kids into some kind of hardened criminals.
Question re: Young Offenders Secure Custody Facility, escapees
Mr. Lang: I am not trying to turn this into anything. What concerns me is that there is a responsibility that a Minister, when informing the public of an issue - an issue that is very serious - not misinform the public nor the Legislature. As an MLA, and by the rules of this House, I am asking a very pertinent question: why did the Minister state to the House that at least one of these individuals was incarcerated for property offences when it has been made public that the offences were far more serious? I want to know why the Minister said that. All I am asking is that the Minister answer the question.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Anything that is published in any newspaper may or may not be entirely accurate. In answering the Members question, I am certainly not going to confirm or deny the statements that were made in that newspaper. That young person has the right to his privacy as long as he is a young offender; as long as he is a child under the Young Offenders Act.
Mr. Lang: I think that the Minister is missing the point; I want to know why she stated to this House and to the public that one of the escapees was convicted of minor property offences.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Perhaps the Member is hard of hearing. I said in my original statement - if I can find it - information provided to me from my staff was that the young person did not pose a serious threat to people in the community. Any information that appears in a paper, or anything else about a young offender, can neither be confirmed nor denied by me. That is very obvious. I am not missing the point. I very well see the point of this. I will not be caught up in the game of attempting to label these kids.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand this. She cannot have it both ways. I know what the Young Offenders Act says. I know that certain things are not supposed to be said.
I want to know why she gave the public a false sense of security when the initial break-out took place and she stated in the newspaper on Monday, April 27, that both youths were serving time for property offences. I want to know why she said that.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: That was the information I had at the time and was to the best of my knowledge. As I said, I still do not believe that these young people are a danger to the people of this community.
Question re: Young Offenders Secure Custody Facility, security cameras
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the same Minister, the Minister responsible for the young offenders facility. Over the past few years, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars making the secure custody facility more secure. It seems that this is to no avail. Young offenders continue to walk away from this facility on a regular basis.
One of the recommendations to improve the security was the installation of security cameras. My understanding is that this improvement is about half complete. The government installed a video monitor in the facility, but has yet to install the cameras. I would like to ask the Minister if she is aware that the monitor is useless unless there are cameras to record the picture in the first place.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I suppose the next question will be why we do not have steel doors and guard dogs or why do we not turn it into a full-fledged penitentiary.
If the Member knows something more than I know in terms of cameras and whether or not we are supposed to be keeping a surveillance on these kids on a day-to-day basis, then I guess he has the information. It is usual that one does not ask a question without having the answer. It would seem to me that he is asking another question that has come out of a magazine article by someone, allegedly someone who was unhappy. If the Member truly wants to know about cameras or the lack thereof, I can bring that information back to him.
Mr. Phillips: It seems that everyone in the Yukon knows more about the facility than the Minister. This was a recommendation made by a group that looked at the facility after several previous escapes. They recommended exterior surveillance cameras. This is not hard-core bars, or locked doors or steel doors. These are simple cameras to monitor the outside of the building, so they can see if someone is climbing on the roof and running away, like they seem to do all the time.
In the hundreds of dollars we have spent trying to improve the facility, can the Minister tell us why we did not spend a few of those dollars to put in the proper cameras, so we could at least monitor people walking away?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: It does not seem to me that not knowing they are walking away has been one of the problems. We have known it within a few seconds or minutes of escapes. However, if the Member wants to know the answer to that question, as I told him before, I will bring the information back to him.
Mr. Phillips: If we had the cameras in the place before, we might have been able to see these young offenders actually trying to get out of the facility and prevented the escape in the first place.
Can the Minister tell the House what physical changes she expects to make after the last fiasco? What is the estimated cost to make the improvements so we can keep young offenders in this secure custody facility?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The Member seems to have a great terror of having these kids run loose around the territory. There are one or two or three kids in there. I have a family with three teenagers in their home who live not too far from the Member. I wonder if they are a danger, too.
The information surrounding the repairs or any upgrading to facility, if any, will be brought back. I believe I promised that earlier in the debates. I do not have that information yet.
Question re: Legal service contracts
Mrs. Firth: I have been through the consulting contracts, and I find that this government has spent almost $800,000 in the past year to predominantly outside legal firms for legal advice. Some of the contracts to each firm accumulate to as high as $150,000 and $350,000 to specific law firms.
Could the Government Leader tell this House what kind of problems the government is having that it needs to spend almost $800,000 a year for outside legal services?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure I can answer the question. In the terms the Member has used, the question should more properly go to the Minister of Justice. As the Member knows, as was the case in her time in government, from time to time government requires specialized legal skills, which are not available either within the Department of Justice or within the Yukon bar. I can recall, from my own memory, some matters that went before the Supreme Court of Canada where we retained eminent barristers to represent us because we wanted to have the best talent available to us. I can think of other cases where we have required specialized skills - in the case of drafting legislation such as the Environment Act where those skills were not present either in our public service or in the local bar - and there are other kinds of questions of litigation where we have been advised to retain very senior counsel in southern Canada for matters that may be going to superior courts. Those are the kinds of situations I think where we have had to retain outside counsel.
Mrs. Firth: The incidents the Government Leader mentioned do not appear in the consulting book. We have 11 lawyers on staff in the Department of Justice - probably the largest law firm in the Yukon. We also have a special counsel in the Executive Council Office and the costs of these legal services are probably in excess of $1 million if wages and support staff are included. Could I ask the Minister - whichever Minister wants to answer - what seems to be costing so much money? Do we have outstanding lawsuits? Why is it that the government is requiring the services of so many legal people - almost $2 million worth of legal services?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me give the Member one example of relatively new costs - no, perhaps I will give two examples. As the Member knows, as the result of an agreement with Canada, we are now required to publish our laws in French and English. We therefore have counsel on staff in the Department of Justice translating the laws. These are people who have legal drafting skills in English and French. These skills were not present in our government previously and, in fact, we had no need of them until a few years ago. This cost is actually recoverable from the federal government, even though it shows on the expenditure side of our budget. In the case of the special counsel on constitutional matters, we have talked about this before; let me say to the Member, it would be absolutely impossible for the Yukon to have any meaningful participation in the national constitutional discussions unless we had senior counsel, or specialized legal advice, available to us.
Most of the governments involved in the process have large numbers of lawyers; not only specialists, but sub-specialists. Many of them have retained people from the academic community on consultation, in addition to the people whom they have within their own governments.
The smaller governments - the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and so forth - cannot do it with the lawyers on staff and, in all cases, have had to retain outside counsel. Given the kind of process that we have been involved in the last few months and will be for some time longer, inevitably this is an expensive process.
Mrs. Firth: We have 11 lawyers on staff and we have special counsel on constitutional matters that the Government Leader has appointed in the Executive Council Office. We have many local law firms, yet the government still spends almost $800,000 per year on outside legal services.
The Government Leader still has not answered the question with respect to all of these specialized problems that there are in the Yukon. Why can we not use the 11 lawyers on staff, the one special counsel and the many local law firms?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect, that is rather like saying that we happen to have a couple of engineers in Government Services and a couple of engineers in Community and Transportation Services, why do we go to outside engineering firms when we are designing buildings, roads or doing public works?
The obvious answer is that you cannot administer an $100 million capital program with the people in the public service.
Likewise, in some areas of law, such as legal drafting, as far as I know there is no one in the private bar here who can do French language drafting for us. As far as I know, there is no one in the private bar in Yukon, with the possible exception of the hon. Member for Hootalinqua, who could claim any expertise whatsoever in constitutional matters, and as I understand it the Member for Hootalinqua is not presently available to us.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Was the Member making me an offer? I am sorry I did not hear.
The point is: there are specialists in the law, as there are in every other profession. The Member has experience in the health care field. If one needs brain surgery or heart surgery, it is no good to complain that because we have a local surgeon, we should not be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, as we do every year, to send people outside to hospitals in Vancouver; why do we not go to him? The analogy is exact. There are specialized skills that are not available locally and that is why we have to retain outside counsel.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Notice of Government Private Members Business
Hon. Mr. Webster: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to inform the House that the Government Private Members do not wish to identify any items standing at the heading of Government Private Members business, to be called on Wednesday, May 20, 1992. The House will, therefore, proceed directly to government designated business when Orders of the Day are called on Wednesday.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government Bills.
Bill No. 10: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 10, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 10, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 10, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This bill requests additional monies for the 1991-92 fiscal year. It is the normal supplementary, based on the expenditure projections done at period 9.
We are requesting an additional $9.4 million spending authority for the year, although in reality, the total increase in expenditures is less than that, at $7.1 million. This difference is the result of our system, which requires that we vote increases but not decreases in votes. Many of the additional expenditures contained in this supplementary are recoverable and this, combined with some revenue changes, results in a net increase in our projected deficit for the year, of $3.4 million.
I will speak only briefly on the major changes reflected in the supplementary and leave any detailed discussions to our general debate.
Recoveries are up $1.1 million. The biggest single reason for this occurring is in the Department of Health and Social Services, and results from an increase in Canada assistance plan recoveries. Members will know that this federal plan cost shares certain social expenditures. Due to the fact that our expenditures in this area have increased, so, too, have their accompanying recoveries.
Our own source revenues have increased by $4.2 million, largely due to increases in income tax yields, as projected by the federal government, which collects these taxes on our behalf, as well as an increase in our investment income.
The transfer payment from Canada is down $1.7 million. This is a result of a number of factors, among which the increase in our own source revenues is only one. There have also been changes in population growth estimates and in the estimate of provincial/local expenditures in Canada. Members will recall that all of these factors influence the transfer payment.
As I have already mentioned, additional expenditures net of under expenditures total $7.1 million. While a number of individual departments contribute to this figure, the vast majority of it is because of increases in the Department of Health and Social Services O&M expenditures. This is partly offset by an increase in accompanying recovery.
As all Members will know, this is not the final supplement of the year; there may be other departments that have other under-expenditures. As a result, the fiscal year projected deficit could be considerably reduced and, in fact, as Members will recall from past years, we have ended up with a net, overall balance of revenues and expenditures.
I would note that concerns were raised in the House last week about the dramatic increase of welfare recipients. The Leader of the Official Opposition suggested that our unemployment rate is much higher than the rate published monthly by Statstics Canada, including the most recent rate published for April 1992. The Leader of the Official Opposition also suggested that unemployment was hidden by social assistance. As the Minister responsible for the Bureau of Statistics, rather than the Minister of Health and Social Services, I would just like to take a minute to respond to some of the Leader of the Official Oppositions concerns. While there was an appropriate concern about social assistance rates, some of the definitions used by statisticians in measuring these things are quite precise and I want to explain to him that the assertion made by him is not possible, given the statistical methodology used by our people and Statistics Canada.
Labour force participation, for example, is very strictly defined. The monthly unemployment figures are released as part of the labour force survey, which is a nation-wide survey and includes every jurisdiction except the Northwest Territories. It allows for comparison between the provinces and the territories. The labour force participation tracks people considered to be part of the market for wage economy, not people in the subsistence economy. By definition, many people are excluded from the labour force. Examples are children under 15, retired people, homemakers, individuals and families who are part of the subsistence economy and institutionalized individuals.
There is, of course, not an absolutely neat separation, because one cannot lump social assistance recipients with unemployed workers and conclude that unemployment is, therefore, higher or hidden.
Some of the social assistance recipients are participating in the labour force in low-wage or part-time employment. Those who are working are counted as employed. Those who are not are counted as unemployed. Some of the social assistance recipients are not participating in the labour force for various reasons. They may be people permanently excluded from the labour force because of physical or mental disabilities that prohibit them from working; they may be parents with one or more pre-school children, who choose to remain at home as care givers; and they may be people with some or multiple barriers to employment.
As the Member has noted, and as all Members are aware, there has been an increase in the number of social assistance cases. As the Minister of Health and Social Services stated last week, we have been trying to get a handle on the exact triggers of these increases. I will leave the specific details to the Minister, but let me speak briefly about some of the preliminary findings.
In the Yukon, the labour force has been able to absorb a growth in population without an increase in the unemployment rate, and employment has increased. However, the national recession, as Members know, has tightened the job market everywhere, and there are fewer and fewer low-skill jobs available. This is true everywhere in the country. Social assistance recipients are more likely to experience job losses and long periods outside the workforce than people who have not been on social assistance; we know this.
For this reason, it is also true the UIC benefits may not be available or sufficient in the event of a job loss for such citizens. In addition, as Members know, locally UIC backlogs have complicated matters enormously, and we have found people on our social assistance roll simply because there have been delays in the processing and delivery of their unemployment insurance cheques.
As well, we know that the changes to the unemployment insurance legislation, which have extended the qualifying period and, in some cases, reduced benefits, have exacerbated the problem in most regions of the country. Needless to say, the changes we are talking about are not unique to the Yukon. Social assistance caseloads have risen dramatically across Canada for certain similar reasons.
Few jobs within the Yukon are accessible to individuals without a grade 12 education or specialized training. That is more and more the case.
For many years, some Yukoners have enjoyed a lifestyle that did not demand that they enter the labour force unless they needed to. In todays tighter job market, it is much more difficult to pick up a job when cash is needed. Limited education and skills provide additional barriers in a tighter labour market. Jobs that are available draw quality candidates and those who may be considered marginal in terms of training and ability, can no longer get by. They inevitably get squeezed out by workers who are better able to compete.
The role of social assistance is to help these people, and that is precisely what we hope it is doing. The Minister of Health and Social Services will, of course, be prepared to discuss these matters in greater detail when we come to the departmental line. I am certain that Members will have a number of questions. I would say that, both in my capacity as Minister of Finance and as a colleague of the Minister of Health and Social Services, I am sure we would hope to be able to respond in substance to any questions that Members may have on this or other points.
Mr. Lang: I just want to make a few comments with respect to the area that the Minister just touched on toward the end of his prepared presentation, and that is the question of social assistance. Unfortunately, it seems that when one stands up in this House to raise a concern about the dramatic increase of those unfortunate people out there who are in need of social assistance, the Minister of Health and Social Services and the Government Leader try to portray whomever is asking questions as being opposed to social assistance. The Government Leader says that he did not do that. I agree that he did not do it today, but I am speaking of questions that have been raised over the course of this session with respect to social assistance.
We are being asked for a 30-percent increase over what we voted last year. Last year, we voted for $4.2 million. We were told in this House that that would be more than adequate to offset the costs that are required to help people who were in need of social assistance. Less than one year later, we are being asked for another increase, and this is not the final request. We will be getting one more request, probably this fall, with respect to wrapping up this budget of the previous year. We are being asked to increase the area of social assistance by $2.4 million. I want to express my real disappointment that the government, in its Speech from the Throne, did not take the time or effort to convey to us the seriousness of the problem that the people of the territory who are on social assistance are facing. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the side opposite is not prepared to revise, modify or change the overall policies that are in place in order to try to cut down on the number of people on social assistance.
I am going to talk a bit about a constituent of mine who happens to have a young daughter who has a child. She would be probably 19 or 20, possibly 21, and is on social assistance. This young lady is bright and she is capable; the one thing she is lacking, and I concur with the Government Leader, is enough education; she probably has a grade 10 or grade 11 education. She is caught in a vicious circle and is in a situation where it is not advantageous for her to go out into the workplace, primarily because - the Government Leader is totally correct - she really is only qualified to get very low-paying jobs. In fact, if she did go into the workplace, she would probably bring in less than what is available through social assistance.
I contend there is something wrong with our system. There is something wrong with a system when we are in a situation where we have this young lady, who has the ability - no question about that - yet, at the same time, she cannot see her way fit to become more of a contributing member of society because the social assistance benefits are there and the incentive is not for her either to go to school or to get off social assistance.
That is sad. The human tragedy there is sad. We have this young lady, with a baby; this young child may never know anything but social assistance. And society will be expected to pay social assistance for him or her when she attains the age of 18 and goes out on her own.
What I am saying to the House is, and I said it the other day: one would think that, within the government, we would be taking the opportunity to review our policies and review what we are doing. We are obviously doing something wrong. We have one of the best economies in Canada when it comes to government money.
Yet, since 1985, one of the things we can boast about is that we have gone from 600 individuals to just under 2,000 individuals on social assistance in the territory, and everybody forgets that our population is very similar in number to what it was in the mid-1970s. There is just under 10 percent of our community on social assistance. We have to be doing something wrong.
We brought the question forward in the House, and the government should be saying that we do have a problem - most importantly, for those people caught in the social assistance syndrome. The bottom line is that we are going to be in a situation where there are going to be more and more people who have grown up on social assistance coming in and taking more social assistance.
We have a population of 28,000 in the territory. We have 1,400 people on the unemployment list, we have been given the figure of 1,800-plus on the social assistance list - and growing - and we sit here and talk about how good our economy is.
We have an unemployment rate that is higher per capita than the Province of Ontario, which is, according to all reports, dealing with the worst recession they have had since the depression in the 1930s.
I am submitting to the side opposite that it would not hurt to have an overall review of the social assistance policies in conjunction with other departments, because it is not just one department that is involved. The area of social assistance is the focal point, but there are other government services out there. They should be coordinated and give incentive to people. I used as my illustration the young lady in my constituency. We should be giving her the incentive to take the time to get a better education, so she can provide for her child.
If we do not, this is just the start. As I said before, the real tragedy of this is the people involved. There has to be a review, but perhaps not by those in the department. There has to be a realistic look at the guidelines, policies and procedures to see what we could do to redirect this so we are not in the situation, year after year, of increasing the money that is going into this area. The reality is that it is becoming less and less beneficial for those who are receiving it.
As a long-time Yukoner, it is time the government quit patting itself on the back for the good job it has done - they have quadrupled the number of people on social assistance - and have to have a look at what we are doing, review the policies and see how this can be redirected.
If we only get 50, 25 or one individual off the social assistance rolls and into something where they can find dignity and respect and become a viable and contributing part of society, then we will have accomplished something.
We are accomplishing nothing by sitting here and increasing the numbers on social assistance, then coming back to the Legislature, year after year, asking for more money. More money is not necessarily the answer to all our problems. There has to be more accountability and responsibility built into our policies and procedures if we are going to negate this in any way in the years to come.
Mrs. Firth: I will have some specific questions when we get to department-by-department debate on the supplementary estimates.
I would like to ask the Minister if he could give us some information about the process. I noticed in the Gazette that there was a special warrant for the same amount of money as has been addressed in the supplementary estimates. Why was it gazetted as a special warrant? Was it simply to legalize the expenditure because we were not sitting in the Legislature sooner? Perhaps the Minister could give us some information with respect to the process itself.
Since we are getting into a brief discussion right now about social assistance and the numbers of recipients on social assistance, I would like to recommend to the government that when the Minister of Health and Social Services comes back to justify her expenditure increase in that department, that she bring back some information for us with respect to exactly what the department is doing when they are reviewing their social assistance programs.
Both sides in this House stand up and talk about statistics. It is a very cold and inhuman way of looking at things. I would prefer to see what the Ministers department is doing on an individual-by-individual basis with respect to individuals who are receiving social assistance to see if there is not some way that other government programs can help, perhaps in the form of education, and so on.
I look forward to receiving more information from the Minister with respect to exactly how the department is dealing with people on an individual basis so our discussions can be more people oriented, as opposed to bantering statistics back and forth across the floor of the House.
I look forward to moving on to the department-by-department debates. I will have some further specific questions then.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me respond briefly to the comment made by the Member for Riverdale South. She has made a useful suggestion, that we have to remember the people in this. I also think it is important to talk about what we now know about the recipients of social assistance. I have had a preliminary look at some numbers, which I am sure the Minister will want to bring to Committee, which talk about the changing profile.
One of the things that does not surprise me - now that I know what is happening nationally, but it did surprise me at first -, was the number of single, employable, males who were finding themselves on social assistance. Many of them are older people and long-term Yukoners, who simply cannot get jobs in the current market because they do not have the skills to make them employable. They have a tough time competing with high school graduates, even for jobs at McDonalds and places like that, because the skill levels that they require and the literacy and numerary skills that employers demand are much greater than in the past. We can provide some of those numbers.
I would like to respond to the point made by the Leader of the Official Opposition, who said that we should be reviewing our policies. I tried to explain this to him, but, obviously, I did not do it well. We are starting off by trying to review the facts. I always believe that good policy comes out of good research. Unless one has a good handle on the facts, one is not likely to make good policy. We are looking at the facts and we will be looking at the policies, but we want to make sure we have the facts.
I happen to know, from having had discussions with other premiers, that every jurisdiction in the country is going through this problem and is wrestling not only with the dimensions of the problem, or reasons for the problems, but also trying to find answers. We will avail ourselves of the information from those other jurisdictions on how to respond.
The Member for Riverdale South will forgive me, as I do want to correct the statistical record in a statement made by the Member for Porter Creek East. He was wrong in his assertion that 10 percent of the population of the Yukon are on social assistance. Let me give the Member the relative numbers, jurisdiction by jurisdiction in Canada. This comes from a Statistics Canada report from June 1991, which is about the most recent we can get.
The total population on social assistance in the Northwest Territories is 18.5 percent; in Newfoundland it is 9.1 percent; in Prince Edward Island it is 8.0 percent; in Nova Scotia it is 9.4 percent; in New Brunswick it is 10.1 percent; in Quebec it is 8.9 percent; in Ontario it is 9.7 percent; in Manitoba it is 6.5 percent; in Saskatchewan it is 5.5 percent; in Alberta it is 6.4 percent; in British Columbia it is 7.0 percent; and, in the Yukon it is 4.5 percent - according to Stats Canada, the lowest percentage in the country. Since I have quoted from this document, I will make it available for tabling.
Having said that, I do not want to deny at all the seriousness of the point being made by the Leader of the Official Opposition. Obviously, when this kind of cost balloon exists, it has to be a cause for concern. It has to be a source of concern both in human terms and in financial terms, and that is why, to reiterate, we are taking a hard look at the underlying facts. Once we feel we have a good handle on those facts, we are going to be taking another look at the policies.
I would only say again that we are not alone in this; every other jurisdiction is doing the same. It is a serious problem and we are addressing it. I hope the Minister for Health and Social Services will be able to say more once we get into committee on her department.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 10 agreed to
Bill No. 14: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 14, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 14, An Act to Amend the Elections Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 14, entitled An Act to Amend the Elections Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is an honour to present Bill No. 14, An Act to Amend the Elections Act, for second reading.
As all Members know and agree, the right to vote is among the most basic of our democratic rights. This bill is aimed primarily at ensuring that those electors who are qualified to vote do not lose the right to vote.
During the last general election in the territory, it was evident that a number of eligible voters could not exercise their franchise and I would like to mention for Members some example of the problems that were encountered. Some house-bound persons were unable to physically get to the polling stations.
Some people were hospitalized after the close of revision hearings. Post-secondary students attending Yukon College, for example, outside their own electoral district sometimes had to forfeit their vote. Jobs involving travel precluded the use of advance or regular polls in the voters own electoral district. I know, in my own constituency, for example, an employee of Yukon Electrical was sent out of town at the last minute and lost the right to vote.
These are situations where citizens meet all the qualifications to be a voter, but are administratively disenfranchised. I did not make up that expression; it was the chief electoral officer who dreamed up that one. It sounds quite nasty, and it is.
It is done due to the rules and procedures governing elections. The Assembly never intended these citizens to be disenfranchised, and the legislation must be changed. Secondly, to be eligible to vote, a citizen must be registered. This requirement has two important purposes. It ensures that only qualified voters vote, and that they do so only once, an important tradition in the Yukon, and one that has not been observed in every jurisdiction in the world.
Again, experience in the last territorial election suggests that eligible voters may not have been able to get their names on the list of electors, and further improvements in the voter registration process would serve the democratic process.
These two problems are of concern to the public and to all the political parties. In the report of the chief electoral officer of the Yukon, tabled in the Assembly in 1990, the chief electoral officer identified various topics for Members consideration: voting eligibility, administrative disenfranchisement, residence of electors, election administration, communications, election financing laws, electoral district boundaries, language and miscellaneous items.
Several actions taken by the Assembly and the government to address key aspects of electoral reform include the 1991 spring sitting, where the Assembly established the Electoral Boundaries Commission and new boundaries were approved in this current sitting.
As part of another government initiative, the government raised the issues of electoral reform relating to the administration of elections and election financing, and whether or not the question of public financing that we have in the Yukon should have more rigorous regulation, such as it does in other jurisdictions.
At the same time, an approach was made to the chief electoral officer to determine what recommendations in his report would be feasible to address during the life of this Assembly and in advance of a territorial election, in addition to electoral boundaries.
Consultations with the chief electoral officer contributed directly to the proposed amendments before the Assembly now. The elections officer also provided technical advice on the drafting of the amendments.
As noted from the outset, this bill is aimed primarily at ensuring that those electors who are qualified to vote do not lose that right.
There were two related objectives for the amendments. One is to improve voter registration so that qualified electors are able to vote by expanding the hours of revision hearings from three hours to 12 hours. The other is to provide for a special revision on the twenty-eighth day after the Writ of Elections is issued to make voting more accessible to qualified electors, particularly those who are house-bound, hospitalized or placed on remand after the close of revision hearings, unable to vote either at the advance or regular poll in their electoral district because of employment, business or profession, and electors who are students in an education institution that is in the Yukon, but outside of the electoral district in which the student is qualified to vote. These are matters that are addressed in this bill.
There are a number of questions about electoral financing that require further study. In recent consultations, the government invited representations on this point. A number of people had ideas. Some people who are experts in the area suggested that we need a much greater body of regulation dealing with election finances in the Yukon, but that this would require quite a lot of work.
As well, there are a number of questions that have been dealt with over the last couple of years at the national level by the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing. These were issues on which our Cabinet concluded we would be wise to wait for the report. We did not want to duplicate the efforts of this national body, and it would be our hope that the report of the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing could soon be tabled in this Legislature for consideration by the Members. Recommendations can flow from that as to how we deal with some of the outstanding questions, which include the right of prisoners to vote, which some provinces have actually changed the law on, and the question of electoral financing, which the national commission has made some major recommendations on.
The Yukon can gain from the research and discussion that is now underway, and further reforms to our system can be considered in future years.
I look forward to reviewing this bill with all Members. To conclude, it has two main purposes, which I have outlined, and which have to do with questions of registering to vote and improving the accessibility of the voting places to people who may, in the past, have been denied.
Mr. Lang: I have a couple of observations. First of all, I just want to talk about elections and how they are run in the territory. As Members know, I have gone through five elections, I guess it is, and I would have to say that overall I am very pleased with the way they have been run, both from a constituency point of view and a territorial point of view. The Government Leader alluded to a number of other jurisdictions where, at some given time, I gather there were problems with how elections were run. It is alleged that sometimes people got two votes for the price of one, depending on who they were, where they were and how it ran.
I have to say that I feel that our elections have been run very fairly here. Very seldom has there been any question with respect to the procedures themselves. Obviously, if the vote count is that close, then the courts would be resolving it, if it has to go that far. I just want to say, on behalf of our caucus and myself, that I would like to send a bouquet out to those who have to run the every day administration of an election. I know it is not easy. I know that there are pressures from all sides over the course of the writ and I am sure the elections officers find it very difficult to put up with some of the people they do and to try to make some sense of them.
In the bill before us, I think we are prepared to accept the principle of the mail-in ballot. We do have some specific questions about it. We will want to know how people will be notified that special ballots have been sent out. We will also want to know how they are going to be distributed because it is unclear in the legislation. We feel that anything having to do with ballots and their distribution should be clearly and succinctly outlined so that there is no question of anyone, at a later date, looking at the legislation and possibly interpreting it in a number of different ways.
In addition, we will want to see a change of wording in section 101.1(4). We feel that the chief electoral officer shall direct returning officers - it should not be may.
There should be clear direction that the chief electoral officer has the authority and that there will not be any question about how it is done and where the instructions come from.
We will be looking forward to reviewing the bill in Committee. At this point we are prepared to accept the principle of the mail-in ballot, but we will have some specific questions when we deal with it in Committee.
Mrs. Firth: I can recall in the last election some of the incidents that the Minister sponsoring the bill raised with respect to those individuals who were unable to vote, mostly because of their jobs taking them away from their constituency. These individuals were not able to vote in any riding other than their own.
I am going to have some specific questions when we go into the clause-by-clause debate. I would like to know specifically whether or not the applications have been made up already to get a special ballot. I also have a concern about the reason in the clause that talks about special balloting. It says that, electors who are unable to vote at an advance or regular poll by reason of their employment, business or profession. I would like to know what the reasons are. Are they clearly defined? Does the person who is requesting the special mail-in ballot have to give a set reason and who is going to determine whether the reason is valid or not?
When I first read the clause it looked to me like anybody could ask for a special mail-in ballot and say, With my business, I am not going to be able to get away to vote. Who is going to determine whether that is really a legitimate reason for them having a special mail-in ballot?
The process has to be discussed with respect to who can go and get the special mail-in ballots. I appreciate that it can be offered at the door when the enumeration is done; however, with respect to proxy forms, there will often be campaign officials going and getting proxy forms and filling them out and delivering them. This can become quite confusing. I would like to know exactly what the process is. The act talks about returning the ballots and lays out the special time for returning the ballots, but a question that will be asked by campaign workers is, Can we go get a special mail-in ballot for someone? They are not going to be in town. I would like some clear explanation with respect to that.
With respect to picking them up and delivering them: does it have to be the individual themselves who deliver the mail-in ballot or can they be delivered by other campaign workers?
I am sure that as we go through debate in Committee of the Whole and start discussing the specific changes, more questions will come from all Members. I look forward to that. We agree with the principle also. We do not want to see people administratively disenfranchised, but we have to make sure that the process is fair and clearly understood.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank Members for their comments. They have given notice of a number of important technical questions. I hope that when we get into Committee of the Whole Members will not mind if I seek the advice and counsel of the chief electoral officer in providing answers to these questions, since they are more technical questions about the art of administering elections - something I have never done and, I hope, never will have to do.
Motion on second reading to Bill No. 14 agreed to
Bill No. 24: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 24, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Joe.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 24, entitled International Sale of Goods Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 24, entitled International Sale of Goods Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Joe: This bill is based on a draft act developed by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada. That act has been used by other provinces to implement the United Nations Convention on contracts for the international sale of goods. This convention, known as the Vienna Sales Convention, was adopted by Canada and 61 other countries in 1980. It became effective in 1988, after ratification by the United States, France, Italy and China. The International Sale of Goods Act is the Canadian and, in turn, the Yukons version of the conventions attempt to unify the laws applying to the international sale of goods.
The act is designed to provide for uniform trading laws between buyers and sellers from different countries, but only if their countries of origin have assented to the convention. In particular, the convention establishes rules for the formation of contracts, including the rules governing the conclusion of contracts, the periods of time available to offers, the acceptance of offers and other formal requirements.
It is important to note that this act has no connection with the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. The Free Trade Agreement is designed to eliminate tariffs and duties between two governments. The International Sale of Goods Act is designed to resolve disputes between private international commercial trading partners without resorting to each countrys respective trade laws.
In short, any impact that the Free Trade Agreement has on the Vienna Sales Convention, or vice versa, is effectively neutral. However, it is possible that the Vienna Sales Convention may be used by Canadian and American trading partners to resolve any individual conflicts in addition to using the mechanisms already in place.
The Vienna Sales Convention is good news for businesses working in the international environment. All other Canadian jurisdictions have passed an international sale of goods act. The federal Minister of Justice, Kim Campbell, has advised me that the Vienna Sales Convention became effective in Canada May 1.
If this International Sale of Goods Act is passed, we can ask the federal government to amend the declaration to include Yukon within six months. When the declaration is amended, Yukon businesses operating in global markets will have additional means to establish trading rights and resolve trading disputes. This will apply not only to U.S. partners but also to all international partners whose national governments have ratified the Vienna Sales Convention.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 24 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 7 - An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act - continued
On Clause 7 - continued
On amendment - continued
Chair: Is there further debate on the amendment?
Mr. Brewster: I would like to correct something that I said the other day. I said that the select committee cost $60,000. Actually, it only cost $25,040; however, that does not include the Department of Renewable Resources staff, so it is not really a true number.
I would like to ask the Minister to explain this statement to me: I must remind Members that the umbrella final agreement was agreed to in 1990 by three levels of government. I am not prepared to negotiate changes to that agreement, which has had the approval of all three levels of government on the floor of this Legislature.
When did we approve it in this Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry, but I did not hear the last sentence. I would ask that the Member repeat it, please.
Mr. Brewster: When was it ever in this Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Webster: What I meant by that statement was that I was not prepared, on the floor of this Legislature, to start renegotiating a document that had the input of three levels of government where those three levels of government had come to a conclusion with the umbrella final agreement. As I say, this clause is reflected in that agreement.
Mr. Brewster: I find it very strange that agreements can be made behind the back of this Legislature, and then sneaked into a bill like this one and then brought to the Legislature. Further, the Government Leader is not prepared to debate the bill in this House. I find that a very strange way to go. I am not going to carry on any further, but I think that this is an insult to Yukoners when it states that the majority of members on the board have to be Yukoners, so that somebody can be brought in. I think that this is a complete insult to every culture living in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I want to remind the Member that we are not introducing this particular part of the umbrella final agreement through the back door. This clause, as I have mentioned before, is a reflection of section 16 of the umbrella final agreement, which has been in the public view for over a year. Also, this clause has the very same language as in the land claim agreement in principle, that was made available in May of 1989.
As the Member knows, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board conducted a review of the Wildlife Act before us among the Yukon public. No one raised that concern as a result of their public consultations or meetings. The board has come forward with this particular clause, as reflected in this bill, and I am accepting the boards recommendation to proceed.
Mr. Brewster: What is the difference between people who attend a public meeting and have everything read to them in a hurry and people who read the legislation? That, Madam Chair, is what we get paid for. As I said, I will not carry it on any further, but I know the people in the Yukon well enough to know that they will not forget this - ever.
Mrs. Firth: The issue we are still dealing with here is residents and non-residents being appointed to committees. I have just had a chance to take a quick look at the Public Government Act. In this act, there is a section with respect to representative and open boards and committees. This specific clause does not make any reference to allowing non-residents to sit on Yukon boards and committees. The way I read it, it applies to Yukon residents only being on boards and committees, so perhaps the Minister would like to have a look at the clause. It is specific with respect to making appointments to boards and committees having equal representation - men and women, aboriginal and non-aboriginal individuals from all regions of the Yukon - and subject to the provisions that any resident of the Yukon has a right to nominate any other resident of the Yukon to serve on the board and on the committee. Because there is no clause saying that non-Yukoners can be appointed, I interpret it as it having to be Yukon residents who are appointed to the boards and committees.
So I think the Minister may have to give some consideration to his departure from what is going to be the public government policy or the law of this government.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As the Members know, the whole question of what constitutes a resident has been debated for years in the Yukon. One example is that, under the Elections Act, a person is deemed to be a resident and eligible to vote if one has resided here continuously for a six-month period. Or, for example, to be able to hunt in the territory, it is necessary to be a resident of the territory continuously for one year. Some arguments have been put forth by other people who believe that two years is not long enough to be considered a resident. Certainly, that has been put forward by the aboriginal people of the territory. Obviously, the land claims agreement, when put into legislation, will be paramount over all other types of legislation, including the Public Government Act.
Mrs. Firth: We are not really discussing the definition of a resident. As I understand it, we are discussing a principle as to whether residents were to be put on these boards and committees or whether non-residents could sit on them. The principle or the direction and the objective of the government, according to their new legislation, is that it is to be Yukon residents, period. If the Minister is saying that some other act is paramount over this, why do we even have this? It takes away from the fact that the people on all the other boards and committees have to be Yukon residents.
My interpretation would be that it would be the Public Government Act that is supposed to set out in legislation the new guidelines for appointments to boards and committees and who the representatives on those boards and committees will be.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, all I can say is that this has been debated at some length. It has been the clause negotiated by the three levels of government, it has been reviewed by the Yukon public through hearings held by the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and it appears in this act, directly reflecting the same language as that in the umbrella final agreement.
Mr. Devries: I really think it is a bad move on the part of the Minister to go with this. It is only three years ago, when I was first elected and I resigned from the Watson Lake school council. At that time, people from Lower Post could sit on the school council, as their kids go to the Watson Lake schools. There was no problem with this. However, not much later, the chairperson of the school committee was from Lower Post. The public outcry from the people of Watson Lake was quite substantial. All of a sudden, it seemed like the Watson Lake schools would be controlled from B.C., rather than from within the Yukon. It is going to be a very unpopular move on the part of the Minister. It would be a great election issue. If you want to go for it, go for it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: In response to that situation, children who reside in Lower Post do attend school in Watson Lake and they vote in that community. They obviously determined that, regardless of the question of residency, the individual who was eventually elected as chair had the necessary qualifications, credentials and experience and had the support of the community. I do not see anything wrong with that.
Mr. Phillips: I just have a few brief comments on the topic we discussed quite extensively last week, when the Member for Kluane brought forward the amendment.
I had an opportunity over the weekend to raise this issue with several people with whom I visited. Everyone I talked to was quite surprised that we had actually agreed to something like this, not only in this particular act, but also in the umbrella final agreement. Some people asked me if there was anyone there who cared about the Yukon.
One suggested that it was amazing to think that there were not 12 qualified men and women in the territory who could sit on the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and that we had to search elsewhere.
I am going to vote for the amendment. If the government defeats the amendment, I am going to vote against the bill. I am really disappointed that this government has caved in and that no one could say no at the land claims table, no matter who that person was, what their motives were or what they had to give up for it.
I cannot see, for the life of me, why someone from Fort McPherson or Lower Post, or someone from Alberta, would be sitting on a Yukon wildlife advisory board discussing the problems that the Aishihik caribou herd has right now. I cannot, for the life of me, see why non-residents would be involved in something like that. In that particular instance, what I think would be good is to have some people from the Champagne/Aishihik area sitting on the Wildlife Advisory Board.
I am really disappointed that the government is taking this approach and that the Minister says, well, it is in the umbrella final agreement; I cannot do anything about it and we are going to damn the torpedoes and push this through.
Well, if it is in the umbrella final agreement, I disagree with it in there too. I will disagree with it in any other board or committee that it is on. I have no problem with boards and committees dealing with the salmon negotiations or the Porcupine caribou herd, where there are cross-boundary issues at stake. And I have no problem with the Porcupine Caribou Management Board having American, Northwest Territories and Yukon residents on the board. I think that is great.
But the people from the Northwest Territories, Alaska, British Columbia or Alberta have no business sitting on our Wildlife Management Board, as we have no business sitting on their boards. You can call the residents of these areas in as advisors and for their expertise if necessary, but they do not need to be sitting on the committee.
We have 12 individuals in the territory, men and women, native and non-native, who can sit on that board, and there should not be any other way. There should be no questions asked.
I am disappointed with the Government Leader, or whoever stood up at the land claims negotiations, and was not particularly interested in what Yukoners cared about or said. That is why we have ended up in the mess that we are in right now.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I want to remind the Member that currently we do have 12 members on the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. These individuals are all Yukon residents. As has been repeated over and over again, it is my intention to appoint Yukon residents to that board.
It is unfortunate that the Member on the side opposite did not take the opportunity this past week, as I did, to speak to one of the members on the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, to hear their reasons as to why the language appears as it does.
The Member may be surprised to learn that the member provided the same reasons that I provided - in extraordinary circumstances, as well as some other good reasons. I think that the Member should take that next step to talk to the board before he goes any further with his criticism.
Mr. Lang: Would the Minister share this new-found knowledge that he just received and maybe let the public know what he was informed? Do you want to stand up and tell us?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I already provided that information on Thursday. It is really disappointing that the Member for Porter Creek East was not here to hear it. Basically-
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am sorry. He was here.
Point of Order
Mr. Lang: On a point of order, Madam Chair. It is unparliamentary for him to point out that any Member is missing from the Chamber at any given time. Secondly, I was here. I do have a point of order.
Chair: That was a legitimate point of order.
Mr. Lang: On the same point of order, I would like an apology from the Member.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do apologize. I was incorrect. The Member was indeed here; he just was not listening.
Mr. Lang: I was listening, and I was listening very carefully to the Minister. The Minister said that he had some new information after speaking to a Member of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board over the weekend, because he took this necessary step in view of the consternation that was being expressed by Members here.
I have asked the Minister, in his capacity as a sponsoring Minister who is now becoming familiar with the legislation, if he could tell the Member for Kluane, and share with the rest of us, the reasons for the amendment. The way I understood it, he said that he had some new information.
Mr. Webster: I thought I gave a good example of an extraordinary situation that might arise, in my second reading speech. I stated that an individual who is not technically a resident of the Yukon - that is, has not lived here continuously for one full year - would be considered to be a valuable asset and a good candidate for the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
On Thursday afternoon, I also gave another example of a person who is a resident of British Columbia and returned to the Yukon for a number of summers in a row to devote his summers to research in the areas of wildlife management, has now made a commitment to the Yukon and has made the move up here, but perhaps has not been here for a full year. Certainly, that person would have some valuable experience and could make a valuable contribution to the management of wildlife in the territory. He, too, could be considered as a candidate for this board.
Mr. Lang: I thought the Minister was going to share something new with us. He referred to the fact that he had gone out of his way to inquire of a sitting member of the board. What new information did he find out that would help convince us that we should think otherwise in respect to the clause that is before us?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I can provide an example that I learned that, in other First Nation land claim agreements across the north, there is no such requirement for all members of a board to be residents of the territory. This is the situation with the Inuvialuit final agreement. There is no residency requirement. It is also the situation with the Dene Nation and the Metis Association comprehensive land claim agreement of 1990. Again, it only requires that the chair of the board be a resident of the Northwest Territories.
Mr. Lang: That is our point. That does not necessarily make it right. The Minister just burped. There are people ...
Hon. Mr. Webster: Point of order. I did not burp at all, and I would like the Member to make an apology.
Mr. Lang: I do not know what it sounded like on the other side, but I can tell you, Madam Chair, what it sounded like on this side.
I am making the point that the clause before us, by inference, gives the authority to the government to appoint people who are non-residents. This has never come up as a question in this House on committees and boards. In our legislation, we have never asked that they be residents. It is clearly understood that the government, would be appointing, de facto, - common sense - people who are residents.
Now, out of the clear blue, the government is coming forward and saying they are going to change their policy to allow them to go out anywhere and appoint whomever they want. We submit that that is not right, and it is not why the Member for Klondike was elected. If he ran in an election in Klondike, and one of his major planks was that he wanted to have the ability to appoint people from outside the Yukon to all boards and committees, I do not think it would sell very well.
If the MLA for Klondike decides to seek re-election, I will bet you that he is not going to mention to anyone that he supported this and propagated this type of principle in legislation. In fact, when the issue is raised at a public meeting, I can envisage the MLA for Klondike waffling, praying and clutching at any reason at all to try to get off the hook. His justification will be, Well, they did it in the Inuvialuit land claim; they did it in the Dene land claim; therefore, we have to do it here. Well, I am saying that is wrong. I am submitting that is wrong, and I think that the MLA for Klondike knows it is wrong. He is trying to defend the indefensible. I think that what my good friend, the MLA for Kluane, has brought forward is a good amendment, a well thought out amendment, and it would definitely improve the legislation that we have before us. If the Member thinks that this is a wise precedent and he is going to be bringing forward other pieces of legislation to this House, advocating the same type of latitude for appointment to these boards and committees, he has another thought coming. To follow the logic of the Member for Klondike through, what we should do is have a screening committee, and if someone has been here for six months and we feel that they meet the necessary criteria, then they should be allowed to vote. What is the difference between this and that?
Who is going to make this real evaluation? There is something to be said about having to live here for a period of time prior to being appointed to boards and committees. They are primarily set up so they require people who are knowledgeable; who are going to have to live with the results of the decision - and I should stress live with the results of the decision - instead of having, as we have witnessed here over the last number of years, these instant experts who come up and, for example, try to deprive our political party of the goldpanner. This is someone who did not even know the history or anything else, but he was an instant expert. He got up here, of course. I gather that his claim to fame was that he first came up as a consultant, through the back door, then earned his residency and then became very qualified to speak on behalf of all of the people of the territory. That is just an example.
I feel quite strongly that anyone voting for a section like this has got to be out of their mind. For example, I cannot see the MLA for Teslin going to Teslin and telling the people that he is in favour of appointing non-Yukoners to boards as important as the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. I do not think that a one-year commitment to the territory is too much to ask for an important board such as this.
I find it disconcerting that the MLA for Klondike comes into the Legislature - not to debate issues or look for changes or whatever - with his marching orders and stands up and says, Well, they agreed to it at some other platform and my job is to just ram it through; I have to get as many people as I can to raise their hands, and put it through - without any logic, without any reason behind it. The reasonings he has put forward to appoint some people to this board just do not hold water, unless there is a secret deal made somewhere that we do not know about. I refer specifically to the Tetlit Gwichin land claim; perhaps something has been said there that we do not know about. He touched on it very briefly the other day, but he did not want to expand on it too much.
I do not have a problem, similar to the MLA for Riverdale North, when he talked about the Porcupine Caribou Management Board, which is a special board involving trans-boundary implications and so on. But, for the life of me, do not permit this in legislation. If anyone thinks that Yukoners are going to be appointed to the British Columbia board or the Alberta fish and game board, or even the Northwest Territories board, they have another thought coming. It just is not logical; it does not fly.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is interesting to note that the Member for Porter Creek East believes I am ramming this through - having spent two hours now on my feet defending this particular clause using the logic of the clause and the good reasons I think I have provided, which, incidentally are reasons that have received the support of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
Halfway through the Members speech, he got off track because he did concede that, if a person was knowledgeable, even though a recent Yukoner, had made a commitment to the Yukon and was prepared to live with the results of the decisions, the experience and capability of that person should be considered for a board.
It was not too long after that that he returned to his original argument and put in another stipulation that the person be resident here for a year.
I do not think it is absolutely necessary to be a resident here for a year. I think the qualifications the Member opposite put forward should suffice, and often have.
In response to the question raised by the Member about what would I tell my constituents: I would tell them that, when I first arrived in the territory, I was not here as long as six months before I was offered a position with the Yukon Sports Federation as the Yukon coordinator of the 1976 Arctic Winter Games.
I had been given a very big responsibility to coordinate Yukons contingent for the Arctic Winter Games, which dealt with a very valuable resource: our youth. It was very early in that job that I was called upon to act as a mediator, or arbitrator, in a dispute involving an issue with the Yukon Minor Hockey Association. That was the first opportunity I had to meet the present Member for Kluane. I do not know if he recalls this, but there I was, a new Yukoner, making a long-term commitment to the Yukon. I had a great deal of knowledge and experience, I thought, in coordinating special events, specifically sports, and I was given the job. I obviously did a fairly good job, because I was offered the position for the Yukon chef de mission for the 1978 games.
At the meeting where I first met the present Member for Kluane, he did not ask me if I had my hunting licence, if I had been here for six months, or if I could vote. He just knew that I was a committed Yukoner and was going to do a good job. That is what I would tell my constituents in Klondike.
I realize that is a non-government appointment, and I realize this is not a board or committee appointed by government but, in those situations, similar to what could be applied to this board, you could find someone committed to the Yukon, not yet a resident, but a new Yukoner with a great deal of experience who would be a valuable asset the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and who would be prepared to live with the decisions that he and his colleagues on that board make.
Mr. Brewster: I did not know we were back on sports. Unfortunately, he talked about knowing the Yukon. He forgot to say that they dragged me into the Supreme Court of the Yukon. If it had not been for a lawyer friend of mine getting me out, it would have cost me thousands of dollars. That is the good negotiator he was. He is doing another one right now. He was completely inexperienced; he did not understand the hockey situation or anything, but he was going to be a big shot. He is doing the same thing right now, and he will probably end up with someone in Supreme Court again because of his good negotiations. That is the way he works.
Hon. Mr. Webster: My recollection of that meeting was that, basically, I told the people that I did not know the personalities or the situation and they should settle it among themselves; that I had my own job to do in coordinating a team from the Yukon Territory in the Arctic Winter Games. It had nothing to do with him getting involved with the Supreme Court.
Mr. Lang: The Member should use a different example from the one he tried to demonstrate to the public. He should talk about some other meeting, at which none of the other Members here were present. It might be more advantageous for his case, because it obviously does not hold much water.
I think the Member is comparing apples and oranges. As he said, he was an employee. He was not a member of a board, commission or committee. These are two entirely separate issues. Trying to mix the two is as illogical as the previous arguments he has put forward in support of the section.
We are not saying that anybody who comes up here should not, if a job becomes available and they have the credentials, get hired. Obviously, in the case of the Member opposite, if I were going to take the recommendations from the Member for Kluane, if I were looking for a negotiator, I would try to find someone else. It is quite a negotiating skill to walk into a meeting and state that one does not know anyone, the issues or the personalities, so everyone else will have to sort it out among themselves, as the negotiator has other work to do. That is quite a revelation to us all. It woke everyone up in the House when the Minister came out with that. I hope it did not take days to come to that conclusion.
The Minister has not brought forward a relevant reason why there is a need for this section, other than the fact that he has had his marching orders - that someone else made the decision for him and now he is going to bring it to the public forum. I was hoping that we could support this bill, but I do not think that we can. I am really disappointed with the attitude the Member is exhibiting in the House.
I feel that the amendment brought forward by the Member for Kluane is consistent with anything else that has been passed by this Legislature in the past in this particular area. The precedent that is being set is one that I do not think we should be voting for. If the side opposite were not part of a political party and committed to the decision of someone else and if it was a free vote, probably there would be very few Members, if any, voting for this section the way it now stands.
Once it was revealed, and the implications of this section considered - and the Member for Klondike concurred that it does provide the opening for non-residents, people who are not paying taxes in the Yukon, people who do not have any long-term commitment here - to become part of board that is very important to the future of our wildlife. That is unacceptable.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I regret that the Member cannot accept the arguments that I have provided, which I think are good examples. The arguments are reasonable and they have not only been accepted by me, but also by members of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
Some Hon. Member: Division.
Chair: Division has been called.
The question before the house is the amendment moved by Bill Brewster, MLA for Kluane:
THAT Bill No. 7, entitled An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act be amended in clause 7 at page 3 in 138.1(2) by deleting the subclause and substituting for it the following:
(2) The Members of the Board shall be Yukon residents.
All in favour of the amendment please rise.
All those opposed to the amendment please rise.
The results are six yea, eight nay.
Chair: Is there further discussion on sub-clause 138.1(2)?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to bring it to the attention of Members that there is a typo in the second line of 138.1(2). It should read, ...those nominated by Yukon First Nations...
Chair: Is it agreed that the typo should be corrected?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: The typo will be corrected.
Mr. Brewster: On clause 7, 138.3(1), could the Minister explain the first paragraph? It is a real word-twister. Lawyers got into it again.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Basically, it says that if the Commissioner in Executive Council is of the opinion that there is a sensitive wildlife habitat area that needs special protection for any population, species or type of wildlife, the Minister can, by regulation, so designate it.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister for putting it into English, so we can understand it.
Mr. Nordling: Did we hear back from the Minister on 138.3(5) with respect to expropriation and whether that is possible under that clause, or whether the addition, but not by expropriation, after agreement, would clarify that it would not be done?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, we did investigate the use of the word purchase in its liberal interpretation, which could include expropriation. In its present wording, which is rather innocuous, it says, may acquire by purchase or agreement any property. As the Member knows, we have had on the books for some 20 years now, the Expropriation Act that we could use, if necessary, in this case.
Mr. Nordling: I disagree with the idea of expropriating lands for the protection of habitat, especially by regulation, and subclause (1) allows the Cabinet to do that. The government can pick an area on their own and then expropriate it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: We want to make clear to the Member that we would still have to do it under the Expropriation Act.
Mr. Devries: Is the idea behind clause 138.4(1) that the Minister can develop a fund similar to the conservation fund, as is in British Columbia where there is a surtax charged on fishing and hunting licences and the money is put into a special fund. Is this in the Ministers future plan?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Certainly, that is one way for raising revenues for the habitat protection fund. I should bring to the Members attention that it is fairly standard to have such a fund in other jurisdictions.
I think that the way to raise money for that fund would be the subject of some recommendations from the Yukon Fish & Wildlife Management Board, which has the authority to spend the funds.
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
On Clause 9
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Clause 10 agreed to
On Clause 11
Clause 11 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: Madam Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 7, entitled An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 10 - Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I said in the House earlier today, with this bill we are requesting $9.4 million in spending authority for the 1991-92 fiscal year. Due to under-expenditures in certain votes, the net expenditure being requested is somewhat less at $7.1 million. After recoveries are taken into account, the impact on our projected deficit for the year is $3,369,000. In general terms, this supplementary is due to additional monies being required for the Department of Health and Social Services. The department needs $6.2 million more than has been previously voted by this House. There are, of course, a number of other departments that require, or are lapsing funds, but the largest single reason for this supplementary by far is the increase in social assistance and health expenditures reflected in the health and social services vote.
The Minister responsible for this department may be able to provide a detailed explanation to the supplementary requests. I will be brief now, as we talked about it to some extent at second reading.
I have mentioned that our social assistance expenditures are up for a number of reasons, including changes to the UIC legislation. In terms of health care, we are experiencing the same trend in large increases in cost, as are other jurisdictions, and we have taken some steps to deal with those. As to measures that will have a long-term impact on the Health Act, these will be discussed by the Minister responsible when we get to the line.
The principal reason for the health care costs are as a result of our having to pick up additional costs of the operation of the Whitehorse General Hospital.
On the revenue side, Members will note an increase in our own source revenues of $4.2 million. This is a result of an increase in the projection of an income tax yield and investment income. Due to the interplay between tax yield and transfer payments in Canada, the transfer payment is down approximately $1.7 million. Recoveries are up by more than $1.6 million, largely as a result of increases in accompanying expenditures in the Department of Health and Social Services.
Finally, a small $47,000 increase in loan capital is due to an additional loan being requested by the City of Whitehorse. This item is not in our surplus deficit section; we are simply trading one asset, cash, for another, loan receivable, on the balance sheet.
Ministers are prepared to answer questions that Members may have during departmental debates. In the meantime, I will be happy to try to answer any questions of a general nature that Members may wish to address to the Chair.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. On the question of special warrants - I am sorry for not answering that at second reading - the Member is quite right; she knew the answer to the question. Normally, when a legislature is not sitting, in order to authorize certain expenditures, the Commissioner can authorize a special warrant, recommended by the Cabinet Management Board. Always, the government is obliged to meet with the legislature as soon as possible after a special warrant has been put into effect to seek approval of the House to sanction or rectify the legislative approval.
When special warrants have been used, it was briefly for periods just prior to going into the House on a bill where it was necessary to approve expenditures, such as in health and social services. During election periods, special warrants have sometimes been used. Those are the typical occasions when they have been used in the Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: What surprised me about this one was that I had not seen it gazetted before for the supplementaries. I cannot recall having seen a special warrant in the Gazette for supplementary estimates.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think this is the second or third time during the time we have been in government that there has been a special warrant. The first one I recall was shortly after we came into office. We took some time to get our new budget in shape, so a special warrant had to be approved. Members may remember a special warrant had been approved by the previous government, and a new special warrant was approved by the new government; then, we had interim supply passed by this House and went back to a budget that October, I believe.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Shall we go into clause-by-clause debate?
On Schedule A
On Operation and Maintenance
On Yukon Legislative Assembly
On Operation and Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The additional funding being requested for the Yukon Legislative Assembly is $1,311,000. The central reason for this request is the requirement to cover past-service costs which were incurred with the passage of the new Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowance Act, in December of 1991.
Members will recall that the Members Services Board commissioned a report on the amendments required to the Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowance Act as a result of changes to federal laws governing pension plans. The new Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowance Act was based on recommendations found in that report. The report indicated that an actuarial assessment of those recommendations had established the past service cost as being $1,300,000 as of December 31, 1991. This comprises most of the funds being requested under the retirement allowances and death benefits program. A further $11,000 is required under that program to cover the monies that should have been earned on the $1.3 million during the first three months of 1992.
An additional $2,000 is required to cover pension administration costs. This results in the total of $1,313,000 as shown in the estimates book.
There are two other items shown in the estimates book under this vote. The first is a requirement of $8,000 under the legislative services program, to assist in covering the costs of providing secretarial services to the Independent Alliance. The second is a surplus of $10,000 in the elections program. This under expenditure resulted from the first general election of school councils being held during the 1990-91 fiscal year rather than the 1991-92 fiscal year, as had been projected at the time of the preparation of the budget.
On Legislative Services
Legislative Services in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
Elections in the amount of an under expenditure of $10,000 agreed to
On Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits
Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits in the amount of $1,313,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,311,000 agreed to
Yukon Legislative Assembly agreed to
On Executive Council Office
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is a total of $279,000 of additional funds requested for this department through this supplementary. There are two specific changes to report. First, in the French language services program, $104,000 has been added to the current vote authority for planning and implementing French language services in accordance with the Languages Act. Funding negotiated for the Yukon from the federal Secretary of State is fully recoverable.
Secondly, under public inquiries and plebiscites, funding for the Electoral District Boundaries Commission for the amount of $175,000 is requested. The commission was carried out under the public inquiries program line.
The commissions actual costs were $252,000, but we have an $82,000 offset through reductions and other areas in the Executive Council Office. The original commission budget estimated the need for $257,000.
On Operation and Maintenance
On French and Aboriginal Language Services
French and Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of $104,000 agreed to
On Public Inquiries and Plebiscites
Public Inquiries and Plebiscites in the amount of $175,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $279,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office agreed to
On Community and Transportation Services
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Compared to the size of the overall departmental budget, this year-end supplementary is actually quite small. Taking into account the increase in recoveries, vis-a-vis the expenditure increase being requested, the departments actual net financial requirement is $158,000 less than what was approved in the first supplementary.
As Members may have determined from the supplementary book, operation and maintenance recoveries have increased by $485,000 and capital recoveries have decreased by $139,000.
This results in an overall recoveries increase of some $346,000. The supplementary expenditure increase that is being requested is $188,000, which is composed of an increase of $479,000 for operation and maintenance and a decrease of $291,000 on the capital side.
A significant expenditure increase on the operation and maintenance side is for funding required in the sports, arts and recreation branch. While an increase of some $644,000 is required in this area, I would make the point that 95 percent of that is recoverable from the Yukon Lotteries Commission. That is the single, most significant realignment of the budget in this supplementary estimate.
An incremental fund of $221,000 is requested for operation and maintenance personnel costs: $54,000 is required to bring equity to wages and benefits for the airport contract employees, and $167,000 is for training and various other benefits to other employees of the department.
On the capital side, although there is no request for additional funds, I should highlight several of the line items that have shown some reallocations.
In the transportation division, there are increased expenditures for the Campbell Highway in the amount of $829,000. This expenditure was for part of the construction in preparation for the Sa Dena Hes ore haul; there was an additional $100,000 required for the Two-Mile Hill; and $140,000 was required for maintenance camp facilities. These expenses are largely covered by realigning various small surpluses from other projects throughout the department. The result is a requirement for an additional $149,000 on the capital side.
In the municipal and community affairs division, there was a $230,000 reduction in land development, mainly as a result of delays in various negotiations with municipalities and developments surrounding community plans.
There is an increased funding of $221,000 required for the planning and pre-engineering related to the special waste facility. Also, there is an increase of some $65,000 for rural electrification and telephone. That, of course, is a result of increased demand.
Again, despite some increased expenditures on these projects, there is no additional funding required. In fact, on the capital side, Members will note that the departmental total capital expenditure forecast is actually a surplus of some $290,000.
Those are the highlights. If there are any specific questions, I would be pleased to answer them.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Office of the Deputy Minister
Office of the Deputy Minister in the amount of an under expenditure of $52,000 agreed to
On Corporate Services Division
Corporate Services Division in the amount of an under expenditure of $60,000 agreed to
On Transportation Division
Transportation Division in the amount of an under expenditure of $229,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Mr. Phelps: I am a bit mystified by the increase in sports, recreation and arts. I see that there are additional recoveries. Is this simply a bookkeeping change?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is an anomaly that I am hoping we will not have to deal with again. During previous budgeting, the departmental advice was not to include Lotteries funding, largely because one could not predict what the applications would be like or what the expenditures would be. As a result, we did not budget for the programs under YRAC and Lotteries.
Once the year comes to an end, one can determine how much one has procured from Lotteries funding and it is known what the applications were like. Due to our arrangement with Lotteries, we recover all of that money. It is largely a bookkeeping entry. Of that, $644,000 is here that was not identified in the original budget.
I am convinced that we do not have to go through this exercise at year-end. We should be able to calculate, based on past practices of how many tickets people buy and the kind of expenditures we get, fairly closely what our Lotteries and YRAC expenditures are. I am hoping that in the next budget this item will not appear again and we will come in with much tighter looking budgets.
Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of $820,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $479,000 agreed to
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now take a brief recess.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
On Capital Expenditures
On Transportation Division
On Highway Construction
On Planning and Engineering
Planning and Engineering in the amount of an under expenditure of $418,000 agreed to
Klondike in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
Mr. Devries: I am still very concerned about the amount of work that is happening on the Campbell Highway. Is it still only the six kilometres west of the Sa Dena Hes turnoff that are being rebuilt this year? Is there more work being planned on this highway?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct about the six kilometres being earmarked for new construction. What we identified in the project of this year - not the supplementary that we are dealing with - is reconstruction and increased maintenance for the balance of the highway to Watson Lake. We will continue to do much the same work that we did last year - shoulder strengthening, shoulder widening, and increased maintenance in general.
Campbell in the amount of $829,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This $829,000 is the money that we put in place during the budget year, last year, to get ready to stock crush and preparations for the reconstruction that we are doing this year.
On Silver Trail #11
Silver Trail #11 in the amount of an under expenditure of $21,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of an under expenditure of $44,000 agreed to
Dempster in the amount of an under expenditure of $16,000 agreed to
Canol in the amount of an under expenditure of $15,000 agreed to
On Top of the World
Top of the World in the amount of an under expenditure of $25,000 agreed to
Mr. Devries: This is another item where I really feel that this deduction should not be taking place.
The Nahanni Range Road is an important road to many people in Watson Lake, and there was a temporary bridge put in last year by a private contractor to remove the trailers from the area.
My concern is that if we ever have a forest fire, or something of that nature - which is pretty unlikely with all of the snow right now - there could be a problem developing later in the summer, and it is going to be very difficult to access that area with vehicles, especially with that major washout there.
The bridge has again been removed and taken down to the Kaska Resources site. It was utilized by Kaska Resources when the ice bridge caved in this past winter. I am very concerned - I forget which creek it is on, I think it is Conglomerate Creek, or one of those creeks - as it is a major washout. With the tremendous amount of snow that we have had this year, I think that we can anticipate more washouts. If this road ever gets utilized in the future as a result of the re-opening of Canada Tungsten mine, there will be a tremendous cost in rebuilding the whole road if we do not spend a little more money maintaining it during the time that it is not so much in use.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the Member has raised this concern with me in the past. Just a couple of points: the money reflected in this line item is for what actually took place to the end of the last budget year. It simply reflects that we did not spend all of our allocated money. I believe we have allocated some funds in the current budget year to strengthen one of the bridges that has been identified as one we would not like to see collapse entirely. It is a major steel structure bridge but is being undermined; our desire was to ensure that it did not wash out, because it would be expensive to replace.
In terms of the rest of the road, we are not maintaining it - simply because we have not identified a public need that would justify the expenditure. We are keeping close tabs on what may happen with Canada Tungsten and we will just have to react to that occasion. With respect to forest fires, seldom are roads used to get into fires; certainly, with the remoteness of that particular area of the territory, we would be doing it by aircraft.
At the same time, I do not want to belittle the importance of ensuring that, at some point, should we require the road, we should be doing things now to prevent major repair or maintenance down the road. We have allocated some money, on the advice of our engineers, for some basic repair of bridge work to ensure we do not have major washouts.
Nahanni in the amount of an under expenditure of $5,000 agreed to
On Two Mile Hill
Two Mile Hill in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
Other Roads in the amount of an under expenditure of $69,000 agreed to
On South Klondike Highway
South Klondike Highway in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
On Resource Transportation Access Program
On Project Funding Assistance
Project Funding Assistance in the amount of an under expenditure of $200,000 agreed to
On Facilities and Equipment
On Engineering and Design
Engineering and Design in the amount of an under expenditure of $40,000 agreed to
On Maintenance Camp Facilities
Maintenance Camp Facilities in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Branch Facilities
Miscellaneous Branch Facilities in the amount of an under expenditure of $100,000 agreed to
Mr. Devries: I am very concerned about the status of the Watson Lake airport inasmuch as it does not pertain to this past budget. Is the Ministers department seriously pursuing the idea of putting in a CAR system there? There has been another near accident recently when an engine went out on an airplane. I think it is very important that we have some communications from the airport, rather than always relying on Whitehorse. There is going to be a disaster one of these days. It is important that we get something in place.
Airstrips in the amount of an under expenditure of $1,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I just wanted to share with Members the commitment that we have received from Transport Canada in the past month. That commitment is that there will not be any further air service reduction anywhere in the territory for the next year. During that period of time, Transport Canada, along with us and the industry, are going to sit down to review all aspects of aviation service and safety in the territory. We think that is quite a major breakthrough. We have essentially put the brakes on their efforts to rationalize the service, to use their terminology.
With respect to Watson Lake specifically, clearly, putting community air radio service in there will be one of the things that we will try to negotiate and persuade them ought to happen in our examination of air transport services throughout the territory. That is on the agenda, but I cannot speak to the hope for success on it.
While I am on my feet, I want to pass on to the Member for Kluane that, given his emphatic persuasion to me on the plane yesterday to Beaver Creek and back, where I endured, for at least two hours, intimate discussions about air transport services in southwestern Yukon, I have spoken to my officials today already, and we are examining what exactly took place in the survey of the airstrip at the White River location. I want the Member to know that he has precipitated some action, and I am going to get a handle on just what work was done and what work would be involved in putting a strip in that area.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister for that, and also thank the good Lord who brought the clouds and the smoke and the steam that shook the airplane around well a few times. Some people were looking for paper bags, and I think that probably helped my argument a lot. So, I will thank the good Lord as well as thanking the Minister.
Transportation Division in the amount of $149,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Industrial in the amount of an under expenditure of $40,000 agreed to
Mr. Phelps: With respect to the timing of the trailer lots we are going to be opening in Granger this year, what is the forecast on the opening now? Can it be sped up any? The last I heard, it was going to be late in the season.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Whitehorse City Council and I have discussed the matter at some length. There is clearly a desire to speed up the lot development for the mobile park. The current situation is that the lots would ordinarily be ready with all the infrastructure - that is, the pavement, water and sewer - by about September. Normally, that is when one would tender for a possible October release.
We all recognize that was not the best timing. If people want to acquire and put a trailer in place, and get it ready for the winter, that exercise cannot be started in October. At the political level - and the staff are now working on it - we have agreed to have the public lottery for the lots sometime in July, once the basic infrastructure is in and prior to the curb, gutters and pavement. That would allow us to release and sell all the lots by August. During the same time, the curb, gutters and pavement would be installed.
Therefore, once people know in August that they have a lot, they could begin their planning and would be able to install their facilities in September. That is what we have agreed to work toward: public release in July, access to the lots in September.
Mr. Devries: The Minister, I am sure, was aware of the situation in Watson Lake last year, which was on residential lots, too, and the fact that they just came onstream in October or November. Inasmuch as there was a tremendous land shortage at the time, nobody picked up any of the lots and that, again, was the reason - no one was prepared to lay the money out and have to sit on the lot and wait for spring before they could put anything on it. I am not certain how many lots have changed hands since then, but there still is a tremendous concern about the availability of land, even for a trailer park, and I understand some of that is being looked at right now. It seems as though many of the people who have moved to Watson Lake have very little confidence in the local economy at this point and do not want to get into any long-term debt.
Are there still ongoing discussions in regard to possibly developing a trailer park there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct about the 23 mobile lots being made available last fall. One was spoken for and then turned down, so the Member is correct; we did not sell any. Those lots are currently available and can be bought over the counter right now. There is a stage 2 to that development for another possible 43 single family lots. We have not proceeded on that stage 2. We are essentially waiting for the town to tell us to go ahead, that the demand is there and it wants us to move on the development. So, while we have the mobile lots currently available, we have not begun the single family lot preparation and disposition.
The Member is correct about the earlier demand a year ago in Watson Lake where all the lots sold that we put on the market. There was clearly a high demand for mobile lots, which we brought onstream; there was a moderate demand for country residential, and a moderate demand for single family residential. Essentially, we are working with the town to determine what next step we should proceed with for the other two developments.
Mr. Devries: It is my understanding that one of the problems with the Frances Avenue development is the transfer of federal lands. I understand that there is a block of federal land that sticks into the Frances Avenue development and that there is a real problem going to phase 2 because of some land transfer problems. Has that been resolved or are they in the process of resolving it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to apologize to the Member. I am not aware that there is a land transfer problem. I understood that we could proceed with phase 2, if we were given some direction by the city. As I recall, I even toured the property and the land transfer problem was never raised.
I will take the Members question as notice and will provide him with the status of any land transfer as well as provide him with the current status of land development discussions in Watson Lake.
Mr. Lang: I would like to pursue the question that was raised about the Hillcrest mobile home subdivision. As the Minister knows, we have voted this money for four years in a row now and we still do not have the lots ready to go. I understand the dates that you gave my colleague was July for the lottery and September for distribution.
Is there any way that those dates can be moved up? Affordable housing is necessary and this is one way to help.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give the Member every reassurance that the city council and ourselves have addressed the question of moving this development up as much as possible. The Member may know that the water and sewer work could not be completed last fall because the weather caught the contractor. That work had to be finished this year. We do not expect the water and sewer servicing work to be finished until the end of June. We plan to release the lots by way of lottery immediately upon completion of the water and sewer.
There are a few logistical problems, though. If people are going to enter the lottery, they are going to want to ensure that they have maps that they can look at, and they are going to want to get onto the property to see it. The staff is assessing those particular logistics. We see no reason why we cannot go to lottery in July, even though contractors will be doing the street and gutter work at that time.
That work is not expected to be completed until the end of August, at which time people could take possession of their lots. At least they can go through the lottery, determine whether or not they have a lot, and, if so, which one, and proceed with plans for getting their trailer, determining their transportation needs and so on.
We are trying our level best to expedite it as much as possible within the logistics of the development.
Mr. Lang: I guess the point I am making is that there is a period between July and mid-September of a month and one-half, or maybe even two and one-half months, depending on when the lottery is. The lottery could be tomorrow, if one wanted; it is just a question of the possession of the lot.
If an individual were to get a lot in July, can they arrange to put in the footings and so on in order to set up a mobile home on the property? In other words, can they do the work that is necessary prior to the curb and gutter installation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is one of the very tough questions the staff is addressing now. That has already come up. There are problems when people are allowed to go in to the property with equipment when there is major street work going on. I do not think it can be done without a lot of problems and agony.
My sense, from our discussions at the political level - and the staff is looking at it now - appears to favour that we do the lottery as soon as the water and sewer is in and there are maps, so that people can walk in and at least take a look at where their lot is. We will not allow them access to the property until the street and gutter work is completed, at which time they can have legal possession of the property. That is the way the discussion is going now, but we are still looking at it.
Mr. Lang: Has the Minister considered, as part of the contract for the street, curb and gutter work that is required, that the contractor be obligated to work 24 hours a day, as opposed to the usual 10- or 12-hour shifts? We do have 24-hour light. Prices may go up a bit, but not that much, because one will not be fighting the weather. It is a question of hiring two crews. This obviously may increase costs somewhat, but I cannot see it being that difficult.
I know from my background in road construction, one works crushers 24 hours a day. In fact, from a payback point of view on that equipment, it is much more advantageous to work a 24-hour day.
Has the Minister discussed that with the city, and if he has, I would like to know the outcome of the discussions. If he has not discussed this with the city, would he consider discussing this with the city?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not recall that specific point during our discussions, but I have to tell the Member that he makes a reasonable suggestion about helping to expedite the project.
There are certain economies of scale that favour round-the-clock work, so the Member is making a very valid point. I will undertake to ensure that we are examining that as part of our tender preparation with a view to speeding up the project.
I guess the only reasonable caution is the advice that this could astronomically raise costs, then we would have to weigh that out.
Residential in the amount of an under expenditure of $195,000 agreed to
On Rural Residential
Rural Residential in the amount of an under expenditure of $6,000 agreed to
On Country Residential
Mr. Phelps: Since there are no rural residential or country residential lots available in Hootalinqua, close to Whitehorse, can the Minister tell us what the status is, right now, of the proposed subdivision at the Watson River near Carcross?
Have there been any recommendations forthcoming from the advisory committee and if so, can we expect some action on it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am afraid that I cannot give the Member much detail, largely because the issue of the Watson River subdivision is currently a developing one.
I understand that the advisory committee has discussed the matter and whether or not they have made a formal recommendation for us to consider development, I cannot answer.
I do know that, at one point, the government took the position that, until we had some planning concluded in the Carcross area, and until we had land use matters addressed surrounding the Watson River subdivision, we would not proceed with the project.
I understand that part of what the advisory committee has addressed is perhaps shifting the location and the size of the subdivision, and perhaps examining whether some lots of the original subdivision could not be released as opposed to all of them.
At the same time, there is the whole issue of the Chooutla subdivision, which seems to be progressing, albeit slowly. As the Watson River subdivision is currently under review, I do not think that I can provide a current status in any kind of detail.
Country Residential in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
Commercial in the amount of an under expenditure of $49,000 agreed to
Recreational in the amount of an under expenditure of $4,000 agreed to
On General/Miscellaneous Recoverables
General/Miscellaneous Recoverables in the amount of $55,000 agreed to
On Central Services
On Community Planning
Community Planning in the amount of an under expenditure of $25,000 agreed to
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Mr. Lang: Madam Chair, I want to raise a concern here. I do not know if this is the proper section, but it has come to my attention that, with the transfer of the Alaska Highway, the road-work contracts are being allocated in very large contractual. For example, the crushing, et cetera, are all put into one contract. To a certain extent, I can understand the reasoning for putting a number of the aspects of a contract together, but it limits and curtails the little- to middle-sized contractor. Specifically, I can refer to those in the crushing business or those in the business of putting in culverts, small bridges, and that type of thing. All of a sudden, they have to become a subcontractor to the major contractor. I guess the point that I want to make is that I feel that these contracts should be reviewed, with a view to perhaps separating some of these elements out. For example, crushing can be done separately. It does not necessarily have to be part of a large contract.
To some degree, this certainly limits the flexibility of what the smaller or mid-size contractors can do. They then become very dependent on major contractors. If we are going to continue to encourage small and mid-size contractors, these tenders have to be looked at from that perspective, and I would like to hear the Ministers comments on that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is our current practice and policy to tender crushing contracts in regions where the work is occurring, and they tend to be very small. For example, for the work we do on the Campbell Highway, I know for a fact that the contract let is the type of contract that is for a mid-size to small contractor. I think the Member is talking about the anticipated major work on the Alaska Highway and the fact that we are moving into what appears to be some $15 million to $20 million worth of road construction every year for the next one-half dozen years; therefore, there is going to be major work for contractors in the road construction business. I believe the Member is saying that, for those jobs, we should ensure that the contracts are in smaller pieces. We have done that with the Swift River project, but that began with Public Works Canada, and we are not going to take credit for it. Public Works Canada broke it into three sections of road construction.
In the year previous, the crushing is done. That is generally how they operate. They do preparatory work ahead of time, and the major construction is done the following year.
The Member makes a very reasonable suggestion, because it fits within the practice and policy of what we are doing now in our road construction, prior to the Alaska Highway. Again, the issue of economies of scale sometimes favour getting a better price with the bigger job, but you have to weigh that against the benefit of having smaller operators throughout the territory able to react to the activity going on.
The Member makes a reasonable suggestion. I will undertake, with our transportation people, to review the nature in which we are going to do next years contracting on the Alaska Highway work and to address the issue of doing the preparatory work, mainly the crushing, in smaller size contracting.
Mr. Lang: I wonder how relevant it would be, as far as this forthcoming year is concerned. There may be some tenders that are coming out at a later date. Perhaps they could be looked at. I am not just talking about the crushing. There are also other jobs, depending on the location where these contracts are being tendered. I am mainly thinking of bridges and culverts, and that type of thing.
This gives an opportunity to mid-size companies to bid on their own and not have to depend on others. Would the Member give us an undertaking to review it from the perspective of contracts being tendered for this forthcoming year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The point is well taken. I will give the Member the undertaking to review how we are issuing contracts in preparation for the major work to come.
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of an under expenditure of $254,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Waterfront Development
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us what he is not doing? We know there is not a lot happening on the Whitehorse waterfront development. Could he tell us what is taking place?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Are we on the Whitehorse Waterfront Development in the amount of $3,000?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The waterfront development took off about a year ago when we acquired the land. At that time, in discussions with the city and with my colleagues, it was apparent that, in preparation for the anniversaries celebrations, we had to do something very quick and at low cost to spruce the waterfront up to make it acceptable for the activities to happen this year. We did that. I am working from memory, but I believe we issued a contract for just over $100,000 to do some walkways, lay some crush, do some displays and stands. What Members see at the waterfront is the construction activity that we undertook, under short notice and by way of a quick contract, to spruce the place up in preparation for this year.
With respect to the bigger issue of a waterfront authority, the city and the government are currently in the final stages of striking the body that will oversee the future development of the waterfront.
Members will recall that at one time there was general discussion in this House on the capital city commission. When the land was acquired, the discussions with the city shifted from a capital city commission concept to more of a waterfront authority that would specifically emphasize waterfront activity and become the rudimentary structure for a capital city commission. That is where we are now.
We have the waterfront cleaned up and are in the final stages of striking an authority that would review public discussions to date and come forward with final recommendations about what should happen with the waterfront. At that point, the city and the Yukon government will act.
The Member says that it is a citizens committee. He is probably correct in a general characterization of where the city and the government are in the discussions about the kind of structure there should be.
Mr. Lang: When is it going to be definite as to what exactly is going to happen with the waterfront development? The Member talks about a waterfront authority. I gather it has taken three and one-half years to get to the stage where we are discussing what kind of committee it is going to be, and the importance of it is a far cry from what was stated to the general public a number of years ago. When are we going to know what kind of committee it is, what its authority will be, and can we expect legislation in the House?
With that, Madam Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 10, and beg leave to sit again.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 7, entitled An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, and directed me to report it without amendment. Further, Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 10, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled Tuesday, May 19, 1992:
Response to Constituency Survey 92" questionnaire (as quoted from by the Hon. Ms. Joe on May 14, 1992) (M. Joe)
The following Document was filed Tuesday, May 19, 1992:
Lowering fuel prices in the Yukon: The facts (Fact sheet re loan to Totem Oil distributed by the Hon. Mr. Byblow) (Lang)
The following Sessional Paper was tabled Thursday, May 14, 1992:
Excerpts from a letter cited by the Minister of Justice during Third Reading debate on Bill No. 13, entitled An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act (M. Joe)