Wednesday, May 20, 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
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to ask the Members to join with me in welcoming Jerry Mohata and Terry Lipka of the University of Alaska and Nancy Sharp, a teacher from Alaska, along with our own Bill Ferguson, who are attending the Circumpolar Language Conference being held in Whitehorse this week.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling one legislative return.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Petition No. 1
Clerk: Mr. Speaker and hon. Members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 1 of the Third Session of the 27th Legislative Assembly, as presented by the Hon. Member for Hootalinqua on May 19, 1992.
This petition meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Petition No. 1 is deemed to have been read and received.
Speaker: Are there any Introduction of Bills?
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Environmental Protection Initiatives: Transportation Division
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am pleased to report to the House on a number of new initiatives that have been introduced by this government to improve environmental practices in highway maintenance and construction, in support of the Yukon Conservation Strategy.
These initiatives are changing both our highway construction programs and our road maintenance procedures with the objective of enhancing environmental protection and minimizing environmental damage.
For example, design standards for construction projects are placing greater emphasis on visual impact, restoration, and conservation of natural materials. As well, design standards now use variable width clearing instead of the traditional practices of clearing the full right-of-way width. This is more visually appealing and eliminates unnecessary clearing. Wood salvage is being undertaken where viable. Organic materials from stripping are stockpiled and redistributed over disturbed areas. Tree screens are preserved to lessen the visual impact of gravel and borrow pits, and construction contracts provide for restoration of old, depleted borrow pits.
Hydroseeding of highway right of ways is standard practice on road reconstruction projects in order to re-establish vegetative cover and reduce erosion. The transportation division is working jointly with the Department of Renewable Resources and a private sector firm, Arctic Alpine Seed Company, on a test program to determine the effectiveness of indigenous Yukon seed varieties in our hydroseeding program. The test program started with seed or test plots in May 1991, and will be monitored for five years. It is hoped that the local seed varieties will provide more effective revegetation with less drought and winter kill. The division is also in discussions with Northern Affairs forest management staff to incorporate their seedling program for highway and borrow pit rehabilitation as well.
Our department has committed to not using chemicals for vegetation control along highways. Whereas many other provincial jurisdictions continue to use chemical defoliants and weed killers, we use only mechanical methods for brush and weed control along our highways.
Our transportation engineering branch is investigating, with the City of Whitehorse and a local contractor, the feasibility of using recycled ground glass in asphalt concrete, as a means of using locally collected glass products and reducing solid waste in the City of Whitehorse landfill.
The transportation maintenance branch is also planning another experimental program as a maintenance project. Asphalt reclaimer equipment will be used to recover existing BST and incorporate it into base strengthening prior to laying a new BST surface. The test project is expected to proceed next spring.
In addition to these initiatives, the transportation branch continues to strive for improved environmental practices by improving fuel efficiency in equipment and vehicles; by using waste oil furnaces for supplementary heat sources in workshops and grader stations; by promoting our highly popular spring anti-litter campaign which pays non-profit groups to clean up the highways; and by constantly examining our operations to look for new ways of doing things better and cheaper.
Mr. Nordling: I am not sure what the Minister is trying to tell us in this ministerial statement. After reading it and hearing him, I am not sure what he is announcing. Is anything new being announced? If there is, it is being lost in the re-announcement of initiatives that had been undertaken several years ago and some that have been initiated and done for over 20 years. There also seems to be an announcement of things that are not being done yet, but may be done in the future. Perhaps, in his response, the Minister can clarify exactly what the new initiative is that is contained somewhere.
Twenty years ago, when I worked on the highway survey crews, tree screens were used to lessen the visual impact of borrow pits. We would build the road in and go behind. Wood salvage was encouraged in areas where roads were being built. The seed test program was started in May of 1991; is the Minister re-announcing it because there was not enough publicity, or is it something new? To say we use only mechanical methods for brush and weed control along the highways, again that goes back 20 years in my experience. Regarding the recycled ground glass in asphalt concrete, it does not sound as if the Minister is announcing that as a new initiative of this government - just that the transportation engineering branch is investigating it. In the end, he gives the department a pat on the back for its spring anti-litter campaign, which has been going on for a number of years; the Member for Riverdale North has asked that it be expanded to a year-round campaign, but it does not look like that will happen.
So, perhaps the Minister can explain what he is trying to tell the Legislature and the Yukon public?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am somewhat disappointed by the reaction of the Member. If the Member for Porter Creek West has difficulty determining what initiatives are new, I can provide him with a written copy of my ministerial statement, so he has more time to peruse it and determine for himself the list of new initiatives that exist in our highways department.
If the Member thinks that tree screens have been in use for the last 20 years, perhaps he could explain to the House why so many of the borrow pits along the highway are visible and open to the highway and currently used by a lot of our tourists for parking, overnight camping and so on.
The seed program is clearly a new initiative. The asphalt-reclaiming effort is clearly a new effort. The use of ground glass in asphalt is clearly a new initiative. The entire ministerial statement makes very clear what are new initiatives. I would invite him to peruse the statement more closely.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Totem Oil
Mr. Lang: I would like to turn the attention of the House to a new initiative of our favourite Minister, the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. This has to do with the announcement of May 12, when the Minister informed the House that there was a $3.7 million preferred loan going to an American company, Totem Oil, based in Haines, Alaska. His major reasons for directing the taxpayers money this way was so the fuel terminal would operate as a public facility, as well as to ensure there was competition, primarily with the port of Skagway.
Today, we have learned that another existing bulk plant in Haines, Alaska, has been purchased by Klukwan Forest Products and will be operating under the same rules, namely as a public facility.
We understand the purchase was made with no government assistance.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the question.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell the people of the Yukon why he invested $3.7 million in Totem Oil when it was common knowledge in Haines, Alaska, that Klukwan Forest Products was negotiating to purchase and operate the other bulk plant?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the Members preamble, he suggested the Yukon Development Corporation was using taxpayers money to invest in the fuel terminal at Haines. Just to clarify for Members, the investment was a loan procured from the CIBC and provided to Totem Oil for the purchase of the terminal. It did provide, as the Member suggested, an open-use terminal to ensure that there was competition in the fuel supply market. Anyone is permitted to use the terminal, with the ultimate purpose being to reduce fuel prices in the territory.
The entry of Klukwan into the market has achieved exactly what we wanted. We have more competition in the marketplace, and this is what the game is all about. It has achieved the objective, in part, of what we attempted to do.
Mr. Lang: It is interesting to see how the Minister tries to skate on both sides of the rink.
The Minister did not answer my question. I want to know why he invested $3.7 million of Yukoners money into Totem Oil, when it was common knowledge in Haines, Alaska that Klukwan Forest Products was negotiating to purchase and operate the other bulk plant as a public facility?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In a previous Question Period - and publicly - I stated the specific reasons why the Yukon Development Corporation made this strategic investment. It was to provide another entry point for fuel in order to reduce the cost to Yukon consumers. That is the long and the short of it.
Judge Lilles pointed out to all Yukoners, through his inquiry, that we had unreasonably high fuel prices in the territory, and that it was largely due to the fact that the sole entry was controlled by a single agency. There was a need for competition in the fuel supply market.
We undertook to provide an alternate source of fuel supply to improve the competition-
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Mr. Lang: I think that the public deserves some answers. I asked a very direct question and I expected an answer, instead of a canned speech that the Minister has been giving since May 12.
I asked a very direct question of the Minister and I want to know if the Minister was aware that Klukwan Forest Products was negotiating, and in the process of purchasing, the other bulk petroleum terminal when he approved the $3.7 million investment of Yukoners money into Totem Oil. Was the Minister aware of this?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No.
Question re: Totem Oil
Mr. Lang: This sounds like the Watson Lake sawmill all over again.
My question to the Minister is: why did he not know that, because it was common knowledge in Haines that Klukwan Forest Products was actively negotiating the purchase of that bulk plant?
Who negotiated this deal on behalf of the Yukon Development Corporation? Was it personnel within the corporation, or was it some individual who was contracted to negotiate on their behalf?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It was indeed common knowledge that the Gulf facility in Haines, Alaska, was up for sale.
We did take a look at the possible acquisition of that facility. We declined becoming involved in that facility because we were not comfortable with the environmental standards and safety of that facility.
With respect to the negotiations, they were conducted by officials of the corporation with the normal legal support.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell this House if he was aware, prior to the government investing $3.7 million in Totem Oil, that Klukwan Forest Products, White Pass, and perhaps others, evaluated the operation of the Totem Oil bulk plant and all decided not to invest because they felt it was not financially viable.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member should realize that there is no way that we would know that. The Member is suggesting that private sector interests, other than those within the Yukon, examined a particular facility and rejected its acquisition for whatever reason. That is something that I should not be expected to know; however, I certainly did have it confirmed by White Pass officials that they took a look at the facility.
Mr. Lang: This begs the question - the question of value. Did the Yukon Development Corporation, prior to investing $3.7 million in this venture, have an independent appraisal done? If they did, will the Minister make this available to us?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Prior to our entering into the agreement last week, an independent appraisal of the facility was done. The appraisal demonstrated that the value of the Haines terminal, which was the security for the loan, was in excess of $3 million. I suspect the appraisal is available and I can table it.
Question re: Granger school
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Education and it is regarding the $10 million Granger school that is being built.
I understand that there has been some settling and shifting of the foundations of the school, particularly under the gymnasium area. Would the Minister update us on the problems with the construction of this expensive school?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is the first time that I have heard the school being characterized as a $10 million school. The approved budget was established in this Legislature and people know full well what the construction price is.
I have been informed that engineering personnel are looking at the site with respect to potential settling under one portion of the school. They will be providing a report to us shortly on their findings. I have not received a report to date as to the nature of the concerns being expressed.
Mrs. Firth: My next question is: why did this happen? I know the school site was changed at the last minute and the location was moved. I would like to ask the Minister if the proper soil testing was done, because we understand there is some concern now about it being built on a frost belt. Could the Minister tell us why this has occurred?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The suppositions in the Members question are high and pure speculation at this stage. I am given to understand that thorough and proper soil testing was done, and that Government Services personnel were satisfied with the site even though it was changed from the originally established site. This change was at the request of the City of Whitehorse. I have been given no further information with respect to the causes of what has been characterized to me as minor settling at this stage, and we will not have any real information, until such time as the engineers report back.
Anything else that I might do to trade hypotheses with the Member would be, for me at least, irresponsible.
Mrs. Firth: We had a situation some years ago when some minor settling occurred with the Faro school, and we all know how much that ended up costing the taxpayer. I would like to ask the Minister if he would report back to the House with respect to how much it cost to move the site, how much it is going to cost to repair it and what we are going to be looking at in the long run as regards the school sinking, shifting, settling or whatever is happening to it. It is obvious that something is happening to it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Quite frankly, I think some of the elements of the Members questions are alarmist and not justified at this time because, clearly, we do not have any sound engineering information on which to base any kind of opinion.
I am not sure what the Member means when she requests the cost for moving the site. Perhaps she could tell me later what she wants?
With respect to any costs associated with remedial action that may need to be taken as a result of some settling of one portion of the school, I can certainly provide that information, once it is known. I will provide to the House whatever information is available, if the House is sitting when the information becomes available to me.
Question re: Youth centre land transfer
Mr. Phelps: I have a few questions for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that have to do with the proposed subdivision of a large parcel of land that once belonged to a society, known as the Yukon Youth Centre, out near Deep Creek. According to a recent, in-depth newspaper article, the current owner obtained the land from the society for a value of $300,000, which he claimed was owed to him for back pay. In view of the fact that the same article quotes the Minister as saying that there was no evidence of an inappropriate transfer, I am wondering whether or not the Minister can say if he still holds that view with regard to the ownership of that particular parcel of land.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The statement attributed to me in the newspaper is, indeed, accurate as to what I said at the time when a reporter inquired of me whether or not I was aware that there may have been something inappropriate. At that time, I was not aware of anything inappropriate in the land dealings. I am still not aware of anything inappropriate. However, I have asked my officials, on the strength of that newspaper article, to review the matters pertaining to the transaction, in order to ensure that there was nothing inappropriate.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister then saying that officials within his department are looking into the entire background of this transfer, including the fact that two well-known Yukoners, who were former directors and officers of the society during the 1970s, said quite flatly that there was no such contract for this person to obtain wages while they were directors of the society?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer is yes. I have asked my officials to review all legal matters pertaining to the land transaction. The extent to which that may include reviewing matters outside the land transaction, that is, matters pertaining to the Societies Act, is yet to be determined. I would conclude by saying that I have asked my officials to ensure that the title was legally obtained.
Mr. Phelps: With respect to the application for the proposed subdivision of this large parcel of land into some 42 lots, will the Minister undertake not to deal with the application until all branches of this government have completed their investigations into the society and into what happened to this asset worth $300,000, as well as how it came into the hands of the current owner?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In all fairness or honesty, I do not believe I can provide such an undertaking. Until we have evidence or some indication that matters are not in order, it would be inappropriate of me to assume that there is.
I can tell the Member that the matter of the subdivision proposal is being dealt with on its own merits by the department. The Member is aware that he filed a petition yesterday on the subject. The Member is aware that I specifically asked for the proponent to hold a public meeting in the area surrounding the development. Those steps will continue while we are examining the legal aspects of the issue.
Question re: Youth centre land transfer
Mr. Phelps: I am very concerned about this issue. Perhaps I should direct some questions to the Minister of Justice, as her department is in charge of administering the Societies Act.
We have a situation here where a society that was active for a great number of years has been allowed to wind down and, in fact, become neglected. Perhaps someday it will simply be struck. We know, however, it has, or had, an asset worth $300,000 according to sworn statements in the land registry office. We also know that the person who transferred the land from the society to himself, claimed that he was owed $15,000 a year in addition to whatever he received for back wages. We also have-
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the question.
Mr. Phelps: In view of the fact that we have very clear statements by at least two well-known Yukoners denying that any such contract for wages was in existence, I would like to know what steps her department will take to look into this matter and ensure that the transfer was legal, in accordance with the intent of the Societies Act, the regulations, and the bylaws of the society itself.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot provide the House with that specific information at this time, but if the department has any concerns in relation to a society under the Societies Act, I am sure they are being dealt with. If it is proper to bring back that kind of information to the House, I will.
Mr. Phelps: We have a situation that is alarming to many Yukoners and infuriating to others who have donated money and time to this society, only to see the person who came around later getting the money and the free services to the tune of $300,000.
I want to make my concern very clear. The Societies Act states under section...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Phelps: ...that the society shall not distribute its property among its members, and that if it is wound up, the assets should go to charitable organizations.
Will the Minister ensure that there is a pro-active stance taken by her department, and that this is investigated to the full extent allowed by the two avenues of law that I just recited: that of the act itself and the regulations.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is possible that there are things taking place already with regard to that situation. If there is not anything in place at this time, I am sure that the department will look into the situation.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister, under the act, direct the registrar to commence an investigation and a review, as defined in the regulations?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes, if it is not already being done.
Question re: Youth centre land transfer
Mr. Phelps: This brings me back to my former friend, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phelps: ...old buddy. I hope that this is not an old boy system whereby people can get away with this sort of thing in the Yukon, when there seems to be a flagrant breach of the intention of the society and the law. At least the appearance is there.
I would like the Minister to provide me with the undertaking that until the Department of Justice is satisfied that this society is being wound up in accordance with the full intention of the law, he will not deal with the application for the subdivision at Deep Creek.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will be frank with the Member. I do not know if I can give that undertaking, but the Member can rest assured that I will operate within the legal avenues available to me. In other words, I will seek advice on the question about whether or not to put the brakes on the development, and I can only take notice of the question.
I have already indicated to the Member that we have not stopped the progress of the development, which is going through the normal stages.
Mr. Phelps: On an earlier question, I understood the Minister to say that he would have his officials look into whether or not the transfer was appropriate and legal. It is my submission, and I would ask him to agree with this, that surely the government cannot come to any conclusion with regard to that issue until they find out the outcome of an investigation by the Department of Justice. If the society is being wound...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Phelps: ...down in a way that is illegal, then surely, the whole title of the land is in question.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We are only splitting hairs on what is going to be taking place. I can give the Member every assurance that no final decision will be made until due process takes place - that is, until legal title is assured and I have received the appropriate advice that any kind of development can indeed take place legally and legitimately. To that extent, I can give the Member the assurance that no final decision will be made. In the meantime, largely because there is an identified need for rural land development, I am allowing the process to proceed.
Mr. Phelps: Surely the Minister would agree that one of the causes for alarm, with respect to the residents of Deep Creek, is that no land is being made available by this government. The land use process has tied up land for a long time. The Minister, because of the heat he is getting, is rushing into this private subdivision with unseemly haste, simply to get rid of the heat. That is a very real concern of the residents of Deep Creek.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me reassure the Member that there is no undue haste taking place. If anything, the opposite is occurring. When the proponent first came forward with the proposal, it was at my insistence that the public in Deep Creek be made aware of the potential development. It was at my insistence that a public meeting be held, and it was at my insistence that discussions with the proponent occur to ensure that the development take place in a manner that area residents are comfortable with, and at the same time, meeting the need for rural land development.
I would refute the Members suggestion that any undue haste is occurring here; but, the Member has raised a legitimate point with respect to the legal status of the land. The newspaper article alerted me to that potential, and we are investigating the legalities surrounding that.
Question re: Arts Centre, operation of
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Education and Government Services, or perhaps the Minister of Tourism, concerning the Arts Centre.
The Department of Education has contributed to the operation and maintenance; the Department of Government Services is paying the utilities and has advertised for a building engineer, one of the responsibilities of that individual being to look after the Arts Centre, and a new arts branch has been set up in the Department of Tourism.
I would like to know whether responsibility for the Arts Centre is going to be transferred to the Department of Tourism, and how the three government departments and the board are going to interact in operating the facility.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, the Department of Community and Transportation Services, to add another player, will be providing the taxes, or grants in lieu, for the facility to the City of Whitehorse. As we indicated in the budget estimates last fall, the Department of Government Services will provide both maintenance and utility costs to the Arts Centre. As well, the Department of Education, now Tourism, will be providing the annual operating subsidy to the centre. The Arts Centre Corporation will have its own responsibilities, and these have been struck in the user agreement, which I am more than prepared to provide to the Member if he wishes to see it; it outlines and delineates very clearly the responsibilities of each agency under the agreement.
To follow up on the Members last point, the role of our arts branch, the Department of Tourism will take responsibility for the provision of the annual operating grant. The Department of Education will no longer have any functional responsibility for the Arts Centre after the beginning of June of this year.
Mr. Nordling: I thank the Minister for confirming that the Department of Education will be completely out of it and that the Department of Tourism will be responsible.
I would like to know from the Minister of Education if there were any studies done to determine the best way to handle the Arts Centre, how it should be operated and what department should be responsible. If a study or an analysis was done, would the Minister provide it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a difficult question to answer, only because I am not entirely sure what the Member is seeking. There was an initial study, the Nova Corp. report, that talked about the desirability of a centre and how it might be managed. Many of the assumptions contained in that report were overly optimistic. In any case, a fair amount of discussion - internally within government and with the Arts Centre Corporation - took place with respect to how to share the responsibilities for this particular facility in the future, given that the heating plant and utilities are provided through the heating centre at Yukon Place site. Given the fact that this is now staffed by Government Services personnel, and it would be convenient and less bureaucratic to continue with that arrangement, it was decided that Government Services would continue with the responsibilities for certain types of hard maintenance and the Arts Centre Corporation would be responsible for other maintenance responsibilities.
Mr. Nordling: The last part of the Ministers answer was what I was asking about - not about the Nova Corp. report, but about the discussions the Arts Centre Corporation had with government departments. Was there a report done on how this could be done, or was there a consultant hired to assist, or were there just discussions between the departments? Has the Minister gathered, in any shape or form, the total operating cost of that facility that can be identified?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are no consultant studies that I am aware of that helped the government to define the relationships between the various departments that will have some responsibility and the Arts Centre Corporation, which will have some very clear responsibilities as, essentially, the tenant of this facility.
I am not aware of any consultant reports. There may have been some technical work done through the energy centre to bring on line the additional services that are contained within the Arts Centre building. I can check on that particular detail, if that is of interest to the Member.
The total cost of the facility was outlined in the last budget round. If I can remember off the top of my head - and I will check for the Members after Question Period - there is approximately $105,000 in grants in lieu and there is approximately $108,000 by way of maintenance, including maintenance personnel.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will provide the rest of the information to the Member later.
Question re: Yukon College financing
Mr. Devries: I also have a question to direct to the Minister of Education. As the Minister is aware, last week there were several reports in the newspapers indicating that Yukon College is in need of an additional $3-4 million to meet their objectives for the 1992-93 year. Does the Minister know if his department will be requesting additional funding in the form of a supplementary estimate, or whatever, to help the college meet its objectives?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer could be summed up by saying, no, but it would not be complete. The college has not presented any program plans to the Department of Education as yet. What was reported last week was, essentially, what would be desirable from the perspective of the staff of the college, who are presenting the program plans to the college board. The college board reviewed those program plans. We expect, within a month or so, to receive the results of those discussions.
I am assuming that those program proposals will be priorized by the board, so that, should they not receive a 30-40 percent increase in a grant in one year from this Legislature, there may still be an opportunity to provide some additional program support. At this stage, we have not received anything formal from the college, formally. Nothing has crossed my desk at all. I have not had any discussions with the college board chair with respect to the nature of those requests; therefore, I am really at a disadvantage in being able to respond to the Members question.
Mr. Devries: The same newspaper report indicates that a lot of the extra funding is needed for land claims implementation programs. I would suspect that some of this would be funded by the federal government. Does the Minister have any indication on how the cost sharing will take place on the land claims implementation? Some of this is already in progress, but I understand that more is going to be requested.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member is aware, there is a land claims training trust fund that was established under the umbrella final agreement and pre-implemented to the tune of about $1.2 million by this government. This is money that we voted two years ago for that purpose.
To date, none of that funding has been spent on training, as the committee that was struck to receive expenditures has not yet finalized the procedures and approved the projects. However, there is an awareness by the college, and by virtually everyone else, that the training funds under the land claims training trust will be insufficient to meet even modest expectations by First Nations people with respect to training. Consequently, there will be some requests by various individual groups, and perhaps even by the college, to direct some of the training activity where it is needed most, including the training requirements that emanate from land claims.
Those requests may come jointly or separately to both Canada Employment, which has funding for training, and the Yukon government and this Legislature.
Mr. Devries: Last fall, the Minister also announced the social work degree program that was supposed to start this fall. I believe this was to be managed through the auspices of the University of Regina. Is this still due to start this fall or has this program been put on hold? If so, is it still being done through the University of Regina?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A steering committee was struck, which had the college, the Department of Education and the University of Regina representatives on it. They did some preliminary investigation this last fall and spring. They determined that they would need more time to establish a program than was expected. We had expected an initiation date of September for a full-blown program. There may well be an opportunity to initiate some courses this September that could be counted toward a social work diploma. However, it appears to be too optimistic to expect the full program to be started by then. It may be started in the next term or the following year. Those discussions are continuing.
Question re: Riverdale traffic congestion
Mr. Phillips: My question is directed to the litter Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and it regards the long overdue improvements to the access in and out of Riverdale.
I have raised this question, semi-annually, for seven years, and I have tried to get an answer from the Minister.
Now that the Department of Education has occupied the old Yukon College building and the new extended care facility will be open soon with new employees moving into that area, I would like the Minister to tell the House if he is going to accelerate the process and if the Government of Yukon is going to assist the City of Whitehorse in improving the access at the bridge, the access to the south access and the turn-off into the hospital.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member will be quite pleased to know that the subject of access to Riverdale comes up quite frequently in breakfast meetings with the city.
The city has reacted to the governments urgings to address the matter expeditiously. I understand that the city is doing some work this summer on the bridge, and that it is looking at a traffic design plan. As to precisely the timing for the improvements, I cannot say today.
I have been urging the city, in part at the Members request, to move quickly in the matter of improving traffic flow patterns in that area.
Mr. Phillips: I am extremely concerned because it seems that what is going to have to happen so that this thing moves along quickly is an event where we have some type of disaster where emergency vehicles cannot get out of Riverdale, because they are blocked at that intersection.
I would like to ask the government if it has an agreement with the city that it will provide some funding for changes to that access from now and into the future. I would also like to know with whom that agreement is and which department has made that agreement.
Mr. Byblow: I am not aware of any specific agreement for funding improvements, but usually those types of agreements occur in relation to developments. I cannot say, on my feet, that any agreement currently exists; however, numerous discussions have taken place concerning improved traffic patterns into that subdivision.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the government could confirm that initially there was some talk or an agreement that improvements would be made when Department of Education employees moved in there. That was postponed when they talked about the extended care facility people moving into their building, and now it has been postponed again while waiting for the new hospital, hoping that the federal government will actually pay for the improvements and the Yukon government will not have to come up with any money. Is that why there is a delay? Are we waiting so that we can throw the weight on the federal government rather than provide the service that is needed now?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The Members concerns around the area of traffic into Riverdale are ones that I share. Certainly, the Department of Health and Social Services has been discussing programs with the City of Whitehorse on how we might work together to improve some of the infrastructure. That does not include the bridge or Lewes Boulevard, but there certainly have been fruitful discussions, I believe, with the city.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order, and we will take a break.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are on the Whitehorse Waterfront Development under municipal and community affairs division, capital expenditures.
Bill No. 10 - Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92 - continued
On Whitehorse Waterfront Development - continued
Whitehorse Waterfront Development in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Public Health and Safety
On Water Supply, Treatment and Storage
Mr. Lang: I have a question with respect to the Granger subdivision and the water supply. It is my understanding that there were some very major technical problems with the system in supplying water for the overall development of Granger. This was one of the reasons there was a time lag in the release of lots.
What has been done to rectify that problem in order that the water supply will meet the demands of the full subdivision? What are the added costs, and who is going to bear them?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: During last winter, questions were raised about the capacity of the Whitehorse water system to supply adequate pressure and supply to Granger. This was of serious concern to both the city and to us.
We had additional engineering work done to assess the water-pumping capacity and volumes. We were assured by professional engineers earlier this spring that there is enough water capacity to supply the lots that we contemplate releasing.
We had every assurance provided that we had well in excess of our damand. There is the capacity in the system for the Arkell release and for the Granger release that is currently underway. I believe that there is still enough capacity for the release next year of additional Arkell if necessary.
Water Supply, Treatment and Storage in the amount of an under expenditure of $45,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of an under expenditure of $102,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of an under expenditure of $96,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us what this reduction is a result of?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I apologize to the Member. I cannot locate this specific item in my notes. I will undertake to get back to the Member privately.
Mr. Phelps: I want to ensure that my concern is on the record, because in my riding we have several proposals that have been ongoing for years to move garbage sites. Two garbage sites that I can refer to are the ones on the Carcross Road near Robinson subdivision and at Carcross south. I want to emphasize that these are matters that need to be resolved, and soon. I hope that we do not continue to lapse the funds that are voted each year, year after year, and not resolve the problem.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I apologize to the Member. I found it in my notes.
The reduction is, indeed, primarily due to the delay in construction of the Carcross sewage treatment and disposal.
Mr. Phelps: I think the Minister gave the reason for the line above. It was the Solid Waste that I was inquiring about. I thank him for the answer about the sewage treatment and disposal. The $38,000 under expenditure is for the Solid Waste line item.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have the $38,000 broken down into specific items. The explanation I have been provided with is that there has been a reduction because fewer projects were carried out in the territory-wide solid waste disposal sites. I can only assume that it would include the planned facility at Carcross.
Mr. Phelps: I just want to again stress to the Minister that I am registering stern disapproval; strong letter to follow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To conclude the matter, I appreciate the Members concern. It is one we have faced in his community for some time. The Member and I have worked cooperatively to try to address the problems facing that community and to try to find an appropriate site for waste facilities, lagoons and appropriate means through which to address housing and other problems. I appreciate his concern and frustration, and I share it.
The progress we have seen in his community over the past year puts us light years ahead of where we were a year ago. That can only speak well in terms of addressing the remaining outstanding problems.
Solid Waste in the amount of an under expenditure of $38,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Mosquito Control in the amount of an under expenditure of $2,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Emergency Measures in the amount of an under expenditure of $12,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Fire Protection in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Service
Mrs. Firth: When the service was transferred to Health and Social Services, I recall there was some discussion about a substantial shortfall in the budget, which was one of the concerns. When it was transferred over, I believe it was in the neighbourhood of $500,000.
When the ambulance service was transferred to the Department of Health and Social Services, was there an allotment of budgetary monies also transferred? How much was it?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before I answer that, I should tell the Member for Hootalinqua that the $34,000 increase for fire protection was related to the Marsh Lake firehall costs.
With respect to the ambulance service, I do not have the numbers with me. At the time of the transfer, there were additional funds transferred as part of the deal. I believe there were additional personnel involved, and the training shortfall that was identified was established in the funding that was transferred. I do not have the numbers, but I can undertake to provide them. It may even be possible that the Minister now responsible has those numbers in her budget.
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up on that, because part of the delay of the transfer was the dispute, I guess, about the allocation of money. What had been happening was that the ambulance services had been carrying on and the services had been provided, and they were having cost overruns that were accumulating over a number of years. The department was just picking up the extra costs within the department. Then, at the time of the transfer, the Department of Community and Transportation Services had a set amount of money allocated in their budget and that was all they were prepared to transfer; however, the costs were substantially higher. If I am not mistaken, I believe they were about $500,000 higher. That seems to be the number that I remember the former deputy minister, Roger Graham, quoting when doing an interview with the media and saying that those were the additional dollars that were going to be required.
I would therefore appreciate getting that information back. I would like to know what the total budget was that was transferred with ambulance services and whether or not the Department of Health and Social Services is going to be required to kick in additional monies so that they can provide this service.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have no problem providing to the Member the specific amounts that were involved in the transfer. The Member is correct in saying that ambulance services ran a fairly consistent over expenditure, which was absorbed by the department, quite consistently. At the time of the final transfer, dollars were transferred to meet certain levels of anticipated over expenditure, which then would become base expenditure. I think that the Member is incorrect about the $500,000 overrun. I recall the figure as being more in the order of $250,000 that we were faced with on over expenditure. I also recall providing - I thought perhaps to the Member, but I may not have - details about just what the increased costs were to the ambulance service over the past several years. I tabulated those costs and identified exactly what the expenditure was in ambulance services.
I can tell the Member that, at the time of the transfer, the amount was $1.3 million, which was $350,000 higher than the 1991-92 budget. Perhaps that might be the figure we are talking about; what was established in the transfer was a base amount of $350,000 more than the previous year.
Mr. Phelps: I was concerned, because we had an ongoing battle of correspondence passing back and forth between the Minister and myself dealing with the concern over the shortfall for training ambulance volunteers in the communities. I trust that this cutback has nothing to do with the training component of the package.
In other words, my question is: is the Minister confident that they are spending enough right now to meet the demand for training of the volunteer ambulance workers in the communities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Both Members are correct in their assessment that concerns were raised about the level of training. The figures I provided moments ago about what was transferred took into account a level of training that was expected to meet the needs of workers throughout the territory. It was $350,000 more than was budgeted the year before; I have provided, as the Member points out, correspondence detailing the types of training that occurred, the frequency, the locations and associated dollars. I guess the final point is that I believe we have provided an adequate funding level to meet the ambulance training needs. There is no question that more can be provided. In terms of what was done historically as regards the qualifications of the ambulance workers, I think we are meeting basic needs levels and the service is in good shape.
Ambulance Service in the amount of an under expenditure of $38,000 agreed to
On Hazardous Waste Storage
Mr. Phelps: What is this expenditure for?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This would have been used for the work done by the Hazardous Waste Advisory Committee. It would have been, in part, money used for consultants giving advice to the committee. It would be costs associated with the very broad, public consultation undertaken by the committee. It would speak to some of the test work that was done.
I do not have a breakdown of the $221,000, but I can certainly undertake to provide that information. This was for the work of the committee and associated duties to do the job that they were assigned to do.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us how much of this was due to the second advisory body that was put into place after all the opposition came from Whitehorse West with regard to the location?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should remind the Member that all of the areas in the final selection were in Whitehorse West, so any objection would come from that riding.
I do not have the numbers associated with the costs that may have been incurred by the ad hoc committee. The ad hoc committee reviewing the final recommendation would not have directly incurred much expense, in respect to their meetings and discussions with department officials and others.
Some costs may have been incurred in that final stage of consultation; there would have been some test work in the Whitehorse Copper area and some test work in the Whitehorse landfill area, because in February and March, we did do some additional testing in those two areas.
I do not have those figures, but the Member is correct; this would include some additional drilling that took place early this year.
Mr. Phelps: We can clear this item if the Minister will provide us, in the near future, with the estimated costs of the ad hoc committee, and the work done for it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give that undertaking to the Member. In fact, I could probably go a step further and just provide the total costs to date that have been incurred by this government in the site selection process.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to ask the Minister when we are going to get this problem solved. For two years, Haines Junction has been gathering material. They have filled their waste storage area to the point at which they cannot put any more in. I understand they are contemplating burying it in the ground, or have already done so. They could have done that two years ago. We have been waiting for someone in Whitehorse to make the decision about where we are supposed to dump this stuff. It has just become a big mess that we have to pay to have cleaned up, as it gets scattered around in the winter. Will a decision be made for something to be done, so that we do not have to go through this again?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I sincerely appreciate the Members concern about a final decision for a facility. I expect that decision to be made very soon. I have indicated previously in Question Period that we are still contemplating having the facility constructed this year.
Even though it may have taken us some two and one-half years to come to that decision, I am advised that it by far beats the usual time taken by other jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions are faced with their seventh, eighth or ninth year in the process of selecting and constructing a hazardous waste facility. For us to achieve this in two and one-half years is, by comparison, still pretty good. I realize, also, that it is a decision that, naively, I thought we could do in a year. This is a year and one-half later and we are still in that final stage of making a decision. I am hoping that we can have this wrapped up so we can proceed to the construction of a facility within the next month or so.
Mrs. Firth: Can we conclude from that that we are going to have this hazardous waste storage facility built before the next election, or is this going to be one of those pre-election promises the government is going to make?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not want to demean the importance of the issue by associating it to electioneering. The decision will be made very soon, and that decision will reflect the construction plans, which ought to be undertaken in the current fiscal year. I have every reason to believe that it will have nothing to do with any election.
Hazardous Waste Storage in the amount of $221,000 agreed to
On Roads and Streets
On Road Upgrade
Road Upgrade in the amount of $54,000 agreed to
On Recreation and Community Facilities and Services
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Mr. Phelps: I wanted to have a brief discussion on the record with the Minister with regard to the electrification program. I was at a meeting last night in Deep Creek, and they were discussing the possible electrification of that area of Lake Laberge. The problem they have is that the current program does not really meet the needs of the area.
Very briefly, I will try to explain that. Virtually every time the electrification program has been implemented in my riding at least, it has been a situation where the line has been extended to meet an areas needs. There was very little likelihood of meeting further expansion of the population and the lots in the area. For example, when the electrical line was extended to meet the needs of the Taku subdivision at Tagish, there was no likelihood of another subdivision coming in and using the same facility, thus having the original residents pay for people who might come along at any minute, because they would be forced to pay for the whole cost of the line extension.
At Laberge, they are going to come in with a transformer station, which is going to be large enough to meet the needs of some six times the expected load of the existing residents at Deep Creek. It is a facility that is probably larger than needed, but it is the only one the electrical company can obtain.
Therefore, the residents are faced with some 87 lots, if it were to go ahead tomorrow, and paying for a capital cost of somewhere around $600,000 to put the line into Deep Creek.
The area is under developed. There is no question that three or four subdivisions will be going in, whether private or government. Once the land use plan is in place, we will have a pretty good idea of the future density of the region that would be served by this new facility.
I feel that the policy ought to be readdressed by the government in order to provide for a situation where a facility like this will serve, in the foreseeable future, several times the existing properties. In a situation like this, the government should pay a percentage of the cost for the main facilities. Like the development of land, this would be an infrastructure development. As new developments come into place, each new development could be charged with a portion of the cost of the facility. In this case, using round figures, the transformer station and main line cost about $450,000. If, in the foreseeable future, we see that the number of lots will probably increase by three times, I submit that the government consider paying two-thirds of the cost of the facility, to be assessed in the future against future lots. This would be like having it in the bank, like we do with land.
Then, when a new developer comes along, similar to the private developer whom we discussed earlier this afternoon, that person would be required to pay his share. The government would sell the services to him as part of the subdivision when he sells his lots. If the government is developing a subdivision, it would allocate a per-lot cost of the electrification as part of the price of the land it would be selling as a result of a country-residential subdivision.
I am trying to say that there is a key role here for government, in the economic and land development sense, to pay for part of the cost, based on a reasonably accurate forecast of just how many new lots will come into being as a result of the plan. What we are talking about is perhaps four subdivisions and five or six individual parcels of land; that would be it, without changing the plan.
It would be a fairly easy thing to administer. If there were somebody with a subdivision proposing, say, 50 lots, and it was anticipated that there would be 200 lots by the time the area was fully developed, the person proposing the subdivision would be charged for that share.
The government would not, in the long run, be losing money, apart perhaps from a bit of interest. It would be facilitating the orderly development in accordance with the land use plan of the area.
Just to back up a bit, to look at what the people out there are faced with now, if they were to go ahead with this - and I know two or three other people are proposing to subdivide - and if the government chooses in that general area to develop some homestead lots, the 87 new lots will be paying for the facility that would be used in the very short term, say within the next five or 10 years, by three times as many lot owners who have not had to pay a nickel.
What I am suggesting, and I am quite prepared to discuss this in some detail with the Minister, is that there is a very real need here for a new wrinkle in the electrification policy, which would pertain only to a situation such as this, where the rural electrification program was likely to benefit a large number of people other than those who would pay for it in the first instance. I would also submit that, in my experience, in all the instances where the program has been utilized in Hootalinqua - and that is probably the vast majority of them - this is the first unique case I have seen where the main parts of the facility will be used and enjoyed in the next five or 10 years by probably three times the number of lot owners as presently exist.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Let me say to the Member that I am, on first blush, positively inclined to the kind of approach that the Member presents. My response would draw reference to the practice that is currently used in land development.
In land development, we have costs that are assigned to future phases, and pro-rated on that basis. The government, by virtue of being the developer, holds those costs and collects them in the future development. So we act as a banker of certain costs that we do not collect back until - in some cases - years down the road.
The Member is introducing the same concept for rural electrification. On the face of it, and in principle, I support the idea.
It strikes me that the first group of residents to have electricity provided to them are the ones who receive the least benefit, if all of the costs to extend the electrification are assigned to them and the technology of the electrification provides for large expansion to follow.
Clearly, the people who are part of the second, third and fourth phase expansions to the electrification have a distinct advantage paid for by other people. It is a principle of fairness. What I describe as a principle of unfairness, I would not support. I take the Members presentation very seriously. I will direct my officials to re-examine the policy in the context of centralizing costs for electrification that could be assigned to future developments, based on the technology of the extended service.
The Member has my full support; we should indeed proceed on that principle.
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On Block Funding Project Assistance
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If Members will recall when I announced comprehensive block funding, we announced funding in a regime that provided certain dollars to all municipalities based on a formula. In our budgeting process, we did not have the final tax rolls to determine precisely what those final dollars would be; we made our best guess on the data that we had. When the final numbers were crunched, there was a shortfall of $25,000 to meet the obligations under the new act for the new funding, and this is it.
Block Funding Project Assistance in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of an under expenditure of $440,000 agreed to
Mr. Devries: May I go back to Community and Transportation Services for one second? There is one item that we missed, but that I would like the Minister to clarify for me. As the Minister is aware, in the last budget, there was provision for a new scale to be built in Watson Lake. Due to the departments blunders, or something, there was an unrealistic cost estimate, and the decision was made not to go ahead with the project. Now, the existing scale building has been renovated. Where would the saving show up in this supplementary, if it is not offset by something else?
Chair: Which line item are you referring to?
Mr. Devries: I am trying to find out where the savings on the scale went.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In fairness, I should take notice on the question because I am not sure of the answer. However, it would be in one of the three categories under facilities and equipment on page 21. On specifically which one, I will have to get back to the Member.
Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Health and Social Services
Chair: Is there any general debate on the Department of Health and Social Services?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have a couple of things. I have some data to circulate among Members. They will recall that I had been talking previously about the Department of Health and Social Services, the Bureau of Statistics and Finance working together to go through the data to get the kind of information the Members were asking questions about. We have been able to put that information together, complete with explanatory charts and an analysis sheet to give Members a broad picture of who we are talking about in terms of social assistance clients.
Before we go into that, I am going to have the pages distribute those. Also, I would ask the Clerk to table one copy. I would ask that Members remember that, as they go through it, we had started out with three data bases. We asked the Bureau of Statistics to work with us to pull them all together and get a clear picture for Members of this House from the information we had.
They were able to do that. I wanted to give one bit of information: when they came to the category of unemployables, they used a randomly selected group of people because, as you are aware, it is quite a high number. They chose 149 numbers at random. Then those files were pulled. That is the process that was used. Then they identified the client base of employables. Also included in this chart is what I would term the casual drop-ins, who come to the department for diapers or food when they are getting close to payday or unemployment insurance day or are just having problems of some kind. They would be included in that, which will escalate the overall figure quite considerably.
These are client files that the department calls AOs, or authorization orders. The dollars from the authorization orders are already accounted for in the social assistance budget.
Before I begin with my general comments, there is one other area I would like to speak on. The research moved back in time so we could be sure we were comparing apples with apples. As you will recall, on April 28, 1992, Mr. Nordling quoted some statistics related to increasing social assistance clients. Mr. Nordling said that, in 1984-85, the actual number of Yukoners receiving social assistance was 582. We did check Hansard.
For this coming year, the projection is 2,155. Later on, Mr. Lang reiterated these statistics, on May 11. Of course, we thought that was a phenomenal increase. Therefore, the research was done, and it appears that Mr. Nordling misread the information contained in the main estimates for 1985-86, which reported the actual clients for 1984-85. The 582 clients refers to the average month-end closed, not the total number of cases for the year.
In 1985-86, there were actually 1,989 cases, which is similar to the total for 1990-91.
If the Members will refer to the graph entitled Chart 1 - Type of Essay Cases, you will notice that, after the last Canadian recession ended in 1985-86, the number of cases dipped down, rising again when another recession affected the rest of Canada.
This is an indication that in-migration, because of poor job prospects in the south, has an impact on the number of social assistance beneficiaries in the Yukon Territory.
If I may, then, I will now go into my general comments.
The Department of Health and Social Services is requesting $6,194,000 in additional operating funds for 1991-92. This request is offset by $1,868,000 in additional expected recoveries, resulting in a net cost to the government of $4,326,000.
The majority of the requested funds are to be allocated as follows: the combined regional and Whitehorse request for social assistance is $2,473,000. Using well-established data sources produced by both the federal and territorial governments, a rate for each component of basic social assistance is developed to enable a recipient to maintain a minimum basic standard of living.
Based on a review of these data sources, the basic social assistance payment was increased for each case category in 1990 and 1991. The rate of increase was proportional to the number of family members, and ranged from five percent for a single person to 10 percent for a family of four. The weighted average increase to the basic social assistance payment based on case-load composition was 5.6 percent.
Under the new rate structure, the average two-parent family with two children will receive $1,563, plus utilities, per month. This reflects an increase of approximately 10 percent over the previous years rate. The basic subsidy for this family of four is calculated to include $148 per week for food, $640 per month for rent, $170 per month for clothing and $117 per month for incidentals, such as laundry, bus fares and so on.
The basic payment to a single person will be $645. This reflects an increase of five percent over the previous year and still falls below the net income that a single person can expect to earn at the minimum wage level.
The average cost per case is also expected to rise due to GST and inflationary impacts on those expenses, which are paid as actual cost.
We have provided the Members of this House with the latest information available on social assistance clients. This information has been provided in graph form to help the Members get a clear understanding of social assistance client profiles. This information is now available, because the year-end has closed and all of the data bases have been updated.
The social assistance recipients reflected in this information have increased significantly over the numbers recently reported in the Legislature. This is caused by the inclusion of seniors and vocational rehabilitation clients who receive social assistance, and those clients where only an authorization order has been issued. An authorization order is issued to a client, who can then take it to a vendor - a grocery store, Mary House, Greyhound Bus Lines - and receive goods and services to the value of the authorization order.
This case load was not captured through our normal client information-capturing techniques, because the value of the authorization order is paid directly - that is, directly to the grocery store, Mary House, or to whomever - and no information regarding payment to the client appeared in the social assistance client information base. By amalgamating information out of several files, this information is now available for inclusion in social assistance client information. The costs associated with these clients were always included in the total social assistance grants reported in the public accounts.
All of the information provided has been adjusted to incorporate these types of clients on an historical basis, so that the Members can make appropriate comparisons to previous years. With the inclusion of these clients, the client volume increased from 1,974 in 1990/91, to 2,391 in 1991/92. This reflects an increase of 417 clients, or approximately 21 percent.
Costs associated with those clients receiving assistance through authorization orders only is not significant. These clients were only included to permit a better understanding of client profiles. If these clients had not been included, the caseload would have increased from 1,269 in 1990-91 to 1,839 in 1991-92, reflecting an increase of 45 percent. The difference in percentage increase is due to the decreasing number of clients who are provided assistance through authorization orders only.
For the purpose of discussing social assistance funding increases, it is the volume increase to 1,839 clients for the 45 percent increase that is important and will be used to explain the additional funding requirements.
I would then go on to briefly discuss the physicians funding. The $861,987 is requested for in-territory physician price and volume increases. Each year, the department undertakes negotiations with Yukon physicians to determine the fee schedule for services provided under the Yukon health care insurance regulations.
Effective April 1, 1991, the fees were increased by 3.8 percent as a result of these negotiations. The number of services rendered by the physicians increased by nine percent in 1991-92. There are a variety of factors that influence the volume of services. These include: changes in population; client usage of medical services; the number of physicians practising - which increased by one over 1990-91 to 39 in 1991-92; the health status of the population; and the availability of new technology.
It is the departments intention to examine utilization factors more closely in 1992-93, for the purpose of determining cost containment options. The contribution to Canada for services provided by the medical services branch was increased by $2,765,000. This increase will ensure the continuity of hospital and community program service levels, and $831,000 of the increase will be used to support hospital services in Whitehorse, Mayo, Dawson and Watson Lake.
An additional $934,000 makes up contributions to community programs, such as mental health, the childrens dental program, communicable disease control and community health services.
Other program increases include: child protection after-hours emergency call-in services, $81,000; child care subsidy program, $78,000; auxiliary staff for the home care program, $114,000; chronic disease drugs, $281,000; medical supplies, $121,000; and increased funding to the Champagne-Aishihik child welfare project in the amount of $119,000.
Offsetting some of these increases are reduced costs in the following areas: child care operating grants reduced by $525,000; reductions totalling $92,000 in telephone charges, utilities, repairs and maintenance for the secure and open facility and the youth development program in the juvenile justice branch.
The proceeding was only intended to provide you with an overview of this supplementary. I am certainly prepared to provide further information on other items included in each program, if requested, during line-by-line debate.
Mr. Lang: I find all these graphs very confusing. I notice the Minister indicated that she does, too. I guess we are trying to justify all the work that has been done. I question how much of that work we really needed to have done. The reality of the situation is that we do have a high number of people on social assistance. It would not have taken long to find out that we have quite a number of transient people coming to the territory. That is one of my major concerns. We have people coming here with false expectations that there is a job on every street. We all know that is not the case.
I wonder if the Minister would reconsider the suggestion that I put forward in the House the other day: that there should be some thought given to communicating to outside agencies, through employment offices or otherwise, that people be aware of our high unemployment rate and that they may encounter difficulties if they are coming here to find work with no job already lined up.
I hope the Minister does not once again turn this into an anti-Canadian type of discussion, because that is not my purpose. First of all, I am concerned with individuals who are coming here with false expectations and finding, out once they get here, that they are not true. That is the worst disservice that we can do to them. Also, as taxpayers, we have hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on communications by this government. It is beyond me why we cannot communicate our true situation in at least the three western provinces on an ongoing basis.
I would like to hear the Ministers comments on that. It will assist her if some of these people who are transients and will be going on social assistance because of their financial situation just look for a job where they are. The national media and others have left the impression with these people that they can find a job any time, any place and for any money here.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have no intention of contradicting the Member around this issue. Since our last discussion, I have been asking questions and have been told first of all that the unemployment insurance commission office here in the territory has sent out information all across the country saying, basically, Do not come north; there are not lots of jobs here. We could, indeed, send that kind of information to our colleagues - to the various social assistance offices and to the departments of social services, whatever they may be - across the country indicating the reality of the situation. Some 70 percent of the incoming transients have already left the Yukon, so that would indicate to me that they were not very successful in finding jobs. They are on social assistance for a short term but, as the Member knows, it is still part of the drain on our social assistance budget.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate an undertaking from the Minister to do a number of things: I think we should obviously be contacting the other provincial departments and those involved, to let them know. Another thing that could be done is to contact at least the large universities to let them know. I am very concerned; we have not even felt the influx of people coming to the territory under these false expectations that jobs are available, and I am primarily thinking of young students. In fact, I have had some personal calls from friends of mine outside who know of young people who would like to come here. I am sure other people in this room have had similar calls. That tells me that there is much more interest now than there has been in the past, because it is very seldom I get calls like that - and it has not been just one call; there have been a number of calls.
I would like to ask the Minister if she would undertake to also contact the universities and let them know what our situation is. This is not to say people cannot come here, but they should know our situation. I also would suggest that press releases be sent out by the Government of Yukon, through the public affairs branch, to the various media outlets in the western provinces - because they will, in some cases, run them - to say we are expressing our concern here in the Legislature that people should be aware of the unemployment rate in the Yukon.
If these people are notified, and made aware of the situation before coming to the Yukon, maybe they will take a second look, or carry out further investigation to ensure that they have a job prospect before coming to the Yukon.
I think that it is really bad for everybody and just as importantly, for the individual. That is whom I am concerned about, not only the taxpayers. Will the Minister give us that undertaking?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes, I will undertake to have letters drafted to go to the various departments across the country, to the major universities, and I will raise the issue with the public affairs staff to see if they are prepared to do something of this nature.
Mr. Lang: I want to say that I appreciate the undertaking by the Minister and if we on this side can be of any assistance in that capacity, we would be more than prepared to help.
I think that it is a sad situation when these people arrive in the Yukon and all of the sudden they are basically homeless, have no money and they are forced to come to the government. Also, government employees are forced to deal with this on a daily basis, which I am sure is not the nicest thing to do during the course of the day.
The area that I wanted to briefly address is the question of social assistance. I am very concerned with the amount that the Minister justified, and the reason for the increase.
My concern is not foreseeing and budgeting the funds for the amount that we are speaking of. The Minister talked about an increase being implemented over the course of the year, which was fine; it was 10 percent and that would have been $600,000. But, we are asking for $2.4 million - depending on how you calculate it - roughly, a 35 percent increase. Although we did have an increase in transients, it was not great enough to amount to $2 million.
I want to know from the Minister, in view of the fact that this was so poorly budgeted for during the previous year, what assurances do we have in the 1992-93 budget year, that the social assistance budget is anywhere close to being reality?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I hope it will be. However, with the realities of budgeting, we sometimes think things are going to be better than what they are. I agree that the planning could have been better on this one.
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up a bit on some of the discussion we have had here this afternoon. I would like some clarification on the suggestion that was made by the Leader of the Official Opposition and accepted by the Minister of Health. I am not quite sure what was asked for and what the Minister agreed to. On that specific issue, my concern is whether this is going to be some kind of negative advertising about the Yukon. What are we going to do here? Are we going to write letters and tell university students and people not to come to the Yukon because the unemployment situation is bad and we have a lot of people on social assistance?
I would like to caution the Minister to be very careful when she agrees to that. I am not quite clear about what has been requested, and I do not think it is in the best interests of the Yukon to have negative advertising.
I am not saying there may be no concern with respect to people who live outside the Yukon thinking this is the place to come, make a lot of money and get rich quick. When we were young, I think some of us thought that about the Yukon and felt that was the place to go to make a lot of money in a short time, and then leave and make your fortune. There is still a bit of that out there. We do not want to discourage that kind of adventure, and we do not want to discourage people from coming here.
I would like to get a clearer definition of exactly what we are going to be asking for with respect to the communications that are going to be undertaken by this government.
I can appreciate the situation the government is in with respect to social assistance costs increasing. The Minister has provided us with a lot of tables, graphs and caseload analyses. I am more interested, now that the government has all these statistics - as I am sure they had for a while - in knowing what they are doing to help the people who make up these statistics, particularly on an individual basis.
For example, if we have a single mother who has two or three children, is on social assistance, constantly haranguing her former spouse for support payments, is dependent on her case worker to assist her in these matters, is dependent on the Department of Justice to also assist her, has borderline educational skills and, perhaps, borderline literacy skills, what is the department doing, and how much effort is being concentrated on helping that person upgrade her literacy skills, education, life skills and how to cope in that kind of a situation? I have some constituents who are in very desperate situations because they are young, single parents and have two children. One woman I know has four children from two marriages and has basic literacy and educational skills. She feels like she is never going to get out of this situation.
I want to know what the Department of Health and Social Services is doing to help people on an individual basis. How intimately and personally are the caseworkers dealing with these individuals to advise or direct them, or to provide upgrading skills and educational services to try to give them some hope that they will be able to get out of this situation?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: First of all, I would like to reassure both Members that the letters will be written, but they will indeed be written carefully. I am very conscious of the tourism part of what we are talking about, and this is in relation to the letters. We will very carefully draft whatever we send and send it to the appropriate employment counsellors and those kinds of people. As you said, I am not interested in negative advertising for the territory. I, too, came here many years ago, probably to get rich quick or something, I do not know. Anyway, it did not work, but I had a good time.
However, in relation to the people we are talking about, there are so many stories. I will answer your question in just a moment. There is one story that has stayed with me all year. I will perhaps change the specifics just a little bit so the person can maintain some anonymity. A couple arrived here six months ago, or something like that, with two children. They had come from another jurisdiction in the south, they had a job, and she was very pregnant. When they arrived here, he went to see a contractor, who said, Sorry, I gave the job to someone else yesterday. They had spent what money they had to buy an old truck or van, and driven to the territory with the idea, as most young couples do, that this was the land of milk and honey, or gold and whatever - grayling.
These people had absolutely no option but to seek social assistance. The baby was due any day; food was needed for the small children; he was out desperately looking for work; and some kind of rent had to be paid. This is an example of a real story. Through no fault of their own, this family ended up on social assistance. They had come here to the Yukon on the very clear understanding that he had a job. I can relate many stories about single parents as well.
There are a number of things happening - not as many as we would like to see, but they are growing. These things do seem to take some time.
This past January, we contracted with New Opportunities, who put on a peoples work program for eight social assistance recipients. This program provided life skills training, computer training, and work placement. I am told that three of those people were able to obtain a work placement. I am happy with these results.
For appropriate clients, we assist in the pursuit of educational goals, such as upgrading, short-term courses and up to a two-year college program. We provide financial assistance to complement training allowances or student loans. As well, we assist in paying for a percent of day care or child care costs not covered under the child care subsidy. Clients also receive an additional $50 school allowance. As you can appreciate, $50 does not go very far, but it does help. If required courses are not available through Yukon College, we may consider supporting correspondence courses.
We also provide some basic support to persons with alcohol and drug problems. We try to link them with alcohol and drug services, detox or Crossroads, in order to help them function better in the workplace, and we remove the work requirement for these individuals while they are undertaking treatment.
We support the teen parent program by providing child care. The teen parent program is a back-to-school program.
For clients who can only find or only manage part-time work - under 20 hours per week - half of their net earnings, but not exceeding one-quarter of their basic needs, are deducted.
There is some incentive. These are work incentives. If a client is working 20 hours or more, all their net earnings are deducted. However, they are eligible for a $50 a month supplement, designated for clothing and travel costs associated with their employment.
I am not sure what I have missed. I am pulling information from two or three different pages. For a person requiring day care for their children, we pay the costs of child care not covered by the child care subsidy. We provide financial assistance support in between jobs for persons awaiting UIC or who are not eligible for UIC. That often happens for people who are in between jobs or waiting for their UIC. We provide financial assistance for special requirements of individuals who have certain requirements placed on them before they can be employed. Examples are work boots, uniforms, basic clothing and tools.
The Yukon opportunities plan provides support to social assistance clients in such areas as resume writing, job search techniques, identifying and contacting potential employers, providing follow-up, job placement and so on.
Those are some of the things we do at the present time. We hope to free up more of our workers in the next few months so that they will have more time to actually spend with clients and less on paperwork through a new computer system that we have acquired from Alberta. We have not reinvented the wheel; it is just a basic program. Those Members who know more about computers than I do can appreciate that. It is a program that will give us much more information much more quickly and streamline much of our work. We hope that our workers will be spending more time, as you say, working with clients, helping them to get out of this safety net.
As you know, I call it the ladder out of the safety net. I continue to say that to the department. They are working on those kinds of issues.
Mrs. Firth: I am aware of the programs the Minister referred to, but something is missing because the numbers are continuing to rise. An evaluation should be done with respect to why the programs are not showing positive results so that we are not getting people out of these situations. That is where I am coming from. I would like to see a more concentrated effort put toward treating the family or the unit or the individual, however the department wants to refer to them, as a whole person, looking after not just their monetary needs to get through the month to pay the rent and electricity bills and so on but to look after them as a whole individual so that they can get the specialized services they need, or education or literacy skills or whatever, so that there is some hope for them in the future that they are going to be able to get out of that situation.
That is the recommendation I am making to the Minister, and I will look forward to following this up with her later on to see if any progress has been made or any changes made in the direction.
I think it is a good idea that the case workers are going to be spending more time with the people as opposed to with their papers, but I am always skeptical about new computer programs and so on, because we end up sitting there feeding computer programs with more stats and details about people, and we see the people less than had been anticipated. We will have to wait and see how it works.
I want to go on to some other questions I had about the cost, but I see one of the other Members wants to ask a further question about social assistance.
Mr. Lang: I just wanted to pursue a little further the question of social assistance before we get off on other issues. I want to assure the Member for Riverdale South that it is not my intention to look at negative advertising; it is just a question of factual information being provided to, primarily, those who are looking for work up here, so that they are adequately informed of the actual job situation. I do not see that as being negative; I see it as being positive in the fact that people should be aware of what the situation is here. I agree with the Minister that what is going to be said has to be couched very carefully, but the message has to be very clear: people who are seeking jobs should be trying to search out the job prospects before they come, as opposed to getting here and being disappointed.
A question on the overview on social assistance in the Yukon labour force: is social assistance not also provided to some of the status native people through the Department of Indian Affairs? If so, are they included in these numbers? If not, what are those numbers and what is the amount?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: They are not included in these numbers, and I do not have the specific numbers available, but I am told that the trend is similar.
Mr. Lang: That further compounds our situation, and it should give more cause for consternation in this House when the numbers that we have been provided with do not include all Yukoners, although one would interpret from these documents that it does. Basically, 20 percent of our population has not been included in these figures, or the knowledge of that segment of our population.
During the next day or two, would the Minister undertake to provide us with the numbers of people who are on social assistance through the Department of Indian Affairs?
Has the Minister had the opportunity to discuss this with the Department of Indian Affairs? Is she knowledgeable on the numbers that we are speaking of, other than the fact that she says the trend is similar? How does the Minister know the trend is similar?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am just informed that we have had recent discussions with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, and we have asked for the numbers. We were told that we could have them, but they have not been forthcoming. I see no reason why the Members cannot have that information, when and if I receive it.
Mr. Lang: I think that there is some urgency in view of what we are discussing here, that is, the overall trend in the Yukon and the number of those people becoming involved with social assistance consistently escalating. I would definitely like to see those numbers, although I do not know about anybody else.
Could the Minister also provide us with a comparison of what our social assistance policy provides versus what is provided through the Department of Indian Affairs social assistance policy?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am told that the rates are always consistent between the two programs. They follow us so rates will be consistent. It is a parallel kind of system.
In response to some of the Members concerns and to some of the discussions we are having on the increase in social assistance and who it seems to be we are talking about, and the number of people who are deemed employable, if you look closer at your charts - and I do not entirely disregard charts and figures - you will see that something like 80 percent of the old base is single employable males. Employable is a pretty broad term. It means they are not totally unemployable and not totally out of the workforce.
The age of the ongoing base gets older and older. They are obviously permanent residents. If you look at some of the stuff that comes from statistics bureaus, you will ordinarily see that the clump of people, as they get older, is comprised more of women than men, but that is not so in the territory; there are more men than women.
The new recruits, if you like, to our social assistance employable rolls are young men, 19 to 29 years of age. They have a similar profile, I am told, to the people who have been here a long time. They are not very well educated - not much in terms of schooling, not much in terms of skills development - but very much the kind of people who are accustomed to working in the summer and living on UIC in the winter. UIC has now pulled itself away from being that kind of a support program, but the people in this category - and I hate categorizing people - or group have not changed their lifestyles, except to move from UIC to social assistance, it would seem. I find that very worrisome.
I do not know if there is a correlation between the two, but when we did the drug and alcohol survey, one of the large groups of hard drinkers was the young adult males and females. As you can see, there is an increasing growth in employable females going on to social assistance.
It is a scary trend. I am concerned. I do not know what all the factors are or how we address them in terms of convincing people that it is very necessary for them to achieve some kind of skill development and training so that they can support themselves. I do not know what kind of programs we can look at. I have asked the department, as I told you, to begin looking at the structures of the Social Assistance Act and what is and is not possible. I find this trend for young adults to use social assistance, if that is what is happening - and I am not sure it is - as the other half of the summers work, serious. We do need to address that, but I am not quite sure how yet.
Mr. Lang: I still maintain that we do not have a handle on how many Yukoners are on social assistance to start with. I think that is important. We talk about these graphs and then we stumble onto the fact that 20 or 25 percent of our population is not taken into account. That is obviously going to change the research that the bureau has done.
The other aspect that I see in this is that there has to be a harder line taken. Perhaps we have been too easy. Like everyone else in this House, I know young people who have boasted about being on unemployment insurance. They work their three or four months and get three or four other young men to share a house and do quite well, thank you. Everyone is pulling in their few hundred bucks a week and things are great. They pool resources for rent and fuel and watch TV and have a good time.
As Canadians, in a general context, if we are going to provide social assistance to people such as this, whom we call employables, we have to have some guidelines. If they are going to get this money from the taxpayer, they should have to do certain things for it. Perhaps they should take a course and show up for it or not get social assistance.
I understand that there would have to be some sort of evaluation done of the individual clientele. I recognize that if it is a young girl who has an infant, it is a much different situation.
It has to be dealt with accordingly. I share the Ministers concern; the clientele is growing dramatically and it is shifting. There is no question that it is shifting. Unemployment insurance benefits are much less than what they were before and are much more difficult to get. Unless we take a more realistic position, we are going to see this increase dramatically. I mean, we may just as well forget about budgeting; we will simply have to come in at the end of the year and ask how much money is needed.
I guess that I am submitting to the House and for the publics consideration, that we are going to have to take a harder line, maybe adopt more rigid guidelines. Quite frankly, that is not just on behalf of the taxpayers we are representing here, but just as importantly, on behalf of the individuals involved. Unless those individuals get their skills and unless they get jobs that they can cope with and are quite capable of handling, the people are generally very unhappy. I mean, there are 24 hours a day to be filled and seven days per week. We all know that if one is not busy, the ultimate end is not good for society, nor for the individual. I am therefore submitting to the Minister that, in her review, although I realize that it will be subjective and there is going to have to be some categories looked at, I feel strongly that there is going to have to be a quid pro quo. If the state and the taxpayer are going to take some responsibility, then the individual, barring any extenuating circumstances, had better take on some responsibilities.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: It was earlier implied that I had asked the department to do a bit of research for me. We need to clearly understand our legal responsibilities and what we are required to do and to provide under the Canada Assistance Plan. These are some of the things that I have asked the department to provide me with in a very concise form, so I do not have to spend hours reading it. We need to begin by looking at some of these issues in a new way, without punishing the victims.
I simply want to understand what the capabilities are, what our legal requirements are, and where we are in terms of providing programs. Only then can we begin to look more in the way of training, or whatever. I need to know what is legal, to start with, and I also need to know what is possible. I am told that, no matter how many times someone is sentenced to alcohol treatment, until they themselves choose to go, they may as well not bother sentencing them to treatment.
We are looking at a societal change of some kind. That is fairly big stuff, but it is certainly one of the things that we are very interested in under the implementation of the new Health Act. We will be looking at this.
Mr. Lang: I have just one more observation: I appreciate the fact that the Minister has asked for an update, or a concise understanding of the act. I would have thought that should have been done by now, especially since this particular document may be new to the House. It could not have been new to the Minister. This document, the supplementaries, are not new to the Minister; she knew probably two or three months ago that she would be coming to this House for $2.5 million worth of extra social assistance. I want to emphasize to her that I feel there is a need to be expeditious about this; I do not want to be sitting here next year wondering why the work has not been done. As soon as the Minister receives the information on the Social Assistance Act and the information she is talking about, I would appreciate her providing it to all Members, because I think we should have an understanding of what the legal requirements are vis-a-vis the federal government and our cost-shared programs under the Canada Assistance Plan.
So, I would appreciate that undertaking, and I also would like a periodical update, if the Minister would be prepared to provide it to Members, to see where we are going with this. Unless something is done, this $2.4 million will probably be $4 million in the supplementaries next year. Obviously, the numbers are going to escalate and there will have to be some dramatic changes in policy if we are going to try to stem the tide and help these people at the same time.
Is the Minister going to undertake to give us that information?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes, as the information becomes available to me, I see no reason why it cannot be made available to the House.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister a couple of questions about a different area.
I understood the Minister to say this afternoon that there were additional costs for the chronic disease program of $281,000. I would like to ask the Minister why that happened, particularly in light of the fact that when we last discussed this issue the Minister said that the department was looking at specific initiatives to reduce the costs of the program, because it was running well in excess of $1 million.
I want to follow-up and ask what the success of those cost-reduction measures had been. Obviously, there has been no success. In fact, it has gone up. I believe the issue for discussion, the last time that we talked about this, was that the Minister was looking at implementing additions to the chronic disease program, and I had suggested that they not include any additions to the program until they had found out whether or not the cost-saving measures were going to be effective. I would like some information with respect to the chronic disease program.
The other concern that I have is with respect to the Yukon physicians and their fee schedule. The Minister added that it had gone up by 3.8 percent. I would like to ask the Minister if she is doing anything with respect to putting a cap on physicians earnings. Is the Ministers department currently examining the initiative that other provinces have undertaken, and could the Minister report back to us on that item as well?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: In response to the last point, we have not, as yet, looked at a specific income cap for physicians. In the coming year, we will be looking at utilization factors. That will, as I understand it, serve much the same purpose.
We do not have dial-a-doctor here, like they have in Toronto, where someone drives around in their car, waits for a call and makes home visits. We are in a better position. We are certainly looking at the utilization factor. That will be part of the ongoing negotiations to keep health costs down. I know what the Member is referring to. I have been reading some of the stuff coming from the provinces.
In relation to chronic care, we have not added any programs to the chronic care list for the very reasons the Member mentions. I can read what I have here from my line-by-line stuff. It is $281,000 and $121,000 for price and utilization increases, related respectively to chronic disease, drugs and medical supplies.
In order for a drug to be added to the chronic disease list, an application must be made by a physician. I know the Member knows this is included in the chronic disease regulations. On receiving the application, the department ensures that the drug is approved by the federal food and drug legislation. If all of the appropriate criteria are met, the drug may be added to the disease list.
As the Member is aware, the Government of Yukon entered into an agreement with the Pharmacy Society of the Yukon. This agreement sets the terms and conditions for the dispensing of drugs and supplies for chronic disease and pharmacare programs, and mandatory substitution of generic equivalents is part of the agreement, and has been effective since January 1, 1992. This has not given us long enough to have a very good idea about whether or not it will have much effect.
This agreement has only been in effect for three months. The expected beneficial impact from this agreement will not greatly affect the rise in chronic disease costs until 1992 or 1993. We continue to look at other options to try to reduce chronic disease costs, but one of the realities is that the federal government is planning to give a further extension of protection to the drug companies. It will now be 20 years before any new generic drugs can be used in Canada, and this will add to our costs.
Although the senior population is not terribly huge in proportion to the general population, it is increasing. At one time, of course, people like Earle and me did not stay in the Yukon. The Member for Kluane would probably be off in Alberta rounding up horses or something. However, times are changing, and the costs for chronic disease programs, and similar programs, are growing quite rapidly. We are very hesitant to add anything new to the program for that reason.
Mrs. Firth: From the Ministers comments, I cannot quite establish the increase in costs, which are some $400,000 - with the $281,000 and $124,000 figures, or $121,000 figures that the Minister gives. Is that increase in cost due to just the increase in the cost of drugs, or is it due to the increase in numbers of recipients? And, perhaps the Minister could tell us what the total program now costs per year. It has to be well in excess of $1 million per year.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The increase has to do with both price and volume. Costs are up and the usage is up. We are just looking to see if we have the total figure. I do not have the big budget here with me. Obviously, the figures are not here, but we are still looking at some of the criteria. I am sure that the Member has heard this before. We were asked to look at the Group Surgical Medical Insurance Program coverage, and we have requested the Public Service Commission to approach GSMIP insurers with respect to the leverage for employees on the chronic disease list. However, the legal advice received from the Justice department is that the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Act does not permit the enforcement of YTG being the insurer of last resort. Therefore, the Health Services branch cannot enforce the insurer of last resort clause for the chronic disease program. They are continuing to pursue that, and a new act will enable us to look at a six-month residency requirement for the chronic disease program. At the present time, patients become eligible as soon as they are covered by the Yukon health care plan. Of course, we have to look at whether we are able to have a residency requirement in that. A formulary option has not yet been investigated.
I do not have the overall figures, but I will undertake to bring those figures to the House.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister seems anxious to proceed, so I will take my direction from the Minister.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: What would I do with myself for two hours?
Hon. Mr. Webster: There is a good hockey game one.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I know. The question was asked about what numbers were in the main estimates for chronic disease. The figure in the main estimates is $739,389 for 1991/92. This supplementary is for $402,274 which would bring the total to $1,141,663.
Mrs. Firth: Does that figure include the medication and costs for mental health care as well? I believe that had been broken out of the chronic disease care costs when we debated the last budget. So that would be an additional cost if that is not included in that figure.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am told that if people are in the Yukon, the costs are included in these figures. If they are in, for example, an Alberta hospital or somewhere else, they are not. That would be part of the outside costs.
Mrs. Firth: Are their medications still being paid for under the chronic disease program?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: No. They would be considered in-hospital costs. That may be the line item the Member is looking at.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Family and Childrens Services
Mr. Lang: Perhaps this is the area in which to pursue this issue. I raised a question in the House approximately two weeks ago with respect to Access House, and the fact that the contract for that service was discontinued and subsequently allocated to someone else without going to public tender.
First of all, I thought the Minister would have tabled a legislative return, as that was a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps the Minister could update us on this.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I did, indeed, ask for a legislative return and I have not received it yet. I trust that it will be forthcoming shortly. I do not have the specific information here and may have to bring it back, either tonight or tomorrow.
As I recall, the contractor for Access House chose not to renew that contract. The services that were being provided were then contracted to the receiving home, which is already providing services. It was an extension of the services that they are already providing on a rather short-term basis.
I can bring back more specifics tomorrow. I am sorry that I have not received the legislative return yet. We should have had it, but, as I can recall, that is what I think is the information you are seeking.
Mr. Lang: The other question that comes to mind is the amount of the contract to the receiving home? Does the Minister have the amount paid to the receiving home for the care it was specifically designed to porovide, without Access House clientele becoming part of it? First of all, I would like to know how much that receiving home receives on an annual basis.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will bring those figures back to the Member. The receiving home currently has a contract for $499,729 as of March 18. I assume that this includes the figure that would have included Access House, but I will have to confirm that.
Mr. Lang: It would be nice if it does, because Access House is in the neighbourhood of $360,000. That was the amount that was budgeted last year and provided to us for information.
I want to go back to the question of the receiving home and how these contracts are tendered: can the Minister verify and confirm today that the receiving home contract was let by public tender - the original contract to the receiving home?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I apologize to the Member. The specific information he needs is not available here right now. The contracts, I am told, were legally let. I will, indeed, bring back the specifics to him, and I will make the commitment to bring them back tomorrow rather than just to say they will come back in a legislative return.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate that. When the Minister checks, could she confirm that, in the letting of that contract, there was also a non-profit organization that was either going to bid or did bid - I am not too sure which - and that, for one reason or another, it was not seriously considered?
The question is: can the Minister confirm that a non-profit organization did bid to provide the service for the receiving home the last time it was put to tender?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will check that, but I am told we are not familiar with any non-profit group that made a bid. If the Member wants to give me more information, we would know what we are looking for, but we will look for that tomorrow and get the information back to the Member.
Mr. Lang: I am not sure of all the information I have, which is why I am asking these questions. When the Minister checks the question of the non-profit organization that had expressed an interest in providing the receiving home service - if that group did not tender - could she find out whether or not they were discouraged from tendering? I understand there was a non-profit organization that was very serious about providing the service. I want to find out if they were allowed to tender and, if they did not tender, if they were discouraged from tendering.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: This is all news to me, but I will try to find the information the Member wants. The Member will know that we operate on a not-for-profit basis, which is somewhat different from non-profit, in relation to our group home contracts, in that unlimited profit cannot be made on it. It works out to being something like a management fee that is paid, so we are very clear on what someone will make when they are running these. However, I will find out, because I am not aware of any non-profit organization that is interested in running a receiving home. I would be interested myself.
Mr. Lang: I would be very interested to see that information. My information is that the last time the receiving home was put up for tender, that either a non-profit organziation was tendered, and something happened and it was not let to that organization, for some reason, or they were discouraged from tendering. I am not too sure what the situation was.
I am very concerned, because there seems to be a trend in the tendering procedure.
I want to ask about the Access House. When the Minister comes back, I want to know, in the figure that she provided of $449,000, whether that figure does include the $360,000 allocated for Access House. In other words, I would like a total breakdown between what it costs to run the receiving home compared to the costs of the clientele who are seeking the therapuetic service that was to be provided through Access House.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I will undertake to provide the Member with that information, but let us not confuse this with the therapeutic group home that we are planning.
There was a specific person contracted to provide a certain kind of service, but it was not what we would have called, as I understand it, a therapeutic group home.
It may be that the full figure that the Member referred to will not be part of the information provided. As I have said many times before, we are downsizing our group home and looking more to the foster home model.
It may be for a shorter period, but we will break it down so that you will know where the money is going and what it is for.
Mr. Lang: I just want to pursue this. I appreciate that breakdown, because I want to see what all this money is being allocated for and who it is going to.
The second point I would like to make is in the broader context of foster children and the decision that has been made by the department with respect to shutting down these group homes. It sounds good in theory, but I do have a very major concern about this. I want to know where we are going to find all the foster homes we will need.
Last year, we were having trouble finding foster homes for kids who had need of them and were not in the same situation as those who are going to Access House and that type of program. Quite frankly, I think you are going to have trouble finding foster homes that can cope with these particular situations.
Also, the way I understand it, these young people in Access House, as well as some of the other group homes, have been put into foster care before and have not coped. Can the Minister give us assurances that, if she is shutting down these group homes and programs, she can provide us with the necessary documentation that will show that we are going to have enough foster homes for them?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As the Member knows, in this business, there are no solid guarantees. One does what one can.
I misspeak myself to some extent when I talk about group homes and foster homes.
The intent of the program is to move kids who come from other communities back to their own communities. Those communities may, indeed, choose to continue with group homes and with the support services that are available to them. Certainly, we have quite a number of people who have offered to provide the kind of foster care that we are looking for. We are training people. It is quite wonderful to see the people who do come forward and ask for training and ask to work with kids.
What we are trying to accomplish is to have a variety of programs, not to put all of our eggs in one basket - not even the golden egg that came over here yesterday. We are trying to have services that are appropriate for each community, so that we would not, for example, be bringing Watson Lake kids to Whitehorse if there is any way whatsoever that those kids could stay in their own community, around their own people and the support systems that they need. The same goes for Haines Junction and for Whitehorse. We are not throwing out all of the group homes. We are simply trying to find some models that will work with some of these, for the most part, troubled teens, and to initiate some of the group home work with pre-teens. The therapeutic program and some of the other programs that are in place will be with pre-teens, for the most part, although some are with teens.
We are trying very hard to make the existing programs that we have relevant and useful to the community and the kids themselves, as well as to keep them cost effective. As the Member knows, group homes are very expensive.
Mr. Lang: In theory, I do not think that anybody would argue with the objectives as stated by the Minister. I think it would be a great accomplishment if we could get some of these young people to stay in their own communities; but, there is another side to this. We have to understand that, in some cases, it is just not going to be feasible nor possible. From reports I am receiving, I am concerned that pressure is being applied from within the department and that the department is considering shutting down group homes. The end result could be that we will find ourselves, once again, in a situation where we do not have anyone to care for these young people. Subsequently, we will have to go back out and do the whole thing over again.
How many group homes are going to be shut down? Where are they located, and what is going to be done with those facilities?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: We are not at that stage in our planning yet. I have been sharing with the Member some of our visions and hope. The first step put into place was the foster care program, a program that the Member lobbied very hard for. The second step will be the therapeutic group home. We have been discussing this other program, but we are not nearly far enough along to answer the questions the Member has asked.
I can say that, if indeed there are no alternatives for these kids, then I guess we keep the group homes. We do not, as a society, accept change very well, even when what we have is not working, so we are trying to move carefully because we are dealing with peoples lives here.
Mr. Lang: When will we know what group homes are going to be closed down, if any?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I certainly hope by this time next year.
Mr. Devries: Is the Liard group home run from this funding, or do we have a reciprocal agreement with the Department of Indian Affairs? How does it work?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I believe Mr. Devries is talking about the big wooden log structure in Liard, is that correct? The Member is nodding yes. As I understand it, that building belongs to the band itself. I have not received an approach from them concerning that facility.
At this time, we do not fund that building. It is the bands property.
Mr. Lang: I want to get a clear understanding of when I am going to get that information. The Minister said she was going to bring it to me tomorrow. Is it going to be filed as a legislative return? I hate to clear this without having a line item to come back to in order to discuss it.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I can assure the Member that the information about Access House and the receiving home will be filed as a legislative return tomorrow. The information about group homes is not possible for me to table at this stage.
Family and Childrens Services in the amount of an under expenditure of $350,000 agreed to
On Social Services
Social Services in the amount of $2,076,000 agreed to
On Health Services
Mr. Lang: I met with the Minister and a constituent; this had to do with the chronic care list. The Minister said that she was reviewing the chronic care list and also looking at the possibility of opening it up, to make some revisions.
Can the Minister update me on the letter that I sent to her, approximately one month ago, and let me know whether or not the coverage for the particular area that I raised with her will be added?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The Member just heard that we are now at $1,141,663 for chronic care, but I will say to the Member that we have been trying to determine how we might be able to accommodate this particular issue without opening up the chronic care list. However, I do not have a specific answer for the Member at this time. I know that the month has gone past by which I promised that I would have this information, but I do not have it yet.
The problem, as I understand it, is among the medical community. Each physician has a list of several items that they would like to see included in the list, and once it is opened up, we run into a considerable list of wishes, if you like. There are a number that I am aware of.
It is one of those damned if you do and damned if you dont situations. I have no resolution for it, and my heart goes out to the individuals who come to see me. I would give anything to be able to accommodate them, yet I look at the size of the budget, and I know of no way. I know other jurisdictions are now priorizing their chronic care list and saying they will pay for, say, the first 20 - I do not know what the figure is - and the rest of them will be paid for if the amount of money budgeted is not used up on those first 20, which means that some will never get paid for.
That is the way other jurisdictions are attempting to control costs, and they are adding nothing new to it.
I am not giving the Member any comfort here, but I do not know what else to say.
Chair: The Committee of the Whole will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are on Health Services and are in the process of clearing it.
Mr. Lang: I would like to go a little further on the question of the chronic care list. I feel that what is happening is very unfair. We have a situation where there are some individuals who are fortunate enough to have a disease that happens to be on the chronic care list and are covered. If one does not happen to be included in that list but has something equally as serious, if not more serious, they are out of luck.
The Minister of Renewable Resources says that it is always like that. I think there are ways of, perhaps, remedying this. I feel that we should be looking at a whole new approach with regard to the chronic care list, and that could be cost sharing. The social net could then take care of those who cannot afford to cost share, but those who could afford it should be paying a portion of the cost, as opposed to the situation where it is just made available if one happens to get one of the diseases on the list.
This is the proposition that I put forward to the Minister and I would like to hear her thoughts about it. I understand the Ministers problem. She has to come in here requesting an additional $400,000 and everyone is asking why the department is spending so much money. There are two things that could happen here. First of all, I believe there may be some abuses in the system. Abuse of the system may be corrected if costs are cost shared. Secondly, it would allow the Minister to meet some of the demands placed upon her.
This is similar to me bringing in a constituent who has a very real problem, a problem that is very sincere, and, in this particular constituents case, it does not only apply to her situation, but to other people as well. I feel that the Minister is sincere in saying, Look, I would like to help them. But, I do not think that the answer is to throw up our hands and say, Well, if you are not on the list, you do not happen to be in lucky group number 20.
I know of real situations out there right now that are, in my judgment, quite serious, and the government has not been able to attend to these situations.
I would like to hear the Ministers thoughts on that.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: First of all, the Member has certainly put the issues and the problems in a nutshell. It seems that we have indeed been looking at a variety of ways to attempt to control chronic care costs, whether it has to do with the dispensing fees, the costs of drugs, I am not sure that we have looked at a means test, which I believe the Member is suggesting - that those who can afford to pay, pay-
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The Member says to pay a portion of it. As far as I know, that has not been part of the consideration.
Would we then be looking at that for seniors or would we be looking at that for people under the age of 60, or whatever it is at this time? There are certainly a lot of ramifications, but we will also have a look at that. This is not a closed issue, by any means. I am not at all sure how we accommodate people and, at the same time, get a handle on the growing costs of a program like this. I thank the Member for his suggestion. It will be one of the ones put into the hopper to be looked at.
Mr. Lang: I want to pursue this a little further. My question is: what time frame is the Minister looking at? As the Minister knows, I brought a situation to her. I think she indicated in debate a little earlier that there were a number of other areas that should be seriously considered for inclusion in the chronic care list. Meanwhile, those people - those very real people - are out there wondering what is going on. It is one thing to ask the government for a review. How long is the review going to take? What time frame are we looking at for a definitive decision on substantial changes to the chronic care list, how it is going to be operated, and whether or not extended coverage is going to be made available?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I wish I had a cheerier response for the Member. Much of the initial research has been done. There have not been any options coming out of that research so far that look as though they would contain costs.
We also have, of course - and I do not want to dump on them - the medical profession concerned about having a variety of drugs included. I think the best I can do at this stage is commit to come back to that in six months.
Since my appointment, I have not opened up the chronic list, although I have had many people in my office with stories like the person who was there with Mr. Lang - though not that specific story, of course. It always goes back to the dollars and how we can somehow contain the costs. I hope that within six months we will have some kind of definitive answer about how costs could be contained. I know that is no comfort to the person the Member is talking about, but I simply have to look at the overall picture at this stage.
Mr. Lang: I have to express some disappointment in this. It does not come as news to the department that there have been concerns with respect to the list. In fact, the Member for Riverdale South has been raising this issue at every session. I respect the fact that the Minister has not had much time in the portfolio but, on the other hand, I feel there is some negligence on the part of the department and what it has been doing in this particular case. If I recall correctly, there were commitments - and maybe the Member for Riverdale South can contribute to this - over the last couple of years to review what was happening with the chronic care list and to see what they could do to (a) contain costs and (b) possibly expand the services at the same time.
Now that I have made that observation, I would ask the Minister this - getting more specific with respect to the constituency problem I am facing, where the individual in question has a serious problem: what does she do? The Minister indicated to me that she was looking at some other avenue that this individual could possibly use; perhaps she could expand further specifically in that direction?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: In terms of that specific case, I think it would probably be more appropriate to deal with it by letter, but I will commit to getting back within the next week on the issue.
The Member is quite right: the reviews have been ongoing for the past couple of years, at least. Along with every other jurisdiction in Canada, there are lots of questions, but there have been no answers generated as to how the costs can be contained. The literature from around the country shows that drastic measures are being taken, such as the one I described earlier, and it does not have to do with chronic disease. Just recently, one jurisdiction was talking about rolling back doctors fees by five percent. A variety of things like that are happening.
Until we see the results of health promotion for the development of healthier lifestyles of people in the territory and get our thinking turned around, it will be difficult to contain the health care costs, but that is down the road; there is no doubt about that.
Meanwhile, we scramble around, trying to find a solution that no one else has found, without some of the drastic measures I have just spoken of.
Mr. Lang: There is going to have to be some dramatic policy shifts and changes if the Minister is going to meet the objective of a healthier society. That is nice to talk about but, earlier in this discussion, we heard about an increase in the social assistance applicants and an increase in our unemployment rate. Therefore, we have individuals whose nutrition would be in question, as well as their lifestyle and everything else that contributes to not the healthiest of environments. On one hand, the department is paying for this and it is increasing and, on the other hand, we are saying we have to cut back over here.
I want to reiterate that I think there should be some haste in looking at this. I do not see why we have to wait another six months before decisions are going to be made. I know how quick things can be developed and taken into Cabinet, if there is the political will. The options are not that broad. They have to be fairly clear and concise for the Minister to consider, both in the chronic care area and in social assistance. It is a question of making some decisions.
I would urge the Minister to do it well before the six months are up. For every month she waits, we are going to be asked for hundreds of thousands of dollars in further supplementaries in this forthcoming year, over and above what we have here.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I hope the Member is not suggesting that healthier lifestyles would be maintained by cutting social assistance. I know that various programs have to be developed and we need to look at those specific groups of people whom we talked about earlier today. Targeting is very important, but I find it very difficult at this stage to commit to adding anything to programs without having a general plan. One physician described it by saying: every time a Member comes with a shopping list, that gets added on. It becomes very difficult.
Mr. Lang: I do not know where the Member has been over the course of this debate. Before we stopped for supper, I made it very clear that I felt that within the social assistance program there had to be some significant policy shifts. I stated that it was not necessarily a question of cutting; rather, it was a question of putting some responsibility upon the individuals who are receiving the social assistance, especially those who are male, young, employables between the ages of 19 and 29 - the ones about whom the Member spoke.
The Member is nodding her head. I am saying that I think there can be some shifts made. There should be some responsibility placed upon the people who are using taxpayers dollars to either upgrade their skills or do something for that money. It would be better for them and better for society.
Similarly, I did not indicate about the chronic care list that I wanted to add more money. I made it very clear that I felt there had to be a shift in policy about who pays for what. In other words, there might be some responsibility placed on those who can afford a portion of the cost - you might want to call it a means test - recognizing that it is chronic and that it is an ongoing situation, in order that it does not become a financial burden.
I think the government has a responsibility to look at it. The Member for Riverdale South has raised this matter for the last three or four years. Unless someone has been asleep in this Legislature for the past three or four years, this is not a surprise.
I feel very strongly about this and I do not like the inference when the Member stood up toward the end of the debate trying to imply that we are just saying to cut expenditures. I did not say cut them. I am trying to give some constructive observations about what, perhaps, could be done.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I appreciate that, and I gave my commitment earlier that we would look at what legalities surround social assistance and what might be done.
I quite agree that nothing can be achieved in a debate like this by trading barbs. We all have the same desire, I am sure, to see people working in healthy jobs. Social assistance is available for those who cannot care for themselves, and the same is true for chronic care.
The question is how to achieve that both legally and in a way that the fewest people will suffer from the decisions.
Mrs. Firth: I want to talk a bit more about the chronic disease list. I thought that we had finished the debate earlier this afternoon when the Minister brought the information in. I am quite surprised at the Ministers response to the suggestion that has been made about people on the chronic disease list paying part of the costs. I have been suggesting this alternative to the government ever since they expanded the chronic disease program, and it has been an initiative that has been resisted and refused by the government.
Six months ago, when we were in the House discussing the chronic disease program, the Minister made a commitment to us that they were going to be reviewing the program to look at where they could save costs. We talked at that time about not adding any new diseases or drugs to the program until we had some evidence about what the impact of cost-cutting measures is going to be.
As we discussed earlier this afternoon, we found out that the impact of the cost-cutting measures was to increase the cost by $400,000, so obviously there has been no impact made by the cost-cutting measures, because there have not been any.
All other provinces that have chronic disease programs have individuals who are recipients of those programs pay part of the cost of their medication. We are the only jurisdiction that I know of that pays the total cost of the medicine, unless the Northwest Territories does.
In other provinces that have chronic disease programs, pharmacare programs or whatever, the recipients are required to pay the first so many dollars or a certain percentage of the cost of the drugs. We do not have that here in the Yukon. I have continually suggested that we look at something like that.
I do not think we have to do a means test. If people absolutely cannot afford to pay the minimal charges they would be asked to pay, we are certainly not going to deny them their medication. They will get it at the taxpayers expense as that is our social responsibility. I would submit, however, that there are people who can afford to pay something and who are on the chronic disease program. I used to be a recipient of that program until the government changed all the conditions. I never re-registered. I sought out a private health insurance plan.
That is part of educating people about looking after their own personal health. That kind of initiative should be taken and the public should be encouraged to pursue private health insurance plans and not count on the state to support them for everything, because the day is going to come when the state cannot support everyone medically any more.
I was quite interested in the Minister apparently being receptive to the idea of looking at some new initiatives. I would like to, again, bring forward the initiative that they look at what other provinces are doing with respect to their chronic disease and pharmacare programs and look at the idea of people making some contribution to the medication.
I would also like to suggest that the government re-examine the group surgical and medical insurance plan initiative, where people who are public servants and have group surgical and medical insurance plans and are required to pay a certain percentage of the medications they receive on that plan, as I am on my private health insurance plan. I know that these people are opting out of those plans and into the chronic disease program, because they do not have to pay anything. The Minister should re-examine that whole issue.
If we change the policy here so that people on the chronic disease program have to pay a percentage that was equivalent to the GSMIP plan, then they would go back to their group surgical and medical insurance plan and this would give the chronic disease program some relief.
I have to say that, right now, I am opposed to us looking at putting any new diseases or drugs on the program until we get the thing under control. Since the expansion that took place two Ministers ago - I believe when the Member for Whitehorse North Centre was the Minister, she expanded the program three or four years ago or whenever it was - the government has never seemed to be able to get this plan under control. Until they do, and we can see some evidence of direction that is going to give us some financial relief with this plan, I do not see how we can look at expanding it. We are already over spending by $400,000 per year, and if the program were to be expanded by adding one more drug or one more disease to that program, it is going to incur a tremendous amount of cost. I would like some confirmation from the Minister as to whether she is more positive or open to the idea of us adopting a payment schedule such as some of the other provinces have with respect to people who are recipients listed on the chronic disease program.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As the Members well know, it does not sit very well with me philosophically. However, I have in front of me the burgeoning expenses, so I have to look at it in some way. I can tell you that I have difficulty in terms of looking at costs where everyone will pay something. What that means is that the poor and the sick suffer the most, if every person has to pay. If you are talking about a means test, I do not know; we have not looked at that. What I am saying is that I need to look at all of the options. We have gone over and over and over a variety of these things, but I am not closing the door on anything at this stage. I do not know if there can be some type of disincentive around GSMIP. It certainly was one that the former Minister was looking at, and we ran into a legal barrier. I have no sense of whether there is a way around that or not, but I do believe that we have to find some solution.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up on that with the Minister. I understand the Ministers philosophical concern, but I think she is misguided with that concern. We are not advocating that poor people, or people who do not have money, be denied any service. I am not talking about a means test. I will give the Minister an example.
Say an individual requires $200 worth of medication a year, and they have a chronic disease like diabetes, cancer, or something like that. In other provinces, the policy is that the health services pays for the medication, but the individual pays for the first $20 or $40 - or whatever their policy is - or the first 10 percent of the medication. Then, the health program picks up the cost of the rest of the medication.
In the Yukon, as soon as you are put on the chronic disease list, you get your medication paid for completely for the whole year. It is just recently that the government has been limiting medical appliances - inhalers, for example. People used to be able to get an inhaler every time they lost it. It was $100, or something, and they would get another one free. Now, they have limited it to two a year, or something like that.
I am advocating that the Minister look at a comparable deductible, or user fee, or whatever she wants to call it - the nicest thing she wants to call it, so she can adapt to it philosophically. If she does not want to use the term user fee - because that is an unpopular term in medical circles these days - call it a deductible on an insurance policy. The GSMIP has deductibles. People are required to pay so much. If she makes the chronic disease deductible comparable, it will discourage people from wanting to be on the chronic disease program and to be on the GSMIP. Then, I think we would get some financial relief to the program.
I do not see it as a philosophical difference. It is not some right-wing sort of unfeeling, uncompassionate approach. It is what other provinces do. If we do not look at making some adjustments to the chronic disease program pretty soon, it is going to keep costing more and more. I thought this was what the Minister had given us a commitment to do six months ago when we were in the Legislature.
The Minister had given us the commitment that before they added anything further to the list, they were going to look at various ways that they could save money, and the Minister seemed very resistant to the suggestion that I am again making - I do not know, for about the sixth or seventh time.
I would encourage the Minister to go back, discuss it, find out what is done in other provinces and see if this government cannot come up with something that could save some money. Then I think we could look at the possibility of adding other drugs or diseases to the program, once we have this under control, or perhaps there was some evidence of a reduction in the total cost of the program.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: After you look at these things - and we have indeed been looking at them for six months, eight months and year - you seem to go round in circles, and it becomes obvious that I have to either look at some other alternative and find out what is happening in other countries and other jurisdictions to see what we can do. It is indeed a decision on what we are prepared to do to provide for people who have now become accustomed to having most things paid for for them.
Mrs. Firth: I have one final comment. I think that most people recognize the situation that we are have as Canadians with our health system, and we feel very fortunate.
I think that if the costs were explained to the people on the chronic disease program, who are mostly individuals looking at this kind of support for the rest of their lives - some in a life maintenance situation; some people need these medications in order to stay alive and I think that they would be prepared to say that if the government is going to cover the majority of the costs for me, and give me some relief that way, I am prepared to pay my way.
We are not going to be asking people to pay the total costs. I think the rates in the provinces are quite reasonable and I think that they would be prepared to accept that responsibility, and feel fortunate that they were living somewhere where they could get some assistance.
Mr. Lang: I want to expand a bit further on what the Member for Riverdale South has suggested. It seems to be more logical and reasonable than a means test. A means test requires that there be a certain amount of checking by the civil service, which creates a bureaucracy, and I do not think that we want to see money that is supposed to be going toward those people who need it spent on more bureaucracy.
I think the idea of a deductable insurance is a reasonable one, and I just do not understand why it is going to take another six months to implement something like this.
The fact is, if someone could not pay the costs, it should be indicated to them that there is some assistance available through the same department and all that the person has to do is apply for assistance.
Meanwhile, I would have to disagree with my colleague from Riverdale South, where she says do not extend the list, wait until we get this under control. However, if we have to wait another six months or a year for this, we have other people who need this service. Why should they be left out in the cold?
Six or eight months ago we were assured that this issue was being reviewed. I really resent the fact that we are once again sitting in the House with the issue still unresolved. Where are we now? We are no further ahead than we were six months ago. The only thing we can say is that we have spent an extra $400,000 and we cannot do anything about it - we are just looking at it again.
I feel very strongly, especially in view of my exposure to the one situation that the Minister knows of, that the government has a responsibility to act now. It should not take another six months. This situation has been under a so-called review for over one year. There is such a thing as a fax machine. We should have a clear indication of what is going on in the provinces and what is acceptable practice there. Perhaps there are suggestions that we could adopt here in the Yukon and put into effect.
I cannot accept the principle that we have to wait another six months. I am thinking specifically of the people out there receiving no assistance at all. I do not think that it is fair to those Canadians who do not receive assistance, while other Canadians are being taken care. The Member refers to the other insurance program. We have made our program so advantageous that no one is availing themselves of the other insurance program. I find that to be absolutely ridiculous.
Health Services in the amount of $3,962,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice
Juvenile Justice in the amount of an under expenditure of $92,000 agreed to
On Regional Services
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The additional $598,000 was required by the regional services program. There was $504,000 required for social assistance. That is part of what was talked about before. The region experienced a 50 percent increase in client volume during 1991-92, and this represents an increase of approximately 106 clients.
Factors impacting on client volume in the region are similar to that being experienced in Whitehorse. There was $119,000 increased funding to Champagne/Aishihik to support increasing children-in-care costs. The above are offset by reductions in the contribution to Yukon Family Services for community counselling.
This under expenditure of $21,000 reflects an expected decrease in the actual hours required to support client service requests and the program materials for regional juvenile justice. This $4,000 under expenditure reflects lower anticipated expenditures, I suppose in telephone calls or something and, basically, social assistance.
Mr. Lang: I would specifically like to refer to the Champagne/Aishihik agreement, for example, on the care for foster children and the welfare of children. This side has supported that move by the government. However, I want to know if the fees and payments are predicated on a schedule so there can be no discrimination in that one individual would get paid less than another. Does each foster parent get paid the same through this agreement? Is that a requirement under the agreement?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes. The rate scale was standardized. I know what the Member is referring to. It certainly was a concern of mine. Within the program, as I understand it, there is now a rate scale that is standardized. Off the top of my head, I am not sure what each scale is, but it is available to everyone who is a foster parent.
Regional Services in the amount of $598,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $6,194,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Policy, Planning and Administration
On Facility Construction - Integrated Health and Social Services, Mayo
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could tell us what is intended in the forthcoming year, when we talk about the integrated health and social services? We are not speaking of a new building, are we?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am told that the Village of Mayo is in the process of planning and will be using the new building. As far as I know, they will continue to use the new building for a considerable length of time - or the old building, rather. I must be getting tired - the old hospital. I cannot predict; they may, indeed, down the road, decide that they want to plan for a new building, but if they do, it will have to come back.
Facility Construction - Integrated Health and Social Services, Mayo, in the amount of a under expenditure of $35,000 agreed to
On Equipment - Operational
Equipment - Operational in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
Policy, Planning and Administration in the amount of nil agreed to
On Family and Childrens Services
On Therapeutic Foster Homes
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us exactly what is going on here? Are we talking about more than one? If so, where are they? Are we basically talking about the City of Whitehorse?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: We are talking about one six-bed therapeutic foster home. Recognizing that does not necessarily meet all the needs of all the kids of the territory, we felt it was best that we started with something we could afford and know what we are doing.
The planning process is underway. There is a planning committee, comprised of non-First Nations people and First Nations people. I am told that tender documents are almost ready. That is the stage we are at.
The intention is to use a facility we already own. We are not building a new building.
Therapeutic Foster Homes in the amount of an under expenditure of $85,000 agreed to
On Group Homes: Renovations
Group Homes: Renovations in the amount of an under expenditure of $31,000 agreed to
On Equipment Replacement - Group Homes
Equipment Replacement - Group Homes in the amount of an under expenditure of $19,000 agreed to
On Child Care Services Development
Child Care Services Development in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Community Agency Innovations
Community Agency Innovations in the amount of an under expenditure of $40,000 agreed to
On Operational Construction
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I believe we are talking about the renovations that have been done to the Royal Bank building, primarily to meet the needs of the child care unit, Family and Childrens Services, and Speech and Hearing.
Operational Construction in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Operational Equipment
Operational Equipment in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Specialized Treatment Equipment
Specialized Treatment Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Family and Childrens Services in the amount of an under expenditure of $93,000 agreed to
On Social Services
On Alcohol and Drug Services
On Facility Construction
Facility Construction in the amount of an under expenditure of $65,000 agreed to
On Equipment Replacement
Equipment Replacement in the amount of an under expenditure of $5,000 agreed to
On General - Operational Equipment
General - Operational Equipment in the amount of an under expenditure of $1,000 agreed to
Social Services in the amount of an under expenditure of $71,000 agreed to
On Health Services
On Northern Health Services
Mr. Lang: I do not know if this is the place to deal with this, but I want to raise a question again and put the Minister on notice. This is the question I raised the other day about the speech and hearing services waiting list. I understand that, about a year or so ago, the waiting list was at a very acceptable level. The Minister stood up the other day and rather helplessly said it would be five or six months, whatever the case may be.
I want to hear whether the Minister is prepared to make an undertaking to get the necessary help, if it is required - I gather that we have really good equipment - and see what we can do about this, because it is really unacceptable. We are back in the situation - as I described to the then Minister of Health and Human Resources, the Member for Whitehorse West - where one of two long-time Yukoners borrowed the others hearing aid, because he could not get in for an assessment. I would like to hear what the Minister is going to do about getting rid of this lengthy waiting period.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As the Member knows, this is not my favourite topic. The problem seems to be that we have too much work for one person, but, supposedly, not enough work for two. The only thing I can do in this instance is to increase the budget of this facility and attempt to hire a second person. As our seniors population grows, I foresee more need.
I think the Member is quite right that there has to be additional resources put into this program. Just where and how I find these resources, I guess, is my problem. I have a briefing note. This is what I read to you the other day, where it goes from the five months and then disappears, when they go out on the road and then come back and it builds back up to six months. I explained the situation the other day; the Member is quite familiar with it. As far as I can see, it is not a case, at this stage, of band-aids. We are attempting to bring in an audiologist and I have hopes that we can find one and that this situation will be resolved. As I said the other day, there is an extreme shortage across the country. We are not the only ones seeking audiologists.
I will do the best I can to find the resources and the person to shorten the waiting list.
Mr. Lang: I can think of numerous areas where the necessary resources can be found, such as taking money from outside legal fees, or some money from the area of advertising. We had an undertaking that if we voted money for the really sophisticated equipment - which we did, about three years ago - the waiting list would be at an acceptable level, of approximately 30 days or whatever.
Two years later, we have the same situation - back to a build up of six months. I can accept that there may be a bit of an accumulation if there are some travels to the outside communities, but I cannot accept the fact that, all of a sudden, there are another six months, if not longer, of accumulated time. It seems to me that perhaps it is time to look at an organizational review and see what is going on in this whole area. How come, when enough pressure was put on the Member for Whitehorse West, we all of a sudden got the whole thing pretty much done, with the service being brought up to an acceptable level?
If there are no problems within the organization, then I would submit that maybe we should be looking at a reciprocal agreement with one of the hospitals or provinces who have an audiologist; perhaps he could come up for two or three months, if we cannot hire one on a full-time basis, to help with this so-called backlog.
My question to the Minister is: when does she expect to have this situation in hand, so that it can be dealt with? It really is unacceptable. Imagine one of our senior citizens having to wait six months because he or she cannot get in for the necessary assessments to see what kind of a hearing aid, for example, they may need. Imagine how emotionally draining that would be on an individual. I think there really has to be a priority for this and I believe there are a number of ways it can be done. I urge the Minister to follow up on it.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes, as the Member said, with the new technology, for a while the waiting list was cut. I understand that there were two audiologists at that time. If we did not have the new equipment, we would be in worse shape now than we are.
The reality is that we cannot bring in someone from a hospital outside, because they are in worse shape than we are, in terms of having enough staff. Our best bet is to advertise. We had someone who was on leave, then came back and was on leave again, and so on. I may not have that quite right, but we now are reduced to the second person who was brought in to meet the need the last time. We are now back to the stage of looking for another person. It is my sincere hope that we will find someone soon.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying that there is no one here to do audiology testing?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: There is one person.
Mrs. Firth: There is one person here to do it. I am finding it difficult to understand exactly what the problem is. How many people out of 30,000 Yukoners would require this kind of testing? Is it a tremendous number of people? Perhaps the Minister could tell us exactly how many people would require this kind of testing and we might have a better idea of why there is such a backlog.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes, we have only one audiologist. The data that I have here is the waiting list, which can vary from five months for new referrals to six months for reassessment. There are currently 314 people on the waiting list. This was done in, I think, March.
Of this 314 people, 200 are patients awaiting reassessment and 114 are new referrals. The majority of referrals are made by physicians. Speech and hearing services is receiving anywhere from 20 to 50 new referrals each month. We are talking also about children. The waiting list for children is much shorter - six to eight weeks - because children receive a higher priority from the audiologist.
Speech and hearing services is staffed by one audiologist. This supervising audiologist currently works three and one-half days per week testing and one and one-half days per week on administration. She is also supervisor of the unit. As well, the audiologist attends to all of the rural travel.
The clinic is also staffed by two audio-technicians who are being trained to do some screening and possible community travel, and they are currently doing assessments at the Child Development Centre and some hearing aid repairs. The unit is attempting to bring in an additional audiologist for a short period of time to help clear up the backlog. As I said, that has not been easy.
Other jurisdictions are experiencing backlogs that are similar, if not worse and here are some examples: in Richmond, the waiting list is six weeks; in Chilliwack, the waiting list is one year for adults, two months for children and the wait list has 300 people on it; in Prince Rupert, the waiting list is two years for adults; there is no waiting list for children and there are 700 on the wait list, so it goes on and on.
I guess if one wanted to point young people to a career choice, that would be one of the areas: audiology.
Mrs. Firth: We have 314 people on a waiting list and yet places similar to those mentioned by the Minister, which have much larger populations then we do, have a waiting list of 300. Has the Minister examined what the correlation is and why we have so many people who require this type of testing? Is it a situation where physicians are referring people for testing? Is there any pattern that the Minister can indicate as the cause for us having such a high number on a waiting list, considering our population, particularly when we are supposed to be a young population of relatively healthy people? The majority of the population is between 19 and 30 years of age, and most of those people are relatively fit and healthy, young people. As the Minister has said, we have a small senior citizen population and a small child population, compared to the majority of the population in the Yukon being in that 19 to 30 year age group. I think that number is relatively high. Maybe the Minister has some data to substantiate that that is not the case.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I wish I did have the data for the Member. I know it is real. We do have a high population of young children. The only punch I have is that, for a population the size of ours, we are much more conscious about having these kinds of tests and checks done - everything from the dental program in the schools.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Quite honestly, I am only guessing at that; I do not know. I wish I did. I am not sure whether or not there is a clear way for us to get a handle on this.
We do not think referrals are the answer. But the Member is quite right; it is, I think, quite high for our population.
Mr. Lang: I am in receipt of a letter that was sent to the deputy minister on February 14, which I believe the deputy minister is aware of, and it reads as follows: Dear Ms. Hanson. Speech and hearing services waiting list. I am concerned about the present state of the waiting list at speech and hearing services. It has been continuously accumulating and at this point the wait is at least six months. A two-year waiting list was cleaned up about a year ago; however, it is rapidly heading back to its original state. I hope you will take initiative to see that this does not continue to happen.
There are a lot of Yukoners who rely on these services and it is really unacceptable that they have to wait for such a long period of time in order to hear. My request is that somebody deal with the problem before it gets too far out of hand again. I understand that a lot of equipment was purchased in order to eliminate an extensive waiting list. This, however, does not appear to be the problem. Maybe a whole organizational review is in order. Thank you for consideration on this matter. Sincerely, A Concerned Citizen - cc: Dan Lang.
That was received in February and I have asked a number of questions with respect to it.
The Minister outlined just what kind of services were being provided through the branch. I do not know if I heard her correctly but it sounded to me as though the audiologist, who does the actual assessments is spending a week doing assessments and then a week doing office work. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The audiologist is a supervisor. She won the competition for supervisor. I believe I read that she spends three and one-half days doing testing and one and one-half days doing paperwork, supervising, and whatever. She travels to rural jurisdictions a couple of times a year.
As I understand it, after the letter was received there was an attempt to provide support resources to help in clearing up the waiting list. Since that has not been successful, we have gone to recruitment for a second audiologist. That does not answer the question the Member raised about why we have so many people calling, but I trust it will address the waiting list, when and if we do recruit. I certainly hope that will be happening soon.
Mr. Lang: In the interim, I have a recommendation. While recruiting a second audiologist, perhaps we should review the branch and see whether or not we can get the expertise that we do have on hand working five days a week doing these assessments. It seems funny to have the only individual who is capable of doing the necessary technical assessment doing supervisory work four or five days a month. Perhaps the skills of this individual would be better channeled in that direction until we get the second audiologist.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: It is not quite as simple as that, I am told. We are getting into personnel issues here, and to do that would mean a demotion of the person involved.
Mr. Lang: I am not recommending a demotion for anybody. All I am recommending is that someone from within the department could be shifted around to take the administrative load that the individual now has because of the position she holds. She would continue on in her supervisory position, but she would be able to do the work that is so necessary and devote the five days a week to assessments. That is all I am asking.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am sure the deputy minister has heard Mr. Langs comments and will take that into consideration in whatever way she can.
Northern Health Services in the amount of $72,000 agreed to
On Communication Disorder Equipment
Communication Disorder Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Macaulay Lodge Renovations
Macaulay Lodge Renovations in the amount of an under expenditure of $35,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse General Hospital Planning
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could give us a quick outline as to where we are with the health transfer and the new hospital.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As the Member knows, the negotiations have been two-pronged: one in terms of the new hospital and one in terms of the transfer. I can say that the schematic design for the new hospital should be complete by July. The scheduled date of the transfer is still September 1.
I do not know what else to tell the Member, except that the negotiations continue. They are very close to being completed. I guess that is about it.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could fill us in with respect to the hospital. Could she tell us whether or not the Government of Canada will still transfer the money to YTG, and YTG will build the hospital? Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The money will come from the federal government, through YTG, to the hospital corporation. The hospital corporation will be responsible for building the hospital.
Mr. Lang: I am a little concerned about this. We have received word that the building will not be going through Government Services and the normal government tendering procedures. I would like to know why not?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Part of that is history and I am not at all sure that I can speak to it very clearly. The current interim board has decided that the procedures established by Government Services will indeed be built into a bylaw, or whatever process is required.
Whitehorse General Hospital Planning in the amount of an under expenditure of $450,000 agreed to
Chair: Committee will take a break.
Chair: I will call Committee back to order.
On Extended Care Facility
Mr. Lang: What is the $72,000 being requested for?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: For a portion of 1991/92, the department had a full-time capital planner on staff for the extended care facility. Approximately half of the requested $72,000 is for wages and benefits related to this staff member and the remaining amount is for contract services related to planning functions for the extended care facility.
Extended Care Facility in the amount of $72,000 agreed to
Health Services in the amount of an under expenditure of $336,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice
On Equipment Operational
Equipment Operational in the amount of an under expenditure of $10,000 agreed to
On Young Offenders Facilities
Mr. Lang: I assume that the $50,000 reduction, along with the $392,000, will take care of the video cameras so that we can get a little bit better security than what we have had so far?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am told that we will be ordering the video cameras, which are for the entrances/exits. I do not have a cost. They are being priced at the present time.
Young Offenders Facilities in the amount of an under expenditure of $50,000 agreed to
Juvenile Justice in the amount of an under expenditure of $60,000 agreed to
On Regional Services
On Group Homes: Construction and Renovation
Group Homes: Construction and Renovation in the amount of an under expenditure of $35,000 agreed to
On Group Homes: Equipment Replacement
Group Homes: Equipment Replacement in the amount of an under expenditure of $8,000 agreed to
On Safe Homes in Rural Yukon
Safe Homes in Rural Yukon in the amount of an under expenditure of $63,000 agreed to
On MacDonald Lodge: Senior Services Equipment
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could update us on the situation in Dawson. I gather the situation with the dentist has been resolved. I am wondering about the reclassification of the hospital to the status of a cottage hospital. Has that been accomplished? If not, is something happening so that there can be more staff there?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The dentist situation has been resolved. The City of Dawson came up with additional public health space so that he could stay where he was. This seems to have made the community happy.
On the hospital, we are in the midst of a needs assessment, along with the medical services branch, the town and the First Nation. When that is complete, we should have a better understanding about where the community wants to go with the facility.
Mr. Lang: It sounds like deja vu - another day, another study.
When can we expect the end result of this study? Could the Minister tell us exactly how much this study is costing and who is going to pay for it?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am told that this is a community-run study and it will be at their pace, so I do not have an answer to the first part of the question. In terms of the cost, it is being paid for by a number of organizations. This government would have some responsibility for a portion of that cost. If the Member would like, I can bring that information back as soon as I can get it.
Mr. Lang: I do not know if the Minister has a briefing note on it or not. I do know that the cost that was stated to me, not too long ago, was $60,000. The Dawson City Indian band was asked to do the study.
Or, am I talking about a different study now? In my discussions with the Indian band a couple of months ago, I was told they were requested to do a study. This study was kind of left up in the air at that time.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As I understand it, this is the same study, and it is being done by the band and the city in conjunction with YTG and the medical services branch. I do not have the dollar amounts here. It may be that $60,000 is their portion, or it may be that $60,000 is the full amount. I can find that out.
We are working with Dawson to develop this. It is an inter-agency committee, and they want to see a needs assessment go ahead as the first step in planning for the health and social needs of the community. Not just health is involved; there is also social services. I am told that Dawson City Council has expressed a reservation about a needs assessment, but the remainder of the community has asked that it go ahead. The medical services branch has indicated general support for a First Nation needs assessment and is awaiting a proposal from the Dawson First Nation. Health and Social Services will support a community-wide assessment only if the First Nation and the municipal government support the project.
A meeting between the inter-agency committee, the First Nation and city council is scheduled for May 26 to possibly formalize a steering committee. Health and Social Services is preparing a draft and the terms of reference for a needs assessment.
Obviously, it has not started yet. Finding out the health and social needs of a community is the first step in planning under the Health Act.
It will be linked to the Yukon health promotion survey. Meanwhile, as Members know, they have recruited a second doctor. They still have their dentist, and they are looking at what they want to see in an overall plan for their community.
The overall project is controlled by the medical services branch at this time, because the hospital is still a medical services branch facility.
Mr. Lang: It seems to me that it is another way to spend taxpayers money and make more time go by. I think it is safe to say that, if you went to Dawson City and spoke to the Member for Klondike, went through the community and talked to various people, they could quickly give you a good idea of what has to be done to update the hospital.
The real problem is the classification of the hospital. You do not have to be Einsteins close cousin. We do not have to spend $60,000, $100,000 or $500,000 on a study. If the Minister checks the record, two other studies have been done in the past four years, at an expense of thousands and thousands of dollars.
The reality is that there is a hospital that is under staffed, and that is the start of it and end of it. I am surprised we are keeping doctors there. If it continues, the problems that were encountered during the summer with the population expansion - which we know is cyclical, goes up and down with a four- or five-month period, where the population is tripled, or more, by tourists - it is a cop-out to do another study and blame it on the municipality, or the First Nations, or whatever. We have not even agreed to go ahead with the study.
Some people in Dawson City think most of the money will be wasted. On May 26, I am sure that representatives from YTG and the federal government will show up, strong-arm everybody and try to bribe them by saying that if the study is completed something might be done. It will make everybody within the bureaucracy feel good for another six months.
I would appreciate it if the Minister would inform us as to exactly how much this study is costing and when it is going to be completed. There will then be another study we can put on the shelf with the other two studies, to complete the bookshelf.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: When I have the information, I will make it available to the Member. My information is that the medical services branch is not prepared to go ahead with anything in Dawson, until they are satisfied that a needs assessment has been done. At this time the medical services branch still owns the facilities and still pays the shot.
Mr. Lang: What is the Ministers position? Does she feel that the needs assessment should be done?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I get frustrated with studies sometimes, too, but I understand that if a community - and not just six people in a community - is going to be clear about what it is going to have and what it is going to cost to have something, there will be the trade-offs. Again we are talking about cost containment, as well as provision of services.
If a community is going to be clear about what it is they are going to be trading off, or what they are going to be achieving and doing, I think in fairness to those community members, they need to know what is going on and what their options are. With that I have to say, Yes, I do support the process.
I know that each of us could walk down the street and get half a dozen people to tell us what they thought should happen. But, to find consensus in a community is a little more difficult. I hope that is what will happen in Dawson, and that they will give very clear direction to what they want to see happen in their community, within an affordable framework.
MacDonald Lodge: Senior Service Equipment in the amount of an under expenditure of $45,000 agreed to
On Operation Equipment
Operation Equipment in the amount of $18,000 agreed to
Regional Services in the amount of an under expenditure of $133,000 agreed to
Health and Social Services agreed to
Department of Justice
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Department of Justice is requesting a supplementary funding of $956,000, which is partially offset by recoveries from the federal Department of Justice for the compensation for victims of crime, and the Secretary of State, in the amount of $338,000 for recoveries on the French language agreement.
The additional expenditures have occurred in four of the departments six programs, with an under expenditure occurring in one program area. Most of the total variance from the revised estimate can be attributed to the Attorney General program, where $370,000 is requested for the hire or outside counsel to cover such costs as the Northern Accord, drafting of the Environment Act, constitutional issues and land claims.
For the translation of Yukon statutes and regulations, an additional $225,000 is requested, which is fully recoverable from the Secretary of State.
In the administration program, $150,000 is requested for the victims of crime program, which has incurred record costs due to the escalating number of claims being processed. An additional $50,000 has been transferred from the justice services branch to partially offset salary costs incurred in administration through the creation of a term person year in the systems area.
Policy and community programs have incurred $100,000 in additional costs. These costs are attributed to increased costs in the special native constable program and a transfer of a clerical person year from the Solicitor General program. The Solicitor General program is lapsing $44,000, which represents the salary dollars associated with this position.
Justice services has incurred $25,000 in additional costs. This is largely due to the Public Utilities Board applications hearings and the ongoing medical inquiry. Both of these issues have been completed and no further expenditures are expected in this fiscal year.
As previously mentioned, the over expenditures projected by the department are partially offset by recoveries of $338,000. The Secretary of State is providing funding in the amount of $238,000 for the translation of the statutes and regulations of the Yukon. The other recovery, in the amount of $100,000, is from the federal Department of Justice for the victims of crime program.
Corresponding to the projected additional expenses to be incurred by this program, capital funding is reduced by $17,000. This represents a transfer made to Government Services for the purchase of a vehicle for use in the mine safety area. This amount forms part of the funding transferred by the federal government when the mine safety program was devolved three years ago.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister tell us a little more about the compensation for victims of crime? My understanding is that $150,000 of the $200,000 went toward compensating the victims of crime. In 1989-90, the actual amount paid under this program was $88,000. I would like to know the total that is expected to be paid out in the 1991-92 budget, and what is the Minister doing to keep that figure and that fund under control?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The total budget for the last fiscal year is expected to be in the area of $400,000. As I have previously mentioned, in this program, we are changing the act so that a committee can be set up to deal with the awards at a lesser cost than what the Workers Compensation Board is being paid. With the taking over of the administration, we will be cutting down on the hours previously spent. The Compensation for Victims of Crime Act amendments that have been introduced in the House will allow us to set up a board within our own department, I hope at a lesser per diem than what is being paid to the Workers Compensation Board. It is very difficult to keep the cost of the awards under control because there was an independent body dealing with the applications for compensation for victims of crime. It was not for me to say what amounts should be awarded.
We let them know, through a letter, that we did have a problem, because there was a possibility of cutbacks in funds from the federal government. I sent memos to the Minister responsible for the Workers Compensation Board and, as I said, we had no control over those amounts.
Therefore, the total amount is quite high. Through this new process, we hope that at least the administration cost - and possibly the awards - will not be as high, because we do not have the same amount of money as we had last year. We have a total of $120,000 for this year, plus possibly using some of the victim surcharge money. Until last week, the Workers Compensation Board was still hearing cases, so I cannot tell what total amount of money for this fiscal year has been used. However, so far, we have already had over 70 applications that are pending.
Mr. Nordling: My concern is that the Minister take it in hand and watch it carefully, because according to the budget - we are doing a supplementary for the 1991-92 budget - the budget shows actual compensation for victims of crime for 1989-90 at $88,000. We are now over $400,000; how high will the Minister let it go before there is some restriction or some investigation as to how much we are paying out, what we are paying for and whether we can afford to pay this amount?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are never going to be able to afford the amount of money that people are asking for as compensation.
One of the things that will be happening with the changes to the new act is that there will be further restrictions on who can apply. In the past our existing act did not allow us to restrict as many cases as we wanted to. There was no provision in the act for even reporting a crime. All a person would need is proof from a doctor who could give a medical report stating that some injuries had happened to an individual. The Workers Compensation Board was hearing that kind of evidence with, possibly, a lawyer or an advocate speaking on behalf of an individual. The new act will require that each person applying for compensation have reported the victimization, and that charges have been laid.
In that way, we would be able to restrict the amount of cases that will be heard. There is much criticism from womens groups in the community with regard to restrictions. There is much criticism that we are not opening up the act to deal with offences prior to the act coming into effect but, knowing that funding would be limited, I chose to not open it up. Otherwise, we would have a flood of individuals coming to us and, even today, we do not have the money that will allow us to compensate each and every individual who will be applying for compensation.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister said that funding was limited. What is the limit?
Hon. Ms. Joe: In this fiscal year, the limit is $120,000. That is what we voted for in the budget. As I said, we will be able to use some of the victim surcharge money, but it is not a great amount.
I will be making that information available and very clear to whichever committee will be dealing with applications, because we just do not have the money. In other parts of Canada, jurisdictions are cutting out the program, because they just cannot afford it. There are just so many individuals who are coming forward asking for compensation. I have been told by the Minister of Justice for the Northwest Territories that they will be cutting out their program, and other jurisdictions are doing the same.
There is the possibility that that will happen to us if we do not have the money to accommodate the needs. I would hate to do that, but that is a possibility.
Mrs. Firth: I have previously asked the Minister about the awards. We have discussed the amounts and how the money has been spent. I would like to ask the Minister if there is any evaluation or follow-up done with respect to what happens to this money after it is awarded to the individuals. I have had concerns brought to my attention that there was a woman, for example, who has been battered by a spouse, given an award and several weeks later the spouse was back. It is dubious as to how the money is being spent. I would like to ask the Minister if anything is being done to follow up.
Also, what exactly is the intention of the award in the first place? Some are as high as $7,000 or $10,000. What are the people expected to do with this money? Is there some kind of follow-up to see that it goes where it is supposed to?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The money that is given to those individuals is for specific things, such as pain and suffering, loss of wages, clothing or counselling. All of that is indicated in the reports. There has not actually been any follow-up with regard to what happens after that.
The Member talks about hearing about some stories. I have heard the same thing and it bothers me that some of the money that has been awarded to victims is being spent for other reasons.
In essence, the victim receives a certain amount of money for pain and suffering. Some of those individuals have suffered a great deal of pain, and there is no amount of money in the world that can compensate for that pain and suffering. I am concerned. I do not know whether it would be proper for us to do an evaluation to find out what happens to that money. I am concerned enough to look at the possibility of finding out how effective some of the award money has been to some of the individuals. I know that some of the award money has been used for relocation in order to move a whole family to another part of the country. Sometimes, it was absolutely necessary to do that, or the attacks would continue. I am probably as concerned as the Member for Riverdale South about the manner in which the money is being spent by some of the individuals. I have heard some stories that I am not pleased with. I hope that we will be able to have some control over it.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to see that happen. I would like to see some form of evaluation. If there are people who are abusing the system, they are going to ruin it for everyone else, particularly those individuals who need the money to relocate, for counselling or to subsidize their wages while they are recovering from the attack.
Could the Minister give us some indication when she expects to have all the new criteria in place in order for the program to operate in the new direction that will indicate that there is some control on the whole program?
Hon. Ms. Joe: When the bill is assented to and comes into effect, the existing body will not be hearing those cases any more. We are looking at regulations, and we said we would seek advice in regard to some of the regulations we will be doing.
I cannot give her an exact date, but it is my intention to do it as quickly as possible, because it is essential that we have something in place to deal with the high cost of running this program. I am concerned about it and will be looking at the possibility of finding out how effectively money is being used.
Mr. Nordling: One of the other concerns that I have heard expressed is that going to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board is much easier then taking civil action against the criminal. What is happening is that people choose to get their award from the compensation fund, rather than from the criminal. Perhaps there can be some requirement that there be civil action for damages for an assault, for example, rather than going to the compensation fund.
I would like to talk generally about victims. The Minister talked about womens groups being concerned that there was money available for women who are victims of crime, and often we are talking about spousal assault.
First of all, that woman is victimized by her spouse. By the time the matter comes to court, as has been said, they have reconciled and the abuser is back living with the spouse. The spouse is claiming compensation and then she tries to have the charges dropped against her common-law spouse, because they have reconciled. The charges are not dropped and they end up in the courtroom venue where the prosecutor verbally and emotionally abuses that woman again, to force her to testify against her common-law spouse whom she has to go home to.
So, these women end up being victimized three times: the initial assault, in the courtroom, and then when they are back at home. I wonder if the Minister is looking into doing anything about the victimization that takes place in the court setting?
Hon. Ms. Joe: As the Member knows, being a lawyer, that is a very difficult situation to try to deal with because one has no control over what happens to an individual after charges have been laid and whether or not they end up back with their spouses or not. I have talked to women who have told me very vividly about the suffering that occurs when they do go into the courtroom and when they have to go through the whole process before they end up in court. It is not a pretty picture because one is being victimized twice.
There are many different things happening in the area of family violence. What a lot of people are advocating right now is that if a couple are having problems and the woman is being physically abused by her husband, traditionally what people do not want is for that woman to go back. Very often, however, there is a relationship there that they want to deal with, and they want to deal with the abuse that is happening in order that they can continue with their lives.
A lot of people who work in the system do not agree with that, when in fact it is a different concept, and couples do want to deal with the problem and do want to get back together again. I do not know how one deals with the situation in the courtrooms, where we have no control over them. The only thing we can do is look at improving programs in our court system, and we have tried to do that through the victim witness program and the victim impact statement.
Suggestions have been made to me in regard to somebody - an advocate or a person within the system - personally following them through the process. That was one suggestion made to me, but there have been others. Everything we do, in our department anyway, would cost more money. Certainly, I cannot tell the judges how to treat the victim; I cannot tell the prosecutor or the defence lawyer how to treat the individuals. That is a bit more difficult to do. I must let the Member know that the majority of people who end up in ...
Chair: Order please. The time being after 9:30 p.m., I would like to report.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May we have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 10, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92, and reports progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole.
Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Speaker: The time being 9:30 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled Wednesday, May 20, 1992:
Social Assistance Statistics: May, 1992 (Hayden)
The following Legislative Return was tabled Wednesday, May 20, 1992:
Wolf Control Program: matters outstanding (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 255