Monday, May 25, 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.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a document entitled, An Assessment of Fuel Supply Options for the Yukon. This document was prepared by Prolog Planning Incorporated.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have two legislative returns for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 102: Introduction and First Reading
Mr. Brewster: I move that a bill entitled An Act to Amend the Pounds Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for Kluane that a bill entitled An Act to Amend the Pounds Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 102 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Brewster: I give notice of motion
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should continue to apply to all Yukoners after the Yukon Indian land claim settlement has been achieved.
Mrs. Firth: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that included in the series of training modules for school councils there should be modules dealing with interviewing and hiring procedures and techniques.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This, then, brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Pension plan, proposed
Mr. Lang: As we all know, over the past number of years the public has witnessed a mismanagement of numerous programs administered by this government, primarily through the Yukon Development Corporation; one can go for quite some time and talk about the sawmill, the hotel fiasco, the Totem Oil venture and other things, such as the MV Anna Maria, the visitors reception centre, which started at $500,000 but wound up costing over $3 million, and numerous other projects.
In mid-April, the NDP had a convention at which one of the major resolutions that was passed and brought forward by one of the members of their party, Mr. Todd Hardy, was to establish a Yukon-based pension plan. I want to ask the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission if he could tell the House what stage of development the NDP-Yukon pension plan is at.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Obviously, I have to take issue with the Members preamble; not only do I think it is untruthful, I do not think it accurately captures the many accomplishments of this government, but, of course, it was not meant to do that.
As I understood it, the pension plan proposal promoted by various members of the New Democratic Party was to investigate the feasibility of operating a pension plan for all persons - perhaps along the line of the Quebec pension plan. It would serve all citizenry of the territory and would be fully funded. There has been a concern expressed by a number of individuals in the public that the Canada Pension Plan and the public service pension plans, now sponsored by Canada, are unsecure vehicles to carry people into their retirement years. Consequently, they wanted to see whether there ought to be an investigation of options to provide for more security for older people. At this stage, to my knowledge - because the matter is to be investigated by the Department of Finance - there is only planning taking place to determine what sort of review in the end ought to be undertaken to determine the feasibility of a Yukon-wide pension plan.
Mr. Lang: I guess we do have a difference of opinion. The government should not be trying to take credit for the projects and programs I named in my preamble; they should be apologizing for them.
The reason I am raising this question is that I have heard from a number of senior citizens who are concerned about what they have read. They are concerned about the direction the government is going to take.
I want to know if the Minister can verify that the principle behind the resolution and work that has been done to date is to replace the Canada Pension Plan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Again, I take issue with the Members preamble. I would be more than happy to debate that at any time. The best time is not Question Period; however, I am at a loss when asked to respond to wild allegations such as those the Member is making.
I think I can respond to the Members actual question by indicating that no decisions have been made with respect to what form a pension plan might take, whether it would be a supplementary pension plan or a replacement for the Canada Pension Plan. No discussions of that nature have taken place. The situation, as it stands now, is that we are simply investigating the elements of a pension plan. We will be undertaking extensive public consultation should we decide to proceed with some form of a pension plan in the future, in order to provide security for older Yukoners.
Mr. Lang: I do not know if that will allow those who are receiving pensions, or are on the verge of receiving pensions, to sleep in the evenings or not.
During the course of the debate, according to newspaper reports, Mr. Penikett indicated that union pension funds have been used to build public housing projects in B.C. In the investigation the Minister is doing, is it his intention to seriously look at pension funds being invested in public housing projects, similar to that of the Quebec pension plan, as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe the Premier simply was making a statement of fact as to what some pension plans are used to invest in. Some pension plans and trust funds are invested in mortgage-backed securities, which is not an uncommon long-term, secure investment for trusts of that sort.
However, I do not believe that the Premier was making a policy statement on what should happen with respect to the potential investment vehicles for any pension funds. The whole purpose of this proposal is to allow senior citizens, and all of us, to sleep a little more easily, knowing full well that we do have a secure retirement income ahead of us. It has been expressed by people at that particular convention, as well as outside of it, that, with the state of the Canada Pension Plan right now, which has largely gone to supporting the deficit and being quite under funded, it is a cause of concern to all citizens who have been contributing to it and are expecting income from it when they retire.
Question re: Pension plan, proposed
Mr. Lang: I would like to stay on the same topic and address the issue in a different context.
I am a little surprised that the Minister has indicated to the House that they are just starting to work in this area, and that the Department of Finance is going to start doing a review of options.
Both newspapers reported that the work had been undertaken to examine the concept of a Yukon pension plan by the government this previous year. The Minister of the Public Service Commission stated that the government has been investigating the idea for a year. Further to that, the newly elected president said as much as well.
Could the Minister tell us exactly what has been done this past year in investigating the idea.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know why the Member would be particularly surprised. The establishment of any pension plan, whether it be for our own employees or whether it be a pension plan for all Yukon citizens, is something that you have to approach very carefully, very responsibly and very thoroughly. If the Member is surprised that something has not happened in the space of one year, then I do not think the Member is aware of what the project would require.
In my remarks, I was referring to the investigation of repatriating the public service pension plan for public service employees. As Members may know, the Government of Yukon has participated in the federal public service pension plan for years, along with our employees. The unions representing those employees have expressed serious concern about the long-term viability of this plan and have asked that we investigate options for repatriating the contributions that we have jointly made to the plan to determine whether or not it would be beneficial to undertake our own plan. That is what I was referring to. We have been investigating it in a tentative way for approximately 10 months.
Mr. Lang: I do not know who is confused - me, the public or the Minister. The Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission spoke at the convention. The media has left the impression that the Minister stated that the government had been investigating the pension plan idea for years, and that is the basic concept of a Yukon pension plan, not a pension plan strictly for the public service.
I want to ask the Minister if consultants have been hired to investigate this concept and if consultants have been hired, who are they? If consultants have not been hired, which particular department, other than the Department of Finance, is looking into this particular area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am a little surprised at the accusation made by the Member opposite; I am confused. I was present at the convention; the Member was not. We invited the Member to come - perhaps we did not invite him, but we should have invited him to come. If we would have invited him to the convention, he would have had something other than straw men to attack.
Nevertheless, the Department of Finance has been investigating this pension plan in a preliminary way. I am not in a position to indicate how thoroughly this has been done, or whether or not they have had consultants provide them with any advice.
What I was referring to at the time and what I am referring to now, is the work of the Public Service Commission, which is to investigate the potential for repatriating the public service plan.
As I indicated, with respect to the Yukon plan, there have been some preliminary investigations and there will be some further investigation. There were a commitment at that time to report whatever progress has been made to the convention next spring.
Mr. Lang: I take it that an invitation to attend the next convention is open. I am sure that I could point out a few slight failings of the government if I was invited to the convention.
In view of the fact that the Public Service Commission and the Department of Finance are involved, and perhaps others, could the Minister undertake to provide the House with any copies of any consultants reports to date, or any in-house reports that have been done, so the public can have the opportunity of scrutinizing these particular documents since it is government money, and it is not only being done for the NDP conventions?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On the condition that the Member will try a new tack when speaking to the public, and provide for a fair, balanced assessment of the governments actions, then he can consider himself to be a guest at the next convention, next spring.
As much as, I am sure, there will be some members of the NDP who feel that we are doing this exclusively for the convention, we would only be doing this, of course, on behalf of the public, with public consultation in mind. Certainly, when we proceed to this project we will be reporting regularly to the House, and I will undertake to provide the information the Member requests with respect to consultants reports as soon as they are made known to me.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, tendering
Mrs. Firth: My question is to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. The policy that is in place right now with respect to tendering contracts at the Yukon Development Corporation is that there is a significant amount of discretion given to the staff and the board, and the staff chooses consultants that they feel will do the best job. Since the discretion is on the shoulders of the staff who award the contracts, they are going to take responsibility for awarding those contracts. I would like to ask the Minister when there are going to be some solid regulations in place to ensure that there are some rules followed when consulting contracts of the Yukon Development Corporation are tendered.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would not want the impression left that there are no rules. The rules that are observed are standard tendering procedures and practices normally followed by governments and corporations. However, there is a recognition that a stricter set of guidelines be put in place. The corporation has undertaken to have them rewritten by, I believe, a locally hired consultant. I understand that the revised procedures and the clarification of procedures for the contracting rules will be in place by the end of June.
Mrs. Firth: I have correspondence from the Yukon Development Corporation. It is not firm that there are going to be new rules in place. They are, in fact, saying that if changes to the contracting procedures are recommended, they will be provided to the board.
I would like to ask the Minister if there are going to be a set of rules in place, prior to the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation tendering the fuel contracts.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To clarify my earlier answer, I may not be being entirely accurate that they will be in place by the end of June, but I understand that the consultant is to report by the end of June. Putting any specific guidelines in place, through a decision by the board, may take an extra month or two.
Nevertheless, the matter of fuel tendering is one that currently has a very set procedure. Public tendering is done on a similar principle as the Government Services procedure, in terms of regional separation of contracts. That procedure will continue. I do not anticipate much change to it.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us if the fuel contracts that have been tendered have been made for the full year, or if there has been one tendered on a short-term basis; for example, has one been done for a three-month term?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think that the current fuel tendering situation is that there has been a short-term fuel tender awarded on a regional basis. This will no doubt be followed by a future tender for whatever period has been set. A recent award has been made, as I understand it, for three separate regions in the Yukon.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, tendering
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North for allowing me to follow up.
I would like to ask the Minister why it was necessary to award the fuel contract on a short-term basis, instead of on a full term basis, as is the usual procedure. Why did they feel it was necessary to do that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would have to take notice on that. I do not know why the term was set. My understanding is that a tender was called, responses were received, and three areas were provided with awards. The bids reflected three different suppliers, and that is the extent of my current knowledge. I will take notice on why the period was shortened, if it was shortened from any previous term.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us whether this tender was awarded prior to the Totem announcement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I could not. It occurred some time within the past two or three weeks. Whether it was precisely before, after or during the announcement, I cannot be sure. Again, I understand it was awarded to three different suppliers for three different regions of the Yukon.
I will undertake to provide more specific timing and reasons for that particular tender.
Mrs. Firth: The negotiations with Totem have been going on for some time, according to the Minister. He stated in this House it was over a year. Is Totem one of the three suppliers mentioned? Could he bring back all the information on the questions I have raised with respect to this issue that the Minister has been unable to answer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That will be no problem. I will file a written return on details about the tender. I cannot confirm if Totem is one of the three suppliers. If there was any speculation on the part of the corporation that fuel prices would be coming down some time in the next year, it would make sense to try to take advantage of that opportunity, which would save the taxpayers some money and affect electrical rates accordingly.
Question re: Audio-visual presentation at visitor reception centre
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Tourism. On Friday, and again today, I took the opportunity to go to the new visitor reception centre and view the audio-visual production financed by Parks Canada. I am greatly disappointed. The production itself is good, but there is no doubt in my mind, and there probably would be no doubt in the mind of anyone else who will see that production, that it is strictly a Parks Canada production; it highlights only Parks Canada attractions, leaving out about 75 percent of the Yukon.
We debated this issue in the House and the Minister explained to us that we could not use our old Expo presentation because it was just a lure and that what we needed was a new production that would highlight other attractions and encourage visitors to visit other areas of the territory.
This production highlights the Chilkoot Trail, the SS Klondike, Dawson City, Kluane Park and North Yukon National Park. For the most part, unless one is physically fit, 95 percent of the people who visit the Yukon will not be able to see most of these attractions.
I would like to ask the Minister why we did not pull out of this arrangement in the beginning, when it was clear to us that we were not going to get the input we needed in the presentation, so that the main audio-visual presentation would highlight all areas of the territory?
Hon. Mr. Webster: From the description by the Member opposite of the areas covered, it seems that we do have a considerable part of the Yukon in this video. It has always been our intention to work in partnership with other organizations, be they government organizations or private sector, to put forward a quality presentation for the benefit of our tourists and also for Yukoners. Having looked at some of the comments made in the guest book from visitors who have already toured the facility and have seen that particular video the Member mentions, I think they are extremely happy with the quality of the product and the information about the attractions throughout the territory.
Mr. Phillips: I am sure the Member from Pelly and the Member for Mayo and the Member for Faro and some of the other Members on that side of the House would be concerned that their communities are not even mentioned in the video. We might as well change the name of the facility to the Parks Canada visitors reception centre. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last few years developing attractions in the Mayo area; I would like to ask the Minister why this new video does not have one slide or one mention of the Mayo area or the Silver Trail Tourism Association, if we want to encourage people to go to that area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member knows full well that we have videos at each visitor reception centre that show the other areas of the territory. In addition to the major video attraction produced by Parks Canada, we have screens where we put videos in place to notify our travellers throughout the territory what attractions are available to them in other areas of the Yukon. It is not as if a person could go to the Yukon visitor reception centre and not be able to find out anything at all about Mayo, in this particular example. Given all the attractions and the beauty that the Yukon has to offer, it is very difficult to narrow down all the attractions and do justice to the territory in a 20-minute presentation. I believe that the 20-minute presentation is appropriate, considering the attention span of the visitor. I also feel that Parks Canada has done an excellent job in promoting all parts of the territory, even though the highlights are on the parks, themselves.
Mr. Phillips: I agree with the Minister that 20 minutes is an appropriate length of time to capture the peoples attention; but the video strictly highlights Parks Canadas facilities. It does not talk about your riding, the Member for Mayos riding, the Member for Faros riding or the Member for Tatchuns riding. There is not an attraction mentioned in that particular video.
Is the Minister now going to commission a new video to do what he said he would do in the first place - a video that would encourage people to travel to all parts of the Yukon; not just Parks Canadas facilities. Will the Minister have to commission a new video to do that particular job - the job that he said he was going to do in the first place.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Unbelievable, Mr. Speaker.
I have already mentioned to the Member that we have videos available in each visitor reception centre that focus on each of the regions of the territory. The videos are available to all tourists and they are made aware of that.
With respect to the Members question as to whether we are going to commission another video to highlight the territory, I would like to remind the Member that this will not be the only video featured at the Yukon visitor reception centre over the years. Of course, as time goes by, we will be developing more videos and we will be able to offer more than just one video highlighting all the territory to our visitors.
Question re: Audio-visual presentation at visitor reception centre
Mr. Phillips: It is too bad that the Minister would not admit that he made a mistake.
If someone were interested in going to Faro, Mayo or one of the other communities that is not mentioned in the video, how would they even know that a visitor reception centre existed in those communities if it is not mentioned in the video? This video presentation was a glorious opportunity to mention those communities and the fact that those types of attractions are available to tourists. The audio-visual leaves out most areas of the Yukon in its feature presentation.
Is the Minister going to plan a new audio-visual? How soon is he going to put a new audio-visual in place up in the new facility to replace this Parks Canada audio-visual that is strictly about Parks Canada; no other attractions, just Parks Canada.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to remind the Member that the majority of tourists who visit the Yukon visitor reception centre in Whitehorse have already had the opportunity to visit one of our other facilities located in Carcross, Haines Junction or Watson Lake. They are advised by our well-informed, courteous staff at these other visitor reception centres of what the Yukon has to offer and they are directed to videos that highlight all of those regions.
Mr. Phillips: That is totally contrary to what the Minister told us they were going to do with audio-visual. He told us that that audio-visual will steer people toward other areas in the territory, but it is not doing that. In view of the fact that this new audio-visual says nothing about your community, in particular, Mr. Speaker, and very little about central and southern Yukon native culture, other than the fact that they were involved in the gold rush as guides, I would like to ask the Minister what he is going to do about the lack of native cultural content in this particular video. Is he going to commission a new video to do that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for repeating his question, as I did not answer it in the last round. Yes, as the Member knows from the budget we presented last fall, which was debated in this House, we have set aside a good sum of money for Tourism Yukon to produce a video of 12-15 minutes in duration, which will take another view of the territory. This audio-visual will highlight all of its attractions throughout the territory.
Mr. Phillips: There are various, large information cards in the new visitor reception centre that someone can go through: fishing, hunting or whatever. When I went through the area today, there is only one card with anything on it and it is in Italian. There are no other cards available. The visitor reception centre is open now, but unless one speaks Italian or talks to the actual people working there, one will not find out anything about certain areas. I would like to ask the Minister when we are going to get all of the proper information in the facility so that we can inform tourists about what is available in the territory.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have been informed that all of the information will be in place, in a number of languages, next week.
Question re: Audio-visual presentation at visitor reception centre
Mr. Devries: I also had the opportunity to view the presentation at the visitor reception centre this morning. I, too, am concerned about the lack of territory-wide coverage.
Many of the rural taxpayers are overwhelmed by the cost of this structure and now the focus is being placed on the national parks. The video seems to be a destination-point video - which is exactly why the Minister said that they could not use the Expo video, because it was a destination-point video - rather than one that informs tourists and encourages them to participate in a wide variety of fishing, hunting, museum, cultural vacation sightseeing opportunities all around the Yukon.
Once again, I want to ask the Minister if he is really happy with this audio-visual production.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have to confess that I have not seen the audio-visual presentation at this time, although I did have time before I left for Dawson City last Friday to view the facility and to briefly view the first few minutes, or the introductory part, of that video.
However, as I mentioned earlier, judging from the comments from visitors and from Yukon people who have had a chance to preview the video, they are extremely happy with the quality of the product.
Mr. Devries: I think that the quality is great; they seemed to use good Kodak film, and everything else. Does the Minister understand that he is alienating tourism business in the southeast Yukon by not including us in this feature audio-visual production? This production is for people who come into Whitehorse via Skagway or by air.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I do not think that we are alienating anyone who is from the Watson Lake area or the southeast area of the Yukon. I am sure that when visitors take a look at this production, in addition to the videos that we have, which highlight other regions of the territory, then they will indeed have a good knowledge of all attractions that we have to offer and will be encouraged to travel throughout the Yukon.
Mr. Devries: The Minister said that he would use other visitor information centres. How is the Minister going to use the Whitehorse visitor reception centre to inform and encourage visitors to visit southeast Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Webster: If the Member had listened to my answers to the questions raised by the previous speaker, the Member for Riverdale North, he would be aware that we do have videos at each visitor reception centre. These videos allow the visitor to take a look at what the existing attractions are in all of the other regions of the territory. It is as simple as that.
There is not just one production that is intended to cover the whole territory. We already have a lot in place and this new video will complement what we already have in place.
Question re: Yukon College endowment lands
Mr. Nordling: The Department of Education has distributed a brochure outlining the proposed college endowment lands. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the meetings last week. Several of my constituents would like to know if the boundary outlined in the brochure is simply a proposal, or whether it is the final decision for the boundary for the endowment lands.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The boundary outlined on the map in the brochure is a proposal for the endowment lands. The purpose of outlining that particular area surrounded by Porter Creek C, the Alaska Highway, Range Road and Mountainview Drive was simply to denote all the lands that would be available for consideration for the endowment lands. Those boundaries will have to be refined over the course of this summer in our consultations. We will be presenting another option for consideration, depending on the consultations, in September, when we return with some draft legislation.
Mr. Nordling: The concern I heard was that it was such a huge area. Another concern people had was that the area between the Kopper King and the Whitehorse Correctional Centre contained some of the most attractive hiking areas. Was any of that land available? I am referring to the land south of the easement that runs from the highway to the college - the area between the Kopper King, the jail and the ball park.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The area we are discussing is very large. It is accepted that the endowment lands will be somewhat smaller than the total area we have identified.
The land I think the Member is referring to - my eyesight is not so good, so I could not quite pick it up when he held up the map - involves the area that now includes the pumphouse lands and that easement. Rather than deal with some of the development issues that are already in the minds of some planners - development and protection issues for trails, recreational use and other things - we made the decision that it would be probably wise to avoid that area, because there are sufficient lands to meet the general purposes of college endowment lands without having to include that particular property.
Mr. Nordling: The concern was that those are some of the most productive lands. It might be worth fighting for them instead of a huge area quite a distance away from the college. I would just like to ask the Minister when we can expect the next meeting for the people who missed the ones last week, so that they can have some input into the outlining of the boundaries.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thought the next round of meetings would have been identified on the brochure. I think the brochure indicated that they would be approximately one month from the time the first meetings were held to allow people to think about the proposals and provide comments. I suspect they will be in late June.
The purpose of the first meetings was simply to outline the proposals and some of the options that are available, because there is nothing hard and fast about any of the future plans, other than that we would like to create some endowment land. However, there is nothing hard and fast about any of the features in the proposals. We encourage people to provide us with some good ideas that we might incorporate into the final proposal that I would bring to the Legislature later on.
Question re: Taga Ku convention centre project, funding
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation with respect to the Taga Ku project that has been held up due to lack of finances.
Last month we questioned the Minister about whether or not the Yukon Development Corporation was going to get involved with further financing of this project. I wonder if the Minister could tell us if any further negotiations have taken place between the proponents on the one hand and the corporation or this government on the other.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe that in previous questioning, I indicated to the Member that we had declined to support further financing until certain particular conditions were assured. I believe that in those discussions it was clear that complete financing had to be in place prior to this government contemplating any assistance. At the same time, I believe that we stressed that it was necessary for the original terms to be met. Nothing has changed. Those conditions remain. The proponents are seeking their senior financing. We will be reviewing this when we are formally approached.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell us whether, to his knowledge, the Government of Canada has provided any financing to the proponents of the Taga Ku project?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows that, under the Canadian Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy of the Department of Industry, Science, Trade and Technology, a commitment for $5 million has been made, conditional upon complete financing being in place. I believe it would be fair to say that the federal government has considered an additional $2 million loan agreement support, subject to a number of conditions.
So, the short answer is yes, I am aware that the federal government is contemplating further assistance.
Mr. Phelps: With respect to the $2 million loan guarantee support, can the Minister tell us whether or not one of the conditions is that this government or the Yukon Development Corporation match the Government of Canada?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My understanding is that, yes indeed, that is part of the federal government position.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
We will now proceed with 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. We will take a break.
Chair: I will call Committee back to order.
We will turn to page 32. The department under review is Department of Justice.
Bill No. 10 - Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92 - continued
Department of Justice - continued
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures - continued
Administration - continued
Hon. Ms. Joe: When we last adjourned, we were talking about compensation for victims of crime. I am not sure whether or not there is any more information that the Opposition might need from me
Administration in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Attorney General
Mr. Phillips: I would like the Minister to explain this and at the same time I would like the Minister to update us as to where we are with the transfer of the Crown attorneys office.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are asking for $675,000 right now. That breaks down as follows: $80,000 is for costs for legal staff for land claims; the $225,000 for French translation of legislation and regulations is 100 percent recoverable; and we are also asking for $370,000 for increased outside counsel. What we do each year is vote one dollar because we never know what those expenditures are going to be, depending on the need. We will contract outside help.
We contracted Strikeman Elliott for the Northern Accord, Swinton and Company for the Environment Act and the Bressett Construction, Yukon Housing Corporation, Yukon College and Granger School with regard to some areas there. There were a couple of others here: Eric Woodhouse for land claims, Preston Willis for the Dan Drummond issue and Harper Gray for the Bill Byers issue and Vickers and Palmer for the Jim Davie issue.
On the Crown attorneys function, we have written letters back and forth to Kim Campbell, the Minister of Justice. As the Member knows, we have had ongoing discussions with the federal department about this function.
I have had informal discussions with officials who work at the federal Department of Justice. It is my perception that the Crown attorney transfer is not a priority for the federal Department of Justice at this time. I am told that it is used mainly as training for - rightly or wrongly - new lawyers. We understand that there is a problem.
Currently, we are drafting legislation that would provide for the transfer of that function. I will be sending a copy of the draft legislation to Kim Campbell to find out if this legislation would meet the needs of a transfer. In addition, I will be meeting with Kim Campbell on June 11 or June 12. This issue will be number one on my list of items that I will be speaking to her about. I believe it is necessary that that transfer take place - so necessary, in fact, that I am making a special trip to Ottawa to discuss this issue with her, face to face, to find out whether or not they are ready to make the transfer. Discussions in the past have not been successful. I share the same concern with other Members that if we hope to improve the system here then that has to take place.
Mr. Phillips: I also want to express my concern, especially in light of the fact that the Minister has told us today that the federal government considers it a training ground for new lawyers.
I suppose every Crown attorneys office across the country is a training ground of some type. There have to be junior lawyers involved, but I hope we are not getting any more than other jurisdictions simply because it is the federal Crown attorneys office that operates this particular office here.
I would think that the cases that come before our courts are just as important as any case in Canada, and we should be given equal consideration with other areas of Canada when it comes to that. I would encourage the Minister to expedite those negotiations as soon as possible and bring to the forefront. I hope the Minister would do that.
I also want to express the concern that we have gone to so much outside counsel, and the figure has gone up to $370,000, along with several hundred thousand dollars more for various cases. One of the fastest growing branches in the government has been the legal services branch. There have been all kinds of new lawyers onstream. It is now the largest law firm in the territory; yet, we continue to see quite a rapid rise in the use of outside counsel.
I would have thought the opposite would have worked where, if we brought more lawyers onstream, we would be going to outside counsel less and less for these kinds of services.
My last comment is with respect to the $225,000 for French translation. Although it is recoverable, it is still taxpayers money, no matter which way one looks at it. That seems to be very expensive.
Has the Minister done any kind of an analysis in the department of how many people actually request French copies of a bill? Is it widely distributed to a group of people out there who need it? I can see having the services here, to an extent, but my concern is that government is constantly feeling the pinch from all sides on what they are going to do with their budgets. If there is no one reading it, why are we spending so much time and energy doing it?
Maybe there are other, more important areas that we could focus on. Many of the people who go before our courts are native people. I do not believe that we provide translation services for them - or, at least, maybe the Minister could inform me if we do - yet we provide all of these services in French. I do have a concern that someone has the priorities wrong here and that, in some cases, we should be serving the local population in a better way. If we were to spend $225,000, I am sure that some of the people who do not understand the system that well would feel a lot more comfortable if it were explained to them in their native language. I think that it is a shame that we are doing this simply because we have an agreement with Ottawa - simply because we have to impose official bilingualism across the country. To me, governments have to priorize areas and maybe focus more on these areas than just doing it because we are told that we have to do it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I think that the Member knows that we are required by law to publish all of our laws in both languages. The Member for Riverdale North says that it does not make it right, but we are required by law to do it. Whether or not we agree with it does not matter, because we have to do it. It is very possible that there may be some legal complications if we were not to do it. Until the law changes, we have no choice.
With respect to the transfer of the Crown attorneys function, I will be meeting with the federal Minister, Kim Campbell, next month. I have also had a meeting with the Minister of Justice for the Northwest Territories, because we felt that if we were working together toward the transfer, we might get a little bit further than each of us would by communicating on our own. We sent a joint letter to Kim Campbell seeking her opinion on when we can expect a transfer. We also let her know that we will be pursuing this even further, if that is possible, because it is an issue that this government has been working on for many years - five years or more.
The lawyers we hire in our Justice department do many things. They are responsible for their own official duties throughout the year; this could include writing the laws and regulations and looking after legal matters with respect to child care and with regard to territorial laws. It is unfortunate that we have to spend so much money for lawyers, but it is required of us.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us what the total budget is going to be now, for the new RCMP contract?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We think it will be in the area of $10 million. We are still waiting for further information on the new contract cost, but the estimate at that time was in excess of $10 million.
Mrs. Firth: That is what it has been costing, but I can more accurately phrase the question with respect to the impact the new agreement is going to have on the budget; the Minister has indicated they are still assessing it. Can she give us any idea as to whether she feels the new agreement is going to increase costs at all? Have they done any preliminary estimates?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Our share of the costs previously was in excess of $9 million. With the new expected expenditures as a result of the contract, we are looking at in excess of $10 million as being our share - 70 percent of the total cost.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying that the new contract is increased by about $1 million?
Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes, and it would include ongoing increases such as pay and so on - the sort of things that happen on a yearly basis.
Attorney General in the amount of $675,000 agreed to
On Justice Services
Justice Services in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Solicitor General
Solicitor General in the amount of an under expenditure of $44,000 agreed to
On Policy and Community Programs
Policy and Community Programs in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $956,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Justice Services
On Mine Safety Equipment
Mine Safety Equipment in the amount of an under expenditure of $17,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of an under expenditure of $17,000 agreed to
Department of Justice agreed to
Department of Renewable Resources
Hon. Mr. Webster: I will begin with a few introductory remarks to provide some assistance to the Members opposite.
The supplementary reflects an operation and maintenance expenditure increase of $13,000 and a capital expenditure increase of $72,000, for a total increase of $85,000.
This increase in expenditure is directly offset by increased recoveries, also totalling $85,000. The net effect to the government is zero, and the major reason for the supplementary is to accommodate cost recovery projects as well as the fine-tuning of the budget by moving monies between programs to meet emergency needs. The total operation and maintenance expenditure increase for the department amounts to $13,000.
On a program-to-program basis, administration has had a net decrease of $20,000, which is attributed mainly to lower expenditures for the conservation strategy demonstration projects and fish funds that had been expected. Some commitments made were not fully carried out by the organizations involved.
In policy and planning, there is a net increase of $9,000, which can be largely attributed to work on environmental protection regulations.
Parks, Resources and Regional Planning has a net decrease of $19,000, which is largely attributed to a number of position vacancies and reduction in the use of casual and seasonal employees, both in regional planning and parks operations.
The increase in the area of fish and wildlife, in the amount of $153,000, is largely the result of increased costs of the wolf and caribou studies and increased work on the lynx project. This latter project was done as a result of additional funding received from the Fur Institute of Canada and the Alberta Research Council. It should be noted that a total of $42,000 of these increased expenditures in this program are currently offset by increased recoveries.
The $110,000 decrease in land claims is mainly due to reduced expenditures as a result of delays in implementing the various 10 final agreements. The IFA portion of this program was slightly overspent; however, as Members know, this over expenditure was offset by increased recoveries from the federal government for purposes related to IFA implementation.
Total capital expenditure increases in the department amounts to $72,000. The increase in administration is mainly a result of the transfer of some monies from the environmental protection budget and the policy and planning branch for the purchase of a specially equipped vehicle for dedicated use in this area.
The increase of $71,000 in the parks branch is largely the result of some increased liability reduction work in preparing the campgrounds for the expected increased usage for the 1992 highways celebration, together with additional work on the Bonnet Plume and Tatshenshini rivers to prepare for heritage designations. Twenty thousand dollars of these funds were recovered from Parks Canada.
The decrease of $65,000 in the fish and wildlife branch is largely due to the fact that work on the wildlife management plan in the Pelly Crossing area was delayed in order to allow the Selkirk First Nation the time that they require to deal with the higher priority items of land claims negotiations.
In conclusion, my department continues to monitor its budget closely and identifies any additional needs to meet emergency situations as well as the source of funds to meet those needs.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister for that very detailed report that has answered most of my questions. I will have to make some up as I go along.
A large number of people have been talking to me about the large influx of tourists expected this year. What facilities, such as toilets and that, are being made available in these places or are the lodges going to have to handle this overflow?
Hon. Mr. Webster: This year, in the vacation guide, we have printed all the information the visitor has to know in terms of locations of the dumping stations on all our major highways throughout the territory. Also, as the Member knows, the Department of Renewable Resources does not provide for those facilities in campgrounds in order to not compete with the private sector in the area.
As the Member knows, being a former lodge operator himself, many of our visitors, in addition to using the pump-out facilities, will also make purchases from the lodges. If we did provide that service, it would seriously cut into the operations of some businesses that operate along the highway.
Mr. Brewster: I think we are talking about different things here.
A number of lodges are already getting prepared to put metres on their toilets. The people driving up and down the road use these toilets, because there are no other facilities provided anywhere along the road.
If you go into Alaska, they are provided every so often in different areas. We have made no provision for a large increase of tourists in this area. Some of the lodges are going to be overtaxed if the business goes as is predicted. We can have a flood in Muncho tomorrow that could make this whole situation a disaster. That is up to the good Lord and not us.
There are more and more people in lodges who are concerned about buses that stop, have a glass of water, use the toilet and toilet paper and walk out. There is more and more of this going on all the time. There are more wilderness people coming in with their pack sacks-
Chair: Order please. We will have to call a recess for the fire bells.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I misunderstood his question. I thought he was referring to dumping stations. In fact, he is referring to toilets. I want to inform the Member that we recognize there is a shortage of places along the highway where visitors can relieve themselves. Of course, we do have washrooms in our campgrounds and at our visitor reception centres. I want to inform the Member that, at this time, the Department of Renewable Resources, along with the Department of Tourism and the Department of Community and Transportation Services, is taking inventory of possible sites along the highway to create pull-over and picnic spots where we would give the tourists an opportunity to have a rest, use washrooms, get out and enjoy themselves and have a bit of a walk; that process is underway at this time.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Administration in the amount of an under expenditure of $20,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Policy and Planning in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Parks, Resources and Regional Planning
Parks, Resources and Regional Planning in the amount of an under expenditure of $19,000 agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife
Fish and Wildlife in the amount of $153,000 agreed to
On Land Claims
Land Claims in the amount of an under expenditure of $110,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Departmental Equipment
Departmental Equipment in the amount of $59,000 agreed to
On Renovations - #10 Burns Road
Mr. Brewster: I realize they cancelled it, but what were they actually planning to do at Burns Road?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The $12,000 expenditure was for what the landlord will be doing at his cost, which was to provide an Arctic entry for the building.
Renovations - #10 Burns Road in the amount of an under expenditure of $12,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $47,000 agreed to
On Parks, Resources and Regional Planning
On Territorial Campgrounds and Day Use Areas
Rehabilitation in the amount of an under expenditure of $1,000 agreed to
Relocation in the amount of an under expenditure of $9,000 agreed to
On Facility Replacement
Facility Replacement in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Facility Inventory
Facility Inventory in the amount of an under expenditure of $38,000 agreed to
On Liability Reduction
Liability Reduction in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
On Heritage Rivers
On Bonnet Plume River
Hon. Mr. Webster: This is the money identified for the preparation on the heritage designation of the Bonnet Plume River, and this money is recoverable from the federal government.
Bonnet Plume River in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Tatshenshini River (Dalton Post)
Mr. Brewster: It seems to be very unclear in the minds of many people who is going to own that - Champagne/Aishihik Band or the territorial government, and what are they putting the $40,000 toward?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Champagne/Aishihik First Nation will own the meadows part of Dalton Post, and the Government of Yukon will be responsible for putting in place a parking lot on the other side of the Klukshu River, which will protect the heritage values of the area that is presently used by all of the campers when they go fishing in that area. This parking lot will also lead to an area where all of the kayakers and canoeists can put into the river.
Mr. Brewster: You are putting in the parking lot, but if they own the rest of the land, that would give them the right - which I would do in their place - to charge people to come over and see the other part. Are they going to have the right to charge the canoeists to put into the river?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I did not make myself clear on the ownership status of the parking lot. That would not be owned by the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation. Therefore, they would not be able to charge the canoeists and kayakers putting into the river.
Tatshenshini River (Dalton Post) in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Heritage Parks, Resources and Regional Planning in the amount of $71,000 agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife
On Wildlife Management Plan
Wildlife Management Plan in the amount of an under expenditure of $65,000 agreed to
On Land Claims
On IFA - Herschel Island Territorial Park
Mr. Brewster: This is a very confusing subject. I understand that Herschel Island belongs to the Yukon, but this IFA agreement keeps coming into it. Who owns Herschel Island? What are the other groups doing in there, if it is owned by the territorial government?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Herschel Island is owned by the Government of the Yukon. It is part of the Yukon Territory. However, it is part of the management plan, which includes the Inuvialuit. Under that plan, we hire people from both the Yukon and the Northwest Territories - the Inuvialuit themselves - to do work from time to time, which is recoverable from the federal government.
The expenditure of $19,000 was for additional equipment required for operation and maintenance purposes.
IFA - Herschel Island Territorial Park in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $72,000 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: On the capital recoveries, how did they get $20,000 from Parks Canada? How can you do that?
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is through the heritage river program.
Department of Renewable Resources agreed to
Department of Tourism
Hon. Mr. Webster: Before we clear this last item on the budget, I would like to provide the Members with some introductory remarks.
The Department of Tourism does not have a request for new funding, but does request a transfer of $78,000 from the capital to the O&M vote. The two most significant items making this total transfer request are as follows: first, the heritage branch is in the process of drafting archaeological regulations to accompany the Historic Resources Act for which research and drafting assistance is required; second, the marketing branch is undertaking a research project to determine priority markets in segments for Yukon tourism products. The heritage branch is also contributing funds to this research project, as questions about historic sites and museums are included in the questionnaire. The segmentation study will lead to a marketing strategy that will provide the industry with information regarding potential markets and the specific products those markets are looking for.
The research will also assist in developing products to meet the identified product needs.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the Minister can give us a bit of an update.
I was at the Tourism Industry Association convention in Watson Lake where the marketing people gave a presentation to the group. I am not sure of the name of this marketing group, as they added a couple of more words to the name that they had before. They described various sectors that were interested in travelling to the Yukon and areas that we should target. I listened to the presentation and found it very interesting. I was made a little nervous, I have to say, by the fact that the average age on the panel that was doing the presentation looked to be about 21 or 22. It was a little disconcerting that these people were doing major marketing research for the Government of Yukon on tourism for the future. All of them looked like they were just graduating from university or, perhaps, had just graduated. If there had been a grey-haired gentleman sitting with the group - someone like myself - then I would have had a little more confidence that this group was established and had been around for a while. I listened to the research and it was very interesting. There were a few gaps in the presentation that I would like to raise with the Minister.
One area that the marketing people did not seem to touch on much was the group of people who travel to the Yukon because of the Yukons history. This group of people was just sort of lumped in. I forget what they described that particular group as, but it did not seem to be a very significant group.
They also talked about a group of people who were more concerned about the environment. I believe they called them the earth group. They indicated that members of this group were the biggest spenders and that they would be a great group to attract to the territory. That is not what we are seeing now. I would have thought that when they were asking these people - and I believe they contacted 600 people in various sectors and did quite extensive research - they would have provided some kind of comparison with what we are seeing in the territory today; yet, it did not work out that way.
It is my understanding that many of the people who come to the Yukon, like to travel the trails of Kluane Park, canoe down the rivers or go into the Yukon back country do not seem to spend an awful lot of money. They tend to arrive in Whitehorse with their granola bars and other things and buy a few local supplies here in town. Of course, they buy lots of the health food type stuff, then they disappear on the river for 14 days. They do not go to the Frantic Follies and they do not go into the gift shops to buy gifts and do the type of thing that one would think would generate a lot of spending. These people tend to pick up a canoe in Whitehorse and drop it in Dawson City, or perhaps they get flown to a remote lake and paddle down a river and come out 10 or 12 days later, virtually seeing nobody.
For instance, they hike into Kluane Park and spend two or three days in the park. Again, they are not spending a great deal of money, and that did not jibe with what this study said. I am wondering if the Minister of Tourism and his department officials have asked some of these very same questions.
I do not think that we have seen any of those people who come up here and do the types of things that this group said we should be focusing on. Maybe I am wrong, but perhaps the Minister could explain where we are seeing those types of people and give some kind of a description of what services they would use.
I know that the outfitters cater to a fairly wealthy group of people who come to the territory. I think that statistics in the Yukon show that their clients are some of the biggest spenders in the territory, because maybe, for one reason or another, they have a bit of a guilt complex about going on a hunting trip and they have to take something nice home to the family, so they buy gold nugget jewelry, or something, for the family.
Maybe the Minister could answer some of those questions and tell us how confident he is that his group is doing a good job, and maybe give us an update on when the next report is due and how much this is going to cost in the long run for this particular marketing study.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I am not sure if I should thank the Member for that question - or, I should say, series of questions. The Member has raised many issues that should be addressed.
Let me start off by saying that Baker Lovick is an experienced advertising agency, and one of the largest, and perhaps the largest, agencies in Canada. This agency has a great deal of experience in the tourism market. I know that some senior people in that firm have extensive tourism marketing experience, particularly in the west coast of the United States.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member asks if they are over 21 and I know that one of the people in the firm is indeed over the age of 21 years and matches the colour of hair that the Member opposite has.
Baker Lovick does have a great deal of experience and I think that we are certainly benefitting from that experience.
With respect to the results of the early research that was discussed at the Tourism Industry Association meeting in Watson Lake a few weeks ago, they did come across a group of people with an interest in history and people who held a fascination for learning about the culture of aboriginal people and the heritage of an area. These are the types of people who, although they may be small in numbers right now, are certainly growing in number; they look at their vacations as learning experiences.
The Member is quite right. Quite a number of these people are the types - most notably the younger types - who are pretty much self-sufficient. They arrive here, step off the plane, get a few supplies in our stores, either some clothing, equipment and food supplies, they take off and we do not see them for awhile.
A growing number of these people, in keeping with wanting to have a true learning experience from their vacation, are working with professionals in the area; for example, the people at Old Squaw Lodge or the people who are operating at Frances Lake, in both winter and summer operations, and the people at Dalton Trail who offer a wide range of wilderness experiences with very experienced guides. We are finding now, and this has certainly come to light this week at the Rendezvous Yukon show, that Yukon products are becoming more diversified and more professionally delivered, and are being offered to buyers of tourism products throughout the world who have identified this particular client type as really increasing in number and becoming more demanding. From looking at the five or six Yukon firms that are starting to specialize and develop a name in the area of supplying quality wilderness experience travel, I believe their inquiries and trip bookings are increasing in number. Their clients are spending a lot of money, and they are willing to pay. As I say, they get professional guides who know a lot about the Yukon Territory, its history, its culture, its heritage, and spend time working in small numbers to give them the kind of quality experience they are looking for.
I admit that some of these earth people, as they are described, do not spend a great deal of money. They are on their own, self-sufficient and self-guided, but an increasing number are, as I say, looking for that valuable learning experience and are willing to pay big money for it - and are.
Mr. Phillips: Another area that this particular study seemed to miss was the RV traveller, the rubber-tire traffic. You would have thought, especially in the year of Celebration 92 and all the PR we have going on out there, that when they did some phoning around and talked to some of these people in southern California, those people would have heard about the Alaska Highway and about that kind of thing and the agency would have received some kind of a response from those people who were planning to travel to the Yukon.
Another area that was missed was the thousands of tourists who go to Dawson City every year. The age group of people from 45 to 75 was not included in the survey. A lot of these are rubber traffic, as well as bus tours going in and out of Dawson City and these are, virtually, the bread and butter of Dawson City. There did not seem to be much comment about them. Also, there was very little comment about people coming to the Yukon to see the history of the Yukon, particularly Dawson City and the gold rush. I would have thought that would have been something that would have been highlighted by the people from California who were interviewed.
Hon. Mr. Webster: To a great extent, the needs of this particular market have already been identified. We have developed a number of marketing programs to encourage them to visit the Yukon. Over the years, we have done that through our Triple A program and our annual tour through RV parks in places like Arizona, California and New Mexico.
This year, for the first time, we are attending a large convention for senior citizens in Phoenix, Arizona. We are just one of many jurisdictions in Canada that has a large area at this show, designed specifically to encourage RV travellers to attend.
With the existing programs, we are getting our fair share of those travellers. As I said, to a large degree, we have already identified what their interests and needs are, and the Yukon is starting to deliver on satisfying those needs.
Mr. Phillips: I am not arguing that. I agree with the Minister that we are targeting those people. With the help of Celebration 92 and Celebration 96 and Celebration 98, we are going to pick up a lot of people for those types of activities.
What I am concerned about is that they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this study and there is no mention of these people. They are the bulk of the tourists who are coming to the Dawson City area now. I would have thought that if you did a study to find out who is coming to the Yukon, why they are coming and who will come in the future, this would have been something that really stood out as a result of all the work the Minister says they have done at the RV parks. Did they not call anyone who owns an RV? I do not know how they would know that, unless they called them up and asked them if they do and, if so, they do not want to talk.
Many people at that meeting asked that question. They asked why those people were left out. One would have thought that the RV traffic would have been very significant. The people coming for the gold rush and native cultural history would have been quite significant. Yet, they were really minor in terms of the other things that actually drew people to the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Webster: To some degree, the people who come to the Yukon in RVs were identified as the organized neighbourhood outdoor folks. They like to stay together in groups. They enjoy hunting, fishing and camping, either in RV parks or the facilities offered by the Government of Yukon. They are very much organized, to the extent that many of them even travel in caravans, as the Member knows. That work was done in the study to some degree.
Another big part of the study was identifying what people were looking for in a vacation. As we mentioned before, some people definitely came for the history and the heritage. Others came for the wilderness experience. They did not want to see a city or go to a town. These people are obviously identified as those who enjoy the company of other people and do not like surprises. They enjoy the outdoors but in a fairly secure environment. I think that group is adequately covered in this study. As I said earlier, through our marketing programs, we are reaching that market.
Mr. Phillips: If the Minister wants to get more information to these people who simply like the hiking in the wilderness programs, he could ask them to go to the new visitor reception centre, because the new audio-visual up there is very much designed for the athletic or the physically fit, because it talks about the Chilkoot Trail and boating down the Yukon River and trekking around in Yukons North Slope Park and climbing mountains in Kluane. It does not talk about any other attractions. It certainly does highlight the very physically oriented things to do and the wilderness-type things to do. It certainly serves that market. Unfortunately, as the Minister has told us today, those kinds of people are the ones who might not even go into a visitor reception centre. They will arrive in Whitehorse, go down to the Kanoe People and take off for a week, not having seen the video or knowing about all of these great places to go. They are the kind of people who do not spend a lot of time in visitor reception centres or museums or where there is a lot of people. They are the kind of people who just arrive in town, have a predetermined thing they want to do, and have made arrangements with someone. Otherwise, they might have planned a trip on their own to drive to Kluane and spend a week in Kluane. Unfortunately, even though the new video is geared toward those kinds of people, they will not have the opportunity to see it.
Hon. Mr. Webster: In response to the remark about the earth types, I want to inform the Member that they are the people who we find do the most research on the Yukon before they make their commitment, either to go on their own self-guided tour or to go through a tour company here in the Yukon. We find that these people request all of our vacation literature. In addition, they are the ones who ask for additional information from individual tour operators, so they can get a feel for themselves as to exactly what they are looking for.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to address another area. The government recently completed a promotional campaign where it offered a prize or a gift in a local magazine ad. The ad said that if you sent in the coupons and requested certain things, you would qualify for a gift.
What I am hearing from operators in the industry is that people are checking off every single item. They believe this is because there is no requirement to receive the information, such as money to be sent in with the inquiry, or no responsibility of the person who is sending in the response other than to apply for a free draw.
They are receiving literally thousands of these forms, and some of the smaller operations who operate on a very limited budget and only have so many brochures to provide are finding that they are really behind the eight-ball, because they are not sure of what is a serious inquiry and what is not a serious inquiry.
When people look at the 20-odd things that they can apply for and they have checked off every single one of them, these people feel that it has become very costly for the small operator to respond to this type of request.
I am wondering if the Minister has any comments on that and what is his department doing to help these small operators in this particular area?
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is true that a number of people are checking off more than one area of interest. I think that there are few people checking off all areas.
The Member is quite correct that some small operators have found themselves completely out of promotional material to mail out to the responses, and we are certainly aware of that. The department has been trying to assist them in not only trying to make brochures available, but also in sending out the information to these inquiries. We do realize that it is a great expense and we are going to have to look at this more carefully in the future.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Minister saying that he is helping these small operations? Is he now offering them some funding so that they can print some more brochures? Is the Minister admitting that although it received a lot of response - we are not sure how much of the response were serious - that maybe next time we have to put some kind of responsibility on the individual sending the response in? For instance, the person sending the response in might have to buy a stamp, or make some kind of a commitment before you send them all of this information.
What exactly is the Minister saying with respect to changing the focus of the program the next time?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, as we have identified the problem, we have had some discussions with the members of the industry who have raised this concern. We have identified some source of funding from the new economic development program that was just approved to cover the additional information we are sending out.
More importantly, as the Member has pointed out, there is some kind of commitment on the part of the people requesting information to make some kind of financial contribution to the program. We are looking at that aspect right now, but nothing has been finalized.
We are also trying to lower the cost for particularly the small operator, and looking at having them work with the Tourism Industry Association and, more specifically, Tourism Yukon, to put out a brochure with more information and take over more responsibility for putting out those responses to help reduce the cost to the individual operators.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Minister now talking about a generic brochure that would be put out? I know we put one out now that any client can put their stamp on the bottom of. The concern I have heard from some operators is that there are some great pictures in the brochure, and it looks like a wonderful and great place to visit, and the operators name is down in the corner. There is no disclaimer on the brochure - there may be on the new ones that are coming out, but perhaps I should ask the Minister that question.
The concern I have heard is that people may be looking at the brochure produced by, for example, a fly-in operator, and there is a picture of trail-riding and other activities on the brochure that this particular operator does not offer. Yet, this operators stamp and address is on there for further information. Some people would get a brochure like that and think that this operator offered all those activities.
Are we now putting a disclaimer on there, saying this particular operator may not offer all these but, for further information, inquire of the operator?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The very reason the Member has provided is the reason why we are not planning to put out a generic brochure. Also, all operators in, say, one particular area such as wilderness adventure do not always want to group themselves in the same generic promotional package, because they are, to some degree, in competition among themselves. Some of them offer very similar programs. The idea, for the future, is to work with operators in these various areas, and come out with a brochure that would assist them and reduce their participation costs. At the same time, we would be looking at ways to recover some costs from the people receiving the information.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Administration in the amount of an under expenditure of $2,000 agreed to
Heritage in the amount of $102,000 agreed to
Development in the amount of an under expenditure of $12,000 agreed to
Mr. Phillips: Earlier, I asked the Minister for the total cost of the study that is being done: what it has cost to date, what it will cost when it is done. I would like to also know when the Minister expects the study to be complete.
Hon. Mr. Webster: The research will continue for most of this calendar year and the results will be known early next year. The cost of the project will be in the neighbourhood of $200,000, of which I believe at least half is being provided through the Canada/Yukon Tourism Agreement.
Marketing in the amount of an under expenditure of $10,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Museum Assistance
Museum Assistance in the amount of an under expenditure of $53,000 agreed to
On Exhibits Assistance
Mr. Phillips: I do not have a question. It is more of a comment than a question.
I understand that some of this came from the new display on the highway at the MacBride Museum. Is some of this funding through this particular line item?
Hon. Mr. Webster: All the money identified in this line is money that was not spent by museums.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Webster: Capital assistance and museum assistance, right. The money that was provided to the MacBride Museum certainly was spent.
Mr. Phillips: I had the opportunity, with the Minister, to go to the opening of that particular exhibit. I would like to commend the staff of the MacBride Museum, the board of directors and all the people involved. They have done an outstanding job of that particular display. It certainly brings back some memories for me. I have lived in the Yukon for 43 years now and some of the pictures brought back some good memories. I am sure that this exhibit will bring back some pleasant memories of Whitehorse as it was during days gone by for the people who were here during the building of the highway, or even since that time, and who will have an opportunity to visit that museum this summer.
I would like to commend the board of directors of the MacBride Museum and the staff for the outstanding job they did on that display.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I thank the Member for his comments. I know that they will be appreciated by the board of directors and the staff of the MacBride Museum. I would like to inform the Member that one of the people who worked on the exhibits design was a Dawson City resident who has had extensive experience designing exhibits in the Dawson City Museum.
In addition to the hard work that was put into this project by the staff and the volunteers, a lot of cooperation came from long-time Yukon residents, who donated everything from their coveralls to old pieces of trucks. These donations really make this exhibit stand out and already it is clearly a favourite among visitors this year.
Mr. Phillips: Now and then, some really good people come out of Dawson City to provide for the well-being of the territory, not to mention any names. I agree with the Minister that Dawson City has good citizens as well.
While I am on my feet, I would like to mention one other group that I think has done a great job and that is the people at the Yukon Transportation Museum. I had an opportunity to go through the museum on Friday. If anyone here has not had that opportunity, they should go up there and look at it. They have done a super job on the Transportation Museum. In one year, they have transformed that building from a very old building to a very, very nice facility. This is something that we can all be proud of. Once people start to learn what is in this building, more people will stop and take the time to go into the facility. They really have done a bang-up job with the highway and with the great history of Yukon aviation. I believe Bob Cameron donated a lot of the stuff and has done a lot of work in there. This is an example of a facility that probably cost a lot less than a million dollars. Next to that is a facility that cost over $3.2 million.
If one were to compare the two facilities right now, one would look at all the effort and volunteer sweat that went into the one and be very proud of it. People have been asking questions about the design and so on of the other one, but we will not get into that today. I know it is a sensitive issue to the Minister. I just want to reiterate that I want to make sure the Ministers picture goes in the new building.
I do want to commend the staff, the organization and the executive of the Yukon Transportation Museum Society. They have done an outstanding job on that new facility. I would recommend that everyone go up there and have a look.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I want to thank the Member for his comments. Although that building certainly has not had $1 million dollars put into it from this government and other sources, when the volunteer time is added, it would be worth well over that amount. It is not the same kind of volunteer effort going into a brand new building, such as the Yukon visitor reception centre, but certainly this existing facility went through extensive renovations.
With respect to the Members comments on the facility itself, from all reports I have received from at least a half a dozen people who were fortunate enough to attend the opening day of the Yukon Transportation Museum - the milepost day - there have been rave reviews. The Member is quite right in that we should do everything we can do to encourage Yukoners to visit each of our museums. This, of course, is the goal of our passport program.
Mr. Phillips: I have one last little comment. I know the Minister said that he has outstanding people in his riding who contributed to the museums. I just want to mention that I have some outstanding residents in my riding on Wickstrom Road who worked on the Transportation Museum. We are very fortunate to have these good people all over the territory.
Exhibits Assistance in the amount of an under expenditure of $30,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
On Historic Sites Planning
Historic Sites Planning in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Heritage in the amount of an under expenditure of $78,000 agreed to
On Destination, Regional and Community Planning
On Strategic Planning
Strategic Planning in the amount of $7,000 agreed to
On Wilderness Resource Assessment
Wilderness Resource Assessment in the amount of an under expenditure of $2,000 agreed to
On Product Development
On Regional Planning Implementation
Regional Planning Implementation in the amount of an under expenditure of $5,000 agreed to
Development in the amount of nil agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of an under expenditure of $78,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on capital recoveries?
Mr. Phillips: Before we clear this budget, I have a question for the Minister I have repeatedly raised, and I would like to get an answer.
There was some concern at the TIA convention about informing Yukoners about the value of tourism to Yukoners themselves. In the workshop I was involved in, it came up several times from several people, not prompted by me. Several people raised the point about letting people in the Yukon know how important the tourism industry is to them in spinoff industries, and that sort of thing.
I have raised it with the Minister several times, and the Minister keeps saying he is going to do something, but I have not seen any action yet. Is the Minister going to do something about informing Yukoners on how valuable the industry is to them and their jobs?
Hon. Mr. Webster: The matter was raised at the TIA convention in Watson Lake. Although we are all speaking to the converted, all people present are fully aware of the benefits to be derived from tourism - the socio-economic well-being of our territory - but we all recognize that more can, should and is being done. A good example is the work TIA did a couple of weeks ago during National Tourism Awareness Week to better inform Yukoners of the value of tourism.
The Tourism department, and the work it is doing in development - working with community groups to develop regional plans - the more people it is working and speaking with, the more they realize that more could be done to make their area a tourism destination, get more people involved in the industry and to be more hospitable to our visitors to really make them feel welcome.
The passport program is an opportunity to provide more incentive for Yukoners to tour the Yukon and see what other regions of the territory have to offer by way of attractions. This will give them some encouragement so, when they have friends and family visiting them, they will take more pride in taking them to these attractions, be they our museums or the fish ladder at the Whitehorse Rapids.
All levels of government and the private sector already recognize the value of tourism to our territory and, as well, all recognize that more can be done and, I think, are starting to take more steps to bring that awareness to more people.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister mentioned that the Tourism Industry Association had its Tourism Awareness Week and, to me, that is the same as an anti-litter week. I almost wish that we could do away with an anti-litter week of doing a great campaign for one week per year. If we solved the problem in the first place by telling people that it is bad to litter, and not just during one week per year, we would not have any litter to clean up for that one week, or one month, per year when we make this concerted effort to go out and clean up everyones garbage.
The same thing can be said for Tourism Awareness Week - it should be 52 weeks per year. Everyone should be aware that, even though your business may be seasonal, one of the reasons that your boss can keep you on as a welder in the winter months is because he does so well in the summer months with all of the tourists. I think that that is important to tell people, not just in the summer months when they know that their job is related to it, but to remind them in the winter months so that they know that, although they might not be out on the front lines carrying bags up the stairs or serving the people at the hotel desks or restaurants, they certainly know that their job is very much dependent on the tourism industry, which is a vital part of the Yukon Territory.
It is the second-largest industry in the territory, but we do not hear anything about it until the first week of May, and then it sort of disappears at the end of September, as though it were seasonal, completely. Yet many, many businesses in this town exist year-round because of the tourism industry, and not just to serve the public for six months of the year. I think that people should be made more aware of that.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I could not agree more wholeheartedly with the Member. In fact, the situation is the same for the anti-litter campaign he described. I think that one way to approach that, in addition to the awareness campaigns that, albeit, are only held at specific times of the year, is to do more work in terms of education - getting to our young people so that it becomes a way of life, a habit, for them that, certainly, they do not litter and more fully appreciate the benefits to be derived from tourism. For that reason, I was particularly pleased to see at the opening event, the kickoff to National Tourism Awareness Week, the young people who came forward with copies of brochures that they had personally prepared to bring it to the attention of their family members - their parents and their brothers and sisters - and which are now on display at city hall here in Whitehorse and in the new Yukon visitor reception centre. Our young people here have taken a new interest in tourism, are aware of the benefits to be derived from it, and are promoting it themselves.
That is the place to start. If we have more education programs in our school system, such as Project Wild, our young people will be better informed. Not littering will become a habit with them and they may take a better interest in wildlife and their habitats, and, in this particular case, about the value of tourism to the Yukon.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the Minister for the answer, and I commend him for some of those activities, but I am just saying that we can do more. We are not doing enough; we can do more, and we should be doing more. It is not an area where we have to spend a million dollars on anything; for a small sum of money, we could make people a lot more aware, year-round, of how valuable this resource is to us.
The last area I want to touch on - I probably could have covered this in the Renewable Resources budget but it does have something to do with tourism - is the Campground Host program. I am curious why we would advertise in a Fort St. John paper for a Yukon campground host.
Hon. Mr. Webster: This may come as a surprise to the Member, but we get inquiries from many people, from British Columbia and Alberta in particular, who want to have an extended holiday in the Yukon and see this as a good way to spend two weeks of that extended period of time meeting visitors and Yukoners - a lot of Yukoners use our campgrounds - and I am surprised at the large volume of inquiries we get. In the past, we have involved residents of Alberta and British Columbia who already have a surprising knowledge of the Yukon and just want to experience it more fully themselves.
Mr. Phillips: I do not have a problem with that. The concern I have is: do we not have enough Yukoners applying now to fill all the positions in all the campgrounds? Is that the problem? Do we have to solicit people from out of territory to fill the positions?
My other question would be: for the people coming from B.C. and Alberta who, as the Minister says, are quite knowledgeable, do we provide them with a kit covering the history of the Yukon, what to see and what to do, so that when visitors come into the campground they can be informed as to where to go and what to see in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Webster: We do provide campground hosts with a great deal of information on, not only the Yukon itself, but also on the particular region where they are serving, particularly with regard to emergency services and services along the highways designed to serve the tourist. In response to the first part of his question, we are looking at expanding the number of campgrounds where the Campground Host program would be provided.
No, there are not at this time a sufficient number of Yukoners coming forward to devote two weeks of their life to serve as a campground host. Remember, the maximum amount of time that we would like them to serve is for two weeks. Considering the three or four campgrounds that we are already involved with, that involves quite a few Yukoners already.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister provide me with one of the kits that they provide to the campground host, so that I can see what is in the kit and what one learns about the Yukon when one become a campground host? I do not think that I have any other questions in this area.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Does the Member just want to see this kit or does he actually want to have one for himself?
Mr. Phillips: I do not want the Minister to just hold it up on the other side of the floor, if that is what he means, so that I can see it from a distance. I would like to have it in my possession for 24 hours or more. I promise if they are running short of kits, I will return the kit to the Minister intact. The Minister can number all of the pages and check them afterward, but I would like to have a copy to see what it contains. I promise that I will return it to the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I would be pleased to make a kit available to the Member.
Department of Tourism agreed to
Yukon Housing Corporation
Hon. Ms. Hayden: You have before you Supplementary No. 2, to the 1991-92 main estimates for Yukon Housing Corporation. Through this supplementary estimate the corporation is reducing its operation and maintenance budget by $1,257,000. This decrease results from the current lower interest rates. In addition, the corporation was able to make greater use than anticipated of the rent supplement program. This has resulted in less borrowing and a gain contributed to a reduced interest expense.
Reduced operation and maintenance expenditures are accompanied by a reduction in the corporations recovery by an amount of $1,166,000. This reduction in recoveries is entirely attributable to a reduction in the cost-shared programs expenditures.
The role of the corporation is to assist Yukon residents in achieving affordable, appropriate housing. This is being accomplished by ensuring, as much as possible, that the corporations programs are complementary to private sector initiatives. In addition, the corporation has worked for two or three years at changing its programs to make them more accessible to Yukoners. I believe that it has been quite successful in doing that. I would be happy to try and answer any questions Members have.
Mr. Devries: I guess that from a financial view, this would be good news.
I have some general questions about what is happening now, and what may have happened in the past. Is there a fairly substantial social housing backlog right now or is it under control?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am told that we have about 140 people, including seniors, on the waiting list.
Mr. Devries: Is the Yukon Housing Corporation planning any apartment complexes in Whitehorse to alleviate the Whitehorse portion of that backlog?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: We have a proposal for funding right now for, I believe, 36 units to a non-profit society in Whitehorse, which will help to alleviate some of the problem. As well, we have joint-venture funding well underway for an additional 45 units that will be made available to people in Whitehorse. This should alleviate some of the problem.
Mr. Devries: I suspect that some of this backlog is quite serious. Will these units be ready for fall occupancy? What is the plan?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: We hope the units will be ready for fall occupancy. Part of the problem for the Yukon Housing Corporation is the large cutback in the federal portion of housing units. We have been reduced from 60 units to 32 units for cost-shared funding. That causes a considerable problem for us in providing directly funded social housing.
Mr. Devries: During the debate last spring, one of the major problems was the availability of land to build on. From what the Minister is saying, may I assume the majority of those problems have now been resolved and these units are all ready to go up?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: The private group owned its own land, which certainly helped. The joint venture people have purchased their own land. In terms of finding specific land for Yukon housing, I do not think things have changed much. However, we are using different methods to provide housing because of some of the other restrictions that have come into play, especially as a result of the federal governments cutback.
Mr. Devries: This side likes to see the private sector involved as much as possible in these programs. Could the Minister supply me with more detail on what is happening in my riding?
The Minister is anticipating that I will bring up the Watson Lake housing shortage. Yukon Housing Corporation was being used as a mediator in developing some of this housing. Is there anything definitive that has been developed through that mediation process?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I know that I have a meeting coming up within the next day or two around this issue. We have made a call for proposals, as the Member is aware, and we had some 17 proposals come in. Three or four of those proposals were for apartment buildings and the rest were for single, detached housing. We are working with two of the proponents at the present time on the apartment buildings to try and bring something onstream. I do not know if I have anything more to tell the Member, but I certainly have some long notes here and I am quite prepared to give the information, in writing, that was asked for on the other questions.
Mr. Devries: I see quite a few ads in the paper with regard to retrofits. Is the backlog of social housing up to date in terms of insulation and retrofitting being completed, or is there quite a lot of work yet to be done?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: If the Member is asking about our own housing units, the retrofit is progressing on schedule, and we should be where we want to be with those units by next year.
Mr. Devries: In the area of social and government housing, is there ongoing monitoring on whether there is any damage being done to the buildings? It is my understanding that tenants do not pay a damage deposit. I have heard a few horror stories, both in Watson Lake and other areas, where some of these people have a houseful of animals, or where children are writing on the walls. If it was the tenants own home, I am sure that they would be much more cautious in the amount of damage they do. Quite often, when you live in someone elses home and you are not being held responsible, you tend to be a little lenient on discipline and things like that.
Is there any ongoing monitoring of some of these damage instances?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Like any renters or home owners, some people are not as careful as others, and sometimes there is damage done to the units. An annual inspection is done of the units. We do not ask for a damage deposit, because most people in social housing cannot afford damage deposits. However, if there is damage done, we collect for that damage after it has been done. In other words, we do not penalize the good tenants, but we do collect for the damage that has been committed.
Mr. Devries: If the tenants cannot afford a damage deposit, then I would assume that they cannot afford to pay for the damage when they leave.
When people are moved out of a home, is there any way to penalize them, perhaps through community work, and have them come back and repaint or repair some of the damage? It is very important that we hold people responsible for the things they do. This is one way that we could make people more responsible.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: We have a very good track record for collecting. These people are, for the most part, without a lot of money or they would not be in social housing. Therefore, those people who do look after their homes well should not be penalized by having to come up with a damage deposit in the first place.
If we find ourselves unable to collect, that person is not eligible for social housing again.
Mr. Devries: I understand that the Yukon Housing Corporation will be assuming responsibility for the SEAL program. When will this be taking place?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: No, the decision has been made to leave the SEAL program with Economic Development.
Mr. Devries: I have no further questions. I am prepared to go to line-by-line debate, unless someone else has questions.
Mr. Lang: I have a few questions. Can the Minister tell us how much social housing will be built or purchased by Grey Mountain Housing this year? Also, how many housing units have been allocated by the federal government to the Department of Indian Affairs?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As I am sure the Member knows, we do not finance any of Grey Mountain Housing nor any of the federally financed programs; however, I am told that we do have some information in our three-year housing plan that I can bring back to the Member.
Mr. Lang: It is all related. If Grey Mountain Housing, or the Department of Indian Affairs, is providing social housing in certain areas, then it is an area that we, as a government, do not have to become involved in. The left hand has to know what the right hand is doing in order to plan and budget for these various homes. I would appreciate that information.
There is a housing shortage for the younger people in the community, who may be able to afford a smaller home, or whatever. One of the areas where I see a weakness of the mortgage program, with the requirement of a two and one-half percent down payment, is that it does not apply to mobile homes, unless they are brand new.
With the minimum down payment of two and one-half percent, a lot of people can barely meet their mortgage payments, in part because the mortgage interest rates are relatively low right now. At the same time, these houses cost in the neighbourhood of $100,000.
It would be advantageous if the Yukon Housing Corporation would look at the policy from the point of view of whether or not it is prepared to extend the policy to allow mobile homes in mobile home parks. I do not understand the resistance to that. In the old days, the idea was that a person would move in, hook up to a mobile home and leave. That does not happen any more or, if it does, it is a very isolated case, I am sure.
I would like the Minister to ask the corporation to review that aspect of the policy. It would specifically allow these younger people the opportunity to get equity into a home much more quickly, and then they can get into a higher-priced home with a lot less debt. It would be more advantageous to them.
I would submit that we would be able to help a lot more people initially in the housing stages.
Another aspect - and I am specifically speaking of the Whitehorse area - is the question of mobile home parks. The problem is that there is no place - or very few places - to park a mobile home in Whitehorse any longer.
What is the Yukon Housing Corporation - or the housing corporation in conjunction with the lands department - doing for promoting a number of other private mobile home parks being built and put on the market, or land being made available to those who would like to develop one, so that that can provide another housing option to those people out there who are sadly in need of it?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: First of all, in response to the Members comments about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, and so on, we do indeed know what housing Grey Mountain is putting in and what the federal government is putting in. That is how we do our overall planning. I do not keep that information in my files because it is not my information, as such.
In response to the comment about providing mortgages for mobile homes, we provide mortgages for mobile homes that meet the Z-240 standard - I expect the Member knows what that means. We do not, of course, provide mortgages for homes that will have too short a lifespan to live out the mortgage.
In relation to mobile home parks, that is of course the responsibility of the lands branch. I have heard the Minister for Community and Transportation Services talk a number of times in this House about the Arkell subdivision and the fact that that land is coming onstream for trailer homes.
As for trailer parks, I do not have any specific information.
Mr. Lang: The point that I am making is that Arkell is one alternative. Basically, that would be an alternative in the range of $90,000 to $100,000 for housing, depending on the rules that the City of Whitehorse establishes as to what kind of mobile home can be in that subdivision.
If you are looking at a new mobile home, they run in the range of $50,000 to $60,000. By the time that you park the mobile home you can add an additional $5,000 to $10,000, together with the price of land, you are looking at approximately $90,000. I see the president of the Yukon Housing Corporation nodding his head, acknowledging that I am in the ball park.
My concern is for the mobile homes presently in private mobile home parks. I would like to see whether or not the policy can be revised to allow people to purchase mobile homes in those mobile home parks, because the life of those trailers than what anyone ever thinks. Those mobile homes are being repaired and renovated on a continuous basis - some of the old ones date back to the early 1970s.
I would like the Minister to ask the Yukon Housing Corporation to review their policy as to whether or not they would be prepared to specifically help young people, perhaps first time home owners, to offset the cost of their down payment in the mobile home parks, because it is a starting point for them.
I do not know if I am making my point clear, but I am really concerned that a lot of people are getting into a situation with their mortgages where they are just barely making ends meet. I do not think that we are doing them any favours in the long term, especially if the interest rate jumps from nine percent to 12 or 13 percent and they are hardly able to meet their debt-to-mortgage ratio at the present time.
All that I am asking is if the Minister would consider that. I think that it is another viable option and we may be able to help more people than we are now. It may not necessarily be a case of large mortgages.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As I said before, as long as a mobile home meets the Z-240 standard, the people do qualify. Is the Member suggesting that the Yukon Housing Corporation get into the business of developing a mobile home park? Is that what he is talking about?
Mr. Lang: I may be missing something, but I was under the impression that the mortgage program does not apply to mobile homes located in a mobile home park, such as Northland, and perhaps I am wrong. I would like to see the Minister correct the record for me, and I will withdraw my point, if that is the case.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: That criteria was changed two years ago.
Mr. Lang: I just want to pursue that a little further. Is the Minister telling the House that, if a person has the two and one-half percent required down payment, the Yukon Housing Corporation will finance the balance of a mobile home that meets the Z-240 standard situated in a mobile home park, for example, Northland?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes, as long as the mobile home meets the standard, it can be located in a mobile home park. The amortization is shorter than the 25 years for a house, but it is what the banks would ask for.
Mr. Lang: I would like to pose a question with regard to another area of concern and that has to do with housing that has been renovated for handicapped people. In my riding, there is an individual with a handicapped son who requires wheelchair assistance. Up to this point, this individual has had to pay 25 percent of his or her net income. There is not much incentive to work toward increasing their gross family income because of the 25-percent criteria; yet, if they move, it is very difficult to get accommodations that would allow for that type of handicap.
If a family gets in the position of being able to afford to purchase a home - as long as the price is within reason - why should they not be allowed to purchase that home as opposed to having to find a home that would have to be renovated. Conversely, affected families look at their gross family income and say to themselves that there is no point in striving for a better standard of living.
Under these circumstances, would the Minister consider - and I know that there are not a lot of them - of setting a selling price to the individuals. I realize that it would remove from the government stock a house that had been built or renovated for the handicapped, but on the other hand, if it were put on the market in the future, that is the type of people who would be looking at purchasing it. Nine times out of 10, it would be used by that type of family. I would like to hear what the Minister has to say about that.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: First of all, the 25 percent of net income is a criteria of CMHC. The social housing stock that we have has been built with CMHCs assistance. There is no mechanism for selling that stock. We do not have that opportunity; it is not permitted under CMHCs guidelines or rules.
What people in that situation can do, with our help, is use the home ownership program, if they qualify. We also have a program for home repair where units are renovated to make them accessible to people who require a wheelchair or have other needs. That would be the only way that these people could own their own home under our programs. We do not, and cannot, sell our social housing stock.
Mr. Lang: Would the Minister provide me with the specific sections or policy that states that the federal government prevents Yukon Housing Corporation from selling any of that housing?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes.
Mr. Lang: The Minister committed herself the other day in the Department of Health and Social Services supplementaries to provide us with the statistics of those unemployed from the Department of Indian Affairs who are receiving social assistance. They were not included in the statistics that were provided to the House. I am wondering if the Minister could tell us when we are going to get that information.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am told that the information was sent over from the Department of Indian Affairs in a very disorganized form. It came in great piles of paper and must be sorted. As soon as the person in the department who is working on it can find all that information and put it together, it will come to me and then to the Members.
Chair: We will take a break.
Chair: I now call Committee back to order.
Mr. Devries: I have just one further question on damage. The Minister covered the social housing aspect, but is there any control over a government employee who is living in government housing, if there is damage to the house?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am told that we do do inspections, but I do not have the information on the other criteria, as to whether it is exactly the same as the social housing or not. If the Member would like, we can bring that information back to him.
Mr. Devries: If a person moved out of government housing into their own home, and considerable damage had been done to the government house, is there any way that you can hold that person responsible for some of the damages?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Yes, and we do collect for damages incurred.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Gross Expenditures
Gross Expenditures in the amount of an under expenditure of $1,257,000 agreed to
Yukon Housing Corporation agreed to
On Loan Capital
On Expenditure - Loans to Third Parties
Expenditure - Loans to Third Parties in the amount of $47,000 agreed to
On Recovery - Loans to Third Parties
Recovery - Loans to Third Parties in the amount of $47,000 agreed to
Loan Capital in the amount of nil agreed to
On Loan Amortization
Loan Amortization in the amount of nil agreed to
On Schedule A
Schedule A agreed to
On Schedule B
Schedule B agreed to
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move
THAT the Chair of Committee of the Whole report Bill No. 10, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92, out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 13 - An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Chair: The next order of business is Bill No. 13, entitled An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for circulation some information in regard to the amendments. It provides a brief explanation to some of the controversial sections of the act, that were either put in or taken out of the act. This will also give Members a rough idea of how those changes came about, and includes what is not incorporated into the bill from the initial workbook that went out in November.
There still appears to be some controversy in regard to the act. The area of concern raised by the Chamber of Commerce is that there is some suggestion that we did not follow all of the recommendations of the Yukon Council on the Environment and the Economy.
I explained to the House during second reading debate that we included certain things in the act, according to what the committee had recommended.
I believe that there was no consensus on four or five items. In those circumstances we left that section out entirely, because there was no consensus reached.
One of the areas was in section 13. We wanted to include well-being in the section, but there was no consensus reached on that wording.
We made some changes to that section, but they did not change the content of it.
There was no consensus reached with respect to another section having to do with working on a general holiday. What the draft act said was that one would get overtime on a general holiday if one had been working for 30 days. I am not sure which section it is, but we left the 30-day limit in it and that was another part of the act.
There was some discussion with respect to qualifying for parental leave; however, no consensus was reached on that, and that section was left as it was. No consensus was reached on notice of termination, and whether or not it should be three months, as we had recommended. It used to be six months; we were recommending that it should be three months, but no consensus was reached on that, so we put three months in the act. No consensus was reached on the definition of a family.
I think I gave some wrong information with respect to the 30 days. We were recommending that they be eligible for overtime and there was no limit. It is 30 days right now, and we left it at 30 days in the existing act. So, those are the areas that we did not reach consensus on.
With respect to repealing section 50, which is deducting a weeks wages from an employee, there was a recommendation that we leave that in. The decision reached by Cabinet and by caucus is that we could not leave that in the act. We did not think that, although it was unfair to the employer not to give notice, we thought it was very unfair if an employee was deducted a weeks wages, especially in certain circumstances where one could be dealing with a single parent or a family man who is the only person working in the family. In many cases we did not know whether or not the family would be suffering as a result of that.
We believe that everyone working should get paid.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to make a few comments on the process we have gone through. We now have the report of the Council on the Economy and the Environment. Now, both the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce have expressed some concerns about the action the Minister has taken.
Some members of the Council on the Economy and the Environment feel like they have been somewhat had. They feel that way because they had understood that those issues that they reached a consensus on would be the ones to which the government would give strong consideration. Section 50 was one that they all reached consensus on, and they felt it should be left in the act. Some of the people in that particular meeting gave up other sections and reached consensus on other sections as a kind of trade-off as in negotiations. They gave in on one area in order to get agreement on another. That is the problem we have now. Some of the members of the Council on the Economy and the Environment feel that they have been compromised and that the government only was listening to what it wanted to hear - a sort of selective consulting - and did not take into consideration what the council said on other issues.
That is an issue that gives some concern. The Minister gave her rationale for deducting the weeks wages in clause 50, and said if the employee were a single parent, for instance, it should be paid for work done. In clause 50, it says with the consent of the employee; therefore, it has to be with the consent of the employee to deduct the wages. It cannot just be deducted outright. The Minister should understand that.
In some ways, the government has come closer to what people would like to see with this act. There are still some areas where we have strong concerns. I have strong concerns that both the chambers and the businesses in the territory are extremely concerned about the act. We have yet to see any documents from the Minister showing actual studies of the cost of the act. I would like to see any documentation the Minister has that shows the act is only going to cost employers in the territory one percent. Does the Minister have any of that information to share with us?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We do not have that information, and I am not sure whether or not we would be able to provide anything more than what we have already made available. The information we made available was based on what was in the workbook, and I think the figure we came out with at that time was around four percent. Of course, there have been many changes since that period of time. If something is being put together with regard to cost now, I can have it available. Whether or not I would have it available tonight, I cannot say.
The Member talks about the process and the manner in which we did things. There are many opinions on the manner in which we proceeded with the recommendations that came from the committee, and we had to do a lot of deep thinking before we decided exactly what we were going to do.
The whole process has taken a long time and, from the very first time I introduced the workbook in the House in November, a lot of work has been done by the chambers, by labour and by businesses, as well as by our officials in the Department of Justice. We have not made these changes lightly. We have taken a lot of things into consideration. The chamber, of course, is not pleased with what has happened as a result of those recommendations, nor is labour. I think they would have liked to have seen us go a little further than we did in the final draft of the act.
I was given a copy of the resolution at the conference held at the same time the review was being done by the committee. They would have liked us to include many things in the act, but because we were dealing with a draft act at the time, that was not possible.
Although there has not been anything public in the media, there is some concern by that group of people that we have not gone far enough. I do not think that, during this whole process, there is going to be one body of people that is going to be satisfied with the manner in which we put this act together. There are going to be people out there who will be dissatisfied that things did not go their way. I speak from the point of view of many different groups and individuals.
The department has spent a lot of time putting this information together and we have done a lot of work. I hope that we have come up with something that is very fair, because a lot of the things that we took into consideration when we developed the draft act were as a result of lobbying from businesses.
I have talked to many business people since this draft act was sent out to everyone. I have been told by a lot of business people that they can live with this and that they do treat their employees very respectfully. These businesses would like to comply with the act, but we certainly have to change things a bit.
I understand that the Chamber of Commerce, although it represents a lot of people, includes a lot of business people who are quite pleased with the act and are quite willing to abide by it and support it.
We still have to concern ourselves with those young students who are out there working. There is a growing number of students who feel that they have been treated very unfairly, and there is a growing group of people under 16 who are not getting the minimum wage. As well, there is a growing group of people out there who are working in situations where they are paid minimum wage, or just above it.
There are many people whom we have to take into consideration, not only the concerns of the Chamber of Commerce, as the Member for Riverdale North has done. We have compromised in many ways, on both sides. I believe that we have come up with an act that we can all live with.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister is misrepresenting me when she says that all I have been concerned about are the concerns of the Chamber of the Commerce. I have expressed the Chambers concerns but the Minister knows I spoke on second reading about the concerns of the employees; that employees are quite concerned about how some of these changes will affect them and their employers ability to be flexible with them and their job. I think those are some of the concerns that have come out of this.
When the Minister passed this particular act on to the Council of the Economy and the Environment, the Minister heralded the group as a good group to look at the act, a group that has a consensus-type decision-making process and the Minister said that this is a good way to go. I was not too crazy about the process in the beginning, but we received a report from that committee. I guess what is frustrating is that the Minister then decided to pick and choose what she did and did not like in that report.
Yet, the committee did not form its decisions on the fact that the Minister was going to pick and choose. If they did that, I am sure they would have made very different recommendations in the report. There was give and take in that particular discussion, from the members that I have talked to. In some cases, they gave in on certain issues to get clause 50, or whatever. The Minister has now plucked that out from under them and undermined the working of the whole committee. That is the concern the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and I have. The representatives on that committee were told the ground rules in looking at the committees report. Then, when the government received the report, it just plugged in its original plans. It had no intention of listening to the committee on the more controversial items, but was just going to plow ahead with them as it liked.
I am disappointed that the Minister has chosen that approach. It has undermined the confidence in the Minister that the business community had prior to this. I would be interested to hear if the Minister actually understood how the Council on the Economy and the Environment was going to work. She has undermined the councils work in this instance. That is unfair to the council and the people who will be affected by the act.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I knew exactly what I was doing when I sent this draft act to the committee. They were to review the draft and make recommendations to me, which they did. There were certain areas where they could not reach a consensus, and we dealt with those. There was one area that the Member spoke about - clause 50 - that they wanted left in, but we did not do everything the way we wanted to. A lot of concessions were made in many of the sections where recommendations were made, and we dealt with every section, except one, where there was consensus. That does not say we did everything the way we wanted to, because we did not.
There was the one section we could not agree to - and I am not about to go into that one right now, because we have done so already and will again when we come to the section. There was a lot of give and take on this. If we were to have gone, as the draft act had indicated, we would have had an act that would probably have caused some problems out there; but we dealt with them. Whether or not we agreed with all of the sections that came from the committee is something that no one will really know, because they reached consensus on many things that we might not have agreed to.
We did, because some things were reduced. I believe that the recommendations that were provided to us were respected by us, although we did go along with every single one except the one on which they reached the consensus.
I did not do everything the way I wanted. I did only in that one section. It was because of our philosophy that we chose to put in the final draft that we wanted to repeal it. As I said, there are workers out there who have asked for much more than what is included in the bill. I really believe that we did make compromises and that the resulting bill before us is something we can work with.
Mr. Phillips: It is too bad that the Minister could not have at least been honest with the Council on the Economy and the Environment. If she had, she would have told them that section 50 would be staying in no matter what they decided. But the Minister said she wanted their recommendations and would give them serious consideration. Now the Minister is saying that it is part of her philosophy that there were no plans to change it in the first place; it is just a red herring. She used it to manipulate the council. The council feels manipulated and I think that is unfortunate.
She should have at least been honest with the committee in the first place.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We could go back and forth here all day, but the fact is that they do make recommendations to us. We take all of those recommendations very seriously. The Member for Riverdale North said that I had no intention of listening to them. Well, the fact is that we put this before the committee and we did listen. We did not listen on section 50, which the Member for Riverdale opposes, but I am sure that workers in his riding would disagree with him, but that was only one section. As the Member knows, the Cabinet makes the final decision. I appreciate the fact that they did come forward with recommendations. We were able to work with all of them, except for one. Their work was valuable to us. I know that the Member for Riverdale North speaks very strongly on behalf of the business people and the chamber, and that is exactly what he is doing today, but there are two sectors out there. There are the workers and there are the people who employ those workers. We have considered both sides.
Mr. Devries: I have received several comments on the act from various people. One of the concerns I received from members of the business community - and this pertains to most of our legislation - is that this legislation be made available on MS-DOS, so that people can pick it up on their computer, either via a 2400-baud modem, or whatever. That way they do not have to wait for things to be mailed to them. They could just dial a number here, hook up their computer and pick it up off your system. This is just a matter of convenience. I am sure that acts are prepared with the use of a word processor. Once the legislation is ready, word would just have to go out and a bunch of people could tap in and pick it up via their computer, rather than having to wait for the mail.
Another concern they had was that these recommended changes really butcher the old act. They felt that it would be much easier for them to have reviewed it if it had been made available to them in such a way that the whole thing was already put together, and that a line or something be added noting the sections where there were changes. This line would indicate that this section was new or that there was a change in the section. This way, people could look at the whole act in one context. I also have a very difficult time with this. You are always leafing between one page and another. It would be much more convenient. It is just a question of being able to do that in the future.
Once the final act has been completed, it was requested that it be made available through computer access. That way people could keep it on one little disk as opposed to having to keep it in a file. Government legislation tends to become very cumbersome and, if you know how to use a computer, it is much easier to just punch in a number and get to the proper section, et cetera.
I wonder if the Minister has any comments on that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would suspect that if we made this act available through a computer, then there would be many more acts that they would want available. I have not heard of this before, so I cannot make any comment. I do not know what the cost would be or how hard it would be to do this. You would have to have a computer to get that information, and I do not know how many people out there are fortunate enough to have a computer.
Of course, the act will be available to anyone who wants it, but in regard to that suggestion I think that it would require further review, because I am not a computer expert, nor do I own a computer. I am not sure what else the Member asked me, but certainly I do not have a comment right now, except that I do not know enough about it.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister some questions about the operation of this new piece of legislation, the administrative operations. The Minister is familiar with my position on the changes so I am not going to re-hash and harp on about what my position is. We will agree to disagree, but I would like to ask the Minister some technical questions.
Can the Minister tell us how much it is going to cost to implement this legislation, particularly for checking up on the business community to see if they are complying with the legislation? Are there going to be new person years involved? Is the Minister going to have a system in place to evaluate whether or not businesses are adhering to this act, or is the government going to wait to see if there is a complaint, at which time they would go to the legislation to enforce an action against an employer?
I would like to see how the Minister sees these new changes taking place.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We will be looking at putting together a communication plan to allow the employers and employees out in all the communities to learn more about the changes that are being made and how they will affect them. We are already starting to put that plan together. We have been talking about it for a long time because, certainly with any new act, the people who use it will have to be educated.
Right now, I do not think we can talk about whether or not we are going to be doing an evaluation to find out how it works. First of all, we have to get the information out to all the people. As I mentioned previously, many employers have contacted the labour services program on many occasions in the past to find out whether or not they were complying with the act, and I am sure that will continue. We intend to get the information out.
It is my understanding that we will not be hiring any new person years. We will continue to run the program the same as has always been done. I do not have a figure yet on the cost of implementation, and I am not sure whether it is available. If it is, I will make sure the Member has that information.
Mrs. Firth: I would like that information. I would also like to know what the cost of the communication plan will be and if it will be done in-house or will a special communications consultant be hired?
I want to ask the Minister what the governments priority is with this communication plan. Is it to emphasize employees rights and put out a communication telling them what they are or will it be to tell the business community what the new law is, and how they will have to change the operation of their business to accommodate the new requirements that this government has imposed upon them in the form of new laws?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not know the cost of the communication plan. We have not got the plan together so we cannot give Members a total figure. We will be using in-house people. We will not be hiring anyone to do it. When I have the information, I will be pleased to give it to the Member.
With regard to who will be receiving this information, it is a fact that it will affect the workers and business people equally. I do not think there will be more emphasis put on one than the other. It is important that we get that information out to everyone.
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is exactly how it will be done.
Mrs. Firth: I guess the concern has to do with the way the original booklet was distributed. I know that the employees had the book far sooner than the employers did.
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is not true.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is shaking her head and saying it is not true. However, that was the concern that was brought to me by constituents of mine - that their employees had had the books and had found out about this situation far in advance of the employers. That feeling is out there. The Minister cannot dismiss it just by shaking her head.
All that I am asking is that if the intention is that the workers and the employers get the information at the same time, then I think that is something the Minister should be prepared to give a commitment on, so that everyone feels like they have received the information at the same time, that they have all been informed at the same time and have all been treated in an equal fashion. I look forward to the Ministers commitment to see that that happens in this case.
Chair: Committee will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are on An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I wanted to comment on one thing that was said by the Member for Riverdale South. It was in regard to notifying the employers and employees when the workbook was first delivered to various businesses in town. The fact is, they were delivered to businesses. We had a few people from the department delivering them at the same time. At no time were any of our officials deliberately delivering them or passing them out to employees on the way out of their workplace. I wanted to get that straight. When we do give out information, it is not given to anybody first, such as the employees first or the employers. There is never any intention to do one before the other.
Mr. Devries: During debate here just a little while ago, the Minister talked about students, many of whom she felt were getting below minimum wage. The Minister did not think that this was too fair. When I think about that, I say, Welcome to the real world. I think I have spent half of my life working just around the minimum wage standard. If you start paying 14 or 15 year old students a substantial wage, the next thing you know they will be wanting to drop out of school because they think they are doing so great.
One of the incentives that keeps a student in school is to pay them what people think they are worth; if a student is a good worker, I think most employers take notice of that and give them a little bonus at the end of their summer or whatever. But I do not think under-age students should be covered by the Employment Standards Act, and I am pleased to see that it is not included in here.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The students are included in this act everywhere except in the section covering minimum wage, so they do have some protection. I have a really difficult time agreeing with the Member for Watson Lake when he says, Welcome to the real world. We are not treating our students who are under 17 very well. I do not know whether or not the real world is a good place for students or not - his real world as described by him. That is not my perception of what we want to do for our young people out in the workforce. I know we have had some representation from them in regard to including those individuals under 17 years of age in the minimum wage provision; but I was talking about the manner in which some of them are treated. Those different circumstances have been related to me by them.
That is what I spoke about. Somehow they have not felt that they have had the protection, but they do under this act, except for the minimum wage.
Mr. Devries: While we are on general debate, one concern that was brought to me was where there is a certain date pertaining to the end of the collective agreement with the Government of Yukon. There may be several other existing collective agreements by other organizations. Perhaps the act should not be applied to them until they have expired. The Minister should give some thought to including that flexibility into clause 53.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Most other groups and organizations have been included under this act. What we are doing now is binding the Yukon government under this act. Previously, it was not included. What we are doing now, at the request of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment, is to include it in the act, so that the act will apply to the government, as well. Until now, they were not bound by it.
Mr. Devries: I know what the Minister is saying, but there could be some existing collective agreements that follow the old act, but these amendments could make some changes to them. I wonder if it should not apply until the end of this collective agreement.
Hon. Ms. Joe: All people who have bargained for an agreement have done so under the act as it is now. We are now including the government under the act. I do not think that it makes any difference when this comes into effect, as far as the other groups are concerned, because they have always been bound by this act, so that they continue to do their bargaining and negotiating as they have done in the past.
I mentioned that the preamble, as listed in the bill, is something new that has been added, and has been added at the request of the committee.
Chair: We will clear the preamble at the end.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Mr. Devries: I want to go on the record again as being opposed to the phrase has cohabited as a couple; my understanding is that this means a same-sex couple. I do not consider a same-sex couple a couple.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Mr. Phillips: Maybe the Minister could tell us the definition of a week. It says that it means a period of seven consecutive days established by the employers payroll records, or determined by an employment standards officer. Can the Minister explain why this would be determined by an employment standards officer?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The definition of week in the existing act started at midnight on Saturday and ended at midnight on the following Saturday. We are changing the wording so that the week can start at the time the employer would like it to start.
For instance, if an employer felt that their payroll, or any other thing that they were responsible for, should start at a different day of the week, that we can allow them to do that, rather than saying that the official week is from Saturday to Saturday.
Mr. Phillips: Is that not satisfied by saying that one week means a period of seven consecutive days, established by the employers payroll records, period? The employment standards officer does not have to determine what a week is.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to include the explanatory note that I have here. This definition gives employers more flexibility in setting the work week. For example, an employers pay week may run from Thursday to Wednesday. That employer may find it more convenient to have a work week with Thursday as the first day of the week rather than Sunday. Overtime would be calculated using the Thursday to Wednesday week, rather than the current Sunday to Saturday. The amendment also allows the employment standards officer to set the work week for that purpose of payroll audits when the employer has not established a regular pay week.
Mr. Phillips: How can it be of benefit to the employer if the employment standards officer is going to set the week? Is the employer going to recommend to the employment standards officer when the week shall be and then the officer will establish the week?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The officer would only establish the work week in accordance with what day is agreed to by the employer. For example, if someone were to start a work week on a Wednesday, the officer would not say what his or her definition of the work week is. It was not flexible in the old act. There have been some requests to change it over the years.
Mrs. Firth: Does this mean that if an employee wanted to work 10 consecutive days, it would be denied, even if there was an agreement between the employer and employee?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are talking about dealing with records in this section. There is provision in another part of the act allowing employees to work, for instance, 10 consecutive days. This has nothing to do with that section.
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Hon. Ms. Joe: This was the clause that was mentioned by the Member for Watson Lake. It is to bind the government to this act, which had not previously been the case.
Mr. Devries: Further on, pertaining to this, it talks about a clause where they were changing something from six months to three months. Again, the concern is that we are forcing a different probationary period on the private sector. In Education, it is my understanding that a teacher is on probation for two years. All of a sudden, the average businessman cannot keep an employee on probation for more than three months. We get into it again further on in the act, and I question the different rules for different people.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not exactly sure what the Member is speaking about. Is he speaking about different probation periods of time this government has and this act applies to? I am not sure what he is referring to.
Mr. Devries: Later on, I believe it says that, after six months, an employee cannot be fired without giving them a weeks notice, or something. To me, if there is a probationary period, the general understanding is that you can dismiss a person very quickly, rather than having to go through that process.
I am sure there is an appeal procedure in the Department of Education if a teacher is dismissed while on probation, but I still question whether we are establishing different rules for different folks.
I will bring it up again when we get into the clause that actually pertains to what I am referring to.
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Mrs. Firth: If I may, I think the issue here is that the clause says that this act binds the Government of Yukon and applies to every employee, yet the act provides for a three-month probationary period but the probationary period for a teacher is two years. Does that mean that the probationary period for teachers is going to change? That raises a whole bunch of other questions: why do teachers need a two-year probationary period if the government is saying that the private sector and other employees of government are going to be bound by the three-month probationary period?
Hon. Ms. Joe: One of the things we are asking for in this section is to not implement this section until January of 1995, which is a long time from now. We understood many things would have to be taken into consideration if this were included in the act. That is exactly what we are doing. There are many things the government will have to take into consideration when it is going through the process of collective bargaining. There might even be other things the Members may not even have thought about, but it is not as if we are going to be doing this tomorrow. We will be providing at least two years to try to rectify the kinds of concerns the people on the other side have mentioned.
Mrs. Firth: I want to get something clear. The Minister is saying that this particular clause is not going to come into effect until January of 1995. If that is the case, why is it in here?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It was one of the recommendations made by council that was in the workbook and then came out in the draft act. We felt that there was much more work that had to be done. There were many other concerns that were included in it, but it was recommended by the council. Realizing all the different problems that it would create, we stated in this act that it would not come into effect until January 1995.
Mr. Nordling: Will the probationary period for teachers in the Yukon be reduced to three months as of January 1, 1995, or when their new collective agreement is signed, whichever comes first?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot answer that question. As I mentioned, there are many things that will have to be taken into consideration in regard to this. That is why we have given them until 1995 to establish what some of those concerns are and how they can be included in a collective agreement.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to follow up on that. The clause in the back of the act says that this comes into place in 1995. This is exactly what the Member for Porter Creek West said. If we pass this legislation, in 1995, whether we like it or not, their probationary period is going to change from whatever it is now to three months. Is that not right?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It would appear to be what the situation is right now. One of the Members - I do not know which Member it was - asked me why we were including it in this bill now. We did so because there was a request to do so.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Joe: I guess the Member did not want to hear what I had to say, but that is okay.
There are many things that we will have to deal with and this is one of them. It will allow us to deal with the circumstances that will arise as a result of any collective agreements. If this provision comes into effect at the time the collective agreement bargaining is going on, the provisions of this act will have to be taken into consideration. I cannot tell you what the result of the collective bargaining is going to be. If it happens that they are bound by this act, then I imagine that is the way it is going to be, but that is two and one-half years or more down the road.
Mrs. Firth: I still do not understand why it is in here. What the Minister is actually doing is entering into the collective bargaining process through the Employment Standards Act amendments. I do not know who requested specifically that this be put in here, but I am sure that the union would be very happy to have the probationary period reduced from a period of two years to three months. That is a big bonus and a big coup for them.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: That is right. They do not have to bargain for it. It is in here three years in advance. Governments change, a lot of things change, and the Minister has put this in law three years in advance of it coming into force. We may as well bring all kinds of laws in the House and say, Well, we want these laws to come into effect some time. I would question the appropriateness of it; I am not satisfied with the Ministers rationale that the council asked that it be in here.
I was wondering if the school committees are aware of the change that has been made because, if I am not mistaken, that has been one of the reasons the longer probationary period has been required - it has been at the request of some of the schools, school councils and the communities. I would like to know whether the Minister is aware of what the impact of this change is on the probationary periods for teachers.
Hon. Ms. Joe: In some other jurisdictions in Canada, teachers are exempted from the act. It was one of the recommendations made by the committee that there would be some review done in order to find out how it may fit into this act and whether or not they would be exempted as well. That was one of the considerations that they made in making this recommendation.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister now saying that the teachers might be exempted from this? Is that what she is saying?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The committee had mentioned that it be reviewed and that other acts across the country be reviewed to find out how teachers came to be exempted. It was suggested that at least those employees be looked at.
Mrs. Firth: I have one further question. Does the Minister not think that it would be more practical or logical to get that review process done before a clause like this is put in the act, so she can give us a specific answer?
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I said, this section will not come into force until 1995, which gives us a lot of time to conduct a review. We understand that it is not going to be the easiest thing. If we felt that it was, then we could include it along with everything else in this act that will come into force at the same time, realizing the problem as the Members across the way have mentioned. We did include a clause in the act that would allow us to enforce this on January 1, 1995.
Mr. Phillips: We are in a very interesting situation here. For all intents and purposes, clause 6(2) binds the Government of the Yukon completely to this act - every department, teachers included.
That is the intention laid out in the report from the Council of the Economy and the Environment. The Council of the Economy and the Environment said, and I quote, The Government of the Yukon should lead by example and should be legislatively bound to adhere to the provisions of the Employment Standards Act.
Mysteriously, the very last clause in this act states, Section 6 comes into force on January 1, 1995 or on the day after March 31, 1993 when the Government of the Yukon next enters into a collective agreement with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, whichever is the earlier.
The Minister cannot have it both ways. She cannot stand up and tell us that she is honouring the wishes of the Council of the Economy and the Environment, when their wishes clearly state that the government be bound by everything. Then the Minister tells us that whatever we strike in the collective agreement may be the new arrangement for teachers or whatever other profession. That is not honouring what the Council for the Economy and the Environment asked for.
We are either bound by it or not. It is either put in or left out. The government cannot have it both ways.
Hon. Ms. Joe: If we did want it both ways, we would have done something a bit differently. This was the recommendation. They recommended that government be bound by this act and, for that reason, we set a time line. If that was not included in here, we would be hearing the complete opposite. They cannot have it both ways.
Mr. Devries: While we are on the subject of whom this would apply to, as a matter of curiosity, when the umbrella final agreement is settled upon and there is a model self-government agreement, would it bind the First Nations to this act? Would they have the option of opting out? Clause 2(1) says it applies to every employee in the Yukon and to the employer of such employees. Would that still be the situation after a model self-government agreement is established?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not sure whether or not there is provision in the UFA for employment standards, as they would like there to be. I cannot tell him that. It is my understanding that this will apply to all employers and employees in the Yukon. I do not know whether or not their self-government laws include their own employment laws under their act. I cannot tell him that, because I am not privy to that information.
Mr. Devries: I guess we can hammer this out when we go through the land claims legislation. My concern would be that we could create unfair employment practices, where there could be more lenient rules that would give unfair competitive advantages to certain segments of the population.
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Mr. Brewster: I am going to have to speak on this one on behalf of the lodges. I do not think people really understand what they are talking about when they say an emergency. If you have an emergency, you have to find the director somewhere and have him give permission to work overtime without 24-hours notice.
I can give you one good example. Someone has six buses coming in at noon hour, and the road just washed out for five hours, then they all arrive. Is he going to run around and look for a director to get approval to work overtime? That is absolutely ridiculous.
There is another thing I would like to point out. Quite frankly, a lot of the people who come up to work in these lodges want to work overtime for two reasons. Some work the overtime so they have more to go back to university with. Others work it so they can take holidays in lieu of pay; they like to have four or five days of holidays so they can see Dawson and other places while they are here. One day is no good to them when they are 100 miles away in a lodge.
This has worked successfully for years up here. Now, all of a sudden, we have to run around to find the director. If they work overtime, they have to do this and that, and all these buses are piled up. There are 32 passengers to a bus, so that is 150 to 160 people, and nobody can work, because they would be on overtime, and the director cannot be found. He is probably off, because it is after 5:00 p.m., and he is gone. This is probably 11:00 at night.
This is really ridiculous, and the lodges will never be able to operate under these conditions. Whomever made up these laws has never been or worked around a lodge and does not understand them. Believe me, I know. I have seen my wife crying, and everything else, in these lodges. Do not tell me this will work, because it will not. It is an impossibility.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There is nothing in here that will prevent anyone from working overtime with the mutual agreement of both parties. There is nothing in here that states otherwise.
If someone has been asked to work overtime in a situation like that, and the employee agrees, he or she can still do it. There is nothing in here that will prevent them from doing that.
Mr. Brewster: Suppose they decided they did not want to work? What would one do with 160 people if the employees decide they are not going to work overtime? What can be done then, tell 160 people to take off up the road? They have already been tied up for five hours, and tourism is the only thing we make any money on, because this government has helped kill placer mining. So here we are. If they have already decided they are not going to work overtime, 160 people have to be sent up the road somewhere - but they are already five hours late and they are already hungry and mad, they are already fed up with the Yukon, and all because of some law they cannot be fed. That is ridiculous.
Hon. Ms. Joe: In any situation regarding overtime, there are many things that have to be taken into consideration. This act, as it is right now, does not prevent those people from working overtime if they so choose. It is permitted. There are exceptions to the provision, such as cases of emergency, and we took those into consideration when we put this act in place. We have to deal with those situations. The situation might arise, as I keep saying, where a young mother may have a child in day care and may not be able to stay overtime as the day care might be closing. I think something like that should be provided for. Or, for another instance, a parent may be working and have to go to a childs graduation, or something that is very important to them. They need some protection for that. There is nothing in here that prevents someone from working overtime if there is mutual agreement, and I do not think anything will change. Exceptions will have to be made; 24-hours overtime notice does not have to be given in every case. The Member may not understand, but that is the case.
Mr. Brewster: When one is in the lodge business, the first person to cater to is the tourist. If it were not for the tourist, this government would not have the money it is throwing around now. But we turn around and say if their daughter is going to graduate they can just walk off. Where does that place the employer? I am getting very resentful of some of the remarks made in this Legislature about employers. I was one for many, many years and I am proud of it.
And another funny thing, five of our girls asked my wife to set up their wedding, so we really are not all that bad. Now, to turn around and say they can walk off because of graduation or something else, is not right. I am going to tell you one thing: some of these lodges are going to close down and the owners walk away, just like the placer miners. We have had it with this socialism; they control us. We have to worry about the bank debts, we have to worry about everything else, and now the employee can walk away any time he or she wants. It is absolutely ridiculous. I am going to say that there is going to be a lot of trouble on the highway when you start this. There is no question about this.
Hon. Ms. Joe: There will only be trouble if everyone thinks like the Member for Kluane. I never, ever said that employers did not count in this act; they certainly do. If they did not, we would not have this bill before us today. It would be completely different than it is right now. So, understand that the employers are very important to me.
There will be regulations that will be drawn up to determine what an emergency is. We have already made a commitment to employers that we will seek their advice with respect to emergencies. That is very clear. This act is not going to be coming into effect tomorrow, or it may not even be until after the summer season is over. We have considered what emergencies might be and we will be seeking advice from lodge owners, and anyone else who might want to give us some advice, on what will constitute an emergency. That input will be included in the regulations - regulations that I will make available to the side opposite, if they so choose.
Mr. Phillips: I join the debate on the interpretation of an emergency. This is another crystal clear example of why we need regulations attached to these acts. The Minister says that she is going to go out after all of this is over with and fill in the blanks. Well, we could solve an awful lot of problems in this House and save an awful lot of time if Ministers brought regulations in with them when they tabled acts. Otherwise, it is like a blank cheque - just sign the cheque and we will fill in the amount later; trust me. I am afraid that I do not trust this government any more and neither do an awful lot of other people. I think that the government should be fair. The Wildlife Act, with the draft regulations attached to it, was brought in here the other day. It got a fairly quick ride through the House because people could at least see what they were looking at.
Many employers are quite concerned about the interpretation of emergency, even after the word emergency is defined. I would like the Minister to tell me how one would get in touch with the director to clarify a situation on a weekend or an evening, after the director has gone home. How does one ever contact a director if that is what has to be done, to clarify whether an employee can work overtime on a weekend.
Another concern that I have is that I would like to know from the Minister if making profit would be considered an emergency. I know that profit is a dirty word to the other side of the House, but unfortunately, for these businesses on the highway and in town to stay in business, they do have to make some money. Not all of these businesses have their hands out with the government filling their pockets, so that they do not have to work any more. These people have to work, have income, provide for their own families and make that dirty word called profit, to stay in business. I would say that there should be some consideration given to a situation where making a profit would be considered an emergency.
That may not be acceptable to the side opposite, but that is the bottom line to a business person. If you do not make a profit, you do not stay in business.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is ironic that the Member for Riverdale North speaks strictly for one kind of employer. We have spoken to many employers and we sought their advice on a lot of the things that are included in this bill. I guess the Member opposite only represents one kind of business and that is fine.
As I have already said, I will seek the advice of those employers when we put together this information. Those employers may want to include profit in it, and that might be the case. I think that most employers are little more realistic than that and that they will give expert advice.
I wonder about the Member for Riverdale North when he talks about us bringing this legislation in without the regulations and not seeking any advice from anywhere and not doing any consulting.
Again, I have to go back to when the bill was introduced to the House in 1984. It was tabled on Thursday and the following Monday it was dealt with in second reading and Committee of the Whole. I believe that we sat until 11:30 that night. That was with no consultation at all, so I make those comparisons. As the Member for Porter Creek West would say, two wrongs do not make a right, but that is the case.
In regard to the manner in which we introduce bills in this House, there is no comparison.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister about some of the technical details on this. I find this clause somewhat impractical, and I will try to be quite clear to the Minister why I feel this way.
First of all, I find it almost impossible to define emergency. I think it is a decision that has to be made on the spur of the moment, and I do not think it is going to be easy to write down a definition of what is considered to be an emergency. This definition would be a page and one-half long by the time everyone includes what their definition is.
Secondly, who is going to make the final decision with respect to what the definition should be? It is fine to say that the Minister is going to consult with business people, but who is going to be making the final decision?
Finally, with respect to the impracticality of it, there is the recommendation of the council that the dispute would be referred to arbitration for settlement. A couple of other people have also touched on this point tonight.
Let us say, for example, as the Member for Kluane has mentioned, that there is a work situation where a bus comes in unexpectedly, and the employer says to the employee that he or she has to put in a few hours of overtime to feed these people, or whatever. However, the employee says that there is no way that he or she can work, and then leaves. This is a dispute. Is it really practical to get in touch with somebody to arbitrate this dispute on the spot? I do not think so. I find it a really impractical approach to state in law something that may be impossible to do.
I do not want to get into the debate. We have all established on this side that we represent employees and employers. The government is representing employees, as well as employers. We all know that, but I just want to get down to the details of how this thing is going to work and whether it is practical or not, and this is one particular clause that I think is very impractical.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Any act that is passed in the House always has some flaws. This section is probably one of those that cannot be crystal clear. It is one of those situations where we have to determine what an emergency is. The Member for Kluane has talked about an emergency on the highway where a bus load of 60 people come in. If an employee has a reason for not working, which is an emergency to that person, they have the right to refuse to work overtime. That section is specifically for cases like that.
This does not prevent them from working overtime. In the event that someone is forced to work overtime, that person could appeal it. It is just one of those sections that is not crystal clear, but we are protecting the right of a person to refuse to work without fearing being terminated. If the employee had a legitimate reason, this section of the act would provide for that.
Mrs. Firth: Surely, the Minister is not advocating that we, as legislators, make a law that is flawed. That is what she has just asked us to do, but I am not prepared to do that.
In clause 8(4), it says that the employee who has been given the 24 hours notice has the right to deny the work, if an emergency has arisen for the employee, in which case the employee may refuse to work the additional hours. What definition of emergency is that going to be? We are talking about two definitions of emergency - one for the employer and one for the employee. They are going to be different.
I find it impractical and almost impossible to define either definition of emergency. As a Member of the Legislature, I do not accept that I am going to be asked to pass a clause and make a law that Yukon businesses are going to have to abide by. Employees are also going to wonder what it means.
The Minister is indicating this has flaws in it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: As I previously mentioned, there will be regulations that will define what an emergency is. If an employee has been given 24-hours notice and, for some reason, that individual cannot make it to work because of an emergency on that persons part, then the regulations will define what that is - for instance, if a child was sick or ended up in the hospital, or if the employee was in an accident. There are many things that could make it an emergency, and that will be included in the regulations when they are drawn up.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister tell us how many complaints they had under this particular clause of people refusing overtime and being fired because of it? The Minister said this was the reason for having it, so they must have had a lot of complaints in this area. How many did they have?
Since the Minister has thought about this clause - I hope, because they brought it forward in an act to make it into a law - could she give us an example of emergencies for both sides, and a list they must have drawn up that would be good examples of emergencies for both sides? What would an employer consider an emergency? What would the employee consider an emergency?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot give him the complaints we have received from people who have been fired because of emergencies that have happened. I cannot tell him that, but I can say that we have been lobbied over the years by people who are concerned about including this in the clause. Times are changing, and we have to consider all angles with regard to any act that we pass in this House. This is one that has been told to us over and over again.
Although it was introduced in this House in 1984, our act did have some problems, and we are trying to deal with those problems by amending the act. However, I cannot give Members a list of emergencies as defined by either the employee or the employer. What I said previously was that we would be seeking the advice of those individuals involved, and we hope to come up with a list that will help us determine what emergencies are, on both sides.
I want to make it very clear to the Member who is concerned about highway lodges - and he speaks from experience - that there is nothing in this act that will prevent people from working overtime, if by mutual agreement. That will still take place.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister told us earlier that she brought this clause into the act because she had all kinds of complaints; that was one of the reasons for it. I am saying to the Minister that, if she does not have it on hand, she should come back tomorrow and give us the exact number of complaints she has had concerning this clause. People must have filed complaints, and there must be a record of it, because that is the reason why it is in the act, first of all.
The second part of the question I asked was what the Ministers department has determined as an emergency for the employer and employee. Surely to goodness they have not brought this in here without having any idea what any of those emergencies would be. They are not going to invent them now, are they? They must have been talking about it, so perhaps the Minister could also bring that back tomorrow. We can stand this section aside, unless other Members want to debate it.
Tomorrow, the Minister can come back with the exact figures of how many people complained about this clause, as well as the definition of an emergency for the employer and employee. How many people actually lost their jobs because they refused overtime?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I am not sure if I can come back with the exact number of people, under these circumstances, since 1984. That information may not be available. As you know, 1984 was eight years ago, and I know that the Member for Riverdale North would want something to help him make a decision on this section. It is very clear that whatever information I am prepared to bring back is not going to help the Member any further. If the information is available, I will bring it back.
I am not prepared to bring back what an emergency is for the employer and the employee. I can say what I think some of those emergencies would be and I have already stated some of the situations that could be an emergency.
As I have said, it is my intention and that of the department to consult with employees and employers, to help us define what to them constitutes an emergency.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister a question that she did not answer previously about what she has just said. They are going to define an emergency in regulations. I asked the Minister who was going to make the final decision as to what the definition would be. Can the Minister tell us that, as she has not answered that question.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Did you ever notice that when the Member opposite was in Cabinet, it was Cabinet that made that final decision in regard to regulations. What we will be doing is seeking, as I said before, the kinds of emergencies that are of some importance to the employer and to the employee.
I would like to again be very clear that we are putting in some protection for those individuals who may be in danger of losing their jobs if they refuse to work overtime. While we are doing that we will look to the employer to find out what they feel constitutes an emergency.
Mr. Devries: I went through the whole act. I have a daughter at home who has a child. I know some of the problems she can go through trying to find a babysitter. I see that the Minister is trying to protect people in this situation. My concern is that the more we develop regulations to help this one type of person, there could be three more single mothers with a child who are not going to be able to get a job, because the employer would not want the trouble of hiring them. This is a very realistic fear. We have to be very careful that we do not over-regulate things in an attempt to help people, and actually find that we are not doing them any favours at all.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I really feel sorry that the Member would think that way. Every day, we deal with circumstances that have occurred as a result of this kind of a situation, as I am sure the side opposite did when they were in government. Every day, we deal with young mothers who are seeking employment in the workforce. I am not advocating that every single mother will have a problem with working overtime. There are a lot of jobs that could be available that do not require that there be overtime work. In the case of certain situations, however, we would advocate that there should be provision for that.
I have talked to employers about this clause as well. I was not sitting in my office or at home waiting for this information to come in. I actively sought the information from employers. In this case, depending on which employer we spoke to, most of them had no problems with this at all. They realized that with the kind of businesses they ran, this could be a concern.
I understand that there are a lot of other situations where there could be a problem. We are trying to deal with that in this act. I will not forget that there are employers out there who do understand the kinds of things we are trying to do here and some that do not. It is a situation that we all have to deal with. We do not all think alike.
Mr. Devries: I agree that most employers would be humane about the whole thing. Again, however, we have a clause dealing with emergencies and, further on, we have a clause dealing with parental leave. Pretty soon, some employers are going to ask a person whether they are planning on having a family, et cetera, and they are not going to hire them. I realize there has to be some protection, but I question whether they are doing anyone any favours.
Hon. Ms. Joe: All I can say is, thank God we have some very good employers out there who do understand what we are trying to do.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member for Riverdale North asked that I bring back information about how many complaints we have received about individuals being terminated for refusing overtime. Statistics have not been kept on numbers of people who called to complain that they had been terminated because they refused to work overtime. We can only keep statistics for infractions in the existing act. If it is not in the act then there is nothing that we can do and there is no recourse for that person.
The department gets all kinds of inquiries all the time. Sometimes information is required just to find out if matters are within the act. If the information given was very helpful it would not be recorded.
If there is no recourse in regard to any complaint, if there is no provision for anything in the act, it is very difficult to just write it down in case somebody asks us what the statistics are in the future, so I cannot provide that information to the Member.
I could come to him right now in regard to his other question regarding our definition of emergency. If we were to tell the House that we determined what an emergency would be, I am sure we would be criticized for that; if we were to change it from what we had brought to the House, we would be criticized for that as well. The committee had recommended that we seek the input of the business people, especially to find out what they determine emergencies could be and, as I keep saying, we intend to do that. This act is not going to come into effect until we have provided enough information to the people in the community, and I am hoping that, by the time the information is out to educate the people about the amendments to the act, we will have regulations that we can implement, so that they will go hand in hand.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am still on my feet, and I am still speaking. The Member for Riverdale North has continued to ask me for all kinds of information with respect to how we will determine what an emergency is. It could be many things. I beg your pardon-
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Joe: Madam Chair, the Members on the side opposite asked me for information. I am providing information to them, and if they want to hear what I have to say, then I would certainly hope that they would be willing to listen. I do not think that it is my intention to filibuster. The sun could be shining and I could be out playing ball or something, but if there is anything else that the Member would like to know with respect to this section, I would be happy to tell him.
Mr. Phillips: We were not really all going to vote against it; we just wanted to make sure that everyone would get back into the House sometime.
In all seriousness, I am a bit confused by what the Minister said. She is telling us that the department keeps no statistics on any Employment Standards Act complaints, unless they are actually in the act. I would have thought that the department would keep track of all complaints relating to employment standards, and every one, two or three years or so do a review of the existing act and how it could be improved or changed or whatever, and would have the statistics to back up the changes. I think that would be the way one would normally approach it, would it not? Maybe I am off base. I mean, maybe we could just sit down and say, Can anyone remember anyone complaining about this?
Back in 1985, someone came in and said, We do not have anything written down. This seems to be a real ad hoc way of reviewing an act. I would have thought that the department would have been more organized and would have maybe maintained a log. When people came in and filed a complaint or phoned with a complaint, the department could have kept some type of an ongoing log. This would give the department the ability to say that they had had 65 complaints over the last five years over this particular section alone, and we think that it is quite important that it be changed. Obviously, there appears to be no documented complaint under this section, because the Minister cannot come into the House and give us any numbers.
It certainly is not the way that I felt the government was monitoring this situation. It is an interesting concept where we just sit down and gather together a few people in a room and come up with new ideas that we want to put into acts. We do not have any statistics whatsoever to back them up, and I think that is a really poor way to do this.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The situation as described by the Member for Riverdale South is a bit far out.
We have a very efficient group of people working in labour services, and I think there are many people who will agree with that. This branch provides all kinds of information, and they get all kinds of complaints. The Member is asking me for statistics from 1984 or 1985 when this act came into force. We deal with inquiries seeking information; we deal with complaints that come in, and we find out whether or not there is some way we can deal with those complaints under this act.
Sometimes there are things that we can do and sometimes there is nothing we can do. I do not think that it is very fair to say that we do not have information, just because we do not have statistics that said someone called in to say that they got fired for not working overtime.
People have received information over the years. These people have used not only that information, but information on behalf of those people who lobby us on behalf of groups. To say that the labour services people are not doing a good job and that they are disorganized is very unfair, because they do an excellent job.
Mr. Phillips: I did not say they were not doing a good job. The Minister told us they do not keep any statistics this way.
I would have thought that if people were filing complaints under the Employment Standards Act, there would be some log kept of them. How in the world would a decision regarding changes be made if there was no record of the complaints? That is all I am asking the Minister. I am sure the people there do a good job; I have no problem with that. An act has been brought in that changes major sections of a bill. The Minister stated that they had received lots of complaints, so why were they not documented?
The Minister told us that the rationale for changing the act was because there had been many complaints. It is the Ministers responsibility to tell us how many complaints there were. She should not give us some airy-fairy story that there may be something, but she does not know. The Minister seems to come in with a silly story that makes no sense. She has a responsibility to bring in some facts and figures when she wants to make some changes to the act, so that we have something on which to base our decisions.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The changes in this act may not make sense to the Member for Riverdale North. It is obvious that they do not. It is obvious to me that there is a need to change these acts to improve them and to look at the situations as they arise.
I have been a Minister for about three years and I talked to a number of people about this. Individuals have lobbied on behalf of people they represent with regard to what we wanted to do. This act was brought to this House with a great deal of consideration in many areas. The Member for Riverdale North has chosen to oppose this section simply because I have not brought in any statistics. There are many other reasons for its inclusion in this act. Since 1985, we have listened to those individuals out there. That is why this section is here.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister says I have chosen to oppose this clause. Yes, I have, but for several reasons, not one. The first one is that the Minister has no statistics; secondly, the Minister has brought in no definition of what an emergency is; and thirdly, the Minister does not know how, when, where or why they are going to define what the definition of an emergency is.
In all fairness, the Minister has not given us one answer, but asks why I want to oppose it. I do not want to oppose it. I just want to find out from the Minister what she means by this clause and how it is going to affect the working people and employers. The Minister has not given us any answers that make sense.
Hon. Ms. Joe: They may not make any sense to him, and I can understand that. It has been recommended by the committee that we seek the opinion of businesses to find out what they might determine to be an emergency. For me to second guess what they think an emergency is would be undermining the kind of opinion they would give us. That was one of the reasons.
I could list a number of things, but I am not the expert in the business community; they are, and they will offer opinions to me. If they make no sense to him, that is understandable. He does not want to make sense of this clause.
Mr. Lang: I find it difficult to accept the premise that the Minister comes into the House and says she has had numerous complaints of people losing their jobs, which have led to this particular clause. When the question was directly put to the Minister requesting approximately how many complaints there were, the Minister tells us they do not keep a log, and so do not know how many, if any.
The Minister has brought this clause forward, has no justification for it, and has given no real reason for any Member of this House to vote for it. Her excuse is that we will leave the definition of an emergency to a committee, which will tell her what an emergency is.
The Minister has just admitted to the House that she has been the Minister for three years. She just embarrassed herself and the Legislature. She is asking her side of the House to vote for something with no justification for why the clause is there or the need for it.
I give a great deal of credence to what the Member for Kluane has to say on how this clause could have an effect on small businesses, the employers and their employees and the relationships in small communities and lodges. When we ask for specifics on the clause, and we get a monologue, that says nothing.
The Minister has a responsibility to give us some substantiation and reason for it. Any thinking person who reads Hansard and goes through some of the political upmanship that goes on is going to see that the Minister does not know what she is talking about. The Minister should take a second look at what she is doing and why she is doing it, and perhaps reconsider the whole thing, because it just does not justify what she is trying to do.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Their wish is that we reconsider a whole lot. I am not going to do that.
The workbook went out in November 1991, and it was well distributed. I do not know how many copies we delivered, but there were almost 4,000 made available to the public. We received input from many businesses and individuals. As a result of the information we received, we developed a draft act. Members all know the history of this; however, they ignore it and talk about the process and the lack of consultation, but we did receive a lot of information back.
We received presentations and representations. The questionnaire was also returned to us. We developed a draft act as a result of the information that we received.
This was not done on a whim. It was done as a result of many years of dealing with the act, and it was done through consultation and as a result of people coming to us and lobbying on behalf of groups. Sometimes, even individuals let us know that certain clauses of the act had to be improved, and this is one of them. I submit that it was not done on a whim but as a result of much consultation.
Mr. Phillips: I still want that information tomorrow. I would still like the Minister to go back to the department and research how many people have actually been fired as a result of refusing overtime. I would like to know that figure. Also, and this may be easier to pull together, I would like the Minister to bring back how many people on the questionnaire actually suggested this particular change - to see if this was a major suggestion in the responses the Minister got from her questionnaire. I would like the Minister to bring that back, too, tomorrow if she could.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will bring back what I have available. The Member knows that this information has been available ever since it came it out; we have announced the results of the questionnaire and the results of the consultation. Certainly, information was made available to them at the open house I held; the statistics were provided and they received a great deal of information. They talk about filibustering a section; well, that is exactly what is happening with this one. It is obvious that they are opposed to it and they can seek all the information they want; that is fair, and I will bring back what I have. It is safe to say that this was done as a result of much consultation. It was done as a result of many discussions and it was recommended by the committee that reviewed it. They made comments about how they wanted us to seek a definition of what an emergency is, and we intend to do that.
Mr. Phillips: So, maybe we should stand this section aside until the Minister can bring back the information.
Chair: Is the Committee agreed?
Clause 8 stood over
On Clause 9
Hon. Ms. Joe: This amendment has been requested by both employers and employees. It gives employers more flexibility in scheduling time off and in timing wage payments. It gives employees, particularly those in industries that are highly seasonal in nature, paid time off that can be used for holidays or other purposes. Employees will receive one and one-half hours of paid time off for each hour of overtime worked. The lieu-time agreement must be mutual and must be in writing.
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the Minister could explain clause 10(2). My understanding of clause 10(2) is that this is a clause that could affect summer students working on jobs. In some cases, summer students do not want to take any time off throughout the summer; they want to work the whole summer because they have to go back to university. If they are required to take certain days off, they will, of course, lose money that they could be making for university.
Hon. Ms. Joe: This amendment will allow employers and employees more flexibility in setting hours of work for compressed work weeks. Instead of being restricted to a week of four 10-hour days or three 12-hour days, the employers and employees can choose a schedule to fit their needs. It also clarifies when overtime wages must be paid to employees working compressed work weeks. This section has been amended to permit overtime to be paid after 80 hours in a two-week period. This would permit the compressed work week arrangements used in some YTG departments to be used once government employees are subject to the act. It would also apply to some workplace arrangements that have been covered in the past by averaging permits under section 9 of the act.
Clause 10 agreed to
On Clause 11
Clause 11 agreed to
On Clause 12
Clause 12 agreed to
On Clause 13
Clause 13 agreed to
On Clause 14
Hon. Ms. Joe: This amendment corrects an error in numbering. Section 18 currently refers to vacation pay not minimum wage. This is a housekeeping section.
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 15
Mr. Devries: We have some concerns in the area of the six-percent holiday pay. I was speaking to someone in Dawson City and he gave me a good example. It made me think back over the years to several places where I have worked.
We had some employees who were either semi-retired or disabled and had been with the company for a long time. The concern this person has is that you may have an employee who is being kept on out of respect, rather than the person pulling their weight. It is only going to add another two percent to the cost of keeping that person around. They feel that again it could be to the detriment of the employee, rather than a benefit.
It is not always going to be a benefit. Again, it is going beyond what has to be. Four percent is adequate. Employers have a lot of flexibility in giving long-term employees other things besides a two-percent wage increase, which has to have income tax paid on it. There are a lot of benefits people would prefer where they would not have to pay taxes. In a sense, it is just a tax grab, rather than helping an employee.
Hon. Ms. Joe: It always amazes me when I hear the kind of circumstances the Member for Watson Lake comes up with in regard to keeping an employee on. That sounds like a very good employer to have.
This is one of the clauses where we decreased the percentage of vacation time. It was recommended by the board to lower it to six percent, and we did that. It was eight percent after a certain period of time.
One of the things they suggested to us was that employers be allowed to give employees an additional week without pay rather than the eight percent. This is in line with other jurisdictions. In one or two other jurisdictions, it is higher. I think Quebec is one of them. Six percent is what was agreed upon, and it was decreased from eight percent. So, there were some concessions made in this clause.
Mr. Devries: I agree with the Member that I have worked for some very good employers. I am also familiar with the Watson Lake Hotel, where they kept an employee around for years. He just died a few years ago. They kept him on as a courtesy. I really appreciate employers who do that. I do not think we should penalize them through legislation by making it harder for them to do things like that. Another example is a ranch where I worked. It was owned by a person who later became the Premier of B.C. It was a similar situation. There are a lot of employers out there with good hearts.
Hon. Ms. Joe: One of the things the Member mentioned was similar to a lot of things I was hearing from those employers who do provide benefits in excess of what is proposed in this act. He speaks of those kinds of people. There was some concern that there would be more competition out there for employment and that, because they were such good employers, they might suffer. He talks about certain situations that have already been mentioned to me about good employers and certain benefits that they give. I am sure that there are many of them around.
This is a fair clause. There are employees out there who have provided a valuable service to businesses.
That is something that is recognized by businesses out there and, as I said, in some cases their vacation benefits do exceed what we are proposing here.
Mr. Phillips: I also have some concerns with this section. When one allows six-percent holiday pay in these particular circumstances, the owner of the business loses the right to manage their own business and reward people for work that is well done.
Another issue that was brought to me by some of the businesses out there is that many businesses give four-percent holiday pay right now, but in the winter months when they are not very busy, they keep those people working. They do not tell them they have to take their holidays. Now, because they have to pay higher holiday pay and it is going to cost them more overall to keep these people on for the whole year, they just might lay them off for eight weeks or 10 or 12 weeks in the winter months. It all relates to the bottom line, and when the economy is not that great businesses have to look at the bottom line. If high standards such as this are set, it takes away the flexibility of the employer and it could also put some hardships on the employee if the employee is in a certain type of job where there may not be so much business in the wintertime but they are kept on because they are a reasonably good employee and the employer wants their services to continue the next year.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We are talking about vacation pay at six percent five years. We have tried to gather as much information as we can in regard to how many employers keep employees for that length of time. The percentage is not very high in the Yukon. There are some employers who have had certain employees for that length of time. There will be many, many different situations, as described by the Member for Riverdale North, as to why we should not proceed with this; but, the fact is, that employers do provide steady employment on a need basis and we are dealing with real situations. We are improving on this benefit by two percent. Only after five years will they be paying six percent vacation pay. They are not paying six percent right away. After five years of good employment, I am sure that both the employer and the employee will agree that a benefit of two percent is quite reasonable.
Mr. Devries: If an employee worked for that employer for five years, it is likely that the employee is getting the top wage of all the employees there. Normally, you would get a raise every year. An employee, who just starts work may be making only $400 weekly. For an employee who has been there for five years, it could be costing that employer six percent of $800. This is substantially more money and I think it could discourage an employer from keeping an employee around. The employer might lay him off for a few months so that there is a break in the long-term employment.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I must talk to different employers than the Members on the other side do, because there are a lot of maybes and what ifs, and hypothetical situations they mention that may cause us to be sorry that we included this in the act. However, it is quite a reasonable situation, and we are dealing with many businesses who hire employees, and many businesses out there who do provide the same benefit to their employees and, in some cases, even better benefits.
We can talk about hypothetical situations and many other things, but we are dealing with situations where employees go to work, work very well, and they have good employers. We are seeking an increase in that benefit to those employees.
Mr. Phillips: This is the clause that relates to including the families with respect to vacation pay. Could the Minister tell us how many complaints she had in this particular section and what the reason was for bringing this in?
Again, what I have heard from several lodge owners, individuals and family businesses is: do not interfere with our family; our family will take care of our own business, thank you. The other employees are one thing, but when you start dealing with their own families, people get rather frustrated and upset.
Hon. Ms. Joe: The act applies to family members in every part of the act, and what we are asking for right now is that it apply to them in the case of vacation pay.
This act was included in the workbook. We received information back. There was no objection to it from either committee that heard it - the one that dropped out more than halfway through and the Council on the Economy and the Environment. What we are asking in this section is that overtime and vacation pay apply to family members. I cannot provide him with statistics about how many individuals have complained to us. I suspect there are no records of that either, because it would not have been something that they would have documented. I do not know if the Member is asking us to provide documentation for every single section of this act.
In most cases, we are dealing with an act that brings the act in the Yukon up to par with many others across Canada. If you are a family member, the act should apply as well. We have never received any objection to it in the consultation process. The Member for Riverdale North probably has, but in any section where there was strong objection, it was taken out. When the workbook came out in November, we received objections to a lot of sections. Those sections were deleted.
It is a section we supported as a result of information received through the consultation process.
Mr. Phillips: I have to apologise to the Minister for being so far out of line. I guess I should have learned by now that I should not be asking for any substantiation for any of the reasons for any of the things that are in this act or any statistics that might be available and actually be rationale for putting things in the act. I am sorry. I hope the Minister accepts my apologies. It is a sad day when we are not allowed to even ask for the rationale of putting things into acts. I think the Minister is way off base on that.
Hon. Ms. Joe: We could jump up and down here and try to prove who is right and who is wrong, but it is not a case of who is right and who is wrong. He asked me a question and I provided him with the information. It is obvious that any information, whether rational or otherwise, is not good enough. It is the same old pattern and the same old interruptions when we are speaking that tell me the Member is opposed to any improvements in this act. It is a sad day when that is the case. He obviously does not speak for the workers in his riding and that is very sad, too.
Mr. Phillips: Where is the Minister coming from? I do not want to prolong this debate but I am asking the Minister questions. She has produced the act; she has come forward with the act, not us on this side.
All we are asking the Minister for are statistics to back up the rationale for putting this act in place. I do not think that that is too much to ask. In fact, if the Minister will look at the record and read the record tomorrow, she will see that there are many sections of this act that we have already passed; we think some of the sections are good legislation and contain good changes. We have some questions; we have asked the reasons for putting certain sections into the act. If we are not to ask any questions, then what the heck are we doing here? You know, in 1984, the Minister said that the act went through in a day or two. Well, if they were not an effective Opposition and did not want to ask any questions, that is not my problem. That is not my problem if they did not have any questions to ask and did not know what the heck they were talking about then.
In view of the time, Madam Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 13.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 10, Third Appropriation Act, 1991-92, and directed me to report it without amendment. Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 13, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, and directed me to report progress on same.
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.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled Monday, May 25, 1992:
Yukon Fuel Supply Options report being submitted by Prolog Planning Inc. - September, 1991 (Byblow)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled Monday, May 25, 1992:
Correct address of Access House (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 145
Young offenders receiving treatment outside Yukon (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 95