Thursday, April 1, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would like the Legislature to welcome a famous painter - in fact, her daughter is here as a Page - and she is now in the gallery. I recall when I bought one of her first paintings of a moose - I paid $35 for it and right now she sells them for thousands and thousands of dollars. I would like the Legislature to welcome Mrs. Libby Dulac.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Mr. Penikett: I have for filing a petition containing 2,141 signatures, sponsored by the Humane Society of the Yukon, pertaining to support for the building of an animal shelter in Whitehorse.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have a legislative return on the question from the Member for Riverside regarding Wickstrom Road.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Petition No. 3
Mr. Penikett: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly concerning funding for the construction of an animal shelter in Whitehorse.
Speaker: Are there any Introduction of Bills?
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Intention to amend the Fuel Oil Tax Act to exempt off-highway recreation vehicles
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am pleased to rise today to announce the governments intention to amend the Fuel Oil Tax Act and to review regulations in order to ensure that off-highway recreational vehicles, including snowmobiles and boats, can be exempted from the act.
As Members are aware, the Fuel Oil Tax Act currently provides for exemptions for specified off-highway commercial use, including fishing, logging, hunting or outfitting, trapping, mining and farming. By extending the exemptions to off-highway non-commercial uses, including snowmobiles, the distinction between taxation provisions for highway use and off-highway use will be clarified. Yukoners will no longer be penalized for pursuing off-highway recreational pursuits.
I would just like to say that this will be of tremendous benefit to people in places like Old Crow and Pelly, where they make extensive use of off-highway equipment and boats.
This initiative will help Yukoners continue to be able to enjoy the diverse array of leisure activities. As well, it will support the continued development of the Yukons potential to be a prime destination for tourists interested in recreational and wilderness travel.
Mr. McDonald: As Members well know, the exception of the fuel tax for off-highway commercial uses was originally introduced by the NDP government and was intended as an economic development initiative - a popular measure it was and is. We have no problem with the measure but find the language in the statement ironic. The Minister indicated that Yukoners would no longer be penalized for having to pay the general fuel tax when using fuel for skidoos and motorboats, but fails to refer to the large tax increases in the budget and ones disposable income and on the fuel for the family car as being penalties. In the budget those taxes are not penalties but rather opportunities to be responsible, opportunities to show the federal government how much we can pay.
We have been given many different confusing signals and some disappointing signals from the Finance Minister, but I am sure that we will have plenty of opportunity to discuss their intentions at a later date.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: In response to the Member opposite, this really clarifies the difference between highway and off-highway use. As the Member opposite is aware, it is not only Yukoners who are taxed on our highways but all the tourists and people travelling through to Alaska as well. This really clarifies the distinction between the two different uses of fuel oils and gasoline and will be a tremendous benefit to some of the First Nations people who make extensive use of boats and off-highway vehicles.
Transfer of Whitehorse General Hospital to the Yukon
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am pleased to announce that late yesterday afternoon, a landmark agreement was reached between the Yukon government, the Government of Canada and the Council for Yukon Indians. This agreement, which took effect at midnight last night, returns Whitehorse General Hospital to the control of Yukon people and is the culmination of 15 years of effort toward this goal.
The transfer agreement, approved by the federal Treasury Board, provides for the transfer of the existing Whitehorse General Hospital, its assets and staff to the Yukon, followed by the construction of a new $47 million hospital in Whitehorse, beginning this year.
The transfer of the hospital is the first major piece in the overall health transfer process, which, when completed, will see the transfer of control of all hospital and community health services from the federal government back to the Yukon.
I believe our negotiators have achieved an extremely fair package on the general transfer agreement and on Indian health billings.
I want to congratulate them on their efforts, and to thank all department officials for their hard work. I also want to acknowledge the work done by the Ministers of Health and Social Services who preceded me, and applaud those who worked so diligently on behalf of the Council for Yukon Indians, Yukon First Nations and the federal government.
It is because of their diligence that we have today a precedent-setting situation. We have enshrined the protection of Indian cultures and traditions in regard to health care. This is a big step for all of us.
Thanks also go to the hospital employees who have hung in there with us. We appreciate their continued professional manner and services under a cloud of uncertainty over their futures.
We have all benefited from this agreement.
Over the life of the construction project, approximately 275 jobs will be created. We have budgeted for site preparation work this summer and expect construction to begin this fall.
This is the culmination of phase 1 of the health transfer, and we are all celebrating the final conclusion of this stage, but I would remind you that this is not the end.
Negotiations for phase 2, the transfer of community health services and hospital-based services such as mental, dental and environmental health are next. These negotiations are extremely important to First Nations and indeed, to all communities in the Yukon.
Phase 1 is completed, but the work is just beginning.
Ms. Moorcroft: This is indeed an historic day. After 15 years of discussion, the hospital transfer is finally complete. Local control of medical services is cause for celebration. I hope this means that the tendering process will be expedited and local construction jobs can begin in the coming construction season. We all know that spring and summer construction is cheaper than winter construction. Now that the Treasury Board has approved the funding, I trust we will be seeing movement on this very soon.
The devolution of the hospital is a unique example of how three levels of government can work together to achieve a common goal: in this case, the improved health of all Yukon people. I would like to see this partnership between federal, territorial and First Nations governments continue in future devolution agreements, which affect all Yukon citizens.
When we witnessed the passage of land claims legislation two weeks ago, it, too, was an historic day. Aboriginal control of their own health care and social services is an integral part of self-government. I hope this government will respect First Nations involvement in all future devolution negotiations that affect them, and that they will be involved in the same way.
This agreement could not have been reached without the dedication and hard work of many people. This particular agreement, which was ratified by the Treasury Board, is essentially the same one agreed to by Joyce Hayden, the former Minister of Health and Social Services, on September 19, 1992. I would like to respect her efforts in making this transfer a reality.
I firmly believe that this agreement could not have been reached without the skillful management of Mr. Shakir Alwarid. Through hard work and perseverance, Mr. Alwarid was able to clear up problems that resulted from misunderstandings, and steer the agreement to the success we see today. I would like to thank him.
I would also like to thank the department for their commitment. I also appreciate the patience and professionalism of all hospital employees.
I am pleased to see in the transfer highlights that First Nations are guaranteed three seats on the hospital board and thorough consultation on the remaining appointees. I trust the Minister is proceeding with this arrangement and applaud him for doing so.
Another aspect of the agreement that I look forward to witnessing is the amendment to the Hospital Corporation Act that establishes a First Nations health committee. Perhaps, at his earliest convenience, the Minister could tell this House when this committee will be up and running.
Finally, as the negotiations for phase 2 of the hospital transfer begin, I would like to say that the NDP fully supports the self-government agreements and First Nations control over their own health and well-being. I trust these principles, including First Nations employment equity programs in providing medical services, will be fully supported by the government.
I thank the Minister for the good news he has brought us. This is a day to be proud.
Mrs. Firth: Mr. Speaker - on a point of order.
Speaker: The Member for Riverdale South, on a point of order.
Mrs. Firth: I do not think this announcement falls within the rules that require that a ministerial statement be a short statement of government policy. However, regarding the announcement, I, too, would like to offer my congratulations to everyone involved in the hospital transfer and say how wonderful it is that Yukoners will now have a direct say in how their health dollars are spent and what services are provided. I must say, too, that the Whitehorse General Hospital is, in my opinion, the best hospital in Canada.
Speaker: Order please.
Speaker: Although this ministerial statement is in the form of an announcement, I find that it does relate to government policy and is within the allowable limits of Standing Order 11(3); therefore, it is acceptable. There is no point of order.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Deputy ministers, firing of
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Government Leader.
When he fired three deputy ministers recently, he read them a prepared script. When they pleaded to know why they were being dumped, to their embarrassment and, as I said before, no doubt his own, he read them the same script all over again.
Could I ask, on behalf of all Members of this House, who wrote the script for the deputy ministers curtain call?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I thank the Member opposite for his question, but I am not prepared to discuss personnel matters in this Legislature.
Mr. Penikett: I am not going to ask a question that would invade any privacy on a personnel matter, but since the Government Leader read the disappointed deputy ministers a dismissal script and then re-read it a second time, there is some question as to who actually made the decision to fire them. Could I ask, for the record, who made that decision?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said earlier, personnel matters are personnel matters. All information surrounding that is also confidential information. I am not going to discuss it in this Legislature.
Mr. Penikett: Let me change tack a little bit and ask the Government Leader the following question: after the firing, one Minister of his Cabinet phoned their ex-deputy to say the Minister did not agree with the decision. Can he tell the House which Ministers supported his decision to fire these people and which did not?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Again, the Member opposite knows, from when he was on this side of the House, that Cabinet discussions are confidential. I am not prepared to start discussing those things in this Legislature.
Question re: Northern Accord, First Nation involvement
Mr. Penikett: As long as we were on that side of the House, Cabinet solidarity existed and all Ministers supported all decisions of Cabinet. That seems to have changed.
Let me ask the Government Leader another question on another subject, in his capacity as the Minister responsible for devolution.
I understand that, from a conversation with the federal Minister of Energy, that the Northern Accord agreement, which we spent many years negotiating, is nearly ready for signing. I would like to ask the Government Leader today if the Council for Yukon Indians, which is an interested party to resource revenue sharing arrangements, has been shown the accord documents yet and if not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is correct, the Northern Accord agreement is close to being finalized. The Council for Yukon Indians will be consulted on it.
Mr. Penikett: I am curious; if it is ready for signing, how are they going to be consulted, unless it is consultation after the fact?
Can the Government Leader confirm for us the information we have received to the effect that federal government representatives will be arriving in Whitehorse in April to conclude discussions about a devolution table, and perhaps funding, for the participation of First Nations in devolution discussions that affect them.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is partly correct. He may have had some confirmation I have not had, but we are working toward the middle of April to have someone in Whitehorse.
As Members opposite are probably aware, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs will be here for a meeting. At the same time, we are trying to get officials here to finalize devolution.
Mr. Penikett: Thank you. We will be holding our breath in anticipation of another meeting with Mr. Siddon.
I would like to ask the Government Leader if he would be prepared to give his commitment to this House that no deal on the Northern Accord will be signed by his government, until such time as the Council for Yukon Indians has been fully involved in the discussions according to the terms of the umbrella final agreement, which has had legislative approval in this House.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The whole issue surrounding the devolution table and the involvement of the Council for Yukon Indians was discussed at a meeting of principals in Vancouver. That meeting was attended by CYI, Mr. Siddon and me.
Discussions will be taking place within the context of the final umbrella final agreement, when these responsibilities are devolved from Ottawa.
Question re: Dawson City water and sewer
Mr. Cable: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
The Member for Klondike - who I understand has an inside track to information - was in Dawson City recently, and informed his constituents that the government will begin work on the Dawson water and sewer problem this year, and reinstate the deficit grant that equalizes water and sewer rates in Dawson City.
Can the Minister tell this House how he plans to fulfill this commitment?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have had some discussions with the City of Dawson, and we have in our possession a report done by Shiltec Corporation. The report outlines the problems with the Dawson City water and sewer systems.
The Member Opposites information regarding the deficit grant is not totally accurate; we are not reinstating the water and sewer deficit grant.
Mr. Cable: When the government has determined the cost to repair the Dawson City sewer and water system, and how they propose to pay for that repair, will the Minister bring that decision before the House?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would be quite happy to.
Mr. Cable: Earlier in the session, I asked the Minister about the governments plans with respect to forgiveness of the loan that was advanced to the City of Dawson for operating the system. Have discussions begun with the City of Dawson principals in relation to the forgiveness of that loan?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The question of the current debenture that the City of Dawson has is included in the negotiations that will start this weekend.
Question re: Public Service Commissioner, appointment of
Ms. Moorcroft: On Tuesday, we were questioning the Government Leader about the appointment of the Public Service Commissioner for an unusually short period of time - only six months - during a very critical time in the government, when employees need greater protection than ever from political interference.
Can the Government Leader tell the House exactly what the reasons were for such a short-term appointment?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: For the Members information - and I believe I have said it in the House several times now - it was an agreement between myself and the Public Service Commissioner.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Government Leader provide examples of similar terms for Public Service Commissioners, either here in the Yukon or elsewhere? It is our belief that this sort of action is literally unprecedented. What are the real reasons behind an appointment of only six months for the Public Service Commissioner?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am bewildered by the Members grave concerns. I have stated in this House on the public record, several times, that I have the greatest amount of faith in the integrity and ability of the Public Service Commissioner, and it is my intention to appoint her to a longer term.
Ms. Moorcroft: Why, then, was this crucial appointment made for only six months, when other appointments were made at the same time for longer or indefinite terms? How can the Government Leader possibly justify such a crass double standard? Saying it was an agreement is not good enough. What was the real reason?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Again, Members opposite want us to discuss employment situations on the floor of this Legislature. I would just say to the Member opposite that the person who was appointed as the Public Service Commissioner has been a long-time member of the civil service in the Yukon. She has done an adequate job, and that is why she was selected for the job. The terms and conditions of her employment are between her and me.
Question re: Minister of Economic Development, joke
Mr. Harding: We are certainly not questioning the integrity of the Public Service Commissioner.
Yesterday, in Question Period, I brought up a very serious matter and I feel duty-bound on behalf of my constituents to raise it again today with the Minister of Economic Development.
People have told me that the Minister of Economic Development has been telling a very unkind and cruel and insulting joke about my community. I asked yesterday for a confirmation as to whether or not the Minister had made those statements. Could the Minister please answer today, for the record: did he tell that joke?
Hon. Mr. Devries: In discussions pertaining to the governments position on Faro, that joke came up and it was in relationship to where I pointed out the difficulties we were experiencing in coming to a decision on Faro. Admittedly, as much as I feel it was in poor taste, I will admit that I did mention the joke in those discussions; but it was basically to show the people I was talking to at the time the difficulties we were having in arriving at a decision on this where, on one hand, we have the public making those types of remarks and, on the other hand, we recognize the seriousness of the situation and the decisions we are making in regard to this are, we feel, in the best interests of all Faroites and all Yukoners. As the Member very well knows, some of the people who work for Curragh also live in Watson Lake.
Mr. Harding: That explanation is absolutely not good enough. For months and months and months, my community has been facing tremendous hardship as the situation with the Faro mine unfolds. They are sitting there, biting their fingernails, wondering what is going to happen while this government does not deliver. This joke that the Minister of Economic Development has been using to represent views of Yukoners certainly is not appropriate and I must ask, on behalf of my constituents, for an apology today in this House.
Hon. Mr. Devries: First of all, the joke was not of my creation. I apologize for using the statement and I regret that I used it. I have had jokes thrown at me and I know how some of these people may feel, and I hope they will accept my apologies.
Question re: Education review, mainstreaming
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Education. During the election campaign, the Yukon Party announced that it wanted to do a review of mainstreaming in our school system. This has been repeated on a number of occasions by the Minister. Can the Minister outline specifically the problem areas he has identified in the classroom, particularly in respect to mainstreaming, so that we might get a better understanding of the Yukon Party and this governments perspective on this question.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am a bit surprised by the question. My officials inform me that the previous Minister who asked the question was quite aware of the problems of mainstreaming. Many of the teachers had concerns about how the system was working. Many of the parents had concerns. Some of the parents who had children who were being mainstreamed had concerns. All of them felt that we could look at the mainstreaming issue and improve the system for all the students concerned. I do not know why it would be a surprise to the former Minister that we are looking into that area because I know that he was made aware of those concerns when he was the Minister.
Mr. McDonald: I was not asking a process question. I was not asking whether or not I had concerns. I was not asking whether parents had concerns. I was noting that the Minister had indicated that he had concerns, on behalf of the government, and I was wondering what his interpretation of the concerns were so that we might get a better appreciation of how the government was interpreting problems that they had identified in the classroom. What is the governments perspective on this question? I am not asking for process. What is their perspective?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We want to see mainstreaming work. Right now, it is my understanding from the concerned parents and teachers out there that the mainstreaming process that is in place now simply has some flaws and should be looked at and improved. I am not going to prejudge what the parents and teachers will say and what will come out of the review process. I think that would be inappropriate for me to do that.
Mr. McDonald: This is getting a little bit frustrating. I am not asking whether or not some teachers have concerns or whether or not the parents have some concerns or whether they have relayed them to the Minister or not; I am simply asking what problems with mainstreaming the Minister has identified in the classroom that would cause him enough concern to call for a review. I know there are some concerns, but I want to know what his interpretation of them are.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do have problems with mainstreaming. The problem I have with mainstreaming is that the previous government did not do anything about it when teachers and parents were asking them to do something. We called for a review of mainstreaming and we are going to give parents and teachers an opportunity to speak to the review committee and make some recommendations on how mainstreaming will work better in our school system, for the betterment of all children in the schools.
Question re: Education review, mainstreaming
Mr. McDonald: I will try again. I asked the question whether or not the Minister can tell us what he sees as being the problems in the classroom with respect to mainstreaming. The Minister has indicated that I have expressed some concerns about some elements of mainstreaming. He has indicated that some teachers and parents have told him that there are some things that should be reviewed. I am simply asking the Minister what he has noted in the classroom that has caused some concern for him. What is his perspective and the governments perspective with respect to this question?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The governments position on this question is to provide the best education possible for all children, both mainstreamed and non-mainstreamed students. What we are doing now is asking the parents and the teachers - the people who deal with the mainstreaming issue - to have a look at it, express their concerns and give us suggestions and ideas of how to improve it. I am not going to impose my values on the review committee. I want them to tell us what is right or wrong, as they are the people who are working with the system and know what the problems are.
Mr. McDonald: I will try again. In his answer, the Minister has indicated that he will be asking parents about their opinions and that he is not going to impose a solution to the problem. I am not asking him whether or not he is going to impose a solution to resolve the problem. I am asking him about what he sees as being the problem in the classroom with respect to mainstreaming. It is a simple question and the Minister is becoming very defensive. What is his perspective?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The current problem with mainstreaming is that the parents and the teachers who are involved in the school system feel that it is not working and they want to improve it. I am only giving them that opportunity to suggest ways to improve it. I am not going to impose my values on them; I want to hear recommendations from the people who are involved in the education system on how to improve it.
Mr. McDonald: I am not asking him to impose anything on anybody. What I am getting frightened about, quite frankly, is that the Minister does not know what he is talking about. I simply want to know what his perspective is about the problems. We all know that there are some people who expressed some concerns about mainstreaming. The Minister has identified that I am one person who has expressed some concerns about some elements about mainstreaming. I want to know what his concerns are. What has he identified in the classroom? What problem has he identified that has raised the level of concern resulting in his wanting to conduct a review? What is his perspective?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not going to fall into the Members trap by trying to impose my views on the people we have asked to suggest to us ways of improving the mainstreaming system. The parents out there, and the teachers in the system, have told us that, for several years now, they have been asking the government to look at the mainstreaming issue. We are giving them that opportunity, and I want them to tell us what areas they feel we can improve upon in the mainstreaming, for the betterment of the children in the schools.
Question re: Education review, mainstreaming
Mr. McDonald: I am not setting a trap for the Minister. I am not trying to convince the Minister that a review is not necessary. I am not trying to convince the Minister, or anybody else, that nobody has expressed any kind of interest in mainstreaming. I am simply trying to understand what the governments perspective is.
I know this review committee is not going to report for at least a year, and action will not take place for at least one and one-half years. There are hundreds of classrooms in operation today. What is the governments perspective with respect to the problem of mainstreaming? What is government doing about addressing those problems? I want to know what the government wants to do. What is the perspective? Do they know what I am talking about? What are the problems in the classroom?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will not tell the Member what we are going to do about mainstreaming until I hear from the review committee. We are going to maintain it the way it is now. Then, we are going to take the recommendations of the review committee on mainstreaming and implement them.
Mr. McDonald: I think the Minister had better look at his budget again. I think there are significant changes in his budget priorities; however, I do not want to get into that, because it is a budget question.
What concerns has the Minister been able to identify - while he has been a Minister, and prior to making the promise to review mainstreaming in the election - as being problems in the classroom that ought to be addressed in the review? What are the problems, not the solutions?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I could tell the Member opposite that I have heard from some teachers who feel some of the classrooms are unmanageable with some of the students who have been mainstreamed. I have heard from some of the groups that more children should be mainstreamed. I have heard from other groups that there should be no mainstreaming at all, and that there are current problems with the system. Parents are upset about the disruptions in classrooms. Other parents feel there should be more mainstreaming.
I think there is some middle ground between no mainstreaming and total mainstreaming, and I want to hear suggestions from the teachers and the parents on how we can make it better. I am going to give them the opportunity, and I do not want to prejudge what they are going to say and impose my values on that review committee.
After all, I struck the review committee for that purpose, and I want them to do their job.
Mr. McDonald: I am pleased that the Minister is not going to try to pre-empt public opinion, as he seemed to do in his opening shots with respect to providing a review in education.
The language in the Education Act gives the student the right to have the least restrictive and most enabling environment. Is there anything about that language that concerns the Minister to the extent that he feels it should be changed?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, the intent of this review is not to open up the Education Act in any area. The intent of the review is to look at the mainstreaming that we have in place now, and see how we can improve it. That is exactly what I hope the review will do.
Question re: Education review
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Education regarding the education review. I have a trap for the Minister, but I do not have it set yet, so he can relax.
There was a question presented in the House yesterday about there being some money identified in the budget for the education review. It was $40,000, and the Minister said that was incorrect. I read in a newspaper article last night that the education review is going to cost $75,000. Can the Minister tell us exactly what the total cost will be for this education review over the period of the one year and some in which it will take place?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Well, I am a bit surprised by that question, as well. There have been a couple of media stories on the amount. It is approximately $70,000. It is in the Education budget. I sent a note over to the Member for Riverdale South yesterday, clarifying the print mistake in the budget. I phoned the Member this morning and, again, reassured her of the print mistake in the budget. It was a print mistake. I apologize to the Member that I did not stand up the day we tabled the budget and correct it. I intended to do it when I dealt with the line items for the Department of Education, as is normally done.
The amount is $70,000. I hope that the education review can be done for that price.
Mrs. Firth: Relax, Mr. Minister; the trap is not yet set.
Mr. Minister, $75,000 is the headline we read. This is the information that has been given to the public. Now the Minister is saying $70,000. I will take it as $70,000, as the Minister stood up in the House and said that.
What I would like to know now is if that $70,000 includes the honoraria that is going to paid to the members of the steering committee.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it does.
Mrs. Firth: In light of the announcement the Minister has made previously - that he was taking money away from the school council members - why is he now paying an honoraria to these steering committee members?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Because we have not changed the policy on honoraria and because the education review is an extremely important review and the individuals who are on the task force that is travelling around the territory will be giving a great deal of their time being involved in that review and there should be some honoraria for it.
Question re: Crown Attorneys office, devolution of
Ms. Joe: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Justice, in regard to the Crown Attorney branch of the federal Department of Justice. Over the years, the devolution of the Crown Attorneys office has been on the governments agenda - I think even prior to 1985. Discussions have gone on and I have been told by bureaucrats in that department that it was not on a priority list. In discussions with the former Minister, Kim Campbell, she confirmed that they were not going to be planning any kind of devolution for the Crown Attorneys function for awhile. I am just wondering if the Minister has had any discussions or written any letters to the federal Minister of Justice about the devolution of the Crown Attorneys office.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I can tell the hon. Member that we are going to be looking at the entire history of this issue. I have identified it as a priority and I do intend to meet with the new Justice Minister to discuss it.
Ms. Joe: It certainly was on my priority list as well, but unfortunately the federal government did not agree that it was a priority. I would like to ask the Minister if he has had any discussions with the Council for Yukon Indians in regard to any plans to work toward the devolution.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Not yet. We are just getting the background together and identifying what it is we need to do, then we will be looking at discussing this issue with all the stakeholders.
Ms. Joe: There is also a concern about the devolution, and womens groups are telling us that it is a very important part of the plan to devolve certain branches or programs to the Yukon. I would just like to ask the Minister if he might tell me when we can look at any action to start in regard to this. He has said that he is doing some research to find out what happened in the past, but I just wondered if he might give me a tentative time schedule.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I hope that when I meet the federal Minister of Justice, at the end of May, I will have some idea of how much potential this initiative might have.
Question re: Child care workers, high turnover
Mr. Cable: I am told there is an 84-percent turnover rate in day care staff in the Yukon because the position of a child care worker has such minimum requirements that people with few skills can find employment, until such time as they can upgrade themselves sufficiently to get better jobs.
While I accept that people should take available employment until they can better their position, I do not believe the Yukon day care centres can be providing quality day care, when many of the trained staff are leaving at the first opportunity.
Can the Minister advise this House what steps he is taking to ensure the retention of our trained day care workers.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is a fairly comprehensive day care program in existence in the Yukon. Recently, it has been announced that the training of day care workers is going to take place with federal money that was negotiated last fall, under the former administration. That is a new initiative.
If the Member is suggesting that this government is supposed to be paying the wages of day care workers, I am afraid he does not understand the system as it presently exists.
Mr. Cable: That was not the suggestion. The federal government plan that I believe the Minister was talking about is $700,000 in federal funding from Health and Welfare Canadas child care initiatives program.
Can the Minister provide details as to how that money is being spent?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That money was negotiated for training of child care workers in Yukon. I believe there was an announcement made by Yukon College, with respect to how they see the training being done. Whether that contract with Yukon College is finalized, I really cannot say at this point.
Question re: Education review
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Education.
The Minister has stated his intention to gain control of spending by boards and committees, which is over $1 million per year. The Minister clearly stated his intentions to cut the honoraria to the school councils, but now says he is going to be paying an honoraria to this very important committee.
I would like to ask the Minister why this committee is more important than school councils, that they should be paid an honoraria, when his intentions are to cut the honoraria to school councils?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are starting to tread into budget issues. The honoraria for school councils is included in the budget and I think maybe the Member should leave that to the budget questions. I would be more than happy to answer it then.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister just put both of his feet into the trap. This is a policy question. Every policy question I ask the Members opposite gets zero for an answer. All I want the Minister to tell me is this: why is this steering committee so much more important that he is going to pay them honoraria, and yet he is going to take the honoraria away from the school councils, who are, according to me, just as important.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: For the Ministers information, I have not taken the honoraria away from the school councils. In fact, I have made a commitment to the school councils that I will sit down with them to talk to them about the best way to utilize the honoraria in the future; it has not been taken away.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has very clearly stated the intention that the honoraria was going to be removed. He very clearly stated this afternoon that the steering committee was a very important committee. Why is it more important than the school councils?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Obviously, the Member for Riverdale South is not reading the right documents. I clearly - very, very clearly - said to the school councils that I wanted to sit down with them and discuss better ways to use the honoraria within the schools - whether it be to purchase library books or buy other things for the schools, or whatever use they could have for it. I have asked them to give that consideration. I have not told the school councils that they are losing the honoraria; in fact, it is totally the opposite.
Question re: Aishihik Lake, possible ecological damage
Mr. McDonald: We will pursue that line of questioning in great detail later.
Yesterday, I asked the Minister responsible for the environment, the Minister of Renewable Resources, what his position was regarding the announced reduction in the water flow over Otter Falls and the planned lowering of water levels at Aishihik Lake.
The Yukon Party has said they would put an end to this environmental devastation planned by the Yukon Energy Corporation and, now, they appear to have delegated this problem to some committee to resolve.
Could the Minister indicate precisely which committees are resolving this issue and when he expects these committees to report?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Yukon Territorial Water Board amended the act so the flow would be controlled over Otter Falls. That is a private committee that we do not interfere with.
Mr. McDonald: I recall that last year the current Tourism Minister indicating he would like to throw the former Minister of Economic Development in jail for what he was doing over Otter Falls, which presumably was lowering the water levels at that particular historic landmark.
Can the Minister indicate why they are prepared to delegate this responsibility simply to the water board, and why they are not taking action, in order to avoid the penalty the Member for Riverdale North was sanctioning, which was jail?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Department of Renewable Resources did intervene and recommended more flow, but that apparently was not accepted.
Mr. McDonald: Perhaps I will ask the question of the Minister for Tourism. It was he who advocated jail time for Ministers and who also wanted the government to restore Otter Falls.
Given that the Minister of Tourism has, in the past, taken such a strong position on Otter Falls, can he tell me what the Department of Tourism is prepared to do, and whether or not they are going to accept the delegation to a committee to resolve this problem, or whether they are going to do something more aggressive to avoid the jail time he has advocated in the past?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would not dare to try to throw the Minister of Renewable Resources or any other Minister into jail. I know I would have great difficulty doing that. I feel very strongly about the water flow over Otter Falls. I remember it very clearly, years ago, as being the picture on the Canadian five dollar bill. I would like to see that maintained. I am prepared to make strong arguments to anyone that it should remain so. However, the water board is an independent board. They are making a decision based on all the information given to them.
It is interesting that the Members opposite think we should just jump in and overrule this independent board. On the one hand, they are telling us -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible).
Speaker: Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would, Mr. Speaker, but they will not allow me to.
They have threatened us with interfering with the Workers Compensation Board and all these other independent boards. Now they are suggesting to us that we should override the water board.
Question re: Property taxes, rural
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding property taxes for rural Yukoners. It is curious that we have the Minister being more open with the news media than he is with the Members of this House, who are elected to represent Yukon taxpayers.
In light of his statements to the press, can the Minister be more clear today than he was on Tuesday in the House on his position regarding taxes from outside city limits going to pay the salaries of city councillors?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It may have been that the media asked me a better question than the Member opposite.
As I stated earlier, I have not been approached by the Association of Yukon Communities. The question that was asked of me by the media was: was I personally supportive of the move to tax people outside the municipalities and give the money to the municipality. My answer was no, I am not personally supportive of that at all. I do not remember what the second question was - but my second response was something to the effect that I was not sure whether, in fact, it was even legal to do that and that there is such a thing as taxation only on representation.
Ms. Moorcroft: I try to ask good questions but I do not always get good answers. Has the Minister had any communication, either today or yesterday or at any time in the past, from the City of Whitehorse, making the request formally? And what are his plans for consulting rural residents on this issue?
Speaker: And be quick.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will try and be speedy about this.
I have not been approached by the City of Whitehorse - and I think that was referred to yesterday - but I am not aware of a letter or any representation from the City of Whitehorse at this point in time.
Ms. Moorcroft: The property tax rate for people outside the city has not yet been set for 1993. I would like to ask the Minister when he will be setting this rate.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The tax rate for the Yukon government as taxing authority has to be done prior to April 15, so I would expect that the tax rate will be set in the next week or 10 days.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 6: Second Reading - adjourned debate
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 6, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek. Adjourned debate, Mr. Harding.
Mr. Harding: I am pleased to have another opportunity to speak on this bill. I do not have much time so intend to make three points. Those points are that the tax increases proposed in the 1993-94 are huge, they are unnecessary, and they will kill jobs.
The new budget that has been proposed by the new Yukon Party government, their first attempt, is the largest spending, largest taxing budget in Yukon history. The taxes that they have proposed are absolutely obscene, to use the words of the Government Leader during the election campaign.
The government has gone to great lengths to try to justify the tax increases. Throughout the debate, it has become more and more apparent that there is no justification for the tax increases - absolutely none. They have tried to blame everything in the world on the NDP. They play the blame game on a continuous basis. We have already poked enough holes through their claims of a $57 million deficit that even the Government Leader has had to admit in the Legislature that we are the only jurisdiction in Canada that will have an accumulated surplus. We are the only one, yet they make comparisons to every other jurisdiction in Canada. We are so far above those other jurisdictions it is not even funny. We are very fortunate here in the Yukon. We are the only jurisdiction with an accumulated surplus. We are not easily comparable to those other jurisdictions.
When the Auditor Generals books come out in the fall, and the actuals for the year are read out and we see what they are, I think the Members on the other side are going to have to eat a little bit of crow about their claims. The tax increases are representing $9 million out of a $483 million budget. While that may sound like a paltry figure, in such a huge budget, it certainly is not to the people who have to fork out the added burden that the government is imposing on them.
I think the analogy, and I will have to use it once again, of the person going into the grocery store and purchasing a big order of groceries and walking up to the counter and finding out when the bill is totalled that they are $9 over $483. That person will not go to the cashier or the bank and ask for $9. Instead they will put something back on the shelf. In the great big grocery order of $483, they will put $9 back. The government had ample opportunity in this budget to do just that; we will look at some of the examples and point them out when we review the budget, line by line.
The Members opposite were in power for six months of the last fiscal year - which ended yesterday - yet they have taken no ownership or responsibility for what has happened. Immediately after they got elected they started claiming that the NDP spent $57 million more than what they took in - absolute poppycock.
Yesterday we did a little bit of delving into the number of savings that the government has come up with. What we found out is that while we could account for just under $1 million in savings, the firing of the deputy ministers blew that right out of the water. In fact there were no savings. We are anxiously waiting to see if there have been any big spending sprees in the last month of this fiscal year as this will also indicate their commitment to pulling in the reins.
These tax increases have been described as pocket change and modest by the Members opposite. To the people in my constituency, Faro, they are not modest, they are not pocket change. People in my community and throughout the Yukon have to watch every dollar that they have. The last thing that they want to do is reach into their pockets and pull more money out for this Legislature and this government. Because the Members opposite have wimped out to the bureaucrats in Ottawa, at the request by the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Tom Siddon, and the bureaucrats in Ottawa, to pull some taxes out of the Yukon people - which the NDP resisted for years - we now have in front of us a proposal for tax increases. It is absolutely inane.
I have to laugh when I hear the arguments that this budget is going to make us more self-sufficient.
That is pretty much in keeping with this 21st-century document. I cannot find out how that is going to make us more self-sufficient because, whenever I ask a question, Members opposite cannot tell us how they are going to implement their plans.
It is not going to make us more self-sufficient. There is another increase in this budget from the federal government in transfer payments for the Yukon. That does not make us more self-sufficient.
The Government Leader so often said that we were getting so much money here in the territory but, in fact, he has taken major issue with the fact that the NDP resisted raising taxes - which he said, during the election campaign, was obscene - because he says it has imposed a penalty on us, that we could have received $120 million more from the federal government, and that is in the Hansard.
There is only one taxpayer. The Members opposite who said, for so long, there was too much money coming from Ottawa are now saying to the Members of this Legislature that the government should cave in to the federal bureaucrats and raise taxes, so we can get more money from Ottawa, so we can become more dependent on Ottawa. It makes absolutely no sense. These tax hikes are unnecessary.
These tax increases will kill jobs. They will further depress this economy. Since the new government came into power, on October 19, 1992, we have seen gloom and doom spread throughout the land. It was like the recession hit in a matter of a month or two after they were elected. Right from the time their highly paid transition team from British Columbia came in to start running the Yukon government, we got a detailed tactical plan of how we were going to convince Yukoners that we were in the same trouble as all other jurisdictions in the country. Even the Government Leader has admitted that we are the only jurisdiction in the country with an accumulated surplus, and our consolidated surplus is going to be very substantial.
The gloom and doom has hurt the economy. We have had inaction on the Curragh situation. The Taga Ku has been demolished, which is really going to hurt the construction industry in the spinoffs. Apparently some of the hospital construction is planned, with preparation work for this year. We will have to wait and see how much the Minister of navigation gets done this year.
We have 14-percent unemployment in this territory. When the NDP left office, it was eight percent.
The Government Leader points out that last year, unemployment was 12 percent. I think a two-percent increase over the figures of last year is tremendously huge. It is a big increase. If the Government Leader is not concerned about a two-percent increase over the same numbers of unemployment last year, then he would not know why social assistance costs are rising. Unemployment costs money. These tax increases and this budget will kill jobs.
The gloom and doom has had a terrible effect on consumer confidence. When people do not have that confidence, they do not invest; they do not buy homes, cars or stereos. When they do not, it does not create the spinoff in the economy we need. When people have to pull more out of their pockets to pay for these unnecessary tax increases, there will be less disposable income. Some of the people who sell necessities in the territory may do all right, as these tax increases hit them, but it is the people who have a little bit more luxurious items for sale who will feel the brunt - the shop owners and small business people, along with the corporations who will feel the tax increases.
This will kill spinoff in our economy. As disposable income is decreased, what one sees is less spending and that means layoffs. That is not doom and gloom; that is reality. The reality of this budget is that it is bad for the economy. We had a tremendous competitive advantage in our corporate income tax. They went and increased it 50 percent. Now the Northwest Territories has a lower income tax rate than we do. The tremendous competitive advantage is now gone as a result of this new budget.
The new budget does absolutely nothing for the economy. It is the biggest spending and taxing budget in Yukon history. The tax hikes are unnecessary and they will kill jobs.
I have to make a comment: I have not been in the Legislature long, but I thought about something a long time before I read about it in an editorial in a local newspaper. When the budget came down, we heard the reactions from the special interest groups, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, the Yukon Chamber of Mines and even the Mayor of Whitehorse himself - whom I would not put in a special interest group category - but I remember, ever since I have been in this territory, the outrage those groups showed when there was a New Democrat budget that was a bigger spending budget. I can only imagine what the outrage would have been for this budget; however, the partisanship they have shown has really dampened their credibility in my eyes. They are representing a large base of people in those groups.
The government should look at what this budget is going to do to increase government spending, raise taxes unnecessarily and to kill jobs in this territory.
Mr. Millar: Before I get into the body of my speech, I would like to make a couple of comments about what I have heard in this debate. One of the things that I have heard repeatedly is the blame game, that we are trying to blame the NDP for everything that ever went wrong. It amazes me, because the next sentence you hear from them is that we are comparing the Yukon to other jurisdictions in the country - comparing our budgets to their budgets, pointing out how much taxes have gone up in other provinces and the cuts that have taken place. The NDP jump up and say that was not the fault of the NDP government that is in power now, but the previous government. What is the point?
They say tax increases in British Columbia are going to amount to $6 million, when in actual fact it is closer to $600 million. My reason for bringing this up is because I think it is important to have some of the numbers that have been thrown around here in the last couple of days corrected.
For example, there is the statement that British Columbia is 1,000 times the size of the Yukon. That means there are over 30 million people in British Columbia. Holy smokes. My calculator does not work like that.
The next thing I hear is someone bragging about the fact that they built a curling rink in Elsa for nobody. There has never been a rock thrown in that curling rink, yet they bring the curling rink up and defend the construction. This amazes me; it almost leaves me speechless, but not quite.
There are the income tax increases, and how this government is spreading doom and gloom. We raised the income tax rate five percent. Members opposite stand up and say it is actually an 11-percent increase.
They are still saying it; and, yes, if one works around in the middle a little bit, one can come up with a nine- to 11-percent increase. But, when the cheque is finally written, the bottom line is going to be a two- to three-percent increase, not an 11-percent increase. Let us get the facts out there correctly. Let us be honest with the people of the Yukon.
They said heating oil will have a 20-percent increase. There is no tax on heating oil; there never has been and we are not proposing one, so I do not know where they came up with that.
They keep referring to the Government Leaders comments, when they were in debate, about taxes being obscene. I did hear him say that, and I certainly did agree with him when he said it. No, I have not changed my mind at all, as a matter of fact. They talk about us being a lot different from other jurisdictions and yes, we are. We have had a surplus and when the NDP took power in 1985, or whenever it was, there was a $40 million surplus; then, for the next couple of years, they built that surplus from $40 million up to $60 million or $62 million - not bad. Now, using their figures - and these are figures that I do not necessarily agree with - we are going to have a $5 million surplus? What happened to the other $50 million? That is deficit financing, no matter how one looks at it. They are going to put us where those other jurisdictions in the country are. No, those are not our figures. By our figures we are not going to have a surplus this year.
The largest budget in Yukons history: yes, it is the largest budget in Yukon history and, if one looks in the back of the budget address book, since 1982-83 the budget has gone up every year. There has never been a year when it has not gone up.
I do not think it is all that unusual that the budget is going up, but with it going up I honestly believe that some time in the not-too-distant future these huge transfer payments to the Yukon are going to stop. And what is going to happen when they stop? What is going to happen? We will have nothing.
We have 30,000 people in this territory. What are we going to do? The purpose was to put infrastructure in place. There are beautiful buildings, but very little infrastructure.
We should have been trying to save some of that money so we would have something for a rainy day. We are not going to have anything, and this government is trying to turn that around so we will have something in the future.
I am not going to spend too much time on tax burdens. I think the Government Leader scooped me on it yesterday in pointing out that we have northern living allowances up here. We do have higher food costs, and a few other things like that, but we also have a lot higher wages than most other jurisdictions in the country. Most people in the Yukon do. If they are working, they have the higher wages.
Whether or not it would have been this government, or the NDP government, or any government elected in the Yukon Territory - and they know it on the other side - there would have been three choices. They could have raised taxes, they could have had massive layoffs, or they could have gone into deficit financing. I honestly believe that the Members opposite would have taken the deficit-financing route. It is the easy way. I believe the people of the territory also believe that.
One of the other things I heard is that we really do not have the ear of the people, that we are not listening to the people. I think we have been trying to listen to the people. The Hon. Government Leader has gone to great effort to talk to the people of this territory. He has been interviewed by the press, he has been a guest on CBC and on the CKRW Open Line program, which allowed the public at large to ask questions and express opinions. In this way, this government has been able to get feedback from the public.
The Hon. Government Leader met with the Council for Yukon Indians. He spoke to chartered accountants at a no-host breakfast in the Windsor Room. He spoke with the business and mining communities at a no-host lunch at the Gold Rush Inn. The Government Leader, and every Minister, spoke at a no-host reception at the Klondike Inn. On all occasions, questions and comments were invited from the floor.
There have been advertisements in the local newspapers inviting people who want more information to please contact this administration. There was a handy budget highlight book that has been circulated widely. MLAs have communicated with their constituents to present a view and/or field questions about the budget. Yukoners are well-apprised of the situation. A few have even taken the time, and shown an interest, by coming to sit in this House and listen to the debate and understand the budget and legislative process better.
It is good to see people taking an active interest in this government. Some of that interest stems from an open government. It is a government that makes the public feel welcome and comfortable. This government lets the people be a part of the process by having a say. This government lets them express an opinion without fear of reprisal. We stay in touch with the people.
The people understand that what has been done, was what had to be done. They may not like it, but they do understand it. What is being heard from a majority of Yukoners is that they wanted a balanced budget. That is what we have done. We have gone from a $58 million deficit to a balanced budget in one year. But the public is going to have to be watching to make sure the money is spent wisely. This government invites that public interest. If people do not like the way their tax dollars are being spent, we want to hear about it.
The public has heard about other governments being bogged down with runaway, out-of-control deficit spending, financial debts that cannot be curbed, sometimes not even with new taxes. In some instances, there is nothing left to tax. Slashing spending therefore becomes one of the few ways, if not the only way, to approach these heavy deficits that have plagued the federal government and virtually every provincial government in our country. When spending is curbed, that means services and programs that have traditionally been viewed as government responsibilities are no longer going to be provided. When that drastic slashing happens, people who have become used to certain government wages, programs and services may have to adjust and find alternative means. When this happens, people will be hurt.
I have heard that Ontario is looking at slashing thousands of public sector jobs because the government has become too top heavy and people can no longer afford it. That can be a devastating measure.
This territorys previous administration was embarking on the same disastrous course, spending more money than it had in revenues. Even when told by Ottawa to raise more revenues to supports its spending, the previous government said no and went merrily on its way, spending as though there was no tomorrow. Tomorrow just arrived and the bill is due for payment.
As a result of the previous governments attitude, this territory has gone into long-term deficit financing. It is a debt that taxpayers of this territory would have been paying off forever. No one can spend more money than is in the bank account or held in assets. When the bank calls the loan, the loan holder has to be able to pay off that debt. Otherwise, the individual would find himself bankrupt. Spending more than is earned has always been a disastrous way of conducting business. I do not know which economist told us that was the way to do things, but it has been proven not to work.
Further, it has been proven that the people in this territory, as well as the people in Canada and practically every country in the world, are fed up with living in the shadow of a monumental debt.
When taxpayers money is being misappropriated, that could probably be considered a breach of public trust. The people in almost every country have entrusted their money to be spent wisely by governments at various levels. If the governments are wasting the taxpayers hard-earned money, then the public at large will call for accountability. People see the governments taking their money, getting the country into a financial mess and then coming back time and time again to the taxpayers for more money. Finally, the quality of service diminishes. With all the money contributed to public coffers, the services should be increasing in quality one thousand fold. Somewhere along the line, governments say they have no more money for roads, schools, health care, pensions and so on, because they have spent all of the money, along with the money they did not have to spend. They have also made some bad investment mistakes.
The long and short of this subject is that people want government spending brought under control.
That is exactly what this government is attempting to do. To the best of its ability, after less than six months in office, this government has taken a bad situation and turned it around to get this territory heading in the right direction. I am personally pleased and proud to be part of this government; we had to make some decisions that were not necessarily popular but at least they were decisions that we did make. This government took control of fiscal matters and pulled in the reins and stopped the deficit financing before it went any further. Who wants to waste good money - $400,000 annually just to service a bank loan?
I can think of numerous other places that money could come in mighty handy for things needed by people in my riding of Klondike. The constituents in my riding accepted this budget news quite well. I cannot report that everyone was gleeful and jumping up and down and kicking their heels together, although most understood the reason behind what was done and others were resigned to the fact. Now, the attitude seems to be let us get on with business as usual. The feedback was appreciated that this government has shown a determination to control spending and improve government management. Within a few short months in office this government has shown fiscal responsibility and has been able to streamline government operations.
In the $483 million budget, $129 million is to be put toward capital projects. All Yukoners will benefit from capital expenditures: roads, streets, bridges, water and sewer.
Speaking of water and sewer, that has been a pesky problem in Dawson City for a long time, dating back many years. It seems this problem is on its way to being rectified. There is going to be someone in Dawson next week, it is hoped, and they will be getting on with the negotiations. It is hoped that they will quickly come up with a remedy.
It was said that one Member of this House was elected because of that promise and I suspect that I am that person. I suspect that it did have something to do with it, but that was one small part of it. There was $1.2 million allocated for the Yukons 60 mile portion of the Top of the World Highway. That was well received news by the community, especially by people who are directly involved in the tourism business. This is a step in the right direction for a loop system.
In cooperation with the Alaskans, we are hoping to one day have a good, wide, well-maintained year-round road, which any traveller will feel safe to drive even in rainy or snowy conditions.
The Top of the World and Taylor highways intersect the Alaska Highway at Tetlin Junction on the U.S. side. A year-round loop would be the ticket to encourage new business along the route and it would also enhance the businesses that are already established. In turn, a loop will encourage more highway traffic into Dawson, as well as into the rest of the Yukon. Visitors can come in by one route and go home by another route, and that is the way travellers like to travel, thus seeing more of our great Yukon.
We can also tap into the large bulk of residents and tourists who live and visit Alaska - a state that already has a hardy shoulder season, or one that is enjoyed in months that are not traditional tourist seasons.
That way, Dawson could have more international sports events and tournaments, to include our Alaskan neighbours, during the winter months.
The $1.2 million for upgrading the Top of the World Highway is a giant step in the right direction.
Also, the half million dollars for work on the Klondike and Dempster highways will have a good effect on Dawson, too. Infrastructure is the key to progress, so roads are very important to all Yukoners. Good roads are necessary for both tourism and our mining industry.
In the 1993-94 budget, $8.6 million has been pinpointed for tourism. Dawson will benefit both directly and indirectly from these monies spent on tourism. This government has increased funding in the film and TV production industry. Who knows, perhaps the Yukon will become the next Hollywood. After all, many U.S. productions are being shot in Canada because it is more economical and, of course, the Yukon has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. My riding, the Klondike - Dawson - certainly has the flavour and the charm and the history. Dawson has the famous Palace Grand Theatre, where first-class shows have been performed since the turn of the century.
This government has allotted $285,000 toward the Yukon Anniversaries Commissions administrative operations. The forthcoming centennial celebrations are targeted in the Klondike. The 100th birthday to celebrate the discovery of gold in the Klondike will take place in 1996, and the 100th birthday for the Klondike gold rush will be in 1998. From here on, Dawson will be in the limelight as we prepare to promote these anniversaries locally and to the outside world.
This is exciting. These celebrations are investments - investments for the future - for the future of Dawson as well as the future of the Yukon.
This means more travelers will make the Yukon a destination point, and who could come to the Yukon without visiting Dawson?
The tourism industry provides many employment opportunities in the private sector. The tourism industry is especially good for students, who will be assured of summer jobs to help support their education. This is a big plus. The cost of education is leaping extraordinarily, simply because governments are cutting funding to educational institutions, and because provinces are operating too far into deficit financing. Colleges and universities are having to increase tuition fees and the cost of living is going up, whether students are living on or off campus.
The price of text books and other materials required for courses is overwhelming, and the GST did not help education at all. If we can guarantee our young people, who are coming into the workforce, that there will be jobs for them in the summer while they are on break, that is a real bonus.
We owe it to them so that they can get a good education and a good stronghold on the future. We also owe it to our young people not to saddle them with a huge debt to wrestle their way out from under, or a debt that they cannot get out of at all.
All of these expenditures that I have mentioned are a good send-off for our young people into a self-sufficient future, regardless of ethnic background.
Of the $6 million budgeted for construction and maintenance of Yukon schools, this government has allocated money to purchase land for the Robert Service School, and additional money for the schools expansion.
Aside from tourism and education, mining is very important to Dawson, as it is our number one industry. Under the Economic Development budget - $19.4 million - residents of the Klondike will have an opportunity to benefit under a wide range of incentive programs. Yukon mining incentives aim at setting off costs for individuals and companies who are prospecting and exploring mineral properties. Furthermore, there is a greater emphasis on assisting individuals and small companies to develop promising projects. Although the Klondike is known mainly for placer gold properties, there are also hard rock gold properties.
This program will put money into the Dawson area for sure. Although there has been a two-cent per litre increase in the cost of diesel fuel and gasoline, this increase does not apply to off-road use. Mining operations have been spared from any additional operation costs with regard to fuel. This is all very positive, especially since the mining industry is suffering an economic depression at this time.
My riding of Klondike will receive a total of $17 million, or 3.5 percent of the expenditures budgeted for the communities, or the largest percent other than Whitehorse. Of the $17 million, $14.9 million is for operations and maintenance, and $2 million for capital expenditures. The money that will be inserted into the community of Dawson over the next year is very important to the mining industry, which ranks as the number one private sector industry, and for tourism, which takes the number two slot.
The government has shown a commitment to these two industries and to the community of Dawson. Eventually Dawson and the entire Klondike area will be able to become less dependent on government money. We are headed toward economic self-sufficiency, as are most communities in the territory, and the Yukon itself. We have to become less dependent on other Canadians for our support and well-being. The time has come when it is imperative for the Yukon to find ways and means to become self-sufficient. This government has taken steps in the right direction with this budget. We who live in the Yukon are very fortunate and I think we have learned from others mistakes. If we have not learned, then maybe we had really better learn quickly.
Mr. Abel: Some people always tend to be negative, rather than positive. They want to look for the bad, rather than the good. Even though it is difficult to understand, I suppose this is a natural reaction for some people to have a constant black cloud hanging over them. It causes people to grow old in their minds and in their hearts before they grow old in age. I am sure all of us have known at least one person who is well up into the years of living, in their 80s or even their 90s, and we think and speak of them as though they were still very young. It is because of something special, something positive, a twinkle in their eyes, a sense of humour - I have got good funny bones, too, Mr. Speaker - and an exuberance for living life to its fullest. Their attitude is one of everything is good, and nothing is bad.
If you think about it, it is much easier to have a good outlook on life by seeing the good. It takes less energy to be happy and positive, than it does to be angry and bitter. It actually is easier; it takes fewer facial muscles to smile and laugh, than to frown or cry. Why would anyone want to exert extra energy being negative, when it is actually easier to smile and be positive? That positive trait is what makes the people of Old Crow so special. They always have a light comment to make about things. They have a bright, cheerful outlook on life. They also have bright, rosy red cheekbones in the winter.
Regardless of how tough things get, my people find the bright side. They see only the best of any situation. We always keep a positive attitude looking ahead at the good. We do not make a practice of looking for the bad or the negative. News reporters tend to look for the negative. Even when something is good, they seem to want to criticize it.
Anne Murray once posed the question in one of her songs, Is there any good news today? Well, yes there is good news, and lots of it. I believe that the potential for the future is very bright, not just for my people in Old Crow but for all Yukoners. I am optimistic about what lies ahead. I could complain because Old Crow did not get a big enough portion of the money pie. After all, it costs more to live in Old Crow, than other Yukon communities. In the winter, the temperatures dip down to 50 and 60 degrees below zero, and we live for a few months in darkness. Old Crow is isolated from the rest of the Yukon above the Arctic Circle. The rivers in the summer are our only highways. Our community is accessible only by air transportation for most of the year.
Most supplies have to be flown in. That adds to the cost of supplies: food, fuel and our overall cost of living. Everything we need to make life more comfortable is priced higher. For the same reasons, the operation and maintenance costs of the town is high, yet we would not live anywhere else.
Like anyone else, we like to take a break to see different scenery once in a while. We come to Whitehorse or travel outside the Yukon to see new places, just like anyone else. However, we are always anxious to get home to our friendly, familiar surroundings
One thing on which we pride ourselves is that we are not selfish people. We are not greedy. It is not our nature to be bitter and complain about what we do not have and what we did not get. We are grateful for what we have.
Old Crow was allocated $2.1 million. The money will do quite nicely to maintain such things as the school and upgrade the roads around our community. We thank the government and the people of the Yukon for the $1.7 million for operating and maintenance costs and the $390,000 for capital projects. If anybody wants to complain that the new budget is going to increase the cost of living in general, those people should come and live in Old Crow for about three months. After living in Old Crow, anybody would come back to Whitehorse, or any part of the Yukon, and count their blessings. They would see how low the cost of living is here in Whitehorse or any of the other communities and be happy that products and services are readily available.
Every Yukon community is accessible to every other Yukon community by road, but not Old Crow. In Old Crow, we have to rely on planes to bring us what we need or take us for a trip out. The weather is sometimes bad and the planes cannot land. We have no choice but to wait patiently; if the plane cannot land, it cannot land. It is a condition we accept as part of our lifestyle. It is beyond our ability to control it. If there is no milk in town and the plane cannot land, it would be rather silly to waste time crying over spilled milk when there is none to spill.
Too often, people lose perspective by not being able to see the truth through another persons eyes. Things could be bad. We could be living in a poverty-stricken, war-torn country, where food and supplies are not available at all, regardless of who does or does not have the money to pay, whatever the price. However, we are not living in that situation. We are living in a pleasant, peaceful society, and here we sit, today, to debate a few tax increases in the budget. Perhaps we should try to get things into a better perspective.
We are still fortunate to live in a society where we have those commodities to tax, and we are fortunate to be living in such an affluent society that we earn the money to pay the tax.
I have heard a self-employed person say that she likes paying income taxes at the end of the year. That means she made some money for herself. It is when she is not paying taxes that she gets nervous.
This government is raising additional income for the good of the whole territory. This government has taken steps toward controlling spending so that additional revenue will not be squandered, and that is good news.
Yukoners are better off than all the rest of Canada, and better off than most of the world, really, except perhaps for the Northwest Territories, although the cost of living is higher than here. They have little in the way of infrastructure in that vast land and are dependent on air transportation, too.
All countries in this land, with perhaps the exception of a few like Mexico, are experiencing a downturn in their economies and are locked into heavy deficit financing.
I realize it is the job of the Opposition Members to examine the budget in detail, to criticize it and to try to point out where they think things could have been done better, but I trust that reality and their common sense prevails.
One of these days, very soon, Ottawa is going to turn off the tap. When that time comes, the Yukon has to be debt-free and well on its way to self-sufficiency. Otherwise, we will be in deep trouble. The Yukon has been pampered and sheltered all its life but now the federal government and provinces are so far in the hole they can no longer tax themselves out of debt, much less afford to keep supporting us much longer.
The Yukon still has room to manoeuvre, and it is right now that we must learn to start paying our own way and to learn fiscal responsibility. The big day is coming soon when all responsibilities will be transferred to the Yukon and we will have to sink or swim. We may as well learn right now how to swim.
This budget contains very good news, and this government caught in the nick of time what could have been a disastrous deficit financing situation.
There is more good news. There are reductions in spending due to improved management and streamlined operations and maintenance. There are jobs being created for the private sector due to capital projects.
I am thankful for the $2.4 million under the education budget; that money will go to a land claims implementation trust fund. It will ensure that native people are trained properly to make the transition toward self-government smooth.
The nearly 20 years that the Indian land claims negotiations have been going on have been a convenient excuse for development projects to stagnate in the Yukon. The Vuntut Gwichin First Nation is not opposed to development, per se. We want good things to take place in the Yukon for the good of all Yukoners but, when somebody starts to dig into somebody elses backyard, even if it is for the owners good, we certainly expect the same courtesy as would any other property owner.
We want to be notified of why the work needs to take place and to have the opportunity to be part of the decision-making process. It is our land and that land offers us our livelihood, so we must be careful to protect our valuable resources against encroachment.
A big concern is for the Porcupine caribou herd, which offers us meat. We must ensure that the herd is protected against negative impacts and disruption.
The land claims bill recently passed in this House will ensure that Yukon First Nations will have a say in any development work from here on, and that is good news.
The other good news is that the Vuntut Gwichin First Nation is very close to ratifying our land claims agreements. A big aim in my life is to see that everybody is getting along and working together in harmony.
That brings me back to the subject of counting our blessings. I think we are very fortunate to have a government that has shown responsibility all the way around, from dealing with the land claims bill in this House to arriving at a responsible budget for the benefit of all Yukoners. I am sure some of the decisions that had to be made were not easy, but I would like to point out that the budget is balanced and that is more than the rest of Canada can say. I would rather be living in the situation we have here in the Yukon than what I hear is the situation in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and even Alberta, which has always been a prosperous, progressive province.
The provinces are almost taxed beyond their limits to raise revenues. They are having to engage in drastic reductions in public sector jobs, social programs and other areas of spending. I think it was wise that the Yukon government has learned from others mistakes. This government did not want to be trapped in the same web. To me that is good news.
The Yukon is living within its financial means. That means new revenues will not have to be spent on servicing a debt or paying off loans; that is very good news. I can look at the new budget for the Yukon and feel proud. I am proud to be part of a government that has the courage to take the stand now. I am proud to be part of a government that had a vision to see into the future. That future is going to be a better one as a result of the action that has been taken to show fiscal responsibility at this time. That means we will not be leaving a legacy of debt to our children and that is really good news. In view of that fact, there is nothing negative in the budget; it is all good news that adds to a positive step into the future.
Mr. Cable: I will take the admonishment of the Member for Vuntut Gwichin to heart and stay positive. What may sound like negative comment should really be viewed as positive, constructive criticism.
There are a few themes I would like to develop that arise from a review of the budget. To begin with, I want to say that the right to make decisions carries with it the corresponding obligation to accept responsibility for them. There have been three times that the government has introduced financial matters into this House, since and including December, and on each of those occasions the government has attempted to absolve itself of responsibility by blaming the previous NDP administration for a wide variety of financial maladies. It is my view that the government has not taken ownership of the problem.
While I acknowledge that those on the left are sometimes viewed as poor managers, correctly or incorrectly, the government cannot continue to blame others for decisions it makes. Poor money management is not solely held in the left spectrum. I would draw the Houses attention to ex-US president Ronald Reagan and ex-provincial premier Grant Devine, of Saskatchewan, both of whom took their respective jurisdictions into a financial nightmare.
The government must realize that there are many Yukoners and Yukon business people who are questioning the governments financial wisdom - whether the government happens to be on the right, middle or left of the spectrum.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: What about true, indeed. There are, and this may be stretching my credulity, even middle-of-the-road governments that have not handled their financial aspects well.
Like the horsemen from the Apocalypse, the government has been telling a tale of impending doom.
Recessions do not happen all by themselves; in many ways they are created by attitude. If the government continues on its present course, preaching doom and gloom, we may in fact create our own recession. It will, in fact, have been created, in part, by the governments rhetoric.
This government could have used this very important budget document to reintroduce some confidence into Yukoners lives and into the Yukon economy. Instead, it has chosen to pick the pockets of Yukoners by raising taxes. The best economic development is to leave a dollar in the taxpayers pocket, not lift it. At most areas, at most times, private initiative is the most important catalyst for converting dollars into jobs.
My research assistant has been reading an interesting new book. The book is called Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector. I see that the book costs $30.99, and I think you can get it at a bookstore downtown. It is an interesting book; I only had a moment to glance at it. I would like to read a passage from the book - my assistant has pointed out a few passages in this book to me. I would recommend the book to the Members across the floor. At page 196, it reads, entrepreneurial governments are searching for non-tax revenues; they are measuring their return on investment. They are recycling their money, finding the 15 or 20 percent that can be redirected. Some are even running for-profit enterprises. That speaks to the issue of non-tax revenues.
The Members of the government will recall that during last Octobers election campaign, the Yukon Party made many promises. Key among these promises was fiscal responsibility. They told us that, if elected, they would reduce government spending, and meet their commitments without raising taxes.
The constraints of power of course, and perhaps a lack of imagination, have turned the Yukon Partys election platform into a farce. During debate on this budget over the last few days, the government has talked about choice. The government said they had to raise taxes, or do such and such.
The government had a third choice, one that I think Yukoners would find appealing. Let me refer to another passage in this new Bible, or Koran for governments. I refer to pages 22 to 23.
It is headed by the words, A Third Choice. If you will bear with me, it is a fairly lengthy passage, Most of our leaders still tell us that there are only two ways out of our repeated public crises. We can raise taxes or we can cut spending. For almost two decades, we have asked for a third choice. We do not want less education, fewer roads, less health care. Nor do we want higher taxes. We want better education, better roads and better health care for the same tax dollars.
Unfortunately, we do not know how to get what we want. Most of our leaders assume that the only way to cut spending is to eliminate programs, agencies and employees. Ronald Reagan spoke as if we could simply go into the bureaucracy with a scalpel and cut out pockets of waste, fraud and abuse.
It gets better, But waste in government does not come tied up in neat packages. It is marbled throughout our bureaucracies. It is embedded in the very way we do business. It is employees on idle, working at half speed, or barely working at all. It is people working hard at tasks that are not worth doing, following regulations that should never have been written, filling out forms that should never have been printed. This is a reference to the Americans, of course. It is $100 billion a year that Bob Stone estimates the Department of Defence wastes with its foolish over-regulation. It goes on, To melt the fat, we must change the basic incentives that drive our governments.
A little later, The old ideas still embraced by most public leaders and political reporters assume that the important question is how much government we have, not what kind of government. I should say that this book was recommended to me by an acquaintance of mine. I will do my best to complete it from cover to cover, because if that is any example of what is in the book, it is well worth reading.
The government has used the perversity factor, contained in the Yukons formula financing, to defend its decision to raise taxes. There is some suggestion that if we do not pay the same taxes as the rest of Canada, there is something immoral or illegal or perhaps even fattening about that proposition.
There is nothing ennobling about raising taxes, except insofar as it takes money from the strong, and redistributes it to the weak. Governments that take pride in raising taxes, simply because others are paying higher taxes, are engaging in a form of sado-masochism. The challenge is not to succumb to the wishes of federal politicians or bureaucrats, but to exercise political will and seek other solutions. The governments proposed tax increase will raise an estimated $8.8 million. Surely any government worthy of their name, could have found another way to manage a need for $8.8 million in a $483 million budget. In order to support this budget, I have to have confidence in it. I am not confident at this time that a tax increase is necessary or justifiable.
I am left with a distinct feeling of unease when the government talks about the perversity factor and its desire to eliminate it. Questions come to mind. Is the federal bureaucracy playing the Yukon and Northwest Territories governments off against one another in a game of divide and conquer? Is the government taking part in the negotiation by fawning? Look at how good we are. We did what we were asked. Will you talk to us now that we have been good? Surely you do not negotiate by giving away the farm before negotiations begin. Tax increases should not be a condition precedent to negotiations, but if they are necessary, perhaps a condition of the final agreement.
The governments choice of the tax increase also concerns me a great deal. The increase in fuel taxes will have a far-reaching effect on the territory. The governments decision to not include additional taxes on alcohol, while increasing personal, business and tobacco taxes smacks of an agenda that makes a lot of Yukoners uncomfortable. However, the point remains, that any tax increases should not have been necessary.
I would like to make one more point in this regard. The Yukon is very fortunate in that we do not have to finance a large deficit, like many of the provinces. We do not need to dedicate large amounts of our annual budget to debt servicing. Were that the case, then perhaps tax increases could be defended, but this is not the case. This is not Ontario, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, or any other jurisdiction.
There is nothing evil about paying lower taxes. Who said we have to pay the same taxes as everyone else? That may simply be a reflection on the fact that we are in the same mess as everybody else, and I do not think we are.
The Members opposite seem to think there is also something inherently evil about the size of the transfer payments the Yukon receives from the federal government. Let me assure them that this is not a feeling shared by most Yukoners. There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of provisions of the Formula Financing Agreement, or any other arrangement that provides for the transfer of funds to the territory that is in place. There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of a contract that was negotiated on an arms-length basis.
I want to remind the government, and Members of this House, that whether we talk about Yukon, or the Yukon, our territory is just that: a territory. The federal government has a stake in the Yukon, perhaps more than it does in the provinces. We are not a province, and we are not self-sufficient, nor are we likely to be completely self-sufficient in the near future.
On that point, I want to draw Members attention to the comments made by the Government Leader in this House yesterday. The Government Leader said, in referring to what are characterized as government handouts, That reminds me a lot of a child who is ready to leave home, wants to go out on his own and be responsible for his own actions and not have to have his parents make any decisions for him any more. He wants to take full responsibility for his own decisions, but he still wants his parents to keep paying the greatest portion of his rent and his car expenses and everything else. If we want the responsibility to look after ourselves, then we had best accept that responsibility and act in a responsible manner.
I could not agree more with the Government Leader. In the family setting, that is something to teach our children, and it will teach some pride when they learn it. However, I would suggest that is a simplistic view. I hope I am not appearing too harsh, but I think that is a simplistic view of the political and economic development we find in the Yukon.
The Yukon of 1993 is not the Manitoba of 1870, when the population was roughly the same. At that time, when it came into Confederation, self-sufficiency in Manitoba required little more than a garden plot and livestock. Governments and government functions have become more complex as we move toward the 21st century.
When Manitoba and other provinces first began to move toward self-sufficiency, their governments did not have to concern themselves with complex health care systems, complex justice systems, government-owned utilities and other functions we all now recognize as government functions. We cannot scale down the government of Ontario from 10 million people to 30,000 without there being inefficiencies.
While we must think about and work at building a prosperous, self-sufficient future, one of our first priorities has to be front-line services to Yukoners. People come first. We have to create opportunity and try to provide Yukoners with at least the same level of government service enjoyed by other Canadians. With imagination and thoughtfulness, we cannot only meet this challenge but can set standards that are the envy of others.
The expenditures side of this budget also deserves close examination. Despite the Yukon Partys stated commitment to control growth and cost of government, this government has tabled the largest budget ever brought before this House.
One of the Members opposite indicated yesterday that the O&M budget, when stripped of certain new events, such as the hospital, has in fact been reduced; I will wait to see how that is proven. However, it is very nearly half a billion dollars, or about $16,000 for every person resident in the territory. The budget has the largest capital component of any budget, which pleases some people, but it also has the largest O&M component of any budget.
This government, which promised to reduce government spending, has increased O&M spending by some $39 million. What has happened to this governments commitments?
There are other expenditure matters that I want to mention briefly, although I realize we may discuss these in more depth if this budget makes it to Committee.
The Yukon Party also made a point of trying to convince Yukoners during the election campaign that it had a social conscience. It talked a lot about social change. What social change is accomplished by cutting the budget for services to women, such as the Victoria Faulkner Womens Centre in Whitehorse? This government also committed itself to improving child care and family services, and we will have to see evidence of this in the budget, as conversations proceed.
Before I conclude, I would like to mention the features of this budget that are encouraging. I hope this responds to the point made by the Member for Vuntut Gwichin.
I am happy to see that the government chose not to re-introduce medicare premiums and make tax collectors out of people in the street and business people.
Similarly, I am encouraged to see that the budget appears to be balanced - a trend, unfortunately, that is not very common in Canada.
I want to close by, once again, talking briefly about confidence. Since this government took office, there has been an alarming change in the Yukons economic circumstances. I am not suggesting for a moment that the Yukon government deserves all the blame for that change, but it certainly has a responsibility to do something about it. Unemployment has risen several basis points since last fall, and some small businesses in the territory are recording near record poor sales, in comparison to previous years.
The first thing the government can do is get off its Apocalyptic horse and start talking about the promise this territory holds, eliminate its rhetoric and get back to the people.
Mr. Joe: When I first heard about the budget, I wanted to tell everyone to go home. I thought to myself, why are we here in this building talking about this budget? I do not think it is worth the time and energy to talk about something like this.
This is our money, Mr. Speaker, yours and mine. From what I see in the pages of the budget, I know that the Yukon Party did not tell the truth during the campaign.
The Yukon Party said they did not want a big government but, now, they have the largest budget ever tabled. They said they did not need all that money from Ottawa but, now, they have taken more money from Ottawa than ever before. They laughed during the campaign when someone asked about taxes being raised.
Now we have the biggest tax increases ever.
They said that they are going to make the government more accountable. During the campaign, I heard the Yukon Party saying that the NDP government was out of touch with the people. Now when we ask them if they are going to consult with the people, they say that they consulted with them on October 19. They say they do not need to talk to the people again; they are just going to go ahead and do whatever they want and not worry about how it will affect the people.
Government is about people. It is about listening to their concerns. These concerns change over time. It is important to listen to people all the time, so that the government knows it is doing its job and what the people want.
The government has brought in lots of taxes that the people in my riding just cannot afford to pay. You cannot keep going and asking them for every single penny they have. We have to help people, not hurt them by raising their taxes.
In the community, we drive everywhere because we do not have a bus or live close to town. We do not drive by choice; it is necessary. If the government goes ahead with the tax increases, it means that everything we do, everywhere we go and everything we buy will now be more expensive.
Small businesses will also be a target in my riding. There are only small businesses in my riding.
The people who live in the communities have learned to get by on very little. Nobody is getting rich by running the grocery store in the community. Now, with the tax increases there will be even less to spend. Now that the government wants to raise taxes, this new tax will have to be added to the cost of the goods. So not only will costs increase because of the fuel tax but also the small business tax will raise the price of just about everything we buy.
We have to pay more income tax and this means less money in peoples pockets. How can anyone get ahead? It does not help people; it hurts the people. It might be easy for me to say okay to cigarette tax because I do not smoke and because I drink. I cannot say that the government should tax alcohol. What I do think is that this government, instead of raising income taxes, could have found a way to trim its budget by one percent. Only one percent decrease means that we will not have to pay any more taxes.
It is what I mean when I say we should just go home. How can the people in my riding accept this? I already know what they think about this budget. They do not like it one bit.
This budget will lead to more poor people, more people on unemployment, more people who are unhappy and more people who will not be able to have a healthy or happy life. This country is healthy. The economy is strong. We do not need this type of tax increases. How can we not hold our head up high if we vote for this budget? How can we be proud of what we are doing here in this House?
A budget like this will make people unhealthy and unhappy. I would not be doing my job if I vote for this budget. We have very important roles to play here. We were given the trust of the people to make wise decisions that are good for them. I think this budget is bad for them.
I find it is hard to stand here and be asked to pass a budget that hurts people. There are enough hurt already; we need something to help us.
In closing, I want to talk about the idea of more fuel taxes. The Government Leader mentioned the fuel taxes for skidoo, motorcycles and boats. There are lots of those in my riding. When I go to Old Crow, I see all kinds of skidoos. Maybe 50 or 100 skidoos were running around the community. As the fuel price goes up, it is going to be hard for these people. The Government Leader says he is going to do something about it; I would like to hear more about it. Something ought to be done about this fuel tax. It is very important. Anywhere we go where there is transportation, there is fuel. Without fuel, we cannot travel now, not like in the olden days. We could walk and I put on my dog pack and away I went. Nothing stopped me. I am not like that any more. I am sitting in this chair and I am so out of shape I cannot move. I can see my stomach growing.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I welcome the opportunity to respond to the budget, and I regret that I was not here earlier in the week to listen to some of the opening speeches. I find it interesting, from what I have heard, that the Oppositions main theme is one based on how the modest tax increases in this budget will kill jobs; yet, on the other hand, it can turn around and demand that the government give Curragh Inc. $34 million unsecured. Where do they propose this money will come from, if not from the taxpayers? They cannot have it both ways.
We see jurisdictions all across Canada attempting to get their budgets under control, with both large tax increases and huge cuts in the civil service. We have done neither.
I would like to give the House a brief analysis of the impact of the budget. According to Revenue Canada, Yukoners have some of the highest incomes in the country. In 1990, an average income assessed in the Yukon for tax purposes was $27,314, compared to $27,069 for Ontario, $25,328 for Alberta and $25,893 for British Columbia. The national average was $24,314. This reinforces the argument that Yukoners, on the average, can afford to pay more taxes. I can.
It is acknowledged that it costs more to live here. However, the special northern deduction and the relatively higher wages tend to mitigate somewhat the higher cost of living, since a greater portion of the burden of additional tax increases is likely to hit those Yukoners with relatively high incomes. That means that, possibly, some of these people are going to spend a few dollars less in Hawaii when they go on their vacations. So, is it going to come out of the Yukon economy?
The Member of the Opposition brings up an important matter - I admit, I have a daughter who is a single mother and, yes, it is going to cost her a few dollars more, but it is very little. I am sure there are other areas of this budget where she will benefit.
No doubt, any tax increase will add to the real burden, so the principle of equity dictates that a greater share of the burden should be borne by those who can afford it. Hence, the tax proposals do not appear to be regressive.
The argument is that those who are well-off, with a higher disposable income, those who drive and fly more, will pay more in this process.
What we have done is preserve jobs in the civil service and in the private sector, as we committed to doing in the last election. What we have done is walk that fine line and make hard decisions, a concept that the previous administration had trouble with.
When we assumed power in November, 1992, we were astounded to find out how incredibly badly the public purse had been abused by the previous government. The Leader of the Official Opposition takes great delight in quoting the current Government Leader, when the Government Leader said during an election debate that it would be obscene to raise taxes. In the context of that time and debate, the Yukon Party leader was absolutely correct. However, we soon found out the real obscenity was the state of finances left by the previous NDP government.
The prospects were so bad that we hired a respected, national financial consulting company to examine - without prejudice - the financial shape of the territorial government. Their examination exposed the mess with which we were left.
It is no wonder the Opposition howls and protests the slightest flaws in this report. They are desperate to divorce themselves from this obscenity.
The protest by the Opposition can best be summed up, as an Alaskan friend of mine used to say, as that dog dont hunt. I will translate that for Members of the Opposition who do not hunt. It means that someone made a very large mistake with taxpayers money and, now, does not want to accept responsibility for that mistake.
I would like to speak about another balloon of hot air currently in favour with the Official Opposition, which is the suggestion we sold out to the federal government by raising taxes, and that the perversity factor we are dealing with is, somehow, not their fault. The wicked feds forced this down the throat of the former government. Once again: that dog dont hunt.
I know this is painful for the Opposition. The truth is often painful.
In 1989, the then-Minister of Finance in this Legislature, and in the Yukon media, did a song and dance routine that was equal to Fred Astaire at his finest. He howled, postured and proclaimed the federal Finance Minister the great Satan. However, when one turned the page on his one-act play, we found that the federal government was giving a warning to that government to start acting more responsibly.
The federal government wanted the Yukon to shoulder their responsibilities. We, as a territory, under Commissioner Smith principally, and then under the Pearson administration, had always worked toward self-sufficiency. We constantly took less money than our sister territory to the east. We evolved much faster because of this responsible attitude. This government had the respect of all who dealt with us. In fact, they were so impressed that the federal government consented, in 1985, to give the Yukon a massive amount of money for one-time infrastructure development. Then, more by good luck than good management, the NDP came to power. Infrastructure took on a new meaning.
The infrastructure turned out to be $404,000 fire hall for a town in an NDP Ministers riding. That same Minister got $500,000 to build an addition to a school in what they knew was going to be a ghost town. If they did not know, they should have - or was this, once again, a case of industry having a natural mistrust for that Members political philosophy? There was obviously a failure to communicate.
I could go on and on with the previous governments infrastructure. We could revisit those unpleasant memories; however, I do not want to open those old wounds. I simply want to point out that these, and other financial boondoggles, some reported in the national media, rang the alarm bells in Ottawa.
That brings us back to the present. We, on this side, are facing the issues of the past. We are willing to wear the hair shirt left to us by the previous administration, but not for long. I understand the Oppositions reluctance to accept our self-sufficiency strategy. I understand how the very term scares the previous government. It is a concept they are not comfortable with.
In discussions, even in the last few days, with counterparts across Canada, it was obvious to me that they envied our position of being debt-free and had nothing but praise for us attempting to stay in this position.
I also find it strange that the Leader of the Official Opposition brings up all the issues where he failed to negotiate in the best interests of the Yukon and then attempts to blame it on the then-Opposition for being relatively silent on the issue.
I find it interesting that there was nothing negative during his reign that he said was not his fault, yet he and his colleagues gave $2 million of ratepayers money, through the back door, to the Dakwakada project, with all kinds of strict conditions attached. Yet, against the recommendations of the management of the Yukon Development Corporation, they flowed the money to the proponents of the project, knowing full well that the conditions attached to the original $2 million had not been met. That is what got Taga Ku into the mess it is in today.
The Taga Ku proponents were led down the garden path by the Official Opposition. When it comes to the crunch, we are then left with a situation that is unworkable. Every day, they attempt to remind us that it is our fault. They are really saying they are ashamed of what they did and afraid to admit it.
Now, they ask us to do the same thing: forget the conditions, hand it over to Curragh, never mind the future or self-sufficiency, it does not matter; they go down two months from now, give them the money now, but do not raise taxes to do it; keep us dependent on the federal government.
The Leader of the Official Opposition, in his arrogant, condescending way, complains that he no longer can strut around like a cock rooster, attempting to attract investment to the Yukon. I found it interesting, especially in Toronto, at the last meeting. I talked to various developers and investors about our budget and discussed the corporate tax, and a few things like that. They really did not seem to blink an eye, but they were certainly impressed with our attitude toward mining. I anticipate another major announcement in the near future.
Where does the Leader of the Official Opposition think the money is coming from? Taxes? It is okay if it comes from the already over-taxed debt-ridden south. Yes, it is true that with the Formula Financing Agreement signed by the former government the tax increase is a wise investment to the future of Canada and the Yukon - $1.00 for every $1.40.
There are at least 700 or 800 jobs in this budget. These people will be spending in the small businesses around the Yukon. Much of the capital budget will stimulate the economy to get us out of this federal dependency rut we are in.
I find it strange the Official Opposition has so much trouble with our paper, Toward Self-Sufficiency by the 21st Century. The NWT is embarking upon a similar initiative and we already have a commitment of $10 million from the federal government based upon this paper. Yes, in the short term the federal government could end up paying a little more, but in the long term our vision is to see Yukoners self-sufficient and responsible for their own destiny.
I found the comments on computers interesting. The Opposition was whining about a million dollars for computers, yet when we look at the Auditor Generals report, it shows that the previous administration spent $250,000 developing a computer program for the young offenders facility - a program that makes approximately 100 entries per month, three to four a day. Mr. Speaker, you could do that with a scribbler.
The previous administration spend $600,000 on a program that has approximately 1,000 entries a month. There was no reason for it. It is beyond my wildest comprehension how that could have happened.
There are more. I am sure that the Member for Riverdale South will be enlightening us on some of these during the line-by-line debate.
I believe in this budget and I believe that the majority of Yukoners believe in it. They may not necessarily like it, but they know it is in their long-term interest to support this budget. I hope the Members opposite will see that the same way.
Speaker: The Hon. Government Leader will now close debate.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: After the great debate we went through yesterday on how many jobs the tax increases were going to cost in British Columbia and other jurisdictions, I did not think I would have much to say to close the debate on this very important budget. Then I listened to the very eloquent statements from the Member for Riverside in his presentation, and his views of the budget and his little history lesson on the great budget architects in our past, such as Ronald Reagan and Grant Devine. I found it a bit amusing that he failed to mention the most important and the greatest architect of this great deficit that we have in Canada today. He did acknowledge, after being reminded, that possibly some people in the middle of the road also make financial mistakes. I would have to say that is the understatement of this debate.
Nevertheless, I think it is important to mention that in closing debate on this very important document that is going to create hundreds of jobs in the Yukon economy and is going to do that without causing layoffs in the civil service and with only minor tax increases, after a relatively long tax holiday in the Yukon.
Before I get into hitting some of the highlights of the budget, I want to make a few comments on some of the debate that transpired again today in this House, and some of the rhetoric that has gone on. It is very interesting to see that the Leader of the Official Opposition has taken the Member for Faro, a graduate student in commerce, under his wing and armed him with a socialist calculator so that he could speak the same lines of rhetoric that we have been hearing from the Leader of the Official Opposition. He has been showing him how you can use smoke-and-mirrors accounting to not admit that you have spent $70 million more than you have taken in in the last two years.
That is a fact; a fact that they cannot deny. He goes on to teach the Member for Faro how to muddle up accumulated surpluses and consolidated surpluses and to continue the smoke-and-mirrors accounting the Members opposite were so notorious for for seven and one-half years of power, which put us into the financial position we are in today.
I want to ask once more, for the record, of the Member for Faro, since he is a graduate student of commerce, armed with a socialist calculator: does he profess that we can sell the Yukon Energy Corporation to pay our day-to-day bills? Does he profess that we should sell some of the social housing so that we can pay our day-to-day bills?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That would be one I would love to sell, but I do not think there would be many buyers - the visitors reception centre, another monument to the past administration of the Yukon. What was it - a $3.2 million washroom? The visitors who come up the highway ask me when the building is going to be completed. That is what the visitors think of it the $3.2 million.
I want to talk a little bit about the budget and the jobs that are created by the budget. The Member for Riverside, in his eloquent speech today, said there were some good points in the budget, and there are. I would like to point out to him a few more of the budgets good points, in case he missed them.
The budget was drafted with a consideration of full employment in the Yukon. It would not have been in our best interests, or Yukoners best interests, to draft a budget that would have had to entail massive cuts to the civil service.
The Member for Riverside said today, Surely to God, in a $483 million, we could have found $8.8 million in savings. Yes, we could have, but I do not believe that we could have found that $8.8 million in savings without costing some jobs, either in the civil service or in the private sector - one of the two.
Out of the largest capital budget in the history of the Yukon, we only had control over about one-third of it; $44 million was all we had control over. As I stated in this House in the debate yesterday and previously, the major portion of the capital budget is funded by the United States government and the federal government. There are special purposes for the money. If we spend it there, we do not get it - it is as simple as that.
We would have to look at our own capital budget to see what we could cut. I would like to review that with the Members opposite. Is there anyone suggesting that we should not finish the Catholic school in Porter Creek? If we were to not finish it, it would cost jobs. Should we not add the needed classrooms to the Haines Junction school? If we were not to do that, it would cost jobs. Should we not undertake the planning for a new Grey Mountain school in the Member for Riverdale Souths riding or a new urban secondary school and a Golden Horn School expansion? If we did not do that, it would cost jobs.
We could not upgrade the Campbell Highway or the Top of the World Highway, two of the areas our funding is going into; that would cost jobs. Are we not concerned with fire protection in Upper Liard, Burwash Landing or Beaver Creek? Should the volunteer firefighters provide their own protective clothing while attempting to save lives and property? Should we cut that out of our capital budget? Should we not provide Old Crow with a much-needed sewage and water truck? Should we not complete the Teslin correctional centre? I would like Members opposite, when we get to the line-by-line debate, to tell me which of these we can cut and not cost jobs. I would be very interested to hear them.
That is the majority of the capital budget. We could not build some campgrounds. That would cost jobs. We could let our group homes deteriorate; that would cost jobs.
Look at the O&M budget and see where we are. They say we have the largest O&M budget ever tabled in the history of the Yukon. Yes, that is true, but let us look at where that O&M budget is being spent. Where was the spending? How could we reduce this spending without costing jobs? That is what I want to know from the Opposition Members.
Should we not open the extended care facility; that will provide 42 jobs? Health care services, including the additional costs to the health transfer from the federal government, $9.9 million. That is going to cost jobs.
There are additional costs for social services of $2.5 million. Maybe we could have saved that money and not cost any jobs, but there would be some hungry people around, people who need social services whom we would not have been able to provide for.
The Member for Riverside asked where our commitment was to the social needs of this community. There is a million dollars here for family and childrens services, virtually all legislated.
Training trust funds for First Nations - shall we delay putting the money into that fund? Shall we delay living up to our commitments under the land claims agreement?
Banking services are now costing us $400,000 per year. Why? Because, the previous administration broke the piggy bank, spent the money and now we cannot maintain the bank balance required to get free banking services.
Maybe we should not build or open the Teslin correctional centre. That is going to cost jobs.
I do not know anywhere in this O&M budget that we could cut, or the capital budget, without it costing jobs to Yukoners. We did not feel that was acceptable for the small price each Yukoner would have to pay to keep the economy of the Yukon going, and that is why we introduced tax increases.
For the Member for Riversides information, we did not raise taxes because of the perversity factor, but we hope to be able to benefit. Because we had to raise taxes to balance a budget, we hope to be in a better negotiating position with the federal government.
This budget is not a budget that is going to cost jobs. Not in the wildest of dreams is it going to cost jobs. It is going to create jobs; it is going to create employment in the Yukon; it is going to create spinoff jobs in the private sector; and it is going to put paycheques in peoples pockets, so they can spend in our stores and buy the services in the Yukon - this will be doing the things a capital budget should do: create lots of jobs in the Yukon and help the Yukon to prosper. Perhaps, if the recession starts to ease this year, we will be able to escape without too much damage.
The Member for Riverside also accused us of doom and gloom. I say to him, and to the Members opposite, that we should look to where the doom and gloom is coming from. It is coming from the Opposition benches.
The previous NDP government took power in 1985. Every time they got into trouble on this side of the House, for five long years, they blamed it on the previous Tory administration. Now, they are in Opposition, and they still do not want to accept responsibility for their actions while on the government side of the House. They still do not want to accept the responsibility that they spent the money and left us in the position of having to pick up the pieces. That is a fact. They simply have no sense of responsibility.
The Member for Riverside held up a book in the House today. I am very glad to see that he is reading it. I believe he and I discussed that book on one of our trips this winter, and he suggested that Members on this side of the House should read it. I can assure the Member opposite that about six or seven copies of that book have been circulating on this side of the House for many months now. I would suggest that he read it in its entirety and not take specific quotes out of it. He will have a totally different view of government when he has done that. It is a very good book, and I am happy to see the Member opposite reading it.
I want to go into detail on the tax load that these tax increases are causing Yukoners - this heavy tax burden the Opposition is accusing us of putting on the people in our communities.
I do not believe that Yukoners should pay high taxes. I do not believe that Yukoners should even pay middle-of-the-road taxes compared to the rest of Canadians. Even with the tax increases that we have entered in this budget, our taxes are still among the lowest in Canada, in almost every bracket.
The Member for Riverside said that my comparing the child leaving home and asking the parents to continue paying his bills was a simplistic attitude to take and should not relate to us and the federal government. Maybe it is a simplistic attitude, but I think it really pointed out the situation that Yukoners are in. We want to be able to govern ourselves. We want to accept responsibility for our actions. We know that it will be many years in the future before we will be totally self-sufficient and even get to the point where we can contribute to the financial health of Canada. Should we be making no effort at all to pull our own weight in this society? Should we be totally dependent on the whims of the bureaucrats in Ottawa as to whether we survive in the Yukon or not?
Get Curragh working, the Member says. I would love to get Curragh working.
What solution would the commerce student provide for Curragh, if he were on this side of the House - write them a cheque, he says. Do not worry if they can pay it back or not. It is only taxpayers dollars. Do not worry about it.
What is it going to cost to close it down? The fact remains that, if we give them $29 million and they do not survive, we will still be left with the cost. Nobody would enjoy seeing that problem resolved satisfactorily more than the Members on this side of the House.
We have talked about the tremendous tax burden and, as the Member for Watson Lake, my colleague, said, we cannot forget that we do get a northern tax benefit for living in the north. The cost of living here is somewhat higher than in other jurisdictions, but I can go to areas in central British Columbia and northeastern Alberta where it costs just as much to live as it does in the Yukon. Some of those are below the magic line and do not get the northern tax benefit. Many of our citizens - not all - enjoy the luxury of paid trips outside by their employers - our government personnel do.
Many major companies operate in the Yukon - that is a plus for the people in the Yukon. So, what are we asking for when we raise these rates? I have the new rates from New Brunswicks budget, which just came down yesterday. Let us have a common-sense look at the level of taxation that is being imposed on Yukoners with these new increases.
Personal income tax is the second lowest in Canada, even with the five-percent increase, which was put in to offset medicare premiums, which the Member for Riverside said he could not have supported. He was right; we do not need everyone to be tax collectors when we can do it in a much simpler way and get to keep the money and not have to pay another $1.5 million to collect it.
I believe that there are many health care premiums outstanding from when they were in place in the early 1980s and have still not been collected. It is a simplistic approach, but it works. We are the second lowest personal tax jurisdiction in Canada.
Let us look at the high income surtax. Three areas have none. One jurisdiction is lower than us. Not bad at all.
Let us look at general corporate tax rates. We are tied for the second lowest in the country, even with the increase.
On small business corporate tax, we are the second in comparison with every jurisdiction in Canada.
For retail sales tax, which is a very burdensome tax that would take away from the disposable income of all Yukoners, we do have it here. We are one of three jurisdictions in Canada that do not have it. Only if the Members opposite get back in will we have a retail sales tax.
With the tobacco tax, we are up in the middle range. There is no doubt about that.
Let us look at the motor fuel taxes. Even with the two cents a litre - that devastating two cents a litre that will cost jobs in the communities - it will be only 6.2 cents a litre on gasoline, which is by far the lowest in the country. The next lowest in the country is nine cents a litre.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, let us talk about Totem Oil. Let us talk about the entrepreneurial spirit of the Members opposite and how we are going to save Yukoners money. Let us talk about how we are going to give then $3 million U.S. of taxpayers money and watch the price of gas go up anyway. There is that socialist calculator working again.
Let us look at diesel fuel taxes. Even with the increase, 7.2 cents is the lowest in Canada.
Let us look at the aviation tax - it is currently 1.1 cents - not four cents a litre, like the commerce student told us yesterday. Four cents a litre, he said, and we are going to do it on home heating fuel, too, he said. Then he had the courage to talk about us misleading the public.
The Northwest Territories has a slightly lower corporate tax rate than we do; they have a five percent lower personal tax rate than us; their tobacco taxes are higher; their gasoline taxes are higher; their diesel fuel taxes are higher and now they are proposing a payroll tax. To any of the Members opposite in this House, I ask them to prove to me how these minor tax increases, which are going to create about 200 jobs in the private sector, are going to strain the taxpayers of the Yukon. I do not, for one minute, believe they will.
Let us look at the effects the tax will have in actual dollars, instead of the great mathematicians over there with their percentage figures blowing everything out of proportion. A single income family of four, earning $30,000 a year, will pay an additional $95 a year in taxes. Now, a single income family of four earning $30,000 a year is hard-pressed - there is no doubt - but that is the increase they will pay.
Let us look at a two-income family of four, earning $45,000 a year - many Yukoners are probably in that bracket. It will cost that family $207 a year.
Let us take even a two-income family of four earning $65,000 a year. Their increase would be $371 a year.
As I said earlier in the debate, we brought in the five-percent increase to offset medicare premiums, and that is exactly what we have accomplished with the personal tax rate increase.
Certainly, no one likes to raise taxes, and if you are not careful raising taxes - as the Leader of the Official Opposition said during the great debate yesterday, you could dampen spending in the private sector. I do not believe these taxes will dampen spending, they are not big increases. Yet, they create another 200 jobs.
Let us look at the impact of the increase in gasoline tax by two cents per litre. For the average family in the Yukon that uses 2,300 litres of gasoline per year, this means an additional $46.
Shortly after tabling the budget, the Member for Watson Lake, the Minister of Economic Development, did some calculations and said it would cost him an additional $1.50, one-way, from Watson Lake to Whitehorse.
The tobacco tax increase is certainly going to hurt the smokers, there is no doubt about that, but they might be healthier.
Look at the corporate tax. For example, let us look at a company that is eligible for the small business rate. Taxed at the old rate on $50,000 worth of taxable income, they would have paid $2,500 in taxes. Under the new rate, they will pay an additional $500.
For corporations that are not eligible for the small business rate and are taxed at the old rate on $50,000 worth of taxable income would have paid $5,000 in taxes. We are talking about large corporations. Under the new rate, they will pay an additional $7,500.
There is no way that I can begin to believe these tax increases are going to have a devastating effect on the economy of the Yukon. If Members opposite think the increases are going to have a devastating effect, I would love to hear them explain how that is to happen, without all the political rhetoric.
We have put in a surtax of five percent. Yet, the day before yesterday, British Colombians were taxed far greater than we. Some of them live in jurisdictions where the cost of living is as much, or more, than in the Yukon. Yet, they came in with tax increases. On taxable income of $5,300, they are going to have a 30 percent surtax. If they should be unfortunate enough to make in excess of $9,000 taxable income, they are going to be taxed another 20 percent on top of that. Talk about a tax grab. That socialist administration did nothing to cut the costs of government.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Some of that accumulated debt went back to a previous social government in the 1970s in British Columbia. It only took them four years to decimate the economy and put them out of office for another 15 years. Yes, that is what happened.
I just want to say to the Member for Riverside, when he talks about the increase in the cost of government in this budget that it is simply not true. The overall cost on the operation and maintenance side went up $24.9 million. That is the overall cost in the operation and maintenance budget. The Member for Riverside had included the new increased costs that we did not have much control over. They had to go in there. Yet, the total cost of the budget has only gone up $19 million. Somewhere, we saved $6 million in the operation of government.
Eight of 16 departments came in with a lower O&M than last year. I think that is quite remarkable, when one considers the huge deficit there was last year.
It took a lot of soul-searching, tough decisions and anguish to put this budget together. We have an economy in the Yukon that I do not believe is as devastated as the Members opposite say it is right now, but it certainly is in a precarious position. Curragh is not running at full capacity and many people are laid off. Sa Dena Hes is not working now and has not been since early December.
For us to bring in a budget that would have meant cutting civil service jobs at this time would not have been acceptable. We are still committed to downsizing government. We have not deviated from that approach. However, as I have said before and will say again, we will do it through attrition, slowly and in a rational manner, and without disrupting the economy of the Yukon. By bringing in the tax increases, we were able to provide for another 200 jobs that would not have been possible without this budget. That is a reality.
I believe it is a good budget. I believe it is a fiscally responsible budget. I think it is a budget that will bode well for the Yukon in future years. All of the infrastructure that is being provided this year will benefit the Yukon many times over in the years to come. The improvement on our highways will reduce operating costs for people operating their vehicles and the roads will be enjoyed more by the tourists. The cost to mining companies for hauling their ore to market will be reduced by the better roads. The capital budget will provide many jobs for Yukoners at a time when things are very precarious.
The Minister of Health and Social Services said in his ministerial statement today that we hope to - and we will - work very hard to be able to work on the construction of the Whitehorse General Hospital all winter. That will put many people to work. The small capital projects we have throughout the Yukon, building additions to schools and upgrading services, will provide many jobs for people in the communities.
This is a very positive budget, a budget such as had to be brought in at this time, in this economic cycle, and it is a budget that will bode well for Yukoners. I encourage the Members opposite to support this budget.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Some Hon. Members: Disagree.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, will you poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Devries: Agree.
Mr. Abel: Agree.
Mr. Millar: Agree.
Mr. Penikett: Disagree.
Mr. McDonald: Disagree.
Ms. Joe: Disagree.
Mr. Joe: Disagree.
Ms. Moorcroft: Disagree.
Mr. Harding: Disagree.
Mr. Cable: Disagree.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are eight yea, eight nay.
Speakers casting vote
Speaker: Our Standing Order 4(2) states that, in the event of a tie vote, the Speaker shall cast the deciding vote. In general, decisions in this House should not be taken except by a majority. However, voting for a bill at second reading allows further discussion and provides the House with another opportunity to decide the question.
As Speaker, I wish to give this House further opportunity to discuss this important bill and, perhaps, achieve a majority. I will, therefore, vote for the motion.
At this point, my vote should be interpreted simply as a vote for further discussion. With my vote, I declare the motion for second reading of this bill carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 6 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: 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. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 4:52 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled April 1, 1993:
Wickstrom Road guard-rails: responsibility and ownership (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 310
The following document was filed April 1, 1993:
5. Humane Society Yukon - 1992: Signatures in support of a new animal shelter (Penikett)