Tuesday, April 6, 1992 - 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 to welcome Mrs. Williams from Silver Creek into the Legislature. Mr. Williams was there, but he has apparently disappeared, so I guess we will just welcome her.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 101: Introduction and First Reading
Mrs. Firth: I move that a bill entitled An Act to Amend the College Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Riverdale South that a bill entitled An Act to Amend the College Act be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 101 agreed to
Speaker: Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Land claims implementation plans and funding
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am pleased to advise Members of a recent Cabinet decision that will help to expedite consideration of the Yukon comprehensive land claims and self-government package by the federal government and the Parliament of Canada and provide reasonable implementation funding arrangement with the federal government.
Cabinet has reviewed and given approval-in-principle to the nine implementation plans initialed by negotiators on Saturday, March 27. These implementation plans covered the umbrella final agreement, the four Yukon First Nation final agreements and the four Yukon first Nation self-government agreements.
I can further advise the House that the Cabinet has reviewed a new funding proposal from Canada for the Yukon governments responsibilities under the claims and self-government agreements. This proposal supersedes the one Cabinet had under consideration and represents a substantial increase from the opening implementation funding offer presented by Canada last December.
Approval-in-principle has been given to the adjusted federal offer subject to the negotiation of satisfactory terms of a financial transfer agreement. Negotiations are expected to be completed in the near future and will not delay First Nation ratifications or consideration of the Yukon claim by federal Cabinet.
The basic terms of the adjusted federal offer for the umbrella final agreement and the First Nation final agreements provide for $7.5 million for one-time or time-limited activities and for the costs of developed land selected by First Nations; $3.9 million of this money will be provided upfront and the remaining $3.6 million will flow as additional First Nation agreements are completed. There will be $1 million per year for ongoing implementation initially, which will increase to $1.5 million once agreements with all 14 First Nations are in place.
Under the revised terms of the federal offer, the Yukon government will further receive $1 million over four years for implementation of self-government agreements.
We have also obtained a guarantee of a comprehensive review of the Yukons funding requirements for implementation of the First Nation final and self-government agreements in the fourth year after the settlement legislation.
We believe this funding will meet our basic requirements. The review process will allow for further adjustments in funding levels based on actual experience with implementation of agreements.
In light of the fiscal realities for both Canada and the Yukon, it has been necessary to rethink our overall approach to implementation. We plan to look at how we can reorganize and redesign programs to meet responsibilities without simply adding to existing programs and without questioning the effectiveness of existing programs and activities.
A senior official has been assigned to the Land Claims Secretariat to ensure a cost-effective and coordinated approach is taken all across Yukon government departments to honour the spirit and letter of the Yukons obligations for the claims and self-government implementation.
I will be happy to provide Members with details on the financial transfer agreement once it has been approved by Cabinet.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Government Leader for his statement, most particularly the offer of a briefing on the details of the financial transfer agreement once it has been approved by Cabinet.
I confess though that the statement he has made today leaves me somewhat worried. I am not completely clear from the information contained in the statement about the new funding proposals from Ottawa exactly what amount of money YTG will be receiving to implement the claims and the self-government agreements.
All Members will recall that it has been the position of this government for many years that the federal government was fully responsible for net implementation costs of the land claims and self-government agreements for First Nations and for the territorial government. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in this House, it was one of the principles of the Charlottetown Accord to which the federal government, all provinces, territories and aboriginal organizations agreed.
During the first week of this session, I gave the Government Leader notice of a number of questions that I had about implementation funding, and I am concerned that those questions were not answered in this ministerial statement.
Among my questions was the serious concern about a shortfall in YTG funding, and how the Government Leader is going to implement costly YTG obligations such as wildlife studies, land-use planning, renewable resource councils, training for First Nation citizens for government jobs, and negotiations of program transfers.
I also asked whether the territorial government would be withdrawing services such as the community development fund, the business development fund, the community capital and training programs, on the basis that First Nations would now have funding from the land claims agreements to do this work themselves.
I asked if the territorial government would be off-loading program costs to municipalities and First Nations, as the federal government has done to the provinces and territories.
I asked whether the territorial government would be stripping programs slated for transfers to First Nations, and some of the language in the ministerial statement today hints at that possibility.
I want to make it quite clear, on behalf of our caucus, that we fully understand the desire of all parties to reach agreements on implementation funding as soon as possible, so that the claims can be legislated in Ottawa. Everyone shares that hope. However, if the territorial government costs exceed the annual funding for implementation by several million dollars - by my calculation, it could be as much as $8 million to $10 million annually - that will eventually lead to an enormous financial problem for the territorial government.
I know that the ministerial statement given today states that the federal government has increased its offer and that the federal government has agreed to review the financing arrangements in four years. I also note that the territorial government - according to the Government Leader - is re-thinking its overall approach to implementation, and I think we would like to hear much more about that in coming days.
That statement alone raises more questions than it answers. I also know that the federal government and First Nations have agreed, without prejudice to future agreements, to these funding arrangements.
Let me just express my concern, in a very gentle and non-partisan way to the Government Leader. I am quite worried that the federal government may have left us holding the bag here. It was always one of our great concerns about the actual costs of implementing claims that when push came to shove, after all the legislation and all the good will had been expressed, that we might be left carrying an inappropriate share of the financial burden.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I can assure the Member opposite that our concerns are very, very similar to what he has laid out here today. As he is aware, we refused to accept the first offer that was put on the table by the federal government. We were under tremendous pressure from First Nations people. They wanted their claims to go ahead and they were going to be working with resources that they felt were not as adequate as they would like. They urged us to come to an agreement and some understanding of what they were faced with if their claims package did not go to the federal government prior to an election being called. That being said, we expressed quite clearly to the federal government that implementation was their responsibility. We believe that the package that has been negotiated now, and in which funding will be laid out to this House once the financial transfer is in place, will be adequate to meet our obligations. There is no doubt that we would have liked to have had more money, but we believe we can do it with streamlining the system and bringing in cost savings. We have no intentions of taking funding from government programs for land claims implementation.
We all realize - ourselves and First Nations people - that we are not fully content with the implementation packages, but we feel we can do an adequate job for the first four years of the agreement. At that point, we will have a better understanding of the costs and a lot stronger case to negotiate with the federal government.
Having the review moved ahead one year, to start in the third year and be finalized in the fourth year, has gone a long way toward alleviating some of our fears. When further agreements are signed off and more money is required, we hope that we will be able to identify where and be in a stronger bargaining position with the federal government.
School achievement indicators program
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is my pleasure to announce today that later this month some 700 Yukon young people, aged either 13 or 16 years, will participate in a new national program to measure student performance in mathematics. A year from now, a similar assessment will be conducted on the language arts.
The school achievement indicators program is a response from provincial and territorial Departments of Education to the concerns of parents, educators, industry and business about student achievement levels. This program is the first national measurement of basic numeracy and literacy skills.
Under the leadership of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, including the previous Minister of Education in the Yukon, educators from every jurisdiction helped develop new assessments and field-tested them with sample groups across the country. This will include the 13- and 16-year-olds from G.A. Jeckell and F.H. Collins secondary schools in Whitehorse.
The first SAIP tests in mathematics will be administered in late April across the country, and all Yukon students aged 13 and 16 will be taking part.
The SAIP assessment is not a regular test or exam. The results will not affect an individual students academic record in any way. What they will do is to help establish how well our students as a group compare to students of similar age in other parts of Canada in their numeracy skills. This will give us an indication of whether we need to place more emphasis on this area in the Yukon curriculum. Similar assessments in language arts will take place, as I said, in 1994.
We were honoured to take part in developing the student achievement indicators program. The results, which are to be published in October of 1993, about the time we will be conducting our review of the Yukon curriculum, will be very interesting and very important information - information that Yukon educators, parents and students alike will be eager to discover.
Mr. McDonald: The student testing project the Minister announced was originally announced, as Members will remember, in the Legislature a couple of years ago when the proposal was originally placed before the Council of Ministers of Education; concerns were expressed by many people at that time about the ability of provincial and territorial governments to develop testing instruments that provided truly comparable information without betraying the biases of the test designers. However, after considerable negotiation, a test was conceived that was generally acceptable to all jurisdictions, including ours, as the Minister has indicated. It was felt that, so long as the test results were not used for purposes other than that for which the test was originally intended, the test would serve a useful purpose.
This test will ultimately provide parents and educators with some indication as to how well students are doing with respect to very basic skills and how they compare with other jurisdictions and other Canadians. We, of course, would like to thank the Minister for the announcement and look forward to the successful delivery of the testing project.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Fees, permits and licences
Ms. Joe: Yesterday in the House I asked questions of the Minister responsible for Finance about the governments plan to raise the fees for licences and permits; he was very reluctant to answer any of my questions and thought it was nothing but a big joke. I would like to ask this government and the Minister to explain to us why he is now talking about a hidden tax - as it was described by the side opposite when they were over here when we chose to raise taxes - why was he reluctant to announce this to the public, and when did he intend to announce the hidden taxes to Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: First of all, I would like to state that there are no hidden taxes to Yukoners. As we get into budget debate, as I said in the House yesterday, the Ministers responsible for the various departments can tell you what is being discussed for fee increases. As we said already, I believe the liquor licences have gone up as of April 1 this year. As for the other ones, I do not have a list of them available. I am not even sure if there is one developed yet. I know there has been some consideration given to raising some licensing fees in the Yukon.
Ms. Joe: This is a major shift in what the government is doing. It is not as if it is something that just happens on a daily basis. It is something that is going to cost Yukoners more money. I would like to ask him why he chose not to mention it in his budget speech, because it is a major shift in policy?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know that it is a major shift in policy. Licence fees are reviewed on a regular basis to see if they are adequate. Some licence fees in the Yukon have not gone up for many, many years. They are being reviewed. As we are going to increase them, they will be announced.
Ms. Joe: The side opposite was not in favour of raising any kind of fees for licences, permits, certificates or whatever, when they were in the Opposition. All of a sudden, on top of raising taxes on everything else, they are choosing to increase licence fees and permits. Whenever there is a major announcement of this kind, it is made at a place that I think is more acceptable to them. For instance, they announced the education review at a Chamber of Commerce dinner. They announced that the hiring freeze was off at a Rotary breakfast. Now I hear they announced the raise across the board at a meeting in Dawson, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.
Speaker: Would the Member please ask a supplementary question.
Ms. Joe: The supplementary question is: why did he not announce it to the public first?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said earlier, the increase in liquor licence fees have already taken place, as of April 1. As the other ones are reviewed and approved, they will be announced in this House.
Question re: Fees, permits and licences
Ms. Joe: The Minister responsible for Finance does not realize how serious his actions are to Yukoners who are already going to be spending more money if this budget is passed. He stands there and answers questions in a way I have a problem with. I think they are very serious. I would like him to tell this House how much he expects to raise with the increase across the board to licence fees, permits and certificates?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Maybe if we had not had the budgeting problems that were left to us by the previous administration, we would not have to think about these things. When the fee increases are decided, they will be announced.
Ms. Joe: I have a problem. We are raising taxes, we do not tell the public or consult with the public, and now we are raising hidden taxes in other areas. I would like to ask the Government Leader - because there was such an uproar when we chose to implement some increases while we were in government - if he was afraid to announce the increases to the public, and chose to make the announcement in Dawson at a Chamber of Commerce dinner hosted by the people in Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at all. As I said, the increases that have been decided upon, such as liquor licence increase, have already been announced and are place. As the other increases come forward, we will make announcements.
As I said in Dawson, all of the licences are being reviewed across the board.
Ms. Joe: The Government Leader, after announcing to the public that he was raising taxes for all Yukoners, said to the media - we all heard and read it - that there were be no more raises in any kind of taxes. Now he is saying that they will be raising taxes right across the board. I would like to ask him why?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It seems the Member opposite has taxes and licences confused-
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Are you saying it is a tax?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think the Members opposite are trying to make an issue out of something that is not an issue. As the different licence fees are reviewed, they will be announced to the public.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I was not in the House before.
Question re: Land claims, federal approval timetable
Mr. Cable: My question is for the Government Leader. Given the statement made by the Government Leader, relating to implementation of land claims and self-government agreements, it follows that he, or his officials, have been discussing land claims with the federal officials. Can the Government Leader tell this House if he has yet had discussions with the federal Minister on the timetable of federal approval of the land claim bill package?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My office has been in touch with the federal Minister and I have letters going to both the Prime Minister and the federal Minister to make sure those items are on the agenda before an election is called.
Mr. Cable: I asked the Government Leader when he actually intends to speak personally with the federal Minister about the introduction of the land claim bills to federal Parliament, or is he simply going to leave the request in letter form?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at all, I will talk to him as soon as I have the opportunity. In fact, I have been trying to reach him on the phone for about three or four days now. Nevertheless, the Minister of DIAND will be in Whitehorse on the 16th of April. We will certainly be making our case before him at that point, if we do not have the opportunity to speak to him before that time.
Mr. Cable: The statement made by the Government Leader today stated that a senior official is being assigned to the Land Claims Secretariat. Can the Government Leader identify that senior official?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I cannot think of his name; I am sorry. I had his name just before I came in the House because I thought the question might come up.
I will get the name for the Member opposite.
Question re: Budget impact on the economy
Ms. Moorcroft: The Yukon Party government will kill jobs for Yukoners because the tax increases takes money out of the economy, out of consumers pockets and from local businesses. Can the Government Leader, the Minister of Finance, tell the House what steps he is taking to offset the negative impacts of this budget on jobs for Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe it was just last week, on Opposition Day, when we debated a motion where we said our budget would cost jobs in British Columbia and other jurisdictions. I think this is a very positive budget in light of the budgets that are coming out across Canada. Another one came down in Manitoba last week. This budget will not cost jobs in the Yukon; it will put Yukoners to work.
Ms. Moorcroft: Job prospects for women are going to be particularly hurt by this budget. Many women work in the service sector of our economy, not in highway construction. Because this budget hurts jobs for women, can the Government Leader tell us what he is going to do about that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If I made a statement like that I would have been called a male chauvinist or something.
The jobs created by the budget are for both men and women.
Ms. Moorcroft: This budget is full of cutbacks in services for women. Not only are the jobs going to be fewer, but when women need services, they will not be able to find them. Will the Government Leader admit that his budget treats men and women differently in the area of job creation and public services?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite should analyze the budget in great detail. The extended care facility will employ about 42 people and most of them will be women. There are jobs for both men and women in this budget.
Question re: Budget impact on the economy
Ms. Moorcroft: This budget does discriminate against women. I see cuts in child care, the Child Development Centre, the transition homes and the Womens Centre. Will the Government Leader admit that, because there are no women in his caucus, this budget lacks a balanced approach? Will he tell us how he is going to fix that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They are probably pleased that the critic for one of my departments has finally asked me a question. Indirect though the question may be, I congratulate her on her wise choice of Ministers.
The cuts she speaks of are extremely modest. We do not see any of the very modest two-percent cutbacks leading to loss of jobs. As we have said many times before, we are trying to reallocate some resources, so that areas that are deeply in need of some funding and programming will, for perhaps the first time, have some of those needs addressed by this government.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am glad to see that the Minister of Health and Social Services stood up, because I do have some questions for him on this issue.
The cutbacks to the womens transition homes - Kaushees Place, the Health and Hope in Watson Lake, and the Dawson shelter - are the kind of cuts that really hurt a much-needed service in our community. They are not insignificant. At present, the transition home is full, and Kaushees Place faces increased operating costs.
Can the Minister of Health and Social Services tell us if he is prepared to review those cuts and restore funding to the previous levels for the transition homes, for the Yukon women who need this service, or if he is just going to tell those women to go out and do more fundraising?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Let me tell the Member, as clearly as I can, that these numbers will stand. I would also tell her that, in the 1991-92 forecast, Kaushees Place got a mere $387,000, and it is up substantially from that. Last year, in August, they received an additional $224,000 toward their capital fund.
It seems to me that the budget of Kaushees Place has gone up in leaps and bounds, and a two-percent cut is rather modest.
Ms. Moorcroft: This government spent nearly $500,000 to fire deputy ministers for no reason, and it has introduced a record high O&M budget, while cutting back essential services delivered by community groups. When will the government come to its senses and put a halt to these proposed cuts to womens programs and womens jobs?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not certain that is a new question. I thought I had answered it last time. We see the budget as extremely reasonable. To say it is a record O&M budget is to compare apples with oranges, not apples with apples. The O&M budget is down some $9 million or $10 million from last year. Eight of 16 departments have absolute cuts, one of which is not Health and Social Services, which has gone up considerably to try to meet the very pressing social needs we are faced with in this territory, and which we are trying, for the first time, to do something about.
Question re: Employment equity policies
Ms. Moorcroft: It is obvious from the answers we are getting that this government does not believe that women are half the population, but just a special interest group to be ignored. Instead, they want a government made up of good ol boys, which is something I consider to be a special interest group.
I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.
Recently, job advertisements placed by the government have not made reference to employment equity policies of the Yukon government. Has the government dropped the employment equity policy and, if so, when did they do so?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at all; no, we have not.
Ms. Moorcroft: Without the job ads stating that the Yukon government is an equal opportunity employer, it is not being honest to potential candidates who may not know there is an employment equity policy in place. Can the Government Leader state whether the employment equity policies of the Yukon government are under review and, if so, why?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: To the best of my knowledge, they are not under review.
Ms. Moorcroft: The 1991 census figures have shown a higher proportion than before of the total population being women and being First Nations, and our public service is still a long way from being representative of the population it is there to serve. Can the Minister tell the House if he has reviewed the new census figures with this in mind and directed the Public Service Commission to come up with some new approaches - one, to hire more women in management; and, two, to involve more aboriginal Yukoners in the public service?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is, again, off on a tangent somewhere. The review of the managerial positions here shows that men and women are at the same ratio now as they were under the previous administration, and I have some information that I will be bringing back to Committee of the Whole when the time is appropriate.
We believe in employment equity and will continue to do so.
Question re: Child Development Centre, budget cut
Ms. Moorcroft: I would tell the Government Leader that women are not tangents.
This budget is the biggest in the history of the Yukon. It has the biggest tax increase. It has the biggest O&M budget in the history of the territory and yet it cuts back on essential services for people. Can the Government Leader explain why a 10-percent cut to the Child Development Centre was necessary?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member opposite should realize that I am the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services, not the Government Leader. Perhaps she is not aware of that yet.
The Child Development Centre was cut back. It was cut back four percent in its budget. Last year, they had a surplus of $100,000 and it is simply a matter, again, of trying to, in a very fair way, reallocate resources so that the resources go to the most obvious need.
Ms. Moorcroft: I certainly agree that the money needs to go to the people who need it the most. I would say that the greatest single contributor to quality child care is the care giver, and the factor determining job satisfaction for those workers is wages and benefits. Does the Minister of Health and Social Services think that the child care workers average wage of $9.58 an hour, with no benefits, is a fair wage?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is an interesting question. Perhaps the Member opposite shares the same confusion as enjoyed by the head of the PSAC union. We do not hire child care workers in this government.
Ms. Moorcroft: This morning I accepted a challenge from the Public Service Alliance of Canada to work for a day in one of the three child-care centres where they represent the child care professionals. I would like to ask the Minister if he, too, is going to accept this challenge so he that could understand the true value of the work that the child care professionals do.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have a fair appreciation for the work that they do and the work that each and every other individual in society is doing. I have no intention of accepting the challenge but I applaud the Member opposite for her efforts.
Question re: Polarettes Gymnastic Club facility
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Education. There is $50,000 in the new capital budget for the Polarettes Gymnastic Club facility to be built on to Jeckell School. Since the Jeckell School council neither requested nor were they consulted in this identification of capital money being spent, could the Minister tell me how the decision was made to give this group money from the Department of Educations capital budget?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Over the past three years, the Jeckell School council has been consulted on the addition of the Polarettes gym onto the school. That $300,000 project was approved through the EDA funding. We felt that it was a necessary project, as did the Polarettes Gymnastic Club and Members of the Opposition, who thought it was a worthwhile project to be supported. This project will create jobs and have no impact on the O&M allocated to this school, as it falls under the O&M budget of the Department of Education; it will not deduct anything from the O&M of that school.
Mrs. Firth: The Jeckell School council was also not consulted, nor did they give approval to the Department of Education to pick up the O&M costs of the facility. Could the Minister tell us how the decision was made to spend valuable education dollars on this facility as the Department of Education is picking up the O&M cost?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Earlier I said the EDA and I meant to say the CDS fund. The O&M cost will be picked up by the Department of Education. It will not cost the Jeckell School any money whatsoever. It is part of the total O&M cost for the Department of Education schools. It was felt with the addition of this particular gym, it would free up the other gym area. I know that the principal of the school is supportive of the project. The school council has requested that special requirements be made when this addition goes onto the school and I have assured them that we will make our best attempt to meet all the requirements; we are still discussing that with the school council. In discussions as late as today, I have indicated to them that we would take their concerns into consideration in making this decision.
Mrs. Firth: Still, the school council was not consulted, nor did they request these two initiatives that are taking place. I would like to ask the Minister of Education if he and the former Member of the Legislative Assembly for Porter Creek East, who has been very actively pursuing this project, have had any discussions regarding this facility?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I have had discussions with that person. That person was the president of the Polarettes Gymnastics Club. I believe that the individual also had discussions with the leader of the Liberal Party and the House Leader of the New Democratic Party. I will table two letters of support from both those individuals for that particular project.
I should also inform the Member that if she has a concern about the operations and maintenance costs of that building, it was agreed to by the school council at that time to go ahead with it. The project came in above the anticipated costs. If it had been built at that time, there still would have been operations and maintenance costs to it and they would have been picked up by the Department of Education. There is no change in that particular line of thinking. The operations and maintenance costs for that new facility will be picked up in the overall operations and maintenance budget for schools of the Department of Education.
Question re: Polarettes Gymnastic Club facility
Mrs. Firth: I am not asking for information about other Members or other leaders of parties. I am asking about a process here that was entered into, through which the school council neither asked for the operations and maintenance costs and the capital expenditure to be identified in the budget, nor did they give their final approval for that. I would like to ask the Minister of Education if he will tell the House what the nature of the discussions were that he had with the former Member for Porter Creek East regarding this facility.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The former Member approached me, as president of the club, and asked me if we were going to proceed with that facility. He also approached other Members of this Legislature. We reviewed that request. We saw that it had been given prior approval by the school council that is there now; all the approvals had been given. The problem with the project was that when it was initially tendered, it came in over budget. Our agreement now is that the Department of Education will contribute $50,000 to this project because we believe it is a worthwhile exercise. If it comes in over budget again, it will be the responsibility of the Polarettes Gymnastics Club to raise the added funds; otherwise, the project will not get built.
Mrs. Firth: The school council was not consulted and did not give approval for the $50,000 capital expenditure and O&M costs in the budget. I would like to ask the Minister responsible if that was the nature of the discussion he had with the former Member for Porter Creek East and was that commitment and decision made for the $50,000 in the capital budget at that time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, that was not the case at all. I should also point out that this particular project is a significant project. The Department of Education is contributing $50,000 and the Polarettes Gymnastics Club is contributing $75,000, which is a significant contribution to this kind of project.
The Government of the Yukon and the students and children of the Yukon will benefit from having a free gym, adding a second gym to the school that will be used for gymnastics. There are almost 300 children in the Yukon who now take part in the Polarettes Gymnastics Club activities. I think it is a very worthwhile endeavour.
Mrs. Firth: I do not disagree with all the nice speeches the Minister has given. I am trying to find out how the process worked here.
School councils are supposed to be consulted in these matters. School council was not consulted about the capital expenditure, nor did they give approval for the O&M expenditures. Is it going to be this governments policy that they just make decisions arbitrarily, without consulting the school councils, about these major expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member is wrong. The council was consulted about the O&M of the facility. They had agreed to the O&M expenditure because the facility went to tender one year ago. They knew that the facility was going to be built. Unfortunately, it came in over budget. We will be consulting with the school councils in all jurisdictions about additions to their schools and will continue to do so.
Question re: Hospital board
Mr. Cable: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
I was browsing through the Hospital Act this morning. It is interesting reading. It talks about the appointment of the board of trustees. It talks about two being chosen from persons nominated by the Yukon First Nations. Two must be chosen from persons nominated by the councils and municipalities. Can the Minister tell this House whether or not the present hospital board complies with the provisions of the act with respect to membership on the board?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The nominations, to which the hon. Member is referring, are now all in and the appointments are being made. The new people to be appointed to that board by order-in-council attended a training session last weekend. The current administration is handled by an interim hospital board that has been in place for some 18 months. It is hoped that the new board, once the training is complete, will take over completely by May 1.
Mr. Cable: Section 4 of the act goes on to say that two must be chosen from the public at large and two must be chosen from the public service. Can the Minister tell the House how those nominations were provided to him?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In the case of the public at large, we consulted with various groups, including the CYI. They offered us some nominations, and we are in the process of agreeing with one.
In the case of the public service, there were various people from the file that I received who indicated interest. We have made two selections from the public service, based on conversations with various individuals.
Mr. Cable: On the Order Paper, there is a motion on the part of the government to change the way that board appointments are made. Can the Minister confirm that, if that motion passes, with or without any other amendment, nominations will be selected according to the process set up and will not be selected from files bearing names of Yukon Party supporters?
Speaker: Order please. That question is hypothetical. I do not know whether the Minister will choose to answer it or not. I leave it to him.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I can answer it in a hypothetical manner. It will depend on the new amendments that the various Members from the side opposite intend to bring. We tried to bring forward a rational way of making appointments to boards, and it was a lost cause, because everybody on the other side wanted to do their own little political dance; therefore, it was impossible for a minority government to bring it through.
However, the hospital board has some 12 people, and they are nominated by various interest groups and municipalities and the CYI, and so on. It is a board that, by virtue of the act, is far removed from any attempt at patronage - heaven forbid that this Minister ever would.
Question re: Budget protests
Ms. Moorcroft: Today, there was a rally attended by over 100 people who are protesting this budget. In case the Government Leader did not notice, students are angry, environmentalists are angry, workers are angry, and women are angry. Yet, the Government Leader refused to meet with representatives of these groups.
If representatives of these groups request a meeting, is the Government Leader prepared for his Cabinet to sit down and meet with them?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would be happy to meet them, as long as it is not organized as a political rally.
Ms. Moorcroft: Let me assure the Government Leader that I was not involved in organizing the rally. The people were in his office today asking to meet with him and he refused. When is the Government Leader going to accept the long-standing invitation to meet with organized labour?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We get condemned on this side for misleading the House, yet Members opposite seem to have a real knack for misleading.
I was not in my office today when the people approached me for the meeting; I was at another engagement. I did not have the choice of refusing or accepting their request.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would also like to ask the Government Leader when he will be prepared to meet with the Yukon Conservation Society to talk about land reserves for parks, and the very serious concerns of environmentalists that the Yukon Party believes mining and parks are compatible land use.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There is no doubt this party believes in multi-use of Yukon lands. However, I have not received a request from the Yukon Conservation Society to meet with me.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. Harding: I have a question regarding the Curragh situation - I am sure that is a big surprise for the Government Leader.
This morning on CHON-FM there was a statement made by the Government Leader, saying we are in a position where we can probably get some security for our money to strip the Grum, and we are prepared to start advancing them monies, as soon as we can get that security. Yesterday, in the Legislature - I am quoting from Hansard - the Government Leader stated, we are prepared to put $4 million or $5 million in for six weeks and start the stripping operation moving, as long as that money is secured and not going to go to pay off debt at the Bank of Nova Scotia. This has been our major concern all along. Could the Minister explain, in further detail, exactly what he is referring to with those two statements?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think the statements are quite clear and speak for themselves. We are prepared - if, as a result of the CCAA, we can get approval for security for the taxpayers money - to advance up to $5 million right now to give Curragh the four to six weeks that they claim they need to restructure their debt. We are prepared to do that if we can get security for the money, while at the same time not enhancing the assets of Curragh to pay off other creditors if Curragh is unsuccessful at restructuring.
Mr. Harding: I understand the thinking, but I am in a bit of a quandary as to why it took so long to come to this position. I would like to ask this: when does the government expect to get the security that they are requesting in the discussions that are presently going on, or will be going on in the near future, and what security are they specifically asking for?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Negotiations are ongoing in Toronto; as soon as I have something to announce, I will.
The security that we are looking for is no different than what we have been looking for all along. It has been a major concern of ours to advance money without security for if the worst-case scenario happens and Curragh is unable to restructure its debt, the taxpayers would lose their money.
Again, we understand from our financial advisors that there is a potential under the CCAA to get security for additional funds put into a company under the protection of this legislation. That is what our negotiators are looking at, so that we can begin stripping the Grum deposit immediately.
Mr. Harding: There is risk in this loan guarantee deal, there is no doubt about it, but there is also a significant risk to the territorial economy if the attempt is not made.
The word security keeps being mentioned, so I have to ask: is the government still requesting sole security on any guarantee money that would be advanced, and how much risk - if they are not asking for full security - are they prepared to take to see the mine reopen?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Right now, under the CCAA, we would be very, very foolish to be putting any money in unless it was secured. If we put in $5 million, we want $5 million worth of security - it is as simple as that.
It would be very naive and very irresponsible of us to enhance the Faro operation, only to have Faro not succeed in restructuring and the assets go to pay off the creditors who have filed against the company.
Question re: Campbell Highway, budget cuts
Mr. Harding: On Monday, March 29, I had a bit of a duel in the Whitehorse Star with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding the Campbell Highway cuts. A 72-percent capital cut to the Campbell Highway is proposed in the budget, and a 17-percent cut in the O&M, which sends a very bizarre signal as to the governments meaning with regard to the Faro mine, because that is the road that services it.
Could the Minister of Community and Transportation Services tell me what exact plans there are for spending on capital and also on operation and maintenance for the highway between Faro and Carmacks?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I did lead the Member opposite somewhat astray in that interview, because, in this year, 1993-94, there is $1.2 million in the capital budget for the Campbell Highway. I did indicate at that time that it was for a portion of the road from Faro to Carmacks. Since that time, I have found out that the amount was right - $1.2 million - but $200,000 of it is for the Carmacks to Faro portion and the $1 million is the Faro to Watson Lake portion.
Mr. Harding: The Robert Campbell Highway services the only - up until last Sunday - operating mine left in the territory, which contributes tremendously to the economy of this territory. What I have to ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is: how, with a capital budget slash and an operation and maintenance budget slash on the road, can that company continue to operate with low transportation costs and how can my constituents, who face 50 and 60 ton ore trucks rattling back and forth on the roads, hope to keep safe on the roads with these cuts to the highway?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As the Member opposite knows, or at least should know, there was major reconstruction of that portion of the highway last year. The $200,000 will actually put BST on approximately 20 kilometres of last years construction. There has been $8.4 million spent on that road in the very recent past. The other thing is that the South Campbell Highway, from Sa Dena Hes into Watson Lake, also is a very major portion of road that definitely has to be prioritized along with all of the highways in Yukon.
Mr. Harding: There was a lot of money put into the road but for very good reason because there was a large operating mine at the end of the road, or half-way down it. There has been some discussion, and we explored it a little bit last night with regard to the $10 million that has been bandied about as a possible solution to increasing the funding to this road. Last night we learned that so far what we have with the $10 million, is a verbal commitment between the Government Leader and the Government of Canada. Could I ask the Government Leader or the Minister of Community and Transportation Services when the $10 million will be received, and what portion of the Faro to Carmacks run the money will be used on?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that the Government Leader did answer yesterday that the $10 million has not been received and that there are a number of highway projects that will have to be prioritized when the money is in fact available.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. Government House Leader.
Notice of Government Private Members Business
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I give notice of the following motions for Wednesday, April 7: Motion No. 25, standing in the name of Mr. Millar; Motion No. 27, standing in the name of Mr. Abel; Motion No. 30, standing in the name of Mr. Millar; Motion No. 29, standing in the name of Mr. Millar.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair, and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I now call the Committee of the Whole to order. At this time I will call for a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 4 - Second Appropriation Act, 1992-93 - continued
Chair: We will be discussing Bill No. 4, Second Appropriation Act, 1992-93. Is there any further debate?
Mr. McDonald: I had an opportunity to speak to the Department of Finance this morning, and I have had a number of questions answered with respect to revenue projections and the formula financing.
I will be raising those issues very thoroughly, particularly with respect to the formula used in the main estimates general debate. I will leave further Iquestioning on that issue for general debate.
With respect to the revenue projections, I think I have become more or less convinced that we are going to have to wait and see what the results of the guessing game are - as to how much money we are going to receive from one source or another - when the year-end actuals are known to us.
I feel there is some interesting analysis and discussion that can take place under the main estimates for the revenue and the transfer payment, which may help clarify our current financial situation.
I do have some concerns about the information that the Members provided yesterday, with respect to the costs of staffing and travel, because I feel that their projections about the savings - that they have taken as a result of management action - have been overstated. Based upon my discussions and further information that I have received, I am more secure in my feeling that those savings have been overstated.
However, once again I think that the difficulty we face is that this may be one area where it is impossible to precisely determine what the result of the overt Management Board action is with respect to savings. I will put on the record that my view, based upon my more thorough understanding of this, is that the overt management actions, particularly by Management Board, have not come close to explaining the reductions that they have claimed to have recorded in expenditures over the last few months; I feel very confident that this is the case. In any case there will be some further discussion, I know, on this in detail in the supplementary and I feel that it would be more productive in terms of getting hard information to tackle each Minister and try to get a better determination as to what precisely has happened in each department in the last few months.
I wanted to ask a couple of questions with respect to contracts that have been issued over the course of the last six months. That information, I am told, is not going to be available until the middle of the month. That is a problem for us because we have gone through the debate in this Legislature before about when contracting information will be made available to Opposition Members, prior to the supplementaries being debated. It would be very awkward if the contracting information were made available only after the debate on the supplementary had occurred. Consequently, we would be out of order if we tried to debate that same information in the main estimates. We would find ourselves in the same situation as with the Consulting Audit Canada report, which we are not intending to repeat.
I would ask the Government Leader if the information with respect to contracts could be made available, particularly contracts from November 1, 1993 onwards. If they have longer term information, that would be fine as well. Perhaps the departmental Minister could provide that information when they present each supplementary estimate and when we get into line-by-line debate.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It appears that we have a difference of opinion about how much was saved. I have to agree with the Member opposite. It is very hard to put a solid figure on it. I will not get into a long debate on that. We have a difference of opinion. Perhaps it will come out in the supplementaries. It will come out somewhere, I am sure.
On the contracts, I will do everything within my power to see that we get them for the Member as we get into each department. If it is at all possible, we will see that the Ministers have that.
Other than that, I do not think I have any other remarks to make at this point.
Mr. Penikett: I wonder if I can conclude my intervention in general debate with three general questions, one of which the Government Leader may have to take notice of. The others I would like answered now. Last night, I raised the question posed by a little bird about computers from Radio Shack delivered in March of this year. The Government Leader said that he and the Minister of Government Services were going to check into this. Can I ask him now if there were any computers from Radio Shack delivered to the government in March?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Yes, there were some computers delivered in March. We are still trying to get together the numbers and the departments they went to. Some of the uncertainty last night was the question of Radio Shack computers. I did not see any purchase orders coming across my desk with Radio Shack computers on them. It is H&O Holdings that owns Radio Shack. That is where the confusion came in.
My understanding is that they are Hewitt-Rand computers.
Mr. Penikett: Thank you. Could the Minister then tell us approximately how many computers came in? I take it is less than 60, since the Government Leader and Minister told us that last night. Is it more than 10 or less than 40? Does he know approximately how many? If not, can he tell us when he will know?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I should have that information for the Member next week when we get into line-by-line on the various departments, then they can indicate what their purchases were.
Mr. Penikett: I think my colleagues and I are quite good at arithmetic, but would it not be simpler if the Minister, as Minister of Government Services, just told us the total, rather than us trying to do a running tally as we go through departments? We may not know, in every case, whether the computer comes from that source or from another. Could he not undertake, by the end of this week, to find out what the total number of computers is coming from that source?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Yes, I could possibly get that for the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Penikett: I can only assume that it is an attitude of reverence from the Member toward me. I wonder if I could ask, first of all, a very specific question to the Government Leader, and then a very general one, by way of concluding my questions in general debate. My colleagues and I have, on the Order Paper, at least four sets of written questions, most of which are multi-part questions, some of which seek information that we need for the supplementary debate of departmental estimates, some of which we need for the mains. I know that some questions have been answered already, but could I ask the Government Leader if he can give a general indication of the intentions of the Cabinet in terms of their responses to the written questions, which have been filed for quite some time?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will take that up with the Ministers and see if we can get a response back as quickly as possible.
Mr. Penikett: The only cautionary note I have about that, is that there is a parliamentary convention sometimes observed in this House that we will be reluctant to clear an item until we have got the answer to some of these questions. I think it would expedite the debate on both sides if we can get them.
Let me conclude my questions in the general debate by asking a very general policy question of the Government Leader. There is no trap; there is no hook. There is nothing in this. This is just a direct question about policy. From time to time in this House, we have heard the Government Leader and indeed the Deputy Government Leader use expressions like responding to the needs of real Yukoners or the concerns of real Yukoners, or, in the mouth of the Deputy Government Leader, not wanting to listen to special interest groups. Could we, for the record, since this has become a recurring theme, ask the Government Leader if he could indicate to us a little bit about who these real Yukoners are, what qualifications one has to have to be a real Yukoner, and on the obverse side of the ledger, who the special interest groups are that we should not be listening to. Could we hear from him on that subject?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not think for a minute that the Member opposite is trying to trick me and I will try to clear it. Rural Yukoners are anyone who resides outside of Whitehorse, as far as I am concerned.
Mr. Penikett: It is a fascinating answer to my question, but I do not think he heard the question correctly. My question was, how does he define real Yukoners, not rural Yukoners. Now, his answer might still be the same, but I want to know if that is the case.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not recall using the term real Yukoners myself. I may have, but I do not recall it at the moment.
The other question the Member asked was about which special interest groups we should not be listening to. I believe we have the duty to listen to all groups and to all citizens of the Yukon.
Mr. Penikett: All I can say is that I am on record, then, as agreeing with the Government Leader and disagreeing with the Deputy Government Leader on this matter of policy. If we can provoke the Member for Kluane to get into this debate and give us his views of the special interest groups we should not be listening to as true Yukoners, we would like to hear from him.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will give the Member just one example. The moratorium on game farming that everybody has been cleaning my clock over; it was one letter - one group did that; the other groups did not have a say. That I do not accept. Every group should come and talk. One group should not have enough power to put a moratorium on game farming when nobody else has a say in it. That is what I do not accept.
Mr. Penikett: Fair enough. I am interested in the Deputy Government Leaders comment. Could he tell us for the record, regarding the moratorium on game farming, who the group was that made that representation that we should not have listened to?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It was one letter from the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
Mr. Penikett: I am fascinated by the answer because, in days gone by, there was another Member of Cabinet closely associated with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, who thought we should listen to that group very closely and very intensely; but things have changed.
This is not a frivolous line of enquiry, because the Member for Kluane, when he expressed his view about true Yukoners and special interest groups, indicated special interest groups in the plural. Before I let the matter rest, I wonder if I could direct another question to the Member for Kluane, since he has given one example. Are there any other examples of any groups in the Yukon that we should not be listening to?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I did not say we should not listen to them. I said that one group should not have all the say. All groups should have all the say together. For instance, I met with the Conservation Society and I met with the parks people, and I intend to meet with all of them but I do not intend to take my position from one person or one group - and one group, incidentally, that is even split among themselves. Some of the people in the Fish and Game Association say that they do not agree with what is going on.
Mr. Penikett: Let us accept the advice of the deputy leader that the government should not be listening to one group, especially a group that is split. Can I take it then that it is the policy of the Minister and, indeed, the government, not just to listen to the Yukon Party on some questions but to listen to other parties as well?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite knows very well that this party, while in Opposition last winter, held numerous hearings in the Yukon to hear concerns of all Yukoners, not just Yukon Party supporters.
Mr. Penikett: It is excellent that they did that while in Opposition. We did the same when we were in government; we just hope that they will, too.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am fascinated by the conversation. Does the Government Leader think women are a special interest group?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are getting a very interesting debate on line-by-line debate of the supplementaries. No, I do not consider women a special interest group.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does he believe our first citizens, the Yukons First Nations, are a special interest group?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know the relevance of the questions to the debate on the supplementaries, but I will answer that question and, after that, I may rise on a point of order.
No, I do not consider them to be special interest groups.
Mr. Penikett: I said it was going to be the last question to the Government Leader, and it was. I have another question on exactly the same subject, and it is relevant to the supplementaries. If we have a long point of order on that, I will defend my case vigorously.
The Minister of Tourism met with lAssociation des Franco-Yukonnais and told that group - and they appreciated his honesty in doing so - that he regarded them as a special interest group. For the record, what other groups may be regarded as special interest groups by that definition?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Penikett: I do not want to go to great lengths to explain the relevance. It is that we heard in earlier debate on the throne speech that there are some people you should listen to, some people you should not, and there are special interest groups that should be ignored. When it comes to questions about, for example, the francophone group, they respected the Ministers honesty in telling them that, but they were deeply troubled by it, because their view of their situation in Canada, in terms of their constitutional rights and so forth, is not that they are a special interest group. That is not how they see themselves. Therefore, it is a very important point.
We are soon going to be going into the line-by-line debate on the Executive Council Office, and I will want to pursue some questions about relations with those groups and the Government Leader, at that time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have some difficulty with the question coming from the Leader of the Official Opposition. If I said that to lAssociation des Franco-Yukonnais, it was in the context of respecting their views, of meeting with them and talking with them. They asked me if I felt they had an important organization, and I told them they did.
I have not refused to meet with any group or organization in the territory for which there are areas in my budget I am responsible for. That is the job of a Minister: to meet with all groups and listen to their concerns. When they are a more focussed group, like the association we are talking about, we are obligated to sit down to listen to their views, and to incorporate some of their views in what we do. That is the purpose of the group. They are lobby groups, they do meet with us from time to time, and I did not intend it in any other manner.
I met with them, and I am almost apologizing now for having met with them. It seems that the Leader of the Official Opposition feels I should not have told them that their views were important.
Their views are important. I did listen to them and I do want to work with them. I guess the Member has an ulterior motive that he is working from, but I think all Ministers on this side have been very open and have met with all groups in a responsible manner and will continue to do so.
Mr. Harding: I have a question regarding the $94,000 man, Mr. Dale Drowning-in-cash. I would like to ask the Government Leader when the salary was designated for the B.C. Social Credit, Vander Zalm import from British Columbia?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not sure if that question is worth an answer in this forum. First of all, I want to say again: there is the Opposition that accuses us of misrepresentation, and then you have statements like this made by the Member for Faro.
The Member for Faro does not know what Mr. Drown is being paid for a wage, yet he is insinuating that he is getting $94,000 per year. That is dishonest; that is dishonest.
Mr. Harding: I resent the insinuation that I am being dishonest. I simply asked a question and I would expect an answer. Now that the Government Leader has become so offended by my question, I feel duty-bound to explore my question in more detail.
What we have learned, and what this House has been told, is that Mr. Drown fits into a certain category where the upper pay range - if it is not $94,000, it is within $100 of that figure, is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, that is not correct.
Chair: Order please. I would like to remind the Members to refrain from using the word dishonest, or words to that effect.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I apologize, but the word seems to have been used a lot by the Opposition Members in this Legislature during this last session.
In answer to the question asked by the Member for Faro, no that is not right.
Mr. Harding: If that is not correct, could the Government Leader please tell us what salary range Dale Drown fits in?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have the figures here, if you will bear with me for a moment. Mr. Drowns position is classified as an MG8, that is in the salary range of $69,295 to $89,993.
Mr. Harding: The Cabinet communications advisor - the $89,000 man according to the categories given to us by the Government Leader - is fulfilling what purpose for the government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have his job description here with me now. As I said in Question Period, his job description was submitted to the PSC for advice as to where the salary range should fall.
If the Member would like to play games, I could call him the $69,000 man.
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader said, the other day, that Mr. Drowns resume was submitted to the Public Service Commission, not his job description. There is a big difference. I could have a resume that shows I have advanced degrees from various universities, but I could be applying for a job digging ditches. That would be completely irrelevant to my salary classification. Was it a resume or the job description that was submitted to the PSC?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Both were submitted to the PSC.
Mr. Penikett: The other day the Government Leader said that the salary was based on the resume. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The salary was based on the resume, in conjunction with the job description.
Mr. Penikett: That is very different from what the Government Leader said the other day.
Let me ask him this: why would the communications advisor for the Yukon Party Cabinet be in a much higher job classification than a similarly and equally qualified communications advisor for the previous NDP government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The job description was changed. If the Member wants to look at it, we will get into it in the budget. By changing some job descriptions within the Cabinet offices and reducing the number of staff, we were able to save a substantial number of dollars.
The change in the Cabinet office has been a total of about minus 24 percent. I believe, in the previous administration, each of the Cabinet Ministers had an administrative assistant; each of my Cabinet Ministers do not. In the restructuring of the department, we were able to drop from 18 employees to 15.5, for substantial savings to government.
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader has not answered the question. The question I asked was, why is Mr. Drown, a political appointee from British Columbia, in a higher job classification as Cabinet communications advisor, than the previous incumbent, a local hire who had a Masters degree and I would imagine a similar background in journalism? The only possible answer for that, that would make any sense, would be that Mr. Drown was actually supervising other employees. If he was supervising other employees, I would presume they would be public employees. Then I would have a big problem with a political appointee supervising public servants. Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at all. Mr. Drown does not supervise public employees, but he does have more responsibilities within the Cabinet office.
Mr. Penikett: What possible extra duties could the Cabinet communications advisor have, than had the previous Cabinet communications advisor, whose job description was well known to the Members over here. Perhaps we could compare the two job descriptions.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will be happy to bring the job description back.
Mr. Harding: I guess my first question was never answered. That was, when exactly was the salary determined for Mr. Dale Drown? According to their figures now it is $89,000, not $94,000 any more. When was this salary determined?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I want to say that his salary was determined when he was put on permanent staff. The Members opposite are well aware that the categories overlap. No one on that side knows what Mr. Drown is being paid, as no one on this side knows exactly what the previous communications advisor was being paid. The salary categories do overlap.
Mr. Penikett: As the Member knows, we deeply respect parliamentary tradition in this House. The parliamentary tradition was established by Members opposite when they were in Opposition by assuming that the incumbent they were discussing at the time was being paid at the top of the range. We are simply respecting that tradition, which was established by Members opposite when they were over here, on many, many occasions in respect to many, many individuals.
Mr. Harding: We will be looking at the bottom line. We are looking at the bottom line in the supplementaries, and we are looking at the bottom line of the new main estimates. I am a little unclear as to when Mr. Dale Drown was placed on permanent staff. Was that in the previous fiscal year, or was it in this fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Drown was appointed Cabinet advisor as of February 1, 1993.
Chair: Is there any more general debate on Bill No. 4?
Mr. Harding: So for two months of the fiscal year, Dale Drown was being paid up to $89,293.
I just have to make a comment as well that I, too, although not being a Member of this House then, can remember the uproar from the other side regarding the last communications advisor for the previous administration and the nicknames given to him - John Trump of the North. I think that they should think about that before they get too sanctimonious about the questions that we have. I guess the relevance is that these wage scales were determined last year. That is important because the Members have made certain claims about what they did with respect to streamlining and making the government more efficient. We are certainly interested in exploring, and we will in further depth when we go into the supplementaries on a line-by-line-basis. In general debate I think it is essential that we explore some of these areas.
Was Dale Drown on contract until February 1, 1993 and was that the three-month contract at $6500 a month that we talked about previously in general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is correct; Mr. Drown was on contract prior to that. While I am on my feet I think that we should look at the total picture; we only have three administrative assistants in the Cabinet office where the previous administration had six. We are able to get by with only three. The employee costs, overall, in the Cabinet office are substantially lower than what they were under the previous administration - it is as simple as that. I just want to read a paragraph out of the Government of the Yukon report on other matters for the years ending March 31, 1992, An individual resigned effective February 5, 1992. A contract for $24,500 was awarded for the period February 6 to March 31, 1992". This is a contract of less than two months. The work to be performed was almost identical to what the individual was doing as an employee. The total of the $24,250 was paid out on the contract. If we want to talk about high wages, that works out to $175,000 a year.
Mr. Harding: I hear the argument put forth by the Government Leader. Unfortunately, what I think the people opposite have to realize is that the people of the Yukon passed judgment on the previous government on October 19 and it was decided by the people that they did not want them in power any more - at least for the time being. What I would like to say to the Members opposite is that they are now in government and they have been given the responsibility by the people of the Yukon to do what they said they were going to do, not to, when they did get elected, stand up before the Members of this House and continue to talk, saying what they are doing is wrong, but what the previous administration did was worse. I think what the Members opposite have to do is stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for the decisions that they are making. The Members on this side have already been defeated in the election and they have passed judgment on it. It is over; it is done with.
Now, what has to be discussed is what the government-of-the-day is doing; specifically in relation to what they promised they would do. I think that is why we are exploring some of these significant aspects and I have to rely on the governments numbers with respect to their staffing levels - we will explore that in more detail. They have been in power for six months and they make some claims about cutting back in staffing numbers. We will be anxious to explore them to see what transpires in the near future with regard to staffing levels in those areas and the salary and wages that they are paying the people.
I would like to ask a few questions with respect to the $89,000 man. Would the Government Leader agree that the job of the communications advisor for the present government is quite similar to the communications advisor job for the previous government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have already said I will table the job description in the House.
Mr. Harding: I am also interested because there seems to be some discrepancy as to the salary spread and wage level this particular individual is at. I wonder if perhaps the five percent wage reduction budgeted for this year would affect that at all?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: All the employees in the Cabinet offices, along with management personnel, were reduced by two percent, I believe. Or was it five percent - two or five. No, it was only the MLAs who were reduced by five percent.
I have to make one other point and that is to say that nobody knows whether that is $89,000 or $69,000. As I said, the AGE-whatever-it-is numbers overlap by a substantial amount. The previous communications advisor was in a category that went from $57,000 to $74,000.
Mr. Penikett: I wonder if I could pick up from one point mentioned by my colleague just now, and the Government Leader may want to take notice of it because he was not completely sure what level of a cut applied to the political staff. There was a press release - at least, the first we, in the New Democratic Party, heard about it was through the press release about MLA pay cuts. The press release said, though, that political staff were to be reduced by two percent. That struck some MLAs as being profoundly unfair since they were obviously getting less than Dale Drown. MLAs were to get a five-percent cut whereas Mr. Drown was proposed to get only a two-percent cut. Perhaps two percent was not correct in the press release - I can dig it out of my files - because there was another statement in another document that indicated it might be five percent. Perhaps the Government Leader might, later on, be able to clear up that difference.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not certain. I will have to get back to the Member opposite.
Mr. Penikett: When he does that, could he indicate - whether it is two or five percent - it would be effective, as I presume the MLA proposition is, on April 1, following passage of the legislation and that it will apply also to the two percenters or the five percenters, wherever they are, on the political staff.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, I believe the Member opposite is right about that.
Mr. Harding: I am still trying to clear up this discrepancy with regard to whether Dale Drown is classified as $94,000 man, or whether he is a $89,000 man. I have seen a letter that points to the fact that the Government Leader has suggested that the $94,000 man is indeed the $94,000 man, and falls in the class of an MG 08, which has an annual minimum of $72,152, and an annual maximum of $93,704. Could you please clear that up for us? If he is classified as an MG 08, should he not fall into the upper limit of $93,704?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite may be right, but my briefing notes do not indicate those figures. The figures I have range from $69,000 to $89,000. I will check on those figures.
Mr. Harding: I will read for the record what I am referring to. I am looking at the management pay grid, effective October 1, 1992, including deputies, managers, legal officers, plus a two-percent adjustment to salaries and grids. I am looking at the MG08. The annual minimum is $72,152 and the annual maximum identified by this document is $93,704. I am wondering if this discrepancy could be a result of the apparent 2-percent cut to the salary of Dale Drown.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will have to check on that; as I have said I am referring to the briefing notes that I have here in my file.
Mr. Harding: There was a bit of a rebuttal and some form of a justification put forward by the Government Leader with regard to this huge salary that the communications advisor is drawing, which pretty well represents three times what I make. The salary classification and the scale of the predecessor to Dale Drown in the previous administration, John Crump, was identified and I wanted to point out to the Government Leader, for the record: does the Government Leader realize that represents a $17,000 increase in salary, going by the $89,000 figure?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I cannot verify that, as I do not know what other figure the Member is referring to.
Mr. Harding: I am using the figures that the Government Leader has provided. He gave me a figure of $89,293 for the upper limit of pay for an MG08, his communications advisors classification, but in a letter that I have seen, which he sent to the Member for Riverdale South, I believe it is identified as $93,704. There is a big discrepancy, but nonetheless, using his figures of $89,000 and then using the figures of Dale Drowns predecessor in the previous administration, I would like to ask the Government Leader if he realizes - using his numbers - that that represents a raise of approximately $17,000?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, that is not at all correct.
Mr. Harding: How could that not be correct? The Government Leader pointed out - and I asked him to check the numbers he read out - that John Crump was in a salary range with a high end of $72,000. This is using his numbers. We still have not cleared up the dispute whether it is the $94,000 range or an $89,000 range, but we will use his numbers. The difference between $72,000 and $89,000 is a raise of approximately $17,000. Does he not realize that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is using numbers that have no relevance to what Mr. Drown is being paid.
Mr. Harding: Perhaps the Government Leader could then explain to me what the point of salary ranges are, if they have no relevance to what is being paid?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is making many assumptions. I am telling the Member opposite that he does not know what Mr. Drowns salary is.
Mr. Harding: I am making no assumptions whatsoever. I just told the Government Leader that I am using the figures he gave me. They are not assumptions; they are figures the Government Leader has given me and other Members of this House.
For the record, I would like him to clarify that I am making assumptions. He has given me the numbers I am looking at, and I am asking him if he realizes that illustrates a $17,000 raise for his new communications advisor, from the level of the previous one.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It does no such thing. He is saying that the difference between $72,000 and $89,000 is a $17,000 increase. That does not mean that is what the communications officer is getting. The Member opposite is making assumptions.
Mr. Harding: Let us try this, then. Let us assume that we use the low end of the pay scale we are referring to in each case - that of the previous and the current communications advisor. Let us ask the Government Leader if that represents a $17,000 raise.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It does not, because I do not know what the previous communications advisor was making.
Mr. Harding: Yet, the Members opposite were quite willing to imply that it was the top end. As a matter of fact, in some sort of justification to the outrageous salary they are paying Mr. Drowning-in-cash, they have used the top end with Mr. Crump, in using the $74,000 number.
Is this an example of the streamlining and efficiency of government that is in keeping with the firing of deputy ministers that cost the taxpayers $480,000, which he made quite a big deal of in his letter to the people of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member finally asked a sensible question. The streamlining is quite clear. There is over $1 million saving in ECO and 24-percent saving in the Cabinet office.
Mr. Harding: I believe I asked a specific question with regard to this example of Dale Drown, the communications advisor, who received a substantial raise above his predecessor in communications for the previous government. I have to point out once again that the salary of Dale Drowns predecessor was the subject of much discussion in this Legislature and some interesting nicknames, such as John Trump of the North. It is incumbent on us to point that out.
I want to go back one more time to get some information from the Government Leader with regard to this. I still do not have the answer I think the question deserves. Using the Government Leaders figures, he has said - correct me if I am wrong - that the previous communications advisor earned a maximum of approximately $72,000. He then said that his communications advisor - the Government Leader is shaking his head, so I hope he will correct me and we can continue the questioning - has a top end of $89,000, even though in a letter to the Member for Riverdale South, he said it was closer to $94,000. Does the Government Leader recognize that represents a $17,000 raise?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: When the Member opposite tells me what the former communications advisor was making, then I will tell him how much of a raise or decrease it means.
Mr. Harding: Perhaps he could concede to me this: in terms of the wage scale, it represents the potential of a $17,000 raise.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, I will not concede that either.
Mr. Harding: I would like to move on, but I cannot, given the answer from the Government Leader. I cannot move on. He cannot even concede that the difference in wage scales between Dale Drown and his predecessor is $17,000. I urge him to check his fingers again and ask him once again if he recognizes that it does.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I guess I could turn the tables and ask the Member opposite if he would agree that if Mr. Crump was being paid $74,000 at the top of his range and Mr. Drown was being paid $72,000 - if that is the figure he wants to use - was Mr. Crump getting $2,000 more than our communications advisor.
Mr. Harding: Again, I point out to the Members opposite that they are now in government. They are the ones responsible for this $94,000 man. The Government Leader seems very shaky on this point and very defensive - one would even call it arrogant, because I am asking questions about what taxpayers are paying their pet Socred. Using the Government Leaders figures - and he has said on one occasion, to the Member for Riverdale South, that it was $93,700 - we are now learning that Dale Drowning-in-cash is earning $89,293. I am going to ask the Government Leader what the salary scale was for John Crump. I believe he said $72,000. If it is $74,000, I hope he will tell me.
Does the Government Leader concede that that could represent a potential wage increase of $17,000?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Mr. Phillips, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We seem to have inadvertently wandered into a line-by-line debate on the Executive Council Office, when we are really supposed to be on general debate on the whole budget. I know the Member for Faro is inexperienced and does not understand. He knows most everything, but this is one thing that he does not have a total grasp of. We are now discussing a specific line in the budget that can be dealt with when we get there. I have been very patient, and I think that the Government Leader has been very patient. We have been on this now for almost 25 minutes, and we have not had any questions about overall general debate. I would think that we either stick to general debate, or let us move into the line items and discuss this issue where it should be properly discussed.
Mr. Penikett: On the point of order: if, in fact, the Government Leader had answered the simple question 25 minutes ago, we could have very easily moved on. Indeed, I would say that if the Government Leader would give a commitment to answer the question in regard to the line item, we could probably move on. I think it is quite unfair for the Member for Riverdale North to chastise the Member for Faro for being assertive in answering his questions to another new Member, the Member for Porter Creek North, since they both have exactly the same experience in this House.
I would remind the Member for Riverdale North that I think he was quite proud of the fact that last year he spent five weeks on the supplementaries in this House. We have not spent a fraction of that time, and I doubt if we will. I want to make the point - and this is my procedural point, which I have not finished making yet, so I certainly hope you are not making a ruling yet, Mr. Chairman - that the point my colleague is making is that it is necessary to establish the facts about this one particular office because it is, in a symbolic way, representative of the governments whole spending philosophy.
We have heard from the Government Leader, during debate on the supplementary budget, claims of great cuts made in the expenditures of departments. I believe that most of his claims about the cuts are, in fact, about next years budget, not this years budget. In fact, he may be out of order, in terms of speaking to the main estimates rather than the supplementaries. But, I would never criticize another Member for doing that because these two items are inextricably linked. It is very hard to talk about one without talking about the other. In fact, it is a very old tradition for all the years that I have been in this House that the debate slops over from one budget to the other - I think slops would be the right word.
I think we could expedite this matter very simply if the Government Leader were to simply respond to the Members question, which is, in essence: does he not recognize that moving the new communications advisor into a salary group implies that he is getting approximately $17,000 more than the previous incumbent? Then we can move on to the next question.
Chair: Mr. Ostashek, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The point I want to make is that I freely admit it. I freely admit that our communications advisor is in a group rating higher than the previous communications advisor. I am not going to say something in this Legislature that I do not know is true, and that is what the Member opposite is asking me to do - to say that our communications advisor is getting $17,000 more than the previous one received. I am not about to make a false statement in this House. I have fully agreed that we have placed him in a higher category than his predecessor; that should be sufficient to answer the question without asking me to make assumptions that I do not know are true.
Chair: Mr. Harding, on a point of order.
Mr. Harding: Just to respond to the point and also to talk to the procedural matter on the point of order, I am absolutely not asking the Government Leader to make any false statements in this Legislature. I am simply asking a question with regard to the salary ranges and the potential for that increase. That is all I am asking. Unfortunately, the defensiveness of the Members opposite indicates to me that there is a problem and I simply want to get to the bottom of it. The individual I am asking questions about - he works for the government; a political appointee - was put on salary, as they indicated, February 1 in the last fiscal year. Therefore, it relates to the last fiscal year as well as this fiscal year and, therefore, I believe it is fair game to ask questions and to expect answers with regard to this matter in general debate.
Chair: Order please. I was going to call for a break at four oclock. I do agree that this line of questioning should be better discussed in the ECO debate, and I would like to ask if there is any further debate on Bill No. 4.
Mr. Penikett: Let me put a question to the Government Leader, which I believe is appropriate to general debate. I freely concede that it could be asked under the Legislative Assembly item line or the Executive Council item line, or both. The Government Leader may wish to take it as notice. I want to reach the Government Leader to try to persuade him as to the legitimacy of the concern here.
In the interests of saving money, the Government Leader has proposed that MLAs who get a certain amount of money should have their pay cut. In the same announcement, he talked about political staff having not a five-percent cut, as was applied to MLAs, but a two-percent cut. If, in the same time period, his key advisor moves from one pay range to the next, by inference having a $17,000 increase over his predecessor, having a two-percent cut after a $17,000 pay increase, while at the same time MLAs are suffering a real drop in their income, that would strike many Members of this House as being unfair and, in fact, would seem to indicate to Members that some confusing messages are being sent about economies and who pays and who benefits under this regime.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: While we are on the topic, let us debate it in its entirety, and I have no problem with that. First of all, we restructured the Cabinet offices. We have 2.5 fewer employees in the Cabinet office than what was there under the previous administration. Besides that, we have downgraded some of the positions in the Cabinet offices, such as administrative assistants. We only have three, where the previous administration had six. There is a substantial difference in the salary range between stenographers and administrative assistants.
By doing that, we are reducing the cost of government. As we get into the budget of the Cabinet offices, we have a substantial reduction in the cost of expenses there. We have reclassified some positions and have been able to achieve them.
While I am on my feet, I have had a new briefing note passed to me. I would like to clarify something for the record. My previous briefing note was wrong, and I will now clarify, for the record.
Mr. Harding: On a point of order, since the Government Leader is now more anxious to introduce more discussion about the issue of Dale Drown, the communications advisor, and what he makes, and after that side objected to the line of questioning, would the Chair consider the ruling he has made, or will he end debate with regard to those matters.
Chair: On the point of order, before Mr. Harding stood up, Mr. Ostashek had not even had a chance to say what he wanted to say. He never finished his answer.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I did not want to get back into the salary ranges, but I wanted to clarify, for the record, what was said in the previous debate. I was talking about the classification of salaries, not salaries.
For the Committees benefit, my briefing notes were wrong. The position is classified as MG8 level, with a salary range of $70,709 to $91,830. The previous figures for the MG8 salary range were $69,295 to $89,993, and they were in error and resulted from reducing the revised salary range by another two percent.
Mr. Drown receives a standard wage and benefit package. There is no additional compensation beyond this standard package.
Chair: You could have given that when we got to the ECO. Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Penikett: I would just make one point before leaving this item.
I do want to pursue it under the Executive Council Office or Legislative Assembly items. I want to explain this to the Government Leader, because there is a serious issue of fairness here.
The Government Leaders statement a moment ago, in explaining the restructuring, adds to our alarm about what is happening in government.
The Government Leader has explained to us that, in order to implement savings, he has restructured - I think that was his word. Using his word again, he has downgraded the positions of administrative assistants and stenos, and he has reduced their numbers.
The level of fairness we have is that people - who are usually women - in this government are having to work harder to do the same amount of work, and they are being paid less. Then we have someone who is not a resident of the Yukon - in fact, not even a taxpayer - but who is a very highly paid person and a privileged advisor to the government. This person is not only not going to have his salary reduced, but is also moved into a higher pay category and receives more pay, as a result. Of all of us here, this may be the only one who does not have a reduction in their income at all. I am quite happy to pursue this when we come to the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Office line items.
However, it seems to me that there is a very fundamental issue of fairness here. It is not only between MLAs and political staff, but also with the junior staff in the Government Leaders office - whom I would expect are overwhelmingly women - having to work harder for less pay, while the Cabinet communications advisor - who always has a difficult job, but I suspect it is no more difficult now than it was before - has a massive increase in pay and is moved into a higher salary range.
I submit - I am not putting a question here, but I am making a comment - that this is a real problem in terms of philosophy and attitude.
Mr. Harding: I have a few questions before I am done in general debate.
It should not take too long, as long as I get some answers from the other side.
I am very interested in the supplementary estimates and going into the line-by-line. I am also very interested in the supplementary estimates in relation to the Consulting and Audit Canada report, Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus of the Government of the Yukon for the two years ending March 31, 1993, prepared on December 4, 1992.
I have a few questions with regard to the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus and this document that was prepared at the request of the new Government of the Yukon after they came into office. It relates substantially to the supplementary estimates and the methodology that was used in determining both.
I would like to ask the Government Leader when the numbers that were used to develop the Consulting and Audit Canada Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus documents were tabulated.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: On a point of order, Mr. Chair. I thought there was a ruling made that the Consulting and Audit Canada report would have to be referred directly to the supplementaries if it were to be discussed.
Mr. Harding: I have explained to the Chair that I do have a significant concern about the two and how they relate. I believe - excuse me, could I have the attention of the Chair, please, to make my point of order argument?
Chair: On the point of order, I did think that Mr. Harding was relating to the supplementaries.
Mr. Harding: My question was to the Government Leader in regard to the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus, the Consulting and Audit Canada report. During what period - from when to when - in 1992 were the numbers gathered from the various departments and when were they put into document form?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have gone over that issue quite diligently in this debate. They were gathered just shortly after we took power - within the first week - and were tabulated within the next couple of weeks after that.
Mr. Harding: Could the Government Leader be a little more specific with respect to when the cut-off date was for departmental submissions to Consulting and Audit Canada?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will have to get back to the Member with that.
Mr. Harding: I would really like to pursue this line of questioning, and it is very unfortunate that we have debated this before and the Members opposite do not have that information.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Harding: I do read Hansard, as the Member for Riverdale North suggests that I should, but I also recognize that I have the ability to ask questions about matters pertaining and relating to the supplementary estimates, and I intend to do that. I intend to ask questions that are different from the questions that were asked on the previous debate with regard to this subject. I hope I am given that right and the answers to the questions I am asking, so this debate does not have to be prolonged, and we can move on to the line-by-line debate.
I am not filibustering, as the Member for Riverdale North suggests. I am very interested in how these documents relate - the timing and the methodology that was used.
Because they told me that they cannot give exact dates today, could they please tell me what their best guess is of what the cut-off date was? They did make reference to a couple of weeks after they came into power. Using that, could the Government Leader give me his best guess as to when the cut-off date was for receiving the numbers from the departments?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is just exactly what I did: give them my best guess. If he wants an exact date, I will have to bring the information back to him.
Mr. Harding: Would it be safe to assume, give or take a few days, that the cut-off date was on or about November 15?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It would be safe to assume that it was somewhere in there, within a week.
Mr. Harding: Could the Government Leader tell me exactly how long it took for the numbers from the various departments to come in, after they started the forecasting procedure?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe they were given a couple of weeks to do it.
Mr. Harding: Was there any specific pattern set down with regard to which departments reported? Could the Government Leader tell me which departments came through with their information for the forecast first, and which came through in the later stages?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I have said in this House time and time again, we kept arms length from it. The instructions were given and all departments were to come back with their numbers. I do not know which department came back first, second or third.
Mr. Harding: The supplementary estimates were being calculated and the departments were doing their projections for the figures in the supplementary, in roughly the same period of time. Could the Government Leader tell me precisely which dates the supplementary estimates were being calculated?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The variance 8 reports carry through until the end of December, and departments are given about a month to do them.
Mr. Harding: Would it be safe to assume that the variance 8 report would have a cutoff for forecasting, as of November 30? Would that be the date of cutoff for the development of the forecasting numbers that are in the supplementaries?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: A variance report is based on what they know as of November 30 and they would be giving their forecast for March 31, 1993.
Mr. Harding: We have then pretty much established that November 15 would have been the cutoff, give or take a week, for the departmental work for the forecasting for the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus. We have established that the cutoff for the forecasting work done by the departments for the supplementary estimates, 1992-93, was November 30, 1992. Would that be correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, that would not be correct. They did the Consulting and Audit Canada report in November. The variance 8 report was done in December, after they had the November 30 figures.
Mr. Harding: Perhaps the Government Leader misunderstood my question. I am trying to establish when the cutoff was for the numbers that were used for the projections. I am assuming, based on what I have been told, that the Consulting and Audit Canada report was done on November 15, give or take a week, and the projections were developed after numbers were calculated, up to the end of November. Is that not correct? If it is not, could the Government Leader explain why it is not?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: On the variance 8 reports, the numbers would be calculated as of November 30. On the Consulting and Audit Canada report, they would have been October numbers, because they were requested around November 15. They would not have had any more current numbers than October numbers.
Mr. Harding: I am very confused. I am a new Member so I feel duty-bound to try and understand where my confusion lies. Based on the answers I have received concerning the variance 8 report, it is my understanding that the departments will submit numbers that they believe they are going to require, which form the basis of the supplementary estimates, but those numbers will be in by November 30 to the people who will tabulate what is needed to base the supplementary estimates on.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No. I stated two or three times in the last five minutes that they are based on November 30 numbers. They would be turned in some time in December and calculated some time in December.
Mr. Harding: I move that we take a short recess.
Chair: Right on. Let us do it.
Chair: I will call Committee back to order.
Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Harding: The Members opposite will have to bear with me. I know the Member for Riverdale North is not particularly enamoured with my line of questioning. Nevertheless, I do feel that I have to pursue this. With Gods good graces, we will get on in a very short time.
Perhaps some of my inability to understand some of the procedures within the bureaucracy - and I know the Member for Riverdale North thinks I know everything - is the result of things I do not know. I would like to pursue this matter. If I have to ask a question once or twice, it is probably because I did not understand the answer or because I did not do a good enough job of explaining exactly what I want from the Government Leader.
Just to recap where we were when we took that much-needed break, I was trying to establish the period in which the Consulting and Audit Canada report was concocted. What was the final date on which departments submitted their numbers to the Consulting and Audit Canada people to formulate the forecasting for this document that was released with some fanfare?
The Government Leader explained to me, if I was correct in what I heard, that the final date for the numbers to come in was November 15, give or take a week. Then I moved on to the Supplementary Estimates No. 1 for 1992-93 and reference was made to the variance 8 report. My understanding of the process is that the departments have a period of time to formulate what they will need to spend in the remaining portion of the fiscal year, and in an attempt to do this they make the requests for the monies that they will need for various programs. I would assume, based upon knowledge that I have, or the understanding that I have, that there is a period of time when this is done, but there is a date by which requests have to be completed and forwarded to Finance, which then develops the numbers in the supplementary estimates; it would take them some period of time to do that.
What I am trying to find out is, first of all, if that is roughly the way it is done, and second of all, is November 30, 1992, an accurate date for the cutoff for when the numbers would have to be in by, for the forecasting procedure to be developed, and the numbers calculated and tabulated for the document that we have before us in the supplementary estimates?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is pretty well correct. November 30 is the cut-off date.
Mr. Harding: That is what I thought. So, we have established that the cut-off date for the numbers was November 15, 1992, give or take a week, for the Consulting and Audit Canada report. That would lead us to a high-end date of November 21 or 22 and a low-end date of November 7 or 8 as a cutoff for the tabulations that led to the development of the Consulting and Audit report. We have also learned that the Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93 cut-off date was November 30, 1992. The two documents were calculated by the departments during almost a simultaneous period. Given the dates that the Government Leader has given me, and the amount of time that I would suspect the departments would have to take in calculating the numbers, I wonder if it would be fair to say that the numbers that were calculated to base the forecast on, were done virtually simultaneously? Would that be a fair statement?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, that would not be a fair statement. The numbers used by Consulting and Audit Canada would have been numbers that could not have been from any later than October. The variance 8 report is calculated during the month of September, based on what is known as of November 30.
Mr. Harding: Perhaps I misunderstood the Government Leader, and maybe I could ask him this question: with regard to the numbers that were used to develop the forecast in the Consulting and Audit Canada report, could the Government Leader tell me the cut-off date for the numbers that were used to develop that document?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not understand what the Member means by a cut-off date.
Mr. Harding: I will try to explain it a bit more. I explained the process that I thought was the process used to develop this document - Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93. Now I am asking the process for the development of this document -Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus of the Government of Yukon for the two years ended March 31, 1993. I thought the Government Leader said that the document was developed to the period November 15, give or take a week. It was my understanding, and he will have to tell me if I am wrong, that that was the essential cut-off date for the development of the document because the document is dated December 4, 1992. It was my assumption that all the numbers that had come in from the various departments and that led to the development of this document would have been in by November 15, give or take a week, as the Government Leader said, leading to the development of this document on December 4, 1992. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, it is not correct. I said that the numbers were submitted around November 15, give or take a week, but the best numbers available to the departments at that time would have been October numbers. They would not have had any other numbers to work with. The period 8 variance report was done in December and early January. Period 8 is done based on the actuals as of November 30 and projected to year-end.
Mr. Harding: Is the Government Leader telling me that no figures were used to develop the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus document - there were no submissions from departments based on any numbers that were calculated in November. They were all calculated in an earlier period. Is that what he is telling me?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I have said in the House before, two different processes were used. The process used by Consulting and Audit Canada was to verify the figure given to us by the Department of Finance as to what the balance would be at March 31, 1993. There are two different processes used. The variance 8 process is a far more extensive process to put together the figures.
I am assuming the figures that were provided were derived from sometime in October - I do not know for sure. As I said earlier in the House, we tried to maintain an arms-length relationship so that it would not be viewed as a political document, which it ended up being. The figures were given directly to the Consulting and Audit Canada people; the figures were not verified by the Ministers.
Mr. Harding: The document did turn out to be a political document. We have debated many times as to how the document was used. Certainly there was some evidence that it was used as a political document.
The The Sluice Box article that I have here was the subject of some debate that we had with regard to that document. It was our position that the document was used for political purposes. The manner in which the document was produced and given to the public was also political.
We understand the need to come up with a snapshot of the financial position of the government at that time, but we have some problems with the manner in which the document was completed and used. Nonetheless, I do not want to get into that, because this is general debate on supplementary estimates, so I will go back to my earlier question.
I find it hard to believe that this document that was the subject of so much discussion and lead to the claims made by the government that there was no money in the coffers due to poor fiscal management by the previous administration, and I cannot understand why the Government Leader would not have understood the periods in which the numbers were submitted by the departments for the production of the document.
Could the Government Leader tell me: to the best of his knowledge, were any of the numbers from the departments requested in November, and, specifically, November 15, give or take a week, as he said earlier?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I cannot answer that question. The document the Member opposite referred to is a political document that did what we asked it to do. The fact that we are still borrowing money to pay our bills certainly shows that the government is broke.
Mr. Harding: Yes, that could show the government is, indeed, broke. It could also show that the people who inherited the government with five months left in the fiscal year did not do what they should have done to control any of the expenditures of the government.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Harding: I know the Member for Riverdale North is anxious to get into the line-by-line debate, but I also know how much he enjoys hearing the sound of my voice and the questions I am asking, and I know how much he wants to give me good answers, because he knows my constituency is Faro, and there are people in that community who want to know that their elected representative is asking meaningful questions like this in the Legislature, which will produce answers that are important. The Member for Riverdale North is falling asleep.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Harding: The Members, with their abusive heckling, have caused me to -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: Order please. Mr. Harding, continue.
Mr. Harding: I will have to go back to my questioning with regard to the document and when the numbers were taken from the departments and used to formulate the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus document.
This is not a false statement; I am not asking the Government Leader to offer a misleading statement - there is no trap; this is just a question - but would he please tell me if any of the numbers that were used to formulate that document were collected from the departments in November 1992?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not want to mislead the Member. I do not know.
Mr. Harding: Could he then produce for me the dates on which the numbers that led to the development of this document were given by the departments to Consulting and Audit Canada?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will take that under advisement and see if I can get them.
Mr. Harding: Will the Government Leader tell me when he will give me a response? Could he have one by Monday of next week?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will see what I can do.
Mr. Harding: If that is too difficult, could he commit to giving me a response by Tuesday of next week. If he cannot do it, would a report-
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible).
Mr. Harding: You know, I have already thought of that line of questioning, suggested by the Member for Riverdale North. I might use it if they continue to interrupt me.
I would like to ask the Government Leader if he would give me that information by Tuesday of next week. If he cannot, could he report to the Legislature as to the reasons why.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will take that under advisement.
Mr. Harding: I am very serious about this. I am very interested in the answers to my questions. The Government Leader has not been able to provide information which, based on how that report was used, I believe should be here for the Legislature. It is not. I am willing to accept that, but I am making a serious request that the information be provided to the Legislature. I am asking for a reasonable time line.
It would be incumbent on the Government Leader to recognize the seriousness of my request and, rather than saying he would take it under advisement, recognize that I do have some serious concerns on behalf of my constituents and that I would like to get an answer in a reasonable period of time. Once again, I would ask the Government Leader if he would give me the information by Tuesday. If he cannot, could he report to the Legislature as to why.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member was asking for questions on the supplementaries, I would have them back very quickly. Again, we are discussing the Consulting and Audit Canada report, which is not being related to the supplementaries at all, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Harding: It is absolutely related, not just for the reasons I have already identified, based on the proclamations that were made by the government with regard to this document, but also on the basis of timing, methodology and the time period in which the supplementary estimates were developed in the 1992 fiscal year. It is incredibly important. The Government Leader is refusing to give me a commitment as to a time period. He says he will take it under advisement. I am making a simple, simple request about a very important matter. It is incumbent upon the Government Leader-of-the-day to bring this type of information before the House.
I have been so kind as to accept that he cannot get the information today, but I would like the Government Leader to tell me if he could give me the information he requested by Tuesday of next week. If he could not give me the information then, could he report to the Legislature as to why he could not?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Again, we are now discussing something that is not related to the supplementaries. The Consulting and Audit Canada report was not used to put the supplementaries together. If the Member wants to keep on debating it, I will keep standing up. When I have the information, I will bring it to the House.
Mr. Harding: The Government Leader has said when he has the information. Based on our experience on this side of the House, in our caucus, we are not too thrilled with the timing of the responses that we have received with regard to questions of this nature from the government. Therefore, I am asking a simple, reasonable request. The Government Leader said that he would bring the information to the Legislature when he could. What I would like to know is: could he bring the information to this House by Tuesday of next week? If he cannot, will he report to the Legislature why he could not do it?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have already given the Member a commitment that I would do my best to get the information here as quickly as possible.
Mr. Harding: Perhaps the Government Leader will tell me why he will not commit to telling this House if in fact he is unsuccessful in determining the information that I have requested of him. Why would he not report why he is unwilling to commit to it?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: On a point of order, Mr. Chair.
I think this is not at all related to the supplementaries. I again refer to the ruling you made several weeks ago in this House.
Chair: Mr. Harding, can you relate your remarks to the supplementaries as closely as possible, please.
Mr. Harding: I will indeed do so. I need the information that I am asking for in order to relate the two. I do believe that they are indeed related and I am looking at the methodology and the development. The Government Leader has stood in his place and said that they are not related. I am trying to prove his point, if in fact he is correct. If in fact he is correct, then he could produce that information and prove his point to all of us. I am sure the NDP would accept the proof that he produces verbatim, but he refuses to give the commitment that I need if I am going to proceed with this line of questioning and get to where I want to go. I have asked the Government Leader for the information as to when the departments submitted their information to Consulting and Audit Canada. I think it is very important. Once I get that information, I will be able to relate this document to the Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93.
I have asked him if he could give me that information by Tuesday of next week. I have accepted that he does not have that information today. I am very disappointed by it but nonetheless I have accepted it. I have said that I accept that on behalf of the Government Leader and I think that is understandable. But what I have asked for is the information by Tuesday of next week. Then I asked, with a little caveat, that if he cannot give the information by Tuesday of next week - very important information that I will use to relate to the Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93 - will he tell the Legislature and this House why he cannot do it?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have already given the Member the information. I told him when the information was asked for, when it was delivered to Consulting and Audit Canada; that is all the information I have.
Mr. Harding: I understand what the Government Leader said. He said that he did not have the information that I was requesting. So I said, Could the Government Leader get the information for me in a reasonable time period and if he could not get it, could he please tell the Legislature why he could not get it. I feel it is incumbent upon the Government Leader to explain his position in this respect because I think it is a reasonable request; I am asking for the information as to when the departments submitted the final numbers that lead to the formulation of this very important document. I have asked for the dates by department. I do not think that was an outrageous request. This document was used to change the whole scope of the territorial economy. The Government Leader says I do not know what I am talking about.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Point of order. The Member on the other side has been warned several times from the Chair about relating the question to the supplementaries. He keeps going back to the Consulting and Audit Canada report that was ruled by the Chair to be irrelevant to the document we are dealing with today. He is not relating it to the document. He is talking about it as a stand-alone document. He has been given an answer that the Government Leader will bring back an answer next week, if he can, on the question that the Member is asking. If the Member also reads Hansard, many of the questions he is asking have been answered in Hansard in the past. I am having the researchers go through Hansard. We will do that for the Member, I know he has a lot of things to do and does not have time to read or look at what is in Hansard, so we will do that for him.
It is costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars an hour to sit here and debate this; we are not even getting onto the issue at hand - the supplementaries.
It is time that we get onto the questions relating to the supplementaries. The Member opposite has asked the same question six times and received the same answer six times: the Minister is going to bring back the information. That is usually an answer that most Members of this House normally accept. If we are going to go on and talk about this for four hours and waste time, filibustering, so that we do not get into the real issue, the supplementaries, and the $58 million that the side opposite spent over and above the budget of the Yukon last year, I guess we will have to sit here and put up with it. We are willing to do that, but it seems like an awful waste of taxpayers money for some of the Members opposite to carry on that way.
Mr. Harding: On the point of order, Mr. Chair.
I take great exception to the point of order raised by the Member for Riverdale North. I know he is under a lot of pressure. He is showing a lot of strain, and I know this has been tough on him. It is the fourth week of the legislative process, and I know he does not particularly like democracy - he likes to dictate. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works. I have been elected by my constituents to ask questions in this Legislature and to make representations to government, and I will do that.
The Government Leader has not committed to bringing it back next week, which is what I am asking for. With regard to the point of order that the questions have all been answered in Hansard, if I look through Hansard, I doubt very much that I would find the information I have requested the Government Leader to deliver to the House on Tuesday of next week. I have not received that commitment.
I am trying to relate the two documents, and I will do so, given the answers regarding the dates. The two are integrally related, as far as I am concerned, and I need the information I am requesting of the Government Leader to make those representations and get those answers on behalf of my constituents. I, for one, do not consider it a waste of taxpayers money.
Perhaps the Member for Riverdale North considers it a waste of taxpayers money, but I do not, because I am asking questions on behalf of my constituents. This is a democracy, and I have a right, as an elected representative of this Legislature, to ask questions that relate to this document, and I have an obligation -
Chair: Order please. I did not say the CAAC report was not relevant to the supplementaries. I did say it was to be related. I cannot see how any of the questioning today is related to the supplementaries, so we will continue with general debate on Bill No. 4.
Mr. Harding: Could I ask this, then, of the Chair? Could the Chair explain whether my line of questioning has been ruled out of order or not, because I am trying to get to the relationship, and I do believe that I have been doing so?
Chair: I would ask the Member not to pursue it unless it is related to the supplementaries.
Mr. Harding: Thank you for your ruling, Mr. Chair. I do feel that it is related. I will respect your ruling, and I will relate it to the supplementaries.
The Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus was a document that was calculated and arrived at almost simultaneously to the supplementary estimates. What were the dates on which the departments submitted their figures that led to the formulation of the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus document? I have already established that the dates were November 30 for the Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93. I am trying to establish that there was simultaneous determination and methodology used to determine the two.
Therefore, I am asking the Government Leader for the dates that were used to determine the document.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member for Faro seems to have a real problem with understanding this. I do not know if it is a weakness of his, or whether he is just refusing to listen to what is being said in the House. I answered that question about three times today.
The documents were produced over a month apart. There were totally different figures used, and I have answered the question time and time again in this House. If the Member likes, I will bring back the date that Management Board sent out the call letter for the Consulting and Audit Canada report.
Mr. Harding: That would be most appreciated. Forgive my ignorance, but I do not understand exactly what the term call letter means. Could the Government Leader explain that to me? I am interested in hearing the explanation of what a call letter is.
Can I take it that he has now made a commitment to bring back the dates from each department that the numbers were submitted to Consulting and Audit Canada, which led to the formulation of the report?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have already stated that in this House today. Further to that, the Member was on the Public Accounts Committee, to which the call letter was given. He should read his information.
Mr. Harding: I believe the problem with the information that came from Public Accounts is that it was determined that the document was of a political nature and, therefore, it should be discussed in this House. I am very concerned about some of the information in the supplementary estimates, and I am concerned about some of the information in the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus.
Therefore, would it be a fair statement to say that there could have been some overlap in the methodology used in determining the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus versus the Supplementary Estimates No. 1?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe it would be very unusual if we prepared one set of numbers and did not review them when preparing another set of numbers. Again, I stress that the dates for the two documents are quite far apart.
Mr. Harding: We have established that there could be some overlap in the two documents and in the methodology used to develop the numbers in the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus and that used to develop the numbers in the Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93.
How long was the process of developing of the numbers that led up to the November 30 cut-off date?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Again, I do not understand the question at all. He is saying that the methodology was the same. I have stated in this House that the Ministers never reviewed the numbers that were submitted to Consulting and Audit Canada. I have said that. The methodology was not the same.
The Ministers had the opportunity to review the numbers that went into the period 8 variance reports.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I see no relationship between the CAAC whatsoever and the supplementary budget that we are supposed to be debating right now. Possibly the Member for Faro could tell us what he is actually trying to establish. Why is he trying to establish a relationship when we are supposed to be debating the supplementary. Perhaps he could explain to us why he is trying to establish that relationship and then we could understand his line of questioning.
Mrs. Firth: I am prepared to proceed to line-by-line debate if other Members are.
Mr. Harding: I am not quite finished. I want to proceed to line-by-line, but I am not quite ready.
I want to - if I could get the answers to the questions I am asking the Government Leader. I do believe there is a tremendous relationship and that the two are integrally linked.
I could tell the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that, while the process with regard to the Ministers may have been different, the Government Leader has admitted that there could be overlap between the departmental methodology.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Harding: The Government Leader now says he did not admit that. I asked the question whether or not there could have been any overlap between the methodology used and the timing used to develop the numbers in the Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus, versus the Supplementary Estimates No. 1. Could there have been any overlap in the timing of the development of the numbers in both of the reports?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My experience with the supplementaries and the various variance reports are that the period 4 variance is used extensively until the period 8 variance is created. In fact, the Consulting and Audit Canada document was created at some point between the period 4 variance and the period 8 variance, which is the supplementary before us now.
I would expect that the various managers, within government, likely used the period 4 variance numbers, and then used any new numbers that may have come in in the meantime. If there were payments made and so on, those payments would probably have been used in the CAAC report.
The Member opposite is asking if some of the numbers could have been the same; they could have very well been the same. If a project was completed prior to the variance 4 period coming out, and those numbers had not changed for the rest of the year, certainly, the numbers would be the same as the numbers in the period 8 variance or the supplementary estimates that we are supposed to be debating.
In answer to the question, yes, some of those numbers could very well be the same, some numbers could be similar and some could be different by hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions of dollars.
Mr. Harding: I am glad to get a straight answer from the other side of the Legislature and I am glad that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services has corrected the Government Leader with regard to whether or not there could have been some overlap or some of the same numbers used with regard to the development of the document, Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus, as well as the development of the document, the Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93. Is that not what the Minister of Community and Transportation Services said?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I missed the actual question. I think he will have to repeat it.
Mr. Harding: I simply pointed out that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services had corrected the Government Leader with regard to the statement that there could have been no overlap or none of the same numbers used to calculate the numbers that resulted in the document, Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus of the Government of Yukon for the two years ended March 31, 1993, done by Consulting and Audit Canada, and the numbers that were used to develop the Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am certainly not here to correct the Government Leader and I have no intention of even attempting to correct him. It is interesting to note, if one opens the supplementaries, that there are some numbers that were actually voted - not many, mind you - and the revised vote is the same. It is not all the time - in fact very seldom - but there are some of those numbers; in fact, I understand from talking with my department that those numbers will probably carry right through the year, which meant they actually spent exactly what was voted for in the first place.
Again, I think we should get back to debating this line by line. I certainly support the Member for Riverdale South on her suggestion that we start debating this line by line. It is time. We are wasting taxpayers time.
Mr. Harding: I have one more question and, if I get the answer, we can proceed with line by line. I have no intention of wasting taxpayers money. I do not think I have been wasting taxpayers money, and I would never waste taxpayers money. I am paid to ask these types of questions. I am paid to get to the bottom of this information. The Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus was paid for with taxpayers money. The work that was done on the supplementary estimates was paid for with taxpayers money.
The Minister of Community and Transportation Services said something that, in my opinion, contradicted what the Government Leader said; they can tell me if I am wrong. I am asking the Minister of Community and Transportation Services: will he agree that there could have been some overlap in the timing and in the numbers that were used to develop the document, Review of Change in Accumulated Surplus, and this document, Supplementary Estimates No. 1, 1992-93?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is differentiating between numbers and methodology. There is no doubt that the numbers were carried through the entire year, and they could be numbers that were referred to in both documents - not the same amounts, but based on the same premise. When we talk about the methodology of how the documents were formed, there are two different ones.
Mr. Harding: That is exactly what I am talking about; I am talking about methodology. The Government Leader hit the nail right on the head.
The Minister of Community and Transportation Services said that the timing of the numbers used for the formulation of this document could have overlapped with the timing of the numbers that led to the formulation of the other document. Is this correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, that is not at all correct. The departments had already submitted the numbers for the Consulting and Audit Canada report prior to the call letters going out for the variance 8 reports.
Mr. Harding: That really contradicts what the Minister of Community and Transportation Services said. If it does not, could I ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to stand up and say why?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Government Leader is absolutely right. The timing was entirely different. They were well over one month apart. The numbers may very well carry on, if the projects were finished early in the year, but the timing was absolutely different.
Mr. Harding: I have lots of tough questions for Question Period. It is not that I like asking tough questions of the Members opposite, but because I so much enjoy their answers, especially from the Minister of Economic Development.
Why would the Government Leader have said to me that the numbers for the Consulting and Audit Canada report were brought in by and during the period of November 15, give or take a week or two?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would like to enter into the debate for a few moments. I want to talk about the process of putting a budget together. When I was in the Public Accounts Committee, we discussed the Consulting and Audit Canada report and the issue of the supplementaries and how the report related to the supplementaries. We talked about the process that one should use in putting a budget together to be presented to the House, or putting a review or a document together that would give the best picture of the position of the government at any given time.
Unfortunately, the Member for Faro was not involved on that committee. He was bumped by the Leader of the Official Opposition, who wanted to sit on that committee. He felt he was more important than the Member for Faro, so he sat on the committee and tried to take over for a brief moment. Fortunately, he came to his senses and he realized that he still was not in charge of everything and could not control the committee. Subsequently, the committee put together a reasonable report.
One of the areas many of us were concerned about was the proper process. The proper process was determined by that committee in the report - and it is not a public document yet; however, we have discussed this in the House many times. The proper process for determining where the position of the government is at any given time is the proper budgetary process. That is done several times through the year: period 4, period 8, period 12 and so on, as we go through the year to determine exactly where we are.
The supplementaries we have in front of us here and that we are supposed to be discussing - Bill No. 4 - went through the process and about which the Government House Leader said at that time, on December 17, This is why we have budgets in this Legislature. That is why we go through the budgets. We see the whole picture. We see the departmental estimates, expenditures and recoveries. The Government House Leader agreed that this is the only true process to go through to determine where a government is at the time.
I know the Member for McIntyre-Takhini agrees with that; this is the only true process through which to go.
The challenges are when Ministers challenge their deputies when it comes to them, when Cabinet challenges the overall document and the ultimate challenge is when we rise in the House, as we have here for the past three weeks, and discuss the supplementaries - or, as I should say, When we rise in the House and are supposed to discuss the supplementaries.
Here we are, after almost three weeks, five and one-half days into general debate on the supplementary, and we have spent almost two hours this afternoon on silly questions that have no relationship whatsoever to the supplementary. They were more specific rather than general questions. We have wasted a heck of a lot of time.
If the Member for Faro is really interested in what the financial position of the government is, he will take the advice of his own House Leader, who says, and I repeat, That is why we have budgets in this Legislature. That is why we go through the budgets.
Let us go through the budget. Let us discuss the numbers. Let us find out exactly what the position of the Government of the Yukon is, based on the process that the Members of the side opposite say is the only true and accurate process to determine the financial picture of the government. Perhaps they do not really want to know the financial position of the government last year, but it is beyond me why they will not move into the line-by-line items, as the Member for Riverdale South has suggested.
We will sit here forever. We have no problem with sitting here and discussing this item forever. That is not a problem. However, if the Member for Faro really wants to do his constituents a favour, he will talk about the numbers. The process is agreed upon by the side opposite and this side. The process is a budgetary process. They are challenged by the Ministers, challenged by the Cabinet and, the ultimate challenge is by the House.
Let us get into that process and into those figures. Maybe we will finally find out what the actual financial position of the Yukon government is.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Member for Riverdale North for his pep talk. Nonetheless, I do take exception to his version of events with the Public Accounts Committee, and why the Member for Whitehorse West was on the Public Accounts Committee, rather than the Member for Faro. I do not think the Members version of events are correct, but I am not going to belabour this point.
I certainly do not believe any time has been wasted this afternoon. As a matter of fact, I think it is very important. I am more than satisfied that I have established that the timing of the numbers led to some overlap.
We have had some confusing responses from the other side. Nonetheless, the Government Leader and the Minister for Community and Transportation Services, made some conflicting statements - we are used to that, we see it with the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes and the Government Leader on a regular basis. We are getting quite used to receiving conflicting statements on this side of the Legislature. I am satisfied that I have established that, and I will sit down during this general debate.
I thank the Members opposite for being so patient with me and for participating in this great display of democracy. I look forward to further line-by-line debate.
Mr. Penikett: I am tempted to ask the Government House Leader a question, but I will just give it to him as notice so that he does not think I am prolonging general debate. I would like to ask him why he is demonstrating such irritability when we have only just begun the budget debate. Does he really want to sit here all summer? He seems to be getting panicky a bit early.
I am bound to ask him if he thought the five weeks he spent on the supplementaries last year was a waste of time and money. Perhaps it was, but since it is not a question, I am quite happy to invite the Government Leader to proceed with line-by-line debate now.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on Bill No. 4?
We will now refer to Schedule A in the estimates book and I would refer Members to page 12 of the book.
Yukon Legislative Assembly
Chair: Is there any general debate on the Legislative Assembly vote?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Just a few opening comments. The total amounts being requested under the supplementary for Yukon Legislative Assembly are $507,000 for O&M and $5,000 for capital.
The reasons for this request, on a program basis, are as follows. Legislative services - $94,000 is being requested in the legislative service program; of the total, $30,000 is required for MLA pay, which is in large part due to the addition of the seventeenth Member following the general election. The remaining $64,000 is to cover caucus support services not provided for in the 1992-93 main estimates. This funding is required to provide secretarial support to the Members for Riverdale South and Porter Creek South, and secretarial and research support to the Liberal caucus.
Under the Legislative Assembly Office program, there is an underexpenditure of $31,000 identified. This is due to a saving in salary dollars because of vacancies in two positions during a portion of the year.
Under Elections, there is $366,000 being requested to cover the costs of the general election. For the Members information, the total projected costs for the 1992 general election, including those costs budgeted for in the 1992-93 main estimates, is $406,000.
Under Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits, a total of $76,000 is being requested. Of this, $66,000 is required to cover increased liabilities as a result of the passage of the Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowances Act, 1991. An additional $12,000 is to cover the costs of an actuary evaluation and for the provision of pension administration services.
On the capital side, $5,000 is to cover the purchase of a computer work station for the Legislative Assembly Office.
Mr. Penikett: I have a few questions for the Government Leader under this line item.
The Government Leader will have no doubt taken some delight recently to have heard a radio interview with the Chief Electoral Officer, chastising the former government for not proceeding with some recommended changes to the Elections Act.
The Clerk may not know that we decided to proceed with the package of legislation, beginning with the boundary amendments and some other minor changes, and that we were hoping to get some of his worthy recommendations in our next term of office. We were denied that opportunity.
I am bound to ask if the Government Leader could tell us how high or how low on his priority list of legislation are the recommendations of the Clerk for changes to the Elections Act?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is going to have to forgive me for not being able to take delight in that newscast; unfortunately, I did not hear the newscast. I will see if I can get the transcript so that I do not miss anything.
We have not addressed the Elections Act. We do know there are some problems in the act. I think some of the problems arose with the court challenge and I have some grave concerns about residency.
I am not questioning the judgment, but I do think that some things are going to have to be reviewed in great detail because of that challenge.
If the Members opposite are going to allow us to stay in office, we will be dealing with the legislation shortly.
Mr. Penikett: As much as I would like to have some say in the question, I believe the Government Leaders tenure will be decided by others in the House rather than by me.
Let me ask the Government Leader, since his answer seems to imply that no work was done on that matter in the supplementary we are dealing with, if he would give an undertaking to the House that the Clerks recommendations with respect to changes to the Elections Act be referred to the Rules, Elections and Privileges Committee, an all-party committee, for consideration prior to the drafting of the legislation.
If the Government Leader will permit me, I have been in this House long enough to have seen both methods used: draft legislation going to committee and the committee report being prepared on which legislation is based. I think the latter route is the better one. I would like to ask the Government Leader if he would agree.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will just give a brief answer. Yes, I certainly will do that. I have no problem with that at all.
I would move that we report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
The Speaker resumes the Chair.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4 and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole.
Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
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. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:26 p.m.
The following document was filed April 6, 1993:
Two letters of support (from Members for McIntyre-Takhini and for Riverside) regarding the construction of a gymnasium facility to be attached to the G.A. Jeckell Junior Secondary School (Phillips)