Monday, May 17, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Hon. Mr. Devries: At this time, I would like to congratulate one of my constituents who is presently residing at Macaulay Lodge. Mr. Jimmy Watson is celebrating his 99th birthday today.
Speaker: Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have a press release and some legislative returns.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have for tabling five legislative returns pertaining to health and social services.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 71: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move that Bill No. 71, entitled An Act to Amend the Jury Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 71, entitled An Act to Amend the Jury Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 71 agreed to
Bill No. 76: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move that Bill No. 76, entitled An Act to Amend the Judicature Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 76, entitled An Action to Amend the Judicature Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 76 agreed to
Bill No. 62: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move that Bill No. 62, entitled An Act to Amend the Yukon Development Corporation Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation that Bill No. 62, entitled An Act to Amend the Yukon Development Corporation Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 62 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Curragh Inc., Asian investors
Mr. Penikett: Last week, the Government Leader told the media that there had been no change in the governments negotiating position on support for Curragh or Grum stripping. However, on Wednesday his Minister responsible for Economic Development said that the Cabinet had given the Government Leader a negotiating position with no strings attached. Will the Government Leader explain the apparent contradiction between these two contradictory stands; in other words, what will be the Government Leaders position during his trip to Korea; will it be no strings or no change?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said in the press last week, there are two offers on the table to Curragh Inc. to help reactivate the mine in Faro and Sa Dena Hes; nothing has changed from that position.
What the Minister was referring to was that if I should see that some other arrangement is more beneficial to the Yukon, I will bring it back to Cabinet.
Mr. Penikett: Unfortunately, the confusion continues. The Government Leaders ministerial colleague said we do not know what Mr. Frame and the Koreans have in mind so we have not really tied his hands on what he can or cannot do at this point. Surely the Government Leader is not saying that he is heading off to Korean with a wide open mandate from Cabinet but no idea whatsoever about what Frame and the Koreans are negotiating. Could he clarify the position of his Minister of Economic Development?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I said in my ministerial statement in the House that I was going to travel to Asia at the request of the chief executive officer of Curragh Inc. because he felt it would be beneficial for my presence when he is talking to various companies that are interested in investing in the Yukon. I said that if there is anything that I could do to let his potential investors know that we are interested in them investing in the Yukon, then I would be happy to help.
Mr. Penikett: What the Government Leader told us last week was not that Mr. Frame had requested it, but that the Government Leader had requested that he go along on the trip. The Economic Development Minister has also said that in Korea the negotiations would revolve around Curragh, power rates and everything else.
Since the Government Leader and his Minister have contradicted each other several times with respect to this question, can I ask the Government Leader to say now whether or not he will be negotiating Yukon power rates in Korea?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have any intention to negotiate Yukon power rates in Korea.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, umbrella final agreement
Ms. Joe: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation regarding land claims. It is our understanding that a new piece of legislation is being prepared to change the Yukon Development Corporation. Under the umbrella final agreement, certain criteria must be met in order to make major changes to Crown corporations. What consultation has the government had with officials from the Council for Yukon Indians and other First Nations regarding the proposed changes?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have had some conversations with members of various First Nations. I met with CYI last Thursday morning with respect to the proposed legislation, which is tabled here today.
Ms. Joe: Since it has been established that this government has reworded its election promise to abolish the Yukon Development Corporation to say that, in its present form, it will be changed, what else has been changed, and has anyone from the First Nations been consulted?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The act is tabled in the House and it might be of some benefit for the Member to wait until she receives her copy before she pursues this at too great a length, but all the elements within Bill No. 62 have been discussed with the CYI.
Ms. Joe: There are concerns that are being asked and related to us and, therefore, I ask these questions. Section 22.6 of the UFA sets out ways in which First Nations may participate in Crown corporations. It goes on to define what the term consult means. Has the Government Leader given CYI, as stated in the agreement, sufficient notice of a matter to be decided in sufficient form and detail, a reasonable time to present such views and full and fair consultation, as described under the terms of the agreement he has recently signed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There has been absolutely no indication from CYI that they are in any way perturbed by the tabling of this bill in the Legislature today. They have seen a draft of this bill and it has been discussed in various formats with them.
Question re: Land claims, party leaders trip to Ottawa
Mr. Cable: A question for the Government Leader. The Government Leader, the Leader of the Official Opposition, I and members of the Council for Yukon Indians visited Ottawa last week to discuss the progress of the land claim bills through the federal Parliament. The discussions took place with various elected officials. Would the Government Leader, for the record, inform the House as to what, if any, assurances he received from the elected officials on the priority to be given to the land claim bills?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I thought the Member for Riverside was with us in Ottawa and received the same assurances as I received when talking to elected officials.
We have received assurances that there does not seem to be any resistance to the bill but that does not mean that something will not come up at the last minute when it is taken into the House of Commons; they may then run into resistance. If everything goes well, this legislation should be passed before the House adjourns for the summer.
Mr. Cable: Yes, we were both there together. This is just for the record.
It was my impression that there were a number of bills on the federal legislative calendar and a very short period of time in which to deal with those bills. As the control of the legislative calendar rests with the Progressive Conservative government, could the Government Leader indicate whether or not he has discussed the matter with the Prime Minister, Mr. Mulroney?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would dearly love to have had the opportunity to discuss it with the Prime Minister. As the Member opposite is aware, the Prime Minister is making his farewell trip around the world at this point. He did not get back to Ottawa until after we left.
My office was in touch with the Prime Ministers office, while we were in Ottawa, with regard to the Prime Minister being available to sign these very important and historic claims. My office was in touch with his office again today to see if we cannot convince the Prime Minister to come to the Yukon and sign them.
Mr. Cable: It is my understanding that there is collateral surface rights board legislation that the federal government wishes to pass concurrently. Could the Government Leader indicate whether or not his officials have discussed this legislation with the appropriate federal officials?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, we are continuing to talk with federal officials. In fact, just before coming into the House, a travel request was put on my desk for some of our legal people to travel to Ottawa at the end of this week. They will meet with the legal people from CYI and the federal government to make sure that the legislation is all accurate and in place. As I understand it, that includes the surface rights legislation, as well.
Question re: Land claims, land selection within Whitehorse
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
The Kwanlin Dun Band has expressed the most serious concerns and sent the clearest of signals that they want the government to seriously negotiate the land selections in the City of Whitehorse.
At a meeting with the Minister this morning, they asked that a letter be sent to them from the Minister stating that the government should take no further action regarding land development until a lands working group is established. Is the Minister intending to send such a letter?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The letter is being drafted right this minute, I hope.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to ask the Minister if he is going to be incorporating in the letter that the government will not take further work by way of land or subdivision development until such time as those actions are discussed in the lands working group. Is that what the letter will say?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The letter will partially say what the Member opposite is requesting; however, the important thing is that I would like to see the working group up and running no later than tomorrow - or Wednesday at the latest - with the advice to the Kwanlin Dun that they are ready to meet with the band as soon as everyone is able.
Mr. McDonald: I believe the Minister is aware that one of the reasons we have come to the point we are at is because the outlet for the government to inform the Kwanlin Dun Band was not established until very recently. The band has expressed the concern that the working group is only being established now.
One concern the Kwanlin Dun Band expressed this morning was that they had the feeling that the working group did not have a mandate to negotiate. First of all, I should ask the question directly, because I do not believe an answer was given this morning. Does the working group have a mandate? If not, will the government provide every effort to give the working group a mandate, so they can deal with the serious land use questions that are facing both the government and the band?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The working group will have a mandate to consult with the Kwanlin Dun Band. How much beyond consultation, I am not sure yet. I have not had a chance so far, but it is something I would like to discuss with the Land Claims Secretariat.
Question re: Legislative language
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Government Leader on the issue of non-sexist language in the Legislature. It disturbed me that the hon. gentleman opposite groaned, laughed and winced when I introduced such a motion on Thursday. Is the Government Leader prepared to bring forward, as a government motion, that the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges review the current use of gender-biased language in the Legislative Assembly and make recommendations to this Assembly that reflect the expressed wishes of Yukoners, who want their elected Members to use inclusive, non-sexist language?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that we have the legislative committee to deal with that issue, and I have no intention to bring a government motion forward at this point.
Ms. Moorcroft: Words are a very powerful tool and when generic figures of authority are referred to as male, women are discouraged from seeing themselves in those positions and it sets a negative attitude for people, because they do not expect that women are able to fill such roles.
This issue cannot be referred to the standing committee unless the Government Leader is prepared to bring forward such a motion; is he prepared to bring forward such a motion?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I certainly do not have any problem looking at it, but I cannot give the Member an answer on my feet today.
Ms. Moorcroft: I hope that all Members agree that language is a powerful barrier to womens equality. We must consider our daughters, the young women we see here acting as pages and other young women, as well as young men, when we make decisions such as these. We must lead by setting an example for them through the use of our language.
The Government House Leader and Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate sees no reason why not to continue the practice of using non-sexist language in drafting legislation.
Surely, the Government Leader believes that this Assembly ought to conduct its deliberations in a way that includes women, does he not?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I most certainly do.
Question re: Chronic disease and disability program, system abuse
Ms. Moorcroft: In his announcement of cuts in some health programs last week, the Minister of Health and Social Services cited an example of abuse where a person went out and bought five respirators that you use for asthma, bought them on the same day in Whitehorse and all of it was paid for by the chronic disease program.
Can the Minister advise when this particular example of abuse of the system was brought to his attention?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It was a number of months ago that the actual incident took place. My understanding is that things have been tightened up so that type of abuse would not be possible now.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is it the Ministers contention that the multiple use and abuse of the services available under the chronic disease program is behaviour that is frequently engaged in by senior citizens and the other clients who are covered by the program?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is concern that the program has to be examined very carefully to ensure that it is not open to that type of potential abuse. I get different guesstimates about how much of that sort of abuse there is in those programs. I do know, and I will tell the Member, that is a concern shared by a good many Yukoners.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister aware of any black market for the drugs or respirators available to people under the chronic disease program, which might motivate an individual to abuse the program?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Not specifically.
Question re: Chronic disease and disability program, system abuse
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister of Health and Social Services what other motive he might attribute to the abuse of the program if there is no economic basis for marketing extra drugs, equipment or services under the program?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The abuse can be based on carelessness and negligence, not necessarily on profit motives. We are going to be examining all aspects of the program to make sure it is as tight as possible and as cost-effective as possible.
Ms. Moorcroft: What changes did the government make to the program so that the inhaler abuse could not take place again?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My understanding is that through the use of computers, appropriate tracking can be done to ensure that that particular type of abuse will not occur.
Ms. Moorcroft: If the Minister is unable to identify a motive for the abuse of the program, how is he planning to effectively reduce the cost of administering it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will be coming forward with a ministerial statement next week on the program and the steps that have been taken and some of the steps that are being contemplated at this time.
Question re: Mining exploration
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development regarding mining exploration.
On Thursday, January 28, 1993, the Minister made a statement on CBC Radio, I can assure you that there will be at least a 100 percent increase in exploration next year. Recent information from the mining industry says that that is not the case, and is far from it. I would like to ask the Minister why the numbers are much more disappointing than announced.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I thank the Member for his question. I do not know if he read the Whitehorse Star on Friday but in there it indicates that the projections are for anywhere from $15 million to $25 million worth of exploration this year, which is more than double what we had last year and I believe it translates into over 100 percent increase.
Mr. Harding: I think the Members opposite could use some arithmetic upgrading because the local prospectors predict nothing of the sort. They predict an increase, but nothing of the sort announced. We have been told by mining insiders that people have backed off from the Yukon because of poor Curragh Inc. handling, news of power bills having to be paid when the mines are not even operating and new corporate taxes. Could the Minister tell us if he has also heard these reports?
Hon. Mr. Devries: As late as last week I heard that there is still going to be a substantial increase in exploration; $15 million has been confirmed and it is not unrealistic to anticipate that there be at least another $5 million over and above that.
Mr. Harding: I am looking at the Yukon Prospectors Association literature when I say this, and I want to remind the Minister that he said 100 percent increase in exploration. I would like to ask him if - as a result of the conference he was at where they had the $9,000 hospitality suite for all the miners who patted the Minister on the back - he could tell me who made a significant and solid commitment to the Yukon and has now backed out, which has caused the severe downsizing in the estimated amount of money that will be spent in the Yukon this year?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, I have not heard of any people backing down. If the Member reads the article in the Whitehorse Star, there are clear indications that there are several more firms contemplating exploration in the Yukon; with only $8 million in exploration last year, $15 million or $16 million is a 100 percent increase.
Question re: Free trade
Mr. Harding: Actually, there were $10 million last year, and $15 million this year, but I will believe Yukoners before I will believe the federal bureaucrat in the Whitehorse Star.
I want to move on to another subject. I want to ask the Minister a couple of questions regarding free trade. There was a debate on Wednesday in the Legislature regarding free trade. The government came out strongly in favour of it yet, in the Legislature on Tuesday of last week, the government said they supported Yukon purchase and Yukon labour, and the use of it in the territory, which are very inconsistent positions. Could he please explain that?
Hon. Mr. Devries: As the Member is aware, my understanding is that the previous administration had also signed up for internal trade between the provinces. This restricts our ability to make any major initiatives to prevent cross-border shopping for contracts, et cetera. However, through our business incentive policy, and several of those types of tools, we still have many avenues to encourage contractors to use Yukon labour. This also gives them an advantage in the bidding process, as there are rebates available.
Mr. Harding: The Yukon has an exemption from the particular agreement the Minister is referring to. I want to get to the issue of free trade and the governments support for free trade, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Free trade is about the free flow of goods, services and labour between jurisdictions, whereas the policy of the government is Yukon labour/Yukon purchase, according to what they have said in the Legislature. That is not consistent with the two principles and the two beliefs.
I am asking the Member how they can have one belief on one hand, and another belief on the other?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, I do believe in free trade and the movement of labour and goods between provinces and countries; however, by the same token, I also believe we have a program, which was established under the previous administration, that encourages the use of Yukon labour and products. If the sides opposite disagree with that, please say so.
Mr. Harding: We will be happy to take the credit for that policy, because we believe in it. I have to remind the Minister that we voted against free trade; the government voted for it; therefore, there is an inconsistency that has not been explained. The Minister made a pretty weak attempt to try to throw it back on us, but all we are asking is if the Minister can tell us why, on one hand, they support North American free trade and free trade in general as a principle, yet have a policy, created by the previous administration, which we still support, of Yukon labour and Yukon purchase?
Hon. Mr. Devries: It works both ways. Companies like Pelly Construction, a Yukon company, can take Yukon workers to Alaska to work. Other companies have the opportunity to bid on contracts in Alaska - Northerm sells windows in Alaska. None of this would be possible without free trade. I can assure you that up to this point free trade has been very good for Yukon.
Question re: Faro contingency plan
Mr. Harding: A lot of that trade took place before free trade, but I think I have worked that question enough. I would like to move on to another subject. It is regarding the Faro contingency plan. Last week, on May 13, the Minister of Economic Development stood up and said, the only project I have been approached on within the community of Faro is the Chateau Jomini complex - this was regarding community works.
I know for a fact that the Economic Development Minister has had several proposals put on his desk, some that would put approximately 25 to 40 people to work on wildlife viewing habitat enhancement and parks upgrading in the area. Could the Minister tell us why he had not heard of these projects that are very important in my community that were made available to the government over three weeks ago?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I just received the final details of those projects last week and I have forwarded a copy of them to Renewable Resources. We will have to have discussions with the Ross River First Nation, as it is on their traditional lands. I am diligently working on that and trying to get it completed as quickly as I can.
Mr. Harding: We are looking at some extremely important work for the community. There are a lot of people who do not have enough weeks for unemployment insurance. This work would also extend any benefits that people have and we could probably put 40 people to work if the government would come across with a budget. The Minister now says that he has to talk with the Ross River First Nation, which I can accept, but I have to point out that we have been asking for these projects for months. When does he think this process is going to be complete?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I am fast-tracking it. I cannot give a confirmed date, but I am certain that it will be within the next two to three weeks.
Mr. Harding: The first big layoff was December 18. The entire mine has been shut down since April 5. How can the Minister say that he is fast-tracking the process. The Minister moves slower than cold molasses. Can he give us something that I can take back to the community that will tell them when this so-called consultation phase will be completed and we can get a few people back to work?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I just received the final breakdown of the projects last week. There is a process they have to go through. We are attempting to fast-track them to the best of our ability. We will have an answer in the next two or three weeks.
Question re: Curragh Inc., Asian investors
Mr. Cable: My question is for the Government Leader regarding his trip to Korea. There has been a little fencing back and forth here.
It is my understanding from his statement to the House last week that he said he wanted to tell the potential investors that the Yukon was open for business and that the Yukon government was supportive of Curragh.
As I believe the Government Leader is leaving for Korea tomorrow, could he be a bit more specific? What is he hoping to accomplish with this visit?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would hope that I could come back here and make a major announcement in the House. Realistically, I do not think that will happen. I do believe that I can support the proponents of the Faro operation in their quest to refinance. I would hope that I can be successful in having a positive influence on their negotiations.
Mr. Cable: It would appear, then, that the main purpose of the visit is to facilitate the introduction of new capital. Could the Government Leader tell the House who, if anyone, is travelling with him? Is there someone from Burns Fry or the Department of Economic Development going?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, there is not. I understand that Mr. Frame is there now. Mr. Pelly, who is the local manager, left this morning. I imagine that he will be on the plane with me tomorrow.
Mr. Cable: When the Government Leader returns, will he give an undertaking to provide a ministerial statement to the House as to the results of the negotiations and conversations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, I will be making a statement to the House. How much and what I will be reporting will depend upon Curragh Inc. and their negotiations in Korea.
Question re: Chronic disease and disability program, system abuse
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a follow-up question for the Minister of Health and Social Services regarding the chronic disease program.
The Minister stated that tracking through computers will stop abuses of people purchasing more respirators or inhalers than they need. Specifically, how does this work?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am sure that I could not explain it myself, because I do not know how to operate a computer, but records are kept of the purchases made by the people in the program. If people are buying too many items, that is discovered by the government.
Ms. Moorcroft: I will have to take the Ministers word that there has been some major change in how that has been administered and tracked.
I would like to ask him how the government is going to determine whether a person really needs the medical aid or not.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not really sure what the question is. What does the Member mean when she says medical aid?
Speaker: I will allow the Member to ask her question again, without charging her with a supplementary.
Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The question for the Minister is: how are they going to determine whether or not a person really does need the medical aid that they are attempting to purchase under the chronic disease program?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Anything else to add? The issue, in essence, is simply tracking to see if there is unnecessary duplication as opposed to whether or not a person needs a certain type of item. That kind of decision is made by the physician in charge of the case.
Ms. Moorcroft: Have they determined how widespread this abuse is, and how much money they will save through tightening up the policy?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is one small aspect of the policy that is of concern. As for the actual potential savings, no, we do not have a handle on it. I have heard various quotes, as I have mentioned before in response to an earlier question. I think it was the same question, by the same Member.
Question re: lEcole Emilie Tremblay, air quality
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister of Education regarding lEcole Emilie Tremblay. Many of my constituents have children who attend the French first language elementary school in Riverdale. They find that the overcrowding and poor air quality of the facility creates a woefully inadequate and even a dangerous learning environment. Has the Department of Education provided any funds in the current years budget to improve lEcole Emilie Tremblay?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to get back to the Member on that question. I do not have that information at my fingertips.
Ms. Moorcroft: Carbon dioxide testing was done at lEcole Emilie Tremblay in February and March of this year. The high level of CO2 indicates an insufficient fresh air supply, and I must emphasize the fact that the levels of carbon dioxide present in the school causes lethargy, dizziness, nausea and headaches. When the children start failing and doing poorly in their grades, is the Minister going to be citing lEcole as a reason to implement a 3Rs review of the French language programs, along with all of the others?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is kind of a convoluted question. I did not know that the CO2 levels in that school were causing headaches and failures in the students, but I can check into that for the Member and get back to her. My understanding is that, although the levels in some schools are higher than they should be, they are not at the dangerous level, but I will find that information and get back to the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: There are some very high readings on that, as the Minister will discover, but the most oppressive situation in this particular school is the learning assistance room, where the air is sweltering and stagnant and a bare light bulb hangs from the ceiling. Children needing learning assistance are confined to an environment that exacerbates personal inadequacies rather than fostering confidence and developing the skills needed to complete tasks at hand. As well, there are resident cats who live underneath the facility, which causes severe reactions to those students who are allergic.
Will the Minister give a commitment to this House that, before he goes off building a new gym for the Polarettes Club and other capital projects for education, he pay particular attention to the health needs of our students?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Absolutely I am concerned about the health needs of our students. For instance, I am now having to deal with the St. Elias school in Haines Junction, where the previous government had about 10 kids taking classes in the nurses office. I thought that was inadequate, so we are also addressing that need. There were no windows or anything in those rooms, and we are trying to address those needs as quickly as we can within our financial means.
Question re: Humane Society, animal shelter
Mr. Penikett: On April 26, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services told the House that the technical review committee of the community development fund was looking at the joint application from the Yukon Humane Society and the City of Whitehorse for an animal shelter. On May 14, the society was told the application was not on the agenda for the May meeting, mainly because certain information was not in place, but no one from the city or the society knew what information was required.
Was the decision in this matter postponed as a result of a bureaucratic decision, or was it a political decision?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It was obviously a bureaucratic decision, because we did not see the application.
Mr. Penikett: It is a matter of record that a petition of over 2,100 signatures was presented in this House, and a matter of record that the society has raised over $31,000 for this project. I would like to ask the Minister if he believes that an animal shelter in the City of Whitehorse is necessary and one that deserves his immediate attention.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: From the numbers that have been provided by the Yukon Humane Society, I would have to say that yes, it is probably a facility that would be of great value to the City of Whitehorse and the surrounding area.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Minister for his answer. Could I ask the Minister if he could tell the House exactly what steps he, as a Minister, is taking in order to ensure that a facility is constructed here in the very near future?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As the request came to me long after we had our budget put together, I suggested to the Humane Society that they approach the community development fund. I also met with the Mayor of the City of Whitehorse and the president of the Yukon Humane Society to try to coordinate all three groups - the Yukon government, the City of Whitehorse, the Humane Society - to put forward a joint proposal.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Motion to Extend Sitting Hours
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 2(7), I move
THAT Committee of the Whole be empowered to sit from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. tonight for the purpose of continuing consideration of Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader
THAT Committee of the Whole be empowered to sit from 9:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. tonight for the purpose of continuing consideration of Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94.
Motion to extend sitting hours agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 6 - First Appropriation Act, 1993-94 - continued
Yukon Legislative Assembly
Chair: We are on general debate on Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have some opening comments to make before we move on to line-by-line debate.
The operation and maintenance budget proposed for the Yukon Legislative Assembly in 1993-94 totals $2,534,000, which is a 13.7-percent decrease of $403,000 from the 1992-93 forecast of $2,937,000.
There is an increase of $22,000 in the amount allocated for MLA travel and another $20,000 in caucus support services. These increases are due largely to the addition of the seventeenth Member to the Legislative Assembly.
There is also an increase of $38,000 in the Legislative Assembly Office. This difference from the forecast of last year is due to the fact that two positions in the office were vacant for a portion of the last fiscal year.
Decreases have taken place in the following areas: MLA pay is reduced by $23,000 as a result of the pay cuts being taken by Members during 1993-94; the elections program is reduced by $447,000, because of the cost of the general election of Members to this Assembly and of the school council elections, which took place last year; and costs attributed to the MLA pension plan are down by $13,000 from last year, partially as a result of a reduction in MLA pay.
On the capital side, the capital budget proposed for the Yukon Legislative Assembly in 1993-94 is a total of $34,000, and is to be used for the purchase of office equipment, including computers, printers, photocopiers, fax machines and office furniture.
Mr. Penikett: During debate on the Legislative Assembly supplementary, I asked a number of policy questions of the Government Leader with respect to questions such as electoral boundaries, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, travel, concern about policy announcements being made outside the House when the House is in session, MLA pay, caucus support, Legislative Assembly offices, retirement allowances and death benefits.
My first general question is: since we have debated that matter, has the Government Leader or the government changed its position on any of those questions?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe that we have changed our position. If the Member has something specific that he would like to ask me, I may be able to address it for him.
Mr. Penikett: It is not a trick question. I was just trying to find out whether there are any matters that I needed to debate again. If the government has not changed its position since then, we will not need to debate them. If it has, we will.
Let me ask one question arising out of the Legislative Assembly debate, which is a question that has been mooted about publicly somewhat - that is about the governments intentions with respect to reductions in MLA pay. As the Government Leader knows, there was some confusion resulting from a press release he put out. Two different statements were issued by the government. One indicated that the political staff in his office, some of whom we have since discovered get more pay than we do, will only have a two-percent cut. Another statement seemed to indicate something else. Can the Government Leader clarify exactly what the difference is between the cuts that will be applied to MLAs and the cuts that will be applied in the Cabinet office to political staff?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that when it is worked out, there is an actual two-percent cut, which is the same as it is for managers. They are also not getting their increase for this year, which would bring it up into the five- or six-percent range.
Mr. Penikett: Unfortunately that answer only complicates things. We are not getting what might have been a six-, seven- or eight-percent increase this year, in addition to a five-percent cut, which means in real terms that it might be a 13-percent cut for MLAs. It is the case that in terms of gross income, the political staff, including Mr. Drown, who gets paid more than most MLAs, will only be getting a two-percent cut, whereas MLAs, who get less, will be getting a five-percent cut. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, that is not really correct. As I said, there will be a two-percent cut, and also they will be losing the increase that was automatic after April 1. In essence, that will mean about a five- or six-percent cut.
Mr. Penikett: That is also the case. The Government Leader may know that, for some years in this Legislature, there has been a cost-of-living-allowance clause for MLAs, based on a moving average of the two-year industrial composite index, I think it is called, or something like that. I understand we are foregoing that, as well as the five-percent increase, which means the deduction for the MLAs is quite significantly more than five percent. It may be in the neighbourhood of 10-percent-plus. I am not arguing that now. I am arguing the comparability with political staff who, it is said, will only have a two-percent cut, which seems to be a little unfair, when some of them are getting paid more than MLAs.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We did this to keep it in line with the cut we put forward to management. Management got a two-percent cut, plus they lost their automatic increase, which makes it about five or six percent.
Mr. Penikett: Understand, Mr. Chair, that sometimes questions of fairness are a little subjective, but MLAs are going to be subject to a five-percent cut, plus the loss of the COLA, which means that their loss is in excess of 10 percent this year over what the legislative pay would have been.
I am not concerned about that. I am concerned that it does not seem to be very fair that political staff, some of whom have very dubious qualifications and are getting paid more than we are, should only be getting a two-percent pay cut. Does the Government Leader think that is fair?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If we want to get into a long debate, we could talk about the dubiousness of the former administrations staff and how much they were overpaid. I believe the way we have done it is fair. The political staff, some of whom do not make very much in that office, have taken a cut, the same as the managers, and they will be in that same ballpark.
Mr. Penikett: Political staff are not managers. They are not trained as managers; they are not qualified as managers; they are simply political staff who serve at pleasure with the government-of-the-day. I do not want to repeat the concern of Members on this side of the House, at least, about the people at the top of the political staff getting big increases while people at the bottom got less. I am concerned about the perception of fairness of someone - a political staffer - who is extremely well paid, who did not have to go through a competition, but was simply appointed because he was, for example, the campaign manager for the Yukon Party during the last election, and who, while earning whatever his salary is - $80,000 or whatever - only gets a two-percent cut, but MLAs, who are getting far less, suffer a five-percent cut plus the loss of COLA.
I am not asking the Government Leader to make a comparison between the managers. Does the Government Leader think it is fair that someone earning more than an MLA should only have a two-percent cut, whereas MLAs, who are earning less, should have a five-percent cut plus the COLA?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If we had not have been left in the financial position we were, we would not have to worry about these issues here today.
As for the wages of the political staff, I want to draw to the Members attention that we have fewer political staff members than the previous administration, and a wage scale that is substantially lower, in my estimation. I believe this is a fair and equitable policy and I guess the Member and I will just agree to disagree.
Mr. Penikett: I am sorry the Government Leader is provoking this quite unnecessary debate. Could he explain to me, and perhaps he could do it slowly, why someone who is getting $80,000 a year on his political staff - in a job where he did not have to win an election or did not have to win a competition, he is simply appointed by the Government Leader - should only have a two-percent cut in pay, but an MLA, some of whom are the sole support for their family, should have five-percent-plus, or perhaps even a 10-percent cut?
I should make the point that we are not mounting a big opposition to our pay cuts. We just want it to be fair. If the political staff were getting the same pay cut as MLAs, the government would save even more money, so I do not know why he is objecting to answering the question.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have answered the question.
First of all, the Member opposite is alluding to a very high salary, which he does not know is accurate. I know what the man is being paid, but the Member opposite certainly does not know.
This decision was made and that is the way it was implemented. As I said, the Member and I will choose to disagree on this issue.
Mr. Penikett: Even if the persons in question, the senior political staff in his office, were only getting $60,000 a year - which I know they are not because, in fact, one of them was getting more than that when he was in Opposition - that is more than MLAs make. Perhaps the Government Leader could explain why it is fair to reduce the salary of someone earning $60,000 a year by only two percent as part of a restraint effort, while someone who is earning, in real terms, $40,000, should have their pay cut by not just five percent, but 10 percent. How is that fair - two percent off someone earning $60,000-plus, but five to 10 percent off someone earning less?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is not two percent, it is five percent - between five and six percent. The question could be turned around to ask how it can be fair if it is done to the managers the same way. I believe it is fair. We are the elected officials; we set the example.
Mr. Penikett: We started off this debate because the Government Leaders press release said that political staff were to be reduced by two percent and MLAs by five percent. Is the Government Leader now saying that the political staff are going to be reduced by five percent, not two percent? I would like to get the Government Leader on record; is it a five-percent reduction?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: When you take into account the increase that they are losing this year, it will be five percent, the same as the managers. I have said it time and time again but the Member opposite seems to have trouble understanding it.
Mr. Penikett: No, I do not think I have any problem understanding it. If you take into account what the MLAs lose this year, the reduction is around 10 percent. How is it fair that someone like Mr. Drown, who earns in excess of $70,000, should have only a five-percent cut when MLAs are having more than a 10-percent pay cut? I am not objecting to the cut for us, but how is that fair?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe I have already explained that. I feel it is fair and I say that the Member opposite and I will choose to disagree on that issue.
Mr. Penikett: It seems to be the Government Leader is making a extremely fallacious analogy between managers, who won competitions for jobs in the government and were promoted on merit, and someone who is a political hired gun of the Government Leader - who is not even a resident of the Yukon Territory, in one case; does not pay taxes here and who was brought into manage a campaign and given a job as a reward afterwards. I would like to ask the Government Leader this: how is it fair that that person, earning in excess of $70,000, only has a pay cut then of, in real terms, five percent, where MLAs have a pay cut, in real terms, of something more than 10 percent?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have answered the question and I do not know what more I can add to it.
Mr. Penikett: What the Government Leader said is that we disagree - that is true - but he has not given us a policy reason or explanation that would satisfy anybody in this House as to how it is fair. Why is it fair that someone who did not even have to apply for a job, did not even have to compete for it, does not even live in the territory and does not pay taxes only has a minor pay cut, whereas people who are elected and chosen by the taxpayers should have to have a larger cut? How is that fair?
Would the Government Leader agree to have some of the political staff called as witnesses in the House and we could ask them how they could justify it to the public - that they only have small cuts whereas MLAs have larger cuts? We are just interested in fairness; the Government Leader said he wanted fairness.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There is no point, that is the problem. We have cut those salaries the same as the managers salaries, and we have given our rationale for those cuts. That rationale in on the record, and I do not know what else the Member opposite wants.
Mr. Penikett: Let me make this point: these people are not managers. They did not win a public service competition; they did not win an election. In one case the person is not even a resident, a citizen, a taxpayer or a voter of the Yukon Territory. Yet, because they have the Government Leaders ear, their reduction is cosmetic.
In one case, the person had their salary boosted into a higher salary range and then they suffer a minor reduction on top of that. I am the Leader of the Official Opposition and I was not consulted about this matter, as would have been done in any other Legislature in the country.
The Government Leader says he does not have an answer to this question and he does not have any reason to defend the fairness of the question - and I will let the Government Leader off the hook here, because he has to catch a plane - when we are dealing with the legislation on the matter, would he be prepared to bring reasons back to justify the discrepancy between the cuts for MLAs and the cuts for political staff? Would he be prepared to do it at that time?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member would like me to bring back a legislative return laying out our reasoning on paper, which he will probably not agree with, I certainly will be happy to do that.
Mr. Penikett: I appreciate that, and for the record, because it was not announced in the House, but it was announced outside, I would like to table a copy of their press release that talks about two-percent cuts for political staff.
I have no further question on the Legislative Assembly vote.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Legislative Services
On Legislative Assembly
Legislative Assembly in the amount of $1,122,000 agreed to
On Caucus Support Services
Caucus Support Services in the amount of $459,000 agreed to
On Legislative Committees
Legislative Committees in the amount of $37,000 agreed to
On Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the amount of $39,000 agreed to
Legislative Services in the amount of $1,657,000 agreed to
On Legislative Assembly Office
On Clerks Office
Clerks Office in the amount of $461,000 agreed to
Legislative Assembly Office in the amount of $461,000 agreed to
On Chief Electoral Office
Chief Electoral Office in the amount of $94,000 agreed to
On Elections: Education Act
Elections: Education Act in the amount of $27,000 agreed to
On Elections Administration
Elections Administration in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Elections in the amount of $121,000 agreed to
On Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits
On Retirement Allowances
Retirement Allowances in the amount of $295,000 agreed to
On Death Benefits
Death Benefits in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits in the amount of $295,000 agreed to
Operations and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $2,534,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, before you get to the capital, for the Members information, I have a copy of a press release here, which went out on January 29. It talks about the cuts. At that point, I identified that all political support staff to Cabinet Ministers, who are order-in-council appointments, will have their salaries reduced by two percent. Also, all government managers will have their salaries reduced by two percent, and performance cash gratuities for managers will be withheld. For managers, the true change will amount to a five-percent reduction. These measures all take effect April 1, 1993.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Is that the same one that the Member opposite tabled?
Mr. Penikett: It is the same one. If we are going to be speeding away from this item - I will be leaving it in the way of giving the Government Leader notice - there is one other parliamentary question I should appropriately ask. There is an old principle in parliaments that money cannot be expended until it has been approved by the Legislature, in some form. A number of managers in the government have expressed concern to me that the effective date of the cut for them is April 1, even though the legislation had obviously not passed the House at that time.
By way of notice today, I will be wanting to ask the Government Leader how he will justify the retroactivity of the measure he is passing here. I will say, in passing, that he may want to look at the only time I ever introduced a tax increase in this House. I got absolutely pounded by the Member for Riverdale North and the present Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, who absolutely refused to permit passage in this House of a retroactive measure. In preparing a legislative return on that matter, the Government Leader may want to check Hansard, which I know he loves to read.
On Capital Expenditures
On Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
Legislative Assembly Office agreed to
Executive Council Office
Chair: Is there any general debate on vote 02?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have some opening statements prior to our getting into this department.
In this first budget of this government, we have demonstrated our commitment to streamlining and improving cost-effectiveness of the government by reducing the budget of the Executive Council Office, while still maintaining a level of service. The budget I am presenting today represents the fulfillment of a commitment we made to reduce the budget of the Executive Council Office by $1 million. This is an almost 15-percent reduction of expenses from the 1992-93 projected estimates.
First, I want to outline the goals of this budget. We have reduced the costs of operation. A very tough goal was set. Every line of the budget and all operations were reviewed for potential reductions. Managers have all contributed with ideas regarding their operations and will be expected to meet the challenge of realigning their operations within this budget, while not compromising essential services.
To provide cost-effective services, department organization was reviewed with the goal of streamlining and reducing the complexity of the organization. This has resulted in a reduction of a number of programs, positions and the restructuring of services into more functional units, effective April 1, 1993.
Cabinet and Management Support incorporates the former administrations secretariat and the functions of the deputy Cabinet secretary. It better reflects the operational priorities of the department and streamlines reporting.
A new program, titled Policy and Communications, incorporates the former programs of the Public Affairs Bureau, policy and intergovernmental relations, and devolution activities, strengthens management accountability, integrates related functions and reduces the number of staff required.
The Bureau of Management Improvement downsized from four positions to 2.5 positions. A complete review and assessment of the programs work plan led to downsizing, with the work to be focused on audit requirements, through comprehensive internal audits of government departments and agencies, and value-for-money audits of programs, services and operations. Program evaluation will be an ongoing requirement of all branches.
Cabinet Offices, previously titled Cabinet Support, has fewer positions than previously. This budget essentially holds the line. Levels of service will be maintained and new, innovative ways of doing business will be incorporated. Land claims resourcing is paramount in this departments budget. Where possible, resources and staff have been temporarily redirected from lower priority activities to support this function, and there will be an ongoing review of requirements for land claims to ensure an adequate level of resources to support this critical function.
The Bureau of French Language Services will continue to implement priority client services. People will be able to obtain services in French in a number of departments. Aboriginal Languages Services will emphasize the community development focus of their mandate to preserve, enhance and develop the Yukon aboriginal languages as a key to supporting First Nations cultural strength.
The Bureau of Statistics ongoing work to develop data will continue as a source of accurate information to be used for a variety of development planning activities throughout the territory. This contributes to effective planning in many areas, including economic, social and environmental planning, policy formation and organizational effectiveness.
We have achieved reductions without staff layoffs. All reductions in the budget have been achieved through attrition or redeployment of staff. No indeterminate or staff positions have been lost as a result of the reductions I am presenting to you here today.
We have achieved commendable levels of employment equity. Currently, women hold 50 percent of management positions and 75 percent of non-management positions in this department. Aboriginal people hold 17 percent of the positions in the Executive Council Office.
Turning to the main estimates, the total O&M budget requested for 1993-94 is $8,596,000. There are increases only in two places: the 100 percent cost-recoverable language programs and the Bureau of Management Improvement. The unit was not staffed during 1992-93, resulting in a very low projected estimate. Planned recruitment will allow fulfillment of necessary audit requirements and implementation of the audit plan. The expenditure reduction from 1992-93 of $947,000, or minus 10 percent, is split fairly evenly between personnel and other expenditures.
The net O&M budget request is $5,788,000, which is expenditures less recoveries: $8,596,000 O&M, minus $2,808,000 recoverable, for a $5,788,000 net.
The reduction of $994,000 is 15 percent from the net 1992-93 forecast of $6,782,000. These budget figures mean reductions virtually across the board in the department, including supplies, program materials, contracts and casual staff.
The total capital budget request for 1993-94 is $38,000, a reduction from a total 1992-93 capital of $47,000, and a reduction from a net 1992-93 capital of $19,000. This represents minimum replacement requirements for office furniture, equipment and information resources.
This is the first budget year of departments assuming responsibility for computer equipment and furniture, devolved from the Department of Government Services. These capital figures mean that only essential capital purchases will be made, and we will need to be more flexible and creative in meeting operational needs for furniture and equipment.
Taken together, the reductions in operation and maintenance of $994,000, and in capital of $19,000, comes to a total reduction of $1,013,000 from the 1992-93 projected estimates.
Departmental organization has been streamlined, and an assessment of the priorities and the functions of the department has resulted in a change in the relationship between the organization and the programs. In order to ensure that the land claims process is integrated and supported by the work of the Executive Council Office and the other departments, it will report directly to the deputy minister.
The new policy and communications branch will report directly to the deputy minister and carry integrated responsibility for departmental policy development, corporate policy support, coordination and communications activities, devolution and intergovernmental relations. The rest of the departments programs report to the deputy Cabinet secretary. This is intended to focus the operational and program delivery aspects of the department.
This new organization has resulted in a reduction of the number of positions required to carry out the departments responsibilities - the reduction of eight management positions and four non-management positions. This downsizing has come through attrition and the redeployment of resources, not layoffs.
As noted, we enhanced our commitment to employment equity in this budget, and the department now has women in 50 percent of management positions and 75 percent of non-management positions, and aboriginal people hold 17 percent of the Executive Council Office positions.
I would turn to the program details of the budget, first to the operation and maintenance budget of Cabinet and Management Support. This branch has been renamed from administration secretariat to reflect the broader role it now plays in supporting the management function through the department and the responsibility of the deputy Cabinet secretary for this branch. Total Cabinet and Management Support is $1,032,000, a decrease of $108,000, or minus 9 percent, due to a decrease of $43,000 in personnel from a reduction in manager salary and no performance pay increases for 1993-94; the budget for casual staff for vacation backfill and workload fluctuations is reduced by more than half; and minus $61,000 in Other. All categories of expenses have been reduced, including 15- to 60-percent reductions in travel, contract services, advertising and program materials.
Protocol costs have been reduced by almost 60 percent, strictly curtailing entertainment and supplies for protocol events, minus $4,000 in transfer payments, and protocol grants for special events have been eliminated.
The Lands Claims Secretariat is $1,375,000, which is a decrease of $174,000, or 11 percent, derived from a savings of $115,000 in personnel, from a reduction in managers salary and no performance pay increases for 1993-94, the elimination of salary budget for the head of land claims position, and a savings of $159,000 in Other. The biggest budget reduction is in contracts, requiring more work be done in house. There is an increase in $100,000 in transfer payments. The Yukon government has committed to implementation funding for the next 10 years.
The new branch of Policy and Communications amalgamates the former Public Affairs Bureau, policy and intergovernmental relations, and devolution activities for a better coordination and efficiency in these related functions. The total budget for O&M is $1,108,000. This is a decrease of $412,000, or minus 27 percent. Of that savings, $222,000 is in personnel, reflecting a downsizing through attrition and streamlining of operations; a savings of $180,000 in Other, which is a reduction of 75 to 80 percent in travel and contract services, a reduction of 25 to 40 percent in advertising, supplies and program materials, and minus $10,000 in transfer payments. Contributions relating to devolution have been eliminated as a separate line item.
In the French and Aboriginal Language Services, both the French and aboriginal language programs are completely cost-recoverable from the federal government. Agreements for both programs are in the final stages of negotiation with the Secretary of State and are expected to be signed early this spring. The total O&M budget is $2,644,000. This is an increase of $236,000, or 10 percent. Of this, $180,000 is a personnel increase for hiring term positions for French language program delivery staff to be located in the Department of Education, Government Services and Health and Social Services; full staffing is anticipated in Aboriginal Language Services; and there is an increase of $48,000 in Other.
In French Language Services, support costs for new staff have been partially offset by reductions in other expenditures, as the program moves into the implementation phase.
Aboriginal Language Services will have slightly increased operating costs as a result of full staffing. The Bureau of Management Improvement has been downsized to focus on the internal audit role of ensuring the accountability of government for expenditures. The total O&M budget for this department is $198,000, an increase of $110,000, or plus 125 percent. This increase in the budget reflects a resumption of business following lengthy staff vacancies due to reorganization and difficulties in recruiting into specialized positions. The program has been reduced from four positions to 2.5, including a director, internal auditor and one half-time research assistant. We are requesting an increase of $134,000 in personnel, which reflects staffing into positions that were vacant for 1992-93, minus $24,000 in Other. Contract Services will be reduced in favour of staff carrying out audit projects.
In the Bureau of Statistics, the $833,000 is a decrease of $199,000, a savings of 19 percent. Of that savings, $133,000 is in personnel from reduced costs for auxiliary staff due to the completion of the survey portion of the Yukon health promotion survey, which was 100 percent recoverable; a reduction of one position, through attrition; and a savings of $66,000 in Other, a reduction in 100 percent cost-recoverable support costs for the Yukon health promotion survey.
The general reduction in program expenditures is consistent with the overall objective of cost reduction.
The total for the Office of the Commissioner is $125,000, which is a decrease of $5,000, or minus four percent. Slight reductions in Other have been made in support of general cost reductions across the department.
The total for Cabinet Offices is $1,281,000, a decrease of $395,000, or minus 24 percent. Of this savings, $323,000 is in personnel, arrived at from one-time termination benefits paid in 1992-93, which will not be required this year, of $262,000.
Fewer employees in the Cabinet Offices has resulted in a lower budget for salary costs. There is a savings of $72,000 in Other, a reduction in contract services and in ministers entertainment and communications.
On the capital side, the total for capital Cabinet and Management Support is $27,000; there is an increase of $8,000 or an additional 42 percent. This item represents newly devolved responsibilities for office furniture, equipment and renovations, which are anticipated for the relocation of branches.
The total capital for Policy and Communications is $1,000; this is a reduction of $7,000 or 88 percent. This account has been used for the routine replacement of photography equipment and other ongoing capital costs for communications activities. This large reduction will affect the normal replacement schedule but essential services will be maintained.
The Bureau of Statistics total capital is $10,000; this is a reduction of $20,000, or 55 percent. The purchase of statistical support materials and data will be curtailed to meet this new budget amount.
In conclusion, the budget proposes to reduce the Executive Council Offices total budget by over $1 million. It demonstrates this governments commitment to contain and reduce the cost of government.
It is not easy. Choices must be made and new ways of carrying out our responsibilities must be found. This budget is an important step in that direction.
Mr. Penikett: I would like to refer the Government Leader to Hansard, pages 472 to 554, during which time I asked the Government Leader a number of questions, many of which he has answered and some that he has not. I am grateful for the answers that have been provided by way of legislative returns and I know the Government Leader will be departing shortly for Asia, so I am wondering if I could expedite the debate by spending most of the remaining time this afternoon by indicating which of the answers to my questions are incomplete - I actually have them annotated. I would like to just take the time, if the Government Leader is agreeable, to put them on the record - some of which he may be able to elaborate on now, others he will not want to. If he would agree at the end of this discussion to stand over the ECO estimate, I will at that point have tabled all my questions and, if he is not able to answer them today, he, his officials or somebody may be able to get back to me in writing with some of the answers in the next few days while he is away, which would be satisfactory, at least from my point of view.
Let me ask a couple of questions first, though, that arise from his statement that he just gave to the House.
The first comes from what is potentially the largest single expenditure in the department and, indeed, as the Government Leader indicated, something that remains a high priority, which is the land claims expenditures. He indicated that he has cut 11 percent from them and explained why, but let me ask the Government Leader this general question: would he confirm that, for all practical purposes, it is impossible for a Government Leader to control the expenditures on the land claims line, for the simple reason that he alone does not control the pace of negotiations. Should we incur, for example, significant overtime or a serious policy question that requires expert advice or an extremely tricky legal question that requires some expert legal advice, he may not be able to control precisely the expenditures on the land claims line.
I am not looking to provoke a long debate here but, for what it is worth, let me express my view that, having tried to predict the expenditures on land claims in years past, I confess to being a total failure. But I do not feel terribly saddened by that because I do think that this is an item where one has to spend the money necessary to complete the task. Whether the budget is cut or not, events beyond the control of Members here will probably determine the actual expenditure at year-end rather than the amount we put in the budget.
If the Government Leader would agree with that general proposition, I would not have any further questions on it.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I apologize to the Member opposite. I thought that we had answered all of the questions before coming back on the names. It was my understanding that we had, and if we have not, I apologize; we will get the answers, to the best of our ability, for the Member opposite.
On the issue of the land claims, the Member opposite is quite right that there is absolutely no way that we can be assured that this budget will be adequate, because there can always be unforeseen circumstances, but we have taken that into consideration, to the best of our ability, based on previous experiences within the Land Claims Secretariat as to what the costs should be, and arrived at that figure. I will concede to the Member opposite that we do not drive the land claims negotiations; they are driven by forces other than ours and we have to go along with them. The Member is right in saying that there could be some unforeseen expenses that arise; we hope that there is not because we tried to budget as accurately as possible.
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader also indicated that 50 percent of the managers in the department were women and spoke of that number as if it were an innovation. I think that he or the deputy may be able to confirm that is an event that previously existed.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, I will agree with that. I think what we are trying to point out is that even with attrition we have maintained that 50 percent.
Mr. Penikett: People less kind than I would point out that 50 percent of the deputies who have been fired have been women, which is a form of affirmative action, I suppose.
The Government Leader spoke of 17 percent of the people in the Executive Council Office being aboriginal. Would the Government Leader confirm that almost all of those people are employed in the aboriginal languages section?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, most of them are.
Mr. Penikett: I think the Government Leader will see the implications of that answer because, obviously, the desirability of getting aboriginal people into the management level of the Yukon government is still a goal that we have to strive toward. As far as I know, there are not many non-aboriginal people with expertise in aboriginal languages in the territory, so the talent pool for that section will be drawn largely from the First Nations.
Let me go through the answers that the government has given. I do not want to sound negative about the responses given and I appreciate the efforts put forward by the department to answer the questions. I did not want to imply that there are not answers in some cases, I just wanted to suggest that in some cases, in terms of my needs, the answers are incomplete. Some questions that I may note today may be in the form of supplementaries.
There is one large area that I do not think I had the answers that I was looking for, which were all of the questions about YTGs policy response to concerns tabled by the City of Whitehorse some months ago. I know that in some cases events have superseded those questions; in other cases I am still - since it indicates a mind set of the city and since we are now negotiating with Whitehorse First Nations - curious about the position that the territorial government will take.
The way in which I will describe these is in chronological order, which may assist. If anybody is having trouble locating my concern, the excellent staff in our office, small as they are, have annotated the questions so that we will be able to actually point out where they were raised in Hansard, if the Members opposite have any problems.
The answer to the questions that I asked about the statistics branch - this comes on page 492 - about the use of focus groups and the qualifications for focus groups was less than clear as to the training that the people in the statistics branch have to do focus group work. In fact, I suspect the truth is that they are self-taught; not that that is bad, but there are inevitably some questions about the validity of some of the findings of focus-group work, since so much of the skill is in interpreting the findings. For that reason, I am interested to know if there has been some training provided, which can be more specifically provided than the answer that I received.
I am also concerned about the governments intentions in the use of focus-group research. In my view, this is exactly akin to the questions that we have asked in the past about polling, and the previous governments commitment - and, I understand, the present governments commitment - to provide and table copies of polling results. Logically, it seems to me to be consistent with the Public Government Act and other statements here that the results of that research should be tabled in this House. The previous government always did that. I would hope that the new government would commit themselves to doing that.
There is a problem because some of the research may deal with privacy questions. Since the Public Government Act has not been proclaimed, I am concerned on both poles of that spectrum, if you like, about the protection of privacy and about the provision of public information. The answer that was given to the question on page 492 also indicated that some papers have been presented in - I gather these must be scholarly forums - on the ways in which the Yukon has integrated qualitative and quantitative research. Since I understand that those papers may be given in connection with work done for and by YTG, I am wondering if they might be identified as public documents. If they have been given in public forums, I guess they are public documents. I wonder, if the author does not object, if we might have those tabled in the House.
On page 494 of Hansard, I pursued a line of questions about how the policy group in ECO was going to help to achieve management efficiencies and economies. I was concerned about the evaluation process there and I mentioned to the government that in our experience evaluation had been costly, but, I think, of questionable value so far. I understand that there is at least one department of government - Justice - that has been talking about doing a very sensible program evaluation and that they wanted - which is very admirable - to have it lead by employees, which is also admirable. I understand that, after spending some time with that, they decided that they needed some professional help because it was not available in this government - evaluation methodology and practices - and were looking to go outside. I do not know how far they have gone with that but it still leaves open in my mind the question of the efficacy of having what should be a policy group - since they are a smaller group now - involved in such a central process as evaluation. If the government could get back to me with a little more detailed explanation on that I would appreciate it.
On page 495 of Hansard, I asked questions about the audit of advertising arrangements. I asked questions last week in the House on the same subject and the Government Leader got a bit irritated with me, but I was not trying to make a point, I was asking him a fairly straight forward question as to why he had decided to proceed, in one respect, in a manner other than that recommended by the audit. I think the Government Leader said something about being damned if you do and damned if you do not. That may be true, but I am still simply at this point looking for an explanation of the reasons why the government chose to one way or the other. I am not taking a position myself on the wisdom of the two options. I am just curious about what motivated the government to go one way rather than the other.
I will confess, in reference to the questions I asked on page 531, arising out of the new organization of the Executive Council Office, that I still have not been able to reconcile the reduced staffing of communications officers, the relocation of communications officers from other departments and the total staffing complement in YTG of communications officers. It may be that there is some piece, or pieces, of information missing that makes it hard for me to do that addition.
Between pages 532 and 542, there was some discussion of government publications, particularly The Sluice Box. There was a commitment to file a return on the subject, and that was reiterated, but I am not sure that the return completely asked the questions of editorial policy and control. I do not want to get into a long detail about that today, but just let me use one example. My colleague, the Member for Mount Lorne, the other day, asked questions about statements attributed to the Public Service Commissioner, for example, about tenure - a subject that had been a matter of a few minutes debate in the House some days previous. We are not completely sure who is making the final decisions about the content of that document, and that is something we would like to pursue a little bit.
The questions I asked on page 544 about implementation funding were a reiteration of some questions I had asked in the opening week of the session on the question of implementation funding. I guess the simplest way I can express our need would be this: if, by the time we get to the Renewable Resources main estimates - that is probably the best suggestion I can make - I would appreciate some more information about how the list of requests by Renewable Resources for land claims implementation funding was pared down because, as the Government Leader knows, I saw earlier versions of that list. I know the Minister of Renewable Resources was quite - how can I describe it - passionate, feisty, lively, in explaining the way in which they had tried to meet the needs. I am not raising these questions in a critical sense, but I would like to know what projects and what desirable management tools we may have had to sacrifice in order to make the project fit the funds available.
On page 547, I asked a question about a change in policy, mandate or new instructions initially about overlapping claims, and I think the government indication was none. However, the events surrounding the recent disputes with Kwanlin Dun cause me to wonder if the new Government of the Yukon is going through the exercises of adopting formal mandates with respect to the negotiations with each of the First Nations.
Some things that the Government Leader has said indicate that they probably have not, but other things that he has said indicated that they may have, which I am not clear on. That is a general question, but I would most specifically be interested in, as I am sure all Members of the House would be, an answer with respect to the situation with Kwanlin Dun. We know that the situation here is different and unique and that some problems have arisen since the change of government with respect to pressures around land development, land alienations and land selections. I am not at all clear if the government has adopted a clear mandate or if the mandate is being adopted on the run while negotiations were going on.
That leads me to the largest set of questions about which I still have some concerns, which is the set of questions that I asked about the governments response to positions taken by the city.
I understand full well that the citys position has evolved and that one city councillor has been quoted publicly as saying that the positions to which the Mayor had attached his signature were not the position of the whole council. That is not my business and I do not want to be debating the different views of the different members of city council.
I do know that there was some anxiety among Whitehorse First Nations about whether the city would be invited to participate at the negotiating table as other municipalities have been by First Nations. There is some concern about the positions that may be taken by the new territorial government with respect to the demands of the city.
If I could, as a mnemonic device, run over some of the issues that were identified in my questions; again, not so I can get an answer today but to indicate the need and the desire that I have to better understand the policy of the territorial government in responding to these questions. Among these questions is the proposal that I think came in the letter from the mayor about having the view expressed that First Nations should only be allowed pro-rated land quantum inside the city.
The view was also expressed that the laws of general application should apply to all land selections within the City of Whitehorse. In my view, that is completely inconsistent with the UFA and the land claims legislation. It was surprising and, perhaps, even disappointing to me that anyone on city council still expressed the hope that city council, for example, might have governance over the Kwanlin Dun or the Taan Dun on their own land, which may indicate an information need.
The way in which the Community and Transportation Services department has, up until now, proceeded with land developments, in the absence of effective consultation with the First Nations, raises some serious questions in my mind about the policy position of the territorial government. I would be curious about that. This is essentially a question I have asked before, but I am looking for elaboration.
There was a proposal from the city council suggesting that there should be some kind of joint planning process for an official community plan before the land selections were negotiated. I can take it from the way that events have proceeded that that suggestion is not going to go forward. I do understand, from Question Period today, that there is a proposal for a working group to deal with land selections, which would involve all the governments. That is a good idea. It may be useful, if that is the instrument we are going to be using now, to get some further information about that from the Minister responsible for land claims.
The other issue that came out of the municipal concerns was about the clearly evident tension between the different interests about land selections in areas where the land was of significant commercial value. I know that it is a view of Kwanlin Dun, since they are, by far, the largest First Nation in the territory - they list 1,500 plus members - that they are quite disappointed that they have only 440 square miles of land selection. The inevitable consequence of their large population and the small selection is that they would be looking to select commercially valuable land. They thought that all governments understood this.
The city has a concern about this, which they have expressed. It seems to me that there are going to be some problems of public sensibility and public awareness on which we all need to work together. I would like to hear a bit more about how the Government of the Yukon intends to deal with that down the road.
All my concerns here have been aggravated by the statements about balanced selections.
I know where the language of balanced selections came in. I know, as I think the Government Leader must, that it was intended to make sure that in most parts of the territory, land was selected that conformed to the general character of the land and that First Nations would not have all of the best land in the area. It was also intended, from their point of view, that they would not be stuck with all the mountain tops and swamp land. This problem is especially acute here, even at the political level, because from the First Nations point of view, having been relocated several times in their lives in this area, by the newly arriving authorities, they are finding themselves in the ironic position of being the last people to be able to select land in the area. They are feeling somewhat frustrated by recent events.
This might be a Community and Transportation Services question, as much as an Executive Council Office question. It is about the YTG position on the city recovering the value of improvements on lands proposed for development that are now under claim. I guess we are really curious as to whether the McIntyre village relocation model is going to apply, or some other funding formula. The city also asked questions about their ability to tax First Nations land.
There is the other question, which I think the Government Leader may have mentioned, about the selections by all First Nations of land in the City of Whitehorse area. I do not remember who it was, but someone on the other side mentioned something about tabling a map of all the selections by all of the First Nations in the Whitehorse area. I guess what I really want to know is whether the government is really going to do this. I am not sure how helpful it would be.
The question of participation by municipalities in the negotiations was raised at a public meeting in Whitehorse. I remember that Mayor Weigand asked a question about whether, in essence, they could become a fourth party to the negotiations. As I recall, Dr. McTiernan replied on behalf of the government, saying very politely, no. He reiterated the longstanding policy that they may be part of the government caucus, as long as the First Nation consents.
The other question that was raised by the mayor is a problem that is a difficult one, which is the allegation of secrecy, or lack of information. Given the sensitivities that are already evident about land selections in Whitehorse, I would like to know more about how the government - and, indeed, the Government Leader himself - intends to address the problem or the need for effective communication and good quality public information, particularly as we are negotiating in the capital city.
I have a question about First Nations and hydro development. I forget - and I could check the record; it must be somewhere after page 549 - and I do not know how well I described this issue in previous debate, but Dr. McTiernan knows it reasonably well, because it is a problem we did not manage to solve when we were in government. I will explain it to the Government Leader this way: there were already discussions about potential hydro developments at Drury Creek and Morley River. It is not at all clear whether the Ross River Dena or the Teslin Tlingit have been consulted about these potential developments, as the land claims agreement requires them to be, but there is another complicated question here, which is whether the government itself has developed a way to consult about the 10 hydro sites it is entitled to reserve under the land claims agreement.
I would explain the problem to the Government Leader this way: when NCPC owned the power company, because they were a federal agency, it was fairly easy for them to just put reserve notations on maps and, perhaps, withdraw the land from alienation, and for them to obtain an order-in-council doing that.
Because the power company is a territorial agency, not a federal agency, we cannot easily do that any more. We have nothing like, if you like, interim protection for YTG, as the Government Leader will understand, if the power company or the government went public with the 10 sites. As a person who has sworn an oath of office, I know what they are, and I am obliged, at this point, not to tell him. There were questions asked by the former Leader of the Official Opposition, the Hon. Mr. Phelps, about why we were not consulting about these sites.
The difficulty is to find a way of consulting about the sites without inviting alienation of the lands by people staking, or in other ways, and the Government Leader will know that potential hydro sites have been staked before. I think one court ruled that it was nuisance staking, but there can be conflicts.
Before I left office, we did not actually succeed in addressing this problem, at least not to my satisfaction. It is, in simple terms this: how do we find a way of consulting about these sites without inviting speculation or alienation of some kind? My guess is that we would have had to find some way to temporarily withdraw them, while we were conducting the public consultations and, then, doing some kind of public process and, if there were changes as a result of the public process, going through a second set of withdrawals.
It may be that the consultation with the public around land selections, since the First Nations will know where we have an interest in a potential hydro site, may be adequate to the task. I do not know if they would be from a public point of view, but I would be curious as to how the new government intends to address that issue. I was not clear about it when I spoke about it before.
On page 551, I asked questions about implementation funding. The government has answered most of those questions, but I asked a question that has not been answered well. It may be because the government has not had a chance to think about it. It was about some downstream consequences of under funding of implementation, which could be the fears of some First Nations that the territorial government ends up behaving like the federal government sometimes does toward YTG in respect to devolution matters, where we get under funded programs - programs that are stripped of some of their value - or we simply get program dumping. I would really like to know what policy commitments YTG will be making on that score.
That, the Government Leader will be happy to know, is the end of my list of questions.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will see what we can do to get some answers that are a little more satisfactory to the Member opposite. A lot of those questions, I think, we have answered in as much detail as we can already, especially when we get to policy positions about dealing with land claims within the city. I made it quite clear, for the record, that the position of this government has not changed from the negotiating position of the previous government. On land development issues, while it is a big problem right now that this administration is going to have work out with the Kwanlin Dun, I just have to put on the record - I wish we had more time for this debate today - that, for some of the subdivisions that are being complained about right now by the Kwanlin Dun, there is documented consultation that goes back to 1988 and 1989. It is a little late to be trying to stop those subdivisions, as they are in the process of being put into place right now. We are fully prepared to work with the Kwanlin Dun on any further development within the city regarding land delineation and make them aware of that.
I just have a couple more things to say before we break, so that I do not forget them. I do not know where the Member opposite got the idea that we would be tabling a map of selections. That has not been anything that I have even thought about. I do not think it would be in anyones best interests to do that at this point.
The problem that is arising at the land claims table now is not a change of direction in policy of this government on land selections within the City of Whitehorse. It has come as a result of new maps that have been tabled by the First Nations people. That is where the difficulties have arisen. I share the concerns of the Member opposite and the Kwanlin Dun, where they feel that the land quantum is very small for the number of people in their band. I draw the Member opposites attention to the fact that this is not much different from the position of the White River Band, which has very little land that is going to be allocated to its membership.
With that, we will do what we can to get more detailed answers for the Member opposite, prior to continued debate on this department.
Executive Council Office stood over
Chair: Is it agreed to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order. We are debating Community and Transportation Services capital expenditures; we are on highway construction, Alaska Highway. Is there further debate?
Department of Community and Transportation - continued
On Alaska Highway
Alaska Highway in the amount of $27,100,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
Mr. Harding: Could the Minister please give me the areas where that expenditure will be reduced? Are there any specific projects or does it apply generally to each project?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I apologize for the delay in finding the answer. For the benefit of the Member opposite, I can tell him various projects.
Surveys and miscellaneous design for 1993-94 is $50,000; miscellaneous reconstruction is a project that allows the department to react quickly to various road upgrading requests as they arise, no projects are scheduled at this time, as the funds are intended to enable the department to react to short-term needs in a timely manner - for instance, washouts and those sorts of occurrences.
In 1993-94, there is $225,000; last year there was $525,000 in the same budget item. For the reconstruction and paving of Two Mile Hill, with which we are all more or less familiar with, there is $2,500,000.
Mr. McDonald: I have a faulty memory. I thought we were dealing in part with Two Mile Hill under the Alaska Highway line item. Was any money under Alaska Highway dedicated to Two Mile Hill reconstruction?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, there are two areas that deal with that work. There is the part on the Alaska Highway, which is paid for from the Alaska Highway budget, and then there is the part, under Two Mile Hill, which comes out of this budget that we have just been talking about.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister indicate how much of the Alaska Highway money was for the Two Mile Hill? We have $2.5 million under Other Roads - how much is the other?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: For the 1993-94 budget, $2.5 million is to continue the reconstruction and paving of the Two Mile Hill in Whitehorse.
Mr. McDonald: Is the Minister saying that under the Alaska Highway line item there is $2.5 million, and under the Other Roads item there is $2.5 million, for a total of $5 million?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think I am going to have to get back to him, because I do not have a detailed breakdown of those two here.
Mr. McDonald: I will wait.
Other Roads in the amount of $2,775,000 agreed to
On Campbell Highway
Mr. Harding: When it first came out, I must say that I was shocked when I saw the extent of this capital cut to the Campbell Highway. I would like to ask the Minister now what the $1.2 million represents in terms of road work and exactly where will it be done?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is $200,000 for pre-engineering and reconstruction to RAU standard, including structural, base, crushing and BST work, to be carried out in 1993-94. That includes the application of BST to grade constructed in 1992-93 and hydroseeding. That is on the Faro-Carmacks portion. The $1 million is for structural upgrading and pavement overlay from the town to the airport in Watson Lake, together with reconstruction to RAU 8090 geometric standards, and application of BST between the airport turn-off and the Sa Dena Hes mine access road at kilometre 50. The work planned for 1993-94 will involve pavement overlay and hydroseeding between kilometres 0 and 10, plus application of BST and hydroseeding from kilometre 45 to kilometre 54, where reconstruction took place last year.
Mr. Harding: The government stated that this budget was prepared on the premise that the mine would be operating at Faro. We have the largest operating mine, and probably the second or third largest community in the territory, being serviced by a road that is receiving absolutely nothing in the way of capital upgrading, after intensive efforts over the previous years by the previous administration to do that.
There are a lot of my constituents who are extremely concerned about this news. It is a very big issue in my community. I was just wondering what kind of a message that sends to people when there is absolutely no actual upgrading going on, except the $200,000, which it is my understanding is for engineering work? What kind of a signal does it send that the government is going to continue to maintain the road to the largest mining operation in the territory in a decent condition so that it is better for the mining operator so that their transportation costs remain somewhat low? My constituents have to drive over it with ore trucks. It is somewhat dangerous. The safety factor is incredibly important to people who want to see a road that is in good shape to drive on. Could the Minister tell me what the thinking was behind this decision?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are several points that were brought out by the Member opposite. The fact of the matter is that we look at the traffic on a particular highway. For instance, with the Campbell Highway on the Faro to Carmacks run, there have been varying amounts of money spent since 1988-89. In fact, in 1988-89, there was no money spent on the Faro-Carmacks portion of the highway. It went from zero in 1988-89 to $1,449,000, and so on. Again, next year we have it estimated at $2.5 million.
Last year, there was a fairly major reconstruction project. What we want to do this year is put BST where last years work was done.
Again, in future years, there will be additional major reconstruction. However, there was no intent to drop Faro this particular year; that was just the way it worked out. There was work at the south end of the Campbell Highway that we felt was of a higher priority than the work at the north end.
Mr. Harding: The work that was done was a major priority. There was a need. Over the years, since the mine has been operating, there have been 50- or 60-tonne loads - I am sure the Minister knows the exact weight - being hauled over it on a continual basis. It puts a lot of pressure on the road and does a lot of damage. It makes the road absolutely treacherous. My constituents have called for continued upgrading of the road. That is the reason money was put into it.
There is a 156-percent increase in the traffic on the Top of the World Highway. Very few of those vehicles weigh 50 or 60 tonnes. There are increases in traffic there because of the tourist season. It is like comparing apples and oranges.
Could the Minister tell us, comparatively speaking, what kind of traffic numbers he is looking at for the Top of the World and Campbell Highways? Could he tell us what kind of vehicles are involved in this traffic count?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The numbers of vehicles on the Campbell Highway are approximately 240 vehicles per day. The Top of the World Highway sees about 100. Again, the Top of the World Highway is definitely in need of work. The Campbell Highway will continue to need major construction work, but it is coming up to a standard that is more or less acceptable. It is a matter of priorities and what has to be done in the following year with the available dollars.
Mr. Harding: I agree with the Minister that it is a matter of priorities. I am trying to make the case that we are talking about the message that is being sent to a major economic stimulator in the territory - the Faro mine. The people in Faro, along with other Yukoners who use the road, have to put up with the tonnage that these trucks carry. It is incredibly dangerous.
With all due respect, the Minister is comparing apples and oranges. One has to look at the safety factor. Determining what is badly needed has to take into account what people have to put up with.
Two hundred and forty vehicles travel that road per day - including 50- or 60-tonne ore trucks. That involves a lot of citizens in the Yukon who travel that road.
The Campbell Highway is a treacherous road, and I do not think that the standard is good when you take into account the amount of bad weather that we have in the Yukon due to the length of our winters. Also, the road is in very rough shape this spring.
I think the Minister should be taking a look at the factors involved in the decision to put capital into that highway, and because of the weight of those trucks and the safety factor, it is indeed a huge priority to get that road upgraded and chipsealed as quickly as possible. I am absolutely flabbergasted that we are seeing this extent of a cut in the Campbell Highway project, and I know that my constituents are concerned.
When I went around at election time, I talked about this with my constituents. I never said that there was any way that the entire project could be done in a short period of time, but I certainly told them that I would expect to be arguing on their behalf for considerable monies with which to try to get the highway finished.
I would like to ask the Minister what his views are about the fact that my constituents have to deal with a road that deteriorates quickly and also a road that has a tremendous number of safety hazards with the ore trucks.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The average summer daily traffic, other than the trucks, is probably very similar to the Top of the World Highway. Of the 240 vehicles travelling that road, 40 percent of the traffic is apparently truck traffic.
The other thing that the Member opposite should realize is that the road has been there for many, many years, but major upgrading of that road has only been going on for the past few years.
We feel that the future costs over the next five years will be a minimum of $27 million, as compared to the five years previous. For instance, in 1992-93 and five years previous to that, it was approximately $8 million.
We are talking major dollars here and again we have to priorize, because we only have so many dollars available.
Mr. Harding: There was not that much money spent in the beginning, I am sure, because the road was in reasonably decent shape, but over seven years a continuous pounding has taken place, which has had an effect on the highway making it increasingly more important for the government to pay attention to the condition of the road.
I would say that the Minister is right - 40 percent would be truck traffic. Not all of it would be Curragh trucks; it would also consist of supply trucks, but I do not see how that number takes away from the problems that the citizens in the Yukon face when driving that highway.
To do so is gravely underestimating what people who do spend a lot of time on that road have to put up with. The reason for the priority over the last few years is that the road has deteriorated and to try to put some capital into the project to upgrade the road.
Regarding the safety I talked about, the Minister has not really told me how he feels about that. In comparison with the Top of the World Highway, I do not really think you are talking about the same thing.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If we had the money, there is no doubt that I would like to see money spent on every highway in the territory - even more money than we are able to spend on any one of them. However, the Member is talking safety. When it rains, the Top of the World Highway is extremely dangerous. No, we do not have the truck traffic up there, but we do have a lot of tourists. We are averaging about 100 vehicles a day, most of those being tourists. When it rains, it is very slippery and very dangerous.
These are the types of things we have to look at when priorizing our highways budget. Again, I thank the Member for his questions and concerns, but it is a matter of priorizing. Basically, that is the way we have priorized it.
Mr. Harding: Why on earth would the road to the largest and second largest private-sector employers operations in the territory not be a major priority for this government? I cannot understand it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not think that we have ever said it is not a priority. As a matter of fact, the numbers I gave him a few minutes ago show it is very much a priority.
Mr. Harding: The Member for Riverdale North says more money was spent there but there was good reason for that. There is good reason this year, too. Perhaps the Minister could tell me, in evaluating a decision to make an investment increase in one road and not another, why would the higher priority be given to a road that does not include the largest private sector employer on that road or one that does not have the safety concerns my constituents have to deal with?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite seems to believe that the Campbell Highway only runs from Faro to Carmacks, but $1 million is being spent on the south end that, again, is mainly because of the truck traffic from the Sa Dena Hes mine. What residents down there call the airport road is pretty well worn out and, in fact, there needs to be some fairly major upgrading from the end of the airport road on out to Sa Dena Hes. Some of that will be done this year and the rest will be for the paving. Both of those projects have to be lumped together; the Campbell Highway is not just from Faro to Carmacks.
Mr. Harding: If the Minister reads Hansard, and we look back just a couple of days to the discussions surrounding the O&M budget and discussions surrounding the O&M costs and what was going to be invested between Ross River and Watson Lake, he will find out that once again he is poking the Members opposite with a stick and, like he did the other day, he will lose those battles because he is not coming to the fight armed. The Member knows full well that I raised concerns about the situation with regard to the O&M budget for that particular stretch of road, and the reason I am not doing it today is because there is some investment in that stretch of road that is needed. I do not for a minute think that the argument of the Minister that because one stretch of the road is receiving capital side, I should be satisfied, is viable. I do not think anyone else would buy it either. I just say that to him.
On the other hand, there was some discussion regarding the $10 million from the federal government that has since been promised to the territory, and there was some discussion regarding the Klondike Highway; I am not sure if the Top of the World Highway was mentioned - it would not surprise me if it was - and also the Campbell Highway. Could the Minister tell me what the governments plans are with regard to capital project investment, which was stated by the Minister for the Campbell Highway? If the Member wants, I could read the quotes out of the local daily when we had the tiff over this lack of funding.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have not made any decisions on the $10 million that the Member opposite is referring to because we do not have the money yet. If we do, then we will set the priorities for the projects. We have, on any one of our highways - whether it is the Klondike, the Top of the World, South Campbell, North Campbell or Canol Road - engineering work completed and we know what has to be done. It is a matter of putting the dollars where they are needed.
Mr. Harding: Is the money coming?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that it will be coming, but I have not been specifically informed.
Mr. Harding: How come the Minister said, when the budget was first being discussed, that a portion of that $10 million would be used for the Campbell Highway? How come the Minister said that, if he has such vague information about the $10 million?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The money has been promised and the Campbell Highway would certainly be one of the priorities. I am a little more skeptical or pessimistic than most as I want to see the money before we actually start putting out contracts.
Mr. Harding: I find this absolutely amazing in light of the fact that it was not two seconds after the Government Leader got back from Ottawa that the big $10 million announcement was handed out. Then I read in the Watson Lake News that the Minister of Economic Development was discussing the merits of the new government and how successful a trip they had to Ottawa and how wonderfully well received the Toward Self-Sufficiency by the 21st Century document was, because he promised his constituents that $10 million was going to be forthcoming for infrastructure.
The Minister stands up today and says that he is more skeptical than most. Even though I did know that Mazankowski was going to be doing some infrastructure development, when I said that it was pie-in-the-sky at this point, the Minister reacted very strongly to my comments. I guess I will have to get the quotes. He said that that money was forthcoming. Could the Minister explain what has happened that now has him so skeptical about this $10 million?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that it is just a matter of finalizing the agreements. When that has been done, we will have the money.
Mr. Harding: This whole $10 million is an extremely confusing issue. They promised the people of the Yukon that this money was forthcoming. The Minister promised it to the people. We engaged in a debate in the Legislature and in the media about this issue and the Minister rebutted my comments by saying that I was off base and that the money would be forthcoming. Today, he says that he is more skeptical than most about the money and he will believe it when he sees it, after the government, of which he is a Cabinet Member, has issued press statements about it. This is absolutely mind-boggling. I cannot believe what we are talking about here today. It makes no sense.
Perhaps the Members opposite do not think that the Opposition should be concerned about promises made to the people of the Yukon for $10 million for infrastructure development by Members of the Cabinet and then see Cabinet Members stand up and say that they are skeptical about it and that there may be no money forthcoming. Perhaps the Members opposite do not think we should be concerned about it, but I certainly think we should be.
Perhaps they cannot believe we are talking about it. I cannot believe it either, because I cannot believe that the government would be so stupid as to put out a press release and then not be able to deliver on it. That is what I find hard to believe. I find it hard to believe that we are talking about it today, especially in light of the fact that the Minister gave my constituents the impression that their MLA was off base because I backed off for a couple of minutes and told them not to be excited about the $10 million for infrastructure or that the $10 million would be put into the Campbell Highway. I think that is irresponsible.
I would like to explore this a bit more. I guess I will have to, because the Member said that he is skeptical, but now he says that it will soon be signed and that it is just a matter of getting it finalized. What is the time line we are looking at to get this finalized? What representations has the Minister made to Cabinet for a chunk of that - and what size is the chunk - to be used for the Campbell Highway?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have the exact numbers with me of what we would intend to spend on the Campbell Highway. It was one of the roads that were used when we applied for the funding. I can get the numbers for the Member opposite.
Mr. Harding: When the Minister said that $10 million could be put into the Campbell Highway, surely he had some idea as to what kind of numbers he was talking about. That is all I want to know. What kind of number was he talking about? What kind of number has he discussed with Cabinet regarding funding for that project? Based on his best knowledge of the $10 million, could he tell us what kind of time line we are looking at? We have asked that question before, and we would like to know more about it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that Economic Development is dealing with the draft agreement, and it may very well be finalized in June.
Mr. Harding: I am sure the Minister has looked at all the highways in the Yukon. I am sure they have all been priorized. Based on his knowledge of what is needed, and on the knowledge that this $10 million should be forthcoming in June, what is the Ministers expected capital contribution to the Campbell Highway going to be?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I already told the Member I would get back to him with those numbers.
Mr. Harding: Regarding that $10 million, we heard that it was originally supposed to be for infrastructure, or for airports. The government said they tried to get it for energy, and we will have some questions about that later. The government said it was supposed to be for energy. They made the request that it could go to energy. The federal government said no, it would have to go into roads. Could the Minister of Community and Transportation Services tell us how this matching will work? At first, from a press release that came out, we were not aware that matching would have to take place. Could he tell us how this matching will work?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Department of Economic Development is actually negotiating with the federal government on that infrastructure money. I am not in a position to say what sort of an agreement they are coming up with. I have not seen the actual draft agreement, so I cannot really comment on the type of cost sharing, or the period of time, or anything else.
Mr. Harding: Before I clear this line, just by way of representation to the Minister, let me say that I would hope that they would take a serious look at investing that $10 million, if it is forthcoming, into a substantial capital project for the Campbell Highway. I am disappointed that the cuts have been made there. Let me just say that to the Minister. I would also like to give notice to the Minister of Economic Development at this time that we will be asking questions regarding those issues that the Minister was not able to respond to. I look forward to the answers from the Minister that he has said that he will get back to me on today.
Campbell Highway in the amount of $1,200,000 agreed to
On Top of the World Highway
Ms. Moorcroft: This is a rather significant increase for the Top of the World Highway. Does this include improved ferry service or a bridge? How will this additional funding be spent?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The money does not include a new ferry, a bridge, or anything like that. It is basically for reconstruction of the Top of the World Highway from kilometre 66 to kilometre 73.5 and kilometre 99 to kilometre 101. It will be an upgrading to a design standard by realignment and structural strengthening.
Top of the World Highway in the amount of $1,240,000 agreed to
On Klondike Highway
Klondike Highway in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Mr. Harding: I have a question related to bridges; perhaps the Minister could tell me if my questioning would be appropriate at some other line?
My question is regarding the Riverdale bridge. I know that there has been a lot of discussion at city council, but I also know that the Government of Yukon made some commitment about the bridge during the election, even though it is part of the municipal jurisdiction. Maybe this is another capital project.
Could the Minister please explain the governments position on the extra lane for the Riverdale bridge?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We did make an agreement with the City of Whitehorse to pay 50 percent of the cost, up to a maximum of $500,000 over a two-year period. As the Member is aware, there is nothing in this years budget so it will probably be a future years project.
On Planning and Engineering
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $360,000 agreed to
On Dempster Highway
Dempster Highway in the amount of $350,000 agreed to
On South Access
Ms. Moorcroft: I drive the South Access Road quite often and we have discussed that the state of the road is rapidly deteriorating and is in need of improvement. Can the Minister explain why there is a reduction in the capital expenditures for the South Access Road in the next fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $50,000 for the South Access Road to continue with the detailed design work. The main reason that it did not proceed this year is because of the Two Mile Hill; we could not have both of them under construction in the same year.
Ms. Moorcroft: What is the schedule for the improvements to the South Access Road if the money this year is going to be used strictly for design work. When will the highway actually be worked on and improved?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The major portion of the work will be carried out in 1995-96.
South Access in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Resource Transportation Access Program
On Prior Years Projects
Mr. McDonald: This line item cannot go past without some comment. If one were reading only the main estimates budget speech and did not have the detailed document at all, one would think that the resources transportation access program had been increased $50 million, and not reduced to zero dollars.
During the course of the budget estimates, we have heard a lot about the government focusing on infrastructure development. Presumably, in part, that means new infrastructure development, and not resurfacing old infrastructure that is currently being used. One could argue that under the existing infrastructure today, the economic viability of the territory would not change if that infrastructure was marginally improved, as the budget supports.
I am more than a little puzzled. I think we all are. I think the mining industry is, and virtually anybody who has heard about this is more than a little puzzled as to the reasons for this particular move. The Minister, in the past, has said quite simply that seemed to be a large amount of administration for a relatively small expenditure and that they would like to change that ratio. What they have not explained is why they would not put more money into the delivery end, if it was such a high priority - delivery end meaning construction on the ground - and try to tighten up the costs of administration, or the engineering costs associated with this program.
I still have not heard anything at all from the Ministers as to why they undertook this particular action; all we have heard in the past is that they may yet do something because of the $10 million we have just discussed - that the $10 million, if it ever comes, will be dedicated to the Campbell Highway, the Top of the World Highway and Casino Trail, but also to something like this.
Given that the $10 million, as far as we know, is a one-time commitment, can the Minister indicate to us what his long-term plans are for the resource transportation access program or for a creature like this program, and how is the Minister going to respond to requests made by small mining companies, for example, or others - I think funding out of the RTAP program has been given to the fishery industry, it has been given to the agricultural industry, or operators in those industries - making requests? The Minister will remember the old tote road program that existed prior to this one and, even though it was a small amount, it still responded to a real need. I think the government-of-the-day was very proud of it.
Why is there nothing at all to replace this? Why is there no flexibility or no vote authority to do anything. There is not even $1.00, which might allow the Minister to rearrange priorities over the year if something were to come up. They are not even allowing themselves the vote authority to do anything at all. I would just like to know what the Minister has in mind.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think I stated earlier in the House the amount of money that was expended last year on the actual program and the amount of money used in the administration. It seemed to me that we were not getting very much value for our dollar because of that. Then, because of some very major budget realignments that had to be done, we felt we would scrap the program for this year.
There may very well be another type of program. We would have to review it very carefully and see exactly what kind of program we should have and who should be delivering that program. Should it be Highways and Transportation, or should it be Economic Development? I am not sure.
I am not saying there will never be another program similar to the RTAP, but it needs some time for review, as well as to obtain budget funding. This particular year, we did not feel we had the budget to be able to continue with the program, especially given that it did not appear that it was all that successful in the previous years.
Mr. McDonald: If it was not all that successful, there was nothing said in the Legislature about that. I do not recall hearing many complaints at all about the RTAP before. There were a few complaints by the mining industry about the standard of road being built under the program. The minimum standards seemed to be excessive to the mining industry, but I do not recall that being aired in the Legislature. I recall that being discussed directly with the Chamber of Mines.
There are dozens of line items in this budget where the Ministers and the government have expressed some concern about the efficiency and effectiveness of the money spent but have not responded by stopping activity in those areas. The typical response is to seek to make the expenditure more efficient, rather than to simply state that they are not going to do anything more in this area until such time as they have reviewed it.
That argument does not make a great deal of sense.
The Minister has said that there had to be some major budget realignments. We have already established that this budget, thanks, in part, to the Alaska Highway agreement, spends more money in the transportation area than I have ever seen, projecting, in transportation alone, a capital expenditure of almost $35 million. Clearly, $21 million of that is contingency money. It must be spent on the Alaska Highway. However, we established on Thursday that, even under the Alaska Highway portion of the budget, there is projected to be spent $6.1 million in discretionary funding.
What puzzles us is all the rhetoric in the main estimates budget about infrastructure development and we do not see any new infrastructure development. This is the only area that produces new infrastructure development. This is the only area, apart from Prior Years Projects listed in the budget that is cut to zero. It just seems very puzzling. Either the Members are not telling us something that they know or there has been a screwup here. I do not understand it and the Minister has not said anything at all that sheds a little bit of light on it.
I would like to point out to the Minister that it will be an awkward prospect for them, if they ever do plan to develop new infrastructure to promote economic development, and that they consider seriously not housing it in the Department of Economic Development. They should consider housing it in the Department of Community and Transportation Services. I think the Minister will find that to do otherwise could be a real problem, particularly if there is any expectation that a portion of that program will be delivered through that department, in terms of the actual construction activity or the managing of it.
I make those comments. If the Minister has anything at all that can shed some light on this very inconsistent action by the government, I know that people on this side of the House would love to hear it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: First, our main reason was in budgeting and, as I said before, we may very well look at providing some sort of a similar type of program in future. If we do, and should it be in Economic Development, we would still involve our highways people in the review of the engineering aspects of it. Generally, in this type of program, it is my understanding of the RTAP that the people build the road themselves and our engineering people would have a look at it to make sure it measured up to a standard. I think that would remain fairly similar - we would have our highways people look at the engineering of it and the standard to which they developed it. I think that for funding it Economic Development already has the people and it seems to me that it is kind of foolish to be putting other people in highways departments who would be doing something that Economic Development is already doing quite well.
Mr. McDonald: I do not want to belabour this point. I think everyone is entitled to make their own mistakes. The Minister should be no exception here. I do not know what he is referring to when he says that the Department of Economic Development is doing very well. They do not build roads, but I am sure that the Members opposite will have a chance to design their own program, if they ever do decide to build new infrastructure. I am not going to pass judgment on it one way or the other.
What I would like to do is ask the Minister whether or not he has any additional comments as to why no funding was put into this particular area at all. Out of a record $35 million budget, no funding was put into new infrastructure related to economic development.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that the Member means RTAP, not economic development. Again, it was a budget decision. We could have put $1.00 in, but I think if we do the program, we would like to review it fully. It could come back as the same program, but it will likely come back as something different. We thought it best to take it right out.
Mr. McDonald: Just for the record, I did, in fact, mean economic development. That was what I understood the budget speech to be all about.
I would just like to make a recommendation to the Minister, and perhaps he could pass it on to the Minister of Finance, who helps design the budget speeches. If they are going to roll an entire budget around infrastructure development and then not fund a program like the RTAP - the only program directly related to new infrastructure development - there is a misplaced communication there. For those of us who are observers to government activity, it makes us puzzled, at least, and concerned about whether or not the government has a direction.
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Transportation Division Facilities
On Computing Equipment and Systems
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would like to move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 09, Community and Transportation Services, by reducing line item Computing Equipment and Systems, on page 23 in the capital estimates, by $40,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Computing Equipment and Systems in the amount of $151,000 agreed to as amended
On Office Equipment and Furniture
Mr. McDonald: We passed the amendment and I just wanted to stand to ask about the remaining $151,000. What are they planning to spend on computers?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will just run through the $191,000 budget and where we took the $40,000 from. The maintenance and management system for the highways department is apparently very old and outdated. That was budgeted at $110,000. Driver vehicle records were budgeted at $36,000. Mechanical operations were budgeted at $10,000. Personal computers were budgeted at $35,000. Basically we have taken all of the personal computers out for $35,000. The remainder is spread among the other three.
Mr. McDonald: Of these three projects that the Member had indicated had survived, are any of them part of larger expenditures that are expected to be spent in future years? Are these parts of larger projects, and how much are they if they are?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: With respect to the maintenance management system that we have budgeted $110,000 for, we have not got the full scope of what will be entailed to bring it up to full speed. There will be additional funds for that particular one in future years.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister give us a ballpark estimate of the full-scale implementation. They have certainly been able to ballpark the first year of $110,000. Can he give us a sense of what we are talking about? Is it greater than $500,000 and less than $750,000?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As I said, we do not have the full scope of the project, but it would likely be less than $300,000 total.
Mr. McDonald: Might we see another proposed expenditure here in the future of approximately $200,000, but not really very much more than that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is what we anticipate, but it may very well be less; it should not be any more.
Amendment agreed to
Computing Equipment and Systems in the amount of $151,000 agreed to
On Office Equipment and Furniture
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in Vote 09, Community and Transportation Services, by reducing the line item Office Equipment and Furniture on page 23 in the capital estimates by $80,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Office Equipment and Furniture in the amount of $20,000 agreed to as amended
On Transportation Maintenance Facilities
On Planning and Engineering
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in Vote 09, Community and Transportation Services, by reducing the line item Planning and Engineering on page 23 in the capital estimates by $40,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister tell us what projects are coming up? Usually planning and engineering signals a project coming. Can he tell us what the department has in mind?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will read what we have here. There is funding for planning, field survey and detailed design of facilities development projects, such as maintenance camps, weigh scales and workshops. A survey of all facilities to determine future needs will be undertaken in 1993-94, as well as the design of shop renovations, if funds allow.
Mr. McDonald: It sounds like a very familiar statement. Unfortunately, I recall spending fairly large amounts on planning, when I was responsible for the department. The activity that resulted from the planning was not always as significant as the planning would suggest. Is there any specific facility for which this funding will be spent that would give us some sense as to what the department is specifically planning to do as a priority?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The planning now has to be budgeted for separately. I have a little more information. Planning and engineering had a budget of $140,000 before the amendment, which is for planning, field surveys and detail design of garage additions at Fraser and an equipment storage shed at Ogilvie. A survey of all facilities to determine future needs will also be undertaken through the funding.
It used to be tied to the project, but now they are budgeting separately.
Mr. McDonald: I am aware of that. I was just wondering precisely what the project was. I understand a rule of thumb would be that the engineering and planning costs would be about one-tenth of the actual construction cost. Can the Minister give us a sense of the kinds of projects that are coming down the road? He talked about certain maintenance camp additions - one at Fraser. Can he give us a sense of the size and cost of these projects?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We do not have the figures here for Fraser or Ogilvie, and because we do not have the money at this time, that expenditure is somewhere in future years projects.
The other thing that we will be doing with the money is surveying all of the facilities to determine the future needs such as replacement or major renovations.
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $100,000 agreed to as amended
On Miscellaneous Branch Facilities
Miscellaneous Branch Facilities in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Transportation Equipment
On Sundry Equipment
Sundry Equipment in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Transportation Regulatory Facilities
On Weigh Scales
Mr. McDonald: Is this the Whitehorse weigh scales? Also, will the balance of the funding for the relocation of the weigh scales come as a revote from money not spent in the supplementaries, totalling $800,000? Also, could the Minister indicate when the project will be finished?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are very anxious to start this project this year.
Mr. McDonald: There are three other questions there. The $350,000 is for the weigh scales. I will ask the Minister to answer true or false. Is there revote funding from the supplementary estimates and is the project total around $800,000? Could the Minister answer true or false?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is correct.
Weigh Scales in the amount of $350,000 agreed to
On Transportation Planning
Mr. Cable: I wonder if I could ask the Minister a few questions that relate to the procedures that his department uses for planning highway work and, for that matter, the other type of work it is involved in. I have heard a number of complaints from the contracting industry that contracts are let late in the season - this is not an attempt to pick on your favourite public servant. What communications does the department or the Minister have with the contracting industry prior to the commencement of the building season in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Normally, when the budget is announced the government has a meeting with all contractors. Community and Transportation Services has people from the engineering part of highways, Government Services has people from contract administration, and so on. All the contracts that are anticipated for the coming year are discussed at that session. In this particular year, because of the election and for other reasons, it did run late. Some of the contractors were possibly a little upset because of that.
Many of our contracts are no later than normal. On the Shakwak projects, we are running a little bit later than we would prefer but it was because the deal was not really cut until late in 1992 - I guess it was August before the deal was cut.
There were some very major design changes that had to be done. The Shakwak project is slightly later than we prefer, but the rest of them are pretty well on time.
Mr. Cable: In a normal year, if there is such a thing, would the governments officials, or the Minister, discuss with the contracting industry in the fall, prior to the next years building season, generally what is anticipated it would be doing the following year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We would like to do the budget in the fall of the year, in November. That would give both contractors and the departments plenty of time to get the contracts ready and out, the designs done, and so on. It would also give the contractors the opportunity to gear up for the following springs work.
Mr. Cable: Let me just focus in on this particular year. When did the government have a general idea of the $34 million that would be spent on highway construction and the other elements of the transportation division?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We knew of the $21 million that was for the Shakwak and the Alaska Highway last year - $16 million for Shakwak and $5 million for the Alaska Highway. As I said, because there was some fairly major redesign work on the Shakwak, it was late. However, the $5 million was awarded 10 days ago, which is quite normal for spring awards.
Mr. Cable: Let me just walk through what I think is the planning process. How much of the $34 million has been awarded to date? I just want very approximate numbers.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Out of about 27 projects, 12 have already been awarded. They are fairly major projects. There is one major one on the Shakwak that has not been awarded. The rest are apparently quite small - brushing contracts, crushing, and so on - in comparison to the size of the overall budget.
Mr. Cable: Following through on the planning process, is the engineering and other planning elements complete on the remaining portion of the work that has not, as yet, been awarded? Is everything ready to go? Is it ready for tendering?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Generally, yes. Everything that can be started in the spring is now ready to go to tender. There are some that will deliberately not be tendered until later on in the season.
Mr. Cable: Have the tender documents been drawn for virtually all of the $34 million capital works that form part of the Community and Transportation departmental budget?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Generally, yes.
Mr. Cable: I guess, then, at least with respect to the transportation division, the debate on the budget is not holding up any awards of contracts.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No.
Mr. McDonald: Just to follow up briefly, the representative from Pelly Construction was in the paper not too long ago, suggesting that there was indeed a problem with respect to a large portion of the budget, indicating that if the projects were tendered in early June it would be doubtful if the companies could actually get the award and be mobilized before August. I wonder if the Minister would comment on that assertion?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are two very major projects on the overall Shakwak project. One went out to tender on May 12 and the other one will go out May 28, but there are some requirements in the Shakwak project, one being that it is a six-week tendering period. So, awards on those two jobs will not be until July 7 and July 21, respectively.
Both projects will require some significant work to be done in the winter in order to handle waste cuts.
Mr. McDonald: As a general proposition, does the government and the department feel quite comfortable with the tendering dates that they have projected for the work proposed to be done in this fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Because of some fairly major redesign work on the Shakwak project, we would have preferred to have gotten these two tenders out a bit earlier. We still feel fairly confident that they will be carried out in this year. Again, depending on the type of summer and fall, I cannot guarantee that they will be completed.
Mr. McDonald: I certainly would not want an absolute guarantee, of course. I was referring to all of the road construction work that the department plans, not only the Shakwak Project. Does the Ministers answer apply to the whole program?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The department advised me that most of them are in pretty good shape. Many have already been awarded. We are confident that we will be able to handle the remaining ones in this fiscal year.
Transportation Planning in the amount of $315,000 agreed to
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate what the expenditure is for?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are various minor capital projects planned for 1993-94: planning and engineering, $50,000; the Mayo airport, $50,000; and the Haines Junction airport, $30,000. The Dawson airport relocation budget of $70,000 is to continue gathering detailed weather information and completing a detailed economic study of new sites.
Mr. McDonald: I presume that the $30,000 for Haines Junction is recoverable. How much of the Dawson airport is recoverable?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are asking the federal government for 50 percent.
Mr. McDonald: It does not show up in the recoveries that you are asking for 50 percent; only $30,000 shows up there. Can the Minister indicate what the new funding principle is for the Dawson airport? Is he anticipating that all the planning be cost-shared at 50 percent, and the construction be cost-shared at 50 percent? What is he anticipating, based on what he knows to be the case with respect to the Arctic B and C airports transfer agreement?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The federal government has indicated that the Dawson airport would be subject to some cost sharing. We have asked for 50 percent of this study to actually determine some costs, economic benefits, and so on. We will then negotiate with them on the actualy cost sharing of the facility itself, if a new one is constructed.
Mr. McDonald: My understanding of the Arctic B and C transfer agreement was that Dawson capital construction was excluded from the agreement, under the understanding that the federal government would pay for the reconstruction. I recall, in discussions with the deputy at the time, who I believe was Mr. Gagnon, that because this was such a large project and because we could not bring closure on the size and the scope of the project, we were to exclude it from the Arctic B and C transfer agreement itself.
The Minister can appreciate that there was some discussion and, perhaps, controversy even back then about the location of the airport, and that is obviously what we are still studying.
Is it not his understanding that the Arctic B and C transfer agreement does exclude the capital reconstruction for the Dawson airport?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, apparently it is excluded and, in fact, we are trying to get it back to where the federal government will take a substantial interest.
Mr. McDonald: I do not think the Minister understands the question. The reason for the exclusion was to retain the federal governments exclusive responsibility for the capital construction. All else that was supposed to be reconstructed was specifically mentioned in the agreement as an expenditure, or as part of the agreement they would fund. We cited Carmacks, and we cited Haines Junction; we put in a dollar figure, and we put it in the agreement. We did not put the Dawson City airport in the agreement, precisely because we felt that it should be funded 100 percent by the federal government. That is my understanding, at least, of the situation. If I am wrong in fact, maybe the Minister could simply let me know right now.
The understanding quite clearly with the federal negotiators at the time was that, when it came time to reconstruct the Dawson City airport, we would help with all the resources at our disposal - we even, I think, funded some studies just to get the process under way - but there was no hint or suggestion at that time that the Yukon government would pay $1.00 of its own money toward the reconstruction, that it would be federal money that would be spent.
Mr. McDonald: What is it about the discussions recently that has caused the Yukon government to back off on what has already been a fairly firm agreement?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that approximately two years ago the federal government indicated that we could get up to $1 million. We in fact are trying to get more than that, but that is our understanding at this time.
Mr. McDonald: An amount of $1 million will not take us very far in reconstructing the Dawson City airport or relocating it. It may not even pay for the infrastructure cost to the airport. I think that it is even listed in the book here - it is $7,545,000. That is a lot of money.
For all intents and purposes, the Dawson City airport capital is a federal responsibility and it is every bit as much a federal responsibility as the Alaska Highway was before the transfer agreement. The thought of reconstructing the Alaska Highway at our own expense was something that was quite an untenable suggestion. Given that this would be discretionary funding of our own - that we would have to commit to this - and that that project would compete directly with things like the Grey Mountain school and other capital works that will be badly needed for this territory, and given that the project is very desirable but is still a federal responsibility, perhaps the Minister could explain what the governments thinking is with respect to this project at this time and why they might be wanting to move so quickly into the federal domain, particularly when it is going to come at a significant expense - and this is not a minor matter, this is millions of dollars - to us.
Chair: Order please. The time now being 5:30 p.m. the Committee will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order. We are discussing airstrips. Is there any further debate?
Mr. McDonald: Before the break we briefly discussed - in fact, I gave a two- or three-minute monologue before the break - the Dawson airport and I would not mind if the Minister responded to my remarks.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Essentially, the amount for this year - I believe it is $70,000 - is to conduct an economic feasibility study of the airport and possible locations. We are looking at several possible locations that have actually been studied, but we are trying to complete an economic forecast. Then once allocation has been determined - one that is acceptable to Dawson and to us - we will then start negotiating with the federal government for funding.
As the Member opposite has pointed out, it would be nice if the federal government paid the whole cost of whatever happens in Dawson, and that will be our position. We will be trying to obtain funding for the entire item, but we do not think that that will happen.
Mr. McDonald: I hope we will not enter negotiations with the attitude that we are not going to get it anyway so let us not try very hard. From my understanding of the situation, this is clearly and absolutely a federal responsibility. As much as we may want the airport, as much as we may think it is a good idea to have a tarmac that can land a 737 jet aircraft, we have to remember and understand that this was not a cost that the original negotiators anticipated would have to be borne by the Yukon government. I would hope the Minister would aggressively enter into discussions with the federal government, not only to recover the cost of the construction but also the planning, because the planning has turned into being a minor industry in and of itself. I am certain that if we were to add up all the studies that were done on the Dawson City airport we would probably have a good dollar in our pocket.
I would urge the Minister to be very, very aggressive and we will certainly await the results of his negotiations. It will be our understanding, and it is certainly my understanding, that anything less than 100 percent will be a bit of a defeat for the Yukon in financial terms and I hope, as much as we want the airport, that we will get it under terms and conditions that recognize the federal responsibility in this field.
Airstrips in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
Transportation Division in the amount of $34,651,000 agreed to as amended
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Chair: Is there any debate?
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister about the land development of future areas. Can he start out by letting us know what is the governments determination of market value and how is it arrived at?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Market value is basically determined by the most recent lot sales in a area. It is computed by our assessment branch.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask about the 19 infill lots that are scheduled to be developed at Mary Lake. When will those lots be developed?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have been dealing with the City of Whitehorse on the lots at Mary Lake. The working group that we are creating to work with the Kwanlin Dun and Taan Kwachan will be also dealing with those lots.
Ms. Moorcroft: I expect, then, that may have some bearing on when those lots will come up for sale. I wanted to ask the Minister about that.
Can the Minister also talk about how much he expects the development costs per lot will be? I would think they should be fairly low, because the road is already there.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have not actually determined the cost. I would expect that they would be very similar to the lots that already exist in the area. I am not sure about these particular ones, but the development costs are generally spread over the whole subdivision when it is created. As the Member said, the roads are already there. The development costs on those would probably be very similar to what the original lots were.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will Mary Lake infill buyers have the same terms and conditions imposed as previous Mary Lake buyers? Will they be required to pay development costs up front and the difference between development cost and market value only if they sell the property, with 10 percent forgiven for each year that they own the property, so that after 10 years they have paid out in cash the development cost?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not know that that was the case for Mary Lake. I did not think that there was a rebate for living there. I could be wrong, but I did not think that was the case for Mary Lake.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is there any thought being given to that method of selling for the present 19 lots, and will those lots be sold by a realtor or a land lottery?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If the Yukon government develops the lots, they would be sold by lottery. If the city develops them, I am not sure exactly how they will sell them. It may very well be through an agent.
Ms. Moorcroft: Would there be a time limit for construction on the properties? If there is, how long would it be?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have not actually gotten into that type of discussion at all regarding those lots. I would expect that it would be similar to what the original ones were sold at.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will there be preference given to Yukon residents, or a residency requirement?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, there would be no residency requirement. We actually cannot legally do that.
Ms. Moorcroft: What does the Minister estimate the market demand is for country-residential property in the City of Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is very difficult to determine. It goes up and down with the economy of the territory. About a year and one-half ago, there were two lots for sale. I think they were on the Carcross Road, if I remember correctly. We had something like 162 applicants for those lots.
It appears to us that there is a demand for country residential.
Ms. Moorcroft: That would certainly be subject to change, as the economy changes, I would think.
There is a situation now where people wanting to buy country residential land within the city have a choice. They can buy privately at Pineridge, through a real estate agent, or from the Yukon government. The price at Pineridge, developed through the city, is going to be market value, and that is in the neighbourhood of $30,000 to $37,000 per one-hectare parcel. Buyers must pay that 100 percent up front, which I do not believe is the way the Yukon government has sold country lands in the past.
Some people might prefer to buy from the Yukon government because of the better terms. Has the Minister had any discussions with the city about the two pricing policies?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have had no discussions with the city myself, and I am not sure if the department has. We would like to encourage the city to get into, especially, country-residential development themselves, but we would also like to see a fair price placed on the lots.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister about his position on the price of country-residential land. He is fully aware that the high demand and the low supply has led to the high market value. What steps is he going to take to try to bring the prices down so that people can actually afford a piece of land to build their home on?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think one of the reasons that the price of land does become inflated is because of demand and the lack of available lots. I would like to see the city have more land of all classifications made available so that people could make choices.
I think once we have an inventory of land where we are ahead of the demand, then I think that the prices will stabilize.
Ms. Moorcroft: What then is the Minister doing to address the long-range needs for more country-residential land? What is being done for 1994 and 1995?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The city has agreed to develop the Stevens subdivision, and I am not exactly sure where they are at with the development and whether those lots will be available this year or next year, but the Stevens subdivision out near MacPherson would certainly satisfy some of the demand.
The 19 lots that the Member is referring to, and the Pineridge phase 2, are all supposedly coming onstream sometime this summer.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister plans to turn over the Stevens parcel on the Alaska Highway near MacPherson for the city to develop as they have with Pineridge.
In Pineridge, the city is taking $10,000 per lot as revenue for the city and they probably want to do that with future land development like Stevens. If the Minister gets more land on the market and brings down the market value, the city will still be charging $10,000 per lot, plus development costs, plus a profit for the private developer. This works against an affordable land policy, particularly for first-time home buyers. How is the Minister going to address that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is a private subdivision in the works right now. There are approximately 42 lots across the road from Deep Creek that is a private subdivision, and whether it will go ahead or not I am not sure, but that is the plan.
We will be looking at several options for country residential, rural residential and agricultural land.
I think that the Member opposite should realize that the Taan Kwachan and the Kwanlin Dun Indian Bands have asked us to not develop any new lands outside the city, and we are respecting their request for a period of time.
That does not mean that we cannot sell infill lots or very small subdivisions, but it probably does mean that we will not be able to open up any sort of major country-residential subdivisions, such as Pilot Mountain, in the near future.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister just mentioned 42 lots that are being privately developed. Could I ask if this development concerns the same 42 lots being proposed by Mr. Leonard, which the Minister of Justice is currently trying to prevent on the basis that the land may have been improperly obtained and that the subdivision therefore ought not to proceed?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, they are the same lots.
Mr. Penikett: May I ask an unkind question? Since one Minister seems to be promoting this proposal and another one opposing it, what is the position of the government?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not believe the government is promoting it. However, he has the ability to subdivide; whether he actually has ownership or not I cannot say; it is before the courts. I do not know if anyone can say, but if he does have ownership then it is likely that the subdivision will go ahead; if he does not have ownership, then it likely will not.
Mr. Penikett: Surely the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is not going to sanction the development of this subdivision until the ownership question is clear?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, of course not.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister was speaking about the private development of land and certainly my constituents are very concerned about the quality of life in country-residential neighbourhoods, or in any subdivision. I was asking last week about the issue of whether the Minister thought subdivisions should have playgrounds, recreational trails and public use land, and he said he did. I think that has been a concern of some of the residents who live in privately developed land and, as far as I know, there has been no evaluation of the satisfaction of home buyers in privately developed land as opposed to the land that has been developed by the Yukon government. How would the Minister address this concern?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that outside the city boundaries the Yukon government would remain the developer. Inside the city boundaries, if the city does land development, they do have quite a lengthy process of public input before constructing a subdivision. I would expect that the people who anticipate that they would like to purchase lots in a new subdivision would make their views known to the city at the time.
Ms. Moorcroft: I think the proposals for tender are out now. There is a lot of water under the bridge before residents consider purchasing a property, especially in a privately developed area.
When a person buys a country lot, they get a road, telephone and power to the lot line. That is about all they get. What does the Minister believe is a fair price for a one-hectare parcel of country-residential land? Should it be almost as high as a new lot in Granger?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Certainly I do not believe that a piece of more or less raw land, with the services just mentioned, should be the same price as a fully serviced lot in Granger. Again, it is based on development costs.
If the city feels that they can develop land as cheaply as we can and if they sell it at development cost, it should not be too much different from what we charge.
Ms. Moorcroft: When people move into recreational areas if they cannot find urban-residential land or country-residential land, these recreational areas, which were initially developed as cottage lots, end up becoming residential neighbourhoods. Support services, such as water and sewer are then required. How does the Minister think his department should deal with this situation?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It depends on how close the lots are to the city, but I think they should be developed in such a manner that one knows that they are going to become full-time residential areas. That happened at Marsh Lake and at Tagish. All of the areas that were initially developed as recreational lots have now become full-time subdivisions. We should be planning with that type of development in mind. It may take 20 years. It took Marsh Lake, for example, 30 to 40 years before it developed into what is there now. It is something we need to carefully consider when we are developing recreational subdivisions.
Ms. Moorcroft: Certainly I agree that Marsh Lake has already gone through the transition from a recreational area to a residential area. The Marsh Lake area now has over 500 year-round residents. Are there any funds available for improved sewage treatment in this area, considering that this unorganized community now has so many residents and that there is such a pressure on the water and sewer systems that are mainly different from lot to lot - some more inadequate than others.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The water and sewer at Marsh Lake are still individually provided. I do expect that at some point in the future that may change. Right now, it is still an individual responsibility.
Ms. Moorcroft: I recognize that it is an individual responsibility, although many of the residents out there do engage one particular contractor to do the pumpouts, and there is a problem of inadequate systems on some lots and there is a problem of where to go with it. There does need to be some answer to this developed by the department.
I will move on then to ask the Minister about a resolution by the Association of Yukon Communities at a meeting recently. It was resolved that the Yukon territorial government fund a cost-of-service study for water and sewer service to determine a true evaluation of the cost of service. What is the Ministers position on this matter?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not fully familiar with the resolution but I believe that it has more to do with service agreements that a lot of the municipalities will be expected to develop with neighbouring Indian bands.
Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, I will read the text of the resolution so that the Minister does have a better idea and then maybe he could answer the question better. Whereas land claim settlements will involve joint service agreements with First Nations; and whereas these agreements will result in greater demand on municipal services with resulting increased expenditure in O&M and capital replacement costs to municipalities; and whereas joint service agreements should use costs and charges accurately reflecting actual municipal expenses, be it resolved that the Yukon territorial government fund a cost-of-service study for water and sewer service to determine a true evaluation of the cost of service. Is the Minister entertaining the idea of funding such a cost-of-service study?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Yukon government has funded the Association of Yukon Communities for land claims-related expenditures in the past. We do fund the association every year. We would certainly be willing to sit down and talk to them about this particular project.
Ms. Moorcroft: During debate on the supplementaries, we were discussing another AYC resolution about cost-sharing agreements between communities. The rationale proposed by the City of Whitehorse is that the city feels it imperative that rural residents begin contributing to the facilities and amenities offered to them, courtesy of municipal taxpayers. My constituents are certainly very concerned about this tax review and the potential prospect of taxation without representation.
Can the Minister report any progress on the work of the committee struck to look at this idea?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not believe the committee has even met. They have?
Ms. Moorcroft: I thought the committee had met, but perhaps the Minister could check into that and report back to me on it.
Municipalities could charge people who live outside their limits a fee for using a municipal dump. Similarly, they could charge people from out of town an additional fee for using recreational facilities. What is the Ministers position about a proposal to tax rural Yukoners for services provided within municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Essentially, I do not believe in it. I do not agree with it. In the Province of British Columbia, they have regional districts that actually deal with that kind of thing. For instance, a little hamlet may have a community hall, and they charge all the people in a certain area a certain rate on their taxes for the use of that community hall. There may be a fairly large municipality - a town or city - and each person who lives in this specified area pays a certain amount to the regional district for the provision of certain things within the municipality.
The Yukon is much too small for a regional district and the administration that definitely goes along with it. We all know that British Columbia has about the highest rate of municipal tax around. Essentially, I do not agree with it. Right now, the municipalities have the ability to charge extra user fees for those services that are subsidized out of taxation.
The other thing that people should be aware of is the fact that the Yukon government provides municipal operating and capital grants to municipalities, and those grants come out of the general revenues of the territory, to which all rural residents who pay taxes contribute.
To answer the Members question, no, I do not believe in it.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister indicated that the Association of Yukon Communities and various municipalities had requested amendments to the Municipal Act, and the Minister stated in the House that he would be bringing these amendments forward.
We do have one amendment, which seems to be a minor amendment, dealing with the re-use of heat products.
I would like to ask the Minister if other kinds of amendments are being contemplated?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, there are many amendments, some that have been requested by the Association of Yukon Communities and some that the department has suggested; the whole elections portion of the Municipal Act needs to be reviewed.
Municipal elections are due a year from this fall, so I would hope to see the amendments to the Municipal Act go to the spring session of the Legislature.
Ms. Moorcroft: In his amendments to the elections section of the Municipal Act, is the Minister going to look into the feasibility of a ward system for municipalities that exceed a certain size?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The ward system is already provided for in the Municipal Act and I see no reason to remove that particular section.
Ms. Moorcroft: Over 300 country residential property owners signed a petition to the City of Whitehorse to implement a variable tax rate. People are very interested in the provisions of the Municipal Act for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the issue of taxation.
Are there any changes being contemplated that would have any effect on the right to have a variable tax rate, or dealing with the issue of taxation in other areas?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: A municipality has the ability to vary the tax rate now. It is kind of interesting that no municipality in the territory does vary their tax rate. They do for different classifications like commercial versus residential, but they do not for the provisions of services. However, the municipalities do have the ability to do so.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister indicate what other kinds of amendments are being contemplated and give us an update on these proposed legislative changes?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure about all the amendments. There are some minor housekeeping things. There are spelling errors and that sort of thing that need to be cleaned up. It will be a public document when all those amendments are put together and it will be circulated.
Ms. Moorcroft: Did the Minister state that it would be circulated before it was passed or after?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Before.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to ask the Minister a few questions about the land working group in Whitehorse. First of all, I would like to ask the Minister if he sent the letter, as he indicated he would today. I am referring to the letter that was being drafted, the one that the Kwanlin Dun was expecting to receive.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, we have.
Mr. McDonald: Not having a copy of the letter myself, did it indicate whether or not the Minister would be proceeding with land development, lease land, or tender or approve contracts to develop land, prior to the working group being established?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not really want to divulge the contents of the letter. It was written to the Kwanlin Dun, and I would like them to have a look at it first.
I can tell you that we expect the working group to be set up by Wednesday. We hope that they will arrange a meeting with the Kwanlin Dun people on that date.
Mr. McDonald: The policy issues that are contained in the letter or could be contained in the letter were addressed today, and are very much in the public domain, as they should be. This is the public domain and where the Minister ultimately is accountable for everything that he and his department do. If they cannot talk about it here, I do not know what other recourse the public has. I would submit that the questions I am asking are not tough or confidential.
Let us ignore the letter for the time being. I will ask the Minister this question: is it the Ministers position that there should be no new land development, no tenders let and no contracts signed to develop land prior to these issues being dealt with by the working group?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, that is my impression.
Mr. McDonald: I will just clarify one further step because, as the Minister could sense from this mornings meeting and perhaps some of the tension at this mornings meeting with Kwanlin Dun, the words are very, very important. I want to be absolutely clear and I want the Minister to know that I am asking him to be absolutely clear and that he be held accountable for what he says, so I will ask him very directly: has the Minister instructed the department that there will be no contracts let without first having discussed those contracts and the work to be done pursuant to those contracts, prior to being dealt with at the working group?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The working group will be dealing with that question, we hope, on Wednesday with the Kwanlin Dun. In the Arkell and Logan 1 and 2 subdivisions, there have been contracts let and there is work going on in those subdivisions, but beyond those three areas the working group will be dealing with the issue of further development.
Mr. McDonald: I can gather from the Ministers answer that the letter the Kwanlin Dun will be receiving is not going to be the letter that the Kwanlin Dun expects or hopes to receive, because that was precisely the question that they put to the Minister and the Minister is taking a position of the land claims negotiator who said that any restrictions on YTG activity will be dealt with during the planning sessions to set up the working group. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The group was to set up terms of reference and there is an exemption list that they were speaking about this morning at the meeting that we both attended. I expect that is what the Member opposite was asking about.
Mr. McDonald: What the band was telling the Minister - and he did not have to be particularly sensitive to the issue to understand the message - was quite simply that they were so fed up with not having had what they considered to be thorough consultation, particularly in the last few months, that they felt that they wanted all activity to stop, period, dead, right on the spot, and they wanted the Minister to indicate that he would support that position.
Clearly, from what I can gather is the Ministers response, he is not about to do that. I would presume that the Minister has simply reiterated the position of the representative from the Land Claims Secretariat at the meeting this morning that there is a planning session to set up the working group, and that the planning session will start to determine the terms of reference for the working group and consider an exemption list to any restrictions on YTG activity.
I think the Minister knows as well as I do that he has some very unhappy campers at Kwanlin Dun this evening. I would hope that the Minister, under the circumstances, would do everything in his power to ensure that the working group is established as soon as humanly possible. I brought this matter up in the Legislature a couple of months ago, when we first had the opportunity to go through the supplementaries on the subject and wanted to know what the Minister was doing in terms of providing ongoing information to the Kwanlin Dun because the pot was about to boil over.
The standard response that was being dealt with at the land claims table was not going over too well with the Kwanlin Dun, who recognized the obvious fact that there is no land claims table to go to.
I will make a representation to the Minister that every possible effort should be made to have the working group running as soon as possible. The normal process for deciding these questions, I think, is to set up a couple of meetings in a few weeks time to discuss when you are going to set the agenda for further discussions. The next round of meetings it involves setting agendas for the mandate. There are then a number of meetings held to discuss that mandate. After a few months, or maybe more, you actually start talking about land claims issues.
I do not think that normal course of events, or whatever the procedures are for the Land Claims Secretariat under normal circumstances, are going to work in this case. I hope the Minister appreciates the pressure that he is under, probably through no fault of his own, but through the sheer force of circumstance. It means that he is going to have to react very quickly, and he is going to have to insist that the department acts very quickly to ensure that the working group is established and running as soon as possible.
On this subject, let me ask one last question on policy. Is it the Ministers policy that all actions, no matter how minor they may seem, with respect to land development or road development, will be communicated to the band as a normal course of events, so that the band does not get needlessly worried that there may be some alternate agenda that they do not know about. I refer to things like the access road to Valleyview, for example, which I know they are somewhat upset about now. There may be other things that happen from time to time that may concern them. Is it the Ministers policy to keep them informed of these events?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe, especially given the very touchy situation that we experienced this morning, that it is important that not only what we would probably consider minor events should receive a consultation with the Indian band. I should point out to the Member opposite that on April 29, following the supplementary debates, we had a meeting with the Kwanlin Dun Indian band explaining what was happening in this particular construction season.
I do hear what the Member opposite is saying. I believe that we will have to put in place an enhanced consultation process to ensure that whoever may go to work in the Indian band and whoever may be on the council will be fully aware of exactly what is happening.
Mr. McDonald: We will wait until Wednesday and see how things go. I have a question respecting agricultural land applications. The Minister may be aware, if he was at all close to the Legislature over the last seven or eight years, how much time was spent counting the outstanding agricultural land applications that were waiting to be serviced by lands officials.
Over that period of time, we made quite a show of our support for the agricultural industry by determining whether or not we were dealing with these applications with the care and attention they deserved.
Could the Minister give us the totals of outstanding applications, and what his policy is with respect to the resolution of land applications that are still in abeyance?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe there is something like 112 agricultural applications. I could be wrong on that number, but I believe it is somewhere near there. Some are what they class as active applications, and some are no longer active applications. I believe that is what I saw in one of the lands branchs briefing books.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister tell us whether or not the amount of time taken to process agricultural land applications has shortened, as lands officials gain more experience, or is the process virtually the same as it was three, four or five years ago?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not believe there have been any actual agricultural land applications finalized since I have been in this office, so I do not know whether it is a faster or slower process. I do know that, because of Indian land claims here in the Whitehorse area, several of the applications are being held in abeyance following the selection of lands by the Kwanlin Dun, Champagne/Aishihik and Taan Kwachan.
Mr. McDonald: Just to get one point clear, is the Minister saying that no agricultural land applications have been processed since he has been Minister?
If not, or if so, could the Minister tell us what direction he has given to his department with respect to making land available to the agricultural industry?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are some options available for this summer. There may have been some applications finished off, but I do not know of any that have been completed since I have been Minister.
Mr. McDonald: I think the Minister would have faced a fairly hostile Legislature had he been here a few years ago and given that answer, because there was a great deal of pressure being put upon the previous government, not only to make land available, but to resolve land claims, to deal with land use problems and go through land use planning processes all at the same time. Certainly, I do know that previous Ministers have felt the pressures very acutely, and I feel obligated to ensure that the Minister understand what some of the needs are on the street.
I do understand that the Minister has considered the issue to be important enough to bring the issue up during the election campaign. I would like to know what the Ministers plans are with respect to resolving the outstanding 112 or so agricultural land applications and what special effort he is going to bring to bear to bring many of those applications to a close, or the ones that have the greatest chance of success.
I would also like to know what policy changes he is going to make to ensure that he does make more land available to those people who need it and how he is going to resolve those very real needs, along with the other pressures that we have been talking about tonight with my colleague from Mount Lorne and also the issues that were raised about land claims.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite is correct. I believe quite strongly that we need to review the agricultural policy. We need to review our whole land availability. I have had two meetings with the Yukon Agricultural Association. I have reviewed the agricultural policy that came into effect approximately a year ago.
The Agricultural Association initially told me they had some real problems with the existing policy and wanted to change it. Later, there was a change in the associations executive, and the latest information I got from them was to not do anything, as they wanted to have another look at it. I want to have meetings with these people to look at the agricultural policy. I would like to look at agricultural land availability; however, we also have to deal with the First Nations to make sure that everyone is involved in whatever we do eventually develop.
Mr. McDonald: I would suppose that the Minister is going to run across the large, rural hamlets, as well. I know they will express an interest in the land issues and controlling development in their districts.
The fact remains, of course, that there are a large number of outstanding applications. I am not only referring to the Whitehorse area, but around the territory.
Recently, I dealt with a case of a constituent who spent two and one-half or three years putting forward a land application, going through all the hurdles without running into any opposition and, yet, he is still waiting for his land. One would hate to think what would happen if he ran into any opposition from any party.
I am asking the question because I had high hopes that the new government would be doing wonderful new things, given a lot of the big talk prior to the election and over the course of the last seven years. However, I will let this Minister work through these problems over the summer and I will pursue them again in the fall.
There was one issue that came up recently, though, and that was the resolution passed at the Yukon Party convention with respect to the subdivision of agricultural land. To many peoples surprise, and maybe even to the surprise of some Members on the front bench, the resolution passed, calling for, as I understand it, the government to consider the subdivision of lands that were previously slated as agricultural lands and not subdividable.
Can I get the Ministers position on this particular matter?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I was at the AYC meeting that weekend so I am not sure of the exact wording of the resolution. The Agricultural Association believes that agricultural land can be subdivided down to no less than 65 hectares and that is basically what I would support.
Mr. McDonald: I am glad to hear that. I am sorry the Ministers attention was drawn away from the convention because perhaps another voice at the convention may have seen different results. I am worried about the pressure this may bring to bear on the government, however, because the government may feel obligated from time to time to pay attention to the governments party. Given that really the only device that was developed in the early 1980s to protect agricultural land, and to ensure there was some integrity in the system of distributing lands for agricultural purposes, was the restriction that the land could not be subdivided. As the Minister may be aware, back in the early 1980s when Mr. Tracey and Mr. Lang were dealing out agricultural land, there was considerable concern that the process was a very loose one but, more importantly, that the land that was being transferred so close to Whitehorse would ultimately be used for something other than agricultural land. There was some concern that, should there be any relaxation of the rules and restrictions respecting agricultural land, then this would be the foot in the door to the breakdown of the agricultural land application system.
Lo and behold, only a few years later, after large amounts of land - at 160 acres a pop - have been issued very close to Whitehorse, some of the people who have received that land are now protesting that the land would probably be best suited for subdivision development and that they should perhaps be considered the recipients of a windfall as a result of their land development proposals.
Therefore, we have some anxiety about what may happen, and I am glad to hear that the Minister, for one, is not going to be advocating in his circles any changes to the agricultural land program. I would hope that he would let us all know if there are any changes being contemplated in the halls of government.
Can the Minister tell us what plans the department has for engaging in land use planning anywhere in rural Yukon, particularly district planning? What is going to happen with the Hootalinqua North plan? Would he give us an update on the Klondike Valley land use plan?
If he has any information or any thoughts about where he would like to take land use planning, I would appreciate hearing about it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is a land use planning process going on in Carcross right now. There is one on the Carcross Road for the Mount Lorne hamlet. There is a planning process in Ross River. The Deep Creek residents on Lake Laberge are in the very preliminary stages of starting the process, and the Ibex Valley hamlet is in the very preliminary stages of planning a process.
The Hootalinqua North plan is, from my understanding, more or less unacceptable in the form in which it is written. However, all the groups that are interested in planning in the area that the Hootalinqua North plan encompasses are going to use the plan for the technical detail that is contained within it.
Mr. McDonald: Is there anything about the land use planning processes in terms of methodology being used or the policies being applied that is different from that which has taken place in the past? How is the land use planning situation going to evolve in a way that is different from what has happened in the past?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that one of the reasons the Hootalinqua North plan failed was because it was not community based. Also, I think it was too big. It covered an area that contained far too many interests. I think a better way of planning would be to allow the various interest groups - for instance, the Ibex Valley hamlet, the Mount Lorne hamlet, possibly the Hot Springs Road Area and the Deep Creek area - to do their own land use planning and recommend zoning, and then tie that in to an overall area plan, rather than trying to put the plan together and then have each community work its plan into that.
From people with whom I have spoken in the various areas - although it is very difficult to get them to tell you what is wrong with the Hootalinqua North plan - most people have a very strong dislike for the plan. It appears to me that it was the process rather than the final result; they did not like that process.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated that he felt that the process was not community based enough. Can he indicate what he would characterize as being a community-based approach? Can the Minister describe that community-based approach for us?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: What I would like to see in a community and what a lot of communities are doing is to form a group, with help from our community planning people, who talk about what they would like to see in their particular area. First they define an area of influence or common concern. They would define that area with some help from our community planning people, and then they would start defining the things that they want to look at, whether it is land use planning, parks, recreation, density, various uses such as industrial, residential or agricultural, and they pull this information together themselves. At some point in time a professional planner is brought in to put it all together for them.
It seems, in any experience that I have had with community planning, that this approach seems to work better than starting out with a group of experts who are telling the members of the community how they should best live in their community. This seems to irk them, and rightfully so.
Mr. McDonald: I do not have much faith in some of the people who profess to be experts and I do know that some of their advice can be irritating, particularly if it is pushed too hard. I would like to see the Ministers approach taken some place. Is this what is going to happen in Ross River, Deep Creek and Ibex Valley? Is this approach already being applied or is this still at the conceptual stage?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That type of process, with some variation, is more or less what is happening right now in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne. That is definitely the way they are going in Deep Creek and Ross River.
Mr. McDonald: I have a number of other questions about land use planning that I would like to put to the Minister, but I would like him to have more experience with delivery first. Otherwise, it becomes far too esoteric and theoretical to tie down.
I would just like to ask the Minister what his plans are for land legislation. Does he contemplate any major initiatives in this area?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are looking at subdivision control legislation that currently does not exist in the territory. That has to go to Cabinet. The department is putting together a paper on it now. I am not exactly sure when it will be ready to go to Cabinet or when we intend to get it on the legislative agenda.
Mr. McDonald: There is nothing else, nothing to do with the Area Development Act, nothing to do with the Lands Act? There is no other legislation being considered for change, such as the Land Use Planning Act or anything else? Is that it?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Right now, that is basically the extent of legislation that is being developed. That may have some effect on the Lands Act or the Area Development Act. Those amendments or changes would probably come forward at the same time.
I want to review the various pieces of legislation respecting land over the summer. If there are changes required, they would probably be developed over the fall and winter.
Mr. Cable: There appears to have been some events that have taken place with respect to the Kwanlin Dun Band that I am not right up to date on. This working group that was referred to earlier - I wonder if the Minister would advise us of its terms of reference.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is hoped that the terms of reference will be finalized in the next very short time. The working group essentially is to look at, I suppose, minor and major events that are happening that will affect the various Indian bands in this particular area - mainly the Kwanlin Dun and the Taan Kwachan because of their large land selections within the City of Whitehorse. It will be made up of a federal representative, a territorial Land Claims Secretariat representative, the Kwanlin Dun Band and probably the Taan Kwachan Band; then there will be technical people brought in from the departmnets on an as-required basis.
Mr. Cable: Is it seen as an advisory board or some sort of group that heads off problems? What is its main function?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think the Member has captured it fairly well. It is an advisory group and also it is hoped that they will be able to head off problems before they actually become very serious problems.
Mr. Cable: At whos instance was the board set up?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Apparently, it was sort of a joint effort between the Land Claims Secretariat and the Kwanlin Dun Band, who agreed that this type of committee would probably be able to head off problems before they did become major. They are the ones who came up with the idea.
Mr. Cable: Is it seen that this working group will make recommendations to all the land claim negotiators? How is it anticipated that this group will mesh in with the land claim negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Probably, the principal representatives of the working group will be the land claim negotiators from each group. What I would see them doing would be dealing with issues very quickly, and then taking them to the land claims table. They would basically be saying, this is what we - we being the group - would like to see.
Mr. Cable: Is it anticipated that this group will simply identify issues, or will it make recommendations on solutions?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, the group will be making recommendations.
Mr. Cable: Will there be any neutral third parties involved in the group to act in a mediation role?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Not as such. The three main parties will be discussing the issues. They will have the people there that they require. For instance, if they are dealing with lands issues, they would probably have people from our lands branch, like our assistant deputy minister or deputy minister, to provide technical advice and assistance where required.
Mr. Cable: So, in a sense, this is a replication of the land claims negotiating table, but with wider input, sort of a first step?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The group will probably be less formal than the land claims table. It is actually for the people to be able to sit down in a somewhat less formal situation and discuss issues, and perhaps clear the air before the issue actually goes to the land claims table.
Mr. Cable: On another issue, this afternoon, I asked the Minister a number of questions relating to the status of the work being done under the transportation division of his department. I wonder if I might get further information with respect to the municipal and community affairs division. The total capital budget is $23 million. Of that budget, and just approximately, what portion has been let to tender, or is ready to go to tender?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We do not have that information here. I can provide it for the Member opposite; however, it would be much less than the highways division. For instance, some of the land development is out for tender, but some will be for later on this summer.
Mr. Cable: This budget was prepared some three months ago, if I have the chronology correct. Is it fair to say that virtually all that $23 million will be let for tender for construction during this fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The land development portion, like residential, country residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural will likely be reduced; at least the residential portion of that will be substantially reduced.
Mr. Cable: I gather from what the Minister has said that he is not in a position to give me a precise answer but will half of this budget - I take it that the Minister wants a break - be let for tender this year for work to be done in this fiscal year? Would that be a safe guesstimate?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would not want to say half, two-thirds or three-eighths. I think that we have to do a needs analysis for land development.
In the Logan area and Arkell areas that we were talking about previously, there is a tremendous amount of work there, but we are not sure how far we are going to go with the work.
I would like to do an analysis, but that will take some time. I cannot guarantee that I can get that information back to you before the House adjourns, but when we do have the information I will certainly provide the information to the Member opposite.
Mr. Cable: I appreciate why the land development may be up in the air, in view of the uncertainties. Is there any other area within the municipal and community affairs division on which the Minister is uncertain as to whether it will proceed this year or not?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If we get away from land development and into the central services and so on, I am not sure how it works. For instance, in community planning, we have $180,000. That may be a lot or it may not. We might be short. One year, there was as much as $1 million spent on rural electrification and telephone. It is a recoverable program, so it only affects cashflow. It does not affect the actual surplus/deficit situation. We never know from one year to the next whether $150,000 for rural electrification and telephone will be enough or not even close to enough.
Overall, the budget is fairly accurate; however, I believe that some of the items may go up or down.
Mr. Cable: I think the Ministers compatriots are signalling for a time out. Let me just ask one more question.
Are any of the items in the municipal and community affairs division being held up for tendering, pending passage of this budget?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will call the Committee of the Whole to order. Is there further debate?
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister. I am just trying to be clear on what the current position of the government is regarding land claims in the southern Yukon. The traditional territories of the Kwanlin Dun Band and the Taan Kwachan people include land outside Whitehorse city limits as well as inside city limits. Can the Minister confirm that land development in all these areas, which would include most of the Ministers riding of Laberge as well as Mount Lorne, will be placed on hold until some of the outstanding controversies surrounding the land claims in these areas are resolved?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The new land dispositions are on hold. There are several pending, and several pieces of land are in some sort of progress and they are continuing. There will be no new federal land transferred and developed for a period of time. I had given my word to the Taan Kwachan that we would hold off for three months. The three months are now long gone, but we are still holding off for a period of time until the land selections are made and then we will be able to carry on.
Although it is set up to deal with land within the city, if the working group wanted, we would involve them with issues on land outside the city.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does this hold on land disposition, whether it is infill lots in a subdivision or new subdivisions or expansions of existing subdivisions, apply or not?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe I answered that. I said that there would be no new land transferred from the federal government and then subdivided, or whatever is necessary, and disposed of. That is not the intent of this period.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Ministers answers are raising more questions for me than they are answering. I thought the Minister had indicated earlier that there was some doubt that Mary Lake and Pineridge, for example, would go ahead because, at the request of the Kwanlin Dun and the Taan Kwachan, there was a hold on land being developed within city limits. Can the Minister attempt to clarify this for me again?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The working group will definitely be looking at those two particular subdivisions, too. There is a hold, but it is a temporary hold, on those two dispositions.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is this a temporary hold until the conflicts are resolved, or is it a temporary hold until there is a settlement under the claim for the two bands in the Whitehorse area?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is just a temporary hold. I would expect that it would be no more than three months. In fact, that is what the Kwanlin Dun asked us for.
Chair: Are the Members ready to go to line-by-line debate?
On Land Development
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister provide a breakdown for the $17,410,000 in residential land development for the next fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is $7 million for the development of off-site infrastructure in the Hamilton Boulevard Area D - water reservoir, pumphouse, water mains - which are necessary to ensure services will be available for the next release of lots in the Hamilton Boulevard expansion area.
There is $2 million for the completion of 130 lots in the Logan subdivision, including paving and hydro. The sale date is July, 1993. There is $1.5 million for the completion of 90 lots in the Arkell mobile home subdivision, including paving and hydro.
There is $6,500,000 for the development of 200 lots in stage 1, which will be needed for future years demands. These projects are being reviewed in light of current demand expectations and plans may be modified as a result.
Mr. McDonald: Is it the Ministers position that the $17,410,000 would all be be recoverable?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, it is.
Mr. McDonald: I wonder if the Minister realizes - according to past practice at least - that a fair portion of the major infrastructure to subdivisions has been written off, meaning not recoverable. Is the Minister aware of that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, I am aware that there have been some write-offs for infrastructure.
Mr. McDonald: Is he saying that, given that knowledge, the $17,410,000 will be recoverable?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Generally, we should recover the initial $7 million for the development of the off-site infrastructure. That should be recoverable against the lots that are sold there, but there have been write-offs in the past on some of that, but it is not anticipated at this time that there will be write-offs of the infrastructure.
Mr. McDonald: What does that make the average price of the lots that are outstanding?
I think that we ought to be honest with ourselves about these costs, because this is going to be a real expenditure, not an expenditure with a recovery, and I think that we should be honest with ourselves about that up front. Can the Minister tell us what the cost per lot would be?
While the Minister is gathering information for his answer, I will point out, for those Members who do not know, that the cost associated with the real expenditure could be the equivalent of a school. If even half of the off-site costs are written-off, one could build a school for that amount, so it is not an inconsiderate matter.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The current lots - the ones that have been sold - have been sold for $20,000 to $30,000. The $7 million for the infrastructure development is based on approximately 1200 lots. That would amount to around $5,500 per lot; that would be tacked onto pavement and other costs that are involved. I would expect that it would be in the same neighbourhood as the existing Granger lots.
Residential in the amount of $17,410,000 agreed to
On Country Residential
Ms. Moorcroft: Where are the country-residential developments that are indicated on this line?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Basically we have Carmacks country residential, Teslin country residential, Watson Lake country residential, and Alaska Highway west.
Country Residential in the amount of $1,300,000 agreed to
Mr. Harding: Could the Minister give a breakdown of where those lots are planned? I know there were plans for some lot development in my riding.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: On the commercial, we are looking at Kopper King development and the Klondike Valley highway commercial development.
Mr. Harding: Has lot development for Faro been cancelled?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think it is in the next line, Industrial.
Mr. Harding: It is supposed to be commercial and industrial. I would imagine that it was the commercial that was cancelled. I was going to ask about industrial in the next line. If it was cancelled, why was it cancelled?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is nothing planned. In fact I have the industrial out also. There is nothing planned for commercial or industrial.
Mr. Harding: I wrote the Minister several months ago considering this question. I was told by the Minister that I would be looking to the new budget to see. At the time of the letter, in the Ministers opinion, nothing had been done to drastically alter things. This budget was prepared on the premise that the mines were operating. I would just like to know why the lot development has been cancelled? I have been to a Town of Faro meeting where the council has had the maps out and have shown me the industrial development plan for this year. I have got to tell the Minister that I will be a little ticked if this is indeed cancelled.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will have to check into it. I do not have anything with me that indicates there would be commercial or industrial development this season.
Mr. Harding: This is very confusing, because I made a point of writing the Minister about this, informing him of the needs, what was planned by the previous government, the commitments made to the community, and asking that they be honoured by the new government. Everything was outlined in the letter. The Minister had full knowledge of it; his signature sits on the letter, and he now tells me he has no knowledge of it. I do not think that is good enough. I am quite disappointed.
The problem is that, if I want to clear this line, when will I get another opportunity to ask about it? I would like the Minister to just look and see if he can get an answer for me.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will have to get back to the Member opposite.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated he had plans for the Kopper King development. He did not indicate how much of the $575,000 is slated for that development.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is $500,000.
Mr. McDonald: Does that complete the project? Will the lots be ready for sale this summer, or sometime during this construction season?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is not likely the lots will be ready this year. We need confirmation that the development costs will be recovered by the sale of lots prior to initiating the development.
Mr. McDonald: I am not sure what to make of that answer. I presume it is a policy to recover costs associated with land development. What does he mean by wanting confirmation? Does he want to sell the lots up front and then decide whether or not he goes ahead with the development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are some agreements to be reached with the city and we just have to ensure that all those agreements are in place before we fully develop the lots. We have $500,000 in the budget for 1993-94 to provide for the extension of some of the services and then another $1.2 million for 1994-95 to complete the subdivision, but there are some agreements that have to be reached with the city and we have to get all that in place before we can proceed.
Mr. McDonald: That is the reason I asked whether or not the $500,000 was the full amount of the project. I guess it is not. The full amount of the project is $1.7 million - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would have to get back to the Member with the exact breakdown of the cost for that development.
Mr. McDonald: While the Minister is going through his research on the subject, he might just turn to page 28, which shows the Kopper King commercial land development at $3,481,000. I will wait for the Minister to get a final tally for this. In the meantime, can the Minister indicate how many lots they are contemplating to be a part of the development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, I cannot give him that right now. I will have to get back to the Member with the number of lots.
Mr. McDonald: I will ask some questions and the Minister can come back at some other time. What I would like to know is the true total cost, the true total cost per lot, the number of lots, the amount remaining to construct the lots and when the lots will be ready for sale; I would like to know how much of the total price will be written off against the access road to the college site; I would like to know if turning lanes are being contemplated on the Alaska Highway; I would like to know whether or not lights are being contemplated on the Alaska Highway; I would like to know how the land development schedule blends with the construction schedule for the access road to the college. If the Minister can provide that information to me at some point, I would appreciate it - some point in the not-too-distant future.
Commercial in the amount of $575,000 agreed to
Mr. Harding: I had a couple of minutes to grab my file just to make to sure that I was correct; I cannot locate any paper on the Commercial line, but I do have information on the Industrial line. I wrote the Minister on December 1, 1992, asking him about the lots. I received a response December 15 from the Minister saying that The lands branch personnel have been working directly with the Town of Faro in order to supply industrial lots in 1993. The town is currently in the process of finalizing a review of two potential subdivision concept plans for an industrial area near the entrance of town - I was at the particular town council meeting where that took place - and then, subject to the approval of the lands branch capital budget, the lands will be developed in 1993.
I can only assume, from the answers that I have gotten tonight, that unfortunately what has happened is that this lot development is no longer on the books. I will certainly be asking more questions and I hope the Minister gets back to me as soon as possible regarding that. I have a constituent who is very interested in this and so is the town.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We will get back to the Member opposite as quickly as we possibly can.
Industrial in the amount of $410,000 agreed to
Ms. Moorcroft: Where is the proposed agricultural land development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are looking at planned subdivisions. For 1993-94, we are looking at Watson Lake, Upper Liard, Mayo and Dawson City for feasibility, pre-design and limited construction. For 1994-95, we are looking at Dawson City and Hootalinqua North for design and construction.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister describe what an agricultural subdivision would be like? What kind of parcels are they talking about?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are a couple of classifications: intensive agriculture, which would be plots down to about 20 acres in size, and extensive agriculture, which normally are 65 hectares, or 160 acres.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would just like to confirm, then, that this is not a way of subdividing existing agricultural parcels down to 20 hectare parcels.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Not at all.
Mr. McDonald: The Agricultural Association, at least in the past, has been very reluctant to support agricultural land subdivisions. Has the Minister done anything to convert the Agricultural Association or the people who are offended by the concept of subdivisions? It has somehow offended the free spirit of going out and selecting ones own piece of land - that pioneering and homesteading element of starting ones farm from scratch and breaking trail - all that stuff. I know that the previous government had a heck of a time trying to convince anyone that the agricultural land subdivisions are a good idea. Has the Minister had more success?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As I mentioned before, I have had a couple of meetings with the Agricultural Association. Although I think that they are essentially more in favour of spot land applications, they were talking - and they brought the subject up - about some sort of planned agricultural areas to save on the provision of electricity, roads and so on.
Mr. Cable: I have just one question for the Minister. A couple of years ago, there was a Yukon agricultural policy produced that involved the Ministers department and the Department of Renewable Resources. Insofar as the Department of Community and Transportation Services is concerned, has there been any changes to that policy?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The policy was finalized about one year ago and adopted by the previous government. The Agricultural Association, as I mentioned before, has a number of changes that they would like to see included in it. There was a change in the executive of the association, and I was told by one member that they would like us to sit on it for awhile. It has not changed from when it was adopted, which was about one year ago.
Agricultural in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On Rural Residential
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister provide the location for the development of these rural-residential areas?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Klondike Highway South, rural residential in the Annie Lake area. There will be site inspection and limited development work for approximately 30 lots.
Whitehorse residential rural homestead - to develop new lots in the greater Whitehorse area. In 1993-94, we would be looking at some design work and territorial-wide rural residential homestead would include site selection and design, possibly construction of minimal standard access roads and geotechnical work. This would be in various places throughout the territory.
Ms. Moorcroft: On the rural homestead developments where there is site selection and design, would that be open for people to go and find an area where they wanted to homestead and stake the land?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, it is not likely that would happen.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister be a little more specific about the Whitehorse residential homestead policy?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Basically, it is to develop new lots in the greater Whitehorse area, and in 1993-94 some design work would be done and possibly some legal surveys; 1994-95 would be the release of approximately 30 lots and 1996-97 would be the release of approximately 20 lots.
Ms. Moorcroft: What size of lots are we talking about here?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that they are in the neighbourhood of 20 acres.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is there any policy governing how these homestead-style lots will be developed?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Currently, I do not believe there is any policy governing the homestead-type lots.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister saying that there will be 30 lots in total all in the greater Whitehorse area, or that there would be 30 lots in the Klondike Highway South/Annie Lake area?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In the Klondike Highway South residential rural Annie Lake area, there would be approximately 30 lots in 1994-95, and approximately 20 lots in 1995-96. That is subject to the recommendations from the local area plan that is going on in the Mount Lorne hamlet. The Whitehorse residential rural homestead is the same numbers, that is, approximately 30 in 1994-95 and approximately 20 in 1996-97.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do not believe that the Hamlet of Mount Lorne had any inkling that there was a pre-supposed plan to develop 30 lots in the Annie Lake area, prior to their conducting a massive public consultation in five different neighbourhoods and talking about how the residential properties would grow, what sizes they would be, and what locations they would be in. Can the Minister give me a briefing on when they decided on these 30 lots in the Annie Lake area being made available?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It has not been decided. It is directly related to the local area plan. The development will be subject to recommendations that come out of that plan.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will these 30 lots the Minister is referring to be in the entire hamlet land use plan area, or is he talking about one specific corner of the hamlet?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We would have to wait until the local area plan is finished and adopted. We would then be able to develop some lots.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would then like the Minister to confirm for me that he does expect that there will be 30 rural-residential lots developed in the 1993-94 budget in the Klondike Highway South area.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As I said, there are approximately 30 lots. Again, that will depend on the outcome of the plan and the recommendations that come out of the Mount Lorne hamlet planning exercise.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will the other 30 lots in the greater Whitehorse area - which the Minister was talking about being available for homesteading - be outside of the Klondike Highway South area, or will some of them also be in that same area?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We do not know exactly where they are going to be located. We would expect there would be some north on the Mayo Road and some west on the Alaska Highway. There may very well be some at Flat Creek.
Mr. McDonald: I have a brief question. Has there been a change to the homesteader policy? I do not think the Minister answered the question.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, there has not.
Mr. McDonald: As the Members in the Ministers caucus will know, there was some concern about the homesteader policy in the past. To contemplate further development under the same policy, with no changes, given some of the concerns of Members opposite about the policy, seems somewhat ludicrous. Is the Minister contemplating any changes before he actually develops property?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There have been no changes in the last six months, but my understanding is that there were some changes to the original homesteader policy after Mendenhall to stop getting into that type of situation.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister summarize the changes that he contemplates will be in effect for the new homesteading land that he is developing?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure what those changes are. I will have to get back to the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister then describe for me what the existing homesteader policy allows for?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will provide that for the Member opposite.
Rural Residential in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
Ms. Moorcroft: Since I discovered that there were a lot more rural-residential lots being slated for developed in parts of my riding that I had not previously been aware of, I had better ask where the recreational properties are, for $100,000, in the next fiscal year.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: These will be subject to the land claims land selections. In 1993-94, it is contemplated that there will be some pre-design work in the Watson Lake, Mayo and Little Salmon-Faro areas and, in 1994-95, construction in the Watson Lake, Little Salmon and Whitehorse areas.
Recreational in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On General/Miscellaneous Recoverable Admin
General/Miscellaneous Recoverable Admin in the amount of $240,000 agreed to
On Land Central Services
On Quarry Development
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 09, Community and Transportation Services, by reducing the line item Quarry Development on page 25 in the capital estimates by $20,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister what the rates are for quarries, and do quarries pay for themselves?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We do not have the exact rate for quarry fees from the users but, if the Member wishes, I will provide those rates to her. The theory is that the quarry should pay for itself.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is certainly an admirable theory that quarries should pay for themselves, but my question was, do quarries pay for themselves?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I honestly do not know if they have paid for themselves in the past or not.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could get back to me with what the rates are and whether they anticipate, in the next year, that the quarries will pay for themselves under the current rates and, if not, perhaps he could also address that.
Quarry Development in the amount of $300,000 agreed to as amended
On Community Planning
Community Planning in the amount of $180,000 agreed to
On Planning and Engineering
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 09, Community and Transportation Services, by reducing the line item Planning and Engineering on page 25 in the capital estimates by $35,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $157,000 agreed to as amended
On Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable
Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable in the amount of $55,000 agreed to
On Recreation & Community Facilities/Services
On Recreation Facilities
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 09, Community and Transportation Services, by reducing the line item Recreational Facilities on page 25 in the capital estimates by $15,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister indicate what is left remaining in the $125,000 in this line item? Could he also indicate what the $15,000 was for, that we just removed?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are several items - an air circulation system in the Ross River arena for $20,000; repairs to plant and structure in the Ross River curling rink for $5,000; swimming pool repairs in Pelly Crossing for $5,000; swimming pool repairs in Carcross for $5,000; repairs in Beaver Creek for $5,000; Carcross Community Centre repairs for $5,000; community centre repairs in Beaver Creek for $5,000 and $90,000 for the start of a covered skating rink in Old Crow. Those total $140,000. That amendment will actually reduce it by $15,000. We intend to take a little bit from each one of those items.
Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, I know that you would not want me to pass over the question of the covered skating rink in Old Crow.
Just for our information, can the Minister tell us what the multi-year capital costs will be of the skating rink in Old Crow? It is not listed on page 28.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There have been some changes to the initial structure and I do not have the numbers with me, but I will certainly get those numbers and provide them to the Member.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister give us a ballpark figure of what the project will be? We will ask for the specifics later on.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is somewhere around $428,000, but I am not sure if that includes some money that is already being spent on the boards. The amount is in the neighbourhood of $400,000.
Amendment agreed to
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $125,000 agreed to as amended
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Computing Equipment and Systems
Computing Equipment and Systems in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
On Public Health
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Ms. Moorcroft: I want to return to the issue of sewage treatment and disposal.
The Marsh Lake area has now become a residential area with 500 people living there year round. Individual sewage treatment includes pit privvies, holding tanks and the like. People living in this area are upstream from Whitehorse, which does its own bit for inadequate sewage treatment. Is the Minister prepared to investigate this matter and, more importantly, at what stage will the government actually provide planning, design, construction and operation and maintenance funding for sewage disposal for an unorganized community?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I thought that there had been some test work done out in that particular area, but we cannot really recall. If there were some sort of sewage disposal system put in there, it would affect the taxes of each user. Generally, when some sort of sewage disposal system is put into a community, the community picks up a portion of the cost through their taxation.
Ms. Moorcroft: You have to put it somewhere, and it might be as simple a solution as having a sewage disposal area available with the existing systems. I will ask the Minister if he can give me a breakdown of the $750,000 on this line for sewage treatment and disposal.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is $100,000 to Mayo to finalize the sewage treatment facility; for Ross-River, there is $200,000 to design a sewage treatment facility; for Carcross, there is $160,000 to design; for Whitehorse, $100,000 is a partial contribution toward modifications to sewage treatment; and a sewage truck purchase in Old Crow of $130,000.
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $750,000 agreed to
On Hazardous Waste, Storage
Mr. Penikett: Perhaps the Minister might know exactly how he is going to spend this $100,000. We have been trying in Question Period, but have not been able to find out, other than we know that there has been thought given to having a fence built.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Essentially, the $100,000 is for the development of a special waste program consisting of regulations and an education package. Whatever is remaining will be used for site development.
Mr. Penikett: Let me ask the Minister again, as both I and my constituents would like to know quite clearly in concrete terms: what are we talking about, when are we going to build it, where it is going to be located?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: What we are going to build is a special waste storage facility. Where we are going to build it is the site picked by the site selection committee. We hope we will be able to have funding in next years budget to actually construct the facility.
Mr. Penikett: When the Minister says it will be where the site selection committee selected a site, is he talking about the final location that was agreed upon after much consultation, or is he talking about the site previously recommended by another committee, which proved to be quite controversial?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am sorry for that oversight. It was the second site that was actually picked, I understand, by the government, and it is the site that will be used.
Mr. Penikett: There has been some public musing from officials down the road at city hall about having a second look at the municipal dump. Can the Minister assure us that that is not happening?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: When I first took over this office, I also thought that the municipal dump may very well be a better site because of the proximity to the existing land disposal but, after looking at the reports and talking to the various officials who had done test work, because of the fractured bedrock and the proximity to the groundwater, it appeared to me that, in fact, the site selection committee - and the government, I guess - had made the best selection when they had gone the other way from town.
Mr. Penikett: I appreciate the Ministers frankness in describing the evolution of his own thinking on the subject.
The Minister has also in the past been a vocal critic of the cost of the proposed facility - a cost that rose, I believe, not to anything like the numbers he was throwing around, but a cost that rose as a function of public consultation because the more we talked with citizens about this the more we became aware of concerns about the storage of various wastes.
I freely admit that many people have these under their sinks now or in their garages or in warehouses but, nonetheless, there was great concern - particularly by people who live in the general area - about not only the storage, but the transportation; this led to a conclusion that we needed to have a facility that was secure in every sense of the word.
The Minister has hinted that he will be building a much cheaper facility and, indeed, I do not know how much will be left of the $100,000 after he has done the work on regulations and the other work he has mentioned, but could he tell us something about the size and type of structure he is at this moment contemplating?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As soon as this session is over, I want to review the conceptual plans and cost estimates that are currently available. We have one person on staff who is actually doing a paper on solid waste right now.
As soon as the session is over, and he finishes that paper, we are going to be starting to look at facilities for hazardous waste.
Mr. Penikett: As I said before, I understand that the Member has previously criticized the former governments proposal. Indeed, he added to the cost of it by talking about road upgrading, which is not something that we had contemplated, as I understand it.
Nonetheless, would it be fair to say that, given that the Minister does not yet know the scope and type of the facility he would build at the previously identified site, he cannot, therefore, have a clear idea of what the probable cost of the facility is? Is that correct? Would that be fair?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is a fair assessment.
Mr. Penikett: Someone less charitable and kind than I might think that it was a bit unfair to attack the cost of the previous facility when we do not know what the cost of the Ministers facility is. Let me not explore that ground again but, since the Minister is talking about a new proposal at the previously selected site - and his thinking will be guided by a paper he is now having prepared - can I ask him a two part question: will he be making that paper public at some point after he has read it and, if it involves substantial changes to the previous proposal, will he be doing another brief round of consultation before getting consultation that might involve the MLA in the area and, perhaps, the residents in the immediate proximity to the facility?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would have no problem with that. We still have the operating committee - I forget the exact name - that has been established to provide information on operating the facility. It is still in existence, and we certainly would be consulting with them. I would not have any problem with consulting with the MLA and the residents in the immediate area.
Mr. Penikett: I will thank the Minister for that and get back to him.
Hazardous Waste, Storage in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Solid Waste in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $170,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Flood/Erosion Control
Flood/Erosion Control in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Equipment Purchase
Mr. Harding: Could we have a breakdown of this expenditure?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are a variety of needs for equipment used by the municipal engineering branch for many of their facilities and systems in unincorporated communities, for instance, the pump house at Tagish, the water system at Destruction Bay, or the water delivery setup in Keno. The expenditure is for miscellaneous equipment, $20,000.
Replacement of municipal engineering vehicles are required as the existing vehicles wear out. Further purchasing of vehicles reduces the number of vehicles required to be leased on an annual basis, and there is $20,000 in each one of those areas.
Equipment Purchase in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Mr. Harding: Is the Minister undertaking mosquito control in every community?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We offer mosquito control to any of the communities that want it. Some of them choose not to take on mosquito control because of a perceived notion that the insecticide we use is potentially dangerous.
Mosquito Control in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Piped Sewer Main Replacement - Dawson
Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, due to the time, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 6.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Chair: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the 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 stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 10:27
The following Sessional Paper was tabled May 17, 1993:
Public Service Commissioner, Ms. Pat Cumming, appointed for 10-year term (Ostashek)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 17, 1993:
Contract for advertising placement and production: current status (Ostashek)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 495-496
Municipal lands: question of third party interest by the City of Whitehorse re land claims (Ostashek)
Oral, Hansard, p. 779
Employment Equity: Yukon Partys timeline for achieving full employment equity (Phelps)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 830
Continuing Care/Rehabilitation Facility: services included; second phase services; 1993-94 O&M budget; recruitment plan; admission criteria (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p. 731
Family support workers: number of contracts and auxiliary positions in 1992-93 (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p. 807
Health Act: implementation (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p. 808
Young Offenders Facility: workplace harassment review of the secure and open custody program and recommendations (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p. 809
Drinking water tests for Giardiasis (Beaver Fever): number of cases by community in 1991; statistics not available for 1992 (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p. 886
The following Document was filed May 17, 1993:
(a) Government Leader announces moves on reducing government expenditures: reduction in salaries of MLAs and political staff (News Release dated January 29, 1993); (b) Indemnities, Expense Allowances and Salaries of Members of the Assembly (Penikett)