Monday, May 31, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have some legislative returns.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have two legislative returns.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
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: Forestry transfer
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources regarding the forestry transfer agreement.
According to a recent news release from the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the forest resources program of Northern Affairs has recently downgraded a number of critical positions from full-time to seasonal status, a management decision that has spurred a number of complaints by employees and which may substantially affect the resources available to the program. Is the Minister aware of these program changes and are they proceeding with his approval as a result of negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The agreement is going along as usual and we are aware that there is some discontent but nothing has come to us at the negotiating table.
Ms. Moorcroft: Management of forest resources on Yukon public lands is a considerable responsibility and it is imperative that the Yukon program be an adequate one when this government takes over responsibility for forestry. In view of the fact that recent management decisions have led to the filing of more than 35 grievances by many employees of the forestry program, many of them relating to the dollar resources attached to positions in the program, will the Minister consider placing transfer discussions on hold pending their resolution and a confirmation of the resources that would be attached to each of the positions in the event of a transfer?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I see no reason for that at the present time. We have had nothing brought to us and we have an agreement in principle; as long as that is honoured, we will continue the way we have been.
Ms. Moorcroft: Given that the Kaska of southeast Yukon hold the only active timber harvesting agreement in the territory, and given both the Yukon Partys political commitment to consult with First Nations on devolution matters and the consultation obligations imposed by the umbrella final agreement, formally signed on Saturday, how has the Minister involved Yukon First Nations in forestry transfer negotiations to date, and what guarantees of formal involvement in the continuing negotiations is he prepared to offer?
Mr. Brewster: We carried on the same negotiations as the former government did with the CYI and we have continually sent them information. Although they do not show up at meetings, we have forwarded them information on what goes on at those meetings.
Question re: Northern Accord, First Nation involvement
Ms. Joe: On Tuesday of last week, the Government Leader told this House that he felt comfortable going ahead with the signing of the Northern Accord, because he and the Hon. Tom Siddon said that they had fulfilled its obligations under the umbrella final agreement.
The Council for Yukon Indians was strongly opposed to this, as was the Government Leader of the Northwest Territories, and, I understand, other aboriginal groups in the north.
I would like to ask the Minister of Economic Development if he could explain the contradiction between his partys stated election commitment to consult with First Nations on devolution matters and its unwillingness to deal with First Nations concerned in this transfer of federal management to the territory?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have available a substantial listing of various attempts to consult that were made and also a list of various consultations that have taken place from 1988 to May of 1993. I would be prepared to table this information, if that would answer the Members questions.
Our legal advisors advised us that everything we were obligated to do has been done.
Ms. Joe: It is very easy to stand here after the fact and make up all kinds of excuses as to why things were not done in the proper manner.
I am not sure if the Minister consulted with the Council for Yukon Indians to find out whether or not they can confirm this information; I would hope that he has.
There will be further negotiations about the Northern Accord and the management of Yukons oil and gas. I would like to ask the Minister whether or not he can tell me what future role the Yukons First Nations will have in any further negotiations regarding off-shore oil and gas management.
Hon. Mr. Devries: In any subsequent negotiations as a result of the Northern Accord, the First Nations will be consulted on an ongoing basis and kept informed of where the negotiations are, since they are a large part of this agreement. I can assure the Member that they will be participants in the policy development, et cetera.
Ms. Joe: He also has to assure the people that they will be involved in any further negotiations. It is almost like water off a ducks back, when they respond as if there was no problem; indeed, there is. I would like to ask the Minister whether he can give assurance to the Yukons First Nations that they will consult before the fact, and not after a done deal in regard to any further negotiations regarding off-shore management of oil and gas.
Hon. Mr. Devries: There will be interim committees established, both for the on-shore and off-shore management. These committees will be obligated to fully consult with the First Nations. I feel that should take care of the matter.
Question re: Seniors housing
Mr. Cable: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation relating to housing for senior citizens. I have been told that there are over 30 seniors on a waiting list for housing in Whitehorse, and that only six seniors have been placed in Whitehorse housing units over the past 16 months, due to a low turnover rate. What is the Minister doing to expand the number of units available to the growing number of senior citizens?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, would the Member mind repeating the question?
Mr. Cable: I am told there are over 30 seniors on a waiting list for housing in Whitehorse, and that only six seniors have been placed in Whitehorse housing units over the past 16 months, due to a low turnover rate. What is the Minister doing to expand the number of units available to the growing number of senior citizens?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I thank the Member opposite for his two questions. Does the second one count as a supplementary?
The Member opposite is absolutely correct. There are over 30 seniors, and I believe the number six is approximate. We hope the Gateway Housing unit, which will involve 39 units, will help to alleviate the problem. In social housing throughout the territory, we have implemented rent geared to income, which will free up about 50 social housing units, but not necessarily for seniors.
Mr. Cable: I understand there is a rent supplement program, which may have been what the Minister was just talking about, which permits the Yukon Housing Corporation to rent premises from private owners, then turn them over to the various housing corporations for subleasing to people who are in need. Is the Minister prepared to approve more rentals of private units, in order to alleviate what appears to be an extreme need on the part of seniors?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: For many of these programs, the funding actually comes from the federal government. I believe we have used our maximum allotment for the previous year; however, we will certainly look at whatever programs are available because, as the Member opposite has pointed out, it is nearly a critical situation.
Mr. Cable: I am told that senior citizens who apply for Whitehorse housing units are refused information, as a matter of policy, on where they stand on the waiting list. I would like to know whether the Minister agrees with this withholding of information from the public and senior citizens?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not aware of that particular complaint, but I do know that the waiting list can change. If someone was number four on the waiting list and a person came with more of a need than the first four people, then the new person could end up as number one on the list. I was not aware that they were not giving out the list, but that may be the reason why.
Question re: Infrastructure funding from the federal government
Mr. McDonald: This question is to the Minister of Economic Development. The government first announced in February that the federal government was going to provide an extra $10 million grant to develop roads and power sources. Since then, we have been told that this fund definitely will, and definitly will not, fund energy supply projects and that the fund will provide a significant contribution toward a series of road reconstruction projects that total in the hundreds of millions of dollars. When are we going to find out precisely how the money will be spent and what the money will be spent on. In addition, who in the government has the credibility to give us information that we can depend on?
Hon. Mr. Devries: As the Member knows, the Government Leader is at a meeting in Ottawa now and my understanding is that, when he gets back, he should have more information on exactly where the negotiations are at. We have been assured that $10 million will be coming to us, but the final negotiations on exactly what is what, or how it will be spent, have not been concluded yet.
Mr. McDonald: That is part of the problem. In Dawson this past weekend, the Government Leader announced again that the program was just around the corner and cited a list of projects the miners could depend on that would be funded out of this infrastructure fund that would promote the mining industry.
Why is the government continuing to announce this program over and over again when it is not clear in its own mind what the priorities are and whether they will even get the money in the final analysis?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, as I mentioned earlier, in that the final negotiations have not been concluded yet, we have been assured that the three projects the Government Leader mentioned are acceptable, and we would like to try and broaden the parameters slightly, but the final decision on that has not been made.
Mr. McDonald: In Dawson over the weekend, the Government Leader announced that the South Canol Road would be added to the list of projects previously announced in the House. Can the Minister indicate why the government would initiate construction of this road when they made a point, in the main estimates, of reducing the maintenance funding, stating that this road was of a low priority?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I do not recall the South Canol Road being mentioned. I would suggest that the Member talk to the Government Leader about that. I know that the other three projects - the Top of the World, the South Campbell and the Freegold - were mentioned. I think someone is possibly mixing up the South Canol and the South Campbell.
Question re: Curragh Inc., financial assistance
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development regarding a speech given by the Government Leader in Dawson City. In this speech, the government made reference to the head of a mining company who, and I quote, does very well mining governments. I presume he was referring to Curragh Inc.
Could the Minister explain what the government means by these comments, and on which policies regarding loan guarantee negotiations with Curragh Inc. these comments reflect?
Hon. Mr. Devries: The Member himself, it seems to me, has indicated that the mine in Faro could not survive without government assistance. We could say that the CEO of Curragh Inc. is mining governments in that sense. I basically would have been referring to the overall deal. He is trying to use government whenever possible to assist in the survival of the company.
Mr. Harding: I think that the response demonstrates the amount of negativity, as do the comments, that we face from the government.
I would like to ask the Minister what the point of Frame-bashing is when the territory is facing an economic disaster? Is the Minister saying that the Faro mine has been a bad government investment for the territory since the 1986 reopening?
Hon. Mr. Devries: As the Member well knows, the Government Leader himself just went to Korea. Much of that trip was based on seeking to ensure that Curragh Inc. would survive. We certainly believe that Curragh Inc., up to this point, has been of terrific benefit to the territorys economy.
Mr. Harding: Unfortunately, going to Korea does not necessarily equate to the successful conclusion of the loan guarantee negotiations.
I would like to ask the Minister why the government is seemingly so enthusiastic about mines, such as Casino, which may or may not open in this century, depending on multi-million dollars of infrastructure investment funding by the government, yet are so down on helping to reopen the real mines in Faro and Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Devries: We are not down on trying to help reopen the mines in Faro and Watson Lake. We have indicated that there was a $5 million loan guarantee on the table and that there is a $34 million loan guarantee available providing certain conditions are met. We want to see these mines reopen and see them continue over the long term, but not at any price.
Question re: Child welfare agreements
Ms. Moorcroft: Last week, the Minister of Health and Social Services referred to the child abuse protocol and child welfare agreements reached with the Ross River Dene Council and the Kaska Tribal Council. I would like to ask the Minister if the federal government is a party to these Indian child welfare agreements?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These are agreements between the Department of Health and Social Services and the First Nation in the one case and the tribal council in the other.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister would supply me with copies of the agreements that he has signed to date.
I would like to know if this is an interim arrangement, or does it signal a preimplementation of self-government agreements?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These are not self-government agreements or implementation of same. These are protocols that have been entered into between our department, the Kaska Tribal Council and the Ross River Dene Council for the benefit of people living in those communities.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Champagne/Aishihik First Nation has been administering their own child welfare for several years now, as a pilot project; in signing these new agreements, has the territorial government agreed to assume costs that traditionally and legally are the responsibility of the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, we have not. We have been very careful with the issues surrounding the responsibilities of the federal government, because we are only too aware of the delight that the federal government seems to take in being able to back out of their responsibilities at any opportune moment.
Question re: Handicapped, access to public buildings
Ms. Moorcroft: Today is the start of the National Access Awareness Week, which is designed to bring attention to the needs of people with disabilities in our society. Last Thursday, I asked the Minister of Health and Social Services to join with me regarding a request to spend a day in a wheelchair. The Minister said that he would have to take this under advisement. My question is whether or not the advice that he has received suggests to him that this would be a good idea?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The only advice that I have received has been from me and from my conscience. It is my decision not to partake in this.
Ms. Moorcroft: I was going to ask the Minister if he would be willing to perform his duties as an MLA from a wheelchair, because I am certainly prepared to take up that challenge. Is the Minister saying that he cannot take the time, or suffer the inconvenience of going about in a wheelchair, when many people in this country suffer from inaccessible buildings? This is a problem that has prompted the awareness week.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I fully support the awareness week. I fully support the rights of handicapped people to reasonably safe access to locations such as this. The issue, with respect, is whether or not I will be accepting a challenge to spend some working days in a wheelchair and my answer is, very simply, no.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could tell us why he is not prepared to do that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Perhaps I could, but I do not think that I will.
Question re: Extended care facility, staffing
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services. The government is in the process of receiving applications for the various positions to staff the extended care facility. The closing date for these competitions is June 4. Since it involves the participation of three departments - the Public Service Commission, the Department of Health and Social Services, and the extended care facility administration - I would like to ask the Minister who specifically is going to be doing the hiring for these positions?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not sure if I understand the question, but the Department of Health and Social Services will be hiring, if that is what she is asking.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know who has the final say about who will be hired. Perhaps the Minister could tell us who is on the interview committee, and then he may be able to understand the question better.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not have that information at my fingertips, but I will certainly undertake to bring it back to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Minister made any inquiries as to how the competitions are going, or whether applications are coming in? If he does not even know who is on the interview committee, what kind of interest is he taking in whether or not the facility is going to be staffed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not follow some of these things day to day or on a blow-by-blow basis. My understanding to date is that there has been a large number of applicants for the relatively unskilled positions and very few for the skilled positions; this is causing some concern to the department.
Question re: Extended care facility, staffing
Mrs. Firth: I look forward to the Minister getting a briefing from his deputy minister and bringing the information back to us on that question.
I have a follow-up question for him regarding the same issue of the extended care facility. At the information workshops on employment opportunities, one of the Ministers officials indicated that 10 and one-half person years would be transferred from Macaulay Lodge to the new extended care facility. Are positions being transferred from Macaulay Lodge to the new extended care facility? If so, why?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We can discuss the answer to the previous question when we get into line-by-line debate. I am sure we will be pleased to answer detailed questions such as that this afternoon during the budget debate.
With respect to the issue of positions being transferred from Macaulay Lodge to the continuing care facility, it simply means that the care for those clients will be moved from one facility to the other, and Macaulay Lodge will be going back to another part of the spectrum that it has traditionally served - a home for seniors.
Mrs. Firth: Does that mean that if there are going to be 10 and one-half person years transferred to the new facility, they are going to be closing beds at Macaulay Lodge? I do not see how they can operate the facility with 10 and one-half fewer person years identified in the staff complement.
Are they going to close beds at Macaulay Lodge in order to open the beds at the extended care facility?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They are going to be shifting functions. As to the exact question of whether or not any beds will be closed or whether all beds will be closed in that regard at Macaulay, or whether it means a net reduction of beds, I will have to answer the Member later this afternoon.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister not stand up and enunciate the policy? He made a big announcement about the extended care facility opening; surely he can stand up and give us the details of the transaction. Are there going to be beds closed at Macaulay Lodge so that the extended care facility can open, or not?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Extended care beds will be closed; there will not be extended care beds in Macaulay Lodge.
Question re: lEcole Emilie Tremblay
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister of Education. Lassociation des Franco-Yukonnais has expressed concern in a news release that a new federal initiative to promote school governance worth $112 million did not include the Yukon. The association also believes that the Yukon Department of Education failed to make an aggressive representation to the Secretary of State to be involved in that program. Can the Minister indicate whether or not the department did make a pitch for federal funds prior to the programs announcement?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back to the Member on the details of his question about whether the department actually made a pitch to the $112 million fund, but I can tell the Member that I recently signed a letter to the federal minister looking for some support for a new school in the territory; we are looking forward to a positive response to it.
Mr. McDonald: Given that the program the Secretary of State just announced involved funding to promote French control of education - meaning French governance or board control - can the Minister indicate whether or not he is prepared to make a request of the federal government to seek funding to assist in the promotion of a French school board if the local association, the French community and the school council desire it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If that representation is made to me, I will certainly examine it, but it has not been mentioned to me up until now. I am meeting next with lEcole Emilie Tremblay school council but, other than that, there are no meetings set at this time with the other groups representing the French community. If they make some representation on that, I would certainly examine it.
Mr. McDonald: That is about as conclusive a non-decision as one could possibly expect. I am thankful that the Minister will at least examine it. Can the Minister indicate to us whether or not the government has made a decision as to whether or not it will provide a financial contribution toward the construction of a community school, when the time comes for the reconstruction of the education facilities for lEcole Emilie Tremblay?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In answer to the first question, I did mention to the Member that I had sent a letter to the federal government regarding a new school for lEcole Emilie Tremblay and I am not really expecting the federal government to pay the whole shot, so if we do build a new school - when we get around to making that decision - I would expect there would be some involvement from the Government of the Yukon.
Question re: Forestry transfer
Mr. Cable: Just a couple of follow-up questions on the forestry transfer for the Minister of Renewable Resources - just clarification. Have the terms of the agreement in principle that was referred to last week in the House been made known to the Council for Yukon Indians for their comment?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I approached them when I first came into office and asked them if they would participate in the matter. They have not shown up to any meeting. We have been sending the information over and they have looked at it, but they have not shown up at any of our meetings.
Mr. Cable: They may not have shown up at any of the meetings but has there been any response in writing, by telephone or orally to the Minister as to their position on the terms of the agreement in principle?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I received a response on Thursday from the chairman of the CYI; they feel that they were not involved in the negotiations from the beginning and that therefore it was not fair.
I must point out that we were not the government when the negotiations started. I have seen the records and the former government did its best to include CYI.
Mr. Cable: On another related matter, has the government definitively decided whether to transfer the staff of the forestry operations to Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we have not.
Question re: Faro, Del Van Gorder School
Mr. Harding: The school council of the Del Van Gorder School sent the Minister of Education a letter expressing concern about the possible loss of quality education in Faro and also maintenance of the school and the equipment; I would like to ask the Minister if there were any problems with the requests made in the letter to Minister and if the requests are attainable?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I just received the letter about one week ago, and I have asked the department to prepare a response.
My sense of it is that nothing will happen at the Faro school with the removal of equipment or anything else, until such time as we have some idea of how many students will be enrolled in the school next year, and what will be needed in that school to service those students.
Mr. Harding: If the Minister does not have the time to respond to a letter sent to him 10 days ago, maybe I should try this: I wrote the Minister over a month ago with some of the same concerns and I have yet to receive a response to that letter.
I would like to ask the Minister when he will respond with firm commitments for the Del Van Gorder School and answer the questions that I put to him over a month ago.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think that I just did respond.
Mr. Harding: Usually, a letter receives a written response, and I hope that will be forthcoming from the Minister once they clean up their act with regard to communications upstairs.
I would like to ask if the Minister will agree to meet with the Del Van Gorder School council to discuss these very important issues at a mutually agreeable time and place.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes. Early in our term I travelled to many schools. I certainly did not get to all the schools, and as soon as we get out of session - if we ever get out of session - my intent is to travel to all of the other schools, and Faro is certainly on my list of schools that I would like to visit.
Question re: Northwestel rate increases
Ms. Joe: My question is for the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services regarding telephone rate increases.
Northwestel has recently sent its customers an outline of proposed rate increases, which, if approved by the CRTC, will take effect on July 1 of this year and January 1, 1994. I would like to ask if the government supports the application as submitted by Northwestel - whichever Minister would like to answer?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We will be filing an intervention to the CRTC in opposition to those increases.
Ms. Joe: If the proposal is approved, there will be other increases that will affect different groups in town - businesses and individuals. I would like to ask the Minister when they intend to file that intervention, and whether or not there has been an analysis done of the rate increase proposal?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not exactly sure when the intervention has to be filed; our communication branch is looking after that. Yes, we are doing a financial analysis of the increases.
Ms. Joe: I wonder if the Minister could bring back the information to me. The request for the increase is supposed to take place on July 1. That is not very far away. I would ask the Minister to bring back information with regard to the plans for the intervention, when they expect to get results and any other information he might have.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that the increases will go ahead before the CRTC has its hearings - I guess, on an interim basis. I suppose that if it is turned down by the CRTC, there will be some kind of a refund. I am not sure how it works. I will be happy to provide whatever information I have available.
Question re: Faro residents, employment opportunities
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. As the Member is aware, unemployment in my community has increased several hundred percent in the last few months. I have a constituent who applied for a job in the Ministers department for a labourers position. My constituent was denied an interview. Does the Minister have a policy within his department for increasing the emphasis on employment in Faro, due to the recent unemployment onslaught?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have advertised in Faro any jobs we have, and we have also provided information in Faro when contracts are let - highway contracts, such as the Shakwak and Alaska Highway jobs. When they are let, we provide the information about who got the contract, and so on.
Mr. Harding: My constituent was well aware that the job was posted, because that posting was what made him file an application for the job in the first place. That is not the problem. The problem is that my constituent did not even get an interview for the job he applied for.
Could the Minister tell me what the criteria is for determining which candidates will be interviewed?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not exactly sure what criteria the department uses, but I can find that out and bring it back for the Member.
Mr. Harding: It seems like a fairly straightforward, commonsense problem to me. Could the Minister please tell me why an unemployed Faroite with the experience in industry would not even qualify for an interview for a labourers position?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not aware of the circumstances surrounding this particular hiring, nor why this particular person was not interviewed, but I will check into it and provide that information to the Member.
Question re: Porter Creek sewage lagoon
Ms. Moorcroft: As the Minister for Community and Transportation Services knows, the Porter Creek sewage lagoon failure last month caused considerable concern to downstream water users about both environmental and health risks. Can the Minister advise on the status of repairs to the damaged lagoon cell and the current character of the effluent from the lagoon complex?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding of the Porter Creek lagoon is that it only holds sewage for three days, which makes it primary effluent that is being dumped. My understanding is that it is again functional. I am not sure if all the repairs have been completed.
Ms. Moorcroft: If the damaged lagoon cell is only holding sewage for three days, it is not giving it the desired length of time for treatment. Is the Minister aware of recent testing of the effluent from the Porter Creek lagoon? If so, could he provide the House with the results?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I missed the actual technical data that was required.
Speaker: Order please. I will allow the Member to repeat her first supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Perhaps if the Minister could listen to the question instead of to the advice from the Minister of Education, I would not have to repeat the question. Is the Minister aware of any recent testing of the effluent from the Porter Creek lagoon? If so, could he provide the House with the results?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that the effluent is tested on a regular basis. I believe that I can provide that information to the Member opposite.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like the Minister to advise whether the testing indicates any need to issue health warnings to downstream users. If so, now that it is tourist season and many unwitting visitors are on the river, will he commit to post such warnings in a manner that will assure that all potential downstream users are aware of possible risks to health?
Speaker: I believe that the question is somewhat hypothetical, but I will allow the Minister to answer it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The department has posted over 20 signs. The federal Department of Health and Welfare has also posted signs. I believe that everyone living in the Whitehorse area and in the Laberge area is quite aware of it. I believe that people using the river, and/or Lake Laberge, are made quite aware of it as they drive up to the lake. As far as the actual content of the effluent, I would assume that it would be detrimental to someones health if they were to drink the water that it is discharged into.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Question of Privilege
Mrs. Firth: On a question of privilege, as a Member of this House I feel that I must put my comments on the record as other parties and representatives of this Legislature have done.
I believe the remarks made by the Leader of the Official Opposition on Wednesday, May 26, were a breach of privilege, and I believe the House should debate the following motion:
THAT this House continues to support the longstanding parliamentary principle that the actions of the Speaker cannot be criticized incidentally in debate or upon any form of proceeding except by way of a substantive motion.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: On the question of privilege, we on this side were somewhat dismayed by the comments that were made by the Leader of the Opposition respecting the Speaker last Wednesday and it has become, it seems, a bad habit of that Member to attack indefensible people. He has attacked the table officers and bureaucrats who sit beside the Ministers and now he has attacked the Speaker himself. We on this side believe that the Member owes the House an apology and, if an apology is not forthcoming, we should debate this motion.
Mr. McDonald: On the question of privilege, it is unfortunate that the Members who are choosing to promote this question of privilege today did not choose to make it known to the Official Opposition. I think they have probably discussed it among themselves, but I suppose if this was a tactic perhaps of theirs, it is unfortunate that the Member to whom they are referring is not present to make a statement, which I think is due to him. For my own part, I think a discussion of how a Speaker is criticized from time to time should be the subject of some discussion. I, for one, have felt that to go through the process of the substantive motions basically promoting the concept that the Speaker should be censured absolutely or not at all, is a problem this Legislature does suffer from, and I would be more than happy to debate such a motion - certainly respecting the rules governing this sort of situation. If that is what the Members are speaking to, then I would, on behalf of my caucus, not object to such an avenue.
But once again, I think it is unfortunate that a matter as sensitive as this would not be expressed to the Official Opposition in advance.
Speaker: I thank the Members for their input on the question of privilege. It is the job of the Speaker whether or not there appears to be a prima facie case of breach of privilege and whether the matter is being raised at the earliest opportunity.
I would like to review the remarks that were made by the Leader of the Official Opposition last Wednesday, as well as the comments made by the Members of the Assembly today, and I will have a decision on the question of privilege tomorrow afternoon, following Question Period.
We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government Bills.
Bill No. 9: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 9, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek.
Speaker: Acting Government Leader.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I move that Bill No. 9, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1993-94 (No. 3), be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the acting Government Leader that Bill No. 3, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1993-94 (No. 3), be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 9 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 9 has passed this House.
I would like to inform the House that we are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, acting in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to grant assent to a certain bill that has passed this House.
Commissioner enters the Chamber announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms
ASSENT TO BILLS
Commissioner: Please be seated.
Speaker: Mr. Commissioner, the Assembly has, at its present session, passed a certain bill to which, in the name of and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.
Clerk: Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1993-94 (No. 3).
Commissioner: Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Mr. Speaker, I hereby assent to the bill as enumerated by the Clerk.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. 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 now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 6 - First Appropriation Act, 1993-94 - continued
Department of Health and Social Services - continued
On Health Services - continued
Chair: We are dealing with Bill No. 6 and we are on Health Services. Is there any further general debate?
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister about some of the increases in cost in the health services branch. Why has Vital Statistics increased by 34 percent?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There was an increase of $28,000 for an additional part-time term bilingual stats officer. This position is being added under the French language services agreement and is fully funded by the feds. It is offset by a $5,000 reduction in supplies.
Ms. Moorcroft: The most significant increase here is Program Management, which has gone up 107 percent. Perhaps the Minister could explain that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The increase is $440,000. This doubling in expenditures is a direct result of staffing for phase 2 of the health transfer negotiations. Phase 2 involves the transfer of the community health programs and nursing stations.
Due to the number and complexity of the programs being negotiated, this phase will require additional supports. Two term positions will be added to the health transfer negotiating team at a cost of $101,000. The third position is presently staffed - that is a program analyst.
Operational costs for the health transfer team will increase by $400,000, primarily for contract services. Both of these costs are fully recoverable from MSB. Other increases include a $5,000 increase in contributions available to community health and social services boards and a $50,000 reallocation of community health contract service funds to program management from the community health program. These funds will be used for projects related to community initiatives and needs assessments.
These increases are offset by the following reductions: a reallocation of $94,000 in salary costs from the Program Management line item to the Community Health line item, a $22,000 reduction in one-time contributions made in 1992-93, and that was $7,000 to CPR Yukon and $15,000 to the Community of Mayo for health assessments.
Ms. Moorcroft: The health insurance costs have fallen by 21 percent. I would like to ask the Minister how that has happened. I know there has been, at times, a problem with outsiders using the Yukon health insurance plan; has that been addressed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: When we get to that line, I will be moving an amendment to reduce it by $50,000 but, in general debate, the decrease is $7,526,000 and is largely because this line no longer includes the contribution to the medical services branch for the hospital. Health insurance decreased by the amount of the 1992-93 contribution. In 1992-93, the contribution to MSB for the hospital was $10,742,000. This did not represent 100 percent of the full operating costs of the hospital; however, it did represent that part of our fiscal formula grant that was applicable to the operation of the hospital. So, back then, we only paid MSB what we got from the feds in the formula.
There is a decrease of $9,000 in the YMA malpractice insurance contribution, a decrease of $2,000 due to a two-percent reduction in management salaries, and a decrease in personnel costs due to the planned transfer of the mammography technician to the hospital corporation, which will occur in October.
It is offset by projected increases established through the analysis of historic price and volume increases.
There is a further amendment on that line - $1,852,000 for out-of-territory hospital billings, prior to the tax phase-in strategy cut that we made as a result of phasing the income tax. It was $1,902,000.
There is $753,000 for in- and out-of-territory physicians medical claims; $29,000 for STD testing contracts; $203,000 increase in medical travel; $16,000 increase in medical travel subsidies; $182,000 increase for the chronic disease program; $72,000 for the Pharmacare program; $56,000 increase in the extended health program; $74,000 increase in contract services for the mammography program; $18,000 for supplies, program materials and communications; $37,000 for collective agreement employee merit increases.
Ms. Moorcroft: There used to be quite long waiting lists for speech and hearing services. How are they now?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will get back with a more specific answer. We think that they are down because we have not heard about them for awhile. I will get something more concrete than that.
Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you. We were talking about the extended care facility in Question Period today. I am sure that the Minister expected that he would not get through this debate without any questions on that facility. I presume that he is still planning on opening it in September. When the extended care facility does open, patients who are presently at Macaulay Lodge - even though they are not able to offer the kind of care that Alzheimer patients, for example, need - are going to be transferred to the new facility. Will the beds at Macaulay that are vacated by patients, who will be more adequately cared for in the new extended care facility, be open for seniors who require housing at Macaulay Lodge?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the Member. I thought that was what the Member for Riverdale South was getting at during Question Period this afternoon. We are, of course, closing down the program in Macaulay Lodge. We are transferring about eight patients. It will not result in more beds for seniors. The end result will not mean loosening up more spaces at Macaulay.
Ms. Moorcroft: What exactly is being closed down, when the Minister says that the program at Macaulay is closing? How much will Macaulay Lodge be losing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The extended care patients will be transferred to the new continuing care facility, and that represents eight beds in Macaulay Lodge. That was an interim program, or strategy, to bridge the time until the new facility was operational. There will be 10.5 positions moving over to the new continuing care facility. This will not result in any additional beds for traditional care in Macaulay.
Ms. Moorcroft: Health promotion is seen to be a way of resolving cost overrun problems in the Health and Social Services budgets. I note that health promotion is being cut dramatically. Why is there a $200,000 cut in health promotion?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: To put it as simply as I can, the situation is that the health investment fund is carried over every year. If there is a surplus, it is automatically carried over. What has happened is that it was not being fully taken down, so there will be about $214,000 available for the year we are in right now. This was done because there had not been sufficient uptake. We felt it was one place where, at least for this year, we could find some money to do other things with.
Ms. Moorcroft: I also note that AIDS education has been cut by $17,000. AIDS is an epidemic, and the treatment of HIV positive, HIV and AIDS patients costs the system billions of dollars, so prevention is really the key to dealing with that issue. Why is there a cut of $17,000 to the AIDS education?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I met with the AIDS Yukon Alliance people and they asked us for an additional $8,000 and I promised to try and get that for them. I was successful in having Cabinet support that. So we increased our core funding by $8,000. This was offset by a reduction of $25,000 over 1992-93 for a federally funded conference, and that change of $17,000 decreased. Our contribution, as a government, went up. They asked me for a specific amount and I promised to try to get it for them, and did.
Ms. Moorcroft: I will thank the Minister for that. I am ready to move into line-by-line debate, if there are not any more questions - I believe the Member for Riverside has some questions.
Mr. Cable: Can the Minister advise what the status of the Registered Nurses Association Act is?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The act was passed last year and then there was quite a backlash from registered nurses throughout the territory. The association agreed to go through some consultation and meetings with all the registered nurses in the territory. They have done that and they have had some very successful meetings. They brought up a very senior nurse, who is the principal nurse for Canada. There was a very successful round of meetings and now it is out for a vote. We expect that the new act will, this time, be supported to a sufficient degree that we can ask to have it proclaimed.
Mr. Cable: There was some question as to how the vote would be conducted. Could the Minister advise us as to who is supervising the vote?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Yukon Association of Registered Nurses is supervising it, but the Department of Justice is actively involved, as well.
Mr. Cable: I have a couple of questions about the respite care. The Minister was good enough to answer a question I put to him in written form, indicating that the budget was $75,000.
I know that some parents of handicapped children have approached the Minister and his officials with a view to setting up a home away from home for some parents who need some respite from the care of these children. Has the Minister considered whether or not this is a viable alternative to putting the children in an institution, such as the hospital or the new building across the river?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This issue, of course, has the potential of being very costly to resolve. There are Yukon groups that support measures that can be implemented at far less cost than an institution that would be open all the time for parents, which is the option the Member speaks of. We are exploring ways of enhancing respite, but, at this point in time, I am not in favour, given the costs, of the concept of a special home.
Mr. Cable: Is it the Ministers present intention to have these children boarded in the hospital or in the extended care facility during respite?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The simple answer is no; the primary purpose of the continuing care facility is for people over 17 years of age, which is part of the policy that has been released to the public with the announcement of the opening. There is one child, I believe, who is currently in the hospital but that is more because of medical needs than the issue of respite.
Our view is that we want to find ways of providing respite in the home rather than in institutions, and there is quite a demand for various care givers, foster parents and parents of FAS/FAE kids. We feel a lot of these can be accommodated by giving them time off by having people look after the children at home for them.
Mr. Cable: So, it would be the Ministers view, then, that the children would stay at home and the parents would absent themselves during respite. Is that the proposed drill?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is it in a nutshell, yes.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would just like to briefly go back to the issue of the AIDS education cut. The Minister said that the government was giving an increased core funding payment to the AIDS Yukon Alliance; however, what I am looking at is on page 176 under Contributions for Health Services, where the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre AIDS education has been reduced from $112,000 last year to $95,000 this year. Where would I find the line with the contribution agreement to the AIDS Yukon Alliance that the Minister was referring to?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The explanation is this: included in last years - aside from the core funding - there is a one-time $25,000 contribution that we flowed through from the feds. That contribution was for a federally funded conference that took place last year. If we subtract the $25,000 from last years, we will arrive at the core funding. I was approached, as the Minister, to increase the core funding by $8,000 and that is what we did.
The core funding was provided to Skookum Jim, and then this has been delegated by them as they often do with programs they start, to AIDS Yukon Alliance.
Chair: Are we ready to proceed with line-by-line debate?
On Program Management
Program Management agreed to
On Health Insurance
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 15, Health and Social Services, by reducing the line item Health Insurance on page 162 in the operation and maintenance estimates by $50,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Health Insurance in the amount of $27,662,000 agreed to as amended
On Yukon Hospital Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 15, Health and Social Services, by reducing the line item Yukon Hospital Services, on page 162 in the operation and maintenance estimates by $200,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Yukon Hospital Services in the amount of $17,496,000 agreed to as amended
On Community Health
Community Health in the amount of $5,149,000 agreed to
On Extended Health
Extended Health in the amount of $5,711,000 agreed to
On Vital Statistics
Vital Statistics in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
Health Services in the amount of $26,961,000 agreed to as amended
On Regional Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Program Management
Program Management in the amount of $1,977,000 agreed to
On Family and Childrens Services
Family and Childrens Services in the amount of $1,694,000 agreed to
On Social Services
Mr. Penikett: I could ask this question now, or at any one of several lines. The question is very general in nature. The Minister may be aware of a report commissioned by the Second Opinion Society on mental health programs in the territory. I am interested in knowing whether the Minister has had a chance to read it, whether the department has been persuaded by any of the recommendations in the report or whether they intend to have any policy changes as a result of the study of that report. I will not ask about all the specific recommendations, but among them is the idea of a safe house for people in crisis, or people having mental health troubles, where they can be free of agencies. There is also a thesis in the report presented about a non-medical approach to mental health problems. Even though, as the sponsor of the act, I thought it was a good piece of legislation, the Second Opinion Society felt the rights of mental health patients, under the Mental Health Act, were not as well protected as they should be.
Has the Minister read the report? Does he have any opinions on any of the recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are sympathetic to many of the positions taken by the SOS in the report, which is why they were funded, in the first place, to come up with the report. We will be responding in some detail to it.
The largest issue in our mind, at this time, is that of getting our hands on sufficient funding. We want to start a dialogue with SOS with respect to these issues and put what money we can into some of these initiatives this year. We agree with some of the fundamental positions taken with respect to the kind of care that is needed here, and the issue of a safe house, if we can afford that.
At this time, we do not contemplate any changes to the act itself.
Mr. Penikett: I have one more question. I know this is a detailed question, and that there are many recommendations in the report.
I wonder if the Minister would be prepared to give an undertaking to, at some point in the proceedings of Committee or the House - perhaps in the fall at the time of his supplementaries - to make a statement in some detail about the response of the government to the report.
Ms. Moorcroft: Has the Minister, or his department, talked to the Second Opinion Society about the cut by $5,000 to mental health housing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are in a fairly continuous dialogue with SOS. The cut that the Member speaks about was simply cut because it was not used last year. Where that happened, we made cuts.
Social Services in the amount of $2,583,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice Services
Juvenile Justice Services in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
Regional Services in the amount of $6,334,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Administration
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Just as an overview, I am pleased to introduce today the 1993-94 capital budget for the department. The budget totals $20,483,000. Reductions of $200,000 will be introduced here today, so that the new capital budget total will be $20,283,000, of which 87 percent, or $17,666,000, will be recovered. Net expenditures will, therefore, be $2,617,000, or only 13 percent of the gross expenditures.
The $200,000 reductions affect the following projects: $10,000 will be cut from the Office Furniture and Operational Equipment project, listed under the planning and administration branch, so that their budget will be reduced to $168,000. The cut will affect the number of computer work stations the department is able to purchase. Facility Construction - Integrated Health and Social Services will be reduced by $45,000 to $145,000. This is the second item listed under the policy, planning and administration branch. Of this cut, $10,000 will be applied to planned renovations to the alcohol and drug services office space and $35,000 will be cut from the global funding pool available for the development of integrated health and social service facilities. Both of these projects will be reduced in scope. The funding is still included in this budget to permit the majority of the work to proceed.
Ten thousand dollars was also been cut from the Systems Development line item under the policy, planning and administration branch, reducing this item to $70,000. The department had planned to update the systems information plan. This will no longer be feasible with this reduction in funds. Ten thousand dollars will be reduced from the Young Offenders Facility Renovations, located in the family and childrens services section of the budget. The new amount for this project should be $155,000. This reduction will reduce the renovations originally planned for the open facility at 501 Taylor.
In the health services branch, two projects for the continuing care facility will be decreased. The building project will drop by $25,000 to $75,000. The equipment project will now be $900,000, instead of $1 million. The reduction in the building project will reduce the scope of some exterior work planned for this facility in 1993-94. The change in the equipment budget will have no effect on the total planned furniture and equipment, purchased for this facility.
More current information at year-end indicated that more materials were received in 1992-93 than originally anticipated, cutting down the requirement for funds in 1993-94.
There is $13,781,000, or 68 percent of the capital budget, for the new hospital. Funds will be used to complete the planning and site preparation phases, to begin laying the foundation for the new facility and some infrastructure work, such as water and sewer lines. Over the total life of the project the total costs are expected to be $49,338,000, with a substantial completion date of the summer of 1996. We all know that the startup of the main construction is delayed by a few months, so all of the $13 million will not be spent this fiscal year.
Of the total capital funds, 21 percent, or $4,300,000, will be contributed to the Whitehorse Hospital Corporation. The majority of this project represents flow-through funding. Some one-time payments were negotiated through the health transfer agreement for specific purposes. There is $1,018,700 to maintain the current hospital until such time as the new facility is completed.
There is $400,000 to maintain the No. 2 and No. 4 Hospital roads during their lifetime and to maintain the nurses residence until such time as the replacement facility is built.
There is $2,348,000 that is to be used to replace current equipment as required. There is $500,000 that is to be used to replace the nurses residence, and $40,000 is to be used for necessary upgrades to the administrative systems.
Four percent, or $900,000, will be used to purchase furniture and equipment for the new continuing care facility. The remaining seven percent, or $1,302,000, is spread over 23 projects and will be discussed during line-by-line debate.
Ms. Moorcroft: In Policy, Planning and Administration, what is the $80,000 amount for Systems Development for? That is a line that has been increased by 60 percent and I would like to know what it is for.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There will be an amendment to this line, reducing it by $10,000 to $70,000. The funds are to develop computer systems needed to maintain efficient, effective service delivery.
Of the $70,000, $50,000 is for the completion of the customization of the social assistance computer system currently under development - that is LISA.
Imported from the Province of Alberta was computer software to process and maintain social assistance payments, client and statistical information. Some of the software was not appropriate to our needs and had to be changed. This customization is currently underway and will be completed very shortly. Also, some additional program development and equipment will be required to implement the social assistance programs in the outlying communities.
A purchase in the amount of $20,000 will be made for a prepackaged software system for the departmental library. The department current undertakes a fairly substantial amount of research into programs and policies used in other jurisdictions, information contained in professional journals and periodicals and texts written on the subject. This software would permit the librarian to link with other libraries, making cross referencing and information location easier.
The $10,000 reduction in this line item will eliminate the planned expenditure for updating the department systems information plan.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could bring me back more specific information about the library software program and the social assistance software program?
The systems development amount, then, is completely for software. How much of the amended amount of $168,000 for office furniture and operational equipment goes to computer work stations and how much to furniture?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Fifty thousand dollars will be used to replace or acquire computer work stations.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell me about the amended amount of $145,000 for facility construction? What facilities will that be going to?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: One is to construct, improve or maintain departmental office space as required to meet program objectives and government standards, and the second is to provide a global funding pool for community needs assessments and resource surveys. Eighty thousand is being requested for office renovations for two projects; $20,000 of that is to renovate additional office space requirements for the four-person phase 2 of the health transfer negotiating team. Ten of the $45,000 reduction was taken from the ADS renovation budget, which has gone down from $70,000 to $60,000. These funds will be used to renovate new office space requirements identified through the alcohol and drug strategy. New space will accommodate offices and working areas for 10 staff, three washrooms, two with handicap capability, a group counselling room, which will accommodate up to 20 people, a family counselling room, staff rooms, storage and a reception area. The remaining $35,000 of the $45,000 reduction was taken from the global funding pool for the planning phase associated with the development of integrated social services facilities. Phase 2 of the health transfer negotiations is expected to increase demand for community needs assessments and resource surveys; $65,000 is now the planned expenditure for this project. The original capital budget, as presented in this Legislature, includes $90,000 for that item.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am ready to proceed with the lines.
Mrs. Firth: Before we leave general debate, I would like to ask the Minister if he will provide me with some information that answers the questions that I raised in the Legislature this afternoon.
I do not need a verbal answer right away, but I would like a written response before the end of this week.
I want to know what the rationale is for the change of the beds at Macaulay Lodge, the status of the extended care beds, the 10.5 person years that are going to be transferred from Macaulay to the new extended care facility; what kinds of services Macaulay is going to provide; what the staffing level is going to be; I would like answers to the questions about the hiring process for the staff for the extended care facility; who is on the interview committee; who will be making the final decisions about who is hired.
I am particularly interested in knowing how much involvement the head nurse of the facility will have in the hiring process, whether she will have the final say, of the Public Service Commission, or if the Department Health and Social Services will have final say as to who is hired.
I would appreciate a commitment from the Minister to provide me with that information prior to the end of the week so that if I want to follow up in Question Period I can do so.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will make that commitment to the Member.
On Office Furniture and Operational Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 15, Health and Social Services, by reducing the line item Office Furniture and Operational Equipment on page 62 in the capital estimates by $10,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Office Furniture and Operational Equipment in the amount of $168,000 agreed to as amended
On Facility Construction - Integrated Health and Social Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 15, Health and Social Services, by reducing the line item Facility Construction - Integrated Health and Social Services on page 62 in the capital estimates by $45,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Mr. Penikett: In connection with this amendment, I wonder if the Minister had considered amending the line in respect to the hospital construction, given what we now know about that other schedule for that new building?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It has been contemplated that that will take place in the fall in the supplementaries.
Amendment agreed to
Facility Construction - Integrated Health and Social Services in the amount of $145,000,000 agreed to as amended
On Systems Development
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 15, Health and Social Services, by reducing the line item Systems Development on page 62 in the capital estimates by $10,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Systems Development in the amount of $70,000 agreed to as amended
Policy, Planning and Administration in the amount of $383,000 agreed to as amended
On Family and Childrens Services
On Group Homes - Construction and Renovation
Group Homes - Construction and Renovation in the amount of $36,000 agreed to
On Group Homes - Equipment Replacement
Group Homes - Equipment Replacement in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Child Care Services Development
Child Care Services Development in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Foster Home Equipment
Foster Home Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Young Offenders Operational Equipment
Young Offenders Operational Equipment in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Young Offenders Facility Renovations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 15, Health and Social Services, by reducing the line item Young Offenders Facility Renovations on page 63 in the capital estimates by $10,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Chair: Is there any debate on the amendment?
Amendment agreed to
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell me what renovations are being done at the young offenders facility for $155,000?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There will be $120,000 used for a security system upgrade at the secure facility. The current communication and lock system requires replacement. There will be $35,000 used at the open custody facility at 501 Taylor for a fire alarm system, pull box stations and paving. The $10,000 reduction was taken from funds planned to correct a deficiency in the garage at 501 Taylor.
Young Offenders Facility Renovations in the amount of $155,000 agreed to as amended
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Family and Childrens Services in the amount of $291,000 agreed to as amended
On Social Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Alcohol and Drug Services - Equipment Replacement
Alcohol and Drug Services - Equipment Replacement in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Home Care - Operational Equipment
Home Care - Operational Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Social Services in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Health Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Ms. Moorcroft: In his introductory remarks, the Minister said that the amount of $13,781,000 for the acute care facility at the Whitehorse Hospital would not all be spent, that they would be doing the completion of the design work, lay the foundations and do some water and sewer work.
Can the Minister give us an indication of how much will be spent on this project in the coming fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It will be approximately $7 million, which includes the design work. I think that is roughly $2 million.
Ms. Moorcroft: When does the Minister expect that the design work will be completed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Following the schedule we are on, the design work will be completed and the tender documents will be ready to put out in January, for the work to start in the first week of April.
Chair: Is there any further debate on the program?
On Northern Health Services
Northern Health Services in the amount of $277,000 agreed to
On Communication Disorders Equipment
Communication Disorders Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Extended Health Equipment - Seniors
Extended Health Equipment - Seniors in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Chronic Disease Benefits - Equipment
Chronic Disease Benefits - Equipment in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Macaulay Lodge - Renovations
Macaulay Lodge - Renovations in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Macaulay Lodge - Equipment Replacement
Macaulay Lodge - Equipment Replacement in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Acute Care Facility - Whitehorse Hospital
Acute Care Facility - Whitehorse Hospital in the amount of $13,781,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Replacement
Ambulance Replacement in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Unit Equipment
Ambulance Unit Equipment in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Continuing Care Facility - Building
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 15, Health and Social Services, by reducing the line item Continuing Care Facility - Building on page 65 in the capital estimates by $25,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Continuing Care Facility - Building in the amount of $75,000 agreed to as amended
On Continuing Care Facility - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 15, Health and Social Services, by reducing the line item Continuing Care Facility - Equipment on page 65 in the capital estimates by $100,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Amendment agreed to
Continuing Care Facility - Equipment in the amount of $900,000 agreed to as amended
On Whitehorse Hospital Corporation Contribution
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Some one-time payments were negotiated through the health transfer agreement for specific purposes. They were contributed to the Whitehorse Hospital Corporation under agreements stipulating their specific purpose. These one-time payments from the federal government include the following: $1,018,700 to maintain the current hospital until the new one is built; $400,000 to maintain No. 2 and No. 4 Hospital roads during their lifetime and to maintain the nurses residence until the replacement is built; $40,000 for computer upgrades necessary to the proper maintenance and transmittal of hospital financial and statistical information; $2,341,500 to be used to replace current equipment as required; $500,000 in additional funds to be used to replace the nurses residence, and that will be provided over three consecutive years for this purpose.
Ms. Moorcroft: What is the status of the transfer of hospital employees then?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: On the day of the grand announcement, they received lay-off notices, which is a six-month provision, so on October 1 they will be transferred to the hospital corporation.
Whitehorse Hospital Corporation Contribution in the amount of $4,300,000 agreed to
Health Services in the amount of $19,489,000 agreed to as amended
On Regional Services
On Safe Homes in Rural Yukon
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister give me a breakdown of this line, please?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The objective of this, of course, is to facilitate the development of a safe places network in communities outside Whitehorse. The network includes safe homes, shelters, transition home services and second-stage housing for victims of family violence. The current request will support community projects involving planning, construction acquisition or renovation of facilities and acquisition or installation of major equipment, program materials or furnishings for the facility management or program delivery purposes. I gather it has been reduced because it was not taken up last year.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister indicate what communities will be using funds this year for the line item amount of $75,000?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It would depend upon initiatives from the communities. We expect to have initiatives brought forward by communities such as Ross River and other communities that are developing healing centres.
It is a matter of timing, but I suspect that the major initiative will come from two or three communities who are completing their healing centres. These are multi-purpose centres and are viewed as a very important component.
Ms. Moorcroft: So the Minister is not aware of any outstanding requests from any of the communities for safe homes?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, we are not aware of any outstanding requests, but we are certainly aware of the fact that there will be some coming forward.
Safe Homes in Rural Yukon in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On McDonald Lodge - Furniture and Equipment
McDonald Lodge - Furniture and Equipment in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Regional Services in the amount of $105,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures agreed to as amended
Health and Social Services agreed to as amended
Chair: We will move on to vote 7, Economic Development
Department of Economic Development - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I just gave out a handout a few minutes ago. It is the estimated employment impacts of the YTG capital budget. If Members look at the handout, it still includes some of the projects that may or may not go ahead. My understanding was, to make it as accurate as possible, they had to include any capital projects that were in the existing capital mains. I had contemplated putting in the reductions that were going to come forward in amendments, but there was no certainty that all those reductions would be passed by this House; therefore, it still has those proposed reductions included in it. This employment impact is based on the mains, as they were originally represented in the House, when we first received them.
If the Members have any further questions pertaining to this, I would be happy to answer them. The 707 jobs created do not included the employment multiplier. You would have to multiply that by 1.56 to arrive at the indirect jobs that would be created by these construction projects.
Also, please note that the numbers are person years. For instance, when the construction starts on the hospital, where there is going to be somewhere between $3 million and $4 million spent, which would roughly translate into 19 person years, there could be as many as 40 to 60 people employed during the spending of that $3.3 million.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Minister for providing us with this information. I thank also the economist who has worked to present this information and has developed the technical paper, which accompanies the chart with the jobs listed on it. I note that the economist does calculate that if you use the multiplier of 1.56, you can get a total employment impact of 1,103. That is based on the person year estimate of 707, which the Minister has admitted is subject to change. This list includes - as I asked about the other day - the $20 million in land and $14 million in hospital construction costs, most of which is likely not to be spent and could reduce the total here by a few dozen jobs. I am not going to quibble about that. I thank the Minister for the information. As the economist notes, these are estimates and it very much depends on what projects are completed during the year. I appreciate the frankness of that professional in providing the information in that form.
On Economic Policy and Planning - stood over
Economic Policy and Planning in the amount of $463,000 agreed to
Economic Policy, Planning and Research in the amount of $930,000 agreed to
Operational and Maintenance Expenditures agreed to as amended
On Capital Expenditures
On Departmental Equipment, Furniture and Office Space
Departmental Equipment, Furniture and Office Space in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Energy and Mines
On Electrical Infrastructure Loans
Electrical Infrastructure Loans in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Saving Energy Action Loans (SEAL)
Saving Energy Action Loans (SEAL) in the amount of $575,000 agreed to
On Internal Energy Management Program
Hon. Mr. Devries: I move
That the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 07, Economic Development, by reducing the line item Internal Energy Management Program on page 33 in the capital estimates by $50,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Is there any debate on the amendment?
Mr. Cable: My question in on the substantive part of the amendment. Would my question be appropriate at this time?
Chair: Yes, on the amendment.
Mr. Cable: I will ask the questions and you can rule me in or out of order.
Could the Minister tell us what this involves? Is this part of the demand-side management for the government buildings?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Basically, the $100,000 originally budgeted was to provide $50,000 for energy audits and $50,000 for research and consulting studies to identify potential energy savings in government buildings.
This reduction of $50,000 leaves $25,000 for audits and $25,000 for consulting studies. Basically, this forces us to priorize some buildings. The buildings that we would be concentrating on would be those using electricity generated from diesel fuel, rather than buildings that are on the Whitehorse/Aishihik/Faro electrical grid at this point.
Amendment agreed to
Internal Energy Management Program in the amount of $50,000 agreed to as amended
On Yukon Mining Incentives Program (YMIP)
Yukon Mining Incentives Program (YMIP) in the amount of $863,000 agreed to
On Mineral Development Agreement
Mineral Development Agreement in the amount of $2,100,000 agreed to
Energy and Mines in the amount of $3,588,000 agreed to as amended
On Economic Policy, Planning and Research
NOGAP in the amount of $284,000 agreed to
Economic Policy, Planning and Research in the amount of $284,000 agreed to
On Economic Programs
On Community Development Fund
Hon. Mr. Devries: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 07, Economic Development, by reducing the line item Community Development Fund on page 35 in the capital estimates by $100,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Chair: Is there any debate on the amendment?
Mr. Penikett: If I am correct, according to the information just given us by the Minister, this will cost us one job.
Hon. Mr. Devries: That could be true.
Amendment agreed to
Community Development Fund in the amount of $3,289,000 agreed to as amended
On Business Development Fund
Business Development Fund in the amount of $2,879,000 agreed to
On Economic Development Agreement
Economic Development Agreement in the amount of $6,587,000 agreed to
Economic Programs in the amount of $12,755,000 agreed to as amended
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.
Department of Education
Chair: We are on vote 3. Is there any general debate on Education?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe that this budget demonstrates that the Yukon Party government is strongly committed to quality education at all levels and is prepared, even at times of financial restraint, to provide the dollars to back up the commitment.
Allow me to point out a few highlights. The O&M budget for public schools have been increased to ensure that clients of the school system continue to enjoy one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in Canada, if not the lowest. The chronic underfunding of the student financial assistance program has been addressed to ensure that all eligible Yukoners in post-secondary have access to current levels of support.
The funding for Yukon College has been maintained, ensuring that Yukon students pursuing a wide variety of studies continue to enjoy post-secondary opportunities right here in Yukon.
The training trust fund for land claims implementation, has more than tripled in size with the addition of $2.4 million in this fiscal year. Funding for the summer student employment programs, including Challenge, STEP and the computer camp, has been maintained at comparable levels.
The apprenticeship incentive marketing, or AIM program, will be focused on employment equity groups. The review of the Yukon public school curriculum called for by many concerned parents and educators will be undertaken in this current fiscal year.
How then with the Department of Education contribute to its share of overall reduction in government spending? Mostly on the capital side. The department has to say that it has been prominent in its support of the Yukon construction industry over the past few years, with the completion of Yukon College and several community campuses, the new Yukon Archives, the Yukon Arts Centre, three new elementary schools in the Whitehorse area, the new Watson Lake high school and the renovation of the Whitehorse Public Library.
This year we will be completing the new Holy Family Elementary School in Porter Creek. However, because of a downturn in Mayo student population in recent years and financial restraints, the new school in that community has been postponed - at least until we see if the trend in population continues and we can do an evaluation of that particular school. The expansion of Grey Mountain School, to grade six has also been postponed and it is therefore possible to delay that project for one year.
During the debate on the supplementary estimates for 1992-93 on May 3, the Member for McIntyre-Takhini was kind enough to provide us with a long list of subjects and questions he intended to raise during this debate on the mains.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I appreciate the notice, even though I could have answered the large majority of his questions at the time he asked them. Perhaps I could address two of them in a general fashion now.
One of the Members chief concerns, if I read him correctly, is whether or not the government intends to do a lot of tinkering with the Education Act, which he did so much to put together. The answer is no. There may be some minor housekeeping amendments somewhere down the road, but, in terms of the principles and the major reforms of the act put in place and passage in 1990, this side had no problem with them then and has no problem with them now. How these principles translate into classroom practice will be the subject of the education review, but the review will not even consider changes to the Education Act.
By the same light, the Member said he wanted to know how we felt about devolving educational decision making from the education building to the school, involving school councils and principals to a greater extent in matters of staffing, budgeting and facility management. I think our position on this matter is predictable. We are not fans of big government. If school councils and school administrators are willing and able to take on the task currently being done by head office bureaucrats several miles away, we would encourage them to do so.
We will not make decisions on such things as patriotic exercises or maintaining a supply of condoms in particular schools. Those decisions will be made by the parents through school councils, as they should be.
We will also refine and strengthen such bodies as the curriculum advisory committee and the educational field tribunal to ensure that the public school system remains dynamic and responsible to the entire educational community.
The Member opposite - the former Minister - also forewarned us about questions concerning a number of curriculum initiatives currently underway or being developed in the schools. The curriculum, of course, will be the focus of the education review. We have no wish to prejudge that reviews findings. Nevertheless, this government has no hesitation in stating its commitments to three educational goals: the universal attainment of basic literacy and enumeracy skills that will allow Yukoners to compete in a very tough labour market, preparation of students to enter the world of work through greater cooperation with the private sector, and keeping as many Yukoners in schools through graduation, as well as giving them strong support in the pursuit of post-secondary education. We will continue to monitor our progress toward attaining these goals.
I should think that the statement of those principles would answer a number of specific questions that the Member warned us about, and yes, we will continue strong support of the native language centre and the First Nations education commission and the involvement of elders in sharing their skills and their perspective.
Yes, we will continue with such programs as PASS and the Teen Parent Centre, which will allow more of our young people to continue their education. Yes, we will continue our pioneering work in the areas of outdoor education and work-experience programs as well.
I hope these simple statements of principle make the Member a little more clear in his mind about where I and my colleagues stand in education; but I think the strongest statement is not in words but in numbers and the numbers are in these main estimates. It is the long-term economic health of the Yukon that we have in mind when we resist cutting spending in public schools and advanced education. We want Yukon young people to finish school, to explore all the options lying at their feet and to find meaningful employment right here in Yukon, to make the Yukon their home and their workplace.
The old saying is no less true for being old: There is no better way to invest our dollars than in our children.
Thank you. I will be pleased to answer any questions the Member may have in general debate.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister has staked out some very familiar ground - the education policy. I recognize virtually everything the Minister has stated so far. I have not been able to quite detect where the Minister feels changes might be made but perhaps, through a few questions and answers, we will get a better appreciation for where the government plans to take education.
In reviewing the 30 or so questions that were responded to in the legislative return on May 20, there were a number of areas that probably deserve a little bit of further review, and I will just put some questions to the Minister; if he can answer them now, that is fine. If he cannot, then that is fine, too, as long as we get an answer eventually.
The first question I have has to do with the education review. I understand that there has been something less than an enthusiastic response to the review in terms of nominations to the review committee. I wonder if the Minister could give us some sense of what is happening with the review, whether or not the committee has been struck, who chairs it, whether or not they have had any organizational meetings, and that sort of thing?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, the committee has not been struck as yet. We are still awaiting official word of nominations from the Council for Yukon Indians. I think that we have received nominations from almost every other group, and we have received some verbal commitment of two individuals from CYI and I just signed a letter the other day, asking for the names of these two individuals in writing. I am waiting to hear from them before we proceed any further.
I am hoping that we can get this going within the next couple of weeks so that the committee can be appointed and start their work.
Mr. McDonald: Who does the Minister intend to appoint as chairperson of the committee?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There has not yet been a decision on that yet. We are looking at several individuals who have indicated some interest, but there has been no decision made as to who the chairperson will be.
Mr. McDonald: In terms of appointing a chairperson to the committee, can the Minister indicate who he is looking for? Is the Minister looking for an institutional representative, a private citizen he or the government knows, a person who has been nominated? What are his priorities with respect to the selection of the chairperson?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are looking at choosing a chairperson who does not necessarily have to be from the group of nominees to the various committees. I would like to see someone in that position who has a fairly extensive educational background, someone who is or was a teacher or someone of that nature, someone who has lived in the Yukon for a long period of time and understands the problems and concerns that we have here and someone who is a good facilitator, who could work with a group and help them put together a report. That is the type of person that I am looking for to chair this committee.
Mr. McDonald: Is the Minister intending the decisions and conclusions reached by the committee to be developed through consensus building, through majority vote, or how would the Minister propose that be done?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would hope the committee members could work that out among themselves. I would prefer to see recommendations from the committee that would be unanimous. That would be my preference in making any changes. I know that may not be possible with all the recommendations, because some may be more controversial than others. If the Member is asking my preference, I would prefer that any recommendation made by the committee would be unanimous.
Mr. McDonald: I understand some people have been nominated to the task force by, for example, the Yukon Teachers Association, and the Minister has responded by indicating that he would like to see curricula vitae supplied to the department.
Can the Minister indicate whether or not he is of the view that he should be selecting the representatives of those organizations, or that those organizations can be trusted to select their own representatives?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I asked the organizations to make recommendations to me of two individuals each, one rural and one urban, so we could attain some kind of balance on the committee when we select it. My intention is to select individuals from among the nominations from various groups I asked to nominate. At this time, I am not intending to go elsewhere for nominations for the committee, other than the chair.
Mr. McDonald: We will leave that for the time being. I would like to ask the Minister about a number of the questions he has addressed in legislative returns. He has indicated that the departments position with respect to the Year 2000 initiatives and curriculum development is virtually identical to that which has existed in the past.
Is the Minister committed to the answers he made in the legislative return today, or is this simply a statement from the department that is the here-and-now? Is he planning any changes in that regard?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Perhaps the Member and I read the legislative return differently. When I signed it, my intent was that I support the current program in place in the schools today, subject to the education review, which is going to look at the curriculum. People may recommend that we proceed with some of the initiatives of Education 2000; they may recommend that we move away from some of them.
I did not want to prejudge the current program we have in place. I basically said that I support the programs being taught in our schools, subject to the review, and the review by the parents, teachers and others who are going to tell us what problems exist in the system. We will possibly change some of that when we get the recommendations.
Mr. McDonald: That was my reading of it, too. I just wanted to get a closer appreciation of what the Ministers own perspective is. If he says that he supports what is in the legislative return, I will take him on his word.
The return that was tabled today, May 31, indicates that all Canadian jurisdictions are moving toward a continuous learning system, similar to the B.C. curriculum. Does he know that to be the case? Does he actually believe that to be the case?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is based on the best evidence that the department has supplied. I know that there are some questions out there now about the continuing learning system and whether it is working or not. That is the same type of question that some people may ask when we do the review. I thought that I left myself open in the legislative return to the fact that there are some very good things in the Education 2000 process, but there are some that some parents have real concerns with. That may come up for discussion and they may make recommendations on how to make it better.
I know that there are also some strong concerns now being expressed through the media in British Columbia on their program and the advanced program. I think that the legislative return sort of points out that we do have concerns with the advanced portion of the curriculum 2000.
Mr. McDonald: I wonder if the Minister would mind sharing with us what he understands to be some of the significant terms of the graduation program, so that we might be able to appreciate in the coming months that if there are changes to be made, we will know where they are coming from.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back to the Member on that; I have not had a full briefing on the advanced program because we have been in the House virtually since I became the Minister. As soon as I get the opportunity to sit down to look at the program and hear some of the concerns from the various educators, I will be more than happy to share my thoughts with the Member.
Mr. McDonald: I think perhaps the best alternative for us would be to move that we discuss the education estimates in the fall, when we will get a closer appreciation for where we are going. I get the impression, as I read through a lot of this material, that these are old saws that I have seen before.
One that is new is the departmental reorganization. The return gives us some tantalizing previews of what may come about. It is not clear enough in my mind what is being contemplated here and, in order to give the Minister the spending authority, I think it would be reasonable to get a clearer idea of what the department has in mind in terms of departmental reorganization and cutting of administrative services.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: All we are really doing in this particular budget is to cut down some of the central office staff but maintain all of the support services for the schools, so there are no major changes in that. There are some changes in the policy and planning area and, when we get into the line-by-line debate, I can go into that for the Member if he wishes.
I can also tell the Member that I have asked the deputy minister to have a look at the whole department for areas of possible overlap with other departments in the government and in some of the services we are providing, as well as overlap with the Yukon College, and some other areas like that, that I think we should be having a look at.
No decisions have been made on a lot of those areas yet because the review is just preliminary right now and we are just looking at trying to reduce expenditures by reducing the costs of the main administration office over there and leaving the public school system untouched as much as possible.
Mr. McDonald: I think that, as a priority, resources should be expended in the classroom. However, what happens in the central office does impact on the education system. I will be asking the Minister to provide some detail as to what he anticipates taking place within the central office staff when we get into the line-by-line estimates in the operations budget.
The Minister indicated that he felt that there was overlap in various areas of the department and the government. Can he identify those areas? What has caused him to seek a review of overlapping jurisdictions in programs or services?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I just have a general view that the administrative part of the department has grown significantly over the years. I want to have a look at that and see how it operates. I believe that there could be overlap, in some of the work that we do, with Yukon College and the advanced education branch. It may be in the area of curriculum or the number of superintendents, senior managers, policy advisors and communications advisors we have and so on. I want to look at the whole department and see how efficiently it is running.
I think that is something that every new Minister who takes over a department should be doing. The Minister should be reviewing the efficiency of the department and trying to make it more efficient. No decisions have been made up until now, other than some reorganization in the central administration.
Mr. McDonald: I did not say that the Minister should not be more efficient or seek more efficiency in the department. What I did ask for were the areas of overlap that he had identified as existing between the Department of Education and other departments.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I just mentioned to the Member that we have 19 person years in advanced education, and we have Yukon College. I want to look at the services that Yukon College is delivering and those we are delivering to see if perhaps they can do more of the work we are doing. Perhaps there is overlap. I am not saying that there is, but there very well may be. Perhaps we should review that. If it has not been reviewed for some time, it should be. That is what I have asked them to do.
There are other areas we could look at, as well, in delivery of programs. I want to do that.
Mr. McDonald: Has the Minister been advised that there has not been a review of the jurisdictional responsibilities of Yukon College and the branch of advanced education?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, I have not.
Mr. McDonald: Well, apart from the desire to be more efficient, I am trying to determine whether or not the Minister has acquired any evidence to justify a concern about overlap, or is it only an economy efficiency drive that the Minister is promoting, with overlap as one consideration - if something happens it happens.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is my own initiative as the Minister, when I look at the number of people in the department, and I look at what we and the college are doing. I wanted to find out whether or not there is overlap. With the signing of the protocol agreement, with the three departments working together, I hope this will allow us to become more efficient in some cases.
We both assess children, and maybe it can be done by one agency. We have had duplicate assessments done in the past, and this could save the government a lot of money in future, if we look at these areas where we could possibly utilize the resources of another department, if they are doing a similar job.
Mr. McDonald: Is the Minister saying the Department of Health and Social Services and the public schools branch have done duplicate assessments on the same students?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is there have been times when social services will do an assessment, we will do an assessment, and they have not talked to each other about it. It has cost money in both departments to have these assessments done on the same student.
I hope this protocol will alleviate those kinds of problems in the future.
Mr. McDonald: I will put the Minister on notice. While I will not pursue it now, I think there is much to question the Minister on in that particular regard, but I did not want to get side-tracked into that area. I think that the Minister is going to have to be very precise in his statements in future estimates.
I will either spend the next two hours on Education, or the next three months, Ione or the other. Perhaps what I will do is go down the list of questions as they appear on the legislative return, and compare them with my notes to ensure that no questions have been missed. I will also ask some questions to supplement some of the things that have been said here.
The Minister has indicated that there will basically be no change in the area of local curriculum development; that is, taking what is now provided by the British Columbia ministry and amending it to fit our needs in the Yukon.
There was local curriculum that was sponsored primarily by the department, in concert with CYI, to consider general changes to the system. There was also local curriculum, meaning school- or community-driven curriculum projects.
The budget clearly shows that there was, in some respects, a drop in activity here. Yet, the legislative return seems to feel that the same statements about commitment could be made, whether the budget is large or small.
I am not one who believes that. I would like to know what the Ministers plans are about community-driven curriculum development?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will just go through a note here about curriculum development. In 1992-93, the federal government, through the stay-in-school initiative, funded contracted services for curriculum development. The level of federal funding has been reduced, but the costs of operating programs developed such as MAD, ACES 11, elementary experience learning module, and GREM, have been included in individual schools operating budgets.
I believe that it was just a movement from one area to another. It is not actually a decrease in the budget.
Mr. McDonald: First of all, I have not been able to detect the cost recovery for the stay-in-school program. Is there going to be a cost recovery through federal funding?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, there is.
Mr. McDonald: How much is there going to be?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have been advised that there was an agreement signed just recently for another $97,000.
Mr. McDonald: Is that the total for this year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It would be $97,000 plus the $69,000.
Mr. McDonald: Where is the recovery for this particular item shown in the budget?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The $97,000 is not in the budget, because it is a recovery of an agreement that has just been signed. The $68,000 co-operative education, page 106, is a recovery in that line.
Mr. McDonald: The line item, Co-operative Education, which was, as I understood, a separate submission put before federal authorities - I cannot remember when it was, but I remember seeing the application - was that supposed to be incorporated into the stay-in-school program?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have been advised that the co-operative program is part of the stay-in-school initiative, and it is in there.
Mr. McDonald: I am a little confused, partly because I understood the local curriculum projects the Minister mentioned were rolled into departmental budgets. The cooperative education program is a very distinct initiative. I remember reading through the application myself. I am not certain as to where the funding the Minister has identified as being the now $150,000 plus commitment for the stay-in-school program is coming from. He has indicated so far that $68,000 of this $150,000 is for the co-op program. He has thrown in the music, art and drama program and the rural experiential model program as being items whose budgets have now been rolled into school budgets.
Is there some way he can clarify where all this money is, and where the money is coming from, and where the recoveries are? Presumably, if the budgets for the schools had been inflated to accommodate the programs, such as the MAD and REM programs, we would see an increase in the expenditure side, but we would have seen a recovery.
It would not have been possible or appropriate to inflate the expenditure side without knowing that there is going to be a recovery. Perhaps the Minister could clarify this for me?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have been advised that we only get recoveries on the developmental side, not the operational side, of those programs. I can also tell the Member, if he wishes, that I will get back to him with a more detailed breakdown of the recoveries and expenses in that area. I understand that fall programs are being maintained at last years level. They have just been reorganized and moved around into other departments. I will get a detailed briefing for the Member, if he wishes.
Mr. McDonald: I would appreciate that. What I would like to do is return to the locally developed curriculum matter.
In the Education Act there is a line that states that the government will support locally or community-driven curriculum projects. There is a limiting clause in the act as well. In order to save the government the embarrassment of having hundreds of applications for many hundreds of thousands of dollars come forward, the total number of applications approved cannot exceed the amount stipulated in the budget. So the amount that is in the budget for locally developed ciriculum is a fairly important feature of not only the budget and the act, but of the governments commitment to community-driven curriculum development.
I would like to ask the Minister the reasons for restricting or reducing curriculum developments that are community-driven initiatives. That clearly cannot be explained through the development of co-op education, stay-in-school programs, the REM, or any other program that is currently in place.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the Member could point out where he feels the amount has changed for the locally developed curriculum, because I believe there has not been much of a change there.
Mr. McDonald: I will find it, but I will ask the Minister another question while I am looking for it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding of the reason that has changed is because the bulk of the money in that line previously was the stay-in-school initiative, and it was federal money. However, it is not in that line any longer.
Mr. McDonald: I will let the Minister go back to the department to check things out. There are two different items here: there is the stay-in-school initiative, which involved something like $350,000 in the last year, which was cost recoverable. As I understand it, it is a declining scale of money over a number of years. We get less money this year than last year for various projects approved by the federal government that would be appropriate for encouraging people not to drop out.
There was, however, a separate item altogether. That separate item had to do with curriculum projects that might be promoted by communities. For example, the community of Pelly Crossing may want to put forward a portion of a science unit and incorporate trapping, or flora-fauna from their district. The costs associated with putting that together would be funded out of the curriculum development budget that is clearly identified in the main estimates. The reason why it is clearly identified in the main estimates is so that the amount identified can be the limiting factor for any appeals put forward under the Education Appeal Tribunal. The Education Appeal Tribunal has two major functions: the first is to consider cases of students who object to their individual education plan, and the second is to review the approval or rejection of proposals for locally developed curriculum. So, it ties together.
In any case, perhaps I will ask the Minister to review this once again and, if he can get back to me by the end of June or so, clarify where the stay-in-school money is projected to go, how the programs we have identified so far are to be funded, and from where they are being funded, and what money is remaining for locally developed curriculum in the budget.
If he could give me that commitment, then we will do something else now.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will make the commitment that I will get back to the Member before the end of June.
Mr. McDonald: The next item on the list is school calendars. The Minister has developed a couple of different school calendars for the City of Whitehorse. Can the Minister indicate - now that he has taken this move, which I am sure will satisfy many school councils - how he plans in the future to limit the request for new school calendars that may add to a number of school calendars in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This was one of those situations where you thought that you pleased everybody, but you still did not please everybody. Even in the decision that we made, which gave the school calendar to all the schools in Whitehorse that wanted it that way, there is still some discontent out there.
It did not work very well last year. A lot of schools did not get their calendar in on time, and the Minister imposed a standard school year on all schools in the Whitehorse area. It did not work very well this year as well, because we did not get a majority of schools selecting the one school year. So, this year I have granted the schools in Whitehorse the calendar that they wished. I believe that, over the year, it will actually save us a little bit of money in busing because the schools affected are not connected in busing. It will save us a little bit of money. It pleases all the schools this year.
In the letter that I wrote to the school councils, I suggested that we sit down and look at some way of coming to a better formula for the next school term. We will be consulting with the school councils over the next few months in trying to come up with a better formula for the future. I agree with the Minister that next year, I could get a dozen or so different school terms for Whitehorse and it would be very difficult to sort that one out. I do not want to get into that kind of problem. This year, evidently, it was not going to affect very many schools. The three that selected a different school year from the other 11 did not create any problems for the busing as well. That was the reason that we went with the school year.
Mr. McDonald: As the precedent has now been set, is it the cost of school busing that is the sole limiting factor in terms of offering different school years? What is the Ministers intention in terms of limiting the possible changes for school years?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, it is not just busing. As the former Minister, the Member knows that an awful lot of factors come into play here. There are a lot of parents with children in different schools. When the school year ends at different times, it makes it very difficult for babysitters and such. There are a lot of factors that come into play here. What I would like to do is sit down with the school councils and come up with a satisfactory arrangement.
If we cannot reach a satisfactory arrangement, the only solution would be to go back to the solution that is in place now: if they cannot all agree on a different school year, they all get the same, standard school year. We may have to go back to that. Due to the fact that there was a problem last year, and again this year, I wanted to give them the opportunity to sit down with the school councils and discuss the matter, to see if we can come up with another solution. The only solution may be a standard school year in the City of Whitehorse. It does not seem to be a problem for the outlying communities.
I do not think that the Member would disagree with the decision we made on the Hidden Valley School. Even though it is within the City of Whitehorse, it is very much like the Golden Horn Elementary School, in that it services a small community out there on the Mayo Road.
Mr. McDonald: I think it is fairly obvious that setting school calendars has been a problem every year. I do not think the Minister is going to avoid problems every year that he happens to be Minister.
It is clearly the case that, in the rural areas, it is not a problem, because there is usually only one school per community. The possibilities of conflicting schedules when there is only one school is nil by definition.
The precedent has been set now. I think it is an obvious point that, when a precedent has been set, people will want it respected, irrespective of the Ministers desires to go back to the beginning again.
Can the Minister indicate what sort of consultation mechanism he anticipates the school councils having to undergo in order to seek public opinion? I mentioned to him privately that the consultation has varied from council to council.
Ultimately, a question like this has to be answered, and it is clearly in the Ministers court to answer the question; the Minister, by himself, will be responsible to the public for the results.
Obviously, one way to avoid a major embarrassment or concern is to have a consultation mechanism established up front, so that everyone knows the ground rules they have to follow in order to come to know what kind of a consensus they want to build.
Can the Minister indicate what thought, if any, he has given to this, and what his intentions are?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are a couple of things. In the letter that I sent to the school councils when I granted them the school year, I clearly said that, although I did it this year, it was not to be considered a precedent. This was something that would not have a major effect on the school system this year, and we would allow it this year.
I also pointed out in the same letter a concern that the Member opposite just expressed about future consultation with parents. I hope that will be addressed when department officials, or I, sit down with school councils to discuss plans for setting out school calendars in the future.
I would also like to see some criteria that would be put in place to ensure that all parents, in all areas, had access to an adequate consultation process before they had a letter sent home to them from the school council saying here is the school year and here is what is happening. I would like to see some kind of process put in place to clarify that.
Mr. McDonald: Moving on to high school programming in rural areas, this is an issue in Pelly Crossing. The Minister has indicated that there is going to be grade 12 in Pelly next year, and the Member for Faro has asked about high school programming for his riding.
What is the limiting factor in determining whether or not a full kindergarten to grade 12 school will be provided in the community?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There has been no policy change from the previous government on what we provide in the communities, as far as teachers and the grades.
I mentioned to the Member for McIntyre-Takhini and the Member for Mayo-Tatchun that we intend to provide grade 12 in Pelly Crossing next year.
I was really impressed with the graduation ceremony that took place there and the ownership that was taken by all the people in Pelly of the two students who graduated last week. We intend to continue with that program.
With respect to Faro, again, Faro is under review, simply because of the uncertainty of how many people are going to be there next fall, whether there will be one grade 12 student, 20, or whatever. We do not know the number as of yet, and I think that will have to take place near the end of this month to determine how many students are there and what programs will be provided to those students.
I think the Member understands that we can set some precedents in some of these communities, but we have to provide teachers in all of these communities.
Again, I want to tell the Member that there has not been a change in policy from the previous government, and we will look at each case individually, based on the criteria that was set out before.
Mr. Penikett: I wonder if I could ask the Minister what is the policy in respect to providing grade 12 to rural schools?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The policy is the same as it was with the previous government, which is where numbers warrant.
Mr. McDonald: I will perhaps let the Minister come back with a more precise answer to that question. The policy of where numbers warrant is clearly a subjective judgment. I will let the Minister know, as I am sure he was made aware in Pelly Crossing, that there were some people in the department - who shall remain nameless - who felt that numbers did not warrant it in Pelly Crossing. There was a disagreement of opinion with the Minister, and in these particular circumstances the Minister won - a rare event but certainly much appreciated by the people in Pelly Crossing, as the current Minister knows.
It is not an easily answered question, but there are many things riding on decisions that the Minister may make, whether it is the provision of grade 11 or 12 in a rural community or a certain type of programming in a rural community that cannot be solved through creative recruitment.
Some of the most severe issues that the Department of Education has had to face over the last 15 years have all been about the provision of grade 11 and 12 in rural communities - when you do it and when you do not. The difficulty that has been encountered in the past is that when the department decides to pull grade 11 or 12 from one year to the next, it sends a very clear signal to every person in that community who has children that one cannot count on the school providing those services and they have to start making family plans to pull themselves or their children from the community. Consequently, the chances of the community having the numbers, even in communities the size of Mayo, Teslin, or Carmacks, to support a grade 12 are diminished by the simple fact that someone has pulled the service for a year or two - for very short-term considerations.
The same was true when the school busing service was pulled in some of the rural communities some years ago. In Stewart Crossings case, for example, when that school bus service was pulled for one year, three families left the community; the community has since become a community of singles and has not recovered over the last 10 years. So, the situation is something deserving of a lot of consideration and the commitment to provide a particular service should be made as far in advance as possible and, in my view, maintained as long as possible. Does the Minister want to say anything about that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think the Member sort of answered the question the Leader of the Opposition asked. It is not just a simple numbers game; it sometimes will boil down to a political question of whether or not to provide the service in a community. At that time, I will have to make that decision. I can tell the Member that the trip I made to Pelly was probably one of the best trips I have made this year to any outlying community. When one sees how everyone in that community, from the kindergarten kids to the elders, bought into the graduation ceremony in Pelly and how much incentive it seems to have given the other students in the school, the role models it provided, it opens ones eyes. I am really glad I went to Pelly. I learned a great deal in the few hours I was in Pelly the other day and I can only tell the Member that. I am going to have to be convinced on some matters in the future, but I can tell the Member that I am a lot more sympathetic to those kinds of issues in the rural communities than I was before I left on Friday afternoon.
Mr. McDonald: That is good to hear.
There were two main reasons for the grade reorganization review. First of all, it was to satisfy those people who wanted resolved - at least for our generation - whether or not we would be providing junior high school services in the City of Whitehorse, because there were many people who felt that to segregate junior high school students from older and younger students did not make good sense, from an educators perspective.
The second reason was that, given that segregation of these students also entails some decisions on the capital side with respect to the construction of facilities, and given that there was an acknowledged balloon in the number of elementary students, some decisions would have to be made with respect to whether or not we were to construct more junior high school space, whether or not we were to build more high school space or whether or not we were to construct a second high school. The decisions and the issues were intertwined. Can the Minister give us some sense, based on that genesis of this general issue, as to what the departments thinking is, what the departments planning is and what their timetable is, for coming to conclusions on grade reorganization - their capital plans et cetera?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding of that issue is that a senior official in the department has been assigned the task of consulting with school councils, and others, about grade reorganization. That is going on now, and will be until early fall. I would hope that sometime in the early fall we would get a report on grade reorganization. We are trying to keep the program costs down. We have a very good individual in the department who is going to be meeting with all the people to discuss that issue and report to us in the fall.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister indicate to us what this report to the Minister in mid-July is meant to be? The legislative return reads as follows: It is expected that a report to the Minister will be made by mid-July this summer. Could the Minister indicate what that report is?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That will be a draft report and it may require some further consultation after that, but I am hoping that by the beginning of the school season this fall we should have something more concrete.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated that there would be a draft report in mid-July. The issue of grade reorganization is a major issue in education terms. It is a fairly major issue and the fact that there has not been a lot of people talking it up causes me some anxiety, particularly if there is a draft report scheduled to come forward in July.
People will be somewhat anxious, if they care deeply about this subject, to think that they may be behind the eight-ball if there is a report already drafted by the time school starts in September.
Could the Minister tell us precisely what type of consultation is being undertaken, how many meetings have taken place, who in the community is leading the discussion - outside of the department official, who is charged with the responsibility for the departments on their behalf?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back to the Member on that question. My understanding right now is that the official from the department is having some meetings with various school councils. That is the latest information that I have, but I will provide the Member with more detailed information within the next week or so.
Mr. McDonald: I would point out that, even though it did not generate a lot of letters to the paper when I was a Minister, the subject of grade reorganization did elicit some kind of response from the general public. I would caution the Minister to be very thorough in his consultation because I do know that feelings run very high on this particular subject and I think that if there has not been a lot of discussion taking place - I have not seen one article recently, at least not in the last few months on grade reorganization - that would suggest that consultation is not as widespread as one would want it to be.
So I would ask, if the Minister could get back with a consultation plan, or what the department considers to be an appropriate consultation plan, and projected report dates for the consultation, I would appreciate that, as well as any documents they may be producing that they would be using for public discussion.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I appreciate the advice the Member gives me regarding the sensitivity of this particular topic, and I will get that information back to him as soon as I can.
Mrs. Firth: I just want to follow up with the Minister regarding not only the grade reorganization, which in itself is a sensitive issue, but just the general examination the Minister has indicated he is going to be doing of the whole department.
In order to find out what the Ministers opinions are about where education should go and what kind of education system he and his Cabinet want to see here in the Yukon, I would like to ask the Minister, first of all, if he could tell us what kind of direction he is giving everybody in the department. What specifically is he telling the department officials to do in all this business of getting information, making reports and giving him reports? What is he asking them for specifically?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I mentioned this earlier. What I have asked the department to do is look at areas in the department, specifically in administration, where we feel that there may be some overlap, or some areas where we can streamline that particular area of the Department of Education. There is not a lot of latitude in the Department of Education to reduce the budget. Most of our expenditures are in teachers and the public school system, and I want to leave that alone. However, there may be some room in some areas, if there is overlap with Yukon College, other organizations, curriculum development or other areas. Perhaps we can look at that.
I have given no specific direction to look at a specific topic. I have said that we should look at the programs that Yukon College is delivering and those we are working on. If there is some overlap between the two, perhaps we can reduce the costs in the long run. That is the purpose of it. Other than that, I do not know exactly what answer the Member is seeking.
Mrs. Firth: The issue of overlap is one specific. Any Minister can ask his officials to look at areas where his department may be overlapping with their responsibilities and functions. The Minister made some reference this afternoon to all the policy analysts, communications people, superintendents and so on, within his administration. Is the Minister not saying, but leaving the impression, that perhaps the department is administratively top-heavy? Has he given any specific direction to his officials to examine that particular area?
Those are the specifics I am looking for. What is the Minister examining, or is he just saying to the officials that - like some of the other Ministers have said - we want the department to run more efficiently and effectively. To me that does not mean anything, nor does it mean anything to the people whom I represent. I would like to know specifically what direction the Minister is giving to his officials in the complete examination that he seems to be doing within the Department of Education.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are a couple of areas that I have concerns in. One is in the area of superintendents. We have five superintendents and I have questioned the department and asked them how many we actually need in the Yukon. If you look at the number of superintendents who manage schools in B.C. and other parts of Canada, we have a ratio that is pretty low, compared to those areas. Do we need that many superintendents.
I have looked at the area of communications advisors. The Department of Education should be made up of communications people, so do we need a communication advisor in the department?
I have asked them to look at the curriculum development. We follow the B.C. curriculum and we have a dozen person years in curriculum. I have asked them to look at those areas and asked how we could be more efficient.
I have asked the department to look at advanced education, were we have 19 individuals, to see if there is overlap in those areas.
Those are the kinds of things I have asked them to investigate and come back to me and make recommendations of where there is overlap and where we could save some money in the future - becoming more streamlined and efficient.
I also asked the department officials who are involved in curriculum development, and superintendents and others, to spend more time in the schools. I have had some concerns raised to me by teachers and others that they do not see enough of these people in the schools, following through with the programs that they are developing. I would like to see that happen more. I would like to see more interaction between the administration and the people in the building across the river, and the schools that we have in the territory. I hope that can be accomplished in the next few years.
Mrs. Firth: What the Minister is saying is that he has asked - to put it more specifically - his officials to look at ways of reducing person years. I would like to know if the same theory applies, if we have too many superintendents, and our ratios are low in proportion to what other provinces have. I think that would also apply to our teachers and class sizes. Is the Minister also looking at our having fewer teachers, if he is applying that principle?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, we are not looking at that right now, but it is an interesting suggestion from the Member. Perhaps we can take that under advisement, and I would look at that in the future. I think it is something that we should always be looking at. We have the lowest ratio in the country. I have not made any decisions on that right now.
We wanted to leave the public school system alone and deal with the staffing entitlement formula at some later date. It is not something that is a priority at this time. I think that we can make some reductions in the overall cost on the administrative side right now, without dipping into the public school system.
Mrs. Firth: I would ask the Minister not to put words in my mouth. I did not bring it forward in the form of a suggestion; I brought it forward in response to the Ministers comment that he said we had more superintendents than other places and he applied a principle that our ratios were lower than other places. I am simply saying to him that if he is going to apply that principle across the board, is it going to apply to teachers? It is not that I am suggesting that, so I would ask him to listen very carefully and not put words in my mouth.
I would like to ask the Minister, when he examines all of these issues and gets all these reports brought forward to him, how exactly is he going to make the decision and who is he going to be seeking advice from when he makes the decisions?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I guess I will sit down with my deputy minister and we will look at the actions we have to take in the future. I will have to take a document to Cabinet in the future if we are going to make any major changes. It is far too early to say that that is going to happen. Right now, all we are really looking at doing is making the department a little more efficient. So, I would go through the proper process, I guess, as the ultimate decision will be one that I, as the Minister of Education, will make in taking the document to Cabinet and, I suppose, Cabinet will make the final decision from there.
Mr. McDonald: There must be something in the way the Member for Riverdale South asked the question, because she got a lot more information than I did when I asked the same question.
I had no idea that we had 12 people in curriculum development in the department. Did the Minister add people when he took over and is now cutting back? That is an awful lot of people for curriculum development.
Is the Minister seriously contemplating fewer teachers for the school system? He has indicated, on a couple of occasions, that he is somewhat proud of the low student-teacher ratio, and other times I get the impression that he thinks it is something worth changing.
What is the Ministers feeling on the student-teacher ratio, and particularly the number of teachers in the school system?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Currently, we are not planning on changing the staffing formula entitlement. It is going to stay the way it is right now. It is not something that I am just looking into.
The Member just asked me, in comparison to the superintendents, if we are going to use the same principle there? I answered that it is something that you have to look at, whether you increase or decrease; it is something that you decide down the road. There has not been a decision, paper, document or suggestion in any way, shape or form to change that in any way. It is not something that we have discussed.
As I said before, our plan is to maintain the public school system and the staffing formula, intact, at the present time.
Mr. McDonald: The changes associated with the reduction in the number of teachers will be done in consultation, normally, with the deputy minister, of course, the Yukon Teachers Association, the Association of School Councils, parent groups, CYI and others. This would not be something the Minister would do unilaterally. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, I was just going to make the decision myself on recommendations from the critic - just kidding, I would not do that.
The plan is to go through the full consultation process. That would be a very, very sensitive matter and I think the Member knows that. It is not something I would embark upon recklessly. I would hope that, if it came about, there would be all kinds of consultation with the stakeholders in education and we would come to some consensus or some agreement before we announced any changes.
Mr. McDonald: I was a little worried about the way in which the Minister was responding to the Member for Riverdale South. I got the impression that he was actually contemplating ideas about cutting teachers. He should be clear about the number of people who are in curriculum development before he starts cutting the numbers of people in curriculum development.
The Minister mentioned that he wanted to pursue more interaction between the department and the schools. That is a general statement, a general thrust in terms of the departments new directions. Can the Minister indicate what he meant by that? What was the intention of saying that? What is he intending to do?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Since I became the Minister, I have had discussions with a great many teachers, educators and others about education and this particular area.
One of the comments that came from many of the teachers - not just one teacher - is that they develop curriculum programs and other programs, and no one comes to the classroom as often as they should to see that the programs are deliverable, whether or not they are working or how well, or how there could be improvements made to them. There could be an opportunity here for more visits from the people in the administration - the developers of the curriculum, the superintendents of education, and others - to the schools to see exactly how well they are functioning.
I would be remiss to ignore that concern from the teachers. I have asked the department officials to make some extra efforts to spend some more time in the schools, in order to understand the problems that some of the teachers say they are having. That is all I have done. I have not criticized them one way or the other. I have just asked them to spend more time there, as a representation was made to me that it could make the system a lot better. That is all I have tried to do.
Mr. McDonald: I agree that efforts should be made to make the system better. The Minister will never find any disagreement from me on that point. I am a little puzzled about how the Minister is going to be encouraging more direction between department officials in the future - superintendents and others - when we will arguably have fewer superintendents and curricula developers. The Minister did not say that we will have fewer curricula developers, but he said that was seen to be a target for personnel cutting. I guess we will have to wait and see how the Minister is going to accomplish both a target of reducing personnel and, at the same time, increasing the activity of the overall branch, so that they go into the schools more often.
I would point out that I am sure there are many school-based personnel who would love to see curriculum developers and special education people there virtually full time, people who are based at the central office. It is a difficult prospect to have people carry out their responsibilities to the whole territory, and also be in everybodys classroom at once.
I am certain that will be made more difficult with fewer personnel than there are today, given the fact that I know that the vast majority of the personnel in the Department of Education now are extraordinarily dedicated people who, when they can be in a classroom, are in a classroom.
Rather than start another subject area, if Members want to take a recess until 7:30, perhaps we could do that.
Chair: The time being past 5:30, we will take a recess until 7:30.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there further debate on Education?
Mr. McDonald: There are two more hours of debate on Education.
With a view to moving things along here, I would like to ask the Minister briefly about a number of things that were raised in the supplementary round - I will ask the Minister some fairly direct questions and then move on to other things.
The pass program, which the Minister has indicated he remains committed to and a program that I, of course, support, has in its explanation in the legislative return a statement that the program is going to move to a junior high school. Can the Minister give us some of the rationale for that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member with further information on that particular program.
Mr. McDonald: Some people on this side feel that if I am not drawing blood, I am not doing my job. I am trying to get some basic information on the record and then we will use this as baseline information for next year.
I would like to point out, for the record, that the original rationale for having the PASS program in a store-front location was to secure a non-traditional schooling alternative for young people who were having difficulty attending an institution. To move it to a junior high school would seem to be somewhat contrary to that original approach. I am puzzled by the response, but I will wait for the departments answer.
Could the Minister indicate if there is a waiting list for the teens parent program and if there are any plans to expand the program in the coming year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to get back to the Member on whether there is a waiting list for the program. I do know that there has been a request or some conversations about the possibility of students from Pelly needing that program - I think there are five individuals there. One of the issues that we were discussing is whether it would be more cost-efficient to develop a program in Pelly, as opposed to moving the students from Pelly into Whitehorse. That is one thing we are looking into now.
The program, as the Member knows, has been extremely successful in having these young women continue their education and we certainly support that kind of program and will be in the future.
Mr. McDonald: The next section in the legislative return speaks to the rural experiential model - the REM program - and various other more innovative programming opportunities. Can the Minister indicate which of these programs are funded by the stay-in-school initiative?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I suspect they are the same ones that were funded when he was the Minister. I do not think that we have made any change there, but I can get that information back to the Member.
Mr. McDonald: I will wait for the Ministers response. I wonder if the Minister could provide me with a list of initiatives in terms of First Nations curriculum development, both in curriculum and aboriginal language education, for the coming year. Would he be prepared to give me a list of departmental projects?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I can have that very shortly, I would imagine.
Mr. McDonald: The stay-in-school program, which is the next item, demonstrates an expenditure proposal for $878,000.
This was somewhat different from what the Minister indicated would be spent in the coming year. I think he said $90,000 and $60,000, or something. Can he explain the difference between the $878,000 and the $150,000-plus that he talked about this afternoon?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Minister with a legislative return on that.
Mr. McDonald: I would appreciate that.
We spoke briefly this afternoon about lEcole Emilie Tremblay and the funding proposals for a new school. I do not believe that the Minister understood the final question in Question Period today, where I asked whether or not the Minister would be supporting a community school - a community school meaning something more than the standard educational institution.
Can I ask the Minister what the governments position is with respect to financial support for a community school?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to look long and hard at a community school. The Department of Education, in the past, when building schools has looked at the school as a stand-alone facility rather than a community centre type of school facility.
I was interested today in the question that the Member gave me because I understand that the Member has met with the group that was concerned about this funding, and they registered a strong concern with the Member. However, they have not met with me and I would have thought that they would have at least discussed the issue with me first and then possibly raised the issue with the Opposition Member. I thought that was the better approach to take initially.
I can remember being in Opposition for seven years and I do not recall anyone coming first to the Opposition and then to the government later. Usually it was the other way around. I was a little bit surprised by the approach.
I am willing to sit down with the group to discuss its concerns and problems to see if we can come to a solution.
Mr. McDonald: There are probably any number of reasonable reasons for the lAssociation des Franco-Yukonnais and the lEcole Emilie Tremblay coming to the Member for McIntyre-Takhini first, but we will not speculate on that right now. I understood that the school council did attempt to schedule meetings with the Minister and has been unable to do so.
Is the Minister saying, essentially, that funding for a community school is not a priority or a low priority with the department? Could the Minister clarify what he means when he says he will give it a hard look?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have not sat down with the group and discussed it with them as yet, but I am not terribly excited by the idea. However, I would sit down with them to see what their proposal is before I categorically said no to the proposal. It is not something that we have done in the past and I do not believe it was a policy of the previous government. I would like to have a good look at their proposal before I say no.
Mr. McDonald: As a matter of fact, in the rural communities, the promotion of community schools was the policy of the government, depending on what constituted a community school. Folding in other services, like libraries, social service agencies, the college, et cetera, has been a policy of the government in the past. Whitehorse has been different because there has never been a request for that kind of facility, except insofar as there have been some proposals to blend activities in some of the schools we have recently built.
Let me ask the Minister a question about the Education Appeal Tribunal. Does the tribunal have a quorum? Does it have a chair? Is it up and doing business?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it has. I believe just last week, in Cabinet, we passed the appointments, and it now does have a full quorum and a chair. It should be up and running very shortly.
Mr. McDonald: Who are those people?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get a list of the people for the Member tomorrow. The new chair of the Education Appeal Tribunal is Dean Cameron. I would have to get a list. Truska Gorrell is on it, as well as Margaret Kormendy, from Dawson City. It would be better for me to get a list for the Member. I can have that for him possibly later on this evening or first thing tomorrow morning.
Mr. McDonald: As far as the Minister is concerned, if anyone has a complaint or wants to take something before the Education Appeal Tribunal, it is functioning and open for business, so to speak. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, we will be issuing a press release shortly on the full makeup of the board and committee, but they have been officially appointed and notified. If they do have something come before them - and I do not believe they have anything on their platter at this time - they would be able to deal with it.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister give us an update as to what is happening with the college endowment lands?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The college endowment lands, right now, are basically on hold because of the land claims negotiations and because of requests from, I believe, the Taan Dun or Kwanlin Dun on those particular lands. There will be further negotiations, I suppose, at the negotiating table respecting those lands and, as soon as we reach a mutual agreement, we will be proceeding. Everyone else is basically on side. They have raised some concerns and we want to address those concerns. They have been rather preoccupied lately with other issues, so we have not moved on it.
Mr. McDonald: Is it the governments intention to continue seeking college endowment lands and securing them one way or another in the next two years?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it is.
Mr. McDonald: The previous government was pursuing the amendments to the Students Financial Assistance Act. Can the Minister indicate what the current governments intentions are with respect to amending that act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The consultation process, I believe, was about three-quarters complete when the election was called, and there was a plan to have further consultations in the fall. I have not had a chance to completely review the whole program as yet, but we have adequate funds in the budget this year to continue with the funding requirements as needed as per last year. We will be looking, in the fall, at possibly doing the final rounds of consultation after we do a review to see where we are going on this. I have had some representations made to me by some groups that we did not need to go out to the public again - they felt we had enough information - and I would like to take the opportunity to sit down with those groups, but I have not been able to do that as yet.
Mr. McDonald: In the interests of getting into line by line, because I know it is going to take some time, I will reserve my other comments for that process, but I would like to ask the Minister right now, with respect to research and development - the Northern Research Institute - can the Minister indicate what his thoughts are about the institute? I see the legislative return is simply on the status of activities. What is the Ministers position with respect to this organization?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: At this time there is no change in policy from the previous government in that particular area.
Mr. McDonald: What is the Ministers view of research and development activities? Does he believe that this organization can provide a useful service to government and industry? What is the Ministers vision of this institute?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Because it is in the budget and because there is no change, we believe that they have a useful function. We have not changed anything here yet. Like I said before, we are looking at all programs in the government when we get an opportunity to sit down and do that. This is one that, on the surface, we looked at and we feel that it is a program that is providing a useful function and we have agreed to continue with the program.
Mr. McDonald: Of course the Northern Research Institute is a creature of Yukon College and is funded by Yukon College. I know that. The funding that it disperses in its own right is provided by the college endowment fund. That is a $1 million fund that was granted to the college when the college was passed over to the new board. I do not expect the Minister to pass judgment on whether or not it should continue, but rather to tell us whether or not the government feels that it has a useful role in terms of supporting government operations, or whether or not it has a useful role in connection with the private sector. Does the Minister have any thoughts about that, or should we wait until the fall to allow him time to put something together.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I want to apologize to the Member opposite. He has seven years of experience in this particular department. I have seven months. I can appreciate that the Member has a great deal of knowledge there, but I am learning and trying to understand what the department is doing. We felt that this was a useful program, and we are going to continue with that. If the Minister wants to discuss it further in the fall, I would be more than happy to do that.
Mr. McDonald: Let us be frank. In the course of an hour and one-half, I have agreed to cover virtually the whole field of education. I have not been a bear about seeking information. I have been very good about it, so the Minister should not get testy with me.
I am not asking the Minister a trick question. This is a new area. It is research and development. People have been talking about promoting research and development in virtually every election campaign since the time of the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Very few people have paid anything but lip service to research and development, so this is not an inconsequential question.
If the Minister does not have any thoughts, that is legitimate. I am not saying that the Minister should have developed a thorough government policy on every subject, but I am bringing it to the Ministers attention that this is something that has been an interesting development.
I am not asking whether the government is going to continue funding it, because it is not within the governments mandate to decide whether or not it should be funded; it is within Yukon Colleges mandate. What I am asking is if this organization has a useful purpose. I am not asking a trick question.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This organization has a useful purpose.
Mr. Penikett: I have two questions I would like to ask in general debate, or perhaps I would describe it as two areas about which I would like to ask questions. I would advise the Minister, in advance, that they are not broad policy questions so much as they are questions that come to me from citizens in the Yukon who have made representations. The Minister may not know about either of these situations, although he may.
The first one concerns a young person in one of the rural schools, whom I will not name. I want to emphasize to the Minister that I do not want to talk about the particular case; I want to ask about policy around this case.
The Minister has, in a previous comment on the floor of this House, expressed concern about kids who have trouble adjusting to the school system, might be acting up or who may be seen as a discipline problem - or whatever. I want to ask about - and I will try to make the question as generic as I can - a child in the school system whose needs are obviously not being met by the current programming, because the child is a source of constant frustration to the teachers and the school administration.
The parent has reached a dead end in trying to deal with the local school staff and council and gone so far as to make a representation, in writing, to the Minister, I understand, in this case by way of a letter in January. The Minister, consistent with the provisions of the Education Act, has referred the parent back to the school council, an arena where the parent has not received satisfaction.
The situation has now evolved to the point where the child is very angry and unhappy, comes home and complains to the parent - why does everyone tell me I am stupid, am I stupid Mom? The parent is incredible frustrated because the school seems to solve the problem by putting the kid on half days or banning him from school altogether, which creates a problem for a working parent or creates a problem at home, does not provide much of an education for the child and, in a rural school, of course, the school cannot offer the range of programs, such as wilderness training or outdoor education, or some of those other alternatives that may be available in the city.
This parent has also had it suggested that the child in question might be taught at home. As the Minister will know, for some parents this is not a practical option. I am really putting all the information I have out to the Minister in a general way. What I really want to ask the Minister is whether he or his officials have any solutions to offer to this kind of longstanding problem of this particular child who is obviously experiencing a lot of pain and expressing a lot of anger and frustration? Also, beyond the suggestion that the matter be dealt with by the local school council, principal and superintendent, which has proved to have no results for the parent or the child in this case, what does the Minister have to suggest? Is the department considering any alternative? Is there any role for the Minister in taking a special interest in the case, beyond just referring it back to the school council, which as I said has not produced any results?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think that we are bordering on divulging an individuals name here and I think that we have to be very careful about that.
I know the case that the Member is talking about and in this particular case there are other children who have been put at physical risk, the school has been put at risk - the facility has been put at risk. From my review of this situation, the Department of Education has bent over backwards to solve this particular problem, and they have done everything that they can do. I support the initiatives that have been taken by the department. We have had to have other children removed from that school for their security and safety. It has disrupted the rest of the school in various instances and if the Member wants to sit down with my officials or discuss the particular problem in more detail, I would be more than happy to do that.
I really believe that we have followed the letter of the law as stipulated in the Education Act in what we can do. There is some responsibility here that falls upon the parents. I think that when a case gets as bad as this case is there has to be some acceptance of responsibility on behalf of the parent. Maybe it is not only the school that is causing the problem; maybe there is more to it than that. I think this is the point that we have arrived at with this situation. It is a very sad situation, not only for the parent and student, but for everyone in that school who has had to experience that situation. I would hope that we can come to some resolution of the problem, but I am not really optimistic about this one.
Mr. Penikett: Let me make it clear that I am not recommending in any sense that the Minister sanction any socially irresponsible behaviour or that he be asked to put other children or the school property at risk.
I am making a much more gentle representation, which is consistent with the Education Act, as I understand the act - even a difficult child has a right to an education.
I am really saying that even the most troubled and troublesome child in the world has a right to an education. I am not disputing the parental role or anything. It is an extraordinarily difficult case, let us both admit that, but what I am asking - and I am trying to put it in general policy terms - is this: is there anything beyond what has been done so far that the Minister or the department is considering to ensure that this child, as troubled as it may be, will still be able to get an education of some kind?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have not had this issue come up in the last few weeks. I dealt with the situation a few months ago when it was a problem, but it has not come up recently. I will check into it to find out where we are today, what we are doing, and I would be more than happy to meet with the Member opposite to discuss it in a more private setting because it is a personal matter. If there is something that we can do, we will do everything that we can to try to provide an adequate education for this child.
Mr. Penikett: Let me be clear. I am not simply making representations for the child. I am really asking the policy question about what the department does in such cases, and let us hope that we do not have too many cases such as this.
I have been provided with quite a lot of background information on this case and I do not mind meeting with the Minister, but I am also interested in the individual case. I do not want to talk about this in too much detail, but what I would appreciate - I do not want to put the Minister on the spot now - if some consideration could be given about this type of problem, and, especially in rural schools, what the system can do about schools that are experiencing this kind of unusual level of difficulty.
Having said that, maybe I could just move on to the other question, which is, I think, less personal.
Over the weekend, I was approached by someone connected with Yukon College who was quite concerned about the fact that the college has apparently made a decision, or allegedly made a decision - I cannot confirm these facts - to reduce their grounds-keeping staff to an absolute minimum; thereby, all the lawns and grounds that have been developed at public expense there have been maintained, I would guess, at perhaps an inadequate level. I am wondering if the Minister has been made aware of that situation? Are the facts as I have heard them, and has he been asked to have any discussion with the college about this situation? My concern is, of course, not just about the fact that we have minimum staffing, but there is a significant public investment in those grounds and I think the college facility should look attractive. The buildings are attractive and the grounds should look presentable, and I would be concerned that a low-cost maintenance strategy might not lead, in the end, to some high capital cost in the not too distant future.
I am asking the question in a very general way.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I have been made aware of that by another Member, who brought it to my attention a few days ago. I have my officials looking into it. I hear concerns that the plants are possibly being watered on a regular basis inside the facility as well as groundskeeping on the exterior of the facility. We are having that looked into to see whether it is a problem and whether we can do anything about it.
On Finance and Administration
Mr. McDonald: The Minister has agreed to give us some sense as to how the department is being reorganized. I realize this represents an increase, but if the Minister could, first of all, explain the increases and secondly explain the departments reorganization, particularly in this area, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The increase in Administration of $148,000 is the result of the transfer from Public Schools of $244,000, due to the centralization of the policy and planning, and a decrease of $96,000 in salaries, and $59,000 and another $37,000.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister give us some sense of what he is referring to on the decrease in salaries?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is a reduction in central office of one position.
Mr. McDonald: If the Minister would volunteer some of the information, I would not have to get up so often. Could the Minister indicate which position he is referring to, and if there are any reorganizations in this area, besides the transfer of the policy and planning unit, that change this area? Could he indicate whether or not the full policy and planning unit came over? What has happened to the balance of this branch?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is part of the reorganization, and that is still up in the air at this time.
Mr. McDonald: First of all, the Minister did not answer the question with respect to the reduction in person years. The Minister did indicate that, once we got to the line-by-line debate, he would explain the reorganization. If he is not prepared to do that now, I wonder if he could tell us why.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The savings in the central policy and planning unit is the reduction of two salaries, totalling $108,000, in the planning support unit in advanced education, and $110,000 in finance and administration. Therefore, the centralization of the policy and planning unit results in a savings of $208,000.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate what positions are being reduced?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are two policy positions, and they are currently unfilled.
Mr. McDonald: Those two policy positions are vacant. I understand that there are no other positions the Minister is referring to that are going to be deleted. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Basically it is through attrition that we reduced the two positions. There were two vacant positions - one in advanced education. The salaries were reduced in finance and administration.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister referred to two positions. He characterized them as planning and support. He said that they were both vacant and so they would be deleted. Can the Minister indicate which positions they were? He indicated that one position was in advanced education. Where was the other position?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are two term positions that end in August. That is where one of the term positions will be found.
Mr. McDonald: I can see that this is not going to be an easy process. Can the Minister provide me with a list of position titles that are proposed to be in the finance and administration branch, versus a list of titles that were in the finance and administration branch and were in other branches that are now being subsumed into this branch? Can he give me those two lists so that I can understand better? I am having a heck of a time visualizing what he is explaining this evening.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can do that when the reorganization is complete.
Mr. McDonald: I know the Minister is going to understand that it is very difficult for the Legislature to give the Minister a blank cheque on reorganization. Normally, what happens when the estimates come forward is that the planning for these things has taken place. The Minister has a reasonably clear picture about what sort of activity he wants to ask for money for in the Legislature. To not be able to give that information is awkward and certainly not something that is normally acceptable here.
If the Minister, when he is providing the information, could give us the departments current thinking and the information prior to the next sitting of the Legislature so that we could get some sense of what the conclusions are, that is probably reasonable. Would he be prepared to do that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will do that for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister if the governments policy regarding attrition is going to apply across the board in the Department of Education?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Does the Member mean that to include teachers? Is that what we are talking about?
Mrs. Firth: If the Minister wants to be specific, I would like to know if he will tell us exactly what the governments policy is regarding attrition, and how widely it is going to apply to his department.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are in the process of reorganizing and reviewing the Department of Educations positions. As positions come open, they will be looked at to see if the position is actually needed at the time, just as it has been in the last few months. If we need someone there, we will fill the position. If it is one that we feel we can reduce, we will probably leave it vacant until the reorganization is complete and make a decision at that time.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you. Could the Minister be specific, then, and tell us how they would determine whether or not a position is essential?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If the person doing that position is performing an essential job, it is an essential position. We made a conscious decision to reduce the number of policy people in the Department of Education; however, any other position would be looked at in terms of whether or not it was essential. If it were a position that was needed at the time to staff schools or whatever, we would give serious consideration to filling the job immediately if it were needed at that time.
Mrs. Firth: That is the part of it I do not understand. The Government Leader has stood up in the House now and said that a position within one of his departments was filled because they needed it, yet there is supposed to be this policy of attrition. Now, the Minister of Education is telling us that, if they need the position, they will fill it. I understand what the word attrition means; it means that if the position becomes vacant it does not get filled, period. So I am simply trying to establish what the governments policy is regarding attrition and whether it is going to apply to any departments or whether the departments are just going to have the bureaucrats come to the Ministers and say, We need it and the Ministers are going to fill the positions. If that is the case, then there is no attrition policy.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an attrition policy because some positions in the Department of Education have been vacant for some time and have not been filled, but it is not a really hard problem to understand. If we have an individual who is essential to the hiring of all new teachers for next year and that person decides to quit that job tomorrow, we are not going to leave the job vacant just because of attrition. We would look at that job and say, We need somebody in that position right away, simply because we are hiring our teachers now, and we would fill the position immediately.
We would look at each position and look at how essential that position is and fill the position if we felt it was essential to have it at the time. As I said before, there are some positions within the Department of Education that have been vacant since we took office or have been vacated since we took office and we have not filled them.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand it, then, that part of the policy of attrition is that there is an attrition policy except for essential services and the government is going to determine what those essential services are? If the Minister could say that that is one aspect of it, then we are one step closer to knowing what the attrition policy is. Can the Minister, then, tell me how many positions in the Department of Education are vacant and how many have been discontinued through the attrition process?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I could probably bring that information back to the Member tomorrow.
Clerk: Is there further general debate on finance and administration?
Mrs. Firth: Since the Minister is going to bring that information back tomorrow, could he also bring me information that indicates what kind of cost-saving measure there has been as a result of the governments attrition policy within his department, specifically?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I can. I have a breakdown I will provide to the Member on, I believe, travel, discretionary spending and discretionary hiring for the months of November through to March and I could bring that for the Member tomorrow.
Mr. McDonald: I wonder if the Minister would want to share information that he indicates to other Members that he will provide to all Members in Opposition, and I will ask him if he would share everything that I have asked for with other Members in the Oppositions offices?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am a sharing kind of guy and I would be more than happy to do that for all of the Members.
Chair: Is there further debate on finance and administration? Are the Members ready to proceed with O&M expenditures?
Administration in the amount of $882,000 agreed to
On Finance and Personnel
Finance and Personnel in the amount of $756,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,638,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
Chair: Is there any general debate on public schools?
Mr. McDonald: I am obviously going to ask the Minister, as we go down the list, to give us some sense as to the reason for each of these changes. I would like to ask him if he could tell us what reorganization is planned for this particular branch. Could he give us a more complete sense of what - he has already indicated that superintendents might and he indicated a few other tantalizing tidbits - the department is planning, in terms of its reorganization of the public schools branch?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The reorganization in this area is just preliminary. With respect to the superintendents, we are looking at reducing the number of superintendents by two. There will be three: a north and south superintendent, who will each cover parts of Whitehorse, and a Whitehorse superintendent.
As for the other areas of curriculum and the other areas, we have not made any decisions on that yet. The review is quite preliminary and we are just starting to examine that area.
Mr. McDonald: Will one of the superintendents be bilingual - meaning French and English?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, that is correct.
Mr. McDonald: Are there any other planned reorganizations in this particular branch?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: None right now. Everything is under review.
Mr. McDonald: For example, the department has not dropped any school psychologists, as person years or on contract - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am advised, not at the present time.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister give us - as he committed to do for finance and administration - a breakdown of the planned changes in the public schools branch, in terms of departmental reorganization. Can he give us some indication in the next few months as to what the department is planning to do? Can he give us, prior to the next sitting, an update on what the government has done?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I can bring that back before the next sitting.
Mr. McDonald: One issue that I did not deal with in general debate was the issue of school councils and their future. Can the Minister indicate whether the government is prepared to financially support an Association of School Councils? What is the Ministers position regarding that organization?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, financially we are not going to support them. I understand now that they have a two-tiered system of membership from school councils. Some have joined and some have not. It is up to the individual school councils to join. At this time, we are not prepared to fund the Association of School Councils.
Mr. McDonald: What is the governments position with respect to the Education Council?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are looking at the Education Council; I met with them several weeks ago. We are talking about redrafting the mandate to give them a broader mandate. I understand they were quite pleased with the meeting and they are now working with officials on redrafting the mandate and expanding it to include business, labour and others on the council. It will be a broader mandate than the one they have now.
Mr. McDonald: When he says the council will have a broader mandate than they currently have, can the Minister indicate what he means by broader? What areas is the council not covering now that it will cover?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would hope the council would become sort of an education advisory council to the Minister. It will include many of the members who are on the council now, and perhaps others whom we would add to it. It would be more of an advisory council to the Minister.
Mr. McDonald: Has the Minister given consideration to a situation where the council gives advice that conflicts with the Association of School Councils? What is his view on that, in general terms?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is a hypothetical question, but many of the people who are members of the Association of School Councils are also on the Education Council, so I do not see where there would be a major conflict. I guess we would have to cross that bridge when we come to it.
I do not really perceive seeing a major conflict between the two groups. As for as the Association of School Councils, one of the commitments I made was to work more closely with the school councils to provide information and attend the meetings as often as I can. In fact, I am attending at Hidden Valley tomorrow night, and lEcole Emilie Tremblay on Thursday night. I am trying to get to as many of the school council meetings as I can.
Mr. McDonald: I can only say that the potential for conflicting advice is legion. There are all sorts of opportunities for the two organizations to conflict.
Can the Minister indicate what his position is with respect to school honoraria? He made a great deal of mention about that at some point in the past. What is his current position?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I had some representations made to me some time ago about the honoraria and the concern about paying people to sit on school councils.
Since then, I have had all kinds of people, pro and con, who have expressed their views on the situation.
For this year, we have maintained the funding for the honoraria, but we are reviewing all boards and committees, and honoraria for boards and committees, in future. That review is ongoing and is not completed yet. When it is, we will be discussing the situation with the school councils. At this time, there is no change, and school councils will be receiving the same honoraria as they did last year.
Mr. McDonald: At this time, then, the government is not planning a change. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We will not be making any changes before consulting the school councils or before a review of the honoraria for boards and committees, and the review of boards and committees, has been completed.
Mr. McDonald: I am sorry, I may have missed the Ministers answer. When is the general review of board honoraria throughout government going to be complete?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member with that answer. I believe that the Executive Council Office is dealing with that, and I can get back to the Member and let him know when they expect to complete that review.
Mr. McDonald: There is provision now for guaranteed representation of First Nations on school councils. Can the Minister indicate whether or not there are any outstanding requests for guaranteed representation on school councils by any First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think there were a couple. We just responded to those two. I do not think there are at the present time. I stand to be corrected, and I could get back to the Member on that, but I believe that, a few weeks ago, I dealt with the appointments of several people to a couple of different school councils regarding that matter.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister provide us with a list of schools that have guaranteed representations, a list of requests from First Nations as to the appointment of First Nations representatives and whether or not there are any outstanding issues to be resolved for the government, to ensure that the needs of First Nations people are met on school councils around the territory?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can do that. I can also assure the Member that the requests that we have received so far have been dealt with fairly quickly. There has been no delay whatsoever in meeting their requests. I can provide that information for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us when the contract expired with the teachers and with the college? When are the negotiations with both of those unions going to begin?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back on the date of the expiry of the contract, but the negotiations are supposed to start with the teachers in June; the college negotiates separately. I am not sure when they will start, but I will get back to the Member on it.
Mrs. Firth: Who will be negotiating on behalf of the government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Officials from the PSC and the Department of Education.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us if the position the government took with their YGEU will be consistent with the position that is taken with the teachers association and with money they are prepared to give in allotments to the college?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The position the government is taking regarding the teachers has not come before Cabinet as yet, so I would rather not comment on it at this time.
Mrs. Firth: When does the Minister anticipate that position will be decided by Cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If we are going to begin negotiations in early June, it has to be in the next week or two, I would expect.
Mr. McDonald: Just to follow up on this line of questioning, is it the governments policy to provide, as a matter of remuneration, to the college what it provides to its own employees?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Is he talking about the negotiating position, or the negotiated settlement of the teachers versus the college? Is that what the Member is talking about? The Member is nodding his head, yes. I would have to get back to the Member on the procedure, but I kind of think that would be up to the college negotiators to decide, along with their college employees, what they would receive, and not for me to impose our settlement on the college staff.
Mr. McDonald: I was not suggesting that. What I was asking though is that in the past it has been the policy of the government that whatever it does provide to its own employees, it will provide as a minimum opportunity for the college to provide its employees. The college can provide more if it wishes. In the past we have always provided at least, and at most, what the government provides its own employees. Is that still the policy of the government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My feeling is that when the college gets down to negotiations, it should look at its college budget and see what it is able to provide. The college negotiator should be the one to negotiate the package with the union at the college. We should not be providing any base for them. They are an autonomous institution. They should be dealing with that in a responsible manner.
Mr. McDonald: It is true, but not relevant. What I am asking is not whether or not the college should undertake their own negotiations - of course, I think we both agree that they should - and not whether or not the government should be setting the colleges mandate - I think we both agree that the college should set the mandate - but the question is about any increased cost associated with a collective agreement.
As a matter of policy in the past, the government has provided the college, secretly, from government to board, with a commitment to provide funding to the college to handle collective agreement negotiations. The college has been able to use those funds for collective bargaining. If they are poor bargainers, there is the potential that the cost of the collective agreement will far exceed what has been provided by the Department of Education. If they can seek savings, then it is within their ambit to do so.
The reason I ask the question about policy is because the Opposition asked me, time after time when I was the Minister of Education, what the policy was; therefore, I am now asking the current Minister what the policy is.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If it was a secret before, does the Member want me to tell the secret now of what we are going to do?
I would look at that, but there has not been a decision made one way or another as yet, and I would discuss that with my Cabinet colleagues. I would be interested in having further discussions with the Member about his views on that topic, and I will also be talking to my officials about it.
My mind is not entirely made up on that, and I do not completely understand everything that the Department of Education did. That is one area that I will look into further.
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 Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with general debate on public schools. Is there any further debate?
Mr. McDonald: I have one, quick follow-up question to something we were discussing before. Could the Minister indicate whether or not the $878,000 recovery is now in the expenditures in public schools? If it is, could he now identify where the recovery is?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a typo in the legislative return. The $878,000 was a total for three years. The correct total should be $353,800 for the 1993-94 budget.
Mr. McDonald: That is one heck of a typo there. I appreciate the correct information. Could the Minister answer the question as to whether or not the $353,800 is in the expenditure column?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member with that.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister turn to page 94 in the budget book, please? There are a number of changes to Special Programs. Does the Minister have information that would explain the changes in his budget books anywhere on the statistics page?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In professional development there is a decrease from $44,500 to $15,000. The responsibility for professional development is shared with the Yukon Teachers Association and most costs are recovered by the professional development fund and the collective agreement. On page 108, you can see the YTA professional development fund increased from $430,000 to $455,000. School support services decreased from $119,837 to $110,545. A reduction of travel costs and program materials should have no impact on students, as considerable program material resources exist in schools. Alternate programs decreased from $97,822 to zero. There are no reductions in programs and services. The coordinator of alternate curriculum development has been shifted from the special programs area to the curriculum area. This is a transfer of one position due to reorganization.
The program dollars associated with programs such as teen-parent-equivalency, pass and Ravens Wing have been shifted to the individual school budgets. The sensory impairments decreased from $23,500 to $19,200, a small reduction in travel and contract services. Occupational and physical therapy decreased from $200,376 to $112,800. Reorganization of special programs budget allocated support and travel costs to administration and speech and language coordinator. Only the actual contracted services remaining in this allocation are equivalent to the amount expended last year.
Mr. McDonald: I did not quite understand the reasons for the reduction in occupational and physical therapy. The Minister mentioned that one of the positions had been moved to the speech and language coordinator function and that accounted for part of the 43-percent increase in that particular line. Can the Minister indicate what the reason for the balance was, again please?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am advised it is not a position; it is the reorganization of the support and travel costs to administration.
Mr. McDonald: There is no reduction, in any way, in school services either for assessment services for students or programming services for students that are not affected or reduced in any way. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, the services are the same as last year.
Mr. McDonald: While the Minister is looking at page 94, if he looked at page 95, he will notice that the school bus budget is going up, but the average number of students per day is going down. Can he explain that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The costs have been renegotiated with the busing contractor and these increases reflect the increase in cost to the contract.
Mr. McDonald: So the only reason for the increased cost, even with a reduction in the number of students, is the cost associated with the busing contract increase. Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is correct.
Mr. McDonald: The contract then calls for a 13-percent increase? Is that what the Minister is saying? I notice that the number of students per day has dropped better than 120. There are 120 fewer students per day, yet the expenditure for the busing contract increased 13 percent.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There seem to be quite a few factors affecting this. What I will do for the Member is get a legislative return and get back to the Member on the details of the change in the busing contract.
Chair: We will proceed to line-by-line debate.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 6, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1993-94, be amended in vote 03, Education, by reducing the line item Administration on page 89 in the operation and maintenance estimates by $31,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
Chair: Is there any debate on the amendment?
Mr. McDonald: Perhaps the Minister could indicate the reasons for the reduction.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The reductions are in employee travel in the Yukon for $5,000, and employee travel out of the Yukon for $2,000. The reduction in teacher recruitment activity and costs: other travel in the Yukon for $3,000, and other travel out of the Yukon for $21,336.
Amendment agreed to
Mr. McDonald: I would like the Minister, if he would not mind, to go through and explain each line briefly and the reasons for the changes.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The decrease is due to a reduction in central office salaries of $68,477; a reduction in student residence salaries of $7,011; a reduction in Department of National Defence program salaries of $34,613; a transfer of $223,000 for YTEP personnel allotment to transfer payment; a transfer of $154,000 to complete the policy unit transfer to finance and administration, offset by a $154,000 allocation for the overall public schools personnel budget.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister tell us what the $68,000 reduction is for?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: A superintendent.
Mr. McDonald: The decision to remove at least one superintendent has been made and that decision was made when the budget was developed, right?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is correct.
Administration in the amount of $3,090,000 agreed to as amended
On Program Delivery
Mr. McDonald: There is a $2 million difference and I wonder if the Minister, for each of the line items - Program Delivery; Program Support and Development; French Language Programs; Special Programs and Facilities and Transportation - could briefly explain the reasons for the changes?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Management Board minute 92-17-05, May 26, 1992, approved a forced growth in teacher and para-professional dollars of $1,158,261. This budget increases the budget for teacher and para-professional staff by $967,164 above the level approved by the previous government, which takes into account the forced growth requirements for the 1993-94 school year.
The reduction of one superintendent position, effective July 1, 1993, $25,000, enables us to reduce one superintendent by not renewing a term position. Any further cuts at this time result in layoffs.
There is an increase of $88,586 for school secretarial staff; an increase of $1,584,855 for instructional staff; an increase of $540,570 for educational assistance; a reduction of $15,761 in remedial tutors, offset by an increase of $33,000 for math/science tutors; an increase of $181,445 for native language instructors; and an increase of $178,010 for substitute teachers to reflect actual expenditures.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate where the native instruction is going and whether or not there is a K-to-12 program in any school in the territory providing native language instruction?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to get back to the Member on that.
Mr. Cable: There is a curious recovery at page 106, which I assume relates to program delivery. If I could draw the Ministers attention to this, under public schools, it refers to YTA substitute teachers in the amount of $75,000. Could the Minister confirm that that is in fact teachers salaries and confirm exactly what that is?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: When the YTA has professional development that is proposed by them, they pay the subsidy costs for the teachers.
Program Delivery in the amount of $40,819,000 agreed to
On Program Support and Development
Hon. Mr. Phillips: An increase of $313,071 is due to the transfer in from special programs of an alternate education coordinator, now a graduation programs coordinator, of $93,560, and the transfer from Other O&M of $219,511 to transfer contract staff to employee status. There is a decrease of $85,000 to non-renewal of a vacant native curriculum coordinator term position.
Mr. McDonald: I think even Hansard will have trouble with that explanation. Would the Minister mind providing that explanation in writing for us in the next day or so?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will do that. I just read it as it was written here. I will try and get the code broken and bring it back for the Member.
Program Support and Development in the amount of $2,007,000 agreed to
On French Language Program
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is just for salary increases.
Mr. McDonald: Are these for anyone in particular? They are obviously not general salary increases. Are there any increases in personnel?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will get back to the Member on that three-percent increase.
French Language Program in the amount of $860,000 agreed to
On Special Programs
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The decrease is due to the transfer of the alternate programs coordinator to program support and development and amounts to $93,560, which is offset by an allocation from salary increases of $28,091.
Special Programs in the amount of $1,121,000 agreed to
On Facilities and Transportation
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This increase is due to an allocation of salary dollars to meet staffing levels in order to correct an historical pattern of under budgeting in this area.
Mr. McDonald: I thought that there was a fairly significant increase here, due to transportation costs. Is that not at all part of the reason? We just talked about a $300,000 increase in transportation a few minutes ago. The Minister has not mentioned that at all.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is part of the problem. The other part of the problem was the issue that we are dealing with now in the Department of Education that I discussed with the Member. That is the under budgeting, or the problem in this area that we are looking at now in the department. The combination of the two account for the increase.
Mr. McDonald: So the problem of under budgeting is going to be resolved completely and absolutely, never to be seen again, as a result of this change. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: So help me God. I sure hope that we can get a handle on it. I do not think that it will ever be solved forever. I know that the Member opposite was a great Minister and did his very best to get a handle on these things. I am going to do my very best, too. All we can hope is that we can get it more under control than it was earlier.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate whether there are any reductions in any particular areas in this budget?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are three or four areas of reduction that are quite minimal if the Member wants them. They are under $10,000. There is repairs and maintenance in the amount of $9,000, postage and freight totalling $4,800, advertising at $22,400 and communications at $5,126.
Facilities and Transportation in the amount of $6,318,000 agreed to
Public Schools in the amount of $54,246,000 agreed to as amended
On Advanced Education
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister about the relationship between the government and the Yukon College, as he sees it. Earlier, we had an exchange relating to the care of the grounds at Yukon College and, just looking through the act, it would appear that the act contemplates an arms-length relationship between the government and Yukon College. Is that the Ministers view of the relationship?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it is, and that is one of the reasons why my officials will look into the issue of the grounds keeping at the college. We did pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of landscaping and plants up there so we do have some kind of an interest. We will not be telling the college they have to do it, but we will be bringing it to their attention that we have some concerns.
Mr. Cable: The act contemplates, by my reading of it, that the board would be responsible for the grounds. What sort of communications would the Minister see as legitimate within this arms-length relationship? Would it be cricket for the Minister to call up the board chairman, or the president, to discuss the care of the grounds - and I am just using the care of the grounds as an example?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I meet with the chair of the board on an ongoing basis, and my deputy meets with the president on a fairly regular basis as well. I suppose in one of the conversations when they are asking what we are doing and we are asking what they are doing, just to keep in touch, that might be brought up as an issue that has been brought to our attention - what is the truth to it and is something being done to take care of the grounds, and that we have a concern because the taxpayer, after all, paid for all the improvements in the first place and they are going to be concerned if all the plants die.
Mr. Cable: I can certainly see that, but I would think that the board would be chosen with sufficient care that they could look after watering the flowers. Just let me ask the Minister this question: does the Minister see the legitimate communications being enquiries, directives, correspondence, oral communication, or what sort of parameters are around the communications between the government, which includes the Minister and his officials, and the board, its officers and the staff at the college?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not see myself as telling the college what to do, if that is what the Member is asking. I would bring something to the colleges attention or discuss future programs with the college. I agree with the Member that we appoint a very competent board to carry out the activities of the Yukon College, and we should let them do their job.
I really should not have to be worried or bothered about watering the plants at the college, and neither should officials in my department. However, when it is brought to our attention, on the floor of the House, I have some responsibility to pass on the message to whomever at the college, and the venue that I will choose here would be through the deputy minister. I believe my deputy talks with the president of the college on an ongoing basis, and that might be something that he might raise during one of those conversations, and they may want to address the issue.
Mr. Cable: Now the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is giving hints. During these ongoing conversations, is there an exchange of correspondence on a regular basis, between either the Minister or his staff and the college board or their staff?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is ongoing correspondence on specific programs that we are developing. As well, the college provides me with minutes of their meetings so that I know what is going on at the college. I have attended a couple of meetings at the college.
I would like to add that I was so concerned about the plants today, that I arranged to have them sprinkled with the local rain showers. We have done all that we can from this side to not interfere with the college board.
Mr. Cable: Well, I know that invoking the Almighty was in the Yukon Partys platform, but early on in the Ministers mandate there was some public criticism of the presidents travel budget. I am wondering if, upon further reflection, the Minister thinks that is a fair comment in the news media, assuming the news media recorded it correctly.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Well, I thought it was a fair comment at the time. The reason I did is that I think the president of the college had made some public comments about their budget and criticized the government for the lack of funding over the last few years.
When it was talked about in the context of responsible management of their budget, I wondered why two individuals rather than one or any had to go to Europe - I think to Norway or Sweden - on a trip when everyone knew that they had tight times. I thought that may be something that they might consider deferring, or send only one person.
They can go if they want, but it makes you wonder when on one hand there are concerns about the lack of funding at the college and then they are going on trips like this.
I know what this government did over the last five or six months in deferring trips and those kinds of things and we made some fairly significant cuts in the Department of Education to save money in that area. I was a little surprised that the college had not done the same thing.
Mr. McDonald: On the point about the obligations of the board to maintain the facility, it is true, is it not, that Government Services maintains the facility and provides all the utilities to the Yukon College campus in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it is true. However, when we come to the grounds keeping, I believe that is a contract that the college lets with local landscapers. They take care of that aspect.
Mr. McDonald: Obviously the government has an interest in the facility, because the department does maintain it, and they worry not only about its structural integrity, but also the aesthetics. Due to the fact that the government has a financial interest, in cooperation and agreement with the college, they presumably do have an interest in the site. I presume that is the practice.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it is. I would be very concerned if the college were to let the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of landscaping and the flowers and plants freeze or die up there because of budget cost cutting. I think everyone should be concerned if that happens. We are going to be passing that message on to the college, and I hope that they will see fit to ensure that the college is kept in the appropriate condition. Millions of dollars of the taxpayers money has been spent up there. They have some responsibility as a board, within their budget, to maintain that particular facility in a reasonable state.
Mr. McDonald: Would it be a fair proposition to say that the agreement with the college is essentially that the government should not interfere with the programming priorities of the college, the activities of the administration or teaching staff or the programs taught there, that the government should respect the priorities of the board but, at the same time, if the college decides to abandon a field, the Minister has an obligation to investigate those matters? The college is, after all, the only post-secondary institution in the territory. Would he agree with that assessment?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think that is a fair assessment. I do not think all the plant lovers out there are going to let those plants die.
Mr. McDonald: I am not speaking of this only in the context of plants. Certainly the plants are important to many people. I am speaking as a general proposition, but I think we understand each other. Is the agreement that was struck between the Minister and the board with respect to programming still in effect?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There has been no change to that agreement.
Ms. Moorcroft: Yukon College undertook reclassification as a government initiative at a time when the government itself was reclassifying the employees to implement the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, which I was quite pleased, a couple of weeks ago in the House, to hear the Minister say he supports.
The college undertook the reclassification prior to the College Act in good faith, believing that the government would cover the costs of that reclassification. Can the Minister tell me if the retroactive pay on the positions of the people who are still employed at the college and do have retroactive pay due to them for reclassification will be in this budget?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, it is not in this budget, and I am bringing a document forward to Cabinet. I brought one document forward a week or so ago, and they are seeking more information on it, so I will be coming forward to Cabinet in the next few weeks with a proposal to look at the requests from the college.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell us if he supports not only the principle of equal pay for work of equal value but the financial compensation that will result for some workers who are having their pay classifications raised as a result of the reclassification?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I support equal pay for work of equal value, but I am not going to comment on the decision that Cabinet will make. I am going to provide all the information I can to Cabinet on the reclassification, and what has transpired with it, and we hope to have a decision in the next few weeks.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister please provide that information to the Members when the Cabinet decision has been made?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: When I have the information on that, I would imagine that we will be making some kind of a statement on that issue.
Mr. McDonald: The government has, in the past, promoted training trust funds. Can the Minister indicate whether or not the government currently has any interest in promoting training trust funds in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I support the concept of training trust funds. In fact, in this budget, there is $2.4 million in the land claim training trust fund. That is a fairly significant contribution. The Member is asking about new trust funds. I am not contemplating any new ones at this time. There are none contemplated in this budget, but it might be something to explore in the future.
Mr. Chair, considering the hour, 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?
Mr. Abel: The 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 of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled May 31, 1993:
Synopsis of Yukon Governments involvement of the Council for Yukon Indians in discussions/negotiations on Canada/Yukon Oil and Gas Energy Accord - 1988-93 (Ostashek)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 31, 1993:
Department of Education: curriculum goal and committee updates (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 768
Department of Education: answers to questions raised during debate of the supplementary estimates (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 775-776
Multi-department Mobile Radio System: Dempster Highway coverage (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 944
Second Channels for Television in the Communities: no plans for this provision through the community television program at this time (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 944