Thursday, November 25, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have a document I am tabling for the Government Leader: An Employment Survey being undertaken by the Masters of Public Administration.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have for tabling the annual report of the Yukon Utilities Board and a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have two legislative returns.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have the Yukon Workers Compensation Health and Safety annual report for 1992.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have two new releases for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Petition No. 5 - received
Clerk: I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 5 of the 28th Legislative Assembly as presented by the Honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on November 24, 1993. This petition meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Petition No. 5 accordingly is deemed to be read and received.
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Social Assistance Recipients Agreement
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I rise today to inform Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly of the recent signing of a federal-territorial agreement. This agreement, known as the SARS agreement, will aid in the employment of social assistance recipients.
Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of employable persons forced to rely on social assistance for income support.
This government, along with the federal government, recognizes that, without a greater degree of cooperation to assist territorial social assistance recipients, an ever-increasing number of them will become trapped in a costly, long-term cycle of poverty and welfare dependency.
We recognize that, by strengthening our existing partnership with the federal government and by working much more closely with the local Canada Employment Centre, we can more effectively help social assistance recipients to obtain access to and fully benefit from the training and other support services they need to successfully integrate into the local job market.
To that end, we have signed a SARS agreement with the federal government. This agreement will run for five years and, under its terms, the federal and territorial governments will both put up $200,000 each year targetted specifically at social assistance recipients.
Through this agreement, this government has committed itself to spending more than $1 million in the next five years to help social assistance recipients gain the skills necessary to get back to work.
The Canada Employment Centre will be using its money to assist social assistance recipients in a variety of areas - from life skills, learning computer skills, upgrading and the college, and job readiness skills, to name but a few.
The territorial initiative will consist of a program called Head Start. This is a wage-subsidy program that is designed to match social assistance clients with employers. Through the subsidizing of the employees wages, the employee learns valuable skills that will aid in creating the type of connection to the labour market that will result in long-term employment.
As you may have noticed, Mr. Speaker, the Head Start program has already received some media attention. The program has been under way since September and, to date, we have been able to place 15 social assistance recipients into training opportunities. Another eight placements are in progress.
Our target for this year is 30 placements and it is felt that this will be achieved. The response from the business community has been positive and we anticipate expanding this program in the next fiscal year.
Our commitment to take a proactive approach to social assistance reform has resulted in this SARS agreement. We are committed to helping people become as self-sufficient as possible. We recognize that these things take time but understand that true change can only come from a well thought out and concerted effort on the part of governments and the community.
Ms. Commodore: We certainly recognize that this agreement has taken many years to negotiate and Members on this side of the House have certainly taken an active interest in its progress.
We are pleased to see the initiatives will be to assist the social assistance recipients in rejoining the workforce. The $200,000 from the Yukon government this year is small compared to the $12.2 million predicted by the government for this fiscal year. As the recipients know, every single penny counts.
I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask the Minister and those questions are in regard to a concern that we had a few months ago. How does this tie in with the social assistance program for First Nations people? As the Minister knows, there are a number of individuals receiving social assistance through the federal government under Indian Affairs. I would certainly be disappointed if those individuals would not be included under this agreement.
I recall the Minister saying that he had not talked to CYI at the time in regard to this agreement and that he had no intention of talking with CYI. I want to repeat that I hope CYI or First Nations groups have been consulted with regard to this agreement.
I recognize that certain aspects of the social assistance report included many things lacking under their program, and this is one way of dealing with that aspect.
I have another concern in regard to the other programs that are being used right now and I hope that there will not be a reduction in those programs. I speak of one specific program, and that is the Yukon Opportunities Program, which, as the Member knows, has been in existence for a number of years. I am not sure how this program ties in with what is happening, but it was a good program and I hope that it will not be reduced.
I have some concern with regard to the repeat statements about a program that has already been included in a ministerial statement. I am speaking specifically about the Head Start Program. We mentioned this program today, but there is a history in this House of having ministerial statements announcing certain projects and then months later, not announcing that those projects have been canceled. I would like to repeat once more that, despite the negative note in my reply to the ministerial statement, we are pleased to see that the agreement has been signed.
Mr. Cable: I am pleased that the Minister has taken the initiative to help people on social assistance to become self-sufficient. There is an unfortunate stereotypical view of social assistance recipients as non-contributors to society. In my view, this is completely inaccurate. It has been my experience that the vast majority of social assistance recipients want out of the poverty and dependency cycle. I look forward to future reports on the success of the Ministers program.
The other side of the coin is job creation. If there are no jobs for these people to go to, the plan will not work. I would hope that the governments plan in this area is equally well thought out and concerted.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the Members opposite for their, on balance, positive remarks.
With respect to the issue raised about those Indian people on the status Indian welfare program, there is a separate initiative regarding that under DIAND, and I have sent some information to some of the chiefs who have asked about that issue.
This is, of course, only a start in our efforts to help people who are capable of finding employment, but who are presently on welfare, able to achieve employment. This kind of work and training gets people into the workforce and gives them the ability to network with people. It is very important.
I have said many times that I would hope that when we have the next boom in the Yukon, people who reside here will see the benefit of it and not, as in the past, see those benefits accrue to wave after wave of new people coming here from outside. It is very important that the Indian people and others who have not been able to partake in the positive economic times in the past are positioned to take advantage of them in the next boom.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Point of order. I have four documents for tabling.
Question re: Power rate increases
Mr. Penikett: Under the terms of the transfer agreement for Northern Canada Power Commission assets, Canada agreed to forego payments on $40 million worth of principal and interest of the Yukons debt while the Faro mine was shut down. However, the power companies have justified huge increases in rates because Faro has shut down.
As a matter of policy, why is the Government of Yukon making the people of the Yukon - the customers of the power company - continue to make payments on the NCPC debt during a time when YTG and the Yukon Energy Corporation are forgiven payments on the same obligation?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of course, the very simple answer to that is that we are not. The income accruing to the Yukon Energy Corporation, as earnings, are being largely paid back to a targeted group of Yukon consumers, thus avoiding the necessity to subsidize governments, but giving the money back to the ratepayers in the Yukon.
This is a stark contrast to the socialistic plan of the NDP ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: ... which would have resulted in ratepayers in the private sector, and residents of the Yukon, paying much more.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister is, as is often the case, talking through his hat. The Yukon Public Utilities Board has criticized Yukon Electrical for, without tender, giving a $1 million contract to a former employee of the corporations parent company.
Is this an example of the kind of private-sector efficiencies he expects when he sells out the publics interest in the electrical utility?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Not at all. I have read, with great interest, the findings of the Yukon Public Utilities Board. As the Member knows, I have stated in this House that we intend to have the management contract evaluated by the Auditor General of Canada.
It is a good thing that we have an independent board policing the submissions of the energy corporations, because they have been able to find these kinds of problems and disallow those expenditures from being rolled into the rate base.
Mr. Penikett: I noticed the board has also commented that the management contract, referred to by the Minister, was not subject to what they called appropriate scrutiny.
The board also mentions the possible integration of the Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon Electrical Company Limited offices during the next year. Given that the Public Utilities Board has also criticized Yukon Energy Corporations performance in scrutinizing and monitoring Yukon Electrical, I would like to ask the Minister if he agrees with the boards view that Yukon Energy Corporation has a duty to act as a watchdog over Yukon Electrical?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Certainly in the present circumstances, that is the case. I must say that Yukon Energy Corporation has failed in that duty over the course of a number of years. I am concerned about some of the management decisions that have been taken by Yukon Energy Corporation in the past. I am concerned about the wasteful investments made with Yukon Energy Corporation profits under the former administration, and we intend to clean it up.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, privatization of
Mr. Penikett: What the Minister seems to be doing is sending Colonel Saunders to look after the chickens. I want to ask him another question, since he has not answered directly any of the questions about privatization or what he calls rationalization. Who has the Minister dealt with in planning privatization of Yukon Energy Corporation - which officers or board members of Atco or any of its subsidiary companies - has the Minister talked with about his plans, whether in his present capacity as Minister or before he came to power? Would he give the House some specifics on that question?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In the first place, the honourable Member was concerned about Colonel Saunders looking after the chickens. At least I can say that under his regime it was the chickens looking after Colonel Saunders, and that did not work very well either. The conversations I have had with Alberta Power personnel with respect to the issues of privatization were over lunch with a group of directors on June 29 of this year. I had lunch with one director the month before that, but I do not have the date in front of me. We did not discuss privatization; we discussed the rationalization - the move by the regime under the NDP to trade assets with Yukon Electrical and whether or not we were prepared to proceed with that - that was Mr. Hougen.
I met with three of the directors about two or three weeks ago here in the Yukon.
Mr. Penikett: At least under the NDP the chickens did not get plucked, the way they seem to be with the Member opposite.
When the Minister met with Mr. Hougen and other representatives of the private company, who initiated the discussions on privatization - or rationalization, as he describes it? Was it the Minister himself?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: With respect to the first conversation, we simply talked about the history. That was with Mr. Hougen. He simply informed me, of course, that the NDP regime had almost concluded agreements to rationalize the assets and he was curious about whether or not I would be looking into it. With respect to the luncheon at the end of June, this summer, it was a general discussion. I was expressing great concern about the potential rate hikes, and so on, and we sort of got involved in a general discussion about various kinds of options, and there was more of the same at the meeting I had for about an hour with members of the board here in my offices about two weeks ago.
Mr. Penikett: The whole House has noted, of course, that we still do not know the name of the investment company that the Member talked about and promised to tell us about.
I want to ask a different question, though. When I asked the Minister the other day about the decision to have the Yukon Electrical Company and the Yukon Energy Corporation make a joint rate application to the Public Utilities Board, the Minister said it was not his decision, it was the directors of YEC. But I am now told that the proposal came not from the board but from the president. So I must ask the Minister: who directed the president, a public servant who does not operate without instructions, to make the joint application? Was it the Minister or was it Yukon Electrical Company?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That was something that was between the president and the board. It was certainly not something that I initiated. I realize that this is a very political issue and that my good friend opposite is relying on his good friends, the two past presidents of the NDP and his once-upon-a-time principal secretary, for this kind of information. I can only say that this was something that was done by the corporation. This Minister has not been interfering on a daily basis, as was the custom under the previous administration.
Question re: Alternate energy
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Government Services on wood chips. The Minister tabled in the House yesterday his departments strategic plan. In that plan, under the heading Protecting the Environment and Managing Wildlife the Ministers department refers to alternate energy sources for fuels in government buildings, which would reduce the Yukons dependence on diesel.
Along those lines, the government a few years ago installed a wood burning furnace at Yukon College, presumably for the replacement of fossil fuels, keeping money in the Yukon economy and also creating some Yukon jobs. Would the Minister tell the House whether this wood-burning furnace has ever become fully operational?
Hon. Mr. Devries: That system has been a complete flop and we are presently pursuing litigation in the courts regarding that matter, and I am not at liberty to discuss this matter.
Mr. Cable: On another matter concerning a wood-burning furnace, there was a furnace that a private entrepreneur had built - I believe on Jarvis Street - to supply the justice building with steam heat. I gather that this development has never got off the ground. Could the Minister indicate why this project has never become fully operational?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have been trying diligently to find out what went wrong with that project. Basically, it was another failed project, which I believe was tried four or five years ago. I still have not been able to get a grasp on the present status of this project. Someone just come forward in the last few weeks who is interested in trying to resurect that idea.
Mr. Cable: Both of these projects come under the old-chestnut category. Both of these projects, if made operational, would create jobs, prevent dollar leakage from the Yukon economy and displace fossil fuels. Is the Minister prepared to instruct his staff to determine what went wrong with these projects and report to the House as to what can be done to bring them on stream - or any other projects that might use local sources of fuel?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Presently, at the Granger School we have one operation that is working very well. Also, the Carmacks Band also has a facility that will be heated with wood chips.
With respect to Yukon College we would have to re-build the entire system at an estimated cost of up to $1 million.
On the other issue, as I mentioned to the Member earlier, I have had discussions with someone about the Klondike heating facility and we are working on that matter.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation, home ownership program
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. This morning, Maurice Albert, President of the Yukon Housing Corporation was on the radio talking about the housing problems facing Yukoners. Two areas he mentioned specifically were home ownership and affordable housing.
Given that there are a record number of houses for sale that people can no longer afford, it appears that the Yukon Housing Corporation has forfeited activities under the home ownership program. Is this why the Yukon Housing Corporation has donated, to the capital works project, $1.5 million from the home ownership program?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Yukon Housing Corporation is not donating $1.5 million. It is using those funds, as outlined in the budget.
Ms. Commodore: Along with that $1.5 million there is another $1.4 million, used to finance the governments road-building scheme, coming from the non-profit housing program. How and why is this money being made available for other projects, when Maurice Albert stated publicly this morning that affordable housing continues to be a burning issue in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is no question that affordable housing is an issue in the Yukon. With respect to that particular problem, the corporation is currently in the process of assisting people in the lower income bracket to construct affordable housing.
Ms. Commodore: I was asking why he was donating money from this program to other projects.
I understand that the Yukon Housing Corporation has amended its policy with respect to rental rates for low-cost housing. This policy has put more money back into the coffers of the Yukon Housing Corporation, as evidenced by the $1.4 million contribution to the capital works project.
Will the Minister please provide to this House a copy of the new policy and any supporting documentation that assisted the corporation in changing this policy?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The policy is not new. It is a policy that has been in effect, but one which we are now enforcing. It is through the directors of the Yukon Housing Corporation, but I can bring some information for the Member opposite with respect to the actual mandate of the corporation that outlines the actual rates that she is referring to.
Question re: Family Violence Prevention Unit, manager position
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister of Justice. Last session, the Minister repealed the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act and stated his intention, at that time, to provide, in its place, comprehensive services to victims of crime to respond to what he acknowledged as being an identified need for support for victims of crime. Just this month, the government released a survey in the Yukon that identified family violence as a primary problem facing Yukon women.
Most of the direct services provided to victims of family violence by the government are delivered by the Family Violence Prevention Unit. There is a two-week wait for services at the unit. The staff are working to capacity, and yet the position of manager of the Family Violence Prevention Unit has been vacant for over six months. I am told that it is because the government is developing a job description. Can the Minister state why this position has been vacant for so long?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I understand they are going to be moving very quickly to fill that vacancy. It is a concern of mine, as well as of the Member opposite. In the area of services for victims of crime, we are looking at doing more in the outlying communities, and I hope I will be able to make a ministerial statement with respect to the modest initiative we are going to be taking regarding community-based justice over the next few months and years.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister says they are going to be filling that position very soon. How soon is soon? Up until now, jobs have been doubled up in that area.
Because we are concerned about this, can the Minister tell this House how soon this will be filled? Are we looking at hiring for this position within the next couple of weeks, or are we looking at another six months?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will certainly ask my officials to brief me fully on how soon soon is, and I will bring the answer back to the Member.
While I am on my feet, in response to questions asked of me about the investment house, I had a conversation with respect to possible privatization. The gentleman who called me was Douglas Cunningham. He is the vice president and director of Wood Gundy Inc., and he phoned me on October 26, which is when we had the conversation.
I have subsequently indicated that we are not ready to discuss privatization at this point. I have indicated that if this issue is pursued at a later date, we may contact them for advice.
Ms. Commodore: I really would have appreciated if he had waited until I had finished my supplementary questions. That would be a courtesy he would have expected from us.
This morning on the radio, a group of concerned citizens, the sexual abuse lobby group, were developing a plan to deal with treatment of sexual abusers. In the absence of specific programming offered by the department, is the government consulting with this group or considering their proposal?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have not personally heard from this group. I am aware of them, and I would have to ask the department if they have been approached.
Question re: Forestry policy
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to pursue a line of questioning with the Minister of Renewable Resources regarding forestry policy.
The Minister surely recognizes that there are employment opportunities in Yukon forestry and that expanding forestry employment would help diversify the economy. The direct employment provided by the Yukon forest industry in 1992 is estimated to be approximately 133 person years and the wages and salaries are valued at almost $3 million. We are in the fortunate position in the Yukon of being able to avoid the mistakes other jurisdictions have made. Does the Minister support a policy of silviculture and reforestation to provide current and future employment and a sustainable forest resource?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: My own personal view, and we have no policy on it yet, is yes.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell me if he really believes, as he implied yesterday, that the lawyers should be the people who draw up the policy framework? What direction is he giving the department and will he work with First Nations, conservation groups and the public on developing forestry policy?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There are two questions there. First, about the lawyers, in this wide and wicked world, we cannot live without lawyers and we had better face the facts that they usually keep us from going to jail and they keep us out of court once in a while. No, we would start out by establishing policy. When it gets ready to be put into legislation, it would naturally be drafted by lawyers.
On the other question, yes, certainly. If we are successful in getting forestry transferred to us, there would be public consultation on any policies we may consider.
Ms. Moorcroft: I find those comments very interesting, because I heard the Minister make what I thought to be a remarkable speech when he spoke to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. The Minister said that everyone talks about consultation; I do not know what consultation is. Is consultation knocking on everybodys door? I cannot do that, but my door is open. You have to come and talk to me. I will listen; I might not agree. In fact, we might have a real good argument, but I will listen.
Given those rather incredible statements, I would like to ask what the Ministers intent is on public consultation in developing forestry policy.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Well, they certainly are getting hard-up trying to find questions when you have to go back to such things as that.
Question re: Forestry policy
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to go back and ask the Minister again. We do not believe we are being hard up for questions in asking the Minister to explain comments that he makes. Given the statements he made, what is the Ministers intent on public consultation in developing forestry policy?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is simply to have public meetings and have the department go to public meetings. What I meant by the other statement was that they expected me, as an individual, to go around and knock on every door to get everyones opinion. Of course, everyone in this Legislature realizes that there is not enough time in the day to do that.
Question re: Workers Compensation, safety regulations review
Mr. Harding: I wish they would have talked about consultation like that during the election campaign. Yesterday, the Minister blurted out a misleading reason for diluting the occupational health and safety regulations review, claiming that, last year, the board lost $616,000 and could no longer afford a full review. The board has recently changed the criteria for the merit rebate program, because they were giving away too much money to employers. Could the Minister tell me how much of the $616,000 he mentioned was due to an increase in the amount of money handed out to employers in the form of a merit rebate?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I must remind the Member that is the 1992 document, and we were not in government at that time.
Mr. Harding: The Minister blurts out an inflammatory comment, but does not even have the figures in front of him to back it up. The original budget for the complete review was $90,000. I notice in the paper this week job advertisements for two support staff for the president and the board of WCB. The combined salaries of these two positions is $92,000. Can the Minister explain to this House how the government cannot afford $90,000 for a complete review of the safety regulations to protect the health of workers in this territory, but can afford $92,000 for administrative support for the president?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will have to remind you that you are damned if you do and damned if you do not around here. Last year, I put an interim president in, because they did not have one. I was kicked all over this Legislature for stepping out of line. The new legislation is now in effect, and you will have to ask the board chairman or the president, not me.
Mr. Harding: This is a crime. The board gave employers back so much in the form of rebates, the safety of workers in this territory is being compromised, and the government is now interfering and making things worse by canceling an in-depth review. Does the Minister not realize that the best way to restrain compensation claims and costs is through prevention of injuries, and the key element in the prevention of injuries is up-to-date, relevant safety regulations.
Can the Minister explain to us, how a cheap, quick and dirty review of safety regulations will help the board get in line financially and save costs?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would like to correct the Member; we did not cancel the review; we simply reduced the present scope of it. Neither the president of the Workers Compensation Board nor the chairman have any problems with this.
Question re: Workers Compensation, safety regulations review
Mr. Harding: It is quite discouraging and irresponsible that the government would go along with the boards position, if that was the position of the board.
The decision to dramatically water down the scope of a planned occupational health and safety review, claiming financial reasons, is irresponsible.
Our research shows that the financial situation of the Yukon Workers Compensation Boards finances shows strong health. Does the Minister not realize that this review could help identify problems in health and safety, which could reduce claims, thus reducing claims and injuries?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, I realize that and I also realize that the workers compensation fund is very strong. I can recall sitting in this House when time after time, when there was a $70 million surplus, the previous administration would put brackets around the figure at the end of the year and say that they were not in debt because they used the $70 million surplus. This fund is going to be run like a business. It is employers money paid into that fund - they are the ones assessed - and we should be protecting that fund for the employers.
Mr. Harding: This is outrageous. That fund is to protect the workers. The employers are merely buying insurance to protect themselves from negligence suits. It is outrageous.
The Yukon Party Cabinet decided to review policies for arts, education and the handing out of grants to people, and then they decide not to review occupational health and safety.
Speaker: Would the Member please ask the supplementary question.
Mr. Harding: I am getting there, Mr. Speaker. When the Yukon Governments...
Speaker: Order please. I did not ask the Member for an argument over where he was in his question, I simply asked him to ask his supplementary question. There is a one-sentence preamble allowed on a supplementary question.
Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the Yukon government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars reviewing so much, why would they put such a low priority on the health and safety of workers?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We certainly did not put a low priority on workers at any time.
Mr. Harding: The Minister has said that he realizes that regulations are the way to cut costs, if they are effective and in place to help reduce injuries, and they should be reviewed. He then said we have a strong fund in workers compensation. He admitted that in this House today. So why are they taking this archaic position of making the situation worse and reducing the scope of the review of these regulations, which are very important to Yukon workers?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The president and the chairman of the board advised me that they were taking parts of the regulations that needed to be fixed, fixing them now, and then planning for another review later on.
Question re: Power rate increases
Mrs. Firth: Now that the Yukon Public Utilities Board has made its ruling on current electrical rates, can the Minister tell us what will happen in the event the Faro mine restarts, or any other major power user starts up within the time covered by the present ruling?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I suspect that there would be a great deal of jobs open to Yukoners and others, and there would be more revenue coming into the Yukon Territory. I am not really sure what the Member is asking.
Mrs. Firth: Yukoners have been very concerned about higher electrical rates. There have been a couple of announcements made now, and constituents are asking me what will happen if the mine reopens. Will their rates go down? Will there be another rate application? Will there be big profits to the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Electrical Company Limited?
Can the Minister tell us what will happen regarding electrical rates if the mine at Faro reopens?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: For a regulated utility, what generally happens when something occurs that could mean a big change in the revenues collected by the utility companies, is that there would have to be another hearing of the board in order to take steps to ensure that the earnings on the equity of the corporations would not exceed the amount that has been allowed by the Yukon Public Utilities Board. There would be steps taken to ensure that the benefits, if any, of increased demand - to the extent that the increased demand draws down excess hydro - would accrue to ratepayers. The flip side of that proposition is that if we have a situation like Curragh, which used a lot of diesel in addition to the surplus hydro we now have, the board would have to look carefully at that and would be compelled to make certain decisions.
Mrs. Firth: So, we can draw a conclusion that there may be a new rate application. Could the Minister tell us how this will affect the rate rebate program the government announced?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If something occurs outside of what could normally be anticipated - and, of course, Curragh opening up again is one of those scenarios - then there would be another rate hearing, and one would have to then look at the entire situation and see exactly what would be required to maintain the rates to residential customers and non-government commercial customers at their present levels - or decrease those, as the case may be.
Question re: Land development
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services on land development costs and housing costs. Many millions of dollars are spent each year by the Ministers department on land development and sales, and one of the chronic complaints I have heard over the years is that the prices for lots developed by the government are too high, which, in turn, causes housing costs to be escalated. People do not seem to understand how Crown land, which costs next to nothing, can be converted into subdivision lots worth many tens of thousands of dollars. The lots are often sold for what is called development cost - the acquisition costs, the planning costs, the engineering costs and marketing costs, which could be lumped under what could be called internal government costs, together with what could be called external costs such as road construction and utility installation.
Would the Minister inform the House, on a very approximate basis and for residential subdivisions in the City of Whitehorse, what the fraction of land development costs would be attributable to these internal government costs?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have the figures at my fingertips, but I would like to advise the House that not all of the internal costs for land development are charged against the price of the lots. We have a land development coordinator, who deals with the contractors, the construction people and so on. His time for working on a particular subdivision would be charged to that subdivision, but support of his and other staff in the department who work on the subdivision would not be charged. I could probably bring back for the House an estimation from the department on what that percentage would be, but it is not the total cost.
Mr. Cable: Has the government ever carried out an extensive internal review on how these internal overhead costs are collected and allocated, and which sees the general efficiency of that part of land development carried out by the public service?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not aware of an actual analysis of the soft costs involved in land development. Again, I would like to reiterate that all the development costs entailed are not necessarily attributed to the cost of the lots. In fact, the lots are sold for a little less than what the development would be if all the internal costs were charged against them.
Mr. Cable: The regulations seem to call for the attribution of all the internal costs. Perhaps we can explore that during the budget debate.
In view of the many millions of dollars involved and the criticisms, if you can call it that, of the public service on land development, would the Minister consider asking the Auditor General, or some other third party, to do what is called an operational audit on the governments role in land development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have not actually thought of doing it that way. I have thought of doing an analysis and comparing the costs of developing land within government as compared to outside government, but I had not actually thought of having the Auditor General do it. I would undertake to look at that possibility.
Question re: Government Services strategic plan
Mr. McDonald: The Minister of Government Services tabled that departments strategic plan for the next two years - 1993-95. The Ministers number-one priority is as follows, and I would simply like him to explain it to me: the examination of data processing and communication strategy, with the intent of improving processes and ensuring cost-effective services consistent with the information resource management directives. That is the number-one priority. Could he explain that to me?
Hon. Mr. Devries: That could be very tough in this format, but it basically refers very much to the computer systems we have in government. This is where Cabinet has concerns to ensure we are getting value for our dollar within that system.
I am not going to get into the nitty-gritty details here. I think that is better left for the budget debate on Government Services.
Mr. McDonald: The number-two political priority of the Minister is to transfer the record station functions and resources to departments. Can the Minister explain what the burning public desire is to have the records station transferred to departments?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Presently, I believe there are seven or eight employees who are exclusively designated toward record storage on Burns Road. We have discovered that many departments that have sent records up there also have one on file, and possibly another one in memory in their computers. These are things left from the previous administration not following up.
We are not here to lay blame. We feel that things can be done more efficiently, and we hope to make the departments responsible for the majority of the records they keep and limit the number of records that are in separate storage.
Mr. McDonald: Businesses in the territory are hungry for whatever available business opportunity comes their way through government spending. The government is providing the largest amount of economic activity in the territory. Can the Minister explain why these two priorities are on the top of the Ministers political agenda?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Basically, these are the areas where we feel there could be cost savings. It is proceeding along a normal course. We have also begun some other very important initiatives, and I will discuss them with the Members during budget debate. We have done some things that the public and the employees are very pleased with.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will now take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are dealing with Bill No. 11.
Bill No. 11 - Second Appropriation Act, 1993-94 - continued
Community and Transportation Services - continued
On Transportation Division - previously stood over
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I brought back some detailed information for the Members opposite from questions arising from the debate yesterday. I would just like to go over it.
The first one was on the Canada/Yukon transportation infrastructure program. I was asked for an accounting by year of what the intended expenditures are. I think I mentioned yesterday that there are three highways we are looking at under that program: the Campbell Highway, the Top of the World Highway and the Freegold Highway.
For the Campbell Highway, in 1993-94, km 0 to 50 - and it will be 0 to 50 km in the subsequent years - the actual expenditure for 1993-94 is $1,160,000, and we will recover $620,000 from the Canada/Yukon transportation infrastructure program; the Top of the World Highway, km 60 to km 105 - again, that will remain the same - is $950,000 total expenditure, and a recovery or $461,000; on the Freegold Road, km 0 to km 35, there is a planned expenditure of $170,000, with recovery of $120,000; for a total for 1993-94 of $2,280,000. For the 1994-95 fiscal year: Campbell Highway is $1,010,000, with a recovery of $505,000; Top of the World, expenditure of $1,672,000, with a recovery of $836,000; Freegold Road, expenditure of $1.5 million, with a recovery of $750,000; for a total of $4,182,000. For 1995-96, Campbell Highway, $3,820,000 expenditure, with a recovery of $1,910,000; Top of the World, $4,110,000 expenditure, with a recovery of $2,055,000; Freegold Road, $1.5 million expenditure, recovery of $800,000. For the 1996-97 fiscal year: Campbell Highway, $852,000 total expenditure, with a recovery of $426,000; for the Top of the World Highway there is a total expenditure of $3,232,000 and a recovery of $1,616,000. The total Canada/Yukon transportation infrastructure program recovery will be $10 million and our cost will be $10 million.
Maybe I will allow any questions that we may have on the CYTIP program and then I will go on with equipment recovery.
In the 1993-94 equipment purchases, I believe there were two questions asked of me. One was on the number and type of equipment purchased in 1993-94. These figures could be found on page 49 of the 1993-94 O&M estimates. The replacement of existing units is for six tandem-axle trucks, six graders, 12 light-duty pickups, 11 crew cabs, two mobile-enforcement cars and two tankers. One tanker and four trailers will appear on page 49, but the department has decided not to purchase them at this time. Although they will appear on page 49 of the O&M estimates, the equipment will not be purchased. What we have either purchased or ordered to date are six graders, two mobile-enforcement cars and one supercab pick up.
Another of the questions asked yesterday was the amount spent on the road equipment reserve fund for the last two years. I have a breakdown here. The charge for use of equipment for 1993 is $10,477,000; for 1992, it was $10,180,000.
Operating expenditures were $8,962,000 for 1993; $7,881,000 for 1992. The net income for use of equipment for 1993 was $1,515,000; for 1992, it was $2,299,000. Proceeds on sale of equipment for 1993 was $207,000; for 1992, it was $88,000. Purchase of equipment in 1993 was $2,113,000; for 1992, it was $3,448,000.
The balance at the end of the year in the equipment replacement reserve fund is $1,672,000 in 1993; and $2,063,000 in 1992.
Another part to that same question was the highway maintenance expenditure by camp. We have that to the end of the period 5 variance for 1993-94. Mayo is $335,116.20; Stewart Crossing is $1,399,233.04; Dawson City is $2,165,889.08; Klondike is $528,639.20; Ogilvie is $624,316.39; Eagle is $1,180,186.74; Old Crow is $55,030.91; Fraser Camp is $691,370.01; Carcross is $604,187.74; Whitehorse is $864,053.72; Haines Junction is $521,863.63; Destruction Bay is $660,707.20; Beaver Creek is $448,221.64; Blanchard is $424,499.30; and Ross River is $503,639.60.
For Tuchitua, it is $302,316.35; Watson Lake is $561,388.62; Swift River is $362,079.84; Quiet Lake is $165.88; Twin Creeks is $97.50; Teslin is $334,447.79; Drury Creek is $414,809.11; Carmacks is $424,077.71; and unallocated overhead totalled $620,430.65, for a total expenditure of $15,026,767.85.
I have a note on the charges to highway camps from the road equipment reserve fund for the same period to the end of the period 5 variance, 1993-94: Mayo is $80,233; Stewart Crossing is $385,307; Dawson City is $520,744; Klondike is $231,841; Ogilvie is $277,413; Eagle is $201,595; Old Crow is $1,711; Fraser Camp is $131,504; Carcross is $220,998; Whitehorse is $211,898; Haines Junction is $154,056; Destruction Bay is $293,527; Beaver Creek is $141,735; Blanchard is $118,634; Ross River is $312,860; Tuchitua is $110,317; Watson Lake is $172,559; Swift River is $85,549; and Teslin is $102,456; Drury Creek in the amount of $167,616 and Carmacks in the amount of $12,850. The unallocated overhead was $27,998 for a total of $4,363,401.
The final question under the transportation division was the unused project funding by highways. That was $1,336,000 that we were looking at in the supplementaries. The amount in dollars for the Alaska Highway was $350,100. The Klondike Highway was $404,713. The Haines Road was $100,000. The Campbell Highway was $175,868. The Dempster Highway was $277,000 and other roads were $28,242. The total, then, was $1,335,923.
Ms. Moorcroft: Those responses, I believe, were all related to the transportation line. We are now back to trying to conclude debate on transportation. I have no further questions on transportation. If my colleagues have any, I will give them a chance to ask them. Otherwise, I will clear the line.
Transportation Division in the amount of an underexpenditure of $230,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division - continued
Mr. McDonald: I have a small question to ask of the Minister with respect to the lands branch within the municipal and community affairs division.
I discovered at a meeting I attended last night from some people who were discussing the abattoir development that the people who were making applications for agricultural lands in the Hootalinqua region - the Ministers riding - were routinely given a news release, dated March 3, 1988, which quotes me as saying that the department will not be accepting any new agriculture or grazing applications within the Hootalinqua North Plan area. They were using this as justification to encourage people not to make applications for land in the area.
The news release has changed the contact person from the old director of lands to the new director of lands, but they have not changed the Minister who is quoted here from the old Minister to the new Minister. This press release, which was dated March 3, 1988, talks about a land freeze that would be in place at least until the summer of 1988, when the Hootalinqua North Plan would be finalized. Clearly, a number of events have transpired since then, making this news release somewhat out of date. My concern is that this news release is still issued to people seeking land in the area and, presumably, is used as justification.
One fellow came up to me last night and said it was all right if the Yukon Agricultural Association applied for land in the Hootalinqua North area, but how could they possibly apply for land when there was a land freeze on, and how could they convince Piers McDonald to lift the land freeze, because they were still operating under the assumption that this press release was an operating government press release.
Is the Minister going to continue issuing this press release? Is he going to update his policy with respect to the release of lands in the Hootalinqua area and, at a minimum, take some responsibility for new policy? If this release continues to be the operating document in the department, clearly, a lot of the circumstances are well out of date. If the Minister wants me to continue to take responsibility for an operating lands policy, then I am going to have to have a thorough briefing on the matter, because I am certain that the circumstances surrounding the Hootalinqua North planning process have changed dramatically since five or six years ago.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If the Member opposite wished, he could possibly have my job here, if he wanted to come over to this side of the House. Then he could look after that policy.
I was not aware that that press release was being used, and I will certainly make sure that it is not used. I would like to point out, though, to the Member opposite, that the land freeze, as the department likes to call it, was in effect when I took office in November of last year, and people have not been able to access land anywhere in the Hootalinqua area.
The departments argument for that was, first, that I was under the impression that there would be no land let until the Hootalinqua North Plan was adopted. I said right away that the people in the area are not about to adopt that Hootalinqua North Plan in its present form.
We have to do some planning in that general area now as things have changed substantially since that Hootalinqua North Plan was first put together in 1986, or whatever year it was. We have to do some local area consultation on lands in these areas. There is very little land left in the Hootalinqua North region that has not either been claimed or is under some sort of agricultural lease or agreement for sale. There is very little land left and there are many competing demands and requirements for that land. In order to make it available to the public or whatever is the best way of dealing with it, it has to be done through a very stringent consultation process that will be going on this winter.
Mr. McDonald: I am glad to hear about the decision to not issue this news release as being any sort of reflection of current government policy with respect to the Hootalinqua North area. That certainly seemed to be a popular decision at the time, but ended up being one where the Hootalinqua planning process took much longer than people had anticipated and consequently the freeze seemed to drag on and on.
Of course there will also be the serious questions about aboriginal land claims as the band, in whose traditional territory the Hootalinqua North planning area rests, felt particularly bruised about some of the land dispersal procedures that had taken place earlier.
They felt that they had some claim to the land for 1,000 or 2,000 more years but, due to actions over the last 20 years, a bunch of their traditional lands, land that they used, were no longer available to them. They were bruised by that and I think to a large extent they still are.
Can the Minister indicate to us what the thorough consultation process is that he is anticipating will be undertaken this winter on a community-by-community basis within the Hootalinqua North area, that will ultimately lead to a plan that will lead to a rational decision-making process with respect to the disposal of land?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: What I see for a planning process is to identify areas of influence, which I think can be done within the department. For instance, what is Deep Creek? We would identify a specific area around Deep Creek and that would be considered as the Deep Creek planning area. Another one would be Shallow Bay; another one would be Mayo Road and the third would likely be the Hot Springs Road.
Once those areas are identified, likely with the assistance of people in that general area, then we would provide notice that there would be a public meeting to discuss the various land uses within that area. The Hootalinqua planning document cost somewhere in excess of $250,000, and, although it is not accepted, nor would it be approved by people living in the area, there is some information in that document that people generally agree with. I think that we could use the document as a technical advisory document to help put together these small area plans.
Once the area plans are set up - and I am not talking about a very large planning process, rather public input as to what should happen with certain areas - if there are areas that could be used for grazing purposes or soil-based agricultural purposes, or possibly rural-residential purposes, then we will begin a process to actually make those properties available.
Mr. McDonald: Has a committee been struck with the residents of each area that will provide a sounding board for this planning process? For example, is there a committee in Deep Creek?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is a committee in Deep Creek, but there has not been a committee struck in the other areas for this specific purpose. Deep Creek has put together a committee on their own, and they want to start a planning process that may be a lot more thorough or forward-looking than what I am envisioning right now. That planning group would likely be the one that will be utilized in the process I am referring to.
Mr. McDonald: Would the Minister be able to tell us who the members are on the Deep Creek planning committee? Also, when he talks about the Deep Creek planning committees process being a little more thorough than what he anticipates, in terms of the release of land - and I know the Minister cares about making land available to his constituents - what are we talking about in terms of timing? Is the Minister looking to have the process wrap up and come to some conclusions, so a new press release can come out, giving the all-clear signal for people to apply within certain restrictions, and that certain applications will be given priority, depending on where they are and what their purposes are? When could we have some certainty about the issue of the release of land?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There were a couple of questions there. I do not have the names of all the people on the Deep Creek planning committee, other than the Chair, who is Ursula Oltman. As far as some sort of a time frame is concerned, I am hoping that the department can start this process in the first part of December, and that we can have some sort of conclusion by the spring of 1994. That way, some lands may be released in the summer of 1994. Again, that is dependent to some extent on the whole land claims process. As the Member pointed out, there is certainly some interest in that area from three of the First Nations groups. It is certainly not our intent to do something that is totally unpalatable to the Indian bands.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister provide all the Members on this side of the House with the names of the members on the Deep Creek planning committee and the other planning area committees, when they are struck?
I would like to ask the Minister a question about the First Nations. The Minister made a good point that they are also going through an important and noteworthy process - land selections - and I would like to ask him whether or not he has consulted with them about this land planning process, and whether or not they have bought into the process he has identified.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I tried to make it clear that this process has not started yet. I have spoken briefly to the Taan Kwachan Indian Band - it is interesting because the Taan Kwachan has asked us if we could help them do a local area plan for their lands at Lake Laberge. This is not a full-blown planning exercise, but more of a mini-planning exercise, to help locate new houses that they are contemplating building in the new year.
Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for that information, but I have two questions still outstanding. The first question was whether or not the Minister would provide me with the names of members on the Deep Creek planning committee, besides the individual he mentioned. I also asked whether or not he would be prepared to provide us with the names of people who have been selected by the area residents for the other committees in this planning area. I understand that, if everything is to culminate in the spring, it will all have to come together quickly. If there is going to be a release of land in the summer, things will be going along at a rapid pace - compared to how they went in the past - and I know the Minister will be breaking a logjam that has been in existence for some considerable time. We will be able to applaud him for that.
I would like to ask him whether or not the Taan Kwachan have bought into his planning process. He says it has not begun yet, but have they bought into the design of the planning process that he has identified?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that I will be looking down to see if it really has frozen over, when the Member opposite applauds something that this side has done in the House. We have not gone into any detail on this thing, as I indicated before. This is the start of a process. We will be meeting with the Taan Kwachan, the Kwanlin Dun and the Champagne/Aishihik, which are the other First Nations interested in the process. I will happily provide the information about who sits on the committees, once we have it, to the people on the other side of the House.
Mr. McDonald: I am certain we can get the Deep Creek committee right away, because I guess that committee has already been struck.
In terms of my support for government initiatives, I have, on a couple of occasions, indicated support for such things as the Whitehorse water and sewer initiative in the capital budget this year, so it would not be fair to say that I do not support everything. If the Minister does marvellous things in the Hootalinqua North planning area, then he deserves a lot of credit, particularly if he is going to, as he says, get the planning process started between now and the spring, have it concluded by spring and the land released by the summer. If he does that, as he says he is planning, then he will definitely, absolutely, and for the record, get some credit from me.
The plan itself - when will this plan be ready? In terms of a timetable, he said a lot of the planning activity will be completed by the spring. Is he looking at May or June for the culmination of a plan document? I presume there will be a plan document of some sort; something in writing. Can he tell us more or less what he is thinking of doing there?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have indicated that I would like to see this completed in some sort of written form by spring, and May would be nice. I would hope that we can start disposing of some land in the summer. Does that mean June or July - I am not sure. I am hoping this is what we can do. I do think that some of the areas may very well be more receptive and want to work on their planning process quicker than other areas, because some of the areas, I do not believe really care that much at this particular time whether or not more land is released. I do not think there is too big of a concern with adjacent land uses but in other areas there is getting to be more of a problem every day. I hear more and more concerns expressed by residents in that general area that it is time people in the area had a look at the processes that are being followed, and they need some input into it.
I cannot be more definitive than spring and summer, and I really hope I am right. I also hope I am right for all the areas, but I may not be. Some areas may very well have it completed; other areas may not.
I am looking forward to the applause I get from the Member opposite. I am wondering if I could ask if I would get a bit of applause when we finish one and then some more applause when we finish another one, or are we going to have to wait until they are all done before I get the actual applause?
If the Minister keeps diluting his original commitment, he should not be digging for any applause at all at this point. I think that we will have to determine what kind of progress has been made and react accordingly at the appropriate time.
The Minister indicated that some communities feel that there is a greater concern for the land processes. I do not know precisely what he meant by that, but can the Minister tell us which areas he is talking about where he expects there to be greater concern, and what is the nature of the concern that the Minister is referring to? Is it that the lands branch is making a lot of land available in those areas or not making enough land available? What is the nature of the concern?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Generally, there was concern in the Deep Creek area when a resident of the area wanted to subdivide a very large piece of property and provide several country-residential or rural-residential lots. There was concern expressed by many people in the Deep Creek area. The subdivision was upstream from the residents who are already established and there was concern over what that would do to the creek. There were concerns about the number of people just being in the general area and the use of the recreation areas.
There are people throughout the areas concerned about not having land available. They see large blocks of land with no activity, and many people feel that these lands are owned by the Yukon government, so why can they not have access to those lands for grazing or agriculture, or whatever their use may be.
There is concern in Hidden Valley, which is actually within the City of Whitehorse, about the number of people moving into the general area. The school in Hidden Valley may very well become overcrowded. There are concerns about services that may be required with the influx of more people. Some people do not want additional services and other people do want additional services.
Those are the types of concerns that I have heard and I expect that there will be more and more of those concerns expressed in the next few years if we do not try to get a handle on the situation right away.
I hope the Minister is going to have everything under control by the spring so we will not have to worry about that so much. I am happy to see that he is going to do wonderful things.
The Minister has explained, of course, to the residents of the area about the people who have expressed concern about the open spaces that are still under the Commissioners or federal governments control? Has he explained the legitimate interests of the First Nations in many of those lands? Has he explained to the community residents that there are legitimate land claims interests that have to be resolved? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, certainly.
Mr. McDonald: I can think of a few rural residents who could use a few words from him, such as those constituents I met last night, who do not entirely understand. They have probably not had a chance to talk to him yet, but I am sure that, once they do, they will understand better what the First Nations interests are.
In terms of the final report or the report for whatever level of planning he has achieved by the spring, can the Minister indicate who will be leading the process and who will be involved? Will there by any consulting services at all, or will it be simply lands officials? How will it work?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: A lot of the planning work has been done in the Hootalinqua North Plan. We hope and expect that personnel in the lands branch will be able to handle most of it. There may well have to be someone hired, but until we see the level and number that come on stream all at once, we will not know what we will need for our total resources.
Mr. McDonald: Have the various communities - or areas, as the Minister refers to them - in the Hootalinqua North district been informed of this process? Do they know, generally speaking, the extent to which the process has been developed? Do they know that there should be committees formed and that they should be on them and thinking about concluding their discussions in the spring so that this whole complex situation can be resolved by the summer?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, I do not believe that all of the people are aware of our initiative. As I said at the outset, the process has not started yet. We are hoping to start in December. People will be informed of what we would like to do at the start of the process.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister commit to sending to us, as soon as it is developed in December, the terms of reference for the planning study, names of committees, how the consultation process is going to be communicated to the public, the structure of the planning process right through to completion, including who is going to be involved, so that we can have an appreciation for some of the issues that are developing and to see how the process is taking place?
The reason I am bringing it up is that I was made familiar with a lot of the issues last night, even to the point that some people thought I was responsible for whatever complex situation they were in. I did feel, as a result of those conversations, that I should take a more thorough interest in what was going on. Could the Minister provide us with that information when it becomes available to him?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will provide whatever information that we have. Whenever it becomes available, I will certainly provide that to the Member opposite.
Mr. McDonald: One final area is the mini-planning exercise with the First Nation in the Laberge area. Did this planning exercise come through the land claims table or was it something that the department did bilaterally with the band?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The initial request came to me from the chief of the Taan Kwachan and I turned it over to the department. My indication to the chief was that if we could spare the people we would be interested in helping them out. I turned it over to the department and they are currently speaking with the Taan Kwachan. I am not totally sure where it stands; I think there is some sort of schedule that has been put together on how things will proceed and when.
IMr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate specifically where the planning area is? If he cannot do it precisely, can he send us a small map, even a photocopied map or something, of the specific planning area, and a sense of beginning and ending dates?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: When I spoke to the Chief of the Taan Kwachan, my understanding was that the area they were most interested in is the site of their current village and those lands of the Taan Kwachan that surround the village. When we have more information, and when exactly how this process is going be carried out is finalized, we will be quite happy to provide that information to the Members opposite.
Mr. McDonald: I do not have any more questions on planning, but others do.
Mr. Joe: I just want to bring to the attention of the Minister some problems we have run into right now with the land claim negotiations that are going on in my community - a land transfer problem. About 10 miles south of Pelly, there is a grazing lease. The guys who own that property had it up for sale. The band was interested in that property. It happens that someone from the United States bought it.
My community is sort of upset about it. That is where the consultations come in. I think your government should have consulted with the band before anything took place. Another 60 hectares of land runs into it. Some of my band members own horses and they cannot get 10 hectares of land for their horses. How did this one person get hold of 60 hectares of land?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am certainly not familiar with the particular situation that the Member opposite has brought up. The lease - this 60 hectares of property - may very well be some sort of a federal lease. I will try to find out what I can about this particular piece of property and provide that information directly to the Member opposite.
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up with the Minister on some questions about the land planning process that the Minister was discussing this afternoon. I have had some phone conversations with the Minister regarding this issue and I would like to get some of my questions answered and on the public record.
So far this afternoon, we have established that there is some kind of planning process about to go on. I would like to ask the Minister to tell us who is on the planning committee representing his government?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Don Ammond, who is our manager of planning, would be heading it up. He would be putting a team together. He has two other people working with him in his section. I am not sure if all three will be working on it, but he will be heading up the team.
Mrs. Firth: Has that committee been officially established, and has he started working on this planning process?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, I do not believe so. I have discussed it with the deputy minister and the director of the lands branch, and also, to some extent, with Mr. Ammond, but I do not believe the committee has been struck. I think that they are probably looking at their schedules right now to see when they can free themselves up to take on the actual process.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell me how long they have been working - Don Ammond and these two other people - on this process?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I said before that they have not started working on the process, and I am not sure whether or not a team has been put together. The whole process will not start until December, and I doubt very much that there has been any work on the project at all.
Mrs. Firth: December is only five days away, and it leads me to wonder whether Mr. Ammond is listening to this conversation, and if this is the first he is hearing that he is going to be responsible for this planning process.
I would like to ask the Minister some questions about the other planning committees that are going to be set up, the ones from the different locations within the area involved.
This afternoon, the Minister has made reference to a planning committee for the Deep Creek area, and he told us that he was going to bring back the names of the members of that committee.
I heard the Minister answer a question previously that there was no committee set up yet for other areas, such as Shallow Bay or the Hot Springs Road. Can the Minister tell me who the government will be contacting in those areas to set up a planning committee, and who will be getting in touch with those people?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The planning process is essentially an administrative process. It may not happen exactly this way, but I would expect that there will be notices sent to all the residents that this planning process will be commencing, starting with some sort of a public meeting in each area and, at that time, try and establish some sort of a committee from the various areas.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell me when these notices are going to go out and who they are going out to?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I did answer that question when I stated that they would go to all residences in the area. I cannot say for sure when it will be. It will depend on the department and its priorities.
Mrs. Firth: If these notices are going to go out, and this whole process is going to be completed in four months - from December to, I would assume, about March - and the committee that is formed - well, they would not know if they are a committee yet or not, as they will not start until December - could the Minister give me some indication of what exactly he is going to put in the notice, so that people know what is going to be expected of them? Could he tell us what the plans are for the contents of the notice?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As I said before, the department will be preparing this; I will not be preparing it. I would hope that the notice will be saying when and where there will be a public meeting and express a purpose for the meeting. However, I will not be writing the notice. I likely will approve it when it comes in.
I will endeavor to make sure that the Member opposite will get a copy of it, so that she can peruse it at her leisure.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is saying that a notice will be sent out indicating to all the residents that there will be a public meeting. What is the Minister going to state is the purpose of the public meeting, in order to encourage people to attend?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I really do not know where this line of questioning is going, but I will carry on if that is what we want to do. I would expect that in the notice sent to people they would probably advise residents that there will be a public meeting on a certain date, at a certain location, that the idea of the public meeting is to talk about land-use issues in the area and that there will be some planning for that area going on in the next several months - I believe it was six months. During a question by one of the Members opposite, we established that we hoped that something would happen by May, not March, as the Member opposite has misconstrued somehow. I would hope that the notice would suggest that the planning exercise would culminate in at least some release of land at some future point in time.
I am not writing the notice. I will see it before it goes out, and I hope I can provide a copy for the Member opposite so that she also can peruse it at her leisure.
Mrs. Firth: I will tell the Member where this line of questioning is going. I am trying to establish if the Minister really knows what he is doing here and whether there really is a planning process, or whether he is just making it all up on the spot. I am very concerned that the Minister is making up this whole idea on the spot. I spoke to the Minister on the telephone about this very issue not too long ago, and nothing has changed. I have not misconstrued any time line. I am trying to find out what is going to happen in this process. The Minister has said that by May everything is going to be finished and the land will be given out, so people do not have six months to get this notice about some kind of planning process for use - to see what is going on, to discuss land use issues, maybe they are going to be encouraged to form a committee.
I am asking specific details about the Ministers announcement that there was going to be a planning process, that people were going to be invited to form planning committees and to have input, and the Minister cannot give me any specific details. It is not funny - the Minister is sitting there laughing. It is not funny.
It is not funny at all. I asked the Minister who the planning committee was for his government department. He gave us the name of an individual in the department and indicated that nothing had even started, because it was not yet December.
I want the Minister to answer these questions. I want him to take this issue very seriously, because he does not look very good after the answers he has been giving us this afternoon, and his process does not look very good, either. The Hootalinqua North planning process took months and months to complete, maybe even years. It was a very long process.
I would like to ask the Minister about the authority of these planning committees he is talking about - only one of which is in existence right now. Are these planning committees going to have the ability to veto land use or to veto parcels of land being distributed? What kind of authority are these planning committees going to have?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I certainly did not anticipate that the committee would have any veto power. I would expect that the committee would be representative of the people living in an area, and the idea of the committee would be to provide input to the government. The government, either federal and/or territorial, owns the land that is not currently titled, under lease or under land selection in the particular areas, so the government will be the one making the decisions. The committee will be there to provide input to the government, and the government would then probably create some regulations for the various areas.
Mrs. Firth: So, these planning committees will not have any veto power. The government is going to make the decisions on how to resolve conflicts by regulation. Could the Minister tell us, then, once this process is carried out, when are we going to have these regulations in place, and is there also going to be legislation resulting from this, or policy? Could the Minister tell us when all that is going to happen?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In some cases, it is just a matter of identifying land, recommending uses for that land, and making it available - whether it is for private lease, or sale, or for community or public use. In other cases, it would be a matter of possibly amending the Whitehorse periphery regulations to allow certain uses that may or may not be currently allowed. In still other cases, new regulations may need to be created, such as in the Deep Creek area, where there are currently no regulations governing land use.
Mrs. Firth: I would assume that these regulations would have to be ready and in place prior to giving out any land. I am asking the Minister when these regulations are going to be ready.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are regulations in most of the areas right now, with the exception of the Deep Creek area. If regulations are created for Deep Creek, I would hope that they would be ready after the planning process is completed.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister going to have a consultative process on the regulations - the new ones or amended ones - after they have been drafted up, so that they can be viewed and examined by these planning committees?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would expect that the planning committees would be the ones that would be providing input into those regulations, so I am sure that the committees would be fully familiar with whatever regulation they asked us to put in place for their general area during the whole planning process.
Mrs. Firth: One of the mandates of the planning committees, then, is going to be making the regulations, in a sense - recommending to the government what regulations should be made.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That would be more or less correct.
Mrs. Firth: What will happen in the event that there is a conflict over land use? It is not a hypothetical question. I would be very surprised if there were no conflicts regarding land use. What is the process going to be if the planning committee does not like what the Minister wants to do and the Minister puts in regulations on his own. How is that process going to work?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I expect that there will be conflicts. In any planning process I have ever seen take place, there have been competing demands, requirements or requests. I expect those conflicts will arise. I would hope that, through public meetings and the consultation process with our planning people, those conflicts that do arise will be resolved and that it will not come to a confrontational situation.
Mrs. Firth: Much like the Hootalinqua North Plan, I imagine. I hope that we do not have another planning process that just sits on the shelf, while we continue not to have land made available.
I look forward to following this whole process and watching what develops. I have one more question about this: when I spoke to the Minister on the phone regarding these land issues, he indicated to me that he was going to bring a ministerial statement into the House this sitting regarding land planning. Could he tell me when he will be bringing it forward?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will be providing some information to the House, probably early next week.
Ms. Moorcroft: There are a number of things that I would like to follow up on in this area.
First of all, on the new planning process that will be conducted in consultation with the Ibex Valley residents, is that the study that is referred to as the Whitehorse periphery plan, for $50,000, in the 1994 capital budget, and how is that different from the government committee that is looking at development in that area?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $50,000 identified in the budget is not specifically identified for any one of those areas. For instance, I believe the Ibex Valley is now in the process of doing a survey to see if the people in the area would like to do some community planning.
We knew that we needed monies in the budget for planning, but rather than identify specific areas we put it in as one item for the Whitehorse periphery. We do not know how those monies will be allocated at this time, because we do not know where the greatest need for resources will be.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps we will leave that debate for the capital budget.
Yesterday, we were talking about a market survey and analysis on land inventory and land development. The Minister referred to meetings that are held twice a year with the lands branch, the Yukon Real Estate Association, the Home Builders Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Whitehorse to discuss land requirements for the territory and, more specifically, for the Whitehorse area. Can the Minister provide the minutes of the spring meeting of that committee? I know that the Minister indicated that the lands branch will be meeting again soon to analyze the market situation again for next summer, but is the Minister able to provide the minutes from the last meeting?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have obtained a copy of those minutes and I will be providing them, but probably not until next week. We have to get copies made, so likely Monday we will be able to provide the House with the minutes of the land development committee meetings.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister also referred to the 162 lots that are available in Whitehorse but he did not feel they would adequately service the market. Where are those 162 lots?
Chair:-Is it the wish of Committee Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with the Municipal and Community Affairs division. Is there any further debate?
Ms. Moorcroft: Yesterday, I was inquiring about the subdivision act, and the Minister informed me that the department had met with the Canada Lands Surveyors, and that organization was onside with the legislation we have drafted. My understanding of the meeting was that they did raise concerns and pointed out some ambiguities.
Will those concerns be addressed prior to bringing the act to legislation?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding was that there was one change that was requested, and that change was made.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will the Minister provide me with a copy of that act? Could I also get a briefing on the proposed subdivision act?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We would be quite pleased to provide a briefing to the Member at a convenient time for her.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to move on to the Dawson City water and sewer costs. There was a document on that tabled today, with an accounting of some of the funds, along with some outlines.
What I would like to ask the Minister about relates to the public concerns that have been raised about the administration of this program and the way these funds have been spent. I do have a concern that the Minister needs to investigate more than simply by having a public meeting in Dawson City. If some of the allegations that have been made are true and work was done, undone and then redone, I would like to know how much money was wasted.
There is also a very serious concern about how much spilled sewage may have been affecting the new lines. This could be smelly in more ways than one.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There apparently was some spilled sewage, and the effect of that will be investigated during the inquiry process.
Ms. Moorcroft: So, the Minister does know that there was some spilled sewage. Can he confirm whether the new sewer pipe was hooked up to the Dawson First Nation administration buildings, and then disconnected and hooked back up to the old system?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That was our understanding.
Ms. Moorcroft: Have those buildings now been reconnected to the new sewage system?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is our understanding.
Ms. Moorcroft: Then I will look forward to seeing the report that the department brings forward on why that happened, what the cost was, and how the Minister is going to deal with that.
I would like to give notice that, when the Minister comes back with an accounting of the Whitehorse periphery land planning dollars in the capital budget, I would like to know what the criteria is for having a land use plan. I want to know what number of people are required, and what size area is required, before an area can use some of the dollars that have been identified for Whitehorse periphery land planning. Also, does the Minister know how many projects that may fund?
How many planning committees does he think there will be?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding was that this was information the Member wanted when we debated the capital budget.
Ms. Moorcroft: Yesterday, we were also talking about a land regulations register, and the Minister was not familiar with the register, as such. I believe that records of agreements for sale can be viewed at the lands branch, at present. Does the Minister know now whether there is a register of all records of assignments, encumbrances and agreements for sale, whether that register is kept, and whether it is available for public view?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will have to get back to the Member opposite with those details. There is a register, but I am not sure whether it carries the information that the Member opposite needs, or is available to the public. I will get back to the Member with that information.
Ms. Commodore: I have a question for the Minister in regard to land for the Whitehorse sewage system. Last week, I asked the Government Leader about the conflict between the government and the two First Nations groups in the area. He said that everything was hunky dory and that things were going along just fine. I found that not to be the case, because the Taan Kwachan is not satisfied that they have come to a satisfactory agreement in regard to the land and are making objections to the plan to go ahead, without further consultation with them to make sure that everything is in order. I would like the Minister to let me know why the government thinks that everything is fine when, in fact, the Taan Kwachan says that it is not. The Government Leader is saying everything is fine, but that does not appear to be the case.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The land in question is in a negotiating process with the land claims secretariat. My understanding is that they are relatively close to some sort of resolution.
I am not sure where the Member opposite is getting her information. There are ups and downs in any negotiating process, but my understanding is that negotiations are proceeding quite well.
Ms. Commodore: I received the information from CBC news. Are they not always right? - I am just kidding. That is where i heard it. They quoted Shirley Adamson as objecting to the announcement by the government that they had made money available for the sewer system.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There was an agreement with the City of Whitehorse, which I believe was finally signed on Tuesday. That agreement strictly deals with money. Land is a separate issue that is being dealt with between the land claims secretariat and the Taan Kwachan.
Again, my information is that the negotiations are going quite well and they expect to have some sort of resolution to the issue in the not-too-distant future.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question about hazardous waste and I would like to know what, if anything, has been done in the area of storing, recycling or removing hazardous waste by the department.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe the Member opposite is aware that we did have a waste clean-up this fall and I have a some information about it.
The contract was awarded to Phillip Environmental from Vancouver to collect special wastes throughout the Yukon and remove special waste for proper disposal. The contractor worked with a local firm, commencing September 13, and was able to collect and remove the majority of special waste by September 17.
The removal of the special waste that could not be arranged during the first week will continue until all wastes have been collected. Approximately three and one-half truck loads were collected and removed and, essentially, the generators of the special waste paid the cost of the removal.
Ms. Moorcroft: Who paid the cost of the removal?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Each generator of waste paid for the removal of their own special waste. The Yukon government paid the administration costs and the costs for the removal of household wastes as part of the transportation costs.
Ms. Moorcroft: How much household waste was removed? Can the Minister describe what happened and the volumes involved?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not exactly sure how much household waste there was. People brought it to collection points, such as the Raven Recycling Centre. This particular pickup collected all the Yukon government waste that had been held for some time, as well as some from Northwestel, Whitehorse Motors - some of the bigger generators of the waste.
Ms. Moorcroft: How much did the various businesses pay for the removal of waste? Is this a long-term policy that is still in effect?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have all of the numbers. I know that some of the waste - for example, some solvents - cost $87 a barrel to remove.
The second part of the question was about whether or not it is an ongoing policy. We want to do one more pickup very early in the spring, probably in March. Again, we do not know exactly how much is out there, but we should be able to determine the amount of special waste out there following that pickup.
Ms. Moorcroft: Yesterday, the Minister stated, The Member opposite obviously has a little more pull than I do, because she has a copy of the strategic plan and I do not. I have to apologize to the House because I cannot table that strategic plan in its present form. The plan is still being worked on and has not been approved.... it has neither been adopted nor approved.
Again, it was stated that there have been no changes, so the line of inquiry I want to go into now relates to the lands branch, which comes under the municipal and community affairs division.
There is a recommendation in the strategic plan to examine the structure, organization and effectiveness of the lands branch, and there is also a proposed reorganization of the engineering branch. There is mention of transferring the land development section function, including consultation, design and construction, from the lands branch to the engineering branch.
There are problems identified with the lands branch regarding the subject of market demand and land pricing that should be addressed, with a discussion of the land disposition sections responsibilities. There is also a recommendation that there be a directive whereby the division develop a strategy for devolving land development to the private sector and/or municipal governments within a set time frame.
During Question Period, I have been asking questions about privatization, as have my colleagues, and we have been told that there is no move to privatize within the public service, but it keeps cropping up in various memos, plans and letters across a number of departments.
In the comments that are attributed to him in this document, the Minister also talked about a number of problems identified with the lands branch.
The document reads, ...that the lands branch must move as soon as possible on land development delivery rather than waste time fighting with land the claims secretariat and bands on small, isolated issues. Sufficient land availability will counter current problems. Little or no land is available in Whitehorse and the peripheral area. The rezoning application process is weak. Illegal commercial, industrial and second dwellings non-conforming usage. - and we know there is some work proceeding on that, although the document has not been approved or adopted - Land claims conflict with proposed dispositions and development projects. Agricultural policy and the supply of agriculture and country residential development - the lack thereof - are also lands branch related issues that are discussed by the Minister.
Then we see, under reorganization of the engineering branch, the devolution of engineering responsibilities to communities and private enterprise. There is a statement about doing infrastructure development in unincorporated communities - that the government should not - but require incorporation if the community wants infrastructure development. Eliminate capital standards criteria from budget".
Another issue, devolution of land financing to banks, states, The lands branch, in accordance with the 1983 land regulations, is required to finance land sales over a five-year period if the applicant does not wish to pay the full purchase price. The branch currently administers in excess of 500 agreements for sale that have a cumulative value of approximately $4.1 million. Estimated annual interest revenue for 1992-93 will be approximately $270,000.
The lands branch contends that aside from the documented increase in housing starts since 1987, there is an artificial demand in place, given the generous financing provisions offered on five-year agreements for sale. There are many options available for privatization considered.
There is a section on devolution of land development to the communities and private enterprise. There is an item saying one of the major problems is a lack of private sector demand requests to undertake serviced single-family lot development. Does that mean individual lots? Is that for the private sector only? Does that have to do with subdividing?
The reason that I am going through so much of that is because the Minister stated very clearly that the plan was a draft and that it had not been adopted or approved. Then again, to contrast some of the Ministers other statements, he said that he was quite aware of the plan and was involved both as an employee and as a Minister. The Minister stated that he would provide some of the major initiatives that he had accomplished since he became Minister a year ago.
I am wondering whether those major initiatives will include reorganization of areas within the lands branch.
Effective July 1, 1993, the lands development branch is now a part of municipal engineering, which used to be part of the lands branch; the planning unit is now a part of community services, which used to be part of the lands branch; tax assessment and property assessment are now a part of the lands branch. Previously they were both with community services.
Why did the Minister tell us that the plan had not been adopted or approved when there has been some reorganization that seems to be based on the plan, because it is referred to in the plan. Why did the Minister not tell us what had already been done? I phoned around to the department to inquire what branch these units were part of and discovered these changes.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would like to reiterate that the plan has not been approved by either me or by the deputy minister. There have undoubtedly been some administrative changes, and I think that is an ongoing process in government. Some of those may very well have come about because of discussions during the strategic planning process, and some may have been initiated either before or after the plan was started. We, being me and the deputy minister, have not adopted nor approved that particular plan.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister telling me that the branches I just referred to have not been shuffled around in the way that I just described? I would like to know what efforts have been made to inform employees about it, especially if they are directly affected.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Certainly those changes have taken place, and I believe that I did allude to some administration changes yesterday. If you look at the recommendations in there, I think there is one to split the department, which certainly has not happened. I think the other one was to collapse corporate services and spread the people among the various branches of government, and that has not been done either. The department is still working on that particular plan and will be bringing it to me, at some time, for approval. I would expect that, after it has gone to the deputy minister for his stamp of approval, it will come to me.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister is correct in one thing he said, because yesterday, when he was asked about departmental organization, he did talk about it. However, what he said was that there have not been any changes in the organization or the makeup. Have these changes happened? Is land development now part of municipal engineering? Is the planning unit now part of community services. Is tax assessment now part of lands and is property assessment now part of lands? Those are four changes I have identified. The Minister has not yet confirmed whether or not I am wrong in my understanding that these changes have occurred.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite is correct; those changes have been made.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister: what is next? He said that the highways branch is currently doing a strategic plan and that there will be some changes made when that is completed, approved and adopted. I have to recognize that the Minister said that the changes within community services would not occur because the plan had not been adopted or approved, but those changes have occurred. What is next? What is going to happen with highways?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are administrative changes happening throughout the department on an ongoing basis. They will continue to happen.
The highways strategic plan is a transportation plan. They will be looking at the service on the highways and the level of service for each different highway and so on. I do not see that as either stopping or speeding up changes that happen on an ongoing basis.
Ms. Moorcroft: We will just have to wait and see what transpires there, but I really would appreciate it if the Minister could be a little more direct in his communications in the House. Why did he not tell us that he was going to make these changes and why did he not tell us at the beginning of the session that they had been done? In particular, why did he not tell us about them when he was being asked a number of direct questions about departmental organizations and reorganizations and changes? We have to go around investigating to find an answer instead of just getting a straight answer from the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think I did say yesterday that there were some administrative changes, and I believe I pointed out an example or two, but again those are administrative changes and they happen throughout government on an ongoing basis.
Ms. Moorcroft: Those are more than simple administrative changes, and I certainly feel that the Minister was not providing clear answers. I will leave it, unless my colleagues have some questions. I see the Member for Riverside wants to ask a question.
Mr. Cable: I have just a couple of questions on this document that the Member has been referring to. The rest of us, or at least I am left in the dark as to what we are talking about. Would the Minister consider tabling that document for me and the other Members who do not have the document, so that we can carry on some sort of intelligent discourse on what is in the strategic plan?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The document, as I said yesterday, has not been approved nor adopted by either the deputy minister or me, and I really do not believe I want to table it at this time. I certainly will be glad to table it, as the Minister of Economic Development did yesterday with their strategic plan. When the department has it completed and it is sent to me for approval, I will certainly table it at that time.
Mr. Cable: Let me ask the Minister to reconsider his position. We have had at least an hours worth of questions on this document, and some of us are sitting here in the dark wondering what the Member and the Minister are talking about. Surely, after all of that back-and-forth question and answering, the Members are entitled to hear what is going on. What was the point of the last 10 minutes and the hour spent yesterday on the debate. I hope that we not just sitting here like a bunch of dummies - or perhaps we are.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not know where the Member opposite received her document from and it does not much matter. If she wants to make a copy available to the other Members, I could not stop her from doing that. Again, I have to reiterate that the plan has not been adopted or approved by either the deputy minister or by me.
Mr. Cable: That is fine, I do not have any problem with that, but surely the document sets out the thinking of some of the senior members in the Ministers department. Otherwise it would not have been printed and bound. Rather than my going around banging on some door surreptitiously, surely we can have the document tabled for the public and for the rest of the Members.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not ready to table that document. I do not want the document appearing in the Legislature as having come from me when it has not been approved by me.
Mr. Cable: Would the Minister consider tabling it with a big disclaimer on the front - not approved yet by the Minister or by the deputy minister?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think I will take that request under advisement. I would like to talk to the rest of my caucus about that.
Ms. Moorcroft: I just do not believe that it is my responsibility to table this document, when the document has been published by the Government of the Yukon, Department of Community and Transportation Services, and the Minister indicated yesterday that he thought it must have been printed by the Queens Printer. There are certainly things in this document that have been implemented. For example, there is a recommendation to streamline the lands branch in order to focus attention on land disposition, acquisition activities, and to prepare for the devolution of the federal land programs to YTG. In order to accomplish this, the following steps are recommended: transfer the community district and local area planning and subdivision approval functions from lands branch to the community services branch; the subdivision approval component requires some immediate attention with respect to policy development; the mapping section within lands branch could stay to continue serving the land disposition section, as well as other branches within the division.
When I brought information to the attention of the House just a few moments ago, the Minister was reluctant to indicate that those were anything other than administrative changes. One of my colleagues went out and got a copy of the government directory for me and the area that has been transferred - the land development section - shows two employees who have gone from municipal engineering to lands. Now, the government directory does not always indicate all of the employees in a branch.
The land planning section shows five positions, which have been moved from lands to community services. The property assessment and taxation section shows nine employees. This is not a minor administrative change. This is surely a reorganization. Why will the Minister not table the document when it has been used to make changes within his department?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The document is being used by the department as an ongoing working document. I do not doubt that for one minute. The thing has not been approved by the Minister nor the deputy minister at this point in time.
Mr. McDonald: I am having a hard time understanding what the Minister is saying here. We were told yesterday that the strategic planning document and the discussion about departmental organization was not up for debate as far as the Minister was concerned, because the plan to change things was not yet complete. That was the story yesterday.
Now, we hear that it is a working document for department officials, with the exception of the Minister and the deputy minister, and that department officials are using this and going out and doing things with it. However, none of it has been approved by the Minister or the deputy minister.
Clearly, there has to be some sort of direction being provided by someone. People do not move from one branch to another without some sort of direction. I would go so far as to say that, if there were some changes that appear to be underway already, such as those contemplated in the strategic plan, and which are done without the deputy ministers notice, one would have to look very carefully at that person. I, for one, do not believe for a second that the deputy minister, in this case, is that incompetent. There must be more to this question than the Minister is letting on.
One of the things that people have been talking about that the Minister should be aware of is that many of the changes the Minister is describing as purely administrative changes - something we do not have to worry our heads about - are actually changes that were directed, purely and simply, by the Minister. The Minister had an agenda to deal with the lands branch, an agenda he had held long before becoming a Minister, while he was in the municipal affairs division. If that is the case, we have a whole lot of questions to ask about this matter.
Precisely what we want to know about is the process. Is this strategic planning document a working document? Are people using it and working with it? Are changes being made, or is it some other kind of creature? Can the Minister try to make us believe that if he and his deputy have not given it their sanction, people would be using it as a working document to make changes? What is the story with the document, and what is the story with the changes?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are a number of changes that are reflected in the strategic planning document. There are also a number of changes and recommendations in the strategic planning document that have not been acted upon. That is why the document has not been approved nor adopted. If it is approved and adopted by the deputy minister and the Minister, that would mean that we had approved those recommendations that have not been acted upon. The fact of the matter is that we may not be acting on some of the recommendations in that document for some time.
Other changes that have been made, more or less administrative changes, may very well be reflected in the document. There are changes that have happened that likely are not reflected in the document, but I do not see what that has to do with tabling that document, when it has not been approved.
Mr. Cable: I wonder whether, if I give my undertaking to the Minister that I will treat it solely as a draft document, he will arrange to have a copy shoved under my door, rather than tabling it in the House. Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, I will not shove one under the door of the Member opposite, either. It is obviously not that difficult to get a copy. We have one in the House, and possibly that person will let him borrow that copy.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister have a copy of the strategic plan with him in the House?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, I do not.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could I ask the Minister why he does not have a copy of the document with him in the House? Does he have a copy of the document at all?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, I do not have a copy, but my executive assistant has a copy.
Mr. McDonald: I guess that we will have to brown bag a copy to the Minister, but we will certainly make it available to other Members. That is not a problem.
That brings us back to the changes in municipal administration and the lands branch. Were these changes initiated by department officials or by the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The changes were initiated by department officials.
Mr. McDonald: So, the Minister had nothing to do with the changes. They were purely administrative, meaning that people other than those at the political level dealt with those changes, and there was no influence shown by the Minister at all in the changes between municipal affairs and the lands branch. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is essentially correct.
Mr. McDonald: I believe the Minister will be able to put all those rumours about his past involvement with municipal affairs and the lands branch to rest. There was some feeling that the Minister had something against the lands branch, but now we know that is not the case, and it was nothing he did that might be seen as vengeance - because vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord, not sayeth the Fisher. I am very happy to hear that.
I have a quick question about the contracts list that was tabled today. There is a listing for St. Elias Community School for renovations and construction in the Community and Transportation Services contracts list for $724,000. Can the Minister indicate if that was a mistake, or is Community and Transportation Services now in the building and construction business?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I was not aware that it was in there, and I really do not believe that it should be on our list. I expect that it is some sort of an error. I will check it out and get back to the Member opposite.
In view of the time, I would like to report progress on Bill No. 11.
Motion agreed to
Mr. McDonald: 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. 11, entitled Second 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.
Mr. Penikett: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: Is has been moved by the Leader of the Official Opposition that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 25, 1993:
Yukon Government Employee Survey: questionnaire and covering letter from the University of Alaska Southeast, dated November 23, 1993 (Brewster)
Yukon Public Utilities Board Annual Report: year ending March 31, 1993 (Phelps)
Yukon Workers Compensation Health and Safety Board 1992 Annual Report (Brewster)
Jeep Cherokee produces second commercial in Yukon (News Release, dated November 25, 1993) (Phillips)
Writer-in-residence: next to be Maria Campbell (News Release, dated November 25, 1993) (Phillips)
Department of Community and Transportation Services: contracts by type and contract number from April 1, 1993, to October 31, 1993 (Fisher)
Dawson City Water and Sewer Upgrade Program - 1993 and 1994 Funding Agreement between the Government of Yukon and the City of Dawson (dated September 28, 1993) (Fisher)
South Klondike Highway: Agreement between the Government of the Yukon Territory and the State of Alaska regarding winter maintenance (dated November 8, 1993) (Fisher)
Yukon Housing Corporation Annual Report, 1992-93 (Fisher)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 25, 1993:
Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy Corporation contracts, list of: including contractors names, type, project, term of contract, contract amount and amount spent for time period of 1991 to 1993 (Phelps)
Written Question No. 25, dated November 10, 1993, by Mrs. Firth
Custodial services: staffing numbers; cleaning priorities; contracting out not being considered (Devries)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1285
Jobs for 716 full-time equivalents in the private sector created by the 1994-95 capital estimates (Devries)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1351