Thursday, December 9, 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.
Recognition of United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Tomorrow marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that all human beings are born free in rights and in dignity. In keeping with this important event, the Human Rights Commission of the Yukon will appear before this Legislature today at 4 p.m. to answer questions on the status of race relations within the territory.
Speaker: Introduction of Visitors.
Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have three legislative returns for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have one legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Harding: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should support the development of a portable sawmill for the Faro riding.
Speaker: Are there any other notices of motion?
Mr. Harding: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House, the Government of Yukon should adopt the Wolf Management Plan without further delay.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Education review questionnaire
Mr. Harding: My apologies to the Member for Riverside, but I do have a question for the Minister of Education. A key purpose of the education review is to identify stakeholders concerns about, or support for, the curriculum offered in Yukon schools. It seems that the survey that has been just put out has the goal of identifying stakeholders. Envelopes and survey forms have been coded and it is a concern of several of my constituents that these codes are designed for identification purposes.
It will be possible to use these codes to collect all the responses concerning a given teacher, student or parent. My question for the Minister is this: why did the Minister bill this as an anonymous survey like any other, when it is not the case?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is billed an anonymous survey because it is an anonymous survey. The numbers that are on the review questionnaires that went out are numbers that are developed by the Bureau of Statistics for tracking. It is a process that they use for every questionnaire that is sent out. When they send questionnaires to a specific school they know whether they get them back.
The Department of Education does not handle these at all. All the data input goes to the Bureau of Statistics. The Bureau of Statistics only has numbers to make sure that a certain number go out and a certain number come back, so that they know how many are out there.
I guarantee the Member - and I have also talked to the Teachers Association today, because they had similar concerns - that there is no intent to identify anyone in the survey, other than the four or five categories of survey documents that have gone out. The data input will all be done by the Bureau of Statistics and there is no way that the Department of Education or any other agencies can track who said what in the survey.
Mr. Harding: Could the Minister then confirm, in the process of collecting these surveys, who will in fact do it? Will it go from the students to the teachers and then to the Department of Education, or straight from the teachers to the statistics branch, who will do the compilations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that most of the documents will be returned to the Bureau of Statistics. Those that are not, and end up at the Department of Education, are not to be opened; in fact, questions will be asked if any of them are opened when they get to the Bureau of Statistics. They will be transported over to the Bureau of Statistics as soon as they are received. Our job is not to look at them. If we receive any - if someone drops one off or leaves one with the school, or whatever - they will be unopened and will be taken over to the Bureau of Statistics. That is who is going to compile the data.
Mr. Harding: Can I ask the Minister this then? The survey that we have seen looks pretty subjective, in terms of its positioning and the types of questions it is asking about the education system. Sometimes these subjective comments are hard to quantify. How does the Minister intend to do this quantifying, and how does the statistics branch intend to do it when the questions are so subjective?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Well, I have certainly not given them any instructions. I will get the information from the statistics branch about how they are planning to go through the questionnaire and I will make that available to the Member, as soon as I get it from the branch.
Question re: Education review questionnaire
Mr. Penikett: I would like to ask a question on the same subject. Will the Minister confirm that concern about this question has arisen because, as I understand the coding system, it can identify the precise classroom to which the form was directed and indeed the demographic information given by the respondent can be used to identify the precise respondent, giving rise to concerns that the individual answering the form can be identified - may be identified, in some cases - and certainly, if that person is making comments about a particular teacher, that particular teacher can be identified because of the class coding.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not think that is the case at all. I did not even know, as the Minister of Education, that there would be any numbers put on them. The Member who asked the question was in charge of the statistics branch before, so he would know why they do it this way.
My understanding is that it is strictly a tracking method in order to know how many they sent out and got back. In fact, for example, it is codified per classroom. They had one particular class from which they had not received any back. Through their coding system, they identified the class number from which they had not received any; they called the school and questioned whether or not the children had received the questionnaires. They had not, as they were on some kind of an excursion from the school. They were given them at a later date. That is the only reason it is in there.
The Department of Education will not know what class came back, what class did not or where they came from. That is not the information we are seeking. This is just a process through which the statistics branch can track whether the questionnaires went out, where they went, if they were received and how many came back. It is not to identify individuals, teachers or anyone else. I have given the teachers all kinds of assurances. In fact, I received a letter from the Yukon Teachers Association today asking me several questions. I can respond to them in a very positive way and give all kinds of assurances that there is no way in the world that the Department of Education will be tracking the teachers. That is not the intent of the questionnaire.
Mr. Penikett: I appreciate the Ministers assurances, but he must understand that according to statistically expert advice I received this morning, that because you can identify the precise classroom and it will also be possible, in some cases, to identify the respondent, there is a natural concern about how confidential the answers will be.
I want to ask the Minister this precise question, because I understand his previous answers: will he give his assurance today in the House that neither he nor any other officials in the Department of Education will have, at any stage in this process, access to identifiably sourced anecdotal information about teachers or classrooms? Will he give the House the assurance that he is completely at arms length and that he or his department will not have access to information whose author can be identified?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding of the coding is that once the document arrives back at the Bureau of Statistics, the person key-punching it into the program punches it into the program as a received document - one that went out and was received. From that time on, the number is removed from that information. It is just that the number is received. Then the information is put into the computer. I do not think the number is tracked. My understanding is that it is not tracked back to the information in it. It is just whether it went out and whether it came back.
And, yes, absolutely no one in the Department of Education nor I will have access to that information. That is not what it is for.
The purpose is to do some base work for the education review and that information will be made available to the review committee - the final report - some time in January when all the data is processed.
Mr. Penikett: As expert as they are, the Statistics Branch are not education policy professionals. I want to ask the Minister this question: exactly who will be quantifying, analyzing and reporting on the final results of the anecdotal information about which my colleague, the Member for Faro, expressed concern - those comments that will be forwarded by parents? If it is not going to be done by the Statistics Branch, who I do not think can give it the analysis needed to make education policy, who exactly will be doing that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring that information back. I do not know the whole process of these types of questionnaires. It was done by them because they are the professionals, and they know how to develop them so that they can draw certain information out of them at the end. They have a process by which they do that and I was not involved in it at all. But I can find out that information and get back to the Member.
Question re: Education review committee, honoraria
Mr. Harding: It appears that we may get some extra questions today.
I have a question for the Minister of Education regarding the education review committee and the honoraria paid to same.
After the last election the Minister of Education said that the boards and committees were overpaid by the previous government. He was even referring to boards that the previous government felt performed a very important function for the government. In fact, he was so upset when he appeared on the radio that he was prepared to cancel the small school councils honoraria.
I would like to ask the Minister why he has now agreed to pay the education review committee $300 per day when he previously said that was way too much.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: First of all, I am not paying the education review committee members $300 per day. The Member might be interested in knowing that the cost estimate for the education review, which I think is an extremely important review, is about $130,000.
The Kwiya Report cost in excess of $400,000 in the first round of consultations, and the first round of consultations on the Education Act cost over $233,000.
I think that this is an extremely important review and I think that the people who are on the review committee are being compensated in a fair manner.
Mr. Harding: The consultation on the Education Act went around to all of the communities, and so far it has been announced that the education review will not.
We also feel that the education review committee is an important committee. We want to know what the committee members are making, if they are not making $300 per day, and we also want to know what this governments policy is regarding boards and committees. We understand that some have been cut and now a new committee has been formed and they are making $300 per day. I will stand by that statement. Is the chair not making $300 per day?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The education review committee is paid based on the boards and committee policy in place now; it has not been changed.
The Members of the committee are making $200 per day and the chairperson of the committee makes 50 percent more than that amount. On the days the chair works, it is $300 per day.
Also, we have asked that members of the committee who are paid by the territorial government do not double dip - they do not get paid for both; rather, they get paid for evening and weekend sittings. We have asked other members of the committee who receive remuneration from other sources to consider that as well.
I think this is a fair remuneration for this committee, which has a very important task. This is the future of our children, one of the most important issues in the Yukon today.
Mr. Harding: We believed in paying the boards to do important functions, as well, but it was the Minister who is being inconsistent in his position now.
The budget has grown from $40,000 to $130,000 for this committee, and it has not even started yet. The Minister said these people were paid too much, just after the election, and now he is saying that it was a great idea that the NDP had. How does the Minister reconcile these inconsistent policies and principles?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would like to put it on the record again, because the Member for Faro has said in the media that the committee was being paid $40,000 and that has escalated, and he has said it here again today. He knows that is not true. I stood up in the House and corrected a printing error in the previous budget, a year ago. The original cost for the committee was $75,000 and, yes, it has cost us more now. It is costing us $130,000, but it is costing us a lot of money to complete the questionnaire. They are evidently quite expensive to do and, unfortunately, if you want a proper questionnaire done, that is what they cost.
Question re: Education review committee honoraria
Mr. Harding: We are finding more and more of those printing errors in these budgets brought out by the Yukon Party. Time and time again, in terms of policy, in terms of what is in the budget, they cannot even stand up on the floor of this House and explain what it is. Now it is printing errors.
Some boards have been cut way back. The Minister was even going to go after school council members. Now they are paying, very handsomely, $300 a day for the chair of the committee and $200 for the rest. We are not really opposed to that but let me tell the Minister something. He is very inconsistent in his position. Why has he now decided that what the previous administration was doing was great?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Well, maybe the Member for Faro does not think the education review is very important because he has been fighting this thing right from the beginning. Every time he rises to his feet he is trying to criticize the review. I think this is an extremely significant committee, doing a very important job for Yukoners - parents and children of Yukoners. I think they are being fairly compensated for the work they are being asked to do.
Mr. Harding: Let me just say to the Minister that we paid the boards well to do these important functions because we agreed with that. I am not disputing that it is an important function; however, the Minister has cut some boards back, yet has given this handsome pay to the education review steering committee.
What is the governments policy on the payments for boards and committees?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not know what the Member is talking about because I do not think I have cut any boards back. I do not know what the Member is talking about. I would like him to elaborate on that, if he can. The policy is the policy that was in place before. That policy is being reviewed but no decision has been made to change the policy.
Mr. Harding: If the Minister or the government has not cut back the pay to people on boards or committees, then why was the Minister on the radio barking away after the election about how awful it was what the NDP was doing. Why has he not made changes? Does he now agree that what the NDP was doing with boards and committees was the proper thing, as it seems to be what he is saying in the Legislature today?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not saying that at all. The boards and committees are paid very well in this territory. We have to evaluate the total costs of boards and committees and what their jobs and responsibilities are. This particular board has a very large responsibility. I think they are being compensated in a fair manner.
Question re: Wolf control program
Mr. Penikett: I would like to ask a question to the Deputy Government Leader in his capacity as Minister of Renewable Resources. An eminent local editorialist has suggested that the reason the wolf conservation management plan has not been adopted is because of an effective lobby by big game outfitters. Can the Minister of Renewable Resources indicate whether or not that is the case or if there is another reason?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There certainly is another reason.
Mr. Penikett: Since all around the territory we hear people suggesting that the only way to make this wolf kill palatable to Yukoners and to many people abroad is to have a wolf conservation plan as a sort of minimum civilized condition for proceeding. Since that group is the only one we can identify who are visceral in their support for the kill, can the Minister indicate to the House, for the first time, exactly what the other reasons are?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have already indicated that we were using it for a guideline and we have two more papers that we are bringing back to Cabinet. The decision will be made whether it will remain a guideline or whether it will not.
Mr. Penikett: I am sure that the hundreds of people in Faro would wish that they had as much influence with the government as the outfitters obviously believe they have. The Minister still has not answered the question. Perhaps I could ask him in this form: what intervention from the outfitters has this government received on the question and why is the government taking an identical position to this one group and not to the views of a much larger range of interests?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have not personally received any intervention from them. We are using it as a guideline. That was at the suggestion of a number of people who were not satisfied with the way things were and they wanted more information on it.
Question re: Wolf control program
Mr. Penikett: The Minister of Renewable Resources said that the proposal that the wolf conservation management plan be used as a guideline, rather than be adopted by the government, was the suggestion of a number of people. We know that that was not the proposal in the draft Cabinet submission. Who are these people who have suggested that it be used as a guideline only?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It was discussed in Cabinet. That is what we were told to do at the present time.
Mr. Penikett: I am trying to nail this down. The Minister is a former outfitter. The Government Leader is a former outfitter. Who were the people who made this proposal? Was it just the Cabinet who made it or were there others?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There were a number of outfits who were going to accept it, but very reluctantly; therefore, we decided there would be a review done in 1995. Until that time, we will go along with the guideline.
Mr. Penikett: I think the Minister said outfits and not outfitters. Is that correct? He might want to clarify that.
As we understand the situation, there were all sorts of groups here and in southern Canada, Europe and the United States who believe that the wolf management conservation plan is the minimum necessary compromise to make the kind of wolf kill that the Minister is pushing palatable to a whole range of interests. We continue to be puzzled by the governments refusal to do this.
The Minister just said that some outfits did not like it and would accept it only as a guideline. Would he tell the House who those outfits were?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, I will tell the Member. It was the First Nations, through CYI, who will accept it.
Let me get something very clear: I am over 21 years of age and I am not hiding behind the CYI or any First Nation. They are going to accept it reluctantly, and so are the Champagne/Aishihik Band, with the condition that we open it up in 1995.
Question re: Wolf control program
Mr. Penikett: I have to press the Minister. The information he is giving this House is that CYI does not want the wolf conservation plan, as it has been amended or improved according to their proposals, adopted. They only want it as a guideline. That is at variance with the position taken publicly by officials of CYI. Is the Minister now saying that the reason this government will not adopt the wolf conservation management plan is because the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation and the CYI are pushing that position? Is that what he is telling the House today?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, it is not. I said simply that they will accept it because it was a fact. They are very reluctant, but if I will open it up by 1995 they will go along with it - reluctantly.
Mr. Penikett: Could the Minister explain why it is necessary to use it only as a guideline rather than as a document if the Minister has committed himself to opening it up in 1995? Why does he have to open it up in 1995 if he has never adopted it? We are having trouble understanding the position of the government. Could the Minister explain it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Here, again, we are mincing around with words like adopting and guideline. We followed that guideline completely and very shortly I will be able to table in this House exactly how closely we have followed that guideline.
Mr. Penikett: I am not trying to be mean to the Minister. I just want him to answer the simple question: if the guideline that he is using is very close to the wolf conservation management plan, as he just seemed to indicate, why does the government not adopt it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have explained, and I guess I will have to explain again that there are several working documents that Cabinet wants to see before they decide to go the rest of the way - if they are going to go the rest of the way.
Question re: Public defender system
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice. I questioned the previous Minister of Justice about having a public defender put in place, and just a month ago I heard this new Minister of Justice publicly saying that the Yukon government could save some money by pulling out of the current legal aid system and giving work to government lawyers.
I would like to ask the Minister if his department is examining having a public defender system put into place?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, the department has been examining that option and we are looking at several possible models.
One model would use a combination of public defenders and legal aid; it would also look at training people in the communities to be able to assist in circle sentencing, thus, we would not be forced to use lawyers in that circumstance.
Mrs. Firth: The Department of Justice currently has, according to the phone book and organization charts, some 12 lawyers on staff. It is the largest law firm in town. These lawyers can be paid anywhere from $55,000 to over $93,000 per year. I would like to ask the Minister if he is going to hire more lawyers to do legal aid work?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is something that has not been determined at this point. There has not been any documentation taken to Cabinet and we are looking at various options.
It may be that some of those lawyers may be doing some public defending work. At this point we are simply looking at various options.
Mrs. Firth: I suppose it would not do me any good to ask the Minister to have access to the options paper that he is looking at, but I will ask him for it anyway.
I would also like to indicate to the Minister that I am opposed, as a Member of this Legislature, to us having any more lawyers hired in his department.
I would like the Minister to bring back to the House a complete breakdown of the costs to the Yukon taxpayer of the government lawyers. I do not only want a listing of salaries; I want all of the support services such as secretarial, office accommodation and other perks and benefits that any lawyer in the private sector would have to pay out.
Will the Minister bring that information to the House next week if he could?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will certainly bring the information regarding the cost of government lawyers to the Member as quickly as possible, probably next week.
I am not sure exactly what work would have to be done to have the complete breakdown, which is what is asked for, but we will find out.
With respect to any material that is going to Cabinet, the rule is that I cannot bring that back.
Question re: Historic Resources Act
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism. The Historic Resources Act, which was designed to promote respect for and protect the heritage of the territory, was passed a couple of years ago in this Legislature. As the bill is just waiting for regulations to be drafted for proclamation, can the government tell us what their plans are for the bill?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, we have some concerns with that act. This winter, we will be talking to some of the stakeholders about some of these concerns. I hope to either repeal the act in the spring and bring in a new act, which will be mostly made up of the old act, or bring in amendments to the existing act to deal with those concerns.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister identify for us some of the provisions the government feels are of particular concern, so that we might have some sense as to the direction the government is taking?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I could probably table, or make available to the Member, tomorrow or next week, the Hansard of the debate one year ago of some of those concerns. Off the top of my head, there was a concern about the description of an artifact. Another was the private property issue, and the concern about what is private property and what is not. Also, we were concerned about some of the search and seizure provisions. Those are the kinds of things we would like to look at.
I do not see any major changes to the act. Most of it will come back intact, but there are three or four areas that are of some concern.
Mr. McDonald: I understand that, at some point, the government had some concerns about some of the financial obligations of the act. Could he explain what he was referring to when the government posed that particular concern?
Mr. McDonald: Yes, I have been advised by the heritage branch of the Department of Tourism that, once we implement the act, there are some areas in the act where we would probably be required to bring in staff fairly quickly. I think it would add costs of about $400,000. Quite frankly, we do not have that money right now. I am looking at ways in which those aspects of the act could be phased in over time. It is simply not something we can afford right away.
Question re: Scottie Creek palaeontological find
Mr. Penikett: I would like to ask a question on a related subject. I am advised that a loader working on a waste cut at Scottie Creek on the Shakwak project near the Alaska border this summer unearthed a very significant palaeontological find, including bones and tusks of mastodon and skulls and teeth of primitive horses. Can the Minister confirm that more than a week passed before anyone reported the incident, and nobody from the highway crew reported it to the government as required by law, and indeed it was only a tip to the archaeological staff in the department that allowed us to go in and do some reclamation work before it was too late.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not aware of the history of the situation, but I can look into it and get back to the Member. All I understand is that, yes, our people were involved in it at some time. I do not know whether it was right at the beginning or a few days after it was discovered, but I will check into it.
Mr. Penikett: We are quite concerned about the potential changes in the law because, at least at the moment it is a requirement to report such a finding. It is also the law that the property in such a find is public property and remains so. I would like to ask the Minister if he can confirm that, by the time the government staff got to the site, there had been significant theft of items from the site and that, therefore, what may be a quite important discovery was pillaged before it could be properly examined and evaluated.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I cannot confirm that happened, but I can tell the Member that we do not have a very large staff in historic resources, so that may be the case even if we had the law. They may not be able to get out to an area immediately and some others might arrive and load some of the stuff on a truck and disappear with it. That could happen whether we had the law or whether we did not have the law, but I will check on the history of it and get back to the Member.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister is quite right that they do not have a very large staff in the heritage branch to deal with this problem. It is also the case that the people involved in this activity in the Yukon in the last few years have discovered literally thousands of new archaeological sites. I would like to ask him, in that case, why he is, at this moment, contemplating cutting back on the staff who are intended to be employed to protect these important resources - the property of the people of the Yukon Territory.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: For the past several years, the previous government attached many of the people from the heritage staff to capital projects. In fact, they rolled them over year after year after year. Some of these people had been there for many years on the capital side. What we are looking at doing is justifying the jobs on the O&M side instead of the capital side. The fact of the matter is there is only so much money to go around out there, so we have to look carefully at our priorities and what we can do with the resources we have. That is what we are doing in this case.
Question re: Archaeological site preservation
Mr. Penikett: On a related topic, all over the world, jurisdictions finance the protection of archaeological sites by a levy on large capital projects, such as the Alaska Highway, on which we are spending tens of millions of dollars.
As a matter of policy, does the Minister opposite support a small allocation of capital dollars from projects like the Alaska Highway for the protection and evaluation of invaluable archaeological sites that may be identified in the course of constructing or reconstructing a public work such as the Alaska Highway?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is a very interesting suggestion and I will certainly look into it. What I will do for the Member is have a look at the Alaska Highway agreement with the federal government that his government negotiated, and see if that particular clause is in there. I am sure, since he has that concern, he would have had that clause in there. I will be interested in having a look at it.
Mr. Penikett: Well, if the Minister researches it carefully, he may discover that, whether or not it is in that particular agreement, the intent of the Heritage Act, and indeed a number of international agreements, of which I think Canada is a signatory, create a obligation for us to protect such sites, and I believe that American law is very tough on this question. Since the Americans are financing the Shakwak project, they may indeed have an interest in what happened at this particular site at the Yukon/Alaska border.
I would ask the Minister if he would investigate that with a view to establishing whether or not we may already have, if you like, legal obligations on questions like this.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will check into that. I would be surprised if I looked at the Alaska Highway agreement that his government negotiated, since he feels so strongly about this, and find that it is a legal requirement. I would be surprised, since he negotiated the agreement with the federal government, that this would not be in there. I will check if it is in there and if there is anything thing we can do. It is an interesting concept and we will look at it. I do not know what we can do, now that the agreement has been negotiated, but maybe we can have a look at it and maybe there is something that we can do.
Mr. Penikett: There is no need for the Minister to be defensive about this. We may be having serious agreement about the objective. As a matter of fact, the UFA, as well as the Heritage Act, create an obligation to protect heritage sites. I would therefore like to ask the Minister if it is his intention, as the Minister responsible, before the onset of the next construction season, to advise everyone involved in major projects, such as the Shakwak and the Alaska Highway reconstruction, of the potential for archaeological sites on the route and their legal obligations, should they come across one?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I can do that for the Member, and I will speak to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and other Ministers involved in any capital projects that are undertaken, to make some kind of recommendation that if anything is found it be reported immediately.
I would also ask the Member about his suggestion of a small levy, or some kind of a levy on highway projects. I think it is an interesting idea and I would be more than happy to meet with him privately. If he has information on that, I would be more than happy to sit down with him. I think it is an interesting idea and it is maybe something that we can do.
Ms. Moorcroft: Maybe Mr. Speaker is having a hard time keeping track today of the numbers.
Speaker: No, I am not having trouble keeping track. I recognize whom I choose to, and the Member for Mount Lorne has the floor.
Question re: Employment standards legislation
Ms. Moorcroft: As it is now my turn to ask a question, my question is for the Minister of Justice, and it is about employment standards legislation. Let me assure the Speaker that I am not seeking a legal opinion from the learned barrister and solicitor across the way. What I would like to know is whether the government will show any compassion to workers who are not able to collect overtime pay from their employers. Workers who are casual employees of the Yukon government are specifically excluded from the definition of employees under the Public Service Act, which covers the Yukon government workforce.
Unfortunately, the Employment Standards Act also specifically excludes Yukon government workers from the act, which provides some protection to Yukon workers. Casual employees of the Yukon government receive no legislative protection.
How does the Minister intend to remedy the fact that some employees fall through the cracks and have no protection at all?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the Member for the question. It is a question that is fairly complex. I will look into it and try to get back to her.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will the Minister assure the House that his admirable employment standards legislation - the Yukon Party independent coalitions admirable protection for workers - will apply to both the Yukon government and private sector employees?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: At this time, I am unable to make any such commitment to the Member. As she knows, upon the repeal of the current legislation, we will be taking a package to Cabinet, and Cabinet will be making up its mind on what amendments will be coming forward.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is interesting to discover that the Minister does not want to give us any assurances as to what that legislation may or may not include.
Yesterday we received a legislative return that indicates that the Department of Community and Transportation Services employs 44 casuals in a season. Can the Minister tell us, in plain simple language, what his reasons are for repealing An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, which would have remedied the fact that Yukon government casual workers have no protection at all?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I was certain that the Hon. Member was present over the last couple of days during which this matter was debated and during the speeches that I gave on the subject.
If the Member would like, and if her staff are unable to obtain copies of Hansard, I will make sure that the speeches are sent down to her.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day and Government Motions.
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 Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 12 - First Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Chair: We are dealing with Bill No. 12, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1994-95. Is there further general debate?
Mr. Harding: I would like to compliment the Government Leader on his new haircut - very fine.
We asked some specific questions about the legislative return that are received on the Curragh cost breakdown. The Government Leader promised to come back with some more information on it and we have yet to receive it. Unless it is in this group of documents that I have not had a chance to look at yet, could the Government Leader commit to giving us this information before we get into some of the other areas of the capital estimates?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have that information available for tabling now. I will table it now.
Mr. Harding: Just by way of notice, there was also some information I requested from the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, but I also want to put the government on notice in general debate. It is in regard to some block funding estimates for my riding.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am sure that the Minister is aware of it and that the Member will have it when we get to his department.
Mr. McDonald: I just have some general questions about formula financing. Clearly, with the new government in Ottawa facing a significant accumulated and annual debt situation, it will make negotiations between Ottawa, the provinces and territories more interesting than has perhaps been the case even in the last year.
I would like to ask the Government Leader to explain, in as much detail as possible, what the Yukons position is on negotiations with the federal government. What kinds of changes are they looking for in a new formula financing agreement with the federal government that will, I assume, be negotiated shortly?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There are several outstanding issues we have yet to resolve with the federal government. We believe we have made great progress on them but, as the Member opposite knows from when he was Minister of Finance, one cannot count on anything from the feds until it is in ones pocket.
One of the outstanding issues is the two-year review, and we feel we are owed about $17 million on that, by our best calculations. The Kwanlin Dun land deal was classified incorrectly and we now have the federal Department of Finance in agreement with us on that, although they have not written the cheque. We believe there is $23 million coming from that. On the perversity risk sharing, we believe we have another $3 million coming, for a total of about $43 million that we feel is legitimately ours.
As the Member opposite is aware, we feel we have been badly done by as a result of the census undercount. We lost a substantial amount of money because of it. We ended up getting somewhere between $5 million and $7 million and we thought we had somewhere in excess of $25 million coming.
With the federal Finance Minister, in the new formula - and I sent a letter off to him this morning - we are requesting to be treated the same as the provinces on the GDP ceiling. I do not think that they intended to hurt us as badly as they did but, if the Member refers to the report that I tabled yesterday about my trip east, he will see how badly we were hurt by the GDP ceiling. It was in excess of $6,000 per capita, compared to $276 on a per capita basis in the provinces. That is because they use the three-year floating average up here, rather than considering each year individually.
I have already written a letter requesting them to reconsider that, and we are certainly going to be pushing hard for the removal of the perversity factor or, if not removal, at least a better deal on it. As the Member opposite is aware, it is up to 1.56.
Mr. McDonald: Certainly, the perversity factor has been of great interest to us in the Legislature in the last few years, because it has resulted in some changes to our own fiscal policy with respect to taxation.
The Minister indicated that the government is looking for some changes to the perversity factor. What about fundamental change to the federal concept that the Yukon tax rates are too low?
Presumably, even given the tax rate increases that the government has levied, the federal estimates would indicate that the tax rates are still too low.
What is the Ministers position? Is he going to be arguing strenuously that our tax rates are on par, or too low?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We certainly could not argue about where the national average is. We can and will argue that they should be lower in the north because of the cost of living in the north. With the perversity factor the way it is, there is a disincentive for us to raise our own funds. If we get penalized the way we do - $1.56 for every dollar we raise - it is a real disincentive. If we can convince this administration that they would be further ahead and would help us along the road to self-sufficiency if they do not penalize us in this way, regardless of what our tax rate is, I will be satisfied. As the Member opposite knows, however, this is a very difficult argument to make to the federal government.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to ask the Minister if that is an argument he has already made to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. It certainly does cost us more to have increased economic activity with the existing tax rates, with the perversity factor, than it would otherwise. Clearly, our ability to provide the level of services to match that of other jurisdictions is at stake.
Has he mentioned this perversity factor to the Minister already? They seemed to have had a very good first meeting. If he had been able to put the subject on the record at this first meeting, it might make a difference.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I most certainly did. I made the Minister of DIAND aware of our concerns and how inequitable we felt it was. I also had the opportunity to speak privately with the Minister of Finance in the airport lobby while we waited for a flight to Halifax. We discussed that issue along with the inequity of the cap. The inequity of the cap has hurt us probably more than even the perversity factor, because of the millions of dollars it has cost us over the last five-year period. However, the perversity factor is another issue we feel can be cleared up fairly quickly if we can get some sympathy from the federal government.
I believe we have made the case over the last year and now do have some people in DIAND who are sympathetic and willing to at least make a major adjustment to it, if not remove it altogether.
Mr. McDonald: I am glad to hear that the Minister has taken the opportunity to raise the issue already with the federal Minister. We will be expecting great things.
We are going to expect that we can capitalize on this marvelous relationship as much as we can. It will make for some good discussions in the spring when we find out how it all plays out in the end.
The Minister made reference to the GDP ceiling, and I read his trip report that referred to the fact that we were being penalized for this provision. Can he explain a little more fully as to what the government is looking to pursue? Are they looking to have a per capita cost that is more equitable between provinces and territories? Is he looking to have any potential reduction, reduced at the same rate it is being reduced in the provinces? What is the general outlook for the government on this particular situation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: On the cap, I do not believe, from the few discussions that I have had and trying to read between the lines at the meetings with the federal Finance Minister, that there is any hope that the cap is going to be removed in the near future. If we can at least be treated on an equitable basis with the provinces so that our percentage per capita is not any greater, we will then not have any greater losses than what the provinces do. That would go a long way to help us. We will be recommending that we use the same formula on the cap as the provinces do.
All Finance Ministers across Canada sent a very strong message to the federal Finance Minister that he could not resolve his deficit problem by downloading to the provinces and the territories. The article that I saw in the Financial Post yesterday or the day before yesterday, a copy of which I have here, says that Martin will tell provincial Finance Ministers in a meeting in mid-January exactly how much money Ottawa plans to give them and that will be the bottom line.
The provinces will be asked to participate in sweeping reform of how the social benefits are delivered. He is saying that our social services across Canada - health, social services and education - are costing far too much money and if we are to protect them - and I did not expect to hear a Liberal government say this but they are - they have to be restructured. The costs are escalating so dramatically, combined with the deficit problems we are experiencing, we will not be able to have the safety net that we need and the education system that we need to prepare our people to compete in a competitive world without the protectionism that there has been in the past.
As for my relationship with the Minister of DIAND, I would like to caution the Member opposite: I have had one meeting with him and may have to call upon the Member for Riverside to make sure that we keep the good relations going.
Mr. McDonald: Do not worry, there will be a chorus of support for encouraging the Member for Riverside to do his duty and convince the federal Liberals that they should be doing well by the Yukon. We shall be expecting him to do his duty, as well.
I am actually pleased at what the Minister said. That was probably the first time that I have heard him equate the education system with wealth creation. I suppose I should not test that statement too far because I might suddenly be disappointed again.
The Minister indicated that it looked like, ultimately, the federal government was going to throw it out to the provinces and the territories to help determine the priorities for the financial restructuring - the cutting. Is the Government Leader prepared for that discussion? Has he talked to Ministers around the country about what the results of that discussion might be?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I just stated, the position last week, when I was with the Finance Ministers, was that we send a strong message to the federal government that we did not feel that that was the way to deal with the deficit. Nevertheless, this article has come out since then; this is dated December 7. So, I will be contacting my counterparts across the country to see what position they are taking. In the meantime, our officials are working.
My understanding is - and this is all very vague yet - that the federal Finance Minister is going to say, This is how much money you are going to get; tell me where you want me to make the cuts. Now, I do not know if this is going to be the case but that is the impression that we are getting now. Whether the cuts will be out of the base or whether they will be out of the economic development programs, he is looking for a certain number of dollars and he is saying that he is going to give the jurisdictions some input as to where those dollars come from. If that is the case, then I guess that is the best we can hope for, at this time, because of the huge deficit that this country is facing.
Mr. McDonald: I am certain the Minister has thought that perhaps if the federal Minister throws it to the provinces and territories to work out a solution, it will not take long before the provinces and territories are scrapping about who gets what. One does not necessarily envy the position of the Yukon, with its 30,000 residents, in that equation. One might be worried, perhaps, that the smaller jurisdictions will suffer the consequences of the potential for some fairly ugly fighting, if things get particularly difficult.
The Minister indicated at the beginning of his remarks that there are a number of items here that, apart from the GDP ceiling and perversity factor and the general cost-cutting initiatives of the federal government, had some potential to secure some funding. He mentioned the two-year review, the Kwanlin Dun deal and the census undercount, and I think it adds up to about $68 million. Realistically, over the course of the next year, what does the Government Leader think may be the results of the discussions the government has with the federal government about securing a portion of that $68 million?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know if I should have consulted with my deputy minister at that point because they are always very, very conservative. Knowing how difficult it is to pry money away from the federal government when they do not have any - $20 million to $30 million is the barest minimum we can expect. These figures have been documented and proven time and time again; technically, they are all right. This is the money they owe us. If we do not get it, it is going to be because of a political decision. It is not that we have not proven the case on these. In fact, I have a letter that I am saving in reserve from the last Minister of DIAND where he scratched a postscript on the bottom about the Kwanlin Dun money saying, If we owe you this money, I will see that you get it. He is no longer in office, but I will use that letter if I have to with the new Minister. The fact is that we have proven these figures time and time again. There is no logical argument they can use on technical matters, accounting principles or anything else - this is money that is owed to us. The only way we will not get it is if there is a unilateral political decision made to not give it to us.
Mr. Cable: I would like to follow up very briefly on the Government Leaders conversations with Mr. Martin, the federal Minister of Finance. Was any formal representation made in the way of a letter dealing with the perversity factor and the cap and any other issues the Government Leader discussed with Mr. Martin verbally?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am just in the process now - there have been a couple of letters drafted. One is to the Minister of DIAND and one is to the Finance Minister, following up on our discussions, putting down on paper our recollections of what we discussed, so that we have it documented.
Mr. Cable: Has there been any formal representation made in writing regarding the money the Government Leader just indicated he thought was owed by the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am certain, if we pull the file, we will find that there is quite a bit of written documentation on it. This is an ongoing battle. The Kwanlin Dun situation has been going on for several years now, that I am aware of. The two-year review and the perversity risk-sharing factor are all issues that have been documented fairly well.
Mr. Cable: Is the Government Leader prepared to either table or provide that correspondence?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have no problem providing that information to the Member.
Mr. Cable: The Member for McIntyre-Takhini posed some questions to the Government Leader on why we should be treated differently under the transfer agreement.
It has occurred to me that part of the perversity factor calculation is based on other tax regimes, which in essence is saying that we should follow along after governments that perhaps have not been as prudent as this in the previous administrations.
Has the Government Leader pointed out to the federal Minister that linking ourselves to other tax regimes is perhaps not fair?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: In the year I have been Minister of Finance, I think that I have used every argument in the book that I can think of when dealing with the federal Department of Finance, the Treasury Board and the Minister of DIAND, and I am continuing to use every argument that I think will make them listen.
We feel that we are being unfairly treated because of our high cost of living. I am also making the argument that whatever money they put into infrastructure development, they get back many times over, because no matter what we do, everything comes from southern Canada. If we build a sewer and water project, the pipe and material comes from southern Canada. Even the diesel used to haul that equipment comes from southern Canada, and any road equipment that is used for road construction comes from southern Canada. If we build a pipeline, the pipe would come from southern Canada.
We feel that for every job that is created in the north, five are created in southern Canada. This is an argument that I have used in all of the meetings that I have attended when I am fighting for money for the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: Is our debt load service less than the Canadian provincial average?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, by far. There is no comparison.
Mr. Cable: Is that another argument that was presented to Mr. Martin, or the federal officials?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Certainly, I have used that argument. When we get into these forums, and we are discussing our financial situation, I describe how we are attacking the deficit and what we have done in the budgets we have brought forward in the short time we have been in office. I have pointed out that we have what we believe is a balanced budget. I am trying to leave the impression with them that we are acting in a responsible manner and do not feel we should be penalized.
Mr. Cable: Just so we are making the same pitch, has the government ministry approached the federal officials, or federal Minister of Finance, and indicated that this economy is fairly volatile, as witnessed by Curragh going down, and that we should have larger reserves, or a budgeted surplus?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have certainly used the argument that our private sector economy is in dire straits with our largest private sector employer - the two mines - being shut down. It is an issue we raise consistently. We also raise the issue of the prospect of the new mines that could come onstream, such as Loki, Williams Creek and, two or three years down the road, possibly Casino. We are using all those arguments, as well.
Mr. Cable: I have a couple of questions on the infrastructure program, which I think the Minister dealt with when he was down there. I believe the Minister saw Mr. Eggleton.
What arguments were presented to the federal officials for our obtaining a higher than our per capital percentage grant under that program?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We did not get to see Mr. Eggleton, but we first used the arguments - myself and the Government Leader from the Northwest Territories - at the Western Premiers Conference, and we got their full endorsement. I do not know if we tabled that press release or not where they supported us in using a different formula for the north on the basis of our small population base, large area, and our lack of infrastructure to begin with. Those were the key issues that we used.
We got the support of the western Finance Ministers on that, and we also got the support of the Finance and Economic Development Ministers from across Canada in Halifax for that same issue - that there should be a different formula used for the north for infrastructure funding.
Mr. Cable: Let us assume for one moment that the Government Leader is successful in his persuasion of Mr. Martin or Mr. Eggleton. Does the government and the local municipalities have their tackle in order to fund the other two-thirds of the infrastructure program?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is going to be the issue. We are still not certain as to what criteria they are going to wrap around this $2 billion, whether it is going to have to be new programs that start from a certain date, or if it could be programs such as the ones we have in place already - the Whitehorse sewage, on which we are going to be spending millions of dollars, and the Dawson City sewage, which is already in the works. I believe we are funding 85 percent of the Whitehorse project, so the municipality really does not have much claim on that. In fact, in the agreement with the municipality of Whitehorse, we have written in a clause that says that if we can tap into this infrastructure funding, we would get their share of it, because we have already contributed over and above what was requested.
In Halifax, the Economic and Finance Ministers said that they did not believe that municipalities should be driving the agenda on this funding. There have been some concerns that Ottawa was looking for the initiatives to come from the municipalities. The provinces have instructed the First Ministers, when they meet with Mr. Chretien on December 21, to take a strong message to him that, whatever infrastructure development is done, the range be very broad, even to include electronic highways, roadwork, and different aspects of infrastructure, not just sewer and water projects.
They have also asked that this be at the priority of the provinces, and not the municipalities.
Mr. Cable: The president of the Association of Yukon Communities was quoted in the media as indicating that there were certain types of infrastructure that the organization did not feel were appropriate, such as recreational facilities, for example. Does the government have any view as to what type of infrastructure should be built under this infrastructure program?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As a government, the position we have is that we already have these very substantial sewer and water projects going. If those can qualify, that is where we would like to see our share of the money going. We do not expect to get a lot more than the $2 million, if we get any extra. I cannot see it. There is going to be a real struggle for this money across Canada. I would not even want to speculate on what we will get. It is hard to say what it will be.
If we have to come up with some totally new projects, and these projects do not count, we are going to have a great difficulty coming up with our share of the money. That is a concern we have.
Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for Riverside for bringing up another issue here - an issue I was going to cover. One element of the infrastructure program the Minister has not yet shared with us is what the priorities are in the Yukon for that funding. While the Minister was talking to the federal Minister, the Legislature was dealing with a large number of projects that could be good candidates for federal program funding. I am not referring to the infrastructure-driven program or strategy document the Yukon Party government has; I am referring to everything from the tar pit in Whitehorse, environmental clean-up, to Whitehorse water and sewer. There are a number of road projects that Ministers have indicated would be candidates for funding. What is the priority for the $2 million-plus that we expect to be receiving under this program? What sort of project does the Minister feel is going to be the first candidate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Again, that will go back to whether the Whitehorse sewage project and the Dawson City sewage project qualify. If they do, that is where we would like to see our share of that money go - to help those costs because, as the Member opposite knows, there are huge capital costs there that are going to carry on for several years. So, that would be a help to us, and then we could free up some of our other capital dollars to build some of the schools we need or other facilities like that that we need. We have not got into priorizing a whole lot yet because we do not know what we are going to get or what is going to qualify at this point. We are waiting for that. There are a couple of other sewage lagoons, I believe, that need to be built in a couple of communities that would be eligible for this.
There are a lot of areas where we can use this money and it appears that the Liberal government in Ottawa, for some reason, has grabbed on to sewer and water as their main criteria; if that is the case, there are a lot of them in the Yukon that need to be done in the next couple of years.
Mr. McDonald: They have obviously been listening to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, who have been talking about water and sewer reconstruction for some time, and one cannot blame them necessarily for doing that but obviously $2 million with any large project like that does not go very far. They cannot fund all the projects the Minister mentioned out of the $2 million. Even if the $2 million was granted to the Yukon and offset some Yukon funding, we could not build too many schools with $2 million.
What I am trying to do here is get some sense of priority so that we do not leave the impression with people, who may be listening or witnessing the discussion, that they all may be candidates for $2 million worth of funding when, in fact, they would be lucky to contribute even a semi-significant portion to one project.
Is the Minister saying that the first projects that he considers to be of the highest priority are the water and sewer projects, with Whitehorse and Dawson being number one and two in priority?
If water and sewer projects are not permissible, what is the next project that the government is looking to support through the program?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said, I do not think that we have taken that step yet, because we do not know what is going to be eligible, so it is hard to priorize our list. We also do not know what kind of funding we are going to get.
If we are receiving in the neighbourhood of $2 million to $4 million and we could utilize that money in the Whitehorse and Dawson sewage systems, that would free up that much money for our capital budgets in the 1995-96 year and years following. If this happens, we will not have to worry about money that will have to come out of the capital projects that we have scheduled in the Yukon.
As the Member opposite knows, the departments all have their five-year capital plans in place and we can priorize our capital projects from those plans.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister said that if the federal program is applied to the municipal projects in Whitehorse and Dawson, the municipalities would be expected to fund those projects according to the federal guidelines, presumably one-third to each party.
Would it be correct to say that the municipalities would not be hurrying to line up for this funding, when they realize that they would have to go from a 15-percent to 33-percent project contribution if they were to get funding from the federal government, when they already have a commitment from the territorial government for 85 percent?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is absolutely right and that is why we wrote the clause into the agreement with the municipality of Whitehorse, that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services signed stating if there were any monies coming from Ottawa. That is also why we are looking for flexibility from Ottawa to deal with these issues. One of the issues that I raised on flexibility is that we have a lot of areas where we provide municipal services in the Yukon that are not organized municipalities, and we need that flexibility.
We are already contributing more than the two-thirds that is going to be required by the federal government, and we hope that they are not looking too hard at whether the money is coming out of the territorial government coffers or the citys coffers. We hope we will be able to satisfy their criteria by providing in excess of two-thirds of the money for the project.
The municipality of Whitehorse would not exactly be beating down the Yukon Territorial Governments door, trying to get the federal funding into the project, because ultimately it would cost Whitehorse taxpayers more.
Has the city commented, as this point, to the Minister or to the government on that point?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think that might be a question better answered by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services but, the way I understand it, it would not cost the city any more money than the 15 percent that they are paying now. Any of the monies that we could get from the federal government would be recouped to the territorial government, but it would not cost the City of Whitehorse any more. I am sure that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, when we get to his department, will be able to answer that in greater detail for the Member opposite.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister some questions about all of the issues we have been discussing this afternoon. I guess the one I have the most difficulty with is the discussions about the infrastructure money, because I do not know - the Government Leader is saying he is going to ask for more than the $2 million and I do not think Canadians have even the $2 million, let alone the millions that the federal Liberal government is committing to spend, so sometimes I find it a little ridiculous, talking about this money that Canadians want to spend, considering Canadians just do not have the money. We are just going to keep increasing the debt. However, the question about the infrastructure money that I have is this: I have heard some comments, nationally, about the terms of reference, or what the money is going to be able to be used for. The Minister has said, this afternoon, that they do not know yet what it is going to be used for. The comments that I heard nationally were that there were some concerns expressed that it was going to be used for art centres and facilities like that, and groups were complaining about that.
Is the Minister telling us that the federal government has not given any set policy or guidelines for what this money is available?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is correct. The only thing that the federal government has said, so far, is that it has to be highly visible. It is a political exercise. They ran an election on it; they ran an election on an infrastructure program and whatever is done, they want it to be highly visible. The Finance and Economic Development Ministers from across Canada are asking for a lot of latitude on what they can do under infrastructure, to tap into that funding.
Mrs. Firth: Personally, I have a lot of problems participating in that kind of program. I know the choice that has to be made is that you either tell the federal government to keep their $2 million or you take the $2 million and ask for more, but, personally, I think it is a political exercise and I do not know what benefit there is to us, as Yukoners, in that highly visible political exercise. The Government Leader and his Cabinet colleagues are going to be making decisions about that and if one participates in it, one gets caught up in the same political exercise. I will just wait and see what happens with respect to the infrastructure program and infrastructure money.
The Government Leader said this afternoon that he would provide some information to the Member for Riverside. I wanted to ask him if copies of the letters, including copies of the letters he is presently having drafted to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Indian Affairs, that outline and reaffirm the discussions he had with these Ministers, could be given to me.
I am interested in having copies of that correspondence, if I could.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not think there will be difficulty in doing that.
I would like to go back to the infrastructure program and I say that the Member opposite has made some valid comments. I have some concerns about where the money is coming from. On the same subject, if we say no we are not interested, the $2 billion is still going to be spread somewhere across Canada, so I think that we have to fight for our share of it, just as every other jurisdiction in Canada is going to be. They said they are going to spend $2 billion; for us to say no does not mean that they are going to spend $2 million less.
Mrs. Firth: I am aware of that and that is a tough decision to make: whether or not you buy into it or you say no. I am leaning in favour of saying no, unless I can be convinced otherwise. People are going to say, Bea is insane, giving money back to the federal government. We Canadians do not have the money. It is going to come out of our pockets in the long run. It is a huge amount of money that the federal government is planning to spend to fulfill an election promise, and that is the thing that I object to. When it is further reinforced that it has to be highly visible, we all know it is a political exercise, and I think that is the kind of thing that Canadians and Yukoners are already so cynical about - politics and government spending.
That is my reservation. It is a personal opinion. I am not making a representation on behalf of all my constituents, because I have not talked to them about it. I have only heard pros and cons on both sides of the issue. People have said to me, we should take the money because it is going to be spent. Other people say, why are we participating in this exercise? My own personal opinion is that unless I can be given some other information that it is a good idea, I am leaning toward not being in favour of the whole program.
I want to ask the Minister some questions about the formula financing agreement. We have been given information by the Government Leader in this House about the formula financing agreement and the perversity factor, with respect to the increase that Yukoners had in personal and corporate taxes.
Does the Minister have any optimism that there is going to be any change, either with the perversity factor or formula financing, that is going to give him the ability to look at changing those tax increases he imposed on Yukoners with the last budget?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that, whenever we go into negotiations, we have to be optimistic that we are going to come out of them with something. I do not believe that we will gain enough in the short term that we could rescind the taxes we have put in. Things will probably change over time as the economy of the territory picks up. That is why I differ from the Member on the infrastructure program, because it will mean jobs for Yukoners, whether we take that money and create some jobs here, or refuse, saying that we are still going to share the burden of paying off that $2 billion, as we are all federal taxpayers. I believe that if the money is going out across Canada, we have to accept it here and make the best use of it, to put people to work with that money. Job creation is what it was all about. We can use the jobs here as much as any other jurisdiction in Canada.
Mrs. Firth: Again, that is how they get one to buy into the system. There is some expression about how it is lonely standing on moral grounds, but I sometimes feel we have to do that.
The particular initiative I am interested in with respect to the tax increases is the increase in the corporate tax rate. We had considerable debate here about the loss of revenue to the Government of Yukon because of that initiative. Is the Government Leader having any ongoing discussions with the business community regarding the increase in the corporate tax rate, particularly with lost revenues? Could he bring us up to date on the status of those discussions?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member opposite is talking about the investment part of the corporate tax - the passive investment - it is not a loss of revenues to us that is the factor there. There are some in the legal profession who are still lobbying for change in that, saying how much it would benefit the Yukon to have that investment money here. However, the fact remains that it is a liability to have that money here under the present perversity factor structure.
There are ongoing meetings. Finance officials met with some of the legal community yesterday on the matter.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister update us on the status of that? Are they just being told no? What is the governments position with respect to the issue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Our argument is the same as it was a year ago: until such time as we get a change in the perversity factor, it is just a non-starter. If they have any influence on the federal government, we are asking them to use it.
Mrs. Firth: Is the government also making representation to the federal government specifically for that issue - not just the perversity factor, but have they brought to the attention of the federal government this particular issue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, we will, and that is why we have asked them to come back with more information because what they have is figures - I do not know from where they are getting them. They are talking in the billions and billions of dollars but, unless they can substantiate them, it is very difficult for us to make an argument in Ottawa.
Mrs. Firth: What the Minister is saying is that they had not made any representation to Ottawa with respect to this particular issue. Why, then, did they have to increase the corporate tax rate? Is it the Ministers position that this is a big liability to the Government of Yukon - I see him nodding his head, yes.
I would like to ask the Minister when he anticipates making that kind of representation. Has he given this group he has been meeting with a deadline to present the information, and when does he anticipate making representation to Ottawa about this issue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There is a meeting coming up in January of officials on the formula financing agreements and we would like to make our representations at that time.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us when exactly that meeting is, in January?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is a hard thing because we do not know right now. They just said January.
Mrs. Firth: If the House is not in session then, could the Minister provide the information to us as Members of the Legislature? The information I am looking for is what the governments position is that they present at that time and what the response is from the federal government.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will make the commitment to present what information we can when we are in negotiations. This is one of many meetings, and I do not expect everything to be settled in January. I am not sure that I feel comfortable setting out negotiating positions in public, until those positions have been accepted or rejected by the federal government. I will get what information I can for the Member opposite on that topic when the time comes.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could provide us with a brief outline of what he will be negotiating. I am not asking him to tell us what positions he is taking, but what is going to be on the agenda.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I can provide that information to the Member right now. We are discussing the GDP cap, and the perversity risk-sharing factor that we would like to do away with completely. Those are two of the major issues in the formula financing agreement, along with many other issues that will be discussed. Another issue is the tax factor.
Mrs. Firth: I am going to be persistent and ask the Government Leader if he could provide us with some written documentation of what the other issues are.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My deputy tells me that we can table the agenda when we receive it.
Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress at this time.
Motion agreed to
Chair: We will take a brief recess in order to prepare ourselves for the appearance of the Human Rights Commission before us this afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have with us, as witnesses, Debra Fendrick, who is the Chair of the Human Rights Commission, Jon Breen, a Human Rights Commissioner and Margaret McCullough, from the Human Rights Commission. As Members will recall, we passed a motion in the House about a week ago to have these witnesses present. I would like to make a few opening remarks, if I may.
I would like to bring to the attention of the Legislature that tomorrow marks an important anniversary. Forty-five years ago most of the countries in the world, including Canada, signed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in response to the atrocities of World War II. By signing the declaration, Canada helped affirm that the inherent dignity and the equal and unalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Now, 45 years later, this declaration is the basis of all human rights legislation in Canada. To celebrate this important anniversary, the Yukon Human Rights Commission has chosen to honour the International Year of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples, proclaimed by the United Nations, as its 1993 theme in recognition that aboriginal rights have been neglected for too long and that partnerships between a country and its first citizens are essential.
Here in the Yukon, this theme gives us the opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished and what needs to be done.
On the one hand, we have passed legislation that respects and protects basic rights and freedoms. We have settled longstanding land claims and established some important partnerships that will lead us to self-government for First Nations. We are committed to understanding the needs of First Nations people and promoting better understanding among all Yukoners and respecting Yukon traditions and values, as evidenced by the governments four-year plan.
On the other hand, we are still faced with problems of intolerance and racial discrimination that has threatened to undo whatever good has been accomplished. In fact, when the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was in Whitehorse last year, many groups, including the Human Rights Commission, agreed that racism was flourishing in the Yukon. It was hard to pin down and solutions are not readily apparent. This must be turned around.
No one will dispute that there are few things more important to the well-being of our society than the elimination of racial discrimination, in whatever manifest form - from direct, overt slurs to subtle and even unconscious reactions. For this reason, we supported the motion to bring the Human Rights Commission before this Legislature to report on the state of race relations in the territory, so we could find out what problems the Human Rights Commission considers the most serious and what we, in this Legislature, can do to help solve them.
Unfortunately, the Yukon is no different from the rest of Canada. Racism is a serious problem everywhere, and fighting it must be a priority for anyone who believes in human rights. In fact, there is a recognized cure for racial discrimination - and that is tolerance for cultural beliefs and values of others and mutual respect for each others inherent rights and dignity but, for the most part, the method to achieve this still eludes us. That makes this anniversary particularly significant.
For non-aboriginal people, it reaffirms the pledge that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity, and in rights, and it is a time to look into and around ourselves to recognize injustice and confront it face on.
For aboriginal people, it embodies the struggle for equality and that the effort to share in the benefits of Canadian society, to maintain cultural and traditional values and reclaim history, is all about maintaining and reclaiming dignity, as aboriginal people and as human beings.
In short, it is up to each of us to turn the ideals of the universal declaration into reality, to recognize that these rights are inherent in our nature and without which we cannot live in harmony and peace. Certainly, this government is committed to the improvement of race relations in Yukon through land claims, public education, community initiatives involving healing and restoration, self-government negotiations and the assurance that whatever we do respects human rights legislation.
But, most importantly, we believe that the governments commitment simply mirrors the commitment of all Yukoners who are sincerely devoted to human rights and want to do whatever is possible to promote traditional tolerance, where the rights of others are respected and protected.
In closing, I want to commend all those people in Yukon who are working hard to bring about these changes - those people who know that we cannot avert our eyes and wait for others to solve the problem.
I would now ask the witnesses whether they have any opening comments for us.
Ms. Fendrick: First of all, I would like to thank the Legislature for inviting these members of the Human Rights Commission here today to speak on this topic. It is an important recognition of the role that the Human Rights Commission plays in Yukon society, and it is especially timely considering that tomorrow is December 10, International Human Rights Day.
In terms of the status of race relations in the Yukon, I think that it is a very troublesome, meddlesome issue and it really depends upon whom you are talking to as to what the status of race relations is in the Yukon. There are some people who think that the status quo is fine, but there are other people who think that is not the case.
We have had some concrete examples of the latter, such as letters to the editor and complaints that have come up and I am sure that there are no people here who have not heard something through the grapevine, or through friends of friends.
In terms of the Commission knowing exactly what the status is, it is difficult to assess. The Commission has not done a survey since it was first incorporated, and maybe that would be the way to find out what Yukoners believe about the status of race relations.
In light of the matters that have been in newspapers and the conversations around the territory, I think that it is fair to say that there is discontent out there.
In terms of statistics, we have a process under the Human Rights Act where we can take in formal complaints if they fit within the jurisdiction of the act. I can tell you that our informal complaint resolution process is used far more, to address a greater number of complaints, than is the formal process.
In terms of formal complaints, we have had six so far this year, which is the year beginning April 1, 1993, and three of those have been of a racial origin. So 50 percent of the formal complaints this year have been of a racial origin. Looking back over past years, there has been a steady increase since the Commission was brought into being.
Given what seems to be happening, according to the newspapers, and also our statistics, it is fair to say that there are people who want to have something done about race relations in the Yukon. As you probably know, the Human Rights Commission is responsible for more than addressing issues of race; we also have to deal with complaints of discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, family status and so forth. Those are set out in the act.
In dealing with the racial issues, there may be some other vehicles that can be more helpful, and I have, in consultation with the other members of the Commission, thought of a few ideas that may incorporate the support of the Members of this Legislature.
The key issue is to make the Human Rights Commission more accessible. At this point, we have tried to address the situation. We have a 1-800 number, and we do some community visits. However, the Yukon is a large jurisdiction, but there is only the one office, which has three people working in it. As you know, the commissioners are appointed. It is necessary that there be more of a presence of the Commission throughout the Yukon.
Some of the things I will be talking about later will be incorporating the assistance of the Legislature in this regard, or giving you something to think about, in any case.
That is what I have by way of opening remarks. I can move into the suggestions I have, unless any of the Members have some comments at this point.
Ms. Commodore: I wanted to say a few things before we get into questions from the Members here. I appreciate that the Commission is able to be here today, and I welcome them to the Legislature. I wanted to talk a little bit about human rights.
As the Minister has indicated, we all know there have been problems for years, and we have had to exist under an act that was not adequate for the needs of Yukoners. I remember, in the mid-1970s, along with a lot of other people, trying to set up some kind of an organization that would offer some kind of protection for individuals. I still have the minutes of these meetings. We were looking at the possibility of setting up a human rights, or civil liberties, association. At the time, we did not feel that the Fair Practices Ordinance was meeting the needs, as there was little, or no, protection for those individuals who needed it.
As a person who was very involved with the Yukon Association for Non-Status Indians in those days, we used to hear a lot of complaints, not just because a person was an aboriginal person, but discrimination was causing people to lose their status. For years, in a position behind my desk, I displayed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We knew that people were entitled to basic rights, and there did not appear to be any protection for them.
It was with great pride that we, as a government at that time, introduced a Human Rights Act in the Yukon. It was not without a lot of difficulty. That act, of course, provided protection for individuals, which included ancestry and national origin, ethnic and linguistic background, religion or creed, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability - that is just to name a few.
I am very pleased that we have the opportunity to have the Human Rights Commission members, along with the director, here today. Before we get into any inquiries and hear about some of the good ideas I am sure they have, I would like to commend the Human Rights staff and the Commission for the commitment that they have to those people out there who sincerely need an organization such as this in place. The Commission is living up to the belief that we have regarding fundamental human rights for every person in the country.
Ms. Fendrick: I would be pleased to answer any inquiries the Legislature has. Of course, Ms. McCullough, because she is in the office day to day and deals with the operational aspects, will be in a much better position to be able to deal with the more substantive issues. Mr. Breen, having only been here for three months, and I only having been here for three years, do have the background in human rights. We also have our own personal experiences that we bring to the position.
Mr. Penikett: I wonder if I could ask Ms. Fendrick a question about the numbers she gave us at the beginning of the presentation. She indicated that there have been six complaints, three of which concerned race relations. I obviously do not want to ask about those current cases, but Ms. Fendrick also mentioned that there was a formal process and informal resolutions. I think I know about the formal process, but I would like to hear more about the informal resolutions of cases that are not current, but perhaps cases in previous years of a racial nature.
Perhaps, for the education of the Members of this House, she could give us a sense of how they have been resolved and, particularly, if they have been resolved successfully.
Ms. Fendrick: I will explain the general nature of the informal disposition of complaints and Ms. McCullough can probably give particulars as to the ones she has handled herself.
In the Yukon, because there is the overlap of territorial and federal jurisdictions and also the fact that there is no ombudsperson, the Yukon Human Rights Commission has to deal with a large variety of complaints that come into the offices. All of these complaints, although grounded in a persons genuine feeling that things have not been done correctly, may not fall within the jurisdiction of the act.
The act does have very strict parameters as to what does constitute discrimination and what does not. It always has to revolve around some form of providing services, accommodation or employment. There are going to be some things that are unfair to people, perhaps because of a prohibited ground, such as sex or race, but they will not fall within the prohibited area of discrimination involved in employment, accommodation or providing of services.
The Human Rights Commission, because it does have the objects of the Human Rights Act in mind, which mandates that there should be the furtherance of the principle that all human beings are free and equal in dignity, tries to take on as much as possible, even if it does not fall within the formal jurisdiction. That may involve making phone calls, writing letters, smoothing situations out, trying to mediate or negotiate some kind of a settlement where both of the parties will walk away feeling that there has been some satisfaction. Unfortunately, there will always be cases where those good offices do not work. Unfortunately for those people, they cannot go through a complaint process and they cannot have the satisfaction of an informal disposition. One hopes that those will become fewer and fewer as time goes by.
Perhaps now I could turn it over to Ms. McCullough and she can explain some of the actual situations, using generic facts, to give the Members some idea of what has happened. I should indicate that it is the policy of the Commission to not discuss any particulars of a case because it is very important that all those particulars be kept confidential. We do not discuss the ongoing status of a case or whether or not we have a case within our offices.
Ms. McCullough: To explain in response to Mr. Peniketts question as to how informal complaint investigations are conducted, they are indeed very informal. We have found that not all complaints can be done informally. It is dependent on a few issues, one of which is how willing is the alleged respondent to discuss the situation in a constructive manner, but we have had great success in coming to informal conflict resolutions. It also gives me, as a Commission staff person, an opportunity to do public education, too. The formal complaint process - I do not want to digress too much, but where it is not supposed to be adversarial, it is adversarial in nature. Someone is being accused of something.
Last year, the informal complaint resolutions we pursued numbered 60, not all related to race, but because we are here today specifically to respond to Mr. Cables motion on race, I just have some examples that are race related.
In one, two young men of First Nation ancestry went into a parking lot of the mall and when they opened the door of their vehicle some wind blew papers off the dashboard. When they proceeded to pick them up, a male came from nowhere, grabbed one of the young men and accused him of stealing plants. The young men, who are born Yukoners, actually had been excellent customers of this particular outlet and were very, very irate. They sort of brushed the guy off and proceeded to walk into the store, where they were stopped, for no apparent reason to them. We do not want you to come into this store and we do not want you ever to return to this store. They were very, very angry and they were very hurt, and I think that is sometimes missed with race discrimination - there is hurt. I personally have not been subjected to that hurt, but when one sees the hurt it is quite moving.
However, they came to us and they really did not want to make a formal complaint but they wanted to get it off their chests and they also wanted to see what we could do about it. The Commission pursued the issue with the store and we were greeted very well. We were given a good welcome; there was nothing adversarial at all. The outcome was that the general manager of the store gave an apology to the young men involved. An apology was very important to them and I think it was very, very necessary - a face-to-face meeting with the individual who had accused them falsely of stealing plants.
We ended up giving a presentation to a large amount of staff. It took about two hours. We gave a presentation to every member of the staff vis-a-vis the legalities and responsibilities of management and staff in conducting their business in a non-biased manner.
Interestingly enough, we had had quite a few inquiries about this particular outlet prior to this incident, and we have not had any since. So, we felt the management was positive. The young men were still pretty ticked off but, nevertheless, the apology was very important. Their dignity had been sorely offended. Out of that one, we had a positive response.
We had another call, and it happened to also be First Nations - a gentleman from out of town, who comes in and conducts quite a lot of business in Whitehorse. He checked into a local establishment - a hotel/motel - signed the register, gave his credit card, and the remark was then passed by the registration clerk, And I do not want any trouble from you. That, in itself, is an offensive, racist remark. I have checked into many hotels in my time, and nobody has ever said that to me. I take it that that is because I am not a person of colour, or a person of First Nations ancestry.
We did pursue this. The offended gentleman wanted us to pursue it informally. He comes to town a lot and did not want any trouble, which is quite natural with a lot of people who have been discriminated against, or offended. We are still pursuing it. We have had no response, to date, from the hotel involved, which does not have any obligation to respond to us, but this was to be done in an informal manner.
We look on these incidents as opportunities to publicly educate.
I also want to say, at this point, that not all real or perceived acts of discrimination are done with intent. Again, the public education aspect comes into it. Some people are just not aware but, in this territory, and in every jurisdiction in Canada, racial discrimination and racism is against the law. We try to push that.
One other incident that sorely offended me, personally, was during the Oka incident. At the Council for Yukon Indians, or in the lot adjacent to it - I am not sure if it belonged to the Council for Yukon Indians - First Nations and non-First Nations people kept vigil by burning a fire. It was 24 hours a day, and it was never left alone. It obviously meant something to the First Nations people. It was their way of recognizing the incident in Oka.
We had a gentleman, and I use that word advisedly, come to the office very, very irate, asking if I knew that there was burning going on at CYI in a no-burn permit zone. If it was not so pathetic, it might be amusing, but it was not amusing, because this person himself was not permitted to burn his leaves or his garden refuse.
That incident told me at that time that there was either a complete lack of awareness, lack of willingness, or lack of understanding on what the symbolism of the fire at the Yukon Centre meant.
There again, I do not know how successful we were. We refused to take a formal complaint, but we did do some initial work, phoning the city to find out where their burn permits are allowed and not allowed. I would like to say that we got the message across to this gentleman that his attitude and his lack of intolerance perhaps need to change, but we did not.
I have to say here, quite frankly, that there is an attitude in a similar vein out there. We cannot say it is a lack of understanding, we cannot say that it is a lack of awareness, but there does appear to be a lack of tolerance, specifically to racial issues, whether it be First Nations or people of colour.
Employment advertisements that have a requirement for the persons of First Nation ancestry generate a lot of calls to the Commission. We explain that the Yukon Human Rights Act provides for special programs and affirmative action. Many of these calls are hostile and go back as far as to when the Yukon native teachers program came in.
The plus side on that is that we have an opportunity to explain what affirmative action is and to relate what public policy in the Yukon is - that it is a Yukon government statute.
Lest I am giving the impression that we have a completely uncaring community out there, we do get the message across in some instances and that is very, very fulfilling.
Mr. Cable: The witness mentioned Oka, which brings a question to my mind. That was quite a racial explosion involving the Mohawk people. There has been, in most of the big cities, tension between the immigrants and non-immigrants. I think particularly of Vancouver. What structures have been set up by the relevant governments - in the case of the Oka crisis, the Quebec government, and in the case of, say, Vancouver, the Government of British Columbia - to deal with racial tensions on an ongoing basis?
Ms. McCullough: I cannot really speak to the Quebec situation. I can speak about Ontario and Nova Scotia. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in racial tension. Specifically, it would appear from the material I have read that this has been a simmering situation for many years. In the case of Nova Scotia, there has been a couple of generations where there has been a preponderance of black Canadians. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has always been aware of the tension there, but it was not until tension in the school playgrounds developed - kids hitting kids and fighting on racial grounds - that similar incidents spilled onto the streets of Halifax in bars and so on; the feelings that had been latent were no longer latent. However, the positive side of that was that the Government of Nova Scotia initiated an advisory committee on human rights, specifically addressing race.
Ontario had exactly the same experience. The City of Toronto has always had a race-relations program. We in the Yukon, if I may, do not have to reinvent the wheel. We can learn about what is going on elsewhere and put into place mechanisms that can address such problems, if similar incidents occur.
Ms. McCullough: Nova Scotia and Ontario have created a program - specifically, Nova Scotia - after they had spent an enormous amount of money cleaning up after riots.
I cannot speak about British Columbia. All other jurisdictions either have civil liberties groups, or a Canadian rights and liberties federation, little non-profit groups within their communities that act as advocates in these places.
Mr. Cable: I take it that the advisory councils you talked about are separate from the Human Rights Commissions themselves, but what have the Human Rights Commissions done?
Ms. McCullough: I can only speak of what the Yukon Human Rights Commission has done.
As you know, our act has two components - one of enforcement and one of public education - and we have longstanding collaborations with First Nations groups, specifically the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre. We work very closely with these groups and, in speaking on race relations, they come into all our presentations. Unless we are asked to speak exclusively to race relations, race relations is always part of our presentation.
We collaborate every March 21, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in conjunction with the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, the Association des Franco-Yukonnais and other organizations. This starts off with a circle of friendship at the White Pass station. Some of the hon. Members here have attended over the years. I have to say, quite frankly, that our circle is getting bigger every year, but we do not always get the representation from either territorial or municipal governments that we would like, but the circle is growing every year.
It is an ongoing relationship that we have with First Nations groups. Whenever possible, we try to spread the word. We do a lot of presentations, and we are stretched quite thin at times.
Perhaps it is unheralded or unsung, but I think we do a credible job in fostering race relations in the Yukon.
Mr. Harding: I would like to thank the Commission for coming to the Legislature. I have a question that could be interpreted as somewhat controversial. It is with regard to the last federal election campaign we saw in the Yukon. One of the political parties ran a campaign with a big slogan equality for all, speciality status for none. My own personal belief was that this was an affront against French Yukoners, native Yukoners and people who wear religious headdress. I am not going to ask the Commission for an opinion about that; that is my personal position.
In their opinion, is there anyone in the Yukon who really has special status?
Ms. Fendrick: The objective of the Human Rights Act is that all human beings be treated fairly and equally, in terms of their dignity as human beings, so there is no special status attached to any one particular type of human being, based on any particular characteristic. There are affirmative action programs, which are to address historic inequities, and that is what we were talking about in terms of the job advertisements that specified First Nations only or women only and, in fact, a recent one that said men only.
There may be some confusion in terminology about status being attached to people because of those affirmative action programs, but the idea of human rights legislation, generally, is to try to move away from attaching labels to people, and to try to correct historic inequities. We cannot do that in 20 years, when they have been going on for several hundreds of years, but human rights awareness is dedicated to trying to get rid of labels and terms like reverse discrimination, and that type of thing. But, it is a difficult process.
Unfortunately, there is a philosophy that a lot of these programs now are causing inequalities, and that is why people are saying, Let us go back to equality for all. But, was there ever a time when there was equality for all? Basically, we have history, as we have seen it, and all the legislatures across Canada, including the federal Legislature, cannot be wrong in trying to have affirmative action and having things like pay equity programs. There are some things that have been realized and have been addressed through those types of programs.
Mrs. Firth: The Human Rights Commission has a responsibility for public education. I am particularly interested in what they have been doing in public education with respect to the issue of racism. Could they just outline what they did in the last year? I am particularly interested in knowing if they have any involvement in the education system.
Ms. Fendrick: We do not have a public education program. As Ms. McCullough has said, the objectives of the act are both enforcement and education and we would rather emphasize the education aspect of it, as opposed to the enforcement aspect. We do not want to be seen as a police force, or anything like that. In terms of the education strategy that we have developed, it would be optimal if we had an education officer.
What we have is the executive director and a human rights officer, who must do both enforcement and education duties. We try to mix that in as much as we can. I will let Ms. McCullough talk more about some of the particular details. I can tell the Legislature that we have recently put into play radio ads that you may have heard on CBC. We also had some short clips on CBC television. There are school visits. There is some public speaking that either the executive director or the human rights officer or the commissioner can attend, given time constraints.
In terms of specifics I will let Ms. McCullough speak to that.
Ms. McCullough: As I stated previously, and to echo Ms. Fendricks words, we do not have a structured program. For the last few years we have been invited, about eight or ten times a year, to F.H. Collins School. Tomorrow morning I am speaking to Paul Deulings law class. It is usually grade 11 and 12. There are two teachers at that school - Ms. Langevin and Ms. Sward - who do admirable work in their social studies groups.
It is heartening to go to the schools, especially when you are faced with delightful-looking 17 year olds, both male and female, to speak about race relations. I notice that in all of the schools there are maybe three people of colour, whether it be First Nations, Asian or from another visible minority. The majority are white. I can only echo what the teachers have said, that they are quite appalled and upset at the responses from these good-looking young kids.
We are in the 1990s now, yet these young people express hostility against those whom they perceive to be getting - like, they get everything.
In response to Ms. Firths question, we do not have a structured program. We appear wherever we are invited, whether it be the Womens Business Network, the Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club. When the correctional institute does new hiring, we put on presentations there. We have a video called A Class Divided, and that and Mission School Syndrome are the most popular videos.
I would think it takes up 40 percent of our time. Tomorrow morning there is a little International Human Rights Day event at Jack Hulland School, at which the human rights officer will be attending, and I will be attending F.H. Collins School. I think, having discussed what happens when I am confronted with young adults, it brings home the notion that having basic human rights as part of the curriculum would be very, very helpful. Children do not come into the world with biases - they usually learn biases from the people around them - and by the time they are 17 and 18, and not all kids come from non-biased backgrounds, I see, regretfully, the same perpetuation of the ideas and the actions and incidents which, indeed, initiated the need for human rights legislation in Canada.
I hope that has answered the question.
Mrs. Firth: I am anxious to hear some of the suggestions or recommendations that were referred to earlier, but I do not want to tell other Members that they cannot ask any questions. There may be some questions that develop as a result of some of the suggestions, so I would be very interested, if other Members are in agreement, that we hear what those are.
Ms. Fendrick: As I said at the beginning, after speaking with the other members of the Commission as well as the Commission staff, we have brainstormed a couple of ideas. We have not flushed them out totally but they are meritorious and could be brought into life by the support of some of the Members of this Legislature.
I have basically five suggestions.
The first one is the creation of a new position at the Human Rights Commission for a First Nations human rights officer. As I was saying at the beginning, one of my concerns is that the Commission may not be accessible enough. We have tried to make ourselves more accessible by having a 1-800 number so that people would not be intimidated by going through the operator or having to leave their names, and that type of thing. We have not collated our statistics on that, but we hope that that is going to be generating some more use of the Commission. We tried to travel to some of the communities but time constraints and financial constraints sometimes prevail and make that impractical.
We believe that, if we have a First Nations human rights officer, who is trained by our existing human rights officer, it may encourage more people from the First Nations communities to come forward, not necessarily with complaints because, as I said earlier, we do not want to be seen as a police force, but simply to break down some of the barriers and have a more comfortable environment for a more free exchange of ideas. I think the less free the exchange of ideas is, the more entrenched people get in their own positions and attitudes.
Apparently, there is a program that can be taken advantage of through the federal government, called the northern careers program, in which they will support the selection and training of a person for a particular job. The condition to that is that there be guaranteed employment after the training is done. That is where we are running into a problem. Our budget, as it now stands - I do not want to get into budgetary submissions - does not allow for another person year. It would not be at the high end of the wage scale, because, of course, we would be training someone who is new at the job, and who would be gradually gaining experience.
What would be needed to make that a reality would be to have a budgetary increase for that extra person year. We have the other ways to support it, in terms of having the space and people to train that person, but we do need the actual funds to be able to pay them. You probably could not find a volunteer, but if you know of any volunteers ...
That is the first suggestion. The second one ties in with something Ms. McCullough was saying, and that was in relation to public events that we hold. The event that Ms. McCullough was referring to was the friendship circle. As she said, there has been attendance by Members of the Legislature over the years but, as our circle is getting bigger, this is not necessarily relative to the attendance of the Members from this Legislature, or other people holding public office. It seems to us that would be a very positive message - to have more people from the public service and the Legislature attending these friendship circles and providing support, because these are people who are known and identified from the media and other sources. They are community leaders and can set an example.
It is good to have the friendship circles every year, but it often turns into a situation of preaching to the converted. The people who are there are those who will always be in support of human rights issues. It would be nice to see other people coming, those who would like to learn about things. The presence of some of the Members could encourage that and would be very helpful.
In terms of the third suggestion, it is assistance with community visits. This is something that we have been trying to work on for the last couple of years.
We have never had a territory-wide visit to each Yukon community by the human rights officers. As the Legislature may or may not know, the commissioners are appointed and we carry out our responsibilities under the act in addition to our full-time and everyday job. There are two people in the office, as well as an office administration person.
It is going to be the people in the office who are carrying out the public education programs in the outlying communities. We have been trying to arrange a visit to Old Crow and working down to visit every community within a year to a year and one-half, but things happen or do not happen, and it does not come together.
It seems to me that because the MLAs are from ridings throughout the Yukon, if we could benefit from your assistance in those ridings in helping to put the community visits together, that would be very helpful, because you know the people in the ridings and the people to whom we should speak, where we can set up, and perhaps there can be some secretarial assistance to make it easier. And, perhaps even larger items, too, such as an extra plane ride, or something like that, because it is difficult on our budget to be able to carry out this whole expense on our own.
The fourth suggestion is in relation to something that Mr. Cable was bringing up and that was about agencies that are devoted to race-relations issues. There is a Race Relations Council in the Yukon Territory. Ms. McCullough is involved with that council to some extent, but I have not been involved with it and I do not know the status of that council right now. However, that is the type of body that can be an advocate for racial issues, perhaps moreso than the Human Rights Commission, since we have to work within our jurisdiction and within the informal resolution processes that we have. We may not be able to be as complete an advocate as some people who come to us would like us to be. It would be my suggestion that the Legislature could in some way develop a means to support the Race Relations Council, either financially or by having people go on to the council, or by making it a vehicle to do what it is designed to do. It is a very new concept here, and I think it is coming around in other jurisdictions in Canada as a result of confrontations.
Ms. McCullough talked about the situation in Nova Scotia. The municipality of Halifax realized that it was going to be very costly to them to have to deal with racial confrontations, because there were riots and all types of property damage. They thought that it would be better to take the money that was used to clean up the city and put it into a council that could try to prevent things like this from happening.
The last suggestion I have would be, given that the Legislature seems to be concerned about human rights issues and, in this particular situation, the issue of race relations, there might be an inter-party committee struck that would have a Member from each party, and would also have a person from the Commission, whether that be someone from the day-to-day staff, or someone from the appointed commissioners. The committee could meet either monthly or bimonthly and discuss issues that are coming up, help that is needed in carrying out some of the aspects, concerns that may be brought to the Legislature, just to make sure things are flowing more smoothly. I think that would be helpful.
Given that it is Christmas, that is my wish list for the upcoming year. If you have any questions or ideas about any of those issues, I would be happy to hear them.
Ms. Commodore: I listened to Ms. McCullough when she cited the examples of some of the complaints that came to the office. I was able to identify with them, because I know of a lot of other circumstances. It started to make me angry again. You get angry when you hear about things like that.
In regard to Oka, I spent a lot of time around the peace fire, but I was never aware that someone had complained because we had this fire going for many days. We did have some bad experiences there, where we were threatened, and there were racial slurs against us in the middle of the night. There were some situations like that that were so bad, we had to call in the RCMP. That is just a small part of some of the problems that occur in the Yukon.
I would like to say that I like the ideas I have heard. They are excellent ones, and I am sure they were developed through a lot of consideration for some of the things the Commission members are aware of.
I have two questions, and the first one is in regard to the First Nations human rights officer. That is an excellent idea. Is this a result of the fact that a majority of complaints come in from First Nations people?
The other question I have is in regard to the committee the witness had mentioned. I am not sure whether she said interdepartmental committee, or what. Was she asking for a small committee from this body here, or a combination of MLAs and some government officials?
Ms. Fendrick: In terms of the First Nations human rights officer, given that the Yukon has a large number of people from First Nations ancestry, it would seem to be appropriate. I am not at all discounting that there are other people from other minorities here, but clearly the most significant minority - and I will just call it that for that purpose - would be First Nations. The act, as it was drafted, recognizes the rights of aboriginal people. We are a unique jurisdiction here, and it would seem, especially given the population in the outlying communities, that a First Nations officer would be most appropriate.
The officer would not just be trained in terms of taking complaints about First Nations issues. The officer would be trained as the human rights officers are, to deal with all types of complaints.
In terms of the second question about the committee, I was thinking of an inter-party committee, and it would seem to me that it may be more advantageous to have actual MLAs on a committee, who could then delegate some responsibilities to various other people, whether they be public servants, assistants, or whatever.
Ms. Commodore: I have a question in regard to the training period. What length of time are we looking at - a year, or six months, or what?
Ms. McCullough: In discussions with the northern careers program people, who are very receptive to this idea, it is usually six months but, depending on funds available, discretion can be used. To reiterate Ms. Fendrick, the problem we have is that there is no way of offering, at this present time, full-time employment.
If I could also answer one of the questions on the idea of a First Nations officer, in brainstorming and echoing what I said at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, we just know the number of formal complaints we have is not indicative of what is out there. Whereas I personally like the public education aspect rather than dealing with the adversarial aspects of the complaints process, we feel it would be the way of getting the public education out into the communities. It is a recognized fact that people do relate to specifically First Nations people - communities would relate to a First Nations officer where, quite understandably, the Yukon Human Rights Commission can be perceived as another white bureaucratic government deal. So, I think it would be advantageous.
Mr. Penikett: I would ask if Mr. Breen would have anything to add to what has been said already.
Mr. Breen: I am glad that the microphone finally made its way over here.
I would just like to add to what has been said already, especially in terms of community involvement. My fairly short term with the Commission to date has been spent looking only at local issues or concerns that have come up. My feeling is that we are not effectively getting to the communities at all, either in terms of making people aware of exactly what the Commission does, what their mandate is and what the parameters are or by providing the educational material to the smaller communities. As has been mentioned, we are struggling with trying to figure out how to accomplish that, given the financial resources we have and the human resources we have.
It would make sense to try and incorporate bringing in a First Nations person to the Commission, both to represent that aspect of the community and to increase the human resources power we have, in order to allow the Commission to be doing that kind of work. We are caught in a position now of not really being able to meet the agenda we have set for ourselves, if not the mandate the Commission has.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Yukon Human Rights Commission if they could tell us how they compare with other jurisdictions in terms of the number of complaints they have received. Also, what kind of comparison is there on the level of support and resources that are provided to the Yukon Human Rights Commission to work in dealing with the issue of human rights violations?
Ms. McCullough: Taking into consideration that we are a smaller jurisdiction, I would think that our complaints are on par, with the exception perhaps of Ontario. Ontario has a very large complaint caseload.
Unfortunately and regrettably, I have to say that the Yukon Human Rights Commission is no different from any of the other jurisdictions right now in that we are becoming a victim - and I use that word victim - to the dreaded fiscal restraint. The Yukon Human Rights Commission is a member of CASHRA, the Canadian Association for Statutory Human Rights Agencies. People here may recall that the Yukon hosted the CASHRA convention in 1990. It was the first time the Yukon chose to open CASHRA to the public.
However, I am on a committee within CASHRA. I meet with my colleagues not as often as we would like to meet - in fact, we may be going to teleconferences because of fiscal restraint - but in speaking to the staff persons in commissions, particularly the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which is under review, we, in the field, are a little bit worried that the very important issues of human rights may fall through the cracks because of fiscal restraint. I think that is indicative of every jurisdiction, including the federal Commission.
We are rather unique here, in that we are the only jurisdiction that is not a part of a ministry.
In fact, fiscal constraint has a greater, more devastating, effect on us. We do not have legal counsel - we do have legal counsel on retainer - but we cannot phone the legal department and get free advice.
In answer to the Members first question, I think that what is happening in the Yukon, case wise and attention wise, is no different. I think what we can do here, as we have done with other matters, is learn from what is happening outside. I hope that answers your question.
Mr. Joe: Before I ask my question, I want to bring to the Commissions attention the community that I belong to, which is Mayo-Tatchun.
We strongly believe in our rights and what is wrong or right by our elders. This is something that we have been raised with for a number of years, and which is still going on in my community.
I know that the commission is getting a lot of complaints. Who does the commission talk to when they receive complaints from Pelly, Carmacks or Mayo?
Ms. Fendrick: I am not aware, myself, of complaints that have come particularly from that area. There may have been complaints since the act was brought in in 1987. It is the policy of the Commission, as I said before, to try to keep things as confidential as possible in terms of peoples names or where they come from, or that type of thing. If what the Member is asking is how an investigation is carried out, because Mr. Breen and I do not carry that out, I would ask Ms. McCullough just to explain, in a nutshell, how she would carry out an investigation and, if it was in a small town like Mayo or Pelly Crossing, how she would carry it out differently there as opposed to in Whitehorse.
Ms. McCullough: A formal complaint, whether coming from the communities or from the City of Whitehorse, would be handled in the same way. There would be an alleged respondent, and there would be allegations, so that would be what we would be basing it on. We have handled informal complaints, not specific to Pelly, for instance, but to Teslin, Watson Lake, Dawson City, where we have approached the bands.
I should state at this time that internal issues within native bands come under the jurisdiction of, and are dealt with by, the federal Human Rights Commission. However, we have found it quite appropriate to speak to band members and elders within the community. This has not been on a large scale, and it would be foolish of me to let you think that has been the norm. It just has not come up.
Rather than dealing with complaints, and pertinent to the previous statements of both Mr. Breen and Ms. Fendrick, we do feel that there may be violations occurring and people are not aware of their rights, so our idea would be to go into a community and speak to elders and to whomever else was interested in speaking to us. We do not want to march into a community in a patronizing manner but, by invitation and on the terms wished by the communities, we really feel there is work to be done there.
Mr. Cable: I have a couple of questions. Perhaps Ms. McCullough could elaborate on the survey that she talked about initially. The second question is what is the Commission doing with parents. Of course, tolerance and intolerance is taught primarily in the home. Maybe Ms. McCullough could tell us what part of the education program is dedicated specifically to parents.
Ms. McCullough: I have not been invited to speak to any parents group. We have not received a call saying, I do not know what we are doing wrong here. We have been invited to Christ the King School to speak to their classes. We gear our presentations to the ages of people to whom we are speaking. Christ the King School has an excellent, ongoing program of brotherhood, peace and unity, which appears to go on every day of the school year.
This is an opportunity for me to say that if there are any parents out there who would like a presentation, we will come to speak to them on a one-to-one basis, or two-to-two basis, whatever the case may be.
I agree, and I think that I stated previously, children are not born with biases. These are things that they learn from the people around them.
If the Members know any parents have them call us.
Ms. Fendrick: To follow up on those comments - it seems to me from meeting with other people in my position at national human rights meetings, there is a consensus that education efforts should be directed at young people and children. Perhaps having human rights programs in the curriculum, or something of that nature would be useful. As people get to be 18 or 19 years old, they become more set in their ways, attitudes and philosophies.
Really, the people to whom you want to present a non-judgmental view are children, at a stage where they can still appreciate that.
Mr. Cable asked about a survey, which I spoke briefly about in my opening comments. I was saying that in order to have some better idea about the status of race relations in the Yukon, it may be appropriate to have a survey, but we have not conducted one.
I do not know what kind of questions would be put into a survey, or anything of that nature. A survey may be appropriate, although there was a comment made that there have been enough surveys and enough questions, let us just do something.
Mr. McDonald: The commissioners will know or remember five or six years ago when the Human Rights Act was first passed, there was also some controversy in the school system about some posters that had been passed around, reflecting that First Nations children were afraid of the school system and historically, had bad experiences in the school system.
The response was interesting in that there were a number of teachers who took the criticism personally and felt it was unfair, in that the system was changing and was more open to understanding cultural differences.
Has the Commission enlisted the support of the Yukon Teachers Association, or has it come to the Commission to work in some joint way to address some of the concerns that people had initially when the poster controversy was first laid out in the media? Has anything happened since then?
Ms. McCullough: Yes, I worked for the Commission at that time. The poster was Mommy, Dont Leave Me, painted by Jim Logan. That poster came from an experience of his child. He had three children; one of them was darker than the other and would not go to gym class, where he had to take his shirt off, because of kids laughing. That is where the art was in effect imitating life.
There was controversy. The commissioners were very strong at that time. The Commission was accused of promoting racism, and they took the stand that no, they were not promoting racism; it was just bringing an awareness to the fact.
The schools were not permitting these posters to be up at all. There were individual teachers who defied the rule and put the posters up. Happily, the posters are now all over the place, and that controversy has changed. I think it was a very good educational project.
Whereas we have not been invited by the YTA to participate in collaborative efforts, we work closely with Dr. Sheila Rose of the Department of Education. We go into the schools. I see positive progress since 1988, when the poster came out.
Pertinent to education, while we are speaking about education, this is a Human Rights Manual for students out of the B.C. Council of Human Rights, and it has been out for a few years. It is geared for use in grade 11 social studies and grade 12 law. I plagiarize it a lot when I am giving my presentations. I think it is a wonderful document, when you are talking to 16 and 17 year olds, who have a lot of their biases in place. I do not want to give the impression that the Yukon schools are filled with biased students, because that is not the case at all.
It just takes one or two to make it uncomfortable for the rest. A social studies program initiated into the schools would be very beneficial to the Yukon as a whole. It would be good for our children and for our childrens children.
If I may be indulged, while I have the microphone, I did have a telephone call from a Whitehorse lady. The lady is from a Sikh family and had been a Canadian citizen for many years. The purpose of her call was rather moving; it was to tell the commission that, the previous evening, her 12 year old daughter, as well as her younger sister, were preparing their letters for Christmas in the manner of a wish list. I get goose bumps when I think about this, still, but I quote for your interest the contents of this childs letter. She said, I do not want anything for Christmas, but I wish for peace on earth this Christmas and that people will not pick on each other. I would like all kids to have a family Christmas like I do. This wish is not going to come true, but I hope it does. I hate to watch the news, kids killing each other, strangers killing strangers.
I think this young ladys wish is a fitting wish to echo on December 10, International Human Rights Day. I just wanted to get that in. Thank you for your indulgence.
Mrs. Firth: I just have one more question. How often does the Yukon Human Rights Commission have to refer individuals to the Canadian Human Rights Commission?
Ms. McCullough: I could get that for Mrs. Firth, but it is approximately three to five times a month. Because of the distance - the actual federal Commission is in Vancouver for the B.C.-Yukon region - we act as good offices; we talk to people, prepare a statement and fax to the Canadian offices on their behalf. They will take it up from there. It is approximately three or four times a month.
Mrs. Firth: Can the members of the Commission tell us what cases or what complaints they have observed? Is there some kind of trend? Are they having to refer gender complaints more or racial complaints more? Have they made any observations that way? Perhaps they could tell us why they have to be referred to the Canadian Human Rights Commission?
Ms. McCullough: Complaints are referred to the Canadian Human Rights Commission when they do not fall within our jurisdiction - anything that involves a Crown corporation, whether it be a bank, airport, railroad, Indian bands, anything that comes under the federal government, federal funding - yes, federal employees - we refer to the federal Human Rights Commission.
I do not think there is one area more prominent than the other. There have been quite a few employment related, both within the federal government and outside, and within First Nations bands.
As you say in this House, I could take it under advisement and get the actual numbers back to you, but it is not overwhelmingly one issue over the other.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I was very interested in the comments made by the witnesses on the education side of it. The witnesses talked an awful lot about the programs that are available for the high school age students, but I am wondering what is available for the younger students. Has the Commission approached the Department of Education with such programs, like the one from B.C? What has their reception been? Are there programs out there that we can access that we could implement for the children at a much younger age?
Ms. McCullough: As a matter of fact, this came to us through the Government of the Yukon. Over the past few years, we have had an increasingly good relationship with the Department of Education, apart from the initial poster debate. We have an ongoing relationship and collaborative efforts on March 21, and December 10. For example, tomorrow, we have sent material to 29 schools in the Yukon; we did that through the services of the Department of Education.
As I stated earlier, we have consistently attended, at the invitation of Paul Deuling, Sue Langevin and Joyce Sward. We have not done anything specific with the Department of Education to get into the schools, but we have gone into grades 1 and 2.
Tomorrow, the Jack Hulland School is having a circle of unity and putting on a little play. They are doing it mostly on their own, with Commission presence. I am not an educator, I am not a kindergarten or grade 1 teacher, so I cannot say what would be an educational tool for children of that age, but I think - whatever the Department of Education would feel appropriate - that a little time be spent on human rights, on dignity and on respecting each other. I think that it could be done very simply and I do not think it would take a lot of money. It could be part and parcel of education, where many years ago we had prayers in place, and because now Canada is a multi-cultural society, a Christian prayer may not be appropriate for someone from another religion. As far back as it was, I can remember being at school and it would take maybe 15 or 20 minutes, but even 10 minutes would be an appropriate way to address human rights in the schools.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I thank the witness for her comments. I guess the reason I asked the question is because we talk about developing a program for elementary school students, but what I was wondering is if the witnesses knew of any programs. There is no point in reinventing the wheel. There has been an awful lot of work done in the human rights field. I am sure that in Ontario or elsewhere, there are some very good programs for young students that could solve our problem. I can get the Department of Education to look into that or work with the Human Rights Commission in investigating the availability of those kinds of programs.
Ms. McCullough: It would be a pleasure to undertake finding out from other jurisdictions what is available. I would probably get that information from the education officers elsewhere. I can certainly bring it to the Ministers attention.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: First of all, I would like to thank the Commission for appearing as witnesses before the Legislature. Their presentation this afternoon has been very interesting.
I would just like to get a bit more feedback on some points Ms. McCullough raised regarding fiscal cutbacks in government and her concerns for funding for race relations and human relations in general. She is right, there is a great concern with governments all over Canada. Ms. Fendrick gave us her Christmas wish list, some of which require additional funding.
However, what really perked me up was the number of complaints the Commission refers to the federal Human Rights Commission. Talking to Finance Ministers and leaders in other jurisdictions, one of the areas governments are looking at across Canada right now is duplication and overlap. I am wondering if the federal Human Rights Commissions have investigated areas of overlap and duplication and looked into ways of amalgamating services between the two jurisdictions. This is an issue that will be coming up more and more as there are more funding cuts, and more funding cuts are coming right across Canada.
Has the Commission taken any initiatives or had discussions with other jurisdictions on this, seeing if there is not some way that resources could be combined. Duplication and overlap is a major topic with Finance Ministers right across Canada right now.
Ms. Fendrick: In terms of overlap, it is a difficult question to answer, because it is a legal issue. If the jurisdiction is with the federal Commission, the Yukon Commission cannot take conduct of an investigation. Ms. McCullough talked about doing informal resolutions in areas that may concern federal jurisdiction. However, I can foresee, if the Yukon Human Rights Commission took on a complaint from an area within the federal jurisdiction, that would be the first thing the respondent, who is being complained about, or their legal counsel, would bring up, that this body is without jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate upon this complaint.
So, in terms of formal complaints, I do not think it is possible to have the Yukon Commission take it over. The Yukon is probably very unique in this because, being a federal territory, there is going to be this interplay of federal and territorial jurisdictions all the time. We have not incorporated an investigation into where overlap may be, but it sounds like that is happening informally, because of the informal disposition of some of those complaints that would normally go on to the Canada Human Rights Commission but, instead, through some phone calls, letters, et cetera, the Yukon Human Rights Commission gets an informal disposition.
Chair: Order please.
In light of the time, I would like to thank the witnesses, and I now excuse them. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 12, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and directed me to report progress on it.
Further, witnesses from the Human Rights Commission appeared before Committee to discuss race relations in the Yukon. Their attendance was in response to the direction found in Motion No. 48, which was moved by Mr. Cable and passed by the House on November 17, 1993.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 9, 1993:
Legislative sittings: cost per day (Ostashek)
Written Question No. 35, dated December 7, 1993, by Mr. Cable
Auditor Generals report on Human Resource Management: initiatives to implement recommendations (Ostashek)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1586
Agreements signed on October 27, 1993, between the Government of Yukon and the State of Alaska (Ostashek)
Written Question No. 36, dated December 7, 1993, by Mr. McDonald
Grant and loan programs: information provided in Sessional Paper 93-1-82, tabled November 23, 1993 (Devries)
Written Question No. 23, dated November 10, 1993, by Mrs. Firth
The following Document was filed December 9, 1993:
Impact of the Faro and Sa Dena Hes mine closures on the Government of Yukon (Ostashek)