Wednesday, December 15, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will now proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have some documents for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have six legislative returns to table.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have some documents for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have for tabling some legislative returns.
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?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Speaker: This, then, brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Yukon River salmon treaty negotiations
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Many Yukoners are in Anchorage this week attending the Yukon River salmon negotiations, which are being held to protect the Yukons traditional and commercial salmon interests.
Unfortunately, the Yukon delegates have been forced to send a pleading letter to the Yukon government in a desperate attempt for their support; the Yukon government has no representatives at the negotiations. Why is the Yukon government boycotting these talks when they are so badly needed to protect our traditional commercial salmon interests?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are not avoiding the talks; we have been negotiating this for eight long years. It just so happens that our negotiator, who is also our negotiator for forestry, had to attend a very important meeting to complete the forestry transfer. However, he was in contact with them by phone.
Mr. Harding: The Department of Renewable Resources has many, many resources and lots of expertise. We spend millions of dollars on our renewable resources, and if the government really cared about representing these traditional and commercial interests, would they not have had someone attending the negotiations in Anchorage as everyone else does who has a stake in this?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is the first meeting that the negotiator has missed. They also talked to the Department of Fisheries. We talked with the governor when he was here, and we had asked him to speed up the negotiations and get them over with, as they have been going on for eight years.
Mr. Harding: The representatives of the Yukon have sent a pleading letter to the Yukon government. First Nations villages and communities along the length of the Yukon River watershed are at the negotiations; commercial, domestic and subsistence interests from both sides of the border; sport-fishing representatives; fish processing representatives; delegates from the United States government and the State of Alaska and delegates from the Government of Canada and the Department of Fisheries. Why is the Yukon government boycotting these important discussions?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are not boycotting anything.
Question re: Yukon River salmon treaty negotiations
Mr. Harding: These negotiations are very important for long-term protection of the important resource of our traditional and commercial fishery. Every other jurisdiction has sent representatives. The Yukon government seems to feel that it is not that important, but the representatives of the Yukon do. Why would the government not have someone there representing the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Minister keeps trying to put words in my mouth to the effect that we do not think this is important. We do think that it is important. As I have said, some emergencies came up in the forestry area here and our negotiator had to stay. He was in phone contact with them. We are the ones who suggested to the governor that he go to the United States government - and we would go to the Government of Canada - to ask them to speed this up and get it over with.
Mr. Harding: The Minister would have us believe that there is only one person who could have been sent to represent the Yukon government at this conference. Could they not have sent a biologist, a policy person, a deputy minister or an assistant deputy minister? Why could they not send one of those people to represent the interests of the Yukon, and show some support for the Yukoners who are there?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Our negotiator has eight years of experience. I suspect he has much more influence and knowledge of what is going on than someone who would be going there cold. These are very serious negotiations. Everybody has to be on the ball to make sure that they do not make mistakes.
Mr. Harding: The Minister just made a very good point there. He said that these negotiations are very serious - very important. If they are so very important to the Yukon government, as the Minister just said, and to the people who have signed this letter and who represent various stakeholders in this industry, why did the Minister not send someone to represent the Yukon government and show these people some support?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have already said why I did not, but I will repeat it again. An emergency came up in the forestry area, which is also very important to us, and the negotiator was in phone contact during the meetings. I do not know what else I could have done unless I cut him in half and sent one-half to one place, and one-half to the other place.
Question re: Council on the Economy and the Environment
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Government Leader on the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. There was a legislative return filed in the spring relating to the funding of the council and it indicated that there was $30,000 available from the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Renewable Resources.
Is this the present funding that the government has provided to the council under the letter charging the council, the letter of November 5, 1993?
Hon. Mr. Devries: That is correct. Initially they were funded with $30,000.
Mr. Cable: It is my understanding that the council has been charged, under this letter, with holding an economic summit, which may or may not involve a review of gambling at that particular time. It of course has statutory obligations with respect to the Economic Strategy. Does the Minister feel that this $30,000 will permit the council to review gambling, either as part of this summit or separately, hold this summit and perform its various statutory obligations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would have to bring a legislative return back to the Member opposite but I believe the total funding is more than what was contributed by the Departments of Economic Development and Renewable Resources. It seems to me that it is up in the $60,000 or $69,000 range but I will bring a legislative return for that. Whether it is going to be enough for them to hold the hearings on gambling, we do not know. We will wait until they come back to us with a budget.
Mr. Cable: Does the Government Leader anticipate that the council will perform independent research or retain the services of independent researchers with respect to the gambling issue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I have said again and again in responding to questions from the side opposite on the gambling issue, we have given the mandate to the Council on the Economy and the Environment to address that issue. They are to come back to us with a plan as to how they intend to do that. Until such a time as they come back with that plan, I would not want to speculate on what they are going to do.
Question re: Kaushees Place
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Christmas is normally a time for joy, but, unfortunately, it is also a time when violence against women increases. Last summer, as the Minister will recall, there was a lot of controversy about Kaushees Place, the transition home in town. As he will recall, several residents and workers in the field came forward with complaints about the home.
At that time, the Minister announced that the department would be conducting an evaluation of the situation, in conjunction with the home. The legislative return that we received indicated that the evaluation has not even been tendered. This is now six months later. Can the Minister tell us why, in the middle of December, the evaluation has not been tendered, given his commitment to the press in July to hire an evaluator? At that time he said, and I quote, within weeks it would be done.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There were some ongoing discussions between the department and, at times, me, the board of directors and employees at Kaushees. The board of directors has now hired a new executive director. They are finalizing the proposal. I would expect that this will be going out very quickly, so that the evaluation can begin.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister, at that time, referred to a committee that would be established to draw up the terms of reference. I would like to ask him if he could tell us who is on that committee and whether or not some of the members will be people who raised concerns at that time.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to bring back a written response to that question.
Ms. Commodore: A lot of people feel this evaluation should have been done a long time ago so that Kaushees could proceed with the work that they provide. I would like to ask the Minister, when he has the information on the terms of reference, if he could provide a copy to me. Also, at that time, I wonder if he could let me know when he expects the evaluation to start and to be completed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would be more than delighted to do that. I would like to get it to her before Christmas.
Question re: Yukon River salmon treaty negotiations
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources and a follow-up to the Yukon river salmon negotiations underway. I have given some thought to the responses that the Minister just gave and looked at the position of the government, that they only have one person capable of going to this meeting, and that a deputy minister or a policy person or an assistant deputy minister would not be acceptable. Does the Minister not think that is stretching it a bit, and that someone in those various positions that I have outlined could have been briefed regarding this issue and could have gone there to show support of the Yukon government for the Yukon fisheries interests?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: As I said, a person who has been at it for eight years or more will know a lot more about it than someone who was briefed 24 hours ahead of time. Plus the fact, I have said three times - and this is the fourth - that we were in phone contact with them during the meetings.
Mr. Harding: There is no reason to say that the person being sent would have had to been briefed 24 hours ahead. If the Yukon government would have been doing their homework and preparing for this, they could have done it any number of days or weeks ago. Is the deputy minister of the department so unaware of the Yukon governments position that he could not have been briefed in order to take that position to these negotiations to show some support? Is he so unaware of the Yukon governments position?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I suspect that if we were not in this Legislature I could probably let the deputy minister go, but I have to keep him around here to save my neck.
Mr. Harding: If the deputy minister is responsible for that, I do not know if he is doing a very good job of saving the Ministers neck. I would like to say that I have not just pointed out the deputy minister, I have pointed out ADMs and policy people. Someone in the chair representing the Yukon government would be better than an empty chair in Alaska, when so many interests are pulling and tugging at the equation. Can the Minister agree to send someone there, immediately, to show some support for the Yukoners who are fighting for the Yukon fishery, traditional and commercial interests in Alaska?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is being very unreasonable in his questioning of the Minister here. The scheduling difficulty came up at the last minute. It was not something that was planned weeks or days or months ahead. The fact remains that we understand how serious the Yukon River salmon treaty is and we understand how serious the negotiations are - so serious that I discussed it with the governor when he was here. We had a good discussion on it and both agreed that it was time to get it over with. Because of the scheduling conflict, our Member asked DFO to tell the Canadian delegation that the conflict in negotiation scheduling necessitated our participation at another session. He contributed what he had to add to this on the telephone, not shirking in his duties at all, and emphasized how important this is to the Yukon. I believe we covered it in the best manner we could due to the unforeseen scheduling difficulty that happened.
Question re: Yukon River salmon treaty negotiations
Mr. Harding: The agreements that were reached between the Alaskan government and the Yukon government were about as concrete as an angel food cake. I had a chance to look at them because they were tabled in this Legislature, and I saw no agreement with the Governor of Alaska and the Government of Yukon regarding Yukon River salmon fishery. Was there one and, if there was, would the Government Leader tell us about it and table it in the House?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It was not one of the issues we put a paper out on, but we discussed it in great depth when we met and we were in complete agreement that it was time this agreement was finalized.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, he certainly did accept our position.
Mr. Harding: The Government Leader just said something very interesting. He said that the Governor of Alaska accepted the position of the Government of Yukon and that of the Government Leader himself. Can I ask the Minister what positions specifically did the Governor of Alaska accept that the Government Leader put before him? And if he did accept it, and there was this huge agreement, why was it not put down on paper?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There seems to be a misunderstanding. I said the governor accepted that we should be getting on with and finalizing the negotiations. He accepted that and he related it to his officials, as we did to ours.
Mr. Harding: The Minister of Renewable Resources said these negotiations have been going on for years. All of the governors in the last three terms have accepted that the negotiations should conclude, but I hope the Government Leader is not so confused as to think that the Government of Alaska accepts the position of the Yukon government.
A letter was sent to the government by 12 prominent Yukoners who represent interests at these meetings and they all feel it is important. It is not just me speaking, it is their view as well. So, could the Minister of Renewable Resources tell us why he does not have people there to represent the Yukon and show some support, when it is obvious that the Government of Alaska has not agreed to the Yukons position.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We, on this side, really understand how serious and critical this is, but it seems that the Members opposite certainly do not, because they were in power for seven of the last eight years and they were unable to finalize the agreement.
Question re: Yukon River salmon treaty negotiations
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader, once again, is talking through his hat. The reason we are in this situation is because Brian Mulroney sold us out in the Pacific salmon treaty. The Yukon River was part of that treaty. We were entitled to get 50 percent of the salmon in that river. At the so-called shamrock summit, when Brian Mulroney was cosying up to Ronald Reagan, he deleted the Yukon River.
I want to know from the Government Leader what substantial initiative, other than chats with the governor - who agrees that we need to get on with it, as all of the last three governors have agreed - what substantial position or improvement in the State of Alaskas position, or the U.S. position, has he obtained since he came to office?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is interesting to hear that Brian Mulroney sold us out on the salmon transfer. It must be similar to Premier Harcourt selling us out on Windy Craggy, without even any comment from the Members opposite on what effect it was going to have on the Yukon. There was no comment from our Member of Parliament, nor from the Official Opposition - not one press release, not a peep.
Mr. Penikett: It is quite obvious that Mike Harcourt has done more for the salmon in the Tatshenshini than the Member opposite has done for the salmon in the Yukon River.
Let me ask the Government Leader again. What single improvement in the bargaining position of the State of Alaska or the position of the U.S. government has he obtained since he came into office, if any?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: One of the things we managed to do is get the parties back to the table - something that they were unable to do.
Mr. Penikett: The Government Leader said he got the parties back to the table. One party is not even at the table and that is the Government of the Yukon. That is a sure indication of how important the issue is to him.
Can the Government Leader tell us, in his conversations with the Governor of Alaska, if that state official made any concessions at all in the traditional position of the State of Alaska, in that they are entitled to 90 percent-plus of the salmon in the Yukon River, including salmon that are raised from spawning stock from tributaries of the Yukon River, within our borders?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: One thing that we did was get them back to the table. We stated our concern that we want to ensure a fair and equitable agreement, and it was concurred in by the Governor for Alaska.
Question re: Maternity leave benefits
Ms. Moorcroft: My question is for the Government Leader, the person who seems to think that government employees live in China where one is only allowed to have one child and no more.
This question does not deal with the ongoing labour negotiations; it deals with his governments policy concerning the number of maternity leaves an employee is entitled to take under his regime.
Yesterday, the Government Leader told this House that he does not believe they should have a second maternity leave.
For the record, does the Government Leader truly believe that a woman should be entitled to only one maternity leave and that after a second child she should have no guarantee of resuming her job?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, I do not.
The Member opposite is trying to get us to discuss something that may be a grievance in this Legislature. She is taking an unfair approach to this situation.
The government policy on maternity leave is contained in various documents, including the collective agreement. I understand that this is one of the issues that is being discussed right now and should not be discussed in the Legislature.
Ms. Moorcroft: This policy applies to employees who are in the bargaining unit. There is also a policy that applies to workers who are not in the bargaining unit. I am not attempting to negotiate, I am trying to get an understanding of what the Government Leader believes should be the policy.
Let me tell the Government Leader that there are women in his riding, and there are women who are concerned about this issue.
Is the Government Leader planning to change the governments policy on maternity leave?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We certainly are not planning to change the policy on maternity leave. There are documents that place no limit on the number of times an employee may take maternity leave.
The topic that the Member was addressing yesterday was not maternity leave. She was addressing a specific employee situation, which is not the leave entitlement for maternity, but to top up maternity leave - that is what the Member opposite was referring to yesterday.
Ms. Moorcroft: On December 6, 1993, the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate spoke some fine words about obstacles to womens equality, saying that a reflection of how advanced our society is is how it treats its members.
Yesterday, the Government Leader revealed a not unsurprising, but completely unacceptable, attitude toward women, and he still does not seem to understand why it is an issue.
I am not asking questions about specific cases. I want to know if the Government Leader can tell us if his all-male caucus has a sincere interest in helping Yukon women, or is this boys club going to let the womens survey results sit on a shelf and gather dust?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said, maternity leave is addressed in various policies throughout this government and we support those policies.
Question re: Land transfer
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Government Leader. Last month, the Government Leader announced publicly that YTG would be nailing down a promise to transfer Crown land to the territorial governments control. I know he is referring to land that is presently owned by the federal government. The Minister had indicated, in this public announcement, that he was hoping to have this done by February 15. I would like to ask the Minister if he could report progress on this and tell us at what stage this agreement in principle is.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe the Member is referring to the MOU that we are in the process of negotiating with the federal government at this point. We feel it has progressed to the stage that it is ready for signing.
Prior to the election, it was on the Ministers desk. It was one of the issues I raised with the DIAND Minister when I was in Ottawa 10 days ago or so.
Mrs. Firth: I am referring to the agreement in principle that the Government Leader made reference to in his public comments. It was an agreement in principle that Ottawa would transfer lands to the Yukon territorial government and that negotiations would start as to the timetable for when the lands would come over.
Can the Minister verify that we are talking about the same thing? Could he tell us what the status is, other than telling me that he has just spoken to the Minister about it?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, it is an agreement in principle on the memorandum of understanding, which sets out the time lines for the transfers to take place. That is the issue I raised with the Minister when I was down there, urging him to review the document and see if he could sign it, so that we could get on with the process.
Mrs. Firth: Are we still going to be getting those lands? Is it still going to be finalized by November 15? Pardon me, I mean February 15.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I thought I had the perfect opportunity to correct the Member, but my colleague beat me to it.
February 15 is when we hope to have it finalized. It will depend on the new Minister and if he is satisfied with the new document or if he will want to see changes to it.
Question re: Energy policy
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development on energy policy. This is by way of confirmation of a number of signals we have received from the government on the development of policy. The Minister, in May, indicated that his department, the Economic Development department, would develop government policy on energy and that his department would liaise and work closely with the Yukon Development Corporation.
The Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation, last Wednesday, indicated that it was the Economic Development department that would be developing industrial energy policy. Just for the record, would the Minister confirm, for the House, whether the Cabinet has formally charged the Ministers department, the Department of Economic Development, with the lead role in the development of a comprehensive energy policy?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Not yet.
Mr. Cable: There have been a number of dates referred to by the Minister and by the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation as to the final production date for the comprehensive energy policy. Would the Minister advise the House as to what date he has instructed his officials to work toward for the production of this comprehensive energy policy?
Hon. Mr. Devries: My hope is to have something prepared around the end of January, but I may have to give them an extra month or so because, with the rate hearings and everything, there was a big question of what we had to work with. We have a better idea of where the rates are now and we are proceeding with it.
Mr. Cable: Would the Minister indicate to the House what type of public consultation he anticipates with respect to the production of this comprehensive energy policy?
Hon. Mr. Devries: We are basically in the process of preparing a White Paper that we will be discussing with the various stakeholders very shortly, probably within the next three weeks.
Question re: Collective agreement negotiations
Ms. Moorcroft: Negotiators from the Yukon Government Employees Union and the government are to resume talks tomorrow. And for that I believe all of us in this House are thankful. The union has indicated its willingness to compromise further, but as for the government team, the Government Leader says that they have already compromised enough.
I am concerned that the government team is not going into tomorrows negotiations prepared to negotiate in good faith. I have other reasons to believe this too. Will the Government Leader tell this House why he sent government employees off to Ottawa to investigate how the federal government and other governments handled their labour disputes?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think the Member opposite should really go back and look at what has transpired through the negotiations and the conciliation, and then decide if the government has not been negotiating in good faith.
I would imagine that the reason we sent them to Ottawa was to make sure our people were well informed about procedures and how to go about them.
Ms. Moorcroft: I must confess that I do not like this governments attitude toward workers. It repeals the employment standards amendments, to ensure that Yukon employees lag behind the rest of Canada, but it is willing to spend taxpayers money to ensure that it is on the cutting edge of labour dispute tactics. Perhaps this is where the new category of critical services has crept in, above and beyond the already agreed-to essential services negotiated between the union and the government. Would the Government Leader tell this House the difference between critical and essential services? Is this something new his staff picked up on their fact-finding trip to Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe the Member has already received a copy of the essential services agreement that was negotiated with the government. If she would pursue that document, I am sure it would answer all her questions.
Ms. Moorcroft: Essential services have been defined in the essential services agreement and the union has agreed to have workers excluded from a labour dispute, should it happen, to ensure that essential services are carried out - services that benefit the Yukon taxpayer - but the government has a new category of services called critical services, as referred to in one of their legislative returns, that is not covered in the essential services agreement. It is the government that mentioned the existence of critical services in the first place and now it is the government that will not tell us what services are beyond essential and the implications of this for Yukon government workers. What are critical services and how do they differ from essential services?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Surely the Member must realize that the employer does have some rights. We do not have to bare our souls prior to a conflict that may come to a head. We hope that it does not come to a head, but surely, we have some rights.
Question re: St. Elias School cost overrun
Mr. Harding: A couple of weeks ago I brought up the issue of cost overruns at the St. Elias School in Haines Junction, and the Minister of Government Services told me that he was not aware of the matter at the time but that he would look into it. I have recently been told by the government that they will have a $200,000 cost overrun on this small project, which has not really even been started yet. I would like to ask the Minister of Government Services now why they are having a 33-percent cost overrun when they promised this would not happen under their administration.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am a little surprised at the question because, about a week ago, I took the opportunity to meet with the Member for Faro and to provide him with the information that he asked for. I advised him, at that time, that as the school was proceeding, it was the building committee, composed of the school council and others, that decided to change the scope of the project. At the same time, they agreed to delete one portion of the project to come in with the overall projected budget of $800,000 for the two years. That is still going to happen. It is going to be $600,000 this year - the project will be completed this winter - and the overall cost for the project will be within budget. However, they will have deleted one area of the project - the renovation of the offices - which the building committee, school council representatives and others had agreed was the route to go.
Mr. Harding: This a poor-planning cost overrun. The government brought in a vote for the Legislature to approve of $600,000. Now they are saying that they are going to bring in a supplementary for a further $200,000. We have also seen a $3 million cost overrun on the hospital, and nothing has been done there yet. Why are these cost overruns happening, when the government claimed that this would not be happening under their administration?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is not a cost overrun on this particular project. What happened was that, once the project started, the building committee, including the school council, decided that it needed washrooms in the facility, larger hallways and a boot rack for the children to put their shoes and boots in. They decided to delete one portion of the project - the renovation of the old library and the office space - they decided to do without extra office space - to accommodate the needs of the children. I think that was a wise decision on the part of the school council, and we agreed to the decision. The total cost of the project - the new library and the two classrooms - will come in on budget.
Mr. Harding: The project will not come in on budget, because the vote is for $600,000. Now there is going to be a $200,000 supplementary which represents a 33-percent cost overrun. Surely the Minister is not trying to tell this Legislature that we are going to have a $200,000 boot rack. That should have been incorporated into the governments planning for this particular project. Why are we having these cost overruns? What is the Minister going to do to limit them, because we have already seen two clear examples of this: one on a small project, and one on a larger project.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: After all of the estimates for the project were done and tabled in the House, the building committee had a look at the plans and decided that they needed wider hallways, as well as a boot rack and washrooms in that particular area. It was the building committee that asked to have the school changed. We are trying to accommodate the people in Haines Junction, and I think that is the proper thing to do. There is not going to be a cost overrun on this particular project; in fact, it was $600,000 this year and $200,000 next year. I have spoken to people involved in the contract, and we are going to move the $200,000 from next year - and I will be moving that forward in my budget - so that there is no delay in getting the job done. We are hoping that the contractor will be able to continue the contract in January or February. The school committee is very pleased with the action we have taken.
Question re: Collective agreement negotiations
Ms. Moorcroft: I respect the right of both sides in the labour negotiations to confidentiality regarding the specifics of what they can and cannot do. What I question is the intent of the parties heading into negotiations tomorrow. Are both sides prepared to negotiate in good faith.
For example, deputy ministers have been instructed to exercise caution in discussions about a potential strike, as union members - that is, government employees - might report any strike plans or activities in departments. Employees excluded from the bargaining unit are being trained for work that goes far beyond what is contained in the essential services agreement. These are not examples of good faith. Would the Government Leader explain why these activities are taking place, at a time when demonstrations of good faith are most needed?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member for Mount Lorne were so interested in demonstrations of good faith, she would not be trying to negotiate the collective bargaining agreement on the floor of the Legislature.
Ms. Moorcroft: The government has advised its unionized employees that in the event of a strike, people who are not working, including people who are on maternity leave, previously approved vacations and injury leave, will lose their government benefits for the duration. This is not something that the federal government did during its labour dispute in 1991, so I doubt this is a tactic picked up last month by the fact-finding team in Ottawa.
Why is the government letting its anti-worker agenda drive it past accepted employer practices to the extent of cutting people off paid leave during a labour dispute? Why is the Yukon government doing this when no other employer does?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member, as is consistent with her, has got her information totally wrong.
Nobody is going to be cut off from leave benefits, in the unfortunate event of a strike being called.
What the Member cannot differentiate is that the people who are on leave are the people who may be eligible for leave while a strike is in progress. Once the strike starts, there is no collective bargaining agreement, but people who are on leave prior to the strike will receive their benefits as they always do.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am glad to hear the Government Leader say that, because that is not what the question-and-answer document has to say.
I would like to say that perhaps the Government Leader knows someone who has serious surgery scheduled in January or February, and who has booked off a couple weeks of sick leave for the operation and recovery. The Government Leaders plan would have this person cut off with no income, while they are sick, unable to work but are uninvolved in the labour dispute. Is this what the Government Leader means when he wants employees to know the rules of the workplace?
Is the Government Leader going to go ahead with the plan to cut off all paid benefits in the event of a labour dispute, no matter what?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said to the Member opposite, the salary of an employee on strike flows from the collective agreement, which is null and void during a strike. It is my hope that the union will consider the impact on all of its members when undertaking job actions that will deprive all of its members of income.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Motion No. 50, standing in the name of Mr. Penikett; amendment moved by the Hon. Mr. Phelps; adjourned debate, the Hon. Mr. Fisher.
Motion No. 50 - adjourned debate
Speaker: The motion we are debating, Motion No. 50, reads:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the profit guaranteed by the Public Utilities Board and Cabinet for both Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. and the Yukon Energy Corporation should be set at no more than five percent for the duration of the current recession so as to reduce the burden of rising electrical costs for both businesses and residential consumers.
The amendment, moved by the Hon. Mr. Phelps, was:
THAT Motion No. 50 be amended by deleting all the words after the word House and substituting for them the following: that the allowable rate of return on equity for both Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. and the Yukon Energy Corporation should be set on the recommendation of the Yukon Utilities Board, and should be comparable to the rate of return allowed on utilities in other regions of Canada.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Two weeks ago, when we were speaking to the amendment, I used my own power bill as an example. I showed that if we went with the original motion brought forward by the Leader of the Official Opposition, power bills in the Yukon for residential and small business would be higher than the existing legislation and the decision by the Yukon Utilities Board allow.
Since that time, the utilities consumer group, about whom I believe we have all heard a fair amount through the media, has come out with a news release and some background paper. They essentially are agreeing with what I said in the House.
I will read the House some excerpts from their release: The profit rates, also called rates of return, were recently set by the Yukon Utilities Board at 11 percent for the Yukon Electrical Company Ltd., and at 10.5 percent for the Yukon Energy Corporation - these rates are currently the lowest in the country for similar utilities. I think this is in response to my colleagues amendment to the original motion. He said the rate of return should be comparable to the rate of return allowed on utilities in other regions of Canada. What the utilities consumer group is saying - these are the advocates of lowering the rates for Yukoners - is that we already have the lowest rates in Canada.
The utilities consumer group recommends that the existing legislation should be left alone. This is exactly what I asked for last week in this House. I am sure my colleague would be willing to retract, or however it is done, his amendment if the Leader of the Official Opposition would drop the original Motion No. 50. I do not see why we do not do that.
The group believes that the boards ruling will benefit all Yukon consumers of electricity in the future, so there is no need to change the existing legislation. This is written by the advocacy group, the people who are lobbying to lower electricity rates.
In its detailed analysis, the group claims that the motion tabled by the Official Opposition could cause longer power outages and would also deter Yukon First Nations from investing into Yukon Energy Corporation assets. The group also suggests that the Yukon Utilities Board should be allowed to make recommendations to government about the rate-of-relief program and how the funds are distributed back to the consumers. That, I believe, is a good move. I cannot speak on behalf of my colleague, but I am sure he would look favourably at involving the Yukon Utilities Board in allowing recommendations for the distribution of the relief program.
If we look at the amount of money that you, I, other residential customers and other small businesses pay, and compare it to what we paid last summer, we are looking at a very minimal increase.
I use, in my home, about 1250 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month. I have a couple of daughters who spend a lot of time, it seems to me, in the shower, and because I live out of town I have my own well and pump and pretty well a regular household with various appliances and a VCR that seems to be a very popular appliance. It certainly uses power. I use about 1,250 kilowatt-hours.
This one is directly from Yukon Electrical. It is not my particular power bill but it relates fairly closely to my bill; 1,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity, in July of this year, would cost $117.10. From December of this year to December of next year, that same amount of electricity will cost $124.30, for an increase from last summers rate of $7.20 per month, which is a six-percent increase. That is almost identical to the numbers I used when I was using my power bill two weeks ago when we talked about this.
One thousand kilowatt-hours of electricity in July, for instance, would have cost $92.30, and this month it will cost $97.10, for a $4.80 increase. That is only a five-percent increase. None of us appreciate, nor do we like, nor necessarily can we afford, increases in power, but if we went along with the motion brought forward by the Leader of the Official Opposition, the increases for the 1,250 kilowatt-hours example would be more like $17, and for the 1,000 kilowatt-hour example, more like $10.
I think that it is very important that everyone in this House realizes that if this comes to a vote and we vote for the five percent rate of return, we will be voting for an increase in the cost of power for the regular residential consumer in the territory. I think it would be unthinkable of us to do that, knowing that we would cause an increase for consumers when there was no need to do it.
I hope that the Leader of the Official Opposition brought this motion before this House thinking that he was doing a favour for the residential and small business consumers. I really hope he believed that that is what he was doing. I would hate to think that he was going to cause an increase for ordinary residential consumers and small business in the territory merely for political expediency. I would hope, and I am going to give that Member the benefit of the doubt, that that was not his motive.
I think my colleague, when he talked on this motion two weeks ago, spoke about what would likely happen if there were a five-percent rate of return imposed on Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. It is very likely that the company would start things in motion to get out of the Yukon. I can make better than that on my Canada savings bonds. Why would anyone want to invest money when all they are allowed is five percent? You can do better than that in a RRSP without taking a lot of risk. You can earn six or seven percent with Canada savings bonds, which we all hope are no risk. Mutual funds provide a rate of return of 12 or 14 percent. Why would a company want to have a $47 million investment when they are getting a five-percent rate of return?
I do not know if the Members motion was essentially intended to put the electrical company out of business or not. I find it surprising that they are picking on one large company, which is easy to do. I drive a Ford Bronco and I say a lot of things about the Ford Motor Company; I think that we all do it at some time or other.
Why did the Member not include Northwestel, which is also a large company and regulated by the CRTC, in his motion? Why has the Member singled out the electrical company?
I think some of us were here when government ran the utilities company. I think that my colleague from Dawson City will probably recall - maybe he is not quite old enough - when power rates in Dawson City were 25 cents per kilowatt-hour. When I lived in Watson Lake, residential customers paid somewhere around 16 cents per kilowatt hour, through a government-owned power corporation, the Northern Canada Power Commission.
I am pretty sure that the Yukon Electrical Company would be looking at a government agency to take over the company, because there is no point in them running the company at a five-percent rate of return. I think that we have seen government-owned corporations; I think the Northern Canada Power Commission is probably the best example of a poorly run corporation. We saw the rates and we lived under those rates for many, many years. The electrical rates stymied the economy in places like Dawson, Watson Lake and Ross River.
I do not know what the original intent of Motion No. 50 was, but I think that I can support my colleagues amendment to have the rate of return set similar to the rest of Canada, except that it again would increase rates to residential and small business consumers. It would not be as bad an increase as what the Member for the Official Opposition has tried to bring about with his motion, but it probably would mean an increase.
I would be willing to agree and drop the whole thing and leave the existing legislation as it has been approved by the Yukon Utilities Board. That will give us the lowest rate of the two suggestions, Motion No. 50 and the amendment to Motion No. 50, that are before us today.
I do not want to talk on this all day. I could tell some stories, I suppose, about working for the power company. I had to listen to the Member for four or five hours the other day, so maybe that Member would be willing to listen to some of my stories about when I worked for the power company.
I have laid it out as clearly as I can. When I went back through the debate, I tried to find out what the intent of Motion No. 50 was - even giving the Leader of the Official Opposition the benefit of the doubt and saying he did not do his homework, he just did it because he thought it would result in lower rates for residential and small business. I am very aware of what I am talking about, because I discovered this when I was at home looking over my own electrical bill and looking at the rate of return - it is very interesting that the utilities consumer group came to the very same conclusion that I did and has put out a press release on that. It is very, very important that we pay attention to this consumer group. It is obvious they have done a lot of work.
Anyway, I will not bother telling stories - I had a cute one. I was at one time -
Some Hon. Member: We want to hear it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: You want to hear it? I can quit any time.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The House does not want to hear my story?
I have to tell my story.
Speaker: I would like to advise the Minister that he has three minutes to conclude his remarks.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Perhaps I will tell the Members opposite in private. Several years ago, I was kissed by the ugliest, biggest lineman who worked for the power company. It is a very good story, and at some point I will relay it to them.
Mr. Cable: There has been a citizens group formed called the utilities consumer group, which has presented a paper to the various Members. The Members of the Opposition would like some time to study it. In view of that, I move that debate on this motion and the amendment be adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Riverside that debate do now adjourn.
Motion to adjourn debate on Motion No. 50 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved 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 call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of Members to take a short break at this time?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a short recess.
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, in the transportation division.
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
Chair: We are on line item - Other Roads, $3,970,000. Is there further debate?
On Other Roads - continued
Mrs. Firth: When we were last sitting, I had asked the Minister some questions about the Two Mile Hill reconstruction. Could he elaborate on some of the questions I had asked?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not recall the exact questions, but I think the Member opposite had a copy of a report or a study that was carried out in 1989, and she was saying that the study had estimated the cost at a certain amount but now the cost will be somewhere near twice that. My understanding is that the study the Member has was just a conceptual plan, and the figures were very approximate, order-of-magnitude figures. No engineering or design work had been undertaken at that time. When the actual detailed design started to come together, it revealed that it would be a much more complex project than envisioned.
The complexity is a major reason for the current total estimated cost of $8,038,000. I think I mentioned the other day that I did not have the right amounts for the additional costs, but the land acquisition costs were $740,000. The soil conditions in the escarpment area for the excavation were wet, and there was a cost of $200,000 to excavate and replace the soil with better soil.
There was an expensive and complex utility relocation - telephone, power, sanitary sewer - that cost $500,000, and the need to mitigate impacts on adjacent properties, such as the fire hall, postal sorting station and so on - that was that big berm that was built up there - cost about $500,000. The retaining wall at the Industrial Road was another $50,000.
None of this was envisaged in that report. The ground water drainage was an extra $200,000 and the signing that was not in the original report was $80,000. These are all the things that were not considered in the original study. When they did the detailed design they were all taken into consideration.
Ms. Moorcroft: I wanted to ask the Minister that if work needs to be done on the South Access Road, could it be done within this budget?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Under the O&M budget, some work will be done. However, we were not intending to do any capital work there until the Two Mile Hill was completed.
I know what the Member is getting at; that road is getting in quite bad condition. I expect that, under the O&M, we will patch it up and keep it in good driving condition for the summer of 1994.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister is correct. As I was driving down the South Access this morning, I was noticing that it is getting bumpy and worn. If they believe that they can do O&M repairs and start on the capital before another winter is over, that would certainly help.
Mr. Penikett: As the Minister knows, I have asked questions on this subject in the past. I want to join my colleague in the expression of concern about the South Access Road. I believe that it is not only a problem of it being bumpy and in poor shape, but I believe, as do many of my constituents, that it is becoming a safety problem. I see this as being an increasing problem.
I noted the comments of the Minister of Justice yesterday, when he spoke about another road and unsafe conditions, but I would think that the South Access Road is one of the most heavily travelled roads in the Yukon. I can quite understand the Ministers inclination to complete the Two Mile Hill before he commences work on it, but I want to go on the record as urging him to get on with the work on the South Access Road. It is not an exaggeration to say that thousands of people depend on it on a daily basis.
Other Roads in the amount of $3,970,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Transportation Maintenance Facilities
On Planning and Engineering
Ms. Moorcroft: We have made the request in the past just to have the Minister give a brief description of what the line items are for so that we can proceed through them quickly. Could he do that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The highlights of the planning and engineering budget of $50,000 are planning, field survey and detail design of facilities development projects; 1994-95 work includes continuation of developing a long-term facilities management plan.
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Branch Facilities
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We went around and around, back and forth about this one yesterday. This is to provide for various upgrading work on the highway maintenance camps.
Miscellaneous Branch Facilities in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Aviation/Yukon Airports
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This capital project is for planning and engineering, at $50,000, to carry out planning, design and other engineering. Analysis work is expected to take place at Dawson, Koidern and Teslin.
Airports in the amount of $51,000 agreed to
On Transportation Equipment
On Sundry Equipment
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is for the purchase of new equipment and replacement of small equipment such as portable scales, water pumps, chainsaws, hand-operated power tools, and those kinds of things.
Sundry Equipment in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Transportation Regulatory Facilities
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Transportation Planning
On Transportation Capital Planning
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Capital planning provides funding for the transportation and planning section responsible for the examination of the need for transportation facilities.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister explain that in further detail?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe there are three full-time equivalent positions tied to this: two engineering people and a clerical person. Part of their responsibility is to encourage public participation in transportation planning. This function was included in the budget allocation for transportation engineering until 1986, and is then shown as a project under highway construction planning and engineering.
Separately identifying this work now indicates an increased emphasis on its importance to the division operation and it indicates that the planning function is considered an ongoing need for the highways department.
Ms. Moorcroft: Would the people in transportation capital planning positions look at items like a reallocation of Alaska Highway funding? We had an amendment that was set aside on that particular line to move $4.5 million of the Alaska Highway spending to funding for schools. Would these people be involved in that planning?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I know one of the people in that department and he is working very hard on that particular item. Yes, in answer to the Members question, it is one of the things that they would be responsible for.
Ms. Moorcroft: I know that we are going to be provided with a briefing on that so I will not make a lot of comments about it now. I note that the initial sum for the Alaska Highway was $32,435,000. If the $4,500,000 reduction amendment were passed, there would still be more than the recoverable sum that is indicated in this project. The federal government recovery is indicated at $26,325,000. I would expect some information on that when the Minister comes back with the transportation capital planning.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, we will provide that information.
Transportation Capital Planning in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Transportation Strategy
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The funding for this is for the preparation of a comprehensive long-term transportation strategy for Yukon.
Transportation Strategy in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Resource Transportation Access Program
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Transportation Division stood over
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a couple of questions in general debate. On the subject of advising municipalities upon request and administering projects, we were discussing community funding in the supplementaries. As the Minister stated, he believed that would be an issue for debate in the main capital budget. I would like to ask the Minister how many communities have put together a five-year capital plan, which they were proposing as the alternative to the community development fund.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that the Member is aware that the municipalities have to have a five-year capital plan; it is a requirement under the act. Their plans are all in shape and have been for a number of years, and they are reviewed on an annual basis. I am not sure how many of the unincorporated communities have them at this point in time, but that is one of the tasks of the municipal advisors - to work with them, over the winter months, to ensure that they do have some sort of capital plan. The unfortunate part of it is that there is no legislative requirement for them to do it. It is the community clubs and the First Nations - if there is one in the community - that put it together. Because there is no legislative requirement, it is a matter of municipal advisors dealing with various groups to try and get it together.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister used the example of Beaver Creek when we were discussing this earlier. He said they might want to build a skating rink. What they would then have to do is put together a five-year capital plan. There was also an indication that the municipal advisors would talk to each community in the territory about how they would go about getting government funding for specific projects. Did the Minister just indicate, then, that the municipal advisors would contact each of the communities over the course of the winter and that, by spring, they would be advised on how they could go about obtaining future recreational facilities?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is basically correct. It is not written in stone, but they try to visit each community approximately every three to four months. In their regular visits they will likely be telephoning the president of the community club and telling them what they would like to talk about at their meetings, so that they have some idea.
Some of the communities have some sort of a plan already. They at least have minutes of meetings where they have decided that this is a project that they will go for in the next two, three or four years or whatever. It is a matter of putting it together in a format that is the same for all the communities - something that can be readily understood by bureaucrats, I suppose.
Ms. Moorcroft: The next area of questions is regarding second dwellings. Earlier, I had asked about the information that the department had put together regarding road maintenance costs and other information on the proposal to allow secondary residences on residential property. I have also noted that the Association of Yukon Communities would like the Yukon government to defer implementation of the proposed secondary residence policy. They would like a serious consultation program with the municipalities affected prior to introducing new policy studies.
I would like to ask the Minister how he is recognizing the legitimate interests of all levels of government here, whether it be smaller levels of government, such as the hamlet council, or larger levels of government such as municipal government, and I would like to know whether there will be a report or some information put together prior to approval of secondary residences on residential property.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The officials from the City of Whitehorse and our own people are currently working on a bit of a study on the cost to the City of Whitehorse to provide services to those residents who live outside the city boundary.
The Ibex Valley council has asked us to defer the provision of second dwelling units in their particular area. A notice went to every resident who lived outside of the city boundaries on the June 21. At the same time, a letter went to the hamlets and all municipalities stating what the intent was. Then, on July 6 and July 8, there were public meetings held at the Hidden Valley School. I and some of my officials met with the City of Whitehorse.
Recently there have been some requests to not permit second dwelling units. Following the meeting on July 8, a questionnaire was circulated to all residents - all 316 properties in Ibex Valley, Hot Springs Road, Mayo Road, Deep Creek, Shallow Bay, and so on - asking for their comments.
They came back 81 percent, I believe, in favour of permitting a second dwelling. I am not sure if it has happened yet, but I have instructed the department to advise the Ibex Valley hamlet that if they want to do their own survey, we would consider another amendment to the regulations to exempt Ibex Valley - depending on the results of their survey - from the regulations with respect to second dwellings for a period of time.
The problem I have right now is that the indication from the residents was 81 percent in favour of permitting second dwellings, but the council is saying they do not want it, and they have communicated that to me very recently.
If they want to do another survey, we would certainly look at it. If the survey indicated that the residents do not want the second dwelling units, we would look at doing another amendment to exclude Ibex Valley.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister indicated that 81 percent of the residents were in favour of allowing second residences. However, I believe he also indicated earlier that approximately one-third of the people surveyed responded. I have made the representation before that, when monies are being spent on land use planning exercise, where all of these issues are looked at, that is the time when we may get more of a response on what kinds of development people would like to see and at what speed they would like to have that development take place. The Association of Yukon Communities met in the fall; the activities the Minister described occurred in the summer; so I think that was the first time they had an opportunity to respond and to declare that they did have an interest in the second residence policy and would like to be consulted and involved in that decision.
I would like to ask now about land development. I notice that in the community breakdown of projects there is an amount of $250,000 for Whitehorse resident rural homestead land development. I am not sure if that falls under residential, agricultural or recreational, or some combination.
I also noticed that there was $330,000 for lots in Carcross and I would like to know how many lots there are and where they are, and where the country-residential development will be.
The Minister could either provide those answers now or he could provide them in the line-by-line debate.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would prefer to discuss this during the line-by-line debate, because we will have to get some information from the lands branch.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would also like the Minister to provide a breakdown of the amount for community planning, and it would be helpful if the Minister could get something in writing, or send over a note on what projects and areas are covered.
I recently received a letter about the Golden Horn area feasibility study. I would like to know the difference between a feasibility study and a land use plan.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Normally, a feasibility study would be used to determine if there are areas suitable for land development, whereas community planning would be land use recommendations.
The feasibility study would look at various areas in Mount Lorne to see exactly what we can develop in that area, and the costs that would be associated with the development.
Ms. Moorcroft: I know that the Minister has had representations from my constituents, as have I. In the Golden Horn area, I understand that the feasibility study is to look at potential development of that area past the Golden Horn subdivision, toward the Yukon River bridge.
If a feasibility study is done, instead of a land use plan, will there be consultation with neighbourhood groups who have an interest in how that area develops in the future?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is no doubt that we would be consulting with residents in the area.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have another question that the Minister may want to respond to in the lines. I will give him notice of it now.
The Carcross Road local area plan was indicated in the community capital budget breakdown for $15,000. The Lewes Lake area just participated in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne local area plan. There is a Carcross local area plan that also has recently been completed. I would like to know what section of Ithe Carcross Road is covered in the local area plan for $15,000?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure what the $15,000 is for. I know that some is to put the regulations into effect for the Mount Lorne local area plan. We have $35,000 identified for 1994 and 1995. Then we have the Carcross area plan for 1994 and 1995, for which we have also identified $35,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Carcross community capital distribution breakdown does show $35,000 for the Carcross area plan for 1994 and 1995. The $15,000 for the Carcross Road local area plan was $15,000. Was that also part of the Hamlet of Mount Lorne plan?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe so, but if not, we will bring the information back for the Member.
On Public Safety
On Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of $11,000 agreed to
On Major Facility Maintenance
Mr. McDonald: This is the second time we have seen major facility maintenance in the department. I am still puzzled, after having reviewed the capital budget since the last time we spoke, about what the consistent practice is across government with respect to the provision of funding for maintenance of facilities. There are other departments that do have facilities, for which they do not have specialized funding for maintenance.
Could the Minister indicate what this is for?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This particular line is for the ongoing maintenance of firehall structures and the systems within those firehalls. It is another area that has been decentralized from Government Services as of the 1994-95 fiscal year.
Mr. McDonald: I will put the Minister of Government Services on notice, then, that when we get to the supplementaries, rather than the capital main estimates, I would like to know what the policy is in government for decentralization of maintenance services to departments. Clearly, right now there appears to be a situation where some departments have budgeted for maintenance of some facilities. The Department of Government Services has maintained its fairly sizable sums in facility maintenance - the building overhead remains at $1.5 million - and at the same time other departments that do have a responsibility for facilities have budgeted nothing for maintenance.
I am still not clear about the policy, and perhaps when we get to the Government Services department in supplementaries the Minister will take the trouble to explain it to me.
Major Facility Maintenance in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This consists of three major areas: the training room in Golden Horn, for $30,000, to complete the interior structure that was built in 1993-94; fire equipment protective clothing totals $106,000, consisting of 11 separate projects in the Yukon community, and provides funding to equip the fire department to the standard of the fire protection policy; communication systems, totalling $40,000, consist of two separate projects for Yukon communities to provide fire departments with telephone inter-connect systems, radios and pagers; the balance of $4,000 is for the purchase of a gas detector required to detect carbon dioxide and predict dangerous emissions.
Mrs. Firth: I had asked the Minister about protective clothing in another line. Can the Minister answer the questions that I asked about the large amounts of money being spent in that particular area? The Minister has noted that there is $106,000 this year; there was $124,000 last year. I know that there is an annual budget for this kind of expenditure. Perhaps the Minister could provide us with more information on that item.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have a note I can read and then we can talk about it further.
The cost estimates for maintenance and normal replacement are based on traditional experience over the last 15 years. The accelerated program is driven by occupational health and safety regulations. It is Yukon government policy to provide proper, adequate equipment and protection for a reasonable length of time that will ensure a safe, efficient environment for volunteer fire fighters that meet the standards and protects the Yukon government from liability.
Essentially, all of the protective gear had to be replaced. New gear had to be purchased for 11 firehalls. In a normal year, there is only about $10,000 to $15,000 required to replace equipment that is damaged. These large expenditures are for replacement of all of the gear in all of the firehalls throughout the territory, and I believe in most of the fire halls there are at least 15 turnout suits. They had to be replaced in all the firehalls across the territory.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us when this whole project is going to be completed, when all the suits are going to be replaced and how much it is going to end up costing?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that 1994-95 will be the last year of upgrading all of the equipment and then we will be back down to $15,000 a year to replace things that are damaged, destroyed or lost. The last year of funding required to replace it all should be 1994-95.
Mrs. Firth: If I understand the Minister correctly he is saying that in next years capital budget this line will probably be about $15,000?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is correct.
Chair: Does the line item clear?
Fire Protection in the amount of $180,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is mainly for the partial funding to complete the project for a roof cover over the existing Old Crow skating rink of $148,000. The balance of $40,000 is for replacement and repairs of existing recreation facilities in the unincorporated communities.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister give us a brief update on the status of the sprung fabric roof on the Old Crow arena?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Mr. Chair, you could probably give the Member opposite a better status update than I can. My understanding is that the structure and all of the components necessary for erecting it are in storage in Old Crow until spring.
The Old Crow Band did not have time to put it up this year, so they have put it in storage. I believe it is in one of our highways buildings. It will be put up when the weather permits in early 1994.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $188,000 agreed to
On Community Services
On Community Planning
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe I have a breakdown of this item: the $190,000 consists of funding for various projects to complete area community plans, area development regulations and to fund area planning committees; the 1994-95 projects include a Carcross area plan, $35,000; Mount Lorne local area development regulations, $35,000; Golden Horn community plan, $50,000; Whitehorse periphery plan, $50,000; Carcross area planning committee, $10,000; and Ross River area planning committee, $10,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask if any of the money he has just told us about for community planning is going toward the site planning feasibility study for the Gentian Lane area, adjacent to Golden Horn?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not believe that Gentian Lane is included in this. I believe it is included in the land development line under country residential.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is in the capital budget but just not in this particular line, then? The Minister is nodding his head.
Are there any funds in the capital budget being used to coordinate land claims research or review procedures for the efficient implementation of land settlement and self-government agreements?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That would be in the O&M budget.
Community Planning in the amount of $190,000 agreed to
Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Public Health/Roads and Streets
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is used mainly to provide municipal engineering with funding to carry out required work of a small scale and emergency nature, at $125,000. The balance of $65,000 will cover the cost of administration and staff development initiatives.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister give some further detail on the staff development initiatives, and could he also let me know if there is any effect on the O&M budget of the amount for planning and pre-engineering?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Public health roads/streets functions are not directly chargeable to specific projects. I should explain that the municipal engineering staff are charged out on an hourly basis to each project on which they work. This would be for such things as cost tracking, clerical functions, staff meetings, budgeting, planning, land claims costs, et cetera. This is for situations when they are doing something that cannot be directly charged to a project.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could explain, then, what he meant when he referred to staff development.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am sorry, I should have mentioned that. This would be municipal engineerings cost of putting on staff development courses, as required, to upgrade the technical knowledge of various staff members.
Ms. Moorcroft: If the Minister would like to come back with a reply, that is fine. I would appreciate having a breakdown as to what the courses are, in what areas and for what amounts.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will certainly do that.
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of 190,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Hon. Mr. Fisher: One million, eight hundred thousand dollars of this is the Yukon governments contribution to the pipe and sewer main replacement in Dawson. Fifteen thousand dollars is for repairs to the Destruction Bay sewage system.
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $1,815,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The main item there is the Whitehorse sewage lagoon - the Yukon government contribution of $7 million - and other projects include the wetland sewage treatment system in Ross River, for $200,000, and the sewage treatment disposal in Carcross, for $170,000 for a water licence and design.
Ms. Moorcroft: During general debate, we were enquiring about the Whitehorse sewage treatment project. We have one legislative return that does not cover all of the areas we were enquiring about. Can the Minister advise when the water board may be expected to make a decision? Could he also tell us whether he has an answer yet to the concerns we were raising about how long it would take to clean up Lake Laberge and the Yukon River system?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that the water board has advised that they will get back to the City of Whitehorse in a few months. Exactly what that means, I do not know. It is their call, and I would expect that the city will be pushing them to a certain extent, as we will if we do not get something out of them in what we would think would be a timely manner.
On the clean-up of the river and Lake Laberge, in 1996-97 the retention ponds will be constructed. Once they are constructed, primary treated sewage will no longer be going into the river. For approximately a one-year period, nothing will be going into the river, so the coliform counts, and so on, will drop very rapidly once primary treated sewage is no longer entering the system.
Mr. Cable: For the uninitiated - I am referring to the Member for Mount Lornes return - is the non-aerated lagoon system the same as the wetlands procedure?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am no expert on sewage treatment, but I did quite a lot of travelling throughout the territory with my current deputy minister and John Granger in years gone by and I heard a lot about it. I understand that the wetlands treatment consists of the effluent going into a slough and then vegetation, sun, bugs and other things work on the sewage and actually clean it up.
I was reading an article about an Ontario system using cattails. Apparently, cattails are one of the very best plants with which to treat sewage. It has something to do with the way they bring sewage up into the plant and dissipate it through the air. However, it works with just about any type of vegetation to a greater or lesser degree.
The sewage going to a retention pond lies in it and I think that the greatest treatment factor is the sun and oxygen.
Mr. Cable: From the news reports, I thought that the wetlands method was going to be adopted. What was the reason for the change in plans?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The main reason is that the wetlands treatment does take a lot more land because it is in shallow ponds and pools. One of the First Nations was opposed to using up as much land as would have been required for the Whitehorse sewage treatment.
Mr. Cable: Has the land been secured for the non-aerated lagoon?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I spoke with the Land Claims Secretariat about a week ago, and I understand that the negotiations are going very well and we feel quite confident that the land will be secured. It still is in negotiation between Land Claims Secretariat and the Taan Kwachan.
Mr. Cable: That is in areas where the First Nation has some potential claim?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Taan Kwachan has said, since the onset, that even though they sat on the selection committee and they agreed with the selection, they did say, at that time, that they did have an interest in the land.
Mr. Cable: This may be difficult for the Minister to answer in view of the fact that the water board may be controlling part of the time frame, but when will the sewage system be in operation?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The plan is for it to be in operation in 1996. I think that is quite realistic, unless some difficult, unforeseen circumstances come out of the water board or out of the land claims negotiations. Right now we feel quite confident that the 1996 date is still relevant.
Mr. Cable: There has been some discussion in the House previously, but does the Minister know whether the Government Leader has been successful in prying loose some infrastructure money? Is the sewage system flashy enough for this program?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In anticipation of the possibility of our getting some funding under that agreement, we did put a clause in our agreement with the City of Whitehorse that if we were able to obtain some funding and could use it for a project that had been started, it could apply to that project.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister might suggest to the Member for Riverside, who just asked that question, that he could use his influence as the Yukon Liberal Leader with the present Liberal administration to try to achieve some of that infrastructure funding for the Whitehorse sewage treatment project.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I thank the Member for that suggestion. I will lend my support as well in encouraging the Member for Riverside to do exactly that.
Mr. McDonald: Perhaps the Minister might tell us if the City of Whitehorse agrees with this being funded in part by the Liberal federal government infrastructure program. We had discussed this in general debate at some length. Does the City of Whitehorse agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The City of Whitehorse were signatories to the agreement. I do not believe that I want to get into a big debate about this right now. We do not know how much money is there or for what it can be used. My understanding is that the City of Whitehorse has a number of projects that they would like to see go ahead under the program, as do other municipalities in the territory.
The other point we must consider, if we get funding under this program, is the interests of the unincorporated communities. We have Ross River and Carcross, which are as large, if not larger, than Carmacks and Teslin. However, Carmacks and Teslin are municipalities and the others are not. They have no ability to raise funds, such as the third that was required under the initial program.
A lot of information has to be exchanged with Ottawa and there has to be some soul searching done about exactly where the money is going to go and how it will be spent.
Mr. McDonald: I realize that the City of Whitehorse did sign the agreement. At least we have been told by the Minister that they did, and I think that the city has suggested that if federal funds were provided, then the City of Whitehorse would have to live by the agreement and the new cost-sharing arrangements.
The problem is that, based on the information that we have received from the Minister, that arrangement would cost the City of Whitehorse an additional $4 million. The Government Leader says no, but I would like him to explain it.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Already, the territorial government committed for 85 percent of the project, and the City of Whitehorse is committed for 15 percent. What this clause and agreement states is that if we can use the infrastructure funding, we would pick up the other two-thirds - we are already picking up the citys share; it is just a matter of bookkeeping. We told the federal government at the Economic Development Ministers and Finance Ministers conferences that the federal government should not get hung up on where the other two-thirds will be coming from.
Finance officials told me today that they are in the process of drafting a general agreement that they want to apply to all provinces and the territories; we would then work out our agreement within the context of this general agreement. One of the main thrusts that we put forward at the Economic Development Ministers and Finance Ministers conferences was that the federal government should not get hung up on where the other two-thirds of the funding comes from.
Mr. McDonald: When the Minister says that the provincial and territorial Ministers urged the federal government not to get hung up on the other two-thirds, is he saying that the federal government should not be concerned whether or not a municipality can come up with a third of a particular project - in short, is that what the Minister saying?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, basically that is what we are saying. First of all, the provincial governments want to have flexibility in this project and perhaps even permit infrastructure that would not directly involve a municipality.
In our case, as the Minister has just related, we have these unincorporated communities that do not get block funding, and cannot contribute one-third. It would be a disservice to the territory if the federal government was hung up on the issue of one-third of the funding having to come from the municipality.
Mr. McDonald: I think that reiterates one of the points I made before. I will ask the Minister this: if the federal government funding is applied toward this project, is he prepared to say now that the Yukon government will not insist that the city pay more than 15 percent of the water and sewer project?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, we have made an agreement with the City of Whitehorse for an 85/15-percent share, up to a certain maximum. If we did apply some of the funding that came to us to the city, I do not believe that I would expect them to come up with additional funding on top of their 15 percent.
Mr. Cable: I have a couple of technical questions. Concerning the non-aerated lagoon system, which talks about primary and secondary treatment cells, what is the difference between that concept and what we have out in Porter Creek and across the river?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The two systems that the Member opposite has referred to are strictly primary treatment, where the retention is something like eight days, whereas the one we are dealing with is a long-term retention of up to one year.
Mr. Cable: Is the difference primarily in cell size, or is there something else peculiar that is going on?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are getting into some technical detail here. Every time this happens, my deputy minister starts whispering beside me, so I do not want to get into it too deeply. The difference also has to do with the depth of the effluent in the lagoon. I am taking a chance on my deputy going after me a bit here. If you have a very deep lagoon, it is a different type of treatment - anaerobic is what it is called. It involves the bacteria working with no oxygen, and it is the type of treatment normally found in the primary cells of a lagoon. The secondary cell is treated aerobically, which means that it involves oxygen. I will just check with my deputy to see if this is correct. He says it is okay.
Mr. Cable: I have no more technical questions; I have some financial questions. What is the anticipated City of Whitehorse total cost over the years of the construction - its 15-percent contribution?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have that number here with me. I believe I already tabled it. It is somewhere around $26 million, and then there is an additional cost four years down the road - or perhaps that includes the additional cost.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We do not have that here. I am pretty sure I tabled that some time ago.
Mr. Cable: Does the Minister know whether the City of Whitehorse will have to borrow these funds or whether it intends to raise it from its tax base?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: They do have a large comprehensive grant from the Yukon government each year - $4.85 million. The City of Whitehorse does have some debentures as well. I am not sure how they are going to finance it over the long term.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am just looking through my legislative returns to see if I can find the figures that the city will pay. What I would like to suggest is that we stand aside this line item for now, as that is important information and we may want to pursue it if the information is not here.
Chair: Are you agreed to stand this line item aside?
Some Hon. Members: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would prefer that we did not stand it aside. I suggest that we check for the legislative return. I can provide another copy to the Member opposite. If we have not provided it, as I believe we have, then I will table one for the House.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do not recall seeing it, but the Minister may have tabled it. I would like to see it for the debate on this line. The Minister has indicated several times that he is no expert on the specific sewage treatment plans, and yet I understood that he was involved with the decision to select the preferred option. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes. I sat on a committee with the Mayor of the City of Whitehorse, the Chief of the Taan Kwachan and the Chief of the Kwanlin Dun, who took the recommended options from the engineering committee and made the final decision on the option that is currently being used.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister indicate, then, why the committee felt that the option under consideration was best for the expected level of treatment? Some of the concerns I have heard expressed about this particular treatment facility are that it would require a dramatic reduction in the amount of water that the City of Whitehorse uses, and that may not be achievable.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: All of the options did require a fairly substantial reduction in the amount of water that the City of Whitehorse currently uses, but without that reduction in the amount of water, any of the options, including this one, would have been far, far more costly.
Ms. Moorcroft: Other concerns are the land requirements and the potential conflicts with land claims. I am certainly pleased to hear the Minister report that negotiations are going well, but I would like to say that his statement earlier that they do not expect future conflicts or concerns on the part of the First Nation over the land that is required for this is a pretty big assumption to make.
Mr. McDonald: Normally at this time we take a recess, and I think some Members would like a recess. It would afford some Members the opportunity to look at the legislative return provided by the Minister so that any residual questions about the cost sharing could be resolved immediately after the break.
Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is there further debate on sewage treatment and disposal?
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to thank the Minister for sending me down the capital funding agreement during the break.
Is there a firm, fixed price for the lagoon system?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Schedule C shows the total of our share, but there is a contingency and it may be used up. I hope that it will not be used, but I do not think that we can determine the exact amount at this time.
Ms. Moorcroft: It certainly is a concern not to know what the total price will be. Is the lagoon treatment system guaranteed to work?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The City of Whitehorse is the project manager on this project. The firms representing the city have assured both the city and the government departments involved that the system will work. The people providing this advice are very highly qualified engineers, and they have indicated that the system should work very well.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do have a concern that the system works. I understand that with a lagoon system, you just hope that nature will take its course. Last winter, when there was a rupture in the small lagoon that is presently being used in Porter Creek, raw sewage was pumped out without treatment. I would like to know how a system that includes a large lagoon can be controlled.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that this particular system contains multiple cells - I am not sure exactly how many - but there are many cells. It goes from one to another, to another and eventually there will be a discharge. If one failed, I assume that the others would be able to take up that slack until there were repairs made.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to get a definitive answer to that question, but I will not pursue the point as the Minister does not have that answer here today. Do the First Nations prefer a lagoon system to a mechanical system, which uses less land?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I know that at one time, the Taan Kwachan liked the mechanical system better. They did, however, agree with this one when they were assured by the people that were briefing them that the system would work very well.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the people who were briefing them could brief the Minister as well. I would like to know how a system that includes a large lagoon can be controlled. I would also like to know what the backup provisions are. The legislative return that I was provided says that the system has backup provisions. What are they, and what are the extra capital and operating costs that can provide for greatly improved treatment? What is the greatly improved treatment that is also being referred to in the last paragraph?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe the backup mentioned in the paper the Member opposite has, refers to a power generator for the Marwell lift station. In the case of a power outage, the system would continue to work and pump into the system.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Long-term retention provides very good disinfection of the sewage effluent. If you look in schedule C, in 1997, if it is required, an ultraviolet disinfection facility would be constructed to help speed up the process.
Ms. Moorcroft: What the legislative return states is that it is not anticipated that these added facilities will be required and that the knowledge that they are available adds to the comfort levels and provides an addition factor of safety. I do not see how backup systems provide an additional factor of safety if it is optional whether or not you have them. Will there be a backup system and what are the extra capital and other operating costs for it?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The City of Whitehorse is providing the generator in the Marwell station for backup. That is to keep the sewage flowing in case of a power failure.
Ms. Moorcroft: For the third time I will ask what the extra capital and operating costs are?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The operating costs are the City of Whitehorses. I do not have that information here.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would certainly like to make some progress on this. What I will do is ask the Minister to come back with another legislative return.
I would like further information on the last paragraph of the legislative return of December 9, which talks about greatly improved treatment that can be provided at extra capital and operating costs. I would like that explained and I would appreciate an explanation of the items in schedule C: the non-aerated lagoons, earth work, the new lift station, the UV disinfection channel and storage pond, et cetera. If the Minister could provide further information on those items I am prepared to move on on this line.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is going to take some time to get that, but I will have the department provide a legislative return that will include those items.
Ms. Moorcroft: I will also ask for a firm, fixed price for the lagoon system, if that is available.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that price is in here, but we will put that on the return also.
Mr. Cable: I have just one question. I note that the earlier return refers to the use of lagoons as being successful in numerous North American communities, in climates ranging from much warmer to much colder than in Whitehorse. Where are these much colder sites that have had successful non-aerated lagoon systems?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Watson Lake has a lagoon. Haines Junction has a lagoon. Fort Nelson has a lagoon system that may be combined with wetlands at the outfall. It is a fairly common system throughout the north.
Mr. Cable: These are systems that are the same as are being proposed - not the type that we have in Porter Creek, but the type referred to in the return of primary and secondary treatment cells?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In Watson Lake, for instance, there is an anaerobic lagoon, which goes into an aerobic cell. I do not think any of us will live long enough to see this happen, but eventually Watson Lake would have to dump the whole secondary treated effluent. They have a huge area. If I remember correctly, it is 80 hectares, with an approximately 30-foot berm. It was a large ravine and the sewage goes first into this deep anaerobic cell. It gets what is called primary treatment there. It then goes into a secondary cell, which is huge, and gets secondary treatment there. It is very similar to what is being proposed for the Whitehorse system.
Mr. Cable: Does the Watson Lake system meet the current legislated water requirements?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, it does meet the water licence requirements.
Mr. Cable: Does it consistently test in conformity with those requirements?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not even sure when or how often they test the Watson Lake one. When I lived in Watson Lake, they used to test on about an annual basis, but because this one does not have to be discharged, and probably will not have to be discharged for many, many, many years, I am not even sure how often they test it. The older system - the same type of system, more or less, that was smaller - met the requirements for secondary treatment.
Mr. Joe: I want to know how that lagoon system works. They are talking about wetlands - I want to know how it works. Where does the water go?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In the Teslin system - I think it was the first wetlands looked at here in the north - what happens is that it goes into a series of ponds, such as we have been talking about here, - from one pond to another - and then it would go out a pipe down through a gravel bed, a pad of gravel, and then down into sort of a slough area and down underground into the slough area. It percolates up through the soil and the roots of the plants, and so on, which take the nutrients out of the sewage and dissipate it. From there, it will go into a creek and eventually into the lake.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has made the assertion in the legislative return that the use of lagoons has been successful in numerous North American communities, in climates ranging from much warmer to much colder than the Whitehorse climate. I understand that there is a lot of debate on whether lagoons used in cold climates do work effectively. Did the Minister or his department review a study that was done by the Brandon University on that, and would the Minister be prepared to back up that statement?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have no idea what the Brandon University study was, but the engineering people and water boards from around the country have agreed that the system works.
They have tested sewage coming from the systems and the effluent must meet biological emission requirements. Apparently this type of sewage system meets those requirements and that is why I made the statement that this type of system works in the north.
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $7,370,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is $100,000 for miscellaneous garbage dump improvements, site improvements and construction at various locations; there is $125,000 for dump/sewage pit relocation at Carcross to relocate the existing solid waste disposal area.
The other project is the solid waste program regulations for approximately $15,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask if any of the funds identified for solid waste will be used for moving toward the use of a transfer station for any of the rural dumps.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We do not have any specific funds for a transfer station. The transfer stations are still being discussed, and I believe they will be for awhile yet. There has to be an agreement with the City of Whitehorse to the effect that it will actually accept the solid waste from other areas. There has to be a willingness on the part of the residents to pay that additional cost. There apparently will be an additional cost to providing transfer stations. Until those issues are resolved, we will not be identifying any funds to construct a transfer station.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has identified exactly what the problem is - the matter is still being discussed. This is certainly a longstanding problem. Presently the Yukon government does pay for the maintenance of the Carcross dump, the Tagish dump, the Marsh Lake dump, the Mile Nine dump on the Carcross Road. I know that the Hamlet of Mount Lorne, in particular, has made representation to have a transfer station. I would like the Minister to give some indication that there will be some movement on those requests, and some funds identified for having a more effective treatment for the waste that is generated outside of municipalities. There is also the problem of no garbage pickup for the Wolf Creek, Mary Lake, and Pineridge area.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As our share, we have indicated that we are quite willing to put in the amount of money that we currently use for maintaining the small community dumps. Mary Lake and Wolf Creek areas are within the City of Whitehorse and they are the responsibility of Whitehorse.
Solid Waste in the amount of $240,000 agreed to
On Hazardous Waste, Storage
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $100,000 is to implement the solid waste program development 1993-94. The program components consist of a educational package, regulations and compliance.
Hazardous Waste, Storage in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $100,000 is to provide municipal engineering branch with funding to carry out required work of a small scale in an emergency nature.
Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Roads/Streets Upgrade
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is for detailed design to upgrade existing access to Yukon Place from Range Road to the main college entrance.
Ms. Moorcroft: Did the Minister say that was an upgrade of the existing road or is that work that is being done on the road through from Kopper King?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is for the existing access.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are there any monies for the Kopper King area access?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, not in this budget.
Roads/Streets Upgrade in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Quarry Development
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Of this, $100,000 is to identify quarry sites. Because of the land claims process, field testing has to be done on identified quarry sites in affected land claim areas and quarry rehabilitation has to be carried on in abandoned quarry sites, for $50,000.
Quarry Development in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Land Development
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is for four main projects: Dawson/Callison stage 3 for $200,000 to develop eight lots; Teslin for $320,000 and Watson Lake for $200,000 to develop an industrial subdivision, and Whitehorse industrial for $100,000 as the supply is exhausted and demands warrant more lots. Other industrial projects for 1994-95 are Carmacks stage 3 for $50,000, Faro for $45,000 and Ross River for $45,000.
Industrial in the amount of $960,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is for three projects: Carmacks for $110,000 to construct a six-lot commercial subdivision; Teslin, Fox Drive, for $170,000 to complete eight existing commercial lots; Kopper King commercial in Whitehorse for $200,000 to develop 14 highway tourist commercial zoned lots and Porter Creek, Birch Street, for $10,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: Where are the 14 Alaska Highway commercial lots in the Kopper King area, in relation to the existing properties?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As one is heading west - or north - it is on the right-hand side, right across from the Kopper King.
Commercial in the amount of $490,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is for a cottage lot land base in the Haines Junction and Mayo areas.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister indicate how many lots will be developed in each of those areas?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We do not have that information on the number of lots.
Recreational in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is for agricultural development in 1994-95 for the Mayo and Whitehorse periphery area, design and construction.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister bring back a further breakdown of that for me, please?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes.
Agriculture in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The six major projects planned for 1994-95 are: the Hamilton/Logan subdivision completion, in the amount of $475,000; Area D, stage 1 and 2, in the amount of $3,745,000, for the development of 231 lots; and Area D infrastructure, in the amount of $4,000,000, for a pumphouse, water reservoir and storm sewer; $460,000 for Francis Avenue in Watson Lake to develop 43 lots; Haines Junction urban development, $450,000 to complete 18 lots; and Carcross country residential $330,000 to develop a standard country-residential subdivision.
Other 1994-95 projects are: Beaver Creek urban development, $180,000; Carmacks country, $250,000; Rock Creek rural, $80,000; Teslin airport lots, $220,000; Teslin airport area, $60,000; Watson Lake/Campbell expansion, $60,000; Watson Lake country residential, stage 1, $100,000; and Whitehorse rural homesteads for $250,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: In general debate I asked the Minister if he could provide an indication of where the Carcross subdivision is located and how many lots are there. I had also requested a breakdown of the Whitehorse resident, rural homestead development, and where those lots are. Does the Minister have that information?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have some information on the Carcross residential, but it does not include the number of lots because it is country residential and naturally it will depend on the terrain; also, we are working in conjunction with the First Nation. Construction of country residential and standard subdivision as per the Carcross area plan - the plan is being completed in 1993-94 and will determine the size, number of lots and phasing of the subdivision. In 1994-95, it is scheduled to do the design, legal survey and construction of gravel roads and overhead hydro and telephone lines.
Ms. Moorcroft: Has a survey not already been done of the Carcross residential area lots and the new subdivision there?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member may be referring to Chootla. This is a different area. As far as I know, the survey has not been done on this particular area.
Ms. Moorcroft: The other question I had put to the Minister was the location of the Whitehorse resident, rural homestead lot development - how many lots there were and in what areas.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The note I have says, to develop rural homestead lots in the greater Whitehorse area. These lots will consist of gravel roads and electricity and telephone, if applicable. There has been construction of 30 lots in 1994-95 and 20 lots in 1995-96, but there have not been actual areas. According to the Mount Lorne plan, they would allow, I believe, eight out in their area, and there are areas on the Alaska Highway west that we could be looking at.
It could be spread around. Thirty lots is what they would like to develop in 1994-95 and 20 more in 1995-96.
Ms. Moorcroft: So the money for 30 lots is being put in the capital budget this year, but the Minister does not yet know where they are located. Also, is the money being put in this years capital budget for the 20 lots in the subsequent year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, that would be in future years costs. It is just identified in our five-year capital plan.
Mr. Cable: I have a couple of questions. The Minister was quoted in one of the local news media about inventory of residential lots. I would like to get some facts on the record to make sure that what appeared in the newspaper is, in fact, accurate.
The Minister was quoted as saying, What we are hoping to do is get a point... - I assume that should read, ... to get to the point... - where we have 200 of a variety of lots available. Is that, in fact, the Ministers intention? Is it his intention to have 200 various types of residential lots available in inventory?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: What I would like to see is a two-year supply. That is extremely difficult, because the inventory is affected by such things as the economy and mines opening up and so on. What we would like to see is about a two-year supply. Right now, in the City of Whitehorse, a two-year supply would be somewhat over 200 lots - based on historic sales, and so on. In the future, I do not know what that amount would be. It might be 100 or 300. What we are aiming at is a two-year supply. The 200 figure is probably fairly applicable to next year.
Mr. Cable: The paper goes on to say - I think this was sometime in October, or early in November - Currently in inventory, the government has about 105 Logan lots available and 117 Arkell lots, including the 28 left over from the 1992 lottery. Is that 222 lots approximately the current inventory of residential lots?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have - and this changes almost on a daily basis - a list of what we had available in Whitehorse. On November 25, there were seven in Arkell phase 1 and there were 22 from the previous year. There are 82 Arkell mobile in phase 2. There is one residential in Granger, 21 residential in Logan and 10 multi-family in Logan for a total of 121 in the Whitehorse area. That is dated November 25.
Mr. Cable: There appears to be a substantial change. The paper went on to report that another $3.7 million will be used to begin development of 460 residential lots in the same area - that is, Logan. One of the Ministers officers expects that the lots in Conrad will be ready by 1995. Has that been reported accurately?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe it has, but I am not sure. Right now we are talking about rather than fully servicing and developing 460 lots, is there any necessity to do that? Some work can be done, but it may not be absolutely necessary to fully service all of them. If 230 were worked on in 1994, to be ready for 1995, would that be enough? Those are decisions that have to be made as you get closer to the time. At some time, you either have to fish or cut bait. It is pretty hard to do that when you are putting the budget together. As spring gets nearer, you have to look at what is happening in the economy and evaluate the demand and then you make a decision - will we need 460 lots in 1995 or will we need only 230? It is pretty difficult to make that decision at this time of year. It is much better to put off making the decision until as close as possible to the time when tenders have to be put out.
Mr. Cable: The Minister, of course, will operate on some sort of best guess reasoning. What is the anticipated number of Whitehorse residential lots that will come onstream in 1994, in addition to the current inventory he has talked about?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe we will have approximately 60 serviced lots on the market for next year. I believe we may be in trouble next year, but then we are also working on trying to get some country-residential lots ready within the City of Whitehorse because it seems there is a big demand for those right now. If we can meet part of that demand, we will probably reduce the demand for serviced lots.
Residential in the amount of $10,660,000 agreed to
On Land Central Services
Planning and Engineering
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $40,000 is for aerial photography and mapping, with complete controlled photography of the Whitehorse North/Hootalinqua area.
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Central Services - Recoverable
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This $40,000 is to provide for various recoverable legal surveys and land acquisition for $200,000 for the purchase of private property where and when required.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know where this property is, or give us some examples as to why they need this capital fund for land purchases?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Occasionally, the purchase of private property is necessary to facilitate lands branch projects. Normally, it is not possible to identify required purchases of private property prior to the start of a fiscal year.
Central Services - Recoverable in the amount of $240,000 agreed to
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The department normally budgets $150,000. This is a totally recoverable amount. It is sometimes higher or lower, but we try to identify and second-guess the amount for the upcoming year.
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is for various legal surveys, non-recoverable - $40,000 to conduct property legal surveys as required, and $30,000 to continue work on the design of the geographic information system, phase 2.
Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Prior Years Adjustments
Prior Years Adjustments in the amount of nil agreed to
Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of $23,594,000 agreed to
Department of Community and Transportation Services stood over
Chair: What is the wish of the Committee Members? Should we take a break until 7:30 at this time before we move on to Economic Development?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will recess until 7:30.
Chair: I will call the Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 12 and we are on Economic Development. Is there any general debate?
Department of Economic Development
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have two items here for tabling. One is a better breakdown of the various jobs that the Members may want to discuss when we get back to the supplementaries. The second is the other information I had promised. While the Page is distributing the information I will open with the highlights of the Economic Development budget.
I am pleased to introduce the 1994-95 budget for the Department of Economic Development. This budget reflects the priorities of this department and these priorities include hiring a mining facilitator, focusing on energy issues and promoting the mining industry. As well, we will be working on the industrial electrical strategy, which I talked about earlier today in Question Period.
I would like to clarify one thing for the Members opposite. The Member for Riverside asked me today in Question Period about - I believe the term he used was this - a comprehensive energy policy. This industrial electrical strategy is one step toward developing that policy and this is what I was referring to when I said I wanted to have it done sometime in January or February. I want to clarify that for the Member.
This budget continues to stimulate private-sector economic activity in the Yukon. It will strive to accomplish its main objectives through efficient and focused expenditures.
As you may know, our main objective at Economic Development is to promote and encourage development of the Yukons economy. This will be achieved by encouraging diversification, strength and growth in all sectors of the Yukon economy.
We will accomplish this main objective in four ways. First, Economic Development will continue to develop and implement policies, strategies and programs for the development and management of mineral and energy resources in the Yukon. Mineral and energy development is very important to the economy, because they create jobs and spinoff benefits.
Secondly, we will continue to develop, maintain and implement a comprehensive economic planning process and conduct research and analysis of the Yukons economy. This includes activities such as monitoring, forecasting and accessing the economy, and analyzing the effects of policies or structural changes to the economy.
Thirdly, we support the increases in, and equitable distribution of, the Yukons share of the net economic benefits from development. This includes benefits from increased Yukon business ownership, employment and training.
The fourth approach is to promote community economic development and community influence over the extent and pace of local economic development.
This budget will attempt to achieve this goal in these four ways in a cost efficient manner.
The highlights of the 1994-95 Economic Development budget include the following activities: the Yukon mining and incentives program will maintain its present level of funding at $863,000. This program is aimed at offsetting expenses for individuals and companies prospecting for, and exploring, Yukon mineral properties. It will continue to give individuals and small companies better access to funds to find or develop promising properties. The Yukon mining incentives program demonstrates this governments commitment to prospecting and other grassroots mining activities.
This year the internal energy management program has been replaced by an in-house cooperative effort to reduce energy consumption.
Reducing energy consumption within the government continues to be a concern of all departments. As Yukon homes are becoming more energy efficient, the saving energy action loans, the SEAL program, has been discontinued.
Homeowners who are considering an energy retrofit of their homes can do so at todays low interest rates. This will boost business in the private sector and make available extra funds for other government programs. Loans through SEAL have been available since 1985 and, since that time, many owners of older homes have accessed this program but newer homes are now incorporating energy-efficient designs and features. It must also be noted that Yukon Housing Corporation offers an energy retrofit program that was similar to SEAL, so we have discontinued it.
As well, the Yukon Energy Corporation is offering a rate relief for electrical consumption, which is good news to all Yukoners.
Conscientiousness of energy consumption is also increasing among Yukon residents with the power smart program, et cetera.
The funding for the Northern Oil and Gas Accord remains at the same level. The focus of the Northern Accord has shifted from negotiating an agreement to implementing the terms of the accord. Legislation is being developed that will enable the federal government to transfer formal responsibility. We are developing regulations, policies, procedures, royalty structures, et cetera, in accordance with legislation, which will enable the Yukon government to deliver this program for Yukoners.
Operational staffing requirements are being determined in order to deliver this program. Activities being offered under the northern oil and gas action program, or NOGAP, will end as this federal program ceased last year. The Canada/Yukon economic development agreement, or EDA, continues to facilitate the creation of jobs, the diversification of the economy and the development and expansion of businesses. Economic development program funding and mineral development, small business support, forest development, tourism, renewable resources and economic development planning will be increased by five percent, to $6,360,000.
The mineral development agreement will receive a two-percent increase, to $2,150,000, to continue geological mapping and development of new technologies and applications. With this increase, important geoscientific mapping and database work will continue at the Canada/Yukon mineral development office.
Funding levels for small business startup and development, under the business development fund, will remain the same as they did last year.
The community development fund has been reduced and this indicates this governments intention to phase out the fund over the coming years. The $1.3 million requested for the fund will be directed toward projects in unincorporated communities. The projects from the communities can still be funded, but through a direct line item expenditure in departmental budgets. It will have to be passed by this House. This change is in keeping with our commitment to provide good, accountable government.
In closing, the 1994-95 budget for the Department of Economic Development maintains sound fiscal management and encourages development and growth in the Yukons mining and business sectors.
I am prepared to answer any questions that Members may have.
Mr. McDonald: The approach I intend to take for these estimates is to set aside questions about policy with respect to the Northern Accord and the future of the economic development agreement until we get to the supplementary estimates. I think it is perhaps a more appropriate and immediate venue for discussing those items, given that they combine both operational and capital estimates, so that there is no fudging or fuzzifying the boundaries between the two.
I will have a lot of questions to ask about the Northern Accord, the future of the EDA and some of the policy implications of what is happening to the EDA, the business development fund and community development fund, including what the future of the CDF will be. I will have questions about the future, particularly, of the mineral development agreement, and so on. There will be some opportunities to discuss those when we get back to the supplementary estimates.
Having said that, I would like to ask the Minister a few questions about his opening remarks and get his response to a couple of concerns that I have heard expressed, particularly with respect to the overall weight that has been given to this budget.
It is no secret, at least for most people, that the economy is facing some concerns. In the past, whenever there was a reduction in spending in Economic Development, there were hearty concerns expressed by the Yukon Party in Opposition that a decline in spending in this particular area was inappropriate and that, if anything, spending should be enhanced.
Given the history of comments made by Yukon Party Members in the past about Economic Development spending, how have they reconciled that in their own minds - a reduction of 15 percent in capital spending in this area versus strongly stated concerns in the past that it is inappropriate to reduce spending in this department, particularly on the capital side.
Hon. Mr. Devries: Discontinuing the SEAL program would account for a certain amount, as would the reductions in the CDF. I believe between those two are the major decreases. Some of the other areas had slight increases.
Mr. McDonald: Perhaps we will deal with the CDF. I have a couple of questions that are most appropriate here. The Minister indicated that the $1.3 million that is supposed to be remaining in the community development fund, in this particular budget, will be phased out but will be reallocated toward community works projects. How does the government intend to do that?
Hon. Mr. Devries: We have not had a CDF meeting since the budget was prepared. At the last CDF meeting I announced that we are going to change some of the parameters regarding the CDF funding. Many of those decisions would be made at the next CDF meeting. When I do the community tour, as soon as we get out of the House, I will be consulting with the communities on how they feel we can best meet their needs with a lower amount of funding.
We are aware that the CDF has never been able to meet all the demands placed on it. There are always areas that have been priorized and we are going to tighten up the parameters and priorize things differently.
Mr. McDonald: I am intrigued by the governments statement that they are going to abandon the CDF as a program, but they are going to ensure that the funding is directed toward community works projects, and that any particular project that a community group might promote, including such things as training and the full range of projects that are particularly supported by the community development fund, might be received by the government. How they might priorize those requests and how the various departments are going to get access to the funds in order to support some of those requests. Clearly, the government has, in the past little while, indicated that they feel the kinds of activities undertaken by the community development fund, by way of a granting program, are inappropriate.
Some of those community groups do expect to receive funds, based on the Ministers comments that there will be the same amount of funding available through line items in the budget. What is the Ministers concern? Is it the fact that the program is a granting program? Is it the fact that it is sponsored out of the Department of Economic Development? Is it that he feels that it is simply the wrong avenue for funding any kind of works? What are the reasons for cancelling the program?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, going by the complaints that I have heard in the past, both in this House, in Whitehorse and in the communities, many people have questioned it. We feel that by running the larger projects through the House, we as legislators all become responsible for that particular project going ahead.
As far as the smaller projects go, yes we are certainly looking at training, and at some point more money would have to be made available in advanced education, but meanwhile there is still some training money available through some of the economic development agreement programs. Basically, it is a matter of not having the money to carry on with the program as it has been in the past.
This year, many of the projects have been priorized on the basis of employment situations in the community, and we have encouraged many of the projects to happen during the winter, during high unemployment periods. I hope that when community projects are discussed in the line items, the strategy would be to ensure that some of those projects take place during the high unemployment season.
I do not know if I have answered all or any of the questions, but I think the Member is starting to get the drift of where I am coming from.
Mr. McDonald: In a way, I guess I am getting part of the drift, but I still am not certain about the fundamental, philosophical reasons for the government cancelling the program.
I want a clear statement as to why that is happening. Obviously, there is one Member in the House who has made no secret of the fact that he does not support granting programs, and has stated that on a number of occasions.
In his opening remarks, the Minister indicated that there will be the same amount of money available in the future, and he said that it will be for the same kind of projects, but that they would be voted on a project-by-project basis in the Legislature.
Is the Minister saying that he does have a problem with the granting element of the program, or that he would like to see all of the projects approved in the Legislature one by one? What is the Ministers reason?
Hon. Mr. Devries: We feel that we are certainly not going to have line items in the budget in some areas for some of the smaller $4,000 and $5,000 projects. The various departments should establish slush funds of some type for people to somehow access. I would expect that those smaller projects would be lumped together into one line item, and then perhaps the Minister could stand up during budget debate and explain what that particular amount of money will be used for and ask for legislative approval in that manner.
I recognize that there could be some problems. Part of the reason we are doing this community tour is to get a grasp of some of these problems. Being a rural Member, I am very aware of these things. One would hope that we can come up with something the communities can live with. I think that most of the communities recognize that the money that used to be there is certainly not there any more. I think they realize that, more and more, volunteer organizations and such are going to have to start living more within their means.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated that there will be some money there. He said that there is $1.3 million in this budget and that that money will be, in the future, directed toward community works. It is obviously not a question of money, if you are prepared to accept a budget level of $1.3 million. I do not think the Minister actually meant that there should be slush funds everywhere, and I hope that his comment does not provoke a long debate. I was kind of hoping that we could deal adeptly with this budget so that we could deal with the major policy items in the supplementaries. So, maybe we will just take that back.
The element of grants versus loans - that is the concern that has been expressed most often. It has not been a concern that has been expressed by the Official Opposition - he should not mistake that. What I am asking him is if there is a policy statement of concern, given that they have made the announcement that the program will be cancelled? Is the concern associated with the fact that the community development fund did not loan the money to groups, it granted money to groups? Is that going to change? Is that part the essence of the concern?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I do not think it would be realistic to suggest that in all instances volunteer organizations would be requested to pay it back. There has to be some avenue at times for them. Many of them play a very important role in todays society and there has to be an avenue for them to access some money somehow. We have lotteries and things like that, and we all recognize that, once in a while, CDF has been used to top it up. Again, I do not want to jump to conclusions about what I am going to hear when we go on the community tours, but I can assure the Member that, being a rural Member, I am aware of the situations in the communities and, with what limited resources we have to work with, I will do my best to ensure that the needs of other rural communities are met - within their fiscal limitations, naturally.
I would like to be able to give the Member a better answer, but that is all I can say at this point. I have not made that tour, so I do not know what I am going to hear when we go to the communities. We have heard some concerns already.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to pursue this perhaps a little more thoroughly during supplementary estimates, but let me just close by asking the Minister this question: clearly, if the Minister is proposing that the old function of the CDF board is to be decentralized to departments, with the same funding, and that the departments are going to technically be capable of receiving applications of a similar nature to that which the CDF board has been open to in the past, what is the Minister going to tell the people in the communities who have expressed concern - and they certainly have expressed a lot of concerns to us, too - as to how they are to approach departments about a particular project? I know the Minister is not going to be advocating slush funds in every department - I hope - but certainly there will be some need for the departments, at a policy level, to accept or embrace the kinds of projects that CDF did in the past if, as the Minister says, there will continue to be an avenue for CDF-like projects, but only approved on a project-by-project basis and voted one by one in the Legislature.
For example, the CDF, in the past, has funded a fair amount of training activity, particularly training of economic development officers, board training for new corporate entities - particularly for First Nation corporate entities, et cetera.
Is it going to be the situation that the Department of Education will now be receptive to those applications - or the Department of Economic Development, or someone, will be receptive to those applications - and will somehow priorize them, to ensure that roughly the same kind of work that was funded by the community development fund will continue to take place and that there will not be an inordinate amount of bureaucracy associated with the application process, so that people do not have to be put through some kind of wringer before they see any results of their efforts? What does he think?
Hon. Mr. Devries: As these items become line items in budgets, naturally it is going to take much more advanced planning and communities will be much more encouraged to develop three- to five-year planning processes within the communities and hamlets, especially the unorganized communities. I think we all recognize that there could be some difficulties there.
As far as First Nations go, we are aware that land claims are taking place and, at least with the bands that have settled, implementation money should be available for some of these training projects as well. That is the way I understand it. One hopes that will help fill in some of the cutbacks in these types of areas.
Again, as I mentioned to the Member, when I do these community consultations, we are hoping to come up with a more concrete way of how it is going to work, and I would be happy to table that once we have developed that and have further discussion in this House at that time.
Mr. McDonald: I will take the Minister up on that offer. I would like to see how all that is going to pull together in the end. The Minister clearly said that a similar amount of funding is going to be directed to community projects so that community residents can expect to receive the same kind of projects, albeit priorized according to whatever new criteria the government establishes. These projects will be considered favourably by the government and the highest priority projects will be approved in some form or other.
I would like to point out to the Minister that one of the reasons why the local employment opportunities program, LEOP, was so popular when it was first established was because, typically, when each project was put into the main estimates, which used to be the case, it took a great deal of time. For example, a proponent would ask for a new floor in a community hall. They would make the application in February. After they would go through the necessary hoops to justify and verify that it was a community priority and do the cost estimates, they might get the project approved in principle by May, if everything went well. They would, however, miss the budget cycle, and so the funds would not be released until at least the following April.
The Minister will know that a lot of rural residents, especially, have very little time for governments protests that they have to respect budget cycles and bureaucratic timetables. They expect that if they have some kind of agreement in principle, they should see some action this year, not next year.
I would just point out that that will be a problem, unless the Minister can adeptly circumvent it in some way in his quest to find a system that works effectively and quickly, as well as being a system that allows the Legislature to view and approve each individual small project. I will mention that challenge to him and I look forward to seeing him resolve it.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I appreciate the Members comments and I am sure that he will be participating in some of these meetings. I hope that they will begin in January.
Mrs. Firth: When we were last discussing Economic Development in the supplementary budget, I had asked the Minister to bring me some policy information. He was going to bring back their policy on grants and loans. I would like to know if he is going to provide that information to me tonight.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I just tabled the business development fund and the community development fund booklets. I also tabled the economic development agreement. Basically, those are the documents regarding the various programs.
Mrs. Firth: I had expected a statement of policy from the government. When we debated this, the Minister talked about good grants and bad grants, good loans and bad loans, and I had expected a statement of policy indicating to me the guidelines determining who received money and whether it should be given in the form of grants or loans.
The business development fund booklet and the community development fund booklet were prepared in 1985. I think the sample applications were done in 1985. This is not a new, revised statement of government policy. If someone came to me and said to me, Bea, what does this government think about giving out grants? Right now, I would say to them I do not have a clue, because they have not told us. So, does the Minister think he could tell us the governments policy on this?
Hon. Mr. Devries: The document clearly indicates that in the business Idevelopment fund there are no grants other than the fees-for-service contracts that we issue to the chambers. I believe there is $50,000 set aside for that. Everything else in the business development fund is repayable. It is a loans program, and it also indicates that we would not fund a project where we feel it can be proven that the business would have an adverse effect on another business operating in a community and creating financial hardship for a business within that community.
In Whitehorse, the practice has been that, as far as hotel renovations go, it improves the tourism infrastructure and it is important to see some improvements in that area, but we certainly do not give grants; they are all repayable loans.
Mrs. Firth: From what the Minister is telling me, if someone comes and asks me what the governments policy is on grants or loans, I am going to say that I asked the Minister in the House and he was unable to enunciate any specific policy on loans or grants. However, if you go to the business development office you can get a brochure called the Business Development Fund and another called the Community Development Fund and there you might be able to find something out about what this government stands for. That is what the Minister is saying, I guess.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I thought I just finished explaining it to the Member very well. I very clearly indicated that our policy is no grants to businesses. For loans, whoever is making the application must be able to show that this is an initiative that would contribute toward economic diversification in the Yukon and not create adverse competition for other businesses in the immediate area.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Cabinet or the caucus ever sat down and determined what their governments direction is going to be with respect to distributing grants and loans? Have they ever developed a position or made a decision that all the Cabinet Members were in agreement with on this issue?
Hon. Mr. Devries: They have very clearly indicated to me that they are opposed to grants, as I mentioned earlier.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister about a comment he made tonight that I found quite interesting. The community development fund has been referred to by many people as a slush fund that has been distributed by Cabinet Ministers. The Minister said tonight that he was going to get rid of the community development fund; he is phasing it out.
Then, in response to questions put by the previous questioner in the House, he indicated that if there were communities that wanted to do some special projects, his department would have a slush fund available to do these projects. I wonder if the Minister could clarify that particular comment for us.
Hon. Mr. Devries: That was a bad slip of my tongue. I should have retracted the statement when I said it, because that is not the way I intended it to come out. It certainly would not be within my department and it would not be a slush fund as such. If it was in training, perhaps there would be something available within advanced education. If it was something with Community and Transportation Services, there might be some money set aside for a specific project there, but they would have to be project-specific and they would have to be planned well in advance so that we could pass them before this House.
Mrs. Firth: Instead of the slush fund being in Economic Development, the Minister is telling us there are going to be other little funds - as he has now said, it was a slip of the tongue, they will not be slush funds - there will be other little bits of money available in other departments such as Community and Transportation Services and the Department of Education. So, what are those little funds going to be called?
Hon. Mr. Devries: That is not what I said. I very clearly indicated that they would have to be accountable within the department and they would be project-specific, and this House would know what they were prior to them going ahead.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying, then, that there will not be a little fund set aside in the department? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Maybe I could just interject here. I believe I told the Member in the House a while back that we were phasing out the community development fund. If I recall, during a Question Period she asked me one time if we were phasing it out. The fact remains that the unincorporated communities do not get block funding to look after their needs like the municipalities do. We said those needs would be addressed through line items in the budget. If they wanted to put up a community hall in an unincorporated community, it can be done through a line item in Community and Transportation Services where it can be debated on the floor of this House and justified. We are getting away from having just a certain group of people designating projects all over the Yukon.
I was not happy with the way the fund was being administered and that is one of the reasons we are going to this method, but we still have to have some avenue for the small communities for recreation facilities, for projects that are worthwhile for the community, and that is why the Minister said, when he was responding to the Member for McIntyre-Takhini, we are going to be encouraging these communities to develop three- or five-year plans, so that we can work ahead and know what they have in mind that they would like to do and how it will fit in, and so that we can put it in as a line item in the budget and debate it on the floor of this Legislature.
Mrs. Firth: What the Government Leader is saying is something different from what the Minister of Economic Development has been saying so I am glad that he corrected the Minister and clarified that for us. That was what I recalled him saying.
The Government Leader has also mentioned that unincorporated communities do not have access to funds within the departments, yet I know that your community, Mr. Chair, is an unincorporated community and you are getting a new roof for the arena - that is a special project. There are also other unincorporated communities that are getting some projects done within Community and Transportation Services.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: Part of the money for the Old Crow arena roof came from the community development fund and part of it came from recreation under Community and Transportation Services. Like I said, unincorporated communities get funding through Community and Transportation Services for things like the arena roof for the community of Old Crow.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: The Minister of Education is saying, Sorry, mom. I would think that the Minister of Education embarrassed himself badly enough the other night that he might sit quietly for a change in this House, and let us get on with some constructive debate.
Where was I? I was asking the Government Leader about the projects, so that I can understand how this is going to work. If a community wants to take on some special initiative, or do some special project, to whom would they make a submission, and how would the process work? Would they come to the department, or to the regional superintendant or whomever in Community and Transportation Services and say that they would like to do this and ask what process to follow to put it into the budget? That is the kind of thing that I would like to know.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As the Minister said, we are still finalizing the process, but it will be done through a line item in the budget. That is how it will be. Because the community development fund was still in place, part of the money for Old Crow came from there, and part of it was under a line item in the budget. The Member is correct about that. That is how we will be handling it - through line items. We feel we can do it just as well that way as we can through the community development fund. It can now be scrutinized closely by the House and we will not be accused of having a slush fund for Ministers.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand, then, that the government has not established a process? When does the Government Leader anticipate that process will be established?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that is why we left $1 million in the fund this year, so that at the time we get to the next budget session, we will have that established, so that we will not be putting money aside for the community development fund after this budget.
Mrs. Firth: I am sure I will probably get to question the Minister about it again but once they get the policy in place, could I have a copy of it, please?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe the Minister has already made the commitment that he would table it in the House.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions of a similar nature to the one put by the Member for Riverdale South.
If someone were to ask the Minister what he is using as a guide to instruct his public servants on economic development, where would they go besides the Economic Development Act and the Yukon Economic Strategy and the document that was put out on self-sufficiency in the 21st century? Is there some master policy manual that the Minister has in his office that collects all of these documents into one?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Under the economic development program, we have the one that I tabled just a few minutes ago. There is the Business Development Assistance Act, which is a piece of legislation that is available to anyone, and there are some regulations pertaining to business development.
As far as the CDF goes, basically there is a committee that makes decisions pertaining to that and those parameters can change from time to time, depending upon the parameters that committee puts upon it.
As for the remaining $1 million, the committee is going to have to sit down to try to determine what parameters they are going to set up for that and if they are going to have to decrease the cap. It is at $200,000 now and naturally, with $1 million there, it is going to have to be decreased, but those are all decisions that will be made by the committee. So, I cannot really get into specifics on the CDF.
I think that covers the various programs within the department. I am not sure if that information is what the Member was seeking. The economic development officers within the communities and within Whitehorse have a very good handle on the various rules and regulations pertaining to loans, et cetera, so any time anybody has any questions, the best thing is to go to them and ask them.
Mr. Cable: What I was wondering was if some businessperson wandered in from outside the territory and wanted to know what this government did for business, is there some sort of compendium around that deals with all the economic development thrusts of the present government?
Hon. Mr. Devries: As far as the economic strategy goes, we have the Toward Self-Sufficiency by the 21st Century document. That is definitely available. Once we get the energy policy developed, that type of information would be made available to them, as well.
Presently, if people ask about energy, they get a copy of the industrial infrastructure loans program and so on. We keep building up on the various economic opportunities that are available in the Yukon. At some point, we will possibly put it all into one document, similar to the Economic Strategy of the former administration.
Mr. Penikett: I want to ask one question of the Minister. I would simply like him to reply in writing to the question, as I do not want to take up the time tonight.
This is a policy question. I would like to know the Ministers interpretation of two clauses in the Economic Development Act. I do not think there is a business development act, but simply regulations under the Economic Development Act. I would like interpretations of Clause 6(j), in the chapter called Work of the Department. That clause says, and I quote, maintain and implement the Economic Strategy as the comprehensive planning process and framework of economic development; and the second quote is under the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. I want to know what the Ministers policy is on the meaning of Clause 10(1)(b), which says, and I quote, monitor progress on the implementation of the Yukon Economic Strategy, and evaluate the success of the actions taken in guiding environmentally sound economic development and diversification of the Yukon;.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have received some legal opinions on them, and I will provide them to the Member.
Mr. Penikett: I am aware, from statements from the Government Leader and the Member opposite, that they are trying to find ways to equivocate their way around the provisions of this legislation and the provisions in the land claims agreement.
I want to ask a supplementary question and I want to receive a reply in writing; I want the Minister to respond to what he believes the intent of the Legislature was in adopting those two provisions.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I will provide the Member with that information.
Mr. Cable: There will be some particular questions about the mining industry, and we will get to that later, but as a general proposition, where would somebody look to find out where this government is going with respect to the mining industry? Is there some general policy document around that the Minister has, that has excerpted from all of the other documents that we have been talking about? For instance, if someone was to ask is this government interested in supporting prospectors, is the government interested primarily in mining or mapping, is this government interested in electrical infrastructure, where would one go to find out that information?
Hon. Mr. Devries: If someone comes to the department or sends a request in that regard, we have the new Investing in Yukon brochure that most Members probably have seen and there is room in there for various project-specific statements. There are inserts contained in that information pertaining to the various questions they had. The request would go to the Department of Economic Development and the appropriate branch would provide the information. There is a lot of information available about the various programs.
Mr. Cable: The Minister, and also other Members of his government, have on many occasions indicated that the mining industry is one of the three main cornerstones of our economy. It is not totally clear to people in the industry, I do not think, exactly where this government is going. As a general policy matter, does the Minister anticipate at some juncture in the future producing some sort of White Paper, some general statement, as to where specifically it is going to go, pulling all these other documents together?
Hon. Mr. Devries: As I mentioned earlier, on the energy end of it, yes, there will be a comprehensive energy policy developed. Right now, we are working on several aspects of it and once it all comes together it will all be put into one.
As far as the infrastructure end of things goes, right now we are using a Toward Self-Sufficiency by the 21st Century-type document, or something of that nature.
From talking to the mining industry at the various meetings we have had with them, they are very pleased with the direction we seem to be taking. We have seen a substantial increase in exploration, so it is becoming very clear that the mining industry is becoming very conscious of invest-in-the-Yukon initiatives. They are also being made aware that we are looking at the DAP - the development assessment process - which should be much more streamlined than the present environmental guidelines they have to go through.
I think the mining industry is starting to look at the Yukon as a real investment opportunity.
Mr. McDonald: In the supplementaries, I would like to get back to the policy respecting support for mining without having had devolution take place and determining precisely how far the government is intending to go - and the comprehensive energy policy and the competition policy.
I would like to get back briefly to the community development fund because, after the Government Leaders intervention, I am completely confused now as to what the government is going to do. I am unclear about whether or not the government is going to be supporting projects outside unorganized communities and whether or not they are going to be supporting only building projects. When I referred to the community development fund and kinds of projects that are being supported by the community development fund, as one casts ones eyes down a list of projects, one can say, these are projects not approved by the NDP government. There are wilderness camps, day care facilities, a sewage tank, hiking trails, native training instructors being funded, cenotaph upgrading, and so on.
Other projects included sorting through mining recorders records, Pierre Burtons residence was upgraded, there was a beautification program. There was at least one Member on the government side who did not like beautification programs, but that was being funded. There was a youth centre, festivals, a petroleum compound was fenced, a history book was funded, gun ranges were improved, and there were healing centres, garbage bins and a recycling centre.
There is a fairly wide range of projects that are being supported and to do that through the good works of the municipal affairs division of Community and Transportation Services would be a tall order, given that wide range of activities. Did the Minister mean to say that when they were going to continue supporting CDF-like projects with the same amount of funding, that they are going to fund CDF-like projects with the same amount of funding? Who is going to speak for the government on this one?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: One of the reasons for getting rid of the CDF is that we were not happy with the broad range of things that they were funding. There is going to be a streamlining of what they are going to fund. There are other avenues for funding other than CDF. I think one of the criteria that we have put on CDF projects in the last little while is that they were labour intensive, to keep more people working. There is going to be some streamlining of the projects that will be funded. There are other avenues to fund some of the things the Member opposite said. There are the grants under the Lottery Commission, the recreation grants and other places available for funding, but there will be a streamlining.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there further general debate on Economic Development?
Mr. McDonald: Before we took a break, the Government Leader was telling us how the Lottery Commission was going to be charged with picking up some of the slack that had been the responsibility of the community development fund.
I think the Lottery Commission is going to be surprised to hear that, given that the funding available under that program is closely guarded by a number of groups, and I am certain - geez, that is Question Period material; I had better stop this line of questioning. Holy smokes -
I think that the Lottery Commission would regard the funding available as nothing short of a tight rubber band, in a sense, that they cut more slack for $1.3 million or some large portion of what used to be community development funding, is not going to be received favourably by the Lottery Commission.
If the government wants to make a formal statement of their policies with respect to the Lottery Commissions new responsibilities, I would invite them to do so.
I do not want to delve into what has seemed to me this evening to be a lot of juicy material. I want to get a general position from the government pinned down with respect to what they are going to do about the community development fund.
There were a number of projects I listed prior to the break that were historically developed. They form a large portion of the available funding under this program. The Government Leader has indicated that a lot of these projects will not be done, and many will be done through the good services of the various departments.
I got the impression from the Minister, however, that many of these projects could be done. I am not yet certain what the governments position is. There are two Ministers who seem to be sending out different signals. I would invite the Minister to think about this - as I want to ensure that the capital estimates go along at a reasonable pace here - as I would like to pursue this again in the supplementaries.
I would like the Minister to understand that for the government to streamline the CDF and, at the same time, to restrict it to unincorporated communities, but keep the same level of funding and fund the same variety of projects, and at the same time expecting the departments to set up programs - not slush funds - with parameters that will accommodate the projects that historically have been funded by CDF and to make all these propositions jibe will be difficult. I would like to give the Minister notice that I would like to pursue that more thoroughly. If there is any slack given to me in the next round of discussions, I will certainly pick up the gauntlet.
I would like to let the Minister know that at that point we will have a good discussion on the concept. I would be interested in knowing precisely what kind of consultation the Minister is going to engage in. It is important because a lot of people are used to being able to go to the government and get action on a whole variety of subjects. If there are going to be restrictions, or the Minister is going to announce that a program is over, the alternatives should be thought through clearly enough in principle so that a person like me can get a consistent set of answers.
I would like to ask the Minister about the SEAL program. The Minister is indicating that the SEAL program is over.
I am sorry; are there more questions on the floor?
Mr. Harding: I would like to follow up briefly on the community development fund. When we were in discussions in the last hour regarding the CDF, the Minister indicated that he would be undertaking a community tour this year, after the Legislative session. I thought he said the purpose was to engage in discussions surrounding the community development fund. Could he tell me whether or not that is the case and if it is not, what is the purpose of the community tour he is going to embark on?
Hon. Mr. Devries: As I had indicated the last time I spoke about it, we did not have all the details put together, but that is one of the items we will be discussing on the tour, as well as some other economic issues ranging from the economic development agreement to availability of venture capital - and we will be going to Faro on the tour.
Mr. Harding: That is good to know. We have not seen either the Government Leader or the Economic Development Minister in Faro since January 21 of last year. We would certainly appreciate an opportunity to discuss some of the issues of the day with the economic driving force of this territory, who is seated across from me.
There is a lot of hard work underway in our community on various private sector projects, municipal council projects, and some joint efforts to obtain some economic activity with the Ross River Dene Council and the Town of Faro. There are a significant number of ideas being bandied about. Could the Minister tell me when he expects to be visiting the communities - not my community in particular, but I would like to know the time frame for the community tour.
Hon. Mr. Devries: It will depend on how long we get stuck in the supplementaries. I hope to start on this toward the end of January. We cannot really plan ahead until we know when we are going to be done here. How soon we can get started will be partly up to the Opposition.
Mr. Harding: It is an important undertaking for the Minister of Economic Development to do this community tour and I am wondering, because of the importance of it, would the Minister have any problem with the Opposition critic accompanying the Minister in his meetings around the communities?
Hon. Mr. Devries: They are public meetings; the whole Opposition can show up - I cannot do anything about it.
Mr. Harding: That is certainly going to be heartbreaking to the Economic Development critic in the Opposition, I am sure, but maybe I will console him at 9:30 after this evenings session is over.
I want to assure the Minister and the Member for Riverside that the supplementary debate will not take any longer than it has to.
Mr. McDonald: I have a question about the SEAL program. What was the take-up on the SEAL program for this past year? Was it fully subscribed?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Yes, it was fully subscribed.
Mr. McDonald: What were the reasons - besides the reason the Member stated that the Yukon Housing Corporation has a similar program - for cancelling the SEAL program? Was it simply that one reason - that the Yukon Housing Corporation had something similar, or what?
Hon. Mr. Devries: There is a little more to it than that. As long as the government was in a surplus position and had money, there was not a net cost to government because, for every dollar put in, one was supposed to get a dollar back. Once we were in a deficit position, then in a sense we were starting to pay interest on that money - that is the way I understand it. In that sense, it was costing us money.
By the same token, the program is available through Yukon Housing. It is interest-bearing and interest rates are very low now. They are starting to get down to the five-percent area and when the program was originally introduced, I believe interest was somewhere in the 12- to 15-percent area. That is very important. Meanwhile, also, many of the houses that are being built now are well insulated and we just do not feel there is the need for that program - especially within Economic Development. It is not necessarily an Economic Development-type program. It is much more suited to Yukon Housing.
Mr. McDonald: Actually, I agree with the Member that programs that involve housing renovations should be handled through one agency. So, no, I am not going to disagree with the general initiative at all.
I am a little surprised by the Ministers argument that the government is in a deficit situation and yet so many other things are being funded, including liquor stores, and that something like this was seen to be less of a priority. I am hoping that the new liquor store is well insulated and does not need any special energy efforts.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: Would the Government Leader mind repeating that? I could not hear him.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Government Leader suggests that the NDP government initiated the project. We initiated the project in the context of a lot of other projects going ahead. I can assure the Member that if it had meant that schools would not be built, then we would have had our priorities straight, unlike the current government. It is a strange thing hearing this come from the Members in the government - particularly the Member responsible for Health and Social Services who willingly sees this project proceed but is not prepared to see the detox facility proceed, which ought to be a higher priority for anyone.
Obviously some people have to get their heads screwed on straight. That is going to be a long project and we are willing to do the work that is required. The in-house cooperative venture to make government buildings more energy efficient was supposed to replace the internal energy management program. What is the governments thinking there? How is this cooperative venture going to be handled?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Economic development will be working with Government Services and the Department of Education. Before, there were duplications in the system, and this has now been streamlined and they will be making recommendations about where energy-efficiency retrofit projects should take place, on a priority basis as monies are available. Again, under the fiscal restraints we are under, we have to priorize the buildings that we are going to upgrade.
Mr. McDonald: Would the Minister mind telling us about this duplication that they are going to eradicate through their new initiative? When I was with the Department of Economic Development, I do not remember hearing that recommendation.
Hon. Mr. Devries: When I first took office there was an energy officer position in Economic Development and there was one in Government Services. At that time I felt that there were some duplications and I feel that I have resolved that issue. Mind you, the energy person in Economic Development also works on other energy-related issues such as energy supply.
Mr. McDonald: We will deal with that more thoroughly in supplementaries. I do not have any more questions in general debate that cannot wait for supplementary estimates debate. If other Members wish to ask a question, then I will go on.
On Departmental Equipment, Furniture and Office Space
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister provide us with an explanation on this $25,000?
Hon. Mr. Devries: This is to buy computer terminals, software, communications equipment, photocopiers, furniture, filing cabinets, office space renovations and shelving. It is not very much money for all those different items.
Mr. McDonald: Has the list of items been designated already for this funding or is it simply a general amount of funding the department thinks it will need?
Hon. Mr. Devries: It is the general amount of funding the department thinks it will need. It has not been itemized as far as price goes.
Departmental Equipment, Furniture and Office Space in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Energy and Mines
Mr. Cable: I have a couple of questions on the mining facilitator. Is this person going to be used to administer these programs that are referred to in the budget in some fashion?
Hon. Mr. Devries: No. That person would be sitting on the Implementation Review Committee and dealing with the Yukon Mining Advisory Committee and companies on a one-to-one basis.
Mr. Cable: Has the position been filled yet?
Hon. Mr. Devries: We had over 200 applications. Presently, we are in the process of doing interviews.
Mr. McDonald: Is the mining facilitator being funded out of the capital budget?
Hon. Mr. Devries: No, it is being funded out of O&M.
On Electrical Infrastructure Loans
Mr. McDonald: This is the program that the government announced. Does the government have specific government guidelines and details that they could give us?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Also, if the Member looks in the blue book, it is part of the Economic Development Act - the regulations pertaining to it.
It would not be in that book yet but it was Gazetted; I remember that.
Mr. McDonald: So the Minister is going to provide us with program guidelines. Can he tell us whether or not any real interest has been expressed by anybody yet to seek loan funding under this program?
Hon. Mr. Devries: We presently have one application and about five interested parties.
Electrical Infrastructure Loans in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Yukon Mining Incentives Program (YMIP)
Hon. Mr. Devries: The breakdown on that is: personnel, the mining development office, $65,000; travel, advertising, communications, et cetera, 48,000; contribution to the Yukon Chamber of Mines, $15,000; contribution to the Klondike Placer Miners Association, $15,000; the balance are contributions to the prospectors and the target evaluation program of, $720,000.
Mr. McDonald: The government is contributing through YMIP $15,000 to the Chamber of Mines and $15,000 to the Klondike Placer Miners Association. Is that funding for those two associations core funding, fee for service, is it a grant, is it operational assistance - how is it characterized?
Hon. Mr. Devries: We basically just consider it to be a contribution. For instance, the KPMA uses much of the money for participating in the IRC and the Chamber of Mines uses much of the money toward participating on various boards to protect the interests of miners as far as regulations, et cetera, go.
Mr. McDonald: I understood the contribution to the Chamber of Mines to be a one-third contribution to the directors position at the Chamber of Mines. Is that not the case? Is this special project funding for participation at conferences?
Hon. Mr. Devries: It is not specific project funding, but they may choose to use it for paying the executive director. By the same token, we recognize it as a very important service they provide in their representation on the various boards.
Mr. McDonald: I recall the reasons for it as I was the one who offered them the money in the first place. I do understand, although I am not certain I understand the governments reasons, but I will want to get back to the issue of core funding in the supplementaries and a discussion about how far the government is prepared to go to provide ongoing operating grants to territorial organizations to permit them to support their organizations. I will give that to the Member as notice of the discussion.
Yukon Mining Incentives Program (YMIP) in the amount of $863,000 agreed to
On Mineral Development Agreement
Hon. Mr. Devries: It is a fairly lengthy breakdown. Do the Members want me to list all the items?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Devries: Okay. The itemized list is as follows: travel in Yukon, $43,000; travel outside to conferences, $26,000; contracts for helicopter time, $225,000; repairs and maintenance $1,000; open house entertainment, $1,000; office rental, $82,000; truck rental, $20,000; office supplies, $10,000; postage and freight, $3,000; advertising, $3,000; program materials, maps, camping and other equipment, $42,000; gas for rental vehicles $4,000; telephone $20,000; field gear, $5,000; registration fees for conferences - Cordilleran Roundup and Geological Association Conferences - $10,000; contributions to non-profit organization - University of B.C. and the Geologic Survey of Canada for radio metric dating, $70,000; Geoscience contributions, $250,000; technology contributions, $400,000; technology printing for economic development agreement reports, $20,000; information contributions, $35,000; economic development agreement administration, $200,000; personnel, $680,000 - there are two federal employees who work under secondment.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to give the Minister notice of a couple of discussions that I would like to have with him, not only about the mineral development agreement but also about the economic development agreement generally. I would like to discuss the administrative costs of government that are being funded under this program. The Minister will remember that we had this debate in the Legislature some years ago when the economic development agreement was negotiated. The expression, at least from the Opposition, was that a large portion would be dedicated to actual projects in the private sector. It appears that one-third of this program is dedicated to the private sector, and the other two-thirds are to government administration. It may be useful government administrative work - geological mapping, et cetera - but those functions used to be the responsibility of the federal government. It appears that what has been happening over time - the Minister may recall the discussion in the Legislature - is that the federal government, without ever having devolved mining responsibility to the Yukon, is slowly allowing its responsibilities to be cost shared by the Yukon government and run through the mineral development agreement. By the time the devolution actually takes place, the Yukon is going to find itself cost sharing the good works that the federal government should have been undertaking. This is a continuing problem. This projection is over $2 million, of which only $700,000 is directed to mining projects.
I would like to have a bit of a discussion about that when we get to the supplementaries. We do not have to have it right here, right now, but I will want to talk with the Minister about that.
I would like to ask him a technical question about the recovery. The recovery is shown at $968 on page number 40. I do not understand that recovery. I was under the impression that the majority of the funding was coming from the federal government. Can the Minister explain that item for me?
Hon. Mr. Devries: On page 40, our book shows a recovery of $968,000 on the mineral development agreement, and this is 70 percent of a certain portion. We have different ratios for different years, so I will have to get back to the Member on that. From the way it looks here, it is almost 50 percent. Perhaps tomorrow I could clarify that, because I do not think we will get through it tonight.
Mr. McDonald: When the Member brings the information back tomorrow, I would like to point out that the economic development agreement on page 39, with an expenditure of $6,366,000 shows a recovery of $3,774,000, which is again pretty close to 50-percent. I would like to hear the Ministers comments on that when he comes back with some information about the mineral development agreements recovery.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I will bring that information back tomorrow.
Mineral Development Agreement in the amount of $2,150,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Energy and Mines in the amount of $3,013,000 agreed to
On Economic Policy, Planning and Research
Mr. McDonald: In the opening remarks to the capital budget estimates, there was mention given to a trust fund under the Northern Accord, which I think amounted to about $150,000. Can the Minister tell the House what that trust fund is all about?
Hon. Mr. Devries: There was some misunderstanding as to exactly what it was. It is not really a trust fund. That money is sitting in Ottawa, accruing to the Yukon government. It is the royalties from the gas fields. They accrue to us until such a time as we have our legislation in place.
I believe our goal is to have the act before the House about May or June. Once we have the act developed, Ottawa has to withdraw its act, or something like that. That can take up to one year. It could still be some time before we actually get our hands on that money.
Mr. McDonald: Is the $120,000 not the result of any transfers from the federal government and is it not recoverable?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Yes, there are three different types of money. There was an annual base increase of $1.1 million through the base transfer from the federal government. There are the transition costs, which are $750,000, payable over 1993, 1994 and 1995. I think it adds up to $375,000 a year.
The royalty revenues remain in Ottawa until such time as we have the legislation in place. At that time, the Ottawa act will be removed and ours will take effect.
Mr. McDonald: I wonder if the Minister could provide us with the precise financial terms of the agreement that the government has concluded? Could he provide us with the amounts of money, the sources of funding, the terms by which the money should be spent and the spending plans over the life of the next few years? What does the government intend to do? Can the Minister provide us with the actual agreement?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Yes, I can provide that tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: Last May, the Northern Accord on the transfer of responsibilities for oil and gas in the Yukon was signed. The Minister indicated tonight that legislation is presently being drafted. However, I am unaware of any public consultation on policies concerning oil and gas development in the Yukon.
Could the Minister tell us whether or not such consultations have occurred?
Hon. Mr. Devries: At this point we are getting our staffing and implementation unit in place. They will begin to develop the policy and legislation at that time, and during the development they will be conducting public consultations with both industry, to try to ensure that we have policy and regulations that are acceptable to the industry and to attract industry to the Yukon, and the public. First Nations will be involved in the consultations.
Mrs. Firth: What does the Minister mean by the unit will be in place shortly. He said tonight that legislation would be ready in May or June. That is approximately six months from now. When does he anticipate having the unit in place?
Hon. Mr. Devries: We have some people in place already and they are working on the legislation. The full unit should be in place around the end of January. They would be ready to start going into this consultation phase very shortly thereafter.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Department of Economic Development developed policies concerning oil and gas development in the Yukon before developing the legislation?
Hon. Mr. Devries: That is part of the whole process. We are hoping to second one person from B.C. and one from Alberta. These people would have experience on the regulatory regime. That policy will all be developed during the time frame from January to May.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is saying that there has not been any policy developed, and yet they are working on legislation. I find it curious how one can draft legislation before there are any policies in place. Perhaps the Minister could clarify that for us.
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, as soon as the Northern Accord was transferred, the person who had negotiated the transfer began working on that. Some of the policy has already been developed and other parts will be worked on. The goal is to present the Legislature with an oil and gas act in May.
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if the Minister could provide to the Members of the Legislature the policy that has been developed already, so that we can have some better indication of what direction the government is going in?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Yes, I will take that under advisement. I just want to clarify that there has been public consultation for the past several years on the transfer of the Oil and Gas Accord. There were also several meetings with the various stakeholders leading up to the transfer.
Mrs. Firth: That was simply with respect to the transfer. It had nothing to do with the Yukon policy and the Yukon legislation with respect to northern oil and gas development in the Yukon. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Devries: That is more or less correct, but we will attempt to provide the Minister with some information on the policy we have at this point.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how the Council for Yukon Indians and other First Nations are going to be included in the discussions, and the policy development?
I think most Yukoners recognize that the First Nations are going to become significant owners of large amounts of land, with great potential for oil and gas reserves. I would like to receive some clear definition from the Minister about how the Council for Yukon Indians and the First Nations are going to be involved in this process.
Hon. Mr. Devries: There is $50,000 provided to the Council for Yukon Indians to have someone participate in the development of the policy. This is a two-year program, so they will receive a total of $100,000. They will be full participants in the development of this policy.
Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 12, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1994-95.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 12, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled December 15, 1993:
North American Free Trade Agreement: no rights or obligations re: large-scale water exports and transmittal letter dated December 2, 1993 from Sheila Copps, Minister of the Environment, Government of Canada (Brewster)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 15, 1993:
Collective Agreement negotiations: detailed costing calculations found in Sessional Paper 93-1-101 tabled on December 13, 1993 (Ostashek)
Oral, Hansard, p.1642
Employment Equity: positions filled according to policy (Ostashek)
Discussion, Hansard, p.1242
Land sales: unbudgeted profit by community (Fisher)
Discussion, Hansard, p.1395
Country or rural residential lots: several lot enlargements; Mary Lake and Canyon Crescent lotteries (Fisher)
Discussion, Hansard, p.1419
Land development: internal government costs related to (Fisher)
Discussion, Hansard, p.1436 and 1462
Ross River recreation facility: funding in the 1993-94 O&M and 1993-94 capital budgets (Fisher)
Discussion, Hansard, p.1398
Tatchun Hill road: no identified funds in the 1994-95 budget for improvements (Fisher)
Discussion, Hansard, p.1459
Faro municipal funding grant: calculation of (Fisher)
Discussion, Hansard, p.1400
Yukon Forest Management Program: policy to be in place by December, 1994 (Brewster)
Oral, Hansard, p.1411
Workers Compensation Health and Safety Board: insurance coverage for volunteers being reviewed (Brewster)
Oral, Hansard, p.1588
Yukon Energy Corporation contract with InterGroup Consultants Ltd: contract regarding industrial rates terminated (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p.1641
Sexual Offenders: committee members on Working Committee on Comprehensive Services for Sexual Offenders of Children (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p.1490
Yukon Energy Corporation contract with InterGroup Consultants Ltd: professional services and advice related to the integration of the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Electrical Company Limited (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p.1641
The following documents were filed December 15, 1993:
Department of Economic Development summary: Employment Task Force Capital Works Projects; notes re estimated impacts, stock of Yukon trades people (Devries)
Economic Development Officers: list of, by community (Devries)
Canada-Yukon Economic Development Agreement, 1991-1996 (Devries)
Community Development Fund: explanation booklet (Devries)
Business Development Fund: explanation booklet (Devries)