Wednesday, January 5, 1994 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Eulogy to Virginia Smarch
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I rise to say a few words in tribute to Virginia Smarch who passed away yesterday morning. She was a respected elder of the Teslin First Nation, and was well known throughout the Yukon.
I have known Virginia for many years and I have always been greatly impressed by her wisdom, courage and her concern for the future of her people, in particular the young people of Yukon.
Virginia made many important contributions over the years to the land claims negotiations. She played a key role on the Yukon Advisory Committee on Indian Child Welfare. She was awarded the commemorative medal for the 125th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in recognition of her significant contribution to compatriots, community and Canada.
I extend our condolences to Virginias two sisters, her two daughters, her seven sons, and her many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Mr. Joe: I would like to speak about someone who I have known for a long, long time - Virginia Smarch who recently passed on.
I have known her since I first became chief 15 years ago. She was involved in a number of meetings. She was a very important person to all the people of the Yukon.
She was wise, she was a great story teller and when she spoke, everyone listened to her. She spoke with great power and strength.
She was very happy to share her knowledge and wisdom, not only with her family and her people, but with anyone who was willing to listen.
Mr. Speaker, because she passed on so quickly, it makes me think that we must never take our elders for granted. We must listen to them and learn from them, because we do not know how long they will be with us. That is why we must respect their wisdom.
She will be missed by the people of Teslin.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have some documents for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, design changes
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Minister of Health concerning the hospital.
We have been trying to get a handle on the Ministers designs on the hospital. We know that he has talked about fewer nursing stations and possible savings of $1 million per year in annual operating costs. For the record, could he confirm today that his plans definitely involve a smaller staff for the present hospital and, potentially, 20 fewer nursing, technical and support staff jobs if he is to achieve the $1 million saving.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The position that we have taken on this important matter is that we would see staff at the hospital being freed up because of the obvious efficiencies of having fewer nursing stations. We would have those qualified people available to offer other important programs to the community through the hospital. The desire to reduce expenditures on the O&M side is fuelled partly by good common sense, and partly by the recognized need to provide additional services to the public over time, including extended care out to people in the community, where people leave beds early and go home - home-type services - and, of course, the very urgent desire to get involved in more health awareness and preventive programming. Again, these people could be involved, through the hospital board, in providing those services.
I was sure, when we announced this and when we decided to take this course of action, that the principles behind this decision would be shared entirely by the Member opposite.
Mr. Penikett: Let me assure the Minister that I am an ardent supporter of health promotion and disease prevention, but we have heard nothing about those subjects from the Member opposite. What we have heard about are efficiencies, which other people will call service cuts. The Minister mentions programs like home care, which is, at the moment, believed by many people, to be seriously underfunded.
In view of the fact that we understand that the present hospital has 76 beds, can the Minister confirm that his redesign involves a planned formula of two beds per thousand of the population, rather than the 3.8 beds per thousand population, which I understand is the present formula, resulting in only 60 care beds in the new hospital for a population of 30,000.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am dealing with the hon. Members preamble. He states that the home care program is seriously underfunded. I would agree with that concern. Interestingly enough, it is at the same level as the funding provided under the previous administration. It is in order to try and beef up some of these programs that we are looking for inefficiencies within the department and an obvious area for moving money around is where we can take talented people, who now sit on night shift in various parts of the hospital, and free them up to do the very important kind of work being done by those who are involved in providing home care or health prevention. That is why we are doing this.
As to the question itself, the recommendations we have from the various people who were consulted are to look at the acute care beds, approximating the 60 bed area - give or take some.
The additional 17 beds, as we said in our initial release - in the form of what would be, for want of a better term, described as hospital beds - would probably be quartered in the old hospital trunk. It would be there in order to provide care to people who did not need the acute care beds and yet were not able to go home, particularly to the communities.
Mr. Penikett: I would point out, on the subject of home care, that spending on home care when the Member opposite was Government Leader was zero. The NDP created the program and kept expanding it all the time we were in office.
If we summarize what we know so far - that we are spending $47 million on a newly redesigned hospital, and that, as a result, we will have a smaller staff, fewer services and only a fraction of the beds of the existing hospital - could I ask the Minister if he believes that this is good value for money, when one takes into account that, under the hospital transfer arrangements, the federal government will be giving more money to us for the hospital than the old hospital received directly from the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Absolutely. First of all, the Member should be reminded that the $47 million contribution from the federal government is a cap - it is up to that amount that they would fund; so, it is not as though we were simply trying to spend $47 million. We are trying to spend up to $47 million on a facility that would be needed and not be a white elephant or an albatross around the necks of Yukoners in the future. That is the first really important point to make. The second important point to make is that the new design, we are advised on all fronts by the available experts we have had the good fortunate to engage or at least receive advice from, will be more flexible and therefore capable of providing more services to the community than the design that we unfortunately are going to have to scrap.
Question re: Contract regulations
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Government Services. The Minister has given the Legislature to believe that any public concern about the Yukon Party messing up the contracting procedures with contradictory political policies would be resolved during the contract regulation review. Can the Minister explain to us why the discussion documents they tabled just prior to Christmas failed to mention that the Yukon Party wishes to pursue a bid preference - whether there is consideration being given to bypassing the low bidder if the politicians in Cabinet feel it is expeditious to do so?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Just from my recollection of the document that I tabled, it clearly indicates that we wished to discuss some of the issues surrounding lowest bid and all the various issues on the table. It is not necessarily limited to just the issues that are in the document. Any issues the contractors wish to bring up, we are open to discussing.
Mr. McDonald: I do not understand that response. During the election the government, a couple of years ago and when they tabled the strategic plan, made a great show of trumpeting two principles: giving contractors a preference and, secondly, reintroducing the principle of the low bidder getting the job.
These principles, and the ancillary one that the Minister mentioned during Question Period that dealt with the Cabinet bypassing a bid whenever it felt like it, are not specifically mentioned in this discussion document. I would like to know why the government has failed to do that.
They raise all kinds of minor issues, but they do not raise the important issues that they made such a great show of during the election campaign and when the strategic plan was introduced.
Hon. Mr. Devries: The issues raised in the document are the issues that came from the contract review committee when there were concerns raised by some contractors on how contracts were awarded.
Those are the issues that were raised. If the contractors wish to raise other issues, that is their prerogative.
I do not see what the Member is getting at.
Mr. McDonald: Let me put my final supplementary succinctly. When is the Minister going to lead a public discussion about the Yukon Partys political principles respecting contracting, which are not in this document or in the existing regulations, but only in the campaign platform and in the Government Services strategic plan.
Hon. Mr. Devries: There have been ongoing discussions with the contracting community about some of these things.
Question re: RCMP budget cuts
Mr. Cable: Members will recall that, in December, I asked the Minister of Justice questions regarding cuts to the RCMP contract in the Yukon. I think the Minister may have been caught unaware, because he wandered off and started talking about expensive cocktail parties.
I understand these cuts could have a significant effect on specialized police services in the territory. Could the Minister tell the House what specialized services may be cut as the result of reductions in the RCMP contract?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This budget, along with the entire operation and maintenance budget for next year, is something that is in the stage of preparation. There have been no firm decisions made with respect to any of the departments to date. I would hope to be one of the last people in this House to deliberately leak the contents of the budget to the House and thus precipitate an unfortunate election.
Mr. Cable: Here I was under the impression that the Minister had conceded that there were to be cuts in the RCMP budget.
From the tenor of the Ministers remarks the last time we spoke about this, I gather that the policing function is under review by the Minister. Has the Minister struck a committee or who is actually reviewing the policing function?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The RCMP are being handled in the same manner as departments within the government with respect to the budget. They have been asked to look at what they can do with regard to offering more effective and efficient service to Yukoners and to come back with some recommendations. I am awaiting those from the chief superintendent of the RCMP and his staff, as I am awaiting similar recommendations from the departments for which I have responsibility.
Mr. Cable: I will have to take, from the Ministers remarks, that there have not been determined budget cuts for the RCMP.
The Minister did indicate in December that the community-based justice initiative was underway. Part of that initiative was a review of the policing function in municipalities. Does the Minister anticipate that the policing function will be given to local people, as opposed to the RCMP?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There are several issues rolled into that question. I will be as brief as I can. Firstly, there is the issue of First Nation policing. I am sure that the hon. Member is aware that a commission was struck by the previous Minister of Justice, made up of chiefs, who have been looking into the situation and consulting with communities throughout the Yukon. They are looking at how First Nation policing is performed in some of the provinces, as well as Alaska. I am anticipating a report back from them soon.
The issue, in addition to that, has to do with the ability to enter into tripartite contracts with the federal government and First Nations. If we enter into those kinds of negotiations and contracts, the obvious benefit to Yukoners is that, instead of paying 70 percent of the cost of those services, as we do under the main contract, there will be a 48/52 percent distribution. This will free up money in the Department of Justice in order to bolster some of the other Justice services provided in the communities, such as training, crime prevention, youth services, healing centres and so on.
Question re: Contract regulations
Mr. McDonald: I would like to return briefly to the Minister of Government Services and ask him a question along the lines of the one I asked before.
There appears to be two different agendas with regard to changing contract regulations. One has been exposed through the election and the election material that the government party tabled during that time. The same one has appeared in the governments strategic plan. It has been defended, to some extent, by the Minister in the Legislature. There is an entirely different one that has involved departmental discussions with contractors.
Can the Minister tell us why the principles in the political agenda are not matched with the departmental agenda in their discussions with contractors?
Hon. Mr. Devries: It is quite simple. As the Member recalls, just after the election the contract regulations that the side opposite prepared came into effect and during the past year we have discovered that the new contract regulations have addressed some of those concerns. Prior to the election, there was a public perception that there was some favouritism and preference, et cetera - and I am just saying public perception - in that regard. Since we have come into office, our feeling is that the existing contract regulations have alleviated some of those problems. So, I do not know why the Member is making such a big deal of it.
Mr. McDonald: If the Minister had said what he is saying now during the election campaign, he would have been speaking for our side. Frankly, that is the reason why I am asking the question. The contract regulations were known in their detail in May and the election took place in September and October.
Can I ask the Minister when he is going to lead a discussion - put his toe in the water - about, for example, the governments wish to bypass the low bidder when the Cabinet feels it is expeditious to do so? When is he going to introduce that subject to the contracting community? When are we going to see it in debate?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, at this point we do not feel it is necessary because, as I said, the contract regulations have been working relatively well in that respect, and there are discussions ongoing with the contracting community. We meet with them every month. If they have some concerns about the way various things are being handled, they have every opportunity to raise them.
Mr. McDonald: Even with this Minister, I do not think I am going to get him to admit that he has abandoned at least two major planks of the Yukon Partys platform and they have crashed in flames. So I will not even bother trying to come full circle and come to the obvious conclusion.
The Minister took notice of the question about whether or not the government would leave itself too exposed to successful legal action if they simply bypassed the low bid because Cabinet wanted more local content. What is the governments position now? He took notice of the question before; what is the position now?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Again, as I had indicated, if we were to see a large number of contracts going to outside bidders, we feel that we have enough flexibility in the contract regulations and in the internal trade agreement, et cetera, to come up with some wording for a tender that would state it would be awarded only to a Yukon contractor.
Question re: Contract regulations
Mr. McDonald: I want to go to a different subject but I guess I will ask the same Minister the same question.
The Minister indicated that he was unaware of whether or not there would be any legal liability associated with the Cabinet bypassing a low bid because the low bid was coming from outside of the Yukon. He was not sure whether there would be any legal liability, so he took notice of the question. Can the Minister now tell us whether or not - I am not talking about the interprovincial trade agreement provision, I am talking about legal liability - after taking notice of the question, whether or not he feels that the government would be too exposed - I am not asking for a legal opinion - if the Cabinet simply bypassed the low bid, without identifying in the tender documents that they were going to do so.
Hon. Mr. Devries: We would have to make our intentions clear in the tender document.
Question re: Abattoir
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Renewable Resources. The Minister said that the government was interested in looking at a proposal for an abattoir, but that the Yukon Agricultural Associations proposal had gone completely out of line. Can the Minister explain to the Legislature how the proposal had gone completely out of line?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: When we were first elected, I made a promise that I would get 20 acres to start this program. I, and two other Ministers, met with the Agricultural Association and I found out that they are now trying to claim 146 acres, which we did not even have. I made it very plain at that meeting that they were not to get the government involved publicly and play politics with this thing, as they have done. The program is now costing over $1 million, and that is not what was originally showed to us. Until it is down scaled, it is not even in our ball park.
Mr. McDonald: I have lots of supplementaries. One of the supplementaries is this: how did the Yukon Agricultural Association make a proposal for an abattoir into a political football that the Minister seems to object to?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: They have now drawn in land claims. They have traded the land away, or tried to. Some of the land still belongs to the federal government. If we are going to sit around here and play politics, I think even the Members opposite would object, if they were the government.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Members can all laugh, but even they would object to private citizens going around and saying publicly that deals have been made with First Nations to trade land, and not even bother telling anybody about it. I think that is a little peculiar. I think that the Opposition would agree that there is something a little wrong with a situation like that.
Mr. McDonald: I am surprised that the Minister would accuse politicians in this Legislature of behaving like politicians, and I am a little surprised at the Ministers assumption that somehow the Yukon Agricultural Association operated in some underhanded way. Can the Minister tell us whether or not he believes that the business plan for the abattoir is realistic?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is far too big for 30,000 people.
Question re: Abattoir
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate to us whether or not he believes that the expectation for public funding for the abattoir by the Yukon Agricultural Association is at all realistic?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We really do not know how much they expect the government to put into this. They are trying to sell some land that they do not have. We really do not know what the figures are, nor the cost for the first five years, which they want us to pick up. They project to lose money for the first five years and they want us to pick up all those costs. I have no idea what those costs would be.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate whether or not the environmental plan proposed by the Yukon Agricultural Association around its abattoir proposal has caused the government any concern?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: When they say that they are going to put in fertilizing plants, yes, it does concern us. We did not even know that was in the program.
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Did the Yukon government make application for the plot that is currently part of the federal forestry reserve at the Takhini River crossing on behalf of the Yukon Agricultural Association? Have they requested from the federal government the transfer of this land to the Yukon government?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure if the lands branch has applied for that piece of land because my understanding is that it was coming over on April 1. The president of the Yukon Agricultural Association was speaking with our lands director. My instructions to the lands director was to do it whatever way is most expedient.
Question re: Abattoir
Mr. McDonald: I am being a glutton today. I would like to ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services a question about the abattoir land.
Did the Minister give direction to the department officials to seek the land at the Takhini River crossing for a possible transfer to the Yukon Agricultural Association?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are two lots in that area. Lot number 288 is one of the lots and I do not recall the other lot number.
Under the forestry transfer, both of those lots would come to the Yukon government. The initial proposal was for the Yukon Agriculture Association to take 20 acres of Lot 288 to be used as an abattoir.
Mr. McDonald: Did the Minister make any requests of department officials to seek or engage in the transfer discussions with the federal government? Did the Minister also indicate to the Yukon Agricultural Association that the government would only be seeking 20 acres, and anything more than that would be unacceptable?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No. I believe that Lot 288 is approximately 146 acres and the other lot, which is larger, would come over to the Yukon government, regardless of how the transfer took place, whether it was before or after the forestry transfer. Our intent was to ask for both parcels of land.
I cannot remember exactly when, but at some point in time the Agricultural Association did write to me and ask that the full 146 acres be transferred to them, rather than the 20 acres that was initially agreed to.
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for either Minister. At the open house sponsored by the Yukon Agricultural Association at the Hidden Valley School, there were department representatives from Renewable Resources and Community and Transportation Services. At that time, the Yukon Agricultural Association made a proposal for a 146-acre site. At no time did representatives from either department express any concern, but were quite helpful in explaining why such a large parcel of land would be needed.
Could either Minister explain why that would have taken place at this meeting?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Before that meeting I met with the deputy ministers and I made it very plain to them, plus eight or nine other people who were there, that the government was not to be involved in a piece of land that big. The president of the Yukon Agricultural Association was at that meeting.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, design changes
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up with the Minister of Health and Social Services on the question of the changes to the hospital. The Minister has made reference to experts from B.C. and Alberta advising the government and giving opinions, which led him to be completely confident about the decision he has made.
Are the experts advising him on the delivery of health care services, as part of the delivery of the health care package, as well as the hospital design?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The people I have mentioned were given plans of the hospital that was to be built, and they were also asked questions about the programs to be delivered and the function of the hospital. In one case, in Alberta, there are two separate branches of the department: one is entirely involved in building, and the other is involved with the programming and functions of hospitals; therefore, both aspects were taken into consideration.
Mrs. Firth: I am concerned about the change leading to a reduction in the delivery of health care services, particularly in light of the comment just made by the Minister about the advice coming from Alberta with respect to programming. As we have seen in the news, and as I have heard through consultations, in Alberta, new graduated nurses are being laid off. They have labour and delivery nurses working in intensive care units; they are combining wards like medical and pediatric, which I think is a terrible idea.
There are nurses with 10 years of intensive care unit experience being laid off.
In light of the Ministers opinions and expertise coming from Alberta, was this taken into consideration by the Minister when he made the decision? What is the governments position with respect to these kinds of issues?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would be rather amazed if anyone on the other side would suggest that the B.C. departments were operating on similar policies. Yet, the advice we were given by those groups was very consistent, as well as from a private firm that specializes in hospital programming, which reviewed the documents.
The issue we are speaking to is a political decision in Alberta to slash away and remove money from the delivery of health services generally, or from the envelope of social services, or from education. The decision we are making is to try to provide good, adequate services in an efficient way so we can expand the delivery of services to Yukoners.
There are aspects of programs we now deliver and wish to continue to deliver. There are programs that are consistent with the Health Act, which the Members opposite are responsible for, dealing with health promotion and that sort of thing. All these are areas that we need to beef up. The only way we are going to be able to have the resources to do that is by being more efficient in the delivery of programs in the future.
Mrs. Firth: I do not deny the efficiency aspect; no one in the House would. However, the concern is whether or not Yukoners will be hurt by this new efficiency mode the Minister is in - his new, less expensive, efficiency mode.
The concern here is whether or not we will continue to have nurses who are maternity nurses, intensive care unit nurses or surgical nurses with a good level of expertise, and whether we will be able to maintain the high requirements of patient care, so that we can keep doctors and nurses here. That is what Yukoners are concerned about with the announcement of this change. In Yellowknife, they medivac out the vast majority of their cardiac patients. We do not do that here, and I would not like to see us start.
In the context of all these cost-saving, efficiency initiatives, what has been taken into consideration with respect to maintaining the quality and the standards of nursing care and medical health services that Yukoners are presently receiving?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Let me say that I share the Members concern; it is shared by most Yukoners. What we are doing is to attempt to ensure that we will have the financial wherewithal to deliver the same high quality of service that is enjoyed now through the hospital and other services supplied to Yukoners by our department and our federal counterpart. If we can save money in some programs, we will be able to reallocate that money to beef up some programs that are less than adequate at this time.
The hon. Member mentions Yellowknife. It is a sad fact that in Yellowknife their health transfer agreement proved to be inadequately funded. The cost of maintaining their hospitals in the Northwest Territories has been far greater than was anticipated in the negotiations.
These are things we wish to avoid. By way of an example, there is a $7 million lawsuit launched by the NWT government against the Government of Canada with respect to billing for status Indian people.
Question re: Wolf control program
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Last year, when the wolf kill was announced, the Minister said that well over 100 wolves would be taken and it turns out that only 60 were. So, this year we are interested in knowing how effective the program is halfway through the winter program. Can the Minister confirm that, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars this year, far fewer wolves have been taken than were expected to be taken, once again?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That is one way of asking the same questions. No, I will not confirm that.
Mr. Harding: Is the Minister not prepared to confirm it because it is true? If that is not the case, why is he not prepared to confirm it or speak one way or the other about how many wolves have been taken?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: He made that accusation, I did not.
Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, we are going to go through quite a few questions at this rate.
I would like to ask the Minister what is the singular reason for withholding this information from Yukoners about how many wolves have been taken and how successful the program is being?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Since nobody seems to understand the word no, I got rather concerned and talked to the stakeholders or phoned them. Every one of them thinks I am correct in what I am doing. They made it very plain that it is a priority of the program that we want and this is what we will continue to address, so the answer will be no until we report it next spring, as we did with this years program.
Question re: Wolf control program
Mr. Harding: Let me ask the Minister this, then. I do not know who the stakeholders are. Perhaps he could tell us in his answer. I would like to ask the Minister this: a report on U.S. national television Monday evening reported that the Alaska wolf kill might be having a serious, negative impact on tourism. What is the Yukon governments policy on cancelling the kill if there is a negative impact on tourism?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We will not even know that until the project is finished.
Mr. Harding: The Minister just told us that he will not even know what the Yukon governments policy is until after the program is finished. I am asking the Minister this: does the Yukon government have a policy regarding cancelling the program if tourism is negatively impacted?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Department of Tourism does not have a policy of cancelling the program, but we did last year set up a system of monitoring reaction throughout North America and Europe. That system is still in place if it is needed, and we will be alerted immediately to any concerns that are expressed outside.
Mr. Harding: This is very disconcerting because yesterday after Question Period the Minister of Tourism told me himself that he would pull the plug on the wolf kill if there was negative tourism impact. Why is he standing up today and saying that the department does not have a policy of cancelling the wolf kill if there is a negative tourism impact?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If the Member wants to get into personal questions outside of the House, I will tell the House what I said to the Member yesterday. I explained to the Member yesterday that if he keeps raising this issue in the House he is not helping the Yukoners and the stakeholders who want us to continue with the program, he is adding ammunition to the antis out there, the people who are not interested in what is going on, and he will be the one who will cause undue problems to the Yukon in the tourism industry as well as for the people in Renewable Resources.
Question re: Wolf control program
Mr. Harding: The Minister of Tourism has just told me that by asking questions in this Legislature all we are going to do is cause the cancellation of the wolf kill program because we should not be able to ask questions in this Legislature about what is going on with the expenditure of taxpayers money, the killing of the wolves, about the biology and how the program is working. Why should the people in this Legislature and of the Yukon be restricted from this information? Why is the Minister now changing his policy on cancelling the program if the tourism numbers do go down?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is becoming glaringly obvious. The last government that was in power, the NDP government, would not implement this program at all and it is showing now that it is against the program, even today. It wants to do whatever it can to kill the program. That is the agenda of the side opposite.
The Minister of Renewable Resources recently talked to the stakeholders involved, the people who have concerns about this issue, and the recommendations - last year when we started the program, and again the other day - were to continue the program, report on an annual basis on the successes of the program and get on with the job. That is what they asked us to do and that is what the Minister of Renewable Resources is doing.
Mr. Harding: The Yukon Official Opposition has stated our position on the wolf kill and the wolf management plan very clearly. We are now asking questions on behalf of our constituents about what is happening with the kill. Why did the Minister tell me yesterday that he was going to cancel the plan if we continue to ask questions and then stand up today and say the Yukon Department of Tourism has no policy and no plans to cancel the kill?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I did not tell the Member yesterday that we were cancelling the plan. I told the Member yesterday that if the Member continues to request numbers in an up-to-date wolf-kill data sheet on a regular basis, he could cause all kinds of pressure on Yukon, Yukon tourism and other people and affect Yukoners lives. The tourism industry would be very interested in the comments made by the Member in raising this as an issue. I do not think they will be happy with it at all.
Mr. Harding: The reason that I raised the issue is because the Minister threatened me yesterday with pulling the plug and blaming people in the Legislature for it because we are asking simple questions. The kill has been going on now for half a year and we are asking questions about how many wolves have been taken. The Minister has said that they have spoken to stakeholders. Who are these stakeholders and why are the people in the Legislature not stakeholders in this?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am amazed that the Member says that the wolf predation program has been going on for half a year. I do not know where he got that information, but it certainly is not my information.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day and Opposition Private Members business.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERS BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Motion No. 34, standing in the name of Ms. Commodore.
Motion No. 34
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Whitehorse Centre
THAT it is the opinion of this House:
(a) that a program of Zero Tolerance of violence against women and children is a valuable and important tool for ensuring that response to violence, or threatened violence, is quick, efficient, effective, and thorough,
(b) that the government should work with pertinent agencies so that complaints will automatically be referred to the Crown without delay, thereby relieving the victim of the decision whether or not to lay charges, and
(c) that this program should be designed and implemented in concert with First Nations and law enforcement agencies So that there is a coordinated, consistent response.
Ms. Commodore: It gives me pleasure today to stand here to speak on this motion. It was tabled in this House a number of months ago, because there has always been a deep concern about what is happening with family violence, not only in the Yukon, but in the world.
Many people, including politicians, ask what zero tolerance means and why it is so important. It is a term that has been adopted across the country.
Zero tolerance of violence against women and children means that no amount of violence is acceptable. It is as simple as that.
There have been many reports completed, recommendations made, solutions offered, and hundreds and thousands of women have talked about the problem over the years. This is not something that we have dreamed up in the last little while.
The problem exists, and there have been many new initiatives over the years. Over the last 10 years, because of the publicity, people coming forward to speak out against violence, charges being laid and convictions in the courts, many more people are coming forward with new information that allows them to deal with a situation that might have occurred many years ago.
We, as a former government, were concerned about family violence and immediately acted to look at the problem in the Yukon. As a result of that, many new initiatives were undertaken at that time. I can remember that on December 5, 1990, the former Member for Whitehorse South Centre, Joyce Hayden, introduced a motion in the House that said, That it is the opinion of this House that there can be no equal place in society for women as long as their basic right to safety is being denied; that the systemic violence perpetrated against women is a sickness in our society and that men must work with women to eradicate it; and that the Members of this House declare their support for working toward the prevention of violence against women.
This motion was introduced by a woman who had been working in the area of family violence for many years. She spoke very eloquently about her reasons for bringing it forward. I believe she thought of it as a way of educating, not only Members of this House, but people in the Yukon who were concerned about the situation. I think almost all Members spoke to the motion then.
The Member for Watson Lake proposed an amendment because he had had a conference call with two women and one male. One of these women was a rape victim, and all of these people had disagreed with the opening statement of the motion. He said they had problems with the motion and that they felt everyone has basic rights if they choose to stick up for them. Everyone has basic rights, whether they stick up for them or not. He said no one agreed that systemic violence is prevalent in Yukon society and that all feel that most family violence is alcohol related, that most abuse counselling is geared toward women, and that it is time for men to start getting some counselling, too. I agree with that. He went even further to say that by voting for this motion as it stands, women are saying that they are the weaker sex and possibly need special rights to become equal members.
He proposed an amendment that substantially weakened the motion that was already on the table. We spent a lot of time talking about the reasons for that.
The motion was presented in this House one year after the massacre of 14 women in Montreal, who were killed just because they were women - for no other reason than that they were women. At that time, there was a shock right across the country. A lot of us knew of the violence against women, and that violence in Montreal, which killed 14 women, made it very clear that the situation was real, that there were real people out there who felt that women had no status whatsoever in this country. That is clear today.
We look at letters to the editor from men who are absolutely opposed to any kind of right for women.
Our party, and we, as a government, were always concerned about how to deal with this situation. In many cases, we found there was some opposition to it, and a lack of understanding about the extent of the problem. We initiated a study that was completed by the government now in power. I would like to say that it was with satisfaction that I found out that that was going to go ahead. It was finally completed with a lot of information in it about the problems here in the Yukon. It spoke not only of family violence, but also of many other things. It talked about different ideas in regard to dealing with this, but it did not offer any kinds of recommendations or solutions.
That is not exactly what it was supposed to do at the time. It helped us to understand that this was a deep problem, and that there were many people out there who were suffering as a result of violence.
I would just briefly like to go through some of the information that was included in that report. The Minister responsible for it is also the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate. It includes not only his area of responsibility, but also Justice and Health and Social Services. It should have been read very carefully by all the people involved.
I am sure that some people in the government system have read it and taken very seriously some of the things that were included in the report, but not many individuals in the public really understand the extent of the problem and how it has personally affected many people.
One section highlighted violence against women. That was a very important part of the survey, when it was planned by our government. It quotes one woman as saying, I was sexually harassed and brutally beaten by this guy. My Mum could not recognize my face, it was so bad. All he had to do was attend Crossroads. I didnt think I was treated fairly by the justice system. This guy, I see him walking on the street today. He goes out with a very young girl. They have a child together and I feel sorry for her. She is going through the same thing, too. It goes on to talk about the kind of things that women who have been abused have seen as they have dealt with their situation.
Some of the stuff was positive. One woman talks about the support she got from the government. She talks about the people who work for victims services, and how they are willing to help. They are not the kind of people who say that they have to go for a coffee break, and to call them back in 15 minutes. That is one good thing. It was one of the new initiatives that was implemented by our government, and was supported by Members on the other side of the House at that time. She says they made things easier for her.
Another woman said that she believes that judges are not aware of womens issues and that, if there were more women judges, we would see fairness. Another woman said that the preliminary trial creates so much doubt for the victim. The judge sits there and judges the womans statement as being either the truth or not.
They talk about going to the RCMP and giving their statement. These are real people speaking. They talk about how they are shuffled around by some individuals who begin by saying that they want to help and then pass the buck, saying that they cannot do this or that, and that someone else should. Sometimes this made it very difficult for people to follow through with any complaints they may have.
Another woman talked about how dehumanizing it was when one lays a charge and, if the man pleads not guilty, he is given an opportunity at the preliminary trial to sit and watch the victim. He does not have to testify. Only the victim does. She says it seems like the system is set up to protect the criminal. That kind of situation happens in many cases, as the Minister of Justice and yourself, Mr. Speaker, as lawyers, know. The victim feels powerless in the courts to deal with a system that she feels is supposed to be protecting her.
We all understand that there are many situations in the court that do not seem fair, and whether the system will ever change to make it seem fair I do not think will ever happen.
If one is dealing with many of those situations, one feels powerless to follow through on the complaints. There was another woman who talked about how a man was accused of raping another man and there was an outcry because it was such a horrendous crime - and it is, for one male to do this to another. Then one starts to wonder: what about the female victims? It was put on a different scale. Women can expect this type of behaviour but it is not done to a man.
We all remember the outcry when this situation occurred. The individual was convicted, but what we do not hear about are the women who have to go through the same system, who have actually been physically and sexually abused, but do not receive the same concern by some people.
They talk about how the legal system seems to blame them. Although they are the victim, they seem to believe that the system does blame them.
These are actual Yukon men and women who have been quoted in this report. The report goes on and on and on, talking about how hard it is to deal with situations.
One woman here stated that the first case was thrown out of court as they did not have enough evidence, but the second time, the offender who had repeatedly assaulted my daughter had assaulted a neighbours daughter received a sentence of only three months in jail. It leaves women and girls feeling that they have done something wrong because the abuser was not given the kind of sentence they felt that that person should get.
They talk about how they believe there should be more women in the system. Most people are aware of this situation and many women feel that there have to be more women who are members of the force, who are lawyers, who are judges and who are counsellors.
Some of these women experience a great deal of difficulty when they have phoned for assistance. All of a sudden, they have two male cops to deal with the situation, and it makes them very uncomfortable. It makes them feel very uncomfortable if most of the counsellors are male. Judges have to catch up with the times to see how things have changed and how women are progressing, and they have to be educated.
Everything I am saying now are things that have been said in this report.
The report on the justice system and society ends up in summary by saying that they feel the women who are assaulted are double victims, that they are victims of abuse, and they feel they are also victims of the justice system. They complain about the length of time it takes the charge to be dealt with, that the system should be more responsive to victims, and that there should be more women judges and counsellors.
We all know from hearing stories, and from having personal friends in that position, the great difficulty they have leaving a violent situation. Many years ago, I recall where a woman drove quickly from a place where she was living on the highway and was helped by a lodge owner to get out of a situation that she had been dealing with for a couple of decades. The situation that finally drove her to leave was, because she disagreed with Isomething her husband said, while she was in the bathtub, he stuck her head in the water and kept it there until she could hardly breathe any more. He almost killed her. The woman never laid charges against this man but, after two decades, she was able to leave the situation.
That is only one instance I know of, but there are many talked of in this report about how violent a situation can get, and what, in the end, finally encourages those individuals to leave that violent situation.
They mention more pressure put on women to put up with the violence than there is for men to stop. That is clearly indicated in this report. We have heard these things over and over again, and we know that many women blame themselves.
This section of the report starts off by saying, I believed for a long time that because I was his wife, I had to do whatever he wanted me to do and that I was obligated, but you do not, not if it is morally wrong for you. I felt like I was not a person. The only way is to let women know that they do not have to do something that makes them feel like their body is being used. It is a violation.
It does not matter how many times we mention over and over again about violent situations that happen to women. People have to hear and know that these situations actually exist. There are so many people who criticize women for speaking out, and who criticize women who want equality in this life and do not want to have other women they know have to put up with a situation that is intolerable to them. They get criticized for it and I know for a fact that they are laughed at because they speak up and believe in the things that they are saying. I have seen laughter in this House when some of those things are mentioned.
The women talk about how they have been helped by some of the people in the system. Although there was criticism about double standards and double abuse, there were situations where they had been helped by people in the system who spent a lot of time with them and offered new programs so that they were able to leave the situations that they have lived in for many years.
I think there have been many changes made across the country, by federal ministers in different jurisdictions, that have helped to deal with the situation.
We do not want to stop now because changes have been made, or new laws have been made. We know for a fact that violence continues. We know for a fact how difficult it is for those individuals who want out of horrible situations to be able to get out. The people who made comments in this section of the report would like others to know that even emotional abuse is a form of violence. They want people to know that it is not easy to try to get out of a situation. Some women have had to plan for years to find the right time to get out of a violent situation in their home. It talks in here about a woman who got a credit card but never used it - she just kept it hidden. The report states that they did not know how she was able to get this credit card because her partner checked all incoming mail. She was able to get it and she kept it until the time was right for her to go, and then she went and bought an airline ticket, and got out of the territory.
It talks about how difficult it is to leave those situations, and how sometimes planning must be done years ahead. I mentioned a situation I knew about where it took two decades for a person to get out of a violent situation. I mentioned that there were sympathetic friends out there who had gone out of their way to help. We know of Crystal Senyks case where she was trying to help a friend of hers out of a violent situation, and she lost her life doing that. Sometimes you are literally putting your life at risk when you choose to help someone who desperately needs help. It takes an awful lot of courage to do something like that.
There are many people out there who do not know about secrets in the home. They do not know if a person is being abused and the women and the children will never ever say. They talk about how they felt when they were getting beaten up by their spouses and how the men made them feel like it was their fault so they had to be beaten up.
They also mention in this report about the healing that goes on and many individuals take it upon themselves to deal with the healing process. Sometimes it works. One of my greatest beliefs is in the process of healing done by First Nations groups. I say that because I am well aware of many situations where First Nation groups have, on their own, gone through the healing process with individuals. They are not technical; they are not taught by universities and colleges but they are taught by things that have been taught to them in the past. In many cases, they have offered that training to other people. Doing it on your own takes up much time and money when you have to do it as often as you can to make sure that that kind of support and healing is ongoing.
This report talks about the healing that First Nations are going through. We are healing the people who are becoming mothers and fathers so that the generations that follow can be healthy. I think that not only applies to the First Nations population but to all people who have a situation of violence in their home.
One woman in this section talks about violence in her home. She says, I think about my own assault when I was 18. I was in hospital for two weeks. There was a lot of shame and low self-esteem. My body ached all over and I felt very lonely. When I left the hospital I ended up at the Yukon Indian Womens Association. These women put things into perspective and gave me insight into the injustice Indian women experience. Turning to other First Nations women and working with them has been healing.
I offer this part of the survey so that people will understand that the healing and the treatment that is being offered is not the only thing that works. I do know that the Yukon Indian Womens Association has been working with the healing process through Dene Nets edetan for a number of years now. They are being supported by a person who has been seconded to work with them. I applaud this government for that action. I think that is one action that many aboriginal people will support.
It talks about healing in the communities, not only with the aboriginal people. There are many women and children who are affected and it offers some ideas about how these individuals went through the healing process once they were able to get out of a violent situation, and sometimes about how the whole family dealt with it. Sometimes there are families who feel they want to keep the family together but they want to make the whole family well, and that the abuser and the abused should be able to work together to try to do that. I know that in a lot of situations aboriginal groups are criticized for allowing the abuser to take part in a healing process but, in many cases, the situation is dealt with in a different way and could be very successful.
There was much information in the Yukon survey that was done, and which was implemented by us as a government, and I am sure that the report itself is going to be taken very seriously by the existing government. I am not exactly sure what plan they have in place to deal with many of the problems that we have - whether or not they have a plan of action, whether or not the departments that will be responsible are working together to make changes. I am not saying that some of the existing programs do not work, because they are very helpful and supportive and they have many committed individuals in them who are working to stop violence.
Over the years, many groups were involved in putting together reports from many other jurisdictions. For many years I attended meetings of the ministerial conference on the status of women as the Minister at that time - I believe for seven or eight years. On a national level, working with all of the jurisdictions across the country, we looked at ways of dealing with family violence. A report - which I have not read, because it is quite a long report and was just recently released - had many recommendations for zero tolerance.
I know that in one of the reports quite a few years ago - maybe three or four years ago - many statements were made across the country by women and men who were able to make representation to the federal groups. Some of the comments that were made at that time and were reported in a federal report were that women were getting tired of animals having more protection than women.
In many instances, that seems to be the case. I remember very clearly, in this House when I was in government, how the Opposition side at that time spoke more passionately about the protection of animals than they did about violence against women.
Many women in this survey talked about how scared they were to go home once they got out. They would have nowhere else to go if there were no shelters available to them. Violence often makes women walk in fear. Children blame themselves and feel responsible for violence between their parents.
Many women in the Yukon and across the country have been held at gun point by their partners. It is not uncommon for Yukon children to have to hide for two or three days due to ongoing violence in the home. They would have to wait until a party ended before they felt they could come out from hiding.
There were also many statements made by First Nations groups from across the country in that preliminary report. It stated that some aboriginal communities have taken justice into their own hands and set up healing programs where victims and abusers speak to each other, as I mentioned a few seconds ago. Sweat lodges are also being used to help men express pain they experience over their actions. As I mentioned before, involving some of the abusers has been frowned upon by even women in the Yukon and government officials, although support programs are offered to men.
Many First Nation groups are concerned that the cycle of violence continues because they lack the necessary holistic treatment and they explain in here that holistic treatment focuses on the whole person, the whole family unit and the whole community. They say that it involves deep personal insights into the area of abuse and that those that need healing begin to get in touch with their own inner child. That may sound strange and far out - to use an old phrase - to many people, but that is what they believe. They feel they must begin to deal with it themselves. It is a long process, but it works for them.
I know for a fact that there are many people in the system in the Yukon who have the power to change the process but do not understand the concepts. They refuse to consider that a process that is different than what has been taught by their experts may actually work.
I know that when I was the Minister - and I speak openly about this right now - I had a great deal of difficulty trying to make certain people in the department at that time understand that you have to look at other aspects of healing, and just because a person appears to be an expert across Canada, he or she is not the only person who has the total answer.
I found that as a Minister in the Yukon I had a great deal of difficulty in trying to make the people who were responsible for the programs really understand that certain individuals, although they lacked university educations, could actually make something work. I spent a great deal of time trying to get individuals in the department to work with First Nations women and groups to support each other in the healing process. Fortunately, a couple of those individuals are no longer with the department and I am encouraged that there is a better understanding of how the system is going to work.
We talked a great deal about labour issues in this House and how they affect many women and low income workers, but I want to mention something here, and I am sure that the Member for Mount Lorne will also mention it. I have here a policy of the United Steelworkers against racial and sexual harassment and violence against women. They talk about violence against women not being a womens problem. They talk about all of the situations and how you have to put those problems on the table and deal with those problems.
The policy mentions the attitudes that people have right now in dealing with women. Some of them are so true, but you look at them and wonder how people actually feel about some of the things that happen.
They talk about putting the sounds of violence on the table. They talk about putting the statistics on the table, and they talk about putting the excuses, questions and the responsibility for family violence on the table. They also talk about how they are going to deal with those sounds, excuses, statistics and finally, the responsibilities. All of that is contained in the United Steelworkers booklet.
I commend them for it, and I mention this today because I know how Members on the side opposite feel about unions, but here is a good indication of the many things that they are involved in: not only better working conditions for workers, but better things for women.
It is all down here in black and white. I have to commend them for it. I would really like to suggest to the side opposite that they read it, because they might learn something from it.
Over the years there have been many suggestions and ideas put forward by governments. When we were in government, there was a committee called the interdepartmental working committee on family violence. They put together the booklet I have here that talks about some of the services that are available in the area of family violence. This was in 1990, and it is now 1994. One hopes that many of these things have been updated and I hope that there are further things available to the general public to deal with family violence.
I have a question about that committee for the Minister responsible for Justice that he can respond to when he speaks to this motion.
There was also an internal committee called the committee to assess the responsiveness of Yukon justice to family violence, that was reviewing the existing administrative procedures with a view to improvement. I remember that when this committee was set up, it was to deal with the possibility of a family violence court in the Yukon. We had done a lot of work to try to find out what was happening across the country with regard to family violence.
I remember I was at a meeting once at which the representative from Manitoba spoke to us about how the family violence court was working in that area. At that time, we were trying to find out how effective that would be in the Yukon. As the Minister, I struck a committee within the department that included our department, the RCMP, the federal Crown, probation services and the Womens Directorate.
I do not know if that committee is still in existence. In the last session, I think it was, I asked the Minister responsible for Justice about what, if anything, had happened in regard to a family violence court in the Yukon. I thought that the idea that was presented to me at that time needed more work, and I also thought we needed to gather more information. I suspect that the committee is no longer active.
I would also like the Minister to tell me whether the interdepartmental working group on family violence is still active, because we had problems in trying to deal with overlaps in different departments at that time. There were certain individuals in Health and Social Services, in Justice and even in the Womens Directorate who were offering educational material to the public and there may have been duplication.
I am not standing here to criticize what is happening in the departments. I am standing here to speak on a motion that asks for certain things to be done, to look at zero tolerance of violence against women. As I said in my opening speech, zero tolerance of violence against women and children means that no amount of violence is acceptable.
In many jurisdictions, as in this one, new things are happening. Included in the recent report done by the federal government was their zero tolerance policy. Included in that policy were zero tolerance model action plans. Included in that were 49 recommendations.
The Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate spoke about the report. There was some criticism from him, and from us, because the Yukon was not included. I cannot remember what the federal governments excuses were, but it was something like there were not enough phones in the Yukon, and I do not know what else. However, they were minimal and were not acceptable to us.
At the same time, there was the final report of the survey that was done by the Statistics Bureau and the Womens Directorate, which had much information in it that would have been valuable to the federal report. However, they somehow chose to believe that information from the Yukon was not important.
I am sure both Ministers have read the report. In the zero tolerance policy, there are 49 recommendations. Some of them could very well apply to the Yukon. Some of them may very well have been implemented by that government and the former government. There are also many new things in here, about how we can accomplish zero tolerance in the Yukon.
I would suggest that, if they have not already done it, the whole Cabinet and Members of the caucus read it very carefully. Each and every one of us represent women in our constituencies. We have women and children in those constituencies who are suffering as a result of family violence.
It talks about many different things, including things that would not apply in the Yukon, as is the case with many of these reports - especially since they did not even include the Yukon. However, many of the issues do apply. They talk about specialized training on the needs of women with disabilities, elderly women, aboriginal women, immigrant women, women of colour and refugee women. They speak about adopting a cooperative working relationship with legal and other services, and directly involving survivors of violence.
There are some support groups in place and new initiatives that the RCMP have implemented. There are many groups out there that do meet to support each other in dealing with the problem.
The report talks about improving access to formal complaints and discipline procedures for victims and survivors. Many of these issues can apply to the Yukon report. They talk about public education programs and including them in the schools. I do not know whether or not there are programs in the schools to deal with family violence. I would hope that there are, particularly for aboriginal and Inuit children in a culturally appropriate way. I think that, to a certain extent, that is happening.
They talk about supporting and recognizing traditional healing services as a legitimate form of healing for aboriginal and Inuit women, and ensuring that aboriginal people have access to a full range of training opportunities to meet the self-identified needs for community-based healing and treatment programs for victims of violence.
It talks about increasing the level of service for alcohol and drug abuse. We spend millions of dollars to do that, not only through the programs that are available, but also in our correctional facilities. Many of our people are there as the result of a crime that was committed due to the influence of alcohol and drug abuse. So, the money that goes into dealing with that problem is into the millions.
It talks about ensuring that police force policies clearly reflect the priority given to the safety of people. It talks about creating a local womens safety advisory board to advise the RCMP to work with school personnel to develop violence prevention programs.
I am only mentioning some of the 49 recommendations in this report.
It talks about developing training programs that are mandatory for judges and other adjudicators, including parole board members, and ensuring that police commissions stay accountable to women in the community on the work done to support their safety by reporting regularly on their activities. It talks about conducting gender awareness programs in the schools pertaining to violence.
The recommendations go on and on and on and, as I said, I am not here to criticize the programs that are already in existence because we all know, with great difficulty, that some of them work. When we ask questions about positions that have to be filled, for instance in the family violence prevention unit, that are going to be filled immediately, then we find out months later that they are not filled, we have to wonder about the expediency of dealing with family violence. When I hear stories about cultural programs not being taken seriously, I get really concerned because we do know that many aboriginal communities, First Nations communities, have many problems. I worry that, although many of the programs work, cultural programs are not taken seriously. It has been reported to me that a couple of people in high positions in the Department of Health and Social Services have made statements that cultural programs are a bunch of crap. If that kind of attitude exists in government, if it is being said in the company of other people who work in those departments who should be taking very seriously the problems they are having to deal with and promoting programs, I wonder about how responsible they are in those positions. I do not think cultural programs are a bunch of crap.
I hear that some of the programs that were offered in the past are being used less and less all of the time.
I feel, as a former Minister, that there is a responsibility to make sure that the programs that affect people have to work. Programs that are culturally effective and successful should not be stopped. If there is anyone in any department who thinks cultural programs are a bunch of crap - and the name of the person who said that was given to me - that person should not be working in Health and Social Services.
I will not speak much longer. I want to say that I am glad that I had the opportunity to speak on this motion. Although it was tabled in this House quite a few months ago, it is still timely and we have to look at how we can improve what is already in existence, and I certainly would like to see the government provide a progressive report on the kinds of things that are happening right now. I would also like to know how they intend to deal with zero tolerance in the Yukon, because if we are going to take zero tolerance of family violence seriously, then there has to be a plan in place about how we are going to achieve it.
Ten years from now - I know that is a long time and none of us knows where we are going to be 10 years from now, and although it seems like a long time, it was 10 years ago that former governments were dealing with family violence - I would like to see that the government has had some success working toward zero tolerance in family violence, and that we are well on our way to achieving that goal.
I think that we should look at education for people around us and people who are working in the system who are known to create family violence. We should all be aware that the situation is much more serious than the ordinary person really suspects and we all have to work toward the goal.
As Opposition Members, we have no power to implement any new programs, but certainly we do have the power to speak on behalf of those women and children in our communities who are suffering as a result of family violence.
I know that I will have a chance to close this debate today and that I will have a chance to speak again, but I look forward to hearing what the side opposite has to offer to this motion. I also look forward to hearing from the Members in my caucus.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would like to thank the Member opposite, the former Minister of Justice and Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate, for bringing this important issue forward by way of a motion here today. I know that she is very concerned about the problems of family violence and that she has worked very hard in the past to help find solutions to this serious and complex problem.
I do want to say a few words about that problem. I think it is a non-partisan issue, and I think that everyone in the Yukon has a stake in finding ways to eliminate family violence. The consequences of not doing this affects us in all aspects of our lives. I think even more dramatic is the impact felt in the smaller communities, where it is so difficult for victims, or people who are uncomfortable in violent situations, to escape at all.
Of course, the problem is one of the very deep-rooted problems that we have in our communities. It is costly; it is responsible for huge costs in Justice and Health and Social Services programming. It is the kind of problem that does tend to be passed on from one generation to the next, and it is a deplorable problem for a great many families.
When one thinks of the virtues of the family, many, if not all, of these virtues are perverted by intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault, emotional and mental abuse, confinement, depravation, neglect and financial exploitation. Examples of these were cited by the Member. Under circumstances such as these, instead of being a place of sanctuary for individuals, the family becomes a place where the victims sense of self-worth is virtually destroyed. Healthy families tend to promote the self-worth of all in the family; unhealthy families can have a devastating impact on an individuals sense of self-worth.
As I have said, the problem is acknowledged to be not only private, but cyclical. Most victims suffer in silence; most offenders were probably once victims. Many children learn by watching, learning from the actions of others. In the context of active family violence, children learn about the strong preying on the weak.
Numerous statistics have come out of surveys. The recent Statistics Canada survey is one example. Some of those statistics show that 25 percent of all Canadian women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of a current or past spouse; 63 percent of women who have been assaulted in a family setting have been victimized on more than one occasion; 32 percent have been victimized more than 10 times. Women who reported having violent fathers-in-law are three times more at risk of assault than women without violent fathers-in-law. One in three victims of spousal assault fear for their lives on almost a daily basis.
Those statistics paint a very ugly picture, one that is hard to ignore, and the numerous examples of which we all know are indelibly ugly scenes in our minds.
To put in an encouraging note, I think that, over the past decade or so, there has been a growing awareness of the problem, a growing concern about the problem, and people feel free to speak about the issues of family violence, and to debate in public what once, in a more Victorian era, was hidden from view in some kind of misguided protection of the family name, or that sort of thing, and which is now something that is recognized as a problem that is experienced across all levels of society. It is, unfortunately, even more evident in some of our smaller communities.
There is a growing recognition that family violence is a complicated social problem, requiring the best efforts of government, law enforcement, justice, womens groups, First Nations, social agencies and the general public to remedy. It seems to be the case, since we first debated a similar motion in this House in 1989, that the profile of family violence has grown, even in that short time. It has grown as a problem that we can talk openly about; it has grown as a problem whose destructive cycle can be broken.
I want to speak briefly about some of the efforts now being made on numerous fronts in the Yukon to remedy the problem. I would like to speak briefly about the multi-agency coordinating committee that emerged out of the RCMPs highly successful conference on family violence last spring. I know that most Members are aware that there has been a committee struck that meets regularly to share information on better ways to eliminate - and I stress the word eliminate - family violence.
Partially as a result of the work coming out of that conference, the RCMP has set up a domestic violence investigation team that conducts follow-ups of all victims reporting family violence offences. We are in the process of seconding a social worker, co-funded by the two departments that I am responsible for - Justice and Health and Health and Social Services - to join the team on a pilot-project basis.
Within Justice there are numerous programs and initiatives. Some of these are the following: presentations and workshops in family violence areas to various social agencies; pamphlets and posters specifically aimed at helping offenders and their victims; in-house manuals for in-house training at the family violence prevention unit; the family violence-sexual assault line that operates during working hours; the victim support group program; the assaultive husbands group program; the victim-witness coordinating program; the victim impact statement program. We are developing a probation officer training program in family violence dynamics. We are shortly going to be conducting a review of the family violence prevention unit to ensure that it can support the development of family violence victim/offender services in communities. We want to provide safe, sensitive services to victims and to have it help communities operate culturally appropriate service delivery models.
We have recently invited all Yukon communities to look at their community justice programs and services and to come to us with recommendations on how these services might be community driven as opposed government driven. When we speak about that, we get into the areas of community justice and community healing centres.
In Health and Social Services, we have the child abuse treatment service, which counsels child victims of physical and/or sexual assault. Child welfare services works on these problems, as does the Champagne/Aishihik social services society, which is funded by the department. There is a professional and paraprofessional training to work with abused children, outreach service that provides physical- and sexual-abuse crisis consultation to communities outside of Whitehorse. We provide funding to Yukon Family Services, which deals with many victims in this context. There is safe-place facility funding and there are young offenders programs designed to break multi-generational cycles of family violence. There is family support staff that works with families, and parent training aimed at eliminating domestic violence. We have recently co-sponsored a community-wide conference with Justice that contained four-day training sessions on working with abused children.
We are also in the process of finalizing a child-abuse protocol that reflects current practices in investigating child abuse matters.
The Member did raise a couple of questions, which I will turn to now. One question had to do with the committee that was set up to assess the responsiveness of the Yukon justice system to family violence. That committee did continue on and did report to me. The report has been given to all of the agencies on a confidential basis. I would like to say that the reason for the need for confidentiality was driven by the need to ask judges and the federal Crown to participate in the committee. They were unwilling to do this if they were seen to be making recommendations to the government on things that might involve money. It is a protocol issue that makes it confidential. I have no problem with sharing the report with the Member. I do not want to compromise those people who participated, as they did so solely on that basis. Understandably, given their position, they did not want to get involved unless it was to be seen simply as recommendations to the Minister, and there were a good number of recommendations, some of which are being followed up on.
It is one aspect of some very deep changes in some of our communities, and I have spoken about this on different occasions here, that we now do see a genuine interest - in the aboriginal communities particularly - in healing. This, of course, extends to various social problems that are recognized and not denied, and we do see communities desperately trying to come to grips, having recognized and acknowledged the problems they have with alcohol and drugs and violence and sexual abuse - problems that had various causes - seeing them now wanting to have an important role, if not the dominant role, in finding ways of healing.
The Member did discuss briefly that very important development and very fundamentally important desire on the part of First Nations and First Nation families and, of course, as the Member has said, the - perhaps unique is too strong - aboriginal view of the healing is to try to heal the family as a whole. That differs somewhat from the ways in which we deal with the problem. I certainly feel this is something that is deserving of a lot of support.
It does, however, point to an area of, if not conflicting principles, at least unease between some of the shelters and some of the feminist views as opposed to some of the strongly held views of aboriginal women and aboriginal families.
There is that difference of opinion and there certainly is a fair amount of sensitivity. For example, if a woman from an aboriginal community goes to a healing centre, will that automatically mean that charges ought to be laid against the assaulting spouse?
As I get into this, I do wish to point out what I see as some deficiencies in the motion presented by the Member - and not to do this in a partisan way at all - but I am concerned with the wording of the motion. I think that we share the same concerns and I do not have any real disagreement with what the Member had to say. I think, for technical reasons, the motion ought to be amended.
Accordingly, I would like to propose the following amendment.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT Motion No. 34 be amended as follows:
1) by deleting the word program in paragraph (a) and substituting the word philosophy;
2) by deleting paragraph (b), and
3) by rewording paragraph (c) to read as follows:
that any initiatives taken in support of this philosophy should be designed and implemented in concert with First Nations, law enforcement agencies and the Integration 93" Committee, so that there is a coordinated and consistent response."
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice
THAT Motion No. 34 be amended as follows:
1) by deleting the word program in paragraph (a) and substituting the word philosophy;
2) by deleting paragraph (b), and
3) by rewording paragraph (c) to read as follows:
that any initiatives taken in support of this philosophy should be designed and implemented in concert with First Nations, law enforcement agencies and the Integration 93" Committee, so that there is a coordinated and consistent response."
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The first issue has to do with the word program. I would like to say that we feel the word philosophy, or policy, is what ought to be utilized here. The federal government has a policy of prosecution whereby, if a victim goes to the Crown - that being the prosecuting office - or to the RCMP, the policy of the federal government is that, in every case where there is evidence sufficient to lay a charge, then at that point it is in the hands of the RCMP, and they subsequently determine whether or not the charge ought to be dropped. They do that on the basis of evidence, not on the basis of anything else.
A policy of zero tolerance is important, and I do not think, in saying this, that I am really changing the intent of the motion itself. Along the same Ilines, under paragraph (b), to state that the government should work with pertinent agencies so that the complaints will automatically be referred to the Crown without delay, thereby relieving the victim of the decision of whether or not to lay the charges, in my view, would clearly give rise to problems. A victim who would otherwise go and seek help from one of the numerous agencies, other than the RCMP, that is there to give assistance in the case of family violence, may not avail themselves of that assistance if they know that to go there - for example, to a safe house - automatically means that criminal charges will be brought against the spouse.
I can say to the Members of this House that I have had a good many conversations with people, from the communities, in particular, and particularly aboriginal people, who will not go to some of the safe houses. The one in Watson Lake is not used because the philosophy of separating them from the family, and not taking a holistic view toward healing the family, is one that they feel very strongly against.
I am concerned about the wording of section (b) being misconstrued. If it refers to the police, that is consistent with the current federal policy. However, if it refers to agencies, I think it would be contrary to the view of many victims who will not come forward to seek assistance, should they feel that they would have no choice in the matter of approaching the police to see if charges can be laid.
The last part of the wording is that any statements in support of this philosophy should be designed and implemented in concert with First Nations, law enforcement agencies and the Integration 93 committee. That way, we do have a coordinated and consistent response. This is, in my view, reinforcing what has been attempted by the groups that have been working in the past to improve the justice system and agencies with regard to their response to family violence.
I would like to state that there are three principles that the groups agree ought to guide our efforts to improve our response to family violence or to break the cycle of family violence. Firstly, since family violence is not easily prevented, the justice system must send out an unequivocal message that this behaviour will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Secondly, it must recognize the need for accessible victim-support services from the occurence of the offence to final court disposition and post-release of the offender. Here, of course, the point is to ensure that the system respects and supports victims, while disposing of their cases as expeditiously as possible to avoid traumatizing them still further. The third principle is to provide treatment for convicted offenders that are appropriate, in the interest of long-term prevention. No one has been able to show that incarceration alone deters offenders from repeating any type of offence. I think it is strongly felt that most assaultive and abusive behaviour can be modified, and that successful treatment is the best way to truly break the cycle.
I want to stress that I feel that these changes are of a technical nature. They do support the intent of the Member as outlined in her address. I would commend the adoption of this amendment by all Members present. By doing so, I would also hasten to add that I remain most interested in hearing the comments of all Members regarding this very important problem in our society.
Ms. Commodore: It is sometimes very difficult to deal with an amendment in midstream, especially if you have to follow the decorum of this House and do it in a civilized manner. It is also difficult because I was trying to listen to the Ministers reasons for making the amendment.
With respect to the information he gave with regard to the changes in (b) and (c), by deleting (b) and adding part of that to (c), I recognize that he had a valid concern and made a motion to amend it to make it easier to agree with the motion.
I had one question in regard to the Integration 93 committee. I do not know what that is, so I do not know what they do. I have no idea how they operate, or what their terms of reference are. I would not mind if there was more information available to us in regard to that.
I do not agree with changing the word program and substituting for it the word philosophy. We all have philosophies, and we all believe in them. We can have them and believe in them forever. Whether or not anything is done about them is another matter.
I understand, with the word program included in this motion, it suggests that it may cost us money. The Minister has indicated to us that implementing new programs will cost money. We all agree that it will. He has also talked about doing a review of the family violence prevention unit, and possibly changing some things in it.
Point of Order
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Point of order.
Speaker: The Minister of Justice, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would like to reassure the Member speaking that changing the word from program to philosophy or policy, might be okay. The concern with the word program is that it deals with a specific issue that is now under the domain of the federal government. I have no problem with policy being substituted for the word philosophy, if that were to be moved.
The second point I would like to make in this very important point of order is that the Integration 93 committee is the committee of all agencies that came out of the Conference on Family Violence, sponsored last year by the RCMP at Yukon College.
Speaker: Would the Leader of the Official Opposition like to address the point of order?
Mr. Penikett: Yes, I would like to address the point of order.
The problem we have is the usual problem of having to give great amounts of notice about a motion but getting no notice at all about amendments, and trying to deal with them in the middle of debate. The sponsor of the motion trying to frame an amendment while she is on her feet is, I am sure all Members will agree, quite difficult.
The point I want to make to the Minister of Health and Social Services is that if we heard him correctly he is willing to contemplate an amendment to his own motion to substitute some other word for philosophy, such as policy. I do not think we would have any problem with that.
The problem for my colleague is that in speaking to the rest of the amendment she has a subamendment she may wish to move to another part of it, and I would like to separate them - make sure of it in this point of order - that we can separate the two propositions.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Penikett: There is an amendment before us. The Minister has indicated an agreement to a friendly amendment concerning the dispute about the words program and philosophy and resolving that by substituting the word policy. However, my colleague may have another concern, which she will address.
Speaker: I will allow the Member for Whitehorse Centre to continue to speak on the amendment and perhaps we can resolve the procedural point after we have heard from her.
Ms. Commodore: Actually, I was going to speak on the point of order.
Speaker: I am perfectly willing to allow that, so that it can be clarified.
Ms. Commodore: As the Leader of the Official Opposition and I both mentioned, it is very difficult to deal with an amendment midstream and we had, in private discussions here, talked about changing the word philosophy in his amendment to policy, as he suggested. That was the only change I would have been recommending, because I did agree with the other changes. I am not exactly sure how that could be done. Someone will let us know.
Revision to amendment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There should possibly be a change to the motion to correct a typographical error. I suggest that the word philosophy in paragraphs 1) and 3) of the amendment be changed to read policy.
Speaker: It has been suggested by the Minister of Justice that the word philosophy in paragraphs 1) and 3) of the amendment be changed to read policy.
Is there unanimous consent to correct the typographical error in the original amendment proposed by the Minister of Justice?
Unanimous consent granted to accept revision
Speaker: To ensure clarity I will read the amendment as revised by the Minister of Justice
THAT Motion No. 34 be amended as follows:
1) by deleting the word program in paragraph (a) and substituting the word policy;
2) by deleting paragraph (b);
3) by rewording paragraph (c) to read as follows:
that any initiatives taken in support of this policy should be designed and implemented in concert with First Nations, law enforcement agencies and the Integration 93" Committee, so that there is a coordinated and consistent response.
Mr. Cable: I would like to say that I defer to the judgment of the Member for Whitehorse Centre. I think the motion as presented is generally supportable, but I think that I should indicate that I share the Ministers reservation about mandatory reporting.
That causes me a lot of concern. I wonder whether a mandatory reporting regime, if that is in fact what is intended by the subsection (b) of Motion No. 34, would act against the interest of the abused person. My own sort of life experiences would indicate that the person would be very reluctant to bring their concerns to people who would have to report the abuse. If the corollary was that charges would automatically be delayed, then my thinking would be that a person suffering abuse would be reluctant to either seek counselling or to report.
I think it is necessary to recognize that many of these situations are one-on-one situations, particularly spousal abuse where witnesses are not present. Therefore, if an abused party does not come forward, the abuse will not be reported. As importantly, it will be all the more difficult for the abused party to break free of the abuser in the abuse cycle.
I would certainly like to hear a lot more on that particular topic before I would feel comfortable supporting what I read, anyway, as a mandatory reporting provision. My own sense of what goes through an abused persons mind during abuse is that there is a sense of powerlessness or hopelessness. If the state then moves in and removes the discretion from the abused party, this sense of powerlessness would only be perpetuated. The question I have to ask in my own mind, if I am going to think about supporting the Members motion in its entirety, is would the abused party hold back if she - and it is generally a she - knew that further confrontations would almost certainly arise? In my own mind I think the answer would have to be yes.
Another question is, will the abused party become whole and break out of the cycle if they are relieved of the basic decision to get out of the situation? I do not know the answer to that question and I do not pretend to know it. I would certainly like to hear somebody more skilled than I in this area give their views on the topic.
I should point out that I spent a bit of time going through this final national report from the Canadian panel on violence against women. The report does not seem to focus on that particular aspect of dealing with violence, unless I missed it in the thousands of words of the report. The initial part of the report dealing with zero tolerance indicates that there should be a clear message that a zero tolerance policy has been adopted.
The only reference I can find to mandatory reporting is in the local survey that was done by the Womens Directorate. They refer to the necessity of child abuse being reported. This was on page 5 of the highlights. It is something we should consider.
I would very much like to support the Member for Whitehorse Centres motion, but I would have to say that, from my own life experiences, I would find it very difficult to promote a mandatory reporting provision. I think it would work against the party who is suffering the abuse.
Speaker: We are voting simply on the amendment, not the main motion. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Amendment to Motion No. 34 agreed to
Mr. Harding: New and improved, Mr. Speaker. The motion is essentially clear, except for the context of item (b). We have all unanimously agreed to support it. We have heard the concerns made by some of the Members of the Legislature regarding item (b).
I rise to support the motion as amended. It is important, because it is a motion that recognizes some of the imbalances in our society and some of the problems women face and men do not to the same extent. I believe that this type of a motion, when raised in the Legislature, can help educate and create awareness of the scope of the problems that violence against women creates.
The report that the Member for Riverside just mentioned summarizes their results, and these were made available to the Canadian public some weeks ago. They were quite staggering in their reflection of the severity of the problem and the general attitude that people have regarding violence against women in our society today.
It has been a problem for hundreds of years and it is difficult for women who are active on this question to point to much positive progress in that area. I witnessed recently a letter-writing exchange in the local papers surrounding issues that brought violence against women and the white ribbon campaign into the fore. It became clear to me, from that exchange, as well as others, that there is a serious problem out there regarding the two sides of the story, the two ways of looking at it and the two philosophies that people could have regarding this.
A motion such as this concentrates and puts emphasis and priority on the problem of violence against women. Violence in society in general today is also a problem. For women, the inequities are greater and they extend not just through violence, they extend through the workforce, families and all other elements of our society.
That is why it is important that we, as legislators, do recognize this and that we do our utmost to help to create awareness, to educate and to help to facilitate the solving of the problem as best we can. No one on this side believes that the problem can be solved overnight. It is important that governments do recognize how serious it is and that they are continuously working to try and create change and create a better society.
The issue has been discussed in this Legislature before. I read today a 1989 debate on family violence and violence against women that was quite a passionate debate, and there was not much dispute about it in this Legislature. There were some comments made. The Member for Riverdale North made some comments about how he felt unemployment was tied to family violence and violence against women in general. I share those feelings.
In the community that I represent there have been cases of family violence and violence against women that have been well publicized, and a few have occurred in the last year that have captured the public eye. They were quite alarming to me as the representative for the community because they all involve people whom I knew quite well - people who, as far as I am concerned, were all good people. I watched as situations evolved in the community. Many people do things that otherwise they would not do, but that is not to say that there is any reasonable excuse. It was just interesting and quite disconcerting to watch how the scourge of unemployment took its toll on the people in the community and idle time made for irrational actions and thoughts.
It was pretty horrific for some of the people in the community to watch. There are ongoing incidences in the community of which people in the community would not be proud. There is also a lot of work underway in the community to increase awareness and the understanding, and to provide counselling in the community, which is a positive thing. I believe that idle time does facilitate these kinds of actions. It is unfortunate. We have to continue to work to prevent it in the future.
For those reasons I would say that I would support this motion as amended. I support some of the initiatives outlined by the Minister of Justice to curb violence against women, and I look forward to seeing how his work progresses in this area. I hope he will give it a large priority and that he will be able to produce some positive results working with the people who are concerned and who are working with him in those areas.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As the Minister responsible for the status of women, I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to Motion No. 34, as amended.
I believe violence in any form is certainly not acceptable and the elimination of violence against women must be a priority of every government.
I recognize that fear is a formidable barrier to women in reaching a rightful place in society. Yukon women have spoken out recently about their fear. During our territory-wide survey of Yukon women, violence against women and children was the concern raised most frequently by community members. Included in this category were topics such as family violence, sexual abuse toward women and children, battered women, safety for children, child abuse, child neglect, and personal safety. The issue of violence was one of the concerns of the highest priority to both First Nations and non-aboriginal women in the territory.
Later, during the second phase of the survey, the focus group discussions, women spoke more openly about their own experiences of violence. One woman said, I was sexually harassed and brutally beaten by this guy. My mum could not recognize my face, it was so bad. Another talked about her children, The offender had repeatedly assaulted her daughter when she was five, six years old, and abused another neighbours daughter. The third little girl involved was the one who was most victimized. This offender had spent two hours alone in the bush with her and she was the most traumatized.
Reading that report, I had some very difficult times in just reading the agony that some women had to go through. It is something that is absolutely intolerable in my mind and something that should be a high priority of our government.
In one rural Yukon community, nine out of 10 women in the focus group had experienced sexual abuse. Most had been abused by more than one person and several had been abused repeatedly over a number of years. The abusers were, for the most part, family members - fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins - and in many cases the women felt very isolated and had received very little support because the abusers were often well respected in the community.
The strength and determination of these First Nations women is evident in their desire for healing, not only for themselves as victims and abused but also for the men, the abusers in the communities. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that First Nations women are taking the lead in ensuring that individuals in communities begin the healing process.
Our government believes that the greatest success in achieving healthy individuals and communities and preventing violence will come from community-based efforts of the people themselves. We fully support and applaud the efforts of First Nations women in their endeavour, and I am pleased to announce to this House that the government is seconding the services of Bobbi Smith, Director of the Womens Directorate, to Dene Nets edetan for a one-year term.
Dene Netsedetan states its vision as a future in which all Yukon First Nations people once again enjoy full economic, social, political and cultural well-being through the road of self-challenge and self-healing.
By offering workshops on a variety of culturally relevant topics, and by including a healing component in each workshop, this group is committed to raising the wellness level of all Yukon First Nations people.
Bobbi Smith was one of the founders of the Yukon Indian Womens Association project and has been an active member of the management team since the projects inception. We believe the work that this organization does is very valuable, and we are demonstrating our support through fully funding this one-year secondment.
Recently, the government provided funding for a healing conference in Watson Lake and will continue to provide funding for community-based efforts in healing. A follow-up conference is being hosted in Whitehorse in February by the Council for Yukon Indians.
Throughout the focus group discussions, Yukon women talked about the need for more public education in the area of violence against women. They talked about the need for public education for youth to change attitudes and create healthier relationships. These were common themes that wove their way through all of the discussions.
Over the past number of years, the Womens Directorate has been mandated to provide a public awareness campaign in the area of family violence. In response to Yukon womens specific recommendations in this regard, the directorate has recently established a three-month term position to focus specifically on public awareness of violence.
Three campaigns are being developed: one will focus on public awareness for youth, one on reducing womens vulnerability to violence through self-empowerment and self-esteem building, and the third will focus on the healing process.
Until the Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues is re-established in the spring, the 1993-94 funding that was originally allocated to it is being re-allocated to these public awareness campaigns.
In my capacity as the Minister of Education, I must stress the focus on youth. It is unlikely that we will see violence eradicated in our lifetimes, but we can set the tone, and we can make an effort. The attitudes must change, and it is youth who can find new alternatives to old patterns of behaviour.
The Department of Education is currently developing a policy on violence in schools. This policy is being developed in conjunction with the Womens Directorate, the Public Service Commission and the Yukon Human Rights Commission. I strongly believe that we must encourage our youth to find alternative means to resolve conflict and deal with stress. It is crucial that we find ways to reduce the influence of television, videos and computer games, which our youth are subject to on a daily basis, and which depict and glorify violence.
Schools must become engaged in finding constructive ways to bring about positive changes in behaviour. Helping to change attitudes and modelling healthy, appropriate behaviours are some of the ways that schools can become involved.
For some children with disabilities who display antisocial and physical behaviour that is inappropriate, school staff must provide appropriate programming to assist these children in finding better ways to deal with conflict. All young people should be encouraged to explore alternative avenues for their daily frustrations.
The learning-for-living curriculum that has been introduced into the school focuses on healthy lifestyles, which include a harassment-free and violence-free environment. Schools have a duty, not only to maintain a safe environment for our children, but to provide appropriate programming to teach children better ways of dealing with conflict.
The Canadian panel on violence against women advocates that society must adopt a policy of zero tolerance of violence, and that zero tolerance of violence supports the basic human rights of the individual. The panel further advocates that the elimination of violence can only be achieved through the recognition of the equality of women, and equality initiatives will enhance womens options and reduce their vulnerability to violence.
At present, the Womens Directorate is spearheading an interdepartmental working group to develop an action plan based on the recommendations of the Canadian panel on violence against women. At the same time, the governments policy on family violence is being reviewed and it is my intention that it be worded in stronger language.
In addition, the government is involved in a number of inter-agency committees that include representation from many non-government organizations and agencies to deal with the issue of violence. We believe these collaborations are critical to the success of any government attempts to prevent and eradicate violence.
I believe in the collaborative approach, and this, coupled with the recommendations of Yukon women during the territory-wide survey, and the recommendations of the Canadian panel on violence against women, is providing government with the tools necessary to develop a government-wide action plan for this jurisdiction that can be an example for others to follow.
This is a problem that will not be solved overnight. It is a problem that has been with us for many years and now, because of the awareness, because of the campaigns that government is running, people are becoming more and more aware of how severe this problem is.
When I first took over this portfolio, it was something that I did not know that much about. In my own family life I was never subject to these kinds of activities, and so I was quite surprised as I became more aware of how prevalent it is in our society. We really must take some action to try to stop this needless violence against women.
Mr. Penikett: I am pleased to enter this debate briefly. I intend to speak only for a few minutes because, of course, I am also preparing myself for debate on the next motion, a discussion of which I will lead for my party.
As my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse Centre, has explained to the House, the national action plan on this issue has included, within its report and recommendations, the declaration just mentioned by the Minister responsible for the status of women and attributed to the panel on violence against women - namely, that equality and freedom from violence are the rights of all women, and that it is the responsibility of every individual community, government and institution in Canada to work toward securing these rights. The elimination of violence will best be achieved through the adoption and rigorous application of a policy of zero tolerance. To this end, we urge each person and organization in Canada to commit to the equality and safety of women and to implement the zero tolerance policy. In furtherance of those declarations, the panel has adopted eight principles, some of which have been addressed by previous speakers in this debate.
The question of the equality of women is absolutely linked to this question of violence, but I do not intend to address that so much in my remarks today, because it would take a great deal of time. It is linked very much to matters of economic and social policy, matters about which this side and the side opposite have profound disagreements.
I want to focus instead on the precise proposal for a zero tolerance policy. I wish to note that this was a policy adopted by my party and articulated in the last general election campaign.
While it was not widely debated at the time, the inspiration for our adoption of this policy was not the Canadian panels report - because it had not reported yet - but a pilot program that was going on in London, Ontario, at the time, where a policy of zero tolerance had been adopted in that community, and a major part of that policy was the question of mandatory reporting, with which the Liberal Leader has dissented today.
The fact is that, for all the efforts to achieve equality, there are differences between men and women. There are differences in terms of the social facts of life for men and women. One of those differences is that a large number of women in our society live in fear. It is remarkable that, for the most part, men are not aware of it.
Whether women live in cities or small communities, whether they have come from alcoholic or abusive homes, whether they have suffered physical violence in their personal lives, as young women in school, or whether they have been verbally abused at work, or beaten in their marital life, or whether they have been fortunate enough to escape all these experiences, the fact of the matter is that women feel threatened. They do not feel safe anywhere in the world, and certainly not even in the Yukon Territory.
We are talking here about a question that is, at heart, a matter of attitudes. There will be people of two minds about the current situation in respect of violence against women. I know there are people who believe that the situation is improving, that it is no longer common for men to joke about wife-beating, or parents to talk, even jokingly, about sparing the rod and spoiling the child, expressions that were common even in my own childhood.
I did not live in a very reactionary or autocratic home. In fact, I suspect my family and my parents were much more liberal than most.
The contrary argument, that things are getting worse, I think has very much to do with the way that values are transmitted in our society and the way in which children are socialized. There are people whom I respect who argue that television has replaced the family, the school and the church as the principal agents of socialization and transmitters of values in society. Even though there can be some power relations in the family, or some problematic pathology in the family, and even though until very recently, historically, affection between spouses is really a thing that goes back to the 17th century - before that, marriages were very much economic arrangements, and even though, in our lifetimes, it was a convention to talk about the male head of family, and even though there are some archaic values associated with what people call the traditional family, nonetheless, unlike the society at large and unlike the world of work and the marketplace, the family has been a symbol to many people of the best of humanity.
It has been the place where even the elderly and the sick would be protected. Even the youngest and weakest member in the family, the babe in arms, will be defended, fed and kept warm by the other members. It is the model of social responsibility, of sharing and mutual support. If the people who claim that it is no longer responsible for transmitting positive values about mutual respect, responsibility for your brothers and sisters, respect for law, respect for other peoples rights, and so forth, are correct then we are at a serious impasse in society.
Likewise, if the school is no longer effectively transmitting positive social values, there is a problem. When I went to school, corporal punishment - which was really just a nice way to talk about beating children, and not just children who were bad, who had broken the rules, but children often who did not conform to the cultural values or the conventions of the teachers or staff - was quite a normal thing. As I have said before in this House in argument with Members opposite, I never saw any value in corporal punishment and I have never met a human being whose behaviour was improved by it. I am glad to see that one of the great reforms of my colleague, the former Minister of Education, was to prohibit it in Yukon schools.
Nonetheless, without the schools being advocates for a particular religion or particular political philosophy, they should be expected to help make children good citizens. One of the purposes of education, surely, is to educate people who are not automatons, who are just good employees, obedient workers, but people who also know how to question authority, who know how to deal with ideas, who know how to exercise their rights as democrats but also to respect the rights of others.
It is a cause for concern when one hears stories from elsewhere in North America, even southern Canadian cities, about children carrying knives and guns in the schools. I heard on the CBC national news this morning about a Scarborough school board making a decision to ban kids for life if they were involved in violent assaults against fellow students. We would be ignoring reality if we pretended that there were not some problems of violence in our schools. I do not want to overstate the problem, but I certainly know that women in our schools and school yards have been victims. I have certainly heard some pretty vicious verbal assaults.
We also used to assume that the churches in Canada were transmitters of values that were essentially Christian or, if not Christian, reflected the golden rule or values close to that, which are at the heart of most religions in the world.
Let us admit, of course, that there have been different ideas in different churches. I remember when I was a student being horrified watching Cardinal Spellman blessing bombs that were intended to obliterate women and children in Vietnam, but most churches I have had experience with in Canada are very much on the side of peace; they are on the side of supporting families and strengthening families, even family units that are non-traditional such as single-parent families or same-sex couples. Other churches, of course, promote an idea about traditional families that involve a hierarchy between the male parent and the female parent and the children, which some people believe is a source of alienation, frustration and perhaps even violence in some cases.
I suppose the ultimate argument for saying that things are getting worse, rather than better, is to state the obvious fact that the 20th century has been the most violent century in history. There have been more people killed in more wars in this century than in any that preceded it.
Our awareness of this is achieved through television. I am not a person who believes that all television is bad, or that people should never watch it. Indeed, from a casual observation of CBCs programming on the test of whether it is violent, abusive or inappropriate programming, I think it is actually pretty good. However, most people in the Yukon also have access to cable television. Some of what is available on cable are Hollywood movies, some of which are really regrettable in terms of the values projected.
This is a concern, especially if what the sociologists tell us is true, that television is now the principal transmitter of values to children, not the family, the school or the church. It is a further concern, since all the studies show that children watch more hours of television by the time they leave school than they have spent hours in school - they spend more time watching television than they do in school, and that is a great concern.
Many of the Hollywood movies that are designed solely to make money, with purely capitalistic motives, are socially irresponsible. They are violent, sexist, promoting greed, intolerance and very bad attitudes. These movies teach that shouting, punching and the use of guns is quite acceptable behaviour. Indeed, in the American way of life, those are the most appropriate forms of conflict resolution, rather than the least appropriate forms.
Some of those movies are so bad that, even though people say children should not watch them, adults should not watch them, either. I do not believe in censorship by the government, but I saw one recently where not only was there a string of violent acts, from beginning to end, but the only dialogue for the movie consisted of an excessive use of the F word, which was used as a noun, adjective, adverb, and even as punctuation.
I do not know what that teaches kids about language arts and communication skills, but one of the things that has often been said of children who grow up in poverty, especially in the ghettos of the big cities, is that, if they cannot write, communicate and speak well, one of the things they do resort to as a way of communication is the use of weapons, such as knives and guns. I think there is a link there - it will be interesting to hear what the Minister of Education says about this - between education and a propensity for violence. I am speaking not only of the social values learned in school, but the education itself.
We can speculate about the source of rage of many angry, frustrated, unemployed, inarticulate and emotionally unbalanced people, and situations may vary from case to case in terms of the relationship between the abuser and the abused but, in the end, we can only articulate broad statements of public policy.
I noticed in the Globe and Mail a few days ago a front page story about the adoption by the Government of the Northwest Territories of a zero tolerance policy. I noticed also that there was a fair amount of reportage about people who were skeptical, critical or who questioned the wisdom of the Northwest Territories taking such an approach. Among the critics were people who said that it was all very well to adopt that as a policy, but they wondered what they were actually going to do to enforce it, make it real or to breathe life into that policy. Those questions are serious ones, but it is, of course, easier said than done to adopt such a policy. One cannot change social attitudes overnight, and peoples behaviour is not changed simply by passing a resolution or even a law in the House.
I know that a propensity for violence is not just about using guns, clubs or fists. It can also be expressed verbally. I know that I have been guilty from time to time of verbal abuse, even in defence of worthy causes, but we all have to be conscious of that and of the role that such verbal abuse contributes to a climate of violence and uncertainty for people who do not feel comfortable in it. This whole thing is about attitudes.
I have never felt particularly good about myself after being involved in some of the brawls I have been involved in here. I would say to my colleagues opposite that I did not think it was a particularly admirable thing to have it suggested that people who had doubts about the wisdom of slaughtering wolves from helicopters were somehow cowards or lacked courage.
That was an extremely regrettable thing, and it showed a kind of attitude about that particular form of violence that I think is extremely regrettable. Everywhere in the country, though, there is a debate about that, and I think that is healthy. Even people as prominent and as well positioned as judges on the bench are affected; I am thinking of a recent case in Quebec where a judge made an extremely inappropriate comment to a woman who had been threatened with death by her husband and that judge has now been removed from the bench, and I guess we should applaud that.
One Member mentioned earlier the concept of healing in the process that First Nations are going through. I was extremely pleased to have the opportunity to attend the healing conference sponsored by the Kaska Dena from Watson Lake. I extend my appreciation to chief Anne Bayne for the invitation to that event. One of the things it reminded me of is a reality that we have to face in this territory - one that is very difficult to face but one which we have not had much honest discussion about - and that is that there is a profound cultural difference in the approaches to this issue between First Nations and the dominant non-native community. I do not want to oversimplify those differences, but I have a sense that there is a much greater inclination for the non-native community to treat this as an issue of crime and of law and order, and an alternative tendency on the path of the First Nations community to treat this as a sickness and a disease that needs to be cured. I do not think the contradiction between those two approaches has been resolved. In fact, I do not even believe that we have begun to have a truly serious dialogue about it yet. I think that as institutions - and this is one of the institutions, the Legislature and the government - we do need to be involved in that kind of dialogue. I do not think that we should intrude on the healing processes that the First Nations are involved in, but I must say to the Minister of Justice, who is also the Minister of Health and Social Services, that I, myself, understand their reluctance to want to transfer the problem to the established justice system. I perfectly well understand that. I also understand the very strong desire of women who have been victims of Iviolence to see justice served and to see people called to account for assaults that are against the law and that are crimes in every sense of the word.
I will conclude simply by saying that we have to agree that this is a problem not just worthy of a resolution, but worthy of programs. As everyone who has been here a while knows, when you use the word programs, as opposed to policy, you are talking about money, and you probably cannot do some of the things that need doing unless you are willing to commit the dollars. We are here, I suppose, to give some kind of symbolically positive affirmation of our commitment to an improvement in attitudes on this question. I am glad to see that there is wide agreement in this House, because it seems to me that all good people want a peaceable society, healthy communities, strong families and individuals living secure in their own worth and free from fear, and I support that.
Mr. McDonald: I will be fairly brief, because I would appreciate this important motion coming to a vote this afternoon. I think it is fairly clear that we have all agreed to agree on the basic principles of the amended motion and, consequently, there is not much more that I could add to the debate that would be new.
I do support the notion that violence in our society is everyones problem. I have had the opportunity, over the course of the last 11 or 12 years, of canvassing many hundreds of houses in this territory and coming across many situations where there clearly were both victims and abusers resident there.
The anger and frustration of the people I have met on occasion, in my travels as an elected person, has been something that I will not forget, and it is something that I remember virtually every day that I am working.
The problems in society are something that will not be resolved through a simple statement opposing violence against people. They are usually the result of very complex familial and societal problems, and some simple-minded solution coming from the Legislature will not have any impact. A more comprehensive program, policies and a philosophical underpinning that opposes violence will be more helpful but, in all likelihood, will not eradicate the problem altogether.
I do not believe that government can do that entirely on its own. It can certainly lead the debate, though.
I think the intent of the motion is to suggest that no violence is acceptable. None. I agree with that proposition. Violence is not acceptable in my own life or in my household. It should not be acceptable as a way of capping a discussion or a debate between people in our society.
Certainly, when I had some responsibility for our school system, I took the opportunity to encourage an end to violence in the school yard and in the classroom. We collectively, in the Legislature, put an end to corporal punishment, or institutionally sponsored violence, in the school system.
I think that those steps, however small, did send some messages that people recognized.
I would like to say that, in my own personal experience, I have never known a dispute that could be settled or resolved through violent action. Sometimes debate can resolve a dispute, but physical violence does not solve anything. I think that is something that we have come to acknowledge in our civilized Chambers, even though the government and Opposition are historically two sword-lengths away from each other - or two baseball bats, in modern parlance - so, even if tempted, we cannot behave in childish ways.
Quite simply, to take a point that the Leader of the Official Opposition made, the messages that were once seemingly appropriate are now no longer acceptable virtually anywhere - for example, it was okay to slap your spouse around a little bit whenever things got tough, or that you literally had to whip the child into shape in order to get the child to tow the line. I am happy to see that modicum of progress has been achieved in my lifetime.
Nevertheless, as the Minister of Education and others have said, there are powerful forces at work that promote and glorify violence. From time to time, you see children coming from movie theatres, giving karate kicks to light posts, and whacking each other across the head, to demonstrate that they have learned lessons from the story-line of the movie.
Obviously, we have some distance to go. I would like to close by saying that I support the intent of the motion. I am looking forward to seeing action, perhaps a ministerial statement now and again, that will punctuate the governments thinking on the matter from time to time, so that we can all rest assured that, at least as far as the government and administration is concerned, they will be taking this motion seriously and doing something about it.
That is all that I have to say at this time.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I rise today to give my support to this very important motion, as it is amended. I and my government are fully in support of this motion.
There is no doubt, as the Member for McIntyre-Takhini has just said, that because we debate and pass such a motion in our Legislature, it is certainly not the be-all and end-all for getting rid of violence in our society.
It is a process of evolution and, while we get glaring examples of how unsuccessful we have been in some instances in curbing violence and abuse in our society, I do believe that we, as society as a whole, are making progress on this very important issue. We, on this side, as do the Members opposite, look forward to the day when we can say that we have been successful in establishing zero tolerance and that there is no more violence in our society. While I know that is a very large target to put out there, the only way we will reach it is by all people working together. While the debate in this House today is a small step in that direction, it is a very important step. We are showing our concern by taking the time to debate such a motion and putting our thoughts and our position on record that we want to strive for a goal of zero tolerance. That is an admirable goal to achieve.
I am not going to speak very long. Just about everything that can be said on this has been said by the Members speaking before me, but I just wanted to make a couple of comments.
When the Member for Faro said that unemployment in his community - not only his community but I believe he was looking at examples in his community - tended to breed violence against women and children in our society, I believe he is right to some extent, but violence against women and children in our society is not just something practised by the lower classes of our society or the unemployed people in our society; it has been documented in every level of our society. It is a very serious problem and I believe the only way we can conquer this problem is to keep showing our support for it and that we will not tolerate these sorts of actions. Programs such as the Minister has embarked on to try to do what we can, as a government, to alleviate the problem will go a long way in the jurisdiction of the Yukon. I must commend the First Nations people for the actions they have taken in recent years to show that they will no longer accept these kinds of actions in our society. They must be commended for that.
I believe that, by all of us working together, whatever small gains we make will be very, very important.
I would certainly give my full support to the motion brought forward by the Member for Whitehorse Centre.
Ms. Moorcroft: In rising to speak to this motion, I would like to note that tolerance is defined as the disposition to be patient with the origins or practices of others. It is a sad truth that our society is all too disposed to be patient with the practice of violence. It is the stuff of which our entertainment industry is made of. It is a common practice, as we have heard again and again today.
In a culture disposed to be as patient as ours is with boys who will, we are told, be boys, it is small wonder that so many women are victims of violence in their own homes. If we will tolerate the violence of pornography in our magazine racks, as we do, how much more will we turn a blind eye to of what goes on behind closed doors? In a society that accepts the portrayal of women as willing victims, we are in greater danger of violence.
The Minister of Justice cited some statistics that he said were hard to ignore. Unfortunately, they are easy to ignore. The statistics are ignored on a daily basis. Today has been a brief change from the normal state of affairs.
Violence is a continuum. Violence is demeaning jokes and name-calling, sexist language, unwanted leering and touching, threats, sexual assault, rape and murder.
Our culture threatens women. Our culture demeans women. Our culture is hostile to womens equality.
In the Yukon, women earn, on average, $21,765 a year, while men earn $31,236 annually. Women represent 33 percent of managers in the public service. The fact of womens economic and political inequality cannot be separated from the fact that women are victims of violence.
At the root of this problem is power - the way power is defined, the way power is divided, the way power is perceived and the privileges power confers. Violence and harassment are underwritten by a social structure of discrimination on the basis of gender, as well as on the basis of race, physical ability and sexual orientation. Privileges are seldom recognized as such by those who possess them, but it is still a privilege to know that one will not have to listen to suggestive or demeaning comments about ones dress or physical appearance. It is still a privilege to know that one can walk down the street alone at night without fear of physical assault.
We live in a society that has tolerated incest, sexual assault and wife-beating for centuries. It is a problem of global proportions. Sexual assault and wife-beating have been used to control the behaviour and the sexuality of women, not only by the men who resort to violence, but by the society that ignores it, and by the society that tolerates it.
The more we talk about it, learn the facts and teach our children and society that violence against women is wrong and never justifiable, the more progress we will make as a society toward a fair and equitable community in Canada.
Women of all ages, from babies of three weeks of age to 96-year old women, have been assaulted. Ask yourself if they asked for it. Ask yourself if they deserved it.
Women with little or no power are especially targeted. Disabled women and aboriginal women are particularly vulnerable to assault. Young women, women with disabilities, lesbians, and women from different races and backgrounds all experience violence. Women in all strata of society, from every culture, every racial group, and from every religious, social and economic background are abused.
We never said that violence was class-based. In response to what the Government Leader said about the Member for Faros comments about unemployment causing further violence, we would say that we know very well that violence is just as much of a problem in every class of society as it is for those who are unemployed.
Why should women be afraid on our own streets, the streets for which we pay taxes? Why should we be afraid in our own homes? Many women are assaulted in their own homes by someone they know and trust. How long are we going to put up with the violent abuse of our mothers, sisters and daughters? Men and women must work together to make change and to prevent this violence.
I have spoken about the fact that all women live with the fear of violence and harassment, that women who are non-white, non-English-speaking, lesbian or who have a disability, face a much higher incidence of physical and sexual assault.
In addition, women who do not accept traditional roles and attitudes pose a threat to the system that confers privilege on men by virtue of their gender. Violence is the resort of those who resent womens assertion of their right to equality.
In Canada, in all levels of society, women from every community are victims of physical and psychological violence.
Women are killed, mutilated and humiliated during violent attacks by men who choose violence as a manifestation of their power. One example of this manifestation is the murder of 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. We all recall the immediate reaction calling for gun control legislation. Some advocated the ban of all firearms.
Most Yukoners respect guns, and are responsible gun owners. Unfortunately, here, as in other places, there are too many men who use guns to threaten, to assault and to kill women. This is a particular problem in the Yukon, especially the remote Yukon. While gun access is part of this horrific problem, the freedom some men feel to abuse or kill women is what remains even after the guns are taken away.
Under recent federal gun control legislation, men who are convicted of violent crimes now receive an automatic sentence of a 10-year suspension of gun ownership. Under recent federal gun control legislation, gun owners are required to take safety training, and people with violent crime convictions will not be able to obtain a firearms acquisition certificate. I hope these measures help, but the questions remain: where do women find safety; why do women have to seek it? As a society we do tolerate violence.
Then what, you might ask, are we to do? We have laws against violence. We prosecute offenders whenever we can. How can you fight violence in peoples homes? To stop the violence against women, women need to be respected by society, not as ladies, but as persons.
The Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate thinks that language is trivial. He thinks that we have to concentrate on the problem of violence against women. The use of sexist language is a part of that violence. How can we claim that women are respected by a society that does not even recognize them in its language? In our sexist language, we assume that all workers are men, that chairs of committees are men, that only fishers are men. Most Members in this House know that Margaret Commodore is a fisher. That was not even a hard word to say. She likes to catch fish. Men and women both catch fish. Why do you want to call them both fishermen? Think about it.
What purpose is served by excluding women from our language? I will tell you what purpose is served. It is one of the building blocks of power. The purpose is to keep women powerless. Tolerating sexist language is part of the continuum of violence, but if we really oppose violence against women, then we have to do everything that we can to overcome womens powerlessness in this society. If we really support zero tolerance of violence against women and children, we must recognize that language change is part of that social change. If society perceives women as powerless, then women are that much more likely to be a victim of violence in their own homes.
We create the expectation for boys that they will hold and wield power, that they will earn more money than women, and that they will make decisions independent of women. These are statements of how our society operates today. Tolerance is touted as a virtue. Tolerance leads to complacency. To tolerate is also to endure or sustain pain or hardship so, in the context of violence, I have zero tolerance for violence.
Women and men are conditioned in our society to accept a subordinate role for women and a dominant role for men. We assign the values of masculine and feminine to these attitudes. I challenge these assumptions, because I believe to tolerate violent behaviour betrays our humanity. I believe that we must strive to respect other people.
The violence in our society says to women and to all victims of violence You are not respected. Women have the right to be respected and they must have the power, too. One of the many things that means to me is that women will not be abused in courts of law.
On December 7, I was glad. For one thing, I was glad that December 6 was over. December 6 is a meaningful, but very sad, day. On December 6, 1989, 14 young women were killed by a man who hated feminists and who was threatened by women registering in engineering schools and succeeding in what he believed should remain a male-dominated occupation.
On that day, I was working at Yukon College and I witnessed violence there, as well. I witnessed the violent reaction of grief of women and men around me. I noted the violent reaction of men around me who were shocked and threatened by the naming and reality of misogyny. I experienced the violent catharsis in myself as I shed the mantle of false security and blindness to the violence in our culture. Violence, and blindness to that violence, are both too common.
On December 6, 1989, our society was forced to acknowledge male violence against women. Many men and women felt, and still feel, genuine bewilderment at the impact of this knowledge. Some refuse to recognize violence against women as a reality in our society. Others recognize the problem only grudgingly.
After December 6, I observed collective anger against the women who wanted to mourn as women, separately, without men, the loss of the 14 young women at lEcole Polytechnique.
Violence against women and the rape of a women every 17 minutes in Canada and the death of two women per week in Canada who are killed by their male partners reinforces the subordinate role of women in our society. Women have the right to grieve.
How violence reinforces the subordinate role of women is by fear. Women fear male violence and men fear womens collective action. They fear womens collective action. If they get together without us, what might they do?
Men fear womens growing recognition of the inequalities in our society. Men fear womens demands for an equal voice and equal status and equal pay. The fear of change and the fear of losing status and power is even greater than the desire to create freedom from violence throughout our society. Many people do not even want to recognize the violence in our society.
Women need economic independence. When a poor woman is struggling to raise children in the restricted lifestyle that social assistance affords, she does not need to be characterized by the Minister of Health and Social Services as milking the system. That is not respect. If this government is really against violence against women, it should be taking steps to ensure the economic independence of women so that they do not need to be tied to abusive men.
In 1992, the then Advisory Council on Womens Issues recommended that the Yukon adopt child support payments through payroll deductions. This has been very effective in other jurisdictions and could be adopted in this one. Enforcement of maintenance orders would do a lot to reduce the poverty of women and children. If women knew that they would receive money to support children from their partners, even when they leave an abusive relationship, women would not feel so limited in their life choices. If child maintenance orders were the norm, it would also promote a more equal society where men as well as women have responsibility for raising their children.
On December 6, 1990, Yukon College held a candle-lighting vigil one year after the Montreal massacre. As I was helping to find women to participate, I met a young woman who had been a student at lEcole Polytechnique and was attending Yukon College. She wanted to light a candle and say a few words about her friend Anne Marie Edward who had just turned 21 when she was shot to death. Anne Marie was killed because our society tolerates violence. As a society, we have not yet demanded the violence to stop.
The Minister of Education told us that the Department of Education, the Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Commission are working on a government policy on harassment. Recently, the Minister stated this policy would apply to students in G.A. Jeckell School where young women raised concerns about sexual harassment.
If working on a policy means that, when young women band together and ask for an apology, their request will not be treated seriously, that policy work is not ending violence, but is contributing to it.
As adult women who have experienced sexual harassment at school, many of my constituents have expressed to me how proud they are of young women coming forward with their case against a fellow student. It is a hard thing to do. We betray our young women when we diminish their actions. Many adult women I have talked to have also felt that sinking lesson of failure. We have often felt that betrayal when one has had a complaint or a personal attack, and it has not been taken seriously.
Our systems, education being only one of them, fail to deal with the problems of violence against women at every level of the continuum. I hope that the Minister of Education, who is also responsible for the Womens Directorate, will consider having that school policy directed and scrutinized by the very articulate young women at Jeckell School.
As an adult woman sexually harassed by a fellow student, I want to know that instructors and administration will investigate my complaint and take appropriate action. If there is a policy that calls for the suspension of students who sexually harass other students, I want that policy to be enforced when a complaint is determined to be valid.
I want the consequences for violent acts to be clear and meaningful. It would be meaningful for women and girls to not experience harassment and violence. It would be a change that is needed. In the short term, it would be meaningful if, when women identify a solution to a problem that meets their needs, that their solution will be put to the test.
Who dare stand here today and say that the existing solutions meet womens needs? Let us try a solution that validates womens experience. Maybe the male Members opposite will be honest and acknowledge that they are listening and learning a little more about issues of violence. It may be more likely that they will stand and ridicule or twist my words.
During the budget debate, I stated that women are still not fully integrated into a range of occupations in the paid labour force, and that is because of hundreds of years of job segregation, sexism and lack of access to education and job training.
When I expressed concern that the focus of the budget was on jobs in construction, which are traditionally held by men, the Minister of Economic Development said how disappointed he was by my comments. The Minister said it was common to see women running large pieces of equipment on road jobs, and that, if the Members opposite did not think that women could run this equipment, he disagreed, that he believed that it was demeaning to Yukon women to suggest that they cannot operate equipment or get jobs on road construction.
The Minister completely missed the point of what I was saying. Certainly women can operate equipment, but they cannot get the jobs. I still challenge the Yukon Party government to find ways of ensuring that half of the 700 jobs, if there are 700 jobs created by the capital budget, will be jobs for women.
Until women have jobs and economic security, they are not able to escape violence in their lives. I hope the Minister of Economic Development does not miss the point of what I am saying today. I hope the Members opposite do not miss the point of what zero tolerance of violence is about. It looks like we are heading for unanimous consent on this motion.
If we no longer tolerate violence against women, that will mean dramatic changes in the justice system. I have sat in Yukon courtrooms and listened to some of the abysmal excuses for not paying child support that have been swallowed hook, line and sinker. I have sat there knowing that, as a result, women and their children will continue to live in poverty. I have sat in Yukon courtrooms and witnessed the further victimization of women who have brought forward assault charges. They are subjected to vicious cross-examination.
Zero tolerance must not mean simply pens scribbling across paper with the latest policy documents. It must mean education for judges, more women judges and other changes in the justice system.
The Government Leader indicated his support and says that he wants to work to implement zero tolerance. I would like to say that it will mean that the government must provide ongoing funding to all womens services for short, medium, and long-term planning. Government must provide funding to womens services that support the front-line workers who deal everyday with the problem of violence that women face. It means that we have to look at health care delivery as a comprehensive model of healing that considers the person as a whole, and understands the multi-faceted nature of violence. We must provide specialized training on the needs of women with disabilities, elderly women, aboriginal women, immigrant women, women of colour and refugee women. It means adopting a cooperative working partnership with legal and other services directly involved with survivors of violence and improved access to formal complaints and discipline procedures for victims and survivors, and continued research and evaluation to address the needs of women who experience violence.
We need to not only develop policies, as the motion before us was amended, but we must develop programs that help women and that stop violence. We must ensure that aboriginal people have access to a full range of training opportunities to meet their self-identified needs for community-based healing and treatment programs for victims of violence. We must increase the level of services to treat alcohol, drug and solvent abuse, particularly in rural communities. We must create and enforce the implementation of policies to ensure that initial police response supports the safety of victims, and prevents their re-victimization. We must ensure that the police and justice system responses to arrest, detention, release terms and peace bonds is one that considers the needs of women who have been victims of violence.
We must ensure that police commissions stay accountable to the women in the community on the work done to support their safety by reporting regularly on activities. We must create, through judicial councils, standards of practice and behaviour that promote equality. We must also work with school personnel to develop violence prevention programs.
I hope that Members opposite really support this motion to adopt no tolerance of violence against women. We have to set standards in our society that do not accept the treatment of women as second-class citizens. We have to set standards that do not accept violence against women; therefore, I speak for the motion put forward for debate by the Justice critic, my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse Centre, and I return to the questions that remain: where do women find safety? Why do women have to seek it? It is because our society tolerates violence. It is because people do not accept womens right to political and economic equality. People who do not respect and support women in their choices, support instead the culture of violence. We must not pay lip service to womens equality. We must not insist on using sexist language.
Yukon Party politicians who thwart employment equity, or who withhold the funds, legislation and some of the initiatives that I have briefly outlined, which should result from the adoption of this motion, are not supporting women or the end of male violence against women. I would encourage all Members to support economic, social and political equality for all.
Mr. Cable: I will be brief, because I think everyone wants to vote on the motion.
The final report of the Canadian panel on violence against women, entitled Changing the Landscape, under the zero tolerance section in the report, set out the following policy goal, which says that the adoption of the zero tolerance policy means making a firm commitment to the philosophy that no amount of violence is acceptable, and that adequate resources must be made available to eliminate violence and achieve equality. We have spoken today to the first part of that policy, and I am pleased to support the motion.
The report that I just referred to also had some mind-boggling statistics that I want to go over very briefly, beginning with the fact that it was reported, after a sampling of 420 in-depth interviews, that more than one-half of the women interviewed had experienced some form of unwanted or intrusive sexual experience before reaching the age of 16; 51 percent of women had been the victims of rape or attempted rape; 40 percent of the women reported at least one experience of rape; 27 percent of the women had experienced physical assault in an intimate relationship.
There was much discussion about the accuracy of these figures when they were released to the public. I think that the comments and the discussion missed the point. Even if these statistics were one-quarter as quoted in the report, they were still mind-boggling, and they showed a deep societal problem.
The problem must be recognized and acknowledged, as a first step. In the first part of the Members motion, the Member for Whitehorse Centre does do that. We have adopted a zero tolerance policy for the Yukon.
What flows from the recognition and adoption of the policy is the necessity of initiatives from both government and non-government sectors. There is a strong suggestion in the rest of the motion that some action should follow.
I am pleased to hear that both the Minister of Justice and the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate have talked about initiatives that they are either taking or planning.
I was particularly pleased to hear about the initiative taken by the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate and the establishment of public awareness campaigns.
This deals with a comment made by the Leader of the Official Opposition that I believe to be true. Many men are not aware of the extent of violence against women in society. I have no problem in supporting the motion as amended and will in fact do so.
Motion No. 34 agreed to as amended
Speaker: Is it the wish of the House that the Opposition Private Members Business be concluded at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Opposition Private Members Business is concluded. I await your further pleasure.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order and declare a recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Motion re appearance of witnesses
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move
THAT at 4:00 p.m. until 5:25 p.m. on Thursday, January 6, 1994, Mr. Ross Findlater, Executive Director and Mr. Jim Newnham, President of Yukon Family Services Association, appear as witnesses before Committee of the Whole during debate on Bill No. 38, entitled Yukon Family Services Association Rent Guarantee Act.
Chair: Is there any debate on the motion? Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion re appearance of witnesses agreed to
Bill No. 12 - First Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Yukon Housing Corporation
Chair: We will now proceed with Bill No. 12. We are dealing with Yukon Housing Corporation. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: You have before you today the capital estimates for the Yukon Housing Corporation. For 1994-95, the corporation projects spending $11,565,000. The projected capital recoveries are for $9,983,000, leaving a net impact of $1,582,000. At first glance it appears that we have reduced the capital budget of Yukon Housing Corporation by 40 percent from the 1993-94 forecast.
That is not the case.
Of the $19,397,000 forecasted for 1993-94, $3,030,000 represents federal funding for programs that the federal government has now cancelled. In addition, the 1993-94 forecast includes $2,956,000 of revotes. The remaining reductions in funding are tied, in the most part, to the joint-venture program and the staff housing program. The reduced level of activity in these programs does not warrant maintaining the previous level of funding.
Before we begin the debate on line by line, I would like to take this opportunity to inform the Legislature of some of the initiatives undertaken by Yukon Housing Corporation during the fiscal year. The corporation is a key player in the employment task force. Initiatives undertaken by the corporation have resulted in the creation of approximately 1,700 person weeks of employment. These initiatives include the construction of modest starter homes in Whitehorse. These homes are being made available to qualified applicants of the home ownership program. When the initiative became public, the corporation was inundated with requests from the general public interested in purchasing these homes. Obviously, there is a significant demand for affordable starter homes; however, the industry does face some barriers in its ability to meet this demand. A major problem is related to the financing of the construction through the normal lending institutions. The Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation requires, for all insured construction loans, that the contractor be certified under the home warranty program. Few contractors in Yukon have this certification.
Most Yukoners looking for a starter home require a high-ratio mortgage. The lack of builders certified under the home warranty program makes it difficult for Yukoners wishing to build a starter home to obtain construction financing. These problems are further exacerbated in rural Yukon. The corporation is currently working with financial institutions to address this problem. I expect that within the next few months we will see some more construction of starter homes throughout Yukon.
I believe these initiatives are examples of responsible government. They create employment for Yukoners, they result in homes that Yukoners can afford, and they require very few taxpayer dollars. These are the kinds of responses that Yukoners told us they want.
As Members know, the Yukon Housing Corporation undertook an extensive consultation process, closing with a conference attended by over 200 Yukoners. The conference was a tremendous success. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the participants, especially the Yukon Housing Corporation board of directors, the corporation staff and the industry representatives who gave so much of their time to the conference.
Throughout the consultation, Yukoners have reinforced their support for the mandate of the corporation. They have also defined their expectations, and have provided the corporation with 16 pages of recommendations on the formation of housing policy.
At the conference, I announced the formation of an industry advisory committee to the board of directors. I believe that this will fill a gap that has existed in the formation of housing policy.
The corporation has nine housing advisory boards that provide invaluable input into the management of the social housing stock. In addition, these advisory bodies have also participated in the formation of policy and programs. I intend to further facilitate this process by creating a territorial association of housing advisory boards. We will rely heavily on the advice of this association, the industry advisory group and other groups, such as the Association of Yukon Communities, to guide us through the adoption and implementation of the conference recommendations.
I will be meeting with the board of directors of Yukon Housing to formalize the mandates of these two advisory groups and to plan for the implementation process.
I will now take questions from the House.
Ms. Commodore: I am going to start by asking some general questions in regard to the conference that the Minister has just talked about in his speech regarding the budget. I will probably have further questions throughout the evening, and I know other Members on this side of the House have questions with regard to housing.
II attended that conference - I did not attend all of it; I attended the group sessions and the panels - and I found it quite interesting. I also had a chance to talk to a number of participants who were there and they expressed many views to me. I did not have a chance to find out what was being said in the workshops but I do have copies of the recommendations from all of the different sessions. I think there were three or four. I have not had a chance to go through them again but I was very concerned about the manner in which the Minister set up the focus group. It makes me wonder exactly on what he is focusing.
We look at individuals who are on there, and they are fine individuals. However, the Yukon Housing Corporation is responsible to many groups out there. There are a lot of residents of the Yukon who take advantage of programs under the Yukon Housing Corporation. If you are going to be setting up a focus group to do a certain thing, you have to take into consideration that there are many differing views in regard to housing. At the suggestion of the staff, and with the agreement of the board of directors, the Minister has set up a focus group that includes industry representation. There is no one on it from any other sector.
There are the Association of Yukon Communities, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, the Home Builders Association, the Real Estate Association and the banks. I look at the board and I see that the Yukon Housing Corporation is focusing on one sector of what the corporation includes, and I worry about that.
I had about five people comment to me about the members on this focus group. We wonder exactly what the Yukon Housing Corporation is focusing on, because there are many other sectors of society that have great concerns with regard to housing programs and how they are set up. It appears that we have a select group that does not represent a lot of the interests of those Yukoners who take advantage of the Yukon Housing Corporation programs.
I would like the Minister to comment on that, but I know that he is going to stand up and say, Well, we have boards in each of the communities where we have representation. If the Minister does have that representation from all of the communities, including the Yukon Housing Corporation board of directors, why is he spending more money on a limited number of interests on this committee that is supposed to be representative of all Yukoners. Presently, that committee is not representative of all Yukoners.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure if the Member opposite is aware of this, but the focus group was initially established to help put together a discussion paper. That discussion paper went out to everyone who had any interest in Yukon Housing Corporation. I am talking about clients of the Yukon Housing Corporation, either in social or staff housing, home repair clients, the Indian bands across the territory, the municipal councils, and as many groups of people that we could find.
The discussion papers were created with the assistance of this focus group, with the assistance of the staff of Yukon Housing Corporation, the board of directors and the various housing boards around the territory.
We tried to involve as many people as we could. The consultations that took place throughout the territory did indeed involve many people from different walks of life.
The focus group was not involved in the consultation process. The staff from the Yukon Housing Corporation visited the various communities and the Indian bands.
Ms. Commodore: I understand all of that and I understand why the focus group was set up. We met with the Minister and the group that was going to be conducting this consultation right after he announced the conference. At that time, we raised the concern among ourselves about the board and the people who are on the board.
If you are looking at a group of people from the Association of Yukon Communities, the Chamber of Commerce, the Home Builders Association, the Real Estate Association and the banks, how can any of these people relate to what a low-income earner is really trying to accomplish through available programs. If we are going to have something that is representative of all people of the Yukon, then we are going to have to have people on a board that will understand what Yukoners are saying. As I have said before, these are probably fine, upstanding people, but it represents such a small cross-section of Yukoners.
I do not think when the board was established there was much consideration given to what low-income earners and aboriginal communities really wanted. Why were there no aboriginal representatives on the board, or representation from a low-income tenant? Let us talk about the focus and where the department is going.
I really do not understand how all of these people can be representative of all of the concerns. Even though they heard them, how can they represent the views of people in all of the Yukon communities with any kind of expertise?
They can talk about real estate and how to sell a house. The Chamber of Commerce has its interests and so do the banks who fund some of the building. Where are the people on this committee who should also have been taken into consideration? I do not know why the Minister did this or what he was trying to achieve when he did it. I know what they did it for, but I do not understand why they are continuing.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite may be somewhat confused. I guess that is because we did single out the focus group at the conference and give them special thanks. Maybe that is where the problem is. I attended one meeting where we had representatives from the housing advisory boards from around the territory, the board of directors and members from that focus group.
The focus group provided the industry representatives we did not have elsewhere. We have something like 45 to 50 people sitting on the housing advisory boards around the territory, as well as the board of directors of the corporation. I believe that the discussion papers that we put together well represented people from all walks of life in the territory.
Ms. Commodore: I would like the Member to know that I am not confused. I was there. I was at the meeting after he announced to the media that they were going to be putting together the conference and I understood everything he told me. I understood everything I heard at the conference and I talked to people while I was there. So I am not confused. I really object to him saying that I am confused, because I know who the participants were at the conference. I talked to a lot of them.
I am not saying that the conference was not a good conference. I am talking about this focus group that has such a narrow vision of what the Yukon Housing Corporation does. They appear to not represent the views of all Yukoners.
I believe that he had already made a decision before hearing what the people said at the conference because it was in his speech that he made. I know that he said the speech was done before the conference, so he had already decided prior to going in the conference and hearing all the views of all those people what he was going to do with this focus group. He said that the staff who worked with him in putting together the conference, and who probably went out to the communities with him, suggested to him that they continue with this group. Then the board of directors also said that. His speech and this decision were already made prior to the conference even starting.
He said that. He said in his speech that they sent him a long speech that they wrote for him. They said it was too long for him, so he sent it back for them to shorten it. This was before the conference. He made mention of that while he was making his speech. I thought that was quite funny.
It appears that the decision had already been made before he even heard what the participants at the housing conference had to say.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The focus group worked prior to the conference. Perhaps that is what I have not explained properly. In the production of the discussion papers, the focus group worked with the other people I already mentioned - the housing advisory board, the board of directors and the staff. The reason for the focus group is because we did not have a representative group from the industry - the people who mortgage the houses or build the houses and sell them, and so on. We did not have them on staff here or on the housing advisory boards, so we created the focus group, which worked with the various boards, the board of directors and members of the staff.
Ms. Commodore: I am going to pursue this, but I do realize there are others here who want to ask questions. I do not think the Minister is really understanding what I am saying. Initially, this group was put together, not because the staff said that they needed the industrys point of view and not because the board of directors said to do it; the group was established prior to the consultation process and their sitting down with the boards and community groups. The group was already there. It was set up by the Minister. It appears that everybody liked what they had done and made the decision to keep them on. I do not know how much this new board gets paid every time they sit down together. I am sure they do get a per diem.
I will ask again if this focus group does not lack representation by people outside the industry representation. It appears that the Minister struck this group to do a certain job. They possibly have some responsibilities over and above those of the board of directors. I would like to know a bit more about what their responsibilities are. Where does the Minister expect them to go from here? How involved are they going to be in making decisions or making recommendations?
It appears that the Minister is depending on them a lot and that he had already made up his mind before the conference or even before meeting with any of those board members from across the Yukon, and he sent them out without much consideration for any other views in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I guess the first thing is that the focus group is not being paid. The focus group was struck merely for a one-time-only set of meetings because they were representative of the industry. As I said before, we did not have representatives from the industry, so we struck this group to actually assist us in putting together these discussion papers. I do not really know what the Member means. I know I was making some comments about the focus group and the fact that they had done a lot of work - more than we expected of them - but in fact we had not decided to formalize this group as an ongoing advisory body until the conference. I am sorry if I misled the Member somehow or other through something I may have said during my opening remarks.
We found that this focus group was bringing a lot of information to us that otherwise would not necessarily be available through our regular housing advisory boards and through the board of directors. So they, themselves, wanted to stay involved and, because we found it was a very good group to use and to work with, we decided to formalize them on an ongoing basis - but it is a sort of ad hoc group that will not be paid. At least that is our intention at this point in time.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am certainly pleased to hear that Minister say that they are formalizing the advisory body because the advisory body wanted to stay involved. I will be passing that message along to a number of womens groups in the community, who certainly feel that they are no longer included in the deliberations of this government or advisory to it.
I want to follow up on the questions that my colleague has been asking about the focus group, because the Minister does not seem to be getting the point about why these questions are being asked.
The focus group was established, as the Minister said, of industry representatives only. Now there is a focus group where there are no representatives from outside the industry. Why have they decided, then, to keep the focus group going? What is the intent of having this, and how do they plan to deal with the problem - we see it as a problem - of the body being exclusively industry representatives?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I guess the focus group was part of a much larger group. I guess we called them the focus group because they represented the industry - like the Member opposite has said, there was a banker, and someone from the AYC, and so on - but because we did not have representatives from the industry, we actually asked this group of people to form a little group to work with us. There were at least two meetings - I attended one - where the focus group was just part of an overall, much larger, group of 30 to 40 people - I do not recall exactly how many people were there. Most of the members of the Housing Corporation board were there; there were people from the advisory boards from out of town where the whole conference was being put together. The people from the focus group did not attend that meeting as a group; they were individuals in the meeting. I would not want to see those people not being used by us. I do not think that is what the Members opposite are saying - at least I hope that is not what they are saying. We needed representatives from the banking industry, from the Chamber of Commerce, from the home builders and from real estate. There is absolutely no question that we needed those representatives.
The fact that we called it a focus group has caused some problems. I do not really see it being a problem, but obviously Members opposite do.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister said he saw there being no industry representation as a problem, so they added in the representation of the realtors, the Association of Yukon Communities, the Chamber of Commerce and so forth. The question we are asking - and which he has still not answered - is whether they are now going to have this ongoing advisory body, this focus group, formalized and exclusively made up of industry representatives, without representation from tenants, from people in need of social housing, and from a broad range of people representing interests in housing.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Perhaps there should be a further explanation. The focus group cannot sit as members of the advisory boards, or as members of the board of directors - although the Association of Yukon Communities probably could - because they would be in a conflict-of-interest situation. If you had the president of the Home Builders Association sitting on the board of directors of the Yukon Housing Corporation, I would see that as conflict.
We need input from those people, and the best way to do it is to get them together, which is exactly what we did, along with our advisory groups and the board of directors.
Ms. Commodore: I asked questions of the Minister right after that conference. I asked him about the Ministers focus group, and made a comment about their wanting to continue as a housing industry advisory group. The Minister had mentioned they would be formalizing the group. What does he mean by formalizing the group?
In addition to that, the Minister mentioned that these people would be strictly an advisory group to the board of directors, and to him, so he has already given them some terms of reference by saying they would be strictly an advisory group. I would suggest that that gives them a heck of a lot of power, if they are advising the board of directors and the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That recommendation came from the conference. There are many advisory bodies, and every housing advisory board is an advisory body to me and to the board of directors. I do not see a problem having a group of people advising the Minister or the board of directors.
Ms. Commodore: When I asked the Minister about this advisory group on November 29, 1993, he indicated to me, and as I have just said, that this was going to be an advisory group.
All of those community boards and the board of directors to the Yukon Housing Corporation have some kind of legal status and they do advise the Minister.
I really would like the Minister to clarify his response to me on November 29, 1993, when he stated that these people would be strictly an advisory group to the board of directors and to me.
To me and to other people who are listening to this discussion - I did find out that many people listen to what is happening in the Legislature on the radio - I think that they would certainly question the comment that the Minister made. Are they an advisory group to him and if they are, on what do they advise him? If they are an advisory group to the board of directors that also advises the Minister, how are they organized?
There is a Yukon Housing Corporation structure, and I am sure that the advisory boards in the communities and the board of directors are included in that structure. All of a sudden we have a new body here that appears to have a lot of power, because they do advise the Minister and the board of directors. If they do not have that power, then let us get the real answer from the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have a copy of the act here, but I believe that the Yukon Housing Corporation board of directors has the ability to set up advisory boards.
One of the main reasons for having this industry representative group to work with the advisory boards, the board of directors and me, for policy direction, is that we can get input from the industry without it costing us anything. We can get information about mortgages through the bank. Why can one not get a mortgage in Carmacks, for instance? We get that information free from the banks. We can get information from the Home Builders Association and the Real Estate Association. We can get the information through this board. They are quite willing to provide that information both to the board of directors and to me. I think we would be very foolish not to take advantage of it.
Ms. Commodore: I am not disagreeing that the people on the focus group provide something that is beneficial to the Yukon Housing Corporation. That is not my question. My question is this: what does that body really do?
I asked the Minister on November 29 if he could table in this House - and I just heard the Minister of Education swear; I guess that is how he reacts to anything that he objects to - or tell us now the terms of reference of this industry advisory group. What were the terms of reference? It appears that if there are terms of reference for a group, it would have some kind of status within the system. He told me he would be happy to supply the terms of reference for the group as soon as they were completed. It appears that somehow, after he made a decision to formalize the group, he was going to develop terms of reference for them.
The Minister of Education may not like the questions that are being asked, but they are very serious questions. If a group of some kind is being set up and formalized with terms of reference, what is the Minister really doing? If I want answers to these questions, I will ask them, despite what the Minister of Education is saying or thinking as he sits there in his chair.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: At the conference, it was recommended to us that this group continue, and there was unanimous agreement. The reason we do not have terms of reference for the group right now is that after the conference it was getting close to Christmas, and so on. There have not been any meetings, but the board of directors of the corporation meets in January and I will try to attend their meeting. We will talk at that time about the focus group. The board of directors was very interested in having the group formed so it will be providing input into what the terms of reference for this group should be; what exactly we want the group to do. The same will happen with the other group, which will be a group made up from various boards across the territory.
Ms. Commodore: I asked the Minister about this group and one of the questions I asked him, because this group is specific to the industry, was whether or not he was going to be formalizing any other focus groups of people who would focus on other things other than the industry, like experts in some other area, such as the tenants as mentioned by the Member for Mount Lorne. He said no, they were well represented on the advisory groups in the Yukon. But what are we going to do if we find out that there is a group of people out there who might offer some kind of valuable input to what is happening with the corporation and they are not represented on either the advisory groups or the board of directors or this industry focus group? Is he going to be taking recommendations or suggestions from other groups that may have a concern in regard to what is happening within the corporation?
He mentioned in his response that certainly the seniors had some concerns and they were very well voiced by the seniors who were at the conference. If they come to him and say they would like to form a group to specifically represent seniors and their concerns, is he going to seriously consider setting up a focus group to represent seniors and come up with terms of reference for them as well to advise him and to advise the board of directors?
Setting up this one group to represent the industry could set a precedent for other focus groups who might have a deep interest and concern in the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The seniors have had a group for two years. That group was put together after the seniors conference and that was before my time, but I believe it was about two years ago. They are relatively active in that they meet three times a year with the board of directors and the staff.
My understanding is that two years ago the Yukon Housing Corporation did try to put together a tenants group to do the same thing - provide advice to the board of directors, the Minister, the staff. Apparently that was not successful. The tenants were not interested in meeting.
We have a lot of tenants on the various housing boards throughout the territory. We try to make sure that we get people from social housing. We try to have gender equality on the boards.
When I replied to her question in the House a couple of days after the conference, I said that we did meet with these people on a fairly regular basis so there would not be any need to have a group put together. That is probably not right. We do need to take people from each of the housing boards in the communities and have them meet a couple of times a year to provide advice. I am still kicking that around. I think we need to do it that way rather than meet with the individual boards, as we currently do.
Ms. Commodore: I think I will leave this alone for now, but I would like him to let me know when he expects to have the terms of reference ready that he indicated were forthcoming on November 29. When he has the terms of reference, who will approve them? If they are approved, can we get a copy of the terms of reference for this focus group that is representing industry?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have a problem with providing the terms of reference to the Member when they are created.
Ms. Moorcroft: Just to follow up on the request for a copy of the terms of reference, perhaps the Minister could also provide some information to the House on the reporting relationship of the focus group - whether it will report to the housing advisory board or directly to the Minister. What we are interested in knowing is whose advice he is listening to. Will he be listening exclusively to the focus group? Will he be listening to the housing board, will he be listening to a combination, and how is he going to weigh that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would see the industry group meeting with the board of directors of the corporation. I expect that we will not just have that focus group meeting with the board of directors at some given time, but we will try and have the various groups as well. There may be individual things - for instance the senior citizens may want to meet with the board of directors by themselves. I think that what we would like to do is to get more people involved. If we could get the representatives from these advisory boards, the focus group, the seniors, the board of directors and me all together in a room once or twice a year, I think that we could probably get a fair amount accomplished.
Mrs. Firth: I have quite a few questions for the Minister responsible for the Housing Corporation. I want to change the line of questioning a bit, and get off the focus group, although I am interested in receiving the information that the Minister has committed to bring back to other Members of the House. I hope that applies to all Members of the Opposition.
I was looking at the first piece of information that we were given this session from the Yukon Housing Corporation. It was the information that was contained in the document entitled Government of Yukon Employment Task Force Capital Works Projects. In that document it indicates the projects that the Housing Corporation is going to entertain for job creation. One of them is the building of 19 new social housing units - it is a cost-shared program. The other one is a modest housing program to allow contractors to build up to 15 units in the $115,000 range, with buyers already arranged through Yukon Housing. Can the Minister tell me whether the Housing Corporation has done any analysis with respect to the requirement of these low-cost housing units? I know that the Minister said in his opening comments today that they needed modest starter homes, and they had people lined up for these starter homes. I would like him to tell me what kind of analysis they have done with respect to how many homes are needed, how many people are waiting for these homes.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member was provided with a copy this afternoon of some of the programs Yukon Housing Corporation has. Under the home ownership program, we have a waiting list of people and we went to that waiting list when we constructed the 10 houses. Of the 10 houses that were constructed, eight are sold.
Mrs. Firth: We have the legislative return about the home ownership program that was tabled today, and I do not believe it said anything in there about a waiting list. I have it here, and I am just quickly looking at it. It went on about what the income had to be; there were 36 approved - nine rural, 27 urban - no seniors applied. There were 36 approved, for a value of almost $4 million. There were 54 rejected for various reasons. I have a question about that.
Seven were under review; the dollar value is not applicable, because they do not receive mortgage pre-approval until the application is approved; the number of person years that were going to be created, and person years of direct and indirect employment.
Could the Minister elaborate on what this waiting list is and how he substantiates it?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are people who have applied for the program and qualify, but for whatever reason they are not able to handle all of the applications. It came from that list.
Mrs. Firth: Why is that information not included in this legislative return? If that is the justification for requiring the 15 low-cost units, why is that information not in this legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The situation changes almost on a daily basis. People come in, apply for the program and then as dollars become available and we are able to help someone, we go to the bottom of the heap of applications, and that person may have made other arrangements by the time that we get to them.
It is an ongoing process, and our list on October 31, 1993, may not reflect the same people who are on the list on January 5.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying that there are 10 people on the waiting list now?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The staff believes that there are still four people on the waiting list as of December 31.
If one looks under the heading of the home ownership program, the value of the 36 approved applications is $3,984,741. This does not necessarily mean that those people have built homes.
Mrs. Firth: Now the Minister is telling us that there are now four people on the waiting list. Yet, the job creation project is for 15 units. Why do we need 15 units if there are only four people on the waiting list?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We actually went with 10 houses. Eight of them have been purchased to date. The other two may very well be purchased by two of the four people on our waiting list since December 31.
Mrs. Firth: I am not quite sure what the Minister is saying. Could he repeat that? I asked him why they were building the 15 units, according to the job creation plan, when there are only four people on the waiting list. He mentioned something about the purchasing of some houses. Could he clarify that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: People bought eight of the 10 houses that were built under the program. There are still two houses available that are being constructed. There are four people, as of December 31, on the waiting list. The other eight had applied, and were in the process of purchasing these in late November or early December. There are two houses left and there were four people, as of December 31, on the list. That could have changed. There could be 10 people tomorrow morning; I do not know.
Mrs. Firth: I do not know, perhaps I am getting mixed up. Are these houses built already? I am asking the Minister about the job creation project for the 15-unit modest housing program, which will allow contractors to build up to 15 units in the $115,000 range. These houses are not built yet. This is supposed to be the winter works job creation program. I think the Minister is talking about something else. Why are they building these 15 units to create jobs if they do not need them? That is the question.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I thought I had made it clear. I will have to make it more clear.
We are not building 15 units. I said that once already. We are building 10 units. The Member opposite is correct. The houses are not yet built; however, the eight people who have essentially bought the houses have made agreements with the bank and the various industry people so that the houses, when built, will be occupied by them. They will be their houses. They will begin making mortgage payments on them after they move in.
Mrs. Firth: The houses are not built yet. The Minister was not clear about that. These are houses that are going to be built.
I gather from what the Minister is saying that there will be only 10 units. We should all be changing that number on the capital works project paper, from 15 to 10, so that it more accurately reflects what is actually happening.
Did the government give any consideration to buying units rather than building new ones - buying houses that were presently for sale in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The number one criterion was job creation. If we just purchased some homes, that would not necessarily be job creation. The corporation has acted as sort of an intermediary, I suppose, between the buyer, the bankers and the builders, and so on, to put this whole package together. We are not mortgaging it. The banks will be taking over the mortgage.
There are 10 in the process of being constructed right now. We want to build five more where we will act as an intermediary. I am sorry - I misled the Member opposite there for a minute - we are mortgaging the original 10, but for the next five we are going to try to see if we cannot put together the people who want to build and the banks and the various industry people who are involved in house construction.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is there further general debate on Yukon Housing Corporation?
Mrs. Firth: Before the break, I was asking some questions about these housing units that were going to be built under this job creation program. Do I understand correctly that this is the last year that this money will be flowing through CMHC and from the federal government - that we will not be having this program any more?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No. The federal money, the $2 billion we have all heard about on national news, is for social housing units. The units we build under the home ownership program are not social housing units. To qualify for the home ownership, I believe people have to have an income of between $35,000 and $55,000. The $2 billion the Member opposite is referring is for 19 social housing units - it is for social housing units and that has expired as of January 1 of this year. There is a meeting next week with the Ministers from across the country and the federal housing Minister to see if there is a possibility of reinstating that program.
Mrs. Firth: So, the Minister is referring to the social housing units; that is the money that has lapsed, not the housing - the Minister is nodding his head indicating yes. I will come back to that. My concern is that the government wants to create jobs. They are creating jobs by building these housing units. They want to spend the federal dollars before they lose them. I understand that is not going to happen with the home ownership program, as they are going to continue to have funding for that.
I want to ask the Minister if, instead of building these houses, the Minister considered buying houses that are presently on the market, as opposed to building new houses. I looked in the paper tonight and there were 16 houses for sale under $125,000. What is happening is that the Housing Corporation, by building other houses, is going into competition with the private sector, where there are houses for sale on the market. Could the Minister tell us what analysis he did and why he came to the conclusion that it was better to build houses instead of buying houses that were already built and for sale?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Through the home ownership program, we assist people in purchasing existing homes. There are a couple of things I should mention about the starter homes. Several of the people who go into the home ownership program - who actually get us to assist them - do not want to buy an older home. They want to build their own home. The problem is that they have a difficult time meeting the mortgage requirements from the bank. They have a difficult time meeting the construction regulations. If they build a new home, there has to be construction financing for a period of time, and they have a lot of difficulty with that. Another thing is that a lot of them do not know the ins and outs of building a new home, so they come to Yukon Housing to get assistance in putting the whole package together. We do buy existing homes on a fairly regular basis and re-sell them under various programs. This particular thing, as I said previously, was an employment opportunity as well as anything else, so we wanted to build some new homes. The other thing that we wanted to do was to see if we could build a new home in the $110,000 bracket - a turn-key operation, so that when you got your mortgage and everything together, for approximately $110,000, you could walk into a new home. We were able to do that.
Mrs. Firth: I am sure a lot of people would rather have a brand new home as opposed to an older home. If the government is assisting in some way through taxpayers money, and there are homes available on the market, I think the government has to take a look at perhaps purchasing the homes instead of building new ones. I think that right now the rental market and the numbers of homes for sale have never been as good as they are right now. The question people are asking me is why is the Yukon Housing Corporation going around building new homes when there are all of these homes for sale. I am sure that the Housing Corporation could assist people in the same way when putting together a package to build an already existing facility as they do when putting together a package to build a new home. The Minister has stood up and said that they have bought homes from time to time. Perhaps he could tell us how many existing ones the Housing Corporation has bought as opposed to building new units.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have the information on the number of homes that we have helped people purchase; however, we can certainly supply that information in a legislative return.
It is interesting that the real estate people and the bankers - of course, it would not matter to the bankers - are not dissatisfied with our helping people to build these 10 new homes.
Mrs. Firth: I am not making representation on behalf of the real estate people. I am asking the Minister, as a person responsible for allocating money and supposedly getting the best deal for the taxpayer, why he is going in the direction of spending money on new homes just because people would rather have a new home than buy one that is presently on the market?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite did say that she had people complaining to her. I assumed they would be real estate people.
These people are paying their own way. We merely assist by putting things together and we carry the mortgage. We get the same interest rate, and so on. As I said before, through our program, we will provide the numbers but people can buy an existing home. However, someone who earns between $35,000 and $55,000 should be able to have some choice on whether they buy an older home or a new one for approximately the same price. I do not apologize for our program.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that is what happens when one becomes responsible for millions of dollars. One apparently develops an attitude that if people want something, they are entitled to it and should have it.
I am simply asking the Minister if there is any analysis or rationale behind this policy. The Minister should not make assumptions that I am here representing someone when I say people complain. He should not make any assumptions about any of the representations we raise. If he wants clarification about them, he can ask.
I want to ask the Minister who makes the decision. Who decides that we are going to build new houses as opposed to buying houses that are already on the market?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is the people who are paying for it who make the decision.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps I will follow up with the Minister another time about this issue. He seems to think it is funny right now, so I will wait until he has a moment of seriousness and follow up with him on it.
I have another question about the home ownership program. In the legislative return that was tabled, one of the reasons for the rejection of applications included single applicants - individuals who have no spouse or child. Why are single people not eligible under the home ownership program?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If there were unlimited dollars, we would probably be extending it to single applicants. However, the board of directors of the Yukon Housing Corporation feel it should be priorized, firstly, with families. That is the reason there have been some rejections.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister just stood up and said that this program was not costing us anything and that the people were paying the mortgages. Obviously, money is not a question, according to the Minister.
He is the one who said that if people want a new house they can have it, they are paying for it. Now, he is saying that single people are not eligible, because they have to priorize it because there is only so much money to go around.
Would he like to give another reason why single people are not eligible under the home ownership program?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have the same reason. We only have so much money. It gets paid back to us, over a period of time, but we have to worry about cashflow. In the home ownership program for 1994-95, we have $4 million budgeted. When that is used up, it is gone.
Mrs. Firth: I think there is probably a case for discrimination there. The Minister is obviously contradicting himself this evening. He is being inconsistent about the allocation of money. He is saying to one group of people, if you are a family, you can have a house, and it does not matter about the cost, that they can build a new house so the family does not have to buy an old house. Yet, if you are single, you are not eligible for the program at all, because it has to be priorized, and it costs too much money.
Perhaps the Minister could clarify that inconsistency, when he figures it out.
I do not know if any other Members want to ask questions in this particular area. I would like to move on to something else.
I see other Members indicating that they have questions, so I will let them address this now and I will follow up on something else later.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will make sure that the board of directors is aware that the Member said that we are discriminatory.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions about this legislative return that the Member for Riverdale South has been referring to.
Under the home repair program and the home ownership program headings, there are job creation figures given.
For example, under the home repair program, it is stated that the $3.6 million will create 40 person years of direct employment and 23 person years of indirect employment. Would the Minister indicate how those calculations were arrived at?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We used the Statistics Canada model. I believe, when we were debating Government Services, a copy of that model was provided to the Member opposite. Apparently, that is the model that we have used to determine the numbers for all the programs.
Mr. Cable: The reason I asked is that I was doodling with some numbers and it appeared that if you restrict the job creation to the direct jobs, there is a labour coefficient of $90,000 per job. If you include the indirect jobs, a total of 63 person years, there is a labour coefficient of $60,000 per job, which is about half of what the Minister advised the House earlier, with his other hat on, in relation to building construction. Is there some explanation for that inconsistency?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Part of the explanation is that in home repair there is more of a labour component than there is for material. In new construction there is a lot more of a material component than there is for labour. That may be part of it.
Mr. Cable: Just to clarify it, was a different methodology used for home repair than home ownership? This appears to be what the Minister is saying.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, there is a different formula used for home repairs than the home ownership program. As my deputy minister has stated, it is a Statistics Canada model that apparently was used.
Mr. Cable: Is it the same model that was used for a labour coefficient with respect to road construction and to building construction?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I really do not know. I doubt very much if they would be the same type of calculations.
Mr. Cable: I am not suggesting that they are the same type of calculations. What I am asking is whether the Statistics Canada model was used for roads and buildings, both home repair and home ownership type calculations?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, that was my understanding for the highway construction that we were discussing a few weeks ago. Those numbers came from Economic Development and they got them from Statistics Canada. These numbers are also from Statistics Canada.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister some questions about the contracting procedures in the Yukon Housing Corporation. Some of the projects that are given out are done by proposals. I have a copy of the Yukon Housing Corporations contract regulations, and nowhere does it even give a definition of what a proposal is. I would like to ask the Minister how they do that, if there is nothing in the regulations to guide them as to how to do it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Under their bylaw, the board of directors has the authority to send out a request for proposals. Apparently, the board puts together a scope of work and then requests proposals and, as the proposals come in, they evaluate them.
Mrs. Firth: Does the board just get to do whatever they want? Are there any guidelines or policies that govern what they can do?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Bylaw 14, which deals with contracts, is their authority.
Mrs. Firth: Bylaw 14, Yukon Housing Corporation, has nothing in it with respect to proposals. I have it right here in front of me. It talks about the bylaw governing the procedure for tendering, awarding and the administration of general construction, purchasing and service contracts, as may be entered into by the corporation. It does not apply to employment contracts. It retains all the powers pursuant to the Yukon Housing Corporation Act. It talks about contracts. There is nothing in here or the regulations about proposals. That is why I am asking the question. What guides them or do they just do whatever they want to do?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: When there is a request for a proposal, the requests are sent in and evaluated. The corporation then enters into a contract with the successful party - whoever sent in the best proposal.
Mrs. Firth: They can do whatever they want then, is that what the Minister is saying? The Minister is saying that the board can make up a proposal, send it out, review the proposals, choose the one they like the best and award the contract. That is it, then? They can do whatever they want. Is that how we are protecting the taxpayers interest? Does the Minister think that is a great idea and is happy with the way it works?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Numerous departments and branches in the Yukon government send out requests for proposals. It is not an unknown thing. It is a very common practice. Once they review those proposals and evaluate them, they enter into a standard contract that is accepted by the engineering professions and various other people. It is exactly the same as a regular government department does it.
Mrs. Firth: Surely the Minister can see that there is no competition for the contract. The proposals are developed completely at the discretion of the board and wherever else it is done in government. They take the one they like the most, based on whatever - we do not know what, because there are no written rules - and the contract is awarded. It is not a situation where there is a set contract and all the people are given an equal opportunity to bid - that there is a level playing field.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I obviously have more faith in the board than the Member opposite does. I will be quite happy to table a report that will show the evaluating criteria for proposals. I want to make it very clear that every department in the Yukon government uses the request for proposals on a regular basis. There are hundreds of them each year. This is not an unknown thing, and it does not give some bureaucrat - some Minister - any more ability than a straight, low-tender contract does.
Mrs. Firth: I am concerned about it, although the Minister is obviously not. I am concerned, and I think there are a lot of other people who are concerned about it, too. The Province of B.C. just moved away from putting proposals out for projects because there was too much room for abuse, favouritism and questions to be raised about fairness. There was concern about there being a level playing field and everyone having an equal opportunity.
During every question I have asked tonight, the Minister has snickered and exchanged some joke or something with his official. I do not like that. I just want the Minister to know that. It is very impolite. It is bad enough that the other two Members there - the Member for Klondike and the Member for Watson Lake - the two bright lights in the back, have been snickering and acting silly all evening, but I would expect the Minister to take this seriously.
There is a saying - I do not want to get it wrong now - their IQs were room temperature and you had to wear a sweater - something like that.
Perhaps the Minister could give us this information. When the decision is made for proposals, the board makes that decision. Can the Minister tell us how many projects in the Housing Corporation have been handled this way over the last fiscal year? How many have gone out as proposals versus tendered contracts?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There has just been one in this current year.
Mrs. Firth: Which one is that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It was the building of the social housing units. It has 19 new social housing units for $2 million in the employment task force paper.
Mrs. Firth: How did the people who participated in this process hear about it? Were they phoned and invited? Was it advertised? How did that happen?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It was advertised in the papers for approximately three weeks.
Mrs. Firth: So that I have the right project, is the Minister referring to the 19 social housing units on the governments capital works task force project? The 19 new social housing units that were cost-shared with the federal government is the project that we are referring to? I see the Minister nodding his head in the affirmative.
I understand that this is the project that four contractors bid on. The proposal call was for an apartment complex. Three contractors submitted their proposals on the basis that they were building an apartment block. The fourth contractor submitted his proposal based on the project being seven duplexes, and the request for the proposal was for apartments, yet the person who submitted the proposal for the seven duplexes was awarded the contract, much to the astonishment of the three other bidders, who had submitted their proposals according to the criteria set out asking for apartments. Is this the project that we are talking about?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is correct.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could, for all the Members of the House, run us through the process of how that worked.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will read the selection process that was used. The turn-key proposal call consists of a two-step approach. The first step is a formal evaluation of the proposals against the evaluation criteria including-
Mrs. Firth: Point of order.
Chair: Mrs. Firth on a point of order.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want the Minister to stand up and read some evaluation process out to me. I want him to walk us through this proposal tender that was put out for an apartment complex that ended up going to a guy whose proposal was for seven duplex units, as opposed to an apartment, much to the astonishment of the other three persons who participated in the proposal call that was offered by the government. I want him to go through that process for the Members of the House.
Chair: There is no point of order, but if the Minister would like to speak on the point of order he may.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is set out very well here and I would prefer to read it out. This is what happened and if the Member opposite does not want to know what exactly happened, then that is her problem. I would be quite willing to read this out because this is exactly the way it happened.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps I will approach it this way. The Minister is going to provide that information for us anyway. It is in some book or manual or something he has there. I am asking questions specifically about this project. I am not asking a generic question about what is done generally. I want to know - did this project go smoothly? Did the Minister have any complaints from any of the participants in the process?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes. To set the Member straight, there were only three proposals, not four. And yes, there were some complaints from one of the people who sent in a proposal and was not successful in obtaining the contract.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister walk us through that process and tell us what the concern was?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, I have all that here. I would certainly be quite pleased to read it into the record, so I will. In the case of the last call for proposal, Yukon Housing Corporation publicly advertised for turn-key proposals for up to 19 housing units in Whitehorse. The call closed at 4 p.m. October 22, 1993. Proposals were received from Malamute Construction, Quiniscoe Custom Homes and Ketza Construction. On October 22 at 4:10 p.m., the evaluation committee began evaluating the three proposals. Because all proposals contained all of the required information, the evaluation process went quickly. At approximately 6:45 p.m., the evaluation was complete.
Quiniscoe Custom Homes was determined to take the highest ranked proposal.
As time was a very important factor, the evaluation committee decided to immediately notify Quiniscoe of their ranking and of some of the specific concerns with their proposal.
That step was taken in order that valuable construction time could be saved should Quiniscoes team choose to work over the weekend to complete the project design.
Due to concerns raised by one of the unsuccessful proponents, the actual award of the project was delayed until a complete review of the proposal call and evaluation process could be undertaken.
The review was undertaken by an independent panel. The report was received by the corporation and presented to the contract standing committee. After the committee had the chance to study the panels report, they directed the staff to award the contract to Quiniscoe Custom Homes and Woodwork Limited. This was done on November 10, 1993.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if the proposal was for apartments or duplexes?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It was for either one.
Mrs. Firth: Was that stated specifically in the proposal?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, it was.
Mrs. Firth: Could I ask the Minister to bring the proposal request to the Legislature tomorrow?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, I have no problem doing that.
Mr. Chair, I would ask that you report progress.
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 the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole has passed the following motion
THAT from 4:00 p.m. until 5:25 p.m. on Thursday, January 6, 1994, Mr. Ross Findlater, Executive Director, and Mr. Jim Newnham, President of Yukon Family Services Association, appear as witnesses before Committee of the Whole during debate on Bill No. 38, entitled Yukon Family Services Association Rent Guarantee Act.
Further, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 12, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and direct me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled January 5, 1994:
Teen Parent Centre: need for additional space (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1736
F.H. Collins school upgrading: no increase forecast in operation and maintenance costs due to renovations (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1737
Department of Education: major roofing repair projects at four schools (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1745
Christ the King Elementary School upgrade for 1993-94: $100,000 budgeted (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1750
Robert Service school: student enrolment by grade for the years 1987 to 1993 (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1750
Robert Service school expansion: modular unit description (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1750
Computers: policy on instructional use (dated December 1985) (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1752
Yukon Housing Corporation: grant/loan programs for 1993-94 and number of applicants (Fisher)
Written Question No. 22, dated November 10, 1993, by Mrs. Firth