Monday, January 10, 1994 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Eulogy to Dr. Clayton Rudolph Pugh
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We rise today to pay our respects to a long-time Yukon friend. Dr. Clay Pugh passed away at his home yesterday. Clay was well known to many Yukoners.
He first came to the Yukon with the armed forces in 1954, and he spent a few years here, fell in love with the country and, like all of the armed forces personnel, was transferred out. Clay returned to the Yukon as soon as he could in 1961 and has lived here ever since.
He will be remembered as a gentle and kind man who loved the Yukon outdoors. Each year, on August 1, you could find Clay heading out into the bush looking for his moose.
He was well-respected for his northern gardening skills and many would say that he had the best garden in the Yukon. I can recall spending many a day at Clays place in his garden or his greenhouse, tasting his fresh tomatoes or strawberries weeks before mine were ready to be eaten.
Another thing that I can remember well about Clay Pugh is that he was never more in his glory than when he was talking about his secrets and his successes in his gardening.
The Yukon has lost a good and kind friend with the passing of Clay Pugh; however, he will continue to live on in our hearts and in our memories.
Our condolences go out to his family, his wife Lee, his daughters Cindy, Sarah, Anna and Rachel and his son Charles.
Mr. Harding: I rise today to express the Official Oppositions condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Pugh. Mr. Pugh knew our family from his time that he spent in Nova Scotia and during my fathers recent visit to the Yukon, he had an opportunity to talk with Mr. Pugh and I know that my father very much enjoyed that those discussions. He will be missed.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to pay tribute to a friend.
Dr. Clayton Rudolph Pugh died early Sunday morning after a two and one-half year battle with cancer.
Born in Westport, Nova Scotia, he served overseas in World War II as a pilot officer, flying Wellington bombers with the RCAF. As a young veteran, he obtained his degree in dentistry at Dalhousie University, and served with the naval reserve for two years. From 1949 to 1952, he was in the reserve army and joined the Canadian Army Dental Corp.
In 1961, Dr. Clay Pugh and his partner opened their dental clinic here in Whitehorse. The following year, they put together the first plan for a childrens dental program in Yukon schools. Professionally, Dr. Pugh will be remembered as the man who pioneered the first school dental program in Canada.
Because of his love of the outdoors and his commitment to his community, Clay served as the President of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, and was named to the Wildlife Management Board. An avid and expert gardener, despite the difficulties of the northern climate, he and his wife Lee were featured on the CBC television Canadian Gardener program, and the family won many prizes and prize ribbons at the horticultural displays in Alaska, as well as the Yukon.
Many Yukoners will feel the loss of this good and gentle person, who was always willing to share his knowledge and wisdom without anything in return. He will be remembered fondly by hundreds of former patients, as a friend, humming gently at his work, happy in his profession, his family and his Yukon.
Speaker: Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Ross River, counselling services
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The community of Ross River has identified serious problems in schools stemming from alcoholism, suicide, child abuse, sexual abuse and fetal alcohol syndrome. YTG has sent representatives from Health and Social Services and Education to Ross River. Despite these discussions and despite the Minister of Educations claims that cutbacks to special-needs programming has no effect on the communities, these serious problems remain and continue to plague the community.
The Ross River Dene Council has stated publicly that they do not have the resources to deal with these problems. I would like to ask the Minister of Health and Social Services what resources he is prepared to commit to the community to deal with these very difficult issues?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The problems in Ross River are very serious. I am in the process of discussing some mutual approaches to the problems, with the Minister of Education. In the meantime we have been in the process of hiring a social worker with special training in the counselling field. We are hoping that particular individual will be chosen and placed in the community within a month to five weeks.
We have been in dialogue with First Nations. We are going to be continuing with much of the programming that is there, and some of it is really enhanced programming. One problem we have is that we have to find the right people to hire who will stay in a place like Ross River. One of the problems is the rapid turnover of highly trained counsellors. The other approach to the problem is to train people who are either from Ross River or the Yukon who we know would remain in the community. There is no question in my mind that there is a real upheaval when a very talented person, who was there until six or eight months ago, leaves. It really leaves the community in a bad way.
Ms. Commodore: In 1989, when the government was in Opposition, they conducted a Yukon-wide task force on suicide, which has been a problem in Ross River. One of the recommendations of the report was that a refuge with trained support counsellors be identified in all communities to provide a place for people in need to go.
I would like to ask the Minister if he has read the report again, and if he has considered implementing any of the recommendations, including the one that I just mentioned.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In regard to the one just mentioned, we have been working with the Ross River Dene First Nation. They completed the construction of their healing centre just last summer. We are in the process of assisting them by engaging trained personnel to deal with counselling, particularly for drug and alcohol abuse. It is thought that the healing centre will form the backbone of the services that the Member has mentioned.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister has just mentioned a healing centre, and he has been talking about healing centres for a number of months, as we had been before the election. I would like to ask the Minister what kind of training he intends to provide to the people who are going to be working in the healing centre, and when does he expect it to be open for business - so to speak?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Initially, the focus is going to be on alcohol and drug prevention and counselling, and generic counselling skills will be developed. We will be looking at entering into some training programs with that First Nation in that community over the next few months. Part of the equation will depend on the priorities they seek for limited funds.
Question re: Ross River, counselling services
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Education. Some of the serious social problems in Ross River have a large impact on the education system in the community. My understanding is that, at the recent community meeting in Ross River, some concerns were expressed about the extra need for counselling and educational assistance for the school. Has the Minister given these concerns consideration and has he decided anything about them yet?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I thank the Member for the question. This morning, officials from my department and I met with the Minister of Health to discuss this situation. We are treating it as a fairly serious situation and so far our department is going to be reviewing the programming and the staffing priorities with a view to dealing in a more appropriate manner with the special needs of a significant number of students who are in that school. There has been no decision made today of how we are going to deal with it. It is something that crosses over into the Health and Social Services area as well as Education, so we are trying to work out something jointly between the two departments.
Mr. Harding: The Minister has made cutbacks in counselling and in assessment officers as well as in the education assistant field - precisely the areas in which the school may need help. Can the Minister commit that added help provided to the school in Ross River in the area of counselling and/or educational assistance would not come at the expense of existing staffing levels or services?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In the preamble to the Members question, he talked about cutbacks in these areas. There are actually more educational assistants working today than there were at this time last year, so it is not really considered a cutback.
We will look at the situation in Ross River, as I mentioned earlier, assess the situation, work together with Health and Social Services and try to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
Mr. Harding: There have been cutbacks. There may be more educational assistants, but there are also more children in need of special educational assistance. It would make sense that there would be more people involved in educational assistant portfolios.
The problem in Ross River is not a new one and it has been around for a long time. Over the last year he has had time to look at the problem. Does the Minister have any thoughts about the short- and long-term solutions to these serious problems?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That could involve a very long answer. As I stated earlier, we are currently reviewing our programming and staffing priorities at the school in Ross River. No decision has been made, one way or another, but as was identified at the meeting the other day, just putting another person in the school will not solve the problem. We have to deal with the whole social problem in the community of Ross River in conjunction with whatever is done at the school. We are working with Health and Social Services to try to do this.
Question re: Alaska/Yukon agreements
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Government Leader about the agreements that were signed between him and the Governor of Alaska last October, relating to the mutual cooperation between the two governments.
One of the agreements is entitled A Memorandum of Cooperation, which talks about the Government Leader and the Governor of Alaska designating officials to serve as principal points of policy and liaison.
Would the Government Leader indicate which officials have been designated to serve that function under the memorandum of cooperation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will have to bring back a legislative return for the Member on that. I am not certain which officials have been designated from this side. I do know that it is being handled by ECO. However, I do not have the names at my fingertips.
Mr. Cable: Will the Government Leader indicate what, if any, meetings the officials on the Alaska and Yukon sides have had to fulfill the functions set out under the memorandum of cooperation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is asking about what meetings have been held. If I remember correctly, it was only a couple of months ago that this memorandum of understanding was signed. It will be an ongoing process. There have been substantial communications to and from Alaska, particularly pertaining to the coming anniversary celebrations in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: To be more specific, one of the agreements deals with a joint mineral development program. It talks about the sharing of geological information, the protection of the northern environment and mutual cooperation. Have there been any additional discussions between the two levels of government on mining development?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said, these agreements were only signed a couple of months ago. The processes will be ongoing. I do not know what has transpired to date, but I will bring back a legislative return outlining what has transpired.
Question re: Homeless people
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister responsible for Social Services. Homelessness is scary enough, let alone in -35 degree temperatures. A number of community groups, including Kwanlin Dun, Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and the Yukon Health and Social Services Council, have publicly expressed concerns about the plight of the homeless.
I see by the Health and Social Services Councils annual report that they discussed the issue of the homeless and listened to presentations from community workers. Will the Minister please tell the House what recommendations the Health and Social Services Council made with regard to homelessness, and whether or not these were acted on.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to bring back a legislative return on that.
Ms. Commodore: Homeless people are extremely vulnerable to illness and violence. This is particularly troublesome when one considers that there are no shelters where young people can go outside of the group home and foster home systems. They sometimes end up in unpleasant situations. Has the department considered the issue of homeless youth, and what are they doing with respect to this serious issue?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Again, I will bring back a legislative return.
Ms. Commodore: The issue is of concern, especially right now. We should not wait until someone has frozen to death on the streets. I would like to ask the Minister to respond in regard to the comments that the Kwanlin Dun Band made that there were between 25 and 40 homeless band members, and that they have recently opened a home for the homeless. I would like to ask the Minister what the government is doing about providing further funding to support the home that has been opened by Kwanlin Dun. I understand that they are suffering from lack of funding at this time.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have ongoing consultations with Kwanlin Dun, and I will make inquiries about where we are at in regard to that particular issue. However, I think the Member understands that there are not excess funds available within the department and it is important that some of the other agencies, such as the City of Whitehorse and such as First Nations like Kwanlin Dun, take some responsibility themselves.
Question re: Alcohol and drug services
Mr. Joe: I have a question for the Minister of the Liquor Corporation. There has been a lot of talk these days about how much it costs to run alcohol and drug programs. There is too much drinking and there is no money to help people to stop drinking. Can the Minister tell us how much money was made last year from the sale of liquor?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not have those figures in my head. I will bring back a legislative return.
Mr. Joe: The government is going ahead with building a $1 million liquor store in Watson Lake. Why is the government not spending $1 million to stop drug and alcohol use?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The building we are constructing there will not only house the liquor store but will also accommodate the territorial agent for that area.
Question re: Kaushees Place, evaluation of
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister responsible for Social Services in regard to the evaluation of Kaushees Place. The Minister has indicated that those people who were critical of the home in the summer will be included in the evaluation but they will not be part of the evaluation committee. I am told that individuals from that group are upset that their group has been excluded from the evaluation committee and that there are no former staff or residents on the committee. In order to have more than one point of view represented on that committee, will the Minister undertake to invite at least one person from that group to sit as a member of this important evaluation committee?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will certainly discuss that issue, but if one has a fairly strong committee and a commitment that the groups the Member speaks of will be fully consulted, in confidence if they wish, then it seems to me that the addition of representatives from those groups to the committee really should not be that necessary.
Ms. Commodore: These individuals, the ex-staff, ex-residents and other people working in the family violence field, raised a lot of concerns - many of them from personal experience - and I do not believe their concerns should be ignored. Can the Minister tell us if it was his intention right from the start to exclude those people from the evaluation committee?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No. The commitment that was made was to ensure that there was an evaluation of Kaushees Place, which would be forward looking and not dwell on whatever mistakes have transpired in the past. It was our firm intention to have the committee made up in such a way that it could not be accused of bias.
The makeup of the current committee will fully serve the function that was intended. I have a concern that there does seem to be, on the part of some people, some confusion, namely that this should be some sort of witch-hunt to sort out allegations of the past when really the intention is to get a firm grasp as to whether or not Kaushees has been running in a manner that will fill the objectives for that program and to learn what can be done to make its services better.
Ms. Commodore: How will the Minister guarantee the input from those outspoken individuals when compiling this evaluation?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will be making it very clear that these people should and will be heard.
Question re: Children in care
Ms. Commodore: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services about children in care of the government.
In a legislative return that the Minister tabled, the department has indicated that the restriction of youth to their bedrooms is an established behaviour modification technique and a technique that has been practiced by generations of parents. The policy states that children may be isolated for a brief and predetermined time.
Is it the practice of the treatment home in Whitehorse to confine children in care to their rooms for up to seven days?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will look into that question and get back to the Member.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister also indicated that referrals to the treatment home were suspended while staff received additional training.
Did the Department of Health and Social Services continue to make payments during the period that referrals were suspended?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Again, I will get back to the Member with that information.
Ms. Commodore: It is a good thing that we are going to be in here for a few more weeks.
Since the treatment centre is based on programs of its parent organization, Woods Homes of Calgary, can I ask the Minister if he is satisfied with the success rate of those young people who have been treated at Woods Homes in Calgary?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In making those sorts of judgments, I rely on the expertise of the people within the department. I am convinced that of the applicants, with regard to operating this particular centre, the one selected was the best.
Question re: FAS/FAE children
Mrs. Firth: I also have a question for the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.
For some time over the past years, I have been raising the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol effects children and the lack of services provided for these children, young adults and their parents.
As each year goes by the children get older and there is more stress put on the families, the education system, the health system and the justice system.
Parents are coming to me and asking if there are going to be any services provided for these individuals, or are they going to have to leave the territory to get these services.
Can the Minister tell us if we have a fetal alcohol syndrome coordinator, or do we not, within his department?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We do not have one, specifically.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us if his department has done anything with respect to fetal alcohol syndrome. We are looking at respite care and some long-term planning for community living. Is anything being done in the department with respect to that for FAE/FAS individuals?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: A lot is being done for those specific individuals who suffer from FAS/FAE. The actual treatment of FAS affected people, in isolation from others with similar problems with regard to community living, has not been done. There are various ongoing studies, and the Health and Social Services Council has made this one of their priorities, and I will be looking forward to receiving recommendations from the various groups.
Mrs. Firth: When the parents of FAS/FAE children read this question in Hansard and they see the Minister saying that a lot is being done, they are going to ask me what. Could the Minister stand up and tell us this afternoon just what is being done?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will bring back a legislative return on that.
Question re: Public service, reduction of
Ms. Moorcroft: My question is for the Government Leader, who was speaking on the radio this morning about his objective to reduce the public service payroll by $8 million. What does he view as the appropriate size for the public service?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is asking me to speculate. I do not know what the appropriate size is. We need enough people to provide services to the general public in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister is either reluctant or unable to answer the question.
The Minister said he was looking for an $8-million reduction in the public service. We know that one of his priorities is a $1-million liquor store in Watson Lake. How does the government plan to spend the $8 million they would recover if they are successful in cutting it from the public service?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is not a matter of recovering any money. It is a matter of getting the cost of government under control. I also said in this mornings interview that personnel and payroll costs make up one-third, or, 32.4 percent, of the budget. We are looking at getting government spending under control, and there is no way to do it other than address all the issues, especially when one issue, payroll, takes up one-third of the budget.
I do not believe it is possible to get government spending under control by addressing only two-thirds of the budget.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister indicated that he would like to accomplish this reduction by attrition. We know that the helping professionals have the highest staff turnover rates. Does the Minister have a cohesive plan to maintain baseline public services in the face of attrition, which is not effective human resource planning?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe we have been very successful so far in controlling the payroll costs. They are not escalating higher than they were when we took over government. We are doing that by attrition. We have eliminated a lot of positions within the government that were vacant. These did not necessarily mean that people had to be moved around. They were vacant, but the departments were not filling them, so we eliminated them. We will continue along that path.
Question re: Alaska/Yukon agreements
Mr. Cable: I have some further questions for the Government Leader on the agreement he signed on behalf of the Yukon with Governor Hickel of Alaska. The master agreement - the memorandum of cooperation - talks about Alaska and the Yukon establishing routine contacts between their respective governments to do certain things. Could the Government Leader indicate what routine contacts have been set up.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Surely the Member opposite must realize that many of the things that are done in Alaska and the Yukon we have in common, be it wildlife management, be it tourism, be it mineral exploration, be it energy - there are many, many issues. We have ongoing negotiations. I do not believe there is hardly a week that goes by when our officials are not in contact with officials in Alaska. It is an ongoing process that will continue while this administration is in power.
Mr. Cable: The memorandum talks about routine contacts. Perhaps by way of legislative return, the Minister could indicate what sort of routine has been set up.
Let me be a little more specific. At the time that the agreements were announced, the press carried a note to the effect that Governor Hickel said they had talked about oil and gas development in Alaskas Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They agreed that no development could be carried on without ensuring that the Porcupine Caribou Herd is protected and that aboriginal people in the area are on side.
Would the Government Leader indicate what the substance of those conversations were and, in particular, how they intended to make sure the aboriginal people were on side.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite should be aware - or if he is not, but I am sure he is - that the Old Crow Vuntut Gwitchin people have said that they must protect the Porcupine caribou herd, particularly the calving grounds. We raised this issue with Mr. Hickel and said we supported the First Nations in that approach. He assured us that nothing would be done that would impede or cause problems with the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd.
Mr. Cable: The same news report indicated that Governor Hickel said they had discussed problems with Alaskan fisheries and Alaskan biologists to try to find out if the salmon shortage is a management problem or a natural occurrence. Can the Government Leader indicate whether there has been any follow-up on that discussion?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I was sure the Member was here in the House several weeks ago when we talked quite explicitly about the Yukon River salmon treaty negotiations. There have been ongoing discussions on this. There have been exchanges of letters between myself and Mr. Hickel. There has been ongoing dialogue between officials to try to resolve this issue.
Question re: Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues Act, repeal of
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question about the Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues Act. The 27th Legislature gave third reading and assented to a bill that would establish an advisory council to develop public awareness of the issues affecting the status of women, promote a change of attitudes within the Yukon so that women may enjoy equality, advise the Minister on equality issues, and provide assistance to organizations and groups which promote the equality of women.
Can the Minister of Justice or the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate, who both supported that act in the last Legislature, tell this House if they intend to repeal the Yukon Advisory Council on Womens Issues Act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have asked the Womens Directorate to make some minor changes to the act, which I hope they will be doing this winter. I hope to bring in those changes in the spring. The changes mainly involve the number of required meetings per year. We thought setting it at six was rather excessive and we were going to try and reduce that to four. They can meet more often, but we are saying that the minimum should be four. There are some minor changes in the act, which I hope to bring forward in the spring and establish the council soon thereafter.
Ms. Moorcroft: Other than reducing the number of meetings that the advisory council would have, can the Minister tell us what the intent was in the directions he gave to the Womens Directorate to otherwise revise the act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring that back to the Member. There are several minor areas of the act that I had concerns about. One area that the Member mentioned was funding groups. We have taken the budget that was intended for the advisory group, and are using it for the promotion and advertising of our violence against women issues and those types of programs and for supporting the various womens groups in the community.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could then answer this question. Does the Minister responsible for the Womens Directorate support the idea of an independent, arms-length body to recommend and participate in programs to improve the status and equality of women, to research matters relating to the status of women, and to publish reports and recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I certainly support an advisory body to advise the Minister on womens issues in the territory, and we will be proceeding in the spring with a bill that will do that.
Question re: Grew Creek mineral prospect
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. Last month there was an announcement of a joint venture between YGC Resources and Wheaton River Minerals that announced the potential for the opening of an open pit mine in the Grew Creek area to mine gold. Could the Minister tell us the status of that project?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have had a discussion with the members from Wheaton River Minerals and they are in the process of beginning discussion with the Ross River Band, as well as in the process of beginning the environmental work required to reopen the Ketza mine. They would be hauling the Grew Creek ore up to that mine to be processed.
Mr. Harding: By using an already developed processing facility the mine appears to have a potential to go ahead. I wrote the group in charge in December and pointed out that there are a lot of skilled open pit and processing miners living in the community of Faro and tried to express my desire to see local people hired. Has the company expressed any desire or interest in hiring locally to the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Devries: The company has had some discussion with the Ross River Band, hoping to make available some contracts to them. I am certain that they would be open to hiring people from Faro.
Mr. Harding: In the Ministers opinion the company would be interested in hiring people from Faro. Will the Minister be making any representations for hiring from the community of Faro, given the high unemployment in the community?
Hon. Mr. Devries: The company has a lot of environmental work to do at the Ketza property. Once they have their plans formed more conclusively, we certainly would.
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Government Leader some questions before Christmas about a publication called Yukon Update, a publication of the Yukon Party caucus - what I referred to as political propaganda. I asked the Government Leader why he was sending it to the private list of people that he has in his office. Guess what happened? I got a copy of the Yukon Update mailed to me. I do not recall being asked to be put on the list, but obviously I am on the list and I have my copy. To my surprise it was mailed to me in a Yukon Legislative Assembly Office envelope and it cost 43 cents to get this to me.
That piqued my curiosity and I checked with some Yukon Party Members who receive this publication and they too receive it in a Legislative Assembly Office envelope and it is paid for by the taxpayer. I would like to ask the Government Leader how he justifies the expenditure of public funds to mail the publication to his private list of people?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe it was said in the Legislature before, but the Member opposite does not seem to recall that statement, but the mail-out does not go to party members; it is sent to Yukoners in general and it is a very broad list. I am glad to see that the Members name has been added to the list, because she seemed miffed that she was not on the list when the issue arose before.
Mrs. Firth: Please let the record show that I am never miffed, especially when I am not on some private list that this government has.
I have asked for a copy of this private, secret list that the Government Leader has in his office. I have a written question on the Order Paper requesting a copy of the list. Am I going to receive a copy of the list or not?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will check on that and see what has happened.
Mrs. Firth: I am sure that nothing has happened with the list and I can already tell the Government Leader that nothing has happened.
I want to know if the Government Leader is going to continue to have taxpayers pay for this private piece of political propaganda, the Yukon Update publication, which very boldly takes political shots at the former NDP government. I want to know if they are going to continue to have taxpayers pay for this to be sent out to a private list of Yukoners that the Government Leader has in his office.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I just finished standing here telling the Member that it is not a private list. It is a very broad list of Yukon people who are provided with information about what the Yukon Government is doing.
Question re: Canyon City heritage site
Mr. McDonald: I am deciding whether to follow that line of questioning or ask the Minister of Tourism a question.
I will ask the Minister of Tourism a question.
The Minister has announced that work will begin next year in restoring the Canyon City site as a heritage tourist attraction. Can the Minister tell us precisely what work is contemplated, when it will begin and what the cost will be?
The initial work is the archaeology work and discussions Iwith First Nations in the area and other groups. We are gathering the basic information to look at the plan. Nothing has been developed, but there has been a wish expressed by many in the community, with the coming gold rush celebrations, that if we are going to do anything with Canyon City we must start preparations now, because the anniversaries are fast approaching in 1996 and 1998.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister has to be aware that the Kwanlin Dun First Nation has expressed some interest in the site as a land selection and has indicated to me that they were unaware of the governments plans to do work at the site. Can the Minister indicate whether or not the government consulted with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation before committing funds to the project and whether or not they consulted with the City of Whitehorse before committing funds?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have certainly spoken to the mayor about the issue several times and, with respect to the Kwanlin Dun, part of the work that will go on this summer will be archaeological work, and I imagine the Kwanlin Dun will be involved in part of that work on the site. It is very preliminary. There is a very small amount in the budget this year to deal with getting the work started. That is all it is - just preliminary work to start the planning for the future development of that site. One of the concerns we heard at the summit, and we have heard in the past, is the need for the development of attractions. For the past several years we have been developing attractions up and down the Alaska Highway. Now that the gold rush is fast approaching, it is time to look at developing attractions infrastructure relating to the gold rush, and this is just the start of that. There will be lots of discussions with Kwanlin Dun and others regarding the project in the future.
Mr. McDonald: Of course, the Minister is aware that the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, in this particular case, is under the impression that work is going to go ahead whether they like it or not. Because they have selected land on or around this site, they feel that the government is bound and determined to initiate work despite any concerns they may have.
Can I ask the Minister what the policy is of the government in consulting with First Nations prior to developing these heritage sites, these tourist attractions, and can he tell us whether or not the First Nations will be involved in the process of developing the Tourism departments plan prior to the government actually seeking or requesting money from the Legislature to undertake activities of any sort?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have had lots of past experience in dealing with First Nations in developing heritage sites and, in fact, Fort Selkirk is a very good example. The First Nation worked very closely with the Government of Yukon in developing an historical site along the gold rush trail and we are proceeding this year with more work on that.
As far as working with the Kwanlin Dun Nation on this particular site, if they have selected that particular area and it is part of their site - I have been advised by the heritage branch that they are going to be talking to them and discussing the issue with them. As I said, nothing has happened out there yet other than that we have some money in the budget to start discussions and to go out to the area, have a look at it, and start the planning for the project if we are going to proceed with it. If we do not start this year, it just will not get done in time for the anniversaries.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: We will have a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 12 - First Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Department of Health and Social Services - continued
Chair: We are dealing with Bill No. 12, and we are on general debate in Health and Social Services. Is there any further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am simply adding to some of the discussion that we had on Thursday last. I reviewed the rather lengthy question of the critic and in my view, at least in the context of the capital budget that was prepared for the hospital, I felt that we had answered the question.
The one area that we did not touch on was the health status report. There were questions raised about that, and I can say that there was a report released in January 1991. There is supposed to be a full report every three years with annual updates. The updates have not been completed because there has been work required in rethinking the approach and framework to the report. There has been a lot of work done by First Nations and medical professionals, and there is a full draft report that has been prepared and it will be released once it has been approved.
Mr. Penikett: I take it from the Ministers comment that he is declining the proposal made by the critic to put the hospital redesign decisions, which seem to us to be entirely cost driven, in the context of new thinking or new concepts in health, which I think compounds our worse fears about the agenda that is driving this decision.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: What we said, and made very clear, was that the changes to the hospital design are simply changes that are recommended on the simple principle that form should follow function. The problem with the old design was that a form was more or less imposed upon the players prior to programming and programming function being developed. What we are saying is that the form, in this case, will provide more flexibility and it will be less costly to run or to change. There has been nothing said about changing the program.
Mr. Penikett: Let me review our problem. We have been told by the Minister that he has been advised by experts, whom he cannot name, who have given him advice, which he will not share with the House, and which has caused him to do the redesign. He has been able to tell us nothing at all that sounds complete about a new philosophy of health or new approaches to health or new concepts of health - ideas to which he referred in his ministerial statement.
He claims that form is following function in this plan, but he is proposing to build a shell that he has called a shopping mall-style operation and then add the facilities later as the program is fleshed out and designed in January. He is proposing this redesign and reconstruction all in one building season, something that is strongly recommended against by the Auditor General and people who know what they are doing.
All we have to go on are the numerous complaints we receive from health care professionals.
This does not seem to be driven by a health policy agenda at all. In fact, the Minister seems strangely uninterested in health policy. Indeed, the nurses and doctors who work in the facility are complaining to the Opposition that what is happening is an effort to simply save money by doing things cheaper - reducing nurses stations and saving, as the Minister claims, $1 million - which we think, in the end, will have the effect of reducing the quality of health services for Yukon citizens. This is indeed a concern to health care professionals, who have been approaching us since this decision was first announced. This includes some nurses who came to see me on Friday, who complained that specialist nurses who work in the operating theatre, in geriatric care or in the mental health field will be replaced by a smaller number of generic nurses, and that, at the end of our expenditure of $47 million, we will have a health services program that is of lower quality and less value to the people and will, in the end, potentially produce the opposite of the improved health outcomes that we want. Unfortunately, since the Minister has declined to make any statement that would give us comfort about the completeness, thoroughness or thoughtfulness of his health policy framework for this decision, we are bound to conclude that the decision is driven, as we feared, by the question of cost.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am sure the Member is aware that the body that will be making decisions, once the hospital is completed, with regard to numbers of nurses and numbers of nursing stations and all those sorts of things - in future years, as now - will be the hospital board. In making this decision, we have not stated that there will be any changes to the programming that the hospital has always intended to offer. In fact, quite the contrary. We have made it very clear that this simply provides flexibility for the future and there are obvious cost savings in the design. The issue concerning the level of staffing of the various kinds of nurses, or whatever, has been set aside.
The building is much easier to adapt, to enlarge in terms of acute care beds if needed, to enlarge in terms of hospital amphitheatre or operational theatre areas if required, without impinging on other functional aspects of the building. The functional programming that has been talked about is going to be simply building on to all the work that was done for the old design and adapting it to the new form, which will be, in the view of everyone consulted, much more applicable to the programming function.
Mr. Penikett: Perhaps we are all terribly misinformed. What the Minister is saying does not make much sense. We may as well build a $47-million gymnasium or warehouse and say that the board will make a decision later about what goes into it.
Our problem is that we have grave doubts about the suitability of a gymnasium or warehouse as a plan to deliver high quality health services, which will have the effect of improving the health status of the people of the Yukon. That is our concern.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would suspect that a gymnasium would not exactly fill the bill either. That is not the issue here. The issue simply is one of changing the building so that it is not forced to go up in an L-shape with long corridors. It would not have two various floor levels for receiving goods and having them moved up and down and around corners. We are talking about a building that is far more suitable to the intended function. The level of the equipment and space in the buildings will be as good if not better than contemplated in the original design.
Mr. Penikett: I do not think anyone I know is deeply committed to the old configuration or would have a problem if that was the simple issue. However, wrapped in the Ministers original statement was some rhetoric about new concepts and new thinking about health care. In all the weeks since we have questioned the Minister, that rhetoric has proven to have no substance whatsoever. What we have instead is the hard-edged reality of cost cutting.
I am fully mindful of the desirability of getting health care expenditures under control; however, I also believe that there are two ways of doing that. There is a way of understanding health care expenditures as an investment in improved health and improving the health status of people, or it can simply be a bean-counters exercise of cost cutting, which may have the opposite effect. My fear is that the way the Minister is going about this, in the absence of any well thought-out health policy or health care agenda and the rush with which he is proceeding with the reorientation of this project, will mean he is not going to produce either good health or, I fear, a good hospital.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I really think that the Members argument is fatuous, to put it mildly. I have said before, and I will say again, that the program is not changing. Nothing that has been said by the government with respect to the hospital and the activities that will be carried out by the hospital board and the hospital itself have changed. It is simply a building that is more flexible and less costly to run. It will allow for changes in the future more readily than the current one. That would allow for cost-cutting measures to take place if they are required. It would also allow for cost-increasing developments, brought on by unexpected surges in population and so on. It will be much easier to add on to any component of this hospital than it would have been for the hospital design that we are rejecting.
Mr. Penikett: Now the Minister insists that we are talking about the same programming, but elsewhere he has talked about having fewer nursing stations and he has probably conceded that we are talking about fewer staff and fewer beds. I do not see how we can maintain the same programming when you have already changed the cost foundation of that programming.
I would like to ask the Minister a general question - I do not want this to turn into a long debate. Some years ago, the Yukon government adopted some architectural design guidelines. These guidelines were developed in the Department of Government Services. Recently, the architectural designed guidelines for 1993-94 have been republished.
Does the Department of Health and Social Services intend to follow these design guidelines in the construction of the hospital?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The guidelines have been given to the project manager, who is working with the architect on the new concept.
Mr. Penikett: A few weeks ago I was reading a news report - it may have been the Globe and Mail or it may have been a press release from Ontario - that described a new hospital that is being built in Toronto and, coincidentally, is going to cost $45 million. The developers in that case indicated that there would be 900 construction jobs associated with that project, which is of course many more than are anticipated from this project.
Could the Minister, by way of a legislative return, indicate to the House the method of calculating the number of construction jobs on this project, which I think led to the number of 285, which is the last number I have heard.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will table that information.
Ms. Commodore: I have some questions about money allocated for some of the expenditures under family and childrens services.
The Minister has talked about renovations, equipment and other items for young offender facilities and child welfare facilities.
My question to the Minister is about monies allocated to 501 Taylor Street. I do not know if any of the money allocated on page 69 is to go to 501 Taylor, but I have to ask the Minister a question about a response that he gave to me in Question Period, and that is: what is going to be happening with 501 Taylor?
There have been a lot of questions about the privatization of the treatment of young offenders and the Minister said to me in response to a question that 501 Taylor, which is the open custody facility, is not needed there any more and that the residence will be utilized by youth services.
It appears that there is not anything in this capital budget for any kind of renovations to use for youth services. I would like to ask the Minister what exactly he meant by youth services. I am still asking my question and I will wait until the Minister is finished listening to his deputy minister.
I know he cannot hear me if someone else is talking to him.
Is it the Ministers intention to change the building to accommodate other programs? If he intends to use it for something else, other than kids in open custody, what is going to happen to the kids if they are sentenced to open custody? What is the time frame on this? I do not see anything at this time in the budget.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There have not been any definitive plans established, at this time. There is nothing in this budget, at this stage, that would deal with the issues raised by the hon. Member. When this was raised in the House, I indicated to her that the whole issue of 501 Taylor is under discussion. However, there have been no conclusions arrived at yet. It is very difficult for me to say how long that process will be ongoing. It is one of the many areas that is suffering because of the extremely long time we have been in the House.
Ms. Commodore: I am a little concerned about what might happen to 501 Taylor or other facilities that are there for the specific responsibility of housing young offenders. The Minister spoke about other changes that had taken place over the year, and I do not recall whether or not those decisions were made in this House. The Minister talked about one group home that now houses Community and Transportation Services staff. I do not know whether or not that happened through budget changes or whether it was something that was done internally by a decision made by Management Board.
I would not want to see any changes made in regard to 501 Taylor, or any other facility, without it coming to this House so it can be discussed. Does the Minister intend to look at the results of an evaluation, or whatever it is that is being done right now, and then propose changes without their having a proper discussion in this House? There are individuals in the department who have been told that a lot of these services were going to be privatized, including the detox centre, which is another issue.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am really not sure what people have been told, but what we are looking at with respect to some of these facilities, such as the detox centre and 501 Taylor, is whether or not we are making efficient use of the resources and the building. The situation with regard to 501 Taylor that causes us concern is simply that it stands pretty well empty for long periods of time. We have a duty to the taxpayers of the Yukon to make efficient use of the money, and if there are other options that would lend themselves to this, we will be examining those options, and that is what we are doing. I am sure, given the length of the filibuster to date in this sitting - the ongoing filibuster whereby this Legislature spends something like two to three times as long in the House as do the provinces by the time the operation and maintenance budgets come forward in the spring we will possibly be able to debate that issue.
Ms. Commodore: The problem we are facing here in this House is that we stand up and ask very serious questions in regard to the programs, in regard to the money that is being spent in the capital budget and in the O&M, and we ask policy questions. What we get - and there was a good example today - is people on the other side, who should have the pat answers for the questions we are asking, joking among themselves when the questions are being asked, and they do not take them seriously. We are serious about the questions we are asking in the House. This is not a filibuster; this is a chance for us to find out information so that we can take that information back and give it to those people who are concerned about the things we are asking.
If somebody in my riding, or anywhere else for that matter, is concerned because they are going to be privatizing the detox centre or privatizing 501 Taylor and that they are going to be out of a job, that is very serious to them and to us.
So I ask these questions on behalf of Yukoners who are concerned about their future. I expect, and I have in the past gotten, some fairly decent answers from this Minister and I certainly intend to keep on asking questions until I am satisfied - whether we agree with the answers or not - that my questions have been answered. If there was any consideration of closing down 501 Taylor, I would certainly like to be able to talk about a new policy within the department. If it is not being used and there are a lot of people sitting around doing nothing, as has been indicated, then certainly we are concerned about that as well.
We are concerned about the welfare of those children in our care, and I will be getting further into that in the supplementary budget. I do have some very serious questions, and I would like some answers without being accused of filibustering. That is not what I am doing. I would like to be able to do a number of other things as well.
I have a question in regard to the detox centre. In a ministerial statement, the Minister indicated that he was going to do many things, one of which was that he intended to build a detox centre. It now appears that that is not going to happen before 1995 as there is nothing allotted for it in this budget, although he announced last year - May 6, 1993 - that he was going to do this.
If we are not going to be doing anything with the detox centre, I have some concerns about the availability of programs and buildings for people who have serious alcohol problems. Right now we are having a problem with homeless people who suffer with alcohol problems. In his ministerial statement on May 4, the Minister indicated that he was looking at doing other things in addition to building a detox centre. Although it is not in this budget, the problem is still there. The problem is just as bad now, and it will not change before 1995. As well, I would like to know if there is some discussion within the department about privatizing the detox centre? I do not know if there is another building available that they may have to look at funding before this year ends. If the Minister has any plans to do that I would certainly like to know so that I can pass that information on to people who are concerned about their jobs.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: With the greatest of respect, when the Member asks me a question, I answer as best I can. I tell her truthfully exactly where we are with respect to some of these issues. In her mind, she may think that we have made some decisions, but when we have not, the fact is that we have not. If we are looking at these various options, I tell her that. She seems to take from that that I am trying to avoid the question - I am not. I have told her before that we are looking at the detox issue, and that privatization or having an NGO run that sort of facility in the Yukon - instead of running it as it is now - is absolutely one of the options. There has been no decision made.
With respect to 501 Taylor, we are looking at it in conjunction with the way that we deliver services for youth, but we have made no definitive decisions on that either. My complaint is that we have been here for record periods of time accomplishing precious little, which impacts upon us making the decisions about which she would like answers. When the decisions have been made, I will be quite prepared to discuss them in this place or anywhere else.
Ms. Commodore: According to information that has been given to us during Question Period, we find that all kinds of decisions are being made in regard to many things. We hear them all the time. What we do hear from people in the field is that there is a lack of consultation in regard to some of the decisions that are made.
I am not going to be asking too many other questions in general debate. I would like to ask a question about the building that is being used for the new treatment centre. I do not know whether or not there is any money allocated here for anything. Listed is child welfare facilities, renovations and equipment. I do not know if that is included in it. He will let me know when we get to it.
I would like to know if it is his intention to continue to use government buildings for private contracts such as the treatment centre? Is rent being taken out of the contract with this group, or is the building being provided free? If any renovations or equipment are needed for it, is it the responsibility of the government to make those renovations or is it the responsibility of the individual who has the contract?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The simple answer is that we control the building and we are the ones who will make the renovations and the changes to the building and contract out for the services. One of the reasons for that is that if we control the building, it puts us more firmly in control of operation over the long run. If she wants more detail or facts surrounding that particular contract, we can provide it.
Ms. Commodore: I certainly would like more information on the circumstances surrounding the contract and what this government has to provide in order to put the treatment centre in place.
The Minister mentioned something about Crossroads in his opening statement. I do not see anything on this page for Crossroads, but he did mention something to the effect that Crossroads had been turned over to the department. What did he mean by that? I know that Crossroads gets a certain amount of funding to provide a service, but he did mention something about the building being turned over to the department. I did not understand that.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The building was owned by Yukon Housing Corporation. It was transferred, over the course of the years, to the department. The department has had the building analyzed with respect to what kind of repairs are needed for the building. One of the first things that has to be done is that the roof has to be fixed. That is one of the items in this budget.
Mr. Cable: I have a few questions on the hospital so that when we get to that line item we can appreciate what is going on.
The Minister was asked a couple of weeks ago about time line and critical path schedules. Do those schedules exist?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We provided the Member who asked about time lines with the schematic design. I would anticipate receiving some more material this week, as the project manager will be returning tonight or tomorrow morning. He was outside discussing the issue in more detail with the architects. If there are more refined time lines, I will provide them to him.
Mr. Cable: The question I am particularly interested in is whether the Minister, at this particular juncture, is in a position to give a firm commitment about the dates for the letting of the contracts for the shell and the dates when he anticipates construction will actually commence under those contracts.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The current rough time lines provide for the actual construction to commence in late July or early August, so the contract documents, and all the drawings that have to be done, would have to be completed by early June - working backward - in order for the project to be tendered - phase 1.
Mr. Cable: The reason I asked the question is because job creation in this particular year is one aspect of the construction. Is the Minister in a position to give a commitment that the construction will start in July or August of 1994?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There will be a lot of work going on, commencing fairly soon. As the Member knows, the incinerator is being built. There is more work to be done on the water and sewer lines. The latest thing has to do with completing the crossing of Lewes Boulevard to the pump house. Then the tearing down of two wings will be required. There is some work to be done at the Thomson Centre to complete the shelled-in area on the northeast end of the centre, and to add some space to the physio area of the centre.
There will be some work required with regard to upgrading the wing that is currently the administration wing in the hospital, and adding to it, so it will then function as the emergency centre, rather than the emergency wing, which will be torn down. There is a lot of work that will be going on - more than was originally contemplated.
As for the actual starting date of the hospital, our intention now is to have it going by midsummer. Can I firmly commit? Well, that is the target, at this point.
Mr. Penikett: In the interest of expediting debate, I will indicate to the Minister some of the questions that I want to ask in the course of the capital line-by-line debate and suggest the direction of those questions. If any homework needs to be done between now and the time that we get to them the staff might be able to do it.
We had heard that of the $7 million that the Yukon Party government found to fund capital works projects, $340,000 of that money was in lapsed purchases for continuing care equipment, which inevitably leads me to ask what equipment was not purchased and who was affected by that?
In policy, planning and administration, I understand that there is approximately $100,000 for systems development. I would ask the Minister to confirm that this is for the LISA project to track social assistance applicants. I am interested in who was awarded the contract if it has been tendered yet; did it go to the lowest bidder and did it go to a local person?
We will have some other questions when we get to the supplementaries about home care, but I understand that this year there is something like $10,000 dedicated for operational equipment for home care. I want to ask a general question about whether this is going to be sufficient for the program. The particular specific question will be exactly what that is for.
There is a line of inquiry that I have not yet opened, concerning the hospital and the Thomson Centre. I will give notice of two general questions now.
Obviously, what is happening with the Whitehorse Hospital construction impacts hugely on the Thomson Centre. Part of the complicated arrangements that our government had worked out for the operation of the Thomson Centre involved participation by the Workers Compensation Board and the patriation of their rehabilitation program back to the Yukon. In other words, people would be able to be rehabilitated here, rather than in southern centres. We thought that would save money and that it was a good social policy to have people being rehabilitated close to friends and family.
The Ministers plans for the Thomson Centre, whose program we understand he does not like, have involved, it seems, some integration with the hospital operation. Since the Workers Compensation Board is funding the Thomson Centre to the tune, I think, of $250,000 per year - at least it was when I was involved - I am curious to know whether the Workers Compensation Board was consulted or involved in the Ministers decisions about the Thomson Centre.
The other area I am interested in is the question of service levels. Obviously, the number of extended care beds available at the Thomson Centre will be fewer, as surgical patients are to be decanted into the Thomson Centre, and resources like physiotherapy that were dedicated to extended care patients will now be shared with the hospital. I want to get some more detail about the Ministers thinking on that, since there continue to be people who are concerned about what the Minister is doing. They continue to believe that there are some wrong-headed decisions here in blending or homogenizing a residential program like the one at the Thomson Centre with an institutional program like the one at the hospital.
Those are the questions I will want to pursue and, if it is helpful to the Minister to know in advance where I am going, I am always pleased to be helpful.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Just by way of overview here, I am pleased to introduce the budget, which includes projects - totalling $17,974,000. The largest is the hospital, which accounts for $16,068,000, and the remaining projects amount to $1.9 million.
On Policy, Planning and Administration
Ms. Commodore: I thought we were dealing with the branch of policy, planning and administration. If we are, I would like an explanation on the $150,000 and the $100,000.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Certainly. In going through this, we have office furniture and operational equipment for $150,000. These are being requested to provide newer replacement desks, filing cabinets, photocopiers, computer workstations and such other office furniture and operational equipment as may be required from time to time by various branches of Health and Social Services. About $100,000 has been earmarked for 22 new, replacement computer workstations and four printers.
The goal for 1994-95 is to replace 16 obsolete computers, which are unable to use the current YTG standard software. This upgrade will enable departmental units to operate more effectively. The remaining $50,000 will be used to acquire new are replacement photocopiers, office furniture and equipment for the department as required.
In 1992-93, computers and office furniture and equipment were, of course, purchased by Government Services for the department.
Ms. Commodore: I would just like to know what equipment we are looking at for that $50,000. What has to be replaced? Are we looking at desks for certain offices? What kind of filing cabinets need replacing?
I would like to believe that this $50,000 expenditure is absolutely necessary. Is this just a rough guess by people in the department or are there broken down chairs, desks and filing cabinets that need to be replaced? I would like to know.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am advised that the portion of the $150,000 that is being used to replace photocopiers or office furniture and equipment for the department will be used for much-needed replacement. It is a large department. Historically, $50,000 for those kinds of things is a reasonable figure.
On Office Furniture and Operational Equipment
Office Furniture and Operational Equipment in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Systems Development
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The funds requested under this line item will be used to develop departmental computer systems needed to maintain or enhance efficient and effective service delivery. The specific projects include the rewrite of health care registration systems, which will be for business and technical design, $50,000; for expansion of social assistance systems into the communities, there will be $15,000; the planning phase of the continuing care information system is $10,000; child welfare system preliminary analysis is $10,000; technical design of a child care system is $5,000; our contribution as a department to the corporate systems development for common YTG systems is $10,000.
In the previous year, systems development projects were primarily done by Government Services funding.
Mr. Penikett: Perhaps the Minister could elaborate on the health care registration system. Is this a system that is designed to keep the health care registration system current? In other words, to clean off the list, periodically, stale registrations, which has been a problem in terms of petty fraud where people from outside the territory bill the Yukon health care system even though they are no longer residents. I suspect it is also a problem in another respect too, because the registrations have been used to give us population statistics and if they are inflated by continuing to include people who are no longer resident, they are giving us a flawed statistic. Can the Minister say something about that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: For all the reasons the question was asked, we are proceeding with this project. The old system is not adequate to meet the needs, and the changes are required. I understand there is a high degree of frustration over there and that we are wasting a fair amount of time trying to keep the registration up to date.
Mr. Penikett: I do not want to hold the Minister on this today, but I am curious about the efficacy of the new system. Therefore, at some point, I would be interested if, by way of a legislative return, the Minister could give us that information. I would like to know how it is going to work, and how it is going to address the problems we just discussed.
Earlier, I asked the Minister about the LISA project, and if some of the money in this line is going for that. I asked if the Minister could tell us who got this contract, or whether it has been tendered yet and, if it has been tendered, did the low bidder get it, and was the low bidder a local person.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is the expansion of the implementation. Whitehorse is complete. If he is asking for me to bring back details of that particular contract, I would be pleased to.
In the view of the department, the LISA has been well worthwhile. It has certainly freed up a lot of person year time with respect to those who administer social assistance. They are now able to devote more time to the real job and to analyzing the policies under which we operate.
Mr. Penikett: I am sure the Minister could dispel the rumour that this project is named after a well-known friend of the Yukon Party.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I can certainly do that.
Systems Development in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The funding is due to the integrated Health and Social Services facilities project budget, which in 1994-95 has been distributed to the specific buildings where necessary.
Mr. Penikett: Does that mean that the Minister is no longer interested in pursuing the project that was begun under the previous administration and was, in the latter days, focused on an integrated Health and Social Services educational project for Mayo, or is this a different line?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is my understanding that the Member is speaking of the capital planning that would accompany the actual establishment of the community boards. There has not been a demand for proceeding in that way - that the boards be established right away. Certainly, in our discussions with the communities, we are discussing the whole issue of community-based health, and I suspect there would be a line put in the budget for specific projects if there was a demand for capital facilities for integrated boards of any sort.
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Policy, Planning and Administration in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On Family and Childrens Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am prepared to commence with safe places, if that is what is being asked. The objective of this project is to facilitate the development of a safe places network throughout the Yukon. It includes safe home shelters, transition homes and second-stage housing for victims of family violence. This money may be used for planning, construction or renovation to facilities, or acquisition of furniture and equipment. Previously, a great deal of assistance was given to projects in Whitehorse, Dawson, Watson Lake, Carmacks and Ross River. No major projects are anticipated for this year. There are no current requests for funds. As at November 15, 1993, I have a note here that we had spent $22,680 of this years budget, so it is just based on current use.
On Safe Places
Ms. Commodore: I heard the Ministers explanation about safe places and that there have been no specific requests, but he did mention Carmacks and Ross River. I do not know what is happening there. Are they contemplating spending money there, or is some of this $20,000 to go into Ross River or Carmacks? I would like him to let me know.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Carmacks utilizes part of the band complex, and Ross Rivers healing centre was completed this year - the main building - with CDF funds. The $22,000 I mentioned that had been spent provided stuff to both those two facilities. We just do not anticipate much more than that by way of demand for the upcoming year, given that that was all that was spent last year.
Ms. Commodore: Is there going to be funding in the O&M to accommodate these two programs?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No firm discussions have been held with respect to that issue. With regard to the healing centres, the funding from CDF is done on the basis that we do not supply core funding. We look at pilot projects, or assisting with program development, and that sort of thing. It is very clear, with regard to the healing centre situation, that core funding is not part of the package. I understand that is also the situation with Carmacks.
At this point, we are not aware of any particular type of request for safe house assistance specifically. Certainly, in our discussions with First Nations, we talked in terms of encouraging them to use people for more than one task. Quite often, in a small town, the person hired to do some of the follow-up and aftercare on, for example, drug and alcohol work, might also have part of a person year directed at running this type of program. Healing centres, by necessity, are going to have to look at some generalists, simply because there is not the constant volume to talk in terms of solid and one-purpose person years.
Safe Places in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Foster Home Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These funds are used to provide appropriate equipment to assist foster parents in looking after the foster children in their care. Examples of the equipment include recreational equipment, cribs, car seats, highchairs, and those kinds of items.
Foster Home Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Child Care Services Development
Hon. Mr. Phelps: As part of the child care strategy, this program is designed to promote accessible, affordable and quality child care for families throughout the Yukon.
This contribution is provided for both the start up and the enhancement of child care facilities, as appropriate. The proposed increase over 1993-94 reflects the need to meet the higher standards outlined in the new child care regulations, which will become effective April 1, 1994.
Child Care Services Development in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
On Young Offender Facilities - Renovations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This line item is intended to provide for necessary renovations in young offenders facilities, both secure and open custody.
Primarily, the allocation is for capital maintenance items. The specific requirements include painting, minor repairs and carpet replacement.
Young Offender Facilities - Renovations in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Young Offender Facilities - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This line item is for acquisition or replacement of equipment for young offender facilities, as required, to provide the level of care necessary to maintain required service and safety standards.
Young Offender Facilities - Equipment in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Child Welfare Facilities - Renovations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These monies are intended to provide for necessary renovations to Whitehorse child welfare facilities, as required. There are five facilities. Planned projects include painting, deck work, upgrading electrical, and minor renovations.
Child Welfare Facilities - Renovations in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Child Welfare Facilities - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This line is for acquisition or replacement of equipment for child care facilities as required to provide the level of care necessary to maintain required service and safety standards.
Child Welfare Facilities - Equipment in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Family and Childrens Services in the amount of $225,000 agreed to
On Social Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Mr. Chair, may we do it line by line?
On Social Services Operational Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Funds are being requested to provide new and replacement specialized administrative equipment, as may be required for the social assistance and community services program.
Social Services Operational Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Alcohol and Drug Services - Renovations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are asking for this money for renovations to what is known as the Crossroads building, which has been turned over to the department from the Yukon Housing Corporation. We are upgrading the building to the code and safety standards as identified by Government Services.
Ms. Commodore: This building is a very large one. I have not been in it for a long time, but $100,000 does not sound like an awful lot of money to do the work that might be required. I am wondering if the Minister anticipates further expenditures in the future, and perhaps even this year. The roof possibly needs replacing, as well as the electrical wiring. Some of the rugs and so on are not in very good condition. Does the Minister anticipate that this building, now that it has been turned over to the department, will cause a problem? Do they still have offices in that building for alcohol and drug services?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, the Member is quite right in her observation. This $100,000 would deal with some of the very obvious building code deficiencies with regard to the roof, and that sort of thing, and some of the obvious kinds of repairs she has mentioned.
As the Member knows, we are still finalizing our consultation under the Alcohol and Drug Strategy. She asked the question if ADS are still in the building, and they are. The intention with regard to the building is to use it as one of the primary buildings for the Alcohol and Drug Strategy. Part of it would go to Crossroads, or to an non-government organization such as Crossroads. We would be looking at the other kinds of counselling services that might best be done in that building. It is a large building, but it has some problems - it is so multi-level.
It is not in bad shape, in terms of such things as flooring and painting, because Crossroads had done a fair amount of work on it a year ago. However, as we finalize our decision making with regard to locating some of these services, like the ADS, I am sure there will be more money required, whether it is in this fiscal year, halfway through it, or a little later.
One example of an area of concern is the physical disability access to the building. We are still looking at that. Nonetheless, it is a building that is not in bad shape, and it is large enough and central enough to house at least some of the programs for the Alcohol and Drug Strategy.
Ms. Commodore: I understand the Crossroads building is almost always full. When individuals are going through the treatment, are they involved in any kind of services within the building? I would not want jobs to be taken away from the general public, but would they be allowed to carry out any small projects themselves while they are recovering? I do not know much about the treatment required, but it is a question about which I am a bit curious.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Our understanding is that they are involved in the maintenance that involves cleaning, but not the actual repair work.
Ms. Commodore: Do they do all of the janitorial work or is there someone hired to do that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We understand that there is an item in the Crossroads budget for janitorial. I am not sure about how alcohol and drug services is handled. I will have the department make enquiries and have them get advice if it is done by government or by Crossroads personnel.
Alcohol and Drug Services - Renovations in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Alcohol and Drug Services - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Acquisition or replacement of equipment for alcohol and drug services facilities at the building that we just spoke of and the detox centre, as required, provide the level of care necessary to maintain required service and safety standards. Examples of such furnishings and fixtures include mattresses for the recovery units, desks, dressers, tables, drapes, lamps, armchairs, chesterfields, household and kitchen equipment.
Mr. Joe: I want to ask a question about the drug service. I do not know what that means. There seems to be a problem in every community with respect to drugs. I want to know if drugs are illegal in the communities or how are the communities protected from drugs coming in?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is an important question given the fact that the evidence is that there is more and more drug abuse. It is increasing in terms of what is known as the illegal drugs that the Member mentioned and the other kinds of substance abuse that is everything from gasoline sniffing to other common household products that are abused, particularly through inhaling things like glue and so on.
People in this department are primarily focusing on education and we are attempting to work out agreements with people in the smaller communities, in particular the northern native drug and alcohol abuse program under DIAND that is done through First Nations, in order to try to cooperate on how we deliver services that are preventive and cooperate in training people to counsel and provide some after care for people who have taken treatment, particularly those who go outside to Poundmakers and places like that. Those kinds of discussions are ongoing.
We have completed a pilot project agreement with the Kaska for Watson Lake and Ross River. We want to talk to the other First Nations to see what interests they have in this regard. I made a mistake; NNADAP is not funded by DIAND, but by Health Canada medical services branch.
The model we are trying is a three-year project with the Kaska from Watson Lake and Ross River. We will join with them to pool our money and we are providing money for one worker - and next year we hope it will be two - and they are providing workers as well.
The government is involved, and we are trying not to duplicate, but to operate out of one facility, more or less. In Ross River, that facility would be the healing centre. In Watson Lake they will be using the building that became empty when Curragh shut down Sa Dena Hes - the building is over by the First Nation band office.
Alcohol and Drug Services - Equipment in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Home Care - Operational Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This item is for the acquisition or replacement of equipment for the home care program, to provide the level of care necessary to maintain required services and safety standards. The critic for Health mentioned that he would be somewhat concerned about the level of home care that is envisaged over the course of 1994-95. It is our conclusion, in discussing this issue, with the possible shortage of beds in the Thomson Centre firmly in mind, that there will probably be a requirement for a significant increase in the operation and maintenance component of home care. This has not been completely worked out, of course. Given that probability, in order to keep people in their homes as much as possible, I would expect that we would be seeing, fairly soon in the course of the year, supplementaries to the capital budget on this line.
Mr. Penikett: When we get to the health supplementaries, I will have questions about that subject. I will save further questions for then, but I would like to give notice of one question. When I was with the department, officials in the department taught me to have respect for what they called the care continuum, particularly for elderly people - from home care, to senior citizens homes, to nursing homes, as Macaulay Lodge had inadvertently become, with extended care being the final stage in the care continuum.
I think I have reason to be concerned given the changes to the hospital design, which are forcing changes on the Thomson Centre, which are forcing consideration of people being returned to Macaulay, which is also giving rise to pressures on the home care system.
I would like to give notice to the Minister when we get to the health supplementary that I would like to have some debate or discussion about his intentions in that regard when we come to that item.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I appreciate that and I can say that we are certainly committed to continuing care. The strains created by the new hospital are going to necessitate our coping with some of these issues in the short term.
Home Care - Operational Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Social Services in the amount $160,000 agreed to
On Health Services
Chair: Is there any debate on the health services program?
On Chronic Disease Benefits - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The purpose of this expenditure is for equipment required for the support of individuals of chronic debilitating diseases, in order to minimize hospitalization, typically, wheelchairs, hospital beds and respiratory equipment.
Chronic Diseases Benefits - Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Extended Health Benefits - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This expenditure is for the purchase of major medical equipment to be used by seniors. This is equipment that is returned to the loan bank after use. This would include equipment such as wheelchairs, walking aids and hospital beds.
Extended Health Benefits - Equipment in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Hospital Construction
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Well, we have been discussing this in some detail. The actual plans and time lines evolve. I certainly intend to table, by way of a legislative return, the time lines that the project manager will have with him when he gets back tomorrow. I will have him prepare the most recent estimates with respect to that and see if there are changes. If so, I will certainly provide them.
Mr. Penikett: I would also note that, even depending on an extremely fallible instrument - my memory - there are outstanding requests for legislative returns regarding the functional planning process, staffing and the consultation process about local labour and materials. As the Minister also mentioned, there is also the requests for the schedule for construction.
I would ask only that should those not become available soon, will the Minister give the undertaking to have the legislative returns transferred to the critics after the sitting?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, I hope that we will be in a position to provide the functional planning process in detail after Management Board meets, which is this Friday.
Whitehorse Hospital Construction in the amount of $16,068,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Hospital - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is, of course, to keep this line item open. There is money from the transfer agreement. When they are spent, they will be fully recoverable.
Whitehorse Hospital - Equipment in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Hospital Road #2 and #4
Mr. Penikett: Is the Minister confident that the $50,000 provided here will be adequate for the task? That is my first question.
The second question is this: at one point the good mayor of this fair city had high hopes of extracting the cost of a new bridge from the hospital budget. I hope that his hash has been settled on that question by this budget.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, Nos. 2 and 4 Hospital Road were part of the health transfer agreement and were transferred to us. They are basically sound structures, but they are old and require some maintenance to the windows and roof. A detailed survey of deficiencies will be performed to better determine the appropriate course of action.
With respect to the ongoing saga of what is termed, for want of a better descriptive phrase, the offsite improvements that will be made under the hospital budget, they are essentially restricted to replacement of the water and sewage lines. The outstanding item that was negotiated in the fall had to do with disagreement as to where the upgrading should begin. The contracts let to date, and performed in the fall, went from the Lewes Boulevard to the hospital. There was a certain amount of discussion with the city with regard to going from that point across the road, because the pump house is across the road. That negotiation was concluded, and YTG has agreed to fund up to a maximum of $200,000 for that portion. If the city wants to make additional improvements, such as gutters and sidewalks, et cetera, then they can do that, but it will be at their expense.
As I understand it, there was discussion during the election and since about the need for an extra lane on the bridge. There was an agreement with the city that YTG would provide up to $500,000, but that has nothing to do with the hospital budget. That is simply an issue that is under negotiation between YTG and the city.
Mr. Penikett: Since that was not a firm commitment by one of his Cabinet colleagues, but a hand waving, flag waving, banner waving commitment, could the Minister indicate exactly which budget that $500,000 is intended to come from? Is it Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Should that matter proceed, it would be up to Community and Transportation Services.
Hospital Road #2 and #4 in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Northern Health Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Our department contributes approximately 70 percent of the capital requirements for community health services outside of Whitehorse. Those will be the subject of phase 2 of the transfer negotiations.
This year, Health and Welfare Canada is planning to spend $30,000 on vehicle replacement, $47,000 for the purchase of minor equipment, and $544,000 for construction projects. That is capital, maintenance, generator and shed in Pelly, and the commencement of construction on a new nursing station in Ross River.
Mr. Penikett: I would only note that, in my experience, what is actually purchased under this line, from what we were told at budget time, is often quite different. I would point out that, while the 1993-94 forecasts for expenditures is $277,000, the 1992-93 actual was $593,000, and we are budgeting $621,000 this time.
Some day, some very diligent Health critic is going to ask for a comparison of the lists of requested equipment that is given at budget time and the actuals at the end of the year. It would probably take someone younger than I to want to do that.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I put this in the category of the experiences one has with the RCMP contract. It was something on which we certainly had a fair amount to say this time around, and we did pare back the shopping list. I can only hope that they will be closer this time than has been their practice.
Northern Health Services in the amount of $621,000 agreed to
On Speech and Hearing Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is to provide funding for new or replacement specialized speech pathology and audiological equipment.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister has an advantage of a deputy who is an expert in the management of waiting lists in this area, and this is a subject that I would like to give the Minister notice that I will be pursuing when we come to the supplementaries.
Speech and Hearing Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Unit Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This expenditure is for the purchase of new replacement vehicles for Yukon Ambulance Services, which maintains a fleet of 16 units. In order to keep the fleet in good shape, a replacement schedule is normally followed that will allow for ambulance replacement every 10 to 12 years. This year, the plan requires the replacement of two units. I gather that they alternate between one and two units every odd and even year.
Ambulance Unit Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
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.
On Ambulance Vehicles
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I believe I said it was for the purchase of new replacement vehicles. There are 16 in the fleet and the department has a schedule for the replacement of these vehicles. It is either one or two per year - one per year and then two per year. This is the year for replacing two. It simply keeps the units in reasonably good shape.
Mr. Penikett: Is there a designated location for the two new vehicles this year or is that a random event?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My understanding is that it is random. If I am wrong, I will get back to the Member.
Ambulance Vehicles in the amount of $130,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Station Renovations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The ambulance station requires a new roof in order to prevent deterioration of the interior of the facility. Unfortunately, when the facility was built and completed in 1989, I am advised that the roof was identified as deficient, but the construction company went bankrupt and was unable to complete the work.
Mr. Penikett: So that $100,000 is simply for the roof? Does that involve a repair of the work done by the deficient construction company, or is this a completely new roof?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It would be a completely new roof.
Mr. Cable: Are we to assume, then, that the job was not bonded?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would certainly assume that. If I am wrong, I will have to come back with it.
Ambulance Station Renovations in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Continuing Care Facility - Building
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is for the Thomson Centre. The work includes paving, safety fencing and the completion of the psychogeriatric pod, which is enclosed but not completed.
Continuing Care Facility - Building in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Continuing Care Facility - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That item is for the purchase of new and replacement furniture and equipment for the Thomson Centre. In this case it is for new equipment.
Mr. Penikett: I gave notice of a question concerning the $340,000 in lapsed purchases for continuing care equipment that has contributed to the Yukon Partys capital works projects fund of $7 million. Could the Minister indicate the nature of the lapses? Was it equipment not purchased? Were any programs or patients affected by this?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There was a reallocation of $340,000, as the Member has mentioned, in the current fiscal year. The original estimate was conservative, and based on a worst case scenario. The equipping of the facility was done through 1992-93 and 1993-94. There was a problem with a delivery time. Numerous delivery dates were scheduled for around fiscal year-end. An additional $200,000 was budgeted in 1993-94 in the event that the equipment arrived after the fiscal year-end. More equipment than expected was paid for out of the 1992-93 budget, due to faster than expected delivery times. That resulted in the availability of $200,000. The additional $140,000 was made available through prudent purchasing, but all necessary and planned equipment was or is being purchased.
Mr. Penikett: The totals indicated in the line here for the last three years, including the one we are budgeting for, looks to be something like $1.2 million. Could the Minister remind us if that is close to the original estimate?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am advised that we suspect it is less, and we suspect that because we anticipate that the psychogeriatric pod, which is being framed in, will be partially furnished with existing hospital equipment, but we can bring back an answer to that.
Mr. Penikett: I hope the Minister will, because the future of the psychogeriatric pod will inevitably be the subject of some discussion under the care continuum question that I gave notice of for the supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am advised that it will be re-equipped once the interim use is completed.
Continuing Care Facility - Equipment in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Macaulay Lodge - Renovations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These are for capital maintenance and renovations to Macaulay Lodge, as required. Essentially, the work plan entails window replacement.
Mr. Penikett: Is it going to cost us $80,000 to replace windows in Macaulay? Is that the sole reason for the $80,000?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am advised that it is. The reason I queried it was because it apparently does not replace all the windows, just the ones that require replacing.
Mr. Penikett: I will say no more about this line or the next line now, except that I will want to know what this Ministers plans are for Macaulay Lodge, consistent with the earlier expressed concern about care continuum. As the Minister well knows, it started off as a senior citizens home and was dangerously close to becoming an extended care facility at the time when we decided to try to define its role as a nursing home. With the restoration and moving people back in there who would otherwise be in the extended care facility, I am not sure what that does to its identity. I will want to ask about that in the supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Currently, there are no plans to move people back from Thomson Centre to Macaulay Lodge. There are eight beds being opened, consistent with the current objectives of that building. That is something we will know more about as the weeks and months go by.
Mrs. Firth: Regarding the beds, I noticed the employment opportunities are published now. When does the Minister anticipate being able to fill those beds? When were the people involved told they may be successful in their applications?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We hope to have the staff hired by the end of this month. There will then be some orientation. We hope the beds will be open in February.
Mrs. Firth: I see that the closing date on the job applications is January 18. Is the Minister then saying that his expectation would be that, some time in the first couple of weeks of February, everything should be ready to go?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That depends on whether people have to give notice to take these jobs. The second week of February would be the most desirable date.
Macaulay Lodge - Renovations in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
On Macaulay Lodge - Equipment
Macaulay Lodge - Equipment in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
On McDonald Lodge Renovations and Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This expenditure is for the renovation and purchase of new replacement furniture and equipment for McDonald Lodge as required.
Ms. Commodore: How many people do they have at McDonald Lodge?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to bring that information back. When I visited the lodge in late summer, there were fewer residents than normal; there had been a decrease in the patients.
It is rather hard to predict, but there was the feeling that there were a number of prospective clients in the city.
McDonald Lodge Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $28,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Health Services in the amount of $17,324,000 agreed to
On Regional Services
Chair: Is there any general debate on regional services?
On Regional Services Operational Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This expenditure is to provide new replacement administrative equipment as may be required for the regional services branch.
Regional Services Operational Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Regional Services in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
Mr. Penikett: I have one question about the recoveries that the Minister may not be able to answer at this time.
As the Yukon Party would have it, I am partly to blame for the hospital transfer negotiations and the result. Nonetheless, my memory is not clear on all of the details.
I am curious about whether there is any impact on the recoveries of the hospital redesign. Shortly after the Minister made his statement in the House indicating plans for the redesign, Opposition Members had skirted around the question about who was going to be responsible or accountable for the redesign costs. We have never had a detailed debate about that item, and maybe it is not timely, but I am trying to understand whether the redesign would be in the nature of change orders by the government or, since the Minister at one point talked about the previous design being flawed, whether he was assigning any responsibility for that flawed design to the professionals who had delivered it. In other words, did they share some responsibility for the misdirection?
In either event, does that have any impact on the arrangements with the federal government? Does it cost the territory money, or will the federal government absorb the cost?
Could the Minister speak to that before we clear the recoveries?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have had some discussions with the federal government in regard to the announcement the was made, and subsequently. Their commitment remains that same - funding up to the $47 million figure. They feel the new design has its merits with regard to flexibility. The issue of assigning some kind of legal responsibility for the old design is one that we believe we are unable to do. It is one of these things that has been going on for some time. The issue then became why the footprint was narrow and L-shaped, not why they did not proceed with what we are now doing.
One reason was they did not have a Thomson Centre when this whole thing was put together. Thus, they had no place to which to decant patients. Whatever other reasons there are, it seems to us that it would be a fruitless exercise to go after the professionals. At least that is the advice we were given by the project manager. He feels that, with his full involvement, we could move ahead and a lot of that work will not be lost, although obviously there is some.
The fact is that, in some ways, the new building will be less expensive to build, and that will more than make up the difference.
Mr. Penikett: I take no issue with what the Minister said, but we are inevitably talking about large sums of money. The Minister will not mind my recalling a previous incident where we had a project go wrong at some considerable cost to the public sector - the Faro gym. An official of the government urged us not to do any inquiry into accountability for the decision. In fact, they recommended against it. Sometime later the Auditor General took a radically different view, and we had to inquire as to the key decision point that were mistaken.
I am not interested in witch hunts or attributing blame, but it seems to me that if we are to avoid a repetition of whatever was the flaw in the process, we ought to have, consistent with the rules recommended by the Auditor General to this House, a post-project evaluation - even a post-project evaluation of the design process to satisfy ourselves that we understand what went wrong and when, so that we can avoid repeating exactly that problem. We will no doubt invent new problems, but we could avoid repeating exactly that problem in respect to some other project down the road.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am going to have some further discussions about that general issue with the project manager when he comes back this week. The difficulty we have is that there is a situation where the footprint was imposed, partly because they had no place to move them to, and whatever other reasons there were at the time. Also, there were a whole bunch of players. Unfortunately, in the ensuing years from 1987 on, there have been changing officials in this government and in the federal government, and from all indications, acceptance of whatever was there, as far as the architect would be concerned, up until the new project manager came on, and these concerns that we started to have were put to the architect and the other people consulted.
Mr. Penikett: I do not disagree profoundly with what the Minister is saying, but let me just make a point. Notwithstanding the human problem of having nowhere to decant patients to - I must say I am bothered by that verb a little bit; it always reminds me of sherry or port - which is a very real problem, if the basic design decision of the L-shaped configuration was fundamentally flawed from the beginning. That is, as someone who was involved in the very early stages of this project, I am bothered by the fact that no one raised that question earlier. I do not know if this is the case, but I am curious about whether the architects ever raised the question, as professionals, that this is problematic in terms of the program we are trying to deliver.
If they did not raise it, it bothers me. If they did raise it earlier, and it was a question that was ignored or dealt with in a cavalier manner, then that also bothers me. Either way, it seems to me that it is worthy of inquiry. I do not mean an aggressive inquiry, but I think the Minister at least ought to satisfy himself on these questions.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Certainly I intend to follow up on it to some degree, but I am saying at the outset, from a strictly legal perspective, that there are all kinds of grey areas. Among other things, even the architect firm changed substantially in that the original partner who was in charge, as I understand it, left, and the firm itself multiplied in the nature of some amoeba, so it is really hard to get continuity.
Department of Health and Social Services agreed to
Department of Justice
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If we could take a short break, I will run up and get my other book.
Chair: Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am pleased to present the capital estimates of the Department of Justice for the 1994-95 fiscal year.
The department plays an important role in our society. Its prime objectives are to ensure respect for the law and enhance public confidence in the administration of justice. In doing so, the department also defines and protects the legal rights and responsibilities of all Yukoners.
The 1994-95 budget reflects this governments commitment to better and safer communities. To that end, the departments capital estimates for the coming year total $921,000. As Members are aware, $2.2 million was allocated in last years budget to construct the Teslin community correctional centre. It is a 25-bed minimum security facility, designed to encourage community participation to help heal offenders through the implementation of culturally relevant programming. While the centre is scheduled to open in early 1994, $130,000 has been allocated in these estimates to complete some minor finishing work, including some road work, and permanent fixtures.
We are also looking at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Members are well aware of the conditions and limitations of this 26-year old physical structure. The fact is that we have a costly, centrally located building. Its old design impedes cost-effective management of the offender population, as well as any positive initiatives to heal offenders and restore harmony in the community.
Therefore, $200,000 has been budgeted for the planning and evaluation of a proposed new correctional facility in Whitehorse. Funds have also been allocated to replace old, existing equipment at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and acquire some new equipment. An additional $70,000 is required over last years budget for security cameras, as well as replacement doors. New equipment purchases include $30,000 for fencing at WCC and $33,000 at the Teslin facility.
This government is dedicated to a responsive, fair and accessible justice system. In meeting this goal an essential component is the efficient and effective management of information, particularly court related data; $205,000 has been allocated to system development projects in three areas. The first deals with systems managed by the information resource management committee; $10,000 will be allocated through information resource management committee for systems development projects common to all government departments.
The second involves a system application identified in the information resource management committee land data model project that began in the 1992-93 fiscal year. This project is jointly funded by both the Yukon and federal governments and $50,000 has been set aside for our 1994-95 contribution.
The third area concerns the development of a client case management system. This project was not only identified in the 1992 justice information system plan as ranking first on a list of 20 proposed system support proposals. It is also intended to address the findings and recommendations of the recent court registry information system technical audit; $145,000 has been allocated to this project; $40,000 has been budgeted for computer workstations. This amount represents a 50-percent reduction in the departments original needs assessment plan for new and replacement workstations.
Included in the administration budget is $74,000 for the capital maintenance of buildings, and this is previously the financial responsibility of Government Services. The remainder includes $26,000 for office equipment and furniture and $24,000 for replacement photocopiers. Justice services will receive $8,000 for general program equipment. This is primarily for the land titles office, which was devolved to the department during the 1993-94 fiscal year. The balance of capital estimates is comprised of $33,000 to purchase furniture and equipment for the combined justice of the peace, court support offices located in the communities, as well as replacing chairs in the Whitehorse courtrooms and adding shelving to the judges library.
In closing, I believe these capital estimates give Yukon taxpayers good value for their money, and it is in keeping with this governments commitment of ensuring that all capital planning is both prudent and fiscally responsible. I am confident that the items I have outlined will help improve our justice system by responding to the needs and concerns of Yukoners in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
Ms. Commodore: The total amount does not appear to be a lot for the entire department, but it covers many areas.
I have some questions about what is happening and about some of the information the Minister has given me.
There is no mention in this budget about the summer work camp that has been in place in different communities for the last few years. The camps have been very successful, by providing work to the communities that could have not been done except by volunteer labour. I would like to know whether or not that is going to continue and, if so, when, and where will it be going.
I have some questions about the Teslin facility. The Minister mentioned that it was going to open early in 1994. I am not sure whether he said in the fiscal year of 1994. We always hear rumours, and I have heard that one of the reasons that it is not going to open prior to that is because they do not have enough money, but that might be totally wrong. I do not really know.
A lot of the support that will go into that comes under operation and maintenance, but it also ties in with the building and the number of people who are going to be transferred to Teslin. I do not know if they would actually be sentenced there by the court.
I would like to know a little bit about the population of the existing jail. I had heard that the numbers were not that high, but that information may have been wrong. If the Teslin facility was to accommodate 25 people, there possibly would not be enough residents to go around to accommodate the work camp. Those are questions I would like to have answered.
One of the other areas I am curious about that was mentioned in Health and Social Services is federal funding, specifically the RCMP funding. I understood they had spent some money, I think about $40,000, but that figure might be wrong. This money was for renovating space for gym activities behind the detachment in Whitehorse. If they have made these renovations, is that facility also open to other people, because we are providing 70 percent of that funding. If the Minister is aware of any other projects the RCMP may be undertaking, and if the Minister has had any consultations with the RCMP about capital funding, I would like to know about these.
The Minister mentioned that they were going to be spending money on fencing at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. It seems to me that a lot of money has gone into fencing in the past. As a matter of fact, I think we have double fencing up there already. I would question the reasons why we would be spending additional money for fencing. Perhaps some damage has been done to it; I do not know.
The Minister also mentioned that they are going to be spending a certain amount of money to replace furniture in the courtroom. I spent about three days in the courts when they were dealing with the controversion in my election, and it appeared to me that the furniture in the courtroom was quite adequate - and new. They did not use old furniture when they built the new building and the building is not that old. I wonder about the real necessity of new furniture in the courtroom. I do not know whether the judges chair needs to be replaced or whether the furniture is too uncomfortable for juries. I do not really know what the problem is, and I would like a further explanation.
When I was the Minister of Justice, there was a study done on a corrections plan - I cannot remember its title - but it cost a considerable amount of money. It was a study that looked at a plan for correctional facilities. I wonder just what this $200,000 is going to do. I have been through that jail a number of times; I have seen the changes that they have made in order to accommodate people who go in there. I have seen the shape that it is in and it is not a pretty sight. I know that some time in the future it will have to be replaced. I have been told by people from outside of the territory who have gone through it that they are surprised at the number of programs that occur inside a building that is in such poor shape. The people who are working inside to provide the programs appear to be doing as much as they can. I am also concerned about the programs that are being taken away, and I will be asking questions under the supplementary budget in regard to that.
As we go through the budget, I would like the Minister to tell me a little bit more about the plans for a new facility in Whitehorse, the location - I notice they have indicated $16 million - and when we are going to be looking at the possibility of new construction. I have heard different sites that were possibilities, because I do not imagine they would be building any new corrections facility in the same spot. However, perhaps that is a possibility, because it is prime property.
Maintenance enforcement was not mentioned, but I understand there is new federal money going into it. I do not know whether or not that was included in this years budget. If it was, are we looking at further funding from the federal government for that program?
I just got a note from Mr. Chair, asking me if I went to the jail by force or on my own. Mr. Chair, I have never had to go there by force.
Perhaps the Minister could elaborate a little bit more on the plans for the new facility in Whitehorse and the opening of the facility in Teslin. As we go line by line or branch by branch, perhaps he could provide me with the information I have mentioned.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Starting with the Teslin facility, at one point there was the intention of having it open earlier in the current calendar year. One reason this was delayed was because we thought we had a person hired as the director of the facility from within the department but, fairly late in the day, that fell through, so we had to start looking again. So, the actual person has just been hired, and that person is required in order to work with the department in the hiring of the personnel, and so on.
That was one cause for delay. The other issue, to be perfectly frank, was about money. From our point of view, it was just as well that we are looking toward its opening on April 1, because there is a shortage of money; there is no question about that.
As I understand it, this is proceeding full steam ahead, in close liaison with the community of Teslin and the special advisory body that has been struck from among Teslin area residents.
With regard to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, this is an item that has been in the books for a long time. There is no question that the situation is really bad. There is tremendous overcrowding. I went on a complete tour of the facility, and it did not take much more than that to convince me that it was becoming a real embarrassment to anyone who believes in the rights of individuals, even incarcerated ones.
One concern I have is that we must not move too quickly. We must look at the impact on Teslin. We must also consider the impact on required beds as we plan the community justice initiatives, which make it difficult, at this point in time, to accurately predict how many otherwise potential WCC inmates might be moved to Teslin or facilities such as wilderness camps or healing centres in the communities. Some of the communities have a great interest in seeing their facilities used. They were built with that goal in mind. An example that comes to mind is the Tatlmain Lake project at Pelly. It is one that is quite suitable for Northern Tutchone people.
We have the Cultus Lake facility, which is isolated and would be suitable for sending people from the Kluane region to, if the programming was satisfactory. These are the things that we are working on.
There is a degree of uncertainty there. One is always lobbied by some people in the department when they want a new place, and I really want to have them look hard at what is there. Like the hospital, it is the concept that some of that building may still be pretty good. If you got rid of it, gutted and reshelled it, there might be some significant savings other than the $6 million figure that has been referred to, for want of a better figure. This is also something that they will be looking at.
The amount of $200,000 is a pretty modest sum to undertake all those tasks, but we want to get started on it and get a handle on this and look at some options for replacement.
Clearly, while locations have been discussed, at this point in time I feel that the current location is probably the best one for a number of reasons, one being the accessibility to the courts in town, and the fact that this type of facility, which is - for want of a better word - a senior-type facility, where you are dealing with people who are first taken into custody and probably have the least potential for rehabilitation.
It makes a lot of sense to have that type of facility close to the courts, the lawyers and all the other people who would otherwise be driving out of town to deal with the issues.
The money that is earmarked there is going to get us started in the right direction. The Member raised the issue of RCMP and renovating for gym activities. The way our capital budget with the RCMP works is that, for most part, what we have under the agreement that was signed when the Member was still Minister, there is an agreed-upon formula whereby we pay a deemed rent for office space and so on. I think it is $10 per square foot for capital office space. I am not sure if that gym fits into that, if we actually pay the extra $10 a square foot. I can ask.
It is maybe something that is provided by the federal government without us leasing, as portions of the existing building are deemed not to be our cost. The rent is set at $10 a square foot per year. Of course that is a heavily subsidized figure, given current costs. There is certainly ongoing discussion with the RCMP. They just built a new detachment in Carmacks and they would like to proceed with a new detachment in Teslin.
There has been some discussion of whether they would enter into a lease-back arrangement. They would have local contractors build and then lease back. That is probably not going to happen. The federal government would then try and charge us the amount of the rent rather than the $10. They cannot seem to understand that a lease-back arrangement might be cheaper in the long run.
We have not gone very far with them in those kinds of discussions so I think we would be looking at them just building a facility and leasing it to us at the $10 figure, or whatever it is, under the multi-year agreement, in the negotiation of which the Member herself was involved.
I will deal with the fencing issue in line-by-line debate.
My understanding concerning the courtroom dollars, unless I have missed something, is that the money we are talking about is really for courts outside of Whitehorse. I think it is $33,000 that will be used to replace items in the outlying communities - places like Dawson City, Watson Lake, et cetera.
The summer work camp situation - I am going to have to come back to the Member with that. The work camp, of course, was in Mayo and we have had discussions about the best method to proceed with the summer work camp. There was some discussion surrounding the issue of whether we should be using trailers, as has been the case in the past, or whether there are other things we could do that would be more cost effective - taking them out to a community and perhaps having room and board supplied in exchange for all the work that is done - that sort of thing. When I say room and board, I was not thinking of in peoples houses, but at the community club - that sort of thing.
There have been some ongoing discussions. The last time I was involved, I must admit, was prior to Christmas, so I am not sure of the final outcome of the policy issues that are being discussed.
Chair: The time being close to 5:30 p.m., we will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there any further general debate on Justice?
Ms. Commodore: I have a question about the summer camp. The Minister said that they were not sure that the camp was going to be in operation this summer and that there was some kind of study being conducted.
Normally, when a work camp is planned to go into a community, it is usually known one year ahead of time. Planning has to take place in the communities with the volunteer groups.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I can only say what I said earlier. We had some discussions and I will probably know more when I meet with Justice officials tomorrow or the next day to find out the status of the program. When I find out, I will let the Member know.
Mr. Harding: This question is in regard to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I have some general questions for the Minister on how the allotment is determined by the territorial government for the RCMP. I understand that preparations are underway for the 1994-95 operation and maintenance budget. My understanding is that an agreement is in place for a certain period of time and it is accomplished in a sort of block funding arrangement. In terms of establishing this amount, does the Minister ask for certain considerations or gain certain levels of staffing or service commitments for communities, or is it just arranged on a no-strings-attached basis?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The RCMP prepare a proposed budget and discuss the proposals with the department. Then I, as the Minister, am involved to discuss some fundamental directions that may be contemplated. Sometimes it is the other way around; I suppose this time it will be the other way around as we have made it very clear that we would like to see some tightening up of the budget. There has been some general discussion. The RCMP will be coming back with a draft proposal to discuss with the department and, in terms of the bigger picture, with me. To determine what final figures are to be included in the operation and maintenance budget will be done in much the same way as the individual departments are done. The department officials are told what the total amounts should be and are asked what they suggest they could be doing to try to meet those goals.
Mr. Harding: So there is a general allotment based on presentations or proposals to the ministry, and there is a good deal of managerial licence given to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to make changes within that amount based on certain concerns brought down by the ministry at the time of determining the money that would be allotted. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is. It will be an itemized budget proposal, though. If we talk about every aspect of the budget, it will be fairly thick. In this case, I have issued a letter of instructions as many as 10 months ago with regard to what I saw as our priorities with the police, and a similar exercise is being undertaken by the head person of the RCMP. Those taken together form a framework that discusses certain departmental-level or government-level priorities. From there on in, it is a matter of them trying to bring back a budget that reflects changes and is within the kind of amounts we discussed initially.
Mr. Harding: Is this always an annual process? Is it done on a bi-yearly basis or is it just done every single budgetary year, like any department? Okay, the Minister is nodding his head so I assume the answer to that is yes.
I have a couple of specific concerns relating to the community I represent. I would just like to ask the Minister if he shares my concern.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as long as I have been there over the last eight years, are quite involved in the community and they play a large role in the community. Because it is a small town, they become more than just a police officer in the community; they often end up as educators in the school in terms of interacting with the children there and talking about everything from firearm safety to drug and alcohol awareness and that type of thing. Many of the officers have been involved in many aspects of the community in terms of volunteer work. In my experience, they broaden their horizons from just policing and become part of the community.
We have gone from a detachment of four in the community - we lost another position I believe just last year, and my understanding is that there is a movement afoot by the department to not replace one of the officers who, in fact, will be leaving quite shortly. That leaves the detachment with two people.
From talking with my constituents in the community who know what the officers are up to most of the time, I understand that they feel that the officers are, in actual fact, just as busy in the community as they always were. I think that may be because of the unemployment in the community. People are idle, and that has had some negative impact and has created some social problems that sometimes, unfortunately, require the response of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Not only that, but they have tried to take a pro-active approach to it as well. They are trying to get involved and actively participate in the community functions that would deter the necessity of them having to be involved in some of the more negative aspects of their jobs, such as policing seizure arrests and that type of thing.
My concern is that the caseload is the same or higher than when we had a larger population, but the detachment is going to decrease from a complement of four officers to two, and this will take away their ability to perform policing functions as well as some of the other roles they perform in the community. Some of the things they have done are very positive. They will be doing a lot more of their own administrative work and that type of thing, which will reduce their visibility in the community.
Does the Minister share any of my concerns in that regard?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I take it these are representations with respect to the operation and maintenance budget, not the capital.
That aside, the letter I provided to the chief superintendent this year spoke in terms of crime prevention and, for example, more foot patrols, more involvement with the community and more things like a storefront detachment being opened. The one in Kwanlin Dun is currently coming about. It spoke in terms of our interest in First Nations policing issues, crime prevention, and the RCMP being involved in the way the Member suggests. There has been a fair amount of cooperation with the RCMP being involved in things like youth centres and the schools. Some of them are involved in cross-country ski coaching.
The issue the Member speaks of is one with which I have considerable sympathy. However, I am sure the Member will acknowledge that we have similar problems in the other communities. There are some very heavy social problems in Ross River, Pelly, and so on. They have chronic unemployment, and a lot of other social problems, as well.
We have to rely on recommendations from the senior staff for person years, given the priorities we set toward the valuable issue of crime prevention.
Mr. Harding: I appreciate the Ministers comments. Certainly I acknowledge that there is a need for the broader approach by the RCMP and strong involvement in the communities he mentioned, as well as in my own.
There is a point at which there is a problem. Not only have we lost two of our RCMP positions, but we have also lost the administrative secretarial services. Fortunately, through Yukon College, we have someone training. I do not believe they are being paid at this point, but they are essentially training at the office, which allows the officers to do some of the things that the Minister obviously feels are important to the community. The officers we do have in the community are terrific in terms of their involvement. They are involved in everything from Beavers to community consultation groups.
By way of representation, I would like to say to the Minister that, while I appreciate his concerns about the other communities, I would like to see fair treatment all around. Relatively speaking, in view of the populations and caseloads, I would like to seek some assurance from the Minister that he will not too hastily ignore those concerns and the work these officers are doing in the community. I would ask him to assure me that he will keep an eye on the situation and recognize the work the police are doing.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I can only say that I will bring these remarks to the chief superintendent. I am quite serious about the priority, in my mind, of crime prevention.
The Member does raise one interesting point, and without getting into any detail here, it is one that I have heard expressed by frustrated police officers everywhere. When I met with First Nation police officers a few months ago, they raised it as an agenda item, and that is the frustration that they have with all the paperwork and how some secretarial help could allow them to be out of the office and in the community in a visible way doing whatever kinds of community endeavours they take on. Many are frustrated by the long hours that they seem to spend on red-tape duties.
Mr. Harding: By way of a final point and between now and the supplementaries, if the Minister could take the time to review the situation in Faro, so that he could comment in further detail when we do come to the supplementaries, I probably will have a few more things that I would like to talk to him about. I would like to give the Minister notice of that right now.
Ms. Commodore: I want to set the record straight; I mentioned a figure of about $40,000 today for the little room that was renovated for a gym. The latest figure that was given to me was $21,000. I still want to know if that gym is going to be available to the general public, because we contributed 75 percent to that project.
The Minister, in his response to my remarks in the opening of general debate, I do not think responded to maintenance enforcement. I asked whether or not there was new federal money going into that program for a computer system or something similar to that.
He did not respond to me. I read in the paper where some new money was going in this year to set up a more sophisticated computer system for tracking. I would like him to respond to that.
I have one more question. I know I should know the answer to this. The Minister mentioned they were looking at building a new RCMP detachment in Teslin. If a tender goes out, is it done by this government or by the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If a tender goes out for the detachment, it will be done by the federal government. As I mentioned, there was a move afoot. The Village of Teslin was looking into the possibility of a tendered package that would be a lease-back. They were hoping local contractors would bid on that and do it more cheaply than otherwise. However, that does not seem to be possible, because the rules are so hard to change at the federal level.
I raised it with them, and they made all kinds of sympathetic noises, but it did not get changed. I think we could expect that tender to go out this coming fiscal year.
I must confess a certain feeling of deja vu when I heard the Member referring to the maintenance enforcement money. It is money that is being spent this year for computers - $20,000 in the capital budget of the current year will be spent on the federal government program she mentioned. There is also some operation money. This is $45,000 for a client survey, which is for the 1992-93 fiscal year.
Ms. Commodore: I could be wrong, but I understood there was a certain amount of ongoing funding for a period of so many years. Is that the case, or not?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It was for two years - 1992-93 was the capital; the $45,000 is for 1993-94, which is operation and maintenance.
Ms. Commodore: I want to let the Minister know that I will be asking further questions in the supplementaries in regard to training for the Teslin facility - the number of Teslin people or from that area - and a background on the director who was hired. It would be beneficial for me to know the kind of background that the person had, especially in terms of working with First Nations groups in correctional centres. If he could provide me with information prior to getting into the supplementaries, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will try to provide as much information as is available. The issue of how many people are hired from the Teslin area - I do not think that figure will be available yet because they are going into the hiring mode. I understood, when I was out at Teslin on the weekend, that there are a number of keen people looking for work. If the figures I was given - by somebody not in the Justice system - by one of the village counsellors is accurate, it is more than 60 people in the immediate area who are looking for work. There is a lot of interest. The contract states that three-quarters of the people hired initially will be in the Teslin area, both Teslin Tlingit and others, and the goal for a 12-month period is set at 15. There are a couple of part years, so the full contingent will be about 20 or 21.
Ms. Commodore: I understood that there was supposed to be some kind of training. At least, when I left the ministry, there was a training plan to provide training for the people who would be working in Teslin. I wonder if any people from Teslin or that area have taken advantage of any kind of training or whether that training was provided. It was supposed to start prior to the facility opening.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The training will be done prior to the opening but it will not start until they are recruited. The time period between now and April 1 is to do the hiring; April 1 is when the training will kick off.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The administration program provides administrative and support services to the department through the development and acquisition of capital assets. The departmental equipment and furniture line item is comprised of office equipment and furniture, photocopiers, systems development and building maintenance. Capital building maintenance is included in the branch for the first time in 1994-95, previously budgeted in Government Services. The responsibility for budgeting for justice buildings has been transferred to the department.
Ms. Commodore: I just want to know why it has been given to the department, why it has been transferred from Government Services, and what is the breakdown of the $369,000.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If we move to the line items we could commence there.
On Departmental Equipment and Furniture
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The move to transfer the responsibility for capital building maintenance is government wide. In this particular instance, we have a fair number of buildings that need work done and Government Services gave us information on what kind of things had to be done to the buildings. The responsibility has been transferred to our department and that has been a government-wide move.
The money allocated can be broken down as follows: computer workstations $40,000; office equipment and furniture $26,000; photocopiers $24,000; systems development, $205,000.
Of that, $50,000 is for the land titles system; $10,000 is for a common system, like everyone else, such as the contribution toward the linkage of our computers to the other departments. Also, $145,000 is for the court registry information case management study, and that is designing a client case management system. This was updated in 1992. It ranked first in client case management systems from 20 proposed system support areas. The existing court registry information system represents a large part of the client case tracking function within Justice. The client case management project, in part, will address the findings and recommendations of a technical audit carried out in September and October 1993.
What is really required is that the court registry, police, probation and so on are able to access records on individual clients. There is a tremendous amount of waste and duplication of effort trying to get information on a client in the system. In a situation of a person with a track record within the criminal justice system, it would be possible, through this system, to simply get in touch with the RCMP and have this information from their file on ones screen, once the appropriate request was made. Information on the same person could also be accessed through probations, the court registry and so on. Now, that is impossible, given the present system. I have been advised by the people who work in the criminal justice system that this is a much-needed system that would certainly pay for itself in very short order.
Ms. Commodore: When do they expect to have the whole system in place so that people can use it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is the design phase. Following that, we will be coming forward for the money to develop the system and implement it.
Ms. Commodore: The design phase is included in this years budget, and the implementation will not occur until 1995-96 - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: What is contemplated is that a preliminary analysis will be conducted to investigate the automation of selected client case management processes within the department. The preliminary analysis will, first, provide Justice with the information necessary to make an informed decision regarding the feasibility of further pursuing automated client case management systems and, secondly, provide the information services branch with valuable information regarding client case management automation options that may be applicable to similar client case management operations throughout the government.
One of the discussions I had with regard to the need for this was when I visited the Whitehorse Correctional Centre in order to have a look at the actual facility there, because of the need to do something about renewing or upgrading the jail. Certainly there is, at that facility, a real feeling of need for this kind of a system because they spend a lot of time, when things happen with inmates, trying to find out who they should contact, if these things have happened in the past, what is the history, et cetera. Those are the kinds of things that could be at their fingertips. For example, when they try to reach the probation officer who has the history, and that probation officer is off on the road somewhere and cannot be reached, often by the time the person gets back to town from court circuit, or whatever, the crisis is over.
Ms. Commodore: Will this system include information from other agencies and other departments?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of course the discussion is with the RCMP. There may be some information from the Crown prosecutors that would be considered, as well as comments from Health and Social Services. In some cases it has to be determined what is appropriate in view of rights of privacy and the balance under the Constitution.
When one says other agencies, I am not really clear about parole, but I think they want to have them tied in. They were talking about a Salvation Army or halfway house type of arrangement being tied in as well.
Ms. Commodore: I guess it was last year or the year before when there were problems with the public being able to access information through court records. I believe it was the Whitehorse Star that accessed some information that should not have been made available to them, and that was going to be fixed. I cannot remember whether it was at that time and I am asking the Minister if he would let me know about that.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That was one of the local papers that accessed some information that should have been blocked by the system, and that has been fixed.
I remember a few years ago the same thing happened, and it was a matter of a court book being left open on a desk and one of the reporters saw some information relating to a young offender and that information ended up in the paper.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us if the department has any idea of the potential cost of this whole exercise?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I think the answer is that this information will flow from this initial analysis.
Mrs. Firth: Obviously, the government is prepared to spend some money in this area, or they would not be doing the study. How much is the government prepared to spend? This kind of program can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I would like to get some idea about how much money the department is prepared to identify and spend in this area.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The actual cost will be an outcome of this preliminary analysis. That is one of the things we will be looking at. If it is really expensive, it may not come about.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know what really expensive is. I think $145,000 to get the information together to justify the case management study is really expensive. I would be interested in knowing what the Ministers version of really expensive is.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The answer to that will depend on what comes out of the study. The judgment will be made by the Minister, in the first instance, on whether to bother going to Management Board at all, based on an analysis of the cost of the computer program and the installation of it, balanced against the projected savings.
Right now, I am advised that a lot of savings could be realized through the appropriate computer system, where this kind of ability to track files back and forth, among agencies, departments and governments, would save considerable amounts of money. When that analysis is done, it will be fairly straightforward to determine how realistic the estimates are with regard to the anticipated savings, and whether they outweigh the cost of going ahead with some kind of computer system.
Mrs. Firth: When does the Minister expect to have this information completed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It will be during the course of the 1994-95 fiscal year. I am not aware of an actual date being set for putting out the call for consultants, et cetera.
Mrs. Firth: I am trying to establish whether the Minister has some agenda or time line for this. If we are giving the money, it obviously has to be spent within the next fiscal year. I am looking for some kind of commitment from the Minister that we would have the information available to us for the next budget year, if there is going to be any money identified in the operation and maintenance budget for this.
I am trying to get some idea of the time line. I would be interested in any analysis done with respect to cost savings that would be realized from establishing such a program, because I am skeptical. Sometimes, it is nice to talk about the cost savings but, when you actually see it in black and white, the picture may be a little different.
That is where I am coming from. I would like the Minister to respond to my questions and concerns.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would be surprised if we were not in a position to start planning for the next capital budget, one way or the other, so I would expect the work to be done in time for us to make a determination of whether to proceed with the implementation of the system next year.
One of the issues that is going to have to be considered by everyone is not just would we save a bit of money from what we spend now but would we be able to get this information and still save money. Certainly, it is pretty frustrating when there is a lot of duplication of work simply because files are not accessible and get lost. Often it is the same people who end up coming back into the system through one entrance or exit point along the way.
Ms. Commodore: I have one question in regard to computers. I know, in a lot of cases - including in our own office - we have individuals who bring in their own computers to work with because there are not enough available, and I am told that that is the case in the probation branch. Individuals there have had to bring in their own computers to work with, and I am just wondering whether or not the department or the branch will be looking at computers for those individuals who are bringing their own into work.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am looking at a list of people who would be getting computers. There are four probation officers on the list. I would suspect that some of those are the ones about whom the Member is speaking.
Departmental Equipment and Furniture in the amount of $369,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of $369,000 agreed to
On Court Services
On Community JP/Court Support Offices
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This project is to provide the facilities and infrastructure for the resolution of civil and criminal matters when and where they arise. The expenditures in this project are for repairs and maintenance to courts, support office in communities, the replacement of chairs in Whitehorse courtrooms and shelving for the judges library. The project will also cover any renovations or maintenance requirements for court facilities in communities. Examples are door, window or partition replacements or minor modifications of space to meet court requirements.
Ms. Commodore: Thirty-three thousand dollars is not a lot of money to pay for all of the things the Minister just mentioned. I wonder how they are going to do that. The Minister did mention that some of it was to be spent for chairs for the Whitehorse court. He indicated previously that the money allocated for furniture in courtrooms were for the communities.
Can I ask him what chairs he is looking at replacing? For which courtroom in Whitehorse is it necessary?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is a fairly minor amount. It is chairs and jury chairs. For the replacement of chairs in five courtrooms, the cost is $8,000. For furniture and equipment for JP court support offices, there is $15,000, and for shelving for the judges library, there is $10,000.
Ms. Commodore: I really need to know what chairs will be replaced. There is probably furniture in this government that is 10 or more years older than the equipment in the Whitehorse courtrooms. I am just wondering what caused this expenditure.
I remember, when I was Minister, there was a chair that a lawyer used to get his suit caught on. The chair had to be replaced because he kept ruining his good clothes. I wonder whether or not this was a similar expenditure.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If I am incorrect, I am sure I can get a written answer to the Member, but I am told they are for replacing jury chairs in the various courtrooms. I will have to ask for more detail from the department.
Mr. Cable: Part of the Ministers preamble caught my attention. Did the Minister indicate that some of the expenditure is for the resolution of civil actions and criminal actions? Did I hear him correctly?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, the purpose of the community JP court support office project is to provide facilities and infrastructure for the resolution of civil and criminal matters when they arise.
Mr. Cable: Part of this line item relates to that function, does it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It all relates to the courts where that takes place - the facilities.
Ms. Commodore: This reminds me of the old issue many years ago of the green chairs. I would like to know why these jury chairs have to be replaced. What is the problem with them? I would appreciate the Minister bringing back that information.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will do that. I am pleased to report I have not been in any of the courts, particularly in Whitehorse, for some considerable period of time, and I am going to try and stay out of them as much as possible.
Community JP/Court Support Offices in the amount of $33,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Project
Prior Years Project in the amount of nil agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Just by way of explanation, the amount spent in this category in 1993-94 was for court facility renovations, and those expenditures have been condensed into the community JP/Court Support offices category. The total budget for court services has thereby been decreased by 27 percent in this fiscal year.
Court Services in the amount of $33,000 agreed to
On Justice Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The justice services program objective is to encourage and maintain equitable and responsible employment practices and to promote public interest and positive labour management relations; to encourage and maintain orderly and responsible commercial activity and professional services and to protect consumer interest through education and enforcement; to prevent or reduce future loss of life through investigation of unexpected or unnatural deaths; and to protect the rights and interest of beneficiaries, missing or mentally incompetent people and minors, through administration of assets and provision of other support services.
The Justice Service capital program is comprised solely of the general program equipment project, which has increased slightly in this fiscal year. Prior years projects comprises a one-time-only capital advance from the federal government for the land titles office devolved to the Department of Justice in the 1993-94 fiscal year.
On General Program Equipment
General Program Equipment in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Justice Services in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Community and Correctional Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This was previously known as the solicitor general community and correctional services and has the objective to contribute to the protection of society through custody and supervision of adult offenders and through programming and services to offenders and victims, which promotes support and integration in the community. The community and correctional services capital program provides funding for the acquisition and replacement of all equipment and facilities in support of this objective.
The community and correctional services capital program is comprised of the replacement equipment, new equipment, correctional facility construction in Teslin and correctional facility construction projects in Whitehorse, totalling $511,000 in all. There has been significant change in each of these four projects that will be explained in detail during the line-by-line presentation.
On Replacement Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The purpose of the replacement equipment project is to provide funding for the replacement or acquisition of equipment that is specific to the needs of the justice services program.
Routine recoveries include the following by project: 1993-94 was $30,000; and 1994-95 was $100,000. This category has increased by 233 percent over the 1993-94 fiscal year. However, this increase of $70,000 is largely attributable to 1994-95 proposed replacement of security cameras for the back door, inside remand area, front door and admissions area of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, as well as replacement of the inside double door. These two items alone account for $30,000, with an additional $19,000 budgeted to replace the outside freezer at the centre. Inmate lockers will be replaced in the upcoming year, as well as the dishwasher and roasting ovens.
Ms. Commodore: I have a question about the security cameras that will be installed. Is that something that was recommended by someone in the department? I know the layout of the facility, and some of the areas could not be seen with existing cameras. What are we looking at right now, and why are additional cameras needed? What were we not seeing before that we need to see now?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not exactly sure what we were not seeing, or what we want to see. I have some ideas.
There are five cameras: one for the back door, one for the tower by the stores, inside of remand, the front door and admissions. Three back-up monitors are requested, as there are currently none.
Replacement Equipment in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On New Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The amount requested is a reduction of 11 percent over the previous year. The bulk of the equipment purchases in this fiscal year is to replace existing equipment rather than to purchase new equipment. The most significant expense in this category is fencing for the correctional centre, at an estimated cost of $30,000. An additional $33,400 will be spent on new equipment for the Teslin facility, which is currently under construction.
Ms. Commodore: I asked the Minister during general debate about fencing for the facility. He said he would let me know why new fencing was required during line-by-line debate.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The note I have states the yard is not well lit for winter use, and the current fencing is not secure. Fencing is also needed for the big yard, so it may be used in the winter. My understanding is that it is to extend the area of the yard for use by the inmates. The most secure part of the fenced-in area I saw when I visited there was a place that was built like a birdcage, and smaller than half of the size of the legislative chambers. I gather that the wish is to have more room for inmates to get out into the fresh air.
Ms. Commodore: Is that the area where we are looking at spending this money on? I agree the area is very small, as I have also seen it. If we are going to be spending this money on that little area, how much bigger are we going to be making it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: At this stage, currently the yard is not well lit for winter use and the current fencing is not secure. Fencing is also needed for the big yard so that it may be used in the winter. The current fence must be made more secure as it presently has some weak spots, which restrict the use of the yard. Secure compounds must also be upgraded to enable usage by high-risk offenders. Since the amount is an estimate only, we would require Government Services to do a complete estimate. The figure merely represents a cap amount, so any expenditures would be within this figure. That is the extent of my knowledge tonight. I can certainly ask for a legislative return to be forwarded to the Member.
Ms. Commodore: I am not exactly sure what the big yard is - what he means by the big yard, and what part of the area needs to be more secure because it is not well lit. I would appreciate it if he would bring back the information to me about the real secure area where inmates go for a few minutes of exercise every day. Is he talking about making that more secure or increasing the size - I did not understand his explanation as he read it, and I do not know whether he did either.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member is unusually perceptive tonight.
Ms. Commodore: I want him to bring me back that information, if he would. Perhaps he could have someone in the department bring it back to me before the supplementary budget.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, I will do that.
New Equipment in the amount of $81,000 agreed to
Chair: Do you want to continue or take a break now? I am at your disposal.
Some Hon. Members: Continue.
On Correctional Facility Construction - Teslin
Chair: Do you want to take a break?
Some Hon. Members: Take a break.
Chair: We will take a break at this time.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order. We are on line item Correctional Facility Construction - Teslin.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The correctional facility in Teslin is scheduled for completion in early 1994 at an estimated total cost of $2,227,000. The amount of $130,000 represents some minor finishing work to be completed in the 1994-95 fiscal year and is comprised of roadwork fittings and furnishings for the facility.
Ms. Commodore: Can the Minister tell us when they expect the facility to be in operation? He said the building will be completed in early 1994, and I would like to know when he expects to open it with full staff and residents?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The opening is scheduled for April 1, the beginning of the fiscal year. Some of the work that remains to be done would be done after that. There is some roadwork of $70,000 to be completed, which includes things like a parking area - that is under snow right now. That would not stand in the way of opening it on April 1.
Ms. Commodore: What about the remaining amount that is not for roads, parking lots and so on? What are we looking at finishing off inside the building?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is very little left to be done. There is $40,000 for furnishings and fittings. There is a $10,000 contingency fund. It is more or less completed right now.
I understand what the Member is saying. The lack of this work will not stand in the way of the opening, if it is not completed before April 1 - and it probably would not be.
Ms. Commodore: Is the Minister expecting that inmates will be transferred to the facility shortly after the official opening, if it is going to be on April 1?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will just read the most recent note, which states that we still anticipate opening in April 1994. The original opening target of November 1993, was delayed for budget reasons, the illness of the acting manager and by the fact that it took longer to hire the permanent manager. The manager and program coordinator have been hired. The program coordinator is a Yukon resident.
Recruitment for the following positions will begin in January and continue through to March 1994: 10 permanent full-time positions, including five Justice workers, two night care attendants, one assistant manager, one cook and one secretary. There will also be 7.5 auxiliary on-call positions, the majority of which will be part-time work. They include four Justice workers, two night care attendants, one cook and one half-time nurse.
The full-time, permanent instructor position and two full-time justice workers will not be recruited until the facility is completely operational. The recruitment process will take into consideration the preferential hiring of Teslin residents and the Teslin Tlingit band members identified in the memorandum of understanding. It is cost effective for the taxpayer and government to hire as many local people as possible. Three positions from WCC have been identified as offsets, as a result of the operation of the Teslin facility. Those positions will be recruited from within the existing, permanent staff at WCC.
Ms. Commodore: I know that quite awhile back there was some talk about contracting the food services for the facility, but I do not know whether that was part of the plan or whether that idea was completely given up. Can the Minister tell me about that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It was given up. However, I understand that they are going to probably be buying the food and arranging a deal with a local store for special orders of food. Of course, that particular store is the lowest cost for food in Yukon.
Ms. Commodore: I never knew that. The Minister had mentioned that they were either going to hire, or had hired, a program coordinator. Is that person a local resident of Teslin or a local Yukoner.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The person is a Yukon resident, but I believe from the Whitehorse area.
Ms. Commodore: Can you tell me who that is?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to get back to the Member with that information.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Correctional Facility Construction - Teslin in the amount of $130,000 agreed to
On Correctional Facility Construction - Whitehorse
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This was discussed earlier. The facility is scheduled to be replaced over the next four years, and this amount represents the first phases of the project. It will pay for an evaluation of the existing facility, a facility planning analysis and the cost of the schematic design. These preliminary studies will provide an accurate estimate of costs involved for the new facility. The current estimate puts the total cost of the project at $16 million over four years.
I have made it quite clear that we expect to have a hard look at what can be used in the existing building, and that we are going to have to have a good, hard look at the projections in light of community justice in Teslin. I do not think that the $16 million is necessary; I would think that it is high.
If we are to be able to bring a budget to this House, I would expect it would have to be very carefully justified.
Ms. Commodore: Whatever happens, we are looking at a four-year project. If the evaluation determines that we are going to need a new facility, or a completely renovated facility, the Minister is going to come back to this House with a four-year plan. He just mentioned that the $16 million that is quoted right now is what they are going to be using over a period of four years.
Is that the case? When will they be starting the evaluation? How are they going to be doing it? Are they going to be striking an evaluation committee, or are we going to be bringing in a stranger from outside to do it? What is the plan?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: First of all, the estimate is taken from the 1990 report, which was prepared by Advanced Planning and Research for Architecture. This report evaluated the correctional service in the Yukon and prepared a correctional strategy to the year 2000. This figure is the most recent estimate we have, and probably does not reflect an accurate cost estimation based on current information.
The evaluation of the existing facility would largely be done by a consultant. With respect to the kind of input, at the local level, into the facilitys planning analysis, and the cost of a schematic design, I am not sure, but the department would be heavily involved.
To be perfectly frank, it is my sense that this department, like most other departments in the government, is used to new buildings. I think we are going to have to be extremely realistic and look at whatever part of the original structure is okay. We were told the existing hospital building was no good. The contractor who is doing some work on the hospital right now was looking at the demolition of one wing and said it is a perfectly good building. We have to be realistic about what we can use out of that building.
Unfortunately, some of the building has been really compromised because of the over crowding and the necessity to cut off windows, air, and so on, and to put in makeshift things. The gym is a part that covers off several window and light areas. I forget which pieces were added to what, but you end up with extremely unhealthy areas in the building, because there is no air circulation and no light. That is one of the primary concerns.
Ms. Commodore: I am not sure if I understood the Minister about the evaluation that is going to take place. Is that something that came out of the fairly extensive study that was done by Advanced Planning and Research for Architecture, and did the evaluation recommend at that time to look at the existing facility?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No. The real thrust for that came from me, I think, because I am really concerned that we use whatever is usable. My impression certainly is that a lot of it could be. We might have two buildings, or something, but let us use what we can that can be fixed up by being gutted and rebuilt.
Correctional Facility Construction - Whitehorse in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
Community and Correctional Services in the amount of $511,000 agreed to
Department of Justice agreed to
Department of Renewable Resources
Chair: Is there general debate on Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have prepared copies of the speech so that Members will have the figures that I found were always more helpful to me when I sat on that side.
I am pleased to outline today the highlights in the capital estimates for the Department of Renewable Resources for the 1994-95 fiscal year. Members will note that we have indicated all projects related to the forestry transfer as $1.00 line items. This is because the final agreement for the transfer had not been concluded at the time the budget was prepared and some fine tuning in respect to a few outstanding financial issues need to be finalized. The budgets for the forestry related items will need to be introduced via a separate supplementary.
Negotiation for this transfer has been a very in-depth and complicated exercise, having financial effect on not only my department but also other departments, in particular the Housing Corporation, Finance, Government Services and the Public Service Commission.
I could spend virtually hours talking about the forestry transfer and I intend to provide this House with all of the details as soon as possible after negotiations are completed and a final agreement is in place.
In administration, the estimates reflect an increase of $131,000 over the 1993-94 forecast. This is largely because this branch deferred purchasing needed equipment totaling approximately $91,000 from the current year to 1994-95 in order to provide funds for needed employment creation initiatives this fall and winter.
The $40,000 budgeted for office accommodation and improvements covers needed renovations for evolving initiatives, especially in the area of environmental protection and regional services.
The $55,000 increase in policy and planning is primarily due to the need to work with First Nations and the federal government on the development assessment process. Funding will cover the research and negotiation costs for this process. This is also the second year of our work on the State of the Environment Report, which is a requirement under the Environment Act.
This will include work on specific environmental indicators and a standard approach in cooperation with other jurisdictions. We are pleased to be working closely with the federal government on the production of a State of the Environment Report that will permit comparisons of environmental health and allow a standard approach to reporting across Canada.
The division of resource management has been restructured in anticipation of the pending forestry transfer. This division will be responsible for the management of the agriculture, fish and wildlife, forest management and forest protection branches. The net change in the budget for this division has been minimal, although there appears to be some significant shifts in two of the line items.
Firstly, wildlife viewing decreases by $66,000. This is because the 1993-94 forecast figure is $51,000 higher than originally budgeted due to the early implementation of some labour-intensive projects for our employment creation incentives to put people to work this fall. These projects will be addressed in our discussions on the first supplementary.
The wildlife viewing and infrastructure funding of $160,000 will allow us to complete the work on the White Mountain and the Top of the World Highway sites and initiate and complete a site at Moose Lake on the Dempster Highway, as well as develop interpretive material and displays for the interpretive centres on the Dempster Highway and at McClintock Bay.
Secondly, the increase in fish and wildlife management planning reflects increased activities in this area as the First Nations complete their claims and are able to turn their attention to this area. We expect to complete the plan for the Mayo area, start work on the plan in the Teslin area and do some basic work with other First Nations, councils and resource user organizations with respect to method, format and design.
The total budget for 1994-95 for environment, parks and regional services has gone up $94,000, reflecting an increase of 10 percent. The major reason for this increase is the additional responsibility for capital maintenance, amounting to $70,000. this function was previously budgeted by Government Services. There have also been some changes, both increases and decreases, in the various parks and campground projects, as some projects come into the development and construction stage, and others are either finished or postponed. Some of the largest changes are: the Kusawa Lake management plan, with a minimal amount of $1,000 that will allow us to continue with some basic consultation work with the First Nations with the actual development and designation of the park being deferred to a future year; funding of $60,000 for the Carcross Dunes management plan will allow us to complete the work required to have this area designated as a park and commence work on implementation; and an increase of $110,000 for resource assessment reflects our commitment to a proper assessment process for potential park sites in order to avoid unnecessary park development conflicts.
In campgrounds, Members will note a fairly substantial decrease in the amount budgeted for the southeastern region. This is largely because of the fact that this area received some concentrated attention in preparation for the Alaska Highway celebration, and campgrounds are both adequate in number and in very good shape. Specifically, the $45,000 will allow us to continue planning for development work on various campgrounds. The $152,000 in the western region will allow us to complete the additional work on the Dezadeash River trial and the Pine Lake trails, which were started in 1993-94, and provide for replacing campground facilities in various campgrounds, such as toilets, tables and kitchens, as required. The $211,000 in the northern region will allow the completion of the 12 new sites at Kusawa Lake, repair flood damage at Engineer Creek and replace worn out campground facilities at various campgrounds. The $63,000 in the southeastern region is largely related to the site at Rancheria Falls.
This will allow us to make this popular area handicapped accessible and improve the facility for all users by extending the viewing platform and deck, installing handicapped accessible rest rooms and expanding the parking lot. Some work will also be done to stabilize concrete pads of the boat launch at the Tagish campground, reconstruct the boat launch at Squanga Lake and do some beach work at our Watson Lake campground.
In heritage rivers, we will be doing some layout and development of river campsites and some interpretive work on the Yukon River. The funds identified for the Bonnet Plume and the Tatshenshini will allow us to continue gathering and evaluating information, including consultation with affected interests and the preparation of a draft management plans for these rivers. Members will note that 50 percent of the funds budgeted for the Bonnet Plume and the Tatshenshini are recoverable from the federal government.
There are no capital funds identified in land claims. Previous years funding related to work on Herschel Island. Capital work here has now been completed and expenditures are now all operations and maintenance.
That pretty well covers the highlights, and I trust that this will help as we go through my departments budget.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister for his always helpful initial comments and the speaking notes clearly written for the critic to follow as we go along.
I have a number of questions of which I am going to give the Minister notice. I hope that he will be fully briefed when we get to the supplementaries. I have the clear intention of analyzing the line items very carefully in the capital budget. I will refrain from general debate in the capital because I feel it is important we move through it.
Particularly due to the nature of some of the questions, I know we could get into lengthy and quite heated discussion. I feel more comfortable picking what I consider to be a more opportune time. With the capital budget still hanging over our heads, I would prefer to continue the debate when we settle the matter of the capital budget once and for all.
By way of notice so that it is written in Hansard and so the Minister knows, I intend to ask questions about the caribou recovery, details on the wolf kill and access to information regarding that issue, caribou recovery success, caribou calf survival ratios and so on. I trust that the Minister will be able to engage in some good discussions about that. It has not been a problem in the past.
I am also interested in the governments policy regarding mining in conjunction with our parks system. There was some discussion several months ago about the governments stated policy. They believe that mining and parks are compatible and would be a feasible undertaking under their administration. My questions will be about what they are doing to implement their policy, and I will try to ascertain exactly where they are regarding that policy.
I would like to get some feeling from the Minister as to where he is on the Management Board recommendations that came out a month ago. I believe the Minister still has another month or so to respond, but I would hope - based on reading questions he raised with the previous Minister when he was the critic about Wildlife Management Board recommendations - that he would be able to give us some indication as to where he stands on them.
I also have some questions on the quota system being worked on right now with First Nations, the outfitting community, as well as resident hunters and YTG - just some questions about where that particular process is right now. I have some questions about the result of the Yukon River salmon negotiations. We had some quite heated debate in this Legislature regarding whether or not having a Department of Fisheries representative there and not someone representing specifically the Yukon government was a good policy. I would like to ask the Minister a bit about where the negotiations went and some more about their policy of not sending someone.
Certainly, the abattoir begs a number of questions and I will certainly be asking some questions. I know I have other colleagues who are anxiously awaiting that opportunity.
The Minister has, in the past, raised the issue of Yukon government campground privatization. I asked about it last year. I will ask about it again this year - exactly where the government is on that particular issue.
There was an issue last year raised in the Legislature and outside regarding hunting permits in the wolf kill area. There were some Wildlife Management Board recommendations that the Minister saw fit to reverse and allowed some permits for the reason that he felt that not enough notice was given to the businesses affected. I will be anxious to hear what the Minister has to say regarding that this year, and whether it is indeed a problem at all, or whatever the case may be.
I have some questions regarding the wolf conservation management plan implementation. The plan has now been formally adopted and my questions will basically be concerning what the government is doing in terms of implementation. Do they have an implementation schedule, are they implementing the plan in full, that type of thing. I hope that I will be able to get a clear picture from the Minister.
There are a number of forestry transfer questions. I will not ask the Minister to go on for hours about it - I am sure he could - but I do have some specific questions on the forestry transfer that I think demand some answers.
The question of Kluane Park access - a plank in the Yukon Party four-year plan - the Minister has been a big supporter of it in the past. Moving into the second year of the governments term, I am anxious to see exactly where the government is going with the Kluane Park access.
I have some questions about the health of the fur industry. The Minister is pointing at himself, or the Member for Riverdale North - I do not know what that is about.
I have heard some reports that the fur industry is on a rebound. I have some questions the Minister could answer. There is the issue of gun control and how it affects Yukoners. There were new gun control laws passed by the previous administration that came into effect as of January 1. We have a new government in Ottawa that is also planning tougher and stricter gun laws. I have some questions for the Minister on his views on those proposed laws, about the new changes that have been put into effect, and how he, as a Minister responsible for Yukoners, will take a strategy of protecting what is the consensus opinion of Yukoners on this often divisive and volatile issue of gun control.
That is pretty much the list of questions at this point. It will be duly recorded in Hansard. By way of notice, I wanted to bring that up for the Minister and give him ample notice so that when we get into the supplementary debate, it could be productive, he would be fully briefed and we would be able to move through it.
Unless the Minister has some comments in response, I am prepared to move into the line-by-line debate.
On Equipment and Furniture
On Departmental Equipment
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is for the acquisition of additional equipment and the replacement of equipment, as required.
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister be more specific about the equipment? Saying it is equipment, as required, does not give me much information in terms of whether or not we can justify a vote of this expenditure.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is mainly for snowmobiles, boats and boat motors.
Mr. Harding: Is there any particular reason for the increase in the expenditure on equipment? Is it being utilized for any specific purpose this year?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We deferred some of this expense last year when we were trying to cut our budget down. We are bringing them in this year.
Mr. Harding: What was the deferral for? What particular piece of equipment was deferred that we now need? I would like to have that information.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We could give you the whole list of all the equipment, if the Member would like that.
Mr. Harding: Yes, thank you.
Departmental Equipment in the amount of $166,000 agreed to
On Office Furniture and Equipment
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is for the replacement and acquisition of new furniture and equipment, fax machines and copiers, as required.
Mr. Harding: This is another expenditure on office furniture and equipment. Has the Minister closely reviewed this, and does he feel competent to say that it is quite necessary?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, because some of their equipment is very old and should be replaced.
Office Furniture and Equipment in the amount of $38,000 agreed to
On Forestry Transfer - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is for the purchase and recapitalization of equipment, in accordance with the the forestry transfer agreement.
Mr. Harding: I can appreciate the Ministers reasoning for the $1.00 vote in this area. I know he intends to bring in another supplementary, but could he give us an estimate of what we may be looking at here? He pointed out in his opening remarks that there is some fine tuning needed. Could he give me a rough idea?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We expect and hope the Treasury Board will finalize the forestry transfer sometime in February and that we would be getting a one-time grant of $2 million for equipment.
Forestry Transfer - Equipment in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Information Systems
On Computer Equipment
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The expenditure is for the acquisition and installation of additional computers, and enhancement or replacement, as required.
Mr. Harding: What does the Minister think about that? He has told me before in the Legislature that he does not like computers very much, and he is now buying $100,000 worth of them. Does he feel comfortable with the departments request?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have confidence in the fact that I have talked with my deputy minister, but that has not changed my opinion: I do not like computers. I do not have one in my office, I do not intend to have one in my office, although much younger people seem to think that they need computers to keep records, and I am going to have to take their advice.
Mr. McDonald: In terms of computing systems and, in particular, personal computers for the Department of Renewable Resources, the department has spent fairly large sums in the past. Could the Minister come back in the supplementaries with a comparison over the last four or five years on the acquisition of personal computers? This would give us some sense as to how this department is organized with computers.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, I will do that.
Computer Equipment in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Information Systems
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This expenditure is for the enhancement of computerized systems currently in place.
Information Systems in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Land and Facilities
On Office Accommodation and Improvements
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This expenditure is for upgrading and changes to the existing office space and construction of new office space to meet the departments needs.
Mr. Harding: What are the departments needs for this $40,000?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Anybody who has been to the building to see how people live there would understand why we are trying to move things around. Some is for field service in the rural areas. Others are for some native COs whom we have now taken on staff. The environmental section is scattered all over. We would like to get them gathered into one bunch.
Mr. Harding: I have been in Renewable Resources and seen what it is like there. The Minister once told us that the deputy minister was around to save his neck. Is all this office accommodation and computer equipment a reward for that or is this all legitimate expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Mr. Chair, I would move 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 a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 12, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the 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 9:27 p.m.