Tuesday, January 11, 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.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Penikett: I would like to call attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have some legislative returns.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have some legislative returns.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have some legislative returns.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
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: Dawson City boundary expansion
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
The Dawson First Nation, like virtually all Yukon First Nations, takes the position that all land alienation affects the land claims process. There is a constitutional and legal and, I would argue, an ethical obligation on the Yukon government to settle land claims prior to any further land alienations. The Dawson boundary expansion was categorically opposed by the Dawson First Nation, who feel their interests will be severely compromised by the boundary expansion. They urged that annexation of the Klondike Valley not proceed until land claims were settled.
Why did the Minister ignore the concerns of the Dawson First Nation with respect to land claims in the Klondike Valley?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Yukon Municipal Board addressed that question in their hearings and suggested that Dawson City and the Dawson First Nation get together and discuss the proposed boundary expansion, and the Yukon government gave the two groups approximately 18 months to have those discussions.
Ms. Moorcroft: There may have been 18 months of discussion but the issue has not yet been resolved. The governments own land claim negotiators gave the First Nation reason to believe that the boundary expansion would not go forward until after land claims are settled. The move to annex the valley before land claims are settled is provocative and only exacerbates what already is a strained relationship between the Dawson First Nation and the Dawson City Council. It leaves me wondering whose interests or wishes are being catered to by the Minister.
Why would the Minister proceed with this order-in-council, against the recommendations of its own land claims negotiators?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not believe it was against recommendations from the land claims negotiators.
Ms. Moorcroft: The fact remains that the Municipal Board recommended that the outstanding issue of land claims be dealt with prior to the expansion of the Dawson City boundaries, which this Minister had occur on December 24. What steps is the Minister now prepared to take to show that he respects the Dawson First Nation and its land claims negotiation?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Dawson First Nation will be discussing the boundary expansion some time next week. If they make representation to the City of Dawson and/or the Yukon government, we will respond at that time.
Question re: Dawson City boundary expansion
Ms. Moorcroft: My question is for the Government Leader, although it is one that each Cabinet Minister should be able to answer. As this session has progressed it has become increasingly apparent that the government does not understand that Crown land is not there for the taking, whether it is for an abattoir, municipal expansion or housing development. Does the Government Leader understand that until such time as individual First Nation final agreements are settled, it is unwise, if not counterproductive, to alienate land in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe it is the Ministers on this side who do not understand; I believe it is the Member for Mount Lorne who does not understand.
There was a consultation process carried out, recommendations were made by the Municipal Board, and the fact remains that although there was a boundary expansion for Dawson City, land claims or land selections of the Dawson First Nation are not precluded.
Ms. Moorcroft: The point is that Crown lands are being held by the federal government in trust, as it were, for Yukon First Nations, pending resolution of the land claim. This is occasionally recognized by the Members opposite. For example, on November 23, 1993, the Minister for Community and Transportation Services said that the government would be reluctant to devolve more than certain pieces of land that are required for specific development to a municipality.
Why has the government reversed the governments position on land transfers in the case of the Dawson municipal expansion?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe if the Member would refer to her notes, she would see that the Minister is acting consistently with what he said in this House prior to Christmas.
The fact remains that there has to be land for Dawson to be able to function properly. There has been a bottleneck there for many, many years.
We recognize that land claims is an outstanding issue - we recognize that. As I stated previously, the expansion of the Dawson City boundaries does not preclude land selections by the First Nation.
Ms. Moorcroft: This government stated earlier that it would not grab land willy nilly and that there had to be a valid and pressing reason to ask for Crown land. The government is now allowing Dawson to expand its municipal limits without consulting the First Nation affected, to the concern of many residents.
The First Nation legitimately takes the position that the land alienated by the boundary expansion violates their land claims process. Exactly what is it about the land claims process that the Government Leader does not understand? Can he not see that he is acting in bad faith with Yukon First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is not the Government Leader who does not understand the land claims process, it is the Member for Mount Lorne who does not understand the land claims process.
I stated again and again that the Minister acted in a responsible manner. The Dawson First Nation were aware that this expansion was going to go ahead for many months.
Question re: Energy policy
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development, relating to energy policy.
On December 15, the Minister indicated that a White Paper, relating to a comprehensive energy policy, would be tabled shortly - probably within three weeks. The Minister subsequently qualified that, indicating that one element of energy policy - the pricing of industrial energy - would be produced shortly. As the three weeks have now passed, could the Minister confirm when he will be tabling the White Paper?
Hon. Mr. Devries: I should be getting the draft in the next day or so.
Mr. Cable: There was an announcement on the radio this morning about initial tests on Carmacks Copper being positive. I assume that this will mean a production decision very soon. Has the Minister, using this industrial energy policy, had conversations with Carmacks Copper with respect to the pricing of electricity?
Hon. Mr. Devries: It is Western Copper. We have had discussions with them, but not pertaining to this energy pricing policy.
They now have to do their environmental work. Once I have reviewed the draft discussions, we will begin consultation with the various stakeholders on our final position.
Mr. Cable: The news media report indicated they had changed their name. Perhaps the news media was wrong.
The Minister indicated the government would be discussing the White Paper with various stakeholders. Could he indicate who those stakeholders would be?
Hon. Mr. Devries: Discussions would be with all of them - the various chambers around the territory. Anyone who is interested in it, and approaches us for a copy, will be given one.
Question re: Land transfers/land claims
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question with respect to the pattern that seems to be developing with respect to a continuing flurry of land deals that seem to fly in the face of the land claims process. The Government Leader has said he supports the land claim, yet, every week, there is another announcement about land development, subdivision policies, municipal expansions and the like, all of which compromise the ability of Yukon First Nations to settle their land selections.
In early November, the Government Leader told us he had asked Ottawa to sign an agreement that will transfer Crown lands to Yukon government control before the land claim is settled. Will the government meet the February 15 deadline set by the Government Leader in November?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Whether we meet the February deadline or not will be entirely dependent upon the federal government in Ottawa. We have signed the document, and it is lying on the Minister of DIANDs desk somewhere, waiting for his signature.
Ms. Moorcroft: All First Nations are alarmed at the present rate of land transfers. If more block land transfers are allowed, there is a very real chance that a First Nation may go to court to block the alienation of land. Has the Government Leader consulted with the Yukon First Nations on this important issue, since he first told us in November about his plans?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite either forgets what we said we tabled in Ottawa or she misunderstands the document. The document was a memorandum of understanding that set out time lines and dates for transfers. It was not for the transfer of land at this time.
Ms. Moorcroft: The federal government has said that it would consider allowing more block land transfers only if the following conditions were met: that individual First Nation final agreements were met; that individual implementation plans were agreed to; and, that a special joint study into the process be used. Which, if any, of these conditions has the government completed or even started?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That question would be better put to the federal government. She stated that is what the federal governments position was, not the territorial governments position.
Question re: Land transfers/land claims
Ms. Moorcroft: My question is for the Government Leader. He says that the federal government should be asked these questions. These are conditions with which the federal government would like to see the Yukon government complying. Can the Government Leader tell me if the Yukon government has met any of these conditions - that individual First Nation final agreements have been resolved, that individual implementation plans have been agreed to, and that a special joint study has been started as a process?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am amazed by the question. I do not know where the Member for Mount Lorne has been. There are four First Nation final agreements completed in the Yukon, and four implementation agreements have been completed in the Yukon. If she would go back and read the memorandum of understanding, the Member would maybe have a better knowledge of what she is asking.
Ms. Moorcroft: There seems to be another consistent pattern here - that the Government Leader is blaming the questioner rather than answering the questions.
The four First Nation final agreements that have been signed were under way long before this government came into office. Would the Government Leader not agree that his actions on land alienation are counter to his partys promise to settle the land claim quickly? There are many more First Nations waiting to have final agreements.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is ironic that it was this government that passed the land claims legislation when it was the previous administration that let it die on the Order Paper.
The fact remains that there are four First Nation agreements signed and the memorandum of understanding is worded in such a way that no land would be alienated prior to the final agreements with the other bands being completed.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps then the Government Leader could answer this question: if there are going to be no further land alienations before the final agreements are completed, why was the order-in-council signed expanding the Dawson City boundaries on December 24, 1993, prior to the Dawson First Nation final agreement being resolved, particularly when that First Nation is presently nearing completion of its negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I seem to be having trouble getting through to the Member for Mount Lorne. I just said here twice during these sets of questions -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have answered them. It is she who is not listening. I said that the fact that the Dawson boundary has been expanded does not preclude the Dawson First Nation from selecting lands there.
Question re: Dawson City boundary expansion
Ms. Moorcroft: I have another question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I understand the government is selling off lots in Callison - lots with active mineral claims. The practice, however, is inconsistent, and I have information that some of this land has been sold and, unbeknownst to the buyer, the land contained an active mineral claim.
What is this governments policy with respect to the selling of land with active mineral claims?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Callison subdivision was - when it was initially developed - totally covered by placer claims.
Ms. Moorcroft: I was aware that the land was covered with claims. What I would like is some clarification as to the process the Yukon government follows when selling such property.
Does the government, when selling land with active mineral claims, advise prospective buyers that a mining claim exists prior to selling the land, and have they sold any such properties without advising buyers of this information?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure if the buyers are aware that there are mineral claims on the properties or not.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could come back to me with an answer to that question.
There are also a number of businesses currently operating on quartz claims. Will the government legitimize these properties, prior to leasing or selling the land to anyone else?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not aware of businesses operating on quartz claims. I know of residences located on placer claims, but I am not sure where these businesses are. I would have to have specifics from the Member.
Question re: Children in care
Ms. Commodore: My questions are for the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services regarding kids in care, and I sincerely hope that the Minister has been sufficiently briefed by his officials regarding this serious issue. I would like to follow up on my questions regarding the practice by the Department of Health and Social Services of physically restraining kids in care.
I received information that a treatment home in Whitehorse uses a technique to physically restrain kids that involves face-to-face, pelvis-to-pelvis restraints and such restraints are used by male staff on both male and female youth. Will the Minister please confirm whether or not this practice occurs and advise this House as to the departments policy with respect to this pelvis-to-pelvis restraint?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am always rather saddened when Opposition MPs try to use something as delicate as the well-being of kids in care and custody as a political football in the Legislature. I have told the Member on numerous occasions that I would be quite pleased to hear the actual complaints so I could have these looked into and have her briefed by officials, but she does seem to want to make this into a political football, which is unfortunate.
One of the homes, as she is well aware, that follows, in large part, the Woods program - a successful operation in the south - does have certain restraining techniques, which I suppose are somewhat similar to those she has described. Their policies and the way in which they handle kids have been scrutinized, not only be experts in the field but by people who work for our department.
It is my sincere belief that those people who work in our department, particularly looking after kids, are sincere and I think are highly competent professionals.
Ms. Commodore: I mentioned to the House before that I ask these questions because they are of a serious nature and I intend to pursue that - not to treat the questions as a political football as he says. The legislative return, which I am sure the Minister has read, outlines the training program provided by treatment home staff. The Minister has already indicated some of the treatment that happens, but I would like to ask him, what are the qualifications of the people who provide this training to the treatment home staff? I would like to know what their qualifications are.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not carry those qualifications around with me in my hip pocket or in my wallet, or even in my glasses pocket, but I certainly do know that that information is available and I am quite prepared to have a legislative return supplied. If the Member has other areas such as this, details that she would like clarification about, perhaps a written question would suffice.
Ms. Commodore: It appears that almost every question that I ask should be a written question, but as I said they are serious questions.
The term treatment home is used for the home that is providing this treatment. It suggested that kids in care are receiving some type of specialized care, and I would like to find out from the Minister what type of specialized care the kids in the treatment home receive, and the qualifications of staff to provide treatment. I am asking these questions because of some of the treatment methods about which we have heard.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Again, this is a level of detail that clearly requires a written response. I think that the Member is aware that the kids who go to one treatment home have very serious psychological problems and that we feel quite fortunate to be able to offer these specialized services in Yukon, rather than sending kids outside, which was the practice until this home opened last spring.
I am not an expert in psychiatry, psychology, training or academic background, but people in my department are and these people have satisfied themselves that this program was the best for the Yukon. That decision was made before I became Minister; it was a decision made by the previous administration of which the Member opposite was a member. I have no reason to suspect that they made a bad decision when they made that decision, and I remain convinced of the professionalism of the people in the department who monitor these things. I have had nothing presented to me that would shake my faith one iota.
Question re: Children in care
Ms. Commodore: My new question is also about kids in care and further questions are about the treatment home.
The legislative return indicates, and so did the Minister, that the Yukon treatment home for children is an arm of the Woods Home of Calgary. I understand that there have been problems with our kids in care who have been sent to the Woods Home in Calgary as mentioned.
I would like to ask the Minister how often personnel from the Department of Health and Social Services have been obliged to travel to Calgary to locate Yukon children who have gone missing from the Woods Home facility?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is another issue. I will have it researched and bring back the answer for the Member. If she would like a full briefing, I am quite happy to make the appropriate officials from my department available to her.
Ms. Commodore: I ask these questions on behalf of people who bring these concerns to me.
I would like to ask the Minister how much money per year we pay the treatment home in Calgary for the service it provides, and do we pay them even when our children go missing? There is evidence that children have gone missing from the home.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The contract entered into with the treatment home was negotiated by the previous administration. It calls for money not used under the contract to be paid back. The exact details of the amount, and so on, will of course be made available for the Member if she so wishes.
I would point out that we have not only the department concerned about how the residents of group homes and young offenders are treated, but we also have an independent advisory body, known as the Yukon Advisory Council on Indian Child Welfare, looking into the running of that particular institution, as well as the running of the open custody facilities and the closed custody facility up the hill.
Surely, if there was something that all these people are missing, the Member could, at least, give us some facts and figures about who has made these allegations so that we can look into her concerns. But if they are simply issues being brought to her by a disgruntled client or employee, perhaps she should speak to our staff herself and/or members of the advisory council.
Ms. Commodore: I am really disturbed about the Minister calling the individuals who sincerely care about these children disgruntled employees. They are not; they are friends or family members. They care about these children. They are bringing these concerns to me. I resent the kinds of answers I am getting from him.
I would like to ask him what the departments policy is on sending children outside to the Woods treatment home in Calgary - if he is still doing so, and, if so, what is the policy regarding sending some children there and keeping some in the home in Whitehorse for treatment? I understand that there are still children being sent out to the Woods home in Calgary.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Again, I can bring that back to the Member in whatever detail she wishes. Clearly, the decision that has to be made is whether or not the children are appropriately looked after by the home here or are children who require additional expertise.
I am sure that is the key to how the decision is made.
The Member is upset with the way I am responding to the questions, but I am upset with the questions she is raising and the forum in which she is raising them. She is asking for minute details on the basis of allegations that I do not even know are true - I am being asked whether or not someone was locked in the room for seven days; I am asked this; I am asked that. Perhaps she has everything backward. Perhaps she should be making the representations to us, so we can investigate to see whether or not there is any validity to some of these observations.
Question re: Two Mile Hill reconstruction
Mrs. Firth: In the legislative return on the history of the Two Mile Hill project that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services filed recently, it was indicated that the maximum cost of the realignment of Two Mile Hill was going to be in the area of $5.7 million. When the project was originally discussed, it was in terms of costing as little as $2 million.
From the information the Minister has given us in this legislative return, my addition lists the project now at a grand total of almost $13.6 million. Who is accountable for the escalation of costs on this project?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Legislature votes the dollars each year. When the whole Two Mile Hill/Alaska Highway relocation was discussed back as far as 1978, I believe the number at that time was in the neighbourhood of $6 million. If that were factored upward, it would come fairly close to the amount they are now projecting as an overall expenditure.
Mrs. Firth: The Legislature is not the body that made decisions with respect to these contracts. The Legislature is not the body of individuals who tendered these contracts. The Legislature is not the group of individuals who approved the tendering of these contracts.
The public wants to know who is to be held accountable for this gross overexpenditure of money, for this project ballooning into something that is costing two or maybe three times what it was supposed to cost. Who is to be held accountable for this cost overrun?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There has not been a cost overrun. It has been voted each year. Since 1989, I believe, monies have been voted each year in the Legislature for the whole comprehensive project of the Two Mile Hill, the relocation of the weigh scales and the Alaska Highway relocation. There has not been a cost overrun. I believe the amounts that were initially estimated back in 1978 are probably more accurate than the amounts that were estimated through the Alaska Highway corridor study, but, again, the Alaska Highway corridor study did not cover all aspects of the total project.
Mrs. Firth: The issue here is authorizing expenditures and accountability. I will be very specific for the Minister. He is trying to say that the Legislature is approving this. That is absolutely untrue. A perfect example - and perhaps the Minister can grasp this - is the relocation of the weigh scale. We were told it was going to cost in the vicinity of $450,000. In this document, it says that the contract was awarded for $869,250. It also says that it is going to end up finally costing $995,000. That is one example of an overrun of more than $100,000. Who is authorizing that and who is to be held accountable for it?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, there has not been a cost overrun. The amounts have been voted in this Legislature.
Question re: Two Mile Hill reconstruction
Mrs. Firth: If I may follow up on this - only because the Minister keeps insisting it is not a cost overrun. Anyone who is a logical, thinking person, who reads the Ministers legislative return, who sees the project balloon from a discussion of $2 million up to $5 million up to $13.6 million, would have to assume that something has gone wrong. The Minister is saying it was not a cost overrun. Perhaps, then, the Minister could lay out for us in the House this afternoon what went wrong with this project. Where did it get out of line or go off track, or however the Members opposite keep referring to projects that have gone out of line or go off track and that is why they end up costing three, four or five times as much as they were originally predicted to cost?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are talking here about the Two Mile Hill, the Alaska Highway reconstruction and the weigh scale relocation. When the conceptual plan was first completed, and there were some conceptual estimates, then probably a functional planning exercise should have taken place. From my understanding, that functional planning never really took place, so a more accurate estimate I guess was probably not done until the final design and the start of construction. So, if there is a fault with the overall construction program, between as far back as 1978 and today, I would expect that that fault would be that there was no functional plan created, which probably should have happened in about 1990.
Mrs. Firth: I have heard some weasley answers. Is that unparliamentary, Mr. Speaker? If it is, I will withdraw it.
I have seen Ministers try to stretch things, but really, this takes the cake.
If this Minister had any questions about this project, why did he not do something about it over a year ago, when he got into office? He is now responsible, as is his government, for having tendered just about all of the contracts. Why did he not do something about it then, instead of coming back to the House when there are cost overruns - which these are - determined by how much the finished project is over the cost of the original? Why did he not do something about it instead of just carrying on and causing this huge expense to Yukoners? Why did he not do something about the problem if the estimates were woefully inadequate and functional studies had not been done, and whatever else he tried to use as a defence this afternoon?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: One of the reasons that the project was not scrapped was because it was well underway and monies had been expended on it since 1989, and the design was completed. I believe these questions could have been asked long before I took office if it was that much of a concern.
Each year the project could have been stopped at any time, because, each year, there was an amount of money voted in the Legislature for this particular project.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is saying that this project had his and his governments complete approbation, and they were quite prepared to increase Yukoners taxes and proceed with this project even though the cost overruns were going to be maybe two, three or perhaps four times as much as the original project was going to cost. Is that correct?
Is the Minister telling Yukoners that, even though there were flaws in the original design, the Minister and his government were completely unprepared to change it and that they were going to proceed? If that is the case, then we know who to hold accountable - it is this Minister and this government.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure what the question is, but I should again point out that the original estimate that was created in 1978 was for approximately $6 million. If that is factored upward, it would be approximately what the total cost will be.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, staffing
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
In yesterdays debate about the hospital, the Minister made a statement that requires some clarification and I quote, I am sure that the Member is aware that the body that will be making decisions, once the hospital is completed, with regard to the number of nurses and numbers of nursing stations and all of those sort of things, in future years, as now, will be the hospital board. Will the Minister indicate to the House if, at the present time, it is the hospital board - the board of the Hospital Corporation - that will be making these decisions, or will the Minister be making the decisions on the advice of his project planner?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Actually, the hospital was turned over to the hospital board as of April 1, 1993. The hospital board is the body of the corporation that employs the people who work at the hospital and makes decisions about how the hospital should be run, and the expenditures that should be made.
The hospital board enjoys a good deal of independence in that regard. I am not sure if the hon. Member is confusing operation and maintenance with building the hospital. Perhaps he could follow up in his supplementary question.
Mr. Cable: That is the precise question. Was the Minister talking about the decisions relating to the construction and the positioning of nursing stations and where the people would be located? Or was he talking about the day-to-day operation of the hospital at some future time, notably when the hospital is completed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Definitely, for the operation and maintenance with respect to the kinds of programming and how they want to carry on the programming, the new design will be flexible enough to allow them to determine from time to time how many nursing stations they want and where they should be located, and that sort of thing. Those will be issues that they will have a lead role in determining.
Mr. Cable: It is not clear in my mind when the Hospital Corporation actually takes over. The act talks about the Hospital Corporation establishing and maintaining one or more hospitals. Has the Minister issued any policy directive to the Hospital Corporation with respect to its role in the planning and the redesign of the hospital?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They are involved in the building of the hospital. They are a client group and they will have a representative on the management board responsible for the decisions, week-to-week or day-to-day - the board to which the project manager reports.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of Opposition Private Members Business
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to inform the House that the Government Private Members do not wish to identify any items be called on Wednesday, January 12, 1994, under the heading of Government Private Members Business.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 12 - First Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Renewable Resources - continued
Chair: We are dealing with Bill No. 12, on Renewable Resources under Administration. We will continue with office accommodation and improvements. Is there any debate?
On Office Accommodation and Improvements - continued
Mr. Harding: I would like to receive a breakdown and some detail of the office accommodation improvements.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Mr. Chair, I believe that line item was passed. If you refer to the Blues, I believe you will find that it has been passed.
Chair: Office accommodation and improvements has not been passed.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The expenditure is for upgrading and changing existing office space and the construction of new office space to meet the departments needs. Some of the work is in field services and the rural areas, and there is some space that will be remodelled in case forestry will require space.
Mr. Harding: I have some recollection of the discussion last night on office furniture, and perhaps there was some discussion on accommodation, but I do not think that it hurt to ask the question.
The departments needs are mentioned by the Minister. Specifically, what are the needs and what is happening to create the need that is being mentioned by the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have our environmental officers in two or three different places. We are trying to get them into one location.
We have two native COs, one in Whitehorse and one in Watson Lake, for which we have to clear some office space. We are also looking for space for a biologist in Haines Junction.
Mr. Harding: Is there already a biologist position in Haines Junction, or is this a move by the department to decentralize?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is a move to decentralize.
Mr. Harding: Are there going to be other decentralization initiatives or is this $40,000 for Haines Junction only? Can we expect to see more decentralization in future budgets?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, this is just a minor alteration. When the time comes for the forestry transfer, there will be some rather large expenditures for improving office space.
Mr. Harding: I understand that the governments decentralization policy is basically on hold. Is that correct, or is this just an independent step by the Department of Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No. It is something the department feels we need out there and it is just a follow up on the one we have in Watson and Dawson City.
Mr. Harding: Does this move meet the criteria set down by the policy of the new government that it is, in effect, totally cost effective - that there was no cost associated for the government in the decentralization move?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are not looking for any more money. We are just relocating and trying to find the office space out there. If the forestry transfer comes through, it will work in conjunction with the forestry.
Mr. Harding: One of the concerns expressed about decentralization is that there might be some cost to it. One of the concerns expressed by the present government was that it may have a cost to it because some of the decentralized positions have to do some of their work in Whitehorse. I am not saying for a minute that I am opposed to this. I am just trying to examine whether or not this seems to be consistent with my understanding regarding decentralization, which I have gleaned from the existing government.
My question is - I know that perhaps the Member or the person being moved may not be getting a raise, but has the Minister looked into whether there will be other costs? We are already spending some money on establishing the office there. Will there be any other costs? Will there be increased travel costs and that type of thing?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If there is, we will find it in our own budget. We are not looking for more money. I would also like to point out that we have found that it is much better to have the biologists studying the game out in the areas, instead of them all being centralized in Whitehorse.
Mr. Harding: I understand the Minister will be looking within his own department but whether it is within the department or not there is still an allotment of taxpayers money being spent. When that happens, of course, we have to hold the Minister accountable for the decision. I can certainly see that it would be beneficial to have biologists in Watson Lake and in Dawson. As well, it could possibly be very beneficial to have one in Haines Junction. I am simply trying to establish whether or not this move is consistent with the provisions laid out by the government. As the Minister well knows, we have had some pretty in-depth debate in the Legislature about decentralization and we, on this side of the Legislature, in the Official Opposition, have had some real questions as to whether or not the government will be able to meet the targets it has named for the criteria for the selection of decentralizing positions.
I raise this with the Minister and I ask this question: has he looked into whether there will be any other costs? I am not asking him if it is going to be beneficial to Haines Junction, if it is going to be beneficial from a biological aspect. That is not my question. My question is: has the Minister looked into associated costs with the decentralized position?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have looked at it, and we think it is cost effective to put a biologist out there.
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister tell me how it is cost effective? Can he give me an example of how it would be cost effective?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have three First Nations there. He could do a lot of consultation with them. If you noticed in the legislative return I tabled, we have consulted with First Nations quite a bit more than was done before. As long as I am here, I intend to do this. They will be in the area, and I have found that First Nations people trust you more if you live in the area than someone who comes out of Whitehorse once a month. Also, they are in the game area. Had we listened to the First Nations about the Aishihik area, we would have begun action earlier. They brought that to the attention of the government a long time ago. Had a biologist been out there, he could have backed them up on that situation.
All around, for wildlife programs, it is best to have them.
Mr. Harding: The Minister should not misunderstand me. In principle, I think it is a good idea to have decentralization of biologists. I am just trying to fit it into the puzzle of some of the concerns we have raised. We have a pro-decentralization policy in our party. I am trying to fit it into the puzzle of what we have learned in the Legislature from the government of the day regarding their policy.
I think I asked something similar to this, but by way of a more direct question, is there a policy in the government now to decentralize the biologists? I know the Government Leader has stated his personal opinion in the Legislature - that he wants to see biologists decentralized into the communities. Is this now an approach within the department?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If forestry is transferred to us, we will be reorganizing the entire department, and we hope to have a lot of that in the rural areas.
Office Accommodation and Improvements in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Mr. Harding: I see a figure of $32,000 identified for 1992-93. What was originally there in this line, and why would we still include it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will have to get back to you on that because we do not have that information here.
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Administration in the amount of $356,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Mr. Cable: I have a few questions for the Minister on the development of the silviculture industry. It is not quite clear from going through either this budget or the previous budget just who is responsible. Does the Minister anticipate that once forestry is transferred it will be Economic Development or Renewable Resources that will be the prime promoter of the silviculture industry?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Right now it is the responsibility of the federal government. It will be in the Renewable Resources budget if it is transferred.
Mr. Cable: I gather there has been an initial promotion of the industry, I believe through Economic Development, if I have been following the news media correctly. Does the Minister indicate there is no authority now in his department to promote the industry?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Right now, we do not have the money. It is through Economic Development that we work on silviculture. When forestry gets transferred there will be money in there for us to take over silviculture.
Mr. Cable: On the transfer, it will be one of the functions of Renewable Resources as opposed to Economic Development - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: For silviculture, yes.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions that relate to the state of the environment, in a general sense, and policy, in a general sense, relating to carbon dioxide emissions. As the Minister is probably aware, Canada is a signatory to some conventions relating to greenhouse gases and I gather an all-party parliamentary committee at the federal level has as one of its key recommendations a 20-percent cutback in carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2005. This is in line with certain international commitments. Is the Minister aware of this commitment and is his department presently doing anything in the area?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: At the conference I attended in Saskatoon, Ms. Sheila Copps raised that topic and we are working toward that with the rest of the governments of Canada.
Mr. Cable: In particular, what instructions have been given to your staff to determine what has to be done in this jurisdiction to meet the goals as set out in the international conventions?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are working with the energy branch right now, to get the level of carbon dioxide down so that it is not a great problem in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: Has there been any communication between the Ministers staff and other members of the government in relation to the perspective coal-fired generating plants and the emissions of carbon dioxide from these plants?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Our main concern is to make sure that there are enough scrubbers. Coal-fired plants are fine if they are properly controlled and there are enough scrubbers to keep the fumes down and diluted.
Mr. Cable: When the Minister says that the scrubbers will keep the flames down, or whatever was the verbiage he used, does that mean the elimination of carbon dioxide, or is it simply brought down to certain established levels?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not think it has to do with the number of scrubbers; it is to get the particles from the fumes.
Mr. Cable: I think the scrubbers take out the particulate matter. Is that not what it is called?
I am interested in the carbon dioxide production, because there seems to be a certain amount of interest in this government in relation to coal-fired generating stations. It brings to mind whether or not this project will get part way down the road and then we will run up against international conventions relating to the generation of carbon dioxide.
Has there been any specific communication between the Ministers staff and the proponents of these coal-fired generating plants about whether they will comply with our international obligations?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We dealt with the Yukon Development Corporation and we are actually so far below the thresholds that right at the present time it would not affect us here in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: I guess the question that comes to mind is what is this threshold we are talking about?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We will have to come back with the exact figures on that. We are not judged on what the allocation is in the Yukon; it is a world situation. We are well below that right now. We can come back with the actual figures.
Mr. Cable: I have one last question. Does the Minister anticipate that, in the State of the Environment Report, he will be dealing with the issue of carbon dioxide generation?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes.
Mr. Harding: I have a question. I know the government is now negotiating for the forestry devolution; however, there were some in-depth discussions in the House last year regarding raw log export. Today, there was a radio story once again about raw log exports. What is the current position of the Yukon government on that issue?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Member must realize that it is the federal government that makes the final decision. We would actually prefer that the raw logs stay in the Yukon for the small sawmills.
There is one qualification that comes up all the time, and there is a study on that to be released on January 17 or 18. There is some question of whether it is to our advantage to send the raw logs out or keep them in the mill. One of the arguments Kaska presents is that they have to export logs to raise money in order to get the mill going. These are arguments that are now ongoing.
My personal opinion, if the Member wants to count that, is that I would prefer that they be manufactured in the Yukon.
Mr. Harding: What has been done to encourage the federal government to consider that position? What kind of response have they given this governments policy?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have made it quite plain that it is only in extraordinary cases that we would want to go along with log export. During their hearings, we made it quite plain that we would like the logs to remain here, and that is the position we have been pushing when talking with them.
Mr. Harding: The Minister used the example of Kaska Forest Products. Is it their position that they need the raw log exports to raise the capital to build the milling facilities here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, that is correct.
On Resources and Land Information Systems
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to continue implementing a geographic information system.
Mr. Harding: Why do we need the geographic information system?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is to aid in gathering and analyzing data throughout the Yukon to see what we have here.
Mr. Harding: Is this an improvement to already existing facilities, or is it something new?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This had been going on for about the last four years.
Mr. Harding: I see that last year we had an expenditure of $80,000 on this particular item. Can the Minister give me some more information about what service this provides to Yukoners in general?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It has a data map and a management plan, which is used by mining companies and ordinary people in the Yukon. The First Nations are looking for this type of information to more or less figure out exactly what we do have here in the Yukon.
Resources and Land Information Systems in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On State of the Environment and Economic Reports
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to prepare the State of the Environment Report as required by the Yukon Environment Act.
Mr. Harding: I see an increase in that report of $25,000 over last year. Could the Minister explain to what that increase is due?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I was reading something, I am sorry - could I hear the question again?
Mr. Harding: I want to find out why there is an increase over last year, of $25,000, to produce that report.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is the second year. We just really got started and now we are very busy gathering the data that we got from the beginning of the program. I also would like to pass this over to the Member. It is an invitation to Ministers to go to the GSIC, if the Member would like it.
State of the Environment and Economic Reports in the amount of $55,000 agreed to
On Development Assessment Process
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to participate in the tripartite negotiations to complete detailed guidelines for the drafting of the development assessment legislation.
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister give me some more details, as I am a fairly new critic? Is there legislation requiring a development assessment process? I know that we do work with the federal government at this point in terms of development assessment. Is this to be used in conjunction with the Yukon Partys mining/multi-use parks policy? Could it be used in that regard? Could he explain it a little bit more?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No. This comes straight out of the umbrella final agreement. It is up to the three of us - the First Nations, the federal government and us - to develop the assessment and legislation and look after the environment and also see what types of minerals and such things are around.
Mr. Harding: Could the Minister give me some information about the types of legislation that might be ancillary to this development assessment process?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are negotiating a position - whether we are going to use federal legislation or territorial legislation - the Environment Act - and this is under negotiation among the three parties.
Mr. Harding: What is the position of the Yukon government in these negotiations?
The Minister said it is between the Environment Act and the federal governments position. What is the position of the Yukon government? Is it the position the Environment Act takes?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We want a one-window approach, so it makes it easier for everybody when they are trying to start a project - they know they can go to one place, with one agreement, and not have the federal government, the First Nations and us all having different rules. That is what we are trying to negotiate at the present time.
Mr. Harding: Basically, how would the Yukon government achieve that on land owned, for example, by the federal government, or land under claim right now by First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: When we get through the negotiations, they will be binding on all three parties. We have two years after the umbrella final agreement is signed to get this on the road and make it legal.
Mr. Harding: So, it is the intent of the Yukon government that this legislation on development assessment will usurp all existing legislation governing development assessment right now - is that the hope?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, all three parties will be part of this process. When we finally get an agreement, then all three will agree on the process we are going to use.
Mr. Harding: I understand it is a negotiation. I only have one of the parties here to question - I do not have the First Nations or the federal government. In the negotiations, what position is the Yukon government taking? Do they want this to be the overall agreement on development assessment? Do they want it to usurp other kinds of legislation? What position is being taken by the Yukon government in the negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We want a one-window approach on this, and it states very plainly in the umbrella final agreement that we have to have this done within two years.
Mr. Harding: Could this development assessment process be used - in the opinion of the Minister - for the analyzing and reviewing of Yukon government policy, such as the policy of the government for multi-use parks?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, this is designed to deal with impact assessments on different things in the social part, and also to streamline it so that if it is a small project it can probably go through a local committee. As the projects become bigger, then of course they would go through a bigger board.
Mr. Cable: Is there any interlinkage between the development of the development assessment legislation and the surface rights legislation? If so, is the Ministers department involved in the development of the surface rights legislation?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, not really. They are two separate sets of regulations. The surface regulations are reviewed by the Land Claims Secretariat and we are made aware of what they are doing.
Mr. Cable: There are certain acts such as The Yukon Quartz Mining Act that sort of have ramifications in the environmental area, as well as the surface rights area. Is the Minister or his department involved in what I think are contemplated amendments to the federal statutes dealing with mineral rights and surface rights, as part of the environmental process?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, we have been involved. We were members of the Yukon mining committee. We made our recommendations when that was being discussed around the territory.
Mr. Cable: The schedule that is set out in the land claims agreement and, of course, the legislation that adopts it - does the Minister see any difficulty in meeting the schedule for the development assessment process legislation?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have two years after the agreement is signed. We then have legislation that is used for guidelines. We have to prepare the legislation for that. The guidelines will be in the umbrella final agreement.
Development Assessment Process in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Policy and Planning in the amount of $165,000 agreed to
On Resource Management
On Lands and Facilities
On Forestry Facilities (Whitehorse)
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to provide for facilities used directly in the forest protection and forest management program, according to the forestry transfer agreement.
Mr. Harding: I see that it refers to Whitehorse. Would this line also include facilities that had been discussed for the eventual devolution for Watson Lake and Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That will be the total amount of money we get for the entire Yukon.
Mr. Harding: In the negotiations with the federal government regarding devolution, have estimates been done of the positives and the negatives of the decentralized approach to the devolution and the development of offices in Watson Lake and Dawson? Are these part and parcel of the negotiations and funding agreements with the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I guess I mislead you a bit on that. This is just for the Whitehorse area. There is another dollar further down for regional areas.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a couple of questions for the Minister regarding forestry policy. Many of my constituents were among the 120 people who attended the meeting at the Marsh Lake marina last month to discuss timber harvesting and there was a very strong view expressed that the government has an obligation to participate in responsible forest management, particularly with the impending transfer. Would the Minister indicate in what areas the department is drafting policy?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: What we are doing now is a scoping exercise to see what should be in the policy. For example, we certainly advanced our views that the forest project at Jakes Corner should not be a clear-cut policy. It will probably take us a year to develop policies after we have completed hearings throughout the Yukon.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister made a statement about not supporting clear cutting and scoping the areas of policy that they would like to get into. There is a long history of logging in the Yukon. In fact, the Canada/Yukon economic development agreement has funded a number of interesting publications, including a three-volume history of logging in the Yukon, which covers the years of 1896 to 1970. People believe that what is needed is harvesting practices that ensure the regrowth and regeneration of forests, so that there will also be a future logging industry. Does the Minister support reforestation and is that an area in which they are looking at policy? Does the Minister support selection cutting, where mature trees are taken, leaving more room for the smaller trees to grow?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not want the Member to think I was misleading her when I talked about clear cutting. I mentioned only Jakes Corner. There may be different types of cutting in different areas, depending on the forests and the policy we come up with in making that decision. As for silviculture, we have already put a great deal of money into it and we believe very strongly that it has to be done.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister indicates that a great deal of money has already been put into silviculture. Have there been any tree planting activities in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, there has been a fair amount done through the Economic Development funds, particularly in the Watson Lake area.
Ms. Moorcroft: I thank the Minister for clarifying his remarks about clear cutting, which is a harvesting method in which all of the trees are roughly the same age and ready for harvest. Many people are concerned because clear cutting scars the landscape and reforestation is often unsuccessful. You only have to drive along the highway between Watson Lake and Kitwanga to see examples of very unsuccessful reforestation programs in B.C., as well as some more successful ones. Clear cutting also kills the forest home of small and large game, which has an effect on trapping. Does the Minister support clear cutting as an effective or desirable harvesting option?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That would depend on the area. There are some areas where it might work, and some areas where it will not. I do not want to get into policy here. We want to go to the people to see what they have to say on these matters.
Ms. Moorcroft: I can assure the Minister that there are a great number of people who are concerned about the notion of taking the forest, logging it and not replanting it. I would like to ask the Minister to bring back further details on silviculture and reforestation in the Yukon. I am also looking for a statement from him on whether he would support reforestation initiatives as part and parcel of logging and cutting trees.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have already said that. Yes, we will. Silviculture is one of our main goals.
Mr. Joe: I also have a concern. Let us talk about waste we see. We see logs coming down the river. Every year, we see logs coming down the river. There is a lot of timber and a lot of waste coming down the Liard River. What can we do about it to save those kinds of logs?
I do a lot of travelling up the Pelly River. There are some places with good timber, and I used to camp there. They are now no longer there. Channels are cut into it, and it all goes down the river. That is the kind of waste I am talking about.
I do not disagree with trying to save logs in the Yukon, but how do we save them along the river? This is my concern.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I agree with the Member that this should not be going on. However, I have to point out that it is still federal jurisdiction, and we are not aware of a lot of these situations because, up until now, it is not our business. In most cases, we do try to interfere, and we will look at that and see what is causing it.
Forestry Facilities (Whitehorse) in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Special Projects
On Wildlife Viewing and Infrastructure
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That expenditure is to create a wildlife viewing program.
Mr. Harding: I know that the Minister made some comments in his opening remarks about wildlife viewing infrastructure. Can the Minister be more specific about the plans for the $160,000 expenditure?
Also, can the Minister tell us how closely these kinds of efforts are coordinated with the Department of Tourism?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I wonder how much he was paid off for that.
A couple of projects that we are now working on include the White Mountain site at Atlin where we have transported goats. We want to put a viewing deck at Moose Lake on the Dempster Highway, and an interpretive centre on the Dempster Highway. With the Girl Guides and Ducks Unlimited, we have built an interpretative centre at McClintock Bay that we would like to complete. There is a contribution to the natural history display for the visitors to Herschel Island.
The answer is yes, we do cooperate with the little fellow here as much as we can.
Mr. Harding: I think that it is a great idea and, from travelling through Alaska, that is something that I have seen that they do quite well, although they have more wildlife viewing opportunities in Alaska than we do in the Yukon, at least from the sides of the road.
I think that it is really important and as everyone who has lived in the Yukon for awhile knows, tourists often ask where the wildlife is, so when we do have areas where we can show wildlife, it is important to do so.
Has the ministry encountered many problems with vandalism?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The worst case that we had is in the Takhini burn where vandals destroyed everything and we had to start over again.
Mr. Harding: What kind of feedback on the newly developed viewing sites has the government been getting?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It has been quite good. I think if we can get more out, it will be much better.
Wildlife Viewing and Infrastructure in the amount of $160,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Mr. Harding: What was the $8,000 spent on last year?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We think it is probably some of the carryover from McClintock Bay, but I will get back to the Member.
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife Management Planning
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This amount is to develop reasonable fish and wildlife plans.
Mr. Harding: I know it is hard to believe, but I think the Minister actually gives longer explanations in Question Period for things. Can he give us some more details of what the $110,000 will pay for?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: These are the plans we have with the Renewable Resource Council. We will finish off the one at Mayo; we have begun work at Teslin and Old Crow and with the Champagne/Aishihik Band. This is a general plan for the whole area, involving the First Nations people.
Mr. Harding: Did the Minister say a resource council? I see him shaking his head, yes.
How are things going with the resource council? I was up in Mayo moose hunting this fall, and I had the unfortunate good fortune of getting a moose in Mayo. When the Member for McIntyre-Takhini and I got back to town, I found the story about outsiders taking a moose had spread faster than wildfire. I noticed in the government office that there was a call for a public hearing on a Mayo-only hunting zone. It was my understanding from the notice - although I could be wrong - that it was resource council initiated. Is that true? Can the Minister tell me a bit about that planning?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The council at Mayo has worked well. It has been a pleasure to work with them. They do guard their territory well. We are going to run into this all over the Yukon. It will probably mean a lot of people will be using permits to hunt in certain areas and not others. As one area is depleted a little in game, the hunters move to another area.
The councils are very aware of it. They put notes up in a few places, and they put signs up in certain areas where you are not supposed to hunt because a certain habitat in that area attracts animals.
Fish and Wildlife Management Planning in the amount of $110,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Infrastructure Facilities (Abattoir)
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to contribute to the construction of the abattoir.
Mr. Harding: What role in the construction? My understanding is there has been some question about the construction of the abattoir in the last little while. What role will this $50,000 have?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This was one of our contributions, which will continue next year, if this program goes. If not, then we will not need the money next year.
Mr. Harding: Is the money handed over to the people in charge of the abattoir at the beginning of the year? Are there some criteria that it must be spent on certain things, to be returned to the YTG? What strings are attached to it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This will only be handed over if the abattoir is ready to go, the money is raised, and the Agricultural Association raises its portion of the money. We have already spent $30,000 to help them get the program this far.
Mr. Harding: Is it $30,000 of this $50,000 funding or is it an additional $30,000?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes.
Infrastructure Facilities (Abattoir) in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Resource Management in the amount of $320,000 agreed to
On Environment, Parks, Regional Services
Mr. Harding: There are some significant issues that I gave the Minister notice of. I just want to say that I intend to ask him questions in this area in the supplementaries. I want to give him the notice again. I am interested in a number of policy questions in this area.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, we have those, and we will have the replies for you.
On Lands and Facilities
On Capital Maintenance Upgrades
Hon. Mr. Brewster: These funds are to provide major repairs to public buildings.
Mr. Harding: What public buildings and why?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: In previous years this used to be a Government Services responsibility. It has been transferred to us now. This is money for all the buildings that we have in the Yukon.
Mr. Harding: I presume then that the department budgeted some estimates for the capital upgrading. What figures were used for the estimation of the $70,000 figure?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Government Services has compiled a list of the required repairs and we made the estimate for the $70,000 based on that.
Capital Maintenance Upgrades in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Forestry Facilities (Communities)
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to provide for facilities used in the communities by regional services as per the forestry transfer agreement.
Mr. Harding: I have a policy question on the decision - or the appearance of a decision - to decentralize pending forestry devolution negotiation finalization to decentralize to Dawson and Watson Lake. My question in the area of policy is why were Dawson and Watson Lake selected? Was a study done to look into other Yukon communities that have less of a broad economic base than those two - for example, perhaps communities like my own, Ross River, Mayo and even Pelly Crossing?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We looked at just about every community in the Yukon. Our other objective here was to get them joined in with our people in Renewable Resources. Also, we have to look at where they should be stationed because of fires, et cetera. We have taken some direction from the federal government about where these people should be stationed. We also looked at the cost in deciding where the best place to put these people would be.
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister provide me with some of those deliberations, please.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I hate to have to say this to you, but I have a little problem doing that right now. We really do not have the forestry thing settled with the federal government. We have not yet received a final clearance from the Management Board. Regretfully, I will have to say no again.
Mr. Harding: The problem that I have is that it would be nice, as a legislator, if I had some information. The Minister has told us in this Legislature that they are negotiating on the basis of decentralization to Watson Lake and Dawson. If we do not get any information prior to an agreement being signed, it will be frustrating that, as legislators, we cannot make arguments one way or another. They may very well be the two best choices but it would be nice if we could have some information. I know there are other communities out there that would certainly be quite happy to gain some of the economic spinoff benefits of having the decentralized branches - although I do not know how big the branches in the two communities would be. I do not know how it would influence the negotiations. I am sure the Minister is putting forward the correct numbers to the feds regarding the costs of putting the offices in those two communities, so I do not see why there would be a problem to provide that to us as well. Can the Minister elaborate on that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I believe I said in the Legislature that as soon as we can get this finalized, we will get it to the Member. If we are not in the Legislature, we will get it to the Member in his office.
I am not prepared to say where I think these people should be until Management Board gives it clearance. They will not do so until we know we have the money from Ottawa. We are in a Catch-22 situation, waiting to see what Ottawa will do.
Mr. Harding: I am perhaps not explaining myself clearly. I am asking about some of the internal Yukon decision-making processes, such as a cost analysis of one community versus another and the geographic area they are planning to consider - that sort of thing.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The most important point is where they should be stationed for fire. The federal government has also looked at that.
We have looked at cost, and the fact that we should be, if the agreement goes through, getting some of the buildings in some of the areas. This would mean that we do not have to build another building. We have looked at how we can arrange to get them, as they will be moved into the Department of Renewable Resources. They will be situated in much the same area; therefore, they can work together.
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister give me some idea as to the proposed staffing levels for each of these offices? I am just looking for a ballpark figure.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We will come back with that information.
Mr. Harding: The reason I ask is because, although there are other communities, the one I represent would benefit from, and be appreciative of, decentralization efforts by government. This, in conjunction with private sector initiatives, would diversify the economy.
I will accept the Ministers undertaking to bring back some information. I will look forward to getting some figures in the future regarding the considerations that were made by the department.
If the government does not look at the other communities when making decisions on spending and policy, those communities will not broaden their economic base, unless there is some miraculous private sector initiative. I would just like to make that point to the Minister. I will wait for further information from the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will get back to the Member with that information as soon as we have it finalized with Ottawa.
Forestry Facilities (Communities) in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Territorial Parks
On Coal River Springs
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This expenditure is for site layout and interpretative signage.
Ms. Moorcroft: In looking at the line items in territorial parks, I recognize that my colleague, who is the critic, has given the Minister notice that we do want to have the policy debate in the supplementaries, about mining in parks.
When the Minister is going through these various lines of the territorial parks, I would like to know whether any money will be spent identifying mineral potential in any of these parks. I will also be looking for his explanation of the $150,000 for resource assessment and what is covered with that expenditure.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is a line item, number 8, that provides money for assessment of resources in parks.
Coal River Springs in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Kusawa Lake Management Plan
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This expenditure is to permit consultation with the First Nation people.
Mr. Harding: What is the reason that we spent $25,000 in 1993-94, and $50,000 in 1992-93, and the amount has now gone down to $1,000? Is something nearing completion, or what is happening?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The $25,000 is for work that had been done with the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation to get this where it is right now. Our problem right now is that we cannot go much further until the other First Nations, who have claimed part of that land, have their settlement agreements completed.
Mr. Harding: What does the management plan involve? Is it land use, wildlife? What does it entail?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It deals with land use, boundaries, the zoning of the park into types of parks, and it looks at the resources that are in that park.
Mr. Harding: It is my understanding there were some cases of wildlife poisoning in the Kusawa area. Did that have any impact on the discussions, or was that raised in conjunction with the wildlife planning aspect, for example?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, it did not.
Kusawa Lake Management Plan in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Carcross Dunes Management Plan
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to develop a park management plan and complete legal land surveys, and to continue public consultation for the park.
Mr. McDonald: I was under the impression that the MLA for Ross River-Southern Lakes was not in favour of a park at the Carcross Dunes. Why is the government proceeding with this particular initiative? In the past, at least in the Legislature, I remember the previous Minister of Renewable Resources actually being criticized by the MLA for this particular initiative. Why is he proceeding over the objections of that MLA?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have gone through the community consultations. This park has been on and off ever since I have been in this Legislature, going on 12 years. I remember my first trip down there with the Hon. Howard Tracey. I was about ready to leave politics then and never come back. Going down there with him and Mr. Falle was not a very pleasant experience.
It has been on and off, and we now have public consultation. They have agreed that they want it to go ahead, so we are going ahead with it. I believe we are supposed to listen to the public, and that is what we are doing.
Mr. McDonald: I cannot resist the opening. So the Minister is effectively saying that MLA had not taken as clear a reading as he should have of his constituents wishes prior to critiquing this particular project when the proposal was made to develop the territorial park a couple of years ago - is that basically what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I think it is time for coffee break. We are playing around here.
It has been worked on and off since the start of the 1980s. I can remember when it was on; then it went off; we now have it back on and we hope to finish it. That is what the public consultation was about. They want it there, so we are going to try to finish it.
Mr. Penikett: What are they going to be mining in this park, and does Mr. Phelps approve of that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Unless they can figure out something they can do with sand, I do not think they are going to mine anything.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister just indicated that there has been consultation with the public and the public have decided that they want to have a park there, and see $60,000 being spent in the capital budget on the Carcross Dunes management plan. I thought that the Minister indicated that some of that money was going to be spent on public consultation. Can he give a breakdown of precisely how much more money they are going to spend on consultation and what the nature of that consultation is, given the Ministers statements just now?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have gone through phase 1. I spoke with the people out there about what they really want, and now we are starting into phase 2, which will come down to more of the technicalities. It will define where the boundary lines are and what they want in the park.
Carcross Dunes Management Plan in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Lazulite Deposits
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to consult with the Inuvialuit in accordance with the terms of the Inuvialuit final agreement to manage the lazulite deposits.
Lazulite Deposits in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Park System Plan
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister break down the park system plan for me?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is to look at different areas in which to consider a park. At present, we are looking at the Porcupine caribou area, because that is an area where land claims are settled. We would like to see a park established there.
Park System Plan in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Resource Assessment
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to assess potential park areas for their park and non-park resource values.
Mr. Harding: A request for $190,000 has been made over the last two years for this. As a result of this years $40,000 expenditure and last years $150,000, what parks are we breaking down for a resource assessment?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Up until now, we have been mainly working in the Tombstone area. We have to go from there and look at other areas. We feel it is better to do a resource assessment in order to avoid future conflicts. Perhaps by changing boundaries or something, we can keep both our resources and our parks going at the same time.
Mr. Harding: Is this expenditure specifically for the Tombstone area, or are there any other parks targeted for an analysis of potential resources?
Is the resources estimate that we are looking for just mineral, or is it also forestry?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We look at wildlife, mineral assessment and forestry. It is not all in the Tombstone area this year. In fact, most of our work will be around the Porcupine and Peel areas.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are all park areas going to be subjected to this resource assessment study in the future and, if not, which ones, and when?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, any new ones will come through this, except where we have a land claims issue, and that would be a different situation with the First Nations people.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will all existing parks be inventoried for resource potential?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we are not planning that.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister cited a list of some of the resources that they were going to look at when they conducted the resource assessment. What is the plan for the use of those resources, once the assessment has been completed? Would they harvest wildlife?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We use that information to decide whether there should be a park there, or whether there are resources to be tapped - such as mining the area and not using any of it as park, or whether there could be a multi-use wilderness park. The two can work together. There are two ways of looking at how to do that.
Ms. Moorcroft: I think that there are more than two ways of looking at it, but we did agree that we would have this policy debate in the supplementaries.
Resource Assessment in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Territorial Campgrounds and Day Use Areas
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to plan the rehabilitation and new construction of campgrounds.
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister provide more detailed information? Where is this planning? Where are the new campgrounds going to be and how big are they?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are working on 12 different campgrounds right now. In some cases where the campgrounds have been overused, there is a danger of trees coming down on people. Quite often floods cause problems. We are working on Million Dollar Falls, Teslin Lake, Tatchun Creek, Squanga Lake, Hoole Canyon, Dragon Lake, Provost Canyon, Tarfu, Snafu, Kusawa, Ethel Lake, Engineer Creek, Tombstone, and Rancheria Falls.
Planning in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
On Western Region
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to improve trails at the Dezadeash River and Pine Lake, and replace facilities as required.
Mr. Harding: How much of the $152,000 is for the trail work?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Dezeadeash Trail will be $38,700, with the equipment and personnel added, and the Pine Lake one will be $26,600, for a total of $43,400.
Western Region in the amount of $152,000 agreed to
On Northern Region
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to provide new sites at Kusawa Lake, to repair flood damages and upgrade facilities at Engineer Creek, and to replace facilities, as required.
Northern Region in the amount of $211,000 agreed to
On Southeastern Region
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to provide improvement at Rancheria Falls, and to upgrade boat launches at the Tagish, Squanga and Watson Lake campgrounds.
Mr. Harding: There is no central region identified, so I will ask this here. There has been a longstanding request for an improvement to boat docks, including one for the Little Salmon campground area. My understanding was that the way to handle that was that, eventually, some money was channeled to the Legion to do it. I am not sure whether it came through the CDF for Renewable Resources.
Under the Ministers administration, where does that project now stand? Could he also explain why there is a 68-percent drop in that area? Is there some particular project that is no longer on the books?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: For the Little Salmon, the money was through the CDF. It was to buy the material that came through the economic development agreement. The reason for the drop was that we did a lot of work there the year of the Alaska Highway centennial. It is pretty well up to standard now.
Southeastern Region in the amount of $63,000 agreed to
Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Outdoor Recreation Sites and Corridors
On Outdoor Recreation System Plan
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to plan and develop outdoor recreation sites.
Mr. Harding: Where?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We do our planning a year ahead. This year, there will be two sites in the Whitehorse area. They have not been completely finalized yet.
Outdoor Recreation System Plan in the amount of $74,000 agreed to
On Heritage Rivers
On Yukon River (30 mile section)
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to plan and design river campsites, monitor use and begin implementation of an interpretive plan.
Yukon River (30 mile section) in the amount of $28,000 agreed to
IOn Bonnet Plume River
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to prepare a Canadian heritage river management planning document.
Mr. Harding: How is that being planned? Is it in conjunction with the Bonnet Plume area and the Mayo Resource Council? I am sure there are some concerns among the outfitting community about park development there.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I think we should make it plain that this is not a park. It is a heritage river.
The planning is done by the Mayo band, the territorial government and the federal government.
Mr. Harding: I am ignorant of the difference between a heritage river and a park. Would there be any planned use restrictions for the heritage river, or in the adjacent areas?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That will depend on the public hearings. It could be that there will be certain areas protected for a heritage site, or something of that nature, otherwise it will depend on what people tell us at hearings. That includes all lobbying groups, stakeholders and everyone else.
Bonnet Plume River in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Tatshenshini River
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This expenditure is for the completion of the Canadian heritage river management plan document, which is the document that starts the nomination, and the process goes on from there.
Tatshenshini River in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Environment, Parks and Regional Services in the amount of $1,008,000 agreed to
On Land Claims
On Prior Years Projects
Mr. Harding: In the context of land claims, there is a $109,000 reduction from the previous year, which was $112,000. Why is that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That was money that was given to us by the Inuvialuit final agreement, and it was for the Herschel Island Park, which is now complete.
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Land Claims agreed to
Department of Renewable Resources agreed to
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Department of Tourism
Chair: We will move on to Tourism. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to introduce the capital estimates for the Department of Tourism. The 1994-95 budget of $2.3 million is 21 percent higher than the current year forecast of $1.9 million, and I will briefly highlight the projects in each branch.
The following projects will be undertaken by the heritage branch. The Yukon historical heritage is the primary focus for the upcoming decade of anniversaries. Through the museums exhibit assistance program, support will be given to communities museum initiatives providing important programs and attractions for visitors.
Specifically, support will be provided to the MacBride Museum for their Northwest Mounted Police/RCMP travelling exhibit, to the Dawson City Museum for their Klondike gold rush anniversary travelling exhibit and to one of my favourite museums, the Keno Museum, to complete the new exhibit development work.
The sprinkler control system will be installed in the Old Territorial Administration Building in Dawson in cooperation with the Dawson Museum, the Yukon Historical Museums Association and the federal government.
At Fort Selkirk, interpretation programming will also begin so that this important gold rush corridor historic site will be able to contribute to the upcoming Northwest Mounted Police/RCMP and gold rush anniversaries.
The Canyon City and tramway project will be initiated with oral history, archival research and archaeological research. The two most significant projects in the development branch are as follows: a major visitor exit survey will be conducted during the 1994 summer tourism season. The strategic research project is supported by the Department of Tourism and will provide a wealth of detailed information regarding visitor travel characteristics and their attitudes and opinions of the Yukon experience.
I believe the last visitor exit survey was done in 1987 and many feel that that data is out of date and has to be brought more up to the current standards.
The 1994 survey will be designed to provide, for the first time, detailed information at the regional and community level. This data can be used by regions, communities and associations to identify new opportunities and assist them in developing and marketing the tourism product.
The staff will be pursuing the Alsek Pass day use area project next year. An environmental impact assessment is to be done in cooperation with the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation, the Village of Haines Junction, the Canadian Parks Service and the Departments of Renewable Resources and Community and Transportation Services.
There are no significant changes in the capital project of administration, marketing or arts branches. I will be pleased to respond to questions from the Members opposite.
Mr. McDonald: I have a series of policy issues that I would like to discuss between now and the end of this sitting. I would like to give notice of a number of them now, and then have more thorough discussions when we get to the supplementaries shortly.
One area of policy discussion I would like to talk about in more detail now is the Ministers concept of the role of the department and what he feels the departments mandate should be. I will explain why I ask this question in a moment.
The tourism summit that was held in November was a very useful exercise for me, in terms of understanding what the hot issues are in the industry, but also for understanding some of the background and meeting some of the players. I am certain that my experience at the summit was not unlike many others who had the same opportunities. For that reason alone, it was a useful exercise.
When we get into the supplementaries, I would like to talk about the proposal that had been made to have focus groups to study various things.
One of the more significant topics that was addressed not only in formal sessions, but also during coffee breaks and whenever there was an opportunity, was the role that various organizations and interest groups were playing. There seemed to be a plethora of organizations that had an interest in tourism. They seemed to be growing faster than people could count.
The Tourism Industry Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the new Wilderness Tourism Association - there are a variety of organizations that have an interest in the Anniversaries Commission. Others include the Klondike Visitors Association, and the list goes on. People are wondering about the role and the mandate of each one, particularly those that have administrative expenses - whether or not the administrative expenses are essential - and whether or not they have to join all the organizations in order to get a full picture of tourism activities. There is also, I discovered, a feeling among some persons, who are simply operators in the industry but not members of the organizations, that somehow there still was no forum for them to discuss things that were essential to their futures, and the summit was really the first opportunity for them to feel they had a voice.
So, I would like to talk about that. I would like to talk about marketing. At the summit conference, there seemed to be a wide range of opinions as to what should be the focus of tourism marketing funds. If one were to total them up, the suggestions probably added up to some $300 million or $400 million. I am going to ask how the Minister is going to cut his loaves and fishes into meeting the expectations of all the groups.
There are some serious issues with respect to focussing marketing efforts on some of the growth areas. There was a lot of interest in wilderness adventure tourism and some winter tourism - I would like to know what the government is planning and proposing to do there. There was some talk about the passport program and its future.
As well, there had been some discussion about the heritage program. The archaeological program has been the subject of some questions in the Legislature and I would like to pursue that.
We had the opportunity to go to the MacBride Museum for the Christmas lunch and it ended up costing probably $10,000 per participant - it certainly made those sandwiches taste good. The serious point is that the MacBride Museum is requesting more assistance and so I will at least be asking policy questions about the governments plans for the museums operational funding, how far they are prepared to go in Whitehorse and whether or not they will be focussing more funds in this particular area.
I have had some discussion with some people about the visitor exit survey that is being proposed. When we get to the supplementaries, I would like to ask the Minister specifically about the kinds of questions that are being proposed to be posed, and how the information will be handled, managed and digested.
Now that the Minister has been bequeathed the arts branch, there is a lot that could be discussed there. While I know that we ought to be waiting for the finalization of the public review and consultation that is going on, there are still some issues that are current and that may have an impact on spring budgets that I am particularly interested in, particularly the Arts Centre, the future of lottery commission funding - which I know is another Ministers portfolio and is, nevertheless, a major funding source for the arts community. I am thinking more about the short term, rather than the long term, funding and role for the Arts Centre board and the Arts Society.
There are a series of small issues that I will also raise. Many of them came out of the summit and I would simply like the Ministers impression of some of them.
To keep up a long tradition, I will not begin by asking whether or not the Department of Tourism is there to promote tourism, but I would like to ask the Minister quite seriously what his vision of the role of the department is.
During the summit, there were a number of comments made about the role of the department and the usefulness of departmental activities. There was a lot of loose talk by a number of people who suggested quite clearly that they felt that the Tourism department is not fulfilling a useful role. There were also comments about certain sections of the Tourism department that were not only useless, but counter-productive.
I took the opportunity on occasion to disagree with some of those comments, but I would like to hear some sort of official position from the Minister as to what role he has cut for the department. I would also like to know where he plans to take the department in the next year or two.
I would like to explore those questions right now, and then simply move on to line-by-line debate and leave the other policy questions for the supplementaries.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would like to start out by saying that not only was the tourism summit informative for the critic, it was certainly very informative for me.
I had always had a great interest in tourism and I knew that there were some concerns and issues out there, but I had no idea when we started the summit that there were so many diverse opinions on what we should do and how we should do it. I think that the summit served a very useful purpose and I know that the Member opposite agrees with that assessment.
As for the role of tourism, I believe that there is a place for the Department of Tourism in the Yukon and I think that it is significant. I say that because the Yukons second largest industry is tourism and, unlike other jurisdictions where it might be their fourth, fifth or sixth industry, I think tourism is the second largest economic generator in this territory.
It is an area where there are all kinds of opportunities opening up in the future, so I see the Department of Tourism playing a major role.
I felt that part of the problem at the summit was in communications. Maybe if the Department of Tourism has fallen down in any area in the past, it is in communicating what it actually does and letting people know what it does. That was a clear message from the summit, and I know the Member has probably received the first edition of the summit update. The summit report is going to come out very shortly - within the next week or two - and there will be future updates following it. I have already had some response from people in the tourism industry, saying they are very pleased with the first summit update, just informing them more of what the marketing council does and some of the other initiatives that Tourism is undertaking.
Having said that, I am willing to listen to what the concerns are out there and how the Department of Tourism can play a better role and a more efficient role. I know there has been some strong concern raised about marketing - where we should market, and that we should spend 90 percent of our money in the marketing area, in marketing itself, and only 10 percent on salaries. A few figures like that were bandied around but, again, I think that is a bit of a communication problem where people do not understand exactly what the marketing branch does. On the other hand, that has been a fault of ours, where we have not communicated it.
I am also willing to look at suggestions and ideas from people on how we can make the industry feel it has more input into the marketing council. Right now, they do not feel they have enough input into the marketing council. Possibly, in the near future, a restructuring of that council is needed, and I am hoping to convene a meeting of the various players over the winter months and early spring to discuss options on revamping or redesigning or restructuring the marketing council so that there is more of an input from industry people.
We do have limited marketing dollars and we are very, very small players in the field. A couple of days ago, I was looking at a newsletter from the Anchorage Visitors and Convention Bureau and their budget for just a convention centre in Anchorage alone is eight or 10 times larger than our budget, let alone the whole budget for the Department of Tourism.
They are serving a larger area but, just the same, we are supposed to be serving the whole Yukon. We are in some very good markets right now. We are one of the few jurisdictions in Canada that have actually seen increases in those markets. We did drop a bit last year in terms of Canadian tourists coming to the territory, but we increased very significantly in the European market. Last year, it was up about 25 or 26 percent. We are expecting a similar or even greater increase this year, because we are just embarking on our European campaign. We are getting very positive indications from Canadian Airlines on their new marketing initiative in Europe.
The new adventure travel market we are embarking upon generated a lot of responses - much more than we thought we would get. We are now doing our conversion to see if these people have come to the Yukon or will be in the near future. The highway market was only down 2.5 percent from last year. That is pretty good, considering all the promotion and advertising we did in the anniversaries year. We have a lot of potential with the new anniversaries fast approaching.
There are some real opportunities here. The summit afforded us the opportunity of sitting down, considering what we are doing right, where there are concerns, and sorting out the various concerns people have.
One of the areas the Member mentioned is the roles of the organizations. I think there were some strong messages about who is doing what, including the Yukon government, TIA and all the other organizations. This winter and early spring, we plan to convene many of the players for possibly one or two days to sit down, discuss and define their roles. We need to clarify this for the future to help us define the actual role of the Department of Tourism and what expectations are out there.
The winter tourism initiative the Member mentioned was one of the recommendations that came out of the summit. I can tell the Member that there was a meeting held just last week. We have now brought the stakeholders together twice to discuss a marketing program. There is $40,000 in the program for winter tourism this year. We are looking at concentrating on six weekends this winter. The marketing will be directed at Juneau and Fairbanks. It will be centred around Frostbite, the Sourdough Rendezvous, the Quest and those kinds of activities. We will focus on existing activities here.
We are asking the private sector to buy in to the tune of 25 percent to increase our marketing dollars. We will be running ads in the Juneau and Fairbanks papers, encouraging people to come to Whitehorse and enjoy the $1.30 they get for their American dollar here, and to spend some money and time in the Yukon over a period of weekends this winter.
This is sort of a pilot project to see how it works. We hope it will be successful. I will leave it at that, and perhaps come back to the Member during supplementaries with a more detailed report or a legislative return. If he has any other questions, I will be more than happy to answer them.
Mr. McDonald: I have every intention of pursuing these things in more detail during the supplementaries, but I did feel it was necessary to give the Minister some notice.
The problem I discovered at the tourism summit, with respect to the departments own role, was that there appeared to be criticism coming from various persons, some ill-informed, who felt the department, as a whole, and in some of its particulars, was not performing useful work.
The problem arose at the end of the conference. Someone pointed out to me that there was no official defence of the department or its role. There was a feeling that it was okay to schmooze with people, kibbitz with them and talk about those dastardly bureaucrats, but there was never any sense, at least at the political level, that there was any defence.
I recall one moment where someone I respect for his experience in the outfitting industry got up and wanted to insist that 75 percent of the tourism marketing budget be dedicated toward actual marketing ventures, and that 25 percent could be restricted to administration, or whatever else he considered to be a next-to-useless activity.
While I respect his opinion on many things, I do not on this one. For a moment, the conference coordinator was taking a very correct position by saying that it is not wise to be so critical of what a lot of people are trying to do, and at which they are working very hard.
When he discovered that this person went to sit beside the Government Leader shortly after, he could not help himself from being so apologetic about the conference coordinator being so rash in his defence of the department.
At the end of the conference, I was left feeling that there was precious little that was prepared to be said at the official levels - in the leadership - to defend what the department was doing. This led to a feeling among a number of conference participants - I am not talking about people in the department, I am talking about others - who felt that it was only a matter of time before the department was going to be dismantled or the funding reallocated.
I think it was ultimately very unfortunate treatment of the people who worked in the various branches of the department, but it was also unfortunate for those people who may have been left with the impression that whatever representations they had made to dismantle the department had had some effect, and that it was only a matter of time before the marketing funds would simply be turned over to one association or another. It was also brought up on a couple of occasions that that should happen. That is the reason that I asked the Minister the question; it is not a flippant question, it is deadly serious.
When the Minister mentioned the department wanting to play a more efficient role, I would like him to say with a little more precision what kind of role he sees for the department.
Has the Minister had reason to believe that, besides simply acknowledging that the department has not communicated well its good works in tourism, the department is doing activity that should be done by the private sector - that is not by its very nature done efficiently by government? Does the Minister have any sense of that, is he still thinking about it, or has he decided the question in his own mind?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have to respond to the first comment made by the Member about no one coming to the official defence of the department. I have to tell the Member that was probably somewhat deliberate, because one of the criticisms I had heard all along was that the department was extremely defensive, and every time you criticized something they were doing, they said, Yes, but you do not know, and they went on and on.
The idea of the summit was for everyone to air their concerns and problems. It was quite apparent, at least to me, that, as the summit wore on and the concerns were being expressed, one of the main issues out there was communication.
What does the Department of Tourism do? What does it do right, and what does it do effectively? Perhaps that is a job that we have fallen down on a bit. We have been preoccupied with marketing programs and other things, and we have not really told the general public what we are doing that is effective. I will give a good example.
A year or two ago, we started the film site commission, and we had two or three initiatives. We made one or two announcements, and left it at that. Recently, in the last year, we have been making continuous announcements of activities of the film site commission, what we are doing, and the impact on people in the territory. Now, people in the private sector are starting to talk about it, and even writing editorials on it, saying that this is one of the success stories of the Department of Tourism.
I think it is a matter of telling people what we are doing in those areas. For instance, regarding the European market, I hope to be issuing another press release shortly about some activities in that field that have been very productive for us - sort of blowing our own horn, letting people know what is happening in the industry, and making people more aware. Those are the kinds of things that we can do better, and I think it is a matter of explaining the role of tourism to people.
I have to say to the Member that I have not decided in my mind as yet what should stay as a role of Tourism and what should not. I am willing to sit down and listen to people in the marketplace. I would like to look at what other jurisdictions do with respect to marketing councils and what works effectively. There is no point in our reinventing the wheel. My sense of the marketing council structure right now is that it is a good one, but the problem is there are a lot of people in the private sector who do not feel they are being represented.
Again, it is a matter of communication, and perhaps putting various groups and organizations on the marketing council and having them report on a regular basis, or maybe opening up the marketing council meetings. They hold them four or five times a year. Perhaps they should be opened up to the industry, so the public could come and see their rep at the meeting or, if they are individuals and do not have a rep there, they could sit and listen to what is going on in marketing. This would let people in the industry know more about what is happening in the marketing of tourism.
That is the kind of thing that I would like to see us do but I have not made up my mind that there should be major changes. The only area where I see there could be a much closer link is with Economic Development and the Tourism economic development agreement. I think there was some concern expressed at the the tourism summit about the linkage that does not appear to be there in the way that it should with respect to tourism economic development agreement and who is making decisions, how quickly they make decisions and how they are evaluated. There was a feeling by some that there should be more input from the tourism sector on the tourism economic development agreement funding.
Mr. McDonald: I think by the time the Minister comes to a conclusion on the economic development agreement, it will all be over. The chances of the economic development agreement being renegotiated and renewed are probably pretty slim, even with changing federal governments.
I want to make it clear to the Minister that I do believe that public relations is important, and certainly in every department that I have been associated with in the past, you cannot sit back in a cocoon and operate without trying to appeal to the persons you are trying to serve. You must always justify your existence, not only in the Legislature, but administratively with the community.
I think the theme of working together is a very old theme with the Tourism department and the Tourism ministries in the past, but whether or not it can be effective to the point that tourism operators feel that they are true partners is something that is yet to be accomplished. That may be one of those goals that cannot be accomplished because not everyone can be a partner to the extent they want to be a partner, like a majority partner.
I think it is important in assessing what the departments role should be and, in discussing its relevance with the private sector, it is very important to not fall into the easy trap of allowing uninhibited critique of the departments activities.
I have been Minister of a number of departments that, in the beginning, I assumed were what I thought them to be and realized they were, in fact, quite arrogant when they dealt with the public on certain issues in certain sectors. They forgot their constituency and they had to be reminded what their constituency was and how they should be service providers.
I would like to think, at least, that I was never drawn into the trap that it was an easy political win simply to criticize the department or to allow or encourage criticism of a department without some meaty response. If somebody said a department was falling down on its particular job, I either agreed and did something about it or disagreed and said so.
That is very important for department morale and for a straight exchange in the Legislature. It is a very important feature of further communications in the Legislature with respect to the Tourism budget.
I would like to follow up on a couple of things. The Minister said that tourism activity for the coming year was projected to go up marginally in highway traffic; is that the case? No, it is not to go up? Is it to decline? Are they projecting a decline in highway traffic? He has only cited European traffic going up.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: What I said is what happened last year. Last year, highway traffic decreased by two percent. We are hoping to try and hold our own this year, because we are in between anniversaries. If we can hold our own, we will be doing well. The European traffic went up some 26 percent last year and, because we are embarking upon our European program and doing much more promotion in Europe, which we have never done before, we are optimistic that it will go up again next year. How much, we are not sure yet.
I want to just say a couple of other things on this issue to the Member opposite. We are not alone in the types of discussions that are going on about the role of the Department of Tourism and the role of the industry. In fact, my deputy went to a preliminary meeting for the Council of Tourism Ministers - it is a preliminary meeting to our meeting that is supposed to take place here later in February.
They found out that each and every jurisdiction in the country is now going through the same kind of analysis about what their departments are doing and whether they are meeting the needs of the tourism industry.
I want to leave the Member with the same message I left at the end of the summit. That message is that there may be some problems and we may have identified some of them at the summit to make the system better. There are some real options there. However, what the Department of Tourism has done in the past is not too bad. We are one of the few jurisdictions in the country - the only one in 1992 - that saw an increase in tourism. We saw an 18 or 19 percent increase in 1992. Last year, we saw a minor decrease. I mentioned that to the delegates at the convention. I said, Although you think we can improve, we are the only jurisdiction over the past two or three years to maintain a fairly steady growth, on average. With the opportunities coming up with the anniversaries, we hope to maintain that. This year, 1994, is sort of the in-between year; 1995 will help us; and we think we can build all through the years 1996 to 1998.
We are optimistic that we are on a real threshold of opportunities. I tried to leave that message with the delegates at the summit and I want to leave a similar message here. For the amount of money we have in our marketing budget, and for what we spend in the Yukon Department of Tourism, we do a pretty good job in getting people to visit the Yukon. Having said that, I know we can always do better, but I think it is significant that we have improved in the last few years.
Mr. McDonald: It seems easy to say so, but it is very important to say so. I think many people need to hear it from the Minister and the government.
I am aware that many services and businesses, particularly in Whitehorse, are very nervous about the coming year. They experienced a good year in 1992 for obvious reasons, and many experienced spending going down during the summer of 1993, although they did not notice much change in traffic. Business revenues were down, and that may also have been a reflection of the decline in the domestic patronage of their businesses as a result of the mine closures and other general declines in activity.
These businesses are very concerned about the next summer, and that is going to make their interest in being involved in discussions about where we put our money and how we focus it very important.
I want to let the Minister know, so that he can anticipate any reaction - there were certainly reactions from me about tourism marketing - that I do believe very much in joint marketing. I have a lot of faith that the people who are in the business know their businesses and clients very well. They do not always know other client groups, and I think a point was made by some fellow who represented the federal Department of Tourism that, quite often, tourism operators have such a blinkered view of the clientele they have historically used that they cannot see what the opportunities are. This sometimes requires professionals and others to assist in that marketing. That, by itself, cuts a role for governments participation in this matter.
I also want to make it very clear that I am not at all in favour of simply handing over large chunks of taxpayer dollars to anybody. I want to be able to go to a trailer in the Takhini trailer court, an area I represent, and when asked about funding and taxes, I do not want to be put in a situation where I will be saying that I have advocated the transfer of funds to somebody over which we have no control whatsoever, or no public accountability.
While I am a very strong believer in joint marketing, I do mean joint marketing, and I do not mean to abrogate the field altogether and simply turn over all those tax dollars to someone else, because we have decided that we cannot do the job very well.
I think that there are some good practical and political policy reasons for government involvement, and also excellent reasons for private sector involvement. I will make that point now.
With respect to the European campaign and the projections for the coming summer, the Minister has made a number of comments about the wolf kill, or the wolf control management plan, or the caribou recovery program - whatever euphemism we want to use.
What sort of care or attention is the Minister using to digest the information that he is receiving through Canadian embassies and to react to any perceived threats to European traffic as a result of the anti-fur and anti-kill campaign?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are anticipating a forecast growth. We have a forecast growth from Europe of about 6,000 more visitors per year, over the next several years, with our European marketing campaign. To this date, there has been no negative impact from the caribou enhancement program.
Mr. McDonald: Does the Minister have figures, in terms of spending patterns, from domestic, Canadian, U.S., European and other traffic, so we can get a sense of the value to the economy of the various sectors - the numbers of persons coming in, but also how much they are prepared to invest in their holidays here?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are finding that travellers from overseas spend more time here and more money. In my travels around in my camper this summer, many of the people I talked to on the highway who had Europeans staying with them said they seemed to spend a lot more than the North American travellers, although there are a lot more North Americans travelling on the highway.
The visitor exit survey we will do this summer will give us some up-to-date figures we have been lacking for a few years, and it will give us some hard data for the future.
The facts I received from the highway operators were that the Europeans are spending a lot more money than Americans when they travel through the Yukon - spending more time, spending more money, seeing and doing more things in the Yukon, and actually making a Yukon holiday out of it, whereas others are just passing through.
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister about the tourism industry.
The Minister expressed to me a few days ago some very heated concerns that the caribou recovery program may have a significant impact if the publicity surrounding it is strong and that he would have no choice, if that were the case, but to stop the program. Now the Minister says there has been no negative impact whatsoever. Where did the initial motivator come from to cause him to take such a harsh position regarding the stopping of the program?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am the Minister of Tourism and I have to be concerned about the tourism industry in the territory, and I have to be concerned about any event whatsoever that could have an impact on tourism. This is one where there were threats made in the past about the impact on tourism, and I am concerned about it and that is why I made the statement to the Member.
Mr. Harding: The Minister raised more than just a simple concern about tourism. The Minister talked to me and openly stated in the Legislature that in actual fact the Opposition should not even ask questions about it because it would raise the profile. I find that position hard to swallow, given that we have had people in costumes howling in the Cabinet offices; we have had front page stories of road blockades and we have had Paul Watson up here. We have had every bit of ammunition that could possibly be thrown at the program but yet it is still hanging in there. I was of the impression, based on the Ministers passionate arguments with me to not ask questions, that something had triggered this in the Minister. I can appreciate that, as Minister, he would be concerned about any potential affront to tourism, but that affront has been there for some time. Is the Minister saying that there is absolutely nothing whatsoever that basically triggered his very heated and passionate response about worries regarding the tourism industry?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I know the Member for Faro is possibly good friends with Friends of the Wolf and he is trying to grind their axe in the House here, and he can do that all he wants. The really interesting thing about this conversation is that we had it standing at the corner of the House there. When I had the conversation with the Member he said to me, You make a really good point; I have to agree with you there, and now he is raising the questions. It is kind of interesting that he agrees with me that it could be detrimental to the Yukon, but he is doing whatever he wants to do politically, and that is his business. I have no problem with that.
Mr. Harding: The Minister has a bad habit of remembering what he wants to remember and convincing himself that he said certain things that he did not say. What I said to the Minister is, I hear your point. That is different from, I agree with your point. I said that all along. When I have been involved in any discussion with anybody, whether it was in contract negotiations or anything, I will acknowledge someones point, but it does not necessarily mean I agree with it.
I would never have agreed that the Official Opposition or anyone else in government should not be able to ask questions about taxpayers dollars. It is an absolutely ridiculous comment. No one who knows me and has walked into my house to see the two wolf rugs on the wall would think I am allied with the Friends of the Wolf. That is all I will say in response to the comment that I am a member of that organization. I am not; I am simply trying, and have been all along, to find some information about the practices that are going on in the wolf kill that is being undertaken right now.
We have had accusations made that I am somehow aligned with the WWF. Until the Minister of Renewable Resources explained the WWF, I thought it represented the World Wrestling Federation. Apparently it is the World Wildlife Fund. To suggest that we are working to their druthers is ridiculous. We are simply asking questions on the basis of decisions that are being made.
There was some heated discussion in the Legislature. It was brought up by the Minister to me. It was brought up in further discussions in the Legislature. I asked the Minister what particular incidents, or anything, gave rise to that. He tried to attack me today saying that I am working on behalf of the Friends of the Wolves. That is ridiculous; I am just trying to find out what particular incidents are giving rise to this.
I saw on national TV a quote that there had been some impact on tourism. In some cases, tourism was down 90 percent. That interested me. I thought the report, done by a major network, was quite jaded, but it highlights how quickly these things can be distorted. They had a quote by the Governor of Alaska, Mr. Hickel, discussing the idea that one cannot just let nature run wild; there has to be some curbs. It was a really bad quote.
It really concerned me. I was concerned about whether or not the report from Alaska was correct. They did not mention how much of the report was the result of the wolf kill in Alaska. I think it should be questioned.
If the Minister can confirm that there are no signs of any detrimental effect from the wolf kill in the Yukon, that is fine.
Mr. Cable: The Minister indicated something to the effect that when he took over, he did not realize that there were so many issues out there - or some words to that effect. I am not trying to put the Minister down. What I am trying to find out is this: since being in there, what issues has the Minister identified and what major policy issues does he intend to resolve during his tenure as the Minister of Tourism?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I wish that the Leader of the Liberal Party had attended the summit, as the other critic did, because he would have learned of many of those issues. I can get a list of the issues for the Member. I can send him a copy of the summit report next week. Some of the issues were the role of the marketing councils that I have talked about, the role of the Government of the Yukon and where and how we market, how much money we spend on marketing and tourism awareness in the Yukon. It ran through the whole gamut. Those are some of the major issues, and they are very well spelled out in the summit report, which will be coming out in the next week or so.
Mr. Cable: That partly answers the question. This summit was a group think tank. What does the Minister personally see as the major issues that should be addressed by his department - the major policy thrusts?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: One of the concerns I have, as the Minister of Tourism, is that we are on the edge of a decade of anniversaries. We are starting into what is probably the best opportunity the Yukon will ever have for the next 100 years or so to put itself on the map. I am hoping that all the players will get it together, including the Department of Tourism and all the organizations, so that we can capitalize on it. At the same time, we have to keep in mind that tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and is also one of the most competitive. Having not a lot of dollars to spend on tourism marketing, we have to spend what we have very efficiently and effectively. I am hoping that we can do that with the marketing strategy we are initiating at this time and with some of the discussions resulting from the summit.
Mr. Cable: I have a few other general questions. I will only ask one or two before we shut down. One is a follow-up question to those asked by one of the other Members regarding the relationship between his department and what was called the industry, science and technology tourism group. Is there any formal, ongoing liaison, outside of the economic development agreements?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We deal with Tourism Canada but, right now, the role of Tourism Canada is a little uncertain. I know the Member opposite is a very good friend of the Liberal government in Ottawa, so if he can convince the Liberal government to retain the office here, we would be more than happy. We have received enormous cooperation from Larry Bagnell and the group that was in that office, and we think that it is extremely important to have an office in the Yukon, or in the north. I do not believe that there are any offices in the north at all now; the federal government has pulled them all out. If that decision can be reversed, and if the Member opposite has any influence on his friends in Ottawa, we would really appreciate that, because that type of relationship has been very helpful to us in the past.
Seeing that the time is almost 5:30 p.m., I move that you report progress on Bill No. 12.
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: 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 5:26 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled January 11, 1994:
Department of Education: breakdown of office equipment and renovation costs (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1724
School ground improvements and landscaping: list of requests; contract tendering process (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1737-1738
Yukon College: level of capital funding requests (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1754
Library and Archives automated cataloguing and public access functions: explanation of annual fees (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1756
First Nations involvement in the Gold Rush: collection of historical information (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1756-1757
Yukon Housing Corporation: proposal call for turnkey housing construction for up to 19 housing units in Whitehorse: guidelines; advertisement (September/October, 1993) (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1885
Yukon Housing Corporation: review of 19 housing units proposal call (dated November 10, 1993) (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1862
Information Resource Management Committee (IRMC): mandate includes managing government-wide information systems (Devries)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1802
Department of Government Services: upgrading chillers (air conditioning) for Whitehorse Administration Building, Law Centre and Yukon College (Devries)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1818