Wednesday, January 12, 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.
Congratulations to Yukon Fish and Game Association for Recreational Fisheries award
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I rise today to congratulate the Yukon Fish and Game Association on being selected to receive one of Canadas Recreational Fisheries awards for 1993. This national award recognizes the significant contribution the association has made to fish management and conservation programs in the Yukon.
The Yukon Fish and Game Association has taken a lead role over the years in the rainbow trout and Arctic char stocking program to enhance recreational fishing opportunities for Yukon communities. The association has and continues to manage the Whitehorse Rapids salmon hatchery on behalf of the Yukon Energy Corporation, and it operates the tourist information centre at the Whitehorse fish ladder. The association has also had an important role in developing the sport fisheries management strategies in the Yukon and in promoting public awareness of management and conservation programs.
I would be well out of order if I did not congratulate the young Minister of Tourism beside me who spent many, many years working on the salmon enhancement program. That will cost him a little bit, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to ask all Members of the Legislative Assembly to join me in congratulating the Yukon Fish and Game Association in their significant achievement.
Mr. Harding: I would also like to extend my congratulations to the Yukon Fish and Game Association, and also to the young Member for Riverdale North. He has always been a slippery kind of guy, so he must be pretty good at working with the fish.
In all seriousness, he did a lot of work with that organization in that area, and he should be congratulated for it.
Speaker: Are there any Introduction of Visitors?
Returns or Documents for Tabling.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Devries: I have a legislative return.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Land claims talks, suspension of
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Government Leader. Yesterday, the federal government suspended land claims negotiations with the Council for Yukon Indians, and the five Yukon First Nations at the table.
Although it was the new Liberal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs who pulled the plug, I would like to know what role, if any, the Government Leader had in this decision. Would the Government Leader advise this House as to whether he was consulted or even contacted by the Hon. Ron Irwin, prior to yesterdays announcement about the suspension of land claims talks?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, I was not contacted by Mr. Irwin. In fact, my understanding is that Mr. Irwin is not even in Ottawa this week.
The Member is partly right in that the federal government has suspended negotiations at this time. The reason that they have given for the suspension is to clarify policy issues that were raised between the Council for Yukon Indians and the elected officials in Ottawa.
Ms. Commodore: This is a very serious issue, and it surprises me that the federal government and the Government Leader responsible for land claims are not aware of the situation. Given the Government Leaders special relationship with that Minister, I would like to know, since the Minister says that land claims is a priority, what the real issues are that are involved in the decision to suspend land claims. Surely, the Minister should know what some of those concerns are if he has even talked to anyone about them.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I did not say that I was not aware of what is transpiring. I replied to a question from the Member for Whitehorse Centre as to whether or not I had been contacted by the Minister of DIAND, and I said that I had not. The Member did not ask if I was aware of the problem.
Yes, I am aware of some of the concerns. I was made aware yesterday morning, through officials, that the federal government may be suspending land claim negotiations. My understanding was that they took that position in a meeting with the Council for Yukon Indians yesterday afternoon. The official summation of that meeting was not transmitted to us until after the fact, but we were aware that they were meeting.
The Member opposite is as aware of the policy issues as I am. The CYI wants to know if they are going to reap any benefits from the Liberal Partys red book, and their position on - the Member opposite is laughing, but that is what it is. The Liberal government says that they recognize the inherent right to self-government, and I believe CYI was trying to get clarification on how that recognition would take place - whether it was just going to be voiced in the red book or if there was, in fact, going to be legislation passed.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to ask the Minister whether or not he and his Cabinet have taken any position in regard to the suspension of land claims. The federal government has a position, and so does the Council for Yukon Indians. I would like to ask the Government Leader if his party has taken any position in regard to how they are going to pursue further land claims talks.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Certainly, we have a position. Our position is that we want to expedite the land claim negotiations - the land selections - and we want to get on with a job that has been going on for 20 years. I would hope that the federal officials and CYI can resolve their differences. My understanding is that this is a very short-term request - probably until the end of January - and then federal officials are hoping that talks will be ongoing. We will be closely monitoring this situation and we will be voicing our disappointment to the federal government and to CYI, and making known our wish to get on with the job of settling land claims in the Yukon.
Question re: Land claims talks, suspension of
Ms. Commodore: Some of us on this side of the House wonder how committed they really are to the land claims process in the Yukon because of all of the actions that are being taken by all Ministers. It is very well to sit back and monitor the situation, but surely they have to take some kind of action in regard to it. One cannot just sit back. I would like to ask the Government Leader how he intends to resolve the impasse on land claims negotiations. Can he tell this House today how he is going to do that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The reports that we have and all the information we have from the bureaucrats is that there is not an impasse. They are asking for a temporary suspension to clarify some policy issues that were raised by CYI with elected officials in Ottawa. When that is done, we hope the claims will be ongoing. If they drag on, we will be writing the letters and talking to the people involved and trying to get this back on track so that we can continue with the land claims process in the Yukon.
This is a problem between CYI and the elected officials in Ottawa, who want clarification before they return to the table. That is the information that I have today.
Ms. Commodore: It is really interesting that now he is depending on the information that he can get from the negotiators. He has to take a more active interest in what is happening. I would like to ask him if he intends to call his good friend, the Minister of Indian Affairs, and the Council for Yukon Indians to discuss this important matter with them?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I just said that we will be taking whatever actions were appropriate to get this back on track.
As I said, I do not believe that the federal Minister is even in Ottawa. It is my understanding that he will not be back in the office until Monday morning. At that time, I certainly will be contacting him.
Ms. Commodore: I have some very serious concerns about the responsibility of both of these Ministers with regard to the land claims process, if we have a federal Minister who does not know what the heck is happening with regard to land claims. No one appears to know whether or not he sanctions the suspension.
I would like to ask this Minister when he intends to call the federal Minister responsible for land claims to discuss this important matter. He keeps saying that he is out of the country, but he can still use a telephone.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Certainly we can use the telephone, and we will be doing so.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, design changes
Mr. Cable: I have a question regarding the hospital redesign, following up from yesterday.
I have gone over the debates on the hospital redesign. It is still not clear, despite the Ministers answers yesterday, as to what the Ministers view is on the role of the Yukon Hospital Corporation Board in the redesign. It was established previously that it was the board that initially expressed concern about the hospital redesign, but it was the Cabinet that made the decision to redesign.
Is the Minister operating under the view that the redesign and construction of the hospital are matters relating to capital expense and are the prerogative of his department and that the operation and maintenance of the hospital is the prerogative of the board?
I ask these questions because somewhere down the road, there is going to be some accountability for whatever happens on the hospital redesign. It is necessary, I think, that this side is clear as to what the Ministers intentions are.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The accountability for the design will rest with the department, this Minister and this government. The redesign process involves the hospital board, which is involved with all aspects of the construction and programming. They are fully consulted and are working as partners in the process.
Mr. Cable: The Minister confirmed yesterday that the hospital had been turned over to the board as of April 1, 1993. My inquiries indicate that the property transfer should soon be completed, so we have a corporation that owns the hospital and, under the act, the corporation is described as not an institution of the Government of Yukon, and a corporation that the act says is responsible for establishing and maintaining hospitals.
Why is the Yukon Hospital Corporation, the owner of the hospital and, ostensibly, an independent corporation, not leading the charge on the hospital redesign, rather than acting as what the Minister referred to yesterday as a client group?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The hospital board is fully informed about the situation. It was consulted and advised of our concerns and our wish to proceed with the redesign. It is fully onside, and is part of the project management team. I do not know what else I can tell him.
Mr. Cable: Perhaps this question may clarify the matter. Is the Minister saying that he treats the relationship between himself and the Hospital Corporation as arms-length, only insofar as it relates to the operation and maintenance of the hospital, and that, insofar as it relates to the redesign and construction, it is not an arms-length relationship?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is rather a circular question. Our position is that the Government of Yukon is responsible for the building of the hospital, that the hospital board will be operating the hospital, and it will have an important voice in the design and development of the programming for the hospital. The way in which they have that important voice is full consultation and, in effect, a partnership with respect to the decision making, every step of the way.
Question re: Land claims talks, suspension of
Mr. Penikett: A story on CHON-FM news this morning, quoting a federal land claims negotiator, seems to indicate that what may have triggered the suspension of negotiations on land claims is a belief that YTG is prepared to sacrifice land claims for the sake of a forestry transfer or municipal boundary expansion.
Why has the Government Leader, contrary to his campaign commitments, seemed to have made devolution the higher policy priority than land claims negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: While we certainly have not made devolution a higher priority than land claims, it has to be remembered that we are the party that brought the legislation in within weeks of being sworn into government - when the previous administration felt quite comfortable with letting it die on the Order Paper.
Mr. Penikett: For the record, the NDP was the party that negotiated the umbrella final agreement, the self-government agreement, the four First Nation final agreements, and that gentleman opposite, in more than a year in office, has not negotiated a single final agreement yet. All he has done is pass legislation that was introduced by the previous government. I do not think he is going to get to heaven on that.
What is happening is that CYI is threatening litigation, because of YTGs attitude on forestry negotiations. That, according to the CHON-FM news report this morning, seems to have triggered the suspension of negotiations, along with the outstanding policy issues mentioned by the Government Leader.
I want to know - given that CYIs legal position is, I understand, to describe YTG as a party adverse to CYI interests - why the Government Leader is allowing this situation of the forestry transfer to precipitate a breakdown in land claim negotiation, forcing CYI to go to court, rather than sitting down with them and working out the problems so that we can get the land claims process finished?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Leader of the Official Opposition is not going to get to heaven being the hypocrite that he is, either.
That is the leader who, when he was in government, was negotiating land claims and, at the same time, negotiating the Northern Accord for devolution, at the same time negotiating the health transfer for devolution, at the same time negotiating the forestry transfer for devolution.
Mr. Penikett: I will not respond to the hypocrisy charge. I will only point to the ludicrousness of the Government Leader opposite defending his experience of consulting with First Nations on the Northern Accord - and what does he cite? Ten meetings that the NDP had with First Nations. That was his record of consultation with the First Nations.
It is quite clear that this government is prepared to put everything on their agenda ahead of land claims - whether it is a municipal boundary expansion or a forestry transfer.
The federal policy has always been, for First Nations, that one can litigate or negotiate - not both. Why is the Government Leader being so stubborn and so pig-headed on this that he will not sit down with the First Nations and negotiate a solution to their concerns on the forestry transfer rather than forcing them to litigate? Why is he so stubborn?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would suggest to the Leader of the Official Opposition that he go back and look at the documents that we have tabled in this House, the time lines that we have set and the approaches that have been made to CYI, to try and solve the devolution problem. We have made overtures to them time and time again to try to solve the devolution problem. We have not accomplished this yet, but we are going to continue to work on it.
Question re: Land claims talks, suspension of
Mr. Penikett: I point out to the Government Leader that you are not allowed to have your dessert until you finish your vegetables.
The document tabled in this House listed meetings that the NDP had with First Nations, not meetings that the Government Leader had.
Earlier, the Government Leader said that he understood the impasse in negotiations, which was precipitated by some policy disagreements that go beyond the devolution issues: the questions of self-government, the extinguishment of aboriginal rights, the write-off of negotiating debts and the Liberal red book. These are all questions that I asked the Government Leader some time ago, about which he knew nothing.
On the question of self-government, in the same way that the land claims agreement is entrenched, what is the YTGs policy? Does YTG support CYIs position, the traditional position of the federal government, or the position advocated in the Liberal red book? The Government Leader is going to have to take a position, because every party to the UFA has to agree to any change. What is YTGs position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have said time and time again - in the constitutional hearings when they were here while I was Leader of the Yukon Party - that we believe in a negotiated settlement, which is in the process of being accomplished in the Yukon under the umbrella final agreement and the self-government agreement, and those are areas of negotiated settlements that we fully intend to honour.
Mr. Penikett: With the greatest of respect, the Government Leader continues to create the impression that he has not read the umbrella final agreement and the self-government agreement. I asked the Government Leader a very precise question: on the question of entrenching the self-government agreements, constitutionally, in the same way that the land claims agreements will be entrenched under section 35 of the Constitution, what is YTGs position? Is YTGs position the same as the new Liberal governments, the same as the old Tory governments or the same as CYIs?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We said that once these agreements are signed off, we feel that they should have constitutional protection. I said that at the constitutional hearings.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister said it at the hearings. The question is has the Minister said it to the new Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. That has not been communicated to this House or, apparently, to the new Minister.
On the two other questions - the question of the extinguishing of aboriginal title and the writing off of negotiating debts - on which the CYI have outstanding demands with the federal Minister, what is YTGs position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: On the extinguishment of the negotiating debt, we believe that CYI have some valid claims. I am sure that is something that can be addressed separately from the negotiations going on now for the final land selections for the bands and the conclusion of the umbrella final agreement. I believe that this issue could be addressed separately and need not jeopardize the land claims process.
Question re: Dawson City boundary expansion
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that is also related to land claims.
Yesterday, in the House, the Minister indicated that the Yukon government gave Dawson City Council and the Dawson First Nation 18 months to discuss the proposed boundary expansion. Why did the Minister decide that an arbitrary 18-month discussion period met the needs of the parties in this dispute when no resolution has yet been achieved?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There have been ongoing problems in Dawson with the squatter situation in the Klondike Valley. It was a matter of either dealing with the boundary expansion or putting it on hold until land claims were settled.
The Municipal Board had made a recommendation that the boundary should be expanded, and it was also the wish of by far the greater majority of the people of Dawson, so we went ahead with it.
Ms. Moorcroft: This is an interesting way for democracy to operate, especially when the government makes a point about its desire to consult. I am concerned about the timing of the boundary expansion decision. Why did the Minister select December 24 - one day after the House had adjourned for the holidays and the day people are guaranteed to be busy with Christmas preparations - to be the day to sign the order-in-council allowing the border expansion?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It had to have Cabinet approval and if it had been signed any later than December 24, the expansion could not have gone ahead on January 1. That was the target date.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am still concerned about the lack of due process followed by this government in its handling of the matter. Why did the government choose not to tell the Dawson City Council, nor the Dawson First Nation, that the boundary expansion was going to be signed into law on December 24? Why did the parities involved have to find out from the media that the expansion was a fait accompli?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There have been ongoing discussions with the Dawson City for well over a year. Dawson City was aware that the expansion would happen on January 1.
Question re: Dawson City boundary expansion
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to address my questions to the Government Leader. The information that I have received is certainly not that people were aware of the decision being made and the boundary expansion being signed on December 24.
The government is allegedly reluctant to give away land prior to the final agreements with the other bands being completed. That is what the Government Leader said in the House yesterday. What is so important about the land involved in Dawson that it cannot wait until after a First Nations final agreement is reached with the Dawson First Nation?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: A municipal boundary expansion does not connote land ownership.
Ms. Moorcroft: The government keeps saying that the Dawson boundary expansion does not prevent land selection in the Klondike Valley, but the intent of land claims is to resolve land use conflicts prior to changing laws or rezoning or expanding municipalities. Why is this government unwilling to negotiate in good faith?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not believe that we are unwilling to negotiate in good faith.
Ms. Moorcroft: We would like to know whose advice the government is taking in making these decisions. Whose recommendations is the Minister following in his decision to allow the Dawson boundary expansion?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that we have answered that question before. It was a request from the Dawson City. That request was looked at by the Municipal Board after they had held public hearings where many people in Dawson, both for and against the expansion, expressed their views. They then recommended that the boundaries be expanded.
Question re: Land claims talks, suspension of
Ms. Commodore: I would like to follow up on the land claims questions. The Minister has not indicated any real concern in this House in regard to my questions about land claims. I am really disturbed by that, and I am sure First Nations groups in the Yukon will be. I would like to ask him if he can tell us right now when he is going to find time to contact the Liberal Minister of Indian Affairs and also talk to the Council for Yukon Indians. We would like to believe that he is really serious about what is happening right now.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will be contacting the Minister as soon as I can. As the Member opposite is aware, this broke in the press this morning and we found out yesterday afternoon that this was the federal governments final decision. I will be trying to contact the federal Minister as quickly as possible. I will be meeting with CYI probably tomorrow.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to ask him once again what direction he has given his negotiators here in the Yukon, other than to sit back and monitor the situation. He did not answer my question.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is aware that the land claims negotiation is a tripartite negotiation. In the interim, we will continue to work on issues that do not involve the federal government. We hope that these issues will be resolved as soon as the Minister gets to Ottawa. We will continue to work on other issues we can deal with that do not involve the federal government at this point.
Ms. Commodore: It appears that the Government Leader was not aware of the suspension that was going to take place, and it appears he did not have any discussions with anyone prior to hearing about it, after it happened.
Could the Government Leader tell us if he, or the federal Minister, was even aware that the suspension was going to take place? If they were not, there is a big problem in the land claims talks.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I just said, in answer to the previous question - perhaps the Member did not hear me, with all the kibitzing in the background on her side - that I was aware, through the officials level, that there was a possibility they could be suspended for a period of time. This has just happened in the last 48 hours or so. I did indicate to the Member opposite that I was aware of it, through the officials level.
Whether or not the federal Minister is aware of it, I do not know at this time, but I will know as soon as I talk to him.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation, proposal requests
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation about a specific controversial contract that has recently been awarded for 19 social housing units.
In the information the Minister tabled in the House, he states that the Yukon Housing Corporation must follow YTG contract regulations, which govern the proposal call process. In those regulations, it says that, where the value of a contract is $50,000 or greater, and a bid is advertised publicly, the bids are to be publicly opened and the bidders invited to attend.
This did not happen with this proposal call. In fact, three staff members reviewed the bids in a room somewhere in the Yukon Housing Corporation and made their choice in private. Why does the Ministers legislative return say they have to follow the rules, yet they very clearly did not? Why did that happen?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding of the contract regulations is that, if it is a tendered contract, then all the people who bid on that contract are there when the bids are opened, and nothing more and nothing less than the amounts are given to each person.
I further understand that the regulations for requests for proposals do not stipulate that the amounts are given to the other people who have sent in proposals. In fact, Government Services advises me that they do not go over the other proposals with everyone who has submitted one.
Mrs. Firth: Instead of listening to seven different people telling the Minister seven different things about this issue, perhaps he should read the regulations.
The regulations very clearly say that the proposal is treated the same way as a bid. The Minister had better read his regulations because my second supplementary is this: in the regulations it says that the process is that, at the request of the bidder, the contracting authority - which is the Yukon Housing Corporation - shall disclose to the bidder the amount of each bid. This did not happen in this case. Again, the Yukon Housing Corporation did not follow the rules. Can the Minister tell us why they did not follow the rules with this specific regulation either?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will have to review those regulations with the Housing Corporation because, if what the Member is quoting is correct, that is not the information that I have available.
Mrs. Firth: This is not the first time I have raised this issue in the House. It is about the third or fourth time. This controversial awarding of this contract has gone to a review committee and the Minister is standing up and telling us he has not even reviewed the regulations yet - but he tabled a document here saying that the Housing Corporation had to follow the rules.
That is just unacceptable. I want to ask the Minister this: will he now direct the Housing Corporation, since it is very clear that they did not follow the rules, to call the bidders in, to disclose to the bidders the amount of each bid and direct his department to follow the rules in future?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I only have the word of the Member opposite that there has been a breach of some regulations and I will have to investigate it. If there has been a breach, I will certainly see that it is rectified.
Speaker: If the Member for Riverdale South is going to follow up with the Yukon Housing Corporation, I should caution her that my understanding is that it is scheduled for debate this afternoon and I would not want Question Period to be taken up discussing something that may be fully discussed later on today, preventing others from asking questions.
Mrs. Firth: I am not discussing the Housing Corporation in my follow-up question, in a general sense. I want to stick to this specific contract, if that is all right with Members of the House, and I think this is a fairly urgent issue.
Yukon Housing Corporation, proposal requests
Mrs. Firth: The Minister already has, according to the information that he has tabled, one lawsuit in progress because of the perception of unfair tendering procedures in the Yukon Housing Corporation. The Minister has another specific contract on his hands that has been challenged by the contractors.
It has been made very clear this afternoon that the Minister is not familiar with this issue, and that he is relying completely on information from several different people within different departments.
All that I want is a commitment from the Minister that he will see that this contract is now dealt with fairly. Will the Minister stand up in the House this afternoon and tell us that he will instruct his officials at the Yukon Housing Corporation to follow the rules of proper disclosure, which state that, upon request, all bidders are to be given information with respect to the amount of each bid.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have any problem doing exactly as that Member has suggested, if those are the rules for dealing with requests for proposals. As I stated previously, I will review them and, if those are the rules, the Yukon Housing Corporation will follow them.
Mrs. Firth: Why does the Minister not know what the rules are?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I guess that I will have to apologize for not being a lawyer. There are other acts as well - for instance, the Cemeteries and Burial Sites Act - about which I do not know all of the details. Maybe, if I am here long enough, I will, but I am sorry if I appear not to know the details of a particular piece of legislation.
Mrs. Firth: An apology is not acceptable in this case. The Minister should know what these rules are. The Minister sat down with the contractor in question, who came to the Minister for help, and told the contractor that he was wrong and that the officials were right.
When is the Minister going to deal with this issue and will he give us a commitment that he will deal with the issue immediately?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My information is that when an evaluation is made about a request for proposals - the Member opposite has asked me to say yes, but I cannot say yes, because I do not necessarily agree with her interpretation of those regulations, and I do not happen to have those regulations in front of me - is that an evaluation is not made public unless it is specified in the criteria, and I do not believe that it was. I will review, as I have stated for the third time, all of the actions by the Yukon Housing Corporation and, if there were errors made or a breach of regulations, we will deal with it.
Question re: First Nations human rights officer
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission in relation to the appearance before the House of the commission on December 9.
There were a number of recommendations made to this House by the chair regarding race relations. One of these was the creation of a new position for a First Nations human rights officer. Has the Minister done anything regarding this recommendation? Does he have any plans to implement it, including a cost-sharing arrangement with a federal agency that may have some portion of the salary available for training a First Nations human rights officer?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the Member for the question. I am not really in a position to negotiate operations and maintenance budgetary items at this time. I am sure when the operations and maintenance budget is released, tabled in this House and debated in the spring, we will have a good opportunity then to discuss the merits of the proposals contained therein. I hope it does not take as long as the capital budget, since this sitting is already two or three times the average among the provinces for number of days a year spent in the Legislature.
I trust that the Member will wait. I am rather curious as to what steps the Member has taken. Perhaps he could cover this in the supplementary. He generally has several sentences, it seems. I wonder what steps he has taken to work with the commission in the manner in which they propose.
Mr. Cable: A very good question. It is my understanding that discussion of all issues does not grind to a halt simply because the Minister may have something on his operations and maintenance agenda. Surely he can indicate to the House what he intends to take to his Cabinet colleagues.
Another recommendation called for the creation of an inter-party committee of this House, including a commission representative. I am quite prepared, by way of indicating what I have done and what I am thinking about, to sit on such a committee. Has the Minister done anything to initiate the formation of such a committee?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, I have not. I am sure it is something that will be a topic of discussion among Members.
Mr. Cable: The Ministers words from Hansard on December 9 were that there were few things more important for the well-being of our society than the elimination of racial discrimination. With this in mind, would the Minister indicate what his position is on that recommendation that called for the support of the government, or of this House, for the Yukon Human Relations Council?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will be taking appropriate action. This is information that will be forthcoming fairly soon because we will be dealing with the operation and maintenance budget within a few months.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
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, and 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
Department of Tourism - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate on Tourism?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I just want to provide a bit of information that the critic asked for yesterday. He mentioned the area of cooperative marketing. Just for the record, I want to read in the areas in which we are already doing some cooperative marketing. I agree with the Member opposite that this is the way to go in the future, and we have been finding that out - especially with our partners in Alaska, who have been very helpful.
We have the ambassador program, which we hope will be on the road and working in January. That is a program funded by Tourism - $10,000 in conjunction with the Tourism Industry Association and other chambers, which we hope will be moving here by the end of the month.
Convention Marketing is a consortium of private sector operators - TIA, the City of Whitehorse, and other tourism association chambers, and we contribute $25,000 to that.
The European marketing program is the tourism economic development agreement and is a one-time only fund. It includes major partners such as Canadian Airlines, Tourism Canada and others, and several European travel wholesalers use their services, as do many Yukon operators in their tour packages.
We also attend travel marketplaces such as CUBE in London, and Atelier in Paris, to name two. Past and present in the European market includes attendance at the World Travel Market in London, Rendezvous Canada and attendance also involves Yukon private sector operators who pay to attend.
We also have a partnership with Alaska, who jointly positions Alaska and Yukon in these marketplaces where appropriate. This working with Alaska in the marketing of the Yukon and Alaska together in the European marketplace is relatively new, I believe. The joint Alaska/Yukon campaign is funded through the marketing budget, and it permits us to purchase a two-page ad in the Alaska Visitor Vacation Planner and to access enquiries it generates; and it permits the Yukon to be part of Alaskas magazine advertising in the Canadian market.
We receive some Yukon private sector participants through funding received as a result of revenues through sales of ads in the Yukon Vacation Guide, contributed by TIA on behalf of the marketing council.
We are also, by the way, a member of the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council; Klaus Roth, our marketing director, is our member on that council.
Tourism North is a joint tripartite agreement between the governments of Yukon, Alaska and British Columbia, and each partner contributes a third of the cost, except B.C., and we are working on B.C. for them to come up with a third of their costs. The Yukon share is about $120,000. This is targeted directly at the highway traveller and the program includes North to Alaska, highway travel guide, joint training and info sharing, visitor reception centre staff, joint participation in the Road Show at several RV parks in the U.S. and California, and it was the mainstay of the Alaska Highway promotion in 1992.
We are now planning for other anniversaries. The Member mentioned yesterday his concern over 1994 and what is going to happen to the industry in 1994. For the first time, we are moving into the Florida market. There is a trade show in Florida that starts now and will run until the end of the month. The theme of the fair is North to Alaska, and it is probably the first time and the last time in the last 20 years that that will be the theme, and we see it as an opportunity to expose the Florida people to the Yukon marketplace. The Florida tourists are the second highest number of travellers who come to the Yukon and we are in that marketplace and hope to gain something from it for next year.
The other area the Member asked about was what is going to happen to the market next year. I have here, and I will make it available to the Member - it is hot off the press - the recent Canadian Tourism Research Institutes press release covering the outlook for travel markets for next year. They are predicting a modest growth in 1994 - a two-percent range is what they are predicting for the Tourism Industry Association.
The domestic market remains sluggish and Canada enjoyed record increases in French and German travellers in 1993 and the trend is expected to continue in 1994. The Europeans are visiting Canada and the market is going to be steady.
We hope, as does this report, that the exchange rate on the Canadian dollar will bring many Americans to Canada in 1994. I will table this information so that any Member may review it.
We have various other partnerships, such as with Tourism Canada, consulting and sharing costs for travel writers and other familiarization tours, and we work with various businesses in the Yukon on familiarization tours to get reduced costs and assistance for getting travel writers and others out to the businesses.
We also attend marketplaces, such as NTA and the senior citizens AARP. We also have private sector representatives join us in a very informal and loose partnership. Participation in Corroboree in Australia is in cooperation with Canadian Airlines. In fact, we recently pulled off a coup with Canadian Airlines and beat many other jurisdictions to the punch and had a special brochure produced by Canadian Airlines at a very low cost for the Yukon. It is going to be in every travel agency in Australia next winter. It is a joint brochure with Tourism, directed at an Australian market. Canadian Airlines bore most of the cost for this brochure and other jurisdictions are wondering how we did it, but we are not telling them our secrets.
Tourism and the Anniversaries Commission are working on a protocol agreement that establishes a joint partnership for marketing and promoting upcoming anniversaries. The Tourism Marketing council is a partnership with industry and marketing experts who provide advice to the Minister. Those are some of the partnership arrangements that we currently have in place.
Mr. McDonald: I thank the Minister for that information. It is very useful in understanding part of the focus the department has made in terms of their marketing efforts. The next step will be to try to attach some sense of financial commitment to each of those initiatives to determine where the dollars are going and what the true commitment is in certain areas. I will save that question for the supplementaries. I have given the Minister notice of the information I will be seeking at that time.
I have a few short questions of which I would like to give the Minister notice. I will then encourage others, if they have any questions in general debate, to jump in.
First of all, for the supplementaries, is the Minister intending to provide the contracts list for the department? That is something we have expected for other departments and have received from all others - even in time for the capital estimates sometimes. I am most interested in the economic impact model that the department was supposed to be undertaking for the tourism industry. The department was designing this last spring, and I am very interested in that initiative.
There was also the summit. I would appreciate, just for my own information, a breakdown of the costs of the summit that was held in November.
Apart from that notice I have given, I would be more than happy to let others participate at this time.
Mr. Cable: At 5:30 p.m. last night, the Minister was answering a question I had posed to him about the relationship between the Industry, Science and Technology office here in Whitehorse and his department. I asked him if there was any formal liaison set up, outside of the economic development agreement. He digressed a little into talking about the federal government. Perhaps we could go back to the question that I asked. Are there any formal liaison arrangements between Tourism Canada and the Ministers department?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As for memorandums of understanding, or any kind of agreement of understanding, I do not think that there are things like that in place. We are a member of the National Marketing Council on Tourism, and Tourism Canada is there. We are a member of the Tourism Marketing Council, and they are also involved there. We continually work with them. They came to the Yukon and participated quite fully in the summit. At that time, several officials came here. Other than that, there is no formal working relationship.
The individual who was here, Larry Bagnell, and his office, were extremely cooperative with us in any tourism initiative, and they have been very helpful in the past few years on the many tourism initiatives dealing with the Government of Canada.
I mentioned earlier all the cooperative marketing initiatives we partake in - the economic development agreement and other agreements. Tourism Canada is also involved in them.
Mr. Cable: As I recollect, the tourism summit was opened by a presentation by some federal officers from Tourism Canada. I was very much struck by what appeared to be their skill in marketing.
Has the Minister set up any informal relationship between his staff and Tourism Canada on such things as marketing? Is there some sort of marketing subcommittee or committee that involves Tourism Canada and his staff?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are a member of the Tourism Marketing Council but, other than that, when they were here in Whitehorse last year, we had fairly good discussions with them about the upcoming anniversary, and how we could work together with Tourism Canada to promote it. They have been very helpful to us in some of our European campaign. Hardy Kruger was on contract with Tourism Canada when they helped us out with the leads, and they worked to get Hardy Kruger, the German movie star, to come up here to do his show.
We have a pretty close working relationship but, like I said, as far as a working signed document, it is no different than any other jurisdiction. If Tourism Canada wants to sit down with us and negotiate a funding agreement for the anniversaries celebrations to the tune of several million dollars, we would be more than happy to do that.
Mr. Cable: I will leave it up to the Minister to attempt that. Good luck. The capital budget seems to be highly oriented toward heritage and development. The vast majority of the capital budget is directed at those two items. Is that where the Minister sees that the capital budget will be going in the future? Will there be emphasis on those two items?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Is the Member referring to the anniversaries?
Mr. Cable: The overall capital expenditures, as summarized at page 101, seem to emphasize heritage and development. Not that it is good or bad, but I am wondering if that is the focus that the Minister will be placing on his capital expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The heritage budget has increased mainly because of the work that has to be done to begin with on gold rush history. We will be getting background on Canyon City, the gold rush trail and other things along the gold rush trail. The development budget has increased mainly because of the visitor exit survey. That is information that is the other half of the equation. We go out and do all this marketing and we get people coming to the Yukon. What we have not done for quite a number of years is to talk to the people who came to the Yukon to ask them where they heard about Yukon and what they liked or did not like about their trip throughout the Yukon.
We may find out in some cases that we have people coming here whom we are not reaching with the marketing we are doing now and we could be more successful if we targeted that area more directly. Or maybe it will tell us that our marketing is dead on and that we are reaching the right people - that if we spend a little more in that area we could attract a few more visitors. That is the reason for the two increases in those budgets.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to direct some questions to the Minister regarding heritage. While I note that there is an overall increase in the heritage budget, we certainly have some concerns about the decision to eliminate a position of an archaeologist within that branch.
I do not know if the Minister has had the opportunity to read the books, Tatla Män - and perhaps I should ask my colleague, the Member for Mayo/Tatchun, to pronounce the title of the other - the Hudé Hudän book about the long ago people. These were projects that the heritage branch was involved with the First Nations on to do some research. There were elders as participants in the project, the branch supervised a number of young members of the First Nation who participated in the physical and analytical lab work involved in the excavation. The First Nations have been very supportive of this work and regard it as a vital area for their cultural survival. I would like to ask the Minister if a decision has yet been made to reallocate resources to keep the position of the archaeologist on staff within the branch?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There has not been a decision made to delete a position. The Member said that in her preamble and that is not what has happened. That position was covered by the $100,000 that we received from the federal government under the northern oil and gas program funding. That funding ends on March 31, 1994. We now have to determine whether we can find the funding from within the existing budgets to continue that position.
Having said that, I can tell the Member that just today I signed a contract with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation for the band to undertake the publication of a booklet on the history of Annie Lake. That project will be going ahead very shortly. These publications have all resulted from joint archaeology projects with First Nations. Major funding for these projects was obtained from the federal Department of Communications access to archaeology program, and grants to First Nations for staff and operational support from the heritage branch.
We plan to continue those types of programs, and I am pleased to say that, shortly, Members will have a third booklet in their hands from the Carcross First Nation about the history of their First Nation in the Annie Lake area.
Ms. Moorcroft: My understanding is that the position was a permanent position and that an employee has received a lay-off notice. While I am pleased to hear about the Carcross First Nation project to do another book on the history of the Annie Lake area, what is the Ministers commitment to the importance of heritage resources? This is not something that exclusively affects Yukon First Nations people, but it is important to all Yukoners.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This position was an indeterminate capital position, and yes, the individual has received a lay-off notice, but that is out of courtesy to the individual. If, for some reason, we cannot find the money within the budget, I would hate to give the individual notice in early March that he would be finished in the position on April 1.
We thought it was reasonable to let the individual know that this will happen if we cannot find the money within the budget, which we are seeking to do. No decision has been made. I have asked the department to go back and look at where we can find the money within the heritage budget, and that is what we are doing.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is not only a courtesy; it is a requirement of the collective agreement and, of course, I am pleased that they are following the collective agreement.
The Minister is going around this question and saying that it is a priority, but he is not giving any firm indication that there will be an allocation of resources to keep the position of the archaeologist. This is a priority for First Nations and I have to ask again: what is the Ministers commitment to heritage resources and to the archaeological program?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am committed to look at the resources of the heritage branch and see if we can find the money. That is what I am trying to do right now and there has been no decision made one way or the other. We are looking at it. I do not know what more I can say to the Member. I am not going to make the decision standing right here today. I do not know whether we can find the money right now. I have asked the department to do that, and that is what they are doing.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell me if the Yukon heritage resources board has been established yet? This is a board comprised of 10 members and composed of equal numbers of appointees nominated by the Council for Yukon Indians and the government, and it is to be established under the umbrella final agreement to make recommendations respecting the management of heritage resources and heritage sites.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, it has not been established yet. As soon as it gets approval in the Canadian Parliament, then we will look at establishing that board.
On General Administration Support
On Office Accommodation, Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This line item is $38,000 for the local area network; $33,000 for computer printer equipment; $5,000 for geographical names data base; $3,200 for computer connection to Dawson; $2,000 for miscellaneous software upgrades; $1,000 for FIRM enhancements and $6,000 for photocopier replacements at historic sites and museums - for a total of $89,000.
Mr. McDonald: I missed the first two points. If the Minister could repeat those, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Thirty-eight thousand dollars for local area network, which is a system that links all or most computers in the department and enables users to share common data and information; and the other item was $33,000 for computer printer equipment in the Department of Tourism.
Office Accommodation, Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of $89,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of $89,000 agreed to
On Historic Resources
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Museums Assistance
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The funds provide assistance to Yukon museums to enable them to develop and upgrade museum infrastructures, and they provide for the implementation of the Yukon museums policy in order to enable our museums to prepare for the upcoming RCMP and gold rush anniversaries. There is $130,000 of the total, allocated on the basis of yearly grant application process, for equipment, research, marketing initiatives, artifact collections and management, and the $150,000 increase this year is the Dawson sprinkler system for the OTAB building.
Mr. McDonald: With respect to the OTAB building, I was under the impression that a sprinkler system was considered to be contrary to maintaining the historic integrity of that building - at least that was the rationale that was given when the OTAB building was renovated some years ago. There was even some suggestion from many people, including people in government, that the building have sprinklers. The department at that time seemed to be taking advice from someone or other that to do so would be completely unfriendly to the notion that this building was going to remain as an exact replica of its former self. If that does not make any sense at all, I meant that the building was going to remain as it was when it was first built. Can the Minister tell us what the rationale has been for the government changing its mind on this point?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There was a major event that sort of changed the minds of many people with respect to that building, and that was the fire that burned down the S.S. Tutshi. Since then, the museums association in Dawson, and others, have examined all of the issues, including maintaining the buildings historical value, and felt that it was perhaps more important to protect the building and try to install a sprinkler system that would be as well hidden as possible but still be effective enough to do the job. I think that was a wise decision; we would sure hate to lose that valuable piece of our history.
Mr. McDonald: I am certainly not opposed to this expenditure. I am a little surprised that people were not aware some time ago that wood burns and that without a fire protection system, buildings actually burn right to the ground, as do boats. I am happy to see the turnaround, but I am surprised that it has been recommended that it happen.
The Minister said that the $130,000 for museums assistance was provided on an applications basis. What is the breakdown by the museum? What particular projects are being supported here?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get a list for the Member. Evidently, it is based on the five-year plans of the museums. Each year, they submit applications to it and we review them. For the most part, we try to spread it equally among all the museums in the territory over a longer period of time.
Mr. McDonald: That would be fine. If the Minister could bring that back for the supplementary discussions, perhaps we could have a useful discussion about a couple of museums at that point. I am always interested in the Keno Mining Museum. I am happy to see there will be further work done on that facility in this coming year.
I have also been encouraged by people who have an interest in the MacBride Museum that we can see what is being pursued there. I would like to have a discussion next week on the capital works programs for museums, when we presumably will deal with this in the supplementaries.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will bring that list back to the Member for the supplementaries.
Just to give the Member an idea of what we spent it on last year: for the Dawson Museum, the Yukon Order of Pioneers centennial exhibit was $12,200; the sprinkler design was $10,000; self-guided tours was $7,800; computer upgrade, $2,500. The George Johnson Museum had exhibit lighting for $14,000. Keno City Mining Museum had its roof repaired for $3,500 and registration was for $15,000. The Kluane Museum of Natural History building repair cost $10,000. The MacBride Museum mini-exhibit cost $9,000 and marketing was $7,700; RCMP research was $5,000; a computer upgrade was $2,500 and Old Log Church registration was $7,000. The Transportation Museum workshop upgrade cost $8,000 and registration was $5,000. Unallocated as of October 31, 1993, was $14,400, for a total of $130,000.
Mr. Joe: I do not know if this is a good time to talk about artifacts, but Fort Selkirk, which is big enough to show tourists, at present has nothing to show. All artifacts have been cleaned out. Every house is empty. There is no way of proving what has been taken.
I had a meeting with the Minister of the department at one time. We must find some of the artifacts from Fort Selkirk, in Ottawa and Whitehorse, and somehow take them back where they belong.
We have to have something to show tourists. There are a lot of tourists at Fort Selkirk in the summer - people travelling the river. The only thing we can show them is an empty house and a cemetery.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I thank the Member for his suggestion. Yes, we will approach anyone who has artifacts in Ottawa or in Whitehorse and attempt to bring some of them back to Fort Selkirk. As the Member can see in the budget, there is quite an increase this year to finish the Fort Selkirk plan to get it ready for the 1995 RCMP/NWMP and gold rush celebrations. Fort Selkirk will be one of the highlights of the gold rush celebrations and a great attraction. It would be a good idea to try and get as much of that stuff back as we can by then, and set up displays in the various communities, along with interpretive signage.
I will make the commitment that we will make an effort to try to recover whatever we can for Fort Selkirk and the displays that will be set up there.
Museums Assistance in the amount of $280,000 agreed to
On Exhibits Assistance
Hon. Mr. Phillips: These funds provide assistance to Yukon museums to enable them to develop and upgrade temporary, permanent and travelling exhibits. The funds provide for the implementation of the Yukon museums policy and enable our museums to prepare for more visitors.
The 1994-95 allocation for the MacBride Museum is $100,000 for the implementation of the exhibit plan to upgrade the upper Cowan wing wildlife exhibit. There is $35,000 for the Dawson City Museum for a gold discovery exhibit, and $50,000 for the Keno City Museum for phase 2 implementation of the 1993 exhibit plan.
Mr. McDonald: Have the requests that have been made of the department for this coming year been satisfied by this request? I am not as familiar as I probably should be with the aspirations of some of the museums here. Can the Minister indicate whether or not there were any particular projects that were expected for this year and had to be put off to future years?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Like most of the programs the government has, we never have enough money to cover all the requests, but I do not have a list here of the programs. Last year, for example, the Kluane Museum and national history exhibits were completed, the Old Log Church exhibits were completed, and the Teslin exhibits were completed.
Again, it is one of those programs where you try to move around on an ongoing basis. We felt it was important to finish the Keno Museum this year because it is a phased project, and we wanted to continue with it. The other exhibits are closely tied to the gold rush, and we wanted to be ready for when the hundreds of thousands of tourists arrive here to partake in the festivities.
Exhibits Assistance in the amount of $185,000 agreed to
On Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This project involves the establishment and operation of a computer inventory system, the uniform basis of cataloguing artifact collections now held by Yukon museums and YTG. The federal museums assistance program is providing $125,000 over four years, beginning fiscal year 1992-93 to register and automate Yukon museum collection records. Collection registration coordinates implementation of the program, which is the core element of the Yukon museums policy and the budget is as follows: contribution agreements to community museums for artifact collection registration cataloguing, $20,000 to be expended in 1994-95, once a $25,000 anticipated recovery from the federal government is in place to cover partial salary costs. The funds for salary materials and supplies and the registration coordinator position also cost recovers funds expended on providing training to Alaska and western Canada museums under an agreement with the Canadian heritage information network.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister mentioned that there was a multi-year cost for the computerized system. What is the total cost of this?
I notice that the recovery of this item is not yet known, at least it was not known at the time the budget was developed. Can the Minister tell us what he expects the recovery to be for 1994-95?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are estimating $25,000 for this year.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister tell us the total cost of this project.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is $125,000 over four years.
Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Conservation and Security
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The funds provided for the conservation, safety and security of displayed and stored Yukon artifact collections and the safety of museum visitors. The contribution to museums is $15,000. The contracts for specialized projects is $5,000. Materials, supplies and travel for the conservator is $20,000.
Conservation and Security in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
On Historic Sites Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is aimed at preserving, restoring, developing and/or interpreting Yukons historic sites and heritage structures, and the preservation and maintenance of numerous historic structures throughout the Yukon not identified in specific capital programs, such as Montague House, Robinson Roadhouse, Dalton Post, Forty Mile, Nolan House, Yukon Sawmill, and Thirty Mile. The salaries are $86,100, contracts are $3,400, travel, rentals and materials are $13,500 and historic properties assistance is $15,000.
Mr. McDonald: What are the projects that are receiving the highest priority for the coming year? There was an estimate question in the spring budget about Montague House particularly, and it was that some buttressing of walls was going to take place. Can he tell us, first of all, whether or not that did take place and what the priority is of that particular project in the coming years? What is anticipated will happen elsewhere?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that we did do some work on Montague House this year, and it was the work we said we were going to do in the spring.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister give us a sense of what the priority of projects is?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This year, the priority projects are, again, more work at Montague House, Rampart House and repairs at Herschel Island.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate to us whether or not the department has done any work to determine the total cost, by project, of the sorts of enhancements they are anticipating doing - so that we can get a sense of the magnitude of this particular field of endeavour? It is one thing to inventory the sites, but a second thing to do an assessment of precisely what one wants to do. I realize that some of these projects can be open-ended but, then, we do not necessarily like to approve funding for projects, unless we know what the total cost is.
I remember asking the question while in Opposition back in the early 1980s about the future of Fort Selkirk - when we were going to begin, and when we were going to come to an end with respect to that particular project. I was not particularly afraid of large capital expenditures, but I was afraid of entering the project without knowing what the expenditures would be - whether it would be $2 million or $20 million.
So, can the Minister indicate whether or not the department has done an analysis of that nature, so we can better assess what we are getting into?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a process involved here. They do an inventory, determine the magnitude of the costs, priorize the various projects and then work on them on a project-by-project basis. I can bring some of that information back to the Member, but I can tell him that it is a big pile. There are an awful lot of these projects out there. Most of them are called to our attention by First Nation people, such as Rampart House.
We try to deal with them fairly throughout the whole territory. We could use an awful lot of money in a program like this. We try to catch the ones that are in the most rapid state of deterioration and fix them first. It is going to be a continuous process for ever and ever.
Mr. McDonald: I have no doubt that some time in the future someone is going to want to talk about renovating this building to keep its walls up so somebody can see these chambers and try to understand what sort of activities went on here. Clearly, this is the kind of area in which the expenditures are ongoing.
What I am particularly interested in is whether or not the department takes a project like Montague House, decides how far it wants to go in terms of renovations of that site, and develops a preliminary budget to access, in various stages, and then determines what they can spend per year depending on the state of dilapidation of the site.
For example, if they wanted to restore Montague House to something like its former self, would they do an analysis of the site, a cost estimate of the renovations and then establish an action plan for that renovation over a number of years? Do they do that for each individual site so that we know what sort of costs we might be looking at? That would help us understand the impact of the priorities that are being set when the government sets its budget.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring that information back to the Member before we get into the supplementaries. In some cases, the Member must understand that not every project is one that we can completely restore. We may go in and do some work, such as in the case of Montague House or other historic sites, just to stabilize it, so that it does not cave in any more. I will get back to the Member on the types of overall projects that we plan to deal with over the next few years.
Mr. McDonald: That would be useful information. If the department has made the decision that they do not want to restore a site such as Montague House to its former self, that is worthwhile knowing. We can either agree or disagree with that. The problem I have faced, especially in the last decade or so, is that I never know when they want to begin or end and what they are precisely intending to do. I just see people in the field every once in awhile, and they seem to be working on something. Unfortunately, I have been unaware of what the ultimate goals are for particular heritage sites.
I, for one, have been a proponent of developing a site like Montague House, because it is so incredibly accessible to a lot of road traffic. I have seen people go into the building and pick away at the logs with penknives and so on, just to take a bit of Yukon history home with them.
As an example of the kind of service and hardships that many people had to endure at that particular time in Yukons history, it is a fortunate example, given its accessibility, on which one might capitalize and develop in some way.
The other question I have is about heritage sites whose history does not rest with the gold rush or Caucasian presence in the Yukon. There are a lot of heritage sites that First Nations people are interested in. I am wondering if the department has begun to inventory these to any extent. I realize that is the next line item, but they are all connected in one way or another. I wonder to what extent they have involved First Nations in that inventory.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We do consult with the First Nations before we choose such sites. We are sort of moving on to that next line item, and I do have a list of projects that we are looking at for next year. I have asked the department, over the next couple of years, to focus primarily on the gold rush and the history of the Northwest Mounted Police and the RCMP, primarily because of the upcoming anniversaries and the need to develop some historical attractions, and that kind of thing.
We are not going to stop doing some of the other things, but we are going to focus more on these types of projects, as the previous government did with the Alaska Highway. In the past few years, they focussed on events and things along the Alaska Highway, and we will be doing a similar thing in the next few years leading up to the gold rush.
When we get to the other line item - or I can tell him now - there are a couple of other projects in the historic site inventory that we will be working on. They are the Thirty Mile River, Hootalinqua, Sixty Mile, and Stewart Island, which is eroding quickly, and we need to do some historic research. We will also be doing some work on the history of the Klondike gold fields. There is a lot more information in that area leading up to the gold rush that we have to gather.
Mr. McDonald: I acknowledge the point that the government ought to be thinking forward to the actual anniversaries, particularly when it comes to site development and maintenance. Sites associated with the gold rush will be of great interest to the people who come here in those anniversary years to experience what the Yukon has to offer.
There is something that the Minister probably knows already, and it is something that I discovered this summer while talking over the counter to a lot of tourists. That is that one thing they are interested in more than anything else - even more so than the gold rush - is First Nations history. One fellow even told me that he had experienced a number of different sites from California northward, right through to sites in B.C., where gold rushes took place all around the same period - 1840s through to the turn of the century. What they were really excited about, and really wanted to know something about, which they could not find elsewhere, was how First Nations people lived, and what life was like. They felt that, because this part of North America was so unspoiled, their chances of finding out about that subject matter were probably better here that any place else. However, even here, without a lot of digging, they still could not find out a great deal.
To hold and touch peoples imaginations, the government ought to be focussing some attention here. I realize the sensitivity associated with this. The First Nations should never feel that the Yukon government is picking over their sites, not only without their approval, but without their participation. It is essential that they agree with the focus being given to various sites, or to any particular site, as well as support and work on development plans that may be developed once the inventory is chosen. Under land claims, I know some bands are interested in the economic potential of some sites, and they have to be allowed to take full advantage of whatever that potential offers.
In terms of the maintenance and inventory of sites, not knowing the full magnitude of what is out there yet, I would strongly suggest, based on my own experience with tourists, that we ought to be focussing on what our strengths are and what is absolutely unique in a North American context. First Nations history certainly ranks high.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I agree with the Member. When I was on my tour this summer, I found the same thing the Member did, that many of the tourists are looking for First Nations history and culture. On my tour, I met with several of the First Nations bands, in Pelly, Mayo and Dawson, talked with individuals and suggested they start moving on this type of thing. With the influx of tourists who are going to come here for the anniversaries, it is going to offer an economic opportunity to them, as well as an opportunity to improve their cultural awareness, even among their own people.
I encouraged them to move on that, and we are working with CYI on the living cultural centre. They have given us the name of a contact person to work with on that. We are working at Fort Selkirk this year. As you can see, there is a fair amount of money in the budget for that. We are also going to do some work at Rampart House and Dalton Post.
It is an untapped resource that we have to look at. We are not ignoring it, and nothing would please me more than to see some of the First Nations taking the initiative and approaching us with ideas, projects, and things they want to do. That would be a very positive sign, and it is something we look forward to and encourage them to do so. There is not a lot of time until the celebrations of 1995, 1996 and 1998 to get these projects underway and to produce something tourists will want to stop, look at and learn from.
It is a narrow window now, but I think we should try to take advantage of it.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chair, I have to leave at this time to attend the funeral of Dr. Pugh. I would ask that we take a short break at this time. Perhaps we could discuss Yukon Housing Corporation and then return to the Department of Tourism, if that is agreeable to the Members opposite.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Joe: I want to say a few words here about Fort Selkirk. People are wondering about Fort Selkirk all of the time. If anyone wants to know anything about Fort Selkirk they can come visit us in the summer. We will have people to greet visitors, storytellers and if anyone wants to know anything about the First Nations history, we have people there who can provide that information.
People can just drop in and see us.
Chair: We will take a five-minute break.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Yukon Housing Corporation - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate on the Yukon Housing Corporation?
Ms. Commodore: I want to follow up on a couple of questions that I was asking in general debate, however long ago it was. It was in regard to the focus group and I will not dwell on this that long.
It appeared that the Yukon Housing Corporation appointed a focus group to do a number of things. I questioned the focus group and the Ministers statement that he was going to formalize the committee and that it would be an advisory group to him and to the board of directors.
I thought that that was giving them a lot of far-fetched authority, because it was only representative of one group of Yukon people. I also had some concerns in regard to any conflicts because I understand that one member, who is a co-owner of a company, was given a large contract by this government. I do not know how large it was. Something like that would appear to be a conflict.
I am not sure whether the Minister has talked to anyone in his department. I am not questioning the credibility of the individuals. I think they are probably all fine people. The manner in which it was done and the reasons for it are a bit questionable. If he has come up with the terms of reference for this group, when he formalizes it, I would like to have that as soon as possible. He has had a few days to have those terms of reference put together.
Ms. Commodore: Could the Minister respond to the committee and the focus group? Could he also address the conflict of any Members who might benefit through companies that they may have that could benefit from contracts or buildings that may be offered to them to build?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe one of the reasons is that the people in that focus group do not actually have representation on the board of directors of the corporation. There is a member of the Real Estate Association, there is a banker and a member of the Home Builders Association.
If any one of these people were to actually sit on the board of directors, I believe that there would be, at times, a conflict. As a member of the board of directors they may get into a situation where one of their companies was more or less bidding on a project for the Yukon Housing Corporation. I agree that there would be a conflict.
As an advisory group, they will be lending some expertise that we probably do not have on our board of directors or our housing advisory boards.
As for the terms of reference, I believe that there is a meeting this month with the board of directors. I hope to be able to attend that meeting, along with staff from the Yukon Housing Corporation. The terms of reference for the focus group would be compiled at that time. I believe that I did indicate, a few days ago in the House, that I would be quite happy to provide those terms of reference to the Legislature.
Ms. Commodore: I do have a lot of concerns with regard to the manner in which this board was set up and the responsibilities it might have. He does have boards and committees across the territory for which provision has been made under legislation, I think. They provide a service for the Minister and to the department. I find it hard to believe that an organization like the Yukon Housing Corporation would not have that kind of expertise within its bureaucracy. If it does not, I have a bit of a problem with that. I think the Minister will end up in a lot of hot water, because of the people who are on the board. It is just a small focus.
The industry is very important to us. I have a problem with some of the decisions that have been made already by the Minister regarding money allocated for certain projects. Money has been taken from some and put into certain kinds of housing units. Who benefits? Is it the people from the non-profit agencies who have lost $5 million? Are the people who do the building with funding from the Yukon Housing Corporation the beneficiaries? Who is supposed to benefit from these programs? Is it the builders or is it some of the people who could benefit from low cost, social housing or home ownership? These are the programs from which the $3 million has come.
I have a hard time understanding where the Yukon Housing Corporation is coming from. What are its priorities? Do we take $1.4 million from non-profit housing and turn around and give that money to some company that will make a few thousand dollars from it? I do not understand what the Minister is doing. What is the rationale behind taking money from one group and giving it to another?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The objectives of the Housing Corporation are to assist and promote programs that will help Yukon people - and this means people in general - to construct, purchase or fix up their homes. I do not think it is, in any way, the corporations intent to provide an in for any one group. As the Member has said, we have many, many advisory groups across the territory and if these people are from the industry - we have a seniors group, for instance, that meets two or three times a year and they provide advice to the corporation on issues that affect seniors. Similarly, the corporation did try to establish a group strictly for tenants; unfortunately, that has not materialized. When it was attempted to form this group, the corporation could not get any interest. We may very well try to revitalize that particular group, but there certainly is no intent - from the corporations point of view, from the board of directors or from myself - that these people would have any more influence than any of our other advisory groups. I hope that will be reflected in the terms of reference we develop.
Ms. Commodore: I certainly hope that does not happen. There is the question of appearances with this focus group, because the focus is, as we all know, the industry. I find that it is such a small group with a narrow responsibility, compared to anything that the corporation is responsible for. I am not going to be asking any more questions on that, but I will let him know that I am concerned and so are other people. The concern is about the importance that was attached to this one segment of Yukon society. It appears that we are looking at benefiting some parts of society and not others.
I have some questions in regard to money that has been moved around in this fiscal year. I ask them because the Minister made an announcement a long time ago that the federal government was not going to be funding non-profit housing programs this coming fiscal year. He also mentioned that in his speech to the conference. I would like to question him about why he took $1.4 million out of this years budget for non-profit housing and put it into something else. Was there a group that said that they no longer need this money for non-profit housing, so it could be put into another housing project? Who benefited from that? It certainly was not people who may have been eligible for that non-profit housing.
There was also $1.5 million of lapsed money taken out of the home ownership program. How did it lapse? I was sure that the Minister indicated a need for funding for those two programs. I notice that the total amount there is $2.9 million, and that the money that has gone into housing to build 19 units and 15 units in the $115,000 range totals $4 million. A lot of that will be recovered, but who told him that was the right thing to do? Who were the beneficiaries of that? They talked about having $7 million and that it would put a lot of people to work. What happens to the people who might have been able to use this funding? Are they going to be beneficiaries of the funding? Who made money? Who were the people whom he put to work by moving this money around, and who lost out?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The money for the employment task force came from the supplementaries. I do not have the supplementaries in front of me, but the $1.4 million that came from the non-profit housing is actually for the construction of duplexes that will be for social housing. The money will be used for the construction of 14 social housing units. The $1.5 million from the home ownership program is actually going into home ownership in modest or starter homes. These have already been purchased by clients.
My staff has given me a copy of the supplementaries. It appears that the money came from staff housing, and I am not sure if it came from non-profit housing. It does not appear that it did come from non-profit housing.
Ms. Commodore: I know that this is not included in next years capital budget, but it plays a very important role in where this corporation is going in regard to housing.
In the information that was provided to us on the employment task force, it mentions that $1.4 million was taken out of non-profit housing and that $1.5 million was taken out of the home ownership program. The Minister has just indicated to me that the money was taken out of those areas but was put back into non-profit housing. Why was it included in this package with new money that they found somewhere else if they were going to do exactly the same thing with the money, but give it a new name?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We never said it was new money, as far as I can remember. Approximately $4 million came out of Yukon Housing Corporation.
Ms. Commodore: My question was not answered. The task force indicated that the capital works projects were going to put all these people together. They were going to be taking $2.3 million from housing and putting it into another form of housing. The Minister said that the money would benefit those people who would be eligible for non-profit housing. Why did they do this if they were going to be doing exactly the same thing for which the money was first allocated, but under a different name? That was my question. The Minister did not answer it.
I would like to know how real this task force was. I am also a bit concerned about who benefited. This was supposed to put a whole bunch of people to work. It appears that putting people to work was more important than providing the housing. The Minister then says that the people who were eligible for non-profit housing did benefit from this. It appears he just found the money, changed the name, and did the same thing with the money as he would have done if it was still called non-profit housing money.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are a couple of things. The other day, the Member for Riverdale South mentioned there were houses on the market. If it had not been for the employment task force, we may not have built the 10 modest homes, because of the fact that there are some homes for sale.
The employment task forces objective was to try to employ people during the winter months. We would probably have gone with the social housing, but it may very well not have come about in the winter months. It may have been something that was done this coming spring. The fact that there is some housing available for sale may have precluded us even constructing the 10 modest homes.
Ms. Commodore: In his speech, the Minister mentioned there was no further money coming from the federal government for non-profit housing. I thought I heard somewhere in the news that there might be further funding that could be coming to this government for housing. I do not know whether that has come out of the housing conference the Minister was going to go to, but did not, or whether it is from something else.
If there is the possibility of that money forthcoming, would it go into further non-profit housing programs, or other forms of social housing?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We just recently received a communique as a result of the conference and I expect that the Member opposite has seen it or has a copy - no? I will be quite happy to provide a copy. I have one in my office.
I may not be quoting exactly here, but the communique from the federal Minister says something to the effect that we are in social housing. The way I read it and the way the president of the corporation reads it, it seems that they will be reinstating some monies, but they certainly did not indicate exactly how much. It appears, from first blush, that the federal government is back into it in some form or other, which is good news to us.
The other thing is that the president did phone me yesterday after lunch and indicated that there is a possibility the north will be receiving a bit more benefit than the provinces, but again, there is nothing concrete saying that there will be X number of dollars coming to Yukon.
Ms. Commodore: When is the Minister going to know exactly what is going to happen? If there has been an announcement that further funding would be forthcoming, before they make that kind of announcement they must know what that money is going to be spent on and toward what programs it might be going.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I guess the answer to the first question of when will we know is that we will certainly be following up with the federal Minister and lobbying. Apparently, there is going to be a meeting of a group of ministers. I asked the president of the corporation to put my name forward if they are going to have this meeting of a group of ministers. My understanding is that they will be getting a little more information out of the federal Minister about the amounts, and then there will be some determination of where those monies should go. We should be part of that group, if it does come about, and I indicated to the president that I would certainly be willing to sit on it whenever it may happen.
I cannot say right now what we would try or want to do with the money that comes in. I am not sure if we would build or buy more social housing units or if we would look at the rental market. I am just not sure. There are some advantages to renting over owning, for social housing, but it appears to me, from looking at a few graphs and so on, that after about 12 years it starts to become cheaper to actually own units. We have to look at all that and then make a decision on exactly how we will use the funding.
It may also depend on how much the Yukon is required to put into it. The previous programs were generally a 75/25 split. That may change, because this is a brand-new initiative. Getting back into it is a new initiative for the government.
We were told last summer, with no question about it, that the federal government was staying out of social housing. So this is new.
Ms. Commodore: My next question was in regard to the governments share of the funding because, as I understand it, and I do not think it has changed, this government cost shares 25 percent of that funding. Of course, we do not have that amount in this years capital budget. I would like to ask the Minister if he is confident that if the feds are able to come up with their share of the funding this government will be able to come up with its share of the funding?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I cannot answer that. It is going to depend upon budgeting. I think we all realize that money is tightening up and there are priorities. I firmly believe in social housing. Call it whatever you want, but there is a need for it. I would like to find other ways of providing housing than straight subsidy programs, and I am going to continue to try to find different ways. In the meantime, we have a waiting list of people and we have to be able to deal with that waiting list. It will depend upon budgets, but I will be pursuing it very strongly, as the Minister responsible for Yukon Housing.
Ms. Commodore: So it is possible that even though the federal government may have this funding available we may not be able to take advantage of it if the government is not able to find the funding for its share.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is certainly a possibility, but I would hope that we would be able to take advantage of some of the federal funding. In the past we have budgeted for social housing and I would see us continuing to do that. We may not be able to take full advantage of the program, and I would expect - this is merely conjecture - that we would have less difficulty finding our share, as I also expect that the federal portion of the funding will not be as large as it has been in the past.
Ms. Commodore: I have a question about the program for rental units in private homes. It appears that there are a large number of apartments and houses that are for rent right now.
I wonder if the Minister intends to pursue that program, despite the fact that there is a large number of units available. I do not know whether the market is getting bigger or smaller, but there is almost a whole page of rental units in the Yukon News for rent.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is $600,000 in the budget forecast for 1994-95. That budget was prepared last July and August. Apparently, there are seven approved applications for this fiscal year, and five of them are in progress right now.
We will continue with the program, but I do not think that we will actively pursue it, because, as the Member has noted, there is not really a need for the program at this point in time.
Ms. Commodore: I have some questions regarding the issue that the Member for Riverdale South was pursuing - the review board that was set up to look at one of the contracts. I remember the Minister telling the participants at the conference that, when he took over the responsibilities of the Yukon Housing Corporation, he had to learn a lot about the programs that were available. I am certainly not as well informed about the Yukon Housing Corporation as I would like to be, but I would like to tell him that I do know what RAP stood for - and it was not that awful music he mentioned in his speech.
The problem that was mentioned by the Member for Riverdale North had to do with a contract that was given to a certain company in town. There was a review board struck as a result of some concerns that were raised. Because I do not understand enough about how the corporation operates, I would like to know if there is some kind of written provision somewhere for the corporation to set up this kind of review committee. When they do set up a committee to review some contract, how is it done? Who chooses the Members? Is it the Minister himself, the Yukon Housing board of directors, or is it someone within the corporation - an official - that does it? I do not know that. It appears that this was quite a serious issue and the people on the committee should be familiar with the contracting process and the legality of the whole contracting system. I would like him to tell me what kind of expertise was on the review committee, and how the committee was struck, and anything else that might be helpful to me.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure what the legal authority is for striking such a committee. We - we being the board of directors of the corporation and myself - decided that an independent panel would probably appear to be more fair. There is an appeal process under the contract regulations, but it is to the deputy minister. We thought that having an independent panel would be perceived as being more fair than having the appeal to the president of the corporation, mainly because some of the accusations that were made were against the president.
We tried to find three totally independent people. One was either the president or the past president of the Real Estate Association. One was a lawyer from town. That lawyer does not do work for the corporation. We made sure of that. The third person was the president of the Professional Engineers, who is an engineer himself. We felt that that would be seen as being as fair and unbiased as possible. That was agreed to by the corporation, as well as by me.
Ms. Commodore: There does not appear to be any authority anywhere to strike such a committee, at least under the Yukon Housing Corporation Act. Because there is a possibility that something like this may happen in the future, are there going to be special guidelines drawn up?
The Minister did not answer my question about who set up the committee. He said we, and I do not know who he meant by that. Was it something he took to Cabinet for a decision? It was a big concern, and it could possibly happen in other times when tenders go out. Should something like that go to Cabinet? The government deals with a lot of contracts, and there may be some questions in regard to how some of them are tendered.
Who does he mean by we? Was it the Cabinet, was it him and officials in the department, or who?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, the we was actually the board of directors. It was under the authority of the board of directors that the panel was struck. I was part of the whole decision and approved the selection of the people, as did the board. We were in agreement on the panel.
Ms. Commodore: Is the Minister going to look at any kind of guidelines in the event that it should occur again?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Right now, we are bound by the overall government contract regulations. Over one year ago, I believe, the Yukon Housing Corporation had to begin to follow the contract guidelines of the Yukon government.
I believe that an appeal for that type of thing goes to the deputy minister. The regulations are under review right now. I would like to see some kind of an independent panel - not much different from what we did - formalized, so that when there is a question, it would not be referred to another bureaucrat, but to an independent group.
Mr. Harding: I have some questions for the Minister regarding the housing situation in Faro. Just before Christmas, the Minister informed me that the largest landlord in the community, Faro Real Estate, had missed a couple of their payments and a foreclosure was either underway or imminent.
In further questioning a couple of days later, the Minister told me that the foreclosure had not started. There were discussions underway between Faro Real Estate and YTG, through Yukon Housing Corporation, to discuss the situation regarding payment and the first mortgage that Yukon Housing and the Yukon government holds on many of the housing units in Faro.
I would like to ask the Minister about the status of those negotiations and what has taken place in the interim period.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Faro Real Estate has asked for some time to restructure their loan. We have agreed to a period of time. I believe it is April 30. Faro Real Estate will be bringing in new partners or whatever they need. Some interim measures are now in effect until April 30, at which time it is hoped that Faro Real Estate will be able to become current on their loan.
Mr. Harding: These negotiations surround the lien that YTG holds on some of the units and Faro Real Estates ability to pay. Presently, while that mortgage is in existence, YTG does exercise some influence over rental arrangements with tenants and the landlord in the community of Faro. Do these negotiations that are underway now have any impact on any of those criteria that were established earlier?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that the rent controls that are now in place will remain in effect.
Mr. Harding: I would like to ask the Minister about contingency planning in the event that Faro Real Estate is not able, with the benefit of this extension, to meet the requirements of the government. I am concerned about the way the announcement was brought about, before Christmas, in the respect that really none of the leadership of the community was made aware of the seriousness of the situation with Faro Real Estate.
I was reassured by the Minister that Yukon Housing Corporation and the Yukon government would essentially take over the landlord position. That reassured me, but it does create a bit of anxiety. As I am sure the Minister can appreciate, they are the major landlord and have been since many people came to Faro in 1985, when the mine reopened.
This tenuous relationship that we are now in does create some anxiety. I wonder if the Minister would agree to send a full update to the mayor and council of Faro about what they are expecting Faro Real Estate to do - the time lines or as much information as they can release. I know that I will include some information in my next newsletter to my constituents. Can the Minister commit to providing some kind of update to the mayor and council of Faro?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes. I do not see any problem with that. We will have to be careful about confidentiality. I probably am privy to some confidential information that we would not be able to provide to them, but we can provide them whatever information is public, and we will do that forthwith.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister for that. I can appreciate the confidentialities of the arrangement, but a general outline is generally what we are looking for. By having this information, when we are asked a question we can respond with the best information that we have available to us.
The next thing that I would like to ask the Minister about is in the context of a potential default of Faro Real Estate in their payment arrangements.
There are a number of rent-to-purchase owners in Faro. I believe there are presently 30, if not a few more, who are buying their own homes through an arrangement with Faro Real Estate. This was part of a deal negotiated by Yukon Housing Corporation in the context of the loan that was granted when the mine reopened.
In terms of contingency planning, I wonder if the Minister has looked at that relationship? What would be the situation if there were a default by Faro Real Estate that caused the Yukon government to foreclose?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that Faro Real Estate currently holds the mortgages on those homes - I am not sure about this but I believe that is the case - and, in a worst case scenario, if we had to foreclose on the loan and end up as the major landlord in the community, I would expect that whatever arrangements those people have with Faro Real Estate would continue.
Mr. Harding: Just in terms of the governments thinking on this, is it the policy of the government that they want a private sector manager in there? Is there a reluctance on the part of the government to become the manager? Do they look at it as sort of a tenuous job that they would have, in that they would assume the burden of maintenance and everything else that goes along with a landlord/tenant relationship? What does the Minister think about that and what are his feelings in terms of Faro Real Estates relationship with the government and the community?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If the Member is asking if we are looking forward to being landlords in Faro - definitely not. We would prefer not to be. We are certainly in a foreclosure position; there is no question about it. We have allowed this opportunity for restructuring. We do not want to own 350 - or whatever it is - units in Faro.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there further general debate on the Yukon Housing Corporation?
Mr. Harding: The Minister has given me his view - or the governments position - regarding taking over the housing units. As expected, they would like to have someone in the private sector operate the units.
I do appreciate where they are coming from in that area. I also appreciate that they will give a basic outline of exactly where the situation stands. I would also like the Minister to be well-versed on contingency planning with the Yukon Housing Corporation for Faro. Right now, I do not think that we have much of a structure there for handling that kind of a situation. We have a manager for Yukon Housing, but be would undoubtedly need considerable other resources to be able to take on what would be entailed in a takeover of the housing - in a worst case scenario. I do not want to sound too alarming, but I want to ensure that the department is well-prepared in the event that foreclosure is necessary.
I have a question on one more issue surrounding Faro Real Estate. I sent the Minister a letter many months ago about some of the housing programs that the Housing Corporation undertakes. As I said to the Minister earlier, many of my constituents are on a rent-to-purchase option. Because the title transfers in those agreements are not quite completed, the owners are unfortunately not eligible for programs such as the SEAL program, and others, where the government helps to pay for home improvements in terms of energy efficiency, and that type of thing. This is disturbing to a lot of people in Faro because, in their view, it is a technicality that they do not quite have full title to the property yet.
The Minister responded to my request by pointing out that they do not have title. I would argue with the Minister that this is a technicality. I would make the request to the Minister once again that we take a look at - I am not sure if it is a legislative order or not. If it is, we should take a look at legislative change. If it is just a policy decision on behalf of the government, they should review the situation with regard to these people in rent-to-purchase situations in Faro. It was an agreement set up in conjunction with a loan by YTG to Faro Real Estate that set out terms and conditions for rent-to-purchase agreements.
It was a wish of the government of the day and of the company that was operating the mine that people eventually own their own homes in Faro. I am not sure how much emphasis the company put on that, but I know that the previous administration wanted people to have the opportunity to own their own homes in Faro. Also, a great benefit to the people buying their own homes in Faro would be the ability to be eligible for some of these home improvement programs.
I would ask the Minister to give me some response today as to whether or not he would be willing to revisit this principle on behalf of the people who are in the process of paying off their homes in Faro. It is a unique situation, given that the loan was made by YTG to Faro Real Estate, and there was a general policy directive of the government to encourage people to own their own homes in Faro. Could the Minister comment on that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My memory is a little fuzzy on this. I remember the letter from the Member and I remember replying, but I am not sure of the exact reason, other than that there is a mortgage on it. I am trying to remember if it had any bearing on who held the mortgage. I would certainly be willing, as the Member said, to revisit it and see what would be necessary if we were to extend the home repair program, for instance.
The Member should be aware that the home repair program is, in most cases, certainly not any sort of subsidized program. It is a payback type of program and there is an interest rate charged on the loan, although the interest is at a preferred rate. It is three and one-half percent right now, so it is certainly a lucrative way to repair ones own home. I am not sure if one can access the program if they have a mortgage or if it is merely because of Faro Real Estate. I will definitely look into it and try to let the Member know exactly what I would like to do with the program.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister for undertaking to do that. I fear the request, or my letter, went through the department. Under the previous administration, we were also trying to solve this problem. I know from discussions with the previous MLA there was a will to try and work something out for the people on the rent-to-purchase. It was a matter of taking some time and moving it through the people at the Yukon Housing Corporation, and looking into the exact detail of what would have to be done.
The reason that was brought up was that the title had not been transferred Iand, therefore, they would not be eligible. It would certainly be a benefit. I do not know how many of my constituents would be able to look at that agreement now, in light of the fact that unemployment is quite high.
I am sure that there would be some, and the option, if it was available, for a loan at a low interest rate might be something that would increase the permanency of our community. This is a goal that I have, and the people in the community also have.
I would ask the Minister to revisit that and respond to me if there is anything that he feels we could do to work this out.
The other question I have for the Minister is regarding the same group of people who rent-to-purchase their homes in Faro. When the discussions surrounding the future of Curragh were underway, these people became quite worried about the future of their homes and filed what I have been told by my some of my constituents is called a caveat.
I am not sure if it was against Faro Real Estate or the Yukon Housing Corporation, which probably holds a lien on their houses. I am sure they do, because I have dealt with some constituents who have had trouble freeing up title and removing the lien, once they bought out their home. It has now been resolved, but there were some problems.
Does the Minister have any knowledge as to what this caveat does? Some constituents told me that they were not afraid of Faro Real Estate foreclosing, because they held a caveat, and that would protect them.
While I am glad they feel confident, I am not so confident. What is the governments view of this?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not aware of any caveats, but I will look into it and provide some information to the Member.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister for that. I want to move on to another issue. This fall, after taking some weeks off and doing a little hunting, I came back to my office in the Legislature to read my mail. There was a wonderful document there outlining the community tour of the Yukon Housing Corporation, and a schedule presented to me from the Minister, telling me that he was pleased to present it to me for my perusal. There was only one problem with the schedule - there was no visit scheduled for the community of Faro.
I wrote the Minister about this, expressing my concern. That was in light of the fact that we were having problems with the mine continuing, which was shut down. There were some questions about contingency planning for the housing situation in that community. I thought the meeting would be very useful for people there.
There were some people, including the mayor and council, who noticed that Faro was left off and tried to make some arrangements to re-establish a meeting. My understanding is that a commitment was gained from the Yukon Housing Corporation to come to Faro, then it was put off a bit longer, then it was re-established, then there was a decision to cancel it altogether.
Can the Minister tell me why?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Other than being a mortgage holder in Faro, through Faro Real Estate and some staff housing there, we have no housing in Faro. My understanding was that there was a meeting with the town council. That was scheduled. If it did not happen, I am not aware of that. I know there was a meeting scheduled between the Yukon Housing Corporation and the Faro town council.
Mr. Harding: I know that there are no Yukon Housing Corporation social units in Faro, but as the Minister said, there is some employee housing because it is a rural community. There are many issues surrounding the mortgage, which is approximately $1.8 million. Coupled with staff housing, I am not sure, but I would suggest that there are well over 20 units in Faro that would certainly make Faro a large consideration for the Yukon Housing Corporation.
I cannot understand why the Minister would try to tell me that there was no need for a meeting, based on that information. Would the Minister agree that those numbers alone, with the mortgage and the involvement of Faro Real Estate and the number of staff housing units, would dictate, at a minimum, a community meeting to discuss housing issues?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As I indicated earlier, there was a meeting scheduled with the town council. I am not sure if that meeting actually happened; I know that it was scheduled.
Mr. Harding: Perhaps the Minister could ask the official next to him if it took place. My understanding is that it did not take place, but I could be wrong.
Were the meetings held in the other communities public meetings or just meetings with the councils in each of the communities?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Most of the meetings were public meetings. There were also meetings with the First Nations. Some of the councils set up meetings for us but generally they were open to the public.
Mr. Harding: Could the Minister tell me why he would take the position that Faro was any different in that respect, and did not deserve the courtesy of a public meeting to discuss potential housing issues that may arise in the community, because of the deep involvement of Yukon Housing Corporation in Faro?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The official with me is not certain if there was a meeting in Faro, but it would have been at the call of the town council. If they wanted to involve the public they certainly could do so.
Mr. Harding: The Minister is no doubt aware, from our previous discussions, that the mortgages, from which the Yukon Housing Corporation has determined the rent in the past, might beg some questions, given the statements of imminent foreclosure and uncertainty in the community? Would the Minister not think that that might bring some questions to the minds of the tenants in the community?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I just got a note from some of my staff. I understand that a meeting was requested. We agreed, and then, for whatever reason, the community said no. I expect that this was the Faro town council. Apparently, because of negotiations with FREL and the situation that FREL was in at the time, it probably was not appropriate to have a community meeting.
Mr. Harding: I will not comment. I know, from reading the minutes of council meetings, that a meeting with the Yukon Housing Corporation was requested by town council. I believe they requested a public meeting. To me, that is not the issue. I think it is important that the Yukon Housing Corporation would meet with the council. On the other hand, I also think that it is important that the Yukon Housing Corporation would afford the public an opportunity to discuss housing issues, given their large role in that community.
The town council cannot veto a public meeting of the Yukon Housing Corporation. In every other community, there were public meeting opportunities afforded. Why was there no public meeting opportunity afforded in the beginning, so that we would not have had this confusion?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yukon Housings involvement in Faro is for staff housing only. I guess it was felt that there was no necessity for a meeting in Faro.
Mr. McDonald: The time that I spent with Yukon Housing was in the middle to late 1980s - four years. When the mortgage was transferred to Yukon Housing to maintain, there was a lot of interest in Faro about the mortgage, the repayment terms to the Yukon government, and the effect this had on peoples rental rates. It had a very direct effect on the rental rates. One could quite reasonably argue that, even though there is no large social housing complement in Faro, Yukon Housing has more of an interest in Faro that in any other community of comparable size in this community. Certainly the people think that it has more of a role than apparently the Yukon Housing Corporation does.
When there are literally dozens and dozens of houses on which the mortgage is held by YTG through the Yukon Housing Corporation and, given the history of those mortgages, the repayment terms of those mortgages, the effect on rental rates and the history of all of the meetings between Curragh, Faro Real Estate and the Yukon Housing Corporation government that I have been involved with in the past, and knowing that the community takes very seriously those questions - they are basic bread and butter questions - knowing that the community was suffering a temporary closure, and knowing that FREL was making noises about its future viability and the possibility that Yukon Housing might actually assume direct control of those units, surely to goodness - a large proportion of the towns population is affected - that if there was one rural community that would be very interested in the future of housing in the territory, it would be that community. Of course, they may be interested in social housing now, given the time that they have been out of work. At that point, and since then, surely these people, of all people, would be very interested in talking to the Yukon Housing Corporation and talking about the future of their homes and what might happen with respect to the mortgage and what might happen to Faro Real Estate.
I think the Minister is trying to defend the indefensible here.
I do not know why, unless he personally made a commitment that such a meeting would not take place. Clearly, Yukon Housing plays a big part in peoples lives there. Does the Minister not recognize that, or has he simply got his blinkers on to the subject of social housing, or the impact of social housing on our communities? Was the range of discussions only focussed on social housing, or did it include staff housing and the other spheres of responsibility of the Yukon Housing Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure exactly what the question was. I think the Member opposite is aware that it is just very recently that the actual mortgage came over to Yukon Housing - that, in fact, it was the Department of Finance. So, the Yukon government definitely has an interest in housing in Faro to the tune of about $1.8 million, as a mortgage holder. I did not direct that there would be no meeting in Faro. When it was brought to my attention that there was no meeting, I directed that they look into having a meeting there, and that is the time at which they contacted the town council. It was the council that said no, they would not have one.
So, whether it was an oversight or not, I am not sure. Again, because there is no social housing, only staff housing, that is the direct responsibility of Yukon Housing, that is likely the reason.
Mr. McDonald: I think that whoever was responsible for making that decision made a very serious error in judgment and should be privately called to task for that, privately. Right now, we are going to call the Minister to task for that publicly, because the reality is that the Housing Corporation has had responsibility for this mortgage for some time.
It is the case right now that there are serious housing issues in Faro to address. If the Housing Corporation had any sensitivity at all to those issues and were prepared to face them head on, they would have meetings in Faro to discuss whatever concerns the community may want to address and help allay any fears about what might happen in the future.
Perhaps the only thing that those people are going to have in six-months time is their home. A lot will depend on how the Housing Corporation and the government, ultimately, handle the mortgage. Many of the people may be on social assistance. It might be the case that the mine may not be operating. Clearly, any security that they once possessed may be in jeopardy. It would be a wise decision on the Housing Corporations part to consider having a meeting there now. They should not ask permission from anybody to have it. They have a direct responsibility themselves and they should do it.
Does the Minister think that it might be a reasonable idea and that it might be something that the Housing Corporation should consider immediately, if he cannot commit to it right now himself?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If there is a need for a meeting in Faro to address concerns about what is happening with Faro Real Estate, I certainly have no problem meeting with the people to explain the situation. If there is a request from the council or a group of people who want to know more about what is happening, I will agree to the meeting.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister crafted a response by posing the rhetorical question of whether or not there is a need. He said if there is a need. Does he believe there is a need? Can he see that himself, or is this request we are making simply going to be shot off into mid-space, and we may never hear of it again?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have received nothing from residents there asking for such a meeting, nor have we been asked by the town council. If the council, or a group of people independent of the council, request it, I am sure that we can make those arrangements.
Mr. Harding: I did not want to get into a big roustabout on this, but the apparent stubbornness of the Minister to recognize that there is some concern in the community disturbs me, to say the least.
I had hoped that he would stand up and say that yes, there was an oversight, and a public meeting should have been held. Instead, I have been told that he did not organize a meeting in the community, because the council said no. I intend to contact the council and discuss it with them. From my discussions with the council, I understood that they had sent a letter to the Minister, requesting a meeting. I am not sure if their request was just for a meeting with council, or for a public meeting. However, I am shocked and disappointed that the government would not do what they did in every other community: organize a meeting to discuss housing issues in the community.
The Minister now says that he must get a petition, or some letters from people in the community, before he will organize a public meeting to discuss housing. In every other rural community, he did not need that; he just organized a community tour and travelled around the territory. I do not know why Faro would be different. I cannot guarantee, if there was a public meeting held, that there would be 100 people there, or even 10, five, two, or anyone at all. What I do know is that I am making a representation, as the MLA for my riding, that the people of my community should be afforded the opportunity to discuss these issues with the Yukon Housing Corporation.
To this point, they have not been. I am not taking a position for the council. If the council wants a meeting, I think they should have that opportunity. Earlier, I asked the Minister to send a letter to the council with a full outline of what is happening. I think that is a very good step. I do not know the answer to this, but perhaps the council would be satisfied with that.
I do not want to go out and organize a petition for a public meeting on housing in Faro, when one has been held in every other community. Would the Minister accept my representation that a public meeting should be arranged and, at the same time, there should be some discussion with the mayor and council of Faro to see if they might want to partake in a public meeting, or have dual meetings, to discuss any housing issues in the community.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: To me, to have a meeting now, after the main conference is over and done with - if we were to talk about social housing, and the types of things that were discussed at the conference - would be sort of redundant. If it is felt that someone should go out there and talk about the situation, I do not have any problem with that. However, we need an indication that we are going to have people who are interested and want to come, and we would then certainly be willing to go out and attend the meeting. There may be five people there, there may be no people there, there may be 100 people there - we need some indication. If the town council feels it is something we should do, it is certainly no problem.
Mr. Harding: I will not force the issue. I will state once again that I am disturbed that, somehow, Faro people have to have an uprising on a housing issue before the Yukon Housing Corporation will go into the community and hold a public meeting - which they did without that, in every other community. That does disturb me, but I will have further discussions with the mayor and council, probably this weekend when I am home, or in the next little while, and I will ask them if they want to make a representation, as I have done, on behalf of the community for a meeting. I would ask that the Minister, aside from this, continue on with his commitment to provide some information in writing at least to the mayor and council - if that is okay.
Mr. Harding: I see the Minister nodding his head, so I assume that he has no problem with that, so that is fine.
I have one more question. I do not want an answer from the Minister in the Legislature; it is sort of an aside.
I handled a complaint from a constituent about a personnel matter with one of the Yukon Housing Corporation employees. The constituent was disturbed by the tone or the nature of the treatment that they had at a meeting. I do not expect the Minister to go into detail with me here, but did the Minister receive the complaint that I raised with the department and his executive assistant? I would like to know if the Minister has had any opportunity to investigate the complaint at this point.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not aware of the complaint.
Mr. Harding: I tried to contact the Minister directly about this, and I spoke to his executive assistant. Would it not be normal practice that he at least would be briefed about this situation if it is raised with the executive assistant?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It may have been passed on to the corporation already. I am not sure.
Mr. Harding: I did ask the executive assistant to the Minister to respond to the complaint, so I would have hoped that the Minister would have been briefed.
Can the Minister undertake to discuss this with his executive assistant, getting some of the details and perhaps respond? I did commit to my constituents that I would get some kind of a response from the Minister about the matter. Again, I do not expect the Minister to go into any details; I would like him to respond, if possible.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Certainly.
Chair: At this time we will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Mr. Harding: During the break, I tried to see which members of the Faro council I could speak to to discuss the issue of a housing meeting with Yukon Housing Corporation and the public in the community. The mayor is on holiday but I managed to reach two of the councillors. One of them was not involved too much so could not recall many of the details, although he did tell me that he has heard a number of concerns about the housing situation in the community from the people in the community. I spoke to one of the other councillors who said that there may have been some thought that the general guidelines of the 1993 housing community tour that was presented in the letter to the community may not have fit some of the issues that would be more peculiar to Faro than to some of the other rural communities.
They did both say that they were not too worried about the situation because they feel that the government would be more than likely to continue on with a private sector manager, if they could do it in any way, shape or form. They were responding to some concerns of the people there and would like to have some more information. The Minister has told us already that he will provide an in-depth letter to the mayor and council and, I hope, a copy to me, about the present situation. When the mayor gets back, I will have some more discussions with council. I will certainly include in my next newsletter a brief overview of the situation.
I will have further discussions with the mayor and council about whether or not there is a strong need for a community meeting to discuss the issues aboput housing in the community.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Is there any debate on the home repair program?
On Home Repair
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The home repair program is to assist Yukon home owners to repair their principal residence to a minimum standard. Repairs can include renovations to the following components: structural, plumbing, electrical and heating. Renovations can also address crowding, accessibility, energy efficiency and health hazards.
Mrs. Firth: Will the Minister please tell me how the funds are administered for this program?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not exactly sure what the Member is getting at. Perhaps I can just give a general overview.
If someone applies and is approved for the home repair program, the amount is up to a maximum of $35,000. The average amount is something like $24,500. This is the average cost of repairs based on a number of buildings. Once it is approved, the people are given an advance to purchase material, hire the contractor and so on. Further payments are made on receipt - my official is nodding, so I guess I am on the right track - when work is completed.
Mrs. Firth: When people make application and are approved, how does the Housing Corporation decide which ones they will approve? Is there some criteria? How do they determine who is eligible and who is not?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I read out some of the criteria, such as structural, plumbing and electrical. A person can send in an application and the building will be inspected. If that person meets the criteria that I outlined, then a staff member from the corporation will actually inspect the building to ensure that it does fit the criteria. If it does, the application will likely be approved.
Mrs. Firth: The reason that I am asking about criteria is because the advertisements about this program are very vague, about as vague as the commentary that the Minister just made. The advertisement says to qualify you must have identifiable problems with structural, electrical, plumbing, heating, et cetera.
I would suppose that there is only a certain amount of money to be distributed and the department has to make some decisions as to whether or not people are eligible. What criteria do they use to evaluate which project is more worthwhile than another project?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have copies of the guidelines here, but they are set by the board of directors of the corporation. They do have actual program guidelines on whether a project is acceptable or not.
Mrs. Firth: How does the corporation determine who will receive funding? Is it distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, or is it based on something else?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Essentially, it is a first-come, first-served basis. If they meet the criteria in the program guidelines, and there is money in the program, then it is likely they will be approved.
Mrs. Firth: Before I ask my next question, I would like to ask the Minister if he will provide us with the guidelines. I have called and received information, but it is very general and vague. I would appreciate if he would do that.
I have a question about the repairs being done. I have asked how the funds were administered, and the Minister was not clear about what I meant.
Are these funds used, and the repair projects contracted out, or can a home owner undertake the repairs themselves and bill the government for the time and material? How does it work?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not certain if someone who is a qualified carpenter could do their own repairs or not. I will get back to the Member with that information, as well as a copy of the guidelines that are used by the corporation.
Generally, the ones that I am aware of have all been contracted.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to have that information back. I know of people who are not qualified carpenters, but have done some of these home repair projects.
When these repair projects are contracted out, whether by the home owner or the corporation, do they have to follow any rules or guidelines? If a person wanted to do a repair on their house, can they get a friend to do it? Are there any rules in place with respect to that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that the contractor has to be approved by the Yukon Housing Corporation. I doubt very much that they can just get a friend to do it, unless that person is a certified contractor/carpenter.
Mrs. Firth: That is all well and good, but I am talking about the process of finding the contractor. It is an expenditure of public funds when the person is taking a low-interest loan. Is there a specific process, or can someone do a home repair if they have a friend who is a contractor - say, an electrician? Can that person fix a home and then someone elses down the street and so on? Are there any guidelines in place that could prevent potential abuses within the system? Can the Minister tell me that or bring me the information?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that is in the guidelines but, if not, we will certainly provide the information.
Mrs. Firth: I just have a couple of further questions about the whole concept of this program. I have some concerns about the whole idea of the government entering into this kind of program.
Can the Minister tell me what the philosophy is behind it? Can he tell me why they are doing this program? Is it just there because the previous government did it or do they really have some strong philosophical feelings about this program? Have there been tons and tons of complaints from people who cannot get home repairs done through getting their own loans from the bank? Why is this program even here?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Apparently, the housing stock in Yukon is the second worst in Canada. I have been led to believe that one of the reasons why the stock is so poor is that, a few years ago, back in the 1970s, some very poor construction went on. So, the idea of the program is that, in order to qualify for one of these loans, the house will have to have a further 15 years of life in it. In a lot of cases, if there were not repairs made to it, the useful life of the house might only be three or five or so years.
As to our philosophy, the program was in effect before I took office but we, in general, agree with the program because a lot of these homes would not be repaired if it were not for the program. That may not necessarily be the case today because of the low-interest rates at the bank, but a few years ago when the interest rates were 12 and 14 percent, a lot of people did not feel they could afford to do the repairs economically, so our program came into being and it has helped a lot of people. It has added a number of years to the existing housing stock in the territory.
Mrs. Firth: I would be interested in knowing who told the Minister that the housing stock was extremely poor. I think that it is the responsibility of the home owner, not the government, to make home repairs for privately owned homes. If people want to extend the life of their home, that is a decision for them to make. They can borrow the money and do it. I do not understand why this government would be strong advocates of that kind of a program.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is no question about it that some people have applied for and received loans that probably, in the Members mind, could afford to go to the bank and borrow the money themselves. Some are subsidized. For example, a senior citizen living on nothing but a government pension may have his or her home repair and add 15 years to the life of it. It will probably work out that they will remain in that house for many more years than if it were not repaired, and they may only have to pay $50 a month. In fact, they may never repay the entire loan. So, there is a subsidy for certain people.
Other people who are in the $35,000 to $50,000 wage bracket will pay the entire loan back at the prescribed interest rate. It is kind of a neat deal because of the fact that it is not a direct cost to government. There are some people who are paying back the full loan. The program is on the average 75-percent recoverable.
If we were only helping to repair houses of people who had to be subsidized, it would be likely that we would not have as much money in the program.
Mrs. Firth: There is that recoverable thing again.
I want to make a couple of points to the Minister. It was a nice try to use the senior angle; I give the Minister full points for that, but I know that there are programs in place to assist seniors. I do not have any problem helping seniors to stay in their homes so that they do not have to go to government institutions. I believe there is something already in place to address that issue.
This is an expenditure of public funds and I do not care if it is recoverable or not, because it is coming out of Canadian taxpayers pockets one way or another. It is another example of governments spending money that they do not have to spend in the first place.
I want to try and represent my constituents and see what my constituents are going to get from this program, other than the few people who apply, and what benefit it is to the taxpayer.
To me, it seems to be a benefit to the few who apply and who will do home repairs through this program, because there is a very nice interest rate. I agree with the Minister when he says that it is a neat deal at 4.5 percent interest. It is a really neat deal compared to having to go to the bank and borrow the money.
I do not really agree that the government should become a lending institution for people who own private homes to do home repairs - particularly when it is taking up very valuable taxpayers dollars.
That is my position and I have my position on the record. I would like to ask the Minister to bring back some information about all of the loans that have been granted, the amounts and I probably have the right to ask who received the loans since it is an expenditure of public funds. I would like to know how many of the loans are delinquent, how many people are not paying back their loans and I want to see how tightly the program is being administered and managed. I also want to see how monies are being collected. I may have some more questions for the Minister when we have the next go-around on this issue.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We will provide as much of that information as we can.
Mr. McDonald: I have a rather specific question and then a more general question to ask the Minister about this program.
The specific question is about whether or not a person who makes application for a loan to do home repairs, and is charged a particular interest rate is locked into that interest rate, or whether they can have it refinanced if that interest rate drops during the period of repayment.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe the rate is locked in. I will find out and provide that information.
Mr. McDonald: I appreciate that. The second more general question is a policy question, and it is about the rationale for believing that the state of housing in the Yukon is in such poor shape. Can the Minister tell us what he, or the Yukon Housing Corporation, is using to justify that particular claim?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that it was from a survey that Canada Mortgage and Housing conducted. It determined that the Northwest Territories had the worst housing stock and that the Yukons was the next worst.
It may very well be that this was partially based on the fact that there are a lot of cabins, both in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, and I guess they used an overall average when they did this survey. At one time, I did see a list where the provinces were listed from the worst to the best. I cannot remember what order they were in, except that the Yukon was the next to worst.
The other thing I have been told - and I believe this was in the same report - was that it was partly due to a lot of construction that went on in the 1970s that was not up to Canadas standards.
Mr. McDonald: In what year was this study released?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We believe that it might have been 1991. I will try and get a copy of it for the Members.
Mr. McDonald: I am not looking for a copy, unless someone else wants one.
I am just a bit puzzled by this position. The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes will know where I am coming from on this. The Minister will remember the introduction of the home improvement plan, which was a precursor to this. When the report came out indicating that the housing in the Yukon was substandard, the government, who accepted some of the conclusions of the report, was roasted by the then Leader of the Official Opposition, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes. He claimed that it was an absolutely ridiculous presumption that the housing stock in the Yukon was so terribly poor. Now, it appears that the Housing Corporation and the government accept these basic conclusions and are using that to rationalize the child of the home improvement program - the home repair program - for virtually the same reasons.
I am not passing judgment on the home repair program, as the Member for Riverdale South is, but I am puzzled about the rationale. Can the Minister explain why there once was a presumption in the Yukon Party ranks that the study was seriously flawed, when now it appears that it has received the official stamp of approval by the same party?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure if we are talking about the same study. We probably are.
I had a very difficult time believing that, too. I think that possibly some of it may very well be from the fact that in a lot of the communities, there has been a lack of careful inspections in the past. Houses were built in a substandard manner from day one. The structural, electrical, plumbing and heating systems in many cabins and small houses in the territory are inadequate to this day. I expect that, on a scale, that would put many dwellings down near the bottom. When it is all averaged out, and one looks at the homes in Porter Creek C, it is difficult to see how our homes can be rated the second lowest in Canada. However, I am sure the Member is aware of the state of some of the houses in the communities. Perhaps that causes, on average, our housing to be the second worst in Canada. That could easily be the case.
Mr. McDonald: I have no dispute with the Minister with respect to the state Iof repair of some rural housing, particularly, and some urban housing, and would agree that a lot of it is very much in need of repair. I am just a little bit surprised to have remembered the critics justify the state of housing as basically a lifestyle choice, only to now find that it is the justification Ifor public spending. I do not have any philosophical problems with the program at all.
Mr. Cable: There is a difference between the recoveries and the expenditure in the amount of $1,125,000. What is that difference attributable to - the loan losses or just the timing of the repayments?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think I may have answered that already. For the very low income person, there may very well not be a recovery of much more than interest. That is generally where the net cost to the program is - the low income person. The other thing is that we have not exceeded the programmed expenditure so far but we do try to target, as much as we can, the people in real need.
Mr. Cable: Is the recovery synchronized with the expenditure? These loans, I would assume, are not exactly coincident with the calendar year, so some of the payments will be coming back over several years. Does that figure of $3,375,000 indicate the funds that will be coming in this year from past and present loans?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It took us a minute to find the $3,375,000 the Member is referring to but essentially that is a budgeted figure and is based on the $4.5 million. That is what we expect to recover of the $4.5 million. It is not what we actually have recovered this year or will recover next; it is over the life of the loans.
Mr. Cable: The Minister indicated he would provide a return to the Member for Riverdale South on certain elements of the loan losses. I wonder if the Minister, in the course of that return, could indicate where the slippage is - where the cash flow in and out of the system is with respect to the $4.5 million.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We can give you a more detailed breakdown. Essentially, it is for the loans on which there will probably never be a full payback.
Mrs. Firth: I just have a question to ask the Minister. Is the whole $4.5 million divided up amongst the applications at $35,000 a piece? If that is the case, how many applicants are there to take up that amount of money?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $4.5 million is for about 175 loans at an average of $24,500 each. That has been the historical average. The maximum amount you can borrow under the program is $35,000.
Home Repair in the amount of $4,500,000 agreed to
On Home Ownership
Ms. Commodore: I was asking the Minister before the break about the employment task force capital works project. There was $1.5 million taken out of the home ownership program and put into something else. I just want to know from the Minister if they expect that there are going to be lapsed funds again. I still have not quite understood the rationale behind some of the $7 million that was found for the employment task force, but in this information that I have here, there was $1.5 million of lapsed funding for the home ownership program. Then, of that $7 million that they found, there was $2 million put into the construction of 15 units for buyers.
Is the Minister expecting that there are going to be lapsed funds again in this program? If there are, are they looking at the possibility of using it at the end of the year and, all of a sudden, finding a whole bunch of extra new money, or are they expecting that they will be spending this total amount for the home ownership program?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I assume that the Member is talking about the 1993-94 fiscal year, the year we are in. It would be the same program in 1994-95. For 1993-94, I do not anticipate a large amount of funds lapsing, but for 1994-95, I think that we will have to look at the program very carefully to determine if there is a need or not.
Ms. Commodore: I think the Minister has just indicated that he is not anticipating any lapsed funding in this program and yet in this piece of paper - I will send a copy over - it says that there is a projected lapse in the home ownership program of $1.5 million. It indicates here that this is a project lapse, yet he just said that he was not anticipating a lapse. Yet, they have found, among the $7 million for this year at least, $2 million to do another kind of home ownership, so I do not understand what they are doing. I fear that the same thing may happen in the next fiscal year.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $1.5 million that was projected likely would lapse at March 30 if we had not gone into the construction of the modest homes. That is what that $1.5 million is for - for that modest home construction.
Ms. Commodore: I do not think that I am a stupid person but it appears that he has taken $1.5 million of lapsed funding for this fiscal year for the home ownership program and has put the money right back into home ownership. I do not understand what the difference is.
Is there a possibility that the same thing will occur again in the next fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, I think that we will have to look at the program throughout the year and see if there is a need for the funding. If there is no need for the funding, then it is quite likely that those funds would lapse.
During the previous years, 1992-93, the actual expenditure was $4,797,000 so I guess it will depend upon the need. If there is a need, we would make the program available; if there is not a need, then some funds could lapse.
Ms. Commodore: How does the Minister determine that there is not going to be a need for the funding for this program, when they announced this extra $7 million for these new projects? How was that determined before the end of the fiscal year, and how are they going to determine the next fiscal year if there is going to be lapsed funding? I do not know the answer to that.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The program will be advertised as it has been in the past and it will depend upon how many people want to take part in the program.
Applicants are offered the standard mortgage rate and they have to qualify for a mortgage. In other words, they have to be in the total family income wage bracket of $35,000 to $55,000. The program is usually for people who have difficulty coming up with the down payment, and they are the ones we are trying to assist.
Ms. Commodore: It appears that the Minister decided a few months ago that there was not going to be a need for the total amount of funding for home ownership. Is there a certain time of the year when they quit accepting applications for funding under this program? Do they stop in September or October, for instance, and decide then that there is going to be lapsed funding?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Basically, it is kept track of on a monthly basis. As the fund is used up, there would naturally be a cut-off date at some point in time. For instance, if someone came in near the end of October or the end of November and made application, and there was $50,000 left in the fund, they would probably be rejected and told to reapply the following year.
Ms. Commodore: Last year, they allocated $6.7 million for this program, and they ended up lapsing $1.5 million. This year, it is lower.
I do not understand how they let people know, at a certain time of the year, that any applications for this program are no longer valid because, as a government, they have decided to put it into something else. When does all that take place? How do they tell the general public?
For instance, I believe this came out in October or November. How do they tell people then that money allocated for the home ownership program is no longer available? I do not know whether there is a certain criteria for applications, or a certain time after which one cannot apply because the government has decided to spend it on something else - perhaps roads. Who knows?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am quite sure that the Member is aware that the corporation advertises all of its programs early in the year. As the building season continues, there is usually not a large uptake in the loans after the snow falls.
Ms. Commodore: Is the Minister saying that, after the snow falls, one can no longer apply for home ownership funding? It no longer applies? Is that written down somewhere so people can understand?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, generally the applications dwindle off as time goes on. I understand from a staff member that there has never been an approved application that we have not been able to fund.
Home Ownership in the amount of $4,000,000 agreed to
On Owner Build
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The objective of the program is to assist low to middle-income do-it-yourself builders to construct their own home. The Yukon Housing Corporation acts as a lender of last resort by providing applicants with interim financing during the construction period. Applicants are also provided with training and technical advice to help them construct their own home.
Owner Build in the amount of $800,000 agreed to
On Rental Suites
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The idea of the rental suites is to improve the availability of modestly priced rental accommodation within Yukon. The program assists home owners to develop an income-generating suite, or to bring an existing suite up to the Canada Building Code.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister has indicated in general debate that he agreed that there were a lot of units for rent on the market and that there may be a slowdown in allocating or approving any applications. I would just like to know how the Minister is going to relay that information to the people who might apply. For instance, if someone applies at the beginning of the fiscal year to do a rental suite in their home, and we already know that there are a lot of units for rent out there, how is he going to get the message out to applicants that they may not be approved at this time while the rental market is so high?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is one of the things I do want to talk to the corporations board of directors about. As I am sure all Members are aware, this budget was put together back in July and the present market is definitely somewhat different from what it was in July, and it may very well be different again a year and one-half from now - two years from last July. It is something we really want to talk about. If we do decide to either reduce or maybe postpone the program for a year or two, we would certainly advertise so that people would not have some sort of expectation that it is still available.
Again, I cannot give a definitive answer that we will postpone or cancel the program until we have had a good discussion about it.
Rental Suites in the amount of $600,000 agreed to
On Joint Venture
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This program is to increase the supply of modestly priced housing by entering into a partnership with private sector developers for housing and/or land development projects.
Mr. Cable: Is the Minister of the opinion that the modestly priced housing service sector is under serviced by the private sector?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My own personal opinion is that it is.
Mr. Cable: What sort of facts or studies has the corporation or the Minister done to indicate that that part of the market is under serviced by the private sector?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I indicated to the Member that that is my own personal opinion. When we completed these 10 houses in the $110,000 area - all 10 of them sold right away. There are other applications in. It seems to me that, for new homes, the home buyer is kind of stuck. If he can qualify for a mortgage for something in the $100,000 to $110,000 range, the first-time home owner likely is not going to be able to buy anything.
Mr. Cable: Does the Minister have any idea as to why the private sector is not servicing this part of the market? Is it a lack of capital or a lack of enough profit on small houses? What is the rationale? Why did this program get going in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that the Member has probably hit two of the reasons. A builder can put up a $200,000 house almost as quickly as one that costs $100,000. Naturally, the profit margin on the $200,000 home is going to be much better than on the $100,000 home. There is a tendency by the larger building companies, as long as there are sales for the $200,000, to build the more expensive homes. Some of the smaller builders do not have the capital to be able to construct a house on speculation. That has been one of the problems with having the smaller contractor enter into this type of market.
Joint Venture in the amount of $750,000 agreed to
On Non-Profit Housing
Ms. Commodore: I would like an explanation for this line item. First of all, the Minister announced that there was not going to be any more funding for this program, and then there was some indication today that there possibly would be some funding. From $2.9 million to $281,000 is a great big difference and I am wondering what the Minister would be able to accomplish with this amount, because it has dropped drastically.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $281,000 is strictly for renovations and emergency repairs to our existing stock. If the bit of news that we heard today is accurate, then I hope this number would change. If the number does not change and there is no support from the federal government, then there would probably be no new social housing units constructed in the Yukon in 1994-95.
Ms. Commodore: There are a number of non-profit units in the Yukon and $281,000 does not seem adequate to cover any possible repairs and maintenance that may be required in some of those units. I am wondering if the Minister is concerned about this amount.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The corporation does have a staff person who does this kind of thing and his estimates are that there will be an expenditure in Ross River of $25,000 and in Whitehorse of $256,000. Those were the numbers that the person responsible for the repair work has given us. This has not been chopped from some other number.
On Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock
Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock in the amount of $281,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Non-Profit Housing in the amount of $281,000 agreed to
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief break?
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there any debate on staff housing?
On Staff Housing
Mr. McDonald: I am interested in the governments policy position on staff housing, where they are going, and whether or not they anticipate making any changes. They have allocated the major portion of the money to construction and acquisition. Can the Minister tell us what he anticipates will happen and in what communities?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $260,000 expenditure is for an anticipated two units, but we do not have an identified need at this time. Going on historical data, we felt that it would be wise to budget for a minimum of two units.
Mr. McDonald: Historically, of course, as one can see from page 122 of the 1994-95 capital estimates, there has been a consistent drop in activity and there may be some legitimate reasons for that. While I understand the Ministers statement that the placement of these units cannot be known until, for example, the teacher allocation for a particular community is known or until such time as departments actually let the corporation know what their needs are, can the Minister give us any legitimate reasons why the budget would be reduced to this extent?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that when this budget was put together there were no requests for housing for many of the departments. A call letter was sent out - I cannot remember the date - to the various departments asking what their needs would be for 1994-95 before the budget was put together. At that time, there were no requests, so the $260,000 budgeted is a guess that someone will likely be looking for some sort of staff housing.
Mr. McDonald: Has the Minister been able to make any policy revisions to prevent departments from making requests of the Yukon Housing Corporation for housing, and then not having them occupied by staff? The problem historically has been that orders have been put in for housing, which have been built or acquired, and then the department backs off because the recruitment action did not require a house after all. This left the Yukon Housing Corporation holding the bag. Have there been any policy revisions in the last year to deal with that problem?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I was not actually aware of that problem. The Member opposite is probably more aware than I, due to his tenure as housing Minister. This particular problem has not been brought to my attention, so there has been no new policy developed.
Mr. McDonald: I am sure when it does happen to the Minister, he will know about it.
Can the Minister tell us what the policy is with respect to staff housing? Have they made any changes or are they planning any for the future? Are they planning anything?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There have not been any changes to the existing policies, although - and this may be nothing more than a pipe dream - I would certainly like to look at places like Dawson, Haines Junction and Watson Lake with the idea of, over a period of time, getting out of staff housing. The idea is good, but I am not sure whether we would actually be able to do it and whether there is enough of a market there. We do have a problem with the fact that housing in the communities outside Whitehorse loses value. The actual market value of a house outside the City of Whitehorse, in most cases, is less than the replacement cost. If we could, at some point in time, actually get out of housing in those three communities, it would be very nice as far as I am concerned, but we cannot do it if it is going to be to the detriment of the recruiting process for such positions as teachers.
Construction/Acquisition in the amount of $260,000 agreed to
On Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock
Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Staff Housing in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Central Services
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The objective of this program is to provide support services to the Yukon Housing Corporation activities, specifically in the areas of warehouse space and equipment and office furniture and equipment.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister be a little more specific. For 1991-92, it showed an actual expenditure of $49,000; in 1992-93, it showed $110,000; in 1993-94, it showed a forecast expenditure of $50,000. This year, we are pushing $334,000. Clearly, something has happened. If the Minister could explain it to us, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The main item is computer equipment and systems development, which is $309,000. There is $6,000 for upgrading and improvements in warehouse space, $9,500 for office furniture and equipment and $9,500 for construction equipment.
Mr. McDonald: The obvious question is going to be on the $309,000. Could the Minister break that out between personal computers, systems development, and what the systems development is all about?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I anticipated the question. The current computer system at Yukon Housing was installed in 1988. It was an IBM RT computer system, which I am not familiar with, with Jones and Erickson property management, construction project management and general ledger software. At the time, the expected life of the system was estimated to be five to seven years. The port capacity, which would be actual workstations that could plug into the mainframe, was set at 16.
Since the installation of that particular computer, several things have happened. First, the number of staff has increased a fair amount and the programs have increased dramatically, so the machine is currently overloaded. Besides that, we cannot upgrade because, even though this was an IBM system, it cannot be upgraded because IBM withdrew all of the RT products. They no longer manufacture this computer, yet they are still providing annual maintenance at a cost of something like $3,700.
Not only have we outgrown the system and cannot add to it. The software that goes along with the system was provided by Jones and Erikson. That company failed in 1990. The $309,000 is essentially to provide new hardware and associated software. The workstations are standard IBM, so we are only anticipating three additional workstations and one additional printer.
The main cost is for the hardware, which is the main computer box, and then the associated software. My understanding is that this system will be in the SAS language, which is similar to what is in this government building.
Part of the cost will be for contract services for the computer people from Government Services to come and work in our offices and determine our needs. This will take some time because they will have to learn the various programs that we have. Once they have determined our needs, and between the staff and this person, they can do a projection of growth over a period of time and then size the new computer with the projected need.
Mr. McDonald: I have a feeling that it was not a coincidence that Jones and Erikson failed a year after they installed this system.
I am surprised to hear that the Minister has indicated that there is a dramatic increase in programs. I was not aware that the Yukon Housing Corporation, from 1989 to today, has experienced a dramatic increase in programming. There appears to be a reduction in activity in certain areas.
Can the Minister tell us how much the staff has increased since 1989?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not exactly sure about the increase in staff. There are 40 people there. I believe that back in 1988 there were approximately 32 staff members. I can get the exact numbers and provide them to the Member.
There are some new programs. There has been a change, and some have the programs because they were carrying stuff from 10 years ago, such as old mortgages, and so on, so it is added to all the time. I have a note here that says that the direct lending programs are not well accommodated within the current system, and I quote Yukon Housing programs have changed drastically over the past few years. Direct lending programs are not well accommodated within the current system. Mortgage control systems - that is, renewals, payouts, amortization, et cetera - need to be efficiently handled. Apparently, because the other system is fully loaded, we are not able to input all of the information we feel is necessary. This is because there are additional mortgages on there from many years ago. There are new ones being added on a daily basis. Eventually, it filled up.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister provide us with some information about the computer upgrade and come back with a figure of how much that cost. I am surprised that the planners in the corporation would, after only five or six years, have to replace their entire computing system. The Yukon government does not even do that. This involves changing all of the hardware and everything, simply because it is five or seven years out of date. I am surprised that the planners would have accepted a system that seemed to have such a short life span.
I would not characterize the programs and the staff increases by five or six people over that period as a dramatic increase. One would expect that a reasonable planner, even a not-well-trained planner would have anticipated some growth in that particular area. One would have anticipated the loading of extra mortgages into the computing system, which would require more capacity in the computing system.
I am little surprised that this has turned out the way that it has, necessitating a $309,000 expenditure this year. It seems that it is not wise to completely replace, every five or seven years, the works in a computing system and that becomes outdated so quickly. It does not seem to have been a wise course of action, if that was in fact what happened.
I would not mind receiving some more information on that, if the Minister could provide the information some time in the near future.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We will certainly provide some additional information. Perhaps it is a little too late, but we did try today to find out the initial cost of the system and we were not able to come up with a definite figure. It will take us some time to determine the amount, because it was 1988 when this system was installed. It will take a little bit of time, but we will find out as much detail as we can.
It is an IBM system. To be fair to the person who installed the system initially, when you deal with IBM you expect that you should be able to add on and update. The Member is absolutely right. The mainframe computer in this building was here long before I started working for government in 1983. I do not know when it was installed, but they have upgraded the mainframe and done system changes. You would expect with an IBM that you would be able to do that but, unfortunately, they no longer manufacture this equipment and no longer provide additions to it. The software company also went down the tube.
I can empathize with the person who installed the system in the first place and I will bring some information back for the Member.
Central Services in the amount of $334,000 agreed to
Yukon Housing Corporation agreed to
Department of Tourism - continued
On Historic Sites Maintenance - continued
Historic Sites Maintenance in the amount of $118,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Inventory
Historic Sites Inventory in the amount of $76,000 agreed to
On Fort Selkirk
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is the yearly contribution to Fort Selkirk of $115,000, plus $36,000 for the initial implementation plan of the Fort Selkirk interpretation plan, including research and production of exhibits, literature and signage.
Mr. McDonald: This is one of those projects where one would like to know where the beginning and end are. Does the department have a sense of what the total cost of this particular program is, how many more years it has to run, and what the total commitment will be?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to get back to the Member on that. There is a management plan for Fort Selkirk that was developed between the Government of Yukon and the Selkirk First Nation. I can get back to the Member on that.
Ft. Selkirk in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Herschel Island - IFA
Mr. McDonald: What is the government anticipating will be spent here and ultimately recovered? I noticed that there is $1.00 expenditure, but I cannot find the $1.00 item under recovery. Can the Minister give us a further explanation on what might be anticipated here?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for the major preservation work at the Pauline Cove settlement, which has been completed through the funding from the federal government/Inuvialuit agreement implementation, and potential future funding is to be voted for ongoing maintenance. The interpretation requirements for 1993-94 were $50,500 in federal funds contributed through Renewable Resources under the Inuvialuit final agreement. This amount of money helped produce a new brochure for Herschel Island - a visitors guide. I will table this for the Member, if he wishes. I just received this a few weeks ago. It is hot off the press.
Mr. McDonald: I do not see the expenditure in the forecast for 1993-94. Can the Minister give us a ballpark estimate for what they anticipate doing? Why are they looking for the dollar vote here?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The funds are being sought from the federal government, and we will negotiate the funds, based on the periodic maintenance of the buildings up at Pauline Cove, but we are anticipating it will be less than the $50,000 we receive this year.
Herschel Island - IFA in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Historic Sites Planning
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This project facilitates the preservation, reconstruction and restoration of significant Yukon historic sites. Activities in 1994-95 will include the research and recording at Canyon City, Forty Mile, Yukon Sawmill, Montague House and selected sites of the Thirtymile River. Land claims planning requirements include Dalton Post, Lansing Post, Rampart House and Lapierre House.
Mr. McDonald: Has the Minister attached a dollar figure to any of those projects? He has $105,000 listed, but I do not have a sense of the financial priorities being given to each of those projects.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have the breakdown handy, but I will bring back a legislative return to the Member on those items.
Mr. McDonald: If he could do that prior to the supplementaries for next week, I would appreciate it.
I would like to discuss Canyon City a bit more during the supplementaries. I will give him notice that I will be interested in knowing, fairly thoroughly, about the consultations to this point, with whom, and what has been decided. I indicated an interest in this issue during Question Period, and I have received some communication from constituents of mine about this particular project. I would like more detail, so I would appreciate it if the Minister could prepare himself for the discussion for the supplementaries.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will do that.
On Canyon City, all we are looking at doing this year is some oral history, some archival research and archaeological research. We will certainly be working and consulting with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation on that particular project.
As far as going in and beginning to build a project is concerned, that is quite far in the future. This year will see only the very preliminary work, such as the consultation that will be taking place.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister has cited Canyon City in the historic sites planning line, as well as in the Canyon City tramway line. When the Minister comes back with a list of projects for the historic sites planning, we will get a sense of the total financial commitment in this area. However, I would like to ask some policy questions about this matter and the planning of heritage sites generally. As I said at the beginning of the estimates, I will leave those to the supplementaries.
Historic Sites Planning in the amount of $105,000 agreed to
On Canyon City Tramway
Canyon City Tramway in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Yukon Archaeology
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The project manager administers Yukon archaeological resources and undertakes, or manages, specific archaeological research projects related to capital developments in tourism and other YTG departments.
There is $100,000 allocated for one staff position and cost recovered funds from other agencies, such as Renewable Resources or Community and Transportation Services, will continue to contribute inventory and research in order to effectively meet information requirements such as development assessment, land use planning and land claim heritage subagreement requirements.
Mr. McDonald: I will make this point on the record now that it is our view that the staffing in this particular area, at this particular time, is critically important. I do not know the ins and outs of what has happened to the archaeological section in Tourism, but it is our position and one that we will state more thoroughly later on that the cutback in staffing, no matter for what reason, whether it be a reduction in the funding program or whatever, is not something that should be considered appropriate at this time. If it requires a higher priority in terms of financial commitment, then it should be given a higher priority in our view.
Yukon Archaeology in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Heritage Studies
Hon. Mr. Phillips: These projects ensure that the heritage of Yukon people is collected and preserved to increase the knowledge about Yukons past and provide public access to documentation by publication of materials, continued work on publication of Robert Campbell, James Stewart, Hudsons Bay Company journals and oral history, archaeology and paleontology fields in selected areas of Yukon or on specific research topics under heritage branch publication.
Mr. McDonald: That is a pretty broad range of topics there. I am sure, if they wanted to, they could spend $40 million and perhaps not do it justice. What are the priorities that the government is pursuing in terms of the $40,000?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: One area that has just come up is the Bonnet Plume. We will assist Renewable Resources in their planning in the area and do the oral history of the Bonnet Plume. To give the Member an example of projects in 1993-94, we did the oral history study of Rampart House, the oral history study of Moosehide, research into the history of selected buildings at Champagne, and the analysis of documentary records of Robert Campbells years with the Hudsons Bay Company and at Fort Selkirk. That is the kind of thing we are doing, and this year we are working with Renewable Resources on the Bonnet Plume area.
Mr. McDonald: Does the department try to preform this work in house or do they contract it to one organization or another? With whom do they contract, if they do contract?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is some contract money in there. About half of the money is for contracts. In the past we have contracted to local individuals to do the work.
Heritage Studies in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Heritage in the amount of $1,234,000 agreed to
On Destination, Regional and Community Planning
On Strategic Planning
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The items here are to conduct the visitor exit survey from May to September for $335,000. The preliminary analysis of the survey data is $22,000; to refine the economic model for tourism is $10,000; and to develop product client inventory database is $25,000. There is one salary of $23,000.
Strategic Planning in the amount of $415,000 agreed to
On Wilderness Resource Assessment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for a background consultation regarding legislation for licensing and permitting of wilderness adventure operators and the field research studies regarding visitor impact on wilderness resources in river corridors. We partner here with Renewable Resources.
Mr. McDonald: In the last budget last spring, the Minister indicated that they were working on a reciprocal arrangement with other jurisdictions for the permitting of wilderness operations. Can he tell us what has transpired since then?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Not a lot has happened with respect to working on an arrangement with other jurisdictions, but a new wilderness tourism association has just been formed. They are taking the lead role in assisting us with developing regulations and cross-boundary regulations with other jurisdictions. We are presently working on that with them.
Wilderness Resource Assessment in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Regional Tourism Plans
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The regional tourism plan this year is to contribute personnel and financial resources for the development of the Dawson regional plan in preparation for the gold rush anniversary celebrations.
Regional Tourism Plans in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Destination, Site or Product Assessment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is an expenditure for the assessment of wildlife viewing opportunities, partnered with Renewable Resources, in the amount of $30,000, and an environmental impact assessment for the Alsek day use area in the amount of $60,000.
Mr. McDonald: With respect to the wildlife viewing projects, I realize that we went through the line items for Renewable Resources covering wildlife viewing areas, but what is the breakout of responsibilities between the two departments?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The lead agency in wildlife viewing is Renewable Resources, but we sometimes take the opportunity to combine some on of the viewing facilities for other interpretation at the sites. This fund is for working with them to identify the areas where most of the tourists are and areas that we think could be useful. In conjunction with Renewable Resources, we work out the plans for the wildlife viewing projects.
Mr. McDonald: Is this line item going to include platforms where people can see wolves in the Aishihik area and, perhaps, if they need to, howl in their direction? What is the priority for these particular expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is a good suggestion, and I thank the Member for it. I will take that recommendation to the Minister of Renewable Resources. I know he will probably be quite receptive to that kind of wildlife viewing opportunity.
Destination, Site or Product Assessment in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
On Product Development
On Signs and Interpretation
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is to construct and install border crossing signs, install and replace advance warning signs, replace or upgrade existing interpretive signs, develop a gold rush anniversary interpretive strategy, and develop an orientation interpretive site for the RCMP centennial.
Mr. Chair, the time being almost 9:30, 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: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 12, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled January 12, 1994:
Liquor sales for year ended March 31, 1993: remittances to government (Brewster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1879
Department of Justice: response to questions raised during debate of 1994-95 capital budget estimates (Phelps)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 1893-1899
Home Ownership Program: types of homes selected for purchase by clients (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1853
Non-government agencies: government-owned space leased to (Devries)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1774