December 15, 1994 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have some documents for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 3: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 3 agreed to
Bill No. 4: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 4 agreed to
Bill No. 71: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 71, entitled Engineering Profession Act, be now introduced and read for a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 71, entitled Engineering Profession Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 71 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Chronic Disease Program Amendment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I rise today to inform Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly of a change being made to the chronic disease program.
As Members may recall, in May of this year, I announced some major reforms to the chronic disease program. One of the changes was that those people with private health insurance are no longer eligible for the chronic disease program, but instead would be required to use their private insurance to pay their costs.
There was general support for this change as it was one way of controlling the increasing costs of this program.
I am pleased to announce today that we will amend the program to allow those with very high expenses to submit any portion of their costs not covered by private insurance to the program for payment. The $250 deductible will still apply.
When the program changes were announced in May, the department allowed a significant implementation period. We wanted to make sure that all program beneficiaries were aware of the upcoming change and what it would mean to them. The implementation period was designed to give the department enough time to determine what problems, if any, existed and work out ways of solving them.
Since the reform package was announced in May, and the changes to the program were implemented in September, the department has become aware of a number of people who, despite private insurance coverage, are facing very high expenses. For example, there are people with arthritis and diabetes who have expenses in excess of $20,000 a year.
The change I have announced today will address the financial burden created by the
expensive treatment of chronic diseases such as these. This change is being made based on
information gained during the implementation period.
In May of last year there were 2,700 Yukon residents on the chronic disease program. As of November 1 this year, there were 382 people on the program, meaning that many individuals are now taking full advantage of their private insurance coverage.
This amendment to the program will not only lighten the financial burden for those facing extremely high costs, but will also ensure that individuals will continue to carry private insurance, with all its benefits, rather than canceling their private insurance and relying 100 percent on the program.
We do not anticipate that this will cost this government a great deal of money. We do anticipate that it will assist those people facing extremely high costs, those people with the most need.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge at this time that this problem was brought
to my attention by the critic for Health, the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Minister for his announcement. As he knows, I had no problem with the notion that the chronic disease program should become the insurer of last resort, rather than the insurer of first resort, for certain classes of people. I thought that was a prudent move, and it was one that I had certainly been considering during my time in office.
As the Minister has pointed out, it is unfortunate that there are still people who were affected quite severely by this change. The Minister indicated to me during conversations we had while I was making representations on behalf of certain constituents that he would look at the program and would consider modifications if there were serious individual situations that came to light.
I want to applaud today's announcement, and indicate my appreciation of the
appropriateness of the timing - just before Christmas. I also want to signal to the
Minister that there are other people out there who still have problems, and he will, no
doubt, be hearing from me on their behalf.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Advocacy groups
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Justice and the Women's Directorate. During debate on the Legal Services Society Act amendments, the Minister said that his government wants to prevent people from coming to boards strictly as advocates for an organization and that they do not want people to come with a predetermined agenda. How does the Minister define an advocacy group and why does he consider advocates to be against the public interest?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think advocacy groups are important in our society. With relation to this particular bill, however, and the work that the Legal Services Society had to do, I thought it was more important to have individuals sit on that board who had the best interests of the society at heart.
Ms. Moorcroft: I think that one reason for the Minister not being able to put forward any solid reasons for not having advocates on the Legal Services Society board is that being a good advocate is part of being a good citizen. Will the Minister now be preventing groups coming to boards from, for example, the Tourism Industry Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Yukon Indian Women's Association, the Chamber of Mines, the Yukon Fish and Game Association, or the Yukon Status of Women Council as advocates for an organization? Is that the Minister's plan?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No.
Ms. Moorcroft: I wonder if the Minister is going to change the Advisory Council on Women's Issues Act or if he has circumvented that law in his recent appointments of an advisory council. Can the Minister tell us which women's organizations he sought nominations from and what women's organizations are represented on the newly appointed Advisory Council on Women's Issues?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have the list of organizations with me but letters went out to an extensive list of organizations. I can bring that list back to the House for the Member.
Question re: Advocacy groups
Ms. Moorcroft: The function of the Advisory Council on Women's Issues is to develop awareness of issues affecting the status of women and to promote a change of attitude in the Yukon so that women may enjoy equality of opportunity. The Status of Women Council has been vocal on women's equality in the community and certainly does not agree with this Minister at all times.
Why did the Minister not seek nominations from the Yukon Status of Women Council, which is, this year, celebrating its 20th anniversary as a Yukon organization promoting women's equality?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe that the Yukon Status of Women Council was one of the groups that was sent a letter. As well, the Yukon Status of Women Council had the Member opposite, who is a member of the council, and other individuals in this House on June 6 when we debated the process for seeking nominations to the council. When I attended the annual debate at the annual general meeting of the Status of Women Council in October, I was asked how soon I was going to appoint these people. No one indicated to me in any way, shape or form at that meeting that they had not submitted, were not, nor would not submit a name. They were given all kinds of opportunity to submit a name to the director of the Women's Directorate, and I guess they chose not to.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Yukon Status of Women Council has been talking to the Women's Directorate and asking them to locate copies of the letter that was purportedly sent to them asking for nominations. That letter has never been uncovered and the Status of Women Council has never been able to submit the name of a woman to sit on the advisory council. I think that is a shame. I would like to ask the Minister to define for us what he means by a predetermined agenda and why he made the statements that he did in this House about having concerns about appointing people with a predetermined agenda to boards?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In the case of the Legal Services Society, it was felt that people who sit on that board should have no agenda other than that of providing legal services the best way we can to Yukon people.
As I said during the debate, and we are going back over that same old debate we had in the House the other night, those people were willing and able to bring the concerns of their society to the table. I wanted them to do that in the best interests of the society.
Ms. Moorcroft: It seems that the government's predetermined agenda is to prevent advocacy groups that do not agree with it from having a voice. The government wants to only appoint people who agree with the government's model to the board of the Legal Services Society, and they do not want to appoint, nor have they appointed, a representative of the Yukon Status of Women Council to the Advisory Council on Women's Issues. That is seriously lacking.
How can the Minister ensure that the Status of Women will have a voice on this new advisory council?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Status of Women Council had a clear opportunity the night of the debate to ask me why they did not receive a letter, but they never raised that that night. In fact, they asked me why I was waiting to appoint this board, and why I did not get on with that. If they had not even submitted a name, why did they want me to appoint a board?
The women who will be appointed to this board, which we will be announcing next week, represent a broad cross-section of Yukon women. All the women on the board can do a fine job of representing Yukon women. They do not necessarily have to come from one group or another. They are all significant on their own, and women will be well represented on the board.
Question re: Economic forecasts
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development about economic forecasts.
A few days ago the Government Leader and I were engaged in debate about the preamble included in the mid-term report. In that report the Government Leader painted a very rosy picture of the future.
What policy does the government have with respect to the preparation of long-term and short-term economic forecasts?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are two economists on staff in the Department of Economic Development. I am not familiar with the actual guidelines that are used for creating forecasts, but it is their job to creat a forecast. There will an economic forecast tabled in this House in the new year.
Mr. Cable: As the Minister will recollect, there was quite a dust-up in the House about an economic forecast that was prepared several months ago. It appeared that the government was disowning the work of its own officials. Was that economic forecast updated?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is my understanding that our two economists are compiling and updating data all of the time. Once per year they create an economic outlook, and approximately six months later they publish an update. They are compiling data throughout the year.
Mr. Cable: Will the Minister table the most recent economic forecast - not the one that is currently being prepared, which the Minister referred to in my initial question, but the most recent economic forecast - so Members can see what was behind the thinking in the Speech from the Throne and the mid-term report?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The most recent published forecast was tabled in the House approximately eight months ago. There has been no new published forecast to date. The department is in the process of completing a forecast and, as I previously stated, it will be tabled shortly after the new year.
Question re: Yukon College dress code
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Minister of Education. As the Minister knows, on behalf of a constituent I recently communicated with him about the existence or otherwise of a government dress code. Unfortunately, I understand that particular matter is in the hands of lawyers. However, I would like to ask a general policy question: does such a dress code exist in the Department of Education or at Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, not to my knowledge. The situation in question involved a complaint by another student about the dress of the constituent whom the Member was representing. The department official in question simply tried to mediate between the two parties.
Mr. Penikett: I would like to ask the Minister if, in mediating disputes about matters such as proper dress, there is in existence a departmental or ministerial policy governing the role of education administrators of instructors in our system?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No. This was an occasion where there was a judgment call by the instructor in question. Unfortunately, it has turned out this way.
Mr. Penikett: As a lawyer and former Minister of Justice, I am sure the Minister of Education would understand that when a student - much less an employee - stands accused of violating a non-existent dress code, it creates an awkward and unpleasant situation.
Has the Minister given any consideration to making it clear, by way of a public statement or letter to the institutions under his authority, that no government or official dress code is in existence at the moment, and there are no rules that apply to students at the college on such matters?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I could do that, but I want to defend the instructor in question. The individual was doing what she thought was right under the circumstances.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation employee
Mr. Penikett: I would like to ask a question of the Government Leader, in his capacity as the Minister responsible for all things powerful and electrical.
I noticed, in the newspaper, that there is a very peculiar ad for a supervisor of public affairs, who would be responsible for communicating on behalf of both the privately owned utility and the publicly owned utility. However, the ad requires that the person apply to the Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. - the private utility - for what used to be a standard public service job. Now, the communications supervisor will report to the private company, even when communicating on behalf of the public company.
Could I ask the Government Leader if he could explain to the House the wisdom of this strange arrangement?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, I cannot. I was not aware of it, but I will bring the information back for the Member.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Government Leader for his answer. I wonder if, in his investigation, he could establish from the people he speaks to about this issue if they clearly understand that the Yukon Energy Corporation's interests and the Yukon Electrical Company Ltd.'s interests are not always identical. Sometimes, the private company might be in competition with the public interests, so there remains a need, whatever management arrangements are made, for some responsible person to be clearly communicating on behalf of the public utility and the interests that the citizens have in that utility.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I can tell the Member opposite that I certainly will investigate the rationale for this activity. I will respond by tabling the information in this Legislature or directly to the Member - whichever he chooses.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Government Leader for his answer. I would appreciate that information.
I wonder if I could ask the Government Leader if he might, for the record - as it may
be useful for not only Members here, but also for the general public - indicate to whom
the public should communicate, and from whom the public should expect communications,
regarding the Yukon Energy Corporation on the very significant issues, such as coal,
diesel and hydro, and power rates, and so forth, and how they compare to one another.
These are the issues about which we will be dealing in the next few months.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have any difficulty with that, and I would expect that Yukon Energy Corporation should answer to the public for its actions. I do not think that Yukon Electrical Company Limited should be answering for it.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation employee
Mr. Penikett: Let me note my absolute delight with that answer from the Government Leader. I have a positively Christmasy feeling coming over me.
I would like to ask the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services a question. Recently, I wrote to the Minister about a situation back on October 19, where government equipment and personnel were working on a road parallel to the Alaska Highway near MacRae, and working on privately owned property. It was public knowledge to my constituents that the property owner intended to subdivide it. I asked the Minister about the situation, and was told that the Government of Yukon had exchanged the surfacing of the road for the building of the access road.
Can the Minister of Community and Transportation Services tell me who owns the land on which the road is built, and why the government would agree to this particular kind of exchange?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: My understanding is that we did not want two or three accesses coming out onto highway right-of-way, so we made an arrangement with them to build the rough part of the road and we would finish it off. I believe there would be two accesses - one at each end - for people to come out on the main highway.
Mr. Penikett: I thank him for his answer, but access continues to be an issue. Complaints have been made that the north end has no acceleration turn lane and enters the Alaska Highway on a curve. People want me to ask the Minister how much this road is costing the taxpayers, who will benefit from it being there, who designed the frontage road, and whether the government has any responsibility for the particular standards of this road? Perhaps the Minister will want to take those questions on notice, but I wonder if he has any knowledge of these details of that project.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I was unaware that one of
the accesses is on a curve, and I certainly will get back to the Member with answers on all of those questions.
Mr. Penikett: Since this is not an arterial road or a highway, could I ask the Minister, for the record, who will be responsible for its maintenance and, if there have been arrangements made about this, will it be in perpetuity?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: To my understanding, it is on a highway right-of-way, much the same as is the road along the highway in Watson Lake. Therefore, I presume that if it is inside the city, the city would be responsible; if it is outside the city, we would be.
Question re: Whitehorse waterfront development, squatters
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services as well. Most people are aware that the Whitehorse waterfront area between Kishwoot Island and the old White Pass train depot is slated for some sort of development in the next couple of years. There are a fair number of permanent, long-time residents living in the area who also have a very significant interest in what happens. Can the Minister update us as to what the department's response is to the needs of the area residents?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I did not quite catch the end of what the Member said. My colleague in Tourism was rubbing his water glass along the desk top. Could you please repeat that for me?
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister tell us what the department's response is to the needs of the area residents, who are somewhat colloquially referred to as "squatters", along the waterfront?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: They were given an opportunity to go under the squatter's rights policy, which was a good policy, but they chose not to do so. If this is on the land that the city is planning to buy from White Pass, it will be up to them to make a decision on it. We, however, will do our best to protect them and see that they get a fair deal.
Mr. McDonald: I am not entirely certain that the Minister indicated that the residents have a continuing right to apply for some sort of residency under the squatters policy. Perhaps he could explain that. What alternatives is the government considering offering those people so that they can be treated in a humane and civil manner?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I was not indicating that they could go under the squatters policy at this time. I believe that, at the present time, it is folded up. As I understand it, most of them are on White Pass land, for which the city is making a deal. It will be the joint responsibility of the city and White Pass to give them a fair deal.
Mr. McDonald: Actually, there are two people partially residing on White Pass property and about 25 people residing on territorial Crown land. It is the latter group I am most concerned about at the moment. Can the Minister tell us whether or not the government has considered a buy-out option such as the one that was offered to the escarpment area residents about 12 to 14 years ago, to allow for a proper removal of buildings that may not be suitable in the interests of long-term development of the waterfront?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am not sure about the buy-out, but we have looked at the possibility of grandfathering them. I will get back to the Member on whether or not we have looked at a buy-out.
Question re: Contract regulations review
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Government Services. I have a document in front of me entitled "Direction Received from Cabinet - Contract Regulations Review." It is a list of directions received from the Cabinet on the contract regulations review that I was provided. I would like to ask the Minister this: what is the status of these regulations, and who is being consulted in this review?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: There is a complete list of the stakeholders who are being consulted. Right now, the status of the regulations is that we have sent out the recommendations, and we have drafted new contract regulations that we are asking stakeholder groups to comment on. I believe that the Yukon Contractors Association has asked for more time to respond. We expect to have responses by early January. The draft regulations would then come back to Cabinet for approval after that.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister to provide us with a list of the stakeholders who are being consulted. I would also like to ask the Minister about some particular directions, specifically with respect to accountability and disclosure of information. Presently, the costs of bids are disclosed when bids are submitted and we have a chance to make comparisons. This document is advocating that only the names and the total points awarded to those who submitted bids or proposals will be published. Is the government telling us that it is no longer going to provide us with each bid price?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, I do not think that is what the government is saying. What I will do is provide to the Member the list of those being consulted, and I will also provide the Member with the draft contract regulations that were prepared on the basis of those recommendations.
Question re: Contracts, sole sourcing
Mrs. Firth: I look forward to receiving that. I also have a question with respect to open-ended contracts where ministers will be given the authority to approve the sole sourcing of contracts. I would like to know if the government is going to do that.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure. That will come back to Cabinet for a final decision, along with the regulations. At the present time, it is the case that Cabinet can approve sole-source contracts.
Question re: Mobile home lots
Mr. McDonald: I have another question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Many will know that people who own older trailers in mobile home rental parks are facing some severe problems associated with the state of repair of the trailers, the building codes, inspection services, bank financing, mortgage services, et cetera. One of the ways to give people an alternative, or a way to escape the maze of problems they face, is to make low-cost land available for sale to these individuals in Whitehorse. Can the Minister let us know what plans the government has to make these lots available to mobile home owners?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are developing lots as quickly as we can, and there are a few trailer lots, but not very many. This is probably something we should be looking into much more closely.
Mr. McDonald: The problem we face is that there are probably approximately 900 trailer owners in Whitehorse who are facing similar problems, and we have a plethora of lots being developed that are all extremely expensive, certainly far beyond the means of the average trailer court owner. I have made representation for low-cost lots for the last two years in this House. It also figured prominently as an issue in the municipal election campaign. Can the Minister tell us whether or not any land development of this nature is planned for Whitehorse? Anything at all?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I cannot tell you at the present moment.
Mr. McDonald: I will give the Minister notice that this issue will be a big one next month in the Legislature, and I hope he will be boned up on the subject at that point. I will be asking him, among other things, what land in Whitehorse has been identified for this purpose, whether or not there have been discussions with the city to encourage them to accommodate the proper zoning for land for this purpose, and whether or not they have had discussions with Kwanlin Dun to ensure that there is land made available on a fast track for this purpose. I would like to let him know that if he wishes to have any further questions posed to him prior to that time, I would be more than happy to brief him.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would very much appreciate all the questions you have, and I will get them all back to you at once.
Question re: Economic forescasts, strategy
Mr. Cable: I have some further questions for the Minister of Economic Development on forecasts, economic strategy and policy in his department.
Just to clarify for the record, with respect to the last economic forecast from which the Minister is operating, is that the same one that was tabled earlier this year by the Minister's predecessor, the Member for Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Perhaps I can pass that question on to the Speaker, although I believe that might be out of order.
I believe that was the forecast.
Mr. Cable: It is my recollection that the government essentially disowned that forecast. What has the government done with that forecast in the development of, for example, economic policy for the Department of Economic Development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The actual statistics confirmed a lot of information that was in that forecast.
The new forecast or outlook that will be tabled in the House will be similar in nature to the one previously tabled. As you are aware, the forecasts are not necessarily published, but those that are provided by the department are used in certain budget deliberations.
Mr. Cable: For the record, does the Minister have a firm date when he will table the most recent forecasts, so the Members on this side of the House and the rest of the Yukon can see whether the glowing picture painted by the Government Leader is accurate?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I cannot give the Member a definite date at this time, but it will be during this session of the Legislature.
Question re: Caribou enhancement program
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. The Minister has said that a scientific review of the wolf kill should be completed with all expected comments received tomorrow. When can Yukoners expect a response from the government?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that I have previously stated that we would be making comments before the new year.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will the government be releasing the final findings of the scientists who were questioned, without tampering with or amending the findings?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, we will.
Ms. Moorcroft: A lot of concern has been expressed by some Yukoners about the government's lack of objectivity toward the wolf kill, when it comes to analyzing the scientific information and developing a response. Will the Minister commit to following the findings and recommendations made by the scientists?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: For the record, I would like to correct the terminology used by the Member opposite. It is the caribou enhancement program.
Question re: Drivers' licences, withholding of
Ms. Commodore: I have a question for the Minister of Justice. The Minister introduced a bill this week that would allow the government to suspend a driver's licence for failure to pay a fine. The bill would also allow withholding a person's driver's licence vehicle registration and permits until outstanding fines are paid. Could the Minister provide us with a total of the fines that are currently outstanding?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The total of outstanding fines, which I provided in the House the other day, for the year 1992-93, is $132,000.
Ms. Commodore: I suggested to the Minister that provision for the payment of outstanding maintenance enforcement orders also be included in this act. Could the Minister tell us the total amount of monies outstanding in the area of maintenance enforcement orders?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have that figure right here as it varies from month to month. However, I will bring that figure back for the Member. I believe the amount is probably quite a bit more than the $132,000 owing for traffic fines.
Ms. Commodore: I would suggest that it more than triples that amount.
I would like to ask the Minister when the women who have outstanding payments to be made to them will know whether or not the Minister will make a provision under the Motor Vehicle Act to accommodate collecting their outstanding payments?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I should remind the Member that at the present time the Yukon has the highest recovery rate of any jurisdiction in the country in the area of maintenance enforcement. With the new federal government program we expect that recovery rate to increase.
The other night during debate, when we were discussing this very issue, I indicated to the Member that I had the officials look into this to find out how soon we could move in that direction. I do not have an answer just yet. It was only four or five days ago that we debated this issue, and the department has been reviewing this issue.
It is our intention to explore it further. I think it was a good suggestion and one that we initially looked at, but as I said, it sort of complicated what we were doing at the time, but it is something we want to move toward. Once I have an accurate date, I can get back to the Member and we will be consulting with the Member when we develop the bill.
Question re: Boards and Committees Handbook
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Government Leader. The previous government used to publish the Boards and Committees Handbook. The last publication we have is from March of 1991. It included all the names and memberships of the boards and committees in the territory, their composition, their remuneration, and the general principle of each group's function.
This government has an individual who has been referred to as "the patronage boss", who is supposed to be responsible for pulling this book together, yet, in the last two years-plus of this government's term, we have yet to see a Boards and Committees Handbook.
I would like to ask the Government Leader why his government has not published this very helpful and efficient handbook.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I was just looking for my briefing note on it. I know that there is one in the works. Because of the constant changing of boards, they are looking at a format that would be a little more cost effective to produce. I can get the full information for the Member opposite.
Mrs. Firth: I am laughing because the other night the Minister accused me of
catching him without his briefing notes, and that was why it was my fault that he screwed
up answering his question. I do not want to be blamed for that again, but I do want to say
I have received a hastily pulled-together version of a Boards and Committees Handbook from
the Government Leader - maybe he does not remember sending it to me. When I made an
inquiry by letter about it, I was sent this, where it was explained to me that they were
going to publish one, but they were not going to put the names in it and that maybe they
were going to provide the names on a quarterly basis. I simply want to know why the
government has not been publishing one. Organizations and groups find it a very helpful
document. An individual is being paid to do this kind of thing, and it is not being done.
The Minister is saying they are looking at a more efficient way to do it, but when are we
going to get this publication again so that people can look up who is on boards and
committees so they know whom to contact?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think the Member opposite just answered her own question. She said she got one, and she was told that they were looking at publishing one on a quarterly basis.
Mrs. Firth: That is not what the Minister's letter said. Maybe I should wait for him to get his briefing notes.
I will ask him this question: the government boards and committees used to cost the government in excess of $1 million a year. This government made a commitment to reduce that cost. Can the Government Leader tell us today whether he has done that, and how much less boards and committees are costing the Yukon taxpayer?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have the exact figure while on my feet, but I will
certainly get it for the Member.
Question re: Publication ban
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister of Justice regarding an incident that was reported in the news. CBC reported on Monday morning that a 41-year-old man pointed a .22 calibre rifle at an RCMP officer in the man's Riverdale home in the early hours of Saturday, December 10. This civilian RCMP employee was arrested and a publication ban on further details was issued on Sunday afternoon by a justice of the peace. Since publication bans are not that common, and this is public information, could the Minister of Justice tell us who requested the publication and the reason for that request?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I cannot at this time, but I will get the information for the Member.
Ms. Commodore: I certainly hope he is able to get more information. I would like to ask him if he would also find out why it has been so difficult to obtain information regarding this issue. We have had people wanting to know why certain things are happening, so it would be appreciated if he could also why it has been difficult for us to find out any more information.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will do that.
Ms. Commodore: I would also like to know if the Member can tell us if this is the same man who organized the RCMP Christmas party the night before the incident.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not know that for a fact, but I can check into it for
the Member. I do not know what organizing the Christmas party would have to do with that,
but I will check into it.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of Opposition Private Members' Business
Mr. McDonald: I am just going to deliver the budget address. Mr. Speaker, you
had better check for delivery when I deliver it.
Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the Official Opposition to be called on Wednesday, January 4, 1995. They are Motion No. 30, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse West and Motion No. 8, standing in the name of the Member for Mount Lorne.
Mr. Cable: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in my name to be called on Wednesday, January 4, 1995. That is Motion No. 28.
Speaker: We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Special adjournment motion
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House, at its rising, do stand adjourned until Wednesday, January 4, 1995.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House, at its rising, do stand adjourned until 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 4, 1995.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 4: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 4, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Hon. Members, it is my privilege to table today the Government of Yukon's capital and operation and maintenance budgets for the 1995-96 fiscal year. The budget totals $489 million and there are no tax increases.
Mr. Speaker, $489 million is a lot of money, but I believe the Members of this House must recognize that the capital budget is expanded by major, multi-year infrastructure projects. The reconstruction of the north Alaska Highway under the Shakwak Project is being funded by the Government of the United States.
The reconstruction of the South Alaska Highway is being funded by the Government of Canada under the terms of the Alaska Highway devolution agreement.
The construction of the $47 million new Whitehorse General Hospital is being paid for by the Government of Canada under the terms of the hospital transfer agreement.
These projects will eventually come to an end, and will have an impact on the size of our capital budgets. At the same time, Members should recognize the fact that, as the Yukon government acquires more responsibility from the federal government, such as the forestry transfer, our budgets will necessarily increase.
We take particular pride in presenting our third balanced budget to this House. We intend to carry on this tradition of responsible fiscal management. Of the 16 government department or agencies, nine of them have had no increase or a reduction in their operation and maintenance expenditures from the previous year, and four of them have only had a one percent increase. Overall, there has been virtually no increase in operation and maintenance expenditures.
While speaking about expenditures, I would like to clarify a misconception held by some Members of this House; that government spending in the areas of education, justice, and health and social services have been cut. This is not the case. If you were to examine the operating expenditures of these three departments over the last three fiscal years, you would discover that the level of expenditures had been relatively constant, or has experienced a slight increase.
Clearly, we have brought the operation and maintenance expenditures of government under control, and the discretionary portion of our capital budget has increased to $65.6 million.
It must be remembered that it is the capital budget that directly creates private sector jobs. We are indeed fortunate to have a $145 million capital budget, which will put many Yukoners to work in the 1995-96 fiscal year.
The Speech from the Throne forecasts a period of accelerated economic growth in the Yukon as we approach the 21st Century.
The signs of this economic rejuvenation are already apparent. Mining exploration in the territory has increased from $9.7 million in 1992, to $18.1 million in 1993, and to almost $36.5 million in 1994.
The prospects for mining exploration in 1995 look even better.
Without mining exploration, there would be no new mines and Yukon is fortunate to have six mines currently in the permitting stage.
When mining in the territory does well, the Yukon economy does well.
The unemployment rate in the Yukon has been steadily declining. In November 1993, the unemployment rate was 11.5 percent. In November 1994, the rate was nine percent.
The number of people employed in November 1993 stood at 12,500. In November this year, 13,400 people were employed. That is 900 more Yukoners working today than were working 12 months ago.
These are promising signs. While the Yukon's economic prospects look bright, this good news will have ramifications for the Yukon government's financial arrangements with the Government of Canada.
It is imperative that the Yukon government neutralize or eliminate the perversity factor in any new formula financing agreement that is worked out with the federal government.
While I was successful in obtaining a freeze in the 1995-96 formula financing grant at the 1994-95 level, the achievement of a new, longer term formula financing agreement with the federal government will remain our top financial priority.
While Yukon government departments have been controlling their program expenditures, they have also been implementing numerous improvements to the way in which they administer their program responsibilities. These changes have resulted in the provision of better services to the public, have reduced overlap and duplication or have resulted in cost savings.
I would just like to give a few examples of the many accomplishments of the good government project and the service improvement program for the benefit of Members of this House.
The administration of the Yukon government's program for agricultural land disposition was transferred from the lands branch of the Department of Community and Transportation Services to the agricultural branch of the Department of Renewable Resources. This transfer provided for a better alignment of the agricultural program delivery and the agricultural land disposition.
I would like to mention three initiatives of the transportation maintenance branch that epitomize this refreshing, innovative approach. In the past two years, the branch has cut its line repainting program for Yukon highways by 50 percent. In doing so, the branch has ensured that safety standards for line painting have not been compromised. This initiative has resulted in a saving of approximately $250,000 a year.
In another innovative initiative, the branch is realizing significant savings in the
winter highway maintenance costs on the Haines and Dempster highways by implementing a
program to better control drifting snow. Problem areas where frequent drifts occurred were
identified. Work on the area adjacent to the highway was subsequently done during the
following summer to contour the areas and lessen the conditions that create drifting snow.
This has reduced the occurrence of drifting snow and lowered maintenance costs on these
highways. The additional expenditures required for the contouring in the summer are
frequently offset by savings to the winter maintenance costs in one year.
The third branch program I would like to highlight is the BST resurfacing program. Transportation maintenance crews must rip and reshape the old BST surface prior to the application of a new BST surface. The historic costs for BST have been $17,000 per kilometre, using conventional equipment.
The highway foreman at the Ross River facility suggested using a large farming disc to break-up the old BST. This innovation has lowered the rip-and-reshape resurfacing costs by $12,000 per kilometre and has resulted in substantial cost savings to the branch.
This is but one branch within one department of the Yukon government. This is the kind of commonsense, innovative approach we are trying to encourage and it is occurring throughout the government.
The Department of Health and Social Services, for example, in 1993 signed an "Assignment for Benefit Agreement" and "The Agreement on the Exchange of Information". Under these agreements, money paid out in social assistance to people who are eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits, but not receiving those benefits because of administrative delays, is reimbursed directly to the Yukon government by Canada Employment and Immigration Commission. The agreements also provide a check and balance by ensuring that people declare all U.I. income when applying for social assistance.
In another initiative, family and children's services branch recently reorganized their open-custody unit to permit the unit to devote more of its human and financial resources to youth crime prevention and treatment, rather than strictly a custody function. This has been accomplished through the use of open-custody homes instead of Yukon government administered facilities. This reorganization, which will result in more effective use of resources, has been accomplished within existing funding and personnel allocations.
I could go on talking about other good government initiatives, but I believe that these few examples will give Members an idea of how departments are meeting the challenges of reducing overlap, improving services and reducing costs.
I am now pleased to provide certain departmental highlights of our 1995-96 budget.
The Executive Council Office has maintained consistent services to its clients, while reducing its operating expenditures by more than $1 million since the 1992-93 year. The proposed operational spending for the current year is $8.5 million, down slightly from the 1994-95 year. Cost-recoverable funds, however, make up a large portion of the department's spending.
Almost $1.4 million has been allocated for land claim negotiations and implementation this year, reflecting the high priority placed on the settlement and the implementation of land claims with the Yukon's 14 First Nations. In addition to this, a chief Yukon government negotiator has been appointed. This person's major task will be to expedite the land claims process. He will also coordinate and manage all devolution responsibilities across governments.
The department continues to support a fully functioning Bureau of Management
Improvement. This branch is an integral part of government-wide reform efforts. At the
same time, the size of this branch has been reduced from its 1991 levels.
Community and Transportation Services has a main capital estimate of $76 million. Thirty-six million dollars of this funding is coming to the Government of Yukon through agreements with other governments.
There will be a $25 million expenditure on the Shakwak Alaska Highway project, with about 56 kilometres in new construction, 40 kilometres in completion work and 42 kilometers in preliminary work. This work is taking place from Quill Creek to the Alaska Border. The funds for this project are provided by the U.S. Government for the improvement of the Alaska Highway north of Haines Junction.
The Government of Yukon will be spending $14.6 million on the south Alaska Highway under the auspices of the Alaska Highway devolution agreement. Of this, $7 millions is recoverable from Public Works Canada. This work will take place at various points between Watson Lake and Haines Junction. Forty-four kilometres will be new reconstruction, 24 kilometers will be completion work and 81 kilometres will be preliminary work.
In addition, approximately $3.6 million and $2.6 million will be spent under the Strategic Highways Agreement with the Government of Canada on a 50/50 cost-sharing basis to upgrade the Top of the World Highway and the Freegold Road respectively.
Another $2.6 million will be spent under the Canada/Yukon Infrastructure Agreement, in partnership with the Government of Canada and municipalities, to develop municipal and community infrastructure.
There will be $8 million devoted to sewage treatment and disposal in Whitehorse, Ross River, Carcross, Pelly Crossing and Beaver Creek, of which $7 million is this year's contribution to the Whitehorse sewage treatment facility.
There will be $1.9 million utilized to continue the piped sewer main replacement project in Dawson City.
Also, $8.3 million has been budgeted for residential land development, in order to ensure a supply of lots for Yukoners.
With respect to transfer payments, the government has maintained the same level of funding for the comprehensive municipal grants as in the previous year.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services and the Executive Council Office have entered into negotiations with Transport Canada on the transfer of the Whitehorse and Watson Lake airports to the Government of Yukon. Canada has expressed an interest in vigorously pursuing these negotiations, and we anticipate a great deal of progress during the airports devolution negotiations in the 1995-96 fiscal year.
A 911 emergency calling system for Whitehorse and surrounding highway corridor will be introduced early in 1995 by the Government of Yukon Department Community and Transportation Services, in cooperation with Northwestel and police, fire and ambulance response agencies. A call to 911 will link the caller with trained personnel located in the RCMP Communications Centre in Whitehorse, who will route the call to police, fire or ambulance services. The 911 service will be cost shared between telephone subscribers in the serving area and the Government of Yukon. The government will pay for staffing costs for two additional full-time call takers at the RCMP Communications Centre.
Mr. Speaker, $5.2 million has been assigned for projects under the Canada/Yukon economic development agreement. As noted in the Speech from the Throne, the framework agreement for the 1991-96 Canada/Yukon economic development agreement is undergoing an evaluation to be completed by March 31, 1995. This is the fifth year of a five-year program.
Just over $1 million has been provided for projects under the business development fund, which is also undergoing an evaluation to be completed by mid-February 1995.
Funding of $5 million has been provided for in the budget for the centennial anniversaries program to spur on the development of community attractions for the Gold Rush celebrations, and $50,000 is available under the centennial events program.
The Yukon mining incentives program, which is designed to promote prospecting and exploration, will receive $863,000. The mineral development agreement, to promote an increased knowledge of regional geology, will receive $1,650,000.
The creation of a mining facilitator position firmly demonstrates this government's commitment to the Yukon mining industry. Major responsibilities of the mining facilitator are to promote and facilitate the development of the mining industry in the Yukon, and to represent the government on mining industry committees, such as the Yukon Mining Advisory Committee and the Yukon Placer Mining Committee. The mining facilitator is currently negotiating with the Loki Gold Corporation, under the auspices of the Yukon industrial support policy, to upgrade the Old Ditch Road in order to promote the development of the Brewery Creek mine.
Anvil Range Mining Corporation is currently discussing its transportation, energy and training needs with various government departments and agencies.
The Yukon government sponsored a trade show of services that are provided to businesses. The project was held at the Gold Rush Inn on October 19 of this year. Ten government departments and agencies participated. This initiative was very well received, and suggestions have been made to make this an annual event, in conjunction with Small Business Month.
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce was the successful bidder to host the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting and trade show convention here in Whitehorse in September 1995. The Yukon government provided support for this initiative. The opportunity to host the convention is evidence that strong ties are being developed between the Yukon and Alaska. This is the first time that that event will be held outside Alaska.
On December 6, 1994, the Minister of Education tabled a comprehensive response and action plan to address the 83 recommendations contained in the education review report.
The Yukon government is committed to encouraging Yukon students to pursue excellence in education. To meet this objective, the Minister of Education will soon be announcing a Yukon excellence-awards program. This program will encourage students in grades 8 through 12 to pursue excellence in their education and will recognize them for doing so by providing additional monetary support for their post-secondary education, based on merit.
The Department of Education has revived the Yukon government apprenticeship program in order to recognize this government's prominent role as an employer in the Yukon workplace and to participate meaningfully in apprenticeship training.
The Yukon government is placing a major focus on training, in consultation with the mining and tourism industries, Yukon First Nations and Yukon College. These training initiatives were highlighted in the Speech from the Throne.
It is the policy of the Yukon government to build new schools and upgrade existing facilities where there is a demonstrated need.
Under a cost-sharing arrangement with the federal government, funding of $4.3 million is being provided for the new French first language school. After a long search for an appropriate site, we are pleased to annouce that we will be opening a new French first language school in the Granger subdivision of Whitehorse by the fall of 1996.
The Robert Service School is too small for the community and new mining development in the Klondike region promises a growing population in the coming years. We are pleased to announce that in 1995-96 we will be providing $300,000 to commence the design of a second school for Dawson, scheduled to open in the fall of 1997.
With the move of L'Ecole Emilie Tremblay School to Granger, there is an opportunity to accommodate the wishes of the Catholic community to offer a Catholic education all the way to grade 12. We will be commencing the design of an expanded Christ the King school.
Funding of $400,000 has been budgeted to construct the new Teen Parent Centre on F. H. Collins property to accommodate 25 students and their children.
The amount of $200,000 has been made available to upgrade the Grey Mountain Primary School. The Department of Education is assessing the merits of constructing a second high school in Whitehorse versus the option of undertaking a major expansion of F. H. Collins School.
Out of an education capital budget of $11.1 million, $9.2 million will be devoted to the upgrading and construction of public school facilities in the territory.
As I stated earlier, the negotiation of a new, long-term formula financing agreement with the Government of Canada is a top priority of the Department of Finance.
Property management, the vehicle fleet and Queen's Printer are being established as special operating agencies to deliver better service to the other government departments.
Government Services is acting on recommendations resulting from the contract regulations review in order to streamline and reduce government regulations.
The sum of $3.4 million has been budgeted to provide information resource infrastructure to upgrade the government's antiquated equipment and systems. Work is continuing on the redevelopment of systems that support fundamental functions of government operations, namely the financial management information system, the human resource information system and geographic information systems. Investment in the implementation phases of these projects is scheduled for 1995-96 and will result in significant improvements that will streamline the operational side of these systems and ensure that more responsive management information is available as required. Redesign of the systems and processes will accrue significant productivity gains through the elimination of overlaps and duplications, and will result in efficiencies throughout the government.
The business incentive program continues to be supported in this budget. Based on a 1.25 percent rebate claiming rate, nearly $700,000 is forecast for incentives relating to the capital building projects, government wide. Most significant of these are the hospital project, numerous highway projects and the new French first language school. These rebates continue to provide incentives for the use of Yukon labour, apprentices, and Yukon-manufactured materials that assist Yukon contractors in becoming more competitive in the Yukon construction environment.
Funding of $15 million has been provided in this budget for the construction of the new Whitehorse General Hospital, and I am pleased to advise that this project is on schedule and on budget.
The administration of the Thomson Centre and the Macaulay Lodge will be moved from the department to the Yukon Hospital Corporation in the spring of 1995 in order to promote the better management and coordination of these facilities.
The Department of Health and Social Services is continuing to control social assistance costs. As noted in the Speech from the Throne, reform of the social assistance program will lead to greater efficiencies in 1995-96, as well as increased financial incentives for recipients to go back to work. An additional $200,000 has been added to the Yukon government's share of funding under the social assistance recipients agreement.
Open custody services have been reorganized to include more community programs for high risk youth. This includes an attendance centre for youth referred by the courts, schools or parents, and community support for youth released from custody. An interdepartmental committee on youth has been formed.
Alcohol and Drug Services is also focusing on youth, and will be expanding their program to include flexible hours of service and prevention and treatment. As part of the alcohol and drug strategy, a variety of broad-based FAS/FAE prevention activities are being planned.
As noted in the Speech from the Throne, the Department of Justice is continuing to focus on violence against women, community-based justice and crime prevention.
As a result of the client survey conducted in the spring of 1994, the Department developed a proposal for a three-year maintenance enforcement program project to be funded by the federal Department of Justice. Approval for the project has been received, and an agreement reached between the federal and territorial governments. A coordinator has commenced work on the first of three one-year phases. The first year's work includes development of a variety of strategies, information pamphlets, reference guides for claimants, respondents and lawyers, information workshops, forms and administrative support systems, and a variety of communication initiatives.
The Champagne-Aishihik First Nation is working to establish a community-based justice system, which would also include the neighbouring non-native community of Haines Junction. A steering committee comprised of native and non-native members is beginning the first round of consultations with the entire community. If there is a community consensus, a final proposal will be drafted.
The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the federal Justice department, is providing the steering committee with funding for a coordinator to do the consultation, to coordinate circle courts and to research the Champagne-Aishihik clan justice system. It is anticipated that the community will sign an agreement soon to finalize an approach to community justice and form a community justice committee.
This is but one example of several community-based justice initiatives that are being
developed. The Department of Justice is working on community crime prevention initiatives,
which involve Yukoners and community groups in the development of approaches to crime
prevention. The Minister of Justice will announce new initiatives early in the New Year.
Mr. Speaker, the reduction in the operation and maintenance budget for the Public
Service Commission reflects the trend experienced during the 1993-94 fiscal year for leave
Mr. Speaker, as detailed in the Speech from the Throne, the Department of Renewable Resources is completing the devolution of forestry to the Yukon government and has set a transfer date of May 1995. This transfer will be of particular importance to the people of Watson Lake and Dawson City.
The department will continue to work on the State of the Environment Report in conjunction with other jurisdictions. This report will provide an overview of the environmental health in the Yukon together with baseline data on various indicators as well as traditional knowledge. It will be made public following a review by Cabinet and the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. A total of $95,000 has been budgeted for this purpose of which $35,000 is recoverable from Canada.
The upcoming anniversaries, beginning in 1995, will dramatically increase visitation to Yukon campgrounds. To meet this increased demand and satisfy visitor expectations, services will be enhanced. The season will be extended, particularly for the campgrounds along the Alaska and Klondike highways. It is intended that campgrounds along these key highways be open and fully serviced from May 10 until the end of September during the anniversary years. Reallocated funds will also focus on increased maintenance at the campgrounds most likely to receive the highest levels of visitation and at recreation sites that will require additional maintenance in response to the influx of visitors. Enhanced levels of service will help fulfill visitor satisfaction and deliver the message that the Yukon is a good place to visit.
This government recognizes the economic, social and cultural contribution that the arts make to the Yukon. The arts branch is working on the creation of an arts policy that confirms the important roles of the arts in the Yukon. As well, initiatives in arts marketing and product development in the cultural industries sector are being developed in the performing, visual and literary arts.
The marketing branch budget has been maintained in 1995-96 to continue marketing initiatives in Europe. The European market has shown a phenomenal growth for the Yukon, and this program will provide an excellent return on investment for the private sector.
Funding has also been included to continue the winter tourism promotion, in partnership with our private sector partners.
The Tourism department will be creating a tourist business centre to consolidate office space for its employees and to house the visitor reception centre facilities. The Tourism store-front operation will be a heritage theme anchor point for the Whitehorse waterfront that is functional, multi-purpose, year-round and accessible.
The initial planning for the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre and the Yukon Historic Resources Centre will be undertaken in 1995-96. The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre will be a unique world-class tourist attraction with a focus on the Yukon's Beringia ice-age heritage.
The Yukon Historic Resources Centre will be attached to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre. This multi-purpose, functional storage and laboratory facility will provide long-term technical and program support to the Beringia Interpretive Centre, as well as to existing community museums.
Historic sites development will continue at Canyon City, near Whitehorse, in cooperation with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation.
With the implementation of the Yukon land claims agreements, several historic sites planning initiatives will be launched. The historic sites planning program will support joint planning exercises with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation for Rampart House and LaPierre House, with Na'Cho Ny'ak Dun First Nation for Lansing Post, and with Champagne-Aishihik First Nation for Dalton Post.
The development of Fort Selkirk will continue in cooperation with the Selkirk First Nation and will see continuing implementation of the site interpretation and preservation plans.
Funds have been provided to the Yukon archaeology program to support resource management responsibilities, and to implement a planned joint archaeology project with the Ta'an Kwachan Council.
In recognition of the need to further support the role of our community museums in providing critical tourist attractions and to serve local communities, additional funding is being provided to the Yukon Historical and Museums Association to support a full-time coordinator position, who will work on behalf of the heritage community. Funding support will also be provided to the Yukon Transportation Museum to assist in creating a director/curator position, similar to those in the Dawson City and MacBride museums.
The Yukon government supports the concept of zero tolerance of violence toward women and children. The Women's Directorate represents the concerns and priorities of Yukon women when government policy and programs are developed.
Ongoing dialogue with Yukon women continues and will be improved with the reinstatement of the Yukon Advisory Council on Women's Issues. New members have been appointed to bein their terms on January 1, 1995.
In addition, the directorate continues to provide support to the Yukon Indian Women's Association healing project. The directorate has extended the secondment of the manager's position for an additional year.
During this sitting of the Legislative Assembly, a report on the quality of young women's lives will be released. This report will provide new insight into the lives of young women in the Yukon. The Directorate continues to work with an inter-agency committee on equity issues for youth. Activities are being planned to provide forums for young women and young men to discuss issues of concern to them. Initiatives to improve the lives of young Yukon women will ultimately result in a more inclusive, safer and healthier environment for all Yukon youth.
Housing continues to be an important contributor to the Yukon economy. Housing starts are recognized as reliable indicators of the state of the economy. The number of permits for new single detached units in Whitehorse has increased from 111 units in November 1993, to 126 in November 1994. This indicates that the consumer continues to have confidence in the recovery of the Yukon economy. The reopening of the Faro mine and the projected mining activity in Dawson and the Carmacks area are expected to provide further stimulation to the housing market.
Yukoners living in rural communities often experience difficulty in obtaining mortgage financing for new home construction. During the current fiscal year, the corporation has undertaken a pilot project designed to assist rural residents in obtaining private sector financing for new construction. Seven rural homes are now under construction, financed by a private lending institution. It is the involvement of the corporation that has removed the roadblocks that would have otherwise prevented the bank financing. This represents a very good example of the government working cooperatively with the private sector to achieve its objectives, and to do more for less.
During the next fiscal year, some of the corporation's programs will be amended to reflect the recommendations of the 1993 territory-wide housing conference. The corporation's board of directors, assisted by the Housing Industry Advisory Committee and the Territorial Association of Housing Advisory Boards are expected to finalize the review of the home ownership program in early 1995. The board of directors has been mandated to make recommendations on how the home ownership program can be improved.
Members of the House will be asked to approve the Yukon Housing Corporation's capital
budget of nearly $11 million, which includes $4 million for the home ownership program and
$4.5 million for the home repair program.
The Housing Corporation together with the Yukon Real Estate Association, Trailer Owner's Association, trailer park owners and municipalities will be addressing the problems faced by owners of sub-standard trailers.
The Speech from the Throne, in conjunction with the four-year plan, has set the future direction of this government. Six major priorities have been established as Yukoners approach the 21st century.
The Speech from the Throne is a "signpost" pointing toward our collective destiny.
The three budgets we have tabled in this House form the highway that will take us into the future and allow us to fulfill our commitments to Yukoners.
The news that the Yukon Indian land claim settlement legislation can now be implemented is something we have all been waiting for. What a tremendous Christmas present for Yukon First Nations and for all Yukoners.
Yukoners are ready to run their own affairs. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Hon. Ron Irwin, has made that commitment, both to Yukon First Nations and to the Government of Yukon.
We are going to negotiate the transfer of land and resources to the Yukon with DIAND and Yukon First Nations in a manner that will not be prejudicial to those Yukon First Nation claims that have not yet been settled.
It is only through the ownership and control of Yukon land and resources that Yukon First Nations and the Yukon government will be able to achieve self-sufficiency and a better life for all Yukoners.
As we end one year and are about to start another, the economic prospects for Yukoners look exceedingly bright.
The population of the Yukon could grow considerably over the next 10 years.
There will be a need to balance economic development with environmental protection and to manage our resources wisely.
There will be a need to educate and train Yukoners to take advantage of the economic opportunities that lie ahead.
There will be a need to continue to develop energy, transportation and tourism infrastructure to sustain and promote this economic growth.
There will be a need to provide quality health and social care.
There will be a need to continue to protect the Yukon's unique heritage, customs, traditions and values.
There will be many challenges as we travel down this road together.
The 1995-96 budget will help Yukoners meet these challenges with confidence and optimism, and I commend it to all Members of this House for their consideration.
Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to wish you and all Members of this House, and all Yukoners, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Mr. McDonald: I will take this opportunity, as well, to wish all Members a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I move that we adjourn debate on this motion.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for McIntyre-Takhini that debate be now adjourned.
Motion to adjourn debate on Bill No. 4 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to take the opportunity to wish you, other Members and their families, the Clerk and the staff of Hansard, our good friends in the media and the people of the Yukon a very Merry Christmas and a safe holiday season.
With that, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I, also, would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas holiday. While I was sitting here, I was thinking that if Santa had come one week earlier, he perhaps would not have had to make a run to the Members here, but, considering their behaviour this week, he could make an extra run.
This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 4, 1995.
The House adjourned at 3:05 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled December 15, 1994:
Government contracts registry (April 1-November 30, 1994) by department (Ostashek)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 15, 1994:
Special warrants (Fall, 1994) information to be contained in Supplementary Estimates No. 1 (1994-95) (Ostashek)
Written Questions No. 1, dated December 5, 1994, by Mrs. Firth
Highway construction - Alaska Highway: $4.5 million reduction in 1994-95 capital budget became part of government surplus; information contained in Supplementary Estimates No. 1 (1994-95) (Ostashek)
Written Question No. 3, dated December 5, 1994, by Mrs. Firth
Yukon Energy Corporation: Boylan contract amount; schedule of rates (Ostashek)
Oral, Hansard, p. 59
Agricultural Association: monies expended on the Farmers' Market; Agricultural Planning Advisory Committee: breakdown of expenditures for the years 1992-93 to 1994-95 (Fisher)
Written Question No. 4, dated December 8, 1994, by Mr. Cable