Wednesday, March 1, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with silent Prayers.
Recognition of aboriginal languages month
Mr. Abel: On a previous occasion, I rose in this House to acknowledge aboriginal languages day in Canada and said a few words in this House in my own language. Today, I would like to acknowledge aboriginal languages month.
In 1993, the Assembly of First Nations approved and adopted a resolution declaring the entire month of March as aboriginal languages month. The Assembly of First Nations encourages First Nation communities to participate in activities recognizing aboriginal languages and to focus attention and action on the preservation of these languages.
This is the reason that I rise today. I want to say a few words in my own language, and will distribute copies of an aboriginal languages month poster to the hon. Members of this House. The poster will be distributed to each Yukon First Nation, and will be appearing in the local newspapers. It is sponsored by the Canada/Yukon cooperation and funding agreement on the development and enhancement of aboriginal languages.
At this time I would like to say a few words in my own language.
[Member spoke in Gwitchin]
What I said was this: "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak in my own language. If we work together in this House on behalf of Yukoners, I am sure we will do good work for all Yukoners. We must teach our children to speak our language, so they will better understand our culture and the wisdom and ways of our elders today and in the centuries that are yet to come.
"I want to commend the efforts of the Yukon government in supporting the aboriginal languages in several activities this month, including a display they had at the Qwanlin Mall, the poster for "Aboriginal Languages Month" that I have just distributed, an open house and a variety of displays and activities, which will be held at the aboriginal language service office on March 10." Incidentally, I think that is my wife's birthday.
I want to thank the House for giving me the opportunity to speak today in my own language and to acknowledge this very important month.
Mahsi' cho. Thank you very much, my friends.
Mr. Joe: I, too, want to join in and speak my language. It is very important that our aboriginal language is still alive today and that it will be there until the end.
Right now, I would like to say a few words in my language. Toward the end, I will interpret them. Thank you again.
[Member spoke in Northern Tutchone - translation unavailable]
Aboriginal language is important to our society.
Now I would like to speak about societies. White people have their own society and so do we. Why should we lose our language? We were here long before anyone ever came to this land. Thank you.
Speaker: At this time, 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 the 1993-94 Annual Report, Government of Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have a legislative return.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Are there any Bills to be introduced?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Education, diagnostic testing
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Government Leader about a potential conflict of interest.
The government has hired two experts in the assessment field to draft a comprehensive testing strategy for the Yukon public schools; however, we have received information that one of the experts, Dr. Muhtadi, has a direct economic interest in a company that produces questions for standardized testing already in use in our system; therefore, his own private business interest could be furthered by expanded cumulative and diagnostic testing. Can the Government Leader confirm that Dr. Muhtadi has a private interest in expanded testing, and does he not agree that this could create a perception of conflict?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not aware of this matter, but I will look into it.
Mr. Harding: It is my understanding that we have already used test questions for our diagnostic test from Dr. Muhtadi's company. I would like to ask the Minister why these issues were not investigated further prior to the announcement of the use of this gentleman for the development of an expanded testing strategy in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Again, this is the first I have heard of this allegation, and I will have to look into it and get back to the Member.
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister confirm clearly for the record then that no one in his department, nor the Minister himself, has ever had this mentioned to them by the partners in education. If he can confirm that, I would also like to ask him if he will ask for their views on this particular matter.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Again, this is new to me. I do not know about the department. I will have to look into it and get back to the Member.
Question re: Education, diagnostic testing
Mr. Harding: This is a question for the same Minister. I have received complaints that the testing strategy process has shown a clear bias from the outset. The Yukon education partners are being asked the question: how do you want expansion expanded cumulative and diagnostic testing? - rather than being asked if they want expanded testing. This is contrary to the education review recommendations.
Will the Minister ask Yukoners if they want expanded cumulative and diagnostic testing in our system at all?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have clearly said that we are going to go ahead with expanded diagnostic testing and accumulative testing, and that is what we are intending to do. We are currently putting a plan in place for consultation with the stakeholders as to how this should be done.
Mr. Harding: This is a decision that should be made in consultation and partnership with the Yukon education partners. The Minister should not be prejudging that we should have expanded cumulative and diagnostic testing in our school system.
As a matter of policy, if the education partners in our system said that they do not want this expanded cumulative and diagnostic testing, will the Minister abide by their decision not to let this happen in our public school system?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are talking about a policy decision to expand diagnostic and cumulative testing in the core subjects from grade 8 through 11. This is something that is consistent in virtually every other jurisdiction in Canada and we will be consulting with the stakeholders, but I am extremely certain that there will not be any kind of consensus as to whether or not the department should be doing it. This is a decision we are making.
Mr. Harding: Why would the Minister of Education make a policy decision that affects every student in the Yukon public school system and every Yukon education partner? Why would they do that in isolation?
Why would the Minister bring in a policy decision without involving the education partners in advance? This is precisely the kind of action the Yukon Party government takes that is breaking down the bridges in the Yukon education system.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Could I make a mild suggestion to the Member that he read the education review to see what it says about standards and the whole issue of setting standards and adhering to them?
There is all kinds of evidence that a great many of the stakeholders want to see standards and performance measurements set in our schools. In doing this, in our view, we are following the wishes of a great many of the stakeholders.
Question re: Economic strategy
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development on his department's strategic plan.
Earlier this month in the House, the Minister stated the Department of Economic Development had recently embarked on a strategic business planning process, which would lead to the preparation of an action plan to clearly state the steps government will take to develop the mineral, forestry and energy sectors and small business.
What target date is the Minister working toward for the completion of this action plan?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The whole plan will be a living, continuing plan.
I would like to see a first draft by mid-April, or thereabouts.
Mr. Cable: The Minister went on to say, "Suffice to say that our government takes a different philosophical perspective on economic development than the previous administration." This suggests to me that there was a general theme to the Minister's strategic planning process - diversification, stabilization, growth or sectoral analysis.
What is the Minister's theme when he talks about a "different philosophical perspective"?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think we should leave the debate on the details to the time the department comes up for debate.
We are not sure what effect the federal budget cuts will have, or when - whether it will be April 1 of this year or April 1 of next year. We may have to review the trail that we have been following and look at exactly what we are capable of doing and how we will go about it.
Mr. Cable: Presumably, in this exercise, the Minister has given his department some marching orders to start the strategic planning process. Are the terms of reference spelled out or are they simply oral instructions to the various officers in the department? If they are spelled out, can the Minister table them?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would not mind circulating an outline of what we hope to achieve by the planning exercise. I will do that in the next few days.
Question re: Education, diagnostic testing
Mr. Harding: I have a follow-up question for the Minister of Education on a previous question that I was discussing with him. The Minister of Education just told me that I should perhaps read the education review to find out what is in it. I would like to remind the Minister that the Education Review Committee has already written a public letter that was published in the newspapers, stating that that Minister of Education has misrepresented the views of the education review to the Yukon public. I would like to ask that Minister, before he decides, in isolation, to make a policy decision to move ahead with expanded testing, that he sit down with the people who formulated the education review to get a clear interpretation about what is really in that document. Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The document is pretty easy to understand, if the Member would take the time to read it. The Education Review Committee is no longer in existence. Four of the members wrote a letter, not all the members on the committee. It is my view that we are acceding to the wishes of the majority of stakeholders and individuals who have been consulted about the direction education ought to take in the territory. Interestingly enough, we are following the same direction that is now set in Ontario, where the brothers and sisters of the Member opposite are following recommendations of the Caplan report, and we are following the same direction as B.C. and the other provinces.
Mr. Harding: The 1990 Education Act was a made-in-the-Yukon Education Act that was developed by the NDP in consultation with all of the Yukon partners in education. We believe in that theme. Unfortunately, this government does not seem to believe in that particular theme, because they are afraid to engage in any substantive consultation on education issues. That Minister is the one who misrepresented the views of the Education Review Committee. I have read the review, and I do not agree with his interpretation. Neither does the committee that put the review together.
I would like to ask the Minister this question: why does he continue to make policy in isolation? Why does he not sit down with the people who formulated the review, and get a clear interpretation of what is really in it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I realize that the Members opposite are out of questions, so they want to rehash the stuff that has been going on for days in Committee of the Whole - and more properly there, because it is an issue that has gone on and on. I assume that in tonight's debate, the Member will obey rule No. 12, regarding Question Period, and not raise this again in Committee of the Whole. Is that what he is saying?
Mr. Harding: The rules-
Point of Order
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: The Minister of Education on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is amazing that we hear about the rule of law from the Leader of the Opposition, and his own Members and the independent Member want to disobey the rules.
Speaker: Order. There is no point of order.
Mr. Harding: This is the world's smallest violin.
I would like to ask the Minister another question. He stated that we are out of questions. I would like to tell him that I consider the issue of testing to be one of extreme importance to the Yukon education community and to all parents who have children in the schools. I think it is an issue that should be dealt with here in this House, and we are going to deal with it. If he does not like it, that is too bad.
I would like to ask the Minister what parameters he has given the experts who are in charge of the comprehensive assessment strategy development process? Has he told them to work within the confines of a policy that there is going to be expanded cumulative and diagnostic testing, or has he told them to ask Yukoners whether for not they want it in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Apparently, the hon. Member is having some hearing problems as well as difficulty with his intellectual capacity, so I do have to feel a little sorry for him.
I have already said very clearly that we intend to have diagnostic assessments and cumulative testing in the core subject areas from grades 8 to 11. I do not know how many times I have stood here in the House in Question Period and in Committee of the Whole and said that. If he cannot get it through his head, I do not know exactly where to go.
He can keep repeating the same question endlessly if he likes, but surely by now he has attained the desired result of appearing on TV and acting like he has something new to say.
Speaker: Order. I would like to remind the Member who just spoke that a reply to a question should be as brief as possible, relevant to the question, and should not provoke debate.
Question re: Transfer payments, federal
Mr. Penikett: I think the Minister of Education's report card probably used to say, "Bright boy, but does not do his homework".
I would like to ask a question of the Government Leader with respect to his fierce, relentless and passionate lobby to Finance Minister Martin about the public utility transfer tax. Since Mr. Martin has apparently totally ignored the representations from the Government Leader, which raises questions about the futility of the Government Leader's attendance at finance ministers meetings, could I ask the Government Leader exactly what he said to Mr. Martin in his failed effort to persuade him not to do what he has done in terms of abolishing that transfer?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If we want to talk about abilities, we need only look at the Leader of the Official Opposition in his capacity as Government Leader. He was one of the architects of the Charlottetown Accord that was overwhelmingly rejected by all Canadians.
I wrote a letter to Mr. Martin concerning the public utilities grant, as did the Northwest Territories, Alberta and other jurisdictions.
Mr. Penikett: My, these are desperate days.
I recall that the gentleman opposite supported the Charlottetown Accord, but the record will show that he did not know where Charlottetown was in Canada.
Mr. Penikett: Charlottetown, New Brunswick? Charlottetown, Newfoundland? Charlottetown, Nova Scotia?
Speaker: Order. Would the Member please ask the question.
Mr. Penikett: I would be delighted to.
The Government Leader announced that he was going to absorb the cost to consumers of this tax grab by Mr. Martin against Alberta and the Yukon, because it obviously has some bearing on Mr. Martin's decision. I want to know whether or not the Government Leader told Mr. Martin, before Mr. Martin made his decision, that he, the Government Leader, was going to absorb the cost of this potential change, if it happened.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Quite clearly, we did not do anything of the sort. While the Member opposite should be aware - as he was in this position for many, many years - as long as the formula stays the same, the elimination of the grant will not really have any effect on us, because if we do not get it there, there will be a corresponding increase in the operating grant.
Mr. Penikett: I understood that, but I worried about whether or not the Government Leader did. Given the massive cuts to all and sundry in the Liberal budget announced a couple of days ago, I would like to know if the Government Leader is also going to be indicating to the people of this territory that he will be absorbing any cuts to post-secondary education programs, to health programs, to hospital services, to the college, or to any other services. Will the Government Leader be absorbing the impact on Yukoners, or will he be following through with service cuts, pay cuts and perhaps new taxes of his own?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Quite clearly, the Leader of the Official Opposition does not understand the formula or the grant, because the same holds for the capital assistance programs. If we are cut in the capital assistance programs, it will be offset in the operating grant.
Question re: Forestry devolution
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Government Leader on forestry devolution.
The statement was attributed to the Government Leader on the radio yesterday morning that the federal Minister has assured him that the Liberal's budget cuts will not affect forestry. Given the vagueness of the budget address and the information that was tabled with it, how did he receive this assurance and does he have anything in writing - because, obviously, we cannot trust the Liberal government in Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I received a phone call from the DIAND Minister's office right after the budget speech was delivered in the House that assured me that the programs that were being devolved to the Yukon would not be cut this time.
Mr. Harding: Given the Liberals bailing out on so many promises, I do not feel entirely confident with that answer. Given that the federal forestry department is in a state of limbo due to the pending transfer, and the feds have a desire to spend as little as possible because everything they do spend will eventually be transferred to the territory, can the Government Leader tell me a little bit more about why he feels so confident that forestry is not going to be affected by this budget after receiving that phone call? Does he not think he should get something more concrete?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Certainly, I am not all that comfortable with it, knowing how we were dealt with in the forestry transfer, but all I can tell the Member now is that that is all the assurance that I have at this point. There are going to be discussions with DIAND. I will be having further discussions with the Minister on the issue. I can only relate what has been told to us up to date. In his press release, the Minister said that the federal government would be stepping up efforts to devolve the remaining provincial-type programs to the territorial governments.
Mr. Harding: Our information is that employees are being treated like mushrooms over at forestry. They have little information about devolution or budget cuts and how that might impact on their department. They do know that they have been left to fight our forestry problems in that state of limbo. Is the Government Leader positive that the Liberal budget cuts will not further affect forestry personnel numbers and positions for devolution?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not positive. As I said to the Member opposite, all I could relate to is what I was told by the DIAND office right after the budget speech was delivered in the House of Commons.
Question re: Forestry devolution
Mr. Penikett: Given the Liberal orgy of program-dumping on the provinces and the huge service cuts that are obviously coming in this and the next budgets, it must almost certainly put devolution negotiations in a new light.
As a matter of policy, can the Government Leader tell me if this territorial government is prepared to accept cut-rate federal programs? Is it prepared to accept programs with less than 100 percent dollar funding?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Of course we want to get the funding it is costing the federal government now to deliver the programs in the Yukon. We also want to have some flexibility and room to raise revenues so we can put together programs - especially in forestry, which has been ignored for many years by the federal government. We have to have flexibility to raise revenues to support a silviculture program, and find out how much timber we have in the Yukon and what the sustainable cut is.
Mr. Penikett: A moment ago, the Government Leader mentioned a phone call from Mr. Ron Irwin containing a promise about cuts. As a matter of record, what happened to the previous federal promise not to shrink programs that were under negotiation at the devolution table? What happened to that promise and what has YTG done about it?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is quite clear what YTG did about it. We refused to accept the forestry transfer because it was scaled back. I raised that issue with the Minister during my last trip to Ottawa. I clearly said that that was not the proper way to negotiate the devolution of programs. I believe that may be one of the reasons the assistant deputy minister of finance for the Minister's department gave me assurances right after the budget speech came down.
Mr. Penikett: Is it not the case that the public statement made by the Government Leader on the radio - that there was fat in the federal programs, that he wanted to gut that fat and cut the programs - was the kiss of death to the potential for us to receive 100-cent dollars for the forestry transfer?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I doubt that very much. The fact remains that we had a negotiated agreement that was negotiated in good faith, and the federal government tried to claw back funds from that agreement. We refused to accept that.
Question re: Development assessment process
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Government Leader about a new issue; one that is very important to the future development of the territory.
On Tuesday, February 14, 1995, with the proclamation of the land claims and self-government acts, the clock starting ticking on the writing of the Development Assessment Act, which has a short two years in which to be completed.
Since we heard nothing from this government in the throne speech about this important matter, I would like to ask the Government Leader what this government has done about this issue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Under the development assessment process, there have been some broad context and principles drafted, prior to the proclamation of the legislation. This has not been sitting on a shelf with no one working on it. Once we can get the First Nations and the federal government to the negotiating table, and once the federal government budget is through and the First Nations have completed proclamation of the land claims, we are going to be working very diligently to get the development assessment process in place, prior to the two-year deadline in the agreement.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has said that the government is going to be working very diligently and it is not as if nothing has been done. What exactly has his government done?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: In order to provide the Member with those details, I will have to bring back a detailed return. I cannot provide that information right now, but there have been discussions with the Chamber of Mines and the federal government. Some broad principles have been discussed and, as I said, work has already begun on this, which will continue. We know how important the development assessment process is in light of the fact that we are talking about the devolution of land, water and minerals together with forestry, from the federal government. It is important that we do not drag our feet and have a process that all companies have to go through, rather than trying to get them streamlined at the same time.
Mrs. Firth: I appreciate all the rhetoric, but I do not want a 12-page document telling me what has been done. Can the Government Leader tell us if anything has been done? Is there a department taking a lead role? Who has been delegated the authority for this? What exactly has the government done?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Land Claims Secretariat and the implementation people in that department will be taking the lead role on that, and we will be working with the Chamber of Mines. I have already had discussions with the Chamber of Mines; we know the concerns they have. We worked with the Chamber of Mines on the dispute mechanism for access to the land, and we were successful in getting the surface rights legislation to where it was fairly acceptable to everyone, and we hope the same will happen with the development assessment process.
Question re: Development assessment process
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up with the same Minister on the same issue.
His assertion of how well the surface rights legislation went is still open for debate.
My concern is that the government is dragging its feet with respect to this issue. The feedback I get is that no one knows what is going on within the government. If they are doing something, they are not telling anyone, including us as Members of the Legislature.
The Government Leader has indicated that land claims and the secretariat will be doing something, which indicates that they have not started doing anything yet. Can he tell me what roles Economic Development and Renewable Resources will have?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: All affected departments will have a role. The consultation will be initiated by the Land Claims Secretariat. It will deal with all departments.
The Member says that we are doing nothing. That is wrong, but in order to get negotiations going, we must have three players at the table. We cannot do DAP in isolation of the federal government and the First Nations. We need all three parties at the table in order to proceed.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to see this government take the lead role in doing something. The Minister says that they are doing something, but he cannot tell us what. This reminds me of the forestry policy - actually, it reminds me of every policy that this government talks about.
Can the Minister tell us if there is one individual who has been given the authority to coordinate all of these activities? Have they even done that? Has one individual been appointed to take charge of this project and be accountable and responsible for its progress?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am certain that there is someone within the Land Claims Secretariat who has been given that responsibility; however, the ultimate responsibility will rest with the chief land claims negotiator, who will be reporting to me.
Mrs. Firth: I am very skeptical that anything is being done. I think I am being fair in that skepticism, considering the track record of this government and, particularly, this Minister.
Can the Minister tell us one thing that is happening that would give us some assurance that anyone is looking after this issue? So far, we have not got the name of one person who is responsible for it or any information on it, such as how it will work, what is being done or when the Minister will receive a report. It leads me to believe that nothing is being done.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That Member would be skeptical of anything on this side of the House. That is just her nature.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: She expects the Minister to stand here and know these intimate details. We cannot be expected to stand on our feet and relay that information when there are thousands of things to deal with. I said that, if she liked, I would bring her a return.
Question re: Economic development, strategic planning
Mr. Cable: I have some further questions for the Minister of Economic Development about his department's strategic business planning process. In his instructions to his officials, has he or will he be indicating to them, in any way, the role he sees for the government in the economic development process, and, in particular, in the role of grants, loans and venture capital?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We made it quite clear to the department that we do not wholly support the grants program. Most of the grants have been under one of the sub-agreements of the economic development agreement. Until we find out exactly what is meant by the budget speech, which I hope we are finding out right now - there is supposed to be a briefing for all of the deputy ministers - we cannot really say how we are going to deal with that.
Mr. Cable: From what the Minister just said, I will take it that he partly supports loans, grants and venture capital.
During the last election, the Yukon Party issued a four-year plan, which included, as one part, economic issues. Has the Minister integrated the Yukon Party's four-year plan with his instructions to his department in the strategic planning process? If not, has the four-year plan been discarded?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The department is certainly using the four-year model in the development of its business plan.
Mr. Cable: That is what we are worried about.
The Minister, in his remarks when he introduced the Department of Economic Development budget, said, "The planning process will include consultation with the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment as well as focused consultation with stakeholders and interest groups". What is it that the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment is doing that his department is not doing? If there is any overlap, how does he intend to integrate the two processes?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment is looking at each industry sectorally. They are looking at electricity; they are looking at mining; they are looking at all the various aspects and certainly that affects what we do in our department. That is why we would be working closely with them.
Question re: Economic development agreement
Mr. McDonald: I am sure that Question Period today will have extended the debate on the Economic Development estimates by at least one week. I have a question also for the Minister of Economic Development about the passing of the economic development agreement. I am sure that will be seen as a mere postscript to the bigger cuts in public services announced in the Liberal budget speech, but a number of things were funded by the economic development agreement that are considered by many to be essential public services that are there to promote the health of various industries.
Given that the economic development agreement is to be cancelled, what does the Minister plan to do with geoscience mapping, the geoscience office, and services that are considered baseline and essential for the mining industry?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: My understanding is that the federal government wants to save approximately $4.6 million across the north, which takes in both the Yukon and Northwest Territories. They also have indicated that they want to retain the geoscience aspect, such as the mapping and surveys office, in Whitehorse. That is really all we know about it at this point in time, but it does not look as though all the economic development agreement programs are going to be scrapped right off the bat. It also looks like our geoscience office will remain.
Mr. McDonald: I know that there is going to be a phase-in period for the virtual total elimination of the economic development agreement programming. Clearly, there are some long-term consequences, including the consequence associated with DIAND's Northern Affairs budget being cut by six percent, as well.
There was some discussion about the promotion of silviculture - planting trees, silviculture surveys, buying seedlings, and so on, for the future health of the forestry industry. Many of these things were being funded by the economic development agreement itself. Has the government, in its contingency planning, accommodated this cut, and is it going to be seeing to it that, either in the forestry devolution or through its own programming, this activity will continue to take place?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Part of the forestry devolution agreement is that there will be monies included for silviculture and reforestation. The Member is correct when he says that there have been some projects - one in Beaver Creek and one in Watson Lake - where there was some reforestation done under the economic development agreement. Again, we do not know how much of a cut we are going to get, and we do not know exactly what programs it is going to affect. Whether the forestry programs that are under the economic development agreement are gone, we do not know.
Mr. McDonald: The problem I have is that we have speculated broadly in the last couple of months that the economic development agreement will be cancelled in this round of federal budget cuts. I do not think that it was a surprise to many people that the funding was, in the end, cancelled on Monday. Surely there will be contingency plans to handle all of the eventualities - particularly for that programming and those services that are considered essential.
I would ask the Minister for Tourism, who knows that the Asian and European marketing campaigns are funded out of the economic development agreement, what contingency plans the Yukon government has put in place to ensure that there are continued marketing activities - significant marketing activities - in Europe and Asia - besides his own personal intervention in that effort - to ensure that the long-term health of the industry is protected?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I want to make it clear, from the start, that I have not been to Asia, yet; just Europe.
With respect to tourism economic development agreements, I think that the Member might have noticed that in this budget there are more funds in the "A" base budget this year for the European campaign and some of the other marketing. There is no doubt that the cutbacks to the economic development agreements by the Liberals in Ottawa are going to affect us, although we are not yet sure how or where, as the Minister mentioned. There has been some reliance on these programs in the past, but we have been making moves on the tourism side to put some of this in our "A" base budget. These are the kinds of things that are going to affect a small jurisdiction like the Yukon, so we are watching it very closely.
Question re: Development assessment process
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up with the Government Leader with a question about the development assessment process.
This is the government that talks about deregulation, self-sufficiency, and one-window approaches, yet the Government Leader could not stand up today and tell us anything about the development assessment process. Could I ask him who is going to prepare the legislative return that he is going to bring back for the Legislature, telling us about the development assessment process?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That will be done by the Land Claims Secretariat.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us what is the government's position on how this process is going to work, or do we have to wait for the Land Claims Secretariat to tell the Government Leader what it is?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have said time and time again in this House that we hope to pull the other processes in under the development assessment process, thereby having a one-window approach to permitting in the Yukon. That is why it will be a complicated process to get the development assessment process in place. If the development assessment process is going to work, it has to encompass the other processes that are now in place.
Mrs. Firth: How does the Government Leader see it working? No one else has figured out how it is going to work. Can the Government Leader explain how he sees it working?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Those are the kinds of issues that will have to be negotiated with the other players in the game. That is a goal of ours and a goal of the mining community. We hope to be able to convince the First Nations and the federal government that this is the right route to go; we have already been working on that.
If we want to do something that is good for the Yukon, for First Nations and for ourselves, it has to be done so that the development assessment process is the process that covers all of the other processes that are out there now. That way, mining companies will not have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops, providing the same sort of information to the different bodies, to get their permits in place.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Motion No. 40, standing in the name of Mr. Penikett.
Adjourned debate, Mr. Harding.
Motion No. 40 - debate resumed
Speaker: The Motion before the House is
THAT it is the opinion of this House that investments in the health and the education of Canadians and their children is fundamental to the future prosperity of Canadian society; and
THAT this House opposes the deep spending cuts in these areas being proposed for the next federal budget.
Mr. Harding: I only have 10 minutes remaining, but I just want to say that the soothsaying ability that we show when put forth this motion certainly rang quite true, because we see in this budget that it is going to affect education, health care and a lot of other things in this country. I was shocked and appalled by the deliverance of this budget and the manner in which it was brought down. Certainly, in this country we must get debt and deficit under control, but let us do it with a little fairness.
I think that the Liberals certainly have to thank Brian Mulroney for something, because it is obvious that his contribution to their Liberal budget policy was tremendous. He carried a lot of weight with the Liberals, but unfortunately, now that they are in government they do not seem to remember that they opposed so much of what he did in Opposition.
Deficits now are about the same as they were in the last Mulroney years, but the Liberals act like they have just discovered them - like they are something new and now something should be done about them.
The Liberals, in Opposition, criticized everything the Mulroney Tories did. First of all, they opposed his UI cuts. Now, their action in government is that in two years they have initiated the biggest UI cuts in the history of this country, and they have attacked that social safety net that we have in our unemployment insurance system that is funded by employees and employers, like Mulroney never dreamed of - 10 percent in this budget.
They did it in such an underhanded fashion it was despicable. They have not even told us yet how that 10 percent they are going to chop this year is going to affect the people who need this insurance program so that they can maintain a reasonable standard of living.
The Liberals criticized the NDP for the social contract and the Mulroney government for the PSAC action in 1991. Now this 45,000 job massacre the Liberals are going to undertake makes the social contract look like a civil servant's holiday in Hawaii. That should ring clear in the ears of civil servants who believed the Liberals are different. They are not; they are worse than the Mulroney Tories were.
When the Liberals were in Opposition they vehemently opposed cuts to CBC - Canadian institutions that serve to show what Canadians are all about, illustrate our unique culture and way of life and differentiate us from the Americans. What happened yesterday? The president of the CBC resigned - another massive cut to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and further Americanization of Canada.
There is talk that the Liberals now want to get into privatizing the CBC, if one can believe it. The quality and content of our programming, and the makeup of this country, will be set back when and if they do that. I think that is the direction they are moving in.
When the Liberals were in Opposition, they criticized the Mulroney government for the Tory agenda of middle-class tax burden. I remember well the GST debate, when the Liberal senators put on a show in the Senate saying the GST was wrong, it would have a profound impact on the middle- and low-income earners of the country, and that we should have a fair tax system. I am sure you remember that also, Mr. Speaker.
What happens now that they are in government? They have done nothing about the GST, and they have done nothing about tax reform. They still leave the middle class to pay most of the freight, and the low-income earners of this country are also contributing to that and will lose the social safety net we have and which we need to protect.
Why did Paul Martin do nothing about big business subsidies in this country? Why did he do nothing about tax deferrals in this country? Why did he not close some of those ridiculous loopholes we have in our tax system?
The Premier of British Columbia proposed a series of cuts in the vicinity of $9 billion that would have had a much more profound impact on the deficit and not hurt the low- and middle-income earners in this country. I think what he has done with this budget is despicable. The underhanded rhetoric in the document is particularly insulting.
When the Liberals were in Opposition, they heavily criticized the Mulroney practice of off-loading debt on to the provinces. They said that the government should not do that. They said that the federal government should deal with its own problems and not pass them on to the provinces. What did the Liberals do? They cut the transfers to the provinces.
That is going to hurt training, education and health care. Paul Martin and Lloyd Axworthy did nothing to deal with the fundamental issues of reform in those institutions in this budget. They cut and chopped. They put the ball in the court of people like Roy Romanow, who has worked so hard in his province to balance the budget. Now, he is going to face further impacts from the federal government's action of downloading on to the provinces.
Let us not forget that when Mulroney was talking about the debts and his reasons for having to do what he did when he was in government, the Liberals were up in arms. They were absolutely furious at the action of the Mulroney government. Now, they have done the same thing, and they have done it worse.
The issue of free trade is one of my personal favourites. I can well remember the Liberals when in Opposition and the election ad campaign that John Turner ran. He has a map of Canada and the United States, with a borderline drawn between the two countries. The Liberal ad read that if you approve the free trade agreement you would take an eraser to the borderline between the two countries. They actually had a picture of an eraser, erasing that line.
What have we seen from the Liberal government on free trade? We have seen an expansion of the agreement into Latin America. We see Jean Chretien pumping free trade for Chile. We saw him, in the Globe and Mail last weekend, in the communities extolling the virtues of free trade. He was acting like it was something he supported all of the time.
Canadians are going to have to be reminded of what the Liberals did when they were in Opposition and what they are doing now. They are more right wing in their approach than Mulroney ever dreamed of. However, the Mulroney government paved the way. The Liberals are expanding and widening the road, making deeper cuts.
Speaker: Order please. The Member has three minutes.
Mr. Harding: I said that I would have to speak quickly.
I said I had to speak about the agreements that were negotiated along side the free trade agreement for worker's health and safety and protection for the environment.
At the time the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed, we declared the agreement was faulty and that it was not going to work. It is now my understanding that down in Mexico, along the border, people are trying to form unions to deal with environmental, health and safety issues. These are paramount issues in that particular area. The commission that was established to oversee that Mexico was living up to its side of the agreement had a ruling - I read it in the Economist - that they had no way of ensuring that the Mexican government was living up to the labour and environmental laws in the country of Mexico. These side agreements have done nothing to help the situation.
What has Prime Minister Chretien done about this situation? Absolutely nothing. He is actually going out and telling people it is a great deal for everyone.
The cuts that were suggested by the Harcourt government in British Columbia were basically thrown out the window, which is indicative, because of the Liberals big business friends on Bay Street. I know for a fact that the Liberals are just as tight in those circles - if you watch Mr. Chretien and Mr. Martin as they arrive at the Empire Club for lunch, everyone gives them a standing ovation, you can see how the inroads into that particular right-wing Liberal network are carved. It is obvious that these are the people the federal government is listening to. This is a bankers' budget. The federal government's actions bring new meaning to the phrase "red Tory", because they are red Tories. They are not Liberals and they are behaving in that fashion.
It is time for tax reform in this country. It is time to take the pressure off the middle-class and the low-income earners. The Liberals should start doing what they said they were going to do when they were in Opposition; they should deal with the debt and deficit, but deal with it fairly for Canadians, Yukoners and everyone who pays their fair share and more than their fair share in this country.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: What more is there to say? It is always a pleasure to follow the colourful speeches of the Member for Faro. He certainly makes it clear where he stands on the issues.
I plan to be rather brief in responding to the motion. Prior to the budget being tabled, I could have supported the motion before us as it was drafted. If one looks at the wording of the motion as it is before us, it is somewhat outdated. In fact, the last paragraph of motion before us reads, "THAT this House opposes the deep spending cuts in these areas being proposed for the next federal budget." If we vote on that motion today, we are probably talking about the next federal budget. I believe that what the Leader of the Opposition intended to say is that we oppose the cuts in the 1995-96 federal budget.
The Member for Faro was really getting wound up today and was somewhat stifled in his comments, because he only had limited time, as he used quite a bit of it the other day. Out of respect for the Member for Faro and out of deep respect for the Leader of the Opposition, who put the motion forward, I would like to propose an extremely friendly amendment, which will not alter the intent of the motion, but will make it clear that we are talking about the 1995-96 Liberal budget that was tabled on Monday. At the same time, I think it is important for us to put on the record that we feel that this particular budget that we are talking about is unfair to northern Canadians, and specifically Yukoners.
I would like to propose the following amendment:
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move
"THAT Motion No. 40 be amended by deleting all the words after the words "Canadian society", and substituting for them the following:
THAT this House opposes the federal government's downloading of expenditure cuts in these areas on to the provinces and territories, and
THAT this House opposes the inequitable treatment being offered to the Yukon by the federal government in its 1995-96 budget. "
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Tourism
THAT Motion No. 40 be amended by deleting all the words after the words "Canadian society" and substituting for them the following:
"THAT this House opposes the federal government's downloading of expenditure cuts in these areas on to the provinces and territories; and
THAT this House opposes the inequitable treatment being offered to the Yukon by the federal government in its 1995-96 budget."
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is important to bring this amendment forward here today, because the motion was presented a couple of weeks ago and is now outdated somewhat by the budget that was tabled on Monday. This will bring the motion to a current status and at the same time, now that we know what is in the budget, provide us with an opportunity to express our strong concerns over the inequitable way in which the Liberals have treated Yukoners.
I am increasingly concerned about how the Ottawa Liberals and, to some extent, even the Yukon Liberals, are treating us here in the north. There have been several issues over the last few months that have raised this concern and caused me to be worried about what is happening. In addition, the local Liberals, who are supposed to be Yukoners, are siding more and more with their counterparts in Ottawa. That is a very scary thought.
Perhaps I could take a minute and give some free political advice to the one lone, known Liberal in the Yukon. The position he took the other day when he said the Yukon is being treated far too well and could use a few more cutbacks is a good position for him to take if he is looking for a Senate seat.
If he ever hopes to have another Liberal join him in this House, he had better change his tune. The Liberal Member seems to forget that the Yukon is relatively undeveloped compared to other areas of southern Canada, and that those jurisdictions have control over their natural resources, which provides the majority of their funding. Maybe we should be asking the lone Liberal in the House today, who feels that the Yukon is too heavily funded already, to suggest to us the areas where we could cut the Yukon budget. Maybe we could reduce the number of schools we are building in the territory; perhaps we could cut back on some of the health services or cut back on the RCMP services. I would be interested to hear from the Member about the areas from where he thinks we could take the $20 million.
Our constituency in the territory is very widely dispersed; it is much more expensive to deliver services. In the past few years, there has been an appreciation from the federal governments in Ottawa - the Conservative government that negotiated the formula for us - that there was a need to develop infrastructure, and to provide a larger grant to the Government of the Yukon because we do not have control over our natural resources. That is one of the reasons they did that. I am very surprised that the local Liberals in the Yukon have taken the position that we are getting far too much money from Ottawa, and that we should have been cut more than any of the other provinces. That is disappointing, and it is something that I am certainly going to remind people of at the door, when I walk around in my riding over the next few years. I will point out that if people have had services cut in the territory as a result of the $20 million federal cutback, that they can thank the Member for Riverside and the other Liberals in the territory who have refused to stick up for us on this issue.
The other thing that bothers me is the federal Liberal approach to the forestry transfer. Again, they are trying to download on Yukoners. The local Liberals are not speaking out against that; they are not arguing against it. Where do they stand on that? It is a strong concern that we have.
What about the Liberals' attitude toward the north when it comes to firearms legislation? The local Liberals, although they spoke a strong tune, restricted the consultation process and only allowed certain people into the meetings. They supported their Liberal buddies from Ottawa, who are going to impose tough, new, unnecessary restrictions on law-abiding Canadians, specifically, law-abiding Yukoners. That is a very serious issue and one we will be pursuing over the next few months.
There is also the Liberal approach to the newly established Canadian Regional Tourism Council. In a press release of the Canadian Tourism Council, the Liberals stated that it was made up of individuals from all regions of the country. Lo and behold, when the appointments were made, although the Yukon and the Northwest Territories wanted to be one group and part of the Canadian Regional Tourism Council representing all regions, we found the Yukon was put with British Columbia and the Northwest Territories was put with Alberta. Then, to add insult to injury, when the Liberals chose the members of the board, the two they chose from the B.C./Yukon contingent were both from British Columbia. The deputy minister from British Columbia and the executive director of the Vancouver Board of Trade were chosen to represent B.C.
This is a most significant tourism initiative, which I applauded. I stood up in this House and applauded the initiative of the federal Liberal government. I met with Judd Buchanan and was given assurances that the Yukon would be a participant. This is just another example of how we have been treated in forestry, in the budget we are dealing with today, in the tourism initiative and the firearms initiative. It seems that the new borders of Canada now stop at the 60th Parallel. The Yukon is left out and does not matter any more.
This is a very serious concern. There are four initiatives in less than four months where the Yukon has been left out.
We have no voice. It seems as though no one is speaking out. Yesterday, to my shock and amazement, the local Liberal party's spokesperson supported the cutbacks to the Yukon. These cutbacks to the Yukon are part of the economic development agreement cutbacks, which is part of our European marketing and part of the development of mining initiatives in the territory. The local Liberal said, "We are already too fat. We have to trim some of that."
Well, I totally and absolutely disagree with that Member - absolutely disagree. I do not know how he could rise in this House, on behalf of the Liberal Party, and tell Yukoners that the Yukon Liberal party applauds the cutbacks to the Yukon.
I applauded the budget yesterday. I thought that the federal budget is a reasonable budget overall. What I am upset about are the inequities in that budget, where we are treated differently from other Canadians. That is the issue here, and that is the issue upon which we as Yukoners should stand united. Unfortunately, we do not.
The Liberal Party of the Yukon has taken a clear and distinct stand on this issue. It feels that we are too heavily funded. When the Member opposite rises to his feet, I would like to find out how much more heavily funded he thinks we are. Does he think we should come right down to the level of the other provinces? I would like to hear the Member tell us what level he thinks we should come down to. While he is at it, he can tell Yukoners what he is going to cut to get down to that level. I think that all Yukoners will be listening for that.
The Liberals in Ottawa are asking us to accept a far heavier load than our fellow Canadians to the south. That is unfortunate, because we all know that the Yukon is really in its infancy when it comes to development and opportunities. The Yukon needs a lot of things to catch up with the south. I wonder what other programs the local Liberal Party will support - cutting off the Alaska Highway funding; cutting off other funding that it feels is too rich? The Alaska Highway funding is over and above our other funding. Is that a project that the Member would like to see us cut back? I do not think Yukoners want to see that.
I do not think Yukoners want to see that. I think that previous governments had the foresight, with the formula financing agreements, the Alaska Highway agreements and other agreements, to look at building infrastructure in this territory and providing money that will provide a better future for Yukoners.
I share the concerns of other Members in this House about the cutbacks to education and social programs. Although I listened to the Leader of the Official Opposition when he spoke and presented his motion, I can support the motion, but I certainly do not follow the same philosophical direction as the Member opposite. I do support the motion and the intent, but I think the ways in which we would go about it are a little bit different.
I did enjoy the history lesson that the Leader of the Official Opposition gave us; it was a very interesting lesson. I always enjoy sitting back and hearing about the latest book the Leader of the Official Opposition has read, because he recites passages from books when he speaks in the House.
I put forward today what I would describe as a friendly amendment that should bring us up to speed on this particular initiative. On the other hand, it also mentions the concerns of Opposition Members, with the exception of one, about the Yukon being treated unfairly. I think that is something we should get on the record and I will be looking forward, with great interest, to seeing which side of the fence our lone Liberal will fall on this particular issue. I know that he has sort of positioned himself on one side now and it is an extremely high fence, because of his public comments. He has a long way to climb to get to the centre again, so listening to the Member describing how he gets to the top of the fence is going to be an interesting exercise. We will see which way he teeters or totters on this particular issue. I will be looking forward to seeing that.
Again, I would generally support the direction in which the federal government is going with the cuts and the way they are dealing with the deficit. There is not a Canadian anywhere who is not concerned about Canada's debt and the deficit. I think we have some fairly clear and strong signals from the international marketplace, although some of the Members on the side opposite think we should ignore those signals. Unfortunately, we could talk all we want about ignoring those signals, but when we see what happens to our interest rates and to our economy and how it has gone up and down like a roller coaster over the last few months - more down than up - specifically, with regard to the interest rates and the Canadian dollar, it makes one realize that we are not totally in control of our own destiny any more. It is no longer a decision that Mr. Martin had to make, or any other finance minister before him. The decision was virtually made for that Minister by people who do not even live in this country.
We had all kinds of doom-and-gloom scenarios about that kind of thing happening. We were warned about it, and many people said, "Oh balderdash, it will not happen; we can ignore it ; we could have lower interest rates, and we could do this and that.''
It started to affect the Canadian dollar and interest rates. When the Canadian dollar is affected and when interest rates are affected, it starts to affect every single Canadian who has a mortgage, a Visa card, wants to travel, owns a house, or wants to start a business, or is in business. It had a dramatic effect on us as Canadians. We had no control of it any more. That is because we let it get right out of hand.
I do support the direction in which the federal Liberal government is going. I have a great deal of concern about how they are going to cut, dismantle or change our social and educational programs. I think that many of these are absolutely necessary. I think we have to look at delivering many of them more efficiently, but I am concerned that if we do not deal with this issue in the short term, in the long term some one else will deal with it for us. We will no longer have the ability to make the choices that we are trying to make now.
With respect to the accross-the-board cuts to the transfer payments to the provinces and the territories,
I am very disappointed in the approach that Mr. Martin has taken to the Yukon. I am even more disappointed with the approach that the local Liberal Party has taken to Mr. Martin cutting transfer payments to the Yukon more than to other jurisdictions.
I think that it is the wrong approach.
I think that the Yukon is deserving of the formula financing that it had. It was given to us for a specific reason: to invest and build our infrastructure, to improve our economy so that one day we could become self-sufficient.
Twenty million dollars is a big chunk out of this economy. I think the Liberal Member should know that. It is a lot of money to come out of the Yukon economy and it is going to affect us. We are going to have to all look at our budgets. We are going to have to examine where we can absorb this.
Fortunately, some moves have been made in the past few years that will help us absorb some of it, but it is not going to be without some pain, there is no doubt about that, when we get the final word from Ottawa about where the overlap is.
We can be sure that many of the other groups and organizations that are funded by Ottawa - women's groups, other First Nations organizations, other groups in the territory - and who are going to be affected by the federal funding cuts are going to come knocking on our door, asking us to help them so they do not fold up. It will probably be the lone Liberal Member opposite, who said "cut more", who will stand up and ask what can be done for this or that organization. He will be up on top at the centre of the fence again, teetering on either side, trying to take the position that he is supporting the individual group. Yesterday, he clearly supported cutbacks to those groups and clearly supported reductions to other programs in Yukon, because the federal government has made that choice and that Member, the lone Liberal Member in the House, has supported it.
Again, I would urge Members to look at the amendment to the motion that is before us, and consider it a friendly amendment to bring the amendment up to date. I urge all Members to support the amendment to the motion.
Mr. Cable: I certainly could not pass up the opportunity to reply to that tirade of drivel.
I see we have changed the mantra we have been chanting for the last few days, from "federal Liberals", which is delivered with a curl of the lip and a little bit of sputum across the aisle, to "Liberals". Are we getting concerned about the local Liberal Party?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: I will tell the Minister of Justice what I am going to say at the door. I am going to say that this pseudo right-wing party, when confronted with proof after it has talked about ruthless cuts and self-sufficiency, turns all gelatinous and whiny and NIMBY-like. I will ask if they want those gelatinous, whining NIMBYs in power again.
We have a country that is basically bankrupt. We have a federal government that is basically bankrupt, hanging on by its teeth. That has been acknowledged by everybody. It has been acknowledged by many of the provincial premiers. If the Member was watching the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's news last night, he would have seen Clyde Wells talking the same theory: that one cannot have the federal government looking after the weaker members of Confederation if the federal government is bankrupt.
The government is now paying $50 billion in interest. If that does not concern the Member opposite who just spoke, then I have to say to him that that should concern him, because what that means is that if the federal government does not deal with the problem and deal with it quickly, then we are just delaying the inevitable. If we do not get it this year or next year, we will get it in the long run, and we will get it much worse.
Yesterday, we heard the Government Leader on the radio saying that even if the federal budget were balanced tomorrow, even if there were a surplus of $10 billion and we had that $10 billion to use to pay down the debt, it would still take 50 years to pay off the debt. If that does not clear the Member's head, nothing will. The $40 billion difference between the $32.7 billion deficit projected by Mr. Martin and the $10 billion talked about by the Government Leader yesterday are miles apart. The two poles are miles apart. All we have to expect in the future is much greater cuts.
If the Member will take the time to get off his political rhetoric and stop misinterpreting the local Liberals' views and gets his calculator out, I would ask him to write these calculations on a piece of paper, so that he can stare at them and let them sink in. We get $10,000 per capita in the Yukon - much, much more than many of the poor provinces. Yesterday, the Government Leader alluded to the fact that in balancing that off, we do not have the taxing points.
I would like to run these numbers by the Government Leader. If we were to scale up our half billion dollar budget to the Province of Ontario, we would find that the Province of Ontario would be spending, on a population of 11 million, something just a shade under $200 billion. The government of Ontario's total budget, if I recall it correctly, is in the order of one-third of that number. If the Member who just spoke thinks we are doing badly, then he should clear his head and get the numbers on his plate. The Member cannot talk about ruthless cuts, balancing the budget and creating surpluses to pay down the debt and then in the next breath whine about a slight reduction in the transfer payments.
I have to say to the Members opposite, and to anyone else who is making the proposition that our health care is threatened, that there are large discretionary dollars still left in the budget. What we need to do, if in fact we believe that the federal government should become solvent, is trade asphalt for people.
That is not a major problem. I have to say to the Members opposite, who seem to be running cute amendments up the flag pole, that if they want self-sufficiency, if in fact they want the ability to look after themselves, and if in fact they want the right to make decisions about where the money goes - into asphalt or into people - that dream is about to come true. We can only see more cuts in the future.
Although it was misrepresented a few moments ago, that does not mean that we want cuts, but we are going to get them all the same. We cannot continue to live in the dream world we have been in for the last many years. Big Daddy is broke, and Big Daddy is going to cut off the money to the territory.
I will not be supporting this motion. I think it is frivolous.
Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to speak to the amendment, and I will probably also speak to the main motion. However, I will confine my remarks this afternoon to the amendment, as much as possible.
I must compliment the Liberal Member for being as animated as I have ever seen him in response to any particular issue as he was today in his vigorous and spirited defence of federal budget initiatives. That is a theme I am sure we can expect to hear more about in the coming weeks and months, and it is something that it is important to know now, prior to the next election, so that when we express some interest in protecting the Yukon's interests in this Legislature or through government action, we will know that one's instinct to protect political brethren of the same political party is stronger than one's first instinct to the welfare and health of the citizenry of this territory.
The whole concept of this special relationship that the Liberal government has with the Yukon is becoming clearer and clearer to me. I am more and more impressed by what it has delivered in the last couple of years, whether it be the budgetary measures announced in the recent federal Minister of Finance's budget, or its attempt to play on all the hard work that has been done in the development of the land claim over the course of the last 20 years. The federal government pretends that it is their white-knight-to-the-rescue approach that has finally delivered justice for First Nations in this country and a part for them in the greater Canadian civilization.
While the land claims process began with Jean Chretien and the federal Liberal government in the early 1970s, I am always amazed, given the distance we have come, that anyone who comes in just for the signing ceremony at the end can claim ownership of that particular project. So much has taken place. So many federal policies have had to be changed and dramatically amended. So many territorial policies had to be changed and dramatically amended in order to come to the agreement of 1991-92. It is dumbfounding to see the people who were merely provided the pen to sign the agreement suggesting that, in the end, they had some intellectual contribution or some major hand in seeing that agreement come to the fore and into place.
That may be a subject for further discussion at a later date. It does help me to understand better what the special relationship we had with the federal government is all about.
It is important to talk about what the basic objective of the federal government's budget has been, and what our response - as Canadians and legislators in this territory - should be. The federal government had a number of things to accomplish. It has to continue to provide what Canadians consider to be essential public services. It has to continue to support those things that bind Canadians together and give them a sense of identity. It also has to deal with debt and the deficit problem.
It is a very, very difficult balancing act. There is no question about that. If we were honest with ourselves, I think we should acknowledge that there are going to have to be a number of initiatives brought to bear in order to make the balancing act as palatable as possible.
First of all, of course, there has to be some acknowledgement that there is going to have to be some give on the expenditure side of the ledger. One cannot continue spending large amounts of money in debt servicing, and continue to spend large budgets supporting public services that people have come to expect, and still think that the situation is going to improve if we are not prepared to raise taxes or increase revenues.
Given that we have to accept expenditure cuts, we also have to acknowledge that any expenditure cuts must be fair and, to give him credit, Mr. Martin used the word "fairness" liberally throughout his budget speech. Fairness was an important feature to the federal budget, we were told. To demonstrate that, Mr. Martin went to great lengths to explain why each expenditure cut was made. He also went to some length to try to demonstrate to us that he is going to encourage everyone to pay their share of the freight - he is going to engage in some serious tax reform.
The problem that I have with the federal budget is that he did no such thing when it came to tax reform.
The average Canadian citizen, the lower middle class people, the working people of this country, continue to pay a very large share of the freight. Joe Lunchbucket, the person who we used to hear about from the Member for Porter Creek East, has to pay his taxes; he is a wage earner. He can run, but he cannot hide. Revenue Canada will always be there to extract every dollar that is due from his paycheque. As a result, his pay packet goes home lighter as a result.
The corporations in this country, on the other hand, who have been given more and more economic decision making, because they have more and more of the available capital at their disposal, are paying less and less of a percentage of the revenue received than they did even 20 to 40 years ago. It is now to the point that revenue from corporations is virtually irrelevant in the general scheme of things.
When the federal Finance Minister raises the tax rates on the corporate class, it is acknowledged that even if he may levy a significant percentage increase, the actual revenue received is going to be fairly minor in nature. After the federal budget was announced, every commentator acknowledged that - in this so-called banker's budget - the tax increases to the wealthy and to the corporate class were mere window dressing.
Very significant changes have taken place in this country over the last 40 years to the point where the average working person pays the freight, the corporate class pays very little, but the corporate class decides where we are going. Economic decision making is now firmly in their hands. Not only do they have incredible power when it comes to influencing politicians everywhere, but they have incredible economic power, because they have been given all of the economic tools to make decisions. We are told that it is not the consumer who should be making decisions about what is produced and how it is produced, it is the corporate producer who needs the disposable income to create jobs.
It is the corporate class and the corporations - the people who manage money - who are allowed to have the available disposal income to decide our economic futures. Just in case we thought we might want to apply a few rules, we have given them free access across the border, so that if we apply too many regulations that they may not like, they just disappear.
Joe and Josephine Canadian cannot leave. Their paycheques will be dinged whether they like it or not. The corporations, thanks to the free trade agreement, can just shuffle off to Buffalo. They can take the Canadian money and move the jobs somewhere else. Then they can try to sell back into the Canadian market, duty free.
This whole right-wing agenda is sickening to me. What we have ended up doing is to take the power from legislatures such as this one and the Canadian Parliament and to give it to some other people - people we cannot even identify. The people who are making decisions in this world and creating shock waves are money traders in Singapore. The people who are actually making decisions in this world today are faceless people on Wall Street.
I almost had to turn off the television when I saw some Wall Street schmuck telling Canadians and the federal Minister of Finance what the budget should look like - whether or not he thought we had gone far enough. The media did not rush off to the Leader of the Official Opposition to ask for his comments. It did not talk to people who are elected by literally millions of Canadians. The media rushed off to a high-rise tower in New York City and stuck its microphones in the face of a guy I have never seen before. He has not been elected by anybody. He is not even a Canadian. He, arrogantly, tells us what our budget policy should be. It is not just budget policy, in the sense that big program dollars are being spent here and there or downloading on the provinces and all that mumbo-jumbo that people in our business are familiar with - real services to people.
This is a Canadian taxpayer forking out a few bucks so that someone who has not got any food to eat, can eat. This is the Canadian miner, the guy I used to know in Elsa, who used to work an eight-hour shift, come up from underground - all one could see were his white eyeballs because his face was black with oil - and a guy whose muscles were aching from having generated some wealth, who puts $40 or $50 of his pay packet into the coffers of government so that he can pay his share of basic services, and some guy on Wall Street is deciding in the end what those services are going to be.
We are told, "Heh, well, listen, you have borrowed so much money from foreign sources that you are obligated to follow their rules.''
Let us look at this from a different perspective for a second. First of all, let us talk about who generated the deficits, because we are fond of talking about how NDP governments in this country are working hard to create a so-called socialist state. Who generated the deficits in the first place? There were Liberal governments, federally, in the last 20 years. There were Progressive Conservative governments in the last 20 years. I do not think there was an operating deficit until Pierre Trudeau was leader of the country. Who was actually there? Who was controlling the cash flow? Who was making the basic economic decisions in this country? Well, it was not New Democratics. They were not elected until the last three or four to five years to any provincial government.
When the Romanow government came to office, it was handed a huge deficit and now they are talking about a budget surplus. They had to make some tough decisions, because they believed in the pay-as-you-go policy. But it is not only the federal politicians who have been responsible for this. It is their economic policies, their free-trade policies and their monetarist policies that generate a lot of the debt.
A lot of the debt was not made through overexpenditures in program areas; it was our monetary policy, which jacked up interest rates. Every time the interest rate pops up a half a percentage point, suddenly we have to accept there is another $1 billion or $2 billion on the debt that we have to pay back.
There are all kinds of complex reasons for generating debt and for generating the deficit that we face. The thing I resent perhaps most of all is that elected people like us make it our business to respond to the average citizen who pays the taxes in this country - not the corporate class on Bay Street or Wall Street who do not pay the taxes, but tell us what to do, but the real taxpayers who live in my riding. I cannot tell that taxpayer that the budget initiatives have anything to do with our priorities. I can tell the taxpayer that even though they are going to continue to be dinged - and dinged big time - the priorities are being established by somebody else, by somebody whom they do not elect and who is not responsible or accountable to them at all. They are not even given the power any more, as consumers, to make economic decisions in this country - even distantly through their purchasing power - because the real disposable income is definitely in the hands of the corporations.
This amendment refers to the need for fairness. How are we expected to feel as a jurisdiction? If the per capita transfers from the federal government to the Yukon government are higher than they are in Newfoundland, it may be because the Yukon government has assumed the role of contractor for a lot of federal national services in this territory. I do not know the last time it was a priority for the Dawson City council or a Whitehorse resident to spend $10 million a year to maintain the Dempster Highway. As a small population, should we feel guilty that we cannot generate enough revenue ourselves to fulfill the full array of responsibilities that are not only important to us but are also on the national agenda?
We cannot pave the orth Alaska Highway and generate that income ourselves. Are we supposed to feel guilty about that? When we take this concept of self-sufficiency to the point that we feel that every dime we spend should come from our own pockets, what are we saying? If we take this and extend it, are we saying that a bus driver should feel guilty because he cannot generate enough income from his own taxes to pay his own salary and the maintenance of his bus? Are we saying that if the workers who work in the maintenance camp on the Dempster Highway cannot generate enough money from their own taxes to pay for that maintenance camp, that they are not pulling their own weight? What are we saying? How far are we going to take this concept?
Let me ask this question: if we are getting $10,000 a person every year from the federal government to perform a wide array of responsibilities, and Newfoundland receives - for the sake of argument - $2,000 per capita from the federal government, are we to accept any treatment from the federal government until such time as the per capita transfer to Yukoners reaches the $2,000 mark? Are we here to accept any notion of fairness until the point that we actually become on par with the provinces in terms of per capita transfers?
I submit to other Members in this Legislature and to the public that we do have every right to insist on fairness and to call a spade a spade. If transfers to provinces are going to be cut by a smaller percentage than cuts to transfers to the Yukon, then I think that we owe it to ourselves and to our responsibilities in this territory to call a spade a spade and, essentially, to say that it is unfair.
This federal budget does some good things.
There are even some things, in the economic development agreement for example, that I am sure none of us would seriously miss if the funding for those initiatives was cut. However, there are some things in the economic development agreements and in the budget cuts that are manifestly unfair.
If Mr. Martin establishes a benchmark of fairness in cuts, acknowledging there ought to be cuts, we should test that benchmark as it applies to us in a practice that I am sure will be repeated in every legislature across the country.
If, on the evidence, we can accept that we are being treated fairly, then we have less of an argument when it comes to complaining about the federal budget. In my opinion, though, there is still room to talk about tax reform, but when it comes to the expenditure side of the budget, I think we should accept that there will be cuts in some areas.
The point of the main motion, not changed by the amendment, is that we do not want to mortgage our children's future. We have talked so much about not wanting to pass on debt to our children. I do not want to pass a huge debt on to my son or daughters, but I also do not want to pass on to them an education system that will not allow them to learn the basic skills to pay off any debt we may bequeath them, or to generate any wealth that they may need to provide services of their own.
The whole concept of mortgaging one's future is multi-faceted. It is not just ensuring that one is paying one's mortgage and debts; it is also ensuring that one's children, and one's children's children, have the tools with which to support themselves. When one significantly cuts into education and health care, one mortgages one's children's future.
I cannot support that as a long- or short-term proposition.
That is not to say that, at any time, we cannot do things in education more efficiently. It is not to say we cannot do things more efficiently in health care by making the money go further. That is not to say that where we find waste we should not eliminate it. Of course, we should, but we must make investments that will allow our future generations to enjoy a prosperous economy. That especially includes ensuring that they have a more than adequate education. That, for me, is wealth creation. Good education in this world is wealth creation - pure and simple - moreso than asphalt, moreso than building buildings and moreso than building a manufacturing plant next to a market. If we look at it from a market economy perspective, it is education that is going to make a difference between us and every competitor we face. Knowledge and education are where we should be making our greatest investments, and that is what the motion addresses.
I have a number of other things I would like to say but I will reserve those remarks for the main motion. I want to say that I can, and I believe we can, support the amendment, and we trust that everyone who understands the circumstances that Yukoners and this Legislature face will understand that there are some concerns about fairness. They should be addressed; they should not be hidden; they should be acknowledged and expressed.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I already had the opportunity to speak to the main motion and at that time I stated for the record that I could even support the motion. I have no difficulty supporting the amendment because it basically clarifies where we are two weeks after the motion was introduced into this House.
I am going to start by saying that there were a lot of good things in the federal budget. A lot of the initiatives that were taken in it should have been taken a long time ago, but they were not.
We have a Liberal government that was elected some 16 months ago and had the opportunity to start this process one year ago.
They chose not to do that. As a result, they plunged our country deeper and deeper into debt. I think that is unfortunate because I believe that even with the mistakes Mr. Martin made in his budget and the unfairness of his budget to different jurisdictions in Canada, if the theme of the budget that was delivered on Monday had come down in the budget one year ago, our country would be much further ahead today.
Nevertheless, the Minister has embarked upon the right approach, but I am very disappointed in the inequities and the unfairness of the budget.
I expected more from Mr. Martin. In meetings I have had with him during the time he has been Minister of Finance, he led me to believe that he was a fair man. He led me to believe that he would not show favouritism to different jurisdictions in Canada and that he would treat all Canadians in a fair and equitable manner. This budget certainly does not treat all Canadians or all areas of Canada in a fair and equitable manner, regardless of what the Member for Riverside says. Before we finish debating this motion, I hope he will be able to support the amendment.
Time and time again in meetings with Mr. Martin about the finances of Canada, I said we would support his initiatives and cutbacks as long as they were done in a fair and equitable manner. We do not believe that Yukoners should carry more of the burden than other Canadians. I can give one perfect example of how inequitable this budget is, compared with other actions by the Liberal government.
Let us just go back to about a year ago, and the federal infrastructure program. We were treated the same as every other Canadian - on a per capita basis. We did not receive one cent more from the infrastructure program because we lived in the north. We were told that all Canadians must be treated the same. That was the theme of the Liberal government. Why can they not treat us fairly when it comes to cuts? We are not asking for special treatment. We are not asking for special treatment; we are just asking to be treated in an equitable manner.
While there are very different philosophical views in this House, between us and the Official Opposition, I see we are both supporting the amendment and supporting this motion - probably for different reasons. Nevertheless, we still feel, as stated in the previous Member's debate, that we are being treated unfairly, and that is not right.
I will be relaying those messages to Mr. Martin and the federal government. I will be meeting shortly with my counterpart in the Northwest Territories, because they are terribly upset, as are we. Maybe I could understand it for the Yukon because we have a New Democrat MP. In the Northwest Territories, both of its MPs are Liberals, and they were treated unfairly, as well, in their opinion.
I have spoken many times of the debt and deficit in Canada, and I am quite pleased to see the lone Liberal in this House making the statement today that the federal government is basically bankrupt. I said that a long time ago. In fact, I was criticized by the Member for McIntyre-Takhini for being an alarmist by saying that Canada had a debt crisis. I believe he went on the record at that time as saying that the debt was manageable. Our debt is far from manageable. It is going to take some very tough decisions, not only by this Liberal government or by this budget, but by many budgets and many governments until we get this ship back on course.
It has taken over two decades to put us in this position, and I say it was by politicians who took the easy way out. It started out with a Liberal government in the 1970s, which was quite content to finance our future, not in order to build infrastructure that would create wealth - that is where the fallacy in this came in - but to finance our day-to-day expenses. If one ran one's household that way, one would not last very long.
Then a Conservative government came in behind the Liberals. It, too, did not have the political courage to make the tough decisions that were needed. The Conservatives made all kinds of noises, but, as a Member on the other side of the House said, the Liberal government, which was the founder of our national safety net - of our health program across Canada, unemployment insurance, the social assistance plans - just beat up on them terribly every time they wanted to make a cut of any kind.
There was a tremendous uproar. They could not do it. Now, the Liberals, after a period of years, are back in office, and they are not making these cuts because they have changed their philosophical views, as the Members of the Official Opposition are trying to point out, that we are all cut from the same cloth. They are not making these changes because their philosophical views have changed.
I dare say that if we had an NDP government in Ottawa today, they would be faced with these same realities. It is very easy to sit in Opposition and criticize. The decisions have to be made, and right now we cannot make those decisions alone no matter how much the Member for McIntyre-Takhini wishes we could.
If you have a mortgage at a bank, or a business or house that is mortgaged to the point where the interest on the debt cannot be paid, let alone pay off the principal, do not tell me that you can make your own decisions. You cannot.
It does not upset me to hear someone from the Wall Street Journal making the statements they did. I think they sent a clear message to Canadians. They sent a clear message to a Liberal government that was dragging its feet in dealing with this issue. I would hazard a guess that had those institutions, the Wall Street Journal and Moody's bond rating agency, not fired those shots across the bow, we would not have seen the deep cuts that we see in this budget.
I think what this points out, actually, is that the federal Liberal government had no intention of making cuts like it did because it cannot even tell its employees which ones are going to be gone. This was a last-minute decision based on a tax revolt that was building across this country. It dithered and daddled around for 16 months and then it had to act quickly, because it knew its feet were to the fire.
I agree with the Member for McIntyre-Takhini that we do not need to feel ashamed, nor to hide our heads, because we get more money per capita than other Canadians. We have been asked to deliver a lot of programs on behalf of the federal government. The Member for McIntyre-Takhini named some of them.
We have also been drawn into some programs by the federal government that we cost shared and then got stuck with. Let us look at the mineral development office that was implemented under the previous administration. We fund 30 percent of it under the economic development agreement; the federal government is funding only 70 percent of its responsibility. I do not think we have anything to be ashamed of.
I am very, very disappointed with the Member for Riverside for trying to defend the actions of his colleagues in Ottawa. I think that will come back to haunt him.
The other issue that I take exception with in this budget is how Mr. Martin, in speaking about fairness all the time, used a lot of smoke and mirrors. I believe that is going to come back to haunt him once the financial markets analyze what really is and is not in the budget. He spoke about reducing the cost of government by $19 billion, yet he downloaded $7 billion of it to the provinces. He and his Liberal friends in Ottawa did not have the political courage to deal with the revamping of the social safety net, so they passed it on to the provinces - said "Here you are, we are not going to worry about national standards any more. We are going to incorporate some broad principles. You wanted more authority, but in order for us to give you that authority, we are giving you 30-percent less funding- $7 billion. " The provinces now have to take the political heat for either downgrading the services or raising the revenues to provide those services. That is not my idea of a responsible government dealing with the debt and deficit problem of this country.
There is only one taxpayer in Canada. Whether you pick his left pocket, or whether you pick his right pocket, there still is only one taxpayer. That is what is unfair and inequitable in the budget.
As I said, as long as we have foreigners - Americans, Europeans, Asians - holding over 40 percent of our debt, we will not have the ability to determine our own monetary policy. I disagree with the Member for McIntyre-Takhini that we do have the ability. We cannot do it. If they will not lend us the money, what are we going to do? Our interest policy is driven by the fact that we are mortgaged up to our ears. Until we get on a course of dealing with the deficit and the debt, and dealing with it in a far more responsible manner than even the Liberal government has so far, we are going to be dictated to by foreigners.
Let us look at what the Liberal government has accomplished. Mr. Martin got full marks for one reason, I believe, and one reason only: he is the first Finance Minister in quite a few years to hit his targets. But those targets were so weak-kneed, with so many contingency funds built into the budget and an overwhelming economic increase in activity in Canada - I heard this morning a 4.5 percent growth; sorry, the Member for Faro corrects me, and says it was a 4.8 percent growth - that I do not think any person in this Legislature believes that that kind of growth can be sustained for any length of time. We have perhaps 18 months to two years, maximum, left in this recovery, and then, like all economic cycles, it is going to start receding. As it recedes, the federal revenues are going to drop, and how are we going to deal with it then.
That is what I mean when I say that when the bond holders analyze this budget they will say, "Wait a minute. He has hit his targets, and that is good." A statement by the provincial treasurer from Alberta summed it up when he said, "When Johnny has been coming home with Fs and all of a sudden he gets a C-plus, you don't give him a cuff on the side of the head." That is about where Mr. Martin has moved us - from an F to a C-plus - in my opinion, but there is a long way to go yet.
We do not have a date or even a plan as to how the government is going to get to the point where it has no deficit. When we get to that point, how are we going to pay off the debt? I agree with the Member for Riverside that the country is basically bankrupt. We are going to be paying about $50 billion a year in interest on that debt.
As I said in the press yesterday, even if we did not have the deficit and the federal government decided to pay off this huge mortgage at $10 billion a year, it would still take more than 50 years. That is an enormous debtload. There have to be some hard decisions.
I want to look at some of the areas where I think that the federal government could have cut more and not affected so many jobs. In that respect, I agree with what the Member for Faro said. The British Columbia government gave them a blueprint that I thought had some merit. I did not agree with all of it by any means, but it had some merit. We have the Atlantic region fund, which still has a lot of money. The western diversification fund still has a lot of money. There are still billions of dollars in grants going to businesses in this country. Those could have been cut. Also, there could have been some cuts at the top.
The Member for Riverside stood up yesterday, when I was talking about the pensions of MPs in the Prime Minister's office, and said - I did not refer to the Blues today - something to the effect that it would not go very far toward fighting the deficit. I agree with him, but neither will the three percent extra that they took from the Yukon Territory. That will not go far toward paying off the debt and the deficit, either. We still have Cabinet Ministers being chauffeured to work every morning. Can they not drive to work like every other citizen in this country? They still get numerous trips back to their ridings every year and they all travel first class. Is that necessary for a country that is going bankrupt? Is that the way we show the people who are financing us that we are responsible citizens? I think not. Maybe these cuts would not add up to a lot of money, but it would certainly appear to be more responsible.
I am not going to speak on this much longer. I just want to say that I can agree with the federal government's cuts. I agree that they have to come and I know that there are going to be more of them.
We in the Yukon are as much Canadian as people in Ontario, and we should not be treated any different.
For the Member for Riverside to use an analogy of $10,000 for every Yukoner - if that figure was attributed to Ontario the amount would be $200 billion - is, I think, very irresponsible. Ontario has had over 125 years to be built up by the federal government. Ours is a relatively new area and I still maintain that if the federal government ever wants us to become self-sufficient and create more of our own revenues, it has to make some investments here. One does not make investments by cutting back funding and nickel-and-dimeing every place possible. We can contribute to the well-being of Canada, but we need some help from the federal government - that does not mean having programs imposed upon us and then turned over to us. It is just not fair. I will not accept it, and I will do everything in my power to convince the Minister of Finance that he has not dealt with us in a fair and equitable manner.
The Member for Riverside said, "... it is only a few million dollars ... ". Well, in the overall picture that is not very much, but in the scope of the Yukon it is a tremendous amount of money.
I said I supported the motion, and I certainly support the amendment. We must send a clear message to Ottawa that we are not prepared to be treated in a manner that is not equitable with other Canadians.
My colleague, the Minister of Justice, talked about how we have been treated with regard to firearms legislation, and there is the infrastructure program that I related to you; now we are being shafted by the federal budget.
I heard someone else talking about the GST earlier in the day and that the Liberal government had not dealt with that issue. I hope the government does not deal with it, because it wants to replace the seven-percent tax with a 12-percent tax, which we are diligently fighting.
I support this motion and I support the amendment.
Mr. Harding: I certainly welcome the opportunity to speak to the amendment. I did not expect this amendment to come forward, and I appreciate the Member for Riverside preceding me. It was interesting to hear that Member's comments and his desperate attempt to pick up the ball for one of his brethren in Ottawa, Mr. Martin.
I take issue with some of the things my good friend, the Member for Riverside, said. Some of the tough, no-nonsense talk is a bit hollow when it comes from Liberals, given their track record. I hope he will not be too upset with me, but I intend to speak to some of the comments he made and to some of those made by the Government Leader.
The first thing I want to talk about with regard to the motion is that the statement that the country is bankrupt is the one on which I think we must focus. I think anyone would have to be stupid to think that our debt and our deficit is not a problem. I believe it is a serious problem. I believe that it is fundamentally critical that we deal with the problem. I do not think we can live with the ever-increasing interest payments, debt accumulation and current-year deficits that we have in this country. It would be irresponsible to say that we could.
I also believe that it is irresponsible to say that the country is bankrupt. That is a harbinger for the kind of action that Mr. Martin has initiated here. It is a short-sighted, panic-stricken reaction to something someone has said in a brokerage office in London, England.
The Minister of Finance - the Government Leader - and the Liberal Member for Riverside both seem to agree that the country is bankrupt. I do not think a lot of people understand something about this country. I read a lot of very right-wing economic literature. There is a lot of merit in some of it. I also like to read some argumentative points on the left. One of the things I find particularly galling is the ability of the foreign lenders to rule the day, on a day-to-day basis, for this country.
The Member for Riverside and the Government Leader say that we have no ability to respond. They say we are helpless and must lie supine as they tell us what to do. We have serious problems and they have a lot of influence, but do not tell me that Canada does not have its virtues as a place to hold debt. We have a highly skilled workforce; we have proximity to markets; we have an infrastructure that has been built up for over 200 years. Where is all of the foreign money going to go? Is it going to be invested in Eastern Europe or Latin America, where the peso just crashed? I think not. The risk ratios in those countries far exceed Canada. I can prove that. The OEDC does risk ratios. They have Eastern Europe and Latin America at the top of the list. Western Europe, as well, has terrible problems with interest rates. Their economies have only grown in the vicinity of two or three percent over the last few years. Their recovery has not yet taken hold. England is in the same boat right now.
Let us not forget Japan. The Nikkei index just crashed last week, and they lost about 1,000 points because the corporations in Japan are so far over valued that their price-earnings ratios are totally out of whack.
Let us look at Asia, the Asian tigers, the fastest growing area in the world. There is a 10 percent GDP growth in places like China. Those economies are overheated and inflation is rapidly creeping up on them, which is scaring investors away.
My only point here is that there are risks involved in every nation in the world right now. Canada still looks pretty good to people. While we have to look at what the foreign lenders are saying, let us not abandon this country and hide our heads. Let us not think we have nothing to offer the people who hold our paper. They put it here for a reason, and those reasons still exist.
That is not to say that we do not have to listen to their concerns. That is not to say that when Moody's states that we are going to be downgraded, which will increase our interest payments, we do not say, "Well, we have to meet deficit targets".
However, the hysteria and panic that somehow the country will have its plug pulled, just like Mexico, because Rush Limbaugh at the Wall Street Journal writes that it is so, is a serious problem.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Harding: The Member for Riverdale South asked what was the matter with Rush. I am not a big fan of Rush. I am not too thrilled with his economic policy, although I think he has been giving Paul Martin a few tips.
The issue here is what Canada has to offer. When the Wall Street Journal wrote that, I do not think, as did many people who rallied to Canada's defence, that he shared the main feeling of the world markets in their view of Canada. Sure, it will be better for them to secure their investment if our debt and deficit are reducing. That is important. However, the statement that they will pull the plug and we will become like Mexico is ridiculous. They are not all going to rush off to Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, where inflation was 1,000 percent. These are serious economic problems.
If one looks at what is happening in some of those countries, they have a long way to go to get their economic policy in order. Last year, inflation in this country was in the area of two percent and less, thanks to the Liberals and their wonderful cigarette tax cut - that has young people in the country smoking at a greater level.
The Mexican government had a current account deficit of over eight percent. Canada is nowhere near that; we are not even in the same ballpark.
We have a long way to go to become the next Mexico, and we had better not get there. We have to deal with the debt and the deficit, and we have to do it fairly. The issue of fairness is there, and that issue of fairness is the failure of this Liberal budget in Ottawa. I definitely feel that they have missed the boat. They have, in entirety, bought into the fact that we are going to have the plug pulled on all of our foreign lenders if we do not somehow slash and burn Canadian institutions.
I take particular offence to this talk of fairness by the Minister of Finance in Ottawa, the Liberal, because he invoked no tax reform whatsoever in this budget. There was a sprinkling of cookies out there saying that large corporations were going to have a 12 percent tax increase. What folly. There are many fundamental changes needed in our taxation system, so that the low- and middle-income earners would not have to pull the kind of freight that they are pulling right now, which was exacerbated by nine years of the Mulroney government in Ottawa. They placed such a high tax burden on the middle income earners in this country it was terrible. When the Liberals were in Opposition, they opposed it in each and every measure, and they have done nothing to change that in their first two budgets in Ottawa - absolutely nothing.
The Government Leader spoke about the tax subsidies that businesses receive that should be done away with. It is one plank that shows some merit. I think it was suggested by B.C. NDP Premier Mike Harcourt. The only problem we have right now with cutting those subsidies is that we have a situation whereby banks in this country are making over $1 billion a year, saying that that is fully justified, but they are not helping out the small business operator - the Joe or the Mary who wants to get started in business.
The government is saying it is going to get out of the grants and loans business. This government is saying it is against grants here in the Yukon, and the Member for Riverdale South says we should be out of the business. The only problem with that is, where does venture capital come from if the banks are not going to lend it? It is going to come from the people who already have it, which is the unfortunate thing, and they will become more powerful. They will become the loan sharks, if you will, of our country, and there is already enough of that to go around in this country. There are a lot of old-time wealthy families in this country who wield a lot of power.
If we concentrate on an agenda that does not address that in this country, then we will continue to have these great disparities of income, of earning power and wealth. We must address that, as a nation. We cannot do it in the way that the Martin Liberal government is doing it.
The banks that are making $1 billion a year in profits did not have Mr. Martin come to them and say, "Listen, you have got to do something about your lending practices. Your lending policy is too tight. You allow the Reichmans to tell you what to do, but the small business people who are the driving forces of the economy, and the workers who are paying their taxes, cannot get started in a business."
He did not do that. What he did was summon the bankers in so they could tell him what to do, to tell him what should be in his budget. That was where the Liberal MP, Mr. Baker, from Newfoundland was bang on the mark, when he said that the bankers are dictating to the Liberal Finance Minister how it should be, while they are making their $1 billion a year in profits.
I think that the business subsidies could be cut. I want to see Mr. Martin stand up to the small person who is trying to start a business, who is paying his or her taxes and cannot get a loan from the bank to get started.
I was in defence of the budget by the Member for Riverside. He stated that he was very pleased that Clyde Wells would take up the call for the Finance Minister in Ottawa. I am certainly not surprised that Clyde Wells, another of the Liberal political stripe, is going to defend the budget of the Liberal government in Ottawa, because there are going to be a lot of people in Newfoundland upset with changes to things like the social safety net in the area of unemployment insurance. It will be the second hit in a row that it is taking.
I think to say, without question, that this budget is fully justified because the Liberal Premier of Newfoundland gave it some kind words is stretching it to the nth degree.
When I listened to that budget, there was talk about privatization and that if the government cannot run it better, it should not be in the business, and Mr. Martin got a rousing cheer from the Liberal backbenchers.
This is the Trudeau government that nationalized our oil industry - Petro-Canada. I can remember my father, who was a Conservative, getting his Petro-Canada card in the mail and taking the scissors to it, chopping it into about a hundred pieces, because of the socialist Liberal government forming the Crown corporation, Petro-Canada.
They have changed their tune so much now that they are absolutely opposed to anything like that. That was a big plank in the Liberal philosophy. Now we are getting all of this tough, no-nonsense talk from the Member for Riverside and the Minister, as if the deficit was just discovered. Mulroney chipped away at that deficit for nine years, and every time he chipped, the Liberals screamed. There was a deficit there. There was a deficit in 1991 and in 1992, and it was in the vicinity of the budget deficit that we now have. But the Liberals, whenever Mulroney tried to cut unemployment insurance, or tried to lay off a civil servant, or tried to enter into a free trade agreement, vehemently opposed it. When he tried to bring in the GST, the Liberal Senate had a filibuster of incredible proportions that lasted for a long time.
There is nothing wrong with opposing some of Mulroney's policies - I certainly do - but the inconsistency between what they did then and what they do now in government is absolutely phenomenal. How they are getting away with it with the Canadian public is a mystery to me, and how long it is going to continue is also a mystery. As far as I am concerned, their inconsistencies and their lack of principles as they came into government are an absolute disgrace. Everything Mulroney did, they are doing more of. It is something that I think is abhorrent. I think that the Liberal government should be focusing on fairness and tax reform and working on the deficit in a manner that is going to be productive for Canadians, so that it does not smash our education and health care systems. The provinces of B.C., Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have been working on their deficits and balancing their budgets, but the Liberals are transferring all of their misery to them again, like Mulroney did. I do not think that is leadership, nor tough budgetary decision making. I think that is off-loading to the provinces. Mulroney did it, and the Liberals screamed Now, Paul Martin is doing it, and telling us it is because he has cojones - I do not think so.
I also want to talk about the new analogy of the Liberals in the Yukon to defend their brethren in Ottawa, and that is the breakdown in per capita cuts. That is an interesting analogy. I think the Government Leader stated it well when he talked about the fact that the Yukon has had - since the early 1900s, I believe - the formation of official government here. I know that the First Nations were here before that, but our white man presence has not been that long in the Yukon - although it is long enough for some First Nations, I am sure.
The provinces have been receiving money for over 200 years. The town I come from was founded in 1783 and has been receiving the benefit of federal tax dollars since that time. In the Yukon, we have a long way to go in order to build up the infrastructure that some of the provinces have, and to stretch, in view of our small population, a reasonable level of service, with no economies of scale at all, is a difficult thing to do. So, it is a bit like comparing apples and oranges.
I just do not think the point is legitimate and I do not think that it is going to carry with the people here. I do not think we should feel guilty that the Yukon, on a per capita basis, in an effort to build its infrastructure and to provide a reasonable level of service to Yukoners, gets a higher share of per capita investment from the federal government. I do not think we should apologize for that at all. The Member for Riverside, in defending the Liberals in Ottawa, stood up and said that we should not worry about health care because it has not been threatened because we could take the discretionary money used on the Alaska Highway and put it into health care. I worry about the next budget, because we are not even close to three percent of GDP yet. Is the federal Finance Minister going to continue down the very same path that he has set in his first two budgets? If that is the case, then we really do have to worry about health care.
As the Education critic, I am extremely concerned about how the impact on education in the public schools and advanced levels is going to be felt. I do not see any protection whatsoever for Canadians who are going to face these tough decisions, especially in the provinces.
I really feel for those premiers out there, and there are many of them who are making a lot of tough decisions to deal with real health reform. B.C. and Saskatchewan have initiated some amazing health reform - not just cuts, but health reform. They are going to have to go through the whole exercise again, thanks to Paul Martin lacking the intestinal fortitude to clean up his own house.
Can you imagine Sheila Copps defending the belief that she should receive - you want to talk about leadership examples - her pension from the day she leaves public office at 45 years of age? I do not see why she should not wait until she is 55 to receive her pension. I think that is fair and reasonable.
I heard her screaming on television last week that she should not apologize for what she is worth. I agree with that. I think that the Reform Party has gone way overboard with its populace political stuff - saying that all politicians should cut off their arms and legs and work for nothing and be happy about it. They say that would be the best, and that we should have only rich people in Parliament. I do not agree with that; I think they have gone too far.
However, I do think that Sheila Copps should wait until she is 55 years old to receive a pension. I think that is reasonable. I know that she has committed a lot of time to the public service of Canada, but she is going to receive a hefty pension and I think that she can wait until she is 55 years old to get it, as most Canadians do. I am pleased to see the end of double-dipping. That was a particular beef that I had. They certainly did not have to do what they did for their high-profile Cabinet Ministers like Brian Tobin and Sheila Copps. I think that they missed the boat in that respect.
Those are a few of my comments. I would like to say that I do take exception to the Liberals who started deficit financing in this country. They talk tough now in their no-nonsense speeches about getting their fiscal house in order, after they opposed everything that the Conservative government tried to do, claiming that they wanted to be the ones to get the fiscal house in order.
Granted, I have no problem with their disagreeing with the policies. The problem I have is that now they are enacting all of the policies of the Mulroney government - and worse - to deal with the problem. There is no real tax reform, and there is no sense of fairness that I can see for the Yukon. I do not think that we should apologize for the per capita investment here in the Yukon. I think that it is reasonable, that it is needed, and that it is an investment for Canada. I think that it should continue. If the Martin government in Ottawa really wants to be fair, it should enact a fair budget that takes into consideration the principles that Canada believes in. It should lay off of the middle- and low-income earners, and lay off of the people on unemployment insurance, who have been hit hard by the first budget and are going to be hit worse in this budget. They should lay off of the people out there who are paying over their fair share of taxes in this country.
With that, I will just say that I support this amendment, and I look forward to the vote on this particular motion.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?
Some Hon. Members: Question.
Speaker: Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Agree.
Mr. Abel: Agree.
Mr. Millar: Agree.
Mr. Penikett: Agree.
Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Ms. Commodore: Agree.
Mr. Joe: Agree.
Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.
Mr. Harding: Agree.
Mr. Cable: Disagree.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 14 yea, two nay.
Speaker: I declare the amendment carried.
Amendment agreed to
Speaker: Does any other Member wish to speak to the main motion, as amended? If the Member now speaks, he will close debate.
Mr. Penikett: I have been listening to this debate and, as the result of things that have been said, I have a couple of things I would like to add to my earlier remarks.
First of all, I want to say that I am pleased to mark this occasion, which is, I think, the first time the Yukon Party has ever voted for an economic motion from the New Democratic Party since it came to office. I regret to say that medical attention may be required for the Member for Riverdale South who is choking on my hyperbole.
Pleased as I am to have the support of the Yukon Party on this motion, even as amended, I must say that I fundamentally disagree with the Government Leader's notion that there should be a price tag on democracy. Rather than having the democratic principle, which is one person, one vote, we should have the market principle where one dollar equals one vote and if you are poor, or in debt, you do not get any say about what is going on. This is the philosophy the Government Leader seems to be advocating.
Just because Mr. Moody gets moody, that does not mean our government has to touch its hat and say, "Yes suh, no suh, three bags full, suh. Where do we send the money?"
The voters in this country did not vote for anybody in New York. The voters in this country, the Canadian electorate, chose the government. The American bankers, as far as I know, did not choose the government. It is true that the Canadian banks did shovel out enormous sums of money to the Tories and the Liberals in order to help them get elected, but they did not, by themselves, control the election.
When I studied political science, there was still the notion that the people of a democracy got to elect their own government. Any government with any integrity, any government with any honesty, any mind, any guts and backbone would do what the people wanted the government to do and not what the moneychangers in the temple wanted. I voted in a democracy. I voted for a democratic government. I did not vote for the market and the market did not vote for me.
The marketplace is part of our economy and everyone knows that the rich and powerful have inappropriate power in the marketplace and that everything in our civilization over the past 1,000 years has been about people who had different ideas - going back to the very earliest Christian theologians - people like Erasmus and Las Casas - who argued, not that there should be a law for the rich and another law for New Democrats - something we sometimes see in operation here - but that humanity is one and all people are equal. All people have an equal say in what happens in their nation, their state and their community - not that some should have more say than others, which seems to be the Government Leader's view.
I have never heard the Government Leader sound more like Preston Manning and the Reform Party view of things. As I heard Mr. Manning saying the other day, "We should get the government out of social programs. We should have families and communities look after them." Look what the market forces, unleashed by the Liberal's and Tories' free trade agreements, and letting the banks call the shots have done to families and communities. Look what market forces did to the Town of Faro and the community of Elsa. Look what happens when we have a government that is prepared to kowtow to market forces and not stand up and stand with the people in those communities.
The Government Leader says that the country is bankrupt. That is a total load of crap. Anyone who has ever been a high school graduate or taken a first-year course in politics or economics would know that this country is not bankrupt. This is one of the richest countries in the world. We have lands, forests and resources that are owned by the people of this country. We have roads and buildings and a trained workforce. We have enormous assets in this country, none of which show in the ideologically biased bookkeeping of governments. Once the Liberals get around to privatizing the airports and selling them for a song to their friends, just as the Tories tried to do with the Pearson airport, a few people will get very rich, and our airports will end up looking like Biloxi, Mississippi bus stations - filthy and run down, just like our government hallways were here when we privatized the janitorial service. The people who had jobs, decent wages and union protection will lose a lot. They will cease to have union protection, their wages will go down and they will lose their job security and benefits. They will get screwed and so will the consumers.
The vast majority of people will lose, but a few will benefit.
The airports that are worth nothing on the government's books right now - worth absolutely zero - will suddenly be worth hundreds of millions of dollars when it privatizes them. What will the government accountants call it? A windfall revenue. They will take an airport that has been built for $1 billion, sell it for a couple hundred million dollars to their friends, and say they have a windfall revenue of $200 million, even though the ordinary taxpayer of Canada, who will never get a chance to profit from any of those kinds of scams, will end up being stuck with the debt - the borrowing, the mortgage - to build that facility.
I am a little tired of hearing the dear old bankers tell us we have to cut our debt. Who the hell lent this money in the first place? The banks. Who the hell profited from it? The banks. Some of them made a billion dollars this year. Who pays and who gets the debt? The banks get the profit; they do not get the debt - the ordinary people of this country get the debt. Ordinary citizens are the ones who carry the debt, not these guys taking home $1.6 million a year. One bank chief executive officer took home $2 million a year - 100 to 1,000 times more than some of their employees get.
How can anyone tell me that one can make serious philosophical argument anywhere, except in the loony-tune right-wing philosophy that is around today, that any human being is worth 100 or 1000 times more than another human being. That is not only a sick philosophy, it flies in the face of the golden rule or ethical principle of every religion in the world. It is not only fiendish, it is sick, but that is the system that Paul Martin, Brian Mulroney and other Conservatives have been promoting.
Look at what is happening in this budget. We are going to get cuts to social programs and we are going to have a single transfer payment, all designed to disadvantage the provinces, I suspect.
Who puts up the money for unemployment insurance? Employers and employees, businesses and workers. The federal government does not contribute to the unemployment insurance system any more, but it is going to cut it by 10 percent, two years in a row. Who suffers there? No banker is going to suffer from that; they do not have to collect unemployment insurance; they do not have to. They make more money in one year than most working people do in their whole lives.
Look at the 45,000 federal public servants, who may have devoted their lives to public service. Some of them may have been so motivated by noble impulses that they may have actually believed that they were serving their country. What is the response of their country now that it is in the hands of the red Tories? They are going to lose their jobs. No consultation, no discussion; just 45,000 people - bang, dead, gone, finished. What about the services those people were performing for the citizens? They have disappeared too.
The social program cuts are $7 billion. Who gets hurt by that? I do not know of a single banker who is going to get hurt by that. I know who is going to get hurt: the weakest and poorest people in the country - people to which Mr. Martin never even gave a moment's thought.
My colleague, the Member for Faro, is right. We listen to this circus group, a decade of Liberals putting the boots to the Tories for the evil things they were doing, in terms of cutting social programs. What happens the first chance the Liberals get in power? Suddenly, we have got a debt. The debt is the only thing that matters. Nothing else matters; poverty does not matter and education does not matter. We have got to get rid of that debt.
Of course we have got to deal with the debt, but on whose back? Who is going to take the pain in this budget? Is that guy earning $2 million from the bank going to suffer? No. Is the bank with its $1 billion profit going to suffer? No. Will the guy in New York suffer: the poor bond dealer; the poor currency speculator? I will tell you who is going to suffer. It is going to be the single parent and her children in my constituency. Someone who is having a tough time now, because under Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney, real incomes of those people were driven down and down as taxes went up and up. Meanwhile, the elite few in this country had their taxes reduced and their incomes went through the roof.
That poor woman may have to drive to work, because she is working shift work and there is no bus service in the evening. She has even seen her gasoline taxes go up as well, adding insult to the injury imposed on her by the Government Leader just a couple years ago.
There is a list today in the Whitehorse Star of some of the groups here that have had cuts. The Council for Yukon Indians had a cut in money to assist in training and employment liaison for native people. There is an $89,000 cut to Northern Native Association, which was the money that was going to enable them to research and carry out projects in relation to northern development. According the Department of Indian Affairs, this money is no longer required.
There is $18,000 for the Yukon Conservation Society to promote conservation, or money to the Chamber of Mines. It may get enough from YTG not to worry about this. This was money for education and assisting persons searching for mineral deposits, something one could justify as an investment.
The Klondike Placer Miners Association was cut, as was the Yukon Prospectors Association and the Porcupine Caribou Management Board - people who were just lobbying for that in Washington. There is also the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Association of Canadian Universities, and so on.
Everyone has said that the Liberal budget is unfair. I believe it is unfair in terms of what has happened to health and education, as well as in terms of the north. It is also fundamentally unfair in terms of the groups that have to bear the brunt of these cuts. They are not the privileged, the wealthy, the bankers in New York or the money speculators in Hong Kong: they are ordinary Canadians, people for whom it is a struggle to get by.
I invite Members to look at the ideology of this budget. On page 9, there is a whole section called "Commercialization and Privatization". The Member for Faro pointed out that many of these public institutions - which will now be destroyed - were created by the Liberals. We thought there was a commitment to the idea that certain things in this country would be put together. The Government Leader is wrong when he says the Liberals created the public sector. They did not; historically, most of it was put together by the Conservatives, who recognized that the public sector in this country was not a choice between left and right, socialism and capitalism. The choice in Canada was always between the state and the United States. That is why the Conservatives originally created the CP and the CNR, the CBC and institutions like that. We needed these institutions to hold the country together.
The Liberals created Petro-Canada, but now they are going to trash it. The budget says, "The government is committed to privatizing and commercializing government operations wherever that is feasible and appropriate. This is a matter of common sense." It is not the common sense of the common people of this country, because they were not even asked. It may be common sense to the banker in New York, or to the money speculator in Hong Kong, but the people in Canada were not even asked.
One looks at this agenda and the way it is expressed, and one has to ask oneself, given this argument, could anything be privatized? One could privatize the entire federal government; one could privatize the army. I think the State of Texas is now looking at the possibility of contracting out their prisons to some foreign country, so that prisoners would be sent to some foreign country where labour is cheap and be held there.
Conceptually, one could imagine everything being privatized - even the army. Why not just rent a mercenary army? King George III used to do that. Why not privatize roads? Why not have competing, privately operated highway systems right next door to each other?
I will tell you why not: it does not make any economic sense, any more than it makes economic sense for a private company to try to deliver the service that public corporations have always been able to deliver in this country - and in many other countries. Let us take the post office as an example.
A lot of people hate the post office, and the government has all but privatized it. However, it is still possible in this country - and this is very important in keeping a country together - that for something less than 50 cents, one can write a letter in New Brunswick and mail it to Pelly Crossing. That could not be done if it were in the private sector. The private sector probably would not provide that service to Pelly Crossing, or if it did, it would be at an enormous price.
When I was younger, it used to be said that the absolute hallmark of public utilities - the best symbolic representation of public services and the idea that every citizen is entitled to certain basic services and that we all share in the cost of delivering them, because that is efficient, and the whole central idea in the formation of municipal governments in this country and everywhere else in the world - was the water system: the idea that a person, rich or poor, could turn on a tap and get a drink of water - that life-giving substance - and that all of us contributed to the delivery of that water to every home and to every person through the tax system.
The tax systems varied somewhat. Some were based on the ability to pay, and some were based on a user charge, but it was universally available. However, extreme right-wing ideologues have even been undermining that system. One of Margaret Thatcher's last acts was to privatize water systems in Britain.
What has been the result? It has been an absolute disaster, and not only to the vast majority of the country now in favour of bringing the water systems back under public ownership.
I was just reading an article a couple of days ago. I know the Minister of Tourism likes the fact that I read, and he likes me to share with him the gems of wisdom I find in these books. This one talks about what happened as a result of the privatization of water in Britain. The chairs - the chief executive officers of privatized water undertakings - have received pay increases of up to 571 percent and enjoyed multi-million pound share and pension packages, while water bills to ordinary consumers have soared by 77 percent and, at the bottom of the hierarchy, 9,000 employees of the water system have lost their jobs.
Regarding just one company in the area where this writer happens to live, the local paper pointed out that, "Anglian Water has announced plans to shed almost one-fifth of its 5,200 member workforce, despite pre-tax profits of £132 million." The East Anglia Daily Times explained how former chairman, Sir Bernard Henderson - he was probably knighted by Margaret Thatcher - earned £101,000 a year for a three-day week before he retired last year. This is in comparison with £42,000 for a five-day week before privatization in 1989. His successor, Robin Gourlay, gets £105,000 a year for a three-day week.
I checked on the pound. It is worth over two dollars. Here is a privileged person working a three-day week and receiving over $200,000 a year, doing a job that was done under the public sector for a fraction of that amount. The claim of private-sector efficiency or improvements is also nonsense. The newspaper points out that Anglian Water was rebuked in a recent public report last year for delivering the poorest quality of service. I quote from The Guardian, a British newspaper, "Anglia suffered the most severe problems, with complaints rising eight-fold. This derives from problems not of its creation, but results from government-subsidized overdoses in fertilizers and pesticides, which exceeded legal limits in the drinking water."
This privatization mania is something that is quite serious. I mentioned before that, in Britain, it had helped to produce huge inequalities in income. However, what is really interesting about it is that one of the reasons for the public in Britain now being so opposed to what has been going on in the privatization of electricity and the privatization of water is that former politicians on the right suddenly seem to turn up on the boards of directors of all of the corporations. Sometimes, the former politicians who actually privatized the utilities end up on the boards of directors. The public is quite scandalized by that.
This has led to a very serious situation, where I, and people like me, now have to worry about very basic services in Canada. I pointed out that, very early on in his budget, Mr. Martin spoke about this privatization. Later on, he goes on and mounts some platitudes about saving the medicare system. What is interesting about that is that the platitudes about saving the medicare system occur at a later stage in the budget.
One of the things we are all taught in government to do is, if you want to see what the priorities of a government are and if you want to see the hierarchy of values in a government, you read from the top to the bottom. Privatization is near the top. Later in the budget, you come to medicare. It says, "The conditions of the Canada Health Act will be maintained: universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, portability and public administration." That is very ironic, when this same Minister of Finance stated earlier in his budget, in a much more important section, that wherever they could do it, they would be privatizing.
That means that those people were right who said during the free trade debate that we ought to worry about the future of medicare and ought to worry about American-style public administration - which, by the way, is far more costly and far less efficient than what we have now - and ought to worry about losing control of the one thing that Canadians from one end of this country to the other believe in - the medicare system that holds us together. It is a valued social program, and you can see that it is being chipped away - not just by the Tories; not just by hysterical right-wingers, like the Reformers, but also by the Liberal Party, which used to claim some credit for putting that system in place.
I used to wonder what they would say when they tore it apart. The Member for Faro pointed out today that these are the guys who, in the 1988 federal election were strongly opposed to free trade, and in the 1993 election, were slightly opposed to free trade, and that we are going to get some side deals on labour and the environment to make it all right.
Of course, the side deals in labour and environment are absolutely worthless. Now, of course, the Prime Minister and the leader of the party who were opposed to free trade are its greatest champions. They are salesmen for the American way in Canada.
Apart from the concern about the Americanization of Canadian culture and the Canadian way of life, the loss of our sense of values, the loss of our sense of community and caring, and the loss of the sense of solidarity between the regions as part of our traditions, where does all this lead us? I mentioned that, in Britain and the United States, according to that eminent conservative journal, The Economist, the income gap between rich and poor in those countries is now greater than it has been for 50 years. This has caused serious problems in terms of productivity in the economy and has been a major contributor to the rise in violent crime in both of those countries.
I hope the Minister of Tourism will not mind this, but I have picked up another Tory newspaper from Britain. Actually, I did not pick it up; someone sent it to me. I have relatives who are -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Penikett: I was going to say politically bent, but let me say well read and have a political bent. One of the leading conservative newspapers in Britain, the Telegraph - I think it is now owned by a right-wing Canadian - on the question of the income gap between rich and poor being wider than at any time in the past 50 years, quotes the report from something called the "Joseph Rowntree Foundation" that concludes that, "The failure of the poorest 20 or 30 percent of society to benefit from economic growth over the last 15 years threatens the country's social cohesion." It goes on to say, "Britain needs an intensive program of economic and social reforms to avert the damaging consequences of a deepening divide between rich and poor." Among the things it notes - this may be something we are getting to today - is that politicians of both the right and the left in Britain are calling for reforms to the welfare system to provide more incentive for the unemployed to take training programs. There is a list of things that are recommended in this report, which is interesting: more investment in education and training; employment opportunities for the jobless; more child care provisions; above-inflation increases in social security benefits; a range of measures making it easier for those on benefits to take paid work and; targeting any tax cuts at lower earnings and regional generation incentives.
It is interesting how small the world has become that that list from Britain does not sound strange in Canada at all.
It is interesting that this list from a conservative British newspaper, reporting about a Conservative think-tank, is proposing an agenda that is far more progressive and far more liberal - far more sensible I would say - than that being proposed by Paul Martin.
I want to conclude by again mentioning one of the examples, which I think is a very serious one, and that is the interesting case of New Zealand, which is the first country in the western world to have a welfare state. It is a country that even 20 years ago had the lowest gap between rich and poor. It had a stable economy, it had very low unemployment and it had very good social indicators. It is interesting to note that a document on income and equality from an international publication - I think it is United Nations statistics - shows that New Zealand is now the worst country in the world for the spread between rich and poor and the United Kingdom is the next worse.
This is where Canada is going. This is where we are heading. This is where the Liberal Party, Mr. Martin and Mr. Cable want to take us. I think it is the wrong way to go.
We need to think long and hard about what is happening to this country. At a time when we are going to be debating national unity and the maintenance of this country, which, if you look around the world, is something that can be guaranteed for every nation, we ought to be concerned about fairness not only between rich and poor, but fairness between the regions - east and west, north and south.
I think governments that claim to be democratic and governments that are responsive to the electorate should be listening to the people and the citizens of the country, not just to their bankers.
I urge all Members in this House to support this motion, as amended.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House on the motion as amended.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Agree.
Mr. Abel: Agree.
Mr. Millar: Agree.
Mr. Penikett: Agree.
Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Ms. Commodore: Agree.
Mr. Joe: Agree.
Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.
Mr. Harding: Agree.
Mr. Cable: Disagree.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 14 yea, two nay.
Speaker: I declare the motion carried as amended.
Motion No. 40 agreed to as amended
Clerk: Motion No. 41, standing in the name of Mr. Cable.
Motion No. 41
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Riverside
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon government should immediately commence public consultations with the people of the Yukon to determine a position and an approach to be taken by the government with respect to the upcoming national unity debate.
Mr. Cable: I had the pleasure of attending the Public Accounts Committee meeting in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, last July. As I boarded the plane coming back from Halifax, I got to thinking. It was late at night and the sun was just going down, and I thought, "My home is 4,000 miles away across this magnificent country." I was looking down at the apple orchards after we left the Halifax airport. I was thinking what a wonderful country this is, despite all the problems we have at the moment, including the financial ones, which have been addressed here in the Legislature today. There are many budget problems.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Would Members please allow the Member for Riverside to speak.
Mr. Cable: The Member for Porter Creek South just said, "We can smell turbulence coming."
As I was sitting in the airplane, thinking about this country, I thought about the problems it has and how we should approach them the same way that other nations have approached similar problems.
We have been a much more peaceful nation than our U.S. neighbours to the south. Generally, the Canadian approach to solving problems is through evolution, rather than through the U.S. revolutionary model.
While early history has many examples of intolerance by anglo-Europeans, preservation of distinct cultures has been accepted in Canada, as opposed to the U.S. melting-pot approach. Generally, with some exceptions, consultation, negotiation and accommodation have marked Canada's approach to constitutional development, except for the brief uprisings in the two Canadas - Lower Canada and Upper Canada - in 1837 and the Riel Rebellion in the west a few years later.
To understand Canada, to understand the present, and to understand where we are going, we have to look at our fairly rich history.
I am sure we have all taken high school history. In my case it was a little creaky, so I borrowed some high school books from one of the young Liberals and had the pleasure of reading through these books over the last few days and refreshing my memory on the recorded history.
The history of our country, of course, includes the aboriginal history, which is partly recorded. I was pleased to find, in looking through this book, a little bit of insight into what has taken place in Canada.
If you will bear with me, I found these books very interesting and I am going to go through some excerpts from them.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: For the Minister of Justice, I will read all the big words so we can get through this debate in a reasonably accommodating fashion.
An interesting book is called An Outline of Canadian History, by J. Arthur Lore. It went over the main linguistic divisions of native peoples of Canada on pages 18 and 19. I was surprised to find that there were only 11 major linguistic groupings of Canadian Indian bands, as they are described, from the Algonquin people in the east - if I am reading this chart correctly - to the Haida in the west, the Inuit people in the north and the Athabaskan people in the centre and the west, and the Wakashan and the Haida in the west. It is a country that was rich in languages and rich in early cultures - and in my home country, the Iroquois confederacy that predeceased the European settlement. Your First Nations were accommodating toward the early Europeans - perhaps to their regret. The first Europeans, the Vikings, arrived quite early on, I believe about the 1,000 on the east coast of our country. Leif Ericsson, a Norse captain blown off course from Greenland is said to have reached North America and sailed along the coast lines of the present Labrador, Newfoundland and the northeastern seaboard of the United States.
There were fisherman believed to have sailed around Newfoundland. Prior to the official first contact with the Europeans, the fishermen from Spain, Portugal and perhaps the British Isles were fishing the very rich fishing grounds around Newfoundland.
The official beginning of the European contact with the continent, the northern part of the continent that we call Canada, is ascribed to Cabot. These names are starting to click through the mists of time. It goes back several years to my grade 11 history class in Ontario.
As it turns out, I thought Cabot was coming here at the insistence of the King of France, but he was not. He was coming here under the tutelage of Henry VII of England. His trip became the basis for Britain's claim on Newfoundland and Labrador. He was followed by Jacques Cartier, who made three voyages for the French King, Francis I.
He sailed out of Saint Malo in France. If anybody ever wants to go to France, and has the time and energy to take a trip to Europe - if we ever get out of this House - I would recommend that they go to Saint Malo. It is a very beautiful stone-walled city that one could spend weeks visiting, if one had the money.
Jacques Cartier made three voyages to the New World on behalf of the French king. They were in 1534, 1535, 1541. He and one of his associates were instrumental in making an attempt at establishing the French settlement at Stadacona, or Quebec City, in 1541 and 1542. Unfortunately, these settlers were discouraged by the cold and returned home to France.
I suppose it is a good thing that they did not start with the Yukon or they may have left even earlier, if they were discouraged by cold.
European settlement went on at a fairly rapid pace after the initial discouragement, starting with Samuel Champlain in 1608 to 1663. The settlement had its ups and downs. The initial settlement was where Quebec City is now established. The French made a very strategic error: they sided with the Hurons and the Algonquins and Montagnais against the Iroquois - the Iroquois being a much fiercer and more militarily-competent group of First Nations people.
This siding with the Hurons and the other First Nations against the Iroquois league was the eventual undoing of the French settlers, although this did not come home to roost until many years later.
At this time, the economic motivation of the Europeans was to exploit the fisheries and develop the fur trade. I have to say that I read very few books; I read many newspapers. However, reading through this and refreshing my memory on Canadian history I found to be a very pleasurable way to spend two or three hours. One should, in fact, spend more time on our country's history. We tend to get bombarded with the American airwaves ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: ... and we also tend to get bombarded with CBC cuts.
That is unfortunate, I suppose. Then we find, in 1642, that Sieur de Maissoneuve established a city where Cartier had attempted to establish Hochelaga, called le Mont de Royal, which eventually, of course, became Montreal, the crown prince of the French settlement in our Province of Quebec. Then Jean Talon arrived in 1664 from the French Crown to settle New France and what was to become the Province of Quebec was taken over and run directly by the French Crown.
Mr. Talon became the first official to encourage immigration on a large scale from France into the area we know as Quebec and the area we know as Acadia.
The population statistics are quite interesting, when we view the vast area that they attempted to settle. The European numbers are given in the book. The First Nations numbers are not. The census of 1673 showed 6,705 inhabitants - more than double the 1666 population. By 1675 there were 7,833 inhabitants. To put that in perspective, it is about one-third the population of Whitehorse. The people were hanging tenuously on to the shores of the Saint Lawrence River.
Thereafter, with limited immigration from France, the number of Canadians of French origin was to grow slowly. Even in the 1880s, immigration from France was to be only 1.6 of the immigrant total, but by 1986 there were 6,159,740 Canadians of French ethnic origin - virtually all of them the progeny of the original settlers. They comprised 23.2 percent of the total population at that time.
The settlement of New France was initiated to enable economic development. This is when the French Crown took over, but it was also an instrument of empire building. The British attempted to establish their foothold on the continent - the northern part of the continent, of course; the British settlers in the New England states had settled about the same time that Champlain was busy building Quebec City.
In the northern part of Canada, the British attempted to establish their foothold in Hudson's Bay through the various British sailors, where the Hudson's Bay Company was established to rival the French fur traders. If I remember it correctly, that was in 1673 - or 1670. Those of you who are better historians that I am could perhaps give me the correct date. We have the Company of Adventurers arriving into Hudson's Bay - that romantic name for one of the first English corporations to visit themselves upon Canada.
The colonial possessions in North America were just small potatoes, in the general world scheme, to the European Crown at that time. They were basically bargaining chips in European diplomacy and peace settlements. There was the 100 Year War going on partly between France and England, but dragging in many of the other countries in Europe. Possession of the North American colonies was often dependent on which side had won the most recent war in Europe. Religion became a factor in how the victors dealt with the residents of the newly acquired territory - the British settlements being primarily Protestant in nature, and the French settlements being primarily Catholic. With all the animosities that were involved between the religions, the groups of people remained deeply suspicious of each other.
Another interesting facet of Canadian history was the settlement of Acadia. The Acadian part of Nova Scotia was ceded to Britain by France in the year 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht, and the Acadians were frequently expelled from Nova Scotia by the British to other British-American colonies in 1755. Some of them wound up in Louisiana and are what we now call the "Cajuns". I gather that the reason for the expulsion was that the Acadians were a fairly peaceful people who wanted to mind their own business, but the new British settlers decided that they would have to pronounce fealty to the British Crown, and they refused to do that.
Then we have the wars that took place subsequent to that, and the eventual battle between Montcalm and Wolfe and their soldiers on the Plains of Abraham when Quebec City was seized in 1759 and the rest of the French settlement - in what is now the Province of Quebec - Hochelaga, or Montreal, taken the following year. The British treated the French settlers with some respect, taking into account the times. The French people maintained their culture, religion and lands, even while many British settlers were moving into the eastern townships of Quebec.
The various wars that were going on in Europe and North America, and the English fight with the Americans in the War of Independence taking place in the late 1700s, demonstrated the American way of solving problems through revolution and warfare - something that we, in Canada, find a little distasteful.
Eventually the clash of the original way of doing business resulted in the War of 1812, which took place in and around part of my old stomping grounds in southwestern Ontario, and visions of Laura Secord, General Brock and Chief Brant, and many of those people, come to mind as we recollect that period of our Canadian history. There was a fight for responsible government.
Of course, the two Canadas were eventually divided into Upper and Lower Canada, or Quebec and Ontario. Lord Simcoe was the first Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. We have what is now Ontario shaping up in the 1790s. Shortly after that, we have the British aristocracy and their followers running a rather resented government, in both Upper Canada and Lower Canada. We have the Papillon-MacKenzie Rebellion, which took place in 1837, against what was called the family compact.
Those were the days when the upper class did, in fact, come down very hard on the average person and the average Canadian.
After that we had the Durham Report. After the rebellion, the British masters realized something was wrong in their colonies in Upper and Lower Canada and there was something called the Durham Report, which recommended responsible government. I think we had the division of what was called Upper Canada about that time - perhaps shortly before - and then we had the two different areas of Canada getting together in some kind of joint Parliament, which is prior to Confederation.
The rivalry of the two founding nations expressed itself in the expanding fur trade, which led to the exploration of the country and the development of settlements across the continent. Names such as Radisson and Groseilliers and, slightly before this time, La Vérendrye, come to mind. They were rather hardy explorers who initiated trade with the First Nations in an ever westward move across the continent.
I believe we had the Northwest Trading Company in deadly combat with the Hudson's Bay Company, and they eventually merged, if I recollect my history correctly.
There were two very different cultures growing side by side: the French-Canadian culture and the British culture. They had very different backgrounds and different attitudes toward democracy. Against this backdrop, there was the very active First Nations - in particular, the Iroquois, the Algonquin, and the Herons, Montagnais. All the while, the two solitudes sort of existed beside one another.
I believe eventually, of course, they touched upon the northern First Nations, the Inuit.
Moving into the central part of the 19th century, into the 1850s and 1860s, we can see the beginnings of the railway, the linking together of the provinces, and the first steps being taken toward Confederation. We can see the large impetus from the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. This led to the Charlottetown Conference, which eventually led to Confederation, which brought in the four original provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the two Canadas, Upper and Lower Canada, which became Ontario and Quebec.
This was followed shortly thereafter by the entry into Confederation of Prince Edward Island, and I believe shortly thereafter British Columbia - I just do not recollect what the sequence was - joined Confederation in the 1870s.
We had, as the settlers moved west, the clash between the settlers' way of doing things and the Metis and the First Nations peoples on the other hand, who were living their lives in a different mode. There was the Red River insurrection and the Riel Rebellion, which was a clash of religions, language and culture, which was eventually won, of course, by the much superior military force of the Canadas and the British army.
Mr. Louis Riel was hung, which perhaps was a very unfortunate event, perhaps one of the most unfortunate events in our history, which made for a much-ingrained hatred between the founding peoples and the settlers for a long time.
After the building of the CPR across the country in the 1880s, there were large influxes of Europeans populating the country. The Scots went to the Red River settlement, of course. The British people went primarily to the original founding provinces.
All the while, the two solitudes sort of existed beside one another.
While this was going on, there was constitutional development. After the coming together of the two Canadas, Upper and Lower, in the early part of the 1800s to form some sort of a joint government, we then had Confederation in 1867, which was brought about by the British Parliament's act, the British North America Act. This established the division of powers between the provinces with all residual powers going to the federal government, ostensibly anyway, under the peace, order and good government clause. That constitutional document, like many other constitutional documents, turned out to be a feeding frenzy for the law profession and has over the years slowly but surely evolved to its present state.
The French-speaking Canadians have, on occasion, described their treatment within Confederation as being subjected to the tyranny of the democratic majority. This has created, as it has in many members of minorities, a sense that democracy is flawed because it does not serve them.
The preservation of justice for members of minorities within Confederation was a concern to the fathers of Confederation and, of course, became a preoccupation as the years went on. The examples of perceived injustice by the French Canadian minority included the hanging of Louis Riel, the lack of French language schools in Manitoba and the conscription for overseas services in both the wars.
The residual powers conferred by the British North America Act - that is the peace, order and good government clause, under section 91 of the act - acquired greater significance. A knowledge of this particular fact is very important in understanding the devolution back to the provinces that is going on now.
On the meaning of the peace, order, and good government clause - and the meaning of the residual clause - this clause took on greater significance, the provinces began to lose less control over their affairs, and it became more of a Confederation from the top rather than a consensus-building exercise from the bottom. The various court decisions that came down resulted in a polarization of the view of the state between federalists and regionalists. That is, of course, the battle that is going on in Canada today. We have people who want to edict things from the top by fiat, and we have people who want to build consensus from the bottom.
There is an organization called the Council for Canadian Unity, of which our Commissioner, Mr. McKinnon, is a member. He has provided me with some information on the Council for Canadian Unity. One of the papers refers to a speech by Pierre Jean Aux, who said, not too many years ago, that regionalists, and not only in Canada, see economic problems and think that the solution is political.
However, I feel that federalists should look at these political problems and they will see that the solution as economic. If we can get the country back to work then the mood of the country will change.
The unity debate has become all mixed up with issues that really concern people - the deficit, the debt, jobs, crime and poverty.
Another person who spoke to the Canadian Council on Unity at its 25th annual conference was a gentleman by the name of Peter M. Leslie of Queen's University political science department. He had a number of things to say, but he asserted that the federal government must be decentralized, but said that this is not a panacea, but it can be a major cure for some of our ills.
There are a number of different opinions about whether the decentralization is a fob-off or a roundabout way for constitutional development. Of course, we heard some of those debates in this House over the last few days.
Here is what Mr. Leslie has to say, "The debate on social security and the state of the public finances will surely intersect with the larger political debate with which we are going to be faced - the unity debate, the constitutional debate.
One of the options will be a radically decentralized system, even a confederal system."
"Some provinces could find themselves with more extensive powers and policy responsibilities than others, and this is what Quebec very clearly wants," he stated. "A highly decentralized system will mostly affect people who live in the poorest parts of the country."
We have to ask ourselves if we want a Quebec that is part of the economic union but not part of the social union or the sharing community. Canadians must now ask themselves how decentralized a government they want in order to respond in times of crisis.
The debate was in fact joined back in 1960 with the quiet revolution of Mr. Lesage, the then premier of Quebec.
I have given this historical overview not with a view of hectoring Members on Canadian history, but in order to understand where we are now we must know where we have been.
What do we see for the present and for the future in Canada? It is important to remember that there is no single correct view of Canada. Canada, in my view, is as much a state of mind as a piece of geography. The views on what Canada is and what Canada should be vary from place to place, and from individual to individual.
I had a discussion with the Member for McIntyre-Takhini this morning, which I found very interesting. I received his views on what he would like to see Canada be. Perhaps, in the exchange of those views, we both learned a little, and learned that all Canadians do not share the same view of what Canada should be. So, if we are to build consensus, we have to find out what the baseline is that we have as a common view of what Canada is and what Canada should be.
If there is any agreement whatsoever in Canada, I have to say that it is the view that Confederation is now creaky and certainly needs reworking. Possibly, but not necessarily - and I hate to use the "c" word - it may need constitutional reworking.
As I mentioned, the quiet revolution of Jean Lesage started the ball rolling when the people of Quebec came out from under the Duplessis - perhaps oppression is too strong - thumb. Over the last 35 years, we have seen various attempts to rework our creaky Confederation. We had the Meech Lake Accord, founded on the overblown rhetoric of the then Prime Minister. It was essentially a backroom deal put together by a backroom wheeler-dealer who had no sense of Canada. Then we had the Charlottetown Accord, which was a much better attempt to get consensus in Canada and was a more open process, but perhaps because of the mood of the people at the time, was doomed, perhaps from the beginning.
There was a general lack of good humour in the country at the time.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: I have quite a bit more to say, but I can see that the hour is rapidly approaching, but we are coming back at 7:30 p.m. and that is very convenient.
More recently in Canada, we have seen people shying away from the "c" word - the constitutional debate. I guess that Charlottetown and the referendum sort of exhausted our patience, which is very unfortunate because eventually we will have to come to terms with the way we regulate ourselves, in a legal sense.
In the last few years, the fiscal state of the federal government has driven a partly fiscal and partly political change in powers, as between the jurisdictions. We have seen the desperate moves that are going on in Canada now to shift responsibility around, driven, unfortunately and in part, by some very cold fiscal realities. Unfortunately, we will not have the time to sit down and work out the structure in a more calm and considered fashion.
That brings us to the present and to the Yukon. I would recommend a very interesting textbook to my colleagues in the House called the phone book. Spend some time looking at the names in the phone book and you will see Robin Armour, you will see A. Arsenault, you will see Tom and Betty Arsenault, and Association Franco-Yukonnaise. I am guessing here, but there are two Aubichons, Aucoin and Associates Limited - I am just going through the As here - Cyril Aucoin, Gabriel Aucoin ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: There is some wag across the floor who wants me to table the phone book; I guess he has lost his copy.
Then we have Gabriel Aucoin, Gerald and Anne Aucoin, Glenda Aucoin, Richard Aucoin, and Randy Audette. When we get to the Bs, we have another name that has raised my eyebrows - I am not certain if it is French, so I will have to check with him - Larry Bagnell. I have heard of him.
In the Bs, we also have one Beauchamp and a number of Beauchemin, a Beaudin and four Beaudoins, a Beaumont and a Beauvais, quite a number of Benoits and a Bergeron, a Bernier, and a Suzanne Bertrand.
I am not going to go through the rest of the phone book, but the point I want to make to the Minister of Justice - the holder of the Justice portfolio and all things good in the territory - is that in our territory we have many people of French-Canadian ancestry who are going to be very active in the upcoming debate about the holding together of this country.
I believe the Franco-Yukonnais population, if I remember the statistics that were given to me, is something in the order of 10 percent of our population.
In the past - and this is no reflection on the Leader of the Official Opposition's yeoman efforts on the Charlottetown Accord - there have been a number of national unity talks, starting with politicians talking to politicians. Then we had politicians sort of talking to the people, but I have to say that there is a sea change underway in this country. At the present time - and this applies to people of French origin, British origin, European origin, Asian origin, and our First Nations peoples - people have a sense that there is a need to rework our Confederation.
The only way to rework our Confederation is to get people talking. The way to get people talking is not to hold constitution discussions, or offer the official position, if it has one, in the back room, because that may not really reflect the thoughts of Yukoners.
There are many issues that need to be resolved. For example, we have the issue of asymmetrical federalism, which is a very important issue that should be dealt with. We have heard people chant the mantra - "All provinces have to be the same, all provinces have to be the same." - which is very counter-productive to the national unity debate. The question that one has to ask when somebody chants that mindless mantra is the three-letter word: why?
Speaker: The time being 5:30, the House will recess until 7:30.
Debate on Motion No. 41 accordingly adjourned
Speaker: I now call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. 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
Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Department of Education - continued
On Capital - continued
On Public Schools - continued
On Facility Construction and Maintenance - continued
On Christ the King Elementary School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is to provide an overall upgrade of the facility, including ventilation, windows, finishes, et cetera. The structure of the building is good and the option of renovating and repairing is more cost effective than building a new school to accommodate the student enrollment. 1994-95 projects included the ventilation upgrade, which is $165,000, and design work for 1995-96 projects, such as window replacement and library soundproofing. All of the funding is a revote from the previous fiscal year.
Christ the King Elementary School in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Holy Family Elementary School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Work underway in 1994-95 on this project involves the installation of crosswalk controls; $110,000 has been revoted from 1993-94 to cover this work. The City of Whitehorse insisted that several surface drainage issues be corrected at the same time as the traffic controls. A debate ensued as to who will pay for this additional work. It was finally agreed that the city would pay for it, and a funding contribution agreement between the city and Government Services was struck.
To facilitate commitment of the contract, it was necessary for Education to cover the full cost to the city, to compensate us at a later date. It was therefore necessary to identify a total of $187,000. It is anticipated that the total 1994-95 expenditures will be $130,000, once we are compensated by the city.
Mr. Harding: Before I ask the Minister a question, I would like to compliment the Member for Riverside on the wonderfully moving speech on Canadian unity that he gave this afternoon. I look forward to the next opportunity for the Liberal Member to bring us together a little more.
Regarding the issue of the $50,000 in compensation, when do we expect to get that money from the city? I did not hear that in the Minister's opening remarks.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We anticipate it this month.
Mr. Harding: Why was this deal struck with the city, when it appears that similar requests were made by Whitehorse Elementary for a traffic light?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The distinction is made between what is required when one is putting in a new school and what is required as a result of city expansion around an old school. The city has consistently been paying 100 percent of the cost for these kinds of things for existing schools. For Grey Mountain Primary, the city paid 100 percent of the cost; at Whitehorse Elementary, the city paid 100 percent for road narrowing. They are now trying to squeeze us for more money, that is all. We will end up having a meeting with the city, and having a fairly frank and open discussion about it. Our view is that we should not be singled out any more than the business just down the street that did not have to pay for the crosswalk from the shopping area across Fourth Avenue.
Holy Family Elementary School in the amount of $187,000 agreed to
On Christ the King High Expansion
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of the $1.4 million in supplementary funding, $150,000 was transferred from Community and Transportation Services to this project. Planning of the school addition occurred during the fall of 1994. It was designed during the spring of 1995. Construction is currently scheduled in the 1995-96 fiscal year. The design is for a population of 400 students. The current floor area of the school is 3,522 square metres. The additional area will be 1,200 square metres. The project will include relocation of the school parking area to the site currently occupied by l'École Émilie Tremblay.
The Building Advisory Committee is composed of the Bishop, school council representatives and the school council, and was set up in the fall. The plan is to tender the project in February 1996, with construction being completed in December 1996.
Estimated project costs, including design dollars in 1994-95, is $2,750,000.
Christ the King High Expansion in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Teen Parent Centre
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The teen parent program was created to assist young mothers in completing their high school education. The centre provides space for day care and classroom functions, thus enabling students to attend class while maintaining ready access to their children.
The program currently operates from several modular classrooms next to Selkirk Elementary School. The new facility will be located between the F.H. Collins industrial wing and the Gadzoosdaa residence. The Selkirk school council has raised some concerns over this location. However, it is resigned to the building going there.
Teen Parent Centre in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On Dawson Second School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The $70,000 is for planning and design. There are negotiations underway right now regarding where the actual site will be. The current capacity of the Robert Service School is 300 students and current enrollment is about 300.
There are two new modular classrooms providing some breathing room for two to three years, until such time that the second school is built. The new one is currently expected to house grades K to 3. This may change, depending on whether or not the Dawson Community College campus will be relocated into that school once the second school is built.
The new elementary school will serve all Dawson residents from grade K to grade 4. The design population for the new school is 175 students and the proposed floor area is 2,030 square metres. A planning schedule calls for a construction award in April 1996, with the school opening just ahead of the school year in August 1997. The budget for the total is $4,520,000.
Dawson Second School in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse School Facility Study
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The 1994-95 funding from several line items has been identified and transferred to cover the costs of this project. It is anticipated that the final cost will be approximately $97,000. The terms of reference were tabled on February 28. We have committed to release the results of the study and the anticipated completion date is the end of March, 1995.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to ask the Minister about the safety light in front of Whitehorse Elementary School. I know that he has said in this House that he has no intention of putting any money into the installation of that light. I think that the city was asking for $57,000. There seems to have been a change in thought between two Ministers. In letters that we have read, we felt that there was a possibility that the former Minister may have had a different idea about whether or not the Department of Education would be helping with the installation of the light.
I have to tell the Minister that I was very disappointed with his response to me regarding that light. The request came from a group of parents who have children attending the school. It was very disappointing that the Minister was so rigid in his response to me about that issue. It would have been a little bit different had he said, "Well, I can sit down and talk to the city or I can talk to the school council about the light that is needed and maybe we can come to some kind of agreement."
I am just wondering whether or not that is still a possibility, so that I can pass that information on. I hope the Minister has already talked to members of that school council with regard to this concern, because we do not want to wait until there is a tragic accident in front of the school before someone does something. Fifty-seven thousand dollars is not an awful lot of money compared to some of the other costs that are going into education.
I would like him to respond to that. I would like to be able to tell the parents of those children who attend that school that the Minister had thought about it in great detail and had talked to his department and is reconsidering putting the money aside for the installation of that safety light.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have to reiterate that it is not our intention to make a contribution toward the installation of the crosswalk. The city, in making these demands of us, is expecting a change in policy. Over the past four or five years, they have paid 100 percent of traffic control and pedestrian crosswalk provisions for existing schools. Examples are the lane narrowing at Whitehorse Elementary, two crosswalks with overhead lights at Lewes and Alsek roads adjacent to the Grey Mountain Primary School, a crosswalk with overhead lights on Lewes adjacent to Riverdale Junior Secondary, one light-activated crosswalk on Lewes Boulevard adjacent to l'École Émilie Tremblay and Christ the King Junior Secondary School.
I intend to correspond very shortly with the mayor and request a meeting to discuss this issue. I intend to point this out in the letter and ask that the city install the traffic control and that it should pay for it. It is simply not acceptable for the city to suddenly change policy and use children as a bargaining ploy, when what is really being asked for is a total policy change regarding the understanding of the financial arrangements between this government and the city.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to ask the Minister if he has a written policy that indicates exactly what he said? Is it something that is written down and that was given to him by the bureaucrats? The other question that I would like to ask him is in regard to the policy he was speaking about. They do pay for the installation of those lights when they are constructing a new school. They pay for the total cost of the lights. Why is the policy so different for existing schools? It does not make a lot of sense.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: When a developer wants to develop a new building in the city, it negotiates the development permit with the city. When a school has been in place for a long time and the traffic patterns have changed as a result of expansion and growth in the city, we take the position that providing for enhanced traffic controls is the responsibility of the city, which it is paid for. We pay our grants in lieu of taxes, and grants to the amount to something like $17 million or $18 million a year. In our view, it is unacceptable for the city to make this demand.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister did not answer my first question about the policy. I asked him if it is a written policy, or something that just came to mind after the request. If it is a policy, how long has it been in existence?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The city has consistently been paying for these things up until this incident. I have read out the examples in the last four or five years. We are saying that we will not pay in this circumstance, just because the officials at City Hall seem to think that they can put the squeeze on us. It is just not acceptable. It is a matter of principle, and we are not going to back down.
Ms. Commodore: I have a really difficult time trying to understand what the Minister is implying. He is accusing the city of doing certain underhanded things. That is totally uncalled for. The city knows how much of a budget it gets from this government. It has a five-year plan. The request from the city to the government to pay half of the installation was not a very high figure to ask for. I think that the Minister's remarks are absolutely uncalled for.
He is so rigid in his decisions. He stands here with his very uncaring and snippy attitude and gives us responses to questions that we ask without any consideration for the consequences of what he is doing. For him to stand there and accuse the mayor and the city councillors of doing things like that is totally unacceptable. I suppose that this is the kind of action that we have begun to expect from this Minister. I feel very sorry for him, and I feel very sorry for the individuals he is responsible for. I also feel sorry for the children whose safety he is jeopardizing.
Whitehorse School Facility Study in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Hidden Valley School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The design for this project was originally voted in 1994 in the amount of $50,000. For various reasons, the design process was delayed until late in the 1993-94 fiscal. It was therefore necessary to revote the remaining $42,000 in 1994-95. The design was completed in June of 1994.
Hidden Valley School in the amount of $42,000 agreed to
On Modular Classroom Design
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have committed to an additional portable at l'École Émilie Tremblay for the next school year. The next school will open in September 1996. A modular classroom is required at Riverdale Junior Secondary and Porter Creek Junior Secondary to accommodate the attendance bulge currently passing through the junior-secondary level. Space will also soon be lost to various special program functions of these schools. This will lessen the overall capacity of each of the junior-secondary level schools.
The funding for 1994-95 is for design costs.
Modular Classroom Design in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
On Special Needs
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is for resources rooms, which will provide a location to house students with a variety of physical, cognitive and behavioural problems. One will house multi-handicapped students with pronounced physical and/or cognitive difficulties. The other will be used for a number of functions, including a lifeskills program for students with much lower-than-normal cognitive abilities, or a resource room for students with lower-than-normal cognitive abilities plus behavioural problems.
There is $10,000 being used in 1994-95 for design costs.
Special Needs in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Dental Lab Design
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is to improve dental facilities. The federal dental health program threatened to discontinue service in certain schools if the facilities were not improved.
Dental Lab Design in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Grey Mountain Primary
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The 1994-95 projects included the following: a new ventilation system for $85,000; new carpeting in classrooms for $15,000; replacement of wall coverings, originally estimated at $10,000, but increases in scope and scheduling difficulties indicate costs in the range of $35,000. The 1994-95 projects and the 1995-96 projects were prioritized with the Grey Mountain school council.
Grey Mountain Primary in the amount of $110,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
On Archival Facilities
On Archival Storage/Vault
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The funding for the construction of the Yukon Archives facility include an unfinished second vault, to be used for the future expansion of collections. Increasing volumes of government records transferred from the record centre have resulted in a need to develop a second vault as a storage area. In order to provide the appropriate secure fire-proof and environmentally controlled storage facility for the long-term preservation of records, as per the Archives Act, the second vault must be finished and upgraded.
The 1994-95 funding was allocated as part of the winter works project. It covered design plans and specifications for the upgrade, in the amount $40,000, as well as painting part of the floor, $15,000, and installing lighting for $25,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: What is the schedule for the completion of the project?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The 1995-96 budget includes $275,000 to complete the project this year.
Archives Storage/Vault in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
On Archives Facility
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote for the purchase and installation of water sensors in the vault area, and UV filtering in the reading room.
Archives Facilities in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Archives Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote from 1993-94. The Yukon Archives capital funds in previous years have been used to furnish and equip the new facility in stages. Some requirements of the building could only be identified after operating for some time in the facility. Some items are for expanding collections. As this is the Yukon Archive's only capital equipment fund, it includes computer needs for automation requirements. In the last several years, some Yukon Archives money was reallocated to Whitehorse Public Library and public schools needs. This is a revote.
Archives Equipment in the amount of $7,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $2,757,000 agreed to
Department of Education agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Mr. Deputy Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Chair: We will now turn to Bill No. 4.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Education
On Operation and Maintenance
Deputy Chair: Is there any general debate on finance and administration?
On Finance and Administration
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The finance and administration branch consists of the deputy minister's office, finance and systems unit and the human resources unit. The branch provides administrative, financial and personnel support services and leadership for the entire department. The major budgetary difference over the last fiscal year is caused by the department undertaking its own record-keeping functions in the main office.
The finance and administration branch has a total O&M budget of $1,467,000, and consists of the deputy minister's office, finance and personnel. There are 22.20 full-time equivalents budgeted in this area. The seven-percent increase is mainly due to changes in finance and personnel activities in the program area. These are the result of personnel transfers. Under personnel, the difference of $105,000 is explained as follows: a clerk was transferred from advanced education personnel, $48,561; records clerk transferred from libraries and archives, $43,055; records indexer transferred from Government Services, $46,899; a decrease in a casual, for an offset of $28,090, for a difference of $4,400.
There is a decrease of $4,000 in employee travel in Yukon; a $10,000 decrease in contracts; a $400 decrease in supplies; and a $10,000 increase in training. There are no changes to the transfer payment. The transfer payment for annual fees is made through the Canadian Educational Association.
Mr. Harding: How many FTEs are involved in that new record-keeping function in the department?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Two.
Mr. Harding: Are there corresponding reductions in the departments from which the personnel have come?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The difference in administration of $16,100 includes personnel for $2,100. Under Other, the difference is $14,000. There is a $4,000 decrease in employee travel in Yukon; a $10,000 decrease in contracts, and no changes to the transfer payment.
Mr. Harding: What travel was not undertaken that was undertaken in the previous year?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to get back about that.
Administration in the amount of $379,000 agreed to
On Finance and Personnel
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The difference is $117,000. Personnel is $107,000; clerk transfer from education to personnel was $48,561; records clerk transfer from library and archives was $43,055; records index transferred from Government Services was $46,899; and there was a decrease in casual of $28,000. Under Other, there is a $10,000 increase to training; an offset of a $10,000 decrease in contracts; and an offset of a $4,000 decrease in employee travel in Yukon.
Finance and Personnel in the amount of $1,088,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,467,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The public schools branch consists of six separate activity areas. These include administration, program delivery, program support and development, special programs, French language programs, and facilities and transportation services. This is the largest expenditure area in the budget. Its total budget is $54,269,000. The overall difference at the branch level between the 1994-95 forecast of $53,807,000 and the next year's estimates of $54,269,000 is $462,000.
The wage component of this branch of $44,800,000 amounts to 81 percent of the entire branch budget. The total FTEs budgeted in this branch equal 740.5. This includes all categories of public school-based employees except custodians - i.e. teachers, educational assistants, remedial tutors, native language instructors, school secretaries, et cetera - and they are all budgeted in the line item program delivery. These estimates provide wages and benefits information on school-based employees.
To round out the picture, on page 5-13 of the estimates we should add "custodial salaries and wages for departmental staff"and the "Gadzoosdaa Residence".
The breakdown is this: administration, ADM and support staff, $407,455; Gadzoosdaa resident staff, $543,342; superintendents and staff, $486,209; Yukon Teachers Association educational fee, $221,890; clerical staff, $1,304,233; and custodial staff, $3,014,336. The level of school-based staff, except for secretaries and custodial personnel, is determined by the staffing entitlement formula. This formula was originally passed by Management Board and Cabinet in 1987, and was last revised in 1992. It has not been changed since. Secretaries and custodians have separate formulas, based on student population and school size. The projected student population for September 1995 is 5,884. A few things are important to note about this figure. The 1994-95 budget was originally constructed, based on a projected enrollment of 5,884 students. During the school year, the enrollment tapers off - this is a historical pattern. In September of 1994, the enrollment started at 5,790, which was 94 students fewer than was predicted. The level of staffing deployed in the schools will meet or exceed the staffing entitlement policy. If there is a significant bulge in student population because of mining activity, the department will address the requirements for the staffing entitlement formula.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The administration line item of $2,734,000 covers the ADM of public schools and support staff, operation costs, as well as such things as student accommodation at the Gadzoosdaa Residence, teacher recruitment and relocation. For example, in the transfer payment section of this activity, there is total funding of $1,065,614, which includes grant contribution payments, such as $50,000 for the operation of the First Nations Education Committee.
There are contribution payments to support the operation of school councils of $152,000; guardians of students living away from home, for $90,000; Governor General awards, for $500; Encounters Canada, for $8,000; valedictorian award, for $2,000; Rural Alaska Honors Institute, for $2,000; payments to the YTA, for $164,114; funding set aside for the operation of the Yukon native teacher education program, for $595,000. The $80,000 increase can be accounted for through $56,000 for a net increase in personnel allotment; $68,000 net increase in the Other allotment; and a $44,000 net decrease in transfer payments.
The major areas of increase in Other are $6,505 projected costs associated with principals' monthly meetings; and the budget for the recruitment and relocation of teaching staff increase of $21,600; more contract service funding, for $40,595, including professional development contracts, conference for $15,000; Minister meeting, for $6,000; travel for principals' monthly meeting, for $6,505; school accreditation and student assessments contracts, exams and support for external team for school accreditation, for $25,000; recruitment and relocation interviews and costs to relocate teaching staff hired, for $21,600.
The transfer payments net decrease in this amounts to $44,000, composed of the following: $60,000 for the science fair, one time; an increase in First Nations Education Committee of $10,000; an increase in student accommodation of $10,000; a decrease in support programs of $5,500; an increase in YNTEP of $5,000; a decrease in education-related activities of $4,500.
Administration in the amount of $2,734,000 agreed to
On Program Delivery
This line item is the largest single component in the department's budge, at $40,974,000. The amount of $37,009,209 of its total budget, or approximately 90 percent, is for wages and benefits; $547,031 is allocated for the superintendent offices, including wages, benefits, support staff, travel, et cetera; $1,304,233 is allocated for salaries and benefits for school secretaries; the budget for such items as program materials purchased by the schools, $529,894; utilities, $2,367,275; field trips, $143,870; and telephones, $145,360 are also included here.
The $87,000 net change is as a result of numerous increases and decreases throughout the program delivery activity.
Personnel allotment, a net decrease of $103,000; Other allotment, net decrease of $59,000; and transfer payment allotment, net increase of $75,000.
The breakdown of salaries and benefits for other school-based staff, except for custodians and math and science tutors, can be found in the statistics section at page 513 of the estimates.
Custodian salaries and benefits, at estimated cost of $3,014,336, are budgeted for in the line item called facilities and transportation. The transfer payment to the Native Language Centre of $450,000 was also included in this budget area. In order to get a good estimate of the amount of funding budgeted for native language programs, it was necessary to add the amount of the budgeted funds for native language instructors, $1,337,760. In addition, funding for student counselling project for $60,000 is included. These funds will be used to fund a stay-in-school counsellor at the Robert Service School in Dawson, as the federal government program is cancelled.
Full-time equivalents are budgeted in this activity in the amount of $605,600,000. The categories of staff budgeted for in this activity include teachers, remedial tutors, educational assistants, school secretaries and the superintendents' offices. It should be noted that special education staff budgeted in the schools, which consists of educational assistants, special education teachers, remedial tutors and school counsellors, amounts to $7,510,000.
Mr. Harding: How do the superintendents' travel, wages and what-not that is part of this budget break down among the different areas that the superintendents have responsibility for?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We will have to bring that information back.
Mr. Harding: One of the concerns that I have heard from school councils in the area 3 district is that the superintendent who is located in Dawson has a tremendous area to cover and it is not really thought to be that practical.
I believe the superintendent serves Ross River, Old Crow and all the way up the highway. It is a fairly substantial area. I think that, for the most part, the school councils feel it is very difficult for the superintendent to give enough personal attention and visual, physical contact to the job, given the great distances that he has to travel and the number of schools in the area.
I wonder if the Minister has had some representations made to him by any of the school councils, parents or educators, and whether or not he is prepared to look at coming up with some kind of remedy for this situation.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have not received any representations, nor am I aware of the department having received any. However, I can check on that.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister. I suppose I will have to contact the people who raised the issue with me and have them correspond with the Minister. I will follow up with the Minister later, at an appropriate time.
Mr. Cable: During the briefing that the Minister's predecessor gave some of the Members on the Education budget last spring, we were provided with the formula for staffing of teachers, educational assistants and so on.
Has there been any change in the formula since the documents were provided to us last spring?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They have not changed since 1992.
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if the Minister has taken a look at his budget in this context. I am looking at the statistics page with a list of the wages for the teachers, educational assistants, tutors, administration and so on. Has he looked at his budget in the context of what percentage of the total budget goes toward wages for all employees, including the administration, and what percentage is actually left over for programs, new initiatives and so on?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have it broken down here. As I mentioned, 90 percent is for wages, or $37,009,209. For public schools, the breakdown is 81 percent of the $54,269,000, or $44,008,000. That is 81 percent of the entire branch. The real fact is that there is not an awful lot of flexibility in these programs because of the personnel, as I am sure the Member is suggesting, and it does not provide the ability to adjust to budget cuts in the same manner as the programmers in social services do, where there is a much smaller percentage of personnel.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that is part of the concern I have. I have watched the Education budget grow over the last 10 or 12 years, but I think it is fair to say that the student population has not grown in proportion to the growth of the Education budget. I have some concern about that, and I wondered if the Minister was examining that particular aspect. If we are in a position where we have to make budget cuts - I recognize that the maneuverability may be a bit tight - I am curious to know if the Minister is looking at it. They have obviously identified it as a concern. Is anything being done with respect to that particular concern?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is not an awful lot. The actual percentage for administration in the total budget has gone down from 11.24 percent of the budget in 1993-94 to 9.08 percent this year. Frankly, one of the other issues has to do with the demand for a second or third, whatever, high school. We are probably not going to be able to proceed with that, which will save a tremendous amount of duplication. Similarly, the Grey Mountain Primary School is partly wrapped up in that concern.
The one thing we would like to get into place, and we have mentioned this in general debate, is some performance indicators that are understood by the clients, which are the students and the parents, so that we have an idea of how we measure up in terms of some baseline indicators. That is something we want to develop, which is consistent with what is happening in other public schools.
Mrs. Firth: By performance indicators, is the Minister talking about the assessment project with which he is proceeding? I am trying to get an idea of what performance indicators would be in education. I know how difficult it is to have performance indicators for health and social services. I would imagine education would be even harder. Perhaps the Minister could give us more detail on what he is planning and what they are doing.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: A lot of it is in the accreditation area and how the schools measure up.
We have seen some examples of fairly commonsense indicators that are being introduced in Alberta and into some of the other school systems. I can send some of that information to the Member. I just cannot remember what some of the ones they are using are. The reason is for teachers to gain an idea of what results they are getting for the money in their school.
Mrs. Firth: I would be interested in receiving that information. A natural question to ask the Minister would be if he has been discussing this particular issue with anyone. Could he indicate to us with whom he has had discussions on the performance indicator concept?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We received a couple of reports, and the one that stands out in my mind was not too long ago. It was a report on performance measurements that are being used by the Alberta government in all areas, including health, social services and education.
I have had discussions with the deputy minister of each department about developing some easy-to-understand and meaningful indicators.
I will send a copy of that report to the Member. I am trying to recall what some of the performance measurements for schools were, but I am drawing a blank. It will come to me eventually.
Mrs. Firth: I will wait to receive that from the Minister.
Is this process going to be done in consultation with the YTA and school councils? Has the Minister taken any steps to start discussing this with them yet?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, not yet. We will be, as they are developed. It is one of the items on the ministerial priorities list that I tabled yesterday.
Mrs. Firth: Will they be included in the development, or will they just be given to them after they are developed and their opinion asked about the indicators that the Minister, the deputy minister and his department officials have developed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They will be developed in consultation with regard to those kinds of things. They should be fairly easy to understand, in simple concepts that are agreed to by school councils and other stakeholders.
In the Education Act, under section 114(2), it states, "The Minister shall evaluate it at least once every five years for each of the schools operated by the Minister and according to the guidelines, standards and procedures established by the Minister." This has not been done or developed in any way, to my knowledge, and it is consistent with that.
When I was involved with the Public Accounts Committee, the big buzzwords of the day were "performance indicator". I do not like meaningless ones or ones that were a lot of work but do not really provide good information to people. I have a lot of difficulty with a lot of the statistics that we use in our budgets today, because they are not really performance measurement indicators. Many of them are just, in my view - for what it is worth - fillers. We would be much better off with things that mean something. We would then be getting something for our money.
Mrs. Firth: I think it was probably at the same time that I was on the Public Accounts Committee. I remember the discussions we had, particularly with respect to Justice, Health and Social Services. When we talk about performance indicators, we are talking about value for money, and measuring whether or not we are getting value for our money.
The concept is interesting. I have a few basic questions about how it will be applied to Education. Is the Minister saying that there will be a set of performance indicators that will be generic - applied to all schools? I see the Minister nodding his head to indicate yes, but I think there may be some concern about trying to apply a set of performance indicators to schools here in Whitehorse and then applying the same set of performance indicators to a school in, say, Mayo, Pelly or Ross River. I am fairly interested in the whole idea and I look forward to getting some information about it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is quite possible that a rural school would not measure up to an urban school. One would then try to find out why. There may be some good reasons; for example, there may be a lot of special education students in a rural school, or it may be that some of the courses have to be looked at to see if they are appropriate. The Pathfinder system, or something like that, might be utilized. Just because a school does not attain the same kind of high measurement as another school does not necessarily mean it is anything more than perhaps being a community with a lot of FAS children. There are a lot of reasons that would be acceptable. At least we would be able to look at them and understand why.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if there is some kind of time period within which he wants to achieve this? He has obviously had some communication with the Alberta government, he has talked to the deputy minister and he has to do some consulting. What is the Minister's goal? When does he hope to have this particular task finished? We do not have accredited schools in the Yukon yet. Perhaps the Minister could also clear that up.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We hope to start gathering information and being in a consultative mode over the next few months. There is no real plan yet as to how we are going to proceed, or when, or anything else. I just had these initial discussions with the Deputy Minister of Education, as well as with the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services. I will be following up on it over the next few weeks and months.
The Member asked whether there were any accredited schools. The answer is no.
Mr. Cable: A few moments ago, I asked the Minister a question about the staffing formulas and he indicated that there had been no change from the document provided to Members last spring. Are there any changes anticipated in the 1992 formulas?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There are not. There has been some discussion about looking at some of the aspects of the formula on secretaries. However, it is unlikely that we will move ahead to make any changes, particularly in view of the federal budget. I think we are going to have to have a hard look at cost containment.
Mr. Cable: I am thinking particularly about the FAS/FAE issue, which has been discussed in the House, off and on, for the last few days. Are any changes anticipated in the educational assistant ratio because of what is anticipated to be a greater number of FAS kids coming through the system?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is possible that there could be some offset somewhere and more focus in that particular school on an issue such as FAS. I think it is important to recognize that, while we do not have the FAS singled out as a diagnosis by the special needs people in the school system - such as psychologists, et cetera - we know who the special needs students are and how many there are for each school, and so on.
The issue of diagnosing the FAS, which is a medical diagnosis, is one that I think we should be looking at, because it is thought to be a very severe problem. That will not mean that we would necessarily need more staff. We are dealing with them; we just have not identified if it is FAS or some other cognitive or physical disability. If I am making myself clear, it is simply that that particular diagnosis is not being made, but these students are being dealt with in the schools under special needs.
Mr. Cable: I guess that the global question I am asking is this: is there any anticipated reduction in the number of educational assistants - federal budget considerations aside?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Certainly not for the ensuing year.
Program Delivery in the amount of $40,974,000 agreed to
Deputy Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
On Program Support and Development
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The program support and development program is budgeted for $2,104,000. Of this total amount, $1,115,948 is budgeted for salaries and benefits. The different elements of this activity include such things as administration, operation of the Learning Resource Centre, diagnostic assessment, the educational computing program, purchase of text books and library books for the schools and curriculum support and development. There are 16.67 FTEs budgeted for in this area. The breakdown of staff by element is as follows: administration, seven FTEs; Learning Resource Centre, six FTEs; educational computing, 2.67 FTEs; curriculum development, one FTE . The total is 16.67.
These are the major areas of change that I can explain. The $178,000 increase includes: personnel allotment increase of $87,000, mainly associated with First Nations education coordinator; curriculum personnel travel in Yukon, with a net increase of $19,000; postage and freight increased costs of $6,500; communications costs, increased by $5,000; and repairs and maintenance costs, increased by $25,000.
Mr. Harding: What specifically was done with the increase in the educational computing area?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There was an increase in the cost of the maintenance contracts for Macintosh computers.
Mr. Harding: Is it specific to the computers that are used in the high schools and the junior high schools in the public school system?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Mr. Harding: Are the curriculum support and development component increases a specific reflection of the First Nation curriculum coordinator, or is there another factor?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is mainly for the education coordinator. I mentioned that the education curriculum personnel travel in the Yukon was increased by $19,000, postage and freight increased by $6,500, communication costs increased by $5,000, and repairs and maintenance increased by $25,000.
Mr. Harding: Have there been any FTE reductions in any of these areas or components?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is the addition of two. One is the First Nation coordinator and the other is the coordinator of graduate programs, coming on after April 1 as well.
Mr. Harding: What is the coordinator of graduate programs mandate, position and purpose?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is a secondment from the public schools branch. It is the position recommended by the education review.
Mr. Harding: Is there any relationship between this position and the graduation committee that was formed? I am not sure if I am using the proper terminology. To the best of my knowledge, there was a graduation committee or council formed, and I received a couple of concerns about it. Perhaps the easiest way to answer this would be for the Minister to tell me what the graduation committee or council was formed for.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to bring that information back for the Member.
Mr. Harding: As well, I would like to have a breakdown of the representatives. I am not sure precisely about this, due to the explanation I was given about the role of the committee, but what is its focus or job to be? The representation of First Nations was not extensive enough, so I would like a breakdown of the representation.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Sure.
Program Support and Development in the amount of $2,104,000 agreed to
On French Language Program
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The reduction of $105,000 is a result of the change in budgeting, not a reduction of services within the French language programs. The reason for the decrease is the internal charge-backs to the Executive Council Office for a portion of the French superintendent position and the bilingual information officer.
The book budget for this area has been transferred to the Learning Resource Centre to ensure that we optimize the purchase of books for the program area.
It is worth mentioning that this budget does not include the O&M budget for l'École Émilie Tremblay, which is $766,000, or the fund budgeted for the French immersion teachers at Whitehorse Elementary, Riverdale Junior Secondary or F.H. Collins. The budget for these areas is based on the number of teachers employed - 25.75 - and is $1,844,421.
Mr. Harding: The 1993-94 funding for this program was $771,000. The 1994-95 forecast was $627,000, and this year we have a budgeted allotment for 1995-96 of $522,000. There appears to have been a drastic cut in spending in this program. The Minister says that there has been no reduction in service, yet included in the positions deleted between November 1993 and November 1994, is the assistant coordinator of the French language centre, according to the document received.
Was it federal programming dollars or discretionary Yukon money that has been cut from this program? How does that reduction since 1993-94 compute with cutting the position of assistant coordinator of the French language centre?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not have information here explaining 1993-94 to 1994-95. The 1994-95 to 1995-96 change is simply a book entry. I will have to get the previous year's information.
The reduction is $105,000, which is a book entry change, that is all. The question asked by the Member had to do with what happened the year before. I will get that for him; I just do not have it here.
Mr. Harding: A couple of days ago I asked the question regarding the deletion of positions, and I have not received a further explanation yet. That is why I am asking it now. The assistant coordinator of the French language centre was cut. That was during the period of November 1993 to November 1994. My ears perked up at the statement about there being no service level reductions. Given that cut in the position, I just wanted to establish precisely what was going on there. I also wanted to know whether or not we were talking about recoverable dollars or discretionary Yukon spending on the French language program.
Can the Minister tell me whether or not there are discretionary dollars involved here, or are they federal recoverable dollars?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They are all recoverable.
Mr. Harding: They are all recoverable dollars. When can we expect to get the information on the deletion of positions?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It will be ready either tomorrow or Monday.
French Language Program in the amount of $522,000 agreed to
On Special Programs
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The special programs division line item budget of $1,466,046 consists of funding for such areas as school support and psychological services, speech language programs, occupational therapy, sensory impairments, et cetera. The increase in this funding area over the previous year will be used toward staff and program materials. This amounts to an increase of $143,000, or 11 percent in the special programs division.
There are 16 full-time equivalents budgeted for in this area, including the director of special programs, an administrative assistant, a coordinator of support services, a psycho-educational consultant, a clinical psychologist, a coordinator of school psychology services, a psycho-educational consultant for psychiatric-referred assessment, a speech language coordinator, a speech language pathologist, a speech language consultant, two physiotherapists, an occupational therapist and two teachers for the hearing impaired.
The above-noted staff does not include the estimated cost of educational assistants, special education teachers, remedial tutors or school counselors budgeted in the program delivery line. When added to the special programs line item, the total special education budget amounts to $8,980,000. The staff noted above are included in the budget.
Major changes to the budget area includes a $73,000 increase in the personnel allotment for a school psychologist, combined with the following: $22,500 contract increase, $45,000 program materials, $4,000 communications. There is a decrease in outside Yukon travel of $1,000. There was a decrease in rental expenses of $4,500, and an increase in repairs and maintenance of $3,500.
Mr. Harding: What is the seven-percent increase in the administration of special programs?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I did not catch the question.
Mr. Harding: What is the seven-percent increase in the administration of special programs?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I did not give that figure.
Mr. Harding: I know that, but the budget does on the statistics page.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is for the support of the program materials.
Mr. Harding: I do not understand. What is the support of the program materials?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is program materials for territorial resource rooms - there has been an increase in materials.
Mr. Harding: Would that be resource materials, like books, information research, and that type of thing? Okay, the Minister has nodded his head that that is correct.
In the area of professional development, the statistics show an increase of 58 percent. Could the Minister tell me what that increase represents and what it is going to be used for?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We will get back with the answer. It is probably the training for educational systems.
Mr. Harding: School support services shows a nine-percent increase. What does that represent?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We will have to come back with a response.
Mr. Harding: I will let the Minister off easy. Surely he can see that, after his rebuttal speeches of last week, in which he said that I did not know what was going on in special programs, I would find his answers a little disturbing. The former Minister of Education accused me of not doing my homework, but I will not pursue that. I am a little reluctant to clear the line without that information, because I think that it is important.
It looks like we will be in debate tomorrow, too, so it will be okay.
Special Programs in the amount of $1,466,000 agreed to
On Facilities and Transportation
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I discussed that line. I want to send some material over to the Members. I will not read it into the record, but the first document is a briefing note on locally developed curriculum, which I will send over. The second document I will send over to the four Members. Table one is the Yukon government apprenticeship programs information. I will send one to the Table and to each of the critics.
The next is simply a copy of the 1994-95 main estimates, which I would like to also give to the Member for Tatchun. It shows the Mayo community school funding that was in the mains for $80,000.
The facilities and transportation line item of $6,469,000 consists of two major expenditure components: transportation services, in particular student busing, estimated at $3,016,682, and the costs associated with custodial personnel in the schools, at $3,014,336. The remaining funds are for supplies, security contracts, administrative staffing, et cetera.
The largest parts of this increased budget consist of a $78,000 increase in personnel and a $159,000 increase in busing costs. The personnel increase is an increase in custodial staff.
Under Other, there is a decrease in Yukon travel of $2,500, a $159,353 increase in busing, and a $1,376 increase in supplies.
Under the transfer payment, there is an increase of $16,492 in student transportation.
Mr. Harding: I have heard a rumour that the Minister is considering some major busing cuts in the Yukon. I do not know if it was started by the Member for Riverdale South, but I am wondering if there is any truth to that particular rumour, or is he going to behave like she did when she was Minister?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I learned my lesson when she was the Minister. I would not consider cutting the busing.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister about the statistics on page 5-14. Under the allowances travel subsidies, the busing expenditure is over $3 million. The second block of figures, the travel subsidies, indicates that it does not include the expenditures on the airfare for grades 11 and 12 students from Old Crow.
Can the Minister tell us what that is and why it is not included? How much is that expenditure? Also, I want to know how these statistics and this expenditure relate to the contributions expenditure on page 5-28, which talks about student transportation, for the estimated amount of $73,000. How do all these transportation costs tie in?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is why I like performance measurements. We will have to come back with a response to that.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister understand what information I am requesting? I see that they are nodding their heads, indicating yes. I will wait for that information to come back tomorrow.
Facilities and Transportation in the amount of $6,469,000 agreed to
Public Schools in the amount of $54,269,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
Deputy Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The branch is composed of three separate areas: administration, labour market development and training programs. The total branch budget is $15,705,000, which is listed on page 5-16. The main estimates are a total of 15.51 FTEs. This does not include any apprentices who will be hired in the future.
The difference is $733,000, consisting of the following: personnel, $397,329; Yukon government apprenticeship program, $496,000; training employment consultants transferred to libraries and archives, $64,691; a position transferred to public schools to provide help with student assessment area, $37,644; Other is reduced by $52,600. There is a decrease in travel of $27,900, a decrease in contracts of $15,000, a decrease in supplies of $7,700, a decrease in postage and freight of $500, an increase in advertising of $1,800, a decrease in program materials of $5,500, and there is an increase in communications of $2,000.
There is a net increase in transfer payments of $387,627, comprised of a $386,000 increase to Yukon College; a $20,000 increase to the Bachelor of Social Work; a $13,000 increase to scholarships; a $199,000 increase to post-secondary student grant and allowance; a $9,500 increase to Challenge; a $6,000 ICEMS increase; a $12,600 apprentice incentive marketing program decrease of $99,000; a decrease to trades and apprenticeship of $152,000; and a training allowance for apprenticeship increase of $3,000.
Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
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. Millar: The Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and directed me to report progress on them.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Deputy 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 Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 1, 1995:
Government of Yukon annual report, 1993-94 (Ostashek)
The following Legislative Return was tabled March 1, 1995:
Loans from the Department of Economic Development: verbal direction in place on May 27, 1994, and Cabinet direction given on December 20, 1994, that loans were not to be made to clients in arrears (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1021