Tuesday, March 7, 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 performance of Team Yukon at the Canada Winter Games
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I want to recognize the excellent overall performance of Team Yukon at the Canada Winter Games in Grande Prairie from February 19 to March 5. Team Yukon consisted of 106 athletes, coaches, managers and mission staff, and participated in 11 sports in the 1995 Games. A total of five Yukon communities were represented at the Games, including Whitehorse, Dawson City, Haines Junction, Watson Lake and Burwash.
All team members were winners at the Games. However, I want to congratulate the Yukon medal winners in the sports of cross-country skiing and weight lifting.
As I previously mentioned in this House, Gerard Frostad captured a gold in the 15-kilometre classic cross-country ski race event, and earned a bronze in the five-kilometre classic. Doris Hausleitner followed Gerard's example with silver medals in both the five and 10-kilometre classic events.
The entire cross-country ski team continued to provide impressive results with top 10 finishes by Martina Frostad, Gina Loewen, Robin Findlater, Dallas Eng, Thane Phillips and Allan Frostad, in addition to Doris Hausleitner and Gerard Frostad. The final standings for our cross-country ski team were fourth place for the women, and sixth place for the men. This is an outstanding result for such a small jurisdiction as the Yukon.
Yukon also returned home with medal performances in the sport of weightlifting. Lisa Roberts captured not only the gold medal in the 50 kilo class, but also won the hearts of everyone involved in the sport. Lisa's total lift was actually good enough to have won the men's competition in the same weight category.
Jean Lassen, only 14 years old, in her first Canada Games, won the silver medal in an exciting competition against Quebec in the 59 kilo event.
Strong performances and a solid effort were also provided by athletes in the sports of synchronized swimming, biathlon, hockey, curling, alpine skiing, squash, gymnastics, boxing and figure skating. In addition to the fine performances of our young athletes, Yukon was also represented in the cultural area by an outstanding group of dancers, singers and musicians. The cultural contingent performed to an appreciative audience throughout the second week of the games.
Canada Games brings together Canada's best young athletes to celebrate sport and culture, and to share in what it means to be a Canadian.
I would ask all Members of this House to please join with me in congratulating this fine group of young Yukoners.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have a news brief as well as a report for tabling, entitled "A Cappella North".
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have two legislative returns for tabling.
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 Question Period.
Question re: A Cappella North report
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has tabled the A Cappella North report, which was conducted by the Women's Directorate, the Department of Education and the Yukon Teachers Association.
How will the Minister ensure that the report's findings are taken into the classroom?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Planning and discussions are taking place among the Women's Directorate, the department and the Yukon Teachers Association. They have been developing strategies as a result of the findings that are contained in the A Cappella report. The initiatives in the planning or implementation stages this year include the following: career and personal planning curriculum; planning for school and career; a comprehensive personal health and social development program, which includes supplementary text materials on order and to be available within two months; gender issues, which is a collection of articles, poems and short stories; Native Voices, which is a collection of articles, poems, short stories; and an inter-agency Yukon equity project, which provides training for group facilitators for 35 adults, half of which are non-teachers; youth leadership; equity conferences planned for the fall of 1995; and other projects as proposed by the group facilitators.
Ms. Moorcroft: Either the Minister of Education or the Minister responsible for the Women's Directorate can answer this question.
It is all very well to hear a report of ongoing discussions and developing strategies, but hallways of schools are unsafe for young women. Teenagers say in this report, and I quote, that they cannot find a way to cope with being grabbed by their privates. "It really bothers me and it does not feel like a game." Obviously, whatever has been done up to this point is not working. What is the Minister going to do about that - either Minister who cares to answer?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As the Member well knows, this is not something that started yesterday. It has been going on for many, many years. We have had the foresight to do the A Cappella North report to get the recommendations from the young women. Since we received the recommendations, even in the initial stages, various action was taken within the school system. A briefing with the Department of Education and the teachers and people involved in the Department of Education was made available to the Member this morning. They are fully aware of it and have been briefed. There are training sessions planned and action is being taken. A lot more is happening now than in the past.
Ms. Moorcroft: One of the things I heard in the briefing this morning that I should mention at this time is that men have to stop being defensive. The Minister has talked about some actions that started before this Minister came to office and have continued, but I have to point out that the problem still exists. Girls who participated in the study have appreciated having their opinions heard and would like that to continueMe too, Mr. Speaker. . Let me ask the Minister this: when are they going to get the chance to participate in discussions like this again?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: A camp will be held later this summer and many young women will be invited. These types of discussions will be ongoing. I think it is a good idea to get their views. For the first time, we have their views in black and white. It gives us an opportunity to use the information they have provided us and actually act on it.
Question re: A Cappella North report
Ms. Moorcroft: I think the Minister has been aware of the problem for a lot more time than the report has been published. They should certainly be acting on it before publishing the report. The report will only meet its goal of improving the quality of young women's lives if the gender equity policies are put in place, if the curriculum changes are made and if the sexist resource materials are removed. The Minister made a statement on June 3, 1993, about some of those initiatives. I know that there are sexist materials in Yukon schools. I have read them and it has come home from my kids' classrooms. How many sexist resource materials have been removed from the Yukon education system since the Minister's statement on June 3, 1993, as he intended to do?
It was the Minister responsible for the Women's Directorate who made that statement.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have that figure at my fingertips. I can find it out for the Member. Again, it appears that it does not matter what one does. The previous government did not have the foresight to look into the concerns of young Yukon women. We have done that. We have looked at the concerns of young girls in our school system, and we now have those concerns documented. We have been taking action on them. We are not starting tomorrow. We started the action on this as soon as the focus groups began formulating their views. We are taking a lot more action on this than the previous government did.
Ms. Moorcroft: This work was initiated by the former government. I might also point out that the former government set up a teen parent centre and brought curriculum dealing with women's issues into the classroom.
Let me just quote something else a very eloquent young woman said: "It is a man's world. I said that in Social Studies, now I keep my trap shut. Female Prime Ministers do not last very long."
When that is what young women are saying today, what has been done to give a more balanced perspective in the classroom to acknowledge women's past contributions to society and emphasize women's values?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Perhaps the Member was not listening during the briefing this morning, or perhaps she did not want to listen, when individuals described some of the initiatives taking place and the training that will take place for teachers, the equity plan going forward and other initiatives. Those are the kinds of things that are being done to address the problems we have seen. There are many other things we can and will do, but there is certainly some action being taken at the present time.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister just has to stop being defensive.
How does the Minister intend to assess and document progress in achieving quality in the education system?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I hate to be defensive, but this is the silliest group of questions that I have ever heard from the Member across the floor.
The Member knows what we are doing. She was involved this morning in a briefing. She was told about the actions that are being taken. We have identified the problems. There are all kinds of things that are happening.
I am sorry if I am being defensive, Mr. Speaker, but the Member is asking me about what we are doing. I am telling her what we are doing. That is not being defensive; I am answering her question.
Question re: Centennial anniversaries program
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Tourism on his centennial anniversaries program.
Yesterday, the Minister told the House that the total amount of the applications for the $5 million allocated for the coming fiscal year under the program is $27 million. The terms of reference spell out how the priorities, within a community, will be determined, and I quote, "Priority consideration will be given to projects that include equity, such as cash, labour, volunteers or donated materials, and can demonstrate the broadest community support." How will the department be determining, within communities, which projects have the broadest community support? Who will it be looking to in order to determine the community support?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The broadest community support, I guess, would be the broadest community support: First Nations support, town council support, historic groups support - as many people as can be gathered, in the broadest sense. We would like to see each community together on a proposal. That is why we asked for broad community support.
Mr. Cable: I will take it that that will be a major determinant, as between projects and communities. The terms of reference are silent about how prioritizing will take place between communities. I am sure that communities, such as Watson Lake and Whitehorse, are competing for funds. As the program appears to be considerably over subscribed, how will the Minister's officials determine what projects, in which communities, will be funded?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The $27 million that is being applied for is a total of all of the projects that have been submitted. The departments are reviewing the projects to determine eligibility. Many of the components of some of the projects are not eligible at all, but the departments are analyzing them right now in order to see exactly what is eligible, and so on.
Mr. Cable: The Minister who just spoke, spoke yesterday about the two departments working within the communities to "perfect their proposals" - I believe those are the words he used. This suggests a two-stage approval process: an initial qualification, followed by an approval. Is that, in fact, the process that the Minister's officials are going through?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is more or less correct. Some of the communities sent in several projects each. We indicated that we would like to see one project per community. Several of the communities have submitted four or five possible projects, telling us that those were the kinds of things they would like to do and requesting our opinion about them. That is more or less the way it worked out. Right now, the departments are analyzing those projects.
Question re: Youth justice system
Ms. Commodore: I just spent the morning at a conference on family violence, and I find it very discouraging when I hear laughter from the men in government when questions are asked concerning young girls in school. My question is in regard to the report that was tabled in this House by the Minister of Justice regarding a meeting he attended in Victoria. It has to do with the Young Offenders Act, so I am not sure which Minister will answer it - either he will or the Minister responsible will. The report indicated that phase 1 of the amendments to the Young Offenders Act had been completed, and that, according to phase 2, the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs will be travelling across Canada to take a broad look at the nation's youth justice system. The Minister has already indicated that the committee will not be travelling to the Yukon. Unfortunately, I think that the Liberal government has forgotten that the Yukon is in Canada. I would like to ask either one of the Ministers whether provision has been made in either department's budget, or in the federal department's budget, to have individuals travel to a hearing outside, so that Yukoners can make representation in regard to the nation's youth justice system. Is there any provision in either one of those departments?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No provision has been identified as such. However, we will be looking at the situation to see whether or not it is appropriate to send people to speak at the conference, or to send a written brief. Viva voce evidence is sometimes more effective.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister's report also indicated that phase 2 of the proposals is expected to include changes that would make the Young Offenders Act more responsive to the needs of aboriginal youth. I would like to ask the Minister whether or not the department has proposed any changes to meet that need. There certainly is a need here for input into changes to make the act more responsive to the needs of aboriginal youth. As we know, the majority of the youth in our system here are aboriginal.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Maybe I will comment on that, because I attended that meeting on behalf of both Ministers. That question came up at the meeting with Allan Rock.
The response indicated that we will be dealing with these issues in the second phase. One of the issues is one that was raised by many Ministers, including ours, about aboriginal youth in the justice system. The report is basically a report on the action that was recently taken in the House of Commons regarding changes to the Young Offenders Act, as well as the proposed review of the rest of the act, which will take place over the next few months.
Ms. Commodore: The report also indicated that a task force of the Ministers will be reviewing proposals to the act. The Minister has been to one meeting and I do not know when he will be meeting with his peers in other parts of Canada again, but I would like to know a little bit more about the review that the task force is undertaking in regard to the amendments to Young Offenders Act. If the Minister would at least table that information in the House, or send me a copy of it, because there is certainly a great need to know what is happening in regard to the changes that are being made, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, we will undertake to keep the Member informed.
Speaker: Order please. Many of the questions are becoming very lengthy. If that is the direction the Members wish the Chair to go, I am game, but many of the questions and answers are lengthy. However, if that is the route you want to go, that is fine.
Question re: Community health and social services board
Mr. Penikett: With respect, Mr. Speaker, we are in a fact-free zone in terms of information received from Ministers. None of the Ministers seem to know what is going on in their own departments.
I have a question for the Minister of the Department of Health and Social Services. Recently, as a constituency MLA, I have received complaints from health care professionals, doctors, nurses and other citizens in a number of communities about the failure of the government to take any steps to implement the community health and social services board provisions of the Health Act.
Is the Minister of Health taking any concrete steps toward implementing those provisions of the Health Act, which is the law of the Yukon Territory?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Clauses are contained within that act enabling local health and social services committees to be established. None were established at the community level during the previous administration. We are currently working on phase two of the health transfer, which will bring over to the Yukon, under a board structure, the rural components of health care in the Yukon. With regard to the administration of those components and other things, that is going to take some time and will be done in partnership with the communities, but it is not our intention to create something that might provide for a lot of administrative duplication for small communities. We are looking for the best way in which communities can have responsibilities for many of their social programs.
Mr. Penikett: The whole point of the community health and social services board provisions in the act is to do away with duplication and allow for integrated delivery of health and social services at the community level. Recently, in Dawson City, and in meetings in Whitehorse and from other citizens in my own constituency, I have heard complaints that when people raise this possibility and seek to exercise the democratic option presented in that law, they receive absolutely no encouragement from the department, and, in fact, the indication is - without it being expressed directly - that the Minister has no interest in seeing these health and social services boards established.
Could I ask for a clear statement from the Minister on what his position is exactly? If a community requests the establishment of one, will he foster and encourage it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am aware of only one community coming forward with that request. The position we will be taking is that as we achieve the devolution of phase 2 to a board, the kinds of structures to be set up regarding health delivery and health care will take some time and will depend upon consultation and the wishes of individual communities. There is no intention for us to simply do what the previous administration wanted to do, which was to establish these things helter-skelter and then hope that the community would support them.
Mr. Penikett: I take it from the Minister's answer that he is completely hostile to the proposal of communities taking control and giving direction to the delivery of health and social services in the community.
Can I ask the Minister this: does he not agree with the commentators in the national media who have said over the past few days - given that the new Martin budget may mean the end of medicare as we have known it in this country - that the kind of community-controlled delivery of health and social services, such as is being done in Saskatchewan, takes on a new urgency if something of the old system is to continue to survive? Does he not agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member has either misunderstood the position I have consistently taken in this House, and continue to take, that we support community-based programs in the social fields, including justice and health. It is just not true to say that I am against community-controlled programs. We are moving in that direction with the establishment of the hospital board, which will be expanded and will have continuing care under its wing. It is our intention to have phase 2 devolved directly to a community-based board. The board will solicit input and advice through consultation with the individual communities. We definitely have a board that will have all the powers of the boards in Saskatchewan. The issue is just how much of the administration ought to be done in small communities. That is the issue.
Question re: Community health and social services board
Mr. Penikett: With respect to the issue, I suggest the Minister has done nothing to make it happen.
In a number of statements, the Minister also mentioned his concern about the high cost of health care throughout Canada. Yet, I have written to the Minister, without success, about a constituent for whom the health insurance plan will cover the cost of surgery in Vancouver to correct a painful jaw disorder but will not pay for the fitting of a jaw plate, something that can be done here in Whitehorse at a reduced cost.
As a general rule, does the Minister not agree that it makes sense to allow a patient to receive the cheaper of two treatment options, especially if the cheaper option can be delivered locally and is the preference of the patient?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: As a general rule, of course I agree with that statement. However, the issue becomes far more complex when one views the actual facts. We look at these representations to ensure that they do fit within our policy regarding health care delivery.
Mr. Penikett: My constituent has a painful jaw disorder. The health plan will pay for surgery in Vancouver, but not for the less expensive and preferred option of fitting a plate for her jaw here in Whitehorse, which is the option the patient prefers.
From an economic and health perspective, does it not make sense to provide funds for the plate - the option the patient prefers? Also, does this not warrant a review of the rules that create an arbitrary distinction between two different kinds of treatment for the same problem? One is cheap, local, but not covered by the plan, while the outside, expensive option is.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not aware of the circumstances of this particular constituent. I will look into the circumstances to get a handle on exactly what the issues are.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister and I have exchanged letters about this particular case, so I want to ask the Minister this: on a matter of policy, is the Minister prepared to examine the rules under the plan with a view to accommodating sensible, cheaper alternatives to high-cost medicine when those alternatives are available and are effective?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of course. We have gone through the programs offered in health, program by program, and have made numerous changes to them. That is a continuing job. We have brought the costs under control. They were out of control for some considerable time. Likewise, in the social services area, program after program has been reviewed and changes implemented that make sense. We are providing more for less, as a result.
Question re: Testing in schools
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Education.
The Minister has recently started a testing strategy survey. The survey implies that there is little standardized testing in our schools now. The students already write CTBS tests, PLAPs, LPIs, B.C. grade 12 departmentals, SAIPs, math diagnostics and cumulatives. The survey does not tell people that more testing will mean that students will be writing three tests for the government before they write one for their teacher.
Why is the Minister not making more information available on the survey, explaining existing testing practices in our schools?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is a strong lobby, on the part of some, and particularly on the part of the critic, who just spoke, to try to find some way to avoid performance indicators and measurements being implemented in the schools. It is our view - and we have stated it very clearly - that those types of measurements must be implemented. A procedure is currently underway, during which a draft plan will be produced for consultation.
This is simply one part of that process. We intend to proceed to implement, in consultation, cumulative testing and diagnostic assessment.
Mr. Harding: I just read out a long list of performance indicators that are - by the Minister's own definition - already in place in the schools. That coincides with the tests already administered by the teachers in our school system. The problem is that these leading survey questions can only come up with one conclusion: more testing in our schools.
I would like to ask the Minister this: will he enact a plan to coincide with the strategy to encourage meetings in the schools with parents, educators and school councils to discuss existing testing practices, so that everyone has a clear idea of what we do already, and what we hope to accomplish with anything done in the future regarding testing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member must know, having asked the same kinds of questions over and over again in Committee of the Whole and in Question Period, that we intend to proceed as we have stated in our response to the report by the committee, which reported back in the fall. We intend to proceed, and proceed in a manner that allows for a great deal of input from the stakeholders. We are simply not, for a minute, suggesting that we will not proceed with the diagnostic assessments and cumulative exams.
Mr. Harding: I am concerned about this particular survey. Incidentally, it does contain a serious grammatical error in the fifth question in the survey. I want to ask the Minister about a question in this survey. There is a question about people who are not extremely literate and do not read well or write well. I would like to ask the Minister how he expects these people to provide their input into this obviously biased and jaded testing strategy that he has created.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The intention is to embark upon a consultation process with all the stakeholders. That is something that is going to be agreed upon among stakeholders, once the draft implementation plan is received, some time around April 21. There will be a lengthy consultation process agreed upon and embarked upon during May and June.
I am sure that as many groups and stakeholders as possible will have the opportunity to discuss the implementation plan.
Question re: Xerox colour copier
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Government Services. I understand that at 2:30 this afternoon, the Queen's Printer is having a big press conference and tour of these offices - no doubt, to promote the merits of the infamous Docutech machine.
I do not know if other Members received an invitation, but I guess mine must have been lost in the mail, because I did not get one.
I would like to ask the Minister of Government Services if the media will also be shown the new Xerox Majestic, colour, laser copier that has been squirreled away in the offices of the Queen's Printer for the last few months - the one that did not go out to public tender. Is the media also going to get to see that?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes. I expect that they will.
Mrs. Firth: This $50,000 machine is apparently a demo unit from Xerox. It has been in use in the department for the past few months. No competitor was asked to bring its product in for a demonstration, and this has created an uneven playing field for the local businesses. We have been told that this is going to go to competition now, before the end of March - the Minister is shaking his head, but that is what we were told this morning. Does he really think that the competition has a fair chance of bidding on this particular item?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not know that there will even be a competition for this item. My understanding is that it is a demo. From the Minister's point of view, there would have to be a very good business case presented before there would even be a tender for this type of colour copier. If there is a business case that justifies a colour copier for the Queen's Printer, I would expect it to go to tender. I understand that Canon does make that product. We have a local Canon dealer and I would expect that there will be a level playing field.
Mrs. Firth: We are not talking about a small mail order parcel that they are going to package up and send back. This machine has been in the department for months. Now the government is going to try to legitimize its purchase. My question to the Minister is this: why was the competition not given the same opportunities and the same fair treatment? Why was preferential treatment given to Xerox to demo its machine and not the other companies?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: My understanding is that Xerox made the offer and the Queen's Printer accepted it. If this type of machine is justified for the Queen's Printer, then it will go to tender and I will make sure that the competition does have a fair chance at providing the equipment.
Question re: Queen's Printer, privatization
Mrs. Firth: I would like a question to the same Minister about a different matter.
I have a great idea. Let us privatize the Queen's Printer.
What we are talking about here is another new toy that is going to be purchased, with no demonstrated need, in competition with businesses that work here day and night, slogging away, trying to keep their businesses viable. Government is using their tax dollars in competition with them so that managers can have all the latest toys.
This is absolutely gross. Since this is a service that could be provided by the private sector and since the Government Leader will not take the time to look at privatization - he simply looks for excuses why it should not be done - will this Minister look at privatization of the Queen's Printer?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: On the surface, that is not a bad idea. However, Queen's Printers are apparently quite necessary for government for a number of reasons, one of them being the handling of confidential documents. I do not think that there is any government, no matter how right-wing it is, that does not have a Queen's Printer.
Despite that fact that the Queen's Printer is not about to be privatized, I will not allow it to have toys that compete with the private sector in Whitehorse and put anyone out of business. If there are private companies that can provide the same service as that particular machine, or as the Queen's Printer does, I will encourage the Queen's Printer to utilize the private sector. My understanding is that the development of the Queen's Printer as a special operating agency will not result in less business for the private sector here in Whitehorse, but will result in more.
Mrs. Firth: Why is it that we cannot have confidence in this Minister when he tells us that he will not let the department do this. There are two brand-new toys in the department now. We had to drag the information out of the government to find out about it.
My opinion is that if the government does not need to run something, it should not be running it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: Those are good words. We need some good management and common sense. I am not saying that we should privatize just for the sake of privatizing, but the Minister can certainly look at partial privatization. He could look at doing something; he is not doing anything. He is refusing to do anything. Why is that?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, the Minister is not refusing to look at that. As I said, I expect that with the Queen's Printer becoming a special operating agency, it will provide more work to the private sector than it does now.
The Member must realize that the operation of the Queen's Printer has gone on for a long time. There is a method of operation, and a mind-set, that is evolving, but these things do not happen overnight. This Minister would love to have things operate efficiently and cost effectively overnight, but it is not that easy, and the Member knows it.
Mrs. Firth: I expected more of this Minister. This has gone on for too long. It is incredible for the department to have all these toys.
This government should look at ways to downsize. Was that not in the election campaign? This government should look at ways to make a stronger private sector. What that not an election campaign promise? Kindle the entrepreneurial spirit - was that not what this party was going to do?
Since the other Members, and particularly the Government Leader, are opposed to privatization, what is this Minister's philosophy with respect to privatization? Is he opposed to it, as is the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: In defence of the Government Leader, I do not think he has ever said he was opposed to privatization. I am not, either. I believe it is something that can happen. As I said to the Member with respect to the Queen's Printer today, I expect there will be more work going to the private sector, rather than less, as a result of the technology the Queen's Printer has leased and is looking at leasing in the future.
My position is that we are not buying toys; we are bringing the Queen's Printer into the modern age of technology, which is necessary to provide the information that government and the Member opposite want.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has elapsed.
Notice of Government Private Members' Business
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to inform the House that the Government Private Members do not wish to identify any items to be called on Wednesday, March 8, 1995, under the heading Government Private Members' Business.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the 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
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Committee to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are dealing with Bill No. 4.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Education - continued
On Capital - continued
On Public Schools - continued
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Just before I go on with the line item, I want to read in some answers to questions asked by the Opposition.
The first is at page 1236 of Hansard. A question was asked about the date on the photocopy being cut off. The complete date for the project was May 24, 1991. The briefing note covered a list of economic development agreement projects that had been approved over the past four years.
At page 1237 of Hansard, a question was asked about representatives on the Building Advisory Committee in Dawson City.
This consists of representatives of the Han First Nation, the school council, City of Dawson, Robert Service administration and staff, the regional superintendent of education and the facilities manager for the department in the Dawson City community campus. The most recent meeting was held on February 20. The next meeting is to be held on March 24, 1995.
The range of issues the advisory committee has influence over is quite wide in the establishment of the requirements and specifications for the schematic design and general layout of the school, and the design development and working drawing phases.
The draft of the Whitehorse school facility study is going to be delayed. The consultant met with the school principals and the school council representatives earlier in the study period. Some councils submitted written comments. The plan is that the draft of the report will be circulated to the councils and the administrators for comment. The committee consists of departmental staff and staff from the Department of Government Services.
A preliminary answer to the Dawson City situation is that there has been a steady increase in the population in the Dawson area, from 1,657 people in 1988 to 1,980 people in 1993.
The reference is page 4 of the Yukon Statistical Review, 1993 Annual Report. There is $2,019 estimated as of December 1994. That is from page 3 of the Yukon Monthly Statistical Review, February 1995. There has been a consistent enrollment increase in Dawson since 1988, as I have already said. From 1991 to 1994, the five- to 12-year-old population increased from 324 to 396, and the proportion of this age group enrolled in school has increased from 68 percent to 76.8 percent. The best estimate suggests a steady growth in the Dawson population. The best estimate is a rise to 2,322 by the year 2002, with the impact of Loki and the 1996 and 1998 anniversaries. Direct and indirect impact of the Brewery Creek project on school enrollment is estimated at 35, and this is from a page from the Socio-economic Impact Assessment Report prepared for Loki Gold by Hornal Consultants Limited in July of 1994. The impact of the Brewery Creek project, combined with natural population increases and continued success of the stay-in-school initiative in Dawson, leads to an enrollment of between 356 and 374 students by 2002, with the department's best guess at 362.
I will give to the Table, the two critics, the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Independent Member three separate pages, one of which is taken from the Yukon Statistical Review, one of which deals with the participation rate of Dawson residents at the school in Dawson and one being the page from the socio-economic report of Hornal Consultants.
I was asked yesterday for the projected bulge in Whitehorse from the bulge going through junior high. It is approximately 250 - probably less than that due to attrition - but 250 would be about the figure. I would expect the department to prepare a written answer on that.
Mr. Harding: I was writing down the information the Minister gave us on the makeup of the building committee and I got as far as the Han First Nation, school council, and regional superintendent. Who were the others?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Han First Nation, school council, City of Dawson, Robert Service School administration and staff, the regional superintendent and the facilities manager for the department and the Dawson City community campus.
Mr. Harding: Is that the facilities manager for the community campus?
The Minister is nodding his head, yes. Is it just a different term for the coordinator of the community campus? That is usually how I have heard it referred to.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Let me just restate that. There is a facilities manager for the department, as well as the Dawson City community campus.
Mrs. Firth: Before I make any comments about the growth figures for the school in Dawson, I just want to make sure that I understand the Minister correctly.
The Minister indicated this afternoon that their best guess is that the population could grow anywhere from 356 to 374 students. The best guess is that it will be 362. Is that for one year?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The best guess of 362 total students is for the year 2002.
Mrs. Firth: Right now, Dawson has the potential to house 340 students. If their best guess is that it is going to increase to 362 students over the next few years, that is 22 students more than the facilities can accommodate now. How can the Minister justify building a 175-student school at the potential cost of $7.5 million? How can he justify it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: First of all, we need additional space. Secondly, there will be some utilization of the Robert Service School by the community campus, which is looking for a location. The current situation incorporates two portable classrooms. The space will be utilized, as far as our figures show. The system will then provide for a school that can be expanded in the future, if that is required. There is no question but that there will be a shortage if we do not build a new school.
Mr. Harding: I have a simple question for the Minister. What is the maximum capacity of the Robert Service School and the modulars that have been purchased?
Some Hon. Member: It would be 340 altogether.
Mr. Harding: Okay.
Mrs. Firth: I will tell the Minister what the community campus issue looks like to me, and maybe then he will be able to understand where I am coming from. I do not think that the government has a good case for saying that a new school is needed for 175 kids. If it can accommodate 340 now, and the prediction is that by the year 2000 and something, it will grow to 362, as a best guess, then all but 22 of those kids can be accommodated.
The Minister is saying that the community campus needs space. I have a concern about the community campus and kids in grades 5 to 12 being in the same building. Why can the Minister not look at providing some accommodations for the community campus and maintaining the integrity of the kindergarten to grade 12 system within the school itself? Has anyone looked at that idea?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The issue is partially making decisions in consultation with the stakeholders in Dawson. There is no question but that there has been and will continue to be an increase in the school population. The pressure is there. The best guess of somewhere between 356 and 374 students makes it obvious that it is appropriate to build a new school there. I do not understand the Member's difficulty with that.
The manner in which the campus would be incorporated into the existing school is something that will be worked out between all the players, and it will be discussed when I go to Dawson with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
Mrs. Firth: I am looking for fairness. After the last couple of days of debate, I think the Minister has less valid information to substantiate building a new school in Dawson than he does not to build a new school for Grey Mountain Primary. That is what the issue is.
I am not saying Dawson should never get a new elementary school, or should not look at expanding its elementary school facilities. The Minister told one group of people it could not have a school, and gave information and statistics for why they could not have the school. Yet, when we ask for reasons why this school should go ahead, with a potential expenditure of $7.5 million, he cannot substantiate them.
The Minister thinks he has, but he has not. It looks like it will go ahead for 22 students, in the year 2000, and he will put the community campus in the school. He has to fill up that space with something, and the community campus is a good choice. The Minister of Tourism says the community wants that.
I thought we were short of money; I thought there was a big crunch. We were told that we have no money for schools in Riverdale. I am looking for some logical and practical decisions to be made. It does not make sense to me that the government is prepared to spend all that money if it does not have to, or if it would review some other options.
I have presented what I think are sound options. The government should look at a facility for the community campus and maintain the integrity of the school, which would be kindergarten to 12, without the community campus. I just do not think that the government has given this a lot of thought. I think that the announcements were made prematurely, and now the government is trying to justify them.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have said pretty well all I have to say on the issue, except that in all the debate that has taken place over the last couple of days on this subject, I do not see anything that really substantiates the Member's allegations that the Grey Mountain School and Selkirk Street School population is increasing or that the current facilities are near to bursting, and that the Dawson school population is decreasing, despite the statement that she made in the Legislature last evening.
The trends are very clear. Any reasonable person would look at the trends and see that Dawson is expanding, that a larger percentage of students are staying in and using the school and that it is reasonable to plan ahead, as we are doing. Nothing shows an upward trend in the total public school enrollment for Grey Mountain. In fact, the figures show that the population of children in the age group has remained relatively static - a slight decrease - and that the percentage of students attending the Grey Mountain School and the Selkirk Street School has decreased markedly over the period.
Mrs. Firth: I am not going to go on about this all afternoon, but in the statement that the Minister just made he is telling us that in the year 2001 the government is anticipating the population of Dawson schools to increase by 22 students more than the school can accommodate right now. It is all relative. That increase is no greater - it is probably less, or maybe even the same - as the small increases that are happening at Grey Mountain Primary School and in Selkirk Street School. These schools have had an increase of approximately 13 students just this year - Grey Mountain Primary School has had an increase of three students and Selkirk Street School has had an increase of 10 students.
The Dawson school can now accommodate 340 students. The government is anticipating an increase in the student population by 22 students and that space will be required for those students.
I am just saying that I think we should be reasonable and look at the justification of a potential $7.5 million expenditure for a small increase over that time period. I am not saying that there should not be any increase or that the school should not receive anything, but I think that we have to be reasonable.
Mr. Harding: I would like to ask the Minister another question. I think that we have to be reasonable about this too. I certainly supported the idea of a school, although the announcement was a total surprise to many people, including the people that I talked to in Dawson when I was there around the time the announcement about a new school was made. The question, as far as I see it, is not whether or not we are opposed to a new school for Dawson, it is a question of examining the justification, examining the dollars and examining the options to come up with the best option for everybody involved, including the people in the other communities of Yukon.
At this point, the Minister has told us that the school has an existing capacity for 340 students and that the department wants to build a new school that will house a maximum of 175 students. My arithmetic shows that this will allow for a capacity of 515 students, once the new school is built.
]Now, the Minister has told us his estimate of the population in the school by 2001 will be 362. He further justifies this rationale by saying that the college is now going to go in the school.
When I was there in November, I mentioned that option to a number of people and there were some questions and concerns. Also, I know that the college is looking for a new site, because they told us they were not happy with the size of the place they had now. They said that it was very cramped. The administrative services course that was going on, in conjunction with the college, was going on in another location. However, this new college idea has obviously become part of the rationale. It was never even included in the initial announcement by the Minister. It has become a convenient, further justification.
If the land option of removing the Community and Transportation Services garage from Dawson is taken, the Minister's ball-park figure would be $3 million. According to the specifications for the school, we are looking at another $4.5 million, bringing the potential total to $7.5 million. The Minister has told us that the block Q area was too small to accommodate further expansion. If that was his criticism of the previous school, we would assume that he would not want that option. It is looking more and more that the Community and Transportation Services camp is his favourite option. When I asked him yesterday about the option of going across the road, he had not even assessed the cost of that potential option, to my knowledge. He did not answer my question yesterday.
What I know, after questioning the Minister about the school, is simply the new idea of moving the college into the school. This will, no doubt, come with some further renovation work on the old school. There are a couple of reasons for that. Normally, parents and others on the school council, in any situation like this, want the public school and college to have some autonomy in the teaching and learning environment. Many parents want to have their children somewhat removed from the older college students, particularly the younger children. It is just common sense as far as I am concerned.
That is going to entail some renovations, one would think. Does the Minister have any idea what the renovations to accommodate the college in the old Robert Service School - although I should not call it old - might cost, or could he tell us if another option is being considered that would anticipate no renovations?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That matter will be handled by the Yukon College. That work will be the college's responsibility. The college looks after its own capital planning and will be responsible for it in this case. It is not part of the cost to the public school.
Mr. Harding: There is only one taxpayer. The $3 million for the site, whether it comes from C&TS or whether it comes from Education, is still $3 million of taxpayers' money. The $4.5 million for the building construction is still $4.5 million of taxpayers' money, and whether it is the college or the Department of Education that pays for the renovations to the old school, it is all part of the cost of building the new school.
If the Minister cannot provide me with the detail, because it is the college that will handle it, can he get me the information about what the proposed renovations would cost? Could he do that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Once the consultation is completed and once figures are projected by the college, certainly.
Mr. Harding: The Minister just stood up in Question Period and said, as part of the rationale for this expansion, that when we build a capacity for 515 students - when the best guess of the Department of Education by 2001 is 362, creating this large extra capacity - that the college is going to move into the Robert Service School.
It was almost stated as if it was a decision that had already been made by the Minister. That is the way I heard it and I am sure the Members on this side of the Legislature all heard it that way.
That is the rationale that was used, part and parcel, for having made the decision to build the new school in the first place. Is the Minister telling me that the cost of moving the college into the Robert Service School has not yet been estimated?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I love the way the side opposite tries to seek some justification for voting against the proposed school for Dawson City. This is something that is under consultation among the players in Dawson. It is one of the issues I will be discussing with them when I go to Dawson City. It is something for which there are no final figures. However, there is no question that the campus in Dawson City does have to find a place to go. I have no problem with the side opposite trying to vote down this item in the budget. If that is what they want to do politically, then that is fine. I would say that the rationale thus far is a bit wild and woolly. The position we are taking makes good sense - it looks to the future. It takes into account the growth and the real needs of the community. We will continue in consultation with the people up there. If the side opposite wants to play this trick on the people of Dawson City and try to justify it with rather wild-eyed and hare-brained arguments, such as saying that the populations of Grey Mountain and Selkirk are growing, and Dawson is shrinking, that is fine - let them do that. That is not what commonsense people will believe. I look forward to them moving ahead with their legislative tricks.
Mrs. Firth: What a lot of nonsense. In November, this Minister made an announcement that Dawson was going to get a new school. So, we came into this House and asked the Minister to justify the decision, and to provide us with his rationale for doing that - in March - several months later. He cannot answer one question. Every time he stands up with a defence about why the government is doing something, and questions are asked about it, he says, "Well, maybe that is not what we are really going to do."
I can cite this in many examples. First was the speculation about whether or not the ground would be safe to build the school on. Was the government going to spend that $3 million? "Well, we really do not know that yet," replied the Minister. The next question I asked him about was the grade organization - the kindergarten to grade 4 and grade 5 to college level. Last night, he said, "Well, maybe we will not be doing it that way. We are not quite sure yet." This afternoon, we asked about the college being in the school. The Minister stated that that was one of the reasons a new school had to be built - so that the college can be put in the school. Then, 10 minutes later, he gets up and says, "Maybe we will not be doing it that way."
Then, he stood up with the silly nonsense, threatening us that he is going to tell everyone in Dawson that we are not in support of the school, and that we are going to vote against it. What a lot of drivel.
All I am trying to find out is whether or not the Minister has done his homework - the answer is no; whether or not he can defend the expenditure that he is asking me to support. Can he defend it? No. Does the Minister know what he is doing? I do not think so.
I am being asked to agree to this expenditure of money. I want some details and some answers about it. I am making the suggestion that maybe the Minister is looking at one of the most expensive options, and he just dances us around and around the mulberry bush. I have not heard any argument from the Minister yet that leads us to believe that he has a grasp on this project or that he knows what he is doing.
That is my concern. I am being asked to vote for a sum of money, and the Minister cannot defend that expenditure. That is my concern in a nutshell.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The false premises abound in whatever the Member stands up and says. We have experienced that over and over.
Let us get one thing straight: we do not expect the Member to support the budget - she voted against it. We are not asking her to support the budget, because she intends to vote against it, so that is a false premise.
I have given the answers for the rationale of this line item in the budget. Members opposite have every right to talk as long as they wish. I have nothing further to add.
Mrs. Firth: I am just doing my job, which is to critique the government to see whether or not it knows what it is doing with our money and whether or not it can justify the expenditures to the public. The Minister is failing in that critique.
That is not just my opinion. I know the Minister thinks I am picky, ask too many questions and never agree with anything he does. I have a job to do here, and I am doing that job. I am not the only one who feels that way.
Mr. Harding: I also have to respond to the Minister's comments that the Official Opposition is opposed to this school. That is a preposterous notion. The NDP demonstrated its commitment to the structure of schools in Dawson when that party was in power with the building of Robert Service School. If we were in government, we would be looking at options to address an influx of students in Dawson City. That is what we do. I know that very clearly in my own head and my own heart.
We in the Official Opposition are asking the government legitimate questions about costing, site location, population, the makeup of the facility, the rationale behind the decision, how it was made, and how the government weighed priorities of other communities with priorities in Dawson. Those are all legitimate questions, and the record will clearly show that that is the angle we have been taking.
I know if that Member were in Opposition, he would certainly be pounding away if I were the Minister talking about a $7.5 million school to potentially house 175 students in Dawson. He would be pounding away if I could not stand up and tell him, months after announcing the school, what the cost of the land use options was and all details about the school.
In fact, he would be pounding away on me saying that this is taxpayers' money and it is only fair that he, as an Opposition Member, should know exactly what is happening with it. I do take some offence to his comments.
To sum up, the number of questions that I have not had answered is extremely long and hard to remember off the top of my head, but we are talking about building a school that will increase the capacity to 515 students in Dawson. The Minister tells us that the Department of Education's best estimate is 362 students by the year 2001. This leaves quite a large excess capacity of somewhere in the vicinity of 150 students - you would have to subtract 362 from 515. That is a substantial gap, considering the cartwheels that some proponents of other schools have had to undergo to justify the construction of another school.
I also asked the Minister about the cost of the options for land use. The only cost that the Minister would give me is a ballpark figure of the Department of Community and Transportation Services garage in Dawson City, which he told me is $3 million.
When I asked the Minister for some figures and facts to substantiate that figure, and the cost of the clean-up, he said that the Department of Community and Transportation Services had only undertaken preliminary work and that he could not determine the clean-up figures because of the snow that has fallen.
Of course, that made my ears perk up, because I really had no idea that we were looking at adding a land acquisition cost of $3 million to the school, which would bump up the cost of the school to $7.5 million.
When I looked at the site requirements, developed only in January 1995, the document stated that the block Q site - the RV park site - was the most desired site. Yesterday, in questioning, the Minister stood up and said that that site, at one hectare, is too small and would not accommodate adequate expansion, playground facilities and a gymnasium, and that the Minister was leaning toward the Department of Community and Transportation Services garage site, because he felt he could purchase land to add to the 1.4 hectares surrounding the school.
He could not tell us what the block Q site would cost in the event that he went ahead with the decision to use that site, but I got the distinct impression that he did not want to use it, because one of the criticisms that he had with the Robert Service School construction was that it could not accommodate expansion.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Harding: The Minister of Education is asking me what the point is. If the Minister of Education would stop heckling and listen, then he might find out.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, is the Minister of Tourism trying to take over your role? I have a right to ask these questions, and to sum up, and I will continue to do that. I will do that for as long as I feel necessary to make my point, especially when the Minister states that just because we ask these questions we are opposed to a school in Dawson. That is ridiculous.
Getting back to my summation, there is the option of the land across from the school. I asked the Minister yesterday if it had been ruled out by the people of Dawson, or if it was not an option because of the complications of road closure, traffic considerations and the safety of the children. He said that option had not been ruled out, but he could not tell me any more about it. That was a concern. So I am left with the impression that we are going ahead with the option of the Community and Transportation Services garage, which puts the total cost at $7.5 million.
After announcing the population statistics and that there is probably going to be approximately 150 extra spaces for students in the school, we find out that has all been taken care of, because part of the rationale was that the college would be moved into the school. We did not know this, because when the Minister announced this decision, he did not mention anything of the sort.
When he raised that particular point, I asked him what the cost of the renovations would be. Obviously there has to be some removal from the public school so the college can operate in its own autonomous environment. I am sure parents are going to raise some concerns about that. This will require some renovation, which will add to the cost of the potential $7.5 million. When I asked the Minister what this was costed out at, he told us he had not yet done that work because it was preliminary, even though he had just told us it was part of the rationale for the decision to build the school.
Then he said it was the college that would pay for that. I pointed out to him that there was really only one taxpayer, and that it is all rolled into the one decision to build the school. These decisions cannot be made in isolation.
If the Minister was on this side of the House, in Opposition, and I was in his place, and that was the only information I was providing, he would be up one side of me and down the other. There is no question that he would want the answers. I would not take that to mean that he was against the school. I would take that to mean that he wants to know the rationale and justification for the decisions and whether I, as Minister, had done by homework or if I had just made a rash, rushed decision.
The questions are important and we still do not know the answers. That is unfortunate. I am concerned about it, given that we will not have another session now for many months. This may be our last opportunity to get the answers to these questions. We are talking about millions of dollars.
I am disappointed that the Minister will not answer the questions. He does not understand the rationale behind them. I believe that they are legitimate, worthy questions. I know that were he in Opposition, he would be doing the same thing. If I were the Minister, I would try to do a better job of providing answers.
On Capital Maintenance Repairs - continued
Capital Maintenance Repairs in the amount of $915,000 agreed to
On Air Quality
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The major projects planned under this item include the following: Old Crow, $200,000 and F.H. Collins, $150,000 for a total of $350,000.
Mr. Harding: What is the problem with the air quality in the Old Crow school?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is a matter of poor circulation and exchange with outside air.
Mr. Harding: Could the Minister be a little more specific? What was done to correct it, what were the complaints and had it been ongoing for a while? Can he tell us more about this?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will come back with a written response.
Mr. Joe: Referring to the $250,000, can the Minister give me more information about what was done about the air-quality problem in the Carmacks school last year?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In 1993-94, a new ventilation system was installed in the old wing of Tantalus School, and the cost was $118,198. The system was to supply adequate outside air to all of the classrooms, both on the main floor and in the basement, and to deal with concerns regarding noise from the system.
Air Quality in the amount of $350,000 agreed to
On New French First Language School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Design of the new school commenced in November 1994, once the site identification was completed. Construction is expected to be tendered in July. The total floor area is 3,425 square metres. The design population is 250 students, grades K to 12. The total project budget is $6 million, of which half is coming from the federal government. The location is in Logan subdivision. The complete schematic design was completed as of January 5.
Construction is expected to be completed in time for the school opening in September 1996.
Mr. Penikett: I previously asked the Minister a general question on this subject. He gave me some indication that interested citizens in the area might be involved in some way at the design stage. Can he tell me in what specific ways each of the following are involved in the design stage of the school: the francophone community, the Logan neighbourhood and the MLA?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The francophone community is involved on a Building Advisory Committee. With regard to other involvement, I do not have any particular words of wisdom.
Mr. Penikett: Yesterday the Minister indicated that the Member for Klondike was fully involved in the plans for the school in Dawson City. Surely, in this case, the MLA for the area should be similarly involved. Would the Minister not agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I can certainly make and support that representation to the Building Advisory Committee, if that is what the Member's representation is.
Mr. Penikett: It was previously my understanding that, if the MLA was willing, building advisory committees included the MLA, at least as an observer. Is that not the case with respect to this group?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have no difficulty with making that representation to the Building Advisory Committee.
Mr. Penikett: I certainly appreciate the Minister making the representation, but I had previously understood that he was in charge and, if he wished, he could order that - could he not?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I doubt very much that it will come to that.
Mr. Cable: The Minister gave us some figures a few minutes ago. Was the number he quoted the capacity of the school or the anticipated number of students? Could he just reiterate the number?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: For the record, it was design capacity.
Mr. Cable: What is the anticipated population of the school in the fall of 1996, when it opens?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will come back with more accurate numbers, but 125 to 130 in the first year.
Mr. Cable: I believe the capacity - perhaps the Minister could reiterate - was 275 or 250. From what the Minister just said, it appears that it will be half full initially. When does he anticipate the school being full?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We do not have a magical date. That is dependent upon several factors. However, there is a steady growth of French first language students into l'École Émilie Tremblay. It is felt that the provision of the new school will enhance that. What I can do is bring together any projections the department might have.
Mr. Cable: I believe the Minister just said that he would bring forward a projection of the school population over the course of years. Am I reading the Minister right?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us, when the government made the decision to proceed with the French first language school, if the government questioned the francophone community to see if there was going to be an increase in enrollment, in the sense that people may be sending their children to other schools or to schools outside of the Yukon Territory, which I understand is an option? Would parents be inclined to send their children to this new school?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I recall discussions with the chair of the school council. The feeling was that the trend was rapidly increasing, which the statistics bear out, and the establishment of a new school would enhance that trend, in the view of the school council. In discussions with the federal government, of course, the same observations were made, and the federal government agreed to fund up to the amount proposed, which is half of $6 million.
Mrs. Firth: So the estimates were made based on trends. Were there any actual surveys done?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to get back to the Member with that information. I am not aware of any surveys.
Mr. Penikett: I have one other question on the French first language school. We have been assured that the population of the Francophone community in Whitehorse is growing. Indeed, from the time of Trudeau through to Mulroney, the funding for French language programs seemed absolutely sacred and secure, in terms of the federal budgets. Our confidence on that question can no longer be so sure since the Martin budget. I understand that in some respects the funding, even for section 23 schools, is not the sure bet it once was.
What satisfaction has the Minister obtained about not just the funding for the capital programs of this school, but the ongoing funding for the operation of this facility, which has been, I think, almost entirely covered by the federal government to this point?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I understand the general concern with respect to what is happening with the federal budget. We have not received any indication of cutbacks with regard to that funding. At this point, there is no basis on which to suspect that the funding will be cut back.
Mr. Penikett: Is it not true, in looking at the ECO funding, that money flowing through that department for French language programs does seem to be experiencing some tightening? Is not a similar impression being created in terms of the federal funds that are coming to the Department of Education for French language programs? Have promises been made by the federal government about their future?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The only indication that we have received on the O&M side is that they may, at some point in time, peg the dollars or freeze their contribution.
Mr. Penikett: There is, therefore, not in place anything like a contract or letter of understanding between this government and the federal government about the operating funds for this school? Can we only operate on the basis of good faith or our historical experience about this funding? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is correct.
Mr. Harding: Does the budget include the cost of any land acquisition associated with the project?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is our land.
New French First Language School in the amount of $4,250,000 agreed to
On Christ the King Elementary School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The 1995-96 work includes the following: window replacement, $85,000; library soundproofing, $35,000; library renovations, $30,000; floor replacement, $50,000; for a total of $200,000.
Christ the King Elementary School in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Distance Education
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In the 1994-95 and 1995-96 fiscal years, the department is installing a Pathfinder learning system at two sites in the Yukon on a pilot basis: at F.H. Collins Secondary School and Robert Service School in Dawson City. The system consists of a hardware and a software component. The system is MS-DOS based. There will be a preliminary evaluation of the project by mid-January 1996, and formal evaluation will be done at year-end.
Distance Education in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Install Computer Labs
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This funding is required to construct or reconstruct computer lab facilities in the existing schools. Computer labs are designed to accommodate the largest class in a school. For 1995-96, work includes for the fiscal year the following: funds for Riverdale Junior Secondary School for the upgrading of the existing room used for a computer lab; relocation of the computer lab as a result of the requirement to complete communication wiring; telephone modem connections; instructors' area; and, installing adequate power outlets.
Install Computer Labs in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Grey Mountain Elementary
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The projects planned for 1995-96 in consultation with the school council are as follows: carpet replacement in the corridors, $10,000; administration area, renovation and expansion, $180,000; replace miscellaneous finishes, $10,000; for a total of $200,000.
Mrs. Firth: When he came in this afternoon, the Minister mentioned that the Whitehorse school facilities study - the draft report - is delayed. Can he tell us how long it will be delayed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: As I understand it, the draft is expected in May and the final report is expected in June.
Mrs. Firth: That is quite a delay. The submission of the draft report was to be in February, and now the Minister is saying it is expected in May. The submission of the final report was to be March 31, and it is now delayed until June. Can the Minister indicate to us why it is being delayed for so long?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have a letter to the project manager outlining the facilities study that has been done. It covers, in point form, a page and a half and addresses the way they are doing their presentation. It is a lengthy letter. I will ask the Page to get the usual five copies: one for tabling and one for each of the four Members.
Mrs. Firth: This contract terminates April 30. Does that delay mean that they are going to have to increase the cost of the contract?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is no intention to increase the cost. The completion period is extended.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister also said this afternoon that school councils were to be provided copies of the draft report, so that they could have a look at it before the final report is done. Is it possible for us, as Members of the Legislature, to also have a copy of the draft?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have never heard of that being done before. The general procedure is that the consultant prepares a draft, works on it with the stakeholders, prepares a final draft and we present it to everyone in the House. I have never heard of such a thing and have some concern about the precedent.
Mrs. Firth: Is there going to be some confidentiality statement made to the people receiving copies of the draft? For example, if I went to the Grey Mountain Primary school council and sat down and looked at the draft with them, perhaps I would have that option. If the school councils are going to be sworn to some code of confidentiality, I would not be able to do that. I am just trying to find out from the Minister how we can have some input into it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If the Member wants to go and view the document, in conjunction with the school council, I am sure that is appropriate.
The problem I have is that we are paying a consultant to present us with a document. He is going through a process, and I think it is only fair that we not end up with five or six documents with changes. I just have difficulty with the concept of making the working papers of a consultant, who is paid to give us an end product, public. That is all.
Mrs. Firth: I will pursue that other option. I did not think that it was a big deal. We have had draft documents tabled in the House lots of times. We have perused draft documents, draft economic strategies, draft industrial support policies and so on. I did not think that I was asking the Minister to do something that was unprecedented.
Grey Mountain Elementary in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Teen Parent Centre
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The design began in October 1994. The tender for construction is expected in February 1995. Occupancy is scheduled for July 1995. The construction and furnishing in this budget is $400,000. The total cost over two years is $650,000, with $250,000 for design and construction.
The teen parent program was created to assist young mothers to complete their high school education. The facility 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 out of several modular classrooms next to the Selkirk Elementary School. The new facility will be located between the F.H. Collins industrial arts wing and the Gadzoosdaa residence.
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Minister, either in the supplementary debate or operation and maintenance debate - I cannot remember - if there had been an evaluation of this program. The Minister gave me a commitment that he would get back to me. I have not heard anything. Has there ever been an evaluation of the program? It has to have been in existence for at least five years now.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to deliver some information about the number of graduates, which has increased, and that type of information. To my knowledge, there has not been an independent evaluation performed.
Mrs. Firth: I will look forward to getting the numbers. However, I would just like to recommend to the Minister that I believe that the department should do an evaluation of it. By doing so, we may be able to come up with some preventive measures.
Something is just being passed to me in a great hurry. Perhaps it will give us some more information.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There has been a formal evaluation performed. I fully agree with the recommendation of the Member. We are having them done on NGOs in as timely a manner as we can.
I will have the briefing notes photocopied and distributed. I am just checking to see if the names have been eliminated. They are. It gives some background on the number of graduates, in terms of graduation from F.H. Collins. It says that there were four graduates in 1991, three in 1992, six in 1993, seven in 1994 and one to date in 1995. The numbers do not include the number of students transferring to Yukon College to continue their upgrading and education.
There has not been a formal evaluation of the program. However, the enrollment and graduation data indicates that the program is successful in providing teen parents the opportunity to continue their school studies, while providing child care support. In addition, the increasing number of student parents enrolling indicates that more and more of the teenagers in Whitehorse see the Teen Parent Centre as a viable option for meeting their needs, as they are taking advantage of this opportunity to continue public school duties.
With that, I will just ask that this piece of information be photocopied and distributed, as was the last piece of information.
Teen Parent Centre in the amount of $400,000 agreed to
On Dawson Second School
Mrs. Firth: The activity schedule in the Dawson elementary school requirement specifications provided to us says "resolution of site issue, March 15". I do not know if that is on schedule. Will the Minister either make a statement in the House or provide us with further information regarding that during the legislative sitting? I would be interested to know if it is resolved and what the decision is, whenever that decision is made. I think all Members of the Legislature would like to know.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will get that information as soon as we know. One of the issues has to do with the representation made by the Member for Whitehorse West regarding the environmental concerns. I do not know when that will be concluded. I do not expect the sampling to be done until the snow is gone.
Mr. Millar: I would like to take a few moments and put my views about the Dawson school on the record. I have sat here and listened for the past number of hours. I know I am taking a bit of a risk in provoking debate. I will try not to do that. I just want to put my viewpoint, as the Member for Dawson, on the record.
I have heard a number of things being discussed here over the last couple of days, and I would like to make three points.
When one is talking about the size of the school, whether or not it is really needed in Dawson, in terms of the numbers - the Member for Riverdale South talked about there only being 22 more children in the Dawson school when it is all said and done - this needs to be elaborated upon.
When we first came into power, the Robert Service School was too small, and it is still too small.
When we came into government, there were plans to build on to the existing school. For a number of reasons, which I will not get into at this point, it was impossible to carry out those plans. Without spending a lot of money, it was decided at the time, because there was an overcrowding problem, to bring in some modulars.
Dawson was, to say the least, not in favour of bringing modulars into the city. They were afraid that if modulars got into Dawson, they would be there forever and one thing would lead to another. The city fought quite hard and, in order for the modulars to be brought in, a promise was made that the modulars would only be there for two years in order to alleviate the immediate problems while we looked at what needed to be done in Dawson - whether Dawson needed an expansion to the existing Robert Service School or whether we needed a new school. The numbers were crunched and, when it is all said and done, I do not think there is any doubt about the fact that Dawson needs a second school.
A lot has been said about that in the last two days, but the Minister of Education has covered it quite admirably, and there is definitely a need for a second school in Dawson. One of the unique things about Dawson City is that it does have a very young population and most of the student body is in grades 5 or 6, or under, and the classes are large. The high school classes are not very large. There are a number of young kids in Dawson under school age who will be coming into the school over the next years. Each year, seven or eight students are graduating while 20 or 24 new children are coming into the school, so the dynamics are quite unique. Dawson needs a new school and, in a few years, even the second school for K to grade 4 is going to be full.
Sites have been talked about a lot. There are not a lot of sites available in Dawson. I think that there have been three bandied around in here - block Q, the RV park, the highway compound, and there was some mention about possibly adding on to the current school site. There were five lots purchased beside the Robert Service School. Those were purchased because the Robert Service School has the smallest playground in the territory. It has been a major concern to a number of parents and people in the Klondike over a number of years.
I have talked to a lot of people in Dawson about this issue, as I am sure most of the Members can imagine. I do not think that building another school beside the Robert Service School is a realistic option. If we were to build another school there, we would have absolutely no playground, and we would be talking about a lot more kids.
That really brings us to two options; there is block Q and there is the highway compound. I did a survey on this in one of my newsletters, and the results definitely seem to favour the highway compound - if it is possible and safe for the kids. There are definitely some environmental concerns with the highway compound, and I think that these issues need to be looked into. I believe that if it is safe, the highway compound is the most logical site for a new school in Dawson.
Members on the opposite side have brought up the fact that this would boost the price of the school to $7 million. They want to know if the government can really justify spending that. I do not know whether it predated the NDP's time in government or if it started at that time, but there has been talk in Dawson for years about moving that highway compound. I do not think there is any doubt about that being prime land in Dawson, and that that it is not the place for the highway compound. It is going to have be moved out of town, sooner or later.
It is never going to be cheaper than it is now. Why wait for another five or six years, when it is going to cost more, especially when there is a good, sound reason and a real need for that land right now?
I do not want to take an awful lot of time, but I would just like to say that I firmly believe that Dawson needs a new school. I personally believe that the highway compound, if it is safe for the people of Dawson, would be the best site. I do not think that it is fair to factor in the cost of moving the highway compound, because it is going to have to be moved anyway.
The block Q site is in the north end of town. We are not sure what would happen to foundations there. The whole area might have to be excavated and backfilled, because the permafrost in Dawson is constantly causing buildings to move and shift, so it could be very, very expensive, whereas the highway compound is on thawed ground.
I think that the department and the Minister are looking at all of the options. I look forward to the Minister visiting Dawson in the next little while to discuss these issues with the people.
Mr. Harding: I have a few comments for the Minister and the MLA for the area, based on the comments that he just made. The numbers that we quoted in debate reflect the numbers given to us by the Minister. The numbers include` a present 340 student capacity and a new school capacity of 175, for a total of 515. The number crunching that was done - if you want to use that terminology - was done by the Yukon Party government, and we were told today that its best guess for the school population is 362 in the year 2001.
We know that the Robert Service School is too small. The NDP supported the announcement of a new school in Dawson, because it was felt that there had to be some consideration made because the school was too small to accommodate the number of students there, but there are several questions to be asked. What facility is needed? What do the people in Dawson want? What can the Government of Yukon afford, given the concerns and needs - and they are many - expressed throughout the education system in the territory?
The Member for Klondike says it is not fair to wrap the issue of the road camp into the cost of a new school because people have wanted to move it for a while. On a list of priorities for this territory, I would say that if $3 million is going to be spent, and it had no relation to the school, then it would be a lot longer before we would see that highway camp moved. It is obvious that the desire expressed by the Minister and the MLA to move the camp is a result of the decision to build the new school. I think that is obvious to anyone who is watching with an objective point of view. I think the connection can be made that it is directly related to the cost of the new school. I think that is a fair statement.
he highway camp is on prime land. I will have to talk to the City of Dawson further, because once a school is built there, that is the only facility that will be there on that so-called prime land. I had the idea from the city that it wanted to use the land for another type of development - a tourism area, or that type of thing - although I am sure that, aesthetically, it would rather have a school than a highway camp. A school does look better in the centre of town. Nevertheless, the Minister has indicated that all of the 1.4 hectares of that camp land, plus surrounding areas, would be bought up for the school. So, that would be the extent of what would be there in the school, according to what the Minister has told us.
The option not to build on the block Q land is news to us in Opposition, because the specifications list that was developed in January 1995, which was given to us by the Minister just yesterday in the Legislature, still identified block Q as the desired site for the school.
The Member for Klondike and the Minister should not wonder why we were a bit surprised to find out that block Q was no longer under consideration. We were surprised that the highway camp had become the desired choice, with an estimated cost of $3 million. There are also some questionable environmental concerns in terms of potential ill-health effects that could be suffered by children, and the potential problem of the clean-up of the lot, given the contaminants that have been used at the camp for the years that it was in operation.
In response, I want to say to the MLA that, if Dawson needs a new school, we support it. We just want to have the facts. We want to be sure that things are not being done in a rash manner. We want to ensure that things are being done properly, that the taxpayer's money is being well spent, that the needs of Dawson are being met and, also, that there will be some other money around to take care of the needs of some of the other Yukon communities as well.
Mrs. Firth: I want to get some of my feelings on the record, since we are having one of these touchy-feely afternoons.
I found the comments of the Member for Klondike quite interesting. He stood up here this afternoon and told us Dawson did not want trailers. Well, Dawson received new trailers, a new school, and it is now asking for another new school.
Grey Mountain Primary is in musty, old, portable trailers that are 32 years old. I do not think we are being unreasonable when we say that is not acceptable that Dawson did not want to accept two new trailers.
I share the Member's concern about trailers. I do not think they are ideal for the education of young children.
I think we could have both schools, if that was the choice of the Members of the Legislative Assembly. I am sure Grey Mountain Primary would consider a smaller school than kindergarten to grade 6. I am sure kindergarten to grade 3 is a viable option. I am sure there could be another school in Dawson. We could look at some options, but not for $7.5 million.
We only have so much money to spend. I personally think that spending $3 million to improve the aesthetics of Dawson City is unreasonable right now. We are being told we do not have a lot of money.
I can appreciate that the camp does not look very good, sitting in the middle of Dawson. However, if we could build a school with that $3 million, no one in this House would object to that, I think.
The issue is a question of fairness, safety and responsible decision making. It is a question of whether or not we are going to get value for our money. I can see that the Member for Klondike must, somewhere in his heart, have a lot of sympathy for the people at Grey Mountain Primary. I would certainly support another, different option. I would support a smaller school in Dawson in a location that does not cost an extra $3 million, and I could support the new Grey Mountain Primary.
I would appreciate it if the Member for Klondike could also support those two initiatives, but I do not get the feeling that that support for the Grey Mountain Primary is there. All we are suggesting is that we look at some less expensive, more reasonable and more fair options. I think that is quite a reasonable and responsible approach to take.
Dawson Second School in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Modular Classrooms
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This breaks down as follows: three modulars at Riverdale Junior Secondary, $350,000; two modulars at Porter Creek Junior Secondary, $250,000; one for l'École Émilie Tremblay, $137,000; for a total of $737,000.
The requirements are due to the bulge we spoke about earlier.
Mr. Cable: I have had a question directed to me by somebody associated with the Porter Creek Junior Secondary School, and it is a question that can be answered by way of a return that I can forward to the person. There was a suspicion on this person's behalf that there are no sprinklers or washrooms in the two modular units to be attached to the Porter Creek Junior Secondary School. Does the Minister have any information with him here today on that question? If not, would he commit to providing that information?
Mr. Penikett: Point of order, Mr. Chair. Is this question being asked on behalf of Mr. Ken Taylor?
Chair: There is no point of order.
Mr. Cable: I agree, Mr. Chair. That is a very astute ruling, and it is also not being asked on behalf of Mr. - who was it? Just to clear the record.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will undertake to come back with that information for the Member.
Mr. Cable: The question that was posed to me by this person, who is not on the teaching staff, by the way, was whether or not the modulars complied with the National Building Code. Could the Minister also determine that when he makes the return?
Modular Classrooms in the amount of $737,000 agreed to
On Special Needs
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is for Riverdale Junior Secondary's two special-needs resource rooms, $40,000, and they are contained in the school.
Mrs. Firth: I am going to ask the Minister if he will indulge me. I have a constituent who asked me to ask a question in the House regarding specific programming. I know that it does not really come under special needs, but we might be able to get it adressed here. The constituent wanted to know if there are any special programs for AIDS awareness in the school. Is the Minister aware of that? Is there any allotment of money identified for that kind of program? I am sorry that I did not ask this question in the operating and maintenance budget, but the constituent just phoned me yesterday with the inquiry.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Under the Yukon health promotion program in the Health budget, two half-time youth health promotion officers have been hired. They offer health education programs - AIDS awareness, sexuality, self-esteem, healthy relationships, suicide prevention, and that sort of thing.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Minister for that. I will follow up with him in the Health debate. I was not aware that it was covered under that department. When we get into Health and Social Services, I may have some more questions.
Special Needs in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Dental Lab Design
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Planned projects are for Jack Hulland School, $25,000; Porter Creek Junior Secondary School, $30,000; and small projects, $19,000. This is something on which the federal dental health program is insisting.
Mr. Penikett: One is bound to ask what assurances the government has about the continuation of the federal dental program. I ask because I think it is an excellent program. I think it is one of the best health promotion initiatives around, but I am extremely worried, given the other cuts, about its future.
I would like to know, given that the federal government is asking us to make a capital investment, what commitments they have made to the long-term future of the program?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is part of phase 2 of the health transfer. We are supposed to get moving on that and we are supposed to get the dollars. We are supposed to have this done by next fall. Whether or not that is overly optimistic - the Member's guess is as good as mine or that of anyone else.
Dental Lab Design in the amount of $74,000 agreed to
On Instructional Equipment
On School Based Equipment Purchase
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These funds are provided annually to permit individual schools to purchase new and replacement instructional equipment and furnishings. The kind of equipment purchased would include audio-visual, science lab and classroom equipment, kindergarten equipment, physical education equipment and classroom furniture.
Funding for equipment for the Learning Resource Centre is included in this budget. Total funding for 1995-96 is $535,000. The Learning Resource Centre is $15,000, the superintendent's contingency is $40,000, technology for all schools is $75,000, and school purchases total $405,000.
With the exception of the Learning Resource Centre, all of the above funds are used to purchase equipment and furnishings for individual schools. The superintendent's contingency is directed to specific schools that are either below standard in a specific area or are required to make unusually large expenditures for items such as lockers or a shop lathe. The Learning Resource Centre buys equipment that can be shared among schools, such as specialized audio-visual equipment.
The funds for school purchases are allocated directly to the schools and are intended to be spent at the discretion of the principal as part of the school plan approved by the school council. The technology funds will be used primarily to match school and directed funds for the purchase of photocopiers, modems and telephone systems.
School Based Equipment Purchase in the amount of $535,000 agreed to
On Instructional Computers
Hon. Mr. Phelps: During 1995, computers in the computer labs will be replaced in J.V. Clark School, Christ the King Junior Secondary and, if possible, Watson Lake High School. This covers some of the ongoing purchases of replacement and new instructional computers in Yukon labs. It does not include central office computer purchases, nor does it include other school-based computer purchases.
The funding has been provided annually since 1986. Initially, the total amounts for this item were $500,000 and $250,000 to facilitate the initial purchase of large numbers of instructional computers and establish an overall ratio of one computer for every eight students.
It is a program to replace the old computers.
Instructional Computers in the amount of $125,000 agreed to
On Special Education
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This funding is used to provide specialized equipment for special-needs students, such as students with limited mobility, sensory impairments - hearing and vision - and communication disorders, in terms of non-verbal communication.
Mr. Harding: I have a concern in terms of how this relates to a special-needs student and the Yukon excellence awards.
A family contacted me who had sent their child to a private school. Their child is a very gifted student. They felt that, as a Yukon family with a Yukon student attending private school outside, they qualified for the excellence awards. Apparently the department told them that the excellence awards are not available for people receiving outside education.
They felt strongly that they should be entitled, as Yukoners, to the excellence awards for showing their excellence in education, whether they were in a public school in the Yukon or in a private school elsewhere, paid for by the parents. The parents are making financial sacrifices in order to give their gifted child what they felt was exposure to an absolutely first-class education experience. I would like to get the Minister's views on that in response to that constituent's concern.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The criteria are based on the Student Grant Act, but perhaps the Member could furnish me with specifics, because under the Student Grant Act the parents remain here. There are varying ways in which the student may be eligible. If I get the details, I will certainly look into it.
Mr. Harding: I will provide those details to the Minister. The comment was also made by the parent that she perhaps would rather have seen - and this is just a suggestion to the Minister - the $180,000 spent on working on programming for gifted children and students who achieve a standard of academic excellence here in the Yukon. She felt that that would lessen the need for her to make a big financial sacrifice to send her child down south to a private school.
Special Education in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Custodial Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This funding is provided annually to provide for the purchase of new and replacement equipment for custodial services in all 29 schools. The type of equipment purchased includes vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, floor cleaner, snow scoops, and that sort of thing.
Custodial Equipment in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
Mr. Harding: Just before we clear public schools, I would like to thank the Minister for his ever-so-cordial and helpful answers to the questions put forward by the critic. I thought that it was an extremely constructive exercise.
Public Schools in the amount of $9,236,000 agreed to
Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 4. Is there any general debate on the advanced education branch?
On Advanced Education
On Yukon College
On Yukon College Capital Grant
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This project now represents the capital funding for Yukon College. It takes the place of the old line items "furniture and equipment" and "community campus".
Yukon College Capital Grant in the amount of $750,000 agreed to
On Adult Education Capital Support
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is capital equipment to assist the department to fulfill its mandate to the Training Policy Committee and First Nations to develop human resource plans related to land claims self-government responsibilities; to cover the capital cost of departmental participation in an inter-provincial computerized examination management system for national red seal trades; for distance education pilot project between the department and Yukon College; and funding toward a distance education pilot project with Yukon College.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister indicated that one of the priorities in this area was funding the work of the Training Policy Committee. Can I ask the Minister what the nature of the capital support is to the work of the Training Policy Committee?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This $54,000 is a capital equivalent to assist the branch to fulfill its adult education mandate with communications, generally, and First Nations, in particular, as it relates to land claims and self-government legislation; for example, hardware and software to develop employment skills, inventories, occupational analyses, preferences, workshop communication materials and national occupational classification and codes. The department is playing an active role with the First Nation human resources worker project, assisting First Nations to determine human resource requirements as the First Nations move toward self-government. Twenty-eight thousand dollars is to cover the capital cost of departmental participation in the interprovincial computerized examination management system for national red-seal trades, and $18,000 is the balance that I have discussed.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is using computer equipment for the interprovincial certification a change?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We started to participate in the program last year. It is a continuation of that participation.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister also referred to a distance education project with the college. Could he provide some further details on that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is the project that the witnesses from Yukon College discussed. It is specialized computer equipment that allows for the interactive participation of students in the communities.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister indicated that it was discussed when the witnesses were here from the college. I do not want to go into the discussions we had with the college officials, because they have already been here. However, I would like to ask the Minister if any general capital support will go into improving college facilities like rural campuses, since they are funding distance education projects?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Aside from this, there is 750,000, which is a substantial increase.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am aware that the $750,000 is a substantial increase and I did indicate in general debate that we were happy to see it. Does the department provide additional funding for such things as improving rural campuses? We have already had quite some debate about the college campus moving into the Robert Service School because of the new elementary school. I am wondering what the monetary benefit of that is to the college and what area it would be funded under.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is funded out of the $750,000, which is discretionary spending for the college to determine.
Adult Education Capital Support in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
Advanced Education in the amount of $850,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
On Library Facilities
On Community Library Development
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This expenditure is to upgrade volunteer libraries, community library status and upgrade existing libraries to meet basic library standards.
Ms. Moorcroft: I see the increase for upgrading the community library development. What is the minimum number of volumes in a community library collection?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would have to bring that information back on a library-by-library basis.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could he also provide whatever acquisition policy the department has regarding the development of community libraries?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Certainly.
Community Library Development in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Library Equipment
On Branch Library Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: For this next year, the money will be spent on libraries in Dawson City, Carcross, Teslin, Faro, Mayo and Haines Junction. It is broken down as follows: basic library equipment - things like children's furniture, shelving, bookracks, et cetera - for $20,000; chairs, tables and racks, for $15,000; minor repairs and renovations to libraries, for $10,000; for a total of $45,000.
Branch Library Equipment in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
On Audio Visual Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: For next year, this can be broken down as follows: slide projectors, $5,000; video camcorders, $5,000; and audio listening centres for public use, $10,000.
Audio Visual Equipment in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Technical Services Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is to provide new equipment to support the technical service operation and growth in collections, and to provide access to collections throughout the Yukon with the automated library system. It will be used to support the library automation system and other required equipment. In 1995-96, a new vendor bibliofile will be utilized so the libraries and archives branch is compatible with Yukon College, public schools and government libraries. The system will be expanded to include three more communities - Beaver Creek, Pelly Crossing and Old Crow - requiring an increase of $10,000 for equipment, licences and software.
Technical Services Equipment in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Archival Facilities
On Archives Storage/Vault
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In 1995-96, it will be used to upgrade the second vault area in the facility to accommodate the growing volume of government records transferred from the records centre. The funding will cover the electrical costs, mechanical controls, construction of security vaults, the confidential records and expansion of the ventilation, fire suppression and humidifier systems.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is it expected that this project will be completed in one fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It will be completed in the 1995-96 fiscal year, starting this year.
Archives Storage/Vault in the amount of $275,000 agreed to
On Archives Equipment
On Archives Equipment Automation
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This funding will be used to purchase mobile shelving to accommodate growing archival collections, as well as specialized storage equipment, including map cabinets, microfilm cabinets, photograph negative cabinets and equipment for research for use in the reading room, including a public access CD ROM, automation systems, local area network and other required items for public service.
Ms. Moorcroft: With the increase in the storage facilities in the archives vault and the equipment automation project, there will be room for a lot more material in the Archives. Does the Minister know how many years the storage capacity will last? Does the department have a sense of that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to get back with a written answer on that. One of the reasons is that it is suspected that there is a lot of duplicated material being stored in the archives. Finding someone who can go through it and reduce it to one copy of everything is a rather sensitive issue. If that is achievable without public outcry, then we might look at it. It is suspected that there is a lot of duplication.
Archives Equipment Automation in the amount of $146,000 agreed to
On Conservation Assessment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is used to purchase specialized equipment, contract services of a professional conservator and other related conservation project requirements. There is $10,000 of this fund for conservation assessment and treatment that is matched with federal conservation funding through the Yukon Council of Archives. The additional $5,000 will be used for conservation equipment and supplies.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are there any particular collections that this conservation assessment is being geared toward?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The background to it is that many of the Klondike Creek claim maps, gold rush correspondence, and Yukon Order of Pioneers papers, mining recorder records, photographs, and publications needed by researchers for upcoming anniversary celebrations are in such poor shape that they cannot be used, displayed or copied without conservation treatment. The archives is putting more emphasis on conservation work to ensure that collections do not deteriorate or even disintegrate beyond the point where repairs are no longer feasible.
Conservation Assessment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Display Preparation and Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Next year, this funding will be used to complete the preparation of a display commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the Yukon, as well as a display focusing on RCMP activities tied to their centennial. It will fund contracts for background research, oral histories, photograph reproductions, consultations with stakeholders, text preparation, and graphics and display preparation.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am not surprised to see that the displays they are preparing in the present year are in recognition of the RCMP centenary and the Klondike Gold Rush centenary. I am surprised to see the amount of money for display preparation reduced during an anniversaries year. The Archives' displays on a number of subjects have been popular. They have toured the Yukon. Why has less money been given to display preparation in a year when we are starting to build toward recognizing anniversaries?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Funding was accelerated last year so that Archives could hire a displays researcher and other short-term contractors to get some of the material ready. It was used to develop displays on historical themes for presentation in Whitehorse and for rotation in the Yukon communities, as well as to upgrade other displays for ongoing use. More money was used last year to get things started.
Display Preparation and Maintenance in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Conversion of Film to Video
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is used to hire the services of a researcher to select, catalogue and prepare archival film collections for transfer to video format. Video transfer promotes conservation of the original films, provides a security copy, and permits copies to be circulated for community and school use, as well as to be deposited in community libraries. It is anticipated that a larger volume of films will be donated or loaned to the archives during the Klondike Gold Rush centennial years. For example, from April to September 1994, 78 videos were circulated to patrons. In the year 1993-94, 98 videos were circulated.
Conversion of Film to Video in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
Libraries and Archives in the amount of $736,000 agreed to
Department of Education capital expenditures in the amount of $11,127,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Department of Education agreed to
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Department of Economic Development - continued
Chair: Is there any further general debate on Economic Development?
Mr. McDonald: There are, of course, a few more questions and a few comments to make. We had discussed a number of issues prior to breaking for debate in Education.
Perhaps one of the issues that received the most air time has been the industrial support policy the government has adopted. We have expressed our concerns about this policy on a number of occasions. I have a few more questions, but I would just like to summarize some of the concerns that we have, and which will probably not be dealt with effectively, given the Minister's response to our questions.
It is my contention, and that of my colleagues, that without clear guidelines it is very difficult to tell whether or not there is a level playing field for industry proponents who come forward seeking public funds.
It is very difficult for industry proponents to know what the public should expect of them when they seek public funds, because there is no clear indication about what is required or what is even desired.
I have expressed some concerns about allowing negotiations to continue at length - even to conclusion - without ministerial or political input, given that the guidelines are so unclear.
The problem that we face is that it appears that negotiators' agreements are concluded without any clear sense of what the public was seeking through those negotiations. Once approved by Cabinet, they would simply be brought right into the Legislature for final approval. In my opinion, that is not a great way to handle negotiations. The fact that the industry advocate in the department is the lead hand, with only a review being conducted by department officials after the agreement has been initialed by the negotiators, is not, in my view, an appropriate way to conduct the negotiations.
That is nothing new to the Minister. He is aware of my concerns on that score and the other concerns I have expressed about this policy. We are now at a stage where we should be talking about some of the specifics, in particular, Loki Gold's operation. I understand that the Loki Gold negotiations are fast coming to a conclusion, if they have not already concluded, at least at the negotiators' level, and I am still not clear what has transpired. I would appreciate it if the Minister could tell us what Loki Gold has sought and what the government has tentatively offered.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Loki Gold has been talking with our facilitator about having the Old Ditch Road upgraded to the extent that it can be used for transporting men and equipment. My official is not here yet, but as of Friday last week, the department had not been given an okay from the mining facilitator about what had tentatively been agreed upon with Loki. I do not know if that has changed since last Friday. I was talking with the department about it on Friday, but I do not know if that has changed now or not.
Mr. McDonald: I understood the last time we dealt with this that the Minister was going to be getting a briefing from the department about the status and nature of negotiations, so presumably he should be able to tell us what is essentially being negotiated. Is he saying that the Old Ditch Road is the only item of public expenditure that is being negotiated, altogether?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is correct. They may very well be interested in the loan under the energy infrastructure loans for resource development program, but we are not certain of that yet.
Mr. McDonald: The initial support policy addresses the issue of training and makes a pretty strong commitment to seeing training take place. Was there nothing negotiated on that score here, or are the training proposals that Loki Gold is proposing at its own expense sufficient to meet the training requirements of Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are aware that Loki Gold is working with the Dawson First Nation to try to get a socio-economic agreement in place that would include a training component, but we are not party to the negotiations.
Mr. McDonald: The initial support policy itself makes a clear statement that it will do what it can to promote training and ensure local benefit, so presumably that goes part and parcel with the negotiations to provide public funds. What precisely is the government intending to get out of the negotiations, in terms of job opportunities, business opportunities and training opportunities? If the negotiations are just about concluded on the road, which is as far as we know, all that it has requested in terms of public funds, how is the government achieving its other objectives here?
Mr. McDonald: The Minister said in Question Period as an aside that any socio-economic agreement with the band would not be a precondition to receiving public funds under the program. What I would like to know is how the government is achieving its objectives through the negotiations that are currently taking place.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We would be quite willing to sit down with the company and discuss their labour requirements. However, we are not aware of any special requests they have. As I said before, we do know that the Dawson First Nation has requested an agreement with Loki, and they are dealing with that. I believe there is a labour component involved in those discussions; however, we have not been party to those discussions, and we have not actually sat down with Loki at this point in time and discussed labour requirements.
Mr. McDonald: Is it the government's position that they could conclude negotiations on funding for the Old Ditch Road, without having concluded any sort of arrangement regarding business or labour or job opportunities at the Loki mine?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We would like to bring it to the House as a package. I am not sure exactly how much our facilitator has been discussing labour or training with Loki Gold, and I will not know that until it is brought back to the department. Apparently, he has not brought anything to the department to this point.
Mr. McDonald: Maybe I am labouring under a very major misapprehension about what the industrial support policy is supposed to do. Please, do not let me suffer any longer; if the Minister can help me, please do.
I was under the impression that the industrial support policy was a mechanism to encourage local benefit to the territory in the area of labour, business opportunities and training opportunities. The principles in the support policy speak quite clearly to the need to provide those opportunities and to secure some benefit in return for public expense. I guess the theory behind that - a theory that I support - is that if you are going to ask the Yukon taxpayer to fork out $1 million to $2 million for a particular road, or whatever the infrastructure requirement is, the government wants to be able to get a very clear benefit in return so that it can feel it is getting value for its money.
It was my understanding that the government would identify its needs during the course of negotiations with the mine. Such needs would include the identification of job opportunities, training opportunities for Yukoners and those types of requirements.
There may be business opportunities, or that type of thing. They would catalogue those opportunities they considered to be desirable from a public perspective, and they would try to achieve some of those things through negotiations in return for a public investment - for example, millions of dollars toward a road.
Was it not the case that there were some specific items that the government had in mind that it wanted to see happen during the negotiations? What was actually being negotiated? Was it just the amount of money that the government was going to put into the road, or was there something more than that? Can the Minister help me out?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The main concern for Loki Gold is the road. Out of the agreements that will be brought to the House, I hope there will be a full economic analysis of benefits provided to the Yukon, for the mine and for our expenditure. During the negotiations on funding to upgrade the road, we want to discuss the labour Loki Gold will require and where that labour will come from.
The idea of including the training in the industrial support policy is not to hold a hammer over their heads to insist that any one particular group of people, or people from a certain group, be hired. However, if the company is interested in putting in a training component that will benefit Yukon residents in years to come, then we would be interested in working with them and possibly helping them out.
Mr. McDonald: I do not understand why these discussions are called negotiations, because it appears as though the mining company comes to the government, states what it wants - a road, for example; all it wants is money for a road - and once the costs of building that road are established, then the government does a socio-economic analysis of the impact of that mine to determine the benefits, and then the benefits are weighed against the public expenditure to make a decision on whether or not to go with the road. It sounds a whole lot, not like negotiations, but more like a kind of take-it-or-leave-it matter - Loki says, "This is our offer, and you can take it or leave it."
Would it not be more productive, in terms of achieving public benefit, to actually treat those discussions as negotiations?
The government identified some of the things that it would like to see happen, such as training opportunities for residents in Dawson. It could suggest to Loki, in a friendly negotiating style, ways in which that could be accomplished. It could suggest that perhaps it can help the mining company out by doing an inventory of skill needs in Dawson. Through the community campus, it could identify what skills there are available. Perhaps, if there is some upgrading that the mine requires, the government can come to some conclusion. Perhaps the company can provide the training as part of its own training program or the government and the company, together, can negotiate some kind of training arrangement.
I admit that this is more of an activist approach to try to get public benefit. However, it appears that it would be more productive than simply waiting to see what might happen once the mine receives its road.
Can the Minister tell us if there are true negotiations going on? What is the point of the discussions?
I am still not sure why there is any kind of give and take. Where is the give and take in the discussions?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If the Member is outlining a method for dealing with Loki to ensure some local benefit, I have no problem with that. If I were doing the negotiating, I would be asking those same kinds of questions, such as "what do you anticipate needing for your labour force" and "what about some training components." I expect that is exactly what is happening. The local benefits are not just the amount of money that is poured into the Yukon; they include jobs for our local people, training opportunities for our young people and so on. That is probably all part and parcel of what is being negotiated at this point in time.
Mr. McDonald: Did the government have any targets that it wanted to achieve in the negotiations, such as training opportunities? I know that it had the Hornal Consulting report done - that is the information that the Minister of Education gave us during the Education estimates - which spoke about the socio-economic benefits of this mine. The government had the report done by this consulting group. There was some sense of what the total size of the workforce would be. We even got, from this consulting group, an estimate of how many children would possibly be going to school in Dawson as a result of the mine going ahead. The government went so far as to say that it believed that approximately eight Dawson residents would find work at the mine, out of a workforce of 78 personnel. Some analysis has obviously been done as to what environment this mine would require.
We need to find out what the impact on the community might be in the absence of negotiations.
Did the government have some targets for the kinds of things it wanted to see accomplished in order to meet the principles of the industrial support policy, besides simply making a commitment to spend money on road construction? Were there specific issues set out so the negotiator entered into negotiations with the objective of trying to accomplish some specific objectives?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not believe there was an actual number of people we wanted to see trained, or a specific number of Dawsonites we wanted to see employed, in the negotiations, but I believe that is what the negotiations are all about. How much training will be required? How many people will be employed? How many people from Dawson? How many people from the rest of the territory? Will there be any need to bring people in from other areas?
Until we actually get an update from our facilitator, I cannot answer all those questions.
Mr. Chair, I move that we report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and directed me to report progress on them.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 7, 1995:
A Cappella North: a survey of teenage girls in the Yukon (released March 7, 1995) (Phillips)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled March 7, 1995:
Loans from the Department of Economic Development: process to establish repayment schedule of delinquent loans (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1126
Loans from the Department of Economic Development: court action taken against five business development fund clients in arrears; list of delinquent loans over 90 days (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 112