Wednesday, March 29, 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 appointment of Judy Gingell as Commissioner of the Yukon
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I rise to ask all Members of the Assembly to join me in extending congratulations to Ms. Judy Gingell, who earlier today was named to be the next Commissioner of the Yukon.
Ms. Gingell will replace the current Commissioner, Mr. Ken McKinnon, who has served the Yukon government and all Yukoners for the past nine years. I would like to formally acknowledge and to extend our appreciation to Ken and his wife Judy for their commitment, community involvement, good humour and a job truly well done.
Over the past 20 years we have seen remarkable changes in the Yukon and its government. Two decades ago, the Yukon Indian people had only begun the long and somewhat difficult land claims process. The federal government controlled or delivered the majority of government services in the territory and the territorial government was administered by the Commissioner and two deputy commissioners who were public servants appointed by Ottawa and answerable to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. -
In the intervening years, the Yukon government has assumed even greater responsibilities and taken on the roles and the structure of a provincial government. The Commissioner's role has changed as well, most notably from 1979, when the Epp letter was issued by then Minister Jake Epp, effectively establishing the Commissioner's role as the territorial Lieutenant Governor, acting on the advice of the Yukon government.
Finally, and most recently, the Yukon land claims settlement has been proclaimed, bringing in a new era of government, involving greater participation by all people in the territory and requiring greater cooperation between the Yukon and First Nations governments.
Moving from her position as chair of the Council for Yukon Indians to Commissioner of the Yukon, Ms. Gingell has the unique background and a unique opportunity to contribute to the new partnerships and relationships that are required. For many years, she has served the Yukon Indian people well. She brings respect, experience and perspective with her. In the months and years ahead, as the official head of this government, she will, no doubt, serve equally well all people of the Yukon.
We live in very interesting times, and there are many changes and challenges ahead. I sincerely congratulate and look forward to working with Ms. Gingell, as she takes on her new responsibilities.
Mr. Penikett: On this important occasion, the Official Opposition would like to note that, for the first time, a First Nations person will hold the post of Commissioner of the Yukon Territory. We would also note that Mrs. Gingell is extremely well-qualified for this job, and we wish her well in working with the Yukon government on behalf of the Liberal administration in Ottawa.
Mr. Cable: I would also like to say how pleased I am with the appointment of Ms. Gingell as Commissioner.
Ms. Gingell has served the aboriginal community well, both as a forceful advocate and as a tireless negotiator. I know that she will bring her energy to her new job of building bridges between the Yukon communities and in providing advice to the federal Minister and the Prime Minister.
Over the last 101 years, we have had a number of commissioners and gold commissioners since 1894. As was alluded to by the Leader of the Official Opposition, none of these people has been aboriginal, and, with one exception, none have been female. The appointment of Ms. Gingell, besides being a very competent and wise choice, will signal to both of those communities that there is inclusiveness for all people in the Yukon and that senior government appointments are available to all.
I would like to congratulate Ms. Gingell on her appointment, and I would like to thank Judy and Ken McKinnon for the job they have done for the last nine years.
I, too, want to rise and offer my congratulations to Judy Gingell on her appointment by the federal Liberal government as our new Commissioner in the Yukon Territory.
I have worked with Judy Gingell for the last seven or eight years. Both of us, of course, were seven or eight years younger when we started out. It is encouraging to see someone like Judy grow and expand her horizons and goals. I have always found her to be a very fair and hard-working individual. I feel confident that she will do a good job as Commissioner.
One other thing I want to mention about Judy Gingell is the fact that, over her time with the Council for Yukon Indians, she has maintained a political neutrality that I think she will bring to the Commissioner's job. I recall, during the electoral boundaries review, representations made by Ms. Gingell with respect to more independent candidates, as opposed to political parties. I listened very closely to her words during that review.
I would also like to thank the outgoing Commissioner, Ken McKinnon, and his partner, Judy, for their service to Yukoners over the last seven or eight years. There is always a political lean to these appointments, but I think it is only fair that we recognize the contribution, time and service given by these individuals.
I would like to thank the McKinnons and welcome Judy Gingell. On behalf of the constituents I represent, we thank these individuals for the hard work and time they have given us as servants.
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. Brewster: I have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Are there any Bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 28: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 28, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be now introduced and read for the first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 28, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 28 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
RCMP Renewal in the Yukon
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I rise today to report on the RCMP renewal project underway and to inform the House of the directions and priorities that will be guiding 'M' Division as it provides policing services to the territory during 1995-96.
Like most public sector agencies today, the RCMP in the Yukon are facing ever-increasing demands for new and more responsive services in an environment of increasing budget scarcity. The challenge for all government agencies is to continually evaluate and assess what they do to ensure optimal use of resources. This is no different for our police.
To address this fact, 'M' Division has been undergoing a review of its operations and priorities for the next year. This review demonstrates a commitment to fine-tune policy operations to be responsive to the needs and priorities of the Yukon public. Some of the changes that will be implemented in the new fiscal year as part of the renewal project include the following.
A senior officer position will be converted to a lower rank. This will allow for a reduction in salary costs and there will be an increase in the time spent on direct police work rather than on administration.
I am pleased to announce that the dog section will be re-established in June, 1995. A thorough review of the effectiveness of the dog section was conducted. This review indicates that the benefits of the section, in terms of officer safety and increasing the ability to locate missing persons, warrant the related expenditures.
These two changes will effectively increase front-line resources in the Whitehorse detachment. At present, Whitehorse has the lowest per capita police officer ratio in the territory. These changes will help to improve that situation.
Staffing levels will be restored to the 1993-94 levels in Mayo and Faro. These three-member detachments have been operating with two members each and the vacancies will now be filled.
The RCMP will continue to focus on family violence initiatives. This has been demonstrated recently by Integration '95. This conference on family violence recently held in Whitehorse was co-sponsored by the RCMP. As well, the social worker position dedicated to the domestic violence unit will continue to be supported. This is jointly funded by the RCMP and YTG.
The volunteer victim services unit, which is currently operating in Whitehorse, will be expanded as a pilot project to the Dawson and Faro detachments. This reflects the need to continue to put a high priority on meeting the needs of victims of crime.
Community policing will also remain as a high priority. Community policing programs will be continued. These include the police-assisted community education, known as PACE, which establishes dialogue between officers and youth through drug awareness programs, and the summer student constable program, which employs students to promote better understanding between the police and young people.
The RCMP will continue to work with Yukon Justice on various initiatives. These will include implementing a community-based justice approach and specific programs such as the "talking about crime" committee, which will be travelling to every Yukon community to discuss crime prevention.
Work will also be continuing with First Nations to develop policing initiatives that are responsive to the unique challenges facing First Nation communities.
I believe we can be justifiably proud of the quality of police services the Yukon receives. Policing is a very difficult job at the best of times, and I am confident that the members of 'M' Division are doing the best job possible.
Further, I am very pleased with the cooperation we receive from the RCMP in Yukon Justice initiatives, such as community justice, and the consistent philosophy toward crime and justice that the RCMP and my department share. Working together with the community, we can achieve much to make the Yukon a safer place to live. Thank you.
Ms. Commodore: As the Member knows, cooperation with the RCMP began a number of years ago. It is very difficult to look at a statement like this and say things are not improving, as they certainly are. A number of initiatives mentioned in here are things we were aware of, and we were looking toward seeing improvements in the services offered by the RCMP.
There are a lot of good things in here. I know there have been ongoing discussions with regard to a lot of the new initiatives. We are happy the dog section is being re-established. When it disappeared there was a lot of criticism, because that service was needed in the north.
Two additional members for Mayo and Faro is a positive step. The Minister of Justice knows the MLA for Faro has been lobbying for the additional person and, in addition, for secretarial services. Mayo and Faro will be quite pleased with that.
The Minister mentioned that Whitehorse has the lowest per capita police officer ratio in the territory, and that may be so, but we have the highest ratio per capita in Canada. There is a bit of an imbalance there.
I attended the family violence conference, which was co-sponsored by YTG and the RCMP. It was noted that a number of RCMP officers attended, who offered a lot of input into the kinds of things being discussed. I am pleased that program is being improved all the time.
There are many things in the ministerial statement we can support. I would like to know more about the work that will be continuing with First Nations to develop policing initiatives. The Minister will probably let me know about all those things during the budget debate.
There is some information in the statement with regard to youth. Because there are so many good things in here, I do not want to be too critical. However, there is not much mention of youth. In the last little while, that has been a big issue, and there will be a townhall meeting tonight. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend.
It would certainly be interesting to find out what other initiatives there are in regard to how the RCMP and this government will be working with youth. I commend the RCMP and the Department of Justice for working toward these initiatives.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I thank the Member for her kind comments about the initiatives that our government is taking in this area. I can tell the Member that I will elaborate a little more in the budget debate about the arrangements made with First Nations in the area of First Nation policing.
When we talk about youth, we are carrying out several initiatives. The Minister of Health has mentioned some of the initiatives already, and this government is discussing crime and community consultative processes. The government will hear from the general public on the concerns and the issues, and it will closely monitor the program this evening to hear the concerns the communities are expressing, as well as the new community justice initiatives announced yesterday, which I am sure will all deal with issues about youth.
As for the announcement of the new dog section, this is something that I think is a very positive move in the Yukon and we are quite supportive of it.
I can tell the Member that we have a very good working relationship with the RCMP and the RCMP are very interested in community crime initiatives and are working very closely with us. The RCMP attended the conference with us, in force, so to speak, a couple of weeks ago, and they are very interested in working on crime prevention and those kinds of programs.
We are very pleased to make the announcements that we have today, which we feel will go a long way toward making the Yukon a better place in which to live.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: South Access Road maintenance
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. The South Access Road is one of the most heavily travelled roads in the area, and it is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident. This morning, I was told that when the RCMP officer was redirecting traffic at the top of the hill, there had been three accidents before the road was closed.
The school buses went down that hill on the ice, before the road was closed, and there could have been a terribly tragic accident. We have a predictable situation - it thawed yesterday, water ran downhill, it freezes at night, and the roads are skating rinks for the morning traffic. The same thing is going to happen tonight and again tomorrow morning. Can the Minister tell me if he will ensure that the gravel trucks are out this evening, before the roads freeze, and again for the morning traffic on the South Access Road?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The reason the South Access Road was closed is because a car went into the ditch, and a tow truck was there trying to pull it out. So, the road was closed until the vehicle was pulled out of the ditch. The department went through the roads at 7:30 this morning, checked them all, and felt they were all quite safe, except for one, short distance of 100 feet of ice. The rest was quite safe.
From my information, there were not three accidents on the South Access Road. There was another accident on the Two Mile Hill. The director of transportation was out himself at 7:30 this morning and ordered sand on the intersection where the traffic lights are, on the Alaska Highway. He felt the rest of the road was safe. A crew will be out at 6:00 in the morning from now until the weather straightens around and we do not have the quick thaw in the daytime and frost at night, which freezes the road.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is obvious that the car went over the bank because the road was icy. I have talked to people who drove the road and I am told that it was icy.
I have been asking the Minister about the South Access Road since he has been in office, and we have not once heard him make a firm commitment that he would be allocating money in the 1996-97 budget to fix the South Access Road. Will he make that commitment now?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Of course I will not. I do not know what money we will receive under the financing formula, and I am not prepared to commit myself to any such thing.
Ms. Moorcroft: The government knows that it will be spending millions of dollars next year, the same as it is this year and the year before. In light of the accidents on the road this morning and the fact that we could have a tragedy, why will the Minister not make a personal commitment to place the South Access Road reconstruction on the priority list? It should have been done this year. Will he promise to do it next year?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is on the priority list. The reason we did not go any further with it this year is because we were working with the City of Whitehorse, which has the biggest amount of money to pay for its share, and we were trying to make a deal with it so that we could do it all at one time. We decided not to proceed this year until the city can make up its mind about what it wants to do.
Question re: Two Mile Hill, sidewalks
Mr. Penikett: The Minister said the roads were inspected yesterday and this morning, but the sidewalks at the top of Two Mile Hill were covered in ice where they are steepest, creating an extremely dangerous situation, especially for seniors. I want to ask the Minister why the department, when it is looking at the roads, cannot also take a look at the sidewalks for which they are responsible, and perhaps spread a little sand or gravel there so that people can actually use them?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would have to check on that. I am not sure that they do not belong to the city. I will take the question under advisement and get back to the Member.
Mr. Penikett: If the sidewalks near YTG roads belong to the city, I would be interested in that.
The Minister did not answer the question. When an inspector from YTG highways is looking at a road and at the question of safety on the road because of icy conditions at this time of the year, why is it that they cannot cast their eye on the situation of the sidewalks? We are talking about a fairly heavily travelled part of the city. I looked at this stretch of sidewalk this morning for hundreds of yards. It was impassable. One could only be safe on it if one used a bobsled.
I would like to ask the Minister if he would make the undertaking to come back with an answer to this question tomorrow. Will he ask his inspectors to look at it? If it is not his responsibility, will the inspectors, if they see a situation like that, take the information to whomever is responsible?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will certainly find that out; however, I would suggest that if the Member thought it was that bad, perhaps he should have reported it to someone today.
Mr. Penikett: That is exactly what I am doing right now.
This is a predictable situation every year. This is a government that has spent millions of dollars on that stretch of road. All I am asking is for the government to show some concern for the safety of citizens who walk, rather than drive, and either spend a few cents on sand or gravel or see that whoever is responsible does do it. Will he do this on this government's $11-million road?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is a $7-million road, not an $11-million road.
I said that I would take it under advisement and see who is responsible for it - YTG or the city.
Question re: Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Government Leader about his Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which he tabled the other day.
The Government Leader has stated publicly - it was reported in a newspaper yesterday - that it is his view that the act applies to the Yukon Development Corporation, but there seems to be some question about whether or not it applies to the wholly-owned subsidiary, which is the Yukon Energy Corporation. Could the Government Leader indicate to the House if it is the government's intention that the new act, opening up government departments and Crown corporations to scrutiny, is not to apply to the Yukon Energy Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that, the way the act is drafted now, it will apply to the Yukon Energy Corporation, unless there is an amendment to the Yukon Development Corporation Act.
Mr. Cable: The Government Leader was quoted in the newspaper yesterday and seemed somewhat equivocal about whether or not it applied.
Has the Government Leader received a legal opinion in the meantime, indicating that it will, as he just said, apply to the Yukon Energy Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that, the way the act is drafted now, it will apply to the Energy Corporation unless there is an amendment to the Development Corporation Act.
Mr. Cable: The Government Leader was quoted in the newspaper yesterday as somewhat equivocal on the fact as to whether it applied. Has the Government Leader received a legal opinion in the meantime indicating that it will in fact, as he just said, apply to the Yukon Energy Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We had that legal opinion when we were drafting the act. What I was trying to relay in the press yesterday is that we are looking at whether or not we should bring an amendment in for the Yukon Development Act.
Mr. Cable: On a related matter, the Government Leader has had a "hands off" attitude toward whether the operational audit that is being done on the contract between Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon Electrical should be open to the public. With this new act, has he had a change of attitude on the position he put forward? Does he now think that the contract between the two corporations should, in fact, be open to public scrutiny?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that the contract is scrutinized by the Yukon Utilities Board, so it is open to public scrutiny.
Question re: Enduring power of attorney act
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister of Justice regarding the enduring power of attorney act. The Opposition was told last Thursday that the Minister would be introducing this act in this House probably in the middle of April. What was the consultation process for this act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is an act people have requested for some time. We have drafted a copy of the act, which went out to First Nations and others for their comments. Depending upon what those comments are, we will bring the act back into the House to be dealt with.
Ms. Commodore: Some groups and individuals received that act with a letter, dated March 24, asking for their comments and concerns before March 31. Does the Minister think that is a reasonable amount of time within which to respond to an act most people would not understand without legal advice?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: An enduring power of attorney act is a standard piece of legislation. I do not think it would take a lot of legal advice to interpret what it does.
I would like to receive replies as soon as possible, so as to introduce the act. There have been some calls for this act. It protects a person who wants to give the power of attorney to someone else, in case they become incapacitated. Even under the previous administration, people spoke of this as being lacking and something that was needed in the Yukon for the future.
I do not think it is a very complicated act in that way. It is an enabling act to protect one's interests if something should happen to one in the future.
Ms. Commodore: In one section of the act - picked at random - it says, "... notwithstanding any restrictions, statutory or otherwise, relating to the disclosure of confidential health care information where an enduring power of attorney is to come into effect on the occurrence of a specified contingency, that is, the mental incapacity or infirmity of the donor, information concerning the donor's mental and physical health may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the purpose of confirming whether or not the specified contingency has occurred."
How many people understand that? The Minister has given individuals less than a week to respond to that. I only chose one section at random. I think those individuals should be given a lot more time to make comments and express concerns with regard to this act.
Can the Minister tell me to whom this act and letter were sent? Was the Human Rights Commission included in that group?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will bring that information back for the Member.
Question re: Non-government organizations, funding for
Mr. Penikett: Yesterday, during Committee of the Whole the Government Leader said that recent changes to the non-governmental organization funding policy were not driven by legislative or regulatory imperatives, but by Management Board policy. In light of this, I would like to ask the Minister of Health why, on March 20, did he state something quite different from what the Minister of Finance told us yesterday?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: What I said is that the appropriate policy procedure under the Financial Administration Act was to introduce changes similar to those that we are introducing for non-governmental organizations.
Mr. Penikett: I invite anybody to look at the record of March 20 where the Minister said not once, not twice, but three times that the Department of Finance made him do it.
Policy can be changed at any meeting of Management Board or Cabinet, at which the Minister is still a Member. Because this change of policy is unjust and might complicate life for non-governmental organizations and cost them money, I want to ask the Minister the same question that I asked him on March 20: why did he do it? He did not have to do it; the Department of Finance did not make him do it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I did not say that the department was "made" to do anything. I said that the manner in which the payments were made was in breach of the policy, the law under the current act, which is set by Management Board, but that is not the reason it was done. The reason it was done was discussed quite thoroughly yesterday during Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister is trying to smoke us. The Government Leader told us quite clearly yesterday that the practice had been quite different from the policy. The policy could have been adjusted in favour of the non-governmental organizations at any meeting of Cabinet or Management Board, but the government chose not to make this adjustment.
Paying non-government organizations on April 1 did not cost the government any money, yet it may create administrative expenses for the NGOs and cost them the interest income that they had previously benefited from. I will ask the Minister again, since the Financial Administration Act did not require them to do it, nor did its regulations require them to do it, why did he not change the policy?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Cabinet can change the regulations any time it wishes - if that is his point. The procedures that have been adopted by Management Board regarding the administration of finance under the Financial Administration Act are inconsistent with making lump sum payments to NGOs. That is the state of things as they exist. The reasons for adhering to the general policies were made explicit during a fairly lengthy debate yesterday. Accountability was raised and discussed in debate, which is a very important issue to us, although it was not to the previous administration. We know that. As well, the tightening up of money available to this government was also an important reason.
Question re: Two Mile Hill, project review
Mr. McDonald: I am inclined to ask that same Minister what the heck he is talking about. However, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. The Auditor General's report has indicated that a post-implementation review of the Two Mile Hill project has yet to be done. The management response in the report says that a review has been started, and should be finished by the end of the fiscal year. That turns out to be this week. The Minister led us clearly to believe that there would be one last week, and then said that he may have been mistaken, and that there would not be one. Is there going to be a review or not?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, there is a report being worked on, and it should be available shortly.
While I am standing, I have the answer for the Leader of the Official Opposition. The sidewalks on the Two Mile Hill are ours, and I will instruct the department to see what they can do with them, starting today.
Mr. McDonald: We are still on the subject of Two Mile Hill, so I will ask the Minister to indicate whether or not the report will be made public, and I would also ask him if I will have to ask him two or three times in Question Period whether or not it will be made public and when it will be made public. I would also like to ask him whether or not the report that is being done now is going to include a review of the drainage reconstruction work that was done on the Two Mile Hill.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I said that the review will be done. I hope that we will be able to table it, so it will therefore be public. It will cover all aspects of the Two Mile Hill, going back to 1989, when it originally started.
Mr. McDonald: I am looking forward very much to that. I have a feeling that, if the report is honest, we will be spending an inordinate amount of time in Question Period dealing with it.
The Minister tabled a legislative return today that indicated that the drainage ditch work on the Two Mile Hill, which had not been included in the original design, cost $1,700. Can the Minister tell us if that also includes the extensive work that was also done on the drainage redesign/reconstruction work on the Two Mile Hill, which included the replacement of manholes and culverts, as well? This work was going on at the same time last summer. Does that $1,700 incorporate all of that reworking?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will have to check on it, but I do not think it does.
Question re: Skagway Road, user charges by Alaska
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Government Leader regarding the Skagway Road. On March 6, I asked a question of the Government Leader about the status of the negotiations with the Alaskan government, because those negotiations have wide-ranging ramifications for industrial transportation users who want to use the road. On March 6, the Government Leader replied that he hoped that negotiations would be at such a stage that, when the Minister of Community and Transportation Services goes to Juneau at the end of March, there would be a document available for signing. Can he tell us today what the status of the discussions and negotiations are, and will there be a document ready for signing?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There will be a document, which we hope will be signed by both parties when the Minister goes to Juneau.
Mr. Harding: I am pleased to hear that. It now begs the question about the content of the agreement. Could the Government Leader please tell us about what the principles of the agreement are, and could he also tell us what the impact of industrial user fees will be in terms of the request from the Alaska government on that issue, because it has an impact on the cost to Yukoners who want to use the transportation route?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am sure that the Minister will make a full report to the Legislature when he gets back from Juneau.
Mr. Harding: I asked this question on March 6. There are a lot of issues that are of great importance. Is there some particular reason why the Minister cannot stand up today to give Yukoners an inkling about what will be contained in the agreement, if it is already completed, with regard to industrial user fees for people who use that transportation route, because there are a lot of issues that are of concern to Yukoners.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are fully aware of all the issues that are of concern to Yukoners, and we have been dealing with them in an expedient manner. If the Member opposite will just wait for the Minister to get back from Juneau, I am sure he will have some announcements to make. The agreement is not yet signed.
Question re: Employment survey
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Government Leader. It has been brought to my attention that Yukoners are being subjected to yet another intrusive survey, not just by telephone, but by interviewers presenting themselves on Yukoners' doorsteps. There have been 250 dwellings in the Yukon selected to be surveyed every three months for the next two years, because they are going to measure the statistical changes in the levels of employment and unemployment. They knock on your door, and if you say no, the interviewer calls you back and then gets the supervisor to call you.
I would like to ask the Government Leader why he agreed to this survey.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member who just asked that question is one of the Members who wants explicit information. She wants information on everything. If the government is going to gather this information, then it has to do surveys.
Mrs. Firth: This activity makes people feel uncomfortable in their own homes. That is not even intimidation any more; it is harassment.
I want to know the Government Leader's opinion on this. Does he think that people should have the right to say "no", and when they have said "no" three times, does he agree that the interviewer should go away and leave them alone?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Certainly people have the right to say "no", but we have not received one complaint, except from the Member opposite.
Mrs. Firth: I have asked other constituents what they would do if they were called or if an interviewer presented themselves on their doorstep. They have told me that they would not answer the questions because people had no right to come to their door asking them those kinds of questions.
I ask the Government Leader: does he agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Any person has a right not to answer questions or give information if they so choose. I would say that I believe the Member here is trying to make an issue where there is not one.
Question re: Employment survey
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up with the same Minister, the Government Leader, about the same question.
There are many ways to collect unemployment insurance statistics. Businesses are surveyed; people file income tax forms; unemployment insurance cheques are paid out; we have social assistance records. We do not need people going to Yukoners' doors, phoning them back three times, and then getting the supervisor to phone them back and ask them why they will not answer the questions.
I would like to ask the Government Leader why he agreed to do this. Why does he need this information?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would be the last one in this House to take what the Member opposite says at face value. She likes to dramatize everything.
Governments have to collect information. If people do not want to provide the information, they do not have to answer questions.
Mrs. Firth: That is fine for the Minister to say. He was not the person who was harassed, phoned three times by an interviewer and then called by the supervisor.
The questions that are being asked included, "Did you work last week?" - not whether it was volunteer work or if the person is a homemaker, just "How many hours did you work?" It has nothing to do with the problems of unemployment. I fail to see the relevance of it.
I would like to ask the Government Leader, since he is so hot to trot about this survey, if he could explain the relevance of it to us and for what he is going to use the information?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The statisticians in the Bureau of Statistics have valid reasons for asking those questions. If the Member opposite wishes, I can arrange a briefing for her, so that she will be informed about why they need that information.
Mrs. Firth: This guy is making a decision to spend thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money to have people knocking on Yukoners' doors, asking them whether or not they worked last week. Where is the logic in that, if he cannot stand here this afternoon and tell us why he needs the information, what relevance it has or what he is going to do with it.
It is typical. The politicians say, "We have less unemployed than you." That is all I have ever seen him use these statistics for. These statistics are not even going to give him that information.
I would like to ask the Government Leader what the justification is for this expenditure? How can he justify it when he does not even know anything about it?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is the Member opposite who does not know anything about it.
Question re: Government employee downsizing
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, in preparation for the Public Service Commission budget debate, which we hope will begin next week.
On a number of occasions, the Government Leader was asked how he was downsizing government, and how the attrition operation is working. He replied there is no set goal, but that every time someone leaves, that position is reviewed to determine if it needs to be filled - "If it does need to be filled, we fill it; if it does not, it is eliminated." This was stated on March 21.
Will the Minister indicate how he, as the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, goes about indicating to deputy and department heads how positions will be eliminated? Does the decision come from Cabinet, from deputy heads or from department heads? Who makes the decision?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The department heads look at their programs to see how they can be delivered more effectively and efficiently. They make those decisions.
Mr. Cable: Is there any involvement of the Minister's Public Service Commission? Are there any written instructions to department and deputy heads?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member on that. I have not seen a written document directed to department heads. They meet at various times and are asked to consider the overall government policy to downsize government. They are to look at their programs to streamline them and make them more efficient.
Mr. Cable: It would be useful to find out how government policy is transmitted - whether it is whispered in the back rooms or is something in writing that we can look at.
There are a couple of other areas in which questions have been asked of the Minister and his colleague, the Government Leader - a written question, filed last week, relating to a seasonal adjustment of the figures given by the Minister on attrition rates. A question was put to the Government Leader on the merit increases given to the public service in all departments. There was a commitment to make returns on both those subjects.
Would the Minister review those commitments and ensure the information is received by the House before the Public Service Commission budget debate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I am trying to do that. However, I should tell the Member that the type of information he is requesting is very labour intensive to compile. At this time there are several people working on compiling this information, I hope, before we come to the budget debate.
Question re: Historic Resources Act amendments
Mr. McDonald: It has been pointed out to me that the provisions in the Historic Resources Act are common throughout Canada. In fact, the provisions dealing with the designation and the protection of buildings was lifted from the Alberta legislation.
Could the Minister tell us how the provisions of the existing act that limit private property owner rights to substantially alter a significant historic site differ in nature from the powers of a municipality - ones that they now have to regulate private property ownership for the good of the whole community?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The way that the new act is drafted, I see expropriation as the last resort. What will happen is that individuals whose property is going to be designated as a historic site will work with the Yukon government and there will be an agreement reached. I do not see this as being a real problem; however, there may be some isolated cases where an agreement cannot be reached and the government has to consider whether or not the historic resource is worth protecting. That is when a decision will have to be made.
Mr. McDonald: I thank the Minister for his answer and there will come a time when I will actually ask the question that he answered, but I did not ask that question.
I am asking the Minister the question again, and I will make it clear. It is about muncipalities. Right now municipalities have the power to zone property. They control the use of private property and control how the owner of the private property will develop buildings. How does that power to control property differ from the powers that exist in the current Historic Resources Act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will give the Member an example of where the government may see a problem. I will use the Caribou Hotel in Carcross.
Let us say that there were some individuals who purchased that hotel for somewhere in the neighbourhood of a third of a million dollars, and after the purchase has been made the government designated the building as a historic site. If someone knew that the purchasers were planning to tear the hotel down and rebuild a replica of it to accommodate more people, the purchasers would be unable to tear it down. They would then be stuck with a hotel that they purchased with an certain objective in mind and would be unable to recover their money, or make any money in the business that they purchased.
This legislation is intended to protect such individuals. It allows the government to come to an agreement with those individuals about whether or not the site was to be designated as a historic site. If the government decided the site was going to be designated as a historic site and protected, then the government would come to an agreement with the purchasers and fairly compensate those individuals who paid fair market value for the hotel, with plans to enlarge or rebuild it in the future, but are unable to due to the heritage designation.
Mr. McDonald: The primary purpose of the Historic Resources Act is to protect historic sites for the public. That is also the primary purpose of similar legislation in every other single jurisdiction in this country, with similar provisions to the act that is currently on the books in this territory before amendment.
Both the current law and the amendments the Minister proposes have a process of consultation and negotiation that should be employed before any last resorts be exacted. Why would the government want to use expropriation laws as the last resort, rather than laws that are similar to zoning in a municipality, which would ultimately have the effect of bringing into the public domain lots of public buildings, lots of expense, and lots of new responsibilities that do not need to be the responsibility of the government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The primary purpose of the change to the act is to protect private property ownership. I am concerned that that particular clause - that we protect private property ownership - be in included and that at the same time we appreciate the value of our historic resources.
Under the previous act - which was drafted by the previous government - if it was a second dwelling, the government could designate that property without the owner's permission. We are saying that the government has to consult with that owner and work something out.
If the Member has other suggestions about how to accommodate that, I would be willing to listen to them. My concern is that we are trying to do two things here: protect historic sites, and protect the right of people who own property to make a decision about what happens to the value of that property. That is what we are trying to do.
Question re: Historic Resources Act amendments
Mr. McDonald: Existing zoning rules in municipalities have an interest to protect, as well. There is a balancing act between protecting the community interest and protecting the private interest - the owner of the property. Those zoning laws limit the activity that a private property owner can do on their own land. Therefore, the principle has been established that that can happen for the community good. So, why is it that, under the Heritage Act, which proposes to do essentially the same thing to protect public buildings, it is seemingly so onerous that the government is planning to substitute the provisions of that act, which are quite common, with provisions for expropriation, the ultimate result being more property in the hands of the government, more responsibility for the government and more cost to the taxpayer. What is the point?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is a bit different from commercial zoning. Let us go back to the Carcross example again. If that had been zoned commercial, for a hotel that is one thing. However, if, all of a sudden, the individual, who bought it to tear it down and rebuild, found out that it was designated an historic site and could do nothing with the building because of that designation, that person may be in serious financial trouble. Probably the person who bought it would not live in it, so it would be a second piece of property. It could then be designated as a historic site, which would change the value. All I am saying is that what we want to do is to protect these historic resources, but at the same time not run roughshod over people's private property rights. That is what we want to make sure we do here. If the Member has some suggestions to accommodate that, when we get into debate of the bill, I would certainly entertain them.
Mr. McDonald: I think the point is that a person's private rights are not protected because the government is going to move to expropriation, and we do not end up protecting the heritage resource or the historic site or the historic building, either. The existing act does not say that, all of a sudden, buildings are going to be designated - that, all of a sudden, right out of the blue, without anyone's consultation, and without advance notice, suddenly these buildings are going to be designated as historic sites and we will essentially have some zoning restrictions put on them, so that certain things cannot be done to the building that could be done to other buildings. The reason for that is because they are a significant public resource. I do not understand the government's intention, because I do believe that the existing act solves the problems that the Minister has proposed. Why is the government approaching the problem this way? Who, in the public - I am still canvassing, but have not found anyone yet - has asked for this particular change?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is probably where the debate will end up - that there is a fundamental difference in opinion about private property rights. This side believes that, if one owns a piece of property, and if government wants to change its value or change its designation in any way, it should at least discuss the issue with the owner and the two parties should come to some agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the government should not be able to just designate a property to be historic and have the person lose whatever he or she has put into the property.
We are saying that, if it comes to that, the person should be fairly compensated at fair market value or for what they paid for the property, so that they are not left out in left field. The Carcross Hotel is a good example. If the individuals had purchased the hotel and had applied for a building permit, and if people became aware that they were going to possibly demolish the hotel and build a new hotel with a facade like the old hotel, somebody would probably have alerted the Heritage Resources Board or others and people would have moved in, designated it as a historic site, placed a stop-work order on it, as permitted by the act, and the persons may have been out all the money they paid for the hotel, because now they would not be able to sell the hotel to anyone unless it was going to be kept as a historic site.
Maybe an agreement can be reached to do that, and that is what we hope will happen; but if an agreement cannot be reached, surely to goodness the Member opposite would think that the person should be fairly compensated for something they did not know was going to happen in the first place.
Mr. McDonald: The crux of the matter is that both the existing law and the amended law would involve discussion and negotiation with property owners. That is not in dispute.
The question is this: if an agreement cannot be reached, what is the result? The Minister is saying that he is protecting the notion of property rights by fundamentally offending property rights and pursuing expropriation. At the same time, the situation, as it exists for governments right across this country, in every jurisdiction, is that they provide some direction for the care and protection of buildings. The Carcross Hotel, for example, may well be a significant public resource that we do not want to see torn down, levelled, and a replica built. That is the purpose of the law.
Is there anyone in the public who has asked for this particular bill, or these particular changes, or is it only the Minister - the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes - who wants this particular bill and is forcing it on the Cabinet? I think that the most legitimate expression of public view has been the one expressed by people and organizations across this territory for the last 10 years. It ended with the Historic Resources Act that we passed in this Legislature a few years ago.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have already answered the question; however, it is interesting that the Member opposite wants to bootleg Committee of the Whole questions into Question Period. He must be void of questions as we near the end of session.
The Carcross Hotel was a good example of what could happen. I am likely convinced that that is a resource that we would want to protect forever. My point is that the people who bought it and wanted to change it did not know that when they purchased it.
There is a fundamental difference. The Member says that their bill covers it; however, under their bill, if they could not reach an agreement on the designation of the property, the government could go ahead and designate it anyway, and change the value of the property for the individual. The individual would be up the creek. We want to protect that person.
If the Member wants to know who asked us to protect that person, it was every home owner and property owner in the Yukon. They are all concerned about private property rights. They want to make sure that the government cannot come in and scoop it away without at least consulting with them or having the onus to work with the owners and fairly compensate them, if the government does want to designate the property.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Motion No. 46, standing in the name of Ms. Moorcroft.
Motion No. 46
Speaker: It is moved
THAT this House, in response to the A Cappella report, believes:
(1) That adults have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for young women in the Yukon;
(2) That the Yukon education system should offer an ongoing program to ensure all students have a common understanding of harassment and unacceptable behaviour;
(3) That gender equality principles should be a part of core curriculum;
(4) That all junior high and high schools in the Yukon should offer course material on teen problems; and
(5) That some classes should be split by sex.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am pleased to present this motion and to speak to it today.
The A Cappella North report gives a voice to women who might otherwise not be heard. Some of the Members may ask themselves, "But why should I read this; I am not a woman." Well, that is right, but your mother, your sister, your daughter and your wife are women. The A Cappella report gives a voice to women who might otherwise not be heard, and a voice to girls and women who are not often heard in the House.
I am very pleased that for one afternoon we are going to hear what girls and women have to say about their lives, and say things that they say every day. I think that the Members opposite should read this survey of teenage girls in the Yukon as if every one of those girls was their daughter.
All of us - men and women - are a product of our society. The society that we live in is not friendly to women. Men have been socialized to be dominant and hold positions of power; women are socialized to be subordinate. We need to move away from those traditional views of gender roles. I was reading an article in the Whitehorse Star last night about the Klein experiment in Alberta, and they are saying that teaching, nursing and caring for the elderly are women's work that should be done in the home. I think that the A Cappella report shows us what problems this narrow stereotyping leads to.
There has been study after study, and I selected, at random, a few of them that have come into my office over the years. The first report of the subcommittee on the Status of Women that was done in 1991 was called The War Against Women.
Over a five-month period, the subcommittee heard and received written submissions. The first section defines violence against women and its incidence in Canadian society. The next section discusses something that is very important, and that is the relationship between the inequality of women in this society and our vulnerability to victimization. The third section of the report describes the human economic cost of violence against women. The report also sets out findings and 22 recommendations on areas where reform is needed.
There is another study, a report of the British Columbia task force on family violence called "Is Anyone Listening?" Well, that is a really good question. I believe that it is a good thing that the A Cappella North report has been printed. The A Cappella report is only the latest report; we now must insist on a response.
This motion, make no mistake about it, is talking about social change. In order to change attitudes, we have to approach the problem with understanding and with respect. I have to say that, in putting forward this motion, I am not hostile toward men, and I hope men will not be defensive toward women. When I put in the motion that adults have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for young women in the Yukon, I used the word "adults" because I think it is really important to recognize that the community must take ownership. It is not just schools that need to change.
Parents, teachers, legislators, the legal system, school councils: we all have a responsibility to be sure our children are safe.
When I say we have to provide a safe learning environment, I mean one that is harassment-free and non-violent. We need that environment in our schools, as well as in all of society.
To bring home the point about being sure our children are safe, I would like to quote something from the report. "Junior high girls find themselves in a position where they could be raped by a male acquaintance and feel it is embarrassing, that it reflects on their inability to assert themselves and communicate their intentions clearly." In talking about date rape, one young woman says, "You feel so low about what happened, and you probably think that it was your fault."
Both the fact and the fear of violence prevents those who are the targets of others' violence from achieving their potential and participating fully and freely in all aspects of Yukon life. Those most at risk for repeated and systematic violation are women and children. Violence and the threat of violence serves to maintain and enforce the disadvantage of these groups.
Societal responses to violence should help to create safety, prevent further harm, enable victims to regain and exert control over their own lives and hold the offender fully accountable for the violence.
The Yukon education system should offer an ongoing program to ensure that all students have a common understanding of harassment and unacceptable behavior.
What is sexual harassment? It can include verbal abuse, unwelcome remarks, jokes and innuendoes about people's body or attire; displaying of pornographic pictures; practical jokes that case awkwardness or embarrassment; unwelcome invitations or requests; leering; unnecessary physical contact such as touching, patting or pinching and physical assault.
There has been a lot of recent material published by colleges, unions, human rights commissions and parliamentary task forces that discusses dealing with harassment. This material states that if you are the victim, do not ignore it, because your attitude may be interpreted as compliance. If you do not take steps to protect yourself the harassment could get worse. Clearly communicate that you object to the offending behaviour.
That is really good advice, but the fact is that girls do not often know how to deal with harassment when they encounter it.
In the report they acknowledge that they are extremely unsure about how to deal effectively with this harassment. One grade 10 girl said, "It is really bad. They whistle as you walk by or they try and give you their phone number or try and get yours or whatever." Girls report having a teacher say to them that, "Just because you are growing hair in new places and you are wearing bra and you started to get your period does not mean you an adult." We can recommend that a victim challenge that harassing behaviour, but it takes a lot of courage for a 12- or 13-year-old girl to challenge an adult in a position of responsibility.
It takes the same amount of courage for an adult woman to challenge an adult man when these circumstances occur. What I think is needed, and what I have put on the Order Paper here, is that there is a need for education and understanding of the issue of harassment. There needs to be a good harassment policy in place, with clear consequences, so that everyone knows what will happen and that there will be a penalty for this kind of behaviour when it occurs.
I have spoken to a lot of people about this. What I have heard is that a good harassment policy has to be implemented throughout the system. It needs to be understood and communicated to students, teachers, custodians, administrators and school councils.
We have to recognize that this is a problem. I think it is fair to say that, sooner or later, every woman will have to deal with harassment. It is only fair then that, when young women are being called a "bitch" in the hallways of the schools, they know that they can report that and have it stopped.
There have been successful educational campaigns about participaction - be healthy and exercise. There has been an extensive campaign recently about drinking and driving - do not do it. Those campaigns have had an impact. We now need a successful campaign to stop harassment in our school system. I would hope that that would cause it to be extended to stopping harassment in our workplaces, in our justice system and in other parts of society.
I know that there have been attempts to help solve this problem. Theatre groups have gone into junior high schools and have presented skits to educate girls about being taunted and grabbed. I know, too, that boys have been harassed and that teachers have been harassed. That is also unacceptable and has to be dealt with by a clear policy and in developing an understanding of harassment and unacceptable behaviour for youths in the school system.
We must ensure that the principles of the Yukon Human Rights Act are given full force in Yukon society. The Yukon Human Rights Act prohibits harassment and sexual harassment, and we can use those community resources in our schools and classrooms.
Gender equality principles should be a part of core curriculum. That is one part of the 1990 Education Act and it is a principle I firmly endorse. I am looking, as well, for a clear statement from the government on its support of gender equality principles. Gender equality principles need to be implemented throughout our system.
How can the government demonstrate real support for gender equality? It can look at who the decision makers are. There are predominantly women teachers at the elementary level, but that is slowly changing - there are more male teachers in the elementary school system. A seven year old I know said to his mother the other day, "You know, it's funny. All the teachers are women and all the principals are men." I checked those figures in the Yukon school system, because certainly in at least one elementary school all the teachers are women, or so it appears to the seven year old - certainly, most of the teachers are women - and all of the principals are men. The fact is that there are twice as many men as women in school administration in the Yukon.
We have to respect and promote women teachers, as well as men teachers.
Gender equality principles as a part of the core curriculum are long overdue. It is the only way to really instill what equality is about. In order to combat the negative influences of society's gender stereotypes, children need to be taught this in school, starting at an early age.
Gender equality principles, even though they are in the Education Act, are not formally a part of the core curriculum. I know teachers who discuss topics such as International Women's Day, same-sex relationships and racism in their classrooms, and to some extent this approach has to be covert because it is not part of the core curriculum.
The Yukon Teachers Association offers workshops every year. Both men and women teachers take these workshops to improve their understanding of gender relations and to help promote gender equality in the classroom.
There is a Yukon equity project in place, with community members and government participation, to help raise awareness and develop skills to challenge sexism, racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination. This project needs to be supported by all of us. We need to encourage people to contact the Global Education office on Second Avenue, so they can sign up for the workshops and participate in working with young students on a fall retreat that will focus on gender equity.
Another way that gender equality principles are part of the curriculum now is with the Innovators program, which gets women into schools and classrooms. Women engineers, biologists, geologists and carpenters have gone into the classroom to provide a role model for young girls, so they are aware that they can go into all kinds of careers.
When I was talking about this with some women friends last night, one tradeswoman made the point that, as a carpenter, there is not much progress made in the workplace when women in trades are still harassed on the job. It is no wonder that girls are not confident enough to realize their capabilities.
Again, I would point out, from the A Cappella report, that girls' self-confidence is extremely vulnerable to criticism, teasing and disapproval from their peers. Male ridicule affects their self-esteem and body image. We need to start somewhere to recognize girls' talents and to develop a public awareness of the problems that girls face.
I have suggested that junior high and high schools in the Yukon should offer course material on teen problems. I am not talking necessarily just about homework and parents when I speak of teen problems.
I turn again to the A Cappella North report. Many of the young women say that at some point they have experienced gender-based discrimination within their homes, the community, the school system and at work. Gender inequity in schools was raised during several discussions. Many teens do not receive equitable treatment from teachers in physical education class. One girl says, "In gym, our teacher always chooses boys to be captains."
Many participants have faced ridicule from male classmates during physical education because of their perceived lack of athletic ability: "Last year we played games, like kick-ball and I could not kick. I am no good at sports. Everybody would say, "Geez, why did you put her up? She can't play."
That is one problem that we have to deal with.
Another problem that we have to deal with is the very repressive attitude that many adults have toward sexuality. I believe that we should be encouraging healthy sexuality. We have to communicate to children and teenagers that sexuality is a normal and healthy part of life. We need to talk about relationships, and that, in a relationship, it is important to care for one another. We need to recognize that both heterosexual and lesbian and gay relationships are healthy.
Another teen problem to do with sexuality is the availability of condoms - not cheap ones that burst; not the kind that are often distributed for free, but are not reliable. Here is what one girl said: "Condoms available to students in the counsellor's office at F.H. Collins are never used. Embarrassment and fears of sabotage are the primary reasons for this. I would never use one. It is Russian roulette with those things. People come in and prick them with pins."
Participants of all ages in A Cappella cited fear of pregnancy, AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases as modern concerns. Pregnancy, in particular, is singled out as a concern of girls. Some girls express resentment toward boys for their ability to exercise an option that girls are denied. Boys can renounce any responsibility for pregnancy. If we teach our youth about healthy sexuality, then we can change some of those attitudes.
Another problem that needs to be addressed is the legal system. One of the many surveys that has been done is a survey of Yukon women - Multiple Roles, Multiple Voices. That points out that there is a double victimization of girls and women in the justice system. There was a case in the Yukon where a teenaged girl had her breast grabbed in the playground at school, and the judge determined that it was fair play.
I was in a Yukon courtroom some time ago and I heard a judge insist that a woman hold up her underpants and face cross-examination from an attorney about whether or not they were torn. The point being made was "Well, your underpants are not torn, I guess you were not raped then."
I would like to quote what some Yukon women said about the legal system. "It is really dehumanizing. You lay a charge and if the guy says he is not guilty, he is given an opportunity at the preliminary trial where he can just sit and watch you and he does not have to testify. It is just you, the victim. It seems like the system is set up to protect the criminal. When you are going through the legal system, they make you feel like you were the cause of it. They always believe the person who commits the crime."
In another case: "An offender assaulted my daughter, had assaulted a neighbour's daughter and this offender got a total of three months, and the first case was thrown out of court."
So, what happens when these little victims stand up and say, "I have been violated and I do not want this to happen any more," and the justice system continues to victimize them? Where does that leave us? It leads to little girls not wanting to say anything, because they do not want to be humiliated once again.
Another Yukon woman says that there should be more women judges.
I hope, in speaking to this motion, that the Minister of Justice will address this issue and talk about the need for accountability, the need to educate judges and the need to stop the embarrassment that is caused when I stand up and read these quotes about what Yukon women say about what happens to them in our courtrooms.
I want to see the embarrassment and humiliation that women face in courtrooms in the Yukon, every day, stopped. Some of these women are very young. I could stand here for hours and read quotes from A Cappella about the problems that young girls face today. I hope that this government is going to be expressing its support of ways to address that.
The motion reads, as well, that some classes should be split by sex. I would like to read what girls say about that: "Some girls feel that they do better when they have all-girl classes. Some girls feel that they would do better if they did have all-girl classes. The issue of single-sex classrooms was raised during several discussions. Groups at one junior high have been in single-sex gym classes for over a year. They say that the atmosphere is more supportive and that their participation has increased due to their new-found confidence." I think that if it gives girls confidence, it is worth doing.
I would like to state some of the definitions of violence. When we are talking about harassment and unacceptable behaviour and violence, gender issues, school climate, substance abuse and sexuality - the issues that were discussed in the A Cappella report - we are talking about violence. We need to look at the definitions that I think should be part of educating our young people.
This is a definition from a survey of Yukon women: "Sexism is the systemic oppression of women and the perpetration of violence against women because of their gender. Racism is the systemic oppression and violence against groups of people, identified by the colour of their skin, their culture, nationality, ethnic and/or religious beliefs."
Homophobia is defined as the irrational fear and hatred of lesbians and gay men. Sexual assault is any sexual act forced on a person against their will. It includes rape. It also includes being forced into humiliating, degrading sexual activity. It includes unwanted fondling and sexual touching.
I have spoken to 12- and 13-year-old girls who have described the harassment that they have experienced in our school system. I can state that girls and women do not feel comfortable talking about harassment and violence in front of the boys and men who commit that violence. I believe we need to discuss the issues of gender equality and of violence separately. We also need to talk about them with boys and girls together. What I think is most imperative is that there are consequences for offending behaviour.
I was really proud of some of the girls who came to me with their complaint, because they had gotten together and had come up with what they thought was a solution. They wanted to have the boy who was calling them a "dog", and a "slut", and a "bitch", apologize in front of them. They wanted to have the opportunity to explain how terrible that made them feel.
I talked to my son about that incident. He thought it would be just humiliating to have to apologize in front of the girls who had been offended, if he had been a boy who had called girls those names. However, when we talked about it, he could also recognize that that would be a pretty effective deterrent for future action of that sort.
Parents who have read A Cappella North have phoned me. They are scared. Their daughters are going into junior high school next year and they do not want them in the system. Parents have phoned me and suggested that there should be an option of a girls-only stream in junior high school.
I put forward the motion that we, as adults, and that we, as legislators, have a responsibility to ensure there will be a safe, harassment-free learning environment for young women in the Yukon. I believe strongly in a good public education system. I am not suggesting or advocating a gender-segregated school system. I believe everyone should have access to a safe public school system, but I also believe that we must create a safe and positive harassment-free environment for girls.
There is a lot of material out there. There is lots of information. There is a national listing of violence prevention materials in the schools to which I know the Yukon Women's Directorate and school system has access, and I would like to urge that we use those materials. I would like to urge that we support girls and women.
We have no alternative but to work toward permanent, effective solutions. The security of a person is a fundamental human right that is denied to too many girls and women in our society. The fact that girls and women are the targets for men's violence is a tragic reflection of the unequal social and economic status of women in relation to men.
I hope the government is going to support this motion and that the Ministers who do speak will tell us how they are going to bring a violence-free, safe learning environment for all young women in the Yukon so that if an A Cappella North report is done in 10 years' time the findings will be very different.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I rise today as the Minister responsible for the Status of Women to respond to Motion No. 46. I am pleased to speak to this motion, which addresses concerns raised by young women in the A Cappella North report.
In general terms, I definitely support the overall intent of the motion, which is to improve the quality of young women's lives in the Yukon. I have some difficulty with the wording used, which implies somewhat that nothing has been done or is being done to address the concerns raised by the young women in the report.
I would like to go through the motion, point by point, and I will make some suggestions of possible wording changes.
As a general statement, what I see missing in this motion is the acknowledgment of the fact that many government and non-government groups, organizations and individuals have been working on many of the issues raised by young women in the report for some time. By implying that nothing has been done, the Member for Mount Lorne is being somewhat unfair to the staff of the Women's Directorate, Education, Health and Social Services, Justice, teachers, the Yukon Teachers Association, the Association for School Health-Yukon and many other individuals and groups that have recognized gender inequities in the school system and in society and have been working very hard over the past months and years on these issues.
The implication that nothing has been done negates the many initiatives that have been, and continue to be, undertaken in working toward a more equitable and safer learning environment for young women. Our government has been moving in this direction for two years and has been very supportive of the community efforts, as well as individual department efforts in this regard.
I would now like to go through the motion, point by point. I have major reservations about only one of the five points, and I will discuss that when I get to it.
With regard to the first point, I strongly agree and support the belief that adults have the responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for young women in the Yukon. However, I would suggest that the word "all" is added before the word "adults" and secondly, that the words "and inclusive" are added after safe. The sentence would then read, "That all adults have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for young women in Yukon." I do not believe the Member opposite should have a problem with that wording.
I cannot stress enough my belief that - I am speaking not only as the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, but as an individual and as a member of the Yukon community - we must take responsibility. To ensure that young women are able to fully participate in our society, we must provide a learning atmosphere that is both safe and inclusive and that values the contributions made by women in the past and of those women in our society today.
When we talk about learning, we need to look at the broader issue of gender socialization. This does not necessarily begin at school; although it is certainly reinforced at school, it really begins at home.
Children's training about gender roles begins at birth and is intensified through childhood and adolescence. Helping parents understand how language and role modeling influences children's ideas about who they are and what they can do is a very important step in ensuring that children are developing healthy attitudes and behaviours.
Parent's attitudes about ethnicity, economic status, ableness and sexual orientation also contribute to the learning process. Most recently, as a part of a release of the A Capella North report, a team of representatives from the Women's Directorate, the Yukon Teachers Association and the Department of Education have been making presentations to groups and organizations about issues raised in the report.
As an overview of the issue of gender socialization, they have been showing the newly released video entitled Raising Young Voices. The response to this video from the groups that have viewed it to date has been excellent.
Raising Young Voices is part of an educational resource kit about gender socialization that includes discussion guides for parents, teachers, principals and administrators. The kit was made possible as a result of a federal, provincial and territorial working group that consisted of ministers responsible for the status of women.
I would like to point out that ministers responsible for the status of women across the country have been working on the issue of gender equality for several years. I know that the previous Minister responsible for the Women's Directorate attended many of those meetings.
Although the video is the newest production of ministers responsible for the federal, provincial, territorial working group, this is only one of the products this group has developed. To date, presentations on gender socialization were made to the following groups: the Yukon chapter of the Association of School Health, two representatives of the Yukon Indian Women's Association, Dene Nets' edet'an, the Council for Yukon Indians, the First Nations Education Commission, the Yukon Advisory Council on Women's Issues, the Yukon School Administrators Association, and the staff of Riverdale Junior Secondary, Porter Creek Junior Secondary and F.H. Collins. As well, it is my understanding that a presentation was also made available to the Members opposite.
Over the next two weeks, presentations will be made to school councils at Porter Creek Junior Secondary and F.H. Collins. From these presentations, a ripple effect is already happening, as many of the members of these organizations have links or connections with other groups and organizations. For example, two of the public nurses who attend the Association for School Health-Yukon meetings have requested a video to use in presentations they do in schools and at the Whitehorse Health Centre. Another request has come from one of the women involved in the Nobody's Perfect parenting course. She plans to use the first few minutes of the video as a topic of discussion with parents of infants. The video opens with a sequence that shows how parents unintentionally speak differently to babies, depending upon the babies being girls or boys.
The Women's Directorate will be dubbing this video and reprinting the discussion guides to ensure that it is available to all community groups and organizations that wish to access it.
By school age, children have already absorbed a great deal of information about gender roles from language, expectations and the role modeling of family members, peers and the media. They already know how they are expected to behave. Young boys equate masculinity with aggressive behaviour. Young girls equate feminine behaviour with passive, accommodating behaviour. We see this in the playgrounds and in the hallways of our schools. The schools really become the microcosm of society at large.
This brings me to the second point, that the Yukon education system should offer an ongoing program to ensure that all students have a common understanding of harassment and unacceptable behaviour. I agree with this point, but I would like to amend it to read, "That the Yukon education system should continue to offer ongoing programs to ensure that all students have a common understanding of harassment and unacceptable behaviour."
The importance of ensuring that Yukon schools are a safe haven for Yukon students cannot be overemphasized. In the A Cappella North report, young women talked about their concerns about violence against women, sexual harassment, dating violence, and sexual assault. The issue of violence against women and children has been, and continues to be, one of grave concern to our government. The point I would like to make here is that we have not waited until the release of the report to be working on the issue of violence against young women.
I would like to point out that, while the tapes and transcripts of the A Cappella North focus group discussions were being reviewed by the Women's Directorate and the Department of Education, strategies were developed and initiatives were undertaken to address the serious issues raised by the young women.
Over the past two years, many schools have taken the initiative and are developing prevention, intervention and response programs to address violence. Let me give you one example.
Last year, Porter Creek Junior Secondary initiated a violence prevention week. It involved the participation of students, teachers, administrators and parents, as well as the local resource people working in the field. The school also established a meaningful alternative to suspension, the meaningful alternative to suspensions program, MASP, which provides an in-school suspension program for youth who have been apprehended in unacceptable behaviour. The MAS program includes some work on conflict resolution and coaching. If the student's unacceptable behaviour involved violence, the student is required to attend a half-day, Saturday morning session on violence prevention, conducted by the guidance counsellor.
In addition, Porter Creek Junior Secondary has begun working on the conflict resolution, through the use of healing circles. This is being done in conjunction with the youth achievement centre and Health and Social Services, which provides a staff member, as the keeper of the circle, to work with the school.
One example is some of the innovative approaches being taken by one Whitehorse school to address the issue of violence. Many schools have incorporated Project Self-Esteem into their programming and have begun doing extensive work to alleviate the power and control issues.
I think it is extremely important to recognize that each school may approach the problem differently, but both the Department of Education and the Yukon Teachers Association are stressing violence prevention over the coming year. The multi-year public awareness strategy on violence prevention, which has been carried out by the Women's Directorate for several years, has expanded over the last two years to include a major focus on youth.
Some of the school-based programming we have offered over the last few years include the following: workshops on healthy relationships and dating violence for grades 7, 8 and 9; healing and talking circles, in conjunction with First Nations healing conferences; self-defence for young women, taught by women who have black belts in karate; goal-setting and life-planning was held at F.H. Collins at the Teen Parent Centre as part of the family management program; personal empowerment and increased self-esteem for young children; communications workshops for F.H. Collins, as part of the family management program at the Teen Parent Centre; and participatory theatre, which encourages youth to intervene through role playing when they see oppression and/or violent behaviour happening.
Riverdale Junior Secondary was the school that piloted many of these workshops. It has since incorporated a number of them into its regular programming. School-based workshops will continue to play an important role in helping to shape attitudes, remove barriers and create a safer and more inclusive environment in Yukon schools.
I think that it is very important, in any motion that we pass of this nature, that we recognize that some of these programs are already underway, and recognize the very hard work done by the individuals who are carrying out the programs.
I believe the Member for Mount Lorne has spoken about the value of using live theatre as a way of working with youth on issues such as violence. Over the past two years, the Women's Directorate, Justice, Education, the RCMP, the Yukon arts branch, the Yukon Arts Council and the Yukon Status of Women Council have all provided funding to groups such as the Act Out Theatre to produce plays for youth, written and performed by youth and which toured the territory last year.
Act Out Theatre had dealt with issues such as suicide, AIDS, violence against women and gender equality. This year, the group will again tour the territory with a new play that deals specifically with the issue of violence. Yukon Educational Theatre has also developed and done school-based workshops sponsored by the Women's Directorate.
For Sexual Assault Prevention Month in May, Asmuith Theatre will again come to the Yukon. It was very well received several years ago at the RCMP justice conference, Integration '93.
I would like to say that live theatre is an excellent tool. However, this is just one of the multi-faceted approaches being initiated by this government. My suggestion for the second point of the motion is that it should include an acknowledgement of the efforts being made, as well as the recommendation that this type of programming continue.
The third point speaks to the issue of gender equality principles, and the fourth point addresses the need for course material on teen problems. Once again, I wish to indicate my concurrence with these concepts. Again, however, I would like the motion to indicate that work is being done, and will continue to be done.
That is not to say that we cannot do more, nor that we should not expand what is being done and increase our efforts in this area. However, there should be acknowledgement of the efforts that are already underway.
The example I would like to speak about is the Yukon equity project. An ad hoc committee is working on a project that should have a significant ripple effect on gender equity issues in the education system and the community at large. The ad hoc committee is currently requesting funding from a federal program, supplemented by funding from the Women's Directorate, the Yukon Teachers Association, the Department of Education and other government and non-government groups and organizations.
The project involves a two-day spring training session on gender equity issues, to train approximately 34 facilitators - women and men - who will, in turn, work with youth at a fall retreat. The fall retreat will involve 40 youth - 20 young women and 20 young men. The boys will spend three days with the men while the girls spend three days with the women, talking about the issues. On the fourth day, the groups will meet together to work on the issues they have identified.
This project originated in Ontario, where it has been carried out for approximately five years. It has a powerful ripple effect, as the youth who attend the retreat often go back to their schools and begin equity projects of their own.
As all 34 facilitators will not be needed at the fall retreat for youth, others will be asked to participate in one equity project of their own in the following year. In addition, an evaluation tool will be developed to measure the ripple effect and to determine how many equity projects took place the following year as a result of the spring training and the fall retreat.
Again, this is only one example of work that is being done. In terms of inclusive curriculum, the Women's Directorate and the Department of Education have been working together for the past two years and have developed a number of materials, which include the following: the You Make the Choice booklet, which describes 10 Yukon women in non-traditional roles; Our Land, Too, Women of Canada and the Northwest, 1860-1914, and an accompanying video, A Century of Yukon Women.
Presently, the two departments have begun an audit of curricula materials to check for gender bias and gender inclusion. This project was initiated as a result of a suggestion made by one of the Members opposite.
In addition, the two departments are working on gender equity policy and guidelines for implementation.
Gender bias in exams has been a topic under study in Alberta. A University of Calgary researcher, Matt Christian, has found that female students in Alberta consistently score lower than male students on the grade 12 social studies 30 level exam, which is worth 50 percent of their final mark. Conversely, male students' marks often suffer in comparison with females' marks in the English 30 exams. His research shows that male students consistently do better than female students on multiple-choice exams, where female students do better on essay style open-ended questions.
He is undertaking further research to better understand the problem. It would be interesting to learn the results of the research as it progresses. Surprisingly, however, the Yukon cumulative tests in math and sciences indicate that Yukon girls in grade 12 consistently score better in math and sciences than do the boys.
The final point, and the one that causes me some difficulty, is point 5 of the motion, which reads that some classes should be split by sex. Studies have shown that often young women are intimidated by boys in the classroom. Boys tend to dominate classroom time and teacher attention, and the girls tend to defer academically to boys for fear of looking either too smart or too stupid. Boys shout out answers, while girls are expected to raise their hands. Girls fear being ridiculed if their answers are wrong. These issues speak volumes to gender socialization, and to self-esteem issues. Perhaps the solution is not necessarily to separate boys from girls in the classroom, but to ensure that teachers are sensitive to, and aware of, these gender inequities, and that they are conscientiously working to provide a more equitable climate for learning.
Certainly, when the issue of single-sex classrooms was raised during several of the focus group discussions, young women in the A Capella North report indicated they would prefer physical education and health-related classes to be segregated by gender, particularly at the junior and high school levels. They said that they find the atmosphere more supportive, and that their participation increases due to new-found confidence. When the single-sex idea was carried over to academic classes, however, the responses were mostly negative.
I believe that if we are to be serious about our willingness to hear and act on what the young women in the report had to say, we need to respect their views on this issue as well. It is my understanding that the junior secondary schools segregate physical education classes, and provide a safe and supportive environment for health-related discussions. This also makes good sense to me.
An initiative that was carried out in an inner-city Toronto elementary school was a young women's club. All female staff and all female students, from grades 4 to 8, were invited to join. The club is run as a voluntary extracurricular activity, with meetings held at lunch time and after school. Apparently, some of the older students decided not to join, because they were afraid of peer pressure, and they felt that they would be teased by the boys, and some of the girls, if they participated. This is a sad statement about our society, but one that needs to be taken into consideration if an initiative like this one was to be tried here.
The role of the Young Women's Club is to discuss issues of gender equality and to study the impact of gender on the socialization of adolescent girls. Perhaps a variation of this theme would be to have two clubs running - a young women's club and a young men's club. As young men begin to seriously look at gender equity issues, their attitudes and behaviors will not change.
I would like to point out that last summer the Department of Education, in partnership with Yukon College and the Women's Directorate, began an initiative - girls exploring technology - where girls had the opportunity to work with female role models building go-carts. This program was extremely popular, however the department received complaints from parents that the boys had been excluded. This year, the department plans to run the program again with boys and girls in single-sex programs. The main variation of the theme will be that the boys will also receive their coaching from the female role models. To my mind, this is an excellent way to perhaps change some of the attitudes of the boys about what women can or cannot do.
When we talk about segregating academic classes, it is an issue that I believe cannot be taken lightly. We have been criticized by the side opposite for not consulting enough, and I believe that this is an issue that will require a great deal of consultation before it is acted upon.
I do not recall single-sex classrooms as an issue raised during the Yukon Education Act consultation several years back, nor was it one that surfaced during the recent education review. I would also like to point out that the decisions about the makeup of classes are made by school councils, in consultation with school administrators. These are not decisions made by the Department of Education.
My suggestion on this point of the motion is that it would read "that school councils consider the value of single-sex classes for certain subjects".
Single-sex segregated classes may not be what is needed. Perhaps it is more opportunities for single-sex forums or discussion groups to give youth - boys and girls both - the opportunity to discuss these issues of concern. That might be a more beneficial way of dealing with this problem.
I think that I have covered all of the points that the Member raised and I think that I have made some suggestions that I believe will strengthen the motion, as well as more adequately reflect the intention of all Members of the Legislative Assembly to improve the quality of life for young women in the Yukon.
Before I read the amendment to the motion, I would like to make one clarification in the motion for the Member, and I will be including this in my amendment.
I am sure that the Member is referring to the A Capella North report, which is a survey of teenage girls, not the A Capella report, which was released by the Canadian Teachers Federation in 1991. Technically, we are talking about the A Capella North report and I have included that in my amendment.
In light of the comments I have made I would like to move an amendment to the motion before us, Motion No. 46.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move
THAT Motion No. 46 be amended by deleting all of the words after the word "House" and substituting for them the following: "in response to the A Capella North report, believes:
(1) That all adults have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for young women in the Yukon;
(2) That the Yukon education system should continue to offer ongoing programs to ensure all students have a common understanding of harassment and unacceptable behaviour;
(3) That gender equality principles continue to be addressed and that equity for young women and men be integrated into the core curriculum of Yukon's education system;
(4) That all junior high and high schools in the Yukon should continue to offer course material on teen problems; and
(5) That school councils consider the value of single-sex classes for certain subjects."
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister responsible for the Women's Directorate
THAT Motion No. 46 be amended by deleting all of the words after the word "House" and substituting for them the following: "in response to the A Capella North report, believes:
(1) That all adults have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for young women in the Yukon;
(2) That the Yukon education system should continue to offer ongoing programs to ensure all students have a common understanding of harassment and unacceptable behaviour;
(3) That gender equality principles continue to be addressed and that equity for young women and men be integrated into the core curriculum of Yukon's education system;
(4) That all junior high and high schools in the Yukon should continue to offer course material on teen problems; and
(5) That school councils consider the value of single-sex classes for certain subjects."
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As you can see, the amendment that I have produced today is in keeping with the principle of the initial motion; it just points out that things are happening already. When the Member opposite spoke earlier, she talked about the carpentry courses that were offered last year, and the gender equity courses that have been going on for some time. She has talked several times in the House about the drama groups that have toured the territory on gender equity issues, and she knows that other schools in the territory - Porter Creek Junior Secondary and Riverdale Junior Secondary - have carried out certain programs.
So, this is really in appreciation of the fact that this is not beginning today; it started some time ago. An awful lot of dedicated people have put some hard work into this. I believe that the success of the strategy initiatives currently underway, and the possibility for future action, depends on a variety of partners.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the efforts of my staff, the Women's Directorate, the Departments of Justice, Education and Health and Social Service, and to thank the Yukon Teachers Association and many individual teachers, the Association for School Health-Yukon, the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women, the Yukon Status of Women, the Yukon Indian Women's Association, and the many other individuals and groups that have recognized gender inequities in the school system and in our society and are working with us now - and have been for some time - to develop a safe and equitable learning environment for young women in Yukon schools.
A coordinated and cooperative approach on all levels would do much to promote a positive gender socialization experience for girls and women. A collaborative approach to eliminate barriers and eradicate violence against women would do much to move us toward the goal of a society where gender inequities no longer exist.
The amendment is put forth in a positive and constructive manner, and it is one that all Members of the House could support.
Speaker: The Hon. Member for Mount Lorne, on the amendment.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do not have a great problem with the amendments the Minister has put forward. I would like to say, though, that I challenge the Minister to show me anything in the original motion that implied that nothing has been done. The motion, as I put it forward, was an active motion, a motion calling for the Yukon education system to ensure students understand harassment and unacceptable behaviours, and that gender equality principles should be incorporated into the core curriculum of Yukon schools.
The Minister, in his amended motion, stated that "gender equality principles continue to be addressed and that equity for young women and men be integrated into the core curriculum of the Yukon's education system". The Minister spoke about a number of issues, including violence prevention, self-defence for young women, increased self-esteem and role playing workshops, which are great; I agree. They are good projects to have in the school system, but I did not hear the Minister state that there would be an ongoing program. We have to offer ongoing programs, not just ad hoc courses.
On the amendment that school councils consider the value of single-sex classes for certain subjects, I would just like to respond to the Minister that I stated very clearly in presenting the motion that I am not advocating a segregated school system. I was very clear that I am advocating that girls and boys have separate classrooms for discussions about harassment and violence and sexuality. I am glad that that makes good sense to the Minister. I will support his amendment. I know that there are parents going to school councils to talk about the value of single-sex classes for certain subjects and that that will be an ongoing discussion. I will look forward to that discussion in the community.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will be quite brief. I think that most of the areas have been covered very well by the previous speakers. I did want to say that I am pleased to see this issue brought forward for discussion by the Member for Mount Lorne. Certainly, the A Cappella North report contains a lot of statements and perceptions on the part of the many female students who were interviewed that are disturbing to a great many of us in this House and throughout the Yukon, so i
t is appropriate that there be concern expressed and remedied and that the solutions be debated in the House.
I concur with the amendment, because I think that it is really important to make it clear that we do appreciate the work that is ongoing on the part of many parents, many teachers, the Yukon Teachers Association and other groups and agencies. I am certain that it was not the originator's intention to make light of their efforts in any way, but I think that the amendment is helpful.
I am making it very clear that we do appreciate that work and support it. As well, point number 5 in the amended version addresses the very important role of school councils in decision making in the schools. I think that that, too, is a very friendly amendment, and I am sure all school councils would treat the A Cappella North report with the seriousness that it deserves.
I thank the Member for bringing it forward. I thank the Member for Riverdale North for delivering a very well thought out speech. I support the amendment to the motion and I will support the motion as amended.
Mr. McDonald: I will be brief, because I believe we want to see to it that the motion comes to a vote this afternoon. I am certain that other Members are dedicated to that task as well, and we can all play a part.
First of all, I rise to lend a voice of support to the motion, and to the amendment as well.
The original survey idea for the A Cappella North report came about approximately three years ago, because there was concern that many opinions of northern girls are diluted in the reports of studies about other issues. There was a growing realization that there needed to be an attempt to get the unvarnished sentiments of, particularly, girl children about the problems they face in the school system.
Many adults pay lip service to the need to really explore why people do and say things, and to determine precisely what impact their actions have on their children. We need to know whether or not current socializing activity is truly fair and constructive and how this socializing activity is going on.
I know that the subject, when it is debated in the Legislature from time to time, is uncomfortable for many people to listen to. Oftentimes, men feel uncomfortable.
We may have difficulty in dealing with the subject matter because the rules of openly acceptable behaviour are changing and there is no guide book for those who are not thoughtfully analyzing the effects of their own behaviour.
Some people who do not feel physically threatened do not understand how fear can hobble people. They do not understand that the fear of being raped or beaten can be quite debilitating. It is not just those who physically beat others who have a responsibility to change their behaviour, or change our institutions; it is all of us.
An American writer, Susan Brownmiller, probably 15 or 20 years ago, wrote something that I have always remembered. She wrote that most men are not violent, but many of those who are non-violent use the fact that others are violent to exert subtle control over women. They often take the position in their relationships with women, both in their private and professional lives, that they will take care of women in order to make them feel safe and in order to encourage them to prosper. This obviously promotes a sense of dependency and subservience on the part of those women.
It is not good enough just to be non-violent; we must promote a violence-free environment, particularly in the institutions over which we have some control, so that everyone has the right to thrive without being classified as either the victimizer, the bully, the victim, or those of us who benefit from what Brownmiller might have characterized as the protection racket.
In any case, the education system is one institution over which we have significant control. Changes must be made here because this is the one institution over which we have the most significant influence, and the one institution that probably provides the greatest impact on the attitudes and lives of children.
The Minister responsible for the Women's Directorate read out a very carefully scripted speech. I am sure he did not want to do much of his own writing on the subject. I am not sure if he had much to do with the drafting of his speech. However, it was a carefully crafted speech to indicate to everyone that the government was, in fact, doing something to promote the objectives that are stated in the A Capella North report and in the motion.
As the Member for Mount Lorne has quite correctly pointed out, the motion does not say that nothing is being done. If this motion had come forward three or four years ago, when I was the Minister of Education, I would not have felt that the motion implied criticism of the good work that many people are doing. This is a statement of principles - a statement of an objective - that will obviously be difficult to achieve in the short term, but which must be embraced in the long term.
I will not go on at length about the comments that Members opposite have made. I think we agree in principle, and probably on the particulars of the motion itself. I would want to count myself as one who supports the motion and the amendment.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to thank the Member for Mount Lorne for bringing this very importance motion forward today. I think she has identified a lot of the situations that have occurred over the past decade in regard to our young people. I would also like to thank the Minister for the motion as amended, because it continues to say the same thing as the Member for Mount Lorne.
As I was listening to him speak, I was saying to myself, "she is not saying that; she is not implying that nothing has been done", and whether or not he felt the same way I do not know, because certainly that was not what I was getting from her.
Prior to the A Cappella North report being released, I was told that there were going to be a lot of disturbing things in it and that people would certainly react to the kind of things that were being said by our young girls in the schools, but I think that was an understatement. When the news release came out it said that the young women who participated shared a depth of experience with complex issues, including gender discrimination, rape, substance abuse, violence against women, and sexuality, that put everything right into one sentence. As I read the report, I found that that was exactly what was being said in this disturbing report.
I would like to commend the young girls for responding to the report and making their concerns known, because sometimes young women who have been harassed in some way will not ever say anything.
I have three daughters - most people know that. They all attended school in Whitehorse - junior high school and high school - and I do not ever remember them coming home and talking to me about any of the kinds of things that I saw in this report, but I suspect that it was happening at that time. I now have a granddaughter, for whom I am responsible, who is going to high school, and I have not heard anything from her in regard to some of the things that were being said. It may be that she has heard them but ignored them or was so disgusted that she made no comment about them.
I spoke to a young woman just a few minutes ago who said that she had read the report. I do not know how many years ago she attended high school but she said, "My thought was, when I finished, that things have not changed in the last little while."
The Minister responsible for the status of women proceeded to let us know about the number of initiatives that are now in existence, and he named a number of programs. They are good programs and have been implemented by all people who care about the issue, want to make changes and eliminate harassment toward young girls in our schools. That is something that is positive. However, when one reads a report like this, despite all the programs that are in existence, one wonders how long it will take before people are educated enough and attitudes change to ensure that this harassment does not continue to happen.
I am concerned, as is everyone in this House, about what is happening in our schools. I would like to think that each and every one of us sitting here today has the same commitment to see changes made, and that all departments recognize that we have been trying to change the system for a long time, and that it will take a longer time to change.
The Minister mentioned that this education has to start at home. We all know that some of those attitudes are already in the home and are being brought into the schools or public. Certainly, there is a lot of work that has to be done. I would like to believe that, five years down the road, when an update is done in regard to the A Capella North report, we will see some positive changes. I would really like to believe that will happen with the commitment of all government departments responsible, teachers and parents.
Once again, I would like to thank the Member for Mount Lorne for bringing this motion forward. I urge everyone to speak as briefly as I did, so we may vote on this motion.
Mr. Harding: The amendment that has been proposed will essentially form the body of the motion. I think the amendment that the Minister has put forward, although somewhat different from the original motion, still embodies what we, in the Official Opposition, are trying to say. It also accomplishes the task of raising the profile of the report, ensuring that it remains a live document and not one that is filed on a shelf with so many others.
The motion was not meant to imply that work was not being done within the departments and the Women's Directorate to improve the quality of life of teenage girls in the Yukon and female students in our schools. I think I can say without hesitation that women in our society face some incredibly difficult challenges, regardless of what spectrum of the political arena they come from - left or right. They all face significant challenges.
It has been a real learning experience for me to discuss some of those issues with the Members for Whitehorse Centre and Mount Lorne and, occasionally, I have had some discussions with the Member for Riverdale South, about the challenges that she and others, who are women, face in being looked at as credible representatives, not only in the Legislature, but in their day-to-day lives.
I think that the same, more than likely, applies to many women in the Yukon. The exposure that teenage girls get in the high school - which is the basis of the A Cappella North report - clearly shows those challenges and walls are built at a very young age, and that they are insidious within our education system.
Certainly, I believe very seriously that it is an issue that has to be addressed. I do not think it is one that can be addressed by any one, specific program that the government could put forward. However, I do believe that government has an obligation to set a precedent, if you will, in terms of raising the profile of the issue and continuously attempting to address it in the manner possible. I also believe that there is a broader, societal responsibility and obligation, and that starts in the home, with the parents.
My parents brought me up with a strong sense of respect for others, but I can remember being a student in the schools of Nova Scotia and some of the embarrassing behaviour that I was involved in - making fun of girls in the class who did not fit within my narrow definition at the time of attractive. I can remember that there were events held in university that were referred to as pig nights. There were some serious problems, in terms of respect for teenage girls and women, that runs the gambit from a very early age in our public school system into our universities. I think it does a disservice to our society.
People often accuse politicians of being people who cave in once they obtain political office. I am one who believes that precisely the opposite is true. One does not cave in and learn to abandon principles. Once one becomes a politician, one learns that there is a real big world out there.
When one is a private citizen, sometimes it is very easy to sit in a coffee shop, a bar or an office building and see the world as black and white. There is always a simple reason and simple answer for everything. When I became a politician - I came from Faro, which seems to be almost an isolated universe at times - I met many other people from the Yukon who think in so many different ways. It has broadened me and it has certainly made me more aware of some of the issues, and made me think much more seriously about issues, such as the situation that teenage girls face in our school system and in society today.
Something that I hope happens to most politicians is that their perspectives become broadened. Sometimes one faces criticism for abandoning one's principles, but what is really happening is that, as a politician, one is learning that to be effective and to be a strong voice one must respect the wishes of others.
I can remember a debate I had on another issue, which I find somewhat analogous, with a constituent regarding the wearing of turbans in Legions. In another debate I had with the same constituent, about the extension of certain rights to homosexuals, I was promoting the decisions that eventually were taken, that people could wear religious head-dress, and I was promoting the right of homosexuals to be free of discrimination.
He said to me, "I know you, Trevor. You know, you never would have said this a few years ago. Now that you are a politician, you are bailing out on all of your beliefs."
Well, I never fancied myself to be as strident in my beliefs the other way, as this particular constituent was telling me.
I tried to explain to him that I think that getting elected brings a maturity and a broadening to people, and it allows them to deal with people who are otherwise different, and to whom you probably did not have much exposure before becoming an elected person. That is why it is so important that we show leadership when we are elected into government, to try to continuously promote social change.
The Member for Mount Lorne said that, in the area of drunk driving, when there is a significant effort made by government at the top levels to bring people on side, to get them talking about the issue, and considerable political energy and capital is expended on an issue, a lot can be done.
I can remember that when I was a teenager it was quite appropriate for us to go to a party when we were 17 years old and come home intoxicated. Some of the adventures we had on the way home were actually quite a laugh, sometimes. I know kids today are not quite as free with that experience as I was, and that is because of societal change and of the emphasis we have put on the issue - that legislators and parents have placed on it.
I believe the same impact is possible with the plight of teenage girls in our school system, but everyone has to be involved. There is no quick fix. The government cannot do it all, but certainly it can play an important lead role to promote that positive change.
It will take time. I hope that things change. As I read the report, I found it shocking, because it was similar to what I experienced when I was in school. I am hoping that there are little bits of change happening in a positive sense, and that if we put enough emphasis on this particular issue, we can, over time, effect serious change. I would say that I support the motion as amended. The point has been made. I look forward to seeing and working with the government on positive change in the near future, and in the long-term future. Let us hope that we can really do something.
Mr. Cable: The Member for Mount Lorne has been a tireless and energetic proponent and advocate on behalf of women in this territory. I have to say that I support her energy and her advocacy in having brought the motion forward.
I am pleased to have seen the process that led to the A Capella North report, because it is very important that young people have the opportunity to focus and express their concerns, both in and out of the family and in various other environments. The A Capella North process has given the opportunity to young people and to young women to continue to be encouraged to meet and discuss their problems, both with their peers and with others. From the responses given in the report, it appears that there may be some benefit to expanding the discussion groups and keeping the discussion going. It appears that the process of discussing the concerns of young women is, if not the most positive outcome, one of the most positive outcomes.
There are gender stereotypes in society that negatively affect young women in our schools. These have an impact on the self-image of these adolescent women that is not always obvious to adults. Many parents know that it is important to have open discussions with our children, but these do not always happen.
If positive self-images are not fostered in the homes, then they must be fostered in schools and in the broader community.
The motion in principle is acceptable. The motion is meant to bring to the public's attention the fears of women and the violence, physical and otherwise, suffered by women. What has to be done to resolve this issue and whether the government has or has not been attentive to the issue is perhaps beside the point. What is relevant is what is going to be done to address the fears of young women in the learning environment.
The report, as I understand it, is a compilation of the fears and other feelings of young women. It is a problem of identification. The motion, as I understand it, is the mover's thinking on part of the problem resolution.
It appears that the amendments have been generally accepted so I do not want to belabour the reservations that I expressed this morning to the mover of the motion on part 5 of the original motion. I do have some reservations as it was originally expressed and I do have some reservations about whether separation of males and females will exacerbate the problems young women feel. That particular aspect of the motion has, I think, been amended to increase my comfort zone and, as amended, I will be voting in favour of the motion.
Amendment to Motion No. 46 agreed to
Speaker: Does any other Member wish to speak on the motion as amended?
The Member will now close debate.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to say that I very much appreciate the ongoing work by teachers and parents and advocates in the community and by school councils who have supported violence prevention and equity programs in our schools. I also appreciate the support that I have heard this afternoon from the government and from all the Members of this House who have spoken in support of the motion.
I did say at the outset that all adults do have a responsibility to provide a safe, harassment-free learning environment for young women in the Yukon. I did not hear the Minister respond to the topic of training. I do believe it is important for there to be ongoing training of justice and medical personnel, of social workers, teachers, police officers, transition home workers and counsellors about gender equality issues, including harassment issues.
In his speech, the Minister responsible for the Women's Directorate referred to the video entitled Raising Young Voices. I think that the Minister should also see that video. When he provided us with a list of the groups that the presentation has been made to, I did not hear him include the Yukon Cabinet. I hope that the Cabinet Members have seen it, because I believe it is important - as is emphatically stated in the video, entitled Raising Young Voices - that men not be defensive.
What is important is that we continue to promote non-violent behaviour in schools. Action has to be taken in curriculum development, in teacher training, in preparation of student materials, removing sexist materials from classrooms and training with parent groups.
I believe the A Capella North report tells that the problem still does exist and that it must be better addressed. I hope that this motion will be one small measure toward that happening in the Yukon.
Motion No. 46 agreed to as amended
Motion No. 41 - adjourned debate
Clerk: Motion No. 41, standing in the name of Mr. Cable; adjourned debate, Mr. Cable.
Speaker: The question before the House is
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon Government should immediately commence public consultations with the people of the Yukon to determine a position and an approach to be taken by the government with respect to the upcoming national unity debate.
Mr. Cable: I should point out to the Members that I will be fairly brief. I have left the phone book back in my office.
I did go over the history of Canada, and I had a purpose in doing that. If anything, the history of our country shows that Canada has been a constantly changing organism. The relationships between the various inhabitants have also been constantly changing - the aboriginal and non-aboriginal relationship and the relationship between francophones and non-francophones. The jurisdictional edges and peripheries have been constantly evolving, both by constitutional change and court decisions. The peace, order and good government residual powers of the federal government have constantly clashed with our provincial powers.
Looking back on our history, the original four provinces have become 10 provinces and two territories. As we have evolved, we have taken in provinces that were previously separately governed colonies, such as Prince Edward Island and British Columbia. We have carved new provinces out of territories, such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We have carved territories out of other territories, such as the Yukon Territory. We have added geography to provinces, such as with the enlargement of Quebec and Manitoba. We have enlarged the jurisdiction of those federally created provinces - such as that of the prairie provinces, as they evolved.
Over the years, our territory has acquired new power. I simply state this to indicate that the only constant in our Confederation has been change. We should not be threatened by the Quebec sovereignty movement. We should view the challenge it presents as an opportunity to review how our country works and to update our creaking constitutional relationship.
It would appear that the pro-sovereignty movement in Quebec is headed for defeat.
For us and the rest of Canada and for the federalists in Quebec to view this as the end of the issue would be a disastrous mistake. It would simply perpetuate the long difficult wrangles that have taken place over the last 35 years.
The vote in the Quebec referendum, if it is pro-federalist, is just the first act in what, we hope, will be a fully participatory and definitive discussion on the issue of national unity and how Canada works, and it will not be just a discussion of what Quebec wants. It will be a discussion of what the west wants, what the Maritimes want, what the north wants, and what all parts of Canada want, and it is hoped that we will move from a centralist view that all provinces have to be of the same view of Confederation toward a view that celebrates both our commonalties and our diversities.
We have seen the internal tensions grow in Canada over the last 35 years, since the beginning of the quiet revolution, and we have seen the unsuccessful attempts to deal with those tensions - the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords. It has been my view that the political leaders in the population are perhaps not always in step on the issues. It has been my view that there has been an inadequate public discussion of the many facets of our Confederation and the relationships. It is necessary, I would suggest that, for the next round of discussions to work the public discuss all facets of the new relationship that we will almost certainly have, and that they will include the discussion of asymmetrical federalism, the role of our Senate and the restoration of provincial powers.
I do not offer specific advice to the House on the forum that we should use, but I ask for agreement in principle on the proposition that, when the next round of negotiations begins with respect to the new form of our Confederation, the Yukon public have a voice and that the positions put forward by our Government Leader be not just be the government's view or the Yukon Party's view or, for that matter, just the view of this House, but the view of Yukoners, and that the Government Leader will be an advocate and a messenger for those views. I ask the House to support the motion as presented.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Yukon government supports the concept of a united Canada, and let there be no doubt about that. However, we believe that it is premature to be undertaking public consultations on the national unity issue, before the people of Quebec have been given the opportunity to make their decision on this issue.
I have heard the message loud and clear from Yukoners, as well as from other Canadians, that they do not want to be talking about this issue at this time. They have had enough of it under the Conservative government in Ottawa, and the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords. It is not an issue on which there is a burning desire by Yukoners to be engaged at this point.
In addition to that, the federal government itself is not playing the leadership role it should be. For us in the Yukon to embark on a wide, community-based consultation process, when we see what is happening in Quebec today - not even knowing when a referendum is going to be held in Quebec or what the question is going to be, when the federal government itself is not showing a lead role in this, nor giving any indication that it is very anxious to enter into that debate - is premature.
As far as I am aware, there have not been any community-based consultations by either the federal government or any of the provincial governments, nor are any proposed. As I said, to date the federal government has been very careful to give the people of Quebec an opportunity to speak on this question, and it is confident that they will make the right choice. Since it is the people of Quebec who will be making the decision, there would appear to be no benefit in conducting public consultations, as are proposed in this motion.
Indeed, at this time there is still a question of whether or not there will be a national unity debate. I believe that a more pressing issue at this time is to work with all jurisdictions in Canada to improve the manner in which governments work together, be they in Quebec, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, or the federal government in Ottawa. I think we can make a lot of headway in that respect.
The desires of Quebec are not that much different from the desires of many other provinces in the Confederation. It is a matter of how much control the federal government is willing to delegate to the provinces and the territories.
What I am saying is that we believe, as do other jurisdictions such as Alberta and Nova Scotia, that it would not be beneficial at this stage to embark on a full-fledged consultation process or campaign. I would like to add that even the Provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia, which were initially quite vocal about the unity issue, appear to be quiet at this time.
There is also a question of whether or not public consultations at this time would be meaningful to Yukoners. I stated my reasons why: we do not know what the question is; we do not know what the results will be. As the Member opposite who proposed this motion is aware, the government in Quebec is looking at rewording the question in terms of wanting to separate now, or wanting a sovereignty association, or whatever they really want.
Public consultation is a very costly process. Unless there is a pressing urgency to do so at this time, which I do not believe there is, I would be very hesitant to engage in such a process. As I have said, although we do not agree that public consultation would be appropriate at this time, as a government we would certainly be interested in hearing from any Yukoners, or any organization in the Yukon, who have comments to make on the unity issue. If they would pass those comments on to us, we would be very interested to hear what they have to say.
At this point we have had no representation made at all, outside of the question asked by the Leader of the Official Opposition about whether or not we would enter into a debate about Quebec in this legislative session. I told the Member I would consider it, that I thought the Prime Minister would be calling a First Ministers Conference on that issue and, if he did, it might be useful to have that debate in this Legislature before attending that conference.
So far, there has been no conference called; there is none scheduled; and I am not even sure if the Prime Minister is thinking about calling one. Therefore, I do not believe this is the time to go ahead with public consultation. I would be happy to hear from Yukoners who wish to pass their comments on to me about the unity issue, but at this time we are not prepared to support this motion.
Mr. Penikett: Unlike the Government Leader, I have heard from quite a few Yukoners on this subject. In fact, rarely a week goes by without two or three people engaging me on this topic.
I would admit that, overwhelmingly, the people who do so are French-speaking Quebeckers, in the main. For obvious reasons, they have a profound interest in what happens in their home province and what happens to its relationship with Canada. One of the remarkable things about Quebecois who have come to this territory is that many of the them, as young people, may have been firm indépendentists in Quebec but, after spending some time living and working here, and communicating with Canadians of the other language group, they come to have a finer sense of the country and a greater appreciation of the whole nation, and become federalists in some form.
It is important when we are talking about national unity to realize that this is not just a question for lawyers and politicians. Some of the constitutional weariness that Canadians expressed following the Charlottetown round arose from the sense that this was an arcane process, largely with elites participating - legal elites, academic elites and political elites - and that the content of the discussions were neither of interest to people, for the most part, nor accessible to the person in the street, either in terms of the language of the proposals or the nature of the debate.
I believe, though, that many of the questions that were discussed in the Charlottetown round - for example, the questions of the social covenant, of the economic union, of aboriginal rights and self-government, of the rights of trade unions, of the relationship between the Charter and other provisions of the Constitution, such as the question of Prince Edward Island putting restrictions on who could own land in the province or perhaps a jurisdiction like the Yukon putting restrictions on whether or not foreigners should be allowed to operate big game outfitting areas - were real and important questions of genuine concern to Canadians.
The problem may well have arisen from the bundling of all these issues into a single package to the extent that it made it very difficult to digest in the short time available for the debate leading up to the national referendum. The method of packaging the proposals probably invited the kind of debate - irresponsible debate, in my opinion - led by Preston Manning, which suggested that, if one did not like any one of the provisions, one should throw out the whole package, or if one did not like Mr. Mulroney one should curse anything with which he was associated.
My own view of national unity has not changed greatly over the years. In my opinion, national unity is not simply a question of the relationship between the English and French community in Canada, nor is it a matter of the nature of the relationship between Quebec and Canada; it is a much more complex fabric than that.
In my view, what makes us Canadians and what makes this nation distinct - and which is so highly regarded in terms of its quality of life, tolerance and fairness in every United Nations report - and, I believe, superior in terms of the quality of life and the morality and justice of our way of life, superior to the American system, is a very deeply ingrained commitment to certain values.
Among those values, I would include the value of equality and the sense that, no matter where you live in Canada, one should be entitled a roughly equitable level of service in health, education and a similar treatment before the law. These are old, if you like, enlightenment and French revolutionary ideas, but they are very much part of the Canadian tradition and not just the social tradition, but part of our legal tradition.
Indeed, what we call the confederation and principle, as set out in section 36 of the Constitution, guarantees that whether you live in a poor province or a rich province, you shall be accorded roughly equitable treatment by the government. That is why we have equalization payments, and that is why we originally had programs like the community assistance program and that is why we developed programs like medicare, which are now being dismantled by the national government.
This is a cause of regret to me, because I believe the sense of equality, which was so essential to the Canadian character, is being, not eroded, but corroded. It is being whittled away at. It is being undermined. I believe it is being sacrificed to some alien ideas, largely ideas of republicanism, commercialization and market principles, which are largely coming from south of the border.
Another principle that has been long cherished in Canada is the one of freedom. It is the freedoms that we normally associate with civil society, free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and as Franklin Delaware Roosevelt put it as well, freedom from want. They are very important values, but they, too, have been under attack everywhere, it seems, in the last few decades in this country.
The idea of freedom of association, freedom of assembly, which was once enjoyed by trade unions, is now cavalierly tossed aside whenever a government wants to roll back wages, or infringe upon the tradition of collective bargaining.
The sense of freedom that we have is not the libertarian sense of freedom, which Americans boast about and use to defend dubious concepts like the right to bear arms, but is a sense of freedom that is inextricably linked to our social being. It is a sense that you can only be free in a society where you are allowed to develop your potential to the maximum, where your friends, neighbours and fellow citizens help subscribe to your education, where your fellow citizens will protect you in times of sickness and in terms of health care, where every citizen, rich or poor, has a chance to fair treatment in a court of law and in the justice system.
I think all these things have been seriously assaulted by American values and ideas, which I suppose have been imported largely through television, Hollywood, radio and other media. We have suffered some loss in the last few years of the idea that freedom, social responsibility and social justice are connected and related. So, too, I would argue, have we suffered from a serious assault on the value of community, something that is most important to Canadians. The free trade agreement and the continuing commercialization and Americanization of our society means that market principles are now seen to take precedence over the value of community.
I want to point out how important this is by just pointing to one recent event. At one time in this country, governments of all stripes were very keen to promote the value of community and a sense that each of our citizens was responsible for the other, that we were in a very difficult project together called Canada, that we were a small population in the largest piece of geography in the world, and that, in order for us to provide essential services for each other - whether rail transportation, schools, television service, telecommunication, highways - we could only do it together. We - the public, citizens - working together provided the only means to build the community, as well as to defend it against the claim of individualism and libertarian claims, particularly that individuals should not be subject to community sanction.
We have recently suffered a serious loss of sense of community in this country, and the low point in that recent experience has been around the Paul Martin budget, where he commented on the reaction to it by saying that it had gone down well with the markets. By that, he meant that the American bond markets, the bankers and the agencies, who did not seem to care at all about how it had gone down in the community or how people in the community, especially the poorest and the weakest members of our community, might be affected by it. That was a sad moment for me and was representative of the way in which the complex fabric of our community is being unwound.
Part of that sense of community in Canada, which includes Quebec, and that sense of community between the English and French, between the east and the west, between north and south, between rich provinces and poor provinces, between wheat-growing provinces and farming provinces, between timber-producing provinces and lead-zinc producing areas, like the Yukon, is a very fragile thing. Much damage has been done to it in the last few years.
When we talk about national unity, Quebeckers are very sensitive to the way in which they are treated by Canada. They are super-sensitive to what they believe are slights from English Canadians. One only has to recall the ludicrous incident of a few ignorant rednecks trampling on the Quebec flag somewhere in eastern Ontario some years ago, which set off, aided by the Quebec media, a firestorm of nationalist feeling in that province, and did serious damage to relations or attitudes in Quebec toward Canada.
In my experience, this is not a one-way street. Having spent some time both in the discussions about the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord, I must say that, as someone who has always argued that other Canadians need to show respect for Quebec's language, its culture, its traditions, its people, its government and its institutions, those of us in regions like the Yukon also need to feel that Quebec has respect for us. That has not always been demonstrated.
Meech Lake, which was created by a prime minister from Quebec, with the compliance of the other premiers, was essentially a device not only to reconcile Quebec to the rest of Canada, but also a device to enable Quebec to have what it did not have before; namely, a veto over the creation of new provinces. We were one of the two or three regions affected by that. Quebec felt perfectly entitled to decide our constitutional fate for us, to have a veto over that fate, and felt no obligation whatsoever to respect the wishes of the people here or to show any sensitivity toward the people here.
In fact, Quebec's indifference to us was so great, I will tell you, that, for the most part, Quebec ministers and Quebec officials were profoundly ignorant about this region. Their notion of the north is very much coloured by their experience with the James Bay development and difficult people called the Cree and the Inuit in that region. They had a very poor sense of who and what we are in the 1990s.
For that reason, I was profoundly opposed to the Meech Lake Accord and, as I said on a number of occasions, je regrette que l'entent de lac Meech à condamé les gens du nord pour toujours à ètre les citroyens duexieme classe au Canada.
I felt that the Meech Lake Accord was a constitutional deep freeze for us. It was something that would have condemned us to an even worse situation than Mr. Trudeau put us in with the patriation package in 1982 - which we were not consulted about, either, but which also affected us because it granted, for the first time, seven provinces a veto over our constitutional future. Meech Lake
made it worse by extending that and making it unanimous.
We had the Charlottetown Accord, which I supported because I thought it undid some of that damage. Of course, I recognize that Canadians rejected the package as a whole as there were a number of elements in it that they disliked, including some of the authors.
I believe that some of the difficulties we are going to have over the next few years in terms of the relations between east and west, between francophones and anglophones, as well as between aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, might well have been addressed and somewhat mollified if that accord had been adopted - but it was not.
I understand Canadians' weariness about that kind of debate, or that kind of package, or that kind of constitutional engineering. I understand, therefore, why people have said that they are tired of talking about the Constitution, but as I have indicated, in my view national unity is not just about the Constitution. It is about the social fabric, it is about equality, it is about community, and it is about our sense of freedom and fairness.
I believe that Canadians continue to be interested in those things. I do not believe that Canadians think that politics has become so anaemic, that we have all become - as Ernest Bevin said of Hugh Gaitskell - desiccated accounting machines. We are not just number crunchers. Politics is not just about dollars and deficits and debt.
We have to have a sense of the bigger picture and a better sense of the value system of the nation. In my view, many of the things that constitute national unity - the feeling between the regions, the feeling between language groups, the sense of fairness in the country, the commitment to the values of community and programs like medicare - do concern Canadians. Canadians may say, "I am not interested in the Constitution." But ask them how they feel about Quebec, and almost everyone will tell you. Even if they say that Quebec can get lost and go their own way or are indifferent, they have an opinion. Ask Canadians how they feel about language policy - they have an opinion. Ask Canadians how they feel about aboriginal rights. I admit that the Reform Party has helped represent some of the feeling of alienation or sourness that exists in the land about those questions, but I think it is wrong to say that Canadians are not interested. I think they have powerful feelings and deeply felt opinions on these subjects. Whether people like them or not, all of these questions can be called "Constitution".
The Government Leader indicated that there may be more agreement between Quebec and the provinces about the direction in which the country should go, and about the need for decentralization to the provinces, or the devolution of some administrative powers to the provinces. There may be areas of agreement, and it may not take constitutional amendments to achieve them. However, I suspect that there is more to the issue than that.
Let me move quickly to the question of consultation, because the motion here is essentially about consultation. I am a believer in consultation, but I think that the term has become seriously devalued of late. I think that Mr. Rock's consultation on gun control as we saw it here in Whitehorse was a scandal - it was outrageous. It was a farce of consultation, as was Mr. Axworthy's pseudo consultation around social policy and Mr. Ostashek's consultation around the economy. I think those things have given consultation a bad name.
There are some consultations which were not bad. I think that Joe Clark's efforts, through a series of regional conferences leading up to the Charlottetown Accord, where groups other than the normal elite groups - the lawyers, the law professors and the politicians - were involved, such as women's groups, labour groups, business groups, environmental groups, aboriginal groups, and so forth, in an effort to achieve a broader consensus about change in the country, was a good start.
The longer I think about these issues, the more I am convinced that the Yukon, for example, when it writes a new Yukon Act, as it surely must one day, with the passage of land claims and the full implementation of devolution, would be better off to follow the Alaskan model of a constituent assembly, popularly elected, than to follow the model of the closed door, backroom deal that the Meech Lake Accord was, or the partially open, sometimes closed process that the Charlottetown Accord was.
The Government Leader may well be right. The time is not right for a wide-ranging consultation on this question. We may well have to wait until Quebec moves closer to its decision in a referendum, which we have been assured will take place sometime in 1995. However, I think it would be irresponsible for political leaders in all parts of Canada if they wait too long.
In the last referendum, the federalists won, in part by promising that there would be constitutional change, and that the historic grievances of Quebec, on a number of counts, would be addressed by the rest of Canada. I think from Mr. Mulroney's point of view, the Meech Lake Accord was an attempt to do that. The Meech Lake Accord failed, and I think that Mr. Mulroney saw the Charlottetown Accord as a second attempt to reconcile Quebec to the Canadian Constitution. As I have indicated, in my view, it was much more than that, but I do not think that, even though the polls now show that something like 60 percent of the population would vote no to a proposition to separate however it is worded, and that only 40 percent of it is supported, Canadians should be indifferent to this question, or that we should take those results for granted. I think that the burning flag incident showed us that not just flags, but also passions can be inflamed very quickly by one instance, one wrong word or one wrong phrase.
I think it is that sense of caution, that sense of care and, if you like, essential conservatism of Mr. Chretien that has probably kept us out of trouble for now, because people have been told, "Do not stir things up, do not say the wrong thing, do not invite unnecessary debate." That may be a good tactical response, but I hope and I pray that someone in the federal government and senior people in the provinces are thinking beyond the next step.
If Quebec votes, sometime this year, to stay in Canada, and if one of the arguments made is that Quebeckers should stay in Canada, but that constitutional changes indicated and promises promised, and from everything I have heard him say, Daniel Johnson will be promising exactly that - stay, and we will try to amend the Constitution again - w
e will have to go back to the table at some point and discuss these things. If we do as we have done before - enter those discussions without having thought long and hard about the proposition beforehand - I think we will make mistakes. We will make mistakes, perhaps much more serious than Charlottetown was believed to be by the Canadian people.
If we continue to make those mistakes, one day Quebec will vote to leave. I am of the opinion that the consequences for Canada, as a country, then, are profound.
I am not one of those people who believes that this nation will survive for long if Quebec leaves. That means, whether or not you agree with asymmetrical federalism or whether you agree with some other proposition, as a theory or a solution to the problem of national unity, we will have to deal with it.
I guess really all I am arguing here is that we should follow the Boy Scout motto: Let us be prepared.
It is true that there is no clamouring in the streets for a debate on this thing yet, but things could change very quickly on that score. The leadership of our community and our governments needs to be prepared. They need to know what they are talking about. We cannot have people talking about the Charlottetown Accord while not knowing where Charlottetown is. We cannot have people expressing opinions on things like asymmetrical federalism when they do not know what it is. We cannot have people making assumptions about the nature and quality of the political judgment of the Quebec government when they have spent no time studying that government.
During the Charlottetown process, we were so frustrated in dealing with the Quebec government that, at one point, we had to put a team of French-speaking officials together because the Quebec government officials literally did not listen to us if we spoke to them in English - even when their entire team was perfectly bilingual.
As I said before, Quebec knew so little about us and cared so little about us that we were simply expendable in the constitutional chess game. We fought, all of us, long and hard for a seat at the constitutional table. We fought long and hard for a voice in these processes, and we should continue to demonstrate that we have an entitlement to be there by the quality of our debate on these topics locally, in this Legislature and in the community, as Quebec approaches a decision on this point.
In a matter of weeks, I shall be a backbencher so, as a politician, I shall have no role whatsoever in the substantive discussions about this government's policy in this matter, except as a citizen. As a citizen of this country who cares deeply about it and deeply about its traditional values of equality, freedom and community, I will insist on a voice as a citizen, and I will insist on that kind of voice, either as a Member of this House or simply as a voter and taxpayer.
I do not think that the motion that was moved by the Liberal leader was time dated. My reading of the motion is simply that there should be consultation. The Liberal leader has used the words "immediately commence public consultations with the people of the Yukon". I have indicated that "immediately commence" may suggest a sense of urgency that is not felt by our community. Nonetheless, I want to support this motion not because of the words "immediately commence", but because I think that the idea of consultation with the people of the Yukon prior to the Yukon government determining a position on this question is essential. I think that the national unity debate will begin soon enough and it will rage fiercely, perhaps over the summer and into the fall. As legislators, we must insist that we have a debate here and that we debate the government's position prior to it being articulated in the larger, national forum.
For that reason, I support the motion, even though I agree with the judgment of the side opposite about the urgency of it and agree with their skeptism about whether we immediately need to commence this public debate. I do not want to quibble about definitions of "immediately", but I do want to urge upon the side opposite that we should be thinking about the debate. Someone, somewhere in the government - whether it is in the Department of Justice or ECO - should be developing briefing notes and positions so that they can be ready for debate here and a debate in the community and in national forums such as the First Ministers Conference when the time comes.
Speaker: If the Member for Riverside now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Cable: I have to say that I agree with the Government Leader that there is a certain constitutional weariness in the country, and certainly in the Yukon. However, I think it is a fundamental mistake to equate that constitutional weariness with a lack of concern about the future of our country. Like the Leader of the Official Opposition, I hear from many people who are deeply concerned about the future of our country, both as an institution that projects their set of values, and in relation to their own personal welfare. The break-up of the country, will of course have a very disastrous effect on many working people - quite outside of the break-up of that thing that we call Canada, to which we are all attached.
So, I am very disappointed to hear the Government Leader indicate that it is premature to start moving on the issue. The Government Leader indicates that there is lots of time. He infers that when Quebec people speak, then we should speak. I would remind the Government Leader that what is going on now is much like marriage counselling. One does not have one of the parties speaking, laying down all the conditions, and then have the other party come in and pick up the pieces. We should all be speaking together. It is never too soon for the people of the Yukon to voice their views.
I have to say that it is very unfortunate that the Government Leader feels that the seeking of advice is not of value at this time. The Government Leader does not seem to appreciate the long time lines required to mobilize public discussion and public education on very complex issues. We have the example of what happened with the Charlottetown Accord when people were asked to speak - perhaps too rapidly. We also have the example of the long time line it took for negotiations on our own Constitution - the land claim negotiations. It
cannot be brought to a boil in a matter of months.
We know that, at the latest, the Quebec referendum will be held within nine months and perhaps much sooner than that time.
We put our heads in the sand before, and I would hate to see Yukoners and this government suggest that we try and put our heads in the sand again and pull Yukoners together at the last minute. It will take many, many months to have the issue properly discussed publicly and for Yukoners to be brought together to form some kind of consensus that our Government Leader can take as our position - not his position - to the national unity debate. I am not suggesting the Government Leader get involved in the national unity debate, if that is what he is concerned about. What I am suggesting he do is seek Yukon citizens' opinions and have the Yukon citizens educated through public discussion. There is more to consultation than simply a one-way communication. There is the exchange of views and the issue of public education.
We went to sleep after the last sovereignty debate and paid the penalty. The tension simply grew and went unresolved. It is important that we not go to sleep again.
As was pointed out by the Leader of the Official Opposition, if the word "immediately" sticks in the craw, I am quite prepared to have that word removed. I am not suggesting that at 5:30 we drop pens, run outside and start grabbing people by the lapels and asking them their opinion, but there is a mobilization time needed to get people on side. Time is needed to solicit opinions and educate Yukoners, and that cannot happen too soon.
I would ask that all Members vote in support of the motion.
Speaker: The question before the House is
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon Government should immediately commence public consultation with the people of the Yukon to determine a position and an approach to be taken by the government with respect to the upcoming national unity debate.
Speaker: Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Some Hon. Members: Disagree.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Disagree.
Mr. Abel: Disagree.
Mr. Millar: Disagree.
Mr. Penikett: Agree.
Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Ms. Commodore: Agree.
Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.
Mr. Harding: Agree.
Mr. Cable: Agree.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are six yea, nine nay.
Speaker: I declare the motion defeated.
Motion No. 41 negatived
Bill No. 5: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 5, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Ostashek.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1995-96, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1995-96, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 5 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 5 has passed this House.
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 House resolve into Comittee 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.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Health and Social Services - continued
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to Order.
On Social Services - continued
On Social Assistance Services - continued
Hon. Mr. Phelps: To begin, I would like to send some information to Members opposite. I will begin with a fairly lengthy briefing note regarding ambulance stations and ambulances. I would ask that the Page provide one to the Leader of the Official Opposition, one to the Member for Riverdale South, one to the Member for Riverside, and one to the Table. Then I would ask the other Page to deliver a package to the critic for social assistance - the Member for Whitehorse Centre - the Member for Riverdale South, and the Liberal leader, and also give one to the Table.
For the record, these are the regulations under the Social Assistance Act that will come into effect as of the April 1.
I would ask the other Page to kindly deliver to the same three Members and to the Table the package that formed the news release when I made the ministerial statement about social assistance reform last year in the House, in order to make sense of the regulations.
I want to make some comments about alcohol and drug services, because it was felt that our comments yesterday were somewhat sketchy.
The objective of the alcohol and drug services branch is to provide comprehensive services in the areas of education, prevention, assessment, counselling and treatment in order to promote public awareness and reduce the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in the Yukon.
The structure of the branch consists of the alcohol and drug services supervisor, the unit secretary, three prevention consultants, five addictions counsellors, staff to operate the detoxification centre, which includes the coordinator, eight and one-half permanent recovery room attendants and two auxiliary recovery room attendants.
The activity highlights an increase of $15,000 due to increased material costs for the expanded number of beds in the detox centre.
The activity management estimate for 1995-96 is $319,338. The 1994-95 forecast is $316,793. The 1993-94 actuals were $160,487. The assessment and counselling estimate for next year is $281,683. The forecast for last year was $280,817. The actual for 1993-94 was $165,060. This includes the assessment of client problem areas utilizing a standardized assessment model in order to recommend an appropriate residential or non-residential service; the counselling of groups, individual and family clients; the provision of training for professionals and para-professionals in assessment and counselling techniques; the provision of consultation services to individuals, community, public sector and private agencies and the expansion of service availability into the evening.
The 1995-96 estimate for detoxification services totals $767,378. The forecast for the current year is $747,912. The actual amount in 1993-94 was $773,042. Detoxification services entails provision of a 24-hour, year-round voluntary protective setting in Whitehorse. It is a place in which chemical-dependent persons may stay while withdrawing from the effects of moderate to acute chemical abuse.
The program helps in developing a bridge between the acute detoxification phase, which is basically physically oriented, and the recovery phase, which is based on self-discovery, the building of ego strengths and the realignment of destructive habit patterns to constructive habit patterns, providing a sober drop-in setting and sober support system for ex-clients, the provision of a respite-like setting with limited residency, provision of consultation service, with community services and treatment network and facilitating tranquil experience for practicum students.
In the 1995-96 fiscal year, the program will move into the renovated space within the Crossroads building, which will increase the number of beds available from five to 12 to provide a more seamless service between detoxification and treatment.
In the education and promotion part of this budget, the 1995-96 estimate is $258,013; the 1994-95 forecast is $256,546; the 1993-94 actuals were $186,464. This program entails the following: develop and implement communication strategies, including radio, television, print media advertising and articles, public workshops, poster campaigns and pamphlets based on objectives identified in the alcohol and drug strategy; develop, organize and deliver workshops, seminars conferences for human services workers or make them available to other parties for delivery; maintain a comprehensive collection of resource materials and provide access to national resources; provide, contribute financially, encourage or participate in the development of community organizations and resources and alternative activities in the Whitehorse area or territorially relevant initiatives in other communities.
I would like to ask the Page to send to the critic for the Official Opposition for Social Services some of the materials that have been developed locally in this regard.
The 1995-96 estimate for residential treatment is $23,000, the 1994-95 forecast is $23,000 and the 1993-94 actual is nil. The low numbers, of course, represent the fact that in-territory residential treatment is provided through a contribution agreement with the non-profit Crossroads Society, whose services include a live-in treatment facility, providing meals and board on a 24-hour basis, and an intensive 28-day cross-cultural program, consisting of group therapy, individual counselling and information. There is a transition service for clients who have completed treatment and are awaiting the availability of appropriate accommodations, consultative services for referencing agencies, and support therapy programs for special needs groups. Financial assistance is provide to enable access to external services for special needs clients.
I wanted to get this information on the record.
We are on the community support services line. Would you like me to read some -
Chair: We are the line item social assistance services.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thought we cleared that. No, we have not.
Social Assistance Services in the amount of $8,743,000 agreed to
On Community Support Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The objective is to provide a comprehensive range of social services and to coordinate the development of these services for persons with disabilities and seniors, so that they can enjoy a basic standard of living with maximum independence and dignity.
The structure includes the following: a supervisor; supervisor of community support services; community support coordinator; two part-time senior social workers; one full-time equivalent; five part-time home care nurses - three full-time equivalents; one home care social worker; auxiliary home support workers - 9.5 full-time equivalents; vocational rehabilitation social workers - two full-time equivalents; and, auxiliary supported independent living program workers - 4.2 full-time equivalents.
Support increased from $1,528,000 in 1993-94 to $2,645,000 for 1994-95, primarily due to a $667,000 transfer of the senior utility grant and Yukon seniors income supplement from social assistance services, with a balance due to an increase in community support workers and residential placement contracts in training, and in training subsidies for persons with disabilities. Community support will increase by a further $508,000 in 1995-96, which is due to a $156,000 increase due to a transfer of home care workers from community health services. There is a $5,000 increase in benefit costs due primarily to Yukon bonus charges.
Under Other, there is a $347,000 increase in residential placement contracts, comprised of a $366,000 increase for in-territory placements, and offset by a $19,000 decrease in out-of-territory placements.
This increase in the number of clients requiring residential support results from a migration of two clients to adult care due to their age and other clients coming off probation and falling under our cost umbrella.
Ms. Commodore: I would just like to make a comment on all the information that was given to me regarding the alcohol and drug services program. I thank the Minister for an outline of that program and for providing me with the information.
I would like to know if alcohol and drug services was cleaning house, because the poster the Minister gave me was dated 1979. Some of the other information he gave me was dated 1985, and something else was dated 1992. I am not sure if somebody was playing a joke on me, or if the Minister was really serious when he gave me all this information - information that probably came out when I was a Minister - and whether or not the programs that he has in existence are still the same ones that are identified in the 1985 education program. I do not understand what happened.
Was it cleaning house? Was somebody playing a joke on me?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There was a complaint that there was not enough information. I have given her what we are spending on each activity in the program, and provided the materials that have been developed over the years under the information program.
Ms. Commodore: I am not sure whether or not anything in there is new. I would like to thank him for the lengthy explanation that he gave me. However, I am not sure about the information that he passed over to me. Perhaps he was looking for a recycling bin and wanted to use ours.
I would like to ask him about the pioneer utility grant. Does that come under this section? Can he just bring me up to date on that program, the amount of individuals who are receiving it, and the total program amount? I have not heard much about it lately.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I said a few minutes ago that the program was transferred under this line item from social assistance services, and it, together with the seniors income supplement, amounted to $667,000.
I will ask the official to find the break-out of the pioneer utility grant. It has been going up steadily. There have been no changes at all to the criteria, so it is the same amount and the same criteria as in the act. It has been going up because more seniors are staying here.
Ms. Commodore: I do not necessarily need that information right now. He can provide it to me at another time. What about the Handybus? Is that in this section as well, under "transfers"? Is it the same? Has it been increased or decreased?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is the same as the previous year. We have not increased it; it stayed the same.
Chair: Order please. The time being 5:30 p.m., we will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Just before the break, I was asked a question regarding the pioneer utility grant. There are statistics in the budget at page 8-22. As well as the numbers, the pioneer utility grant in 1995-96 will be $341,000, which is the same as for last year; this is up from $288,040 in 1993-94. The Yukon senior income supplement is estimated to be $409,000 this year, the same as for last year, which is up from $378,967 in 1993-94.
Activity highlights for community support services includes the following: seniors counselling and assessment - comprehensive assessments regarding care needs are conducted and coordinated, including social, medical and nursing requirements; client support network and related aspects - relevant information is provided to the seniors placement committee to assist their decision-making process; and, counselling to seniors 60 years and over and their families and referral services are provided where appropriate.
It is for financial services - assistance with obtaining federal pensions - and services such as the pioneer utility grant and the Yukon seniors income supplement. That supplement is up to a maximum of $100 per month for low-income seniors, 65 years of age or over, who are in receipt of federal old age security and guaranteed income supplement, or for spouses, 60 to 65 years of age, who are in receipt of the spouse's allowance, or widowed spouse's allowance, pursuant to the Yukon Seniors Income Supplement Act.
The activities are as follows: home care assessment and treatment - nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, personal support and personal care, housekeeping, laundry, meal planning and preparation, errands; social support - including assessing client functioning and family needs, counselling, social contract to ensure safety and well-being; respite services - relief for family members caring for individuals in the home; palliative care - counselling treatment and support for terminally ill clients and their families; vocational rehabilitation - counselling and assessment for clients requiring guidance to prepare for employment and/or adjustment to community and independent living - assessments are used to determine the client's eligibility for vocational rehabilitation or support; independent living services - identify programming needs and develop a rehabilitation plan - assessment services may be provided by, or purchased from, physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health centres, private agencies and others; vocational evaluation - determine vocational interests and values, work habits, aptitude or ability to acquire skills, social education and academic needs, the potential to develop attitudes and behaviours required for employment. These are conducted through interviews, aptitude and/or interest tests and observations in simulated or actual work situations.
Independent living evaluations assess the functional independent living skills of the client. They assess strengths, needs and identify barriers affecting adjustment to independent living, as well as the potential to develop skills, behaviours and attitudes required for living in the least restrictive environment. These assessments may be completed through interviews and observations in residential settings.
Restorative and remedial services include referring clients to the appropriate service that provides prosthetic, orthodontic devices, dental, visual and hearing services, aids to daily living and consulting services.
Training services arranges for admission and participation in education occupational learning opportunities. The service utilizes the branch-funded Challenge program to provide job readiness and work adjustment training to prepare disabled adults for entry into the competitive job market.
Training plans are created that identify opportunities for community work placements, with local employers using federal employment and training resources, provide job coaches and provide for training allowances. Out-of-territory resources are used where local options are not viable or available.
Finally, under residential services, out-of-territory residential support and lifeskills training are provided to severely disabled adults in provincial institutions and groups, because of the lack of appropriate resources or family requests.
In-territory residential supports and lifeskills training are provided to mentally disabled adults through special room and board, foster care placement, structure-group living situation with 24-hour care and in their own home with supportive independent living program assistance.
It is to be noted that contracts with residential institutions have been adjusted so that services delivered to status native people are billed directly to the Department of Indian Affairs. Activity management for 1995-96 is $143,919, and the pioneer utility grant and Yukon seniors income supplement are $750,900, for a total of $894,819. Seniors counselling and assessment are $67,890, home care is $194,486 and vocational rehabilitation is $1,395,879. The forecast for 1994-95 is $1,049,012, and the actuals in rehabilitation in 1993-94 was $717,808.
Mr. Penikett: I may have missed a few details of what the Minister just said. Would he mind repeating it?
Ms. Commodore: I actually would like to thank the Minister for that information. I am sure I missed a couple of things, but I am sure that I can read it and find out exactly what he was telling us. It is the kind of information that I was hoping to get yesterday.
I still cannot get over all the stuff that was sent over by the Minister. I just ran across another booklet that was published in 1977. I do not know who in alcohol and drug services had that idea for a joke. I am not sure if I fully appreciate the humour or not.
Can the Minister tell us how the program is going for the individuals who were repatriated to the Yukon from Woodlands? There was an effort to move all of the individuals back to the Yukon, and I believe that they were coming back a few at a time. I wonder if that repatriation is complete. I would also like an update on how the program is going and whether or not they are discovering any problems.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My understanding is that the repatriation is complete; however, there has been an increase, as evidenced by the figures I just read, particularly in the area of vocational rehabilitation.
One of the areas in which we are quite interested, in common with the federal government, is the FAS area, in particular.
We have had preliminary discussions with Challenge, the society, as opposed to the program, which are looking at the feasibility of adding on to its building. It has some plans roughed out that would make it identical in appearance to the old post office in Whitehorse on Front Street. It would therefore anchor the downtown area. Their rough plans show living quarters for, particularly, fetal alcohol syndrome people, upstairs. Just recently, three departments jointly provided some seed money. I think it was $10,000 among them - the three departments being Education, Health and Social Services, and Justice, so that they could firm up the plans and do some preliminary work to see whether or not the board of directors cares to take on the risk of raising the money and going into that. That is one special area. Challenge is keenly interested in the progress we make with our initiatives to identify FAS, and it is keenly interested in the crossover between the criminal justice system and our department, and so on.
As the Member knows, we fund a number of NGOs that deal with people who are released into the community, so to speak, from institutional care.
There have been questions raised in the House regarding some of the special problems, such as CMHC's ridiculous rules surrounding a society getting financing for federal housing - that kind of thing. It is not without incident, but we have not had, for the past considerable while, really startling developments.
We have certainly had situations where workers in the department and some NGOs were kind of at their wit's end with some of the people who were having some mental difficulties, but recently it has been relatively smooth. Again, touch wood, that could change at any given time.
Community Support Services in the amount of $3,153,000 agreed to
Social Services in the amount of $14,813,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not know if it would be the preference of the Official Opposition to jump over to regional services to finish off social services, or should we get into health first? I am in their hands. It does not matter to me.
Ms. Commodore: I would be quite satisfied with that.
On Regional Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Regional services is up from a forecast of $5,049,000 for the 1994-95 fiscal year by an increase of $6,000, which results from the following changes. Program management is up $61,000, primarily due to the addition of a Carcross regional social worker/child welfare supervisor - that is a full-time position; the social worker was formerly shared among Teslin, Tagish and Carcross. In Carcross-Tagish, it was the experience of the department that a lot of adults preferred the anonymity of coming to Whitehorse for their services. There has been a need for specialty expertise with regard to children, and Carcross is one of the hot spots. That particular individual has the skills to also provide his expertise in other areas of the Yukon.
He was transferred there; he was formerly in Dawson and makes his home in Carcross now.
Family and children's services program - service costs are down $113,000 as a result of the discontinuation of group home contracted services. All residential treatment services were transferred to the Whitehorse family and children's services branch in 1993-94. Furthermore, a variety of minor savings have been realized as well, notably by a less-than-expected uptake of family support services in some communities.
Services to seniors increased by $65,000. This is the transfer of the Watson Lake community support funds from health services and is primarily geared to meeting the needs of seniors in the Watson Lake area. Home care was requested and we hope this is going to be instituted by the NGO, the Signpost Seniors.
Juvenile justice is down $7,000. Financial resources have been redeployed to meet the needs of young offender clients travelling to placement resources.
The budget detail by allotment for personnel is a $63,000 increase. The breakdown is as follows: an additional Carcross regional social worker, child welfare supervisor and secretarial support in Carcross-Carmacks, $136,000 - some supplemental requirements were offset due to a decreasing requirement for auxiliary staffing. Other reduction offsets are due to the transfer of budget and recovery for a French language social worker to the Executive Council Office, which is $67,000, and other minor savings in the amount of $6,000. Under Other, there is a $91,000 decrease.
There is an increase in the alcohol and drug services contract in the amount of $25,000, offset by the expiration of the Selkirk alcohol and drug services pilot project transfer payment contribution. There is a reduction to the group home contract in the amount of $50,000, a reduction in child-in-care costs in the amount of $5,000, a reduction in uptake in family and support services in some communities in the amount of $52,000.
There is a decrease in contract assessment requirements, other travel and program material, for a savings of $9,000. Transfer payments represent a $34,000 increase, due to the transfer of community health services in Watson Lake, which we just talked about. There is a reduction due to the expiration of the Selkirk alcohol and drug services pilot project of $25,000. There is a reduction in family allowance grants due to the reduced and short-term child-care placements. I have some documents for the Page to deliver to the critic, the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Member for Riverdale South, showing a breakdown on the caseload and staffing throughout the Yukon. It is a handy map. Perhaps some of those could be delivered to the Table as well.
Mr. Penikett: It is so long ago that I no longer remember precisely when regional services was created, but the organization for the delivery of rural services happened before or during my time as Minister. At the time, there was a lively debate among the professionals of the department about whether or not it was a good organizational model. I understand that it is a separate branch for delivering services to rural Yukon, which are otherwise subsumed under the other branches or program lines, so that a social worker in a rural community may be delivering juvenile justice programs, social work programs and so forth. I have said that I am a supporter of integration of program delivery and a supporter of community-centered programs. However, it seems to me that the experiment of the regional services' way of organizing the activities of the department has now gone on for a number of years. There are obvious alternatives to doing it. Some of them may have some cost implications.
I would therefore like to know if the Minister has had reason to think about this question and discuss it with any of the two or three deputies he has worked with, and if there is any possibility that it may be changed. I hasten to say that I am not advocating a change; I am just curious about the continuing utility of this particular structure.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It has been of some concern to me, certainly when I initially took over the department and every now and then when we think that our budget for Social Services was x, and it was actually x plus y. It always came as a rude shock when we looked at some figures. Things were leveling off or coming down a bit, and out of the blue would come this other figure we had forgotten about. That did not make us too happy. There is always concern about duplication in administration.
On the other hand, the whole issue of community-based programming, however it is achieved, particularly on the Social Services side, requires extra effort. While I was Minister of Justice it was restructured. At the director level almost all the time is devoted to dealing with community-based justice.
My colleague, the Minister of Justice, rose in the House just yesterday and mentioned the first two embryonic contracts for community-based justice that were signed in Carmacks and Haines Junction. That is the juvenile justice program. There is an awful lot of work required to try to devolve some of these responsibilities into the community. If that is where it is and if that is the direction it has taken and that is the priority, then I think it is worthwhile. If it is empire building, it is not, and I make that quite clear. That is a pretty firm distinction.
Ross River now has a Social Services staff of two and a half. We found, in addition, a specialist in child counselling and psychology and a new social worker - a woman whom I have yet to meet. She is a local Ross River native person. In addition, there is a family counselling service operating there.
There has been a move to shift ownership and responsibility to the community in Ross River. It is hoped that there will be a unified, community-wide approach to juvenile justice. I understand there is a move in that direction in Carcross. It is felt that the extra fees for the person who is full time now will assist in that, the juvenile justice issue being a primary concern.
To get these things going takes a lot of extra effort. It is a different kind of administration, as it requires talking to the people and getting them together to take on some of the responsibility. Then, there is the administration of some things in Whitehorse.
In the short term, I would like to keep those initiatives going. However, the Member does make a good point. It is something that has been of concern to me.
Mr. Penikett: I have a quick supplementary. The Minister mentioned using Ross River as an example. There are two and a half person years there. Are these people in addition to Mr. Rawlings, and is he paid for out of this same budget - regional services - or is it a contract?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Mr. Rawlings' budget appears under the DM's budget. His position actually was ADS, prior to his being seconded. There is a travel budget, as well, in the order of about $25,000 a year, over and above the salary budget. We are negotiating for the continuation of one year and for the travel budget to be assumed by the First Nation, now that they are sort of on their feet.
Mr. Penikett: That means that the department's presence in the community is essentially three and a half person years, not two and a half. However, as I understand it from news reports - something about a wolverine recently - Mr. Rawlings' work is now devoted to economic development, and not social development, which raises a question in my mind about the propriety of funding an Economic Development officer out of the Social Services budget, which has no mandate for Economic Development, at least as it is narrowly defined. Has the Minister considered that question?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, I have. As the Member will recall, there was a precedent. A director in the department had worked for the Carcross-Tagish First Nation and was seconded in various areas, together with the social services side. We do not instruct - in this case Mr. Rawlings - as to his duties; the band does. He is currently primarily doing work, I would guess, on the economic side, although he will be training a worker to take his place with funding from Education. There is a good possibility that he may be transferring into Education anyway, in the training end of things. However, the current plan is - we have said to the First Nation - that he would stay there for one more year and train somebody local, and they would pay his travel. I am not sure if the agreement on the travel has been signed off, but that is our position.
Mr. Penikett: Notwithstanding the evolving nature of his duties from social into economic into training, I take it that the Minister would still believe that he is accountable, since the money comes out of his budget for the expenditure in that area. May we know, in rough terms, what the cost is to the territorial treasury of Mr. Rawlings? Are they contract or salary expenses? What are the arrangements, and what are the rough costs, on an annual basis, to the treasury for his presence there?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am asking the officials to look up what the category is. It is an AR-13.
Mr. Penikett: What, approximately, would the travel allowance be?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The agreed-upon travel was $25,000, I think. I think it went over by $3,000 or $4,000 this year, and we have agreed to pay the overage on the condition that the First Nation take over responsibility for all travel next year. I do not know if that has been agreed upon, but I think that it will be.
Mr. Penikett: A person can go a long way on $25,000.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The duties have involved travel back and forth to Ross River, which is a long drive - believe me. He has also done a lot of work with the Watson Lake Kaska, as well. While most of his work in recent months has been economic related, there has been a lot of organization on the social side, such as getting their services lined up, what they have got, and how to react to things, such as when the suicide crisis broke about six or seven months ago. That resulted in us sending up an additional person from here to sit down and try to get the talent in the community together and see how it could be best deployed.
Mr. Penikett: I want to make it clear that I am not complaining about the activities. I only express the wish of other MLAs that they had government-funded people doing such work in their ridings.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In fairness, he had started working up there not on secondment, but he was there when the election was called.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister sent over some information in regard to regional services and I note that, under Ross River we have 2.5 person years. Does that include Mike Rawlings' position? The Minister is indicating that it does not.
I am looking at the figures here. I was talking to someone from the community at a conference I was at a couple of weeks ago and he was talking about the amount of work he has to do and the number of cases he has. From the discussion I had with him, it appeared that some of the services were disappearing with the person years. Has that happened? I know the Minister mentioned just a little while ago that a staff member, I believe from Dawson, had been moved to Carcross. Did he say that? The Minister is indicating it has. Has that happened in any other communities?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That was not a move of the position. The individual who was in Dawson went to Carcross, because he competed on that job, which meant that the social worker who was established in Ross River, and was successful in Dawson, has moved to Dawson. We re-staffed Ross River. That is what happened. There is an additional person year.
In the Carcross-Teslin situation, we had one social service person who has been there for a long time, who lives in Teslin and has Tagish and Carcross split between him and another person. In addition, they had a vacant part-time position, .5 of a person year, an alcohol and drug addictions worker, one they used to call CAD, or something. What we did was cancel that out and work with each of these communities on how they want to proceed on the new alcohol and drug strategy, and we made the social service worker in Teslin full time and put this new position in Carcross.
We are still looking at some additional funding for Teslin, in the event they want to pick up some funding. We offered a part position there, which the band would hire. It would be primarily juvenile justice and working with the courts, and we would try to find matching funds.
When the correctional facility opened, the First Nation lost most of their social services staff. They went to work there. Only Mr. Morris stayed at that. They were busy trying to re-staff those vacancies. That is kind of up in the air.
Ms. Commodore: Looking at the math that the Minister provided to us - I am just looking for comparisons; I do not have any criticisms in regard to this - if you look at Ross River there are 2.5 persons there. The population of Ross River 415. It has 90 cases. Dawson has a staff of 1.8. The population is much larger, and it is indicated that they are dealing with 170 cases. It seems a bit uneven. Could the Minister explain the reason?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There are a couple of major differences. One is that there are some very pretty heavy-duty traumatic things happening in some of the communities, such as Ross River. We have had a lot of extra counselling for sexual abuse, suicide, the FAS issue in the school and other issues.
In Dawson, the incidence of the really traumatic caseload is a smaller percentage than that of Ross River; that is the first point. The second point is that Dawson had some other assistance. The government has recently taken up the stay-in-school person in Education for example. There is also a psychologist living in Dawson. You have to consider the expertise available from other departments.
One of the main features in Ross River that is a bit different is simply that it is undergoing some pretty bad crises with abused kids, FAS and so on.
Watson Lake shows a social service staff of two, and there is also a pilot project where we are funding two positions. They are based on Watson Lake and travel to Ross River. The two positions are an alcohol and drug counsellor and an aftercare worker; it is a pilot project. They are not reflected here, because the money is paid to the Kaska, who have federal money, money from us and money from B.C. I am sure the Member will recall the Liard Basin pilot project that is the result.
The point I am trying to make is that this does not really show everything.
Ms. Commodore: I have one other question about this map. Under Whitehorse, we have social services staff, and I understand the reason for it, but we also have 25 cases. What are they?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is regional services operating from Whitehorse. They have cases in the surrounding area. My understanding is that this is a person for areas not covered as communities. For example, Carcross includes Tagish. What are included in Mount Lorne, or Ibex Valley, or the Mayo Road, et cetera?
Ms. Commodore: With respect to open custody, the Minister indicated the department is going to open a couple of foster homes in the communities. Has that been done?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is in the process of being done; they have not been opened yet. I believe I read into the record the other night that one is in Watson Lake. There are two outside in the process, but I do not know how close they are to opening.
Ms. Commodore: Do we have any young offenders, in either open or secure custody, who are doing time in Whitehorse right now? If the Minister does not have the information, I would appreciate him providing it at a later date.
The question, as I understand it, asks if there are young offenders from regional services areas in open or closed custody in Whitehorse. I will get that information.
On Program Management
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is up three percent, at $61,000. I have mentioned these things, I believe: there is a secretary in Carmacks, which was previously not funded, $24,000; a French language social worker in ECO, a $67,000 decrease; an additional position for Carcross for a child welfare supervisor and .5 secretary, $112,000; a $6,000 reduction in other personnel costs, which is really from the impact of wage restraint; and a $2,000 reduction in travel costs.
Program Management in the amount of $1,892,000 agreed to
On Family and Children's Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is seven percent decrease. Funding is down to $1,421,000. There is a $113,000 decrease, which is a reduction of $107,000 in group home contract costs. It was decided, in 1993-94, that all residential treatment centres for children and young offenders are to be paid by Whitehorse family and children's services branch. A $6,000 reduction in family allowance grants are due to a reduced number of children coming into care, and for shorter durations. Foster care rate increases are pending, and that estimate is not included in the forecast.
Regional services continues to contribute operational funding to the Champagne-Aishihik Social Services Society for the provision of child welfare services to band children families throughout the Yukon. The Yukon Family Services Association is funded to provide resident counselling services in Watson Lake, Dawson, itinerant services in Mayo, Kaska Tribal Council family support services in Watson Lake and Ross River.
Family and Children's Services in the amount of $1,421,000 agreed to
On Social Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: A four-percent increase, or $65,000, due to the following: $25,000 increase in alcohol and drug service contracts offset by the expiration of the pilot project contribution for Pelly-Selkirk; $65,000 increase resulting from the transfer of the community support coordinator position funds in Watson Lake from community health services. This position, currently vacant, is reflected under services to seniors as a contribution to the Signpost Natural Home Care.
Social Services in the amount of $1,717,000 agreed to
On Juvenile Justice Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: A $7,000 decrease is due to a decrease in contract assessment requirements, remaining financial resources being redeployed to meet the needs of young offenders travelling to placement resources.
Juvenile Justice Services in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Regional Services in the amount of $5,055,000 agreed to
On Health Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The 1995-96 budget for health services branch is down $1,012,000 compared to the forecast for 1994-95. This is primarily due to the expected savings resulting from changes to the chronic disease program, which are expected to be in excess of $740,000, and a reduction of approximately $650,000 in contributions to the Whitehorse General Hospital to reduce the accumulated operating surplus.
Program management increased by $31,000. Health insurance decreased by $628,000. Yukon hospital services decreased by $655,000. Community health increased by $429,000. Continuing care decreased by $187,000. Vital statistics decreased by $2,000.
Program highlights: negotiating planning for phase 2 of the health transfer is expected to be a major priority of the health services branch in the next year. Recent discussions with MSB indicate that Canada is now in a position to negotiate the transfer of responsibility for delivery of community health programs, and that will be to the hospital board initially. We discussed that in general debate and mentioned that there are still some problems getting the First Nations' component - who is going to be leading it and so on, which is probably exacerbated by today's announcement of the Commissioner.
In health care insurance, the chronic disease program shows the reductions we have already talked about. A drug listing or formulary has been developed, which will go into effect July 1. It cleared Cabinet the same day as the social assistance regulations did. There is a phase-in period to do it correctly. It is not going to produce large savings, so much as reduce increases. We are going to go to the least expensive drug, even if it is generic, just like every other jurisdiction, because of the federal move a couple of years ago, which we have debated here.
The formulary was developed with assistance from the Joint Management Committee.
In hospital services, the hospital has been operating as a separate facility for almost two years. It is maturing in its ability to manage the facility. We are seeing some savings as a result.
Another highlight is AIDS. We doubled the amount of money that we are providing to the AIDS Yukon Alliance for prevention and education services. It has gone from something like $9l,000 to about $180,000.
A training officer has been hired in ambulance services. That person is developing and delivering a variety of ambulance service programs to both community volunteers and Whitehorse permanent and auxiliary employees. This move allows dollars otherwise spent on travel and accommodation to be allocated to actual training in the communities.
In continuing care, plans are still proceeding to transfer the administration of the Thomson Centre and Macaulay Lodge to the Hospital Corporation. This should occur sometime in the first half of the fiscal year. My understanding is that there is a delay right now because the hospital is negotiating with the union that the Labour Board has said is the bargaining unit.
Detail by allotment personnel: therre is a $35,000 increase, due primarily to a full year's cost for a term program analyst who will participate in the health utilization project, which will be undertaken by health services over the next year and a half to two years. The $612,000 decrease in Other is primarily chronic disease program reductions. The transfers show a $435,000 decrease, mainly due to the Hospital Corporation reduction. There was an increase of $94,000 to AIDS, $341,000 through MSV, and a $30,000 reduction in the Second Opinion Society funding.
Mr. Penikett: I have a couple of comments and a question. The Minister talked about certification of the hospital employees. As I understand it, there were two applicants. There was the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a component of which is the Yukon Employees Union, and the Professional Institute of the Public Service, which had previously represented the nurses and some of the professionals at the hospital. As far as I know, PIPS was not very aggressive in seeking the certification, so I can only assume, since the Minister says the certification has come through - at least, I judged that from what he said - that they are now represented, or about to be, by the Yukon Employees Union.
I was not clear about the second point he made. Did he indicate that notice to bargain had been received by the government and that, following certification, they are now moving into a round of bargaining? Is that the delay he is talking about, or is it just the certification process that is the delay?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes. They are going to be in bargaining shortly, which makes it difficult to conclude the transfer on the Thomson Centre and Macaulay Lodge.
Mr. Penikett: That means, though, that the Yukon Employees Union, or PSAC, was successful in the question before the Canada Labour Relations Board about who would get the certification. From what the Minister is saying, I assume that it must be the same bargaining agent that actually already represents the people at Macaulay Lodge and the Thomson Centre.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will get back to the Member. I am a little confused about that. The reason for that is that I went over and met with the board to talk about phase 2 of the transfer, and they had just received word. I am not exactly sure in my mind right now. However, I will be able to come back after the break and advise the Member.
Mr. Penikett: I have a couple of comments and then a question. As the Minister may know, I think, my views on the subject by now, I think the logic of the formulary, or the generic-versus-brand-name drugs, in the Pharmacare program, as a cost containment measure, ought, where possible, to be applied in the areas of technical medicine and, indeed, high technology and other expensive curative instruments.
For that reason, I am interested in the case of constituents of mine - which case I raised in Question Period - where a constituent has a painful problem and the cheap remedy for which is not insured, but the expensive remedy is. The rigidity of the present arrangements are such that she is either forced to pay for the option she prefers or to take the option she does not want in order for the government to pay the cost - not a good model, I think, in terms of treatment generally.
As the Minister mentioned the other day, the Health Act allows the Minister to create certain boards and advisory committees. One that was being discussed when I was the Minister was certainly one on technology advice, as the Minister may remember, because he and Mrs. Firth participated in one or several of the lobbies. Fierce public lobbies can develop quite quickly in favour of having a CAT scan, a kidney dialysis machine, a mammography machine, or whatever. The people who have to make the decisions - the Ministers ultimately, and Management Board - have no technical basis for making such a decision whatsoever. They have to accept the best advice the deputy gets. However, as we were discussing the other day about the problem of hospital design, there is not much expertise yet in our Health department because it is basically an insurance company at this point - it is a bit more than that, but that is what it is in the main.
The Health Act contemplates the establishment of committees in part to provide good advice but also, to be frank, to provide a buffer for the politicians against sudden enthusiasms in the public for some oversold technologies, which may not be appropriate for a small community or a small hospital.
Obviously, the Hospital Corporation Board will serve as another buffer in terms of hospital-based programs, but I certainly think that an argument could be made not only on the grounds of cost savings, but also on the grounds of more patient-centered and patient-sensitive treatments. For a committee composed of - as the Minister has in other committees - senior people in the department and health care professionals to either receive appeals or to entertain applications from citizens for additions to the health insurance program, not for new coverage, as has been suggested from time to time, such as chiropracty, reflexology or some of the things that people would like to see included in the coverage, but, rather, an interpretation of the rules that would permit, as in the case of my constituent, people to have, as long as it was medically appropriate, a cheaper treatment option than the one that is covered but not desired by the patient. I really make that as a representation, not as a question.
I had some questions about comparing a list of services between the old and the new hospital. I had hoped to have that by the time we got to this stage of the debate. Is it ready?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I understood it was ready. I carried down a pile of stuff, and I think I misplaced it. I will have it after the break.
Mr. Penikett: I would be happy to receive it after the break. There may be some particular issues here, but many of the big issues around health care - the future of medicare following the Martin budget, questions on devolution of the program, community delivery and implementation of the Health Act - I have asked questions on already, so I do not need to take a lot of time on each of these lines, as long as I can receive the previously requested information.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will get that information. The note I have been handed says the PSAC was certified, and then something to the effect that employees have yet to vote on whether or not they want another union. I gather it is still subject to a vote.
Mr. Penikett: I am no expert on labour law, but I thought if an applicant had a very large percentage of cards signed by employees, there would normally not be a vote, but I guess the Canada Labour Relations Board can order a vote. If there is going to be a vote, that means the government and the employee organization cannot commence bargaining until the certification is issued, which inevitably means a delay. I am curious about that. The point is that if there was a single bargaining agent - namely the Yukon Employees Union, formerly known as the Yukon Government Employees Union, which already represents the people at the Thomson Centre and Macaulay Lodge - it is a lot easier for the government to bargain.
However, if the Professional Institute of the Public Service was certified at the hospital, it seems to me that the Minister's amalgamation plans become measurably more complicated by that event.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The PSAC vote is final. The PIPS vote is yet to be taken.
The listing of services of hospital comparison will be ready for tomorrow.
Mr. Penikett: I would prefer to have that list of services before I clear the hospital services, but I indicated to the Minister that I am prepared to go through the rest of the lines tonight, if other Members are agreeable, too, but I would want to hold the hospital line.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Sure, that is fine.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there further general debate on health services?
Mrs. Firth: The agreement on fees for physicians that was settled last year ends in two days - March 31, 1995. Last year, the fees to physicians for medical services were frozen for 12 months. The government maintained the physicians' continuing medical education allowance. I would like to ask the Minister if he could tell us if the government has negotiated a new settlement, what it is and what we will be paying our fine doctors in the next year.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I mentioned earlier in general debate that an agreement was reached one week to 10 days ago. There is a two percent increase this year for 12 months, followed by a two percent increase for the next 12 months. Everything else stays the same.
The major concession made by the physicians is that they have agreed to our exploring the provision of medical services, such as in-hospital fees for nurse practitioners and other kinds of health delivery services. I do not have the exact wording, but the essence of the contract is that there is a two-percent increase this year, a two-percent increase the following year and the agreement in principle to salaries for the use of paramedicals and nurse practitioners.
Mrs. Firth: Does the government have a position with respect to extra billing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are opposed to it. We have maintained a steadfast opposition to it.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister if he could provide me with a breakdown, in the form of a legislative return, of the comparison of the chronic disease program now, with the Minister's changes, compared to what it was two years ago. I would like to think that there are some good things happening there. I would like to say to the Minister that I am glad he has addressed the issue of the chronic disease program, but I would feel more comfortable in saying that if I could see an actual comparison and see a reduction in the cost of the program. I have heard various press releases saying that the costs have been greatly reduced, but when I look at the statistics page, I see that it is reflecting a three-percent increase in usage.
The Minister is shaking his head. The numbers on page 8-26 for both the Pharmacare and chronic disease program show a three-percent increase.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is erroneous information, but not on the Member's part. The Pharmacare will be impacted for seniors only by the changes I have just mentioned, which have just gone through and will be phased in in July. That is the only change to that, and it will not result in any huge reduction. It is expected to be cost and payment, and it will level out.
I will bring the actual statistics back for the chronic disease program. I have not looked at them recently, but we went from something like 2,500 people. We then put in the $250 deductible - $500 deductible for family - and the last time I looked, there were less than 400 people on it. There is something wrong with the statistics page.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate having that information. There is just one figure for each program - one for Pharmacare and one for the chronic disease program, and both of them are indicating a three-percent change, which is an increase. The numbers are in the 1,500 range.
If the Minister would bring that information back, I would like to see it to make a comparison. From the information I have been given following the whole issue, it appears that the program has been cut almost in half. The Minister is nodding his head, indicating that could be the case. If it is, that is good. We should be pleased to see that, because it was getting out of control.
I have only one other question in this area, and it is one which I am always asked by a person. I made some inquiries to the vital statistics branch about it. It is with respect to the birth certificates issued to Yukoners who are born here. On the certificate, it just says "Yukon" for place of birth, not "Yukon Territory".
When I called about it, I was told that there was no legislation that required them to put the word "Territory" on the certificate. The Queen's Printer removed it from the logo, which happened quite awhile ago. It is quite a common practice. However, this is something a couple of people have brought to my attention, and one person in particular. The Minister may even have had some inquiries, because the individual also went to the Member of Parliament.
After the research, I gathered that there was no real reason in legislation or regulation. The driver's licence still says "Yukon Territory".
To this person it is a significant issue and I would just like to ask the Minister if he could look into it. People's preference is for "Yukon Territory" to appear on the birth certificate; we still are a territory and some people feel fairly strongly about that. Perhaps we could offer the option to people to have that provided on the birth certificates?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, I will look into that.
Mr. Penikett: Mrs. Firth has just made me think of something that I actually meant to ask a long time ago but neglected to do so. When a child is born at the Whitehorse General Hospital, is there some automatic notification procedure in effect not only to vital statistics for the issuance of birth certificates, medicare cards and so on, but is the federal government also routinely notified?
The reason I ask is because I had a peculiar experience when my son was born. A few weeks after he was born, a social insurance card arrived in the mail and, being a good citizen, or trying to be a good citizen, I read the instructions, which said that he had to sign it immediately and keep it on his person at all times and not let anybody else have it, or something. There were a bunch of rules attached to the thing. We tried doing this but of course it kept getting crap all over it, and I wrote back to the federal government explaining that I did not see why it is rushing to give this card to my son since I was not planning to send him out to work for quite a while and that we had a difficulty, even with the best will in the world, to obey the instructions that were attached to the card. I wondered if they would take it back for a few years and then maybe send it when he needed it, and they sent me back a letter saying, "Stop trifling with the federal government; you are in big trouble if you do not do what you are told", or something. Of course, I immediately, deferentially and respectfully bowed to authority and did what I was told.
Can the Minister find out, if he does not know, if there is an automatic procedure to notify the federal government so that we rat on our kids right away to ensure that they end up having a social insurance number, which, by the way, Prime Minister Pearson promised when they were first introduced would never become a universal number and never become a universal card, but we all know they have become so anyway.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Penikett: Well, the only problem with them, I think, was Mr. Mulroney proposing to make them a universal identity card, which would have been worse, but that is another subject.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will certainly have someone prepare a briefing note on exactly what happens. Of course, the hospital was federal. I do not know if that had something to do with it. I understand the only change in the works is that under Paul Martin they will probably charge money for it.
Chair: Is there further general debate on the program?
On Program Management
Program Management in the amount of $512,000 agreed to
On Health Insurance
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Expenditures will decline by $628,000, it is estimated, mainly because of the changes to the chronic disease program. Personnel increased by $35,000. This is for the program analyst, who is doing the health utilization progress. Other decreased by $548,000. Chronic disease, out-of-territory position costs are expected to decrease by approximately $129,000, based on current downward utilization trends. Supply is reduced by $10,000, because of the many forms used by health services that have been purchased in sufficient quantity this year to be paid for part way into next year. There is a reduction of $13,000 in travel, repairs and maintenance. Transfer expenses are expected to decrease by $115,000, due to a reduction in out-of-territory costs.
Mr. Penikett: I have one question. Since Mr. Martin announced the single, block fund transfer that will essentially be used to disguise the cuts in the various elements of the health, education and social programs in the country, will that in any way change the manner in which the government reports recoveries on this program? The reason for asking the question is obvious. I think that if we are going to protect the medicare system, we have to keep some kind of accountability about the sources of funding, including the federal source.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We were going to be trying to identify the cuts and how they appear. How those cuts will be reported has not yet been determined.
Health Insurance in the amount of $22,800,000 agreed to
On Yukon Hospital Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a decrease that I have already spoken about. They were in a surplus position. The First Nations health component will increase by $12,000 from $638,000 to $650,000 in 1995-96, and that is because it to be increased by PAGE escalator.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister has already agreed to stand this line over until we receive further information tomorrow.
Yukon Hospital Services - stood over
On Community Health
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will send over the summary of the comparison between the old facility and the new facility, upon the understanding that we can debate this tomorrow.
This is an increase of $429,000, including a personnel increase of $27,000 for the training officer for ambulance services, which is offset by a reduction in auxiliary services for hearing and ambulance services. Other expenses are expected to increase by $67,000. These increases reflect the following: $10,000 for employee travel to attend training conferences in and out of the territory and for community visits by the director of health programs; $15,000 for contract services to develop health promotion material; $18,000 in supplies to the Mental Health Board; $20,000 for hearing aids and $4,000 for Mental Health Board honorariums.
Transfer payments increased by $335,000, including $341,000 in contributions to MSB. Some of the increases are caused by the application of the expected PAGE escalator. The contribution for community facilities increased due to the addition of two nurse practitioners in the Whitehorse clinic and an additional nurse for Old Crow. Whitehorse clinic nurses will provide wellness clinics and health promotion activities and programs. The additional nurse in Old Crow will provide the same services as the current nurse, but because there are two of them now, neither will be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so they will get much needed time off.
The contribution for communicable diseases includes a .5 FTE to provide sexually transmitted disease information to youth. Increases for MSB are as follows: $5,000 for mental health; $5,000 for dental health; $5,000 for environmental health; $286,000 for community facilities; $33,000 for communicable disease; $94,000 for AIDS Yukon, which is offset by a $20,000 one-time contribution to mental health promotion to review methods of delivering a more comprehensive mental health system. They are not required in 1995-96. There is a $50,000 reduction, made up of one-time contributions for community health promotion activities, such as health needs assessment. This is not required next year. There is a $30,000 reduction in the contribution to the Second Opinion Society, resulting from the review of the services that have been provided in the first half of the fiscal year. Since that time, services have become more community-based, and this may result in a request for additional funding in the first supplementary in 1995-96.
Mrs. Firth: I just wanted to ask the Minister if he has had an opportunity to give any more thought to the way in which we provide hearing services. Has he had a chance to examine the possibility of privatizing that service or of having medical clinics staffed to provide those kinds of services?
I had indicated to the Minister that we were the only jurisdiction in Canada where this service was provided through the government. Most governments do some assessment, but the actual sale of hearing aids is done privately. Provincial governments maintain certain standards that meet with the approval of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association through legislation.
I am still interested in his looking in that direction. Has he had any time to do that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will be tabling a fairly lengthy legislative return tomorrow. I just saw a draft form, and I am pretty sure I will be tabling it tomorrow.
Community Health in the amount of $7,090,000 agreed to
On Continuing Care
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Total personnel expenses are expected to decline by $187,000, and $205,000 of this decline is due to the repatriation of home care services back to the social services branch. The $205,000 is part of the offset - because of an increase in other personnel costs, it rose by $18,000, due to the reflection of actual incumbent salaries in this budget.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister said something that I did not hear very clearly about the relationship between this continuing care line and home care services. In a previous discussion during this budget round, we heard an affirmation that home care was part of the continuing care continuum, of which the nursing home, Macaulay Lodge, and the extended care facility, the Thomson Centre, were part. He said something about the home care program and social services, and I did not quite catch what he said.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The budget is contained in the social services branch rather than this line item. The issue of that part of the continuum being managed by the hospital board at a later date is still open. Currently, it is in social services. Until we get the facilities and everything else under the control of the board, we are not going to move this incremental part.
Mr. Penikett: If the Minister puts the continuing care program entirely under the hospital board, which is something the wisdom of which I have doubted, he will also be moving the allocation from the Social Services line into this line, wherever it may be - I guess it will be under the Hospital Corporation if he does it what way - but they will be united in a single line at that point. Is that the Minister's intention?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I think all of the program would be, except portions that may not be properly part of continuing care, because we provide services to those who are not eligible.
Continuing Care in the amount of $8,140,000 agreed to
On Vital Statistics
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is a $2,000 decrease due to a new person in the deputy registrar's position and having a slightly lower salary than the previous incumbent.
Vital Statistics in the amount of $63,000 agreed to
Chair: We will have to come back to this tomorrow.
Mr. Penikett: On a procedural point, I have not had a chance to stud any of the information the Minister has given me about the services in the new and old facilities, but I understand that the information about the new facilities is part of the functional program.
Let me explain the difficulty I will have in returning to this item early tomorrow. It arises from the fact that the information appears to be in a different form. In reference to the old facility, there is a simple list, which is quite easy to read, although it does not contain much detail. The information about the new facility seems to be much more detailed. For a lay person like me, it would take a little time to actually make the comparison.
I do not want to press the overworked staff who are sitting up there, but it would be really useful for me to complete this line if I could get something in comparable form. I make that plea. If it is not possible, that is fine.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will look into it. If it is possible, I will respond accordingly in the morning. If it is not, it may take considerable time. I am sure that the Member will very quickly be better informed on the details than I am at the present time.
On Policy, Planning and Administration
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The amount of $310,000 is being requested to provide new/replacement desks, filing cabinets, photocopiers, computer workshops and such other office furniture and operational equipment as may be required from time to time for the various branches of Health and Social Services.
Approximately $245,000 has been earmarked for 49 new/replacement computer workstations, six printers, and three associated device sharing units. This plan provides for the replacement of 18 obsolete computers that are unable to use the current YTG software standards. The major expansion of our total installed base will enable department units to operate more efficiently and is necessary to support the planned development of new departmental information systems.
The remaining $65,000 will be used to acquire new/replacement photocopiers, office furniture and equipment for the department as required.
There is $918,000 being requested for systems development to undertake a major overhaul and expansion of the department's information systems. In many of our service areas there are currently no supporting computer system, and those systems that do exist are old, not integrated and very awkward. They are non-existent interfaces to other government systems. The consultant hired last year to assist with our systems review and the preparation of a new systems plan identified the following problems that must be addressed: not all the data required for management purposes is being captured; user interfaces are not friendly, hence the systems are cumbersome to use; too many systems are still manual, hindering meaningful analysis; common data is captured by many systems, adding effort and complicating reconciliations; supporting technology is too varied, making it impossible to produce management information; much of the equipment is obsolete; response time is slow; some systems have only one support person and hence are vulnerable.
The overhaul of our systems will be phased in over several years. The 1995-96 acquisitions will provide the following: required hardware for communication facilities and training to support the development and operation of the new systems; a shared data base for all data common to our various systems; an accounts payable interface and disbursement recovery building blocks to be used by all processors involving payments and applications to automate two of the processes identified in the systems plan.
The remaining processes will be automated, and our current systems will be replaced in 1996-97 and succeeding years.
Facility construction includes integrated health and social services for $25,000. These funds are requested to pay for minor renovation costs that may become necessary to provide suitable office facilities in all Yukon communities, in order to reduce inefficiencies and ensure most effective combinations and levels of service.
Major facility requirements are budgeted under the related program areas.
Specific items identified under this line item for 1995-96 include relocation of the Watson Lake regional office, minor renovation of a new office being opened in Carcross and renovations to add office space for family services.
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Mrs. Firth: In the notes that the Minister provided to us about the budget, at the bottom of page 14, the government talks about the plan providing for the replacement of 18 obsolete computers. What happens to these computers?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Asset control tries to find other users for the computers, which is unlikely. It is my understanding that computers depreciate at a rate of 50 percent per year.
Mrs. Firth: That may be the case, but I am still waiting for information from Government Services about who keeps track of this inventory, who determines when computers become obsolete, what "obsolete" really means and how the computers are replaced. If computers are sitting there trashed and no one can use them, then obviously they are obsolete. I may follow up later with the Minister, but I have quite a bit of reluctance to approve another $1.2 million for computer equipment and office furniture. This is consistent with the other departments, so I guess that computers are one of this government's priorities.
On Office Furniture and Operational Equipment
Office Furniture and Operational Equipment in the amount of $310,000 agreed to
On Systems Development
Systems Development in the amount of $918,000 agreed to
On Integrated Health and Social Services Facilities
Integrated Health and Social Services Facilities in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Policy, Planning and Administration in the amount of $1,253,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any general debate on family and children services?
On Family and Children's Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Foster home equipment is $20,000. Funds are used to provide appropriate furniture and equipment so that foster parents can provide a safe, healthy living environment for the foster children who have been placed in their care. By providing these items we were able to increase the number of Yukon families that could open their homes to care for children under the care of the director of child welfare.
Assets remain the property of the government and are recycled wherever appropriate. Examples include recreation equipment, cribs, car seats, high chairs, dressers, et cetera.
Child care services development is $80,000. Part of this amount is for child care strategy. This program is designed to promote accessible, affordable quality child care for families throughout the Yukon. While Yukon has a healthy child care sector, stimulus is required to encourage additional infant spaces after school and 24-hour programs as well as spaces in rural areas.
Funds were raised to provide start-up and enhancement grants to Yukon child care centres and family day homes for the purchase of equipment and facility renovations, which were required to meet health and safety standards. These standards were increased in the child care regulations that became effective April 1, 1994.
For young offender facilities, the renovation and equipment came to $216,000. They are used to maintain offenders facilities, both secure and open custody, to the standards required by the National Building Code and program operations and to provide such equipment in these facilities as is necessary to provide a level of care consistent with required service and safety standards.
Approximately $27,000 will be spent to complete the renovations to 305 Lambert Street that were started in 1994-95 to accommodate the relocation to 305 Lambert of youth probation staff previously housed in rental premises.
Since other youth services staff are already housed in this YTG-owned building, this consolidation will lead to improved client service in addition to the savings in rental cost.
An amount of $132,000 was required for ongoing maintenance, security upgrading and program modifications for the young offenders secure facility.
The federal Young Offenders Act requires that we provide a secure custody program for young offenders, and it must be maintained in a clean, safe and secure condition. In 1995-96, most of the expenditures were earmarked for roof repairs identified by property management and are necessary to prevent structural damage, and for the replacement of carpets that are now in very poor condition.
The sum of $57,000 will be used for maintenance and program requirements at 501 Taylor. This facility previously housed the young offenders open custody program, but has been modified in the current year to provide a range of non-residential programs to young offenders. There is $50,000 for child welfare facilities renovations and equipment, to provide necessary maintenance and renovations for five Whitehorse child welfare facilities and to provide equipment in each of the facilities as is necessary to provide a level of care consistent with required service and safety standards. The maintenance items and required renovation of the Klondike group home have been advanced to the current fiscal year under the winter works program, leaving only the equipment items for 1995-96.
This will result in a larger than normal expenditure in 1994-95, and a substantially reduced expenditure in 1995-96. Prior years' projects were budgeted as initiative funding to facilitate the development of the safe places network throughout the Yukon, including safe home shelters, transition homes and second-stage housing for victims of family violence. The safe places initiative funding program ended in 1994-95.
Mrs. Firth: In the supplementary budget that we just passed a few days ago, there was $212,000 spent on young offenders facilities renovations, and another $216,00 this year, which is starting to get pretty close to half a million dollars. I find that quite high. I have been listening to the Minister's explanation fairly closely. I know some of it is for staff and for offices, as well as repairs to the secure custody facility, and $57,000 for 501 Taylor Street. Where is the predominant amount of that money going? Is it going mostly for the office space, or is it going to the secure custody facility?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The $27,000 is for the building at 305 Lambert. They will be moving staff in from rented premises. The $132,000 is mainly for roof repairs to the facility. The $57,000 is for maintenance and program requirements at 501 Taylor, because it was changed over from residential to the youth achievement centre.
Mrs. Firth: That adds up to this amount, but in the supplementary budget last year there was also $212,000 for renovations at the young offenders facility. I see the Minister nodding his head. What was that money spent on? We went through it in the supplementary budget debate. My concern is that obviously the majority of the money is being spent at the secure custody facility, but that building is not that old. Why are we having to spend so much money repairing it, particularly roof repair? Is a roof not built to last for some time?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to go back to the particular supplementaries, but the facility itself had some serious problems with the emergency locks and the system that opens and shuts doors, and so on. That was a big item. The rest is spread over some of the other buildings, but the big item that I recall at the young offenders facility was the problem of safety because the locking devices were not working. In fact, when I visited there, they were quite concerned about having to manually open the doors to get the kids out if a fire or something happened. This year it is the roof. I agree, it makes one wonder.
In view of the inclemency of the weather and my failing health, I move, Mr. Chair, that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the 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 9:29 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled March 29, 1995:
Two Mile Hill: cost of construction of the drainage ditch (Brewster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1531