Thursday, March 30, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with silent Prayers.
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.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have two legislative returns for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Are there any Bills to be introduced?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Motor Vehicles Act review to be undertaken
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The safe and efficient movement of people and goods throughout the Yukon and to other jurisdictions is fundamental to the quality of life and economic well-being of the people of the Yukon.
I believe Members of this Legislature understand the vital nature of our transportation system, given the distances between our communities, the challenging nature of providing transportation in this great northern land and the relative distance the Yukon is from southern Canada and our economic markets.
The management of our transportation system has a substantial impact on the future prosperity of the Yukon and the health and safety of Yukon citizens.
I would like to advise my fellow legislators and the people of the Yukon that the government is embarking on a review of the Motor Vehicles Act and is encouraging the involvement of all interested Yukoners in this initiative.
Over 180 motor vehicle issues were identified as possible areas for further review during the preliminary public consultation process in 1987. Since that time, these issues have been consolidated and reduced into a package of 34 issues which may be of interest to the Yukon public. The review will deal with both the Motor Vehicles Act and the motor vehicle regulations.
In the coming weeks, an introductory householder pamphlet will be sent to all residences in the Yukon.
This document, entitled "Putting You in the Driver's Seat", will provide a synopsis of the 34 issues that Community and Transportation Services believes will be of primary interest to Yukoners. A detailed, comprehensive booklet, which provides more information on each of the issues described in the House, will be available upon request to anyone who is interested in receiving a copy.
After the public has had sufficient time to review the documents and consider the issues, community meetings will be scheduled, where more in-depth discussions can take place. Separate meetings will also be held with high school students and other interest groups. All Yukoners will be invited to attend the public meetings and to contact the Department of Community and Transportation Services for additional information about the review process or the issues, or to provide written comments. A questionnaire is included in the detailed information booklet to make it easier for the public to respond.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services is committed to a full and frank public consultation process to ensure that whatever amendments that eventually result will truly reflect Yukon's needs.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is interesting to hear the Minister stating that he is committed to a full and frank public consultation, when his ministerial statement mentions nothing about policy. It simply talks about the process and that there will be a document released. I have had a short time to look through the information booklet, and there are a lot of important issues there that I know the public is concerned about. There is too much detail to respond to all of the issues. However, I think that the Minister could have pointed out some of the highlights. One of the issues is student transportation safety, including school buses and lighting. The Minister knows that we have had debate in this House saying that we believe there should be a street light at Whitehorse Elementary. We have had debate on the issue of safety on the South Access Road.
There is information in here about a proposed 24-hour suspension for driving while impaired. The review will look at riding outside of vehicle compartments, at seatbelt infractions, impoundment of vehicles provisions and the powers of transportation enforcement officers.
When will the community meetings start, and how long will the public have to review the document? Can the Minister tell us when he is planning to bring amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act and the motor vehicle regulations forward?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Pamphlets and brochures will be going out to people, and we would like to give them enough time to look at the literature and fill in the questionnaire. I cannot tell the Member the exact date when we will go to the communities. If it is prolonged like the highway signs project, it will be some time before we get a final decision from people.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Social assistance regulations
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister responsible for social services.
The new changes to the social assistance regulations will have many disturbing changes to the social assistance program. In these new regulations, there are many areas that are not specific. For instance, parents of a child with severe disabilities will not be required to look for work. In the information that was provided to us, there was no definition of what a severe disability is.
Can the Minister tell us how the department defines what a severe disability is in order to comply with the regulations?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Not on my feet. I will come back to the Member with an answer.
Ms. Commodore: Under the conditions of eligibility, social assistance recipients must complete a self-sufficiency plan and show that they are looking for alternative methods of support. Could the Minister qualify what is meant by alternative methods, who determines if they meet the criteria, and what the criteria is?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Once again, I will come back to the Member with that information. It is my understanding that the law has not changed in the onus being on the recipient of social assistance to actively look for work, or for training in preparation for work.
Ms. Commodore: Emergency assistance is available for people who are not eligible for regular assistance. Emergency assistance will be provided only if there is a risk to health or safety.
Again, who will be deciding what the criteria is? Does the Minister not think that there may be other reasons a person might be desperate and need assistance other than health and safety reasons?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Clearly, the discretionary power vested in the department officials, as well as in the appeal boards and committees, has been narrowed considerably under the new regulations. The one area has to do with emergency assistance for health and safety, and I will come back with whatever definition might exist for that, but the discretionary power will be developed as decisions are made by the director and the appeal committees and boards, as has happened with most laws in our common law system.
The other discretionary area falls under the old clause 27(1), I believe it is, which provides for loans to people in urgent need, and lays out some of the situations in which loans may be given by the director. Again, this is subject to the appeal committee and the appeal board. But, yes, the discretionary powers are narrowed considerably, and the intention is to tighten up the way in which we handle social assistance because, clearly, if we do not, we are not going to be able to afford it.
Question re: Maintenance payments for youths
Ms. Commodore: This question is for the same Minister. The rules the Minister has tabled in the House and sent out in a newsletter are getting so rigid that the people who are suffering will be suffering even more - that is very disturbing. There is a section in these new regulations that asks that youths must agree to allow his department to seek maintenance payments from their parents. I would like to ask the Minister what protection has been built into these regulations for children who are trying to escape from abusive situations, which is quite an occurrence. We are concerned about it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Let us make a couple of things clear. The original regulations were drawn back in 1972, and the whole way in which the provision of social assistance was administered was extremely loose. It was out of control. We are bringing it back under control and making sure that the money is focused on those who truly need it, which is the intention. In practice, if any problems arise that are urgent, we will make changes, as we did when we promised to make similar changes to the chronic disease program.
Ms. Commodore: People are becoming very concerned about the actions of this Minister. Not only is he taking a step toward social assistance reforms, he has been listening a lot to the Reform Party.
If the situation is so bad at home that the youth has left and is willing to live on the street in order to be out of the home, it is unlikely that the youth is attending school or working, which does not fit into the categories listed in his newsletter. I would like to ask the Minister what other programs, other than the youth at risk program, are available for individuals who are not going to go back home and do not fit into the category or within the criteria listed in his newsletter. What programs does the Minister have for these youth?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Children who have left home for any valid reason can go to the department and will be looked after on the merits of their situation, and this government is comfortable with that.
For the Member opposite to suggest that this government, by taking steps to tighten the way in which welfare is administered in the Yukon to try and stop and prevent the abuse that has occurred - that that is somehow a Reform Party idea, let me suggest that Mr. Rae in Ontario must be Reform, that the governments of Saskatchewan and British Columbia must be Reform, because they are implementing the exact same measures. I know for a fact that Mr. Rae would like to be running under any banner other than NDP, because they are going to get kicked out in the next election.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister of Health and Social Services is suffering the same fate, and I feel sorry for him. We are in the Yukon, dealing with Yukoners, who we are here to represent. We are speaking on behalf of those individuals; we are not speaking on behalf of constituents in B.C. or Ontario. The Minister keeps forgetting that.
I would like to ask him again, because he did not answer my question, about what provisions there are for a young child under 19 years of age who does not fit into the criteria the Minister has listed in his newsletter. What happens to them? If they are refused social assistance, will they end up on the streets again, or will they have to resort to illegal activities to feed themselves?
That is the problem right now. It was very clear at the town hall meeting last night, so I am told.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member should screen very carefully hearsay evidence about what takes place at a meeting here or elsewhere.
The situation in the Yukon is that money is going to be focused on people who need assistance. The safety net will be there for the people who will need it, but not for the people who abuse it. I know that the Member opposite and her party pride themselves on being the advocates of those who want to scam the system - live off the system, not look for work and commit fraud - and that is fine. Somebody has to take that position. That is why their credibility, along with the credibility of their brothers and sisters across the nation, is almost non-existent.
Question re: Wilderness adventure travel licensing
Mr. Cable: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism about the commercial wilderness adventure travel business. Last June, I asked the Minister what his position was on the licensing of commercial wilderness adventure travel operators. He said his department was working on it, and that guidelines and rules for licensing were being developed. The Minister hoped to have something put together within a year. Is the Minister still working on this particular time line?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, we are working in consultation with the Wilderness Tourism Association. I can get back to the Member on exactly where we are in the process at this time. I know there have been some meetings with the association to discuss the matter of regulations.
Mr. Cable: Could the Minister tell the House what his government's position is on the licensing of commercial wilderness adventure travel operators? Is the government proceeding in that direction?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, we support the concerns of the wilderness tourism operators that we need some kind of licensing and regulations. Every other jurisdiction in the country is doing this. It is getting to the point where, in the future, if operators do not have regulations, it will be more difficult to sell packages because of insurance and other reasons. In general, we are being forced to move in that direction, but we want the process to be driven by the Wilderness Tourism Association and have them sit down and develop the regulations with it.
Mr. Cable: The issue of Yukon residency in relation to outfitting businesses has been a live issue here in the House recently. Last year in June, I asked the Minister what his position is on putting Yukon residency requirements on permits of the wilderness tour operators and he said that he would not make a commitment at that time, but he wanted to go to the consultative process. Is he now prepared to take a position on the need for, or his government's intentions on, the fixing of Yukon residency requirements on the licensing of these operators?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is an issue on which we are working in consultation with the Wilderness Tourism Association. Many of them will even tell you that if we had very strict residency clauses in place, many of them would not be operating in the territory today. That is the kind of thing that we will be sitting down with the wilderness tourism people to discuss, and we hope to come up with some kind of regulation that will satisfy the needs of the wilderness operators.
Question re: Education, standardized testing
Mr. Penikett: The Minister of Education has embraced standardized testing, but no serious attempt has been made to inform the public about this major policy, other than the mailed questionnaire that people recently saw. I have a number of constituents who feel that their serious concerns about this policy have not been heard at all by the department. Does the Minister plan to facilitate an informed public debate on this issue by, for example, producing more background information or perhaps by personally hosting some public forums on this important question?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There will be thorough consultation, a process that will be set up shortly after the draft implementation plan on diagnostic assessment and cumulative testing is prepared by the consultants. They are supposed to report back late in April - I think the target date is April 21 - at which time the department, together with stakeholder groups, will be determining an appropriate process for consultation with the public. My goodness, we certainly love to consult with people.
Mr. Penikett: Unfortunately, the consultation, as defined by Members opposite, seems to be: "We will tell you what we are going to do and we will find out if you like it."
I have a number of literate and numerate constituents who find the questions asked on the Minister's recent survey very narrow in focus and in scope, and feel that the serious policy issues about standardized testing have not been put before the public in a clear or a fair manner. I want to ask the Minister if he is absolutely confident that Yukon citizens have enough information about standardized testing - test results, results analysis, and so forth - to make informed responses to the survey that the Minister authorized.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Firstly, I think that the Member must admit to all who care to listen to this debate that we were the ones who went to Dawson and spoke to all of the stakeholders groups. We held eight meetings in two days. Earlier, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services was saying where the school ought to be situated up there, while his party, Members opposite, were critical that a school was even being built in Dawson without any consultation with the stakeholders there. That shows the difference in approach between us on this side who like to consult, and those on that side who like to pay lip service to it.
The short answer is that there will be lots of information going out to the public for the thorough consultation that will be taking place in May and June, once the experts have come out with a draft implementation plan for diagnostic assessment, and cumulative testing as well.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I did not really catch what the quackery from the Member for Faro was all about, but I can hear him there. Perhaps we should get our guns down, Bill, and duck down in the blind; I hear a big one flying over.
Mr. Penikett: I can only say to the Minister that I am sure everyone is entertained by his revisionist view of history, save and except those people who actually have information and facts about what he just said.
Since the survey that the Minister authorized - and which the people who are professionals in the field, my constituents, regard as completely inadequate - may be that the only way that many parents' views are assessed, and since the survey is, in the opinion of many of my constituents, a very poor way to deal with some very complex questions - and that is a view felt by constituents who question the validity of the research method - can I ask the Minister what the mandate of the consultant on implementation of this policy will be, since everything he has said so far indicates that his mind is absolutely made up and that he is completely inflexible on this policy issue?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Nothing could be further from the truth. We have said over and over and over again that, once the draft implementation plan is prepared, we will be going out to consult with all those stakeholders who care to participate, and we hope that everybody who cares does participate. We are not going to pull one of those consultative exercises that the Members opposite were famous for during their time in office, when they would go around the territory, get two or three people to a meeting in the communities and say they had consulted with everybody in the Yukon. We are not going to make that pretense. We are trying various avenues to get as much reaction from the stakeholders as possible.
Question re: Non-government organizations, funding for
Mr. Penikett: Of course, the Minister has damned himself by his own words since he talks about an implementation plan that clearly indicates that he is going to be consulting about how he does what he is going to do, not what he is going to do.
Let me ask the Minister to change gears a little. For years, Members on both sides of this House have preached about increasing the autonomy and self-sufficiency of community-based social service organizations; however, the recent changes to NGO funding arrangements take us in a quite different direction.
Would the Minister agree that periodic, rather than annual, payments to NGOs increases rather than decreases governmental control of those organizations?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If the Member does not believe that we have some kind of responsibility as a government to spend taxpayers' money wisely and that we are elected to make decisions about the standard of services that should be provided to the public, and really feels that politics is about simply handing blank cheques to one's friends, as was done by the previous government for many, many years, then the Member can hold that view. I do not.
Mr. Penikett: It is a funny thing. All of us remember when he was in Opposition and he was quite seriously proposing annual automatic increases in funding to non-governmental organizations. He clearly does not trust the citizens for the organizations.
Let me ask the Minister this: would he agree that making NGOs beg for money on a quarterly or a monthly basis is demeaning to their members and undermines the commitment that we have expressed on both side of this House to continuity and sustainability of necessary social services, which are delivered by the non-government organizations?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Perhaps it is the Member opposite who has been having the sugar today, because he is being awfully sweet in telling me, and anybody who cares to listen, that I did such a great job when I was sitting over where he sits. He feels it necessary to copy my act in every detail.
The issue is very simple. We have a responsibility to spend the money of the Yukon taxpayer as efficiently and effectively as possible. That means performance measurements, that means setting standards, that means expecting people to do the job for which the money is paid.
We are not Santa Claus; perhaps those opposite felt they were when they were sitting on this side.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister's somewhat erratic and emotional response to these questions indicates a deep, moral malaise on this question. Let me suggest to the Minister that there is something more than money to social policy.
Surely, the Minister understands that his changes in funding arrangements will not necessarily save the taxpayers any money, but will put the Minister in the position of a political candyman doling out cheques only to those groups who meet his approval. Does the Minister think that that development is a positive, just and appropriate development?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Going from the decision to take steps to ensure that non-governmental organizations are accountable and live up to the agreements they sign when they take on the responsibility for delivering a quality service to the taxpayer, is one thing. Jumping from that to the proposition enunciated by the Member opposite is not a leap of logic, it is a leap of faith, and I am very surprised that the Leader of the Official Opposition has become so religious at this stage in his life.
Question re: Historic Resources Act amendments
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for a Minister who is not quite so pompous as the Minister who just spoke - the Minister responsible for Tourism.
On March 28, the Minister of Tourism said that there is a draft of the Yukon Historic Resources Act amendments before all 14 First Nations for those First Nations to review. The following day, the Kwanlin Dun First Nation sent a letter to the Minister stating that they had never received a copy of the proposed legislative amendments, and have never been invited to comment on the proposed amendments. How does the Minister reconcile his claim that all 14 First Nations are being consulted with Kwanlin Dun's outright denial that any such thing is happening?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I received that same letter today from the Kwanlin Dun about not receiving the documents. I checked with the Department of Tourism. I signed the letters - I believe it was on March 10 - and as far I knew the documents were sent out. The department is now following it up.
I signed another letter about one hour ago, just after receiving the letter from the Kwanlin Dun. That letter is being hand-delivered to Kwanlin Dun. I do not have an explanation about why it was not received by the Kwanlin Dun; maybe it got lost in the mail, but it was sent out them, as far as I was concerned, on March 10.
Mr. McDonald: On March 29, they said that they did not get the letter. So, obviously, they did not get the letter. Given that it took the government two and one-half years to develop these amendments - without going to the trouble or hard work of consulting with anyone - does the Minister think that he is providing sufficient time - at least, as the term "consultation" is defined under the umbrella final agreement - for consultation with the First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: To correct what the Member said earlier, I was correct in what I said the other day. I told the Member that I sent the information out to the First Nations. I have no way of knowing if they received it, until they come back to me with their concerns or their agreement. How am I supposed to know? When you were the Minister, did you send out a letter and then call the people right afterwards, to see whether or not they got it? The Member never did that, and he is wrong to say that.
Speaker: Order. Would the Minister please address the Member through the Chair.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member knows that his accusation is absolutely foolish. Yes, I do think there is ample time. Today, I have indicated to the Kwanlin Dun that we are extending the time, until April 10 or so, to hear back from them about what concerns they may have. We hand delivered the document to them today, and I also had the department phone every other First Nation to confirm whether or not they had received the documents when they were sent.
Mr. McDonald: I will pass on the Minister's claim that the Chief of the Kwanlin Dun's accusation is foolish. I will make sure that that gets through - do not worry. I will even phone to make sure it gets through.
The City of Whitehorse does not have its right to be consulted enshrined in law, but can the Minister tell us whether or not it has received a copy of the act and have been consulted about the proposed amendments?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member. I asked the department today to follow up on who received the act.
The Member opposite may be going to contact the Kwanlin Dun and tell them that they were wrong. I did not say that the Kwanlin Dun was wrong. I said that I was correct the other day, when I told the Member that I had sent the information out for the First Nations to look at. I have no way of knowing whether or not they receive it, until they write back to me, or phone me, and say, "Where is it?" One of them did do that, so now we are checking with all of them to find out whether or not they received it.
If the Member wants to talk about what a party does, or what a party does not do, I will inform the Kwanlin Dun that that Member has voted against the budget for the last three years in a row, and probably will again this time. So, all the good things in the budget, the NDP are against.
Question re: Pilot Mountain subdivision
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services regarding land planning of rural areas.
The Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment recently discussed the value and contribution that comprehensive land use planning can make toward achieving sustainable economic development and addressing the needs and interests of all Yukoners.
The problem that comes up when government fails to consult properly is, for example, what happened when 60 people attended a meeting last night and they told the Yukon government they do not want another subdivision near the Hot Springs Road rammed down their throats.
I would like to ask the Minister if he agrees with the approach of comprehensive land use planning that involves all interested parties?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I presume the Member has been reading the news clips, and such things, which is completely different from the minutes of the meeting I received. Yes, there are some people who disagree with it, and there are others who had suggestions of how they would like it to be done. They have come up with a new concept, a fourth one. We had three. They came up with a new one, which we will be looking at and we hope to get back to them shortly. After reading the minutes, I am not too sure that all of the people were completely against it. In fact, I thought that they used some very good judgment in some of the things they asked the department to look into doing. Yes, I believe in consulting them and I have consulted in everything that we have tried to do.
Ms. Moorcroft: Reports continue to reach my office that the Minister is going ahead with plans to create a rural-residential subdivision off the Hot Springs Road. He said that they took three different plans to the meeting and now they are going to come back with a fourth plan that does take into account the opinions of the residents. Why did he not take into account the opinions of the residents in the planning in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The concept of the Pilot Mountain subdivision started in 1980. We have been since 1980 getting to this point. I presume that somewhere along the line, not only this government, but the other government consulted. I firmly believe that they did consult with these people. We are doing our best. To me, consulting is to take out a suggestion, if they do not want it, they should tell us what they want. We are not forcing this down anyone's throat.
Ms. Moorcroft: I think there are obvious problems when residents are speaking out and saying that the government is trying to ram things down people's throats. There are numerous problems with their land use planning. We have been asking questions about that in this House for months now. I would like to ask the Minister if he can promise that, before a subdivision is created, he will consult with legitimate interests, including existing residents, the nearby municipality and with the First Nations in the area?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, we always do, and we will continue to do it.
Question re: Land development, private
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services. I attended a Chamber of Commerce luncheon some time ago, where the Mayor of the City of Whitehorse was the guest speaker. There were many questions from the business community about the costs of land and development, and whose responsibility it was to develop land and to set the price of that land. There was a keen interest in the prospect of encouraging the private sector to develop land here in the Yukon. I would like to ask the Minister what his government's position is regarding the privatization of land development.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: On the next groups of lots that are coming available, we are designating a trial area in which the lots will be offered for private development by home builders.
Mrs. Firth: I understand by that answer that this government supports the privatization of land development. Can the Minister then tell us what the process is going to be for this experimental pilot project? Is it going to go out to public tender or public bid?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: In this program we will be looking at giving them a certain number of lots from among the groups of lots that are to be made available. They will be able to develop them on their own.
Mrs. Firth: I am not sure who is going to get the lots. Perhaps the Minister could provide me with a written process about how this is going to work.
For my final supplementary, I would like to ask the Minister this question: since the Minister has announced that the government is going to have an extensive, comprehensive review of the Lands Act, and that there are going to be major amendments made to the Lands Act, I would like to ask the government if it is going to look at amending the act with respect to privatization of land development. Is that going to be included in the amendments to the Lands Act?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There will be several options taken to Cabinet, and it will make the decision about what we do.
Question re: Mobile homes, low-cost lots
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services or Yukon Housing Corporation, whoever wants to answer - I am not sure who is responsible for it, frankly.
We have just received word that there is another rent increase for trailer home owners in Northland Trailer Park. This matches increases in other trailer parks and amounts to 17 percent over the past two years in some places. Many trailer home owners have expressed extreme frustration to me about this situation and want an alternative to the rental situation they currently face. They need options. Most people speak about wanting the opportunity to purchase an affordable lot that will give them true home ownership and will address their current difficult circumstances.
Can the Minister tell us what progress has been made with the City of Whitehorse to develop low-cost lots in the city for trailer owners who wish to move their trailers out of the rental parks?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I cannot tell the Member what progress the city has made. I can tell them, though, that the group looking into the whole problem and issue of trailers has gathered the technical data. It has spoken to tenants. It has obtained reports from British Columbia on what is being done there. It is preparing a report that I believe will be considered by the Yukon Housing Corporation board on April 7 and 8 at its meeting, and that will be available to me as the Minister. When I get that report I will provide a copy to the Member.
I do not know whether or not the committee has addressed the issue of land in that report.
Mr. McDonald: I thank the Minister for that commitment. If the Minister checks, he will find that the group was reviewing building codes and city bylaws, not the issue of land development. So I will ask the other Minister, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, about land.
Can that Minister tell us whether or not he has had further discussions with the City of Whitehorse about the development of low-cost land in the City of Whitehorse for the purposes of moving trailers from rental parks to a land-ownership situation?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I have not since we set up the committee.
Mr. McDonald: There is a real problem here. This issue was raised last year, and many of us on both sides of the House who spoke to the issue have agreed that the availability of low-cost lots for trailer home owners is a significant element in resolving the problems that trailer home owners face.
Someone has to take the responsibility to address this situation, which is consequently the reason for my confusion in determining which Minister is responsible. Something has to be done. Will any Minister be talking to the City of Whitehorse about the development of low-cost land, so there can be an option for people who want to move out of the rental stall they are currently occupying and take ownership of a piece of land on which to put their trailer?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, I will do that. The committee that has been set up will look into that. When we discussed this previously, I recall that there were lots available in the Arkell subdivision, but they were too highly priced for a lot of these people. The concern that came back from the city was that it did not want to develop low-cost lots and end up ghetto-izing trailer owners. Therefore, that issue was going to be considered as part of the whole problem, rather than independent of the health and safety issues with respect to mobile homes.
Question re: Wilderness adventure travel licensing
Mr. Cable: The land claim agreements that have been negotiated to date - the four band final agreements - set out the provision that if a quota is established by the government for any sector of the commercial wilderness adventure travel industry within the particular traditional areas of each First Nation, then that First Nation will have the right of first refusal on licences or permits.
Can the Minister of Tourism tell me if the government is examining any other river with a view toward establishing quotas, besides the Tatshenshini and Firth rivers?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not aware of any particular rivers, other than the Tatshenshini, that has a quota system at this time and that we are actually examining for that.
Mr. Cable: The Minister indicated something to the effect of "we are examining". Is there a consultation process going on with the First Nation players in wilderness game and the other wilderness tour operators with respect to establishing quotas on any of the rivers, other than the two rivers I just mentioned?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not think we are at the stage yet in the Yukon where we are faced with that problem. It is an issue that the wilderness tourism operators are concerned about on some rivers, and that is part of the reason that there is a call for regulations. If there is that kind of thing set up, it will be set up in consultation with the tourism wilderness operators and in compliance with the umbrella final agreement.
Mr. Cable: I expressed to the Minister last June in the budget debate the fact that some of the operators are wondering who is here in the territory, and how many outsiders were present in the business. I suggested to the Minister that a review of the business licences might give us some idea about who is actually in the territory operating in the wilderness tour business. He indicated that he would think about it and get back to me. Has the Minister has a chance to determine who are the players in the wilderness tour business in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If we wanted to check business licences, the Member opposite could check territorial business licences as easily as anyone to find out who is in the wilderness tourism business.
We do have a pretty good handle on who operates in the Yukon now, because many of them use the services of the Tourism branch in marketing and other initiatives and come to many of the meetings, so we have a pretty good handle on who is here. Part of the problem is that we have been having some come in from Europe and from the United States, because we have no licensing or regulations - arriving at the Whitehorse airport and operating on Yukon rivers with California or European guides, with no regulation whatsoever. Some of our local operators are bumping into these people on some of the rivers. That is their concern - should there be regulations requiring a Yukon guide or the registration of a trip. If we ever have to rescue some of these people, we would have to pay as taxpayers. Those are some of the concerns that are being raised. That is what we are looking into and that is the kind of thing that will be dealt with in regulations in the future.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has elapsed.
We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Committee to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Health and Social Services - continued
On Operation and Maintenance - continued
On Health Services - continued
Chair: We are returning to Yukon hospital services, which was stood over last night.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Before we get into that, there is some information I would like to provide to the House. I have four copies of the flow of money regarding the Thomson Centre and CMHC, and how it works. I would ask the Page to give one to the Leader of the Official Opposition, one to the Liberal leader, one to the Member for Riverdale South and one to the Table.
I was asked late yesterday about renovations to the young offenders facility. To respond briefly to that, very little of the budget in either year is for office renovations; almost all is directed at work in the youth facilities. 305 Lambert is not simply offices; it is also our centre for youth probation, Yukon health counselling and the adolescent sex offender treatment programs.
The 1994-95 budget of $212,000 included only $30,000 for office renovations at 305 Lambert. The remainder was for $102,000 for an upgrade to the security system and the addition of a workshop at the secure custody facility, $25,000 for window replacements as part of ongoing maintenance at 305 Lambert, $20,000 to create a community group home at 501 Taylor to be used for youth groups and courses, $35,000 for several projects and maintenance including completion of a quiet room at the secure custody facility, fuel tank replacement at 501 Taylor, replacement of doors and locks at 305 Lambert following a break-in, and installation of security systems at 305 Lambert and 501 Taylor.
The 1995-96 budget of $216,000 includes $27,000 to complete the office renovations at 305 Lambert; the remainder is for required work at the secure facility, which is $132,000, and 501 Taylor, which is $57,000.
I was asked about young offenders in custody and where they are from. There are today 14 young offenders in the Whitehorse secure custody facility. Of this total, eight are from Whitehorse and six are from the regional communities of Faro, Ross River, Haines Junction and Carcross. There are presently three Whitehorse youths in open custody facilities in Whitehorse and none from the regional communities. Efforts are in progress to establish open custody arrangements in the communities. Specifically, active discussions are now taking place with individuals in Faro and Watson Lake.
Those are all the items I wish to read into the record. I do have an additional document for the critic for Social Services, and it is a reference manual that I neglected to have sent to her the other day.
The critic for Health was provided with a document that attempted to compare apples to apples from the old program at the hospital and the new program at the hospital, and I will try to answer questions.
On Yukon Hospital Services - previously stood over
Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me say how much I appreciate the efforts of the Minister and the assistant deputy minister to provide me with the information I asked for about lists of services at the old and new hospitals in a comparable manner. The information I received yesterday warranted some fairly lengthy study, and the legislative return we received before the House sat today is, as the Minister says, an attempt to compare apples and apples. I would note, however, that strict comparability, perhaps because of time, is not possible, because in some cases we have broad categories in the list of services at the old hospital, and a more detailed description of the services available in the new hospital.
Nevertheless, this list gives a different impression from the one some citizens may have obtained from the information that there would be fewer beds in the new hospital, from which information they reasoned that there would therefore be fewer services, or a narrower range of services. Indeed, the focus on ambulatory care, outpatient services and short-stay surgical visits in many hospitals in the country does mean that, save and except for technical additions, there are some programs that are no longer provided in the hospital that once were.
I would only say to the Minister that I thank him for the information. I do not want to try to provoke long debate on it because, to be perfectly frank, I have not had the occasion to absorb it all. Perhaps I can just indicate to the Minister that the information will, at least, provide source material for the next budget round rather than this one. Again, I thank him and the department for it.
Yukon Hospital Services in the amount of $16,055,000 agreed to
Health Services in the amount of $54,660,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $92,822,000 agreed to
On Capital - continued
Chair: We will move back to capital estimates. Is there any general debate on the family and children's services branch?
On Family and Children's Services - continued
On Foster Home Equipment
Mr. Penikett: May I use the occasion of this question to inquire about when we might expect the information on which to draw comparisons between provincial rates for foster parents? I do not require it before we clear this item, but it would be nice to know if we can obtain it during this sitting.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My information is that the rates are under review. I am not exactly sure when they are going to be changed, but they are going to be changed shortly.
Mr. Penikett: I am interested, of course, as all Members are, in what the new rates will be. The precise question, though, is about the comparison between our rates and those in other jurisdictions. Again, I say I do not have an urgent need for this information, but I would like to get it before the House rises.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We will get that for the Member. With regard to debate on foster home equipment, I think I have read that description in the general debate, but it is for equipment required. The assets remain the property of the government or are recycled where appropriate. Examples include recreation equipment, cribs, car seats, high chairs, dressers, and that sort of thing.
Foster Home Equipment in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Child Care Services Development
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The funds are used to provide start-up and enhancement grants to Yukon child care centres and family day homes for the purpose of equipment or facility renovations that are required to meet health and safety standards. Those standards were increased in the child care regulations that became effective April 1, 1994.
Child Care Services Development in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
On Young Offender Facilities - Renovations and Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I read in the detailed breakdown of what all of this was for when we commenced this afternoon.
Young Offender Facilities - Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $216,000 agreed to
On Child Welfare Facilities - Renovations and Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These funds are required to provide necessary maintenance and renovations for five Whitehorse child welfare facilities, and to provide such equipment in these facilities as is necessary to bring a level of care consistent with required service and safety standards. The maintenance items and a required renovation to 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 subsequently reduced expenditure in 1995-96.
Child Welfare Facilities - Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Family and Children's Services in the amount of $366,000 agreed to
On Social Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will go through all the lines in general debate. The social services operation equipment is $30,000. The monies are used to provide specialized administrative equipment as required for the social assistance community services programs. An increase in the ongoing replacement allotment has been budgeted because of the plan to move this activity into a new space. The alcohol and drug services renovations and equipment funding of $120,000 will be used to provide equipment required by the alcohol and drug prevention outpatient, inpatient, and detox services, to provide a level of care consistent with required service and safety standards. Examples include desks, dressers, beds, mattresses, linens and other household furniture and equipment.
The program is expanding and we are relocating the prevention and outpatients services from Crossroads to the Prospectors Building, which is the same building in which the social welfare offices are located. Detox and Crossroads are going to share the building, which will be renovated. The equipment budget has been increased to accommodate the changes.
I should note that there is lapsed money that will be spent on the renovations to Crossroads. Before the renovations on the Crossroads building get underway, the move of the alcohol and drug services branch to its new office has to be completed.
Home are operational equipment is for $30,000. The money is to be used to provide such equipment as is required by the home care program to provide a level of care consistent with required service and safety standards. This program provides needed services to Yukoners recovering from illness or requiring attendant care in their own homes and allows Yukoners to remain in their homes rather than going to more expensive institutional care.
The increase results from increased medical needs as the Yukon population ages and for growth in the number of clients served in this manner, rather than being served through institutional programs.
On Social Services Operational Equipment
Social Services Operational Equipment in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Alcohol and Drug Services - Renovations and Equipment
Alcohol and Drug Services - Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
On Home Care - Operational Equipment
Home Care - Operational Equipment in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Social Services in the amount of $180,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any general debate on Health Services?
On Health Services
On Chronic Disease Benefits - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These funds are required for the support of individuals with chronic debilitating diseases and disabilities in order to minimize hospitalization. Examples are wheelchairs, walkers, respiratory equipment and bathtub supports.
Mr. Penikett: Have there been any changes to the coverage under this item since we last talked about it during budget debate?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to get back to the Member. I expect a note momentarily. Perhaps we could stand this item aside.
Ms. Commodore: I have a question with regard to the $250 deductible listed in the newsletter. I am not sure how that works. The individual not on social assistance has to pay $250 deductible. Does that amount of money have to be paid beforehand, or is it added up each time someone gets a prescription until it reaches $250? Can the Minister explain that to me?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In most cases, it is added up each time until the person reaches $250.
Could we stand this line item over, please?
Chronic Disease Benefits - Equipment - stood over
On Extended Health Benefits - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These funds are requested for the purchase of major medical equipment similar in nature to the chronic disease equipment for use by seniors. The equipment is returned to the loan bank after use. The number of registrants is increasing as the Yukon's population ages and people choose to stay here.
Mr. Penikett: I have the same question about this program as I did about the previous line.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is no change to this program.
Extended Health Benefits - Equipment in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Hospital Construction
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The costs associated with the 1995-96 portion of this four-year project will be used to complete the two-storey structure containing patient rooms on the second floor and surgical and ambulatory services on the first floor. The structural framework for this portion was erected in the current fiscal year. There was a one-month delay granted, and the tender packages will be coming out later on in April.
Whitehorse Hospital Construction in the amount of $15,000,000 agreed to
On Chronic Diseases Benefits - Equipment - previously stood over
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Perhaps we could go back to the chronic disease benefits equipment. There were not changes since last year. The person who frantically signaled thought that the Member was referring to the $250 deductible.
Chronic Diseases Benefits - Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Yukon Hospital Corporation - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These funds were requested to provide funding to the Whitehorse General Hospital for new capital projects, which will meet identified health objectives. In addition to improved delivery of health services the projects identified for the upcoming year will yield estimated annual operation and maintenance savings of $65,000.
Approximately $100,000 will be used to establish a cataract surgery capability. At the present time, some 60 patients per year must travel outside of the territory for removal of cataracts.
The amount of $100,000 will be directed toward the first phase of an information systems project. When completed, this will enable the hospital to operate more efficiently and it will improve the quality and timeliness of the management information generated by the hospital that is critical for our funding and health planning decisions.
The remaining $3,000 is seed money to extend the diabetic, education and other outreach services.
Mr. Penikett: I cannot remember if it was yesterday or the day before, but I mentioned the need I had felt, as Minister of Health and Social Services, to establish a technology advisory committee involving physicians, other health care professionals and people in the department to provide expert counsel to the Minister, and perhaps, given the current circumstances, to the hospital board about pressures we occasionally get to acquire expensive technology that may not be efficacious.
I want to use the occasion of this line to ask what the Minister's view is on the need for such a committee, either a hospital-based committee or a department-based one.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I think it is a good suggestion and I will be canvassing it.
Some initiatives are going on with computer planning, but with regard to the more general question of specialized items such as dialysis machinery and that kind of thing, I am going to look at the best setup. We do have the JMC and it might have a subgroup or something or involve the hospital board JMC. I will undertake to get back with a written response once we have had time to consider it.
Yukon Hospital Corporation - Equipment in the amount of $203,000 agreed to
On Hospital Road No. 2 and No. 4
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These are requested for the ongoing capital maintenance of the two old buildings at No. 2 and No. 4 Hospital Road, which were acquired with the hospital as phase 1. They are old but they are basically sound. Government Services recently conducted a survey of the work required and the funding requested is to permit completion of the requirements identified.
Under the terms of the health transfer, YTG is required to provide office space to the medical services branch, and the MSB units occupying these two buildings provide community health services to Yukon residents. These units may be transferred to YTG in phase 2 of the health transfer.
Hospital Road No. 2 and No. 4 in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Northern Health Services
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These funds are required to support YTG's share of the capital expenditures by MSB to provide community health services outside Whitehorse. During 1995-96, we will contribute $79,000 to replace vehicles used by community health personnel, $94,000 to upgrade equipment in community health facilities, $210,000 to do planning for replacement of the Ross River nursing station, and $280,000 for planning for the replacement of the Teslin nursing station.
Mr. Penikett: In the past, the Members in this House have asked for lists of the equipment that we were going to be cost sharing with the federal government. The Ministers has dutifully provided the House with a list.
It was my experience as the Minister that what was actually bought had almost no relationship whatsoever to the list that we brought to the House to defend in the budget. I never completely understood the reason for this, but it may have been that, for this brief, dark moment, we were importing federal budget practices, federal expenditure practices or federal systems of public service management into our arena. Perhaps the situation is completely improved with the change of territorial government here, or perhaps the change of government in Ottawa. Perhaps the Minister can tell me that what used to be my experience is no longer the case.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I wish I could, but part of what we are doing is keeping the peace while we negotiate phase 2. We have had some rather severe and pointed disagreements with MSB in the past. The most notable is a couple of years ago, when we asked that it not proceed to build the nurses' residence in Watson Lake because of vocal local opposition. MSB did it anyway, and we refused to pay.
Essentially, the two facilities that they priorized are really run down. We would like to have it to be part of the package that we take over. I gather that the Kulan Place in Ross River costs a fortune in O&M. In Teslin, there are two broken-down trailers that are long overdue to be replaced.
With regard to the $94,000 to upgrade equipment, I really am not sure about its scope.
Northern Health Services in the amount of $663,000 agreed to
On Speech and Hearing Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This item is an ongoing, annual cost for the regular replacement of the unit's existing specialized audiology equipment.
It is required in order that continuing hearing assessment services can be provided.
Speech and Hearing Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Unit Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is for new and replacement items of a minor capital nature, as required. Examples include stretchers, vital signs monitors and head immobilizers.
Ambulance Unit Equipment in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Vehicle Replacement
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Funds are required to sustain a regular replacement program for the Yukon Ambulance Service's fleet of 20 ambulances. Two units will be replaced each year, which will ensure replacement every 10 years.
Mr. Penikett: In discussion of the ambulance program and ambulance equipment, has the Minister received representations from any members of the physician community about the reorganization of this service? The reason I ask is that, during my time as Minister, I received a very intelligent and, I thought, quite carefully worked out proposal from one physician interested in the problem of treating trauma patients in the Yukon and the distances between the site of the accidents - whether it was an occupational or automobile accident - and the hospital. This physician had proposed, I think, remodelling the service so that, in common with some American jurisdictions, we could have front-line health providers actually aboard the ambulance, and the treatment would begin as soon as the person is in the ambulance, and not once they get to the hospital.
Given that we are spending fairly fabulous sums on ambulances now, the logic of having certain kinds of diagnostic tools in the ambulance and perhaps having, if not distance diagnosis from physicians, perhaps more highly qualified staff in the ambulance able to deal with some traumatic situations seemed to me to have some merit. I had no basis for evaluating this proposal and I think I left the ministry shortly thereafter, but it does seem to me that we are making a significant investment in hospitals.
It seemed to me, as well, that this was the kind of proposal that made sense with a new hospital, rather than with an old hospital, and that the possibilities in a new, relatively high-tech hospital for being able to begin treatment using radio telephones, or whatever else - I think now that satellite link-ups to diagnostic tools seems to me to be not out of the question - is something that might reasonably be considered.
I ask only because it is quite obvious that we have the potential here all the time for serious highway accidents to occur 100 or 200 miles away from Whitehorse, which is the first place that they can be reasonably treated, as well as in our mines - whether it is at Faro or, if I dare say, at relatively unsafe mines, such as Elsa or Tantalus Butte - the potential for having one or more, or perhaps even half a dozen, individuals injured at any one time is quite real, and the ability to begin treatment at or near the site of the accident, or en route to the hospital, it seemed, as a layperson, to be fairly probable.
My question is really this: has the Minister had such a representation and how has he dealt with it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Let me begin by saying only in the general terms as just presented by the Member himself. I recall that one of the very strong feelings of some people in the medical community was that 911 was a bit of a farce because what it conjures up in people's minds are the specialty services provided in the TV series, and that really the money should be better appropriated to providing those kinds of services rather than the 911 service. However, that is as an aside.
One of the physicians in JMC, Dr. Beaton, is the advisor for the ambulance service. He has had a hand in restructuring the training. Whitehorse attendants can now start intravenous therapy and do heart operations - I cannot read the word. The rural attendants have upgraded equipment that automatically monitors heart rate and blood pressure.
We are moving in that direction. It is a good point and certainly we all know of some tragic cases where individuals whom we knew passed away when they might have been saved.
Mr. Penikett: I do not think I am at liberty to indicate which physician made the recommendations to me. Let me discretely urge upon the Minister further conversations with a certain Dr. Beaton on this question.
Mr. Harding: This is perhaps not the most appropriate line in which to ask the Minister a question, but it is something I should raise with him.
We had a brief discussion in Question Period the other day about the issue of the community doctor in Faro. The Minister at that time, when I asked him about the response to the advertisement entitled, "Are you looking for some northern exposure?", said that he had no idea what level of response would be obtained. The advertisement has been out for two or three weeks, and my communication with the mayor and council is that we have not had a lot of response.
The Minister is talking to the assistant deputy minister about how many responses there were.
I am interested in knowing how many responses there were to that particular advertisement.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There were four responses. My understanding was that they were not qualified to practice in Canada. We also understand that there was a very good possibility that Dr. Bamford wishes to remain. That is up in the air and it is a new development as well.
Mr. Harding: I understand from discussions with Dr. Bamford that his move was not as harmonious as he would have liked, but that does leave the situation in a somewhat confused state.
The department has been heavily involved in helping the community locate another doctor, but we do not precisely know where we are going. Dr. Bamford was going to come in for January and February for a couple of weeks. We have arranged to have someone come in on Fridays. We have received quite a bit of cooperation from the Minister's department, and we have had a good working relationship with the federal government - it seems to have worked out okay.
When we initially started talking about this, it seemed that everyone thought that we would not have to entice anybody to come to Faro, that there was a big surplus of doctors looking for work, but I have not gotten a sense - given what the mayor and council have been up to, and they have talked to a lot of people - that we are actually going to have a real easy time with this.
Is the Minister somewhat surprised at the minimal level of response to the advertisement?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, I am somewhat surprised. I thought there would be more doctors - particularly young professionals - looking for a place to practice, given the fact that the gates have been closed in places such as B.C., where they can only earn the 50 percent. I had anticipated more. It may be a little early yet for a final tally. I do not know how long these responses take.
I have something hot off the teletype here. There are four responses: one is not qualified, and the other three applications are going before the medical council. As the Member knows, we are doing our best to cover Faro and Ross River with short-term locums.
Mr. Harding: The other day I asked the Minister a question that is somewhat complicated by the recent developments surrounding Dr. Bamford. During Question Period, I asked the Minister if the department was prepared to expand its advertising for someone to fill the position. He replied, "of course." I can appreciate the Minister wanting to give it a little more time, but I would like to understand where he might be prepared to go. I am under quite a bit of pressure from people in the community to work on something more permanent. People are happy with the interim arrangements, however there is a little bit of anxiety building. I have spoken with a lot of mothers who are concerned, and that type of thing.
People are moving back to the community, and new people are moving in, and they are concerned about access to appropriate health services. As the Minister is aware, the population is growing quite rapidly. Things are coming online, such as mill jobs, resulting in quite an influx of people. Could the Minister tell me where he might be prepared to go with the advertising?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am really not sure about the market that was tested by the first ads. I rely on those who know more about the profession than I do. I have not entered into discussions with the department about the applications. Of course, if we have three applications that are before the Yukon Medical Council, that looks very good. The new development with regard to the doctor that was leaving is also there, so it is a bit premature.
Certainly, the department has had experience with advertising for specialists. The department has tried a variety of methods, most notably in the lengthy period that went by before we were able to attract a resident psychiatrist to the territory. I would have to rely on the experience of individuals in that department.
It seems to me that the breakthrough in that case really came about as a result of a CBC program, which raised that issue in the context of a story and the territory was able to hire someone as a result. I really do not have an answer, but I am advised that the advertising is being expanded to the Medical Post within the next two weeks. I understand that ad will run every two weeks. This is a Canada-wide journal that is published weekly, and it also being advertised in medical journals and medical schools. The department feels that the next logical step would be to engage a headhunter.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister for that answer, and I am glad to see that the department has what looks like a solid plan in place to gauge the level of responses. I am pleased to hear this and I am sure my constituents will be happy to hear this information.
It is funny that the Minister mentions the CBC advertising, because I can remember back in 1986-87 when there was no physician in Faro, there was actually a job action at the mine site when there was a serious incident involving a child of one of the residents in the community. This incident sparked an incredibly heated exchange and we saw people coming in from the territorial and federal governments for three town meetings in one day. This incident also attracted national news coverage.
It was an incredibly intense effort by the mayor and council at that point to advertise. They did ads nationally on radio, and whatnot, and eventually it worked. I am glad to see that we are not having to reach that kind of point here. I would just say, as a representation to the Minister, that I appreciate the efforts. It looks as if the expanded advertising is already in place if we need it, and I would just add that, if we are having difficulty, I would hope the Minister will be flexible about discussing issues such as moving costs and interview costs with the municipality, which is also under some fairly substantial pressure to produce a full-time physician for the growing population of Faro.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the Member for his comments. Just for the record, I mention that Whitehorse attendants can now start intravenous therapy and do heart defibrillation, which means starting a stopped heart. I stumbled on that word because I did not recognize it in the handwriting in which it was written.
Mr. Penikett: As much as I was keen about the proposal I made, my heart did stop when I heard that the Minister said that ambulance attendants were going to be doing heart operations in a moving ambulance as they travel across country in rural Yukon. I thank the Member for clearing that up.
Ambulance Vehicle Replacement in the amount of $144,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Station Renovations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These funds are required to replace the roof of the Whitehorse ambulance station. The existing roof was identified as deficient when the facility was completed in 1989; however, the construction company went bankrupt and was thus not available to complete the work. Many parts of the roof leak and further delay in effecting required repairs is likely to result in interior damage.
Ambulance Station Renovations in the amount of $201,000 agreed to
On Thomson Centre - Building
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is for ongoing maintenance of the facility.
Thomson Centre - Building in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Thomson Centre - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is ongoing replacement to maintain the program and patient-care furniture and equipment at a level that properly accommodates program services for residents and satisfies national and municipal codes and standards.
Ms. Commodore: I have a question. It is just a curiosity question, I suppose, because I saw something in the paper where people were asking for donations for furniture for the Thomson Centre. Can the Minister tell me what that is about?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, I will have to get back to the Member on that.
Thomson Centre - Equipment in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Macaulay Lodge - Renovations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The planned projects include roof repair, exterior painting, sealing the driveway and parking lot, repaving the front drive area and small, miscellaneous projects.
Macaulay Lodge - Renovations in the amount of $121,000 agreed to
On Macaulay Lodge - Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Specific projects in this item include a new high/low platform in addition to regular replacement items.
Macaulay Lodge - Equipment in the amount of $101,000 agreed to
On McDonald Lodge Renovations and Equipment
McDonald Lodge Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $58,000 agreed to
Health Services in the amount of $16,711,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $18,510,000 agreed to
Department of Health and Social Services agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move that we report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Department of Justice
Chair: Is there any general debate on the Department of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to present the first supplementary funding request in 1994-95 for the Department of Justice. The department is projecting a net overexpenditure of $126,000 for operation and maintenance, offset by an increase in recoveries of $50,000. Capital expenditures are forecast to increase by a further $291,000.
On the operations side, changes have occurred in the voted amounts for all programs except the Human Rights Commission. The impact of wage restraint legislation across the entire department amounted to a total of $140,000, and a further $122,000 can be attributed to fewer vacancies than the department anticipated.
The department's approach to personnel budgeting for the 1994-95 fiscal year was to calculate a projected one-percent vacancy rate throughout the department. This was a very conservative figure based on historical performance but, as the year progressed, very few vacancies occurred in any branch, which necessitated this adjustment to the salaries budget.
For management services, a total of $154,000 is requested to bring the revised vote up to $1,329,000. The majority of this amount is comprised of personnel cost increases, as previously mentioned, with casual assistants, an extension to a term position, and position reclassifications also occurring within the branch. I will discuss these items further during line-by-line debate. Further increases are anticipated for outside recruitment costs for positions being filled within the department.
In court services, supplementary funds of $197,000 are requested to bring the revised vote up to $3,240,000. The maintenance enforcement project, which commenced during the 1993-94 year, continues into the current fiscal year with the expenses for the two years estimated at $65,000. This amount is fully recoverable from the federal government.
A further $27,000 is allocated to the Yukon Review Board. The requirement to establish a board in each jurisdiction and territory was created by an amendment to the Criminal Code in 1992. Initially the B.C. board handled Yukon matters, because activity levels of the board could not be accurately projected, and the B.C. board offered both expertise and a degree of convenience to deal with persons in treatment in B.C. facilities.
More recently, the number of matters going before the board has increased and practical difficulties have arisen with a continued reliance on B.C. members. It was therefore decided to establish a board in the Yukon, and funding has been allocated accordingly.
The court reporting contract is projected to increase by $30,000, due to an increase in court sitting days. Since the contract is administered on a per diem basis, the increase has impacted on the amount to be billed for this fiscal year.
The balance of $75,000 is for personnel cost increases and miscellaneous operating expenses, which have increased over the course of the year.
In legal services, the supplementary funds requested total $483,000, for a revised vote of $3,548,000. The bulk of this amount is comprised of an expected increase in the outside legal counsel budget. The increase to this activity is forecast at $250,000 and is due to fees associated with the Curragh Inc. and Taga Ku cases currently before the courts.
Additional funds have been allocated for legal aid in the amount of $70,000, to cover the costs of outstanding certificates prior to the change in the program delivery model.
Personnel cost increases account for a further increase of $93,000 and are due primarily to a back-fill solicitor position to cover an employee on maternity leave.
An increase in funds for the court worker program is requested for $20,000, which we now know is recoverable from the federal government. However, our recoveries have not increased by this amount because confirmation of federal funding had not been received by the time the supplementary was prepared.
In consumer and commercial services, the department is projecting a lapse of $198,000, for a revised vote of $2,525,000.
The current loss control unit was transferred to the Public Service Commission in July 1994, resulting in a decrease of $134,000 to the personnel allotment, and $14,000 for operations expenses.
Other reductions to the branch include $100,000 for hearings, such as Utility Board and Medical Council, which did not proceed this year as anticipated.
In the community and corrections services branch, we are anticipating an increase of $217,000 to the voted amount, for a new total of $8,059,000. That allotment has increased by $269,000, with offsetting savings of $52,000 in operation expenses. The Teslin Community Correctional Centre did not open until May, as planned, but in June. The budget was constructed for an expected resident count of 15 but, to date, there have been fewer residents there. The result is that the staffing costs at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre have not been offset as anticipated, causing an overexpenditure at WCC of approximately one percent of the total personnel budget, or, $335,000.
The Teslin personnel budget is projected to be approximately 19 percent lower than budgeted, with savings of $182,000. The net result is that the combined personnel budget for the two facilities is projected to be $154,000 greater than originally budgeted.
The savings anticipated in operations are due primarily to the transfer of $117,000 for the 911 program to the community development and policing branch. This amount is offset by miscellaneous increases of $65,000, including $10,000 for an evaluation of the traditional medicine program at WCC. This expenditure is 100-percent recoverable from the federal government.
Another $44,000 can be attributed to project increases in the community justice contracts, based on negotiated funding levels for justice services in the communities. The community development and policing branch is anticipating a lapse of $727,000, which will bring the revised vote to $9,984,000. As previously mentioned, the 911 program costs have been transferred to this branch from the community and correctional services. This increase is offset by a decrease in the RCMP and special native constable program areas. The decrease in the RCMP expenses amounts to $796,000, and is due to a change in the accounting procedure for recording revenues accruing to the territory. The change was retroactive for two fiscal years. The adjustment was made on the first invoice for 1994-95, thereby reducing the actual amount payable on the invoice.
The change was in the area of accommodation/rental income due to the territory. Previously, the credit was taken off the total expenditures, and our 70-percent cost share was applied to the net figure. In this way, the territory received only 70 percent of the revenue. The Auditor General determined that the territory should receive 100 percent of the revenue, and so we have been credited with the balance owing.
The special native constable expenses were reduced, pending an expected cost reduction due to the signing and implementation of tripartite agreements. The agreements call for a 48-percent cost share, instead of the current 54 percent. So far, the agreement in principle has been signed, but individual tripartites with the bands have not been completed. The anticipated reduction to the program costs is about $48,000.
Recoveries are projected to increase by a net total of $50,000 for a revised amount of $837,000. The federal government has provided funding of $75,000 for two projects within the department. The first amount is a continuation of the maintenance enforcement project, which commenced in 1993-94, and will continue into 1996. The estimated cost for the current phase of the project is $65,000. This is 100-percent recoverable.
The second item included in the recoveries is $10,000 for program evaluation of the traditional medicine program at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. This item is also 100-percent recoverable.
A reduction and recoveries has occurred in the community and correctional services branch for the National Parole Board. Previously included at $30,000, this has now been reduced to $5,000, since the National Parole Board contracts directly with the Salvation Army and no longer with our probation office for parole supervision.
The total capital expenditures are expected to increase by $291,000 for a revised vote of $1,212,000. Almost all of this amount is comprised of funds revoted from a previous fiscal year.
A total of $245,000 was revoted from the 1993-94 fiscal year for three items that could not be completed prior to year-end. These items were $200,000 for the corporate registry system; $41,000 for the two vehicles for the correctional centre and $4,000 for a photocopier for Teslin. The actual new money requested is therefore only $46,000, which nets out from the following breakdown.
Funds have been included under the winter works for several projects that were brought forward from the 1995-96 capital plan, to be completed within this current year. A total of $118,000 is projected for these projects, and they include several building and maintenance items for the Justice building, a replacement telephone system for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and an automation project for the Public Administrator's Office. Funds originally budgeted to complete construction of the Teslin facility have been reduced by $100,000, as a decision was made not to construct the perimeter fences originally planned. The additional $30,000 has been included in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre for a conditioned survey of the current building, as part of the facilities planning phase of this project. The final adjustment to the department's capital budget comes from the transfer of the loss control program to the Public Service Commission. There is $200,000 in capital funds that have been reallocated to the commission to support this program.
Mr. Chair, I would now like to move on to the general debate on the O&M and capital mains, so I would move that you report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Chair: We will now go into Bill No. 4.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Justice
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to present the Justice Department operation and maintenance and capital estimates for the 1995-96 fiscal year.
Our O&M budget for 1995-96 will total $29,373,000, representing a modest increase over 1994-95 forecast of $404,000, or just over one percent. Our capital budget will be $1,189,000, down two percent from last year.
As Members are aware, the mission of the Department of Justice is to operate and to enhance public confidence and respect for the law and society, and to define and protect legal rights and responsibilities of all persons in the Yukon. I think it is clear to everyone that our changing society is making these objectives an ever increasingly greater challenge to meet. We operate in an environment today where people and communities have become less willing to accept their concept of justice being defined by a government department that is isolated from the public it serves. Communities demand change, and they demand a voice, and they demand accountability.
We operate in an environment where frustration with crime has reached a critical point. While RCMP statistics for 1994 show a marked reduction in the number of crimes reported in the Yukon, this is little comfort to victims whose lives are often dramatically affected by a criminal act.
Yukoners want to know that their property can be protected, and they want the quality of life that comes with feeling secure and safe in one's own community. We operate in an environment where people no longer abide violence and mistreatment being perpetuated against the most vulnerable members of our society, specifically women and children. It is no longer tolerable to cloak violence and sexual assault in silence, abandoning victims to suffer alone and providing offenders with the opportunity to re-offend.
People want action taken and an effort expended in the areas of policing, maintenance enforcement and assistance for victims. And, of course, we operate in an environment where people are demanding fiscal responsibility. Diminishing budgetary capacity is a reality that we all face, and our ability to respond to public demands for programs is limited. We must be innovative and use the resources we have in the most effective and efficient way.
Our budget last year was in response to this environment and was also a statement of our determination to directly meet the challenges we face. This budget sets the department on a new and innovative course, and my predecessor, Mr. Phelps, announced various changes in the department organization and policy direction.
This year, we will be staying on this course. With this budget, we will be refining our strategies and building on the progresses we have made over the past year to make the justice system respond to the changing realities of modern society. In doing this, there are various themes we intend to continue to emphasize.
We will continue our support for community-based justice policy as our priority initiative. The focus is to let the communities develop justice solutions, tailor-made to their own circumstances, and a process which embodies a shift from government-driven ones to those that are community driven.
The Kwanlin Dun project will be continuing, with expenditures of $46,500 in the new fiscal year, and our recently signed contracts in Haines Junction and Carmacks commit us to providing $25,000 for community programs in each of these communities. These and other initiatives will launch various community-delivered justice services in a wide array of areas, including training to develop local expertise, circle court coordination, community policing and crime prevention, community offender management, and others. The goal is improved program quality and efficiency, and enhanced community participation in, and ownership of, the justice system.
Our crime prevention efforts will begin to show results as our talking-about-crime community consultations get underway in April. The Talking About Crime Committee will be visiting every community in the Yukon to discuss crime, its causes, and possible community-based solutions that will make our communities safer places to live in the future.
The community visits will be completed and a report produced by June or July of 1995. Our work with the RCMP will continue to place an emphasis on community policing. Projects like the recently instituted RCMP auxiliaries program, which brings community volunteers into direct working relationships with the RCMP, really opens the door for greater public participation in crime prevention. This is an approach the government will be encouraging.
The government will be continuing with our array of priority activities aimed at assisting victims and protecting the rights of women and children. The government will be moving ahead to develop community-based victim services. Victim support and advocacy services are a key component of our two most recent community justice agreements and the communities have expressed an interest in getting involved in providing victim support at the local level.
The family violence prevention unit will continue to work on an integrated approach to family violence involving the RCMP, the Crown, First Nations, Department of Health and Social Services, community groups, offenders and victims. The message that we will continue to stress is that family violence is a crime and will be dealt with in a consistent manner throughout the justice system.
As the Members know, we will be entering the second year of our three-year federally funded maintenance enforcement project. This project is promoting public education and understanding of maintenance enforcement issues and will be developing community outreach and improving program delivery. At the urgings of Opposition Members, the legislative review component of this project has been accelerated and the government will be introducing, in this legislative session, an administrative sanction regime that will make it possible to withhold driver licence renewal from parents who are consistently in arrears with their child support payments.
The intent in all aspects of the maintenance enforcement project is to take a child-centered approach and focus on the welfare of the child as the benchmark of the program's success.
While the issues that we face are of critical importance, the government must be mindful of the bottom line. Not only is this true of the supply side of government - revenues are not growing - it is also true on the demand side, not only with the people who use the services offered by the department, the public in general.
People want to see a simpler, smaller and more responsive justice system, which also means a less costly justice system. The government will be seeking efficiency wherever possible. Community justice initiatives are in the early stages of development, but they are pointing the way to lower cost approaches to services such as offender supervision and management.
Department officials will be continuing to examine ways to improve efficiency in the court system through streamlining court operations. An analysis of how the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is used will be conducted, which may point to possible savings. As well, an examination of how to adapt and operate the facility more cost effectively when inmate populations are low is to be done.
This government's efforts in the area of crime prevention represent a most fundamental effort to reduce costs. If the government can significantly reduce criminal activity, the cost savings to the justice system are potentially huge.
As I stated earlier, the 1995-96 operation and maintenance budget will be held to a modest increase of $404,000 or just over one percent.
It is a notable achievement, considering we are facing increased policing costs of $644,000, as these current costs return to the normal levels after a one-time saving in 1994-95. This one-time saving, as I said earlier, was attributable to an accounting change.
Of the total budget of $29.4 million, 42 percent, or $12.4 million, is for personnel costs. Another 32, or $9.5 million, represents the cost of the policing agreement with the RCMP. Of the remaining $7.5 million, almost $2 million represents transfer payments to groups or individuals charged with program delivery responsibilities for the department. The remaining funds of $5.5 million are utilized for program costs, and these have been reduced by $125,000 over the forecast for 1994-95.
I will provide the breakdown now for each branch.
Management services, which combines staff functions such as the finance and administration systems, human resources and policy under one unit, will have a budget this year of $1,241,000. This is a seven-percent reduction over last year. This change is due to personnel changes, which have resulted in the reduction of one position and the completion of a seconded term position from the Public Service Commission.
On the capital side, management services accounts for the majority of the $1,189,000 capital budget. The major items in capital are building maintenance, where $107,000 is budgeted for building repairs and making courts wheelchair accessible, and systems development projects, where $488,000 budgeted. Of this amount, $326,000 will be put toward an innovative and integrated case-management system that will replace the antiquated CRIS system. The new system will lead to more efficient case management and reduce duplication by allowing justice cases to be tracked through the department with one uniform integrated system.
Court services, which operates the Yukon court system, will have a budget of $3,319,000. Court services also oversees the maintenance enforcement program and the law library. The budget amount is up slightly by two percent, due primarily to the creation of the Yukon Review Board and increased expenditures in the maintenance enforcement program.
Legal services provides a full range of legal services to the government, including prosecuting territorial offences, drafting legislation, litigating civil matters and providing legal advice. The branch also administers the legal aid and native courtworkers program. This branch has been budgeted at $3,123,000 million, which is a reduction of 12 percent from 1995-96, primarily due to historic budget levels for litigation expenses.
Consumer and commercial services contains a number of units dedicated to regulating the marketplace. These include: corporate affairs, consumer services, labour services and the land titles office. It is also home to the coroner's office and the public administrator. The branch budget for 1995-96 will be $2,645,000, which is a five-percent increase. This is due, for the most part, to the addition of executive secretarial support for the Yukon Utilities Board and the return to previous budget levels for hearings and professional boards of inquiry. The increased personnel cost to the branch returns to normal staffing levels.
The community and correctional services branch provides custodial and probation services for adult offenders, which offers support and integration within the community. As part of this service, the branch operates the Teslin and Whitehorse correctional facilities. The branch also includes victim services in the family violence prevention unit and the territorial firearms office.
The branch will be budgeting $8,061,000, which is virtually unchanged from the 1994-95 budget. The corrections area also has approximately one-third of the capital budget with $434,000.
New and replacement equipment, primarily for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, accounts for $62,000, while $272,000 has been allocated to do construction and renovation at WCC.
A condition report on the facility was recently completed, which recommended improvements to deal with some of the immediate health and safety issues. Department officials who are currently working to identify costs of various options, are responding to the report's long-term recommendations.
Community development and policing is a responsibility for the managing of the policing services contract with the RCMP, which comprises over 98 percent of the $10,731,000 budget.
The branch director is also responsible for negotiating community justice contracts and for the talking-about-crime community crime prevention project. This budget has increased by seven percent over last year due to increase in policing costs as mentioned earlier.
Finally, the department funds the independent Human Rights Commission. The budget here is $253,000, down 11 percent from last year due to a reduction in the amount allocated to the Human Rights Adjudication Board. This board has not been required to hold an adjudication hearing for more than three years.
Before I conclude, I would like to thank the Opposition Members who attended the technical briefing on the department's budget. Various questions were raised; I have prepared some answers. I will read some of the answers into the record for the Members .
Members asked about the purpose of the Yukon Review Board and who has been appointed. As I explained in my memo of March 17, 1995, to the Members who asked the question, the Yukon Review Board has been established as a result of changes to the Criminal Code made in 1992. These changes require each province and territory to establish a board for the purposes of reviewing persons, when asked to do so by the court, to determine if they are, one, not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, or, two, mentally unfit to stand trial.
At the time of the change to the Criminal Code, it was decided to name members of the B.C. Review Board as Members of the Yukon Review Board, due to the unavailability of local expertise. In 1994, discussions about having more local involvement occurred with the existing board, the local judiciary, the Yukon Medical Association and medical doctors. It was determined that there was still not a sufficient number of local members to constitute a local board. It was recommended that the Yukon Review Board be composed of some Yukon members in combination with other qualified members from B.C. and Alberta. This recommendation was acted upon early in 1995, and the following members were appointed to the board: the Honourable Mr. Justice Ralph Hudson, as the chair; the Honourable Mr. Justice Harry Maddison, as the alternate chair; Dr. Peter Bunton, from Saanich, B.C.; Dr. W.G. Dewhurst, from Edmonton, Alberta; Marie Anderson, from Vancouver, B.C.; Dr. Anthony Marcus, from Vancouver, B.C.; Barbara Brett, from Vancouver, B.C.; W. Down Eccles, from Whitehorse; and Norman Prelypchan, from New Westminister, B.C.
Until January 1995, the B.C. Review Board handled the administrative requirements of the Yukon Review Board for the government. The Department of Justice court services branch now has full responsibility for providing administrative support to the Yukon Review Board, and the budget has been increased to reflect the change. The 1995-96 expenditures are estimated at $63,000, compared to $27,000 for 1994-95. The costs have increased, but the department now has greater control over costs and the board is more familiar with Yukon circumstances and will better reflect Yukon community standards.
Members also asked about the amounts set aside for contingent liability for outstanding court cases. The point that has to be made about this budget item is to explain that amounts set aside as contingency are meant to cover the worst case scenario. Only if the government loses an unusually high portion of the suits expected to be resolved in this fiscal year, and only if the judgments heavily favour the other parties, will the contingent amount be paid out. We feel it is best to be prudent and overestimate, rather than underestimate, what the actual amount will be.
Members asked about the status of the victim services family violence prevention unit. I can provide some information on the accomplishments of the victim services unit over the past eight months.
Victim services has started working in collaboration with other victim support services in the Whitehorse area, including the victim witness coordination of the federal Crown's office, the social worker in the RCMP domestic violence unit, and the witness coordinator with court services, to eliminate the overlap and gap in services to the victim at the court level.
The unit has also established a close working relationship with the RCMP and the RCMP assistance program. RCMP files are regularly reviewed after complaints and charges are laid, enabling the unit to identify and approach victims who may need support or referral early in the criminal justice process.
The unit has begun evaluating the victim impact statements, in an effort to increase the number of victims filling them in and filing them with the court. It is the intent of this review to find ways the statements can be completed using local community people, rather than always relying on government victim services officers.
An information pamphlet for victims of crime is being developed that will provide a list of all services available to victims and how those services can be accessed, whether they are from Whitehorse or the communities. The unit has started to train community resource people in supporting victims of domestic violence.
In the next year, the unit will make developing victim services in communities a priority. To date, three communities have started to take on the provision of victim support services as part of the community justice contracts: Carmacks, Haines Junction and the Kwanlin Dun. Discussions are also underway with Faro, Dawson City, Watson Lake and Carcross. Each community differs in the way it wants to provide the services, or if it wants to provide those services, which is why progress really depends upon the individual community.
Money collected through the victim fine surcharge is available to communities to support these initiatives. So far, three communities have accessed this money through the community justice initiative.
Finally, victim services, with the family violence prevention unit, will be holding an open house in their new office in May. I invite all Members to avail themselves of that opening.
Members asked for specific information on the amounts outstanding on the wage claims against Curragh Inc. The Members will recall that the Government Leader announced in January that a settlement agreement was reached with other Curragh creditors. As a result, all of Curragh's Yukon employees are to be paid their outstanding wages, as detailed in various certificates issued by the director of employment standards, labour services. The total sum of these certificates is $2.5 million, and the affected employees have been informed that they may receive their wages in the spring of 1995.
The director of employment standards has also increased supplementary certificates against the directors of Curragh, which holds them liable for $2.1 million. Curragh's directors are appealing the decision of the Supreme Court, which upheld these supplementary certificates. On March 17, 1995, Curragh's directors agreed to pay $660,000 of the $2.1 million. This amount represents the unpaid vacation pay, overtime and other time, which Curragh's directors are not disputing. They have agreed to pay this amount by the end of April. The remaining, disputed amount consists of severance pay and pay in lieu of notice, which amounts to $1.4 million. The Court of Appeal hearing for this remaining amount is expected to take place in May. Labour services will continue proceedings against Curragh's directors on behalf of employees to recover as much of the outstanding wages as possible.
Members were asking where the allowance was made in the budget for the ombudsman's office. Bill 99, the Ombudsman Act, is still before the House. At the present time, no final decision has been made about the administrative structure of the ombudsman's office or its budget. Various options are being considered for combining the ombudsman with other appropriate offices to achieve the most efficient form of delivery that would also maintain the ombudsman's impartiality and independence. Until final decisions are made of these matters, and until the act passes the Legislature, no amount will be budgeted for the ombudsman. The office is not expected to form part of the Department of Justice budget.
Members also asked for a comparison of the costs of inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and the Teslin Community Correctional Centre. The present facility is built to house 25 residents; however, the forecast for the next two years and the corresponding budget is based on a resident population of 10 to 15. For the first two months of operation, the average resident count at Teslin was two. Since the beginning of November, the count has run between six and eight residents. The numbers have remained low in comparison with the forecasts primarily because the Yukon is currently experiencing unusually low incarceration rates. This winter, the Yukon has been averaging a total offender population of 70 to 75, in comparison with previous years, which have seen in excess of 100.
Comparison costs for the 1995-96 years for inmates days are as follows: the residents in Teslin Community Correctional Centre residents average $352 a day, if there are 10 residents there; Teslin Community Correctional Centre residents there average $235 a day for 15 residents. If there are 25 residents at Teslin, it is $170 a day and, at WCC, for 65 inmates, it is $175 a day.
Current costs for inmates at the Teslin Community Correctional Centre, for six to eight inmates, is close to the $400 per inmate per day. It is approximately two times the cost of operating the WCC per inmate. The cost of operating each facility would be similar if they were operating at operational capacity.
The community and correctional services branch is making every attempt to be as cost effective as possible under present circumstances. They will be researching and monitoring the change in incarceration usage this past year and in the upcoming year.
There were some questions asked, as well, about the current RCMP staffing. The following staffing breakdowns represent the number of positions in each position class. The question of how many members are patrolling the streets at any given time is difficult to answer, as the number does fluctuate. However, there are 91 territorial regular members and federal regular members and 13 First Nation policing members who are all employed full time on active police work, out of a total staff complement of 166. The ratio of members involved in active police work and those in administration is very similar to that found in other jurisdictions. For example, there are 14 administrative regular members, 91 territorial regular members, one BC Division regular member, 11 territorial civilian members, 10 federal regular members, two administrative civilian members, 13 First Nation policing members and 24 public servants, for a total of 166.
Members also asked about the court reporting services and whether the department has to use any service providers other than Total Reporting Services. There have been two instances where Total Reporting Services could not accommodate the department's court reporting needs and alternative arrangements for service were made. On November 2, 1994, and December 13, 1994, a second court reporter was required when a resident court reporter supplied by Total Reporting Services was out of Whitehorse with the Supreme Court on judge and jury trials. A court clerk, who has court reporting skills, was approached to do the recording on both occasions. In future, Total Reporting Services will be required to provide court reporting services on all occasions, as per its contract, and the department will not enter into further temporary contracts for court reporting services.
An independent audit of the court reporting contract is currently being carried out and will be available to the department shortly. This will allow the department to assess whether the contract has been fully complied with.
There were some questions on contracts, requesting information on service contracts for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. There is a list of prescription drug services from Shoppers Drug Mart with the following comparisons: 1992-93, $10,821.80; 1993-94, $14,469.57; and 1994-95, $14,980.93.
In medical services, Whitehorse Medical, Doctor de la Mare: 1992-93, $1,324.20 and $18,362.00; 1993-94, $13,118.85, and in 1994-95, $14,902.
Nursing Services, Nursing Options: $2,191.88 in 1992-1993; $19,634.80 in 1993-94; $2,025.01 in 1994-95.
Optical Services, Northern Lights Optical, Dr. Hamilton: $3,216 in 1992-93 and $899 for the same year; $3,711 in 1993-94; $2,180 in 1994-95.
Dental Services, Whitehorse Dental: 1992-93, $2700; 1993-94, $2837; 1994-95, $2160.
The Christian Ministerial Association received $8,000 in all three fiscal years.
Council for Yukon Indians native programming received $140,000 in 1992-93, $112,000 in 1993-94, and $84,400 in 1994-95.
The majority of these contracts are sole sourced, either because the vendor is the only one that provides the service or because of the difficulty in attracting people to provide these services to offenders.
The money spent on nursing services in 1993-94 suggests it may have been more cost effective to hire an auxiliary nurse, rather than Nursing Options. However, 1993-94 was an exceptional year for the use of casual nursing services. The more realistic level of need, which is sporadic, and mostly of an emergency nature, suggests that Nursing Options is the practical solution.
Whitehorse Correctional Centre contracts for other services, including physician, optician, religious and native programming. Contracting is considered to be the most practical and cost effective an option.
To conclude, I want to assure Yukoners that we are responding to the challenges that they see in the justice system and that we are creating a system that we feel is more open, effective and efficient.
The government is allowing the communities to take a greater role and to take ownership of justice delivery. We feel that we are responding to the call to do something about crime and to send the message that we will no longer tolerate violence or the mistreatment of women and children. To this end, we are finding new ways to make the justice system work. We hope that this budget will allow this government to achieve the next step toward this goal.
This concludes my opening statements and I move that you now report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Ms. Commodore: The Minister gave me some information last night to the effect that we were going to go into general debate on the supplementary estimates and then into general debate on O&M, and now he is reporting progress. What are we doing? I am not exactly sure.
Chair: We are now moving into general debate on Bill No. 3, which is the supplementary estimates.
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Department of Justice - continued
Ms. Commodore: I would like to thank the Minister for providing us with a briefing by the department. I felt that it was beneficial to us. I have given notice that I want information about a few things, and he did provide that to us.
I appreciate the long explanation of the two budgets. That is fine. However, it does not give one the opportunity to keep track of all of the kinds of things that are said. I know we will have the opportunity to do that when we go into line-by-line debate on the budgets.
I would like to make one comment regarding the manner in which we are doing our budgets this year. I am not exactly sure why the government is doing it in this manner. It has been explained to us that maybe we could get through the budgets sooner, but I do not think that is happening. If there was a plan in place that would allow us to get through the budget sooner, it is not happening. I do not know exactly what the time line was.
I am not criticizing the amount of work that was put into the budget speech. I am positive that a lot of hours were spent putting that information together and providing it to us. When we do things this way, there are individuals who read the budget in Hansard. For example, if they wanted to find out something about the supplementary that we are dealing with right now, they could normally look in Hansard and see that the general debate on the supplementary estimates has been done, and then it would go into line-by-line debate. That way, it is a lot easier for them to keep track of what is happening, because they can refer back and forth to the general debate, and then to line-by-line debate. However, I have been told by individuals who read Hansard - and some people do, believe it or not - that they are a bit confused by the order in which we are doing this. They do not always understand what "Bill No. 3" is, or what "Bill No. 4" is, and how all that ties in.
I know that it was agreed at the beginning of the session that we would do it this way but, as we have proceeded with debate in Committee of the Whole, some of those concerns were brought to our attention.
I will once again thank the Member for his long explanation of the two bills, and I have questions with respect to both of them. It is confusing as to what is included in the supplementary budget and what is included in the main estimates.
I will start by asking the Minister a couple of questions about the supplementary budget. The Minister mentioned some things I was not entirely sure about, as I do not recall their being mentioned before in the House, although it is entirely possible.
One question I had asked during Question Period, to which I never received a response, was in regard to the RCMP. I know they are doing a lot of things to improve programs that were already in existence, and they are following through on a lot of plans. I had asked the Minister about trying to contact the RCMP in communities. We know they are not in the office 24 hours a day; at some point they do go home.
However, it was again brought up at a conference I just attended - I was invited by the department - about how it is sometimes very difficult to contact the RCMP in the communities. It seems to be an ongoing problem. One RCMP member said they could not be in the office 24 hours a day, but the point being made was that, in the event of an emergency, there may not be an answer on the Zenith 5000 number. The call goes to Whitehorse, and the people in Whitehorse will, in turn, try to get hold of the RCMP member in the community.
This has been a problem for years. It was a problem when we were in government, and it continues to be a problem. The Minister said he had not heard of this problem before. Has the Minister talked with the RCMP to find out if anything has changed in the last year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member raises a valid concern, which was also raised at the conference a few weeks ago, and which I have raised with the superintendent. I know that the RCMP are fully aware that it is a concern, and they are trying to make some changes.
There has been an emergency phone installed on the outside wall of the new detachment in Teslin, which is for use when people are unable to reach anybody inside the detachment. The Zenith 5000 number is a problem. Like the RCMP officer said, they cannot be in the office all the time. They do have their own private lives. In small communities with small detachments of only one or two members, it is sometimes difficult for them to always be right by the phone.
I cannot give the Member a lot more comfort than the fact that I have raised it with the superintendent, that they are aware of it and are looking into this concern that has been raised by the Member and others. It is something that they are working on. I can check for the Member to see if there is a specific plan of attack or a plan to change the Zenith 5000 numbers, or if there is some other approach to it.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister just mentioned something that I was personally involved in, and that is a phone outside of a detachment. I recall going through Carmacks, where I thought I had a meeting one day, and found out that the individual was not there. So I tried to get in touch with someone on this phone, and no one answered.
The problem is still there. If there is an emergency because of domestic violence, if somebody needs immediate protection because of something happening in the home, people would like to be assured that protection will be there. But if one cannot get in touch with anybody, what does one do?
There was a lot of lobbying in this House about 911, which is now in operation. I think we have a problem that is just as bad as we had before it - if the problem was that great. The Member for Mayo-Tatchun spoke about how long it took to get emergency services to a member who had had a heart attack, and eventually died. It took over two hours for medical attention to reach them.
I think that, somehow or other, something has to be put in place so that people in the communities can be assured that if the services are needed - of the RCMP or whatever - that the response can be a little bit quicker. I know that I was never able to get hold of anyone when I made the call from Carmacks. No one ever answered.
I would like the Minister to provide me with some information that would let me know whether or not there is going to be some kind of a change in this area. The department is making all kinds of improvements to its services and programs, and I know that it was brought up - RCMP members from the community were at the workshop I was at when it was talked about. I agree that they cannot be there 24 hours a day. But somehow or other, something should be in place.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I agree with the Member. I will raise it again with the Superintendent of the RCMP.
I will point out to the Member that we have problems in the areas we are talking about. I realize that on a domestic violence issue, for example, the response has to be immediate. However, we have to be realistic, too. We are talking about communities where there may be only two officers. They do work shifts, and sometimes they are out on other calls - because there are only two of them there.
It would be nice to have the luxury of having three, four, or five there, so that someone would be there to answer the phone all of the time. I think the Member would have liked to have had that when she was the Justice Minister, but it is not financially possible. Nevertheless, I think there are things we could probably do to improve the response time, and I will take the Member's representation seriously and raise it with the RCMP.
Ms. Commodore: If we all believe what we are saying in regard to zero tolerance of violence against women, and the RCMP is saying the same thing, I would like to be assured that some explanation can be given to those individuals in the communities who are not getting through. I am not saying that it happens all the time, but it does happen. The Minister, if he will, can come back and provide me with any discussion that he might have with the RCMP, because they know the problems. They have known them for years. Nothing has changed, and somehow or other, communities have to be assured that progressive changes will take place.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can assure the Member that I will get back to her on that.
Mrs. Firth: I just want to follow up a bit on what the previous questioner was asking with respect to assault - specifically wife assault.
I have been a Member in this House for quite a long time now. We talk about doing something about this situation, about correcting it and addressing it. Then, I look at the statistics page in the budget and I heard the Minister this afternoon say that he will try to do something with respect to the RCMP services that are provided.
Look at the statistics in the budget on page 9-25. There is an anticipated 29-percent increase in wife assault. In 1994, it was 77. In 1994-95 it was 132 and now we are estimating 170 cases of wife assault. How can the Minister say he is going to try to do something about it when they are already indicating that there is a shortage of RCMP officers to address the issue and yet the predictions are increasing so much. What is that prediction based on? How does the department say that there is a 29-percent increase and that they are predicting 170 wife assaults, as opposed to the 132 the year prior to that?
I do not get the feeling that we are getting a grip on this. I do not know if I am alone in thinking that, but it does not appear that the statistics would reflect that we are actually getting control of this situation. In fact, it looks as if it is getting considerably worse. An almost 30-percent increase in a year is quite remarkable really.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member who spoke earlier talked about the conference that was held a couple of weeks ago. I attended part of that conference - I could not attend all of it because I was here - and the conference dealt primarily with spousal assault. What the figures reflect more than anything else is that, as we dig deeper into this issue, we discover that it is more widespread than we initially thought. The figures reflect that it is a serious concern.
I sat in on the last day of the conference, on the Friday, when they made some recommendations on how they were going to deal with the issue - some 175 people from all over the territory were there. There were some very good recommendations about how to deal with the issue, how the RCMP should deal with the issue, and on how the various agencies should be working more closely together. A report will be coming out of that, with recommendations on what government can do, and that is the kind of action we can seize upon to get a better handle on this issue, but it is something that five or even 10 years ago everybody turned a blind eye to. There were a few cases here and there, but most of us were not aware this was happening. Now it is becoming more and more prevalent, and we are finding out from the focus report we did on Yukon women and from conferences like the one we had last week that it is quite a bit more widespread, and that agencies have to work more closely together to develop proper approaches to deal with the issue, and that is what we are trying to do.
Mrs. Firth: I do not believe that people did not know this was happening before. I think there has been a societal change. People knew it was happening but a lot of people were ignoring or denying the fact, or were blaming it on something else. They could always find a bunch of reasons for not accepting the truth.
It is good that we are going to get some recommendations. Perhaps the government will be able to do something to change these statistics to a negative percentage, instead of a 30-percent increase.
I want to ask the Minister one thing about the statistics, though, just so it is on the record and we know exactly what they represent. Do these numbers represent all separate wife assault cases? Does each number represent an individual, or can six or seven wife assault offences be recorded against one individual?
Does this represent the 170 women who are expected to be assaulted, or are those 170 assaults on 50 or 60 women?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to come back to the Member with that information. I would think these would be individual assaults, the number of times that women were assaulted or charges were laid.
The other point I want to make is about why the figures are increasing.
Part of the reason is because of the increased profile of the victim services group that is now in place. It has a much higher profile and more of these victims are now reporting incidents and coming to victim services and dealing with victim services. In the past, people would not do or say anything about incidents and now they know that there are services available to help them and many people are responding to those services.
I think the services were probably already there in most cases. I do not know if the numbers are rapidly climbing but, as the Member said, the numbers were probably already there, but it was probably not being reported as much as it is now.
Mr. Cable: When the Minister reviews the statistics, perhaps he could indicate whether or not the historical certificates consist of convictions or complaints. Obviously, the future statistics are not convictions, but we would like to know the basis for the statistics.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring that information back for the Member.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister, when he briefed us on the supplementary, spoke about a traditional medicine program at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Can he tell me about that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring a note back after the break.
We are working with First Nations to deliver First Nation traditional medicine to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. I think Harold Gatensby is one of the people who actually delivers part of the program. I can check for the Member, but I have spoken to Mr. Gatensby, and he has told me that he has been up there quite a few times. He is involved in it and has been working with the First Nations inmates there. I believe it is a program that has been working fairly well. I will bring back a briefing note about it for the Member.
Chair: It is the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is there further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Just before the break, the Member asked about the traditional remedies at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. I do have a bit of a note that I can read to the Member, and I can provide some more information later. This is about traditional remedies at WCC. It is a program that has been evaluated by the federal Solicitor General's department. The centre was commended for having the only known traditional remedies program in a correctional institute in Canada.
It is the Council for Yukon Indians and justice services who are responsible for it. The CYI carries out the program for us. Two elders from Whitehorse and one from Teslin are involved in the program. It involves traditional First Nations medicine - such things as pitch from trees for skin ailments, spruce bark tea and traditional herbs for colds and minor illnesses, and that kind of thing. It is done with the consent of regular doctors and of the inmates themselves. The inmates participate in it.
There is other information that I can probably provide for the Member, if she wishes. There was an evaluation of the program done- a very good evaluation - and I can provide a copy of it to her.
Ms. Commodore: I would appreciate getting that information. I was not aware of this program. I would like to ask the Minister how long it has been in existence.
While I am on my feet, the Minister knows that I go to the change-of-season feast they have as often as I can, because it is something that I really enjoy.
I would also like the Minister, when he provides me with the evaluation, to let me know what other programs they have, because I am impressed when I go there and see what is happening. I like what the Gatensby boys are doing. I think that they provide a very beneficial kind of program or treatment - whatever one might want to call it - to the individuals, and they are trusted. The very fact that they bring in family members and other people to share the feast with them is something that is helping them to better understand the kind of things that they are doing and the manner in which they have to work to get out of the system. When I was there last Tuesday, they were talking about how often individuals keep coming back and how long it is taking them to come to the conclusion that they do not always have to do this. One guy who was a visitor there that day said that it had taken him 19 years to stop breaking the law and ending up in the courts and in the jails.
He is now working with some of those individuals and also on other programs in tribal justice. If the Minister could tell me what kind of programs are provided through CYI - I know that they used to have a number of programs available - and what kinds of services might be provided to them by the government, I would like to have that information.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will provide that information to the Member. I will ask the department to put together a list of programs provided by CYI or at the institution that are First Nations related.
I misspoke myself earlier when I said that Mr. Gatensby was involved in this particular program, but he is not. Mr. Gatensby is involved in the sweatlodges and that kind of thing. There are three elders involved in this program. I could probably provide the names of the three elders for the Member, if she wishes.
I will also get back to the Member with information about how long the program has been running. The evaluation itself, of which I do not have a copy here, may tell the Member how long the program has run, why it was set up in the first place and what some of the recommendations are to improve the program.
Ms. Commodore: In his budget speech, he talked about how crime had reached a critical point. We look at the population of the jail, and it seems that not everyone is going to jail. I think he also said that there were fewer charges being laid - more crimes were being committed, but fewer charges were being laid. I am wondering if the Minister can tell me why he thinks that is happening.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would like to think that part of the reason is because of some of the community justice and diversion initiatives, such as circle sentencing and others, that are taking place, which involve people being dealt with in a different manner. It is a little early yet to tell that because - and the Member knows this - the justice business, so to speak, goes up and down like a roller-coaster. It is really sometimes quite unexplainable why there are 180 inmates in the jail one January, and then only 65 or 70 this past January.
I would like to think the explanation is a result of things like circle sentencing and traditional healing remedies - Harold Gatensby and the sweatlodges - or the Member opposite, and others, who work with these people, who finally come to the realization that this is not much of a life and, it is hoped, we talk them out of repeating their crimes. I would like to think that is the reason why, but it is a little early to tell. It has only been this winter that we have had a lower number of people in the jail, so I think we are going to have to give these various new projects that are underway some more time to see how they are working out, and also to see how the community, as a whole, is reacting. If we are not incarcerating people, these people are back in the communities. It will be interesting to hear from the communities in the talking-about-crime consultations, when we do go around to find out whether or not the people in the communities feel that what is happening is working better than actually putting people in the correctional institute at the top of the hill or in Teslin.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister mentioned that there were only three people in Teslin right now. I heard there were a couple more than that at one time. I had the opportunity to talk to the fellow who heads the Teslin Correctional Centre - I cannot remember his name - during the conference I attended and I tried to find out a little bit more information about why there were so few inmates there. As the Minister knows, it was built to house 25 people. I believe the programs that will be offered there will prove to be successful after a while, but why are the inmates not going there?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Perhaps I misspoke myself, but my understanding is that there are eight or nine people there now, not three. Perhaps I said three, but I thought I said eight or nine when I spoke earlier. However, that is still lower than anticipated. We anticipated 14 or 15.
As I said earlier, part of the reason is that we usually have 100 inmates in WCC - many of them are on remand awaiting trial, many are there for more serious crimes and will never go to Teslin. I believe we currently have 70 or 75 people in WCC. It is just a lower number all over, so if we were up to 100, there might be another four or five eligible for Teslin. We might be up to 13 or 14 or 15 people there.
I cannot give the Member much more of an answer than that right now. It will fluctuate depending upon the inmate population in Whitehorse. Inmates do apply from time to time; they are screened; some are eligible and some are not. It is based on a ratio - when we have lower numbers at WCC, there will consequently be lower numbers at Teslin.
Ms. Commodore: Seventy-five is still quite a high number to be housed at the Whitehorse Correction Centre. It was originally built to house 39, or some such number, and we know about all the renovations that have gone on over the years to accommodate more inmates in that building.
Can the Minister tell me if there are any plans to build a new facility in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As the Member knows, when she was the Minister of Justice there were concerns raised about the condition of that particular facility. We are looking at it. We realize that some work has to be done. We have done some work this winter, which is laid out in the supplementary, to improve some of the safety features in other areas of the building that were identified.
We are looking at the option of a new facility. There has been no decision made as yet on whether or not we will build one. We also have to consider what is happening with the inmate population. Perhaps some of these new methods of sentencing - some of the new community justice initiatives - might allow us to do it a bit differently. One might decide to build a facility for 100 or 125 inmates, but perhaps we do not need one that large; there may be other alternatives. We want to have a good, hard look at that before we make a decision to go ahead and build a facility.
In the meantime, we are improving the safety standards in the facility we have to make sure that it is a safe place for the inmates to be and the corrections officers to work.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister mentioned that a whole new telephone system was being put into the correctional facility. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, that is correct.
Ms. Commodore: How will it differ from the present one?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that the old system in that facility was installed when it was built. They are not on the central system, which allows them to dial internally and dial out. There are also some problems calling in. The system is being changed so that in the event of a massive power blackout, it will remain operational so that, in the case of an emergency, there can be a quick response.
Ms. Commodore: The correctional facility used to have a summer work camp in the community.
The Minister knows that they have moved from the community. Individual communities used to put in their request for that work camp to go into their communities. At the time, they did a lot of volunteer work for different projects. Is that a thing of the past?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is not something that we are doing this year. I do not think it is a thing of the past. I think it worked well in some communities, but at the present time there are low numbers of inmates, and we now have Teslin onstream. Teslin takes the kind of inmates who normally went to the work camp, so that makes it a little difficult. The work camp is now more permanently in Teslin than roaming around like it was before.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister provided me with a legislative return with a list of programs that are offered to the inmates to prepare them for their release so that they may have some skills when they get out. Do the programs that are offered lead to certificates or any such thing?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member on that. The note I have says that a four-week welding certificate program is offered. They probably get the kind of course that I took one time at Yukon College, which consisted of a number of evenings and you ended up with a certificate that did not get you a welding job, but you learned how to use the cutting tools and do some basic welding, and that kind of thing. It got you started and got your interest piqued and then one could go on to further training. I think the carpentry course is a three-week course. I do not suspect you would get any kind of certificate from that. I think the basic idea is to get some basic skills so they can get started. I do not think any of the programs that I see here would actually give one a certificate whereby one could be employed as a carpenter or a welder.
Ms. Commodore: I had asked the Minister before for information regarding the memorandum of understanding. I cannot remember if he provided me with the answer. There were negotiations going on between the Correctional Centre and the college in regard to the community campus at the centre. What is happening with it? Have they reached an agreement, and if they have, what does that agreement include?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand that a couple of years ago there were some strained relations between the college and the Correctional Centre. However, the new president of the college and the manager of the community campus have had meetings at the Correctional Centre that were positive, as I understand it. They drafted a memorandum of understanding to confirm the commitment of the college to the program, and to clarify the expectations of both parties. The college indicated that it had no intention of cutting the program, and there were no decreases in support for the coming fiscal year. As I understand it, that program is delivered by Yukon College, and it will be ongoing. If the Member wishes, I can try to obtain some more information about the courses in that program and provide it to her.
Ms. Commodore: I would like that information. What happened in the past is that they had two instructors or two teachers, and without any possible reason they took one teacher back to the college, leaving only one teacher whom I do not think was qualified - I might be wrong, I am just trying to remember. I do know that we lost some of the teaching resources that existed at that time.
If the government is saying that it is not going to be cutting any of the programs, is the government going to be adding to the programs or improving the programs already in place? That is the kind of information I would like the Minister to bring back to me, because it has been a bit of a concern that the community campus could offer better services than they have. I would like to be brought up to date about what is happening in this area.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can do that. I will tell the Member, though, that the funding for the program is in Yukon College's budget, so it depends upon where the college makes cuts and reductions in its budget. This government can only encourage the college to continue, and we have. It is my belief that there are no decreases in support plans coming for this year. I will check on the number of people and come back to the Member with that information.
Ms. Commodore: Has the department had any requests from the college to pay for part of the funding for that campus? I do not know if I have been told that, but I have information somewhere that they have requested further funding to cost-share the campus.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not aware of that request, but we do have ongoing discussions with them about the programs. I can check into that for the Member.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister mentioned the victim fine surcharge. How much money is in that fund?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is about $115,000 at the present time.
Ms. Commodore: Does the Minister know if there are any outstanding fines under this victim fine surcharge?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are some requests. I will check for the Member to see how they have been dealt with and how much is outstanding.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister mentioned that some of the money had gone into projects or programs. Where is the money being spent?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Part of that money is in the community justice initiatives, which are the community justice agreements that we reached.
Ms. Commodore: Can I ask him what they are? Who is spending the money? If it is going into community justice and is for victim services, how are they spending it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member with a breakdown of how that particular fund works and how the money is dispersed.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to ask the Minister about the fine enforcement program that was in existence a while ago. It had been cancelled, I gather, after the last budget where they did not renew the position and the program was dropped.
I would like to know, as the Minister was not able to tell me, how they are going to collect those outstanding fines under the Criminal Code and other acts - fines that were imposed by the courts. I am not sure whether or not they have a body in place, if letters are just sent, or how it is working, because if there is no active fine collection program in place, people are not going to be paying fines as they were before, which is the reason why they put the program in place and hired that person. What is going to happen? I know it is going to happen with the Motor Vehicles Act, and with maintenance enforcement, but I would like the Minister to give me some assurances that, some way or another, outstanding fines under other acts are going to be actively collected.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The reason the program was discontinued was because it was determined by the department that it was not cost effective. It was recovering some money, but it was taking a lot of work, energy and time to recover a certain amount of money.
We are looking at other avenues of recovering money, along with the normal procedures. One of them, of course, is the motor vehicle sanctions that have been very successful. Many jurisdictions in the United States have now moved to that process and some Canadian jurisdictions are looking very seriously at it. We look at what other jurisdictions are doing from time to time to determine whether it is something that we should adopt and what the problems are.
We are not real eager to jump right into this now, because it is sort of a new way to do it. We are sort of watching what others do and are learning from their mistakes. This is something that other provinces are doing as well. Many of the provinces are undertaking various projects, and it is something that we are going to look at closely, but there has not been a decision to move in that direction as yet.
Ms. Commodore: I think the success of the amendments that the Minister made to the Motor Vehicles Act are probably going to be able to give him more information in regard to whether or not that will work. I really think that it probably will work. Could the Minister tell me when he intends to implement the changes to the Motor Vehicles Act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is my understanding that, once the bill passes the House, it will take about six months to implement the necessary software to administer the program. I would think that by September or October of this year, this system should be in place, and the government should be administering the program at that time.
Ms. Commodore: Could the Minister tell me how the government is collecting all outstanding fines that have been imposed by the courts?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think it is a standard process that has been used for years and I will come back to the Member with more detail, but I think that an individual is given so many days to pay a fine and if it is in default a letter is sent, a summons is issued or the sheriff delivers papers. However, I will come back to the Member with that information.
Ms. Commodore: One of the reasons why people were not paying their fines was because there was no jail time attached if they did not pay. Is that still happening? At one time, when somebody was fined - for example, $50 - they were required to pay that fine or else a jail term was attached - say, 10 days in jail. However, this was not being done any more in the courts, and the outstanding fines became quite high. Are they doing that now - imposing jail time in lieu of a fine? Are judges doing that any more?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not sure if the judges are imposing that. I will get back to the Member.
However, one thing that has happened since 1991 - November 1991 through March 31, 1994 - is that we have used civil enforcement measures. The pilot project has collected about $17,000. The summons system was implemented in February 1993, and after 12 court dates being held, the net result was approximately $69,000 being paid. Voluntary payments amounted to about $63,000. Total revenue collected, including voluntary payments, was approximately $149,000. Total revenues from the institution of civil processes and from issuing summonses was $86,000. That gives the Member a bit of an idea.
I move that we report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Chair: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and directed me to report progress on them.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Speaker: I would like to inform the House that we are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to give assent to a certain bill that has passed this House.
Commissioner enters the Chamber, announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms
ASSENT TO BILL
Commissioner: Good afternoon. Please be seated.
Speaker: Mr. Commissioner, the Assembly has, at its present session, passed a certain bill to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.
Clerk: Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1995-96.
Commissioner: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Clerk. I hereby assent to the bill as enumerated by the Clerk. Thank you.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
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 now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:20 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled March 30, 1995:
Highway-related costs: Two Mile Hill, Alaska Highway improvements and weigh scale relocation projects; post-implementation review of Two Mile Mill project (Brewster)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 1531 to 1532
Audiology services: audiology practices across Canada; comparison between the Yukon and the NWT; possible privatization of hearing testing and sale of hearing aids (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1338
Health Status Report: release expected in May 1995; composition of steering committee (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1514