Tuesday, April 4, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with silent Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there any Petitions?
Are there any Bills to be introduced?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mr. Penikett: In the Hansard yesterday, the Minister of Health said, with regard to decisions on the hospital construction contract, that "we have set up a board that is made up of various experts in the field". May the House know exactly who these experts are and where they are from?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I read out the firms that were involved. I answered that question. They are Rockliff Pierzchajlo Architects and Planners; Cheriton Engineering Inc., mechanical engineers; Morgan, Dowhan Engineering Ltd., electrical engineers; Helyar and Associates, cost consultants; and James Graham, who is the resident manager of the project.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister's quick answer yesterday did not exactly put a human face on these outside experts who the Minister has employed to apparently keep Yukon contractors and Yukon trades people off the hospital project. I would like to ask the Minister this: do any of these engineers and consultants upon whom he is depending actually reside and pay taxes in the Yukon Territory?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The prequalification was for the overall general contractor for phase 2 of this extremely complex building project.
The standard Yukon business incentives for construction apply. There is every reason to believe that most of the jobs and most of the materials will be provided by resident Yukon companies, just as was the case when Yukon College was built under their administration using PCL, an Alberta firm, just as was the case when the new federal building was built using PCL as a general contractor, and just as was the case when the Andrew Philipsen Law Centre was built using PCL.
Mr. Penikett: I take it from the Minister's non-answer that all of these people are outsiders.
The Minister said yesterday, "We took the management away from Government Services - Cabinet did that - and placed our confidence in a group of expert people who offered their expertise." The Minister then went on to say that he will not substitute political decision making for decisions made by experts. I point out that a chap named Mussolini had the same idea.
Does the Minister agree that Yukon contractors and trades people have the right to expect their democratically elected government to do everything within reason to ensure that they are employed on public works in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, and we have. It is rather ironic that the same Member who, with his colleagues, were highly suspicious and critical of the decision to change the plans for the hospital, who were concerned about the risk, concerned about the potential for overrun, because of the complexity, are now trying to take political advantage of the fact that local contractors did not prequalify, so that we end up with the same kind of situation as was employed by them when they built Yukon College.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mr. Penikett: The record will show that the Minister has sanctioned prequalification rules that include proof of experience in acute care hospital construction, resumes of head office and senior site personnel and affidavits stating equally experienced personnel to be assigned to the Whitehorse General Hospital project. I would like to ask him why his prequalification rules did not include requirements for the use of local materials, local businesses and local employment content? Why did he not do that? These are things that are much more important to people here than some of the other things on his list.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Here we have the Member playing politics with what is going to be one of the most important investments in the history of the Yukon in terms of the future of health care costs. The contractors who have prequalified - those who are qualified, in the opinion of the panel, to bid on the contract - will have included in the tender qualifications when they bid the Yukon business incentive policy for construction.
Mr. Penikett: I doubt if there is a more important political issue than Yukoners' jobs, Yukoners' business opportunities and Yukon taxpayers having the advantage to see some return from their investment in a project like this.
Yesterday, as evidence of the Minister's commitment to the local-hire principle, he cited only the business incentive policy, an initiative he had blamed the previous NDP government for developing. I want to ask the Minister this: what, in concrete terms, has the Minister done to ensure that Yukon building trades people will be hired from Yukon hiring halls this summer to work on this hospital construction project?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The fact is that we have gone through phase 1 of the construction, and that was done almost entirely - materials, labour and contracting - by Yukon people. We have done a whole bunch of preparatory work on water, sewer, road alignment and site preparation. We have built an incinerator at a cost of over $1 million. All of this work went to Yukon contractors, Yukon trades and Yukon workers. We have every reason to believe that our success in employing Yukoners and using subtrades with regard to phase 2 of the hospital will be at least equal to the success enjoyed by PCL when it was his contractor on the Yukon College site, by PCL when it was contracted to build the federal building, by PCL when it was the government's general contractor on the Andrew Philipsen building.
Mr. Penikett: There are 17 prequalified general contractors on the Minister's list. Fifteen are from Alberta and two from British Columbia. Everyone here, except the Minister, knows that Alberta companies have worked here in the past, brought their own workers and paid substandard wages. Is it not time the Minister admitted that his press release last week about local jobs is nothing but hot air and the government has no intention of actively supporting local workers and businesses on the biggest construction project in the Yukon Territory?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member fails on every count here. The history leading up to this very important tender shows him to be wrong. The history of PCL, which is Alberta-based and built the Yukon College, shows him to be wrong. The history of PCL, the same company that built the federal building, shows him to be wrong. The history of PCL, the same company that built the Andrew Philipsen Law Centre, shows him to be wrong. I would submit that this is a lot of hot air coming from the other side. As events unfold, we will see just how correct their fears are.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mr. Cable: I have some further questions for the same Minister on the same topic. Yesterday in Question Period, we discovered that two bonding companies that deal with general contractors every day, all day, were prepared to bond the two local contractors for the hospital job. Then we heard that this committee turned them down for prequalification. The Minister indicated that the job - if I have understood his comments correctly - was too big for the local contractors and too complex. Could the Minister indicate what is the complexity that he sees that the local contractors are incapable of dealing with?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not exactly sure where this Member is coming from, unless it is to stand up and say, "Me too." Bonding was only one of the issues involved in the prequalification. We have all kinds of situations in the Yukon where large buildings have been built by bonded contractors, from within the Yukon and from outside the Yukon, where there have been all kinds of failures, lengthy lawsuits and delays, where bonding companies have refused to pay, because they claim it is the fault of the architect or the fault of the government or the fault of anybody but the contractor. We do not want to be placed in a position where we have a hospital that does not work, where we put the lives of Yukoners at risk and where we run up huge costs in the health field in this most important of projects. We do not think that bonding, by itself, is enough to satisfy the requirements to pull off this huge construction feat. Bonding by itself will not do it. We have seen that.
Mr. Cable: The Minister indicated in his response to questions that had been put to him previously that there were a large number of outside contractors that did qualify. Did each of those contractors meet the requirement that they had hospital construction experience - construction experience in the sense that they have built a major hospital?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is my understanding. The ones that I looked at had all kinds of previous experience building hospitals.
Mr. Cable: It is clear that the Minister has been involved in the decision or at least received the reasons for it.
Where were the advertisements put for the solicitations for the prequalification for the various contractors? Were they sent Canada-wide or just in Alberta, Yukon and British Columbia?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to come back with that information.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mrs. Firth: Speaking of ads in the paper, I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services regarding the Whitehorse hospital construction.
We have heard the Minister say in this House that it is an extremely complex project, that it is the most important investment in the future of the Yukon and that it is a very important tender - too big for anyone here to comprehend except the Minister, who, of course, is superior to all the rest of us.
I would like to ask the Minister this: why is it, since it is such a complex project, that the ad that was put in the paper is only a one-page ad. This is the ad. This is the stringent criteria. This is what contractors here had to work from when they were bidding. Why is it that the biggest project in the Yukon Territory requires only a one-page ad in the newspaper for prequalification purposes, when it is the biggest, most important project in the Yukon and is important to the entire future of the territory?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not sure if we are to the stage where the Member opposite - aside from making snide comments about and questioning the victim on this side that she wishes to pick upon - is back to her old habit of "nothing is worth anything unless you weigh it", and if it weighs a lot she will talk about it.
The requirements were clearly set out, and I read those requirements into the record. It added additional information that was clearly set out in the ad and some contractors have complied with the requirements and were prequalified.
Mrs. Firth: That is interesting, because when the government has a project to build a few little houses or complexes, the tender documents that contractors have to submit consist of 50 pages, but this is a one-page ad in the newspaper. I want to ask the Minister who drew up the prequalification requirements? Who decided what these requirements were going to contain? Who submitted this to the newspaper?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would have to come back with the name of the person who did the writing, but it was done in accordance with instructions from the experts assigned to assess which contractors would prequalify. I understand that this is a great political issue, and I guess what the Members opposite are suggesting - because they feel it is good politically - is that we should make political decisions to overrule the experts on an extremely complex job. I will not play politics with the job.
Mrs. Firth: This Minister has a responsibility to Yukoners, whom he is supposed to represent. He has completely abdicated that responsibility to some unknown group of experts - of whom none lives here. He has told them to make all the decisions and not to bother him with the details.
The Minister has to be accountable for that in the House, and he does not even know who wrote this ad, yet he stands in this House and says this is the be-all and end-all.
Whose rules were being followed when this prequalification ad was written? It is certainly not following the rules of the contract regulations or directives, even the new ones the Minister of Government Services tabled. It is also not following the Financial Administration Act. Whose rules were being followed when this advertisement was put in the newspaper? Does the Minister know the answer to that question?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: At least she is not standing up and saying that we should be using wood, and no steel, as was the position of the Official Opposition, no matter what the experts might say. Clearly, the Member opposite is trying to make some political points out of this. We realize that the prequalification, in the judgment of the people who rendered that judgment and advised us regarding the qualifications of those who applied, would not be politically great, but we are doing the right thing. We have been following the advice of the architect and its sub-experts, the other two companies and of the cost consultants and, more importantly, the advice given to us by the public works people in B.C. and by the public works people in Alberta, who have cooperated with us in every way, and of Mr. Graham, who is on contract to manage this very complicated job. Thus far, they have performed admirably, and we are not about to start playing politics with a project of this critical nature.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up with the same Minister about the same matter.
The rules have to be followed. There are rules in place that are supposed to maintain the integrity of the tendering process and ensure that all Yukoners are treated fairly. The document that was drawn up does not meet with the requirements of the contract regulations, the contract directives or the prequalification bidding process. I want to ask the Minister responsible this: did he tell - when he finds out who did this - Mr. Graham, the person in charge of the project, that he had to follow the rules with respect to tendering when this prequalification document was being prepared? Did he indicate to Mr. Graham that the rules have to be followed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member often gets up and starts off with false premises, or her other favourite ruse is to set up the playing field in a way that the answer has to lead into her preconceived ideas.
We stood here and said to all and sundry, and debated the fact, that we were ripping up the old drawings and everything that had been done on the previous hospital design, that we were proceeding in a way that had some risk and that Cabinet had decided that we had to do this, based on the advice of the best experts we could get. We went through all of that debate, and what I got from the other side was, "Boy, what you are doing is risky, and you better be careful or you are going to run well over the $49 million price tag for the hospital." That is fine. We have accepted that risk, and we have relied on the experts. Now, they come about in an entirely different direction and are saying, "Ignore the experts. Take a risk." - because it is politically popular to do so. Well, we are not going to do that.
Mrs. Firth: No one has said to disregard the advice of the experts. No one has said not to accept the risk. I am asking that the rules be followed. Accepting the advice of the expert does not mean saying, "Okay, you guys, you go do this." I know how the Minister operates. The Minister says, "You are in charge of this project. You take it away, you do it, and do not bother me with the little details." - until he gets in the House and has to answer questions in the House. Then, he does not know the answers - the most basic, mundane answers. The Minister does not know the answer. Who wrote this? Who did it?
I want to see that the rules are being followed, and the rules are not being followed, because this does not come anywhere near to meeting the requirements in contract regulations or directives with respect to prequalification tenders. When Cabinet made the decision to bypass everything, did it also make the decision to bypass all of the rules? Did Cabinet give the Minister the right to go to the project manager and say, "Do whatever you want to do."?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: When that hon. Member leaves politics, let me give her some advice - do not look for a job as a lawyer because you will never get one.
Mrs. Firth: Who would want to be a lawyer? At least I have some principles. This is the Minister who said I would not know a principle if I sat on one. I would like to ask him where his principles are right now. All he can do is get up in the House and rave on about what an important project this is.
The integrity of the contracting industry has been compromised. The Minister cannot answer the most basic questions about who is making the decisions, and who has the authority to make the decisions. Absolutely -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: It is not ridiculous. The Minister may feel ridiculous, and so he should.
I want to ask the Minister if he will provide us with a detailed legislative return listing who drew up the prequalification tender and criteria - the stringent criteria - and if he will indicate in that return whether or not they have followed the contract regulations for prequalification tenders.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would be delighted to do that.
The Member still has not stood up once to specify where she thinks the rules have been broken, in any kind of specificity at all. It is wonderful for her to stand up and say, for example, "The business incentive policy cannot apply. Why? Well, because I do not think it applied on the Shakwak project." That kind of red herring, that kind of silly innuendo, is brought forward without her having done her homework at all, as are the allegations she is making now. We are used to that. As time drags on in here, we are going to get more used to it. She is not fooling anybody, least of all us.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mrs. Firth: If I must, I must. I will ask the Minister this question: in the contract regulations - the Financial Administration Act - it says that there must be evaluation criteria in the prequalification tender. There is not evaluation criteria on here. There is no indication about how they are going to be rated or scored or weighted, as the regulations call for. It simply says contractors "will be assessed on the following information", the following information being their job references. They had to fill out a document called a CCA document, No. 11, which is like giving a resume - listing the major projects that they have done. It states nothing about how the individual contractors who are trying to be prequalified are going to be weighted or rated or scored. That is a requirement in the regulations, and it was not done. Why was it not done?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will get a technical answer back for the Member. Let us not get into ever smaller and smaller points. Let us get the facts straight here. I laid out what the requirements were in the answer. Those requirements were what were evaluated. Five outfits prequalified for the general contract. That is what happened.
Mrs. Firth: Is this not what lawyers stand up and say? They say, "I rest my case, your Honour." Well, I rest my case. I have done my homework, but the Minister has not done any homework.
He did not answer the question - another one he could not answer. I will ask him this question: according to the contract regulations, it should be specified about the term of the contract. In this great prequalification statement, it does not even say if it is a single contract for one year for 1996-97, or if it is a two-year contract, or what it is. All that it says is - now this is for this major construction project - that "the total value of the work envisioned by this invitation to qualify is $25,000,000. Of this total, mechanical and electrical systems comprise $5,000,000 and $3,000,000 respectively." That is a lot of detail. That gives people a lot to work with. Why did they not follow the rules with respect to that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will come back with a written response to all her picky little points. Again, I am quite comfortable doing so.
This government has said from the outset that what we were doing was to start over with the design of the hospital and design as the building went on. We acknowledged the risk; Cabinet has taken that responsibility. Cabinet authorized the prequalification and thus far, despite the wild fears expressed by Members opposite, the project is on time and on budget, which is something that cannot be said for very many projects that were under the direction of the previous administration.
This government will continue to follow the expert advice that we have faith in. It is that advice that the government is following with regard to recommending who should prequalify and, indeed, if there should have been a prequalification tender at all.
This government is not going to allow politics to force us to second guess these experts at this point in time. This is a complicated issue, which is of supreme importance to Yukoners, that the project go well and within budget. This government is taking every step it can to reduce the risk and not play politics with this issue.
Mrs. Firth: The picky points that I just happen to be raising are the rules. I do not care if the Minister does not like it; those are the rules and he is the guy who is to be held accountable for this project. This project is being done at the expense of Yukon taxpayers and Yukoners have the right to be treated fairly in the tendering process.
Obviously, the system is flawed. I would like to ask the Minister if there is going to be the opportunity - because this is a flawed system - for these local contractors, who were excluded through this flawed prequalification process, to either have another prequalification process put into place, or to take the option that was put into the process, which states that the territorial government reserves the right to tender the project by open, public invitation, without prequalification. I want to see these two companies who are being excluded from bidding on this project to be included, and that is the bottom line.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not really sure what the Member is getting at. Everything we have done is in compliance with the law, with the prerogatives of Cabinet and with the Financial Administration Act.
We are getting a lot of hot air here because the Member thinks it is a politically opportunistic time to raise this fuss.
We will continue to follow the advice from the people upon whom we are relying in this extremely complicated construction issue. The Member can tell us what to do all she wants. That is her right, and I look forward to her continuing with this and virtually every other detail of every other action that this government takes.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the same Minister on the same subject, just to close a loop here. Did Cabinet amend the contract regulations to accommodate this particular prequalification tender for the Whitehorse hospital?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Cabinet has authorized the decisions that have been made to date with regard to each and every thing that has occurred, including the prequalifications. That was a submission.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister will remember, as he was in the House at the time, that the contract rules for construction projects were one-time Management Board directives. The Opposition - which he led at the time - insisted that they be passed as regulations so that the rules would apply to everyone and, if the Cabinet wanted to change the rules, it would first have to go through the process of changing regulations and then accommodate a particular project, or make some reference to the regulations in the process.
I am not asking if the Cabinet approved the notice to contractors for prequalification. I am asking if it amended the regulations to accommodate, in any way, this prequalification for contractors for the second phase of the Whitehorse hospital.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Our position is that we have not broken any rules.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister is indicating then that no changes to the regulations were made to accommodate this particular project - is that what he is saying - that no changes were made to regulations to accommodate this prequalification tender?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am saying that Cabinet has ruled specifically on any details that surround the issue of the building of the hospital.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mr. McDonald: I am asking a very specific question. I am not trying to wrap it in a lot of rhetoric; I am just just asking a simple question. Were the contract regulations in any way amended to accommodate this prequalification notice to contractors for the Whitehorse General Hospital? The Minister should be able to remember that. Were the regulations amended?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member is asking about a very fine point of law, which I will be happy to bring back a response to. What we are getting into completely breaches the rules of Question Period by getting into these phony legal opinions that we hear over and over again, asking questions about the law or for opinion on the law. Who has a copy of the rules? It is easy to read them. There are only about 10 or 15 rules and they are breaking every one of them.
Mr. McDonald: I am not asking the Minister for a legal opinion. I am asking him whether or not Cabinet consciously made a decision - and in fact did - to change any regulations to permit this project to take place. It is their responsibility. I am not asking a legal opinion about anything. Did they change the contract regulations to accommodate the prequalification notice?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I heard his question, Mr. Speaker. I told him that we would respond.
Mr. McDonald: The problem we face is that the Minister has indicated that the notice to contractors is completely appropriate and justified. He very aggressively challenged a Member to prove her case that there was a breach of the regulations. The Member identified two examples where she believed the breach had taken place.
I am asking the Minister a simple question, which will be part of the record of decisions of Cabinet, about whether or not Cabinet amended the regulations, so that we all know whether or not the regulations were amended.
I am not asking the Minister whether or not the rules were broken. I am just asking whether or not the rules were amended. It would be a record of Cabinet. It would be part of the decision to proceed. Surely, the Minister would remember whether or not Cabinet had amended the contract regulations, which have been the subject of enormous debate in this House, to exempt this particular project from the regulations for the purpose of the prequalification notice.
The Minister cannot tell me that he does not remember something like that; he must remember.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member is getting all tied into a whole bunch of legal arguments here, just as the quasi lawyer across the way has been doing. I gather that they disagree with the redesign of the hospital; they disagree with us trying to reduce the risk; they disagree with virtually everything else we do anyway, but I will get back to both Members on these interesting, legal points with a full written response.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, prequalification of contractors
Mr. McDonald: I support the hospital construction project. It is a good idea. We need a new hospital in the territory, just for the record, but I am surprised that the Minister is not aware whether or not the government exempted this particular project from the contract regulations. They would have had to have made the conscious decision in Cabinet to change the regulations. Is the Minister honestly saying, in this spot, right now, that only very recently the government made a decision to not change the contract regulations, and he cannot remember that?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member opposite seems to be saying that one has to come forward with a minute that amends regulations, and that it cannot be done otherwise. There has to be a specific minute that amends regulations or else Cabinet is handcuffed. That is an interesting legal point, because I do not believe he is right.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister and his colleagues, years ago, insisted that the Management Board directives, which are a Cabinet prerogative to decide, that deal with contract regulations should be made into regulation. They made that point, because there was a procedure for amending regulations. Clearly, there is a purpose in doing that. The purpose is that, in order for there to be exemptions, in order for there to be special cases, in order for Cabinet to do whatever it wanted to do, they would have to go back to the regulations and deal with the regulations. That is the purpose of having it in regulation.
That was the stated purpose then, too. That was the stated purpose by the Members in Opposition while they were making the argument to have Management Board directives transferred into regulation.
I cannot believe the Minister does not remember doing anything with regulations. I would have remembered, and I have had departments as big and as complicated as the Minister's own. The Minister is not giving us the straight goods and he knows it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I said I would answer his questions. He is getting up there and playing Mr. Lawyer and using allegations that they did stuff because the Opposition told them to because, because, because, because. I said I would come back to them with a written answer and that is what I will do. He can harangue me all he wants.
He was the great Minister responsible for a whole bunch of marvelous things. We know that. He never did anything wrong. The fact is that that outfit over there made all kinds of mistakes. While he was Minister of Community and Transportation Services, they built the famous blue building in Ross River. One mistake after another mistake after another mistake. Something was supposed to cost $700,000 ended up being over $3 million, and the community cannot afford it. That is what these guys did.
How about Yukon College? Well, it was a terrible thing when the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee, with their own members on it, told them they screwed up the Ross River Arena and screwed up Yukon College. Now he wants to stand up and say, "Well, I do everything and I just expect you to answer a complicated legal issue just off the top of your head." I will not do that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McDonald: The Auditor General did not say that the Yukon College project was screwed up at all. In fact, everyone with whom I have spoken, who had anything to do with the project, felt that the project was handled well. That is neither here nor there. The issue here is whether or not the Minister can remember, by way of his convenient memory, if Cabinet had changed the contract regulations. That is all that I have been asking the Minister - a very simple question. This is a responsibility that is the Minister's, not a lawyer's. It would be a conscious decision in Cabinet whether or not it would change contract regulations. The Minister is pretending that he does not know.
Can he tell us when the decision was made to approve the prequalification process in Cabinet? Can he tell us if it was six months ago, and that that is the reason why the Minister cannot remember? When was the date? Can he remember the general date - or the month?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will certainly include that in the written response to the Member.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of Government Private Members' Business
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to inform the House that the government private Members do not wish to identify any items to be called on Wednesday, April 5, 1995, under the heading Government Private Members' Business.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Committee to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Motion re appearance of witnesses
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I move
THAT from 7:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 10, 1995, Mr. Bill Klassen, Chair, and Mr. Ron Farrell, President, of the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, appear as witnesses before Committee of the Whole to discuss matters related to the board.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Department of Justice - continued
Chair: We will now be dealing with Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95. Is there further general debate on the Department of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member for Faro was asking some questions yesterday about policing costs. I have some of those now, from 1991 to 1995-96, and I will provide a copy for some of the Members opposite and for the Table Officers, but I would like to read some of them into the record.
The Member can see that there is a surplus for each of the last four years, and it varies from $154,000 to $796,000.
With regard to the surplus, the RCMP gives the government an estimated budget of what it may spend throughout the year. At the end of the year, we get the actual numbers.
There is a surplus, because a surplus is always estimated in case there is an emergency of some kind. For instance, if the emergency response team is sent out for a long period of time to deal with a territorial emergency, or if there is a call for more officers to respond to a certain need, it has to be estimated in the cost. Over the last two or three years there have not been a lot of instances of any serious crimes such as murder, hostage-taking or those kinds of situations, that might have caused a lot of overtime or required special investigative services.
That should give the Member a rough breakdown of the costs of the RCMP for the last few years.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre asked some questions about the enduring power of attorney act. There has been consultation with the following special interest groups: on March 3, 1995, the wills, trusts and estates subsection of the Canadian Bar Association met with Justice officials. The group was very supportive of the legislation and suggested some minor changes that have been incorporated into the bill.
On March 30, 1995, the Yukon Medical Association met with Justice and Health officials to discuss the legislation as part of the monthly Joint Management Committee meeting of Health and Social Services.
The doctors present were Bruce Beaton, Alan Reddoch, and Roger Mitchell, and they were supportive of the initiative. On March 30, Justice and Health officials met with Gisela Sartori from the Second Opinion Society. She felt that this legislation was overdue and welcomed the initiative. She will provide any comments by April 5.
On March 31, Justice and Health officials met with Dana McKenzie from the Yukon Association for Community Living. She was supportive of the initiative, and will provide comments before April 7. On March 24, Justice officials wrote to Geoffrey Constable of the Yukon Council on Aging. On March 31, YCA wrote to indicate that it endorsed the act.
On March 31, the Council for Yukon Indians, and the Yukon Native Federation - Betsy Jackson of CYI phoned in a response to the Minister's March 20 letter to all Yukon First Nations. She requested more time to respond. This was done, and she will provide comments by April 7. YFN has not yet responded to the Minister's March 20 letter inviting its comments on the proposed legislation.
The Yukon Human Rights Commission was not sent the proposed legislation - a proposed process for establishing an enduring power of attorney is done on a voluntary basis with established safeguards built in. Since the Opposition has raised the point, however, the department will send over the proposed legislation to the Human Rights Commission, and their comments are welcome.
Several groups have committed to providing comments on the proposed legislation before April 7, 1995. At that time the assessment can be made as to the possible timing of introducing the legislation. All initial responses from groups consulted have been positive to date.
The Member also asked the question about the relationship between this act and the adult guardianship legislation. The proposed enduring power of attorney act is not designed to replace an adult guardianship act. In dealing with the complex questions involved in having adult guardianship legislation, it was decided to separate out those aspects that could be addressed now. The first initiative is introduced in the proposed legislation to enable people to set up an enduring power of attorney. The Department of Health and Social Services and Justice will be proposing an action plan on the issue of adult guardianship for Cabinet's consideration later on this year. Possible initiatives could be taken within the next year and a half.
There were also some questions asked on Thursday that I would like to respond to at this time. One was on spousal assault statistics, asking why the budget is forecasting an increased number of assaults and what the statistics represent - the number of victims or the number of cases involving different victims. The answer is that the statistics under the status "wife assault" represent the number of files opened during the year with regard to individual victims of wife assault. The actual assault may have occurred recently or may have been a past assault from a previous year.
There is not necessarily a relationship between the number of files opened and the number of charges laid against the assaultive husbands. Some of the women seek help from the family violence prevention unit before they are prepared to lay a charge. An increase of 29 percent is forecast in the number of open files. That does not necessarily represent a growth in the number of assaults against women. Rather, it represents an increase in the utilization of services by the victims of wife assault. A
s we increase education and training in the communities, this number will continue to increase. It provides us with an opportunity to work with victims that may not have otherwise come forward.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre asked about the cultural programming at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and how long the traditional remedies program has been in existence and what other cultural First Nations-related programs are offered.
The traditional First Nations remedies program has been in place since early 1992. I will provide the Member with a report of the evaluation of this program very shortly. It contains all the information about which the Member was asking.
Various other programs are offered to meet the needs of First Nations people at WCC. Many of these programs are offered by CYI under contract. These include the elder visitation program, where elders visit inmates on a regular basis to provide advice, traditional counselling and cultural teaching, the annual elders conference and annual meeting of elders and inmates, to allow for the sharing of mutual experiences and interests.
There are three- to five-day healing workshops designed to promote healing through group interaction and shared experiences. The subjects include grieving, childhood trauma, anger and self-esteem. There was a recent six-week lifeskills training course, which was co-sponsored by CYI, sharing circles and formal guided healing sessions that deal with a wide range of issues, traditional crafts and skills instruction and spiritual programming, including sweatlodge ceremonies and traditional feasts and celebrations. In addition, the CYI community liaison worker provides ongoing referral services and maintains and strengthens contact between First Nation inmates and their communities.
The CYI community liaison worker is also the chair of the WCC community education committee, ensuring that the interests of First Nations people are taken into account in the Yukon College education programming.
The Member also asked about work skills training in WCC and if the programs offered lead to a certificate, and are budget cuts being planned here, and, if so, will the department step in to provide funding so programming can continue. The answer is that certificates are provided to inmates who complete welding and carpentry courses. These certificates are meant to recognize course completion. However, the courses are not formally accredited.
The food handlers hygiene course that is offered is a nationally recognized course. Academic courses to enable inmates to achieve their general equivalency diploma are offered. Yukon College has given the department no indication that cuts are planned to WCC community campus. The memorandum of agreement between WCC and Yukon College will be based on the understanding that current levels of service will be maintained in the future.
The Member also asked a question about victim fine surcharge, how this money is being spent, who is spending it, and are there outstanding fines under the program? There have been three requests for funding by three communities: Kwanlin Dun, Haines Junction and Carmacks. In response to these requests, $5,000 has been granted to each community for the purpose of coordinating, developing and implementing programs for victim support.
The Members opposite can see that this is part of the terms and conditions of the recently concluded community justice contracts with Haines Junction and Carmacks announced last week. A copy of these contracts was supplied to the Members.
Justice officials are currently negotiating with other communities that are interested in accessing some of this money. Discussions are currently going on in Dawson, Faro and Watson Lake. These communities have asked for time to make decisions on how they want to proceed and other communities are welcome to make inquiries.
The next step in cases where funding is to be provided would be the victim services staff from the department to visit these communities to provide training in victim service delivery. There are outstanding victim fine surcharges and these are dealt with in the same manner as other outstanding fines.
The Member asked, "How are we dealing with outstanding fines?" With respect to outstanding fines, generally judges are, in fact, imposing jail time in lieu of a fine. The process for dealing with outstanding fines is as follows. The judge determines the due date for the payment of the fine and the amount of jail time for default of the payment. This date is noted by court services. If payment is not received by the due date, a collection letter is sent advising the person that they have 30 days to pay the fine and that non-payment at the end of that time would result in a warrant of committal being issued. If the fine is not paid, court services sends out a warrant of committal to the RCMP. The RCMP then locates the individual and arrests the person. The defaulter is taken directly to jail and either pays the fine or serves the jail time set by the judge.
Those are some of the opening comments that I have to answer some questions that were asked on Thursday. The department is working diligently on some of the questions that were asked yesterday and last night.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to thank the Minister for providing us with those answers. Is it possible to get a copy of it so that I will not have to wait for the Blues tomorrow to go over the list? If not, I will just have to wait until tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can have copies made for the two critics, if they wish. It will also be in the Blues tomorrow.
Mr. Penikett: Yesterday, the critics and the Minister were discussing the recidivism rate and the impact of circle sentencing on those statistics. A few years ago, there was a Minister of Justice here, Mr. Clarke Ashley, who had the reduction of the recidivism rate as one of the key goals and objectives of the department. I notice it is no longer included as a key objective. In those days, the budget book took great care to include the recidivism rate as a key performance indicator, something Mr. Phelps is always telling us we need, as a measure of the effectiveness of the department. I am not personally convinced that the department could do much to change it but, given that politicians like to believe they can, it would be interesting to know if the Minister plans to reintroduce the reduction of the recidivism rate as a key goal of the department and if he will be providing us with annual statistics on how well he is doing on that score.
I have another reason for asking this question. I noticed an interesting piece of data from Britain in a journal I was reading the other day, which pointed out that, in respect to young offenders, the recidivism rate for young offenders who had been in jail, for those who had been on probation and for those who had been sent through the diversion system was no different - a fairly alarming statistic, in my view.
If the department keeps recidivism rate data, does it have that data for recent years, and if it is handy, could the Minister table it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am sure that we have the data on how many times an individual comes back to us. I could check with the corrections branch to find out if we do have it.
The Member wanted to know if one of my priorities was to reduce the rate. It is always a priority to reduce crime, and I would think that through some of the community justice initiatives, through crime prevention initiatives and other current community initiatives, we can reduce recidivism. I realize that it is not an easy thing to just say that that is what one will do as it depends on an awful lot of other factors.
Mr. Penikett: Among the factors that people have commented on over the years is the level of unemployment at any given moment in time, related to other social and economic stresses in society, and especially on statistics like spousal assault and so forth. When I was in school, the conventional wisdom was that if one went to jail once, the likelihood of becoming a repeat offender increased - jail was not a solution to crime. The conventional wisdom was that one was more likely to become a repeat offender if one actually got jail time.
The numbers from Britain I just mentioned seem to indicate a different picture.
I am not asking for a high-quality analysis, but it would be interesting if the recidivism rate - some indicators of repeat offenders - is available. I am sure the information would be of interest to the Committee, whether or not we receive it during this estimates debate or later.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will try to gather that information for the Member, but I cannot give the Member assurances that we can get it shortly. I will get the numbers to the Member, even if we are not in this budget, either by way of legislative return or letter.
Mr. Penikett: I have a supplementary question. From things I have seen in the past, I am certain the national government keeps this kind of data and, because the administration of justice is provincial, would probably collect it from provincial jurisdictions, so I would be surprised if we are not already keeping the information. I do not want to be asking for a lot of extra work; I am just looking for numbers that may be handy.
Mr. Cable: I just have a couple of questions on the contract between Judge Stuart and the federal government on auditing the circle sentencing process to date. Could the terms of reference for Judge Stuart's contract be tabled?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can check into it. It is federal money. I certainly have no problem tabling the terms of reference.
Mr. Cable: It might be useful to get the whole contract, if it is not confidential. Could the Minister at the same time indicate, if he does not table the whole contract, when the report from the judge will be filed with the federal government and, assumedly, with the Justice Minister himself?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am sure that will be some of the information provided in the contract, but my understanding is that the contract is supposed to run for about six months. I think Judge Stuart does it on a part-time basis, not a full-time basis. I expect the report will probably be prepared before the end of the year. I would have to check on the reporting process as well, and I will get back to the Member on it.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister for some information, as well, related to circle sentencing and all the alternatives to the court system that are in place in the Yukon. I would like to know how many cases have been dealt with in this way, and what kinds of cases. I would also like to know what appeal mechanisms are available.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to bring that information back to the Member. I do not have the numbers here.
Mrs. Firth: Is Judge Barry Stuart's contract with the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The contract is with court services of the Yukon government.
Mrs. Firth: Is that a monetary contract? Is he getting paid in addition to his judge's salary for that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The federal government has agreed to cover the cost of deputy judges while Mr. Stuart is doing this work on circle sentencing. My understanding is that Mr. Stuart just receives his regular wages.
Mrs. Firth: So, just so we can understand how this is working - Barry Stuart is a judge; he is being taken off the bench to do this contract on circle sentencing for YTG, and the federal government is going to pay for deputy judges to replace Barry Stuart on the bench. The Minister is nodding his head in the affirmative, so I will move on to my next question.
Are the deputy judges that will be replacing Mr. Stuart going to be judges from out of the territory? Is that what is going to happen?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They are the deputy judges we use from time to time. Mr. Stuart is not going to stop being a judge. He is going to do the contract work on a part-time basis. I believe there are some cases that Mr. Stuart is involved in now, which he will be continuing. He will continue to do those, but he will also, for some period of time, be doing this other assignment. The deputy judges we have come in all the time anyway will be taking over on the days that Mr. Stuart is unavailable.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell me - since it is YTG that has requested this evaluation - what information the government is looking for.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I gave a commitment to the Member for Riverside that I would bring back the contract, which should lay out the terms of reference and all the details of this evaluation.
Mrs. Firth: That is the contract with Barry Stuart to provide this service. I see the Minister is getting a briefing so I will wait a moment.
Who wanted this service performed? Was it the territorial Department of Justice that requested it? If so, why did they want this information?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, it was the federal government who chose to conduct the evaluation in this manner and asked if the territory would deliver it through court services. Mr. Stuart will be conducting the evaluation. Since the federal government asked the territorial government to conduct the evaluation in this manner, the federal government is paying for the cost of deputy judges while Mr. Stuart is conducting the evaluation.
Mrs. Firth: So, the federal government wants this information about circle sentencing. The federal government has approached the territorial government and asked if this particular person could do the evaluation? Was this contract put out to public tender or did they ask Mr. Stuart specifically to do it?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: I hear the Minister saying it did not go to public tender and that the federal government wanted Mr. Stuart to conduct the evaluation.
Instead of just having the contract, I wonder if we could have a chronological documentation of how it came to be that Mr. Stuart is carrying out this evaluation on circle sentencing. I would like to know who is paying for what, who approached whom and how decisions were made as to who would carry out the evaluation. As well as having the contract, I wonder if we could have the complete detail of the whole process. I guess the contract will stipulate a completion date. I would like to know what department in the federal government wanted this evaluation done, what the plans are for the report and when everything is supposed to be finalized.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can tell the Member that I will bring back the information she wanted. I think this came about as a result of the federal aboriginal justice secretary, Mr. David Arnot, coming to the Yukon to discuss an evaluation of circle sentencing, which would involve both Saskatchewan and the Yukon. Because Barry Stuart had been leading the way in this and felt he was the Yukon expert on what circle sentencing was all about in the Yukon, he might be the proper individual to work with the federal officials to produce this evaluation. That is how it came about. The federal government said that, because he is a territorial judge and it might inconvenience the territory, the federal government would pick up the cost of any deputy judges needed for the period of time Mr. Stuart is doing the evaluation. We have agreed to that, but I will get more details on it for the Member.
We wanted to make sure we were covered for judges and that it would not cost us any more money. The federal government has agreed to that.
Mrs. Firth: I will wait for the detailed information so I can see what is going on. I may have further questions on whether or not he should be taking a leave of absence from the bench, identifying his time toward this project and then going back to the bench, or if there are potential problems should he do both tasks at the same time. I would like it more clearly defined. When the Minister brings back the information, perhaps it will define it for me, or perhaps I may have some follow-up questions.
Mr. Harding: I am not looking for a commitment from the Minister, but he responded quickly to the concerns I raised yesterday on behalf of my constituents - the Wagantalls - with an explanation from the sheriff's office about why the proceedings took so long, stating that the sheriff's office felt it made every reasonable effort to accommodate my constituents. The explanation is helpful, in terms of a chronological order. However, what I would like the Minister to come back with - from either the Justice department or another branch, and from the sheriff's office - is what recourse might be available for my constituents. They understand the chronological order. They may have some different views, when I get this information to them, but this statement says it is the end of the line. I would like to know what recourse they may have on this issue.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can look into that for the Member. It appears that the sheriff's office did make every reasonable effort to accommodate the individuals. I think that they did make a strong effort. I know there was some criticism that they did not do much in the beginning. However, it is my understanding that they were not provided the information that the sheriff's office normally requires to do its business, with regard to the seizable assets. The sheriff does not just go to an individual's home and search around for something worth seizing. They have to know that an individual has a car, a truck, snow machine or a boat. They can then search for that and go further. They did request that from the individual's lawyer. The lawyer put them in touch with Ms. Wagantall and they did not get back to the sheriff's office. The sheriff can only do their job that far. I am not sure now what the options are. I will ask the department to get that information for the Member.
Mr. Harding: In a civil action - and I am not aware of the details of the process - once there is a judgment, whose responsibility is it to provide the list of assets? Is it the plaintiff who has gotten a successful judgment? Does the list of assets that are available normally come out in the discussion with the judge, or is it the obligation of the department? How does that system work?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that the plaintiff's lawyer will provide a list of assets that are seizable, and will then instruct their lawyer to notify the sheriff. Normally, under most circumstances, the sheriff deals with the solicitor. In this case, because the person was in Ross River and there was some inconvenience, they went a step further and tried to deal with the plaintiff. They did not get a response from the plaintiff. It is my understanding that the way it is done in most cases is that the plaintiff's lawyers will notify the sheriff's office of the items that are of value to be seized, and the sheriff can go out and look for the cat, or look for the camper and boat, or whatever it happens to be, or check with the motor vehicles branch or do other checks to determine how they can seize these assets and who actually owns them.
Mr. Harding: Could I have some details about the process of how the lawyer, or plaintiff, would establish the assets? As one can imagine, it could be difficult for a lawyer who works in Whitehorse to determine the assets of a citizen of Ross River, against whom the lawyer's client has had successful judgment. In the normal course of a civil action, is there a statement of assets or some other record kept? I am confused about how the lawyer would determine just what assets the defendant who lost the case would have. It would be difficult, and it appears to me that it would be somewhat cumbersome. Exactly how is the successful case winner's lawyer supposed to identify the assets?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will bring that information back to the Member. However, I would assume that, if I were the plaintiff and suing the Member opposite or trying to recover some money from him, I would know that he drove a certain model truck and the licence number, and if I lived in the same community, I would know that he had a Polaris skidoo, and I would report all this to my lawyer. Part of the discussions during the court case would be that I knew he had a car-top boat, and a truck and a camper, and a few other odds and ends. The sheriff's office would investigate these assets, rather than my sending the sheriff on a wild goose chase to the Member's house to find out what he really owns. We would check all that out ahead of time with the lawyer.
I will get back to the Member on the exact details of how they find that out. I assume that, if I filed a complaint against the Member, it would be my responsibility to try and list some of the Member's assets.
Mr. Harding: I can appreciate that. In some cases it might be easy and in others it might not, especially if there is some movement, as was the case here, in separation between the plaintiff and the defendant. It makes it a little bit difficult to establish the assets.
I guess there is also the potential of the client actually taking action against the lawyer if the person found that their lawyer did not serve the documents properly or did not act in a fashion that was in their best interest. I guess that would probably be one of the options, but I would like that identified by the department, if possible.
It is also my understanding that the lawyer for the plaintiff can get a court order to examine the defendant and that would, with this court order, allow the plaintiff to go to someone's private property and face the risk of a potentially volatile situation happening while they are rummaging through their outdoor garage. They can have the defendant who lost the court case examined. I think that some of these things are said for the record. I think it would be important to have that option available, and I am wondering why this option might not have been pursued in this case, or, if it was, it somehow did not make its way through the system.
The Minister is acknowledging that he will check it out. I would like to get a response to all of these issues and try to get some recourse in the end. That is all I am trying to do. I am not trying to blame anyone here; I would just like to get some recourse for my constituents.
The next issue I would like to ask the Minister about is somewhat of a double-edged sword. I see that the RCMP have been turning back money or lapsing money to the Department of Justice since 1991. In that year, it was $154,000. This year, it is expected to be as high as $796,000. In the two previous years, it was over $300,000. This is a fairly substantial amount of money. On one hand, one wants to congratulate the RCMP for being fiscally responsible in not running up charges unnecessarily. On the other hand, one could argue that there are needs in the communities. I know that Faro is not alone in talking about secretarial support in the rural communities. The money that has been turned back - the $400,000 and $300,000 and $800,000 this year - could have been initially budgeted to fill those voids and could have covered a significant number of secretarial support positions in the rural communities. I would like to get some response from him on that particular question.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If one looks at the amount turned back by the RCMP in three of the four years, it is between one and three percent. On a $10 million budget, that is not a lot of money, especially when one considers that if they had an emergency, such as several murders in one year or special investigations or a special stakeout that costs more money, it does not work out to much. We are talking about roughly the same amount of money - 4.3 percent in 1992-93. This year is 8.3, but the Member has to be aware that there was an accounting change this year of roughly $600,000.
The accounting change would almost account for the total surplus this year. They were almost dead on their budget, if one takes into account what I mentioned in my opening statements about this accounting change with respect to accommodation being paid for by the federal government that we had not been accredited for before. It is not a lot of money when one looks at it in the context of the whole budget and the emergency funding that they need.
Also, the overhead costs are tracked by Ottawa. We do not know what they are going to be for the RCMP until after year-end. That is why they fluctuate each year. It is not unusual. I am sure that if we go back into other years, we would find that the RCMP contract is about the same. I would just like to point that out to the Member.
We are looking into the secretarial thing that he mentioned yesterday. I do not want to get back into that debate, but I do want to point out to the Member that there are some valid reasons for the cost overruns.
Mr. Harding: I do not want to sound like I am trying to make the case that this is poor budgeting and that that is why I said it was a double-edged sword. I can understand that in a $10 million budget there would be monies returned. If the Yukon government budget of $500 million were out by four percent, it would be out by $20 million, which would be reasonable, so four percent of this budget is also reasonable.
My position is that when there are needs and the Minister knows that there are needs - I will use the secretarial support as one example. Instead of responding by taking the money back from the RCMP, is there not a potential to sit down at the end of the budget year, evaluate what the needs were versus what was turned back and look at making at least a temporary commitment toward meeting some of those needs, such as secretarial services, on an interim basis? I know that the Minister will probably stand up and say that the danger is a commitment based on the lapse, and then the next year one does not have that lapse, but one could, with the money that is being turned back, look at meeting those priorital needs on a short-term basis, especially in rural communities.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Every year we have discussions with the RCMP about the direction of policing in the territory. I am confident that they have programs in place to evaluate their needs and services in the various communities. I do not want to get into it all over again; we talked about this for about an hour and a half yesterday. All I want to tell the Member is that I will do what I said I would do yesterday. I do not want to get into it again.
Mr. Harding: I get the impression that the Minister has heard my point, and I hope that he will make those representations. I am sure he will.
As a final comment, it is my understanding that the secretarial commitment in Faro is already on a short-term basis. I think we have it until August 31, but we do not know what we are going to have after that. It is not something that is new and unheard of.
I will leave that with the Minister as a representation. He knows that I will always be back to follow up on it.
Ms. Commodore: I do not have a whole lot of questions left, but I do have some. When I finished yesterday, I was talking about the sex offender treatment program and Keeping Kids Safe, a victim-centred approach for managing child sex offenders, and I would like to ask some more questions about that.
The study that was done was a joint effort by the Departments of Justice and Health and Social Services, the Council for Yukon Indians and Health Canada. So, there were a large group of individuals involved in this report. A couple of the members sat down with us, as a caucus, shortly after the report came out, to explain to us the manner in which the report was done. They let us know what was happening with the program, Keeping Kids Safe.
It sounded like a good program, and I commended the government, when it was announced, for looking at the program and deciding that, rather than opting for the sex offender treatment, the government would go about it in a different manner, which is Keeping Kids Safe. Of course, everyone who cares about children applauds that action.
My questions are about the manner in which that is done. When the report was released, it was noted at the time that, in the previous year, 1993, there were 86 reports of children being sexually abused. Those are just reports, and I would like to suggest that there are many more unreported sex abuse cases. I would not even be surprised if that number doubled, or worse. As of August - two months prior to this report being released - there were 10 offenders who were serving sentences and 10 offenders who were on probation at that time.
This is in addition to Yukoners who are sent to facilities outside. What I am trying to say is that we do have a number of convicted sex offenders in the Yukon. We have 20, for sure, here. The question that I have is in regard to how one monitors all of those people as they are released from jail?
It was reported by the officials that the committees will consist of relatives, friends, church pastors, the non-offending victim's parent, or the offender's spouse. All will serve as risk managers, together with the offender and support workers, and they will all work as a team to help prevent the offender from re-offending. This will continue throughout the offender's lifetime, and after the government official's time with the offender has expired. We are looking at monitoring these individuals for the rest of their lives. If we have an offender who has been released from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre at the age of 22 and that person lives to a ripe old age of 82, that is a long time to monitor an offender. Although the program is a good program, it raises the question about how the continuation of the monitoring will occur.
I would like the Minister to give me his opinion about how this program is going to work for the rest of the person's lifetime, in addition to all of the other people who will be convicted of these crimes over the next decade.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Rather than giving the Member my impression of how it will work, I will do better than that and offer the Member a briefing with the victim services and family violence prevention unit, to provide her with a current status of what is being done with the offenders and answer her technical questions about how the government will monitor things in the future. Questions of that nature would be better put to the people who are actually going to be doing the monitoring and delivering the programs.
I would be more than happy to provide the Member with that briefing. We have spoken to the manager and staff of the victim services and family violence prevention unit, and they would be more than happy to provide that briefing to any Opposition Members. I can arrange a time and day at the Members' convenience. I think that speaking to the people who actually deliver the program would be the most efficient and effective way to provide this information to Members.
Ms. Commodore: I appreciate that invitation. I have already had a briefing with the family violence prevention unit under the former Minister. It was a long time ago and they brought me up to date on the programs they have available and things they are going to do. The dilemma here is in regard to people. As I mentioned to the Minister yesterday, the people I have talked to about the program are asking questions - these are not criticisms - about the plan this government has. A study was done by four groups with representation from each group.
The Minister seems to have the answer to most of the questions we are asking and if he does not, he brings them back, and I appreciate that because the information I am seeking is a serious request. I want to know these things and I want to know about this program. I will probably accept the offer to attend the briefing with them and I appreciate that but I would like to have something I can show those individuals who will not be at the briefing and the people I have talked to with regard to this program. I would like something that would provide them with the information they need to assure them that this program is going to be working, and have the manner in which it is working explained for them. That is information that a lot of people would like to know, especially those people who may want to get involved with the program.
I asked the Minister previously about the volunteers because we are asking for volunteers in this program. It has already been stated that there are no additional dollars to go into any of these programs. I think the Minister told me in Question Period that we do not need any money because these people are volunteers and volunteers do not get paid, but if they are looking at a lifetime commitment to monitor a sex offender, it is a really big job. So I would like the Minister to provide me at least with his opinion about how this is going to be done. Although it sounds good, it is not going to be easy.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Let us try it this way, then. I do not want to have the department go to all the work of hurrying to put together a bunch of briefing notes to meet the needs of the House, and then I will read them out to the Member, after which the Member will ask me more questions and I will get the department to provide more briefing notes. They are fairly detailed questions.
Why do we not do it this way: I will ask the department to prepare a briefing note on this question, and relating to some of the questions that the Member has already asked. We will set up a briefing with victims services and the family violence prevention unit. I will get the briefing note to the Member before the meeting. If the Member has any more questions, she can write them down and they can be addressed at the meeting. If the Member feels there is something that we could be providing to individuals out there for their information in the future, we will put it together at that time.
I want to point out to the Member that this unit is very hands-on. It is very active in dealing with victims. I have some concern about putting it to a whole bunch of work now, day after day, responding to these questions in the House, when it really should be responding to concerns of the victims. The unit is very busy right now. I would like to try and do this in the most efficient manner for both the unit and the Member.
If that suits the Member, I will make the commitment that I will have it put something together. It might take it a week or two, depending on the time lines. Like I said, the response we are getting to that unit is quite astounding. It is dealing with the victims, and I would rather that the victims be its priority right now. I will ask them to put that together, and, in a couple of weeks or so, they will have something for the Member. We could then set up a meeting and have further discussions after that, if that is okay.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to thank the Minister. If that is the only way I am going to get this information, that is fine. I am familiar with the family violence prevention unit, since it has been around for a long time. I recognize that its services are needed in a lot of other places.
I am in no hurry to get this information. I can wait for a few weeks. It does not matter, as long as I get it sometime. When we look at the report here, it talks about how the government is going to run its Keeping Kids Safe program. I read it more than once - I read it twice. I have gone over it more than that, and it is very extensive.
It speaks about how the government is going to get involved and how it is going to do that. It speaks about how the individual person can be involved. It is really extensive and that is why I ask these questions, because I know it is not an easy job. The government has no additional money to do it. We are looking at having 20 convicted sex offenders at least, by October, with more coming. We are looking at a really big program. If the Minister is right, it will take hundreds of volunteers to carry out this program from now until whenever.
If we look at the kinds of things the government is going to be doing, or what is suggested in this report - it talks about developing RCMP child protection protocols, guidelines for investigation, develop and adhere to standard conditions of release that prevent opportunities for further offences, allow for safe contact with the victim if the victim desires contact, provide immediate support counselling and treatment services for non-offending parents, victims and siblings at time of disclosure and ongoing, develop court-watch programs to monitor the justice system's response to child sexual offenders, train workers to recognize the signs of victimization and sexual offending and to respond most effectively, take steps to protect identified victims and other potential victims, provide 24-hour access to safe homes for non-offending parent and children - the list goes on and on.
It is for those reasons that I would like to have more information about how the department intends to do it. I am sure it is going to be doing it in cooperation with Health and Social Services, and also possibly with Health and Welfare Canada and with Dr. Kehoe and his people, because they were part of this study. It is not an easy job, and the Minister knows it. I am sure that the people who he expects to do this on a volunteer basis for the next few decades will be wondering how it is all going to be done, because we are talking about something that we hope in the end will work.
When I get the information, I will take the time to sit down with the family violence prevention unit.
I was reading an article about a pilot program that is being offered in Yellowknife. As I think I mentioned yesterday, I think the two territories are the only jurisdictions in Canada where treatment for adult sex offenders is not available. A pilot program is going to be started in the Northwest Territories to provide some kind of treatment for adult sex offenders. I believe it is going to be starting about now. Is there a possibility that this government will be looking at a pilot program in the Yukon to find out whether or not it might be a positive thing?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think I have the answers the Member has been looking for. I can give the Member a bit of an overview of what is happening with the Keeping Kids Safe program. The working group has identified - working groups are involved in the program - three subcommittees to continue the implementation of the strategy.
One subcommittee will take responsibility for public education in preventing child sexual abuse and the training of community resource people to identify and respond to the abusive situations. I think the Member has seen the ads in relation to this. The second subcommittee is developing principles and procedures to guide the operation of the sex offender risk-management teams. There are five convicted sex offenders who are currently being monitored and supervised using these teams. The third subcommittee is developing a federal funding proposal for a three-year demonstration project, which will assist the territory in implementing and evaluating the strategy. So, there is a pilot project being planned.
The strategy is currently being implemented using existing resources, both within the territorial and federal governments. Once the federal proposal subcommittee has the opportunity to develop the proposal for the three-year demonstration project for the federal government, the additional funding from the territorial government will be identified and requested by way of Management Board submission. Once it has been determined what the cost will be, I will be going back to Management Board to request the additional funding.
My understanding is that the working committee is in the final stages of developing the federal funding proposal for the three-year demonstration project. As I said earlier, once the proposal is complete, we will be identifying it, and we hope then to make an announcement about the project. The plan is to put the strategy in place, find some funding for a three-year demonstration project, including an evaluation process within that plan, and then go from there.
Ms. Commodore: I know that we do have experts working on the program, but when I look at it as a person who is not an expert, I wonder how it is going to be done. The last few pages are just part of the whole program; they talk about monitoring strategies. For instance, under conditions that prevent access to children, it lists the conditions and the possible monitoring strategies on that page. On the next page, it talks about conditions pertaining to limited or restricted contact with children, and it lists all of the conditions and the possible monitoring strategies. It then talks about the conditions restricting the offender's contact with children where the offender resides with the children, the conditions and the monitoring strategies.
There are five other listed conditions pertaining to treatment with monitoring strategies, which tells me that this is a really big job. I wonder how it is going to be done with limited amounts of money, and I hope the group will be successful in finding funding to do this, because it is a very ambitious program and certainly has to be done. I will continue to try to learn more about it if I have that opportunity, because I want to know more about it.
I have only a couple of other questions. The next one is in regard to the maintenance enforcement program. The Minister has provided me with a lot of information. I appreciate the fact that he did offer us a briefing with his people when he announced his new strategy on maintenance enforcement and what the department is going to do.
I promised a constituent that I would ask the following questions of the Minister in the House. I know that the Minister will not be able to answer them right now - maybe he will, I do not know. I have a list of 11 questions, and I would like to put on the record - I just saw a surprised look on the other side of the House - that I will be making copies of these questions and providing them to the Minister. He can take them back to his department.
They are questions like, "Why is it that when a person has been ordered in a Supreme Court order to pay X amount in child maintenance, and does not pay, that person is not in contempt of court and no legal action is taken?" It is those kinds of questions that I will be asking for a person with whom I am sure the Minister is familiar. I will run off copies and pass them over to the Minister. Perhaps he can provide the answers to me by letter, and that will certainly save us at least an hour of time spent in the House.
The Member for Riverside says he has a whole hour.
The next question I have is in regard to the electronic home monitoring program. The Minister will remember when I introduced the program in the House wearing one of those bracelets on my arm. He had the key to open the bracelet, and he said he was going to throw it away.
What is happening with that program? I know of one person who is using it right now, but how many others are using the bracelet right now?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that at any one time there are two to three individuals on the monitoring system.
Ms. Commodore: Can he give me a list of how many individuals used it over the last fiscal year? How often was it used? It would be interesting to find out how successful it is and how many individuals are not spending time in the facility because of this program. Perhaps he could provide me with that information.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will bring that back.
Yesterday I was asked about the new Deputy Minister of Justice. There were 58 applicants for the job - three were local applicants - and there were four interviews. Of those four who were interviewed, three were from outside the Yukon and one was local. The interviewees were from Regina, Saskatchewan, St. Norberts, Manitoba, Torbay, Newfoundland, and Whitehorse, Yukon. One applicant was interviewed by telephone.
I was also asked about the Taga Ku case. The lawyer representing us in Vancouver is Jack Giles from Farris and Vaughn. The Member for Riverdale South wanted a breakdown of some legal fees for the Taga Ku appeal. Bruce Willis is working with Jack Giles on the appeal, and it is estimated that approximately $35,000 may be required to complete the appeal now scheduled to be heard before the Court of Appeal in May. The $35,000 is to cover the fees of both Jack Giles and Bruce Willis. In fiscal year 1994-95, $143,049 has been paid to Mr. Willis.
Ms. Commodore: I have one question with regard to the conference that was sponsored by the Department of Justice and the RCMP on domestic violence.
I understand that the department is going to be providing a report from that conference, possibly with recommendations. Could the Minister tell us when that report will be completed?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I spoke with the conference organizer in victim services and he mentioned to me that they felt it would probably be six weeks or so from the end of the conference. They are going to try and have the report distributed before the school year ends and people disburse for the summer. I hope that the report will be ready in late May or early June.
Ms. Commodore: I have one question about the information that the Member provided to us today, in follow-up to questions from yesterday, and that is in regard to the fine surcharge money. I would like to know the total that the Minister has right now. The Minister may have already provided me with that information, but I do not recall the amount. In respect to the money that is available to Yukoners, is there some criteria set down for its use? Does the department have, for instance, a brochure that tells people that this money is available and the kinds of things that people can use the money for?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The department is developing an information pamphlet for the communities. I can tell the Member that there is $115,000 in the fund. Of that amount, $15,000 has been committed to three communities that have community justice agreements: Haines Junction, Carmacks and Kwanlin Dun. From the community justice agreement, $5,000 is available for community justice initiatives in communities.
As well, the Member for Riverside asked me about program justice policy program initiatives, and officials in the department worked until 6:30 a.m. this morning putting all of this information together for the Member. They worked very diligently to do it. There were several people who worked overtime and we finally got it together for the Member today. I will send a copy of this over to the Justice critic, as well as the Table Officers and the Member for Riverside.
Ms. Commodore: I would just like to say thank you to those individuals in the Minister's department for providing us with this information so quickly. We would expect nothing less from the people who work there. They were very quick.
One other question I have in regard to his return today was about the adult guardianship act. This act has been sitting around for a lot of years, possibly seven or eight years. Is there a possibility that it will be brought forward? The Minister has indicated that the Department of Health and Social Services and Justice will be proposing an action plan on the issue of adult guardianship for Cabinet's consideration. Are they going to be providing an act? Is that what is going to happen, or are they going to be taking some initiative in order to deal with it? I did not know what his response was.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not think a final decision has been made on it. We will be discussing it with Health and Human Resources. The feeling was to proceed with the area that was least controversial and that was the enduring power of attorney act. That is what we are doing now. The other area is one that we hope to deal with in the future.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister tabled in this House a report from the ministers of justice meeting in Victoria in January. He represented the Minister responsible for juvenile justice at that meeting. He provided us with information in regard to the proposed amendments and how they were proceeding in two phases. He was going to provide me with further information in this House when I asked him about them. Is the Minister going to attend these meetings as a representative of the Minister responsible for juvenile justice? I know from attending those meetings that if there is something as important as this on the agenda, it is a little difficult to try to gather all of that information and pass it on to another Minister who was not there. Is he working very closely with the Minister responsible for juvenile justice in regard to some of the things that are happening as reported in this report?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, we are. Because the meeting was in Victoria, both Ministers would normally have gone. Other health ministers were at that meeting, though not all. From the dozen that there are across the country, about six were there. In this particular case, however, we were in session, and it was decided that it was primarily a justice ministers conference with the issue of young offenders on the agenda. It was decided that I should go and represent that Member.
I recall seeing a letter the other day from the federal Health Minister, who has indicated to me that the standing committee on the Young Offenders Act will be coming to the Yukon. We had asked that question all along. I will verify that fact, but I recall seeing a letter a few weeks ago confirming that the committee was looking forward to its visit to the Yukon.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to put on record that I hope the local Liberals will not be organizing that. In the past, we have had difficulty gaining access to these meetings. I hope that concern can be given to whoever is responsible for the standing committee -
that is not a joke.
The Minister had indicated that a task force will go over the recommendations prior to their going to the parliamentary standing committee. Which Ministers are on the task force that will review the recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back to the Member on that. It is probably Health and Social Services, since it deals with young offenders. I do treat the Member's comments about the organization of the meeting seriously. It was rather disappointing to see that most Yukoners were shut out of the firearms meeting, and we all know what has happened as a result of that; we are all in the process of losing our firearms to the federal Liberals in Ottawa.
This is a very important meeting, and I think we will be working closely with the federal Liberal government when the committee comes here. I hope it will be an open public meeting, in which anyone can participate. If it is not an open public meeting, I hope it will at least be similar to the way meetings were carried out in other provinces and territories and that it will not be an exception to the rule, like the last one.
Ms. Commodore: I know that another Minister is responsible for juvenile justice. However, according to the report, the committee's phase 2 proposals are expected to include changes that will make the Young Offenders Act more responsive to the needs of aboriginal youth. Of course I am very interested in that, because I am an aboriginal person, and because we have a lot of aboriginal youth in our care. I would like to know if the Minister can provide me with further information about that. If we are looking at proposals that will meet that need, I would like to know what some of them are. Is it possible to get information about what is happening right now?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will pass on to the appropriate Minister - the Minister of Health and Social Services - the concerns of the Member opposite, and ask the Minister to respond by way of a legislative return or letter.
Ms. Commodore: I have one question in regard to the Whitehorse Correctional Facility. The Minister responsible for juvenile justice said that the department would be using the adult facility if it needed to in order to accommodate an overflow from the young offenders facility. Do we have any young offenders in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre right now?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Not at this time.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to ask the Minister if we have recently had young offenders in the adult facility.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Not that I am aware of. I think there were some discussions that the Member has just mentioned. I am not aware that any youths have been put there. I can check and get back to the Member. I know they were discussing putting them in the trailer unit, which is segregated from the main unit by way of a big fence. That was just one of the many proposals that were thrown out about how to deal with the issue of overcrowding.
Ms. Commodore: In the Yukon Gazette, it states that, by ministerial order, "... amended by adding the following facility to the facilities designated as hospitals for custody, treatment or assessment", and it lists the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Is that something new - that it has been designated as a hospital for treatment or assessment? I do not know the answer to that. I was just curious about it, after receiving it in the mail.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring back an answer for the Member. I think there was a requirement because some medical work is done there on the inmates. It is more for technical reasons. I will get back to the Member on it.
Ms. Commodore: I have a leaflet that talks about circle sentencing at Kwanlin Dun. It is an information booklet and, I guess, it is put out by the Kwanlin Dun community justice office. It describes the history of circle sentencing and the process of the Kwanlin Dun circle court and after court. Is this something that we will be seeing from other First Nations? It is excellent information and provides the general public with the program and how it works. Is the Minister familiar with this? I am sure he is. Are we going to be seeing others from other communities?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have not seen that particular brochure, but my understanding is that that is the kind of thing that gets developed under the community justice initiatives from working with the community justice committees. They decide that what we really need is more information for the public, and this is the kind of thing they provide. It is very good information. That is where it gets community driven; it does not come from the government. It is developed within the community. That is why these things are so important, and it is hoped that it will work better than the existing system.
Ms. Commodore: I am always interested in statistics and the problems that we are facing. In his opening budget speech, the Minister mentioned how crime is on the rise. I just noticed yesterday that there were three more individuals who were charged with drug offences. Is the Minister aware if the problem is getting any worse in the Yukon? Has he had discussions with the RCMP about how the drug squad is working in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back to the Member with that information.
Ms. Commodore: There is no rush. The Minister can provide me with that information by way of a letter some time down the road.
Is there a decrease in the budget for the courtworkers program? I heard something on the radio about money coming from the federal government to provide more money to the courtworkers. I would like to have an update on what is happening.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is my understanding that the funding level for 1995-96 will be the same as the funding level for last year, except that, last year, the federal government gave us a one-time, $20,000 shot, and we do not right now if it is going to give us that for this year. If it does, it will be exactly the same as last year. We received the $20,000 in January or February; it was quite late. We talked about it all year long and when I met with Allan Rock in September, when he was visiting the territory, we discussed it and it finally came about in late January or early February. The federal government gave us the money and we have used it. The federal government has made no commitment that the money will flow this year; however, we are matching the same amount of money in the program as last year.
Ms. Commodore: Did the territorial government match the $20,000 that they received from the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes.
Ms. Commodore: I have a lot more questions, but I have them listed in the different branches, so that is the end of my questioning in general debate of Justice. However, I will be asking further questions as we come to line-by-line debate in the different branches. I hope that I will be able to ask the questions in the line where they belong.
I would like to thank the Minister for providing me with the information that he did. I appreciate that. I am always interested in what is happening in Justice. Of course, we will be asking further questions as we get into the two different budgets.
Mr. Cable: I have some general questions and some fairly specific ones. The policy initiatives that the Minister's staff were working on until 6:30 this morning, which I very much appreciate, listed the review of the electrical rate regulation. Where does that review sit at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am expecting shortly to have an opportunity to have a look at the recommendations from the department that have come out of the review. It then goes to Cabinet. Cabinet will make a decision on those recommendations, and we will encourage the Yukon Utilities Board to implement the recommendations that pertain to it. The recommendations that pertain to the government we will look at implementing ourselves, but I have not had an opportunity to sit down and look fully at the recommendations and get them ready to go into Cabinet for its perusal.
Mr. Cable: The last time I tracked this, a consultant had been retained who gave advice to the government, presumably in the form of a report. I gather what the Minister is saying is that the department has now reviewed the consultant's report and has made some recommendations to the government - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think I am accurate in saying that a meeting has been called since the initial meeting, and individuals have met to discuss their concerns. A compilation of their concerns and the recommendations of the various groups has been put together by the department. That is now going to come to me. I will look at it, take it into Cabinet in a form that Cabinet can deal with, and then Cabinet will make a decision about where the utility board review process goes from here.
I do not know if that answers the Member's question. The person who did the consulting got everybody into a room to talk about how they saw the process becoming more streamlined. We have those recommendations. They will be coming to me and then flow to Cabinet, and then, I hope back to the Utilities Board and through the government agencies to which they pertain.
Mr. Cable: Just to determine whether we are talking about the same thing, there was a document provided to the Members some time ago that outlined a number of possibilities with respect to rate regulation - use of the Alberta board and doing away with the board altogether and the status quo. Is the Minister talking about that document, which was tabled some time ago?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That was the document put together by an individual who was seconded from Yukon Development Corporation. It was a discussion paper to get everybody thinking about what the various options are. Since then, a meeting has been held where people discussed the options and made recommendations.
What I am talking about now is a compilation of the recommendations of that process coming to the department, such as the size of the board, makeup of the board, how hearings should be held, whether or not they should be full-blown hearings, those kinds of things. That comes to Cabinet, after which I encourage the Utilities Board to adopt it. Anything that pertains to the government and is agreed upon in Cabinet, we will adopt, and we will encourage utility companies and others to adopt the recommendations that pertain to them. It is hoped that everyone will generally agree on a process that will effectively streamline the review process in the future.
Mr. Cable: I think I understand the Minister.
When does the Minister anticipate that the recommendations will be given to Cabinet and that there will be formal decisions made?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Whenever I get out of here and have a chance to look at it; I suppose it will be a few weeks yet. I have a couple of other budgets and several bills coming up. I do not think that I will have a chance to spend a lot of time on it in the next few days. I prefer it to be sooner than later. I would hope that we can deal with it this spring, before the end of June. We will see.
Mr. Cable: Can the Minister tell us what options are being examined with respect to how the Utilities Board is set up?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I cannot at this time, because I have not read the document. I am aware that the document is there, but I have been preparing for several weeks to do this work here and other things, and I have not had a chance to go through it in detail. I cannot give the Member that information now.
Mr. Cable: Can the Minister tell us if legislative change is being contemplated? Perhaps the Minister's official could tell us that. Do the recommendations encompass that sort of scope?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I cannot say for sure. I know that was discussed at the group meetings in the fall, but, as I said, I have not read the full document, and I have not read the recommendations, so I cannot tell the Member right now. I am sorry, but I have not had a chance to go through it in detail. It is a fairly thick document, and includes some other background papers. I would prefer to read it all, get a sense of it before I start saying I understand it, because I do not clearly understand it at this time. I have not been part of the meetings and I have not had a chance to go through it in detail.
Mr. Cable: Yes, I will promise to ask fewer questions of the Minister as soon as the Justice department debate is over. I will run right up and read this document then.
On another issue, are the probation services being examined with a view to privatization of those services?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Not that I am aware of.
Mr. Cable: The reason I ask this question is the scuttlebut, or the rumour mill, is rife with talk in this area. Is the Minister reorganizing the probation service?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I had better check. I have not given direction to anyone to reorganize it. I think they are exactly what the Member said earlier; they are rumours. I think they are just rumours. I have given no direction whatsoever to privatize probation services or any direction whatsoever to reorganize probation services. If it is being done, I will look into it and find out who is doing it.
Mr. Cable: The Minister may just have scotched a rumour. I will have to thank the Minister for that answer.
When we come to the Human Rights Commission, I would like the Minister's response to the proposed amendments from the commission. I do not think we need to get into it right now, but I would like to telegraph to him that we would like some sort of measured response to those three proposed amendments that were put forth during the attendance by the Human Right Commission. Is that going to be possible?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Maybe. He had his chance the other day when the Human Rights Commission was here and he missed it. I am just kidding the Member. I will answer some questions about the Human Rights Commission and its request for changes to the act, if the Member wishes.
I am concerned about some of them. My legal advice right now is that some of the changes being requested are already covered under our legislation. We feel that there already is a law under the current act that would cover the request about people with mental disabilities, in combination with recent cases in the Supreme Court. I will bring more details for the Member when we get to that line item.
Ms. Commodore: As a Member of this race relations committee, I would particularly like to get the Minister's response to the hate literature suggestion put forward by the commission, and on whether or not the Criminal Code sections under which Keegstra and Zundel, for example, were prosecuted are adequate for the job. I do not wish to belabour that point now. We can deal with it in detail in the Human Rights Commission debate.
The Minister tabled a legislative return relating to a contract with Monica Leiske for a review of the maintenance enforcement program legislation. The contract runs to March 31. Has that report been provided to the Minister's office by Ms. Leiske?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not aware of it as yet.
Mr. Cable: Could the Minister check on that during the break? When we get to that part of the budget, if it is available, it might be helpful in questioning the Minister on that part of his department's work.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will do that. I have to remind the Member that I have not seen the report yet myself, and I would like the opportunity to read it. I can wing it, but I want to read it first. I hope the Member will allow me to do that.
Mr. Cable: I do not think that I could stop him. If it is a short report, it would be useful for us to read for our rigorous cross examination of the Justice Minister on everything that he does.
I have one other point to ask, and that is about privatization - just to squelch rumours. Is the Minister and his department looking at privatization of the correctional services?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Not that I am aware of.
Again, the Department of Justice has outdone itself. I did not think I was going to have this information until tomorrow. The answers to questions that were asked yesterday and last night have been passed to me, so I would like to read them into the record for the Members.
Ms. Commodore asked if First Nations were aware of the department's position on funding community justice initiatives. We have made every effort to ensure that First Nations are aware of the specifics of the community justice policy. If certain individuals require more information, Justice officials will be more than happy to contact the individuals.
As I said yesterday, if the Member can give me the names of individuals who require information, I can pass them on to the department, and we would be more than happy to contact them.
As to whether or not a legislative return can be provided that spells out the rules that govern the circle court process and other dispute resolution processes, there are no formal rules of court with respect to the conduct of circle courts. The judiciary is working in partnership with certain communities. Kwanlin Dun is mentioned. The Member has a brochure respecting the circle court.
Mr. Penikett asked how the department's community justice fits in with the government's obligations under tribal justice and land claims agreements, how the two fit together and how the Minister will be working with the federal government to implement tribal justice, as it obviously has to exist parallel to the dominant system. The Department of Justice hopes that successful community justice projects will point the way to a single justice system that will accommodate the needs of First Nations people and the tribal justice needs of Yukon First Nations.
In some cases, First Nations may choose to operate under their own separate justice system, which is their right under the self-government agreements. How two separate justice systems will relate to one another is not known at this time. I think I mentioned yesterday that this is all new ground for us. The self-government agreements obligate the parties to negotiate arrangements for the First Nations' administration of justice by 1999. The department is willing to begin the negotiations as soon as the First Nations and the federal government are prepared to begin.
The negotiations will shed a lot of light on what future justice systems in the territory will look like.
The Member for Faro asked about the comparison of all incorporated communities in the Yukon by population ranges and staffing levels. I have asked the RCMP to provide that information.
I have also provided the budget of the RCMP, and we are also gathering information about the costs of the anniversaries to the RCMP. Ms. Commodore asked what the Talking About Crime project will cost. We are estimating that it will cost between $7,000 and $15,000 for the community consultations. What will the format of the meetings be? The mission statement of Talking About Crime is as follows: "To increase awareness of community crime and seek suggestions on how to make communities safer." The intention of the committee members is to meet with every community in the Yukon to fulfill this mission. They will do this at each meeting by presenting an overview of the state of crime in each community, listening and learning about community perception and the problem of crime, providing information about how community members can get involved in crime prevention at the community level, determining community priorities for action on crime, initiating discussions and the root causes of crime, and fostering greater cooperation and coordination among community residents involved in agencies in crime prevention.
The Member asked about health conditions at WCC. I mentioned that some work was done to the ventilation system. I understand that the system was thoroughly cleaned out and some minor amounts of asbestos were encapsulated to ensure proper air quality. This is a result of the health report.
Mrs. Firth asked what the process is to deal with lawsuits against government. The process is as follows: we accept service of the legal document stating the claim against the government. We notify the appropriate department immediately and provide the department with copies of the documents. There is a meeting with department officials regarding the action to get their side of the story and take instructions. The steps are followed, as set out in the rules of court, which include filing the statement of defense, holding discoveries and setting dates for trial.
In answer to the question about how many lawsuits have been settled since January 1, 1995, one lawsuit has been settled out of court - that was Cascade vs YTG.
What is the policy in choosing outside counsel, and who makes the decision? Is there flexibility to use government lawyers or outside counsel? Where do recommendations come from on who to hire? The Department of Justice has established a procedure it follows in determining when it is necessary to hire a lawyer outside of government. When the Department of Justice is notified that the government is going to be sued and receives legal papers from the plaintiff, an initial decision is made as to whether an in-house lawyer will handle the file, or whether it will be contracted out.
The claim against the government relates to an issue that is covered by the government's liability insurance and the insurer has the right to select its own lawyer or law firm. Where that occurs, the lawyer in the legal services branch is assigned to monitor the litigation and, in many cases, work alongside the insurer's lawyer who is defending the government against the claim made against it.
In other cases, the Department of Justice decides, through a review of the claim and discussions with department officials, that an outside lawyer is required, due to a particular type of legal expertise that cannot be provided by the legal services branch. Sometimes the department wants a particular lawyer or law firm from outside the government. The director of legal services makes the decision about whether or not it is necessary to hire outside counsel. When counsel is hired by the Department of Justice, the lawyer of the law firm signs a contract with the government for a specific amount and is required under the contract to report to the director of legal services.
On the liability insurance question, I am getting a response from Government Services and we hope to have it shortly.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre, Ms. Commodore, asked about offenders at the Correctional Centre - are sex offenders separated from the rest of the population. Offenders at the Correctional Centre are housed according to program participation and security classification. Decisions about living locations are based only partly on the nature of the offence, both current and past offences. Sexual offenders are not automatically housed apart from other offenders. However, they are housed separately if there is a risk to other inmates or themselves. They are housed apart from offenders if there is any likelihood of having contact with the victims, who may also be serving sentences. Depending on the sexual offenders in the centre and depending on the circumstances, some living areas are used to house sexual offenders in groups. This allows closer supervision.
On the question about whether condoms are issued to inmates, condoms are not routinely distributed to inmates at the Correctional Centre. They are issued to inmates who are released on temporary absence and are available to all inmates on their release date. Sexual activity between the same or opposite sex partners is prohibited at the centre. However, the practice would be to issue condoms on request by an inmate only if it was clear that the sexual activity was consensual and unavoidable. This is consistent with the philosophy of minimizing the harm that could result from unprotected sexual activity, as recommended by the expert committee on AIDS in prisons, which is in line with the Correctional Services of Canada perspective.
I answered some questions about the Keeping Kids Safe program, and think I have covered most of that.
The Member asked how the risk management team works. I can get into that or, if the Member wishes, I can leave it for the briefing the Member will get. Rather than my reading it, perhaps I should let the people involved speak to the Member about it.
I was asked to produce a brochure that provided information on the range of treatment options for sexual offenders. The matter is going to be examined to find the best way to make the information available.
There was a question for the Minister to table the audit that was done on the court reporting contract. I am told that the contract cannot be tabled while there is a court case related to the contract before the courts; therefore I cannot provide that information at this time.
There was a question asking if the department had come across problems relating to the use of circle sentencing for sex offenders. Six or seven circle sentences have taken place with sex offenders in the communities over the past few years, using a fairly traditional court process. Input from the communities is sought in different ways and quasi-traditional ways. The concern is for the protection and discretion of the victim to participate in the sentencing process. There is no legislation in either traditional court processes or sentencing circles for a victim to be represented. There is a growing awareness that victim representation is necessary either way. The courts have not differentiated in what form the court takes or in how it deals with sex offender cases versus other cases.
I hope that information is of use to the Members opposite.
Ms. Commodore: I am sure that will provide us with most of the information that we were asking for. I have a couple of requests. Could the Minister provide me with a written policy on aboriginal justice programs? The Minister said the policy was stated to people during his visits to the communities.
I would also like to have a copy of the written mission statement about the crime and vandalism prevention consultations from the communities. The Minister said there was a mission statement the department was using, and I would like to have a copy of that statement.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think I read the mission statement for the Member. If I did not read the aboriginal justice policy, I will get that information for the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question arising from the list the Minister provided of policy initiatives in the department. One of the items was that they will finalize the departmental action plan for gender equality in the justice system. I would like to ask the Minister to tell us when he expects that will be complete, when it would be implemented, and what are the highlights of it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to bring that information back to the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister also had an item on the list about the devolution of the Crown attorney's office. I would like to ask him if he can provide us with an update on that.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The federal Minister of Justice was here in September, and I spoke to him in Victoria in January as well. We talked both times about the devolution of the Crown. The Northwest Territories is as eager as we are to devolve the Crown attorney responsibilities to the territories. The federal Minister has appointed an individual - I can get the name for the Member. It is a senior official in the Department of Justice in Ottawa who is working with the deputy ministers on the process of devolution - how and when, and all of the details. That was struck late last winter, I believe.
It is a fellow called Stien Lal. Since that was established, there have been a couple of meetings. Other than that, there is not a lot of activity, other than a couple of discussion meetings on the devolution of the Crown attorney's office and the responsibilities. I do not think we have discussed the dollars and cents yet and the other issues surrounding it.
The individual is going to meet with us and then make some recommendations to the federal Minister on how devolution would take place and when. I think he is gathering his information now and will make a report for the federal Minister. We will then be speaking to Mr. Rock - both I and Stephen Kakfwi, I believe, who is the Minister of Justice for the NWT - about where we go from here.
Chair: Is it 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 on Justice?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that we report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Justice - continued
Chair: Is there any further general debate on the Department of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: 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 - continued
On Operation and Maintenance
On Management Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is an increase of $154,000, for a revised vote of $1,329,000. There have been increases to personnel costs due to wage restraint legislation, $13,000; a one-percent impact vacancy rate that did not occur - the corporate planner position was budgeted to spend three months in Health, but this did not happen and the position remained in Justice - $28,000; the anticipated retirement of a long-term employee did not occur, and the employee remained on staff until year-end, $15,000; policy analyst and systems administrator positions were reclassified, casual staff and overtime was used to backfill long-term absences, and a pay out for an employee who resigned, $63,000.
There is an increase of $26,000 to operation costs. The outside recruitment costs anticipated for several positions - for example manager, family violence manager, court administration, and relocation costs of the manager of the present correctional facility - is $50,000. There is a reduction in contract services for the deputy minister's office. The contracts were less than anticipated. For example, in the ombudsman act research regulatory review, there was a decrease of $24,000. The total increase is $154,000.
Ms. Commodore: I just have some questions in regard to the money for casual staff. Could the Minister tell me how often we use the casual staff and what they do? I would also like to ask him how many term positions were not renewed and how many positions have not been filled within the last year. He may not have that information available, but if he could provide it to me, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back about the term positions but I can tell the Member that we use casual staff for overload or when people for one reason or another are not there - vacations, sickness, that kind of thing. We bring them in on that basis.
Ms. Commodore: Perhaps he could provide me with the number of times they have been used. I do not want really specific detail but I would certainly like to know it. He did not mention if he would be providing me with the terms that had not been renewed and positions that had not been filled. Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I said that first. I will provide the Member with a list of the term positions but, for casual staff, it is just for the standard thing - vacations, sickness and so on.
Management Services in the amount of $154,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The increase of $197,000 is for a revised vote of $3,240,000. There is a $50,000 increase in personnel costs. The wage restraint impact is $25,000 - the 10-percent vacancy rate did not occur. There is $19,000 for miscellaneous increase for small items - for example, acting pay, permanent staff vacation pay outs, Yukon bonus differences in the amount of $6,000.
There is an increase to operation costs of $147,000. Maintenance enforcement project funding is 100-percent recoverable from the federal government in the amount of $65,000.
Expenses for the Yukon Review Board that were not included in the main estimates, as the nature and extent of the board activities were not known until the main estimates were prepared, amount to $27,000.
The court reporting contract bid was on a per diem rate. Court sitting days have increased over the volume anticipated at the beginning of the year, causing an increase in the amount allocated by $30,000.
Witness fees have increased due to the increase of court sitting days, which has resulted in more witnesses being called than anticipated, in the amount of $10,000.
There are miscellaneous operational increases; for example, postage, transcript costs and court forms.
The total is $197,000.
Court Services in the amount of $197,000 agreed to
On Legal Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The $483,000 comprises a revised vote of $3,548,000 for increased personnel costs and wage restraint impact of $15,000; a one-percent vacancy rate for $14,000; backfill solicitor positions for an employee on maternity leave and additional assistance for land claims, which is partially paid for by the Land Claims Secretariat, for $64,000.
An operational cost increase of $300,000 includes outside counsel costs anticipated for large contracts to deal with Taga Ku and Curragh for $250,000, and costs and judgments increases for the government's offer in the Herschel Smith case for $50,000. The offer has been made and we are awaiting the reply.
For transfer payment costs, the total of $90,000 includes additional funds required by the Legal Services Society to cover the cost of outstanding certificates prior to the change in program delivery method for $70,000, and funds for the courtworker program have been increased to compensate for the federal government cut. YTG will absorb the additional costs, although it may be recoverable if the federal Department of Justice can find additional funds within the program. The cost is $20,000, for a total of $483,000.
Legal Services in the amount of $483,000 agreed to
On Consumer and Commercial Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There was a decrease of $198,000 for a revised vote of $2,525,000. Personnel costs were a decrease of $84,000. There was an increase of $21,000 for wage restraint. There was an $18,000 increase - the one percent anticipated vacancy rate did not occur. Transfer of the loss control unit to Public Service Commission and salaries for two officers for the year, is a decrease of $131,000. Miscellaneous increase for small items, acting pay, Yukon bonus, difference in holiday payouts, $8,000. The operational costs were a decrease of $114,000. Public utility rate applications did not proceed as anticipated during the fiscal year, and medical inquiry expenses were also less than forecast, and there is a decrease of $100,000 there. Transfer of the loss control unit to Public Service Commission, operational costs for the office for the year, comprising travel, supplies, telephone and program materials, a decrease of $14,000, for a total decrease of $198,000.
Consumer and Commercial Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $198,000 agreed to
On Community and Correctional Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an increase of $217,000, revised vote of $8,059,000. Personnel costs increased by $269,000. Wage restraint legislation impact, $66,000. The Teslin Correctional Centre did not open in May as planned, and the facility was constructed for an inmate count of 15, but there have been fewer inmates, $154,000. Additional support required in the firearms office for $22,000, to research and implement new legislation. There was increased casual support for the probations office in the form of summer students to backfill for staff, $27,000.
There was a decrease in operation expenses of $52,000. This includes an increase to WCC program funding for an evaluation of the traditional medicine program, 100 percent recovered from the federal government, for $10,000. The Teslin facility opened late, and took fewer offenders than anticipated from WCC, so WCC had an $11,000 added cost. Community justice contracts were projected to increase, based on negotiated funding levels for justice services in the Yukon, $44,000. The 911 number, which was originally identified in this program, was transferred to the community policing program. That is a decrease of $117,000, for a total of $217,000.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to ask about auxiliaries at the jail. I know that they were used a lot and that they cost a lot of money. At one time, a long time ago, there appeared to be officers taking a record number of sick days, probably due to stress, and their days off were changed in order to look at improving that problem.
Can the Minister give me an update on what is happening in the situation with the auxiliaries, and whether or not days off have increased or gone down?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have any data here on sick time, but I have been told that the auxiliary numbers that we use have been consistent over the last couple of years or so. They have not gone up or down, but have been fairly consistent for about the last three years.
Community and Correctional Services in the amount of $217,000 agreed to
On Community Development and Policing
Hon. Mr. Phillips: A decrease of $727,000 is for a revised vote of $9,984,000. The decreased amount of the policing services contract is due to a change in the accounting procedure that I mentioned earlier in my opening statement. That was $796,000. Special native constable expenses were reduced, pending an expected cost reduction due to the signing implementation of tripartite agreements. The agreements call for a 48-percent cost sharing instead of 54 percent. So far, the agreement in principle has been signed, but no individual tripartite band agreement has been completed. That is a reduction of $48,000.
The transfer of the 911 program from the community and correctional services to this area, combined with the overall police services in the territory, have resulted in an increase of $117,000, for a total reduction of $727,000.
Ms. Commodore: During debate on the first branch, I asked the Minister if he would provide me with a list of terms that had not been renewed and positions that had not been filled. Could he do that for all of the branches for me?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I can.
Community Development and Policing in the amount of an underexpenditure of $727,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $126,000 agreed to
On Management Services
On Departmental Equipment and Furniture
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The revote was requested for the corporate registry system. It was not complete in the 1993-94 year. The revote requested was originally $240,000 but it was amended to $200,000 when it became apparent that the project could not be finished during the 1994-95 fiscal year. The remaining $40,000 will be included in the 1995-96 capital plan. To date, the project is on target and on budget at $200,000.
There are two projects - renovations in the director's office, community and correctional services, and a silent alarm system installed in the family violence prevention unit - and the total of these two projects is estimated at $7,000. Funds lapsing from the Teslin facility equipment have been transferred to cover these costs.
A number of winter works projects were included in the supplementary, most of which were forwarded from the 1995-96 capital plan, and they are as follows: r
ecarpeting various locations in the Law Centre, $10,000; replacing dampers in the Law Centre, $30,000; a security system in the Law Centre, $8,000; telephone wiring to replace substandard wiring at the Law Centre, $20,000; replacement of the telephone system at WCC, $20,000; and automation of the Public Administrator's office, $20,000; for a total of $315,000.
Departmental Equipment and Furniture in the amount of $315,000 agreed to
On Consumer and Commercial Services
On General Program Equipment
General Program Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $2,000 agreed to
On Community and Correctional Services
On Replacement Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for requested funds for the replacement of the radio system of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. This was originally budgeted for 1995-96, but has been brought forward as a winter works project for the current year in the amount of $10,000.
Ms. Commodore: Can I just ask the Minister if he goes up to the jail and tests out the equipment to see if it has to be replaced, as a former Minister of Justice used to do?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, I do not try to do very much that that former Minister used to do. I try to stay away from that. It might be an idea, but it is not something that I have done. I have gone up to the jail and have gone on a tour of the jail, but I have not followed in Mr. Kimmerly's footsteps.
Ms. Commodore: Has the Minister considered spending time in the jail as one of the former Ministers of Justice did?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Actually, I would not mind doing that. I have asked the RCMP if I could go out on a patrol one night. When I get out of the House, I want to pick a Friday or a Saturday night and I hope to sit in the front of the car - rather than the back - and drive around with the RCMP on patrol just to get an idea of the types of things they encounter.
Ms. Commodore: That exact same thing was part of my training as a justice of the peace. It was a good experience, and I certainly ran into a lot of my buddies.
Replacement Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On New Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is a revote requested for a new vehicle for Teslin and also for a new photocopier. The items ordered in the 1993-94 fiscal year were unavailable to be delivered before year-end, and the funds have been revoted in the 1994-95 fiscal year, for a total of $45,000.
New Equipment in the amount of $38,000 agreed to
On Correctional Facility Construction - Teslin
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Funds transferred to the correctional facility construction and the Whitehorse project to cover completion of the conditional survey. The current billing is part of the facilities-planning phase of the project, $30,000. Additional funds allocated to Teslin construction will lapse, based on the decision not to build a perimeter fence for the facility, $70,000. The total is $100,000.
Correction Facility Construction - Teslin in the amount of an underexpenditure of $100,000 agreed to
On Correctional Facility Construction - Whitehorse
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Funds transferred from the Teslin facility project to fund the conditions survey at the Whitehorse facility is part of the facilities-planning phase of this project, $30,000.
Correctional Facility Construction - Whitehorse in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $291,000 agreed to
Department of Justice in the amount of $417,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that we report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 -continued
Department of Justice - continued
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Operation and Maintenance
On Management Services
Mr. Cable: Yesterday the Minister gave us a copy of a memorandum from himself to the then deputy minister, Mr. John Lawson, dated October 17, 1994. In that memorandum the Minister talked about the operational review process. I am not familiar with that process. Is it something that is carried out by the management services staff?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We seconded an individual from the Public Service Commission who came over to guide the project, which was an operational plan for the whole department.
Mr. Cable: Was it a personnel review, or some sort of operational review?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It was a review of all the programs the department carries out.
There is a seven-percent decrease, or $88,000, over the 1994-95 forecast, the reduction of an FTE in finance administration of $51,000, and completion of a seconded term from the Public Service Commission of $61,000. In Other, there was an increase in contract costs for policy systems administration of $24,000, for a net decrease of $88,000.
Management Services in the amount of $1,241,000 agreed to
On Court Services
On Court Administration
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a decrease of $2,000 over last year, due to merit increases for the manager, offset by salary adjustments of $2,000.
Mr. Cable: I have a question, but I am not sure under which heading it is appropriately asked. In the statistics on page 9-8, the number of adult charges laid is 17,000. Could the Minister confirm if that is the number of informations, the number of counts or the number of people charged?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back to the Member on that.
Court Administration in the amount of $585,000 agreed to
On Court Operations
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a one-percent increase, or $19,000, over 1994-95. This is due to an increase in territorial judiciary salaries, due to the return of Judge Lilles to the bench, for $19,000; an increase in JP sitting fees due to additional appointments in the communities of $31,000; salary adjustments of $20,000; decreased salaries in court operations, due to backfill maternity leave 1994-95, for a decrease of $24,000; a decrease in deputy judge expenses due to the return of Judge Lilles, of $48,000; an allocation of expenses for court circuit travel was changed; French language expenses are less than forecast in the first supplementary in 1994-95, resulting in the decrease of internal recovery from ECO, which increases the line item for Justice; actual court circuit travel expenses of $21,000 remain unchanged; an increase in cost for psychiatric evaluations of $6,000; an increase in JP travel and training costs, due to increased appointments in communities of $23,000; and an increase in subscription prices for the law library of $6,000. The net total is $19,000.
Ms. Commodore: I used to ask a lot of questions about the JP training that was provided. I have not asked for any information for a long time.
I noticed that both Ministers have appointed new JPs. I would like to ask him if he can let me know about the process of appointing JPs and the training provided to these individuals prior to their being appointed.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I can bring that information back to the Member. I spoke to someone this weekend in Watson Lake. I think that there is a JP training conference this weekend - this Thursday or Friday. I know it is this week. I will try to attend part of it. There is training that goes along with the job before we send them out in the field.
Ms. Commodore: What I was asking the Minister was whether or not they are provided with training prior to the appointment, not after.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can confirm that for the Member. I think they are trained and then appointed, but I can confirm that for the Member. Some people may not do well in the training. I think the process is to train them and then officially appoint them.
Ms. Commodore: Can I also ask the Minister to provide me with the information about JP courts. There is an increase here for JP courts. Are they sitting more often than they have in the past?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that we are appointing more JPs now. We were short in some communities and we are now catching up. The JPs will be doing more of the work, but I will get back to the Member with the details.
Court Operations in the amount of $2,032,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is a decrease of $5,000 over 1994-95 due to wage adjustments for the three staff, which is a reduction of $5,000.
Ms. Commodore: We have had problems in the past with the sheriff's position. Has that actually been filled?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes. Mr. Paul Cowan was successful in that position and is serving us well in that capacity.
Sheriff in the amount of $255,000 agreed to
On Maintenance Enforcement
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a 23-percent increase of $44,000 over 1994-95 for a position budgeted for a full-time year after a long-term vacancy in 1994-95, which was $65,000. Year 3 of a five-year federal initiative for maintenance enforcement enhancements required less funding than in 1994-95. Funding provided during 1994-95 was $65,000 and budgeted in 1995-96 at $44,000, so that means there is a reduction of $21,000, for a net total of $44,000.
Maintenance Enforcement in the amount of $232,000 agreed to
On Witness Administration
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an eight-percent reduction of $13,000 over 1994-95, which consists of salary adjustments for a reduction of $3,000, other operational expenses and continued savings in witness fees, which were reduced during 1994-95 by OIC under the territorial court and resulted in a reduction of $10,000. Attendance fees are no longer paid. Also, travel, accommodation and child care expenses are now consistent with other jurisdictions, which results in a total reduction of $13,000.
Witness Administration in the amount of $152,000 agreed to
On Yukon Review Board
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a 133-percent increase of $36,000 in 1994-95: the addition of a .6 FTE to handle the administrative function of the board, $27,000; office supplies and materials for the board, $3,000; an increase in honoraria and travel expenses due to the appointment of a Yukon board, some members of which are from B.C. and Alberta, $6,000, with a net total of $36,000.
Yukon Review Board in the amount of $36,000 agreed to
On Prior Years' Activities
Prior Years' Activities in the amount of nil agreed to
Court Services in the amount of $3,319,000 agreed to
On Legal Services
Chair: Is there any general debate on Legal Services?
Mrs. Firth: I had hoped to have some more information with respect to the process for lawsuits. Did the Minister read it into the record or did he pass it out? The Minister said he gave it out this afternoon and read it into the record. I will follow up on that tomorrow. I can always ask questions later.
On Program Director
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a two-percent decrease of $4,000 over the 1994-95 forecast: salary adjustments resulted in a decrease of $10,000; there was an increase of the travel budget for the director to allow for increased requests from client departments for the director to represent the government at negotiations for land claims and oil and gas, $3,000; there is a reallocation of membership dues budget from the solicitors branch to consolidate payments, $3,000, with a total reduction of $4,000.
Program Director in amount of $204,000 agreed to
On Solicitors Branch
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a four-percent decrease of $32,000 over 1994-95 comprising of salary adjustments for a decrease of $29,000; the reallocation of membership dues budget to the director's office to consolidate payments, at a reduction of $3,000 - we just talked about that. That is a total reduction of $32,000.
Mrs. Firth: I just have a general question for the Minister about legal counsel. If other departments in government want legal opinions, legal counsel or legal contracts, do they have to go through the Department of Justice, or can each department go its own way with respect to that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that they go through the Department of Justice first. From there, the process is the one that I laid out earlier this afternoon. They come to us first, and if we do not have the expertise, we seek outside expertise.
Mrs. Firth: I am not just asking in the context of lawsuits. If a department wants to do a consulting contract for a legal opinion about something that is going on in the department, can it do that, or does it have to go to Justice first for authorization, and then solicit its own legal opinion? That could be with respect to any issue, not necessarily just lawsuits.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Departments do not have to come to us for that advice. However, if they seek legal advice, then they do come to us. They can make the decision without the legal advice, but if they do need legal advice, they come through the Justice department.
Ms. Commodore: I have a couple of questions. How many lawyers do they have in the largest law firm in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Is that the Cable, Veale group? I guess they are a bit smaller now, as they no longer have the Cable guy.
I can check that out for the Member. I think there were 11 or 12, and there is one new French lawyer hired, whom I recently met.
Ms. Commodore: The group of lawyers used to have a letterhead with all of the names listed on it. Does that still happen?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can check on that for the Member. I have not seen the letterhead, but I will check on it.
Solicitors Branch in the amount of $810,000 agreed to
On Legislative Counsel
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an increase of $1,000 in this budget; a decrease of $11,000 in salary adjustments; an increase of salary dollars to a full year's budget for second French language drafter - that is the other lawyer. A second drafter was hired in mid-November 1994, and the unit is now fully staffed, for an increase of $12,000. The total increase is $1,000.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister if he has ever given any consideration to reducing the size of the YTG law firm and contracting out for more legal services - in other words, looking at privatizing the services, as opposed to having a bunch of lawyers on staff doing the drafting? I know that there were lawyers privately employed in the past who have done legislative drafting for the government. My preference would be to look at downsizing the legal services that are provided by the government and see it hire fewer lawyers and have more of the work go out to the private sector.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The department does contract out specialized services that the department requires. I have not really analyzed that to determine whether or not it would be in our best interests to contract those services out. I understand that with the amount of legal advice that the department does give to various departments and the amount of work they do with legislative drafting, that it would be more cost effective to have in-house lawyers, on call, to carry out that work. I have not really done a full analysis of this, but I take the Member's representation.
Legislative Counsel in the amount of $316,000 agreed to
On Litigation Costs/Judgments
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a 45-percent reduction of $50,000 over the 1994-95 year. The costs were expected to increase in 1994-95 due to the expected settlement of the Herschel Smith case, and the budget is to cover transcript costs, witness travel and expenses, court fees, document fees, small publications, brochure purchase, et cetera, at a cost of $50,000.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister has mentioned the Herschel Smith case and I am not familiar with it. What is it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This happened quite some time ago. He is an individual who lived in Carcross. There was a concern about how he was dealt with - whether or not he was dealt with fairly at the time on the relocation of a home. There was some commitment from the federal government to be involved in the case. Mr. Smith's lawyer has contacted us and I think we have made an offer to settle for a certain amount of dollars, but we wanted it to free us up.
On December 1, an offer in the terms authorized by Cabinet was forwarded to Mr. Stephen Walsh, the solicitor for Herschel Smith, and Mr. Walsh was going to discuss the offer with Mr. Smith to see whether or not he wished to accept it. As far as I know, to date, we have not received a reply from Mr. Walsh.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, in view of the time, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole passed the following motion:
THAT at 7:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 10, 1995, Mr. Bill Klassen, Chair, and Mr. Ron Farrell, President of Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, appear as witnesses before Committee of the Whole to discuss matters related to the board.
Further, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and directed me to report progress on them.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.