Tuesday, April 18, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with silent Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have two legislative returns for tabling.
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Are there any Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Education, gender bias
Ms. Moorcroft: I have an editorial from the ultra-conservative publication, the Alberta Report, entitled, "Is There Gender Bias in the Schools? You Bet. Add up the Teaching Staff," that I received from the Minister of Education this morning. The point of the editorial can be summed up with this quote: "The bias is not against girls; it is against boys." Does the Minister agree with this statement?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not believe she received that from me.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Page can maybe take it over to the Minister when I am finished with my questions, but it has a little yellow sticky stating, "Sent from Willard Phelps to Lois Moorcroft - for your information".
The point of the editorial is that the writer thinks that boys are shortchanged because there are more female than there are male elementary school teachers, which holds true in the Yukon. Perhaps the Minister is not aware that there are twice as many male administrators and principals than women in those positions in the Yukon - just the same as the Minister does not seem to be aware of what his staff is doing. Can the Minister tell me whether the public schools branch has sent this memo to educators around the Yukon for their information?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Absolutely not.
Ms. Moorcroft: I wonder how the Minister can be sure that it has not been sent to anyone else, when he was not aware that it had been sent to my office. There is a problem that I think the Minister should be able to answer questions about. That is the problem of a gender bias in the hiring of administrators in the Yukon. Can the Minister tell me what, if anything, he is prepared to do to increase the number of women administrators?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: As the Member is well aware, we look at such issues as gender balance when looking at the goals for each department. There is a full report submitted to the Women's Directorate each year by each department, which is subsequently debated in this House. I really cannot add anything to that.
Question re: Education, gender bias
Ms. Moorcroft: The Alberta Report piece that the Minister sent to me also says that if girls are deficient in maths and sciences, that is a national emergency, but if boys are deficient in language arts, that is just too bad for them. Does the Minister think that that is a reflection of the Yukon school system?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of course not.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have asked the Minister to demonstrate how he will support improving students' standings in maths and sciences. The Minister has made it clear that he is not prepared to support the Innovators in the Schools program and thinks that science teachers can pick up the slack there. If science teachers are busy getting students ready for Strands tests, they will not be able to teach students the kinds of things that they learn from volunteers - the bridge-building contest, the paper-airplanes contest and so forth.
What is the Minister actually going to be doing to improve science for girls in the school system?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am absolutely amazed that the Member opposite seems to think she is tilling new ground with her questioning. We have been through all of this many times. The Member mentioned the use of volunteers in the program. I strongly support the use of volunteers in working on such things as bridge building and paper-airplane making and flying, and the like. What I object to is the off-loading of the program by the federal government on to the local government - the territorial government in this case. I also do not feel that it is a priority of ours to pay money where volunteers ought to be doing the extra work.
Ms. Moorcroft: What I find objectionable is that the Minister can stand up and spout off rhetoric in support of things during the A Cappella North motion debate, but he cannot demonstrate that he is following through with that commitment and initiating it in the school system.
The A Cappella North report talks about the problems that are facing girls in the school system, and they say if we are going to ignore it, everyone else is going to ignore it and that is why there is still a problem. No one is doing anything about it. I would like to ask the Minister if he accepts the findings of the A Cappella North report, or whether he believes this drivel that he sent me from the Alberta Report.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have been totally sympathetic to the A Cappella North report. We have debated that in the House. We had a motion, which was passed unanimously. Again, she may not like the comments made in the editorial she is reading from. Perhaps someone sent it to her to inflame her. She is easily aroused about certain issues.
Question re: Energy conference
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development on the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. The Minister said his staff was working with the council to set the agenda for the energy policy meeting at the end of this month, on April 29, to identify the issues. Could the Minister indicate what issues will be dealt with by the council at this energy conference at the end of the month?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure. Several submissions went to the council. It had a meeting on April 11, I believe, and several submissions were sent to them at the time. They are now taking those submissions and setting an agenda. I have not seen a copy of it yet.
Mr. Cable: I have a question, then, for the Government Leader responsible for the council. The utilities watchdog group, the Utilities Consumers Group, wrote to the Council on the Economy and the Environment and set out an 11-step process for developing energy policy. It included issue identification and drafting of discussion papers and public consultation. The Government Leader was copied with that letter.
Has the Government Leader had an opportunity to consider whether or not the 11-step process is acceptable to his government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I did receive a copy of the letter from the consumers group. The Council on the Economy and the Environment had been requesting submissions from all groups, and they will be having a meeting at the end of the month and will be making recommendations to the government as to the way they feel the energies of government should be directed in developing energy policy, and we will take it from there.
This conference is not the be-all and end-all of energy in the Yukon. It is only another step in the process.
Mr. Cable: Quite so. I agree with the Government Leader.
What does the Government Leader see as the continuing role of the council in the development of energy policy? Does he see the council carrying out public consultations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It would be premature for me to comment on that at this time. We will see what comes up at the energy meetings that we have planned for the end of the month. We will take the next step from there.
Question re: Keddie, Robert death
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Minister of Justice concerning the tragic death of Robert Keddie.
We know from news reports that there will be an inquest and an RCMP investigation. As the Minister knows, hundreds of citizens have signed a petition for a public inquiry into this unfortunate event. I would therefore like to know the position of the Yukon government on the need for a public inquiry.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: At this time, we are not considering a public inquiry. There are, I believe, three investigations going on. We would like to see the investigations conclude before we make any further decisions. We are not considering it at this time.
Mr. Penikett: As I understand it, the petitioners are troubled by reports that when Mr. Keddie was apprehended, the arresting officers were told Mr. Keddie was prone to seizures, and the petitioners therefore wish for an independent inquiry. Given the nature of the facts of this case, has the Minister of Justice had any communication with any of the authorities about whether or not an independent inquiry might be more useful and effective than some of the current inquiries underway?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: At the present time, we are proceeding with the current inquiries. It is a process that has been set out for some time. I would like to see them come to a conclusion before we take any further action. I feel these processes have been put in place to deal with matters such as this - from an inquiry into the police, and another inquiry by the coroner. I would like them to go through their processes before we go any further.
Mr. Penikett: I thank the Minister for his answer. I think the petitioners will be pleased to hear that the Minister has an open mind on the question.
For the record, has the Minister of Justice, or his departmental officials, had any discussions either with the Solicitor General's office or with the RCMP about this case?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Our officials have asked for some details on the case. I was aware of some of the details and the matter is under investigation at the present time, and I would prefer to deal with it through the proper processes that are in place.
Question re: AIDS prevention
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Minister of Health. I heard a radio report this morning that a significant number of Yukon communities have now been affected by the AIDS virus and the story also mentioned that the majority of people living with AIDS or HIV are intravenous drug users. Of course, we all compliment the Minister on the increased funding to the AIDS Alliance of Yukon.
I would like to know what programs or actions are delivered directly by the Department of Health and Social Services to deal with the huge problem of AIDS prevention.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Well, I guess the first part of the answer has to do with education. This is largely carried out by the AIDS program. The government has doubled its contribution in this year's budget from $94,500 last year - which was an increase over the previous year - to $189,000 for the current year.
As the Member is undoubtedly aware, what we may be seeing as a consequence of there being 14 recognized cases in the Yukon by the health care system is that there may be many more people who are suffering from HIV. There are some people who leave the territory for testing, because, in their view, anonymity is not ensured in a small community.
In my view, education is the main way through which we can confront and try to prevent this problem from escalating. It is a very serious problem. The Northwest Territories has been increasing its budget in this area as well.
Mr. Penikett: The existing education programs are not reaching all the people they need to. For example, I think of the comments to the effect that drug users presently have to go to community health centres for needle exchanges and condoms - another large part of the prevention program - and there is the feeling that this service may not be fully utilized because of some stigma attached to either the request or to the places where the services are available.
Has the Minister considered any alternate ways of meeting some of the requests, such as the needle exchange, condoms - grass roots education to better serve those who are in the highest risk groups?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: With regard to the distribution of condoms, I understand that the Yukon AIDS program has distributed as many as $30,000 worth last year. With regard to a needle exchange, I am really not aware of whether or not they offer such a service. I know that it was in the talking stage when I went to visit their offices during the open house on AIDS Day. I would have to look into it to see exactly what they are doing. I will have to get back to the Member on that.
Mr. Penikett: I understand that people who are in the terminal stages of the disease characteristically like to be at home in their communities but, because the stigma attached to HIV sufferers is enormous, that can be a problem.
Can the Minister indicate to the House anything about the nature of the training presently available to health care professionals and home care workers who might be put in the position of providing front-line care to these terminally ill clients?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not aware of a specific training program for any particular service provided by the home care people. I can certainly get a written answer back to the Member about that specific program and if there is a special component dealing solely with AIDS. As the Member knows, most of the AIDS drugs, for example, fall within the chronic disease program. We have available, as part of our safety net under the health side of the portfolio, the various kinds of care that are available in other jurisdictions.
Question re: Land claims agreements, education of hunters
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Renewable Resources.
The 1995 spring bear hunting season got underway last Saturday. We now have four First Nations who have reached final agreements and they have those agreements firmly in place.
I would like to ask the Minister what he is doing to explain to resident and non-resident hunters the rules regarding class A lands.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is information in all of our conservation offices with respect to First Nations who have settled and First Nations who have not settled, because the rules are different for those two groups.
Mr. Harding: There are no maps in the hunting synopsis that hunters get when they purchase their licence. As the Minister just told me, the information regarding the location of class A lands is contained only in the conservation office, which creates a problem for people who might want to know more about the rules affecting class A lands, and precisely where those lands are. What is the Minister doing to try and broaden knowledge about where exactly these lands are, and the rules that pertain to them?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Those maps are available wherever the licences are sold. To actually put a small map in with the regulations would be useless, because the map would be too small. There are 1:30,000 maps available in the conservation offices in various communities. There are also somewhat larger maps available where licences are sold.
Mr. Harding: Is the Minister telling me that the maps affecting all class A lands that First Nations have signed final agreements on are available free of charge? Is he saying that if someone wants to go and hunt in a particular area and they are concerned about class A lands, all they have to do is ask the government office for a map, and it will be provided to them free of charge?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure if the whole map is free of charge. If someone getting their licence wanted a certain section, I am quite certain it could be xeroxed for them.
Question re: Taga Ku lawsuit costs
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services regarding the cost of the Taga Ku lawsuit. On March 28, the Minister sent me a letter stating that outside counsel had incurred a bill of $175,000 thus far, and there would be another $35,000 spent to complete the appeal, which we know is scheduled for next month. I want to ask the Minister if the cost estimate for the appeal is still $210,000 for outside lawyer help? Could he also tell me what time and money has been spent by government workers on this case?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: As I indicated to the Member, that information was obtained by me from the Department of Justice. The figures are approximate; however, I can go back and ask them for more information respecting the time spent on it by Department of Justice officials.
Mr. Harding: Perhaps I should direct the next question to the Minister of Justice, or someone on that side who would know precisely what these large amounts are that we are spending on lawyer bills.
I would like to ask about losing the appeals, which is going to cost us a lot of money. A lot of people know that it was this government's poor decision to break the contract that is going to do that.
I would like to ask the government, as a matter of contingency planning, this: what is the estimated amount that the government will have to pay for Tagu Ku's legal counsel if the appeal is lost?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: If there had been no secret deals made during the last election by the New Democrat government, we would not have this problem today. It was the former Finance Minister who was responsible for it. We would not be here today if it were not for that. We do not think we are going to lose the appeal, so we do not think there will be added costs.
Mr. Harding: That is the government that broke the contract. That is the government that we told would be breaking the contract, and a court decision by the judge confirmed that fact. Unfortunately, it is the taxpayers of the Yukon who are going to have to suffer for the Yukon Party's decision to break a deal with First Nations in business. Everyone knows that, including the judge who ruled on the initial decision.
I would like to ask the Minister this again: as a matter of contingency planning, what are Yukon taxpayers going to have to pay for the Taga Ku proponents' legal bills, pending the appeal of the decision?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have already answered the question. We do not feel we will lose the appeal and we do not think the taxpayers will have to pay anything.
Question re: Health services, FAS/FAE support services
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services about his fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol effects plan.
I asked the Minister to provide me with a copy of the submission that was made to the Canada Alcohol and Drug Strategy to get the $200,000 to study FAS/FAE. The Minister has provided me with a copy of the plan that was presented, which is essentially a research-project plan that one could find anywhere and adapt it to whatever one wants. It is full of bureaucratese and steps, graphs and charts. It talks about what they are going to determine, how they are going to review all the quantitative surveys in the Yukon and collect data, and so on.
I would like to ask the Minister whose idea it was to do this. Whose idea was it to spend $200,000 on this kind of an exercise?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We spent considerable time and effort, using federal money, to do some comprehensive surveys of the health of the general population in the Yukon. The first one had to do with alcohol and drug usage by people in the Yukon and was done about three or four years ago, as I recall. That was followed up by a general health survey, which took a long time to prepare. There was a primary analysis of the data conducted for both of the surveys. A secondary analysis was performed by a professor at Carleton University on the initial survey and some of the results from the general-population survey. Some interesting issues came from the secondary analysis.
In the opinion of the people who review that type of information, a further analysis of the existing database would be of great assistance to us regarding not just FAS/FAE but also the drug and alcohol use and abuse situation in the Yukon.
The department was of the view, as I was told, that there would be some money available from the federal government for that specific purpose. The department applied for money for it, and that is where the $200,000 comes from; it is discretionary money of ours that we are spending. It is money that was available under the specific program of Health Canada, which we applied for in order to make better use of the basic data that we have collected over the course of the past three or four years. It was done, as well, to tap into further monies for further analysis of the database.
Mrs. Firth: We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars studying Yukoners. It does not matter if the money is not discretionary and it comes from somewhere else. It all comes out of our pockets. I do not know where this government gets the idea that if money is spent, it is someone else's money. It is our money and belongs to all of us. I do not buy the argument of statisticians who say to spend more money and study more data.
In 1993, the Yukon Association for Community Living undertook a very thorough study about responding to the needs of people with FAS/FAE. The cost of the study was $10,000. Thirty care givers and 52 children were interviewed, and 120 questionnaires were sent out, representing 150 resource workers. Many recommendations were made about how to deal with the issue of FAS/FAE.
I would like to ask the Minister this: when the decision was made to spend another $200,000 studying Yukoners and their alcohol habits, was the Yukon Association for Community Living's report and study taken into consideration at all?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of course it was. I guess the basis for the disagreement between us is that that particular Member was against the surveys when they were done; she felt it was an intrusion of one's privacy, and that sort of thing. I have some sympathy with the concern of having people phone and ask personal questions. However, we went through that debate, this work has been done, and we hope to continue with what are known as longitudinal surveys to make determinations about how the general health of the population is changing over time, and whether or not our programs are contributing to positive change.
Having done all of this work, the issue is this: is it not best to ensure that we have as much analysis and information gleaned from that work as possible? I take the view that it is. It is not just FAS/FAE; it is about drug and alcohol usage, generally, and, particularly, abuse in families throughout the Yukon.
I do not pretend that I know all there is to know about statistics and surveys and how to interpret those things. I guess I am not as qualified as the Member opposite is to be such a critic.
Mrs. Firth: It really is interesting how the Minister responds to questions.
The issue is not whether or not I am opposed to surveys. The issue is the relevance of the information, whether or not we are duplicating something, whether or not we are spending $200,000 in a manner that is going to produce something that is useable. The $10,000 investment was a useable document. I am not the only one with this concern; I am not the one who is the expert. I am hearing this from the community, from individuals who deal with FAS/FAE every day. They are questioning the Minister's wisdom and the direction that is being taken in spending $200,000, which is a sizeable amount of money, on this project.
I would like to ask the Minister who was consulted regarding this? Did his department consult with anyone other than government employees and statisticians, or did his department consult with the FAS/FAE community as to whether or not this direction would produce something relevant?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Once again the Member is right off the mark in her questions. First, the fact is that these surveys have been done. She was opposed to them when they were done. Primary analysis gave us certain information. It was used in developing our draft alcohol and drug strategy, which was released almost two years ago.
Subsequently, we had secondary analysis done. This led us to further consultation, particularly with rural and First Nation communities because the secondary analysis revealed alarming trends in the drinking of young rural people. It led to some modifications to our programs in the alcohol and drug strategy.
The strategies released thus far deal with the prevention of FAS/FAE, with the alcohol and drug strategy for people who are otherwise addicted, and with education. It is a very broad program. I have said many times that the issue of the current programming for FAS/FAE children is an area that we will be moving into next. FAS/FAE care and programs for those afflicted with the syndrome, or the effects, is something quite different from prevention.
This analysis of the survey material is directed at the whole issue of the alcohol and drug strategy and, incidentally, at the issue of FAS/FAE prevention, not the programming for those afflicted with the syndrome.
Question re: Coal-fired electrical power generation
Mr. McDonald: The Government Leader indicated last week that the Yukon Energy Corporation is doing an analysis of future energy requirements in the Yukon. He was not able to say if further feasibility work on a coal-fired electrical generating station would be done, nor whom would be responsible for doing it.
The Minister seemed to suggest that there was enough information available now to signal that the project should proceed if energy requirements warrant, a conclusion that the Simons study appears to contradict, which says that no decision can be made to proceed with a coal-fired project unless the price of coal is determined, among other things.
Does the Government Leader agree with that conclusion?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Most certainly I agree with that conclusion. The price of coal will have an impact on the overall cost of the power, be it provided by the Yukon Energy Corporation or a non-utility generator.
Last week, I said all kinds of information was available on mine-mouth thermal generation plants. Once we know what the cost of the coal is, it would not require a long and involved study to come up with the cost of power from a coal-fired plant.
Mr. McDonald: Is the Minister of the view that no further feasibility work, other than a determination of the price of coal, is required in order to make the decision to proceed with an coal-fired electrical generating station?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at all. I believe I said last week that the Yukon Energy Corporation is now assessing the forecasts and is trying to project the power requirements for the Yukon in the near term, as well as for the long and intermediate term. Once the decision is made that we require further generating capacity, and once we know the size of the plant we are talking about, we would have to do a feasibility study to find out the cost per kilowatt that the energy would be produced for.
Mr. McDonald: Last week, the Minister said the government would have to get some accurate costs to see if the project would be done under the non-utility generator policy, to see if the Yukon Energy Corporation would come forward with a proposal to undertake the project itself, or to find out what route the government would take.
Can the Minister tell us how the cost of the project will determine if the project will be operated as a public or private enterprise?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think that this government made it quite clear over a year ago, when we passed the non-utility generation policy, that we would prefer to see our energy needs supplied in that way. Again, that would be contingent upon the cost that the non-utility generator would want for the power being sold to the Yukon Energy Corporation.
Question re: Forestry policy, role of Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment
Mr. Cable: I have some further questions for the Minister of Economic Development about the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment.
The council is holding a forestry conference some time in the future, after the energy conference. Yet, I note in the Minister's forestry policy development process paper that there is no mention made of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. What role does the Minister see the council having in the development of forestry policy?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment will certainly help the department to identify the stakeholders that will have to be dealt with in greater detail than the actual council would be doing at a conference.
Mr. Cable: The Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment has been active in the review of the Environment Act, it has some role in the development of energy policy and it has some role, presumably, in the development of forestry policy. Who is going to primarily carry the ball in relation to public consultation? Will the Minister's departments, Economic Development and Renewable Resources, be the departments responsible for the consultation, or does the Minister see this consultation being done by the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would see the departments carrying out the bulk of the consultations. There will be travel to the various communities and I would expect that the departments would conduct most of the consultations.
Mr. Cable: When the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment was initially mandated by the Government Leader a couple of years ago to hold an economic summit conference, it was eventually decided that there would be a number of mini-conferences.
To avoid the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment spinning its tires and going off in different directions from the departments that are headed by the Minister, does the Minister think it appropriate that the council now be remandated to clearly spell out its mandate and the role that it will have in the consultation process?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The department has already been dealing with the chair of YCEE to determine exactly what its role and the departments' role would be in determining forestry policy.
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 government private Members do not wish to identify any items to be called on Wednesday, April 19, 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 Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Tourism - continued
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there further general debate on Tourism?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member for Riverdale South asked some questions about the design committee for the new visitor reception centre and Tourism business centre. The first official meeting was April 6. The main topic was the facade and the outside design. There were two members from city management, three from the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, one from the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, three from the Association of Yukon Communities, three from the Department of Tourism, two from Government Services and two individuals representing the architectural firm. There will be future meetings to discuss parking issues. The next meeting is the third week of May, to review schematic design drawings.
Mr. McDonald: Did the Minister mention in the answer to the question that there were representatives from the Tourism Industry Association on the design committee?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, there is no one from industry on the design committee, but there are members from the Yukon and the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce on the committee.
Mr. McDonald: The one issue that has come up on a few occasions in the Legislature, still yet unresolved, is the issue of the Historic Resources Act. Can the Minister tell us what his plans are for that act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I committed myself to the Member to deal with the act during this sitting, but since we sent the act out to various individuals, many of them have called for more time. I have decided that I am prepared to delay dealing with the act this sitting and allow more time for thorough consultation and explanation of the changes to First Nations and the museums associations, and then to bring the act back in the fall to deal with it then, I hope with a compromised solution to the two fundamental principal problems: one being the rights of private property owners and the other one being the preservation of historic sites.
Mr. McDonald: That is the basic issue. Frankly, I have not really understood the government's position with respect to its wanting to pursue expropriation under the Expropriation Act as a mechanism for protecting historic property. I do not understand why the government, at the same time, is not familiar or conversant with other legislation in the country, including that of Alberta and other jurisdictions known to be quite conservative. They have provisions in their legislation that are not dissimilar to those in the existing legislation, which is still unproclaimed.
In fact, as I understand it, the provisions in our legislation are taken from the Alberta act. It simply amounts to, essentially, the equivalent of zoning controls for municipalities. Why the government wants to hang tough on the issue of private property rights in this particular act and not do something to enlarge the power of municipalities to enact zoning regulations in their communities, as it is contained in other legislation, is something that does not make any sense at all, frankly. I am not certain I understand why the government is doing what it is or why it would even want to.
The Minister indicated that there are a number of groups that are interested in more time, yet I read some of the correspondence from First Nations, particularly, that dictates that there should be more time and that it is not the Minister's choice alone to allow more time, but that the law, in fact, suggests that consultation under the UFA is all about giving people not only time to digest suggested changes to the legislation, but also a reasonable opportunity to respond.
Can the Minister tell us, in terms of the UFA, what he believes to be the appropriate definition of "consultation" in the context of this legislation or the review of this legislation?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not want to debate the definition of "consultation" in the UFA, but there is a definition in the UFA about what consulation is. It varies from issue to issue and the importance of the issues. Some issues will require more consultation than others, but those in which we are required to consult with under the UFA, we will. I had a request from CYI to delay the Historic Resources Act because CYI wants more time to look at it. I have agreed to that, and I am prepared to take some time over the spring and summer to discuss the changes with CYI.
Mr. McDonald: I notice that he is conceding nothing when it comes to defining "consultation". Does the Minister believe that the proposed consultation period that he provided to First Nations was well within the terms of the umbrella final agreement?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe that the proposed changes are not that significant to the act. The changes protect basic, fundamental principles and I was a bit surprised by the concern expressed but, having received the concern, I have agreed to delay the introduction of this legislation until department officials have had the opportunity to sit down with First Nations to explain our concerns with respect to private property.
It is a fundamental belief of this government and our party that private property rights are paramount. At the same time, this government wants to protect the territory's historic resources. I am looking for that compromise, and I have indicated to everyone who has written me a letter in that regard that if they have ideas and suggestions of compromise to accommodate both of those basic principles, the government would consider those compromises.
Mr. McDonald: I think it is obvious that the Minister and I disagree as to whether or not these changes are significant. I think that everybody from Heritage Canada, to local museums, to a number of First Nations would agree with my interpretation of the changes and not the Minister's.
The question I asked was whether or not the two-week period provided to First Nations to respond to the legislation coincided with the Minister's understanding of the provisions of the umbrella final agreement when it comes to consultation. That was the specific question I asked.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As I said earlier, it really depends upon the issue. In this particular case, I did not think there would be as much objection to it as there was. Since there are fairly strong objections from some areas, I am willing to give it more time. In some cases, two weeks may be enough time or it may take anywhere from one week to three months. I guess it would depend upon the complexity of the issue. In this case, I did not think that there would be a problem; however, there appears to be one and I have granted more time for review.
Mr. McDonald: That is very big of the Minister to grant people more time to review these changes. How will the people know that an issue is complex, or that an issue requires a lot of consideration if they are not given the proper time to consider the issue?
A number of people have spoken to me about the government's position when it comes to consultation on this issue, and they feel that they were not certain of all of the implications of the act and the proposed amendments. People felt that they had to have more time to understand all of the implications. In some cases, people were not prepared to state that the proposed amendments were significant or insignificant. They felt that they needed more time and that the provisions of the umbrella final agreement had been breached. People did not feel that two weeks was sufficient time for them to give proper and thorough consideration to this matter, or for them to be able to respond to the leadership of their organizations to get a clear position that they could communicate back to the government.
I am asking the Minister what his view of consultation is, or what he believes the umbrella final agreement means when it comes to situations like this. This is not something that can just be passed off by a Minister saying, "Look, it is all relative. We could have given them a big act. It was simple for me to understand. If they need more time, all they have to do is ask for it, I suppose."
That is too imprecise. Virtually everyone I have spoken with feels that the position the Minister has taken is completely unreasonable and is disrespectful of the act - if it does not just break the act outright.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have agreed with the concerns of the individuals who said they need more time. I have granted them more time. I was also trying to meet the needs of the Legislature and the Member opposite, who insisted that I bring the act in during this sitting. It created a bit of a problem for us, so now that people want more time to deal with the act, I am prepared to grant them the time.
To give the Member a time line on exactly how long I feel consultation should take on any particular issue is something that I am not prepared to attempt, because I do not know how one could give it. I do not know how the Member opposite could say how long is needed to consult on a specific issue - one, two, six, eight months, two weeks? I do not know how one sets a time line. It is my understanding that there is no time line in the umbrella final agreement for any particular issue.
In this case, we sent the act out, and the individuals responded saying there is not enough time. I am responding back, saying that we will give them more time. At the time, I was also trying to get it into the Legislature. I did not think the changes are as significant as some think they are. I guess it is a combination of it being more significant than I thought it was going to be, and my trying to get it into the Legislature. I will try to bring it in in the fall, with some kind of an agreement among the parties to accept the changes that are in the act.
Mr. McDonald: I have a number of things to say to that answer. First of all, I asked the Minister a couple of years ago if he was prepared to proclaim the old Historic Resources Act. I asked him to proclaim the act or deal with the amendments, once he had explained there would be amendments, prior to virtually every sitting we have had so far. It seems to me that two years should be plenty of time to develop the regulations the Minister has identified. They are short, but they are also changes that easily could have been identified with the same groups months ago.
To place responsibility for this tight time frame on my shoulders is not a fair or reasonable position to take. I did not get the impression these would be the proposed changes when I first spoke to the Minister. I got the impression that the Minister was concerned about financial obligations under the old Historic Resources Act, but I do not see these concerns addressed in the amendments he has tabled. I feel a little misled about this waiting game.
I am not thinking of myself right now; I am thinking of the act and its impact upon the public. Given that these are the real concerns, it would have been reasonable for the Minister to undertake significant consultation, over an extended period of time, some time ago and still have introduced new legislation in this sitting.
Most people I have spoken with feel that the minutes, although short, do in fact change the whole focus of the Historic Resources Act. They change all the fundamental principles of the Historic Resources Act. I even saw this in a communication from Heritage Canada, which I am sure the Minister has seen as well and, in some respects, I feel that this is as fundamental a change as one can possibly make to the act and still have the same act in place.
I am not going to debate both points, because the Minister has not actually presented the bill before the Legislature, but I am interested in the definition of "consultation". During the estimates, we saw one Minister talk about consultation being, in essence, a householder flyer sent around to a particular area, with the understanding that this householder flyer would end up in the chief's mailbox; and if the chief or council members did not respond within whatever arbitrary period, that constituted consultation under the UFA.
Now we have, in this particular case, a Minister looking at some principal changes in legislation - legislation that is identified in the UFA - and asking for a two-week response time.
When I was around in the past, I remember organizations stating that they needed some time, not only to review, but also to deal with a matter in a normal monthly meeting. They needed at least that amount of time in order to consider something properly and put it before their membership. Some organizations needed even more advance notice of a measure, so that they could give the monthly meeting notice and then proceed with dealing with it in the following monthly meeting.
That, I would think, would be a minimum requirement for consultation on everything but the most elementary item about which the Minister would want to consult.
The people I have spoken to are extremely concerned about the notion that two weeks is sufficient time. I am wondering if the government has given thought to what a proper definition of "consultation" is, so that First Nations and the Yukon government can get a working protocol so that this kind of situation is not repeated.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think that I explained why I proceeded with it in the way that I did. Now I have delayed it because they feel there has not been enough consultation. I do not know what more I can say about it. We have given them more time on this issue, because there seems to have been more concern raised about this issue than I thought there was going to be. I do not know what more I can tell the Member. There probably has to be a higher level meeting with the Council for Yukon Indians and the Government of the Yukon to discuss this issue. It is going to come up from time to time on many issues under the umbrella final agreement. I think that is something that we will be looking at. I cannot give the Member a commitment at this time as to when, or if, a meeting will be held.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister will know, because he was sent a letter that was copied to me on April 13, from the vice-chair of the Council for Yukon Indians, asking that a common understanding, or some sort of protocol be developed, in order, as they say, to prevent this scenario from occurring again. Is the Minister saying that the government has not made a decision as to whether or not they are going to agree to even discussions with the First Nations, or is he saying that the Cabinet is going to consider it and that they simply have not decided yet? What is the government's position with respect to this matter?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The letter was received just prior to the long weekend, and I forwarded it to the Government Leader's office and the Land Claims Secretariat. It will be considered as a request. I imagine that it will be brought before Cabinet in the near future.
Mr. McDonald: I think the government would be darn foolish not to take the CYI up on its offer, but then I do not think the Minister could surprise me on anything in this matter.
I would just make a recommendation, by way of being constructive, that the Minister take the time over the course of the summer to get not only the explanation out, but actually have some personal discussions with First Nations and with others who are interested in this matter, to see whether or not a working compromise can be achieved. I think, though, that such a compromise would be extraordinarily difficult, given the position the government is proposing to take and its relationship with the old act.
The Minister appeared to indicate that little work had been done to develop regulations for this act. Can the Minister give us a progress report about what has happened with regulations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that once the act is passed, and once the land claims agreements are settled, regulations will be developed and the Heritage Resources Board and the First Nations will review them before they come into play. In the meantime, my understanding is that most of the Yukon is covered by the federal regulations at the present time. The Historic Resources Act will only apply to Commissioner's land.
So, we are not without regulations altogether. We do have federal regulations right now, but there was never any intention to produce regulations in tandem with the act. That was the plan under the previous government as well, because the UFA requires the development of regulations jointly with the First Nations once the land claims come into effect.
That is why the regulations were not drafted. There is an understanding of what they will be. We will probably adopt a lot of the federal regulations and develop some of our own, but that is the reason why there have not been regulations to this date.
Mr. McDonald: I am not sure that I am too terribly impressed with the explanation that this legislation only applies to Commissioner's lands, because most historic buildings and probably a fair number of known artifacts are probably on Commissioner's lands. Consequently, the regulations would be very important to pass.
The position that the Minister takes with respect to his desire to consult with the Heritage Resources Board and the First Nations on the regulations is a sound one, but it does not explain why the Minister, when he was in Opposition, was demanding that the regulations come forward with a bill.
I am not sure that I understand the government's position with respect to regulations and their attachment to a bill. When the argument has been made in the past that regulations pursuant to this act had to be developed, the Minister did not appear to be particularly sympathetic with that defence when he was in Opposition. I am puzzled as to what the Minister is saying about this bill.
What is the consultation process that the Minister anticipates will be undertaken with respect to the regulations? When it comes to consulting with First Nations about the draft legislation, the Minister brings forward the draft legislation and allows the First Nations the opportunity to consider it. Are there not draft regulations, pursuant to the act, that the Minister would want to table with First Nations, as he is doing with this legislation, in order for them to provide comment? Why is there a difference in approaches: one for legislation and one for regulation?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I asked that same question. The Member is right; when I was in Opposition, I was arguing that there should be regulations with the act. One has to remember that the Member opposite was in government for seven years. It was his party that, for seven of the 10 years, was drafting this act. After the act was passed in the House, he could have developed regulations for seven months. He did not do so because of the requirement under the UFA and because of having to run it by the Heritage Resources Board.
My understanding now is that, once the act has passed, we can start developing these. The consultation process, I suppose, would be one in which draft regulations would be proposed, sent out to the various groups for consultation for a period of time and then come back with the proposed changes. They would then be adopted as regulations, once we have concurrence of the parties with respect to the regulations.
For the most part, the regulations will be drawn from other federal legislation that is already in place and will be enshrined in our act as regulations pertaining to our act. There may be some specific regulations with respect to First Nations artifacts, history and culture - that kind of thing.
The regulations are there for the most part. We will have to gather them from other jurisdictions, including the federal jurisdiction, and put them together.
Mr. McDonald: There appears to be two political lines: one to attack the NDP's record and one to defend the record of the Yukon Party. Both deal with the same thing and both are contradictory.
The Minister suggests that the NDP government had seven months to develop regulations, but did not do it, so that, somehow, the NDP government is at fault. He then proceeds to say that he could not do it in two years because there is an obligation to consult with the Heritage Resources Board and First Nations. Which one is it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Perhaps I am not getting this across to the Member. The Member asked why regulations are not drafted. I am trying to explain that they have to be drafted with consideration of the umbrella final agreement and through consultation. I am simply reminding the Member that he was in power for seven years while this act was being developed. His government did not proceed with regulations for the same reasons our government has not: the umbrella final agreement and consultation with the Heritage Resources Board.
I am not saying that what his government did was wrong. I am saying that the reason it had for not doing it is the same reason we have for not doing it. Once we pass the act, we hope to get to work drafting the regulations right away. It will probably take six months to a year to draft the proper regulations and put them in place.
I am not saying that the Member was wrong. I was critical at the time, but I did not understand the full process with respect to the umbrella final agreement. If I had drafted all these regulations and had them in place, I could probably be criticized by the side opposite for not following the intent of the umbrella final agreement, because that is why his government did not draft the regulations.
There is no real fault here. Everyone is following the proposed intent of the umbrella final agreement, which is why we do not have regulations in front of us with the bill. The Member also did not just have seven months; he had seven years plus seven months to draft the regulations - the first seven years when they were in power and working on the act, and seven months after the act passed the House.
I can now understand why his government did not draft the regulations, and I am telling the Member we did not draft them for the same reason.
Mr. McDonald: Alternately, depending upon the time, the place, and the mood of the House, the Minister can quite easily come forward with the line that the NDP did not use its seven months wisely and did not develop the regulations. At the same time, he can stand up and say that he did not understand what it was all about in 1991 but now knows better.
However, given the mood and tone of debate, I am not certain that the Minister will not stand up again and say that the NDP should have done something faster, better, smoother or whatever. That is one of the hazards of being in this place and doing this job, I suppose.
The position quite typically taken by the government opposite is that the government from 1985 to 1992 should have done virtually everything and left absolutely nothing for the Yukon Party to do, and that anything the NDP now says in criticism of the Yukon Party's performance over the last two years is consequently illegitimate, because it did not do everything in the seven years that the NDP was in government.
I do not remember a long refrain saying that the Progressive Conservative caucus - of which the Minister was once a member - should have done everything in the seven years it was government before the NDP was in government for seven years - that party was in government from 1978 to 1985.
I am not sure I understand where the government, and the Minister in particular, is coming from, from time to time. I suppose we can have a debate about that at some other occasion, as to what sort of incredible god-like creatures the Yukon Party Members think the NDP should have been in order to be legitimate now in their critiquing of Yukon Party actions.
In any case, the process being undertaken right now for the consultation around the act is that the Minister has had people draft the amendments to the act, and he is sending those amendments around the territory for comment - something concrete for comment. Why would he not be prepared to do that for the regulations, if there has been a fair amount of time to consider regulations? I agree 100 percent with the Minister's insistence that they should be taken past First Nations and municipal governments, to YHMA, and to the Heritage Resources Board - they should all have the opportunity to consider draft regulations or something concrete - as he has done with the act amendments themselves. Why would he wait until the act is finally passed before anything of a draft nature is taken out for consultation? Does he have it in mind that he is not going to be taking out draft regulations but is going to be taking out a discussion paper around the regulations? What is the procedure going to be?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can give the Member a commitment that I will ask why we cannot do that. If it can be done in conjunction with the act - fine. The sooner we get this thing put to bed the better, as far as I am concerned. I will check and see if there is any reason why we cannot do what we do now. We now have the Heritage Resources Board in place and a signed umbrella final agreement, and we have several First Nations that are on board. Maybe we can proceed with some of this now. I am not sure of the exact process, but I will check into it and get back to the Member.
Mr. McDonald: As the Minister knows, the City of Whitehorse has been waiting for legislation - particularly the Historic Resources Act - in order to undertake a review of its own municipal bylaws protecting heritage properties. What discussions has the Minister had with the city to encourage something to happen as an interim measure, either at the city level or as a combination between the city and the Yukon government, to ensure that historic properties are protected over the course of the time it is taking to finalize the consultation around the act and the regulations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that the city can do some things on its own without the Historic Resources Act to protect these properties. I have no problem with asking the department to work with the city and give it the advice it needs with respect to how it could put something in place to protect these properties. I will give that commitment to the Member. On my feet, I am not sure exactly what that process is. However, my understanding is that the city can do some things now, which will give some protection to historic sites without the act being in place.
Mr. McDonald: I thank the Minister for that commitment.
The Minister indicated in Question Period that the department in all likelihood has a list of properties that ought to be protected and retained. Can he give me a list of the properties?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can provide a list to the Member - Canyon City, Montague House, Rampart House; there are quite a few on the list that I think everyone knows of now. There is a list of approximately 20 in the city. There is a record in the city offices. If anyone wants to demolish, change or alter any of them, there is supposed to be a process one goes through to prevent it or to notify appropriate authorities that it is going to happen. I can get a list for the Member and make it available to him.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to see the list. If the Minister is getting frustrated in Question Period for having listened to the question so many times, it was because I was actually interested in seeing the list. I am still interested in seeing the list. If the Minister can provide it to me at some point, that would be great.
Are the houses on the Whitehorse walking tour considered to be among the properties that need to be protected?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They probably are, but I am not certain of it. My understanding is that the city's list has already been produced here once. If it was not during this sitting, perhaps it was during another sitting. I think it is available at the city. I will get it for the Member.
Our list is not so much a list of properties that we are going to designate, because it is the Heritage Resources Board that does the designation. We can make recommendations to the board, but we are aware of many of the places already - Montague House and Fort Selkirk, for example.
I have just received copies of the new booklet for Fort Selkirk. I will pass them out to the critics - one each for Mr. McDonald, Mrs. Firth and Mr. Cable.
Mr. McDonald: I was not suggesting that the Minister should immediately proceed to designation once the act is passed, but, as the Minister has indicated, the department would surely have a list of properties that it thinks would be candidates for protection. I would appreciate it if the Minister would provide me with that list.
When does the Minister intend to bring the proposed amendments to the Historic Resources Act before the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would hope to bring these amendments forward this fall.
I have just found the note that I was looking for. There are 32 Whitehorse heritage buildings deemed worthy of protection, of which three have already been demolished.
There is a booklet entitled Whitehorse Heritage Buildings - a walking tour of the Yukon's capital. I believe those buildings are listed in that.
The City of Whitehorse is responsible for municipal heritage preservation, as are municipalities all across the country. This is reflected in the municipal revisions to the Historic Resources Act, which the government hopes to pass in the fall. The city has the existing capability now to protect significant municipal historic resources through zoning controls, tax incentives, heritage preservation grant programs and density or property transfers.
For instance, the City of Dawson has implemented a heritage zone control bylaw. The Historic Resources Act would give the city the additional capability to what it currently has.
The Yukon public, through the Yukon Heritage Resources Board, will determine what is significant to the history of the Yukon. The government will not be making these decisions, it will only make recommendations.
Many territorial designations will be a consequence of land claims negotiations - for example, Fort Selkirk.
Territorial site designations have already been agreed to for Rampart House and Lapierre House. Lansing Post and Dalton Post will be addressed as part of the site management plan with the Champagne-Aishihik.
Carcross' White Pass and Yukon rail depot is already protected through federal legislation under the Heritage Railway Protections Act.
Other significant heritage properties are preserved through existing ownership by government; for example, the Klondike national historic sites, the Yukon national historic sites, incorporation of national parks, Ivvavik, Kluane or Vuntut, or the territorial parks, Pauline Cove settlement and Herschel Island territorial park.
Mr. McDonald: I think the Minister just indicated that the government cannot make decisions about designating properties, and that it would be done by the board. Is that correct? Is he contemplating any changes to the act about who makes designations? As I understand it, people make recommendations to the board and the board makes recommendations to the Minister, and the Minister decides. Is that going to be the case?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are no changes to that part of the act.
Mr. McDonald: Is it the intention of the government to designate properties that it currently owns under the Historic Resources Act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to check and see if there are any. I guess we own Fort Selkirk and Montague House, and those would probably be asked to be designated - all of the properties that are currently the responsibility of the Government of the Yukon are currently being protected by the Government of the Yukon or are enhanced or improved by the Government of the Yukon in one way or another.
Mr. McDonald: In terms of the protection of government properties, obviously the Historic Resources Act would provide for one more level of protection for historic properties. I am interested ultimately in that question. Perhaps the Minister can come back with a legislative return providing his understanding of what is going to happen to government-owned properties. He did cite Herschel Island and other sites that would probably be counted as historic sites. The fact that they are owned by the Yukon government is one level of comfort, but it does not offer the same comfort level as it would if they had been designated. Can the Minister provide a more detailed response, perhaps in writing, soon?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will try to do that. I will give the Member assurances of that. I think one building is the Old Territorial Administration Building in Dawson City, and I would not have any problem at all recommending that and other buildings, which have historic significance, to be designated some time in the future. I think that would be standard, but I will give the Member the commitment and I will get back to him.
Mr. McDonald: The economic development agreement, we all know, is quickly going down the tubes. The Minister has made some commitments in the past against that agreement, for such things as the European marketing campaign. What is going to happen in the future with respect to those areas that have been supported by the EDA?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The two areas that were covered by that before were the European campaign and the winter marketing, and both of those have now been moved into the A-base of the Tourism budget this year. The full amount of $150,000 is there for European marketing, and $40,000 for winter tourism is in the A-base.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister tell us what the rationale is for bringing them into the A-base? Was it in anticipation of the federal government not funding them in the future and it wanted to be comfortable that this EDA-funded program would be continued?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Partly that, but the other reason is that the EDA was never intended to be an ongoing marketing program for Tourism. Most of these programs were trial-based programs to get into the marketplace on a first-time initiative. Another program that is still in EDA and will continue for another two years is our Japan program. Even though EDA is cut off as of this year, any programs that had commitment for future years are going to continue. One of them is the Japan program, which will continue. It was a three-year program, so it will continue for two more years.
Mr. McDonald: I have some more specific questions about the EDA when we get to it, but I will just survey a couple of other issues. What is the strategy behind the government's desire to support the Arts Centre and to continue the operating funding? Is the government looking for more cost recovery from the Arts Centre? What is the plan?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Arts Centre is at the same funding level as in previous years.
Mr. McDonald: What is the government's intention with respect to the Arts Centre in the long term? What has government communicated to the Arts Centre about funding? Has it said that the Arts Centre should be recovering more money from its operations and count less on government? What has been the communication with the board?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Basically, we have told the Arts Centre that there will not be an increase in its budget, that it will be "hold the line" on its budget, and it has accepted that. In fact, this year I think it actually made a few more dollars than it did last year, so it had a reasonably good year.
Mr. McDonald: The government then has not asked the Arts Centre to undertake more cost recovery - is that correct? The government has not insisted that the Arts Centre recover more of its costs through its operations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Not specifically. We have told the Arts Centre that we would like it to become more self-sufficient. Funds from government are just not a certainty any more, and we know that from the federal side. The federal Liberals have cut funding for the arts dramatically over the last couple of years. We are trying to maintain our funding. The Arts Centre board, and all credit to them, has taken a very good business-type approach to the Arts Centre and seems to be doing fairly well with respect to its funding at the present time.
Mr. McDonald: Those darned Liberals - they do not care about the arts either. I cannot believe those guys.
The Arts Centre has undertaken the development of a business plan. Has the Minister discussed the business plan with the Arts Centre board? Has he provided any direction to the board?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have not received the Arts Centre business plan. In fact, I have asked recently, through the director, to be provided with it, and I am looking forward to getting it in the near future.
Mr. McDonald: I am happy to hear that. Did the Minister ask for the business plan to be developed? Was its development a ministerial directive?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe it was requested initially by the Auditor General. We asked the Arts Centre to provide us with one, and we hope to receive it some time this spring. I have not had a chance to get it yet.
Mr. McDonald: How did the Auditor General ask for this business plan to be developed? I can understand the Auditor General suggesting there be long-term strategic objectives developed by the board, but a business plan is something very different.
There are some people of the view that a business plan suggests that the primary goal of the Arts Centre is to become financially self-sufficient, which would have dramatic consequences on its programming. It may be that this could be the only arts centre in the country that is actually self-sufficient, although experience elsewhere suggests that is not possible.
A lot of what the Arts Centre provides right now is a facility for groups that do not have money. If there is a move to develop a business plan in the private sector sense with a view to full cost recovery or a much greater cost recovery, the non-paying, non-profit groups will be displaced by those kinds of activities that will make a return toward the administration of the complex. That is the reason I ask.
Is the Auditor General's dictate part of the report to the Legislature, or is it simply a communication between the Auditor General's office, the Arts Centre board and the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe it was a recommendation of the Auditor General's Report on Other Matters that was released a couple of years ago. I think that full cost recovery from the Arts Centre would be unrealistic. I do not think it would be inappropriate at all for the Arts Centre to develop a business plan. It knows where its funding is coming from now, and the majority of the funding comes from the Government of the Yukon. We have told the Arts Centre that that funding is stable. I do not think it would be bad business for the Arts Centre Corporation to look at it from a business standpoint. If the revenue and costs were looked at, it might keep it out of trouble in the future. I think that a business plan is a good idea.
There has been no intention whatsoever to consider a reduction of the grant. I have told the Arts Centre that the grant will remain at its current level.
Mr. McDonald: I understand what the Minister is saying when he says that the grant will be held where it is. I know what that means, and the Minister does not have to repeat it. However, I am sure the Minister can appreciate that when the board is told that it should be setting up a business plan - meaning that it should be thinking about profit and loss and maximum cost recovery - it is going to have an impact on programming by the board. The board is going to have to start thinking about displacing the people who do not pay with people who pay.
Right now, things at the Arts Centre are stable. I am pleased that most people believe that the Arts Centre Corporation board is doing a good job, and that the staff are doing a good job. If there is going to be a change, I think that it should be communicated and that people should be made aware of it - change, meaning that there is a move toward more cost recovery. If that is the direction, then people should be aware that if they cannot pay, they cannot play.
One of the things that has been made very clear by everyone - including board members I have spoken with and of which they are most proud - is that the community, as a whole can take advantage of it, whether organizations or groups are affluent or not. Most people I have spoken with are very pleased with the way things are happening right now.
If there is a change that is encouraged by the Auditor General, or someone else, to think about more cost recovery, then that change is not going to be completely benign. That change is going to cause a change in who uses the facility and under what circumstances. I believe that if that change is going to be made, and if the people are, in fact, undertaking that change, then the public should be made aware of it and understand the consequences of what is happening. Given that this is their facility, they should have a chance to comment to someone. Obviously, the Minister has not seen the business plan. Certainly I have not, but I am interested in precisely what the Minister has directed the corporation to consider, so then in the future there will not be fingerpointing when things start shaking down at the Arts Centre.
The business plan objectives will be either the responsibility of the board or the Minister. If they are the responsibility of the board, the people will know where to go; if they are the responsibility of the Minister, the people will also know where to go. The Minister indicates that he has not provided direction to the board to seek cost recovery - is that correct? I did not quite get that point. As I understand it, the only direction he has provided is that the board should have a business plan and that, in the long term, it should think about not depending on government funding as much as it has in the past. Is that the sentiment, or has it been more precise or specific than that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is a reality that government funding, especially on the federal side, is dramatically drying up for things such as the arts. I have not indicated any change to our funding to the Arts Centre Corporation.
When I became the Minister, a couple of years ago, there was a strong concern in the arts community that the Arts Centre was not serving the community. People felt that it was serving a certain group of people and had gotten away from its function and role of providing services to the broader community. Keeping that in mind, we appointed several people to the board who were from community groups. Also, keeping in mind the costs of such things, I appointed some businesspeople to the board, in the hope that they could draw in some goods, services and support from the business community. I am extremely happy today with the way the board has functioned. It has brought the community back to the Arts Centre and the Arts Centre to the community. I think that it has done a great job: the staff have done a great job and the board has done a good job. I am very pleased.
It has turned around a bit from the concerns that I had heard when I became the Minister. I had not heard those concerns until it came time to look at the Arts Centre board. People expressed those opinions to me. I think that it has done a commendable job. Right now, I do not see any change at all from the way the Arts Centre board is operating. The business plan is just another way of having the board sit down and provide its revenue and costs and operate in a business-like manner. I do not think that that is a bad thing to ask the Arts Centre to do. Arts centres all across the country are trying to behave in a more business-like manner, because if they do not, they do not survive. That is all we have asked it to do.
I do not see any change in the way it has operated over the last year or so. I see no change in the near future, either.
Mr. Penikett: I have spent a lot of time with people in the arts community - probably more than the Minister - and I certainly have not heard what he has said. In fact, I have heard very different things about its administration, but I want to ask him a question of fact.
To his knowledge, how many art centres, theater centres or cultural centres in the country have business plans such as the Minister has proposed for the Yukon Arts Centre - business plans and planning of profit and loss?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not know, but I did not realize that the Members opposite were opposed to a business plan. Many people should provide business plans, including government departments and everyone else. They are a good exercise to carry out.
Mr. Penikett: It may be a good exercise, but what we are concerned about is whether or not there is a hidden agenda. That is why we are asking, because the information that we have is that it was the Minister's request, decision, initiative, and not the Auditor General's at all. That is why we are asking.
My colleague has made the very apt point that there is not an arts or cultural centre in the country of the kind that we have here - certainly not in a town this size - that makes a profit. I would be surprised if even the National Arts Centre or any of the major cultural institutions in the country make a profit. In fact, I do not think that any of them do. By definition, they do not. Having as their objective an impossible task - showing a profit - goes a long way toward undermining the real purposes of the institution. That is what the appropriate concern is about.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have not asked them to do that. It was the Auditor General of Canada who suggested, a couple of years ago when reporting on other matters - I will get a copy of the recommendation - that the Arts Centre provide a business plan. I am saying that providing a business plan, based on the revenues that are received, is a good exercise. If the Arts Centre did not get our money, it would probably close its doors tomorrow. The small population we have just cannot support the type of facility we have there. I am supportive of the facility. I do not see any changes from what has happened in the last couple of years.
I am hearing some very positive things from the arts community about the initiatives that have taken place up there. I am very pleased with the new management of the Arts Centre; things have changed in leaps and bounds from before. I think that it is very positive for arts in general in the territory, and that is what I am hearing from people in the arts community.
Mr. Penikett: I do not think that anyone here is making negative comments about the management of the Arts Centre - quite the opposite; we have nothing but admiration for the activities and the extent of the activities that are going on at the centre. It is a very rich and lively place. Most of the activities that go on at the Arts Centre could never make a profit or never make money, and that is the point.
I am curious about the Auditor General demanding this, because I do not think that the Auditor General has required the National Arts Centre, which has huge, massive subsidies, to complete a business plan. I do not think that the National Gallery has a business plan. It may have a strategic plan, something that is intended to demonstrate that it has some kind of strategy for displaying attractive exhibits or productions and increasing its revenues.
No one has any illusions about any of these institutions becoming profit-making. I think that even the one in Anchorage, which is a community of 250,000, and was built during the days when Alaska had lots of oil money - it is a free-standing facility downtown - receives massive subsidies from the municipality and perhaps even the state, and is expected to continue to do so. It is ultimately that question of continuing support that we are concerned about.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: For about the fourth time, I am indicating that this government is not going to decrease its support. This government is going to hold the line on the budget.
Mr. McDonald: That is good. For this year that is fine. We will wait and see what the board thinks its direction is when the board brings down its business plan. Whether the board goes for more cost recovery or desires to maximize cost recovery, and whether one considers that to be good or bad, it will involve a change in activities at the Arts Centre. There is no doubt in anyone's mind about that on either side of the equation. People do have some very strong feelings about whether or not that is good or bad.
I would agree with the Minister and the Leader of the Official Opposition about the faith that most people have in the management of the Arts Centre nowadays. There was certainly some criticism, and I think probably quite justified criticism, that the operations of the Arts Centre were serving too much what I would call the wine-and-brie crowd and less supportive of the more general public interest. We will have to see what the business plan entails.
I have a question about the Binet House in Mayo. The Minister has shown me the new tourism passport document - the key of the passport program that listed the Binet House as a site on the tour of museums around the territory.
Can the Minister let us know what financial support the government is prepared to provide to the Binet House in Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: By agreement with the people in Mayo, the support they receive is that they be included in the passport program. They have agreed to that. They are a full page in the passport program, so there are now two attractions on the Silver Trail - the Binet House and the Keno City Museum.
Mr. McDonald: Is the Minister saying that the Binet House will be part of the passport program, but as far as core or grant funding to museums, it will not be entitled to receive any support?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is correct.
Mr. McDonald: What is the criteria for determining which attractions will receive core museum support? Is there something the Binet House could do to receive support, or is the budget full and no further applications will be considered?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not sure if any actual criteria is spelled out, but I can tell the Member that when they asked to be on this program, they specifically said that that was all they wanted. They were not asking for more funding or help; they just wanted to be part of the program. We agreed to that.
Mr. McDonald: So the Binet House has not asked for any other support - no core museum support, financing for utilities or anything like that. It just wants to be in the passport program. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that they were just happy to be included in the passport program.
Mr. McDonald: With respect to the centennial anniversaries program, can the Minister give us an update of who has received funding?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That line item is under Economic Development. It is my understanding that, at the present time, officials are meeting with various people in the communities, discussing their CAP proposal. Other than that, I cannot give the Member details because when I get to see it is when it passes through the whole technical review and comes to the final stage where the Minister of Economic Development and I, as well as a representative of the Anniversaries Commission, look at it and make the final recommendations. At the present time, I understand there are talks going on with the various communities who made applications.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicates that the committee he sits on makes final recommendations. To whom does he make those recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We will make recommendations for approval of the funds. I suppose we will make recommendations overall to the Cabinet and it will be approved. The final approval process is with the two Ministers and a representative from the Anniversaries Commission.
Mr. McDonald: I understood the Minister right up until the very last few words. He said they would be making recommendations to Cabinet, but that the committee was going to be the final agent for deciding which projects would get the go-ahead. Is it the Cabinet that makes the decision or is it the committee on which the Minister sits, this smaller one?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to check into that. Criteria for the process were set out in the centennial anniversaries program, and I will check and get back to the Member. I think it is laid out in the guidelines. My recollection is that the final decision gets made by the two Ministers and the Anniversaries Commission and it possibly does not have to go to Cabinet, but I can get back to the Member on that.
Mr. McDonald: Okay. When does the Minister anticipate that the final decisions will be made? He should have some idea of that.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not sure. I would hope that it would be sooner rather than later - some time this spring. I cannot give the Member an exact time because it depends on how long the consultations take with the communities with respect to their various applications. As soon as that is completed, the decision will be made.
Mr. McDonald: A number of people have expressed the concern to me that they should know, as soon as possible, what the decision is going to be for the funding, otherwise they would be seriously in danger of losing the summer construction season. Can the Minister give a ball-park time when he thinks the decision will be made? Will it be in April? Will it be at the beginning of May or the end of May? Does he even have a sense of when that might happen?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I cannot answer the Member, because it is done through Economic Development and it has an individual who is working with the communities. I am not even sure where it stands. As I said earlier, I would hope that it would be sooner rather than later, because I would like to see these projects getting underway pretty quickly.
Mr. McDonald: So would I. I would like to see a decision being made. It would help those organizations immensely that have expressed some significant concern about having to face a program that has, in some people's view at least, been somewhat underfunded. I understand that is the position of organizations in the City of Whitehorse - or at least a person who represents an organization in the City of Whitehorse feels that way. There are also people who feel that they should know as soon as possible, so that they can at least make alternate plans in the event that they do not receive funding. Can the Minister tell us whether or not he could check with Economic Development - check with the people who do know what the program is - and then commit to let us know when the decision will be made?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will try and get a time line for the Member.
Mr. McDonald: There has been some discussion about the Anniversaries Commission and its long-term future. Can the Minister tell us how long he would like to see it last? What is his long-term mandate? Does it wind up in the year 1998? What has he told the organization?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It receives its budget on an annual basis, but there are celebrations planned until the year 2000. I would think that the commission would continue with the various celebrations until then.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister on a variety of issues. I asked some questions last week on the zoning of the new visitor reception centre and if the reception centre, as presented, complied with the City of Whitehorse's community plan and downtown plan. Has the Minister had a chance to check that out?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The department has not had a chance to check it, but I was told that we believe that it conforms with the zoning in the City of Whitehorse and the city is certainly on side with it, so I do not think there is a problem. My understanding of it is that it does conform.
Mr. Cable: Could the Minister check that out and get back to us? There are three issues: the zoning bylaw, the downtown plan, I believe they call it, and the community plan. Two of them have to go to public hearings and, of course, the city cannot predict what the outcome would be. If the Minister could get back, that would put my mind at ease.
On another issue, the Government Leader, on his trip to China with the Prime Minister, dropped in to Hong Kong and made some contacts with the tourism business in the Far East. Has any product come out of the contacts that were made while the Government Leader was there?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: None that I am aware of.
Mr. Cable: The Leader of the Official Opposition wants to go on a secret mission.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: I see. It appears that there was a bit of a hyperbole reported in the press on these contacts. Does the Minister intend to follow up on the contacts that were made by the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, we follow up on contacts made by the Government Leader. Right now, we are working on Japan. It takes a lot of resources to work in those areas. We discuss these kinds of issues at various meetings with representatives of the consulates. I can get back to the Member if any other work has been done.
Mr. Cable: The preliminary results of the 1994 visitor exit survey are rather interesting in that they indicate that while the Americans are much more numerous, on a percentage basis, than Canadians and visitors from overseas, they are not too inclined to spend as much money per capita. Am I reading the initial results correctly?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that there is not a lot of difference in the spending. The difference is in the number of days. Americans may spend three days here, whereas the Europeans spend eight or nine days. More detailed information will be out this weekend. In the following couple of weeks, there may be more. My understanding is that it is roughly the same, with the Europeans spending more time.
Mr. Cable: Does the Minister have the preliminary results in front of him? I refer him to page 12. I believe we may be looking at different documents. Is he looking at the small document? It reinforces the idea that Americans do not spend as much time here. The numbers that are given indicate that Canadians spend $450 during their stay in the Yukon and American visitors spend $145. In the Minister's view, is that simply due to the fact that there is much more abbreviated visits from American visitors?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have the document in front of me that the Member has. I have the little, short booklet, but it is not the same document that the Member has.
Mr. Cable: For the Minister's benefit, I will just reiterate those statistics. On page 12, it says, "On average, Canadian and overseas visitors to Yukon stay almost three times as long as American visitors." That is in answer to the question, "On average, how many nights did visitors stay in the Yukon?"
The document - the 12-page document that, I believe, was put out at the same time as the booklet the Minister has in his hands - indicates that the American tourist is not as likely to spend as much in this country, either due to an abbreviated stay or maybe because of different spending habits. What implications does the Minister and his department draw from these statistics? Are we getting our best bang for the dollar when we focus on American tourists, or would it be more productive to be spending dollars on Canadian tourism?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Much of the American marketing money that we spend - the money for the American market - is cooperative marketing with Alaska. We think we are getting one heck of a deal because we are magnifying the amount we have in the marketplace with Alaskan money.
I think one has to remember that possibly 75 percent of the visitors to the Yukon are Americans coming up the Alaska Highway. Even though they only spend three days, they are still very significant to the lodges up and down the highway. Most of the tourists are on their way to Alaska. We are trying to slow them down and make them stay a little longer in the Yukon by reaching them earlier with information about the attractions we have in the territory and things to see and do. We hope to stall them a bit, and get them to spend a little more money here. For the money we spend overall, I think it is money well spent.
In fact, about six months ago, there were even some accusations here that we had actually reduced our budget on the North American rubber-tire trade. I had all kinds of calls from people in that industry who were upset because we decreased our marketing there in favour of Europe. So, there is a real concern in the marketplace that we continue with that marketing.
Mr. Cable: If one was to take a wild stab at a sort of inductive leap, one would think that money spent on Canadians would yield a much higher product, in terms of tourist dollars - if one reads the statistics from an empirical viewpoint. Would the Minister not agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would like to see a lot more Canadians here, and I hope that we will. Maybe I can invite the Member to Haines Junction this weekend for the TIA convention, and he can applaud our recent announcements in the Canadian marketing initiative, which I hope will bring many more Canadians to Yukon.
Mr. Cable: I had planned to go and perhaps the Minister can buy me a drink on Saturday night.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: He can buy me one after he hears the announcement.
Mr. Cable: What does the Minister's department do, not on marketing, but on market research? I will get back to the previous topic in a moment.
We have this visitors exit survey, which asks people why they came to the Yukon. What do we have underway to ask people why they have not come to the Yukon? I suppose the analogy is that if one is going to ask Chevrolet buyers why they bought their Chevrolet, one is not getting the whole market; they should ask the people who are driving Dodges and other cars, so as to determine what the real market is out there. We have heard ideas here in the House over the last few days about aboriginal tourism and those sorts of attractions, and the Minister has gone on at length about infrastructure attractions, but what do we know about the 250 or 300 million people who are out there in North America, for example? What do we know about their inclinations toward visiting the Yukon? Has any extensive market research been carried out?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, we have done fairly extensive research in the RV travel market, the wilderness travel market and others. We do not ask them why they do not come here. We ask them what they read, what kind of things they like to do, and then we tailor our marketing to those kinds of activities and advertise in the types of magazines or newspapers that they read at the certain times of year when they plan their holidays.
There has been extensive research done by our agency on several aspects of the type of people who do come to the territory and how we can reach more of them, and that is what we are doing with all the marketing initiatives we have now. We are target marketing those types of areas, hoping to draw in more people.
Mr. Cable: The government launched its tourism centennial anniversaries program, and the Minister has talked at length about tourism infrastructure. Has there been a study that definitively indicates that people are actually looking for physical things built by the human species, or do they want to come up here to view the wilderness? What do we have in the way of a compilation of market research? I do not mean marketing research; I mean market research?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have the most up-to-date and accurate data that we could possibly have, which is the 1994 visitor exit survey. We asked questions of about 5,000 tourists who came here about what they want to see, what they would like to see and what they would like to do. It came out that attractions, museums, and those kinds of things, are very high on the list. This is consistent with the 1987 survey, and it is the kind of thing that people like to do.
We know from research done by tourism commissions all across the country that people are looking for authentic attractions; they are looking for an educational-type tour. There are some places where one can still go to just lie on a beach, but many people who lie on a beach also want to go into the small towns and villages to see some of the history and the culture. People want more educational tourism, and that is the type of tourism we hope to provide with the types of things we are developing.
Mr. Cable: Perhaps the Minister and I did not connect on an earlier point. The visitor exit survey catches those people who actually came, but that is perhaps 1/100 of one percent of the whole market. Is the Minister saying the visitor exit survey will be used solely as a determinant of what the 250 million people in North America want up here, or is more extensive market research being done?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I thought I answered that. Our agency did extensive market research a few years ago. There was test marketing all through the United States. We asked, "What do you like? What do you like to do? Why would you like to come to the Yukon?" and that kind of thing.
From that, it was determined that this was the direction to go. We then do a more accurate survey of visitors when they arrive here to find out if we have actually reached the people to whom we directed our promotion, and whether or not they read the publications. We seem to be on target with whom we are trying to reach. Many other jurisdictions are quite envious of how successful we are in going after our market. I mentioned to the Member the other day at a meeting that the rubber-tire traffic is a good example. We send a road show around every year, and we did a few shows in RV parks in Arizona and California. We had no way of knowing if these people would ever come to the Yukon, or if they just liked going to the road show because it was good entertainment. We would pass out brochures and paraphernalia, but we were not able to track it. We are now more focused. We are putting promotions in magazines these people read. We know which ones they read because of the Alaska visitor exit survey.
We asked them when and how they planned their trip. We found out it was in December, so we ran stories and ads in the December issue of the magazines this year. From one publication, we received 30,000 responses, which we can now track. Those people wrote in for the Tourism North visitor guide, and they are now in the computer. In a few months from now, we can follow up on whether or not they are still planning to visit, what year they plan to visit in, and all those sorts of things.
It is focused target marketing. There is no way in the world the Yukon can go out there with a broad brush. As the Member says, Ford might want to get to the Chevy owners to find out why they will not buy a Ford. We cannot afford to do that. We have a difficult enough time with our budget in reaching people who do want to come. It is very expensive to promote and advertise in this marketplace. We have to be pretty focused on the types of things people read and do, and when they read and do them, when they plan their trips, and try to get to them that way.
That is what we have done. We have used the information we have here, and we have used the information from the focus study we did before. It is a compilation of all that to determine where our marketplace is, and if we are getting results from our marketing.
Mr. Cable: I think the Minister did indicate that the government had done some market research. This is to the Ford owners as opposed to the Chevy owners. It would be useful to get from the Minister - not today - at some juncture a list of the reports so that I can read them at my leisure to see what has been done in the way of market research.
The Minister and his colleagues, and I think virtually everyone else in the territory, have talked about tourism as being our second industry, so presumably we would have to know where we are going in order to make maximum use of the Minister's tourism budget dollars.
What have these market research studies shown in the past? Where is the largest growth potential in the tourism business?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Before I answer that, rather than providing the Member with a document I will arrange for a briefing by Baker Lovick/BBDO and our marketing people here to provide the Member with the lowdown of what was done initially and what we do now as a follow-up to that. It is quite long and complicated, and it would take a couple of hours to go through it, but I can offer the Member a briefing if he is interested in it.
The fastest growth market for us is the wilderness tourism market and the European market. I do not know if the Minister had an opportunity to attend the Alaska Visitors Association convention that was held in Whitehorse in October, but their marketing agency gave a very interesting presentation. They questioned about 12,000 tourists who visited Alaska. They conducted some extensive research and discovered that the recreational vehicle traffic in the next few years is going to decline. This is because young people are not necessarily hopping into recreational vehicles. Young people, such as the Liberal Member and I, are taking part in more adventurous trips such as whitewater rafting, or renting a car and traveling independently, rather than renting a big recreational vehicle.
The feeling is that that recreational vehicle market will decrease over the next few years, or at least remain stable; it will not necessarily increase.
The feeling is that the European market is going to grow, specifically from Germany and France. There is some potential in the Japanese market, but that market is extremely limited because the Japanese take seven-day tours.
They have to be able to get in and out, and see what they want to see in seven days. They now arrive in Vancouver on a Saturday, and they leave Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on the following Saturday. They virtually scoot across this country in a seven-day, whirlwind tour. I do not know why anybody would want to go across our country that quickly, but they do. They stop in Vancouver and Whistler, probably in Banff, then they visit the tower in Toronto and Anne of Green Gables' home, and then they are gone again. Our difficulty with the Japanese here is the limited amount of time they have to get in and out of here - to get a quality package for the two or three days they might have in a five-day package to tour here. I hope that gives the Member some information on the areas where we see potential growth.
Mr. Cable: I would like to receive the briefing that the Minister offered - not the one on the visitors exit survey, the one on market research that is being done on the people who do not come here, not the ones that have come here.
Regarding the wilderness travel sector of the tourism business, what does the Minister see his department doing in the future to encourage that sector to grow even further than it otherwise would?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are doing several things. We are holding marketing seminars where people can participate to learn about the needs of the tourists that they want. We are in the process of working to develop some regulations and quality standards for the industry. Quite frankly, I think it is going to be an area in which we will have a product problem, because there is going to be more demand than there will be product in the very near future. Anything we can do to encourage quality people with quality product to get into the wilderness tourism industry is something that will benefit us all. It is turning into a problem because there is going to be more demand than we have supply very soon.
Mr. Cable: I put some questions to the Minister's colleague, the Minister of Renewable Resources, during his debate as to whom he saw as actually regulating the wilderness tourism business. Does the Minister feel that it would be appropriate for his department to do that, or would that be done by the Department of Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have a problem either way, as long as quality regulations are administered by standard government rules. I am not hung up either way. I want to make sure that whatever rules are in place have a strong tourism component to them, because that is the industry that we are looking at. Tourism, whether it administers them or not, would certainly have a strong involvement in the development of such regulations.
I have also been informed that the downtown visitor reception centre project satisfies the downtown community plan and that the design of the building will meet all zoning bylaws. The parking issue is being worked on in conjunction with the city. I hope that answers the Member's questions.
Mr. Cable: It does answer my question.
On the issue of wilderness tourism business, when does the Minister see the regulations that are being talked about enacted - I do not think there is a commitment to regulation - so we will know exactly what the rules are for what the Minister has described as an expanding business?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that they are working toward having a draft by this fall. I do not know how long it will take after that to put them in place. It would be nice to have them in place for the next season, but I do not know if that is possible. In many instances, such as this, one must give quite a bit of notice to the industry, because marketing is done quite a bit in advance - sometimes a year in advance. There may be a year's lag before we can inform everyone of what the standards are and the types of things one has to provide for one's clients.
Mr. Cable: On another topic, the centennial anniversaries program, when are we going to see the light of day on the projects that have been approved for the present fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member for McIntyre-Takhini just asked the same question. I would hope soon, but I cannot give the Member a definite date, because the technical part of it is all under Economic Development.
Mr. Cable: That must have been one of the few questions I did not hear the Member for McIntyre-Takhini ask the Minister over the last couple of days.
How does the Minister's department approach the issue of prioritization? We had established, I think, that the applications exceed the funds available. Has the Minister instructed his employees to take to what I assume are joint meetings a set of principles on which the prioritization can be determined?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Most of that work is done within Economic Development. The department has a set of criteria. An individual is going to be meeting with each individual applicant to discuss the application - the size of it, the scope of it, who is involved, how it can be improved, and so on, to meet the criteria. Those discussions are going to be going on over the next few weeks, I would imagine, considering all the groups and organizations.
Mr. Cable: I believe I asked the Minister this question in Question Period. We now have the visitor exit survey final results almost completed. Is the visitor exit survey in any way going to bear on the issue of prioritization of the various applications? A number of things came out of the visitor exit survey and a number of more things will come out on the types of infrastructure that would be useful. Is that going to have any feed into the decision-making process?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, the visitor exit survey was not that detailed. It is more general about the types of things people would like to see. We did not get into specific types of attractions. There was a question in it that asked "What was the most favourite thing you did in the Yukon?" It will be interesting to see what that is.
Mr. Cable: I received a report from our Member of Parliament, Ms. McLaughlin, which I will give to the Minister. On the back page of the report is a picture of the Minister of Tourism sort of grinning out of the photograph and standing in front of a big rock. Beside him is the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Member for Faro and the Member of Parliament - all NDPers. Can I ask what the Minister was doing associating with the likes of those people in front of that big rock?
Chair: Mr. Penikett, on a point of order?
Mr. Penikett: I think that the Minister was between a rock and a hard place.
Chair: There is no point of order.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: What we did in the picture was to apprehend the new Leader of the national New Democratic Party. The big rock in the centre is going to be the new Leader of the NDP.
I had no idea anyone was going to take my photograph. I was assured that the photograph would never be used for any other purpose. I will be speaking to the appropriate authorities to see what I can do about putting a stop to it.
Ms. Moorcroft: I just have a couple of questions for the Minister about the Kluane Park road. I asked the Minister of Community and Transportation Services some questions about it. Although he is also the MLA for Kluane, I found that to be an exercise in futility. When I asked questions of the Minister of Renewable Resources, I was told that Tourism is taking a lead role in this.
I would like to know who gave input into the idea of constructing an access road into the Kluane game sanctuary.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As to the question regarding who gave input, it was many people from the Kluane region. I think it may even have come up in the tourism plan of the Kluane region. There was talk about access to Kluane and creating better access to the Kluane region, but creating access to the park has been talked about for some time. This is not a road into the park - the Member should be fully aware of that. It is only a road through the sanctuary. It only comes up to the edge of the park. We are not going one foot into the park with this road. That is the proposal before us now.
A proposal is also going through the environmental assessment review process, and it is subject to all the regulations in the EARP process.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do have a legislative return regarding the environmental assessment review process, which, I am sure, will address what effect the road will have on the environment.
Since this document indicates that the call for proposals will be made in late February or early March 1995, has the contract been awarded? Who is conducting the assessment?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back to the Member as to whether or not the contract has been awarded. I cannot recall seeing it in the paper. I will get back to the Member as to whether or not it has been awarded and, if not, when it will go to tender and be awarded.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would appreciate that. I thought that the Minister would have taken note of the question when his colleague referred it to the Department of Tourism.
I would like to know the value of the contract. If it has not been awarded yet, I expect that he will provide me with the information about who will be doing the contract after it has been awarded.
I would also like to know how much it will cost the taxpayers to put the road through the Kluane game sanctuary to the gates of the park.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring that information back. The Department of Tourism does not build roads, but I can find out what the estimated cost of the road will be.
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Mr. McDonald: I just have a few short questions to ask the Minister before we get into the line items.
I have a brief comment about the ranking of the industries of tourism, forestry and mining. I think there is some confusion about where they all stand. I would not mind an official position from the government on that front.
The question I have is about the Carcross waterfront. I was talking to some people recently who felt that, thanks to the agreement signed by the Department of Community and Transportation Services, there is most certainly an expectation in Carcross that a major tourism project will be developed there and that it will indeed be funded, in large part, by the Yukon government. Can the Minister give us any conclusive statement about what the Yukon government's commitment is toward the waterfront development in Carcross?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that an agreement was reached with the Department of Community and Transportation Services on the assembling of some land in that area. However, the Carcross proposal is their centennial anniversaries proposal, and has to be subject to all of the guidelines under the program. There is no automatic guarantee of funding for the Carcross project. It has to fall under the CAP guidelines.
Mr. McDonald: Even outside the confines of the centennial anniversaries program, is there no other commitment, financial or otherwise, from the Yukon government toward waterfront development in Carcross?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe that is the case. There is no financial commitment, other than an application for the centennial anniversaries program. If the application is successful under the program, consideration will then be given to it.
Mr. McDonald: I have a follow-up question on museums. The Minister will remember that the MacBride Museum had asked for an increase in operational funding. How did the government respond to that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe we are holding the line on all museum operation and maintenance funding in this budget. There is no increase and no decrease.
Mr. McDonald: Obviously, the government was not terribly persuaded by the presentation made by MacBride.
Can the Minister tell us what the long-term future is for that museum in terms of its development on the capital side? I would note that, when we get to page 12-16 of the operation and maintenance budget, it appears there is a bit of a drop in grants. Perhaps the Minister could explain that for me - perhaps even in the context of this question.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Some of the granting money is build into a contribution. Overall, I understand it is higher in relation to the Transportation Museum. It gets an extra half-time or few dollars for a full-time curator. That will allow the museum to then access federal funding as MacBride and other museums with curators can do.
Mr. McDonald: In that particular case, the increase in terms of the curator/director salary was partially offset by a decrease in the museum's grant. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that there is an overall increase. Everything stays the same except for the Transportation Museum. Its increase is $7,000, which will add the curator.
Mr. McDonald: I will wait until we get to the lines to figure out where the decrease in museum grants is - page 12-16 - and what that is all about because I am not sure I understand the reason for it, given the Minister's recent answer.
In terms of the MacBride Museum's capital aspirations, it put a large proposal before a federal funding source for some significant expansion. What is the government's position on that proposal?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It was a huge proposal, and I think they had a model built of the proposal. At this time, the government is not prepared to entertain that kind of expansion and capital contribution. This year we are increasing our capital contribution to MacBride for a sprinkler system to protect the artifacts; the museum has wanted that for some years.
Mr. McDonald: Is the Minister aware of what the operations cost would have been for the MacBride's capital expansion proposal? Was it rejected because the government would be expected to bear extra operating costs? What was the reason for the denial?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: At the time it was considered a very lavish proposal and very difficult to support on the O&M side. The museum was having difficulty with its present facility, and to build it that much bigger at this time would have created some problems.
Mrs. Firth: Can we take a break before I start on my questions?
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. Is there further general debate on Bill No. 4?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: On Thursday there was a question asked about the display area of the visitor reception centre versus the existing visitor reception centre.
The existing centre is 212 square metres. The proposed new building is 175 square metres. In the existing visitor reception centre, there is a huge map of the Yukon on the floor. The location of this map is very difficult for tourists to read so we are going to put the map upright against the wall. This will enable tourists to see the whole map. The way it is right now, once people are five feet into the map they become lost. We hope to make the map easier to read, and it will give us additional floor space.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister some detailed questions about the Beringia Centre and the cost of it. I have listened to the debate fairly closely, and I have not heard any information about a cost-benefit analysis. I am assuming that one has not been done. I would like to ask the Minister when his department is going to do a cost-benefit analysis for the project and who is going to do it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think I mentioned it before, but the cost benefit will be when the visitors stay an extra day in the City of Whitehorse. If we look at the number of visitors in the first year who would spend an extra day in the City of Whitehorse, we are looking at about $2.2 million annually of increased revenue within the city, based on the $74-per-day expenditure that people now spend.
One just has to look at what happens in Whitehorse versus Dawson City. People do spend two or three days in Dawson City and visit several attractions. Tourists spend a great deal more money in Dawson City than they do in Whitehorse. At the present time, Whitehorse is considered to be more of a pass-through city than a place to stop and spend some time. The hope is that the people will stop and spend money and time in Whitehorse.
Mrs. Firth: Maybe the Minister did not understand the question. My version of what a cost-benefit analysis is may be different from the Minister's version. I remember the Auditor General criticizing this government about building new capital projects without doing an O&M cost analysis, and without doing a general cost-benefit analysis.
I want to know how much it is going to cost to run the centre, how many more employees are going to be needed for the Beringia and for the Historic Resources Centre. I want to know if there has been an analysis done of the cost, because one cannot just say that because more tourists are going to come and stay another day, that is all there is to the equation.
Yukon taxpayers and Canadian taxpayers are going to have to put out almost $7 million for this Beringia and Historic Resources Centre. I would like to know how many staff are needed to staff it and how many individuals with specialized skills are going to be required. I understand that there are going to be labs involved that will have to have specialized equipment and experts to deal with it.
So far, all that we have talked about is the palaeontologist who is going to be hired. I want to know if there has been a full cost-benefit analysis, including O&M costs, and if not, when that is going to be done, and who is going to do it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is planning about the facility going on now, but last Thursday I gave the Member most of the information she just asked for - how many staff there were going to be and what the cost is going to be to operate the facility. The only new person year there, other than seven people at the Beringia Interpretive Centre, is going to be the palaeontologist. The staff in the Historic Resources Centre is going to be the heritage staff. They are going to move out of the quarters they now have into something more suitable. That is the only difference.
I am not sure what the Member is looking for. As for the cost-benefit analysis, we have estimated how many people we think will come annually to the facility, at an estimated $5 charge. We have estimated what the revenues will be, what the O&M cost of operating the facility will be, and, as a result, what the net profit or loss would be if we meet our numbers that we projected.
Mrs. Firth: I am looking at the debate last Thursday when I started asking these questions, and all we debated was the palaeontologist. I do not have any other information the Minister refers to. Maybe he gave it in response to someone else's questions, but not to the questions I asked. I would like to know if we could have a copy of the cost-benefit analysis that was done. Does the department have it in writing?
When the Minister went to Management Board to get authorization for this project he would have had to present data to substantiate the expenditure of funds. I would like to know if we can see what data was taken - in writing. Can we have something tabled in this House to show the cost-benefit analysis of the project for the Beringia Interpretive Centre and for the Historic Resource Centre?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Historic Resources Centre is just an office building for the heritage branch. For convenience and because of the services it can provide, it is going to be hooked into the Beringia Interpretive Centre.
When I was asked questions by the Member for McIntyre-Takhini at the beginning of the Member's debate - on Thursday, I believe - the very first question the Member asked was about the expected numbers. That is when all of the numbers were given about expected revenue, expected costs and the staff. It was at the beginning of the debate and is in Hansard. I do not have a copy of Hansard with me, but I believe it is in Thursday's Hansard, right at the beginning of the Tourism debate, after the break after Question Period. That is where the Member can probably find it.
Mrs. Firth: I will look for that information. I certainly do not recall it, but I have been listening to the information. I am not challenging the Minister and saying it is not there. I will look for it to try and find it and then follow up.
The concern that I have is that there is $50,000 in the budget for the Beringia Centre, and $50,000 for the Historic Resources Centre, in order to do schematic drawings and so on. I would like to get some idea from the Minister about what the government perceives the ongoing costs to be. There is going to be an original outlay of $7.3 million to build the Beringia and Historic Resources Centres, none of which is in this budget under the capital costs. The capital costs must be coming next year for the two facilities, I guess. I see the Minister nodding his head, yes.
I do not feel reassured - some people in the community have expressed this concern to me, too - that the government has looked at the expenditure it is going to make versus the gains that will be received. As with the visitor reception centre and the offices for staff, my concern is that the projects are mostly for government office space, as opposed to actually providing some kind of facility or attraction for tourists.
I would like to see a breakdown. We have been through the size of the visitor reception centre. The Minister said it would provide about two-thirds of the office space for Tourism. The rest will be for the tourists.
My concern is that money is being spent to provide better accommodations for the employees, which seems to be the larger portion of the money, as opposed to facilities where tourists can gain more information about the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is not necessarily true. I am not sure to whom the Member is talking. I do not think she is talking to many people in the tourism industry or the business community. I have had overwhelming support from people in the community who were pleased that the Department of Tourism is moving into offices with a higher profile. They are very supportive of the visitor reception centre moving downtown, and they are very supportive of another attraction in the City of Whitehorse. I am not sure to whom the Member refers when she says that some in the community are concerned. I am getting exactly the opposite reading from the tourism industry. I am getting support from all sides of the industry. People of all political stripes have spoken with me and are supportive of it. Many residents in the Member's own riding have said to me that this is a positive initiative.
I can bring back the figures the Member wants. We have to remember that, like the Tourism business centre, it will raise a higher profile for the Department of Tourism and put the department where it is more visible and accessible to the general public. It will create more awareness of the importance of tourism to Yukoners.
The new visitor reception centre will be roughly the same size as the present visitor reception centre. There will not be a lot of difference in size. The Beringia Interpretive Centre will use an existing building and create an interpretive centre of a significant part of the Yukon's heritage. The Historic Resources Centre is something the heritage community has wanted for a long time. It is very convenient to tie the Historic Resources Centre to the Beringia Interpretive Centre. It will provide all kinds of opportunity for First Nations and others, and it will work with our community museums. It is something about which I hear strong support from the museum community to build.
I am not sure where the Member's opposition is coming from. I understand the Member's concern about costs, but I think that if we do this right, build a facility that will be worthy of people taking the time to stop and visit and market it along with the existing attractions in the City of Whitehorse, we can all stand to benefit - the hotels, restaurants, museums and other attractions. It would be nothing but a benefit for the City of Whitehorse. That is why I have had overall support from businesspeople and tourism people in the industry, who know what it is all about and how one must market an area. The people who understand that are quite supportive.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister just to think for a moment. No one in the tourism industry is going to come up to the Minister and say that they think it is a lousy idea. The Minister is a politician. How many people come up and tell him that he is doing a crummy job? People do not come up and tell politicians those things. I have been a politician long enough. No one comes up and tells me that they do not like what I am doing or question it, but they will go around the block and say it to Doug Phillips who is waiting to hear something like that.
I do not want to get into a debate, but I want the Minister to think for a minute. I am not saying that I am opposed to the visitor reception centre being downtown. If the Minister recalls, I was in favour of it being downtown in the first place. I do not have a problem with that at all. I am saying to the Minister that, now that we know what kind of building is going to be built, when it is built and is predominantly office space for government people, there are going to be some questions asked. People are going to ask why we built all the nice offices for the government people instead of a bigger tourist attraction for tourists. That is the point that I am trying to bring to the attention of the Minister.
The Minister says everyone supports it and everyone is in agreement with it. There has been debate in this House already about how many people were really asked their opinions and how many people had the Minister tell them that it was a good idea. All I am trying to do is raise the concern that my preference would be that it not look like a brand new facility with nice big offices just for the Tourism department and that this big expenditure would have some actual benefit for tourists.
If the Minister thinks his project is worthy he should defend it by giving me something substantial: his cost benefit analysis, the names of people he consulted, and the information why this is a priority with this government and why it will be a good project. Defend the project. The Minister should not stand up and say he does not know to whom I have been talking, because I have a legitimate concern about which the Minister should also be concerned. He certainly would have been as an Opposition Member.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The building will serve two functions downtown. It will serve the function of giving a higher priority to the Department of Tourism and making it more visible and accessible to the industry it serves. Secondly, a visitor reception centre will be attached to the building, which will make the operation and maintenance of the visitor reception centre a lot more cost effective. I hope the physical appearance of the building will not necessarily be that of an office building. It will look more like an 1898 period building and will be very pleasing to the eye, and it will certainly attract visitors to the facility. Once the visitors are drawn through the door, the purpose of the facility is to inform them about what other things there are to see and do in Whitehorse and in the Yukon. That will be the main role of the interior of the building - to attract people to spend time in the Yukon.
As for the business centre aspect, if the Member would go over to the offices some day, she would see that many of the people in the industry are there all the time, working with our officials, discussing their proposals, getting information from the industry, and this just gives the department a higher profile. The Member's concerns about cost effectiveness are legitimate.
On the other hand, I think that this particular project is a worthwhile project that will provide long-term benefits to Yukoners, and I think it will be a benefit to Yukoners in the long run by keeping tourists in Whitehorse longer. That is one of the things that we have to try to do.
I went through this whole debate with the critic earlier about what there is to see and do in Dawson City. I do not want to repeat it; the Member can read it in Hansard. Dawson City is not afraid of competition, more attractions or having more things for tourists to do in its community. In fact, it is crying out for more attractions all of the time. Attractions draw tourists to the jurisdiction or area, where they will stay to spend some time and money. The downtown business people are extremely pleased about the visitor reception centre being on this side of Main Street and being located downtown, because they see the benefits to them. I think that if we can get the tourists to stop, stay and spend a little time overnight in Whitehorse, there will be benefits to everyone here. I take the Member's representations, but I feel that this facility will prove itself over time.
Mrs. Firth: Let me put it this way: can the Minister provide me with the analysis that substantiates that thinking? It is fine for the Minister to stand up and say great things, but I can go and say all of these great things, too.
The one legitimate concern that the Minister thinks that I might have is with respect to the cost. Can the Minister provide me with a cost analysis? I looked up the space allocation that the Department of Tourism is presently occupying, which is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15,000 square feet, and that figure does not include the visitor reception centre.
The Minister stands up and says that the department is going to have approximately the same amount of space, but the new offices are going to be two-thirds of the total space, two floors high. I want some information that I can read and say, "Okay, this is a good economic decision, aside from all of the positive aesthetic values". I agree that it is good to have the visitor reception centre downtown, because it is easily accessible and has other advantages, but I want to see the economics of the project. If the Minister can provide that analysis to me, in writing, that is what I would like to have. I need more than just a few person years and costs in general debate. I would like to see how the department analyzed it and justified it to the Minister and how the government made the decision to go ahead and do it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The figures that were used initially are estimates of the number of people who will be here, based on our 1987 visitor exit survey. I gave the information to the Members on Thursday during debate. When we get to that stage in June or early July, I can show the Member the drawings of what the building will look like; I can provide her with the cost estimates. The O&M estimate of the overall building will be more accurate then. The O&M costs of the Department of Tourism will be somewhat offset by the rent we pay here versus the O&M and the heating costs we pay over there. I can provide all of that when we get to that stage.
We are now at a very preliminary stage; we are just designing the schematics. All the estimates we have now are preliminary, but I will undertake to provide the information that the Member wants probably by June or early July, when we get to that stage, and when we finally have an accepted drawing of the size of the offices and the size of the building we need.
Mrs. Firth: That is exactly my concern. There must have been some figures and some preliminary estimates before the decision was made to go ahead to make this change. There had to be an economic decision to justify the expenditure of money. Surely the Department of Tourism did not just say it would do this and figure out the cost after. I want the substantiation and the analysis that got the Minister into Management Board and Cabinet with this project, where everybody said okay, this was a good economic decision, as well as being good for the tourism industry.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member was a Minister once herself, and she knows how one comes up with preliminary estimates. They are based on a rough price per square foot - the expected need that one has. We have so many people in the Department of Tourism, we need so many square feet, based upon so much per square foot, and that is how one comes up with the figures. We know the O&M - the wages and salaries of the employees. We know the O&M of our building over there. Government Services has a formula that has the estimated O&M of a building that size. Until one gets to the advanced stage, one does not have real concrete figures that are actually fixed. They are ball-park figures, but they are significant estimates that one can work from. We are at this stage; we are just now designing the building. We know how many employees we have; we know how much space we need for the visitor reception centre, for Beringia and for the Historic Resources Centre.
They are all based on those kinds of calculations. I can provide that to the Member, if she wants that kind of stuff. She is nodding her head, yes. I will get her the estimates that we have, and provide them for her.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to have that information. Since we have been talking about the industry, I want to ask the Minister a question about the Tourism Industry Association. I made a suggestion to the Minister to look at having the free tickets that were given to the Tourism Department by Canadian Airlines International go to the Tourism Industry Association, rather than the government accept them, and letting the Tourism Industry Association distribute them. I want to know if the Minister has done anything further about that.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, I have not. The only tickets that we accepted were the ones that I tabled information about, and those were the trips to Australia. We will probably continue to do that in the future for our marketing people. The familiarization trips are always done through government, and will continue to be done through government, as I think they are in every other jurisdiction.
Mrs. Firth: What the Minister is saying is that he is just going to leave it the way it is.
Regarding the Tourism Industry Association - the organization itself - what is the Minister's relationship with that organization these days?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think that it is relatively good. I am speaking at the annual general meeting on Saturday night. I have not had any problems. The department is working well with the Tourism Industry Association. We have joint initiatives with respect to marketing, such as where the association does some of the marketing at trade shows for us, and that kind of thing. That has not changed. I have not seen any problems with it.
Mr. McDonald: I just wanted to just go over a few things that were just mentioned. The Minister mentioned that having the VRC downtown, situated beside the new tourism office space, would make it more cost effective. I recall Thursday last that the Minister indicated that the O&M costs associated with the new visitor reception centre would be roughly equivalent to that which they currently experience on the highway. Is that not the case?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The staff of the VRC are going to move down here. Until we have a design, I have not got a figure for the O&M costs for the heat, light and water of the VRC here compared to the one up the hill, but I can get that for the Member when we get a little closer to that. What I was referring to is the VRC staff, who will move from up the hill to the downtown centre. Those costs will remain constant.
Mr. McDonald: If they remain constant - and we do not yet know what the utility bills are - I am not sure how we can refer to the visitor reception centre being downtown as being more cost effective. Perhaps the Minister could also provide to me the analysis that he has promised to the Member for Riverdale South, as well, because I am quite interested in the numbers behind this project. Can the Minister do that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes.
Mr. McDonald: What is the number of employees who are going to be transferred from the Tourism office to the Tourism business centre?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring that information back, but it would include all the employees in the existing building now, including the arts branch and the mail distribution branch that is located in this building. The arts branch has just moved from the Lynn Building, but it will now be with the regular Tourism branch offices, along with the mail distribution room.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister mentioned the amount of space itself. Is this a larger or smaller space than currently houses existing Tourism personnel?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is larger. What I would encourage the Member to do when we are out of session is to take a walk over to this building and see the kind of quarters the staff are in. They are jammed in the building on the top floor.
Mr. McDonald: I am sure they are jammed in there and I am sure that all government employees deserve respectable office conditions. The only reason I am smiling is that I have heard Ministers in the past, even in the period between 1985 and 1992, make arguments about the need for respectable office accommodation for employees, and hear from the Opposition benches at the time that it was unreasonable and that we should be thinking about the public first and that the need to build, in their terms, Taj Mahals for public servants was an unjustified expenditure of public funds. I am not passing judgment on that particular equation. I just want to know the amount of space the Minister is anticipating will be built for Tourism personnel.
Given that there are more locations now for Tourism personnel than currently exists in their main headquarters on Hawkins Street, what is the square footage difference in space, approximately, between the proposed new accommodations and all the old accommodations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to get back to the Member. Would he want it for the business centre as well as the Historic Resources Centre? If he wants the comparison of space for both, I can bring that back.
Mr. McDonald: Yes, I am sure that all the Members would like that information. Certainly the amount of space in the Historic Resources Centre should be calculated in there, as well. Perhaps the Minister could just give us the office space, old and new, at all sites. That would probably be the most preferable.
Is the Minister comfortable that the department has lived up to the Public Accounts Committee recommendations about construction planning in the development of the Beringia Centre, the Historic Resources Centre and the business centre?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Our plan is to follow the recommendations of the Auditor General when we get to the planning and construction phase of the buildings. Most of those buildings are in the very preliminary stages.
I think it would be unfair for me to just provide figures to the Members on the size of the facilities. I would offer a tour for the Member for Riverdale South and the critics from both parties of our existing facilities with respect to heritage and our existing facilities with respect to the department. I think it is critical for them to see that and then put them in the context of the new office move. When the House session is completed, I will set up a one-hour tour one day. We can probably do both in less than one hour.
Mr. McDonald: I have been through the office space of the Tourism department. I am always appreciative of the chance to wander through it and I do not think I need a guided tour. I will just drop in at some point, but that is not the only alternative that is available to a particular government department - that is, to build brand-new space and house everybody together. That is one alternative, but it is not the only alternative. If there was any skepticism at all by anybody about the government's plans for the Tourism business centre, then that skepticism may be well placed, when one considers that the alternative may be more rented space in order to accommodate overcrowding. This does not necessarily mean that there is a brand new, purpose-built space for the department.
One of the things that I believe the previous Member who spoke meant was that those kinds of options would have been considered in some sort of an analysis prior to making the decision to proceed with the Tourism business centre. If that analysis exists, it would be very helpful in determining whether or not this is the best and most cost-effective option for the legitimate needs of the Department of Tourism. If that analysis does not exist, or did not exist at the time the decision was made, then I would suggest that there is a problem in the decision-making process that was identified by the Public Accounts Committee, in terms of how one comes to a particular conclusion and makes a very significant financial commitment.
I am certain that if there was no analysis, the department would do its absolute best to do as well as it can within the parameters that have been provided by the Cabinet and the Minister. However, that does not necessarily mean that they are dealing with the best option. That is the reason the questions are asked about the availability of options, whether or not other options were considered and why those options were rejected.
I am looking forward to the analysis that the Minister provides, because I think it will be very helpful for all of us to understand why the government chose this direction and not some other one.
Chair: Has general debate on Bill No. 4 cleared?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: 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 has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:25 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 18, 1995:
Infrastructure (Canada/Yukon) agreement: summary of funding commitments and applications (Brewster)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 1340 and 1557
Golden Horn community plan: status (Brewster)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 1558