Tuesday, February 27, 1996 - 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.
Pauline Frost, Native Role Model Award
Mr. Schafer: I would like to make a tribute to the achievements of Pauline Frost of Teslin, formerly of Old Crow, who has been presented the national native role model award.
This is a program that is designed to encourage the health of native communities and involve youth in their own future and to promote a healthy lifestyle based on the tradition of wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth.
The program has been a success for several years, but this is the first time the Governor General has presented the award.
Pauline Frost is one of the nine recipients. We offer our congratulations to Pauline Frost for winning this award.
Ms. Commodore: We on this side of the House would also like to offer our congratulations to Pauline Frost for her achievement. She was presented with the national native role model award on February 23 by the Governor General. It is a well-deserved award for this person. We know her and we have watched her achievements as she has grown.
Certainly, when I was in Old Crow, I heard people mention her often - she had been there just before my visit - and she does come from a long line of individuals who have had many achievements. We on this side of the House offer our congratulations.
Congratulations to Stanley Njootli for completing Quest
Mr. Schafer: I would like to tell Members of the House that there was a Vuntut Gwitchin citizen in the 1996 Yukon Quest. I was very proud to see Stanley Njootli cross the finish line this morning. I feel that Stanley had proudly achieved his goal.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to respond to the mention of Stanley Njootli finishing the Yukon Quest. We on this side of the House like to learn a lot about what happens in the Yukon, so we invite people to come to our Tung Lock lunches on Friday. We had John Firth visit one day to talk to us about the Yukon Quest.
He said what a great pleasure it was to be talking to the party of the haw, and we were not quite sure what he was talking about, but then we realized that "haw" in dog team language is "left" and "gee" is "right". I guess that group across the floor would be the party of the gee.
I was at the finish line today and there was nothing but excitement there. It was a real pleasure for me to be there to watch the excitement. There were many people from Old Crow and Whitehorse. It was almost as if I was in Old Crow again. I would like to offer our congratulations to Stanley for his commitment and determination in finishing the race. I am sure it was a personal win to him.
Someone at the race today said that, when the House breaks, Esau and I should have a dog team race as well. I am sure that in a race such as that the party of the gee would win it. Congratulations to Stanley.
Speaker: Are there any introduction of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have a document for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Utilities Board, resignation of member
Mr. McDonald: The Government Leader will remember that the chair of the Yukon Energy Corporation advised the government a year and a half ago that he believed that local businesspeople should not sit on the Yukon Utilities Board. Since that time, the chair of the Utilities Board has not been reappointed, and we have understood recently that Mr. Laking has been told to resign. Can the Minister tell us if there was any political pressure encouraging Mr. Laking to resign from the Yukon Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, I can tell the Member that when Mr. Laking was accepting the job - or before he was going to accept the job - the Liquor Corporation sought advice and assistance from the Public Service Commission. Based on that advice and its own analysis, the acting president of the Yukon Liquor Corporation decided that if Mr. Laking continued to serve on the Yukon Utilities Board, the conflict of interest would exist or appear to exist with his employment. I would point out that there is a clause in the public service conflict of interest legislation that points to concerns expressed by the Public Service Commission.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister is essentially stating that the political level of government had nothing to do with encouraging Mr. Laking to resign. I presume that it was simply a mere happenstance based on his new position as a public servant.
That raises a number of questions that I will deal with later. The most important issue, however, is the hearings themselves. Given that they are slated to begin in three weeks, and given that the effectiveness of the Utilities Board will be seriously hampered by Mr. Laking's absence, is the government prepared to ensure his continued participation, or to encourage him to continue to participate, on the Yukon Utilities Board for at least as long as it takes to decide the current rate application?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member is asking me to politically interfere and directly contravene a policy set out for the government with respect to conflict of interest. I think it was pointed out to Mr. Laking prior to his accepting the job at the Liquor Corporation that there would be an appearance of a conflict of interest. The whole incident is unfortunate.
Mr. Laking is a very good member of the Yukon Utilities Board. We put money into training him and other individuals on the board, but the timing of the resignation of the manager of the liquor store in Dawson and Mr. Laking being short-listed and actually accepting the job and the hearings taking place now are all coincidental. The government had nothing to do with any of those, but we have to make sure, I believe, when it comes to the Yukon Utilities Board, that there is not even an appearance of a conflict of interest. That is the reason why Mr. Laking was forewarned, and he accepted the job with the Liquor Corporation based on that warning.
I would also point out to the Member that the chair of the Yukon Utilities Board said on the radio this morning that, although Mr. Laking would be missed, he felt comfortable with the hearings going ahead.
Mr. McDonald: I am trusting that the Minister understands the policies of the government. Policies concerning conflict of interest are the responsibility of Ministers and not the responsibility of public servants who carry them out. The Ministers are responsible for the design of the policy.
Certainly, we have heard from the chair of the Yukon Energy Corporation some strange notions about what constitutes a conflict of interest when it comes to sitting on the Yukon Utilities Board.
Given that one of the latest members appointed to the board is a member of the British Columbia Utilities Commission, was that appointment consistent with the recommendation made by Mr. Ernewein in his letter to the Minister respecting conflict of interest when businesspeople sit on the Yukon Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not believe so. I think that the appointment of the outside individual, who I believe is the vice-chair of the British Columbia Public Utilities Board, was based on discussions that were held with all of the proponents in drawing in some outside expertise and advice. That individual was appointed as someone who, on a regular basis, deals with these kinds of issues and could provide expertise and advice to the board. In fact, I believe this individual is doing so and is a very valuable member of the board for providing that kind of expertise and advice.
Question re: Yukon Utilities Board, appointments to
Mr. McDonald: I would submit that Mr. Ernewein could not have said it better himself in his letter of July 1994, as to the reasons why someone from outside of the territory should be appointed to the board, replacing the opportunity for a local person to sit on the board.
One person who was not appointed to the board was the person who was slated to be chair of the Canadian Association for Members of Public Utilities Tribunals, and is the existing chair of the Yukon Utilities Board. Can the Minister tell us why she was not re-appointed, given her obviously exalted position among the utility regulators in the country?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The member's term had expired. Members on boards change from time to time and this was one of those changes. There was a reduction in the number of board members. The incident that happened recently with Mr. Laking is unfortunate. I would have preferred that it did not happen, and that he continue, but the issue is that the chair of the board now feels that the hearings can proceed. They can be fair and seen to be fair by the general public. That is the position.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister did not come even remotely close to answering the question. The Minister indicated that the Cabinet had appointed the vice-chair of the B.C. Utilities Commission in order to ensure that there is expertise on the Yukon Utilities Board, yet the chair of our own Yukon Utilities Board at the time - a person whom it did not re-appoint - was going to be, as I mentioned, the chair of the Canadian Association for Members of Public Utilities Tribunals. She is clearly a person with some expertise and significant reputation in the country when it comes to regulating public utilities.
Can the Minister indicate to us whether or not he or his Cabinet colleagues took the advice of Mr. Ernewein, and did not re-appoint the chair of the Yukon Utilities Board simply because they believed that somehow she was thwarting the interests of the utility that was to be regulated?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can tell the Member that we definitely did not take the advice of Barry Ernewein to remove that individual. The individual's term had expired. There were other individuals on the board whose terms had run out since and were renewed for continuity of the board. I believe that none of this would be an issue today if we had not been running into this little problem of timing, which seems to be an issue. I had nothing to do with the timing of the resignation of the manager of the liquor store, the timing of the resignation and the posting of the job, the timing of the plan to call for the public rate hearings and when they would be called. I had nothing to do with any of those factors. They are all happening coincidentally at the same time.
There is a conflict-of-interest concern. The Member opposite was asking me earlier to bend the rules, but I would be very nervous about bending the rules because if we had bent the rules and just allowed Mr. Laking to continue and the Utilities Consumers Group or other groups felt that was not fair, we would be accused of violating our own conflict-of-interest regulations. One has to have policies and a set of rules for guidance. In this particular case it was felt that if Mr. Laking were allowed to continue to serve on the board while at the same time being employed by the Government of Yukon, the perception could be that the government, as an employer, might exude undue influence on his decision making as an employee. I might point out to the Member that if we were to appoint a new member to that board tomorrow who was a senior bureaucrat, we would be criticized by the side opposite for doing that.
Mr. Laking was appointed -
Speaker: Order. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker. He was appointed as a member of the public. He is now an employee of the government, which would create a problem and a perception of a bias if he continued on the board, and that was pointed out to him.
Speaker: Order. Would the Members please try to keep their answers a little shorter?
Mr. McDonald: If there is any timing problem, it is certainly serving the interest of the utilities. I would also point out that there is a substantial difference between a senior civil servant of this government being appointed to the Yukon Utilities Board and the perception of conflict of interest and a liquor store manager in Dawson City playing the same role.
Given that all of the intervenors have asked, in a letter to the Minister and to the Minister responsible for the Liquor Corporation, that Mr. Laking be allowed to continue for at least the period of this rate application, is the Minister saying that he is going to ignore this advice and allow the proceedings to continue with only one experienced board member sitting in review of the utilities' rate application?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The letter the Member talks about is the letter that was delivered to my door, I believe, the night before last. The letter is unsigned; it is not signed by anyone.
I was trying to determine in the last day or two who actually signed the letter. There was also a copy delivered to my door for Mr. Brewster and it was unsigned as well. It was the same letter and both were unsigned. I asked the department to find out who had written the letter. I believe, as the chair of the Utilities Board believes, that there was not a problem and that the hearings could still go ahead.
The Member is asking me to violate our own employee conflict-of-interest guidelines, that Members opposite asked for, to ignore a single case because one group wants it that way. I believe it is bad to form policy based on a single-case issue.
Speaker: Order. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It has to be remembered, in this particular case, that Mr. Laking was aware of a potential conflict. Mr. Laking made the decision to accept the position and he made the decision to resign from the position due to a perception of a conflict of interest.
Question re: Yukon Utilities Board, appointments to
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the same Minister on the same subject. The Public Utilities Act sets out a specific conflict-of-interest clause. Is it the Minister's position that the general conflict guidelines should take precedence over the specific conflict-of-interest provisions in the act dealing with members of the board?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I wish I had the briefing note with me that contained that particular clause. I am referring to clause 39, which clearly defines a conflict. I will get a copy of that clause for Members' information.
In this case, it is the clause under which the Public Service Commission advised the Yukon Liquor Corporation that it could be considered a conflict if Mr. Laking accepted the position with the corporation. Mr. Laking was advised of that potential conflict and it was his decision to apply for the job and then accept the job, based on the fact that he would have a conflict if he accepted the job.
Mr. Cable: There is a specific clause in the enabling legislation that deals with the specific issue of conflict of interest. It looks like Mr. Laking is clean on that clause. What the Minister is saying is that public servants are making their own decisions about the rules of conflict of interest.
Is it the Minister's and this government's position that no public servant can sit on the Yukon Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In this particular case, Mr. Laking was appointed to the board as a member of the public. It is the position that government employees should not be members of a board such as this.
If we came in here tomorrow and announced that a senior management employee of the Government of the Yukon had been appointed to the Yukon Utilities Board, we would be criticized by the side opposite.
The conflict-of-interest policy 3.39 states at 2.12, "No conflict should exist or appear to exist between the private interests of public servants and their official duties. Upon appointment to office, public servants are expected to arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent a conflict of interest from arising." I think that in this case there could be a perceived conflict of interest that there may be undue influence put on the government employee sitting on a board and making decisions such as those that have to be made on the Yukon Utilities Board.
Mr. Cable: I think that it would be useful to get from the Minister at some juncture an outline of the exact conflict rather than the generalities.
Let me ask the following question. Several years ago - I think probably when the government's predecessors were in office - there was a fairly well-known public servant sitting on the Yukon Utilities Board. I do not remember this government's predecessors raising a stink. What has happened in the interval to change this government's position?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Maybe I can put it in simpler terms for the Member. If Mr. Laking were allowed to continue - and I would have preferred that because of his experience - and the board made a decision that the Consumers Group or any of the proponents did not like, there could be an accusation made that the government put undo influence on one of it employees to sway them to make a decision that affected one or the other. We would like to have on the Yukon Utilities Board a group of individuals who can make decisions fairly - and make decisions that seem to be fair - so that any decisions that come out of the board are not subject to criticism. If we were to start appointing government workers to the Yukon Utilities Board, we would be accused of stacking the board. In this particular case, it is unfortunate that the timing happened like that. We had nothing to do with the timing.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, public disclosure of letter
Mr. Sloan: I have a couple of questions that I will try to keep brief in deference to my friend from Riverdale South.
I have a couple of questions directed to the Government Leader. With regard to the RCMP inquiry into leaked documents, on Friday in the Yukon News, the RCMP spokesman said that there were no criminal charges pending. This report was repeated again in the Whitehorse Star yesterday. An earlier article said that the results of the inquiry had been inconclusive. It further said that a report from the RCMP on this whole issue was pending and would be forwarded to the Deputy Minister of Justice.
In view of this, can the Government Leader tell us if the RCMP report will be submitted to this House?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will have to take that under advisement. I do not know if it was submitted to the House. I have not seen a copy of the report yet.
On the one hand, they want us to politically interfere and, on the other, they do not. Yesterday, they beat up the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board for perceived political interference.
Where is the Opposition coming from?
Mr. Sloan: I realize that the Government Leader has yet to see this, but what I am asking for is fairly fundamental. Since there are no criminal charges pending and, presumably, according to the newspaper reports, it deals primarily with security, would he have any difficulty with forwarding the report to the House or, at the very least, some kind of summary of the findings to the House?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I said to the Member that I would take that under advisement and I would look at it. The report does deal with security matters. I do not know if that is information that needs to be kept confidential. I will take the question under advisement and get back to the Member.
Mr. Sloan: Along the same lines, I just have a question further to some of these investigations. Can the Government Leader confirm whether or not there have been in the past or if there are presently any further investigations being undertaken by the RCMP for the government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: None of which I am aware.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, public disclosure of letter
Mr. Sloan: I have a question regarding a further document - the letter of Mr. Byers, September 13, 1994, to the Government Leader. By the sounds of it, this government is awash in letters, purloined or whatever. On February 19, the Government Leader said he was not aware of this letter and had not discussed it with his colleagues. However, there had been two reports in the media - one on October 31, 1994, in the Whitehorse Star and again on February 16, 1995. In view of this particular contradiction, can the Government Leader confirm whether or not Mr. Byers' letter was part of the original investigation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have not seen the report on the investigation yet, so I do not know whether or not the Byers letter was part of the investigation that was already in progress. It could well have been, because it was related to the same issue. It was really an investigation, as was reported in the press, to find out how the document became public in the first place.
Mr. Sloan: Is the Government Leader saying then that, given the fairly sensitive nature of Mr. Byers' letter, he does not think it would be part of the investigation, or is he unaware of it?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I did not say that it would not be part of the investigation. I said I was unaware if it was.
Mr. Sloan: There appears to be a bit of a contradiction between the two letters, and I am just trying to find out what makes one document a privileged document and the other not. Can the Government Leader tell us if there would be an apparent contradiction in his mind between the letter that Mr. Byers sent and the letter that Mr. Ernewein sent?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I understand it, they are both confidential documents. What I did say is that there was already an investigation in progress. It is quite possible that the Byers' memo was looked at in the same context during that investigation.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation, employee dispute
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Policy 1.4, entitled "Speaking in public and writing for publication," indicates that there is a clearance procedure for public servants to have media events. This really means that the president of the corporation had to get permission from his Minister and then he had to give permission to his staff to have the media interview, which was clearly in the interests of the president of the Yukon Housing Corporation.
I would like to ask the Minister if he had his president seek approval and did the Minister give approval for the media event his corporation had?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure what media event the Member for Riverdale South is referring to. If it was the employees going to the media in support of their president, then the answer is no. I had nothing to do with that whatsoever. I do not believe that the president had anything to do with it either. The employees were on their own.
Mrs. Firth: I am referring to the "we love our president" letter. The employees broke the policy of our government. There was no authority sought.
I would like to direct my supplementary question to the Government Leader, as this is the fellow who got so excited about the letter that he became irrational, held a press conference in my honour and tabled it in the House.
My concern is for the employee who has a grievance against the president of the Housing Corporation for abuse of authority, harassment and threatening behaviour. This letter specifically states that the president has never done this. It was a letter that was endorsed and supported by the Government Leader.
I would like to ask the Government Leader how he is going to assure this employee that the employee will get a fair hearing in this matter?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is quite ironic that the Member would ask a question about a media event when she is usually the cause of a media event, as she was in this instance.
It is not my place or any other Member's place in this House to comment on a grievance that is in the process of being heard.
Mrs. Firth: It was the Government Leader who tabled the letter. He should have known better. This is disgusting. The Public Service Commission hears the grievance, but cannot take any action. The Government Leader has already given direction to the Public Service Commissioner what his position is and who he supports. He supports the president of the Housing Corporation. He loves him too.
The Public Service Commissioner cannot take any action to terminate or to discipline this individual; the Government Leader must. He has already given us his position. He loves the president of the Housing Corporation. How is this person going to get a fair hearing from this government with respect to this grievance? How is this person going to get a fair hearing?
I see the Minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation wanting to jump up because it is his constituent and he cannot even represent her.
Speaker: Order. I believe the Member asked the question.
Mrs. Firth: I did ask the question and I am waiting to get the answer.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I would like to answer the question because of the last statement indicating that I cannot even help her, as the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. I have attempted to help her, despite the fact that I am the Minister responsible for the Housing Corporation.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Member for Riverdale South said, "Baloney". It is not baloney at all. I met with my constituent and the Member for Riverdale South and encouraged her to provide the Member with information to assist her.
Speaker: Order. Please allow the Minister to answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Member for Riverdale South said that she filed a grievance and the Government Leader just nuked it. That is not true at all. What happened is that the Member nuked it, if anyone did. The letter is in response to that Member attacking the Yukon Housing Corporation in this House. That Member wanted media attention and brought up the topic.
There is a procedure in place for grievances. It was filed and was being handled by the Public Service Commission. The Member for Riverdale South felt that she needed the publicity. She came into the House, brought up the subject and provoked the Housing Corporation employees to come to the defence of their president because they all felt under attack by the Member for Riverdale South. That was a terrible disservice to my constituent.
Speaker: The time for Question Period had now elapsed.
Notice of Opposition Private Members' Business
Ms. Moorcroft: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the motions standing in the names of the Official Opposition to be called on Wednesday, February 28: Motion No. 96, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse West, and Motion No. 54, standing in the name of the Member for McIntyre-Takhini.
Mr. Cable: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the item standing in my name to be called on Wednesday, February 28: Motion No. 60.
Speaker: We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that 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. We will now take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with discussion of Bill No. 9, Third Appropriation Act, 1995-96. Is there any further general debate?
Bill No. 9 - Third Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Mr. McDonald: I believe there is an outstanding question to the Government Leader about the revenues from the federal government. Has the department had a chance to calculate the revenues for mines that are operating in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is my understanding that we should be receiving those calculations shortly. The department has been working on it.
Mr. McDonald: I do not have questions that I cannot raise more appropriately in the main estimates debate, so I will reserve many of my questions for that time. I will also reserve some questions with respect to the Department of Finance, in particular questions with respect to banking services.
We can go into line by line.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on Bill No. 9?
We will proceed with line-by-line debate.
Yukon Legislative Assembly
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Legislative Services
Legislative Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $56,000 agreed to
On Legislative Assembly Office
Legislative Assembly Office in the amount of an underexpenditure of $5,000 agreed to
Elections in the amount of $54,000 agreed to
On Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits
Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits in the amount of an underexpenditure of $4,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of an underexpenditure of $11,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Legislative Assembly Office
On Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Yukon Legislative Assembly agreed to
Executive Council Office
Mr. McDonald: I wonder if the Minister might have something to say, given that he is asking for half a million dollars.
I have some policy questions that I would like to ask the Minister. I will start with the subject of land claims.
The Minister knows that there is a deadline for completing the band final agreements, which is February 1997. He knows that there are a number of ancillary agreements that need to be struck by that date, as identified in the umbrella final agreement.
Can the Minister tell us whether or not they have a realistic support plan established to give us comfort that indeed they will achieve the objectives of the UFA - that the remaining work will be done prior to February 1997?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that there is a commitment by all three parties to work very aggressively toward finalizing agreements by February 1997. I do not want to make light of the challenge we are facing, but I believe that if all three parties focus on it there is a good possibility that we will meet our February 1997 deadline.
My understanding is that workplans are being worked out with different bands at this point. Some bands are very close to completing their negotiations. One in particular is the Ta'an negotiations, which really only require another day or two of negotiations to finalize the few remaining outstanding issues that can be dealt with at the negotiating table.
The reality of it is - putting all of the political rhetoric side about who is to blame for what and who is not to blame for what - that numerous issues are being dealt with by First Nations, the federal government and ourselves in trying to reach a conclusion to the agreements. Some of the announcements by the federal government have caused First Nations to sit back and take another look at how the announcements fit in. I am talking about announcements such as inherent rights, extinguishment and aboriginal rights. Some First Nations are still upset about the taxation that is addressed in the umbrella final agreement. So, there are many complex issues that have to be resolved.
We are trying to work out realistic work plans with each of the bands that are at the table now. Over the last few weeks, I have had meetings with some of those bands, as well as with the chief and vice-chief of the Council for Yukon First Nations, to see what we could do to facilitate the progress at the land claims table and to see that we meet the February 1997 deadline. We will continue to do everything within our power to see that we meet that deadline.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to ask the Minister a question as to whether or not he regards this deadline as being realistic. I am in favour of working toward deadlines and of encouraging people to do the same. Given that the schedule for negotiations, starting in 1993 for the remaining band final agreements, was to have them concluded by 1997, which was already an ambitious agenda, and given that some First Nations are clearly and considerably far from concluding their settlements, what is it that the government is doing that would lend comfort to the notion that this deadline can be reached satisfactorily? Is there something happening that is new? Is there something that the government is doing, or is encouraging to be done that would encourage us to reasonably believe that this target can be reached?
Obviously, there are penalties for First Nations should we breach the 1997 deadline. Has the government given consideration to what might happen then in the event that there is not an agreement; or is it going to be an all-or-nothing up to February 1997, and then we pick up the pieces afterward if we do not make the deadline? Has the government done contingency planning on this, or has it done anything new to allow us to feel comfortable that we are actually going to do, in the next year, what we have to do?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are trying many things, but the Member opposite seems to be of the opinion that we are the only player at the table. That simply is not the case. There are many issues that have to be dealt with. I could point out one that we have absolutely nothing to do with, and that is the separation of the Ta'an Dun First Nation from Kwanlin Dun. The federal government has not done this yet, and I am not certain that those agreements can be finalized until the separation is completed.
What this government is pushing for and what I am encouraging First Nations to do is to work to a deadline. Let us keep the negotiators' feet to the fire. I do not think that we can continue to work without realistic deadlines to resolve the claims. Deadlines worked historically, and we need only look at the umbrella final agreement and the model self-government agreements where, I believe, imposed deadlines played a major role in getting the agreements signed.
This government is working to develop realistic work plans and realistic dates for completion with each of the First Nations. The Member opposite is absolutely right: some of the First Nations are much further advanced in their negotiations than others. The Kaskas are not even at the table yet. There are differences among the First Nations, such as the Kaska, Ross River and the Kwanlin Dun, which are not participating as full participants with the Council of Yukon First Nations when it comes to land claims negotiations. These First Nations are dealing with their agreements on their own.
There are some great difficulties to overcome. It is a tremendous challenge, but the only thing that I can say is that we have made the commitment publicly. I am meeting with First Nations, and our negotiators are meeting with First Nations and the federal government. I have talked to the Minister about this to try to move this process ahead and remove the road blocks that are remaining to get on with the job.
As the Member said, there are some financial penalties that the First Nations will incur in February 1997.
Has this government developed a contingency plan beyond that time? No, I do not believe it has been discussed by any of the parties at this point.
Mr. McDonald: I want to assure the Minister that I do not assume that he is the only player at the table at all, but he is the player with whom I deal, and that is why I ask the questions. The major concern here is that, given that the Minister has quite adequately indicated how far we have to travel down this path and how much has to be accomplished in order to meet the deadline, I suggest that, in working toward the deadline, we may be in a situation where the bad feelings that may arise from not achieving the deadlines, and the lack of any contingency plans may, in fact, cause some considerable bad feeling at the table and make it a very unproductive place.
I guess we cannot possibly know whether or not the government can reach the deadline until it has been reached. This is probably implicit from my questions, but I do believe that the strategy and the deadlines the government has right now are completely unrealistic. I do not think that we have much of an alternative other than to wait this out.
The Minister has indicated that he believes that a change in the length of the negotiating process would be helpful. He has talked about opening up the process or making it more public in some way. I wonder if he could give us an update on that. I am sure he has been meeting with Mr. Allen at the CYFN. Could he give us an update on how he is proceeding with this particular suggestion and whether or not he has convinced First Nations at all to embrace this notion.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As the Member knows, I have written to both the Minister and the First Nations that are still to come to the table and have made those suggestions. This is not something I am waiting to happen before we get on with the process of settling land claims; it is something that I believe will develop on its own. We did not talk about changing the process at all; we just talked about making it more transparent.
We will continue with this. If the First Nations feel they do not want to open the process up any more, then we will work the way we are going now. It was a suggestion I made in the interest of trying to facilitate a resolution to the claims and to let the public know basically all of the major challenges that are being faced at the land claims table, along with implementation and these other issues that arise. When I mention such things as new policies by the federal government, it is not a simple process of just dealing with the 10 claims under the umbrella final agreement. All the other statements and policies made by the federal government, as well as implementation of the four claims that are already finished, impact on the human resources that are available among all three parties. There are just a huge number of complex issues that have to be dealt with, and I believe that if the public were more familiar with them, it would be in the best interests of reaching a settlement that is supported by a lot more Yukoners.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister has talked about a number of things. He indicates that it would be helpful for presumably the acceptability of the claim itself if the public understood the complexity and presumably understood the challenges the Minister faces if they had those complexities explained. I am not certain whether or not the Government Leader is indicating that it would speed up the process. I think there was some suggestion that somehow this would better facilitate the deadlines being met, but if that is the argument the Minister is making I would like him to make it now, because I am not clear as to precisely the reasons for this initiative.
In the past when I was in government, our Government Leader undertook personally to explain the complexity of the agreements to many different organizations and bodies and, as well, indicated, at least to us, that it was always desirable to have all three parties participate in public information sessions so that if there was any concern by the public about what was happening at the land claims table, if they were not aware of some of the policy matters being debated, those public information meetings could take place.
Can I ask the Minister if he is going to be sponsoring - or is even going to be encouraging the sponsoring - of meetings by land claims negotiators with the public to explain the process? Will he personally travel around the territory to hold public information sessions to meet the concern that he has identified among the general public that the public does not know enough about the claim?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I wonder if I might take just a brief moment of the Members' time to introduce a guest who has come into the House. I would like to bring to everyone's attention, Dick Bergman the deputy commissioner of the RCMP. Mr. Bergman is in the Yukon having discussions with us about the changes to the RCMP. I would like all Members to welcome Mr. Bergman to this House.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I hear the Member opposite's comments and concerns. I do want to point out that in implementation funding the Council for First Nations was given $400,000 for public information sessions on the land claims process. I understand that they are working on a plan where they would be holding ongoing public meetings to familiarize Yukoners with this plan. We will be participating in that program with them.
When I met with Mr. Allen the other day, he said they are in the final stages of developing that plan. They were given $400,000 for the specific purpose of making all Yukoners more familiar with the land claims process and the implementation process.
Mr. McDonald: There is a lot that is going on. As I understand from the Minister's comments in the media, there is a lot that seems to be going on that the public should be made aware of. I am aware that the public's appetite to know more is almost insatiable, and quite justifiably so. Obviously, they want to know what is happening if there are some significant decisions being taken.
The CYFN will certainly have the responsibility for informing its own members about what is in the claim. Is the Minister indicating that the money that has been allocated here is the CYFN's own contribution toward explaining the claim? Is it explaining the implementation process? Is it explaining implementation plans? Is it explaining the negotiations for the 10 band final agreements? What, precisely, is it for?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I found the briefing note, and basically what it says is that Canada has provided the Council for First Nations with $400,000 to implement a general information strategy to enhance community and public awareness of the umbrella final agreement and the umbrella final agreement implementation plan. The Council for First Nations leadership has the final authority for the disbursement of these funds.
Communications activities are to be coordinated among the parties to avoid duplication. Parties are to meet annually, at least, to discuss communication activities. Best efforts are made to share advance drafts of public awareness materials.
Annex C of the UFA implementation plan identifies the activities that the Council for Yukon First Nations will be focusing on, including the land claims briefing book, video aids, advertising and promotion through television and radio spots, central newspaper, communication facilitator workshops. To date, the Council for Yukon First Nations has produced a series of 11 video spots of one minute each to be aired in the near future as public information announcements. The briefing book is in progress and is expected to be completed this spring. Any information products intended to be the products of the parties will be approved by all parties.
Mr. McDonald: I understand that. I think that it is a good initiative. I wish everyone well in explaining the UFA and the UFA implementation plan. I was under the impression from comments made by the Minister in the media that there was concern about what was happening at the negotiation table now, particularly with respect to the final agreements of the 10 bands.
What is the plan with respect to engaging in some kind of a public information campaign to explain what is happening in the band final negotiations? Obviously there are some big issues there. What is the Yukon government's responsibility?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We continue to meet with public interest groups, including the Association of Yukon Communities, the chambers of commerce, or any other groups wishing to have a land claims briefing. We continue to do that.
The Member opposite has to appreciate that those briefings are very general in nature. We cannot get into details of what we see as roadblocks at the claims, except in very general terms. We felt that the comments that I made in the press go right back to the process used by the Na-Cho Ny'ak Dun Band in Mayo, which worked very successfully. I understand that the same process is being used, to a certain extent, in the Pelly negotiations in which people are invited to sit in and listen to what is happening at the negotiating table. They are not being invited to participate, but rather to observe if they so wish.
Mr. McDonald: As I understand it - correct me if I am wrong, as I do not want to be travelling down the wrong path - the Minister has indicated that the public has an interest in, wants to know more about, and has a right to know the details of the negotiations. This has been handled in the past through public information sessions in communities. I know that, because I have attended some. I even know of some that were chaired by the Minister responsible for land claims at the time. I know that these things have happened in response to a need to allow the public to get more detailed information about anything that may be of interest to them and to bring them up to date about precisely what is happening.
Certainly meetings with interest groups that have a specific interest in certain elements of a particular claim is a good first step but, in order to meet the concern that the Minister has expressed, is it not possible for the government to engage in discussions with the other parties of the negotiations and perhaps undertake information campaigns to meet the need - perhaps even the Minister himself should get involved - to ensure that he can explain what is happening at the table. That way, the public will get better insight into exactly what is happening. Are those options not possible?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Any options are possible. The problem is that when the government leader of the day embarked on a public campaign, as we did when the umbrella final agreement was signed - I attended some of the meetings - we found that they were very poorly attended. The information was of a very general nature and most people were familiar with it. Nothing new came out at those meetings.
Public information meetings with all three participants involved may be useful. Again, we would be stretching the resources we are using to try to negotiate the land claims, as we need the negotiators to be involved in the briefings in order to provide the technical information that the people are interested in.
Mr. McDonald: I, too, attended a couple of meetings. The meetings that I attended did not have a huge turn-out, but I think there were about 40 to 45 people. People were able to ask questions that were of interest to them and they were made aware of what was happening at the negotiating table at that time.
I think the government's objective to ensure that the public is made aware of what is happening could be achieved in many different ways. If there is the public interest to know more about the specifics of the negotiations, beyond the request for knowledge that has been expressed by interest groups, what is the problem with having information sessions, perhaps led by the Government Leader, to point out the importance of what is happening at the table and to identify the issues being negotiated? The complexities that have to be dealt with could also be identified, so that the Government Leader can at least indicate, on behalf of all parties to the negotiations, that there are some significant challenges that people should be aware of.
I was under the impression that, because we had a need to become active and get out in the public to talk about the land claims process, that there might be an appetite to make getting involved a higher political priority and to ensure that people are made well aware of what is happening.
Is the Minister prepared to consider personally participating in some public information sessions that might help explain current challenges at the negotiating table, in particular, the band final negotiations so that people can be made aware of what issues have to be faced before February of 1997?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Most certainly I would be, but it would be far more useful if we had all three parties holding the meetings, rather than one of three. I think it would be far more useful to the general public.
Mr. McDonald: I agree with the Minister and the next question ought to be, then, to ask whether or not the Minister is prepared to suggest to the other two parties that such information sessions be held in the relevant communities so that the general public is made aware of what is happening at the negotiating table - information sessions that would be sponsored by the three parties - particularly with respect to the difficult policy issues about which the government is expressing concerns.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Certainly I will, and that will be part of the information strategy that is being developed. It is not limited, it says, to explain the umbrella final agreement. The umbrella final agreement automatically leads into the explanation of band final agreements because they are all based on the umbrella final agreement, so most certainly I am prepared to discuss it with the other two parties at the table and see if we cannot do something to satisfy that appetite and get more information out to the public. We need only to look at what has happened with the Nisga'a claim in British Columbia, where they have now reached an agreement in principle. Governments are saying that that does not necessarily mean it will look the same two years from now after public consultation.
It is important that we have the public fully aware of what is happening at the land claims table and give them as much information as we can about what the final product will look like.
Mr. McDonald: I have no idea what is happening at the negotiating table; people do not give me general updates, or even specific updates, as to what is happening, but if there is any danger at all that the public may not accept what is happening at the negotiating table with respect to the 10 band final agreements, then surely the government ought to be becoming very supportive of public information sessions. I would argue that the Government Leader ought to get personally involved to ensure the public acceptability of what is being discussed. This is a high priority with everybody in this territory and the idea that something might happen that the government itself might not be in a position to defend a year from now simply should not be allowed to occur, and it is up to the government now - and particularly the Minister responsible for land claims - to take a personal interest in ensuring that the public is made aware.
So I would ask him to do that. Perhaps I will let the Minister think about it a little bit between now and the main estimates debate, and I will raise it again there.
One other issue, of course, is the subject of the development assessment process. I understand from officials that the details of the development assessment process are being led by the Land Claims Secretariat, with a technical working group inside government. Can the Minister give us an update about what precisely the government is doing to see to it that the development assessment process is negotiated and meets the public expectations as outlined in the umbrella final agreement?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Again, the development assessment process is a tripartite process, as is the land claims. We are committed to a process that will facilitate development by being certain, open, thorough and efficient in decision making, and reflect the provisions of the umbrella final agreement. We are working to try and have a one-window approach when we are finished, rather than another layer of hearings. We are working with Canada and the Council for Yukon First Nations and we are all doing what we can to expedite progress on what will be federal legislation for tabling in Parliament no later than February 1997.
The Yukon government is committed to a public consultation on key design issues that are not addressed in the umbrella final agreement and on the drafting of the legislation itself. As far as Yukon interests go, we expect to beat the February 1997 deadline. Complete federal legislation and consequential amendments, as well as key regulations will be the result, so that implementation proceeds promptly after passage by Parliament, giving effect to umbrella final agreement provisions and addressing the interests outlined in the discussion paper provided to the other parties, ensuring that the Yukon public and key interest groups have input into the design of the process in the legislation.
We are committed to full public consultation, with all three parties working jointly to provide key stakeholders, interest groups, boards and committees with information on the umbrella final agreement provisions respecting development assessment process and the overall plan for completing the legislation with meetings and contacts, having commenced in January, which will be completed by mid-March.
The Yukon and federal governments will also organize workshops on some of the key design issues for legislation this spring. It is expected that the federal legislation will be released for public comment in a draft form, probably in late summer or early fall of this year.
Work was only reactivated in September when the Council for Yukon First Nations assigned representatives to this project.
A working format for the instructions that will ultimately be used by legislative drafters has been developed and background work is underway on a variety of issues that need attention early on - for example, definition of a project, confirmation of basic parameters of screening and review processes.
The Yukon participation is led by the Land Claims Secretariat with the support of interdepartmental working groups including Economic Development, Renewable Resources, Community and Transportation Services, Health and Social Services and some technical and legal advisors.
The Council for Yukon First Nations represents the interests of Yukon First Nations, and DIAND is the lead department for Canada.
Mr. McDonald: Is the process the Minister has just identified to develop the development assessment process fully acceptable to the other parties to the negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is my understanding that it is acceptable. So far, I have not heard anything negative about the process.
Mr. McDonald: The development assessment process, as the Minister quite rightly identifies it, is meant to be a one-window approach. This approach suggests that there should not only be a good single, comprehensive regulatory process developed, but that all other regulatory processes and bureaucracy, so to speak, have to be eliminated. What is the plan in respect to organizations such as the Yukon Water Board, Federal/Territory Land Advisory Committee, the Lands Application Review Commission, and sundry approval regulatory processes that currently exist in government that might duplicate what is being anticipated in the development of the development assessment process?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that that is the challenge the committee is grappling with. How do we draw all of the processes into one, without eliminating them, so that we do not end with situations like the provinces have right now. For example, a mine goes through the environmental review process of the British Columbia government, obtains its permits and then has to go through a federal process that goes on for many months. Basically, this is a duplication of the same work that was carried out at the provincial level.
The challenge that we are faced with here is how to find a way to carry out the regional Environmental Review Committee screening, how do we do the water licencing and land use permitting work that needs to be done all in one process to avoid a duplication of services? That is what the working group and the three main principals involved are working on now in order to put a package together to take to the public for consultation to find out if it is acceptable to the public.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated that the objective was not to eliminate the existing processes, but to incorporate them all into one big process. Is that the objective - to ensure that organizations such as the Water Board, Federal/Territorial Land Advisory Committee and others still exist but are somehow coordinated better under the development assessment process?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am sort of on my own here. I do not have my chief land claims negotiator here. If the Member wants to continue discussing First Nations issues, I would appreciate it if I could bring in the chief land claims negotiator to give me assistance in this, because he has all of the technical information that I do not have at this point. We are, however, working to try to have one process.
Mr. McDonald: I will raise the matters again in main estimates, and if the Minister can bring in whatever expertise he needs, I would appreciate it. The reason why I am talking about these issues is because they are clearly policy matters. I did not feel comfortable raising them before officials or making them feel uncomfortable.
Perhaps when he has the land claims negotiator here - or if he knows now - he could also tell us what the government's position is on the inherent right to self-government and on the extinguishment of aboriginal rights on settlement lands.
I also have a short question - because I am not interested in great detail - about the taxation measure. Can the Minister answer those questions now, or would he prefer to wait until he has his land claims negotiator with him?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would prefer to wait to give him the detailed information, but I can tell the Member opposite that we are committed to working under the auspices of the umbrella final agreement. Anything that has to be negotiated outside the final agreement has to be done by three parties - the First Nations people, the Minister of DIAND and myself. Those issues cannot be dealt with at the negotiating table. These are some of the issues that I believe have been impacting on the progress we have been making in land claim negotiations. Quite clearly, the land claims table is not the proper forum in which to deal with those issues, because they will require amendments to the umbrella final agreement as well as to the self-government agreements.
Mr. McDonald: I am aware of that, particularly with respect to the three matters that I just mentioned. However, I am interested in what the government's position is on those three matters. If the Government Leader can tell us the position on the inherent right to self-government, I would appreciate it. I guess it could be a pretty simple answer to the question of whether or not you believe that First Nations have the inherent right to self-government. However, if the Government Leader would prefer to wait until later, I am not going to unduly press him. I will be asking the question later on.
I want to change the subject a little, and if anyone else wants to jump in on this, they can.
I want to talk a little about the service improvement program. I understand from officials that it still exists; it still does audits. It did have a committee, which was designed to draw information and suggestions from the public service to the attention of deputy ministers. I understand that committee is defunct and is being replaced by the Deputy Ministers Policy Review Committee. Can the Minister tell us what has happened with the emphasis that the government places on this particular program and if it is still the major initiative that it once was?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe we reported to the last Legislature that we had disbanded that committee. The decision to incorporate the role of the Good Government Committee, within the mandate of the Deputy Ministers Review Committee, the DMRC, was basically a logical evolution to the government's efforts to address public sector reform and enhance service to the public it serves. Because, even with the suggestions from the committee, it still had to go to the DMRC to have them implemented. We felt that it would streamline the process somewhat. The process is ongoing. The Good Government Committee achieved its role in promoting discussions about ideas and promoting proposals to improve government operations and services. The service improvement program, which the committee was instrumental in developing and implementing, continues to be managed by the Bureau of Management Improvement, but under the general direction of the DMRC. This enhances the overall focus of service improvement by combining the suggestion program with ongoing departmental efforts for improving programs and service delivery.
Incorporating the service improvement program under DMRC, as I have said, is the logical evolution in the government's efforts to address public sector reform and enhance service to the public it serves by strengthening its role through DMRC. The Bureau of Management Improvement continues to coordinate the service improvement program under the general direction of DMRC. Suggestions and ideas for improving service to the public and improving government operations identified by either members or the public employees can be submitted to the bureau.
The changes were made, as I said, one year ago, and communicated to members of the committee. I could be wrong, but I thought they were communicated to the Legislature at that time also.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister spoke of the committee having achieved its role - and I use the past tense. Suggestions were made at a particular time, but after which the suggestions were being acted upon, the committee no longer really had a role to play. As he termed it, it was a logical evolution to simply turn over the responsibilities to the Deputy Ministers Review Committee.
I was under the impression from the outset that this was supposed to be a bottom-up exercise. Certainly, the people who are on the committee indicated to us that the one thing that was innovative was that the committee was actually taking hints or advice from employees, lower rank employees, people who actually delivered services, and that these people's advice would be seriously considered by the people who had power to actually implement the decisions, namely the deputy ministers, at some point.
Does it not defeat the purpose somewhat of that bottom-up approach to wind up the employee committee and simply have the whole matter discussed at Deputy Ministers Review Committee?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe so. The ideas and suggestions are still coming from the bottom up, but they are going directly to the DMRC to be reviewed and implemented if they merit implementation. I believe there are still suggestions coming in to the committee and that they are being thoroughly analyzed to see if they merit implementation.
Mr. McDonald: I still do not understand what the role of the original committee was, in that case. I thought that the original committee was supposed to represent the interests of all employees and that they were supposed to be out there beating bushes for ideas. Now it appears that there is no need, and perhaps there never was any need, for the committee in the first place. I do not understand what it means to say that this process is logically evolving.
To put the matter in the hands of the Deputy Ministers Review Committee - a committee that obviously has to implement suggestions but a committee that one would think would not be familiar with the details of departmental operations so consequently would not be the committee that would generate ideas - seems somewhat problematic.
Did the original committee have a specific role or function that the government found useful? I was under the impression that people on the committee enjoyed being on the committee.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is right; I believe they did. I will get the actual terms of reference for the committee for the Member.
My understanding was that it was to review the ideas that were coming from the bottom up. It would review the ideas and pass along those that they felt had merit to the deputies for implementation.
As I said, at the start there was a flood of ideas. They have tapered off somewhat now. Those ideas are going right up to the DMRC, where they are being reviewed. The ones with merit are being acted upon.
I will bring back the complete terms of reference for the committee.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicates that the committee was accepting ideas and making recommendations. Now it no longer appears to do that. I do not understand why not. If there are compelling reasons why it should not be there now, there are probably equally compelling reasons why it should never have been there in the first place.
Can the Minister give us some information about what precisely is happening in terms of committee recommendations, the number of ideas that are being put forward and those that are being acted upon? I am asking for some general statistical information that will give us a sense of what has happened in the last few years and what is happening now.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, we will bring that information back.
Mr. McDonald: I would be particularly interested in some of the ideas themselves. We are always interested in hearing good ideas about how government can be made more efficient. If there are such ideas, I think that the people involved should be congratulated. If the Minister would undertake to give us the ideas that have been considered and accepted by the DMRC, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, I will.
Mr. Cable: I have a couple of questions to follow the Leader of the Official Opposition's questions on land claims.
The Aboriginal Council recently gave a report on the conduct of justice in First Nations communities, and made some recommendations relating to the criminal law. Has the Minister had a chance to review those recommendations and, if not, when is he expected to do that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I only know what I have heard on the news so far. I have not had time to review the recommendations. I am not even sure that we have a copy of them yet; however, we will be getting a copy of them and will review them.
Mr. Cable: It will be useful when we get to the mains to determine whether or not this government has a position on the recommendations and what that might be.
I have one other question. I believe it was posed in the budget briefing - we started to discuss it, anyway. Does the government intend to collect all the land claims costs under some central collecting agency? Are they going to be computerized so that we know the total costs that are involved in land claims from all departments?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe so. That would be a very difficult task and would involve a considerable amount of work by employees, because every department of government is involved in some aspect of the land claims process. To try and separate the monies and hours that are spent on land claims from other work that is done in departments would be a very difficult task. I do not believe we could get an accurate figure on that and I do not believe it would be a beneficial exercise. I do not know where the Member is coming from or why he feels that he requires that information.
Mr. Cable: I suppose it is curiosity more than anything. Like any other cost-control measure, one has to have the numbers before one can reach any conclusions. I will follow up on this during main debate.
Mr. McDonald: I have a few more questions about the supplementaries for the Minister.
The aboriginal language services program is a cost-shared agreement between the Yukon and the federal government whereby the federal government provides funds for language services. Is it this government's position that this agreement should be extended beyond the expiry date of the project?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would like to make one clarification. This is not a cost-shared program; it is fully funded by the federal government and the funding has been cut back by some 40 percent in this last agreement.
I expect that there will be some future agreement, but I am not sure what the level of funding will be. This funding is carried out under the Official Languages Act, along with the French language program. Both of these programs fall under the Official Languages Act. This is a program that the Council for Yukon First Nations would like us to devolve to them and it is one that we do not have much difficulty devolving to them, except that we are responsible for delivering interpretative services; therefore, we cannot fully devolve the program, because the government would be held fully responsible for the program - unless there was an amendment to the legislation at the federal level. However, the First Nations could certainly deliver the program on behalf of the government and that offer has been made to the First Nations. I am quite prepared to enter into negotiations to develop the delivery of that program to them.
Mr. McDonald: That is good to hear.
Can the Minister tell us what his position is with respect to the long-term provision of this service. If, for example, the federal Minister were to ask him today if he felt the program should be continued, would the Minister say yes, and at the same funding levels?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, we most certainly would say yes, as long as the federal government continues to fund it. We certainly do not have the resources to fund it. As long as the federal government continues to fund it, we will continue to deliver it on behalf of the federal government.
Mr. McDonald: Is the same true for French language services - that the Government of Yukon believes that the program should be continued, presumably well into the foreseeable future and at the same funding levels it has today?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is aware that ultimately we really do not have a choice in it because, under the Yukon Act and, I believe, under the Official Languages Act, we have to deliver the French languages services and the federal government has to continue to fund them.
We do not have any difficulty with that. Where we are having the difficulty is, as I say, where there has been in the neighbourhood of a 40-percent cut to the program over the last three years, and that limits how much we can do.
Mr. Cable: I have just one further question on the land claim negotiations. The federal Minister has appointed a second principal negotiator to deal with the claims. In view of the tight time lines, does the Government Leader anticipate that it will be necessary to increase staff in the department in relation to land claims, and add more negotiators, or is he of the opinion that the present staff is sufficient to conclude the negotiations within the present time line?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We already have. An eligibility list for principal and land negotiators is being established based on competitions initiated in December 1995 and closed in January 1996. We have indicated to Canada and the First Nations a willingness to expand our staffing to support additional negotiating tables, subject to a clear demonstration of comparable commitment by the federal government and the development of detailed and feasible work plans by individual First Nations. These are the work plans I spoke of earlier in reply to questions by the Leader of the Official Opposition.
To reiterate, the goal would be to complete the remaining 10 sets of First Nations negotiations by February 1997.
Mr. Cable: The Government Leader said a number of things there. He said, "I think that he already had staffed up, but that it was dependent upon First Nations providing workplans." Have they provided the workplans, and are the staff in place?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Our staff are available and in place. We are working with the First Nations on the workplans.
Mr. McDonald: I have a couple of brief questions. What are the plans for the Ottawa office?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that the Member opposite is aware that the Ottawa office is fully staffed; it has been since July 1. We intend to continue to keep that office there.
Mr. McDonald: Perhaps the Minister could provide us in the next little while with the staff complement and the cost of the Ottawa office.
I would like to ask the Minister about the Northern Forum. He is aware of the issue. He is aware of some people's concern that the government has refused to pay membership fees and refused to participate. What is the current position of the government with respect to this particular organization?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe that our position has changed at all. We are continuing to monitor what is happening with the Northern Forum. At this time, we do not believe that we want to participate in it any more. We just do not see the benefits to the Yukon resulting from our participation. We have some difficulty with travelling all over the world for meetings that are held in places such as Denmark and other places that are costly for us to get to. When we look at the benefits compared to costs, it does not add up, in our opinion.
Mr. McDonald: The Government Leader and his colleagues are certainly no strangers to international travel. I am a little surprised that the government has taken this view. It seems very parochial to me, but I will not belabour it at this point.
There have been discussions in the past between Alaska, the Yukon and British Columbia about joint issues. Are there any meetings planned between the leaders of those jurisdictions to resolve any issues or discuss common problems?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Perhaps the Leader of the Official Opposition could be of some assistance to us with his colleagues in British Columbia because we have tried for three years - both Governor Hickel and I have tried - to get a meeting with Premier Harcourt, and he would not meet with us to discuss the issue. I do not know why. The only response I got from him when I spoke with him privately at the premiers' conference was that some of the issues that Alaska wanted to discuss, such as the road link from Juneau to Atlin, was too sensitive an issue for him to deal with. We were never successful in getting a meeting. I am sure that we will continue to pursue it with the new premier and the new Governor in Alaska.
When I met with the Governor in Alaska about one year ago, we discussed that very issue of trying to get a meeting among the three of us to see if there were issues of commonality that we could deal with to the benefit of all jurisdictions.
Mr. McDonald: What are the issues that the Minister regards as being the most significant right now? Can he give us a summary of the issues between Alaska and British Columbia that he wants to raise? I do have a couple of questions about salmon treaty negotiations, but what issues is he raising with Alaska?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe it was more on issues that the Alaska government wanted to pursue, such as the corridor, or road link from Juneau via Atlin, which I think would be a tremendous economic boost to the Yukon. We would be fully supportive of it. I am trying to think back to some of the other issues that we were dealing with. It has been quite a while since I dealt with any of those issues because we were not successful in getting any meetings with British Columbia. There were concerns we would have liked to have talked about, such as the proposed Redfern Mine and what the B.C. government's position was on it. They met with us on one occasion over one year ago to talk about the transportation of their ore, if they were going to come out through Atlin with it and then on to the Port at Skagway, or if they were going to go down the Taku River.
Those were some of the issues. There were some other peripheral issues that we wanted to discuss. I cannot recall them all off the top of my head right now.
Mr. McDonald: There are a number of issues I would like to discuss. I will tell the Minister that I will be wanting to discuss the Pacific Salmon Treaty, the subject of drilling in the 10-02 lands and the Yukon government's precise position on that front. There are some issues with respect to ferry scheduling that have been raised with me. I would like to raise them in the House for the record. I will leave those matters to main estimates debate. We could go line by line at this point.
Mr. Joe: I have a couple of questions regarding land claims. I would like to know if the negotiators find any difference between the small communities and the City of Whitehorse in the land claims negotiations.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I did not quite understand the Member's question.
Mr. Joe: My question is this: does the Minister find there to be any difference between the City of Whitehorse and the smaller communities on the land claims negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, there is a tremendous difference. I guess one of the main issues is the complexity of the issues that we have to deal with within the City of Whitehorse. There are so many competing demands for the land in the city that it complicates the issue. The issues in the communities are not as difficult to deal with as they are in the City of Whitehorse.
Mr. Joe: My other question is this: with the land claims negotiations going on, my understanding is that the Selkirk chief met with the Government Leader regarding some main issue on land selection - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is right. I did meet with the Chief of the Selkirk First Nation to discuss with him if there are any major obstacles that are interfering with the completion of the Selkirk agreement. I said that if in fact they did run into any obstacles that he felt needed political attention, I would be happy to sit down and discuss them with him at any time.
He made me aware of two issues that are of concern to the Selkirk First Nation, and I have talked to my land claims negotiators to see if there is any flexibility in dealing with them. We will continue to work on them, as Selkirk is one of the bands that we believe could be completed in the very near future if all three parties get focused. The chief of the band seems to feel the same way. We want to do everything in our power to see that we facilitate those negotiations and get them to the point where we can get an agreement in principle.
Mr. Joe: I would like to see the land claims negotiations move along a lot faster. There have been many delays and there is a lot of misunderstanding.
Chair: If there is no further general debate on Executive Council Office, w
e will proceed with line-by-line debate.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Capital and Management Support
Capital and Management Support in the amount of an underexpenditure of $4,000 agreed to
On Land Claims Secretariat
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The increased expenditures are for land claims implementation of the federal/territorial settlement legislation and the first four sets of the band final agreements put into effect on February 14, 1994. The expenditures are 100 percent recoverable from the federal government.
Mr. McDonald: That was a very good general explanation about what the general expenditures are. If I were asked to elaborate without knowing a single thing about the line item, I could not have said it better myself. I am not insisting on detail right now, but I would ask the Minister if he could provide details about where the expenditures are made.
I understand that this is going to be the new basic level of funding support, so I would be interested in knowing precisely what the expenditure is for.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There were so many figures on this page, I did not want to bore the Member opposite. If the Member would like, I will go through them.
The amount of $1.7 million provides for resources for new territorial boards on the Renewable Resources Councils and for the implementation of projects and activities carried out by seven departments.
The secretariat budgets, centrally, are for implementation work carried out by government departments funded through the bi-lateral agreement with Canada.
There is $949,689 available for the establishment of new boards and councils for the 1995-96 fiscal year, of which the following allocations have been made: Fish & Wildlife Management Board, $417,100; The Heritage Resources Board, $159,800; Yukon Geographical Place Names Board, $56,000; each of the Renewable Resource Councils, four in total, $79,200; implementation projects and activities, $821,000; Land Claims Secretariat, government projects, $275,000; Department of Community and Transportation Services, $57,630; Education, $14,600; Justice, $156,000; Public Service Commission, $55,402; Renewable Resources, $174,650; Tourism Heritage, $87,700.
Four hundred and thirty-four thousand dollars is budgeted in capital to support implementation projects and activities.
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $1,771,000 agreed to
On Aboriginal Language Services
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This cut is approximately 22 percent of the previously approved budget. The program has been restructured in its operations to remain within budget. Program delivery continues to focus on community-based language initiatives.
Mr. McDonald: When the Minister says that the program was restructured, what does he mean? What areas were cut back?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Basically, we had to remove some staff requirements from the program because we just did not have the money for it.
Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $246,000 agreed to
On French Language Services
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Both of these cuts, the aboriginal language and French language cuts, are a result of Mr. Martin's last budget, where the cut of $149,000, or approximately 10 percent, to the program has reduced expenditures in a number of places while the programs continue to support priority services.
Mr. McDonald: Can I ask why there are uneven cuts? Why does the aboriginal language services program get cut more than the French language services program does? How does that happen?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that the cuts have not been applied equally, but when you total them, they have both been cut by approximately 30 percent. The reason for the different percentages is that they are two separate agreements.
Mr. McDonald: Did the government register any concern with the federal government about the uneven cuts? Obviously, if one was to look at the workplan for aboriginal language services and the challenge of maintaining and enhancing the different aboriginal languages for the 6,000 or 7,000 people in this territory, and if one was to consider what the task for French language services is, it is pretty unequal. The people who are promoting aboriginal language services have a much greater challenge. Did the government object or raise any concerns about this?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We take the opportunity to raise concerns about all cuts that the federal government is making to programs. The reply back to us is that we have to get our budget under control and that there will be more cuts. I do not know if I have ever raised the specific issue of aboriginal languages vis-à-vis French languages. We do, however, raise our concern about having to deliver these programs on behalf of the federal government when they continue to impose cuts on them after the agreement has been negotiated.
Mr. McDonald: I am not questioning the fact that the federal government will probably be cutting programs some more. I am raising the concern that the aboriginal languages services agreement and the French language services agreement both have very similar objectives, and one would argue that the aboriginal languages services' long-term and broad objectives are significantly more onerous and difficult to achieve than those of the French language services agreement.
If the government has not objected to the uneven level of cuts in these two agreements, is it prepared to express some concern?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek:
We have expressed concern about the cuts in general and we have expressed concerns about this, as well. When we equal it out over the three years, the cuts are fairly close: about 30 percent for each program; however, because the programs are different, the cuts are applied in a different manner.
French Language Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $149,000 agreed to
On Office of the Commissioner
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This was required to pay for some longstanding office repairs and renovations that were completed during the transition.
Office of the Commissioner in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Cabinet Offices
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This is additional funds that were required for wages and salaries for Cabinet employees. A new director of research was hired in May. This person's wages, while still within the same classification level, are higher than the previous incumbent by approximately $15,000 per year. The main estimates do not include $7.2 million for ministerial allowances. Merit pay increases for this branch were underestimated because of an error in the amount of $13,800. It is provided in this supplementary estimate for that purpose.
The computer program used to forecast wage requirements automatically calculates merit based on anniversary dates. Due to that fact that most of the Cabinet staff have been given merit increases later than their anniversary dates, the system assumed that they were not given their merits and, consequently, calculated the salary requirements at too low a level.
Mr. McDonald: Have Cabinet office staff been treated precisely the same, in terms of the provision of merit increases and salary increases, as that of the general public service?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, they have.
Mr. McDonald: Who was the previous director of research and who is the current incumbent?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Dave Austin was the previous one; he is now the executive assistant to the Minister of Renewable Resources. The current incumbent is Alan Hallman.
Mr. McDonald: Clearly, Mr. Hallman must be quite a catch to be worth so much more than Mr. Austin.
What are the terms of Mr. Hallman's employment? Is he on contract with the government and, if so, when does the contract end?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: He was hired under an employment contract until November 30, 1996.
Mr. McDonald: Is that November 30, 1996 - just after the next election? The Minister nods his head.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: He has to reapply if we win the election.
Mr. McDonald: Oh, good, he can reapply. Fortunately, there will be other candidates who will be much more suitable than Mr. Hallman in that particular position for the new government. I would not want him to expend too much energy anticipating what might happen.
In the Cabinet offices, are the staffing levels precisely as they have always been? Is there any change in the staffing levels or are there any new positions whatsoever, either in the Ministers' offices or in Cabinet support?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We can address that in the main estimates, but I do not believe there are any more. I think it is still somewhere in the neighbourhood of 16.5.
Cabinet Offices in the amount of $36,000 agreed to
On Public Inquiries and Plebiscites
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This is for the public inquiry into the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.
Mr. McDonald: I have a few questions about this. I am happy to see that the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board is present. This will be the only chance we have to ask the Minister, because there are no Workers' Compensation estimates.
The person who is conducting the inquiry is a Mr. Gladish. Can the Minister give us some background as to who the gentleman is and how he was chosen for this particular honoured task?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am sure that the Member is being facetious when he says, "this honoured task". Obviously, with not only the inquiry, but the whole WCB issue being kicked around like a political football, it is not an enviable position to be in.
I do not have Mr. Gladish's resume with me, but I will provide a copy to the Member. I believe that I did provide a copy to the Leader of the Liberal Party when he requested it.
Mr. Gladish has a 17-year background in management consulting with the federal government. He then consulted on his own in Victoria before moving to the Yukon. He was chosen because he is a Yukoner now and would not have been accused of having any biases or prejudices because he is fairly new to the Yukon. I thought his experience would lend itself well to an investigation of a broad range of areas within the Workers' Compensation Board. I think the Member may have a copy of the order-in-council, which helps outline the terms of reference, but if not, I can provide that along with the resume.
Mr. McDonald: I have both. I am most interested in how the Minister came by the name of this gentleman. Did he flip through the yellow pages? What was the procedure for selecting Mr. Gladish?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I was approached by a number of people. I believe that there were almost 20 people who provided their names to me by letter and by resume. I looked through the names that were suggested and came to the conclusion that Mr. Gladish would be the best candidate from among Yukoners who expressed an interest.
I would prefer to hire a Yukoner, if I could. I felt fortunate that Mr. Gladish was available.
Mr. McDonald: Was Mr. Gladish nominated by anyone, or did he submit his own application?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: He submitted his own application, with a covering letter, saying that he was interested and available.
Mr. McDonald: I do not recall how it all happened. I know that the Minister wanted to undertake an investigation, but I do not remember precisely how it happened. Was there a call for proposals?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, there was not. It was certainly widely known that an inquiry was being requested.
As we have discussed in the House, my first inclination was to ask the board to inquire about its operation under section 99 of the Workers' Compensation Act. There were then submissions. It was felt by Heiko Franke, the resigning member, that it should be a public inquiry. I think the Member for Faro, who is the critic for the Workers' Compensation Act, felt that this should be conducted under the Public Inquiries Act. There was considerable publicity over this issue and I think it was well known that I, as the Minister, was looking for someone to inquire into the operation of the Workers' Compensation Board - as I said often, someone who was unbiased and would not be accused of whitewashing or witch-hunting.
Mr. McDonald: Some people have mentioned to me that they had been aware that the government might be looking into some element of the Workers' Compensation Board and did not know how the government was going to do that. They certainly were not aware that there might be an interest in selecting a local consultant to conduct an inquiry until an announcement was made.
If the Minister has some further information that would make it all seem rational, I would love to hear it right now. I do not want to make it a major issue, I am just registering that concern. Mr. Gladish obviously has much more on his plate and, on top of all of that, he does not need to have expressions of concern about how the Minister selected the person raised in public. I am registering this concern because people who are in the business to review this kind of thing have raised the concern.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I accept the Member's point. Heiko Franke's letter that was, I believe, copied to all of the media, suggested John Wright as a possible individual to undertake it. My inclination at the time was to even invite John Wright to do it. I spoke to Mr. Wright briefly about Heiko's letter. However, as the issue developed, there was concern that because Mr. Wright had been the chair of the board, he may be seen by one side or the other to have a special interest or his own agenda. I do accept the Member's concern.
My sense of it was that, with the letter being public and John Wright as the consultant being mentioned, anyone in the business would have been aware. If they were interested, they would have offered their services because, as I announced, I was looking for someone without prior connections or the appearance of any bias.
In hindsight, perhaps it should have been advertised with a call for proposals. I felt a sense of urgency to get it underway and to get it over with. Things seemed to be at a boiling point with the board. Obviously, the appointment of the public inquiry has not calmed it down that much; it is still boiling. I hope that, with the results of the public inquiry, things will settle down at the board and the injured workers, who I believe are the ones who should be served, will be served.
Mr. McDonald: One final question. To ensure that there is no perception of conflict or of favouritism, did the Minister know the person prior to making the appointment?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, I did not know him in a personal or social sense. The first time I talked to him and became aware of him and his credentials was when he forwarded a letter to me with an application or suggestion that he was here and, he felt, had the background and expertise to undertake such a project.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister tell us when the report is expected?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is expected as soon as possible after March 31, but I have a sense that it may be slightly delayed. Mr. Gladish has called and is in fact going to come in to meet with me for a few minutes at 4:00 p.m. today. I suspect, from our brief conversation on the phone, that he is going to tell me that because there has been such overwhelming response he may need an extension of time to complete the report. After I have talked to him, I will let the Member know. Apparently there have been 40 or 50 interviews conducted, and there may be 80 or 90 more people to talk to before he gets into the other aspects of the inquiry about legislation, policy and procedures. I am not as confident as I was that it can be completed by the end of March.
Mr. McDonald: Just to satisfy myself on one point, there are some fairly high expectations expected from this whole process - everything from the allocation of parking stalls to the adjudication of claims to the legislation to the colour of the Workers' Compensation Board building have all been raised as things that are worthy of comment, but I would like to just clarify this. One thing that the investigation is not going to do, as I understand it, is make recommendations on individual claims. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, that is correct.
Mrs. Firth: This line item is for $60,000. Can the Minister tell us the total cost of the contract that is presently held by this individual and, if he has to extend the time, what those additional costs will be?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not know whether or not the Minister in charge of the Executive Council Office has anything further to add. The contract is through the Executive Council Office and I believe it is for up to $60,000.
I do not believe that there will be any more money necessary if the contract is extended but, again, I am going to speak to Mr. Gladish momentarily and ask him that question. It was my impression that he was not looking for money; it was simply a request for an extension of time.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps we could get a copy of the contract. Is this contract based on an hourly or a daily rate? Is it a lump sum? I would like answers to two questions: what are the payment terms and can we have a copy of the contract?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I believe the contract is based on a daily rate. I will provide the Member, the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal Party with a copy of the contract.
Mr. Cable: The inquiry that was set up does not appear to be an inquiry in the conventional sense. It looks like we have hired a consultant to do a consultant's report. Why was the process set up under the Public Inquiries Act - the Government Leader is coaching the Minister, so maybe we could hear what they both have to say.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The reason the process was set up under the Public Inquiries Act was so that the person doing the inquiry had some power to actually investigate and do something meaningful, so that it would not simply be a consultant's report based on what information was given to the board. We wanted to have some teeth in the inquiry so that it would be meaningful.
On the other hand, as the Minister, I did not want to have to rent a room in the Westmark, calling witnesses and giving evidence. I did not think it would help the situation to be dragging the operations of the Workers' Compensation Board through public debate. T
he idea of the Public Inquiries Act is so that the inquiry would have some teeth and there would be a meaningful report.
The board of inquiry that is being chaired by Michael Gladish has the option of holding public meetings if he thinks it is necessary. He also has the option of subpoenaing witnesses. People who are called before the inquiry can be represented by legal counsel, so it is fairly serious, but it is not meant to be a public dog-and-pony show.
Mr. Gladish has an office on Main Street. I have not been to it, but I believe it is above Kelly's Warehouse Direct. He is interviewing people. He is taking written submissions. Any input that anyone who is interested has to offer will be heard. If he does not feel that he is getting the information he needs, he has the power to go out and get it.
Mr. Cable: I think that is a valid reason, if in fact there was some suggestion that the board would not cooperate. Is there not a provision that permits the Minister responsible for the board to carry out investigations? This seems to be a much more - let us use the word "pompous" - procedure in relation to what is actually happening. We have the Public Inquiries Act, which was used once before on fuel prices and it conjures up some semi-judicial process, not someone making phone calls and having meetings in the coffee shop. It conjures up someone hearing evidence and other people getting a chance to have a crack at the evidence. Why was the other procedure not examined, instead of this procedure?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The concern was that there may be an appearance that the investigation was not as independent as we wanted it to be. I have said that my first inclination was simply to ask the board to investigate. Section 99(1) says, "The Minister may, by written order, require the board to investigate any matter under its jurisdiction in the manner requested by the Minister."
The concern with that was the Minister would be requiring the board to investigate, so the board would have some measure of control over the investigation. One of the allegations by the Member who resigned was that the board and the president were not handling the operations of the whole workers' compensation system in a fair and proper manner. It was suggested that it would be like putting a fox in charge of the hen house. I did not want that perception to be there, even if it was not reality.
Mr. Cable: The regulation setting out the procedure, which I believe the Minister actually signed but which I do not actually have here in front of me, under the heading "Hearings", provides Mr. Gladish with the option of having public hearings. It would seem that that was in the Minister's mind at the time he struck the regulation. Did he in fact think that the inquirer was going to conduct public hearings so that this issue could get out and be aired publicly?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, I did not envision that. I only envisioned the person doing the inquiry being able to talk to people, get answers from them, get information from the board and get to the bottom of the issues and the problems. As we have seen just recently, there is considerable discrepancy as to whether or not there are problems. There is considerable discrepancy between the opinions of the two labour representatives on the board. There is Heiko Franke, who cited morale problems and autocratic administration, staff turnover, the board not being as unbiased as it should; and then we have Brian Noakes in his letter of resignation saying that Heiko Franke is dead wrong, there are no staff morale problems, the union should have taken care of the workers if there was a problem, and that if anything it was ministerial interference that caused the problems with the board. There were many other outstanding issues.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre says that that is probably right, but let me assure her that the last thing I want to do is get involved in the operations of that board.
The bottom line was to get to the bottom of the problems, and the only way to do that was to get someone independent, with some power. Whether they have to use that power or not, I do not know. When the public inquiry was announced, the board and the administration said that they would fully cooperate with the board of inquiry, but that remains to be seen. I hope they do.
Mr. Cable: I do not have the regulation in front of me. My recollection of it is - as I said a moment ago - that section 5 said "Hearings," and then that the inquirer can conduct an in-camera type of investigation. These were not the words used; however, it appeared that it was anticipated that there would be public hearings, but there would be exceptions to that rule if in fact the inquirer thought so. It appears that the Minister was actually thinking about public hearings. Was that not his original intention, in response to the petition filed in this House by the injured workers?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, that was not my intention. Again, my intention was to make the terms of reference and the scope as broad as I could - and give it some teeth. I will give the Member from Riverside my analogy so that he understands the way I was thinking. My analogy is one of a placer miner digging a shaft down to where the paydirt is. I hoped that this inquirer would dig the shaft down to the paydirt and could go in any direction that he wanted. I hoped that he would follow the pay streaks and not have to take yards and yards of gravel with no pay in it for the sake of removing it. I hoped that the inquiry would get down to the paydirt, find the problems and follow them through.
The idea of a public inquiry was a possibility, but it was certainly not a requirement, any more than a miner who was trying to get the real pay, taking out gravel for the sake of taking it out.
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions about the CBC interview that Mr. Gladish carried out about the inquiry. The first thing that I want to know is this: does the Minister agree with him doing this? Was this something that had been agreed to prior to the contract being signed? The reason that I raise this is that I had some concerns brought to me about the interview. The concerns included raising a caution about him making public comments before the inquiry is finished and the perception that perhaps one side was being presented and the other side was not; I believe that Mr. Gladish addressed that perception in the interview. I have a transcript of the interview.
Quite often that can be lost on the listening audience. I want to know what the Minister thinks about the appropriateness of public commentary before the inquiry is finished. Is Mr. Gladish going to make these statements periodically to present all of the other points of view or concerns that are raised by other people who present their case to him?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The interview was not pre-arranged or contemplated by me as part of the contract. I did not know that Mr. Gladish was going to go on the radio and I had no say or input into that. I recognize the concern that the Member has expressed, and in speaking to Mr. Gladish afterward he recognized this too. I do not think that he will be conducting any further media interviews.
At the time, he felt it was a public inquiry and that he may be criticized for not talking to the media about the inquiry, because the idea was that it was public inquiry and in speaking with the media he would raise awareness that the inquiry was underway and that if people wanted to make submissions they would be more aware of the inquiry.
I do not think there is any more I can add to that.
Mrs. Firth: I would have had no problem with Mr. Gladish conducting a media interview to solicit input. I think that would have been appropriate and that would be consistent with what the Minister anticipated happening: that people would be encouraged to participate in the inquiry, and they could have been told what kind of information the inquiry was looking for, how detailed the information needed to be and who to contact.
I think the interviewer strongly represented one side of the case. I am pleased to hear that it is not the intention of this individual to give any further interviews. I guess it would be an endless battle if he had to represent all of the different points of view. I think we will probably leave it at that.
I think it is good that Mr. Gladish will not be giving any more interviews, other than to update us about the status of the inquiry, how much longer it is going to take, how many more submissions are going to be submitted, and the more technical aspects of the inquiry as opposed to content and commentary about what is being heard until we get the final report.
Everyone should have the report. It should be public and everyone should have an opportunity to review it.
I have a question for the Minister. I want to know if this report is going to be made available to the Cabinet prior to the rest of the public seeing it. Will Cabinet give its endorsement before the report is given to the public? Or is it just going to be made public - presented to the board, the chair and the public all at the same time?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It will be made public to everyone at the same time and Cabinet will have to live and deal with whatever it says without any previewing or input into the final report.
Public Inquiries and Plebiscites in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: Just before we clear the whole O&M, I was listening to the radio about the research director position the government has in their Cabinet offices - I believe Mr. Hallman holds that position. The Government Leader said he was being paid $15,000 more than the previous research director, because of experience. I would like a little elaboration on that. I recall seeing the job description for that position and, if I am not mistaken, it comprised about 25 lines on a piece of 8" x 11" paper when the job was originally created. At that time, it was an MG-5 position. The Government Leader indicates it still is. Could he tell us if there has been anything added to the job description, and can we have a new updated copy of the job description? Can he also tell us why this person is worth $15,000 more than the previous person?
Chair: We have already cleared that line item. Can we have unanimous consent to go back to that line item?
Mrs. Firth: It is part of the whole O&M is it not?
Chair: Do we have unanimous consent to go back to this?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We have unanimous consent.
On Cabinet Offices - continued
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It really does not matter because we can deal with it in the mains anyway. The director of research reports to the parliamentary secretary. This position is a senior researcher to Cabinet and provides administrative assistance to all Ministers by prioritizing assignments and ensuring that all initiatives are dealt with in an expedient fashion; reviews issues; provides policy advice as required; gathers, compiles and organizes material to be used in drafting and preparing letters, news columns, speeches and other public releases; monitors government and Opposition policies, positions and statements; gathers, compiles and documents information in response to various requests for information received by Ministers; follows up through the applicable government contact questions, concerns and data required to assist Ministers in responding quickly and efficiently to constituent concerns; and drafts prompt responses to any request for information.
Mrs. Firth: This person seems to be taking a much higher media profile with the Government Leader. I know he is quite often at press conferences, and so on. Where does that come under the job description? I know he said something about letters, news, writing speeches, and so on. Can he tell us what the relationship is between this individual and the media support he provides to the Government Leader with respect to the relationship with his communications coordinator? Who is the top dog? Who is the first in command and who is second in command.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have the position of the communications coordinator. Communications is his responsibility. Mr. Hallman has accompanied me to some community meetings to gain more experience and insight into Yukon issues.
Mrs. Firth: Does Mr. Hallman have party activities as well? If so, does he do that on his own time or is he paid for it? For example, in Faro, if there was a trade show booth for the party, would he be manning that on his own time or as an employee of the government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That was done on his own time.
Mrs. Firth: We understand that this individual is here on secondment from the Klein government - is that correct? I see the Government Leader is shaking his head. Perhaps he could clear that up for us and tell us how this individual was hired.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We were looking for a person for this position. It was a name that came forward. He was interviewed and offered the job on contract. I am not aware that he is seconded from the Alberta government.
Mrs. Firth: A name came forward. How did that happen? Did it go through the Public Service Commission? Was it just a name they picked up somewhere?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This is a political appointment. It is a political position in a political office. We were looking for a director of research. This was the person we interviewed for the job and he was qualified for it.
Mrs. Firth: Were there no local people interested in this position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will have to look back to see if there were any local people interviewed at the time. I am not certain.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate the Government Leader getting back to me with that information. My feeling is that there are probably a lot of local people qualified to do the job. We really did not need to bring someone in from Alberta. I do not know who the previous employer of Mr. Hallman was, but it may very well have been the Klein government. I do not know. Perhaps the Government Leader could also provide us with that information. I look forward to getting that information from the Government Leader.
Can he tell us if this is the individual who writes the predominant number of speeches for him, such as the budget speech? Would that have been written by Mr. Hallman? Is he the individual who writes the major speeches that the Government Leader gives when he goes to ministerial conferences, or to make presentations in the communities, or to go to the chamber? Is he the individual who writes all the speeches now?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The speeches that are written for me and Cabinet Ministers are written by a number of people in the office. It is very seldom that one person has complete ownership of a speech that is delivered by a Cabinet Minister.
Mrs. Firth: What the Government Leader is saying is that a whole bunch of people write the speech, so that not one individual takes sole responsibility. This individual has input like all the others to write the speeches.
I would like to ask the Government Leader this: how often does he get the deputy ministers to write speeches for the Ministers and for the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Minister is giving a speech that relates to government information, not political information, some of those speeches are prepared by the various departments that have the knowledge and the expertise in those areas. It is a mix.
Some of the speeches that are given in relation to tourism are written in the Tourism department. Those that are given in relation to economic development are written in that department. I am quite certain that other Ministers also use their departments to prepare speeches that are of a technical nature.
Mrs. Firth: Are those speeches then reviewed by the political staff with respect to political and policy content or does the Minister just go out and give them?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, they are reviewed in my office before they are delivered.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated that Mr. Hallman is a partisan political person working in the office to assist the government in policy matters and communication. The Minister went on to indicate that Mr. Hallman attends things such as the Yukon Party's trade booth at the Faro trade show on his own time. Did Mr. Hallman also attend Mr. Henderson's press conference announcing his intention to run for the Yukon Party on his own time, or was it on government time?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I was not aware that Mr. Hallman was at Mr. Henderson's press conference. I will have to check on that for the Member opposite.
Mr. McDonald: I would appreciate an answer to that and an indication of whether or not he was attending this conference at public expense.
Cabinet Offices in the amount of $36,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Executive Council Office in the amount of $1,474,000 agreed to
Chair: Prior to taking a break, on a point of procedure, it is the Members' responsibility to be in the House when we are discussing line items. I would appreciate it if Members would be in the House when we are discussing line items, because once a line is cleared, it is not common practice to go back and discuss it.
We will now take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: I will now call the Committee to order. Bill No. 9 - we are dealing with Executive Council Office, capital expenditures.
On Capital Expenditures
On Cabinet and Management Support
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This relates to two new offices - one that is being used by you, Mr. Speaker, and the other is being used by the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin. Construction costs for the project were tendered, with the lowest bidder being accepted.
Mr. McDonald: Is $16,000 the total construction costs for the office?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes.
Accommodation in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
Cabinet and Management Support in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
On Land Claims Secretariat
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Up to $105,000 of this is for quarry relocation off settlement lands and further identification of quarries on settlement lands; $85,000 for a common implementation tracking system and associated computer in land claims secretariat; $12,000 in office equipment 2.5 justice personnel; $2,400 for GPS units to provide ground location data to regional renewable resources and resources enforcement activities; up to $150,000 in geographic and land management information systems; $27,500 for the Sha'washe heritage resource management plan; $18,700 Lansing heritage site management plan; $3,500 office equipment for a heritage position; $25,000 for historic sites and management plans for Rampart House and Lapierre House.
Implementation in the amount of $434,000 agreed to
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $434,000 agreed to
On Aboriginal Language Services
On Office Equipment
Office Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $18,000 agreed to
Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $18,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for Executive Council Office in the amount of $432,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office agreed to
Community and Transportation Services
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would like to table this to give the Opposition an idea of the money that we have spent and recovered.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Office of the Deputy Minister
Hon. Mr. Brewster: On the office of the deputy minister, the amount is $151,000 for emergency measures for response associated with the evacuation of Pelly Crossing and the Klondike Highway closure because of forest fires; $10,000 for emergency search and rescue operations in Old Crow and Haines Junction; $12,000 for contributions for the training and assistance for emergency measure operations pursuant to an agreement with the Canadian coast guard.
Office of the Deputy Minister in the amount of $181,000 agreed to
On Transportation Division
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is $513,000 required for additional maintenance of the Anvil mine ore haul from Faro to the Alaska border. That was done because we did not put that in our budget because we did not know if it was going to be in operation or not.
There is a $10,000 contribution to the City of Whitehorse to complete the Schwatka Lake study initiated in 1994-95. There is $68,000 in funding required to cover additional personnel and other costs for the Whitehorse and Watson Lake airport transfer negotiations. There is $55,000 allotted to Mayo airport due to Transport Canada's moratorium on automatic weather observation systems installation with the increase to the community aerodrome radio service, CARS, for 24 hours per day.
Transportation Division in the amount of $513,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is $16,000 allotted for a land-field service acting position, because it was extended from September 1995 to March 31, 1996. There is $25,000, which consists of community recreation increase funding to the North American Indigenous Games for $5,000, and the Yukon youth investment fund for $20,000. There is a $93,000 increase in the number of home owner grants applications, partly due to new residential unit starts. There is $128,000 due to back payment of local improvement charges.
There is a $50,000 increase in the Whitehorse tax rate and the Dawson City grant-in-lieu of tax payment, $57,000; a $28,000 reduction, which is a savings from property assessment management, senior assessor and property assessor positions, as acting incumbents are not paid at the same rate as the regular incumbents; $11,000 reduction to a new mechanical safety inspector starting at a lower pay scale; a $50,000 saving resulting from portions of a director's salary being charged for engineering and development of capital projects; $41,000 due to the Arctic Winter Games air charter cost to the Yukon government being less than estimated; $30,000 in reduced claims for sport and fitness; Yukon Recreation Advisory Committee, $23,000; for Interprovincial Sports and Recreational Committee, $2,000 for the recreational conference; Yukon Lotteries Commission $15,000 reduction for sports and fitness, $10,000 and elite athletes, $5,000.
There is a reduction of $53,000 in savings for various vacant positions: a community planning advisor for five months; planning clerk for four months; community advisor for four months. There is a reduction of $20,000 in communication and travel within the Yukon partly due to vacant positions and the Association of Yukon Communities not holding a fall meeting, $9,000.
Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Community and Transportation Services in the amount of 699,000 agreed to
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to thank the Minister for having the technical briefing provided to us this morning, which did go over a lot of the information presented this morning.
I have a question relating to the revenue in the municipal and community affairs division. I note the profit from sale of land was voted to zero, and there is $41,000 in the supplementary. What is that revenue from? From the sale of what lots in which area?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is the supplementary. I think she is talking about the mains.
Chair: It is on page 3-3. I believe the Member is talking about the third line from the bottom.
Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, you have given the page reference to the Minister, and they can come back with an answer. They do not need to take the time to hunt it up just now.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We will bring that answer back tomorrow.
On Capital Expenditures
On Office of the Deputy Minister
On Emergency Measures
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is a $10,000 revote from 1994/95 to complete the design and cabling of the joint emergency operations centre. We have moved the operations centre to the Lynn Building. It is on the top floor there now. They are moving their emergency equipment and so on there for their new headquarters.
There is a $7,000 revote for work carried forward from 1995 to complete the emergency power supply in the joint emergency operations centre. There is $8,000 to purchase a global positioning system and personnel locator via satellite for personnel safety equipment. It is 100-percent recoverablerecoverable from the Canadian coast guard.
Emergency Measures in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On 911 Implementation
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is a $14,000 revote to replace some equipment that was deemed unsuitable by the response agencies and to cover costs of the installations of 911 highway exit signs.
Mrs. Firth: Does the 911 emergency services for the hearing impaired come out of this budget? Is that going ahead? How much will it cost?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, it does not come out of the supplementary budget.
911 Implementation in the amount of $14,000 agreed to
On Corporate Services Division
On Finance Systems and Administration
On Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is $23,000 for the replacement of personal computers that were inadequate and inefficient, $2,000 for policy, planning and evaluation and $3,000 for finance, systems and administration. There is $10,000 for the purchase of a photocopier to replace the liquid toner copier.
Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of $33,000 agreed to
On Transportation Division
On Transportation Facilities
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is an $11,000 revote for work carried forward from 1994-95 for the computered records drawing system in progress; a $50,000 revote for work carried forward from 1994-95 to complete the inventory portion of the highway maintenance management system; and an increase of $8,000 revote to purchase two printers that are part of the system implementation for the weigh station; $11,000 for the purchase of photocopiers to replace liquid toner copiers; $10,000 and an additional $1,000 to replace fax machines at the Carcross maintenance camp.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Regulatory Facilities
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is to purchase 10,000-kg test weights for checking the new scale at the Whitehorse weigh station.
Regulatory Facilities in the amount of $25,000 agreed to.
On Maintenance Camp Facilities and Equipment
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The $2,749,000 is allocated for the relocation of the Dawson grader station, as the current site has been selected for the new school. There is a $50,000 revote to replace overhead doors at the Watson Lake grader station, as materials were delayed in the southern Canada rail strike.
Ms. Moorcroft: When was the work done on the relocation of the Dawson maintenance camp?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The work has been ongoing since last fall, and it will be completed some time this spring. The landscaping and fencing probably will not be completed until late summer.
Ms. Moorcroft: The original estimate was for $612,000 and we are looking at a revote of $2.7 million. Since most of that money was for the relocation of the Dawson highway camp, was additional staff hired or was that work done by the regular Dawson maintenance crew?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Government Services handles the contracts, and I think it was contracted out to private contractors to build. Is that what the Member wants?
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister please bring back details of the contract - who it was awarded to and the total amount?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes I can, and I can happily say that we are under budget and it looks like we will stay there.
Mrs. Firth: I want to know about the time line for the contract. When the government was anticipating building a school here, a lot of pressure would have been put on the contractor to get the business done so that the school could be built. When the government changed its mind and decided it was not going to build the school, there was not so much urgency to get this whole thing completed. Could the Minister tell us when that happened? When was the contractor given direction that there was no urgency to have this project completed?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am unaware that the contractor was given that. He was supposed to be through in March, and I understand that he will be through in March, except for the landscaping, which was not included in that contract.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us what the difference in cost is to have done this project in the winter as opposed to having done it during the regular construction season through the summer and fall?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Most of the cement work and so on was done last fall, while it was still summer work; once they got the siding up, they could work inside. I do not expect that there would have been a great deal of difference. There would probably have been some but not very much.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister made a commitment to bring back some details about the contract for us. Would he do so?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, I will.
Mr. McDonald: How much of the total project cost is dedicated to landscaping? What does the landscaping involve?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The landscaping is on a rock pile. It is a matter of getting that smoothed down and getting a fence around it. I suspect there will be some grass. That contract has not been let for that part of it.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister indicate to us what portion of the contract is for landscaping?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will bring that information back tomorrow.
Mr. McDonald: I appreciate that. I am interested in comparing that with the amount of landscaping work that the government ultimately decided not to do on the Beringia Centre.
When the information is provided, I will be able to make the appropriate comparisons.
With the clean-up of the old site, there had been mention of an oil spill and that sort of thing. Does this project cost incorporate the clean-up costs at the old site?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, it does not. The agreement was with the Department of Education; when we moved out, it would do the environmental work.
Mr. McDonald: Has anything else been done on the costs of cleanup for the existing site, or is that analysis going to be done by the Department of Education?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: When we move the buildings, the Department of Education will do the clean-up.
Mr. McDonald: Will all the costs associated with the clean-up be borne by someone other than the Department of Community and Transportation Services? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will proudly get that on record. That is correct.
Mr. McDonald: I just suggested to the Minister that we are talking about encouraging mines to clean up after themselves when they leave. We should be suggesting to the Department of Community and Transportation Services that they do the same. After all, it is the same government and employer, and ultimately the Yukon government will pay for it. I guess it does not really matter one way or another.
Does the Minister know when the site will be cleared, and the Department of Education - or whoever it is - will start the clean-up?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would hope that it would be in the early part of next summer. I had to do quite a bit to move that building, and I certainly did some horse training. I think that I finally beat my friend beside me; he will have to do that work. However, we will remove or sell the buildings.
Mr. McDonald: I am glad to hear that the Minister finally won one with the Assistant Government Leader.
I would like to ask the Minister if the Department of Education absolutely committed to clean up as soon as the site is cleared. Is that a clear agreement that has been struck between the departments?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not have an agreement on that. I just know that the Minister of Education talked to me and said that his department would be cleaning up. I suspect that it will be done next summer. If the population turns around again there, they have to start looking at what they are going to do on the school by fall.
Maintenance Camp Facilities and Equipment in the amount of $2,749,000 agreed to
On Transportation Engineering and Planning
On Transportation Planning
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The extensive public consultation process for a transportation strategy has been scaled back from the original plan.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister just said that the public consultation strategy has been scaled back by $100,000. Can he tell us what was done with the $325,000 revote on the public consultation process?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We will have to bring you a breakdown of exactly what was done with that.
Mr. McDonald: With respect to the transportation plan that the Minister refers to, do we have the terms of reference? Can the Minister indicate what the terms of reference were for this overall transportation plan?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It was a study that was being done to see which highways should have priority over others and which ones we should be bringing up to certain standards and others that will remain at a somewhat lower standard. For instance, with the Alaska Highway, we made the decision that the route to Watson Lake has more traffic than others, therefore that portion should be done before work is done in the Haines Junction area. We are trying to prioritize which roads should be looked after first.
Mr. McDonald: Is that supposed to be part of a transportation plan? I understood that those decisions were made and that analysis was done routinely in the transportation branch. Is there something more to this than meets the eye? I do not quite understand.
There is a reduction of $100,000. Was the whole project $100,000? How much was the transportation plan going to cost?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The entire amount that we voted for was $425,000, so they used $325,000.
Mr. McDonald: So, the overall transportation plan was going to cost a total of $425,000 - that is correct? - and it has been scaled by $100,000 to account for work where? Is it not the case that transportation engineering does this sort of analysis as a routine measure and what is the precise need for a major, sophisticated plan?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Member is right. Transportation engineering carries out the studies and decides what roads should be built. The strategic study is looking at such things as where the next road should be built for mining. Should the Campbell Road be the next big project, or do we need a railroad if coal is going to be transported out of the country? We are looking at things ahead of time to see what we do or do not need.
Mr. McDonald: Is there a report that is going to come from this process? If there is a report, will it be made public?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not believe the report is completed yet, but it will be a public document when it is finished.
Mr. McDonald: When will the plan be ready? When can we see it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would hope by the end of this year.
Mr. McDonald: Is that a calendar year or the fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Probably in the fall or December of 1996.
Mr. McDonald: Is it correct that there will be more expenditures in the main estimates in this particular area?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I do not think so. I do not think that they require any extra money. They are getting the information now and then they will compile it.
Mr. McDonald: This transportation plan does not include an analysis of Tar Inlet, does it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I believe the other government did that study for me.
Transportation Planning in the amount of an underexpenditure of $100,000 agreed to
On Highway Construction
On Non-YTG Funded:
On Alaska Highway
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is an increase in Shakwak construction from kilometre 1634 to 1966 due to the contractor's plans to do extensive winter work on kilometre 1831 to 1843 at $1,296,000. There is $1,684,000 for more work accomplished on a two-year contract from kilometre 1882 to 1893 and kilometre 1831 to 1843, as long as weather conditions were good. There is $800,000 due to quality increase on reconstruction of kilometre 1893 to 1895. That is mainly because there was a very good fall and they were able to do extra work.
Mr. Cable: The Minister mentioned that they were doing extra work on which they had not planned. Of course, the government does the planning. Was there a certain amount of slack built into the Shakwak project, where there was optional work set aside for the possibility of good weather? That is a 10-percent increase in that particular item.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I do not think any slack was built in to it. Most of these contracts run for a two-year period; therefore, if they are able to get more work in that year, they will be through faster the next year.
Alaska Highway in the amount of $3,780,000 agreed to
On Top of the World Highway
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This represents a $233,000 decrease on reconstruction of kilometre 60 to kilometre 105, as BST work cost $25,000 less than anticipated; there is less work remaining on the two-year contract, an estimated $173,000, and the price for aggregated production was $35,000 less than estimated. There is a $113,000 decrease in unrecoverable expenditures for pre-engineering, engineering surveys and design work on the reconstruction of kilometre 60 to kilometre 105; and a $50,000 decrease in unrecoverable expenditures for pre-engineering work on spot reconstruction of kilometre 0 to kilometre 60.
Mr. McDonald: It appears there are reasons for the reductions here. I thought there might be some concerns that this might be another attempt to cut back on one of the Member ffromDawson's favourite projects. He has bad luck with the bridge and the school, so I thought this was one of the 'big three' of his, and that to see another reduction might have been just a little too much for him to handle, but it seems that there are reasonable reasons.
Can the Minister tell us what the long-term projections are for this particular road? What are the total costs? What is the plan?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We hope to have this ready before the centennial celebration. I am not certain what kilometre it is, but it has been recommended that we do not BST one section because of the base. They are conducting more studies, but they do not think that the BST will hold up; otherwise, we hope to have the road completed to the border.
Top of the World Highway in the amount of an underexpenditure of $396,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is an increase of $139,000 required for upgrading the 20 kilometres of the public access portion of the mine access road from Faro to the Anvil mine site gates.
There is a reduction of $66,000 due to the design work on the Freegold Road being unrecoverable.
Other Roads in the amount of $73,000 agreed to
On Highway Construction
On YTG Funded:
On Klondike Highway
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The reconstruction of kilometre 7.15 to 7.19 will only be completed to the preliminary design stages until an implementation decision is made.
Mr. McDonald: What is going to be implemented?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The department has done some work on this section of road, and they are going to do some more redesigning on part of that road. There are some sections of the road where they have difficulty maintaining a good base because it has moved to some extent in that area.
Klondike Highway in the amount of an underexpenditure of $100,000 agreed to
On Campbell Highway
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is an increase of $46,000 for the reconstruction of BST from kilometre zero to kilometre 427, of which $40,000 is for planning for work preparation for Cominco ore haul and $6,000 for hydroseeding between kilometre 31 and kilometre 33.7.
There is a reduction of $300,000 for the reconstruction of the Faro to Carmacks section; the slide hazard has been minimized; therefore, monitoring equipment will be installed rather than doing more work.
Mr. McDonald: This is a signal that the Mayor of Watson Lake is not going to like, but we will wait for the main estimates to pursue that a little further.
Campbell Highway in the amount of an underexpenditure of $254,000 agreed to
On Dempster Highway
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The drainage structure, relocated tailgates and the final contract value for rip-rap installation was slightly lower than estimated.
Dempster Highway in the amount of an underexpenditure of $10,000 agreed to
On Top of the World Highway
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is a $113,000 increase due to pre-engineering, engineering surveys and design work on the reconstruction of kilometre 60 to 105 being non-recoverable, and a $50,000 increase on spot reconstruction from kilometre 60 due to pre-engineering work being non-recoverable.
Top of the World Highway in the amount of an underexpenditure of $70,000 agreed to
On Mitchell Road
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There was an increase due to ore haul resumption. It was necessary to do pre-engineering work to determine what improvements are required.
Mitchell Road in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There was a $495,000 revote to complete a painting contract on the Yukon River bridge at Carmacks. There was $190,000 allotted to strengthen the Teslin River bridge at Johnson's Crossing. There was a $22,000 revote to complete structural design and seismic strengthening. An additional $168,000 was required due to a substantial increase in design costs to incorporate field assessments and seismic conditions and additional steel design to support a future deck replacement.
In the reductions, there was $375,000 for the Yukon River bridge at Dawson because a detailed bridge design is not expected to proceed this fiscal year. There was $145,000 allotted for major bridge repainting due to the scope of workplans for the Lewes River bridge being reduced in order to provide funds for the Teslin River bridge strengthening design. An amount of $20,000 in bridge assessment is due to the scope of work reduced in order to provide funds for Teslin River bridge strengthening design.
Mr. McDonald: With regard to the crossing of the Yukon River at Dawson, the Minister indicates that there will be no further work done this year on the bridge. Can the Minister tell us the costs associated with the study and the anticipated implementation of a bridge, if any? What are the government's plans?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We do not have the exact cost of the bridge yet. We now have permission from Cabinet to go ahead with the environmental studies. I understand that we are negotiating with the environmental people to see what has to be done.
I see that the Chair is smiling. We are still talking to each other on that.
How much did the study for the bridge cost? What were the projected costs of the bridge?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will have to get the cost of the design study. The cost of the bridge was about $25 million, but that did not include the environmental work. It depends. If we can move out on both sides and take two spans away by putting gravel there, then we can bring the cost down considerably. That will depend on fisheries and the environmental studies.
Mr. McDonald: Are the environmental studies scheduled to take place this year or next year? What is the cost of the studies?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The studies are scheduled to go ahead this summer. I will bring the costs back for the Member.
Mr. McDonald: With respect to the crossing itself - not involving a bridge, but the ferry service - has the government undertaken to review alternate ferry options?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, we have.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister elaborate on the options and what the timeframe is for the implementation for the improvement of service?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We put the extra ferry service in this year and we moved people across the river much faster. There has been no decision made as to when the bridge will be built; it has not even been discussed and we do not have the final costs.
The ferry costs are based on two or three different designs; however, the Government Leader has made it plain that if the costs are too high we definitely have to go back and reconsider the bridge. That is the situation as it stands right now.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If the Member wishes, I could give him the study on the cost of the ferries.
Mr. McDonald: Yes. To what extent has there been a study or review of ferry options? Is there a report that can be shared with us?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, I see no reason why we cannot table it.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated that the government was considering ferry options but presumably had not yet made a decision on which option might be entertained. What is the Minister referring to when he says that, if the options are too expensive, he will re-entertain the concept of a bridge?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If these ferries are going to run into $4 million, $6 million or $8 million, it would be better to build the bridge. Looking over a 20-year period, we would gain considerably, and the bridge will last for 20 or 25 years. Actually, if one runs through a 20-year period, it would be cheaper.
Mr. McDonald: Have there been any discussions with the municipality of Dawson about the bridge and the ferry options? Have they been participating in those discussions?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have met with them several times. The Government Leader has also met with them, and when I was up with the Minister of Education we spent most of our time on the bridge situation. It is quite apparent that the people in Dawson want the bridge. There is no question in my mind at all about that.
Mr. McDonald: The $25 million cost associated with the bridge is for a single-span across the north part of town, or is it for the span south of town - the crossing that encompasses two spans across the water. Which one is it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It would cross where the ferry is right now and that is what the designs have been based on. The cost of crossing by the island initially seems less expensive, but by the time the highway is re-routed, the cost is much higher.
Mr. McDonald: Was that also decided in the consultant's report?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am sorry, I did not hear the Member's question. Someone else was talking to me. Could he repeat his question?
Mr. McDonald: Has the cost associated with the other option for the bridge also been studied? Could the Minister indicate what the cost of that bridge would be?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We looked at that, but it was just by the engineers. Having the designers look at it brought the costs up.
Mr. Chair, in view of the time, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 9.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fisher: 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 the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Millar: The Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 9, entitled Third 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. Fisher: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled February 27, 1996:
Taga Ku lawsuit: legal costs (costs of counsel) and disbursements to date (Phillips)
Oral, Hansard, p. 2300