Tuesday, March 12, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with silent prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any introductions of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have for tabling a document, entitled Identification of Ferry Options for Yukon River.
I hope my friend on the other side will be able to find this one and not have to look for it again, because it cost me a lot to get this one back.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Petition No. 3 - response
Hon. Mr. Brewster: In response to Petition No. 3, the Second Session of the Twenty-eighth Legislative Assembly, as presented by the Hon. Member for Mount Lorne on April 25, 1995, I would like to make the following statement.
Twelve lights were installed in the MacRae area in August of 1995.
Petition No. 7
Mr. Harding: I am pleased to be able to table today petitions on the Tombstone Park and Blackstone Uplands. One petition to the Government of Yukon contains 780 signatures and one petition to the Yukon Legislative Assembly contains 303 signatures, for a total of 1,083. Of this number, 1,008 are Yukoners.
The petition calls for a larger park than the Yukon Party proposes in this area, and I look forward to hearing, in the government's response, whether the government is prepared to reconsider its position - how it will forward its endangered spaces 2000 agenda in the context of the park and how it will reach agreement with the Dawson First Nation on this issue. I will be following up for the government's response.
Speaker: Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 53: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that Bill No. 53, entitled An Act to Amend the Dental Profession Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 53, entitled An Act to Amend the Dental Profession Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 53 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by Ministers?
Expanded Handy Bus Service
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I rise today to inform Members of this House of a funding decision taken by the Department of Health and Social Services that will expand an existing service within the City of Whitehorse to benefit the physically disabled and seniors population.
Beginning on April 1, 1996, with an additional $53,000 provided by my department, the City of Whitehorse will expand the hours of the Handy Bus, the transportation service for the physically disabled and seniors who have difficulty in getting around.
As you are aware, the City of Whitehorse operates the transit system within the city, including the 20-year-old Handy Bus service. The Department of Health and Social Services funds the service of the Handy Bus.
Negotiations between the City of Whitehorse and representatives of the Department of Health and Social Services have resulted in an expanded Handy Bus service. With the additional $53,000 from the department, the city will be able to provide an additional 15 hours of service per week. This will initially translate to a service from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
These hours are not cast in stone. As an example, we may find that there is no need to go to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays, and may therefore go to 7:00 p.m. on Fridays. The additional hours will also permit more flexibility for Handy Bus customers who need service occasionally outside of regular hours; for example, a rider who requires transportation to the airport or perhaps to the hospital for early morning tests.
The expansion of the service will create a greater flexibility for the people who use the service and will meet the increasing demand for service beyond the hours that are currently provided. Within the framework, it also provides a level of spontaneity to the client group and increases their freedom of movement. We are happy to be able to assist in this.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to commend the Minister on his emerging social conscience. He seems to be doing some good things these days.
There were some concerns in regard to the abuse of the Handy Bus in the past, and I think the Minister is very well aware of them. According to a news item from last fall, there was some discussion in regard to how the Handy Bus was being used by seniors at Macaulay Lodge when they have a bus of their own. I do not know whether or not there was a reason that was being done, and do not know if it was ever resolved.
The board of the transit company was asked to have it investigated. I wonder if the Minister might be able to comment on that.
The expansion of the hours of the bus, of course, has been needed for a long time, and I think it was evident by the great number of people who are using it. In the article it states that in the month of July there were 450 passengers using the Handy Bus. It is good to know that the Minister has come up with $53,000 to expand on the hours and to include Saturday as well, because up until now it was not available on Saturdays. I know that a lot of people who we represent will welcome the expansion.
I hope the Minister will respond to some of the concerns that I have about abuse. I do not know if those concerns have been mentioned to him.
I commend him for finding this money. It is something for which a lot of people in Whitehorse will be very thankful. I know that we run across people who would like to have had it expanded to a later time in the evening - after 6 p.m. - as there are a lot of things that happen at night and, very often, there is no way for those individuals to get there.
If he does not respond to that today, could he do so at another time?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I was not sure, despite the weather outside, if it was not Christmas. It is always nice to get congratulations from the critic for expanding a service that is as much needed as this one.
The issue as to utilization of the Handy Bus for seniors at Macaulay and the Thomson Centre has been resolved as a result of these negotiations, as well. The Handy Bus is picking up some of those services in its operation. I understand that this will result in a more efficient, effective and better service than we currently have, as well.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Workers' Compensation, ministerial involvement
Mr. McDonald: The Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board has protested on a number of occasions, despite claims to the contrary by a departing member of the board, that he has not interfered with the operations of the board. In fact, he said that any concerns people had were the result of a misunderstanding of his role, and that he was simply wishing to pass on information to claimants about where their cases stood.
Is it not the case that other board members have expressed serious concern about ministerial interference in board business, including and especially the adjudication of claims?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Not that I am aware of. I think the Leader of the Official Opposition will have to be clearer in his allegation.
Mr. McDonald: I can do that. The outgoing president of the Workers' Compensation Board has indicated in a submission to the public inquiry that the Minister did indeed have a confrontation with the alternate chair of the board about interference in the adjudication of a claim. Can the Minister confirm whether or not that was the case?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, I cannot. I have not seen the submission the outgoing president made to the board of inquiry.
Mr. McDonald: I will try to be very clear. The Minister said to the CBC on February 28, 1996, "I am not asking to influence decisions of the board or affect how they deal with individual clients ..." The outgoing president of the Workers' Compensation Board said, "Mr. Nordling, however, wants in-depth knowledge about adjudication and rehabilitation data and questions decisions. This led me to caution him lest he be seen to be apply political pressure for specific decisions."
Is the Minister objecting to the outgoing president's assumptions?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, with respect to trying to influence decisions. I have certainly asked for in-depth information on procedures that are undertaken by the Workers' Compensation Board, but no more so than the critic, the Member for Faro, has asked for with respect to information regarding procedures of the Workers' Compensation Board.
The Member for Faro is objecting, but he wrote me a letter in January asking for information about a specific case. I passed the request along to the board and it responded. I have not asked any more information about policies and procedures than the Opposition has, and it is no more interference than that Member probably did when he was Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Nordling:
The Member for Riverdale South is saying that I am the Minister. That is correct, and as the Minister, I am responsible for the Workers' Compensation Act. I have more responsibility for what goes on with that act and the regulations than the critic.
Question re: Workers' Compensation Board, ministerial involvement
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's local branch office that all he wants to know from the Workers' Compensation Board is at what stage a case is. He says, and I quote, "so I have a background to know what stage the claim is at." That leaves a very distinct impression that he is only asking for an update as to when the claim will be adjudicated.
The president of the Workers' Compensation Board says something quite different. The president says that indeed the Minister wants not only in-depth knowledge of adjudication and rehabilitation data, but he also questions the decisions. The president also goes on to say that the Minister has had confrontations with board members and in fact identified another board member who had also taken issue with the Minister on his approach.
Is it only the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board who thinks, in this sea of complaint coming from the board itself - board members and board staff, including the president - that he is not interfering with the adjudicative role of the Workers' Compensation Board?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Let us talk about the "sea of complaint". There have been numerous complaints about the operations of the Workers' Compensation Board. I am the Minister responsible. This Legislature passed the act. We make the regulations. The board, including the president, reports to the Minister responsible.
There is a petition before this House calling for a public inquiry. One of the longest serving members of the board resigned, citing that injured workers were not being treated properly, that there were problems with morale at the Workers' Compensation Board, that it was not operating as it should. As the Minister responsible, I took action to have a board of inquiry appointed to look into the operations. I have talked to the Injured Workers Alliance. A few years ago there was no need for an Injured Workers Alliance. Injured workers were not receiving the treatment that they expected and had to form their own alliance. Those are the Members who have asked that something be done about the Workers' Compensation Board. I am doing something about the Workers' Compensation Board. Then the Leader of the Official Opposition has the gall to stand up and say, "the Minister is interfering."
Mr. McDonald: We are pleading with the Minister to stop breaking the law. Do the right thing, which is provide for a public inquiry, address what very well may be legitimate complaints about the Workers' Compensation Act, appoint a workers' advocate or make sure that there is a legislative framework for a workers' advocate and do all the things that a Minister can do under the law, but do not break the law. One could argue that the Minister has lost the moral authority to be the Minister because he is ignoring the law.
Can I ask the Minister what he is going to do? There are obviously concerns, despite his protests to the contrary, from not just one board member, but other board members and the president himself about the Minister's role in the actual adjudication of the claims. What is he going to do to repair that relationship?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Leader of the Official Opposition has accused me of breaking the law. If he wants to accuse me of that, he should bring in a substantive motion, put his seat on the line and prove the allegation.
When the Leader of the Official Opposition accuses a Minister of breaking the law, it is a serious accusation, and he had better be able to prove it.
Mr. McDonald: This Minister is not going to intimidate me; I will tell him that right now.
This law says that the Minister is not entitled to interfere with the adjudication of claims. That is what the law says. We passed it ourselves and the Minister and I were both in the Legislature when it was passed. The Minister did not speak to the law when it was being passed, but I certainly did, and I know what is in the law. The Minister is not supposed to be doing what he clearly is doing or has been seen to be doing by the president of the Workers' Compensation Board and members of the board itself, which is to question decisions that the board makes with respect to individual claims.
We are as sympathetic as anyone about the injured workers who are expressing concerns about the board. However, there is a right way and a wrong way, and the wrong way is to break the rule of law. The right way is to amend the law or take such actions, like the public inquiry, to address it. How is the Minister going to carry on with any moral authority if he is ignoring the law while he is the one charged with upholding it?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Again, I ask the Member, if he is seriously alleging that I have broken the law, to bring a motion in this House and substantiate that allegation. I, as the Minister responsible, am trying to get to the bottom of the problems at the Workers' Compensation Board. I have not tried to influence the decisions of the board of appeal, the adjudication.
If I asked for information that the president thought was inappropriate - I have not seen the submission. The president alleges that he did not provide the information. Did the president say that he has broken the law by providing the Minister with information that the Minister should not have?
The allegation is not clear, except in saying that I have broken the law. The Leader of the Official Opposition should not be saying that until he knows what is going on.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Nordling: You do not.
Question re: Government employees, restoration of collective bargaining
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Government Leader about the restoration of collective bargaining in the public service. During the recent by-election in Whitehorse West, the Political Action Committee for the Public Service Alliance of Canada put questions to the candidates. One of the questions related to the immediate restoration of collective bargaining in the public service. The Yukon Party's candidate answered, "My belief is that, with all Yukoners working together, these restraint measures can be lifted as quickly as possible." Did she put forward that position with the approval of the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: For the Member's information, we are looking at ways that collective bargaining can be restored. We will continue to explore them and are hopeful that something can be done to resolve the situation.
Mr. Cable: I find that rather surprising, in view of the Justice Minister's announcement on the radio a few weeks ago, which was that the government had no intention of repealing the restraint legislation.
Let me put this to the Government Leader: the total savings from the wage rollbacks were calculated by the government to be about $10 million to $13 million, if I remember the figures that were put forward in the House. Over that period, the government will be spending over 100 times that amount. In view of the fact that the Yukon is debt free - we see the funny little buttons that people are wearing - and in view of the fact that the savings from the rollback are less than one percent of the budget, is the Government Leader now prepared to put the issue of wages back on the table and take his chances with our employees?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is interesting that we have the Liberal Member asking that kind of question in the House when the federal government, the Liberal Member's party, is not prepared to do it and wants to get away from binding arbitration.
The wage restraint legislation was implemented for a very specific reason; that is, savings that this government felt it needed from wages and benefits in the government. We are a long way from achieving those savings yet. The Member opposite is right when he says that the government is in a very small surplus position. As I said earlier, we are looking at what we can do to resolve this issue at the earliest possible date.
Mr. Cable: I am sure the Government Leader is up to date on Mr. Martin's manoeuvres. Mr. Martin has a real financial problem - as opposed to the synthetic one that has been put forward by this government - and he is talking about restoring collective bargaining to the federal public servants.
With respect to the recommendations put forward by the International Labour Organization, is the Government Leader prepared to acknowledge and accept those recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There is a little bit of a difference between the federal Minister of Finance and me. I do not have transfer payments to the provinces or the municipalities that I can dramatically cut. I do not have an unemployment insurance fund to dip into for about $5 billion per year to fight the deficit. Our hands are tied and our options are fairly limited when 80 cents out of every dollar that we receive come from the federal government, and it can be cut at any time it wishes.
Question re: Workers' Compensation Board, ministerial involvement
Mr. McDonald: The Minister of the Workers' Compensation Board claims that he does not remember having any discussion with the alternate chair of the board about interference with board operations. Is the Minister certain about that?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, I am certain about what I said. Obviously, the Leader of the Official Opposition did not hear me. I did not say that I never had any discussions with the alternate chair. I believe that the Member is referring to discussions that I had with the past alternate chair who was in that position until July. I know that I did speak to that person about communications between the Minister and the board. We discussed a method of communication and who would communicate with whom. We felt that communication should take place through the president and that the alternate chair would strive to have the president communicate in a clear manner with the Minister responsible.
Mr. McDonald: The president says in his report to the inquiry that, "This government never accepted the principles of certain aspects of the legislation. Shortly after the election, the Government Leader and the Minister met with the board to introduce a senior public servant as their new president. The board pointed out that under the 1992 act the board chooses the president and intended to do so. This started a tense relationship between the board and the government, which has worsened over the next three years."
Has the Minister attempted in any way to encourage the president of the board to adopt Management Board directives or government policies not anticipated in the Workers' Compensation Act?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, we have not. The Financial Administration Act applies to the Workers' Compensation Act. The Management Board directives do not apply unless they are specifically instructed to apply. We have asked the Workers' Compensation Board to go through the Management Board directives and indicate to us which ones are not applicable to that board and which ones they do not want to follow. There is some certainty. The Workers' Compensation Board does not operate completely independently of all government rules and guidelines - for example, with respect to tendering procedures. We have invited the board, through the president, to go through them so that we know which Management Board directives will apply and which ones are not applicable. That has not been done. Consequently, the Workers' Compensation Board does not follow any of the Management Board directives at all.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister indicated that the Management Board directives do not apply unless they are specifically stated to. Can he be more precise in his answer about who provides specific instructions?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Let me help the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Section 46(5) of the Workers' Compensation Act states this: "Despite the Financial Administration Act (a) investment of money by the board is subject to the Financial Administration Act, except section 39 of that act, and (b) a Management Board Directive shall not apply to the board unless the Commissioner in Executive Council prescribes that it shall apply."
As a government, we did not want to prescribe Management Board directives to apply unless the Workers' Compensation Board did not feel that there was no problem with them, so that they could operate efficiently and effectively without being bound by Management Board directives that would not be applicable. That is what we have asked them to do and have not yet received a response.
Question re: Workers' Compensation Board, ministerial involvement
Mr. McDonald: When the government was consulting with the Workers' Compensation Board about the Management Board directives - if one reads section 6 of the act, it says that the Minister shall consult with representatives of employers and workers and the board concerning whether or not a Management Board directive should be applicable to the board - can the Minister tell us if he went through that process before he tried to influence the board president in the purchase of a particular vehicle for the board?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Again, the Member should be careful with his allegations, or make them a little more clearly. The concern over the purchase of a vehicle was, in some sense, that the Workers' Compensation Board was following Management Board directives and tendering procedures, but if it came to a point where it did not like what it got, or it did not think it applicable, it would just stop in the middle and say that it was not bound by this anyway.
We will use best business practices for purchases. It was not fair to suppliers and it is not a consistent and logical way to do business. The board should either be in or out when it comes to purchases such as motor vehicles. We just wanted the Compensation Board to be clear about whether or not it was going to be bound by those procedures. The board does ask for assistance from, for example, Government Services in the tendering process. If it is going to ask us for assistance in the tendering process, then it should be bound by our procedures.
Mr. McDonald: I admit that I am going to have to be very specific with the Minister because, clearly, I think he is not being really straight and I must be very careful. I will tie the Minister down. I asked the Minister a very specific question: did the Minister consult with workers, employers and the board before trying to influence how a vehicle was purchased for the Workers' Compensation Board?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Again, the Leader of the Official Opposition is making allegations about the Minister's involvement in that, and those allegations are not right. I have just answered that question, but let me try to describe to him the procedure that section 46 outlines.
Section 46(6) talks about consultation with representatives, but we have not even reached that stage yet. What we want to find out from the Workers' Compensation Board is which Management Board directives it can operate under and which ones are not applicable to the board. Once the board has determined that for us, we are then bound to consult representatives of the employers and workers on the board concerning whether or not the directive should be made applicable to the board. There is a logical procedure that has to be followed, and what we have asked the Compensation Board to do is to go through the Management Board directives.
My understanding is that the previous board and the president went through the Management Board directives and have determined which ones would be applicable and which ones would not be. We just have not received that information yet from the president or the board.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister gives us all the impression that he is operating on some high policy plain, that he is just trying to do the general bidding of the public, making sure that the act is generally adhered to. Yet now we find out, from all kinds of sources, that the Minister is doing everything from involving himself in specific claims, including questioning decisions, to even interfering in the purchase of a car for this board. He is deeply into the operations of this board.
What business does the Minister have, in any circumstance, getting himself into such questions as the purchase of a vehicle for the Workers' Compensation Board?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Leader of the Official Opposition must know better than the impression he is trying to give. The operations of the Workers' Compensation Board overlap tremendously with the operations of government. The employees are covered by the Public Service Staff Relations Act, the president is a deputy minister under the act; they are negotiating with the Thomson Centre for the power program; they handle occupational health and safety that was transferred from Justice, and -
Mr. McDonald: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Listen - let me answer the Member's question.
The Workers' Compensation Board uses government vehicles. If the Workers' Compensation Board comes to Government Services and asks Government Services to tender for or purchase a vehicle for it, then the government department is involved; and if the government is doing something, whether through occupational health and safety, the power program, or purchasing vehicles, there is a procedure to be gone through.
If the Workers' Compensation Board wants Government Services, for example, to tender and purchase a vehicle, then Government Services has certain policies and procedures to be followed. The Workers' Compensation Board either has to follow them or buy the vehicle on its own. If it asks for our assistance...
Speaker: Order. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: ...then we will be involved. Of course, we are going to be involved.
Question re: Workers' Compensation Board, ministerial involvement
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board - the guy who is taking action and involving himself in every little facet of the Workers' Compensation Board.
Yesterday, I asked the Government Leader a question about performance appraisals. He told me that he sat down with the Ministers and did performance appraisals. Two chairs of the Workers' Compensation Board wrote letters recommending that the president get a merit increase and gave him good performance evaluations. Yet, the Government Leader and the Minister responsible did not think that was good enough. This board has the responsibility and the legislated ability, in law, to recommend the dismissal of this individual. Its recommendation for a merit increase was not good enough for these guys. They said no, and the president did not get any merit increases.
I would like to ask the Minister who interfered in that process. Why were there no merit increases granted?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Member for Riverdale South is all wrong. With respect, the merit increases for the president come, as with any deputy minister or president, to the Government Leader. It is the sole responsibility of the Government Leader to determine that. With respect to the Workers' Compensation Board, we asked the board to provide a performance evaluation to assist us in determining merit, because we do not see the day-to-day operations. We were told -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Let me finish my answer. The Member has made her speech.
We asked for that in October and November. The board said no, it was not prepared to finish the evaluation for the president until the year end, that its fiscal year-end was December 31, and that soon after that, it would do an evaluation. I believe that we did not receive that evaluation until late summer. Since that time, there has been another request for an evaluation for this year. As the Government Leader answered yesterday in this House, those evaluations have not been considered or done yet for any of the presidents of the corporations.
The president of the Workers' Compensation Board that the Member for Riverdale South is so staunchly defending is not being dealt with any differently than any other president of a corporation.
Mrs. Firth: The thing that is different about him is that he is gone.
The president of the Workers' Compensation Board was kind enough to provide me with all of his performance evaluations with a statement saying that no performance pay is granted as of February 12 and that the president's last day was March 1.
I think if anyone wants the documentation as to what has happened I have it and I am prepared to provide it for them.
I want to ask the Minister another question about political interference. In the key results areas with respect to the performance evaluations, it has been recorded that attempts at news conferences and news releases have been restricted. Following a meeting between the chair and the Minister, releases were not to be stopped by the Cabinet communications advisor. This has not happened. They are still re-written and not released until a communications Cabinet advisor and the Minister approve the releases. It was beyond the president's capacity to change, as further action would aggravate the board's relationship with government.
Why is the government putting a muzzle on the Workers' Compensation Board with respect to issuing its own press releases?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: That is not true at all. There is no muzzle order with respect to press releases. It just is not true.
To deal with the preamble, I would like to ask the Member what documentation or indication she has that the president's last day was March 1? It is my understanding that he is still the president of the Workers' Compensation Board, and there has been no revocation of that appointment.
Mrs. Firth: I have a letter from the president of the Workers' Compensation Board that says, "Each year you have requested copies of my performance evaluation and each year it was denied. Replies from Bill Klassen and Craig Tuton said that the evaluation could only be released by me. As you know, I will soon be leaving the board."
Is that fairly clear, Mr. Speaker? "I have decided to provide you copies as you requested, since the Minister and two board chairs have said only I could do so. Note attachments. I hope this will satisfy your concerns about my performance."
Speaker: Order. Would the Member please ask the question.
Mrs. Firth: I am trying to give the Minister the answer about March 1. I have about five words to go. It says, "If you have any questions, please note my last day in the office will be March 1." The guy is gone.
The Minister has been running the Workers' Compensation Board and does not know that his president is gone? Give us a break. The issue here is absolute interference.
Speaker: Order. Does the Member have a question?
Mrs. Firth: I think I have stated my case. I rest my case. We know who is breaking the law and causing the problems here. Now, give me your speech.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is the same speech. If the Member for Riverdale South is accusing me of breaking a law she should bring a substantive motion to the House and prove her allegation. All that she has done is stand up and throw her ridiculous accusations around in the safety of the Legislature, playing crass politics about a serious business.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Leader of the Official Opposition is saying that this is serious business, and it is. The whole Workers' Compensation Board and the system is very important. In other jurisdictions it is in crisis. In Yukon it is not in crisis. We have a well-funded board-
Speaker: Order. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: We have a board that is operating well. There is a concern about the injured workers, their treatment and the policy and procedures, and as the Minister responsible that is what I am concerned about and that is what I will deal with.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed and we will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
NOTICE OF GOVERNMENT PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to identify the item standing in the name of a government private Member to be called on Wednesday March 13, 1996. It is Motion No. 100, standing in the name of the Member for Klondike.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. We will be dealing with Bill No. 9. We are in general debate on the Department of Education and will pick that up right after our break.
Bill No. 9 - Third Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Education - continued
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. We are on Bill No. 9, Department of Education.
As there is no further general debate, we will go to line-by-line debate.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Public Schools
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Under this item are the following: additional salaries required for educational support worker, $35,000; additional salaries required by staffing formula as a result of the mine reopening in Faro, $525,000 - this is new funding and covers teachers in Faro and Whitehorse, as well as providing an educational assistant in Faro; additional school bus routes required in Whitehorse due to increased enrollment - two additional buses, $130,000; for a total of $690,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: Where was the educational support worker? Was that just one position in one school?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is in the Elijah Smith Elementary School.
Public Schools in the amount of $690,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is derived from formula-driven increases to community library boards for operating costs. This is for Old Crow, Teslin, Carmacks and Carcross. It includes an additional $20,000 for Old Crow as a one-time startup cost. The rest of it is the result of each of those communities having longer hours.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister referred to this as being a formula-driven increase. Therefore, aside from the special funding that he mentioned for Old Crow, why is there a supplementary for this? Why was it not anticipated that those funds would be allocated to the community libraries?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The request for the increase in hours from the library boards came after the budget was debated in the House. The increase in hours took effect in the summer.
Libraries and Archives in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
On Evaluation, Research and Planning
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a change in some of the job descriptions. The reduction is due to the vacancy of the communication coordinator. We no longer have such a position. It comes under public schools support services. There was also a transfer to Health and Social Services from this money for the youth investment fund.
Ms. Moorcroft: What is the position transferred to Health and Social Services for the youth investment fund? Is that an ongoing, permanent position?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is not a position. I am sorry. The position change had to do with the communication coordinator. That job has been picked up by the person who is in the public school support services. The transfer to Health and Social Services was money for the youth investment fund, which started off in the current year at $65,000, which was made up of contributions from various departments.
Evaluation, Research and Planning in an underexpenditure of $50,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Education in the amount of $725,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now go on to capital expenditures.
On Capital Expenditures
On Finance and Administration
On Staff Support and Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This money was a revote from 1994-95 to 1995-96. It was to purchase photocopiers to replace liquid-toner machines in schools and in Yukon Archives. They were replaced because of health and safety concerns.
Staff Support and Equipment in the amount of $73,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
On Facility Construction and Maintenance
On F.H. Collins School Upgrading
Ms. Moorcroft: I am interested in knowing why there was a reduction of $16,000 in the upgrading of F.H. Collins School. Perhaps the Minister can speak to that.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We did the work that was intended and it simply came in at a lower cost than was anticipated in the budget.
We did the following: a facility assessment of $24,000; a gym divider upgrade, which cost $50,000; industrial arts equipment replacement upgrade, $75,000; drafting lab renovations, $20,000; a drafting and industrial arts computer, hardware and software, $100,000; administration area ventilation upgrade, $15,000; and the total was only $284,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have had people come to me with their concerns about the state of F.H. Collins and its lifespan. Could I get a copy of the facility assessment that was completed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: To be clear, is it the Whitehorse facility study that the Member is requesting?
Ms. Moorcroft: No. I have a copy of the Whitehorse facility study. That is a separate line item and the Minister referred to the school upgrading as having included a facility assessment. I am asking the Minister for more details about that and whether or not it was a specific facility assessment for F.H. Collins, because the Whitehorse school facility study did contain a lot of detail. Perhaps the Minister could provide that detail to me.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
F.H. Collins School Upgrading in the amount of an underexpenditure of $16,000 agreed to
On Grounds Improvement and Landscaping
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The supplementary funding of $124,000 consists of new funding of $80,000 and a revote of $44,000. It is for a fencing upgrade in Teslin, $18,000; Christ the King Junior Secondary, $6,000; asphalt at Whitehorse Elementary, $20,000; and the Pelly Crossing playground, for which the government contributed $80,000; for a total of $124,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is that it? Is that the list? I am disappointed not to hear Golden Horn Elementary School, phase 1 of the final covering for the soccer field and the two backstops. That is something I have been asking questions about in this Legislature since 1992. It seems to me that it has always been on the verge of being done. It was expected to be started in the current fiscal year and completed in the 1996-97 year. Is the first phase of the soccer field at Golden Horn Elementary School going to be done before March 31, 1996?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to get back to the Member with that information.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to stand that line aside until the Minister comes back with that information?
Grounds Improvement and Landscaping in the amount of $124,000 agreed to
On Various School Facilities Alterations
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I think we have our answer. The amount of $256,000 consists of a revote of school-initiated renovations funding of $123,000 and a $134,000 revote of winter work projects commenced in 1994-95. It deals here with a number of projects: Golden Horn addition and landscaping in the amount of $76,000; $20,000 for Robert Service modulars; $140,000 carry-over for winter works; $250,000 for school-initiated renovations; $123,000 for a revote from 1994-95; $40,000 for rural telephone system upgrade; $5,500 for Elijah Smith Elementary School window protection; $2,000 for a hockey rink for the Gadzoosdaa Residence, and $1,400 for the Robert Service School security upgrade.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell us what the rural telephone service upgrade included - which schools were upgraded and what was the nature of the upgrade?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am advised that it was for a study of the rural telephone system and how to upgrade the systems.
Ms. Moorcroft: That was a fairly vague answer. Was the telephone upgrade to accommodate Internet access for the computer labs in the schools or was it simply the telephone service?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to come back with that information.
Various School Facilities Alterations in the amount of $256,000 agreed to
On Capital Maintenance Repairs
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is revote funding for the capital maintenance repair line item and consists of funding in a number of project areas. Some of the larger projects completed include the following: painting projects, $190,000; Porter Creek Junior Secondary School roof repairs, $110,000; mechanical renovations and generator electrical service at the Old Crow school; miscellaneous small projects, totalling $151,000; ongoing building maintenance, $600,000, which covers the emergency repair of building components that have been damaged during the normal course of school operation - there is a fairly detailed list of them.
Ms. Moorcroft: Were any of the capital maintenance repairs to Christ the King Elementary School, and if so, can the Minister indicate what amount of the capital maintenance was for repairs at Christ the King Elementary?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No. The repairs to Christ the King Elementary School come under a line item further along.
Capital Maintenance Repairs in the amount of $386,000 agreed to
On Air Quality
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This includes a revote of $23,000 and a reallocation of funding of $42,000 from modular classrooms. The money was for the Old Crow ventilation system. This was required to cover the estimated cost of the Old Crow ventilation project, the total for which eventually came in cheaper than expected.
Air Quality in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On New French First Language School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The revote of $190,000 is from 1994-95. The design of the school commenced in November 1994, after the site identification process was complete. Construction was tendered in July 1995.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister advise us what the government expects the final cost of the French first language school will be?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The total cost will come in at $6.25 million. The French day care, which is a separate item 100-percent funded by the Government of Canada, is another $250,000. The day care will not be part of the school per se. The $250,000 additional funding over the $6 million is solely the result of expanding the size of the gym facility.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will the child care centre be on site?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
New French First Language School in the amount of 197,000 agreed to
On Christ the King Elementary School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The work included window replacement for $85,000; library soundproofing for $35,000; site landscaping for $30,000; flooring replacement for $50,000, for a total of $200,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: I was just looking to see if there were any maintenance costs projected for Christ the King Elementary School for the coming fiscal year or if, with the closure of the school being anticipated, it had no further budget allotments.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There are no additional renovations contemplated at this time for that building. A more detailed list of the contracts for renovations and upgrading was provided, I believe, to the Member for Whitehorse West today. There is a better breakdown in that information. I could read it into the record if the Member wishes.
In short, any future renovations to the building will be contingent upon the eventual use of the building in terms of community desires and wishes.
Christ the King Elementary School in the amount of $52,000 agreed to
On Distance Education
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The transfer of $80,000 to instructional computers in 1995-96 was used to purchase the majority of the equipment for the YESNET project, which is currently underway.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister saying then that this reduced allocation of $20,000 is going to cover the YESNET project in all Yukon schools?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The $80,000 was transferred to the YESNET. It came from money not being spent to increase the Pathfinders learning system until the evaluation was completed. Because that evaluation is underway, the $80,000 went down to the second item under instructional equipment, down toward the bottom of the page and under there, instructional computers has gone up to $290,000.
Distance Education in the amount of an underexpenditure $80,000 agreed to
On Grey Mountain Elementary
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This item is for fire-lane access. They were offset from other school facilities and alterations. There is $20,000 taken from that line item and there is $5,000 from the dental lab design line item. The fire-lane access was an additional $25,000. Other projects completed were kindergarten renovations, $10,000; carpet replacement and corridors, $10,000; administration area renovation expansion $160,000; replacing miscellaneous finishes, $10,000 and furniture and equipment, $10,000; for a total of $225,000.
Grey Mountain Elementary in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Teen Parent Centre
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This includes a revote request of $204,000 and a request for internal transfers of $150,000 to complete construction requirements. Part of that was a contract that came in over estimate, and part of the increased cost was to meet additional costs related to city concerns. These primarily had to do with access to the school from Lewes Boulevard and the paving of the access and the parking lot.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell us what the present enrollment is at the Teen Parent Centre?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would have to bring that information back for the Member.
Mr. Sloan: I wonder if the Minister could tell us what plans are in the works for the previous Teen Parent Centre? I know that it is presently being used by F.H. Collins, but there had been some discussion about relocating all or part of it to the Arts Centre. Has there been any further discussion about it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not have any information about it here, but I will bring back some further information.
Teen Parent Centre in the amount of $354,000 agreed to
On Dawson Second School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote request of $68,000 for design costs for the Dawson second school.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are the plans for designing the Dawson second school proceeding at this time? I was given the impression by some of the people in the community whom I spoke with that the building advisory committee is no longer meeting and that the project has been put on hold.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No. The design will be carried forward so that it will be a ready-to-go situation. The building advisory committee will be functioning until it is completed.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister have a date in mind to proceed with the second school in Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes. The construction would commence in the early summer of 1997.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will the department be proceeding with school plans that are a result of the building advisory committee's recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, we want the valuable work that has been done by that committee to be completed so that we are able to start construction based on its plans.
Dawson Second School in the amount of $68,000 agreed to
On Modular Classrooms
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is part of the money that was allocated to the air quality system at Old Crow school.
Modular Classrooms in the amount of an underexpenditure of $42,000 agreed to
On Dental Lab Design
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Several projects originally slated for 1995-96 were cancelled. Funds were allocated as follows: Grey Mountain Primary, $5,000 of the additional $25,000 we have spoken about; $35,000 went to the YESNET instructional computers; and $20,000 went to schoolgrounds.
Dental Lab Design in the amount of an underexpenditure of $60,000 agreed to
On Christ the King High School Expansion
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote of $149,000 that was identified to complete the design, and the project was initiated too late in 1994 to have it included in the 1995-96 capital budget. It was an addition to address enrollment increases resulting from expansion of the grade structure from grades 7 to 9 to grades 7 to 12. This project has become redundant as a result of the grade reorganization.
Ms. Moorcroft: That was one question I had for the Minister: would Christ the King High School need to be expanded or, at its present size, would Christ the King Junior High be able to accommodate the kindergarten to grade 7 students?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There will not be a need to expand the capacity of the school. The future work for the school that will be coming up in the budgets will have to do with a retrofit of the school in order to accommodate the younger students, such as changing heights of blackboards, changes to washrooms and drinking fountains, et cetera. They will be allocated from various school alterations or Whitehorse grade reorganization, depending upon the cost.
Ms. Moorcroft: When was the $149,000 allocation that is in the supplementaries brought forward to the Minister for consideration of the high school expansion?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would have to get the actual date from the department, but the planning was 90-percent complete when it was cancelled.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister cannot remember which month it was brought forward to him to consider a $149,000 expansion plan for Christ the King, which is now redundant. Can I ask him what was in those plans and what, specifically, was being looked at?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The enrollment increases at Christ the King High School expansion were being looked at. This was for completing the design for the additions to that school. It was going to be expanded to meet expansion of the grades at Christ the King, year by year, until it was up to grade 12.
Ms. Moorcroft: They must have an idea of the enrollment projections. Riverdale Junior Secondary School is slated to become Christ the King High School. Is it big enough in its current state to accommodate the Christ the King High School, or are we going to see more money being spent on planning additions to what is now Riverdale Junior Secondary School?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The school will be large enough to accommodate the needs of Christ the King High School. My understanding is that the rough figures are projected at a school of 350 students, as compared to the school in Porter Creek, which is anticipated to be in the neighbourhood of 750.
Christ the King High School Expansion in the amount of $149,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse School Facilities Study
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote for the completion of the Whitehorse school facilities study.
Whitehorse School Facilities Study in the amount of $46,000 agreed to
On Rural Facilities Study
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This consists of reallocated funds for the completion of a rural facilities study. It is anticipated that the final cost of the study will be within budget, or come out at $91,570. Funds were offset from the capital maintenance repair line item.
Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that I have seen an interim report on the rural facilities study. Is there a final completion date for this study?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My understanding is that it is expected within the month. The department has received a draft copy, and it is now a matter of finalizing it. I would expect it within the next three or four weeks.
Rural Facilities Study in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Elijah Smith Elementary School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This money is required as supplementary funding to pay a settlement connected with the construction of the Elijah Smith Elementary School project.
Mr. Sloan: Is that the settlement of the Carlson action against the government?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is the lawsuit that this line item deals with. It is a partial settlement, on the recommendations of the lawyers, to one of the subcontractors to offset any money that might be awarded to Carlson. It is a partial payment.
Mr. Sloan: Has the overall action not been settled?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is correct. It is connected in part with the lack of liquidity, bankruptcy or whatever is happening with the senior company.
Elijah Smith Elementary School in the amount of $225,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Grade Reorganization
On Porter Creek Secondary School
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is new funding to implement changes to Porter Creek Secondary School, and includes the following: defining the scope of work, hiring the architect and commencing design. The money is required this year to cover the design and preparation work required for the implementation of the grade reorganization system. It is composed of $125,000 for the Porter Creek Secondary School and $50,000 for other renovations to other schools, particularly design work connected with Golden Horn and Elijah Smith portables, and renovations to the Whitehorse Elementary staff room and computer lab.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the design work that the Minister just talked about being done in house?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Porter Creek design work is being tendered right now and they are close to awarding the contract. Some of the other work will be in house, but some will not be.
Mr. Sloan: I apologize for not having picked this up during the technical briefing, which was quite complete on this, but I would like to serve notice to the Minister that when we come to the main estimates, I would like to talk about the fact that there is substantial work being done in capital improvements with grade reorganization. In reviewing some of the other material, particularly, I do not note any increase in learning materials that will be associated with grade reorganization. I am indicating now that I will be raising this issue during the main estimate debate.
Porter Creek Secondary School in the amount of $125,000 agreed to
On Renovations - Other Schools
Renovations - Other Schools in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Instructional Equipment
On School Based Equipment Purchase
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is the item mentioned in general debate about the additional school vans purchased for Pelly Crossing, Ross River and Old Crow.
Ms. Moorcroft: I had been asking the Minister about other vans for other schools and he had mentioned Carcross. When will Carcross receive a van?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That request came in from Carcross to the department fairly recently. It is hoped that they will receive a van fairly soon - in time for the tail end of this school year. It may be something that comes up before the end of the month. This is something that will be going ahead in conjunction with the school council.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister be more specific about the time of the request? Was it January, February or within the last week or two that he had received that request?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I believe the department received the request in January.
Mr. Sloan: I just have a question regarding the use of school vans. Has a policy been put in place with regard to levels of qualification, insurance, safety training, et cetera for the school vans?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, there is a policy in place and I believe the insurance on the vans is carried by the department.
School Based Equipment Purchase in the amount of $93,000 agreed to
On Instructional Computers
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These are the funds that were reallocated from distance education. We mentioned the $80,000; adult education, $50,000, and from dental lab, $35,000, for a total of $165,000. It covers some of the ongoing purchase and replacement of instructional computers in the schools. This funding has been provided annually since 1986. The initial instructional computer policy established a benchmark of a computer/student ratio of eight or one.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister indicated earlier that $80,000 of this increase was coming from the distance education line. Of the total $165,000 increase, how much is for reallocation and how much is new money?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is all reallocated and goes into such things as the YESNET Internet program, coordinating the acquisition and use of computers, technological policies, purchasing computers for schools, and that sort of thing. All these monies are from reductions we discussed earlier.
Instructional Computers in the amount of $165,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
On Yukon College
On Adult Education Capital Support
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This $50,000 is going into the instructional computers line item.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have to ask the Minister why $50,000 was taken from the college budget for adult education capital support and put into instructional computers. Are the instructional computers not part of the public schools branch?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This, of course, is money that is not Yukon College budget money. It is departmental budget money. The $50,000 amount was not being used this year. The $50,000 was used for such projects as the student resident completion, $28,000; ongoing college mechanical system commissioning, $12,000; and the Dawson highways trailer conversion study, $10,000. It was money that was not being spent this year.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister saying that the college administration did not have a use for the $50,000 in capital funds and suggested that the department could reallocate it to public schools?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The college has its own capital budget. We have increased that to $750,000 per year. This is money spent by our department. It was determined that the best use for this money was to put it into instructional computers.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am aware that it is money spent by the Department of Education. The fact is, though, that when the government announces the monies that it is going to make as contribution agreements and that it is going use to fund Yukon College, it includes not just the capital grant but the amount of capital support that it provides through this adult education capital support line item. I am a little concerned to see it dropping.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is entirely separate from the money that is provided to Yukon College. It is not Yukon College money. We have increased the capital budget of the college to $750,000 per year, every year.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister saying that the rationale for the decrease of $50,000 is simply that more instructional computers were needed in public schools, so it was reallocated?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Essentially, yes. We did not have any other priorities on which to spend the $50,000, therefore it was reallocated to where we saw it being needed. This was not a decision taken by the board of governors. It was the department's decision.
Ms. Moorcroft: In the $50,000 that was spent on Yukon College capital projects, the Minister referred to completion of the student residence, mechanical systems and a Dawson highways grader station conversion. Can the Minister elaborate on what the capital support was for the Dawson highways grader station conversion?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Dawson highway conversion study was to look at one of the old buildings at the old grader site in order to determine if it was able to be moved and used for part of the Dawson college campus. The result of the study was that the building was not worth moving.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will that building be slated for demolition?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, that is my understanding. The building was a separate building in the compound that was being used as office space by the administration at the grader station.
Ms. Moorcroft: Was that a contract that was awarded? Who did the work to examine the building?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It was a work authorization of Government Services. I am not sure if it did the work in house, or what it did.
Adult Education Capital Support in the amount of an underexpenditure of $50,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
On Library Facilities
On Community Library Development
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote for furniture and collections at the renovated, expanded Watson Lake library.
Community Library Development in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
On Library Equipment
On Branch Library Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote of $5,000 for branch library equipment. It is specifically for furniture and equipment for the new library in Old Crow.
Branch Library Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Archival Facilities
On Archives Storage/Vault
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote request to complete the upgrade of mechanical systems and other equipment in Yukon Archives' second vault.
Ms. Moorcroft: There was a section of Yukon Archives' vault that was not completed. With this supplementary funding to Yukon Archives' storage vault, will all of the basement space in the Archives be in use, and fully and finally completed?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will bring that information back. I am not sure if it will be entirely complete. Rather than guess, I will bring that information back.
Archives Storage/Vault in the amount of $57,000 agreed to
On Archives Equipment
On Archives Equipment Automation
Hon. Mr. Phelps: This is a revote. It is for renovations to Archives' building administration and reading room areas.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister elaborate on what the automation in the reading room is?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It has to do with a final stage in renovating the reading room area. Some items are for expanding collections, as this is the Archives' only capital equipment fund, and it includes computer needs for automation requirements - that is public access catalogue.
Archives Equipment Automation in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Education in the amount of $2,406,000 agreed to
Department of Education agreed to
Chair: We will now move on to the Department of Finance.
Department of Finance
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The department is giving up $110,000 in operation and maintenance and $31,000 in capital. There are a number of reasons for the O&M variance, but it can be largely attributed to two things: approximately one-half of the savings are the result of not filling vacancies; the remaining one-half is due to reduced funds required to pay for banking services.
The favourable capital variance is due to the installation of a local area network within the department. This was done for less than the budgeted sum and negated a need for an office automation study, which had also been budgeted for.
The department now expects an additional lapse of over $100,000 as a result of continuing and new vacancies and expected savings on banking contract costs.
Mr. McDonald: I have a few questions. I do not want to go into each issue over and over every time we come to the Department of Finance, but I do have a couple of questions that I will ask now and I will reserve my final set of questions for the main estimates.
In the past, the government had purchased the outstanding $2 million loan to Yukon Development Corporation from the Taga Ku Corporation and there was an allowance of $2 million voted for that particular purpose. Is the government attempting to recover that money from the Taga Ku Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will be attempting to collect that money from the Taga Ku Corporation if we get into a negotiated settlement with them or in the final part of the court case, which is yet to be heard. The government will be looking for an offset in the event damages are assessed against the government.
Mr. McDonald: I was under the impression from previous conversations that the government was not seeking the money from the Champagne-Aishihik Band - as security against land claims. At the time, I think the argument was that the government did not think it was appropriate to seek this money from the band, but perhaps I will follow up later on this matter.
Could the Minister clarify whether or not the claim is against Taga Ku Corporation or the Champagne-Aishihik Band?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is correct, the government is not going after the Champagne-Aishihik Band at this point, because we believe it will be worked out in the settlement with Taga Ku, if in fact there are damages assessed against the government. The government will be looking for an offset of the $2 million against the Taga Ku Corporation. Knowing that amount is still outstanding, we have not pursued Champagne-Aishihik for repayment.
Mr. McDonald: In the Finance briefing, which I am certain the Minister will be aware of by now, I asked questions about non-governmental organizations, and in particular about when those payments are made in a fiscal year. The information that we received was that as a general policy proposition non-governmental organizations would receive payments in the future on a gradual basis throughout the year, rather than full payments at the beginning of the year. The Minister will know that in some cases non-governmental organizations design their budget around the receipt of interest income associated with a payment that is made at the beginning of the year.
Could the Minister tell us precisely, from a policy perspective, what the government is intending to do, and perhaps use examples of non-governmental organizations - perhaps the college and other non-governmental organizations - to describe what will be the case in the future with respect to payment timing?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Ultimately all of the substantial funding to non-governmental organizations will have to be done on an incremental basis throughout the fiscal year because the federal government is moving toward giving us our money that way. Management Board's current policy is to pay out the smaller ones, up to $20,000 I believe, at the start of the fiscal year. The larger ones will be paid on a quarterly basis throughout the fiscal year. Right now, some of the large ones are still getting their money up front. I believe Yukon College is one that receives its money at the start of the fiscal year.
Mr. McDonald: In the Minister's view, is that likely to change? Obviously, some of these non-governmental organizations are depending on interest income for part of their operations. Is it the intention of the government to account for interest income lost or does it simply transfer that loss to the non-governmental organization itself?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe there is any change to the college this year, but it is going to come to the point where we will have to borrow the money to pay the college if we do not have good reserves, because of the way the money is going to be allocated from the federal government. I do not believe that one part of government, be it the Finance department, should be paying the interest charges on money going out to non-governmental organizations that is going to spent over the next 12 months. As long as we can fund them up front without incurring any financial penalties, we will be looking at doing that, but when it comes to the point where we will have to pay financial penalties, we will have to address the situation and adjust the policy accordingly.
Mr. McDonald: I will come back to this. I have some specifics I would like to see addressed and would like more information about the government's plans in this particular area because a number of people have talked to me about it and what is happening, and what might happen in the future is of great concern to them. Perhaps I will have an opportunity in the main estimates to delve into it more deeply.
I had asked for information in general debate on both the supplementaries and the mains about the financial impact of the transfer of federal responsibilities to the Yukon. The point of my question was to determine what would happen to Yukon's revenue picture should all resources currently within DIAND's responsibility be transferred to the Yukon government. I wanted to know what would happen, not only economically, but also to the government finances. We have some partial information so far, but can the Minister tell us whether or not he can provide a more firm picture of what might happen in the near future?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I understand that the department is still working on his request and wishes to verify the numbers before they are given to him so that they are as accurate as we can possibly get them.
Whenever there is devolution, as the Member opposite is aware, there is a certain cost being incurred by the federal government to deliver those services to Yukoners now. We would expect that those costs would be part of the devolution to the territorial government in the event of a program or programs being devolved to the territorial government.
I do not know if I can give the Member an accurate figure on what each one of those would be because that would be a matter of negotiation between us and the federal government. We are trying to take a different approach to it, as the Member opposite is aware. The forestry transfer was forced off the rails because DIAND was trying to claw back some $6 million per year in ongoing revenues, whether we made any money from the resource or not. We did not feel that was appropriate, so we backed out of taking over responsibility for the resource.
The process that I am trying to negotiate with DIAND or with any other government department now is that we will work to devolve on their cost of providing the service. Any revenues that flow to the Yukon because of devolution should be negotiated directly with the Finance people. The reason I take this position now is because, in the last formula financing agreement, DIAND was not involved at all. The territorial government dealt directly with Finance officials. We believe it is only appropriate that if we speak of revenue, we should be talking to Treasury and to Finance, and not to DIAND or other departments that we are devolving the resource from.
Mr. McDonald: I appreciate that response. I am trying to discover a couple of things, such as what the potential administrative costs would be, which is obviously a matter for negotiation. I am also particularly interested in finding out what the net benefit to the Yukon is by having these resources transferred to the Yukon government. Statements have been made to the effect that, with the transfer of these resources, not only will Yukon's self-sufficient state be improved, but it will be improved substantially. I want to test that proposition to determine if it is realistic.
From the placer fields, we have learned that in any given year we can expect to receive $40,000 in royalties. Anyone who knows about highway camp operations knows that that sum would permit the Bonanza Creek Road to be graded perhaps twice. Obviously, placer miners provide more of an economic benefit to the governmentm generally, than merely the royalties.
What I am trying to discover is the impact devolution will have on the financial state of the Yukon government and what it could conceivably have on the economic state of the territory generally. That baseline information will provide for a much more informed debate about where the territory is going and what the policy implications are. If the government can provide that information and is working on it, that is great. I will be waiting for it.
I also have a couple of brief questions about Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the federal budget. I will leave the rest for debate on the main estimates. Apparently, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is now defunct. Who in the federal government is going to be retaining the former financial responsibility for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation commitments, and will those commitments to the territory - in terms of financial participation in our social housing stock - be retained? Who will be making those payments on behalf of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is a good question, and I do not have an answer for you right now. We do not know who will be given that responsibility.
Mr. McDonald: The federal Minister of Finance made it very clear over the past couple of days - and was in fact protesting severely - that there will be a harmonized sales tax. Obviously he is indicating that he cannot proceed without the consent of individual jurisdictions. Does the Minister see that the federal Minister might make any attempt to oppose some arrangement against the Yukon government's wishes in view of the power that the federal government has over the territory, which it does not have over the provinces?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My interpretation of what the federal Minister of Finance has been saying over the past few days is a little different from the Members opposite. I have seen him looking for a really valid excuse for why he could not proceed with eliminating the GST, or with giving it a different name.
I believe that the problem for him today is just as great as it was two years ago when he first raised it in a meeting of finance ministers in Vancouver. He certainly does not have the Province of Ontario - or any of the western provinces that I am aware of - on side. Until he does, he will not be able to move forward with it. Having said that, he has also given some pretty clear signals that he would not be averse to having two rates of sales tax in Canada - one amalgamated for the provinces that have a sales tax, and another of the seven percent GST in Alberta, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, where there is no sales tax.
Mr. McDonald: We will see what his true intentions are. I understand that there is some fairly serious political imperatives being played out in the federal Cabinet these days. I see a recipe for the Yukon to be caught in the middle without much defence available to it. However, if the federal Minister's orientation is not to impose it over our objections, then that is fine given that we understand that the Yukon Party government does not find favour with tax harmonization.
I have one more question about the federal budget, which relates to the Canada Pension Plan. As I understood it, through a public consultation process, we were going to be sharing the responsibility of going through the process to determine what Yukoners thought about the Canada Pension Plan. I was under the impression that that consultation would come before changes to the Canada Pension Plan. The federal Minister has apparently made some announcements about some significant changes - one being the end of universality, which I think is a major change to the plan.
Can the Minister tell us whether or not he has had any communications with the federal Minister about the Canada Pension Plan? Has he communicated these potential changes to the plan to finance ministers prior to the budget coming out? Is the federal Minister going to be making further changes to the Canada Pension Plan prior to the consultation process that we are expected to help undertake?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am speculating here, but I believe that the federal Minister of Finance is throwing up some trial balloons in an effort to put some pressure on the provinces. The federal Minister of Finance cannot make any changes to the Canada Pension Plan without unanimity from all 10 provinces. He cannot impose any changes to the Canada Pension Plan. We have the comfort that the federal Minister of Finance cannot act alone in making changes to the Canada Pension Plan.
I can assure the Members opposite one more time that almost all provinces and territories are united in the idea that Ministers of Finance will not deal with proposed changes to the plan until after the public consultation process is completed. I believe that the federal Minister of Finance will be looking for a Ministers of Finance meeting sometime in late May or early June to deal with the Canada Pension Plan. There is no doubt that he wants to have an agreement in place before July 1. I cannot speculate at this time about whether or not he gets it.
Mr. McDonald: What was the nature of the federal government announcement with respect to talking about the pension plan benefit level being changed for incomes greater than $40,000? Perhaps the Minister can explain the situation for me.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that what was in the budget had nothing to do with the Canada Pension Plan; it was to do with old age security benefits and the guaranteed income supplement. Anyone who is making $52,000 will not be entitled to those benefits any longer. That is the amount established for a single person; it will be higher for families with combined incomes. This is going to be based on combined family incomes and not individually, as it was in the past.
The Member is right in that respect, but I believe he may be misinterpreting the information that it had something to do with the Canada Pension Plan. From my understanding of the budget, it had to do with the old age security benefit and the guaranteed income supplement.
Mr. McDonald: If that is the case, I stand corrected. It was not clear from the media reports precisely to what the changes were referring. In the commentary after the budget speech, it appeared in the context of budget discussions about retirement income that there were significant changes being made and that obviously this would have some impact about what people's expectations were from all sources of government income.
I stand corrected. I do not want to see a problem where none exists. I know that many people are very concerned about what is happening with universal programs and with the retirement income that they have been counting on.
I have one question that is not related to this issue. It is the public utilities income tax transfer.
Of course, the federal government has indicated that funds were cut out this year from its share of the tax transfer to the Yukon Electrical. It appears that only the Yukon portion of corporate income tax will now be returned to the utility. I understand it is the case that no other private utility in the country receives this benefit. Does the Minister understand that to be the case?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe the Member is correct on that issue. We have not done anything with it yet, but at some point we will have to deal with it. The reality is that if we eliminate it, the rates are going to go up for the ratepayer. It is as simple as that. They are going to get their return on their investment, no matter how, and if we eliminate the territorial portion - and there may be some very valid grounds why we should be doing it at this point - it will just impact upon the ratepayers and not on the company, in my opinion.
While I am on my feet, I just want to respond a little more about the Canada Pension Plan. I do not want to be giving the Member opposite a level of comfort that I do not believe is there. While I said the Minister does not have the right to do anything with the Canada Pension Plan on his own, that is not to say that something will not happen to the whole retirement package in the end, including RRSPs. We have already seen the Liberals start to tax at age 69 instead of 71, and that is going to have a tremendous impact upon Canadians who are retiring and who do not have a pension benefit plan with their employer - the small business people in this country who are now going to have to start drawing the money out at age 69 and paying tax on it. That, again, is going to be a windfall for the federal government.
Mr. McDonald: I share that concern. The problem a lot of people face, with reference to retirement income, is that quite often it takes an adult lifetime to prepare for one's retirement. Certain assumptions are made very early on about how one should be expending one's money and how much savings one should set aside for retirement as opposed to how much one might spend in the consumer economy that ends up supporting the economy itself.
If changes are made by the federal government that have a direct impact on pensioners or people who retire within a very short period of time, namely within five or 10 years, this does not leave people sufficient time to react given that typically many people start saving for retirement in their early 30s and have 30 to 35 years to prepare.
So I would hope that the Minister, in his submissions to the federal government, will make the point very clearly that any changes, for whatever reason, ought to be done very, very gradually and designed in such a way that the changes do not upset people too much, particularly lower income people who are at a serious disadvantage.
I am, at this point, under the impression that there is no social program in this country that is sacred any more. Everything is up for grabs and it is all to be cut. The whole orientation of the government is for individuals to look after themselves. I find it tragic. I do not think there will be very much left in this country that will bind us together given the conservative orientation of the government.
On that front, I am feeling that there is not a lot of hope available to us, but nevertheless many of us will keep plugging along, trying to make our political case.
I do not have any other questions at this time. I will leave it to other Members and then follow up again when we get to the main estimates.
Chair: Is there any other general debate?
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions for the Minister with respect to his whole commentary about the government not having any debt. I have been looking through the public accounts at the pages relating to debt. I see that on page 55 the long-term debt is noted. There is one entry for loans from Canada, repayable in annual installments until the year 2007, bearing the interest rate of nine percent. That is $5 million for 1995. The loan from the Yukon Housing Corporation is $4.7 million. Other debts, repayable in semi-annual installments, are $837,000, for a total of over $10 million.
On the Yukon Housing Corporation page - page 186 - there is note number 5 about the long-term debt, which is almost $40 million. I know that a lot of that is mortgages, but is still a debt. The Yukon Development Corporation on page 172 lists its long-term debt at $52 million. I get concerned when the government says that we do not have any debt and that this is just some kind of paper debt, but I would like to know how the government can maintain that we do not have any debt when the public accounts show that there are obviously some government debts.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is correct; the government does have some debt, but we do not have any debt for the day-to-day operation of government. Some of the debts that the Member cited are loans from the federal government, which are then loaned to the municipalities, so we have offsetting assets. As well, the Yukon Housing Corporation has many assets that offset that debt, as does the Yukon Development Corporation for the generating facilities that they have purchased.
The government is not going into debt for the day-to-day operation of the government. We balance our budget, and we have a surplus.
Mrs. Firth: My concern is that we do have debts. If it happened that our transfer payments from the federal government were drastically reduced, is the Minister saying that the Yukon Housing Corporation can sell off its assets to pay down the debt? Would he go to the municipalities and say that they have to give back the money because the government is in debt, and that they have to do something to raise their own money?
There comes a point in time when you can no longer let these debts grow. From the information that is in public accounts, the debts are growing and they are not getting any smaller. That is my concern, and if we continue to allow these debts to grow, sooner or later the day of reckoning will be upon us.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I guess you can approach the issue from whatever direction you choose. In the case of Yukon Housing Corporation, this government subsidizes that corporation. If transfer payments were to be cut in any dramatic manner, we would have to be looking at Yukon Housing Corporation the same as way as we would any branch of government. As long as the Yukon Housing Corporation continues to build social housing or staff housing in the Yukon, there is going to be a debt reflected, but the payments of the mortgages for social and staff housing will offset this debt.
There is no doubt, and the Member is absolutely right, that in the event of a dramatic cutback in the grant, we would have to reassess what we are doing in Yukon Housing Corporation just as we would have to do with every government department.
Mrs. Firth: In the Yukon Housing Corporation long-term debt, there is a specific line for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation loans. I heard the Minister respond to a question earlier saying that the government did not know what was going to happen to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The amount of this debt is $2,845,000. Could the Minister tell us what is going to happen to that debt?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Perhaps I was not clear. What I said, or what I intended to say, is that we know that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is gone, but some other arm of government is going to have to pick up the responsibility for the existing programs, but there will not be more money put into the programs.
Mrs. Firth: I am assuming it will probably the Yukon Housing Corporation that picks up the responsibility for this program.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: Okay, the Minister is saying that some other arm of the federal government is going to have to pick up responsibility for this.
My concern regarding the debt probably goes back to the Taxpayer Protection Act that we are going to be debating soon. This act says that the Yukon government has no debt, even though there is a deficit. I understand about the surplus being in place to pay off the debt. I think the government has the Liberal Member convinced that there is no debt, because he keeps standing up and saying that the government is debt free, too. That causes me a bit of concern.
I have read the Yukon Update, the latest publication that the Minister's government has sent out, saying that the Yukon is the only province/territory that will have no debt at the end of the 1995-96 fiscal year. I guess I find that a somewhat inaccurate statement, particularly in light of public accounts contradicting that statement.
I have made my position clear, and I have discussed this privately with the Minister. On the issue of deficit financing and whether or not governments should be allowed to run deficits, I have put the position on the record that I do not think that they should be permitted to. Governments should be spending what they take in. It does not matter if a government does have a surplus. Governments should not be spending more in a year than their revenues.
That, compounded with this debt, causes me some concern, because I am concerned about protecting the taxpayer. If I could see that these debts were getting smaller, I might not be as concerned as I am. However, they are not getting smaller; in fact, the amounts are getting larger. Perhaps the Government Leader could give us a clear explanation about exactly what he means when he says that Yukon is the only province or territorial jurisdiction that does not have a debt in the 1995-96 fiscal year.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know if I will ever be able to convince the Member opposite, but I will try.
When the Member talks about the public accounts, the Member is talking about the Yukon Housing Corporation, the Yukon Energy Corporation, and the other I addressed was municipal loans, which is an in-out transaction for this government. The Yukon government borrows it from the federal government and loans it to the municipalities. My understanding is that that debt is decreasing.
As for the one for the Yukon Energy Corporation, it is not paid for by this government. That loan is being repaid by the Member opposite paying her power bill every month. It does not impact on government finances, except when we get into rate relief and such, where money is not taken back out of the corporation.
With respect to the Yukon Housing Corporation, I have said that as long as it continues to build houses, it will continue to have a debt, as well as mortgage payments coming back in to settle that debt. So, there is an income from that.
The big difference between the Taxpayer Protection Act and what the Member opposite is talking about is that the Taxpayer Protection Act is talking about unconsolidated books - not consolidated balance sheets. What the Member is talking about in public accounts is the consolidated balance sheets of the government, which take into consideration all of the Crown corporations and the assets of those corporations.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that the basic principle is whether or not the taxpayer is at risk. There seems to be some difference of opinion between the Government Leader and I as to whether or not the taxpayers are at risk. The Government Leader believes that they are not, and I am not quite convinced of that argument.
Personally, I feel that the taxpayer is always at risk given the way that governments are operating and managing their finances these days. It is the taxpayer who is constantly being asked to pay more. Therein lies the vicious circle. I do not want to get into a big, long debate about it. I simply want to put my concern on the record. I see the Minister saying that some of the debts are going down; but when you talk about a $5 million debt, and it goes down a few percentages, that does not give me a lot of comfort that the debt is actually going down. It does not take an awful lot of financial activity here to have a tremendous impact on the financial picture of the Yukon Territory. I will just put my position on the record, and I am sure that the Minister and I can agree to disagree on the issue. Time will tell.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will be very brief. I think that the taxpayer will really be at risk if we do not have a taxpayer protection act, and governments start going into debt on their unconsolidated statements and borrowing money for the day-to-day operations of government. That is what we are not doing in the territory today. That is what we have to protect.
There is no doubt that the territorial government is ultimately responsible for all of these debts that are in the public accounts. I am saying, however, that there are some assets to offset those debts in case something happens. You will never be in a position in which you will have a utility that is going to provide power to residents without having some debt for those capital costs of that project. It is just not possible to pay cash for those things. You are going to have debt in those types of areas. As long as we do not have to be borrowing money for the day-to-day operations of government, I think that we are in a very good financial position. That is what I am talking about when I say that we have no debt. We have no debt on the unconsolidated books of the government.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions concerning revenue. This is an old chestnut that I think we have been around before.
There is an adjustment of $6 million, over a base of $35 million, to the personal income tax on the revenue side, which is getting close to 20 percent. Is that the sort of variation that we can expect from year to year? What was the basic cost for this particular $6 million variation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is absolutely right. We have been round and round on this one, but I will try and clarify it for him one more time.
We base our estimates on federal figures from Statistics Canada. That is all we can do. Otherwise, we would be accused by the Members opposite of fudging the figures. We have to use the figures that we have. They are always a couple of years behind. That is why our formula now, in the 1996-97 year, is picking up the loss of the population with the Faro mine shutdown in 1993. That is what our figures are based on.
There is no other way that we can do it. We can start making our own estimates, which I believe are closer than those of Statistics Canada, but the fact remains that I could just hear the debate in this House around what we are basing figures on.
Mr. Cable: What stats is the Government Leader suggesting as an alternative to the Statistics Canada two-year-old statistics?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We do our own population estimates, based probably more on our health care system than anything else.
In the past, our estimates have always been far more accurate than Revenue Canada's estimates.
Mr. Cable: I am not sure I appreciate the apprehension of the Government Leader about the anticipated reaction from this side of the House. Is the Government Leader saying that if he has a better set of statistics, he could not sell them to this House.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is a problem; they are just our projections; they are not statistics. Statistics Canada uses statistics, but they are always outdated. That is what we work under, because that is what our grant is based on. What we get from the federal government is based on the estimates from Statistics Canada, not our own.
Mr. Cable: What is the Finance department's view of the outer limits of the variations between the budget and the final public accounts as they come down many months later?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: One of the situations we deal with in the Yukon is our very small population base and any adjustment can make dramatic percentages in the overall budget. The other thing I would like to say about the budget is that it is put together over a period of months and the numbers in the budget are the best numbers we have for that specific date. In this case, the budget was tabled in February. The most recent numbers we had to work with would have been from December. Probably the last accurate figures we had were from the end of November. Our budget is based on what we could project as of the end of November. As the Member opposite knows, those change all the time and that is the reason for supplementary estimates, and the reason for changes to the revenue estimates. I do not think that we can get it any closer than that.
My deputy minister was just saying that in 1992-93, one small change from the 1994 provisional - on the final February 1994 budget we were projecting $6 million in corporate taxes and federal Revenue told us that the $6 million was the final figure. When we got the figures, they had reduced that by $4 million. That is how much they are out sometimes. It is very hard for us to project based on that kind of accounting.
Due to the vast numbers in Canada, they must wait until all the numbers are in. Our formula is based on a lot of things that are happening across Canada, so we work with the best numbers we have. Is 20 percent too much? I do not know. I am sure everyone would like to be perfect, but this is not, as I heard the leader of the Member opposite say, "This is not a perfect world."
Mr. Cable: I found that out when I was a young boy.
Could I just go back to the last set of statistics that the Government Leader mentioned? He said there was a projected tax of $6 million. Was that for the 1994-95 budget, and did it eventually come in at $2 million? Was that what he said?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member would just like to continue with questions, I will get my assistant to write them out for us.
Mr. Cable: I am not being critical of the projections. I am just wondering what the worst case/best case scenario is and what the possible swing could be. Since the original vote of more than a year ago, 12 months later, personal income tax has changed by the amount of $6 million, or 20 percent.
What is the total potential swing between the best case and worst case scenarios? Would it be 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent or what?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that in this budget we are going to project 75 percent for corporate tax.
The Member opposite says that he does not want to be critical, and I know he does not like to be critical of the federal government, but he should be very, very critical of it because every province in Canada has this same problem. We are not the only jurisdiction with the problem.
Mr. Cable: Regardless of who is at fault for this heinous crime, could the Government Leader indicate what he uses as a rule of thumb between the best case and the worst case? I know the Minister's deputy does calculate best case/worst case scenarios. Are we looking at potential swings of 40 percent - sort of double what we have in this supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Looking at our revenue calculations, it is at approximately five percent. However, the Member opposite has to remember that all of these things are formulated in a big mixing drum and something comes out at the other end. The formula is failsafe.
We use federal government figures. That is all we can use to calculate our grant from the federal government. They will continue to make adjustments to this formula and that is why it is usually three years after the fact before we have the final figures. We will be receiving the final figures for 1993 this year, and it will continue to be two or three years behind. Again, we have a grant this year that is affected by the population swing from the Faro mine closure in 1993. We are seeing the impacts of that closure this year. The reason for this is because we have to use Statistics Canada figures.
Going back to the example that I gave the Minister earlier, the federal Department of Finance gave us a final estimate for corporate income tax of $6,120,589 for the 1992-93 year. A year and one-half later - 18 months later - there was an adjustment made to reduce our 1992-93 corporate income tax entitlement to $1,954,044. What can you do? These are the numbers that we are working with, as I said, because of equalization in provinces. This is a continuous argument at Ministers of Finance meetings. The argument is that the federal government is so far behind, we have to do it this way. We do not have any alternatives.
Mr. Cable: I understand the Minister's example now and the time variations.
The Minister has indicated, within his own department, that they have a projected variation of five percent based on a worst case scenario and a best case scenario. I am assuming that, down the road, when the figures come in two or three years later, this is what causes the wide variations. Do the Minister and his deputy have a rule of thumb as to the breadth of the potential variations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We do run estimates on our own, as I have stated before in the House, because we feel that we have a better handle on the figures than the federal government has. What most finance departments do - and especially deputy ministers as they are very conservative by nature - is tend not to overestimate the revenues. That is why I have said that as long as I am Minister of Finance in this Legislature and if I am going to have any surprises, it will be that I have a larger surplus than expected, not smaller.
I would draw Members' attention to page S-2 of the supplementaries. In the financial summary, on a total budget of almost $500 million, when one looks at the estimates of the territorial revenue, the established program financing and the transfer payment from Canada, one can see that we are only out by $4.4 million. The change is virtually nil in all three of them. The territorial revenue is down by $3.5 million, but the transfer from Ottawa is up by $4.49 million. With the fail-safe method we use, we were very close in our estimates of the figures.
Mr. Cable: I followed the Minister up to the term "failsafing". What is he talking about?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That means that when our revenues fall below a certain level, the federal grant increases, in order to offset it.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Mr. Cable: I am still back on the original question. We do have a 20-percent variation in the revenue. What is the widest swing that we could anticipate? Can we get an estimate out of the Minister or his deputy about what the best case/worst case swing is? Is it double what we just got here - 20 percent times two?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It really does not matter what makes up the expenditure base. We estimate the gross expenditure base under the formula. The composites of that base - that is, income tax and formula grant - are largely irrelevant to the total. It is the total that is important. We are virtually within one or two percent of that estimate. We are always in that area because it really does not matter how revenues change. If our revenues go up, the grant goes down, and vice versa. So, on the overall total, we can come fairly close. As I said, we are usually within one or two percent. We do best case/worst case scenarios of about five-percent variation in the total, and we are fairly close on that from year to year to year. Each of the components really is irrelevant, when there is a formula that is failsafe.
Mr. Cable: To recapitulate, will the $4 million change in revenue that is projected be essentially failsafed some time down the road?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The answer to that is yes. It will be.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on Finance?
Are we prepared to go line-by-line debate at this time?
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Treasury in the amount of an underexpenditure of $110,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Finance in the amount of $110,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of an underexpenditure of $31,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Finance in the amount of $31,000 agreed to
Department of Finance agreed to
Chair: We will recess at this time. When we return we will begin debate on Government Services.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Department of Government Services
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Supplementary funds for Government Services for 1995-96 are requested to complete capital project priorities. The O&M budget lapse is $78,000. The additional capital funding requirement in the supplementary totals $1,080,000, representing a 14-percent increase. These increases are offset by an anticipated increase in recoveries amounting to $492,000. The net effect is an increase to the department of $510,000.
This amount can be very quickly and easily explained. I hope the Leader of the Liberal Party comes in because the explanation is for him. I would call the Members' attention to pages 7-2 and 7-3 of the estimates book. There are really three significant amounts that make up this supplementary. The top of page 7-2 shows a reduction of $286,000 for information services. This is almost entirely made up of staff shortages, where vacant positions were not filled because we were looking at reorganizing the information services branch. That is still underway so that figure should be fairly accurate.
Under operation and maintenance recoveries, property management, there is a recovery of $431,000. That is due to the signing of maintenance agreements with Health Canada for $300,000. There are smaller agreements with the Workers' Compensation Board, Yukon Housing and a small one with Council of Yukon First Nations. The largest amount of all, on the next page, under capital expenditures, property management, capital maintenance and upgrade, is $800,000. Of that amount, $690,000 of that was asked for this building for the ventilation system. We received the Van Hiep report that expressed concern about the ventilation system. We had an estimate done to bring the ventilation system up to a higher standard than it was. We did not want to proceed with that project until we had heard from Van Netton and had received his report. We were hanging, and have been for months and months, waiting for the Van Netton report. We did not want to invest money in the ventilation system if the Van Netton report told us something different, or said that there were contaminants or something that would call for a lot more work or different work.
We asked for the $690,000 in the supplementary in anticipation of getting Van Netton's report in October and starting work. As Members know, we did not get it until very recently. That $700,000 worth of work will not be done in this fiscal year. We will be asking for it to be revoted so that the ventilation can be upgraded to that standard in the coming year. Really, that takes care of the supplementary. There is not going to be much change in the overall budget.
If the Members have any questions for general debate, I will answer them. Otherwise, I have explanations for each line.
Chair: I would appreciate it if Members would refrain from referring to other Members as not being in the House.
Mr. Sloan: The majority of my questions will come during the mains. However, there are a couple of things I would like to explore with the Minister. The deputy minister and his staff were quite helpful in explaining the special operating agencies that are coming into play in the department. I wonder if the Minister would be able to give us some sense of when there will be an assessment of the effectiveness of the special operating agencies.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I hope that it will be ongoing. To a certain extent, the fleet vehicle agency and property management agency are functioning as special operating agencies right now. The Queen's Printer is still working on its business plan.
The goal is accountability and that will come after April 1 when we have established the revolving funds for the two agencies. When we are charging the other departments for the services, there is a charge-back so we know exactly what it is costing us to provide those services and what is being paid back.
As the year goes on, we will know how effective we are being with our service and we will be able to gauge the accountability aspect. I would think that some time next fall we will have a preliminary indication and a year from now we would have a really good idea about how effective the special operating agencies are.
Mr. Sloan: I cannot recall whether or not there is a process in place coming from the strategic plan for a formal review of the agencies in terms of cost benefit analysis and customer service. Is there some kind of formalized program in place?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No. There is not a formal process. However, we expect feedback from our customers, and it will be reflected in our annual report. We expect to be improving all of the time. I do not think that there will be any hesitation by departments for which we are providing a service telling us if they are satisfied with our service, and what they like about it and what they do not.
Mr. Sloan: Could the Minister give us an indication of the general level of satisfaction with these special operating agencies - staff satisfaction, and such matters as staff retention, and that sort of thing? What has been the reaction by staff?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I think that the reaction has been very positive. I have not heard anything negative. I have attended several strategic planning sessions at the management level. Most are very enthusiastic about the independence, accountability and sense of responsibility that this type of operation gives them. I have not heard anything from the employees at the lower levels indicating anything other than that they were pleased with the way the system is working, even to date.
Mr. Sloan: The Queen's Printer is due to become a special operating agency. When will that formally take place?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure. I had hoped that we would get it in place by April 1, with the delay in coming back into the House and having a little bit more time to prepare the budget. One of the problems with the Queen's Printer is doing the business plan and sending part of its budget out to departments so that the departments buy the service back. It has not been as easy for the Queen's Printer to do that as, for example, renting cars to the department, since that is easier to calculate than the myriad of small jobs done at the Queen's Printer. I would expect that near the middle of the year we will have the formal charter approved. There is a draft of the business plan. On April 1, 1997, the Queen's Printer will become the full-fledged special operating agency. I should go back and say that it is operating on that basis right now, with customer service and satisfaction in mind. I think that it is working quite well. We have had a lot of positive feedback with our courier system, our level of service and speed that we did not have before.
Mr. Sloan: I am interested in the evolution of the process toward special operating agencies. When the business and strategic plans are developed, are they done in consultation with outside advisors, or is it strictly in house? Is it a departmental function, or have outside consultants been brought in to suggest changes and modifications?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It was done virtually in house. We looked to other jurisdictions for information and examples. The federal government provided information on its special operating agencies. The Manitoba government provided information, particularly with respect to fleet vehicles and keeping track.
The special operating agencies and business plans were virtually done in house. That is one of the reasons it took longer than it might have to get them up and running, but it was important that the staff participated and bought into it. So, we not only had the staff from property management and fleet vehicles working on it, we also had customer focus groups that met from the other departments and told us what they wanted to see from fleet vehicles, from property management and from the Queen's Printer. That was all incorporated.
Essentially, we have done it in house.
Mr. Sloan: Can the Minister envisage other areas of the department that might be subject to special operating agencies? I am particularly thinking of supply services. Is that one that is on the books?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, not at the present time. The information services branch is thinking in terms of special operating agencies, but there is not the organizational structure yet to put it in place. Information services branch should be able to work toward being a special operating agency, because it is also a provider of service to the rest of government.
Mrs. Firth: I am sure I could get into a lot of discussion and debate with the Minister about special operating agencies, but I want to zero in on one particular area that was supposed to have been a special operating agency; then we heard that it was not going to be one but now maybe it is going to be one. I am speaking about the Queen's Printer.
When I talk about the area of the Queen's Printer, I am sure that, before long, we will see an advertisement in the papers saying, "For sale: one hardly used DocuTech". I would like to follow up on that particular issue with the Minister, particularly since the billing period for the first $300,000 of the invoice amount of the DocuTech is due to expire March 31, 1996. I would like to ask the Minister if the DocuTech is being used and if it is being used to his expectations. The word I hear is that it is not being used to his expectations. We receive the odd publication, but great things were predicted for this crown jewel of the Department of Government Services, and we are in for the total amount of the contract, which is in excess of $900,000.
Can the Minister give us a bit of an update with respect to this contract and if we are going to continue to have this machine on board?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Certainly, I can give the Member an update.
Just to clarify things, the Queen's Printer was one of the first choices to be a special operating agency and it was always planned that it would be a special operating agency. The Member is wrong when she says that it was not going to be one. The problem is that there was a delay in organizing the Queen's Printer and preparing a business plan.
The contract with Xerox Business Services that the Member refers to was to provide a document management strategy that would serve the whole government and, ideally, do away with a lot of the paper transfers. We would be developing a system for the whole government.
What happened was that Xerox Business Services could not fulfill their contract by having a person here to work with the Queen's Printer agency and tie in to other departments.
What has happened is that we are reduced to just having the DocuTech without the document management services. The Member is incorrect as to the DocuTech machine itself. It is being used to at least our expectations - or perhaps even more so - with respect to the number of copies that it has produced. I think that there has been good customer satisfaction from other departments with respect to the quality and speed at which the DocuTech jobs have been done.
Mrs. Firth: It is not a surprise to any of us that the Minister has a whole different version of what is going on with the DocuTech within his department. I just talked to people who have to deal with the department, and the feedback I get has not been as positive as the Minister would like to indicate.
I find his comments about how Xerox Business Services could not fulfill their contract interesting. Can the Minister elaborate somewhat on that? I thought that part of the onsite document management services agreement included Xerox personnel. Is he saying that we now have the DocuTech without that? Is that onsite management services agreement dead or has it been amended? What is its status?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is dead. We are not working with Xerox to try and revive it. We gave them six or eight months to produce under the contract. They did not have the person in place, nor did they fulfill their obligation. We cancelled that portion of the contract.
I do not have the figures available right now, but the total contract has been considerably reduced from the original figure, which was over $900,000.
Mrs. Firth: That puts a whole new light on what has been happening with respect to the DocuTech. I have the on-site document management services agreement, in which is a clause regarding the "45 days to correct failures to perform". Were there any penalties or early termination charges? If so, did Xerox or the government have to pay them? The department bought this machine from Xerox - I do not know who sold whom a bill of goods or what the heck happened, but we are left paying the bill.
First, I would like to know if there were any penalties or pay outs with respect to the onsite document services agreement.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: When Xerox Business Services did not provide the person onsite and the services contracted for, we received a refund cheque from them for $155,000. Our total commitment now is $372,000. There is also $130,000 for the O&M agreement. Both of those figures are over seven years.
Mrs. Firth: When did all of this happen? When did this whole thing fall apart?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I believe it was July or August of last summer. I am not sure when we received the refund cheque, but it was during the summer when it was totally cancelled. We determined then that it would be dead and that we were not giving Xerox any more time to have an individual in place.
Mrs. Firth: That would be in the summer of 1995? I see the Minister is nodding his head that that is the correct date. Was that around the same time that the person who was responsible for the Queen's Printer quit his job? I am not sure of what the individual's title was, but Trevor Sellars is the person who quit his job.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure about when Mr. Sellars quit his job. It may have been near that same time. I think that before Mr. Sellars left the decision had been made to cancel the Xerox Business Services contract with respect to personnel.
Mrs. Firth: If the Minister could find out that information in chronological order for me and provide me with it, I would like to have it. I think it is very important that we get, in chronological order, the entire series of events surrounding this.
The Minister said that Xerox could not comply or the government did not like its performance. Could he tell me exactly what happened? What was the problem? Why was it not pleased with the service that was being provided?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: There was not any service being provided. Part of the agreement was that Xerox Business Services provide a person on site, an expert in document management, who would assist the Queen's Printer become a special operating agency and develop a document strategy service for the whole government. It did not fulfill its obligation by not having that person here. There was no service to dislike. That is why there was a $155,000 cheque returned by Xerox; it never fulfilled any of its obligation.
I will bring back for the Member - and I will give a copy to the Member for Whitehorse West and the Leader of the Liberal Party - a copy, in chronological order, of what happened and when, with a brief explanation of the reasons. Perhaps it could then be brought up again in debate on the main budget if the Members have more questions.
Mrs. Firth: I may have more questions during general debate, but there are a few things that I would like to get on the record to make it very clear to the Minister exactly what information we want.
I would like a complete accounting of all the money that has been spent and refunded. I gather that the onsite document-management services agreement is dead, according to the Minister. There was a schedule for payment; the first was for $300,000 to the end of March of 1996. Obviously, this management agreement has changed. What was the reason Xerox decided not to provide this service? What happened? The last time we sat, everything was all rosy and this was going to work very well, because there was a person there who knew how to operate the equipment.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I will provide a breakdown of the figures with the chronology. I have some of the figures available and I could quickly read them into the record. I will give the Members a copy of what I have.
There was a $300,000 payment made, with $155,000 of that amount being refunded. We then go into payments over the next seven years for the maintenance and reduction in capital. The large amount was spent for the capital acquisition of DocuTech in the first year. I will provide that information to the Member.
It is my understanding that the reason that Xerox could not perform under the agreement is because they could not find an individual with the expertise that was required under the contract to come to live in the Yukon. They brought a couple internal people to the Yukon to look around and I am not sure how far they looked outside of the company, but apparently they could not find the personnel whom they contracted to provide.
Mrs. Firth: I guess that raises the question of whether or not we should have bought the machine in the first place if there is nobody here who could operate it and provide the kind of services that need to be provided for the DocuTech 135 printer and the special operating agencies.
I would appreciate getting all of those figures, including the $372,000 total that the Minister mentioned.
With respect to the early termination, the Minister said that there was a refund of $155,000. To me, a refund is different from an early termination clause in a contract. There is an early termination clause in the contract with a charge attached to it. There was an effective date of termination before April 1, 1996. The early termination charge was $187,000. Was that only if the government terminated it? Did the government or Xerox terminate this?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It was by mutual agreement, because we were not prepared to wait any longer, and Xerox accepted that. Xerox still wanted to extend the contract and provide the individual, but we said that we were not prepared to wait. There was an agreement reached to amend the contract to reflect that that service would not be provided and that we would have a maintenance agreement for the DocuTech 135 printer. That is what we have now.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to get a copy of the new agreement that the Minister has. I see the Minister nodding his head. I take that as a "yes" and will expect to get it.
The other clarification I need is if the $155,000 refund is considered to be similar to an early termination charge. Was there an early termination charge paid as well?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, I am not aware of any termination charge on either side. It was simply a refund of the money we paid for the service we had not yet received.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if this was a Cabinet decision? Did the Minister go to Cabinet or Management Board with this particular issue or did he make all these decisions just as the Minister responsible for Government Services?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not believe it went to Cabinet for decision.
Mrs. Firth: I would just like to get that on the record, because it was Cabinet that made the decision to enter into the contract for over $900,000, so the Minister proceeded with this step on his own, as the Minister.
Has there been any discussion about getting rid of the DocuTech machine, or is the Minister prepared to keep it forever? I have heard some rumours about the machine; that is why I made the comment about the advertisement in the newspaper about a hardly used DocuTech being advertised for sale. Has that been a topic of discussion?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Not so far as I am aware. As far as I know, the DocuTech is being used at least to expectation, or even more, and there are no plans to advertise it or get rid of it. Neither are there any plans to buy a second one, which was the rumour the Member had last year.
Mrs. Firth: I thought it was understood, without being said, that there would not be a hope in you-know-what of getting another one.
The Minister said there is simply a delay in organizing the Queen's Printer to become a special operating agency. What is the plan? Perhaps the Minister could tell us that.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: What has happened is that we missed the fiscal cycle for this year, and it could not become a special operating agency as of April 1 this year, so we expect that it will officially become one next April 1. It is operating as much as it possibly can without the official approval of a business plan and any change that is necessary to set up a revolving fund for it. Essentially, it is operating as much as it can as a special operating agency and will be officially in place next April 1.
Mrs. Firth: There could be a lot of changes before April 1, 1997.
Is the information drawn up with respect to the Queen's Printer operating as a special operating agency, which we were given originally, the guideline the government is following? Is it using the original business plan that was developed?
The Minister says it is operating as a special operating agency, that it is a special operating agency, except it did not meet the budgetary time lines. I do not understand how that can be. Could the Minister clarify that for us?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I can clarify that. It is operating as a special operating agency with respect to customer service, accountability and keeping track. What it is not doing, which a special operating agency would do, is charge for its services. It would devolve its budget to the departments, then the departments would purchase the service from the Queen's Printer.
The way it operates now is the same as it has in the past, and the way fleet vehicles did in the past. We simply voted a bucket of money for that agency, and everyone dipped in and took what they need until the money is gone. With a special operating agency, each department would have its own budget to purchase services.
To put it simply, in this fiscal year the Queen's Printer will have a budgeted pool of money, and other departments can draw on it without being accountable or paying for the individual services each department uses.
Mrs. Firth: So, the departments also have the option of going to the private sector and purchasing their services. Could the Minister provide us with some information about the comparison. How many departments are using the services of the Queen's Printer? I want some substantiation for the Minister's statement that the DocuTech is being used. I would like to know how much it is being used and how much of the printing services work is being contracted out of Government Services to the private sector.
I would like that information before we go into the Government Services operation and maintenance budget, I would probably have more follow-up questions for the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, we will provide that to the Members opposite.
I should clarify for Members that departments do not go directly to the private sector. They still go through the Queen's Printer and the work is done by the private sector. I will bring back the information that was asked for.
Mr. Sloan: I have one further question about the role of the Queen's Printer.
In the past, the Queen's Printer has also served as a function to vet or review purchases of photocopying equipment by other departments. I am thinking primarily of the Department of Education. Do they still continue to review the needs of the particular school or other institution and then make recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, the Queen's Printer still provides that service. The difference now is that they do not control the purchases as they were accused of doing in the past. They now work with, for example, the Department of Education and come to an agreement with respect to what the Department of Education needs. That is a change we made. We have tried to make the Queen's Printer more customer oriented, rather than control oriented, where the Queen's Printer simply made the decision, for example, for the Department of Education and told them that that is what they get. The idea of the special operating agency is that the money is devolved to the department and they work with the Queen's Printer and purchase the services, so that they have a lot more control and say about what they get than they did before.
Mr. Sloan: With that idea in mind, we have seen an increase in, for example, vehicles being acquired by schools and things of that nature. Will the fleet operating agency service serve a similar function in vehicle acquisition?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, that is exactly what it will provide. It will also provide vehicles, on a temporary basis, for education on school trips. An example was a couple of weeks ago when we took the grade 6 Christ the King Elementary children skiing. A van was provided by fleet vehicles to the school to take the students there. That was simply provided on request and it was available, so the school got it. What will happen after April 1 is that the school will have money in its budget to request vehicles such as these. It will purchase the service from fleet vehicles. If it does not like the service, it has the right to complain.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on Government Services?
Are Members prepared at this time to go line by line?
Mr. Cable: I understand that the special operating agencies are set up to service other departments. I believe that I have asked this question before. Is there any proposed extension of the principle to deal with the public - for example, in the land titles office.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not think that is envisioned at this time. I do not think anything more will be done in that regard until at least the next fiscal year, after we have evaluated the success of fleet vehicles, property management and have the Queen's Printer underway.
I realize that the Member has asked this question before and I will check into it, because I know the suggestion was made that this could be done, but I have not followed up on this.
Mr. Cable: It was touched on before. Does the Minister have a blueprint for where he is going after the initial three special operating agencies have been dealt with? Does he have a number of potential special operating agencies that he is considering?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, within the department. The information services branch would probably be next. Again, that branch would have liked to have been one of the three chosen to begin with, but the restructuring of that branch has not taken place to the extent that it could become a special operating agency in a complete form, but it is working toward providing the information technology to the rest of government.
Mr. Cable: About the air quality in this building - I do not have my file with me - my recollection is that the contract for the work on the air system was going to be let, and I am wondering if it has been let at this particular time.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am told that the tender will be ready in the next week. The specifications are being completed now. I am not sure when it will actually go out to tender, but the tender should be completed some time next week.
Mr. Cable: What is the projected completion date for the work on the air-handling system?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is a considerable amount of work, and I will be able to tell the Member more accurately next week. I understand there will be at least $400,000 worth of work tendered to be done immediately. The rest will follow shortly thereafter. The idea is to get the work done as quickly as we can, now that we have the results of both reports in hand.
Mr. Cable: Dr. Van Netton indicated in his report that he was of the view that some of the long-term problems could not be definitively diagnosed unless there were some long-term studies. The suggestion was that there were some chemicals causing cancer in certain areas of the building. What is projected for the long term in the way of medical studies? Will there be a follow-up on employee health?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes. There will be. Under the circumstances, having the reports, we feel obligated to follow up on a long-term basis to see if there is anything, as Dr. Van Netton suggests may, that develops over the next number of years.
Mr. Cable: What will the follow-up be composed of? Is a long-term contract with Dr. Van Netton anticipated?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Not at this time, because as the Member knows it was difficult to get his services in the first place and to get his results. I expect that there will be a monitoring of employee health over the long term. I am not certain about who will do it and exactly how it will be done.
Mr. Cable: I think that it is the long-term health implications that are the major concern to employees. It would be useful if the Minister would indicate with some greater precision what his thinking is. Do you anticipate greater health checks or spot checks of various employees, particularly in those areas where there have been some complaints about cancer?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Member's suggestions are good. We will discuss it with the health and safety committee, which has done a lot of work on this and has a lot more knowledge of detail than I. I will find out what they are recommending and we will go from there.
Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 9.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Millar: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 9, Third Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 12, 1996:
Identification of ferry options for Yukon River crossing at Dawson City, Yukon: report by SHM Marine International Inc., Victoria, B.C. (prepared January 1995, updated October 1995) (Brewster)