Monday, March 25, 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.
Recognition of United Nations working conference re land claims
Mr. McDonald: I would like to acknowledge the presence in the territory of a working conference of United Nations experts discussing practical alternatives to resolving land claims. There is little doubt that the community of nations around the world is beginning to take seriously the need for countries to settle land claims with aboriginal people. While Canada is arguably a world leader in this effort, there is much more work ahead of us. There are many tough and sometimes complicated issues to address.
While the negotiations are not always smooth sailing, the result will lead to social, cultural and economic prosperity for our territory. On behalf of all Members I welcome our guests from around the world to the Yukon and I hope that they enjoy their stay.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 11: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that Bill No. 11, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1996-97, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 11, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1996-97, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 11 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any ministerial statements?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Centennial anniversaries program, unincorporated communities
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. The centennial anniversaries program is laying out some $10 million in an attempt to have many communities up and running with an anniversaries project for the 1998 tourist season. Many of these projects come with a high price tag, and operating and maintenance costs are going to be high - we calculate somewhere around $1.3 million per year in the rural communities alone. I would like to ask the Minister who will be paying the bills for operation and maintenance, particularly in the unincorporated communities?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Most of the proponents of the projects have either formed a society or are working through a society, and that society will be picking up the O&M costs in the municipalities. In most cases, the municipality will be picking up the O&M costs.
Mr. Harding: It is fine to have a society, which, apparently, is to come up with the ideas - according to this program - to pay for the O&M costs. For example, in the unincorporated community of Carcross, there has been some bitter division between business interests and people trying to put the project together. In order to pay the O&M costs and have all projects truly self-sustaining, some Carcross citizens want to have commercial, revenue-raising activity. Is the government in favour of this, and will the government allow it or not?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There will be no commercial activity, particularly in the project that the Member is referring to, other than an arts and crafts segment. People will be carrying on arts and crafts and selling their products in the facility. There will not be shops, restaurants or that sort of thing.
Mr. Harding: If we have these megaprojects - $10 million in projects - and we have $1.3 million to $1.5 million in annual rural community operating and maintenance costs that the Minister is suggesting would be funded by newly established societies, what does the Minister suggest these societies do to cover their major O&M expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not have any specific information about the issues raised by the Member. It is therefore difficult to respond. However, the O&M costs would be taken on by the community, where there are O&M costs. Generally speaking, it will be done by an existing or a new society that is set up to do it. In the municipalities, some of the O&M costs will be paid directly by the municipalities. Carcross is going to have the Tlingit dancers perform and will charge admission. There will be those types of things to help to pay the O&M costs.
Question re: Centennial anniversaries program, unincorporated communities
Mr. Harding: I find it somewhat scary that the Minister would stand up today and say that it is difficult to answer the question because he does not have a lot of specifics. The program is clear. He has tabled the status of the centennial anniversaries program, including figures on the allocated budget, estimated project costs and phase 2 application and construction end dates.
One would think that when we ask the Minister questions about these kinds of issues with regard to how unincorporated communities are going to pay the O&M costs, he would be able to stand up and say that he does have the specific information.
As a matter of policy, how has the Minister and the government talked to unincorporated communities about the ways in which they can pay these O&M costs?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: One of the project managers of the centennial anniversaries program has spoken to each and every one of the communities about the O&M costs. That is part of the terms of reference for the project. They have to address the O&M costs right up front.
Mr. Harding: Some of these costs are fairly substantial, as I have indicated to the Minister. He should be aware of that. The Minister said that the response of these unincorporated and other communities would be to set up a society. However, he has failed to tell us how the society is going to raise the revenues, other than to tell us that no other commercial activity will be allowed. If that is so, can the Minister tell us today how they are going to pay? Are they going to fund raise with bingo or something? What does the Minister have in mind?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are several different ways that the proponents of the projects intend to raise revenues, but one of the criteria of the project is that they address the operation and maintenance costs. In most of the cases - in fact, probably in all of the cases - that is what they have done.
Mr. Harding: The government cannot continue its build-and-run policy until it knows precisely how people are going to be able to pay the operation and maintenance costs. Under this program, do First Nations or communities have to pick up all the operation and maintenance costs? How is the government going to assure, once the project is built, that the cost is in fact going to be provided for in the long term?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The communities are fully aware that they do have to pick up all of the operation and maintenance costs.
Question re: Public sector compensation restraint legislation
Mr. Cable: I have some further questions for the Government Leader on the return to collective bargaining and the possible amendments to the public sector compensation restraint legislation. On March 12, the Government Leader indicated that the government is looking at ways to restore collective bargaining. One of the questions that got lost in the rhetoric back and forth was what ways or options for the restoration of collective bargaining are under consideration? Can the Government Leader inform the House about this please?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I did say that, and I said that we are exploring options to return to collective bargaining earlier. We are still exploring those options.
Mr. Cable: This will be the third time around. Could the Government Leader tell us what the options are that are being considered?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not in any great detail, I could not. I said that we are looking at all options.
Mr. Cable: That is a pretty global word. Perhaps the Minister could indicate when he anticipates the return to collective bargaining will take place. He mentioned an earlier date. The legislation, as he is aware, expires in March of 1998, I believe, for the Public Service Alliance of Canada union. When does he think the legislation will be amended?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: At this point, that is hypothetical, because I do not know. I said we are exploring all options.
Question re: Centennial anniversaries program, waterfront development
Mr. Sloan: I would like to follow up a little on what my colleague from Faro has brought up - the question of centennial anniversaries projects. I had a chance to review some of these projects and was looking in particular at Whitehorse when I noticed, in the list of projects under the centennial anniversaries program, something called the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce multicultural pavilion.
I wonder if the Minister can tell us something about this project and how it fits into the overall concept of economic development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe it relates to phase 1 of the actual project. I do not have all the details of that particular project and I will not have them until they have applied for phase 2 status.
Mr. Sloan: In going through the list of centennial anniversaries projects I notice that a fair number of them are related to waterfront development and that prompted me to go back to the Yukon Party's famous four-year plan in which they identified very clearly - in the idea of promoting tourism and henceforth economic development - the development of the Whitehorse waterfront. I am just wondering if the Minister can give us some indication of how this particular centennial anniversaries project would fit in with the question of waterfront development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That particular piece of property they are talking about is not owned by the Yukon government, so they can develop it if they wish.
Mr. Sloan: That was somewhat convoluted. I am having difficulty following the logic.
Considering the lambasting that the government took on its status with regard to land claims and its inability to reach an accord with Kwanlin Dun, is it a reasonable expectation to think this project will be completed by the centennial year? Are we perhaps looking at another centennial - the centennial of the 1929 Great Depression? What is the target on this?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There were several questions there. To start with, Kwanlin Dun is fully involved in this project. The intent is for it to be ready for one of the centennial celebrations.
Question re: Centennial anniversaries program, waterfront development
Mr. Sloan: So, the Minister is saying that there have been discussions with the major partners - the Kwanlin Dun, the city, the tourism community - on an overall waterfront development scheme. Is this part of the overall waterfront development scheme?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is not entirely correct. This is a community anniversaries program proposal - nothing more, nothing less.
Mr. Sloan: Considering that the government identified in the four-year plan the development of the waterfront as a key element - a cornerstone, right up there with the Beringia Centre or the tourism business centre - who does the government see as a lead player in the whole waterfront development scheme?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am sure the Member opposite knows very well that the waterfront development is under negotiation at the land claims table, along with the City of Whitehorse and several other players. Until it is resolved at the various levels, we would not become involved in the actual waterfront development.
Mr. Sloan: Two successive city governments and Kwanlin Dun have expressed some frustration with the whole question of waterfront development.
Going back to the whole thrust of economic development, I would like to find out from the Minister how the government plans to maximize the economic spinoffs of the centennial anniversaries when there is apparently only one project related to this entire waterfront development, and that one is in the extremely preliminary stages.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As I said before, that particular project is not related to the waterfront development overall.
Mr. Sloan: Is this how the waterfront is going to be developed - piecemeal, a bit here and a bit there. Is that the economic development scheme for the most important part of our city in the next few years?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The city has a community plan and the waterfront falls within that jurisdiction. Once land claims are settled, waterfront development will be a city initiative.
Question re: Centennial anniversaries program, waterfront development
Mr. Sloan: Am I understanding the Minister correctly when he says that the government has essentially abrogating its responsibilities with regard to waterfront development and that it will simply be a city responsibility? Developing the tourism potential of this territory is clearly identified in the four-year plan.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not know if the Member opposite is suggesting that we step in and start developing the waterfront prior to settling land claims, because it sounds like that is what he is suggesting.
I believe three different First Nations have a claim on the waterfront and, until that is resolved, it is unlikely that there will be major undertakings on the waterfront.
Mr. Sloan: On one hand, we have this government presenting the concept of waterfront development as key to tourism development and the key to economic potential. When the government appears to be unable to reach some kind of an agreement with First Nations and other partners, they withdraw and say its hands are clean. I am wondering whether or not the government sees itself as having a role in this aspect of economic development.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, it sounds like the Member opposite is saying that we should be actively developing the waterfront in advance of the land claims. That is not our intent.
Mr. Sloan: I am not suggesting anything of the sort. What I am suggesting is that if one makes something a linchpin of an economic development program - this was the big promise and the scheme probably garnered a lot of support from the business community - and then abrogates it, it is not exactly full disclosure. Notice how I avoided any suggestion of dishonesty.
With regard to this, we do have part of this whole waterfront development scheme being held up by the inability of the government to reach an accord with the Kwanlin Dun. My question on this is: to assist the city in maximizing the potential economic benefits with the Kwanlin Dun, what steps is the government going to undertake with those partners?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Kwanlin Dun First Nation is at the land claims table. It is there that these types of issues will be resolved.
Question re: Centennial anniversaries programs,
Mrs. Firth: I, too, have a question about the centennial anniversaries program. We have all been involved in the House long enough to know that it is piecemeal and that the government just makes it up as it goes along. Every day that we ask a question, we find out that this is, in fact, the way that the government works.
I have a concern about how well the projects are being reviewed by the Department of Economic Development and how well thought out the terms of reference are. I also have a great deal of concern about the government's urgency to spend money. A lot of other Yukoners are also expressing this concern to me.
These projects that have been announced will require permits and compliance with territorial lands acts, the navigable waters acts, fisheries acts, the Yukon development assessment process, the Yukon Environment Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and so on. I would like to ask the Minister if the projects that have been announced have been through even the slimmest of preliminary phases for compliance with all these rules that they will have to follow.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The way the Member opposite has listed all the permitting, it sounds like that is the kind of permitting that every project has to go through for centennial anniversaries program funding. That is not true. Some of the projects may have somewhat more onerous permitting stages to go through and some involve merely building or electrical permits and so on.
Again, that has been discussed with each of the proponents of the various projects. They are fully aware of the permitting process and they will continue on as required.
Mrs. Firth: At least four of the projects involve waterfront development. If the Minister has it so clear in his mind that some will require inspections and some will not, why does he not stand up this afternoon and tell us exactly which ones are going to require onerous inspections and which ones will not?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have a technical review committee. Each proponent has people to work on those types of things. That is what is happening.
Mrs. Firth: It says it happens. The Minister does not know. He is just telling us what somebody told him to say. That gives me a great deal of concern. That is the way this government operates.
I maintain that this government is so anxious to spend as much money as it can spend before it gets the royal boot in the next election that a lot of these things are going ahead without proper and thorough examination. The "spend, spend, spend" attitude gives Yukoners a great deal of concern. This government is in spend mode.
I want to know from the Minister why he is making announcements about this prior to proper planning. We have three instances raised in the House this afternoon. If it is not just an urgency to get rid of all of this money before the next government gets in, why is he making these announcements before proper planning?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is fairly common for that Member to get up and make unsubstantiated accusations, knowing little or nothing about it. That Member is very good at this. She has been in the House for many, many years, so she is very good at making unsubstantiated accusations that have no factual basis whatsoever. She is welcome to have a thorough briefing of any projects that she would like to look at.
Question re: Whitehorse waterfront, land claims
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for either the Government Leader or the Minister of Economic Development about the Whitehorse waterfront.
I am aware that numerous attempts have been made, both by the city and Kwanlin Dun, to resolve land claims issues on the waterfront, in order to allow for the orderly development of that area. All of the attempts have been rejected, and some of them by the Yukon government. Why have the proposals for the resolution of waterfront issues been so hard to resolve? Can the Government Leader or the Minister tell us what the concerns are from the government's perspective?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: All kinds of issues have to be resolved between the City of Whitehorse and Kwanlin Dun on the land claim. Kwanlin Dun is against developing the waterfront until land claims are settled with the City of Whitehorse. I expect that should apply to all - not just to some - Yukoners.
Mr. McDonald: I attended a meeting with city and Kwanlin Dun officials, who agreed that they would be presenting options to the government - this was over a year and a half ago - to allow for the settlement of the waterfront area so that waterfront development could occur. The parties subsequently reported back to me that the Yukon government had rejected any notions about joint management. Can the Minister be more specific about what the government understands to be the problems with the waterfront, including the land claims issues on the waterfront.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: In the Member's preamble, he stated that the government is against joint management. That simply is not true. In fact, we are the ones who proposed joint management of the waterfront, which proposal was refused by the other players.
Mr. McDonald: Boy, oh boy, there is some significant confusion out there. The Minister is pointing at the messenger.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order. Please allow the Member to ask the question.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to ask the Government Leader this very basic question about waterfront development: has the government attempted to resolve the land issues on the waterfront between the First Nation and the City of Whitehorse in an aggressive way, with the intention of trying to ensure that waterfront development can occur prior to all land claims being successfully negotiated?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member opposite, when he was in government, had purchased the waterfront with Yukon taxpayers' money, and had taken some caution and strides to protect that piece of land from being selected for the land claims, we could have had it developed now.
We are not about to start parceling out pieces of land for settlement. We need to settle the whole land claims issue in the City of Whitehorse.
Question re: Waterfront development, land claims
Mr. McDonald: There are some serious implications to what the Government Leader has just said. Is he saying that there is no opportunity for land selections to be taken on the waterfront by First Nations? Is he saying that? What is the government proposing should be the resolution of the land claim in the waterfront area between Ta'an Kwach'an and Kwanlin Dun?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I never said any such thing about it not being eligible for selection. I said we are not going to parcel out the waterfront for the rest of the land claims. It will all be settled at the land claims table in a package deal.
Mr. McDonald: Presumably if the land claim is not settled by the 1998 with Kwanlin Dun or Ta'an Kwach'an, then we will have some pieces of broken concrete and vacant properties that will be a legacy for our visitors who will be visiting our territory.
The Minister of Tourism says it was like that for seven years during our mandate. We purchased the property and we also signed the land claims agreement in the first place.
Mr. McDonald: I would like to ask this question of the Government Leader: residents on the waterfront have seen their future linked to the settlement of the claim and to government promises to develop the area. They do not want their options to be unduly limited, and they do not want to be summarily dealt with at the last second. Can I ask the Government Leader whether or not he has presented options to the waterfront residents in order to allow those persons to plan for their futures without having to be dealt with at the last second, in the last moment prior to either a land claim or a waterfront development taking place?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Some of those squatters are on Whitehorse land and some are on private land. We offered, as did the other government, a lifetime estate to some and that was refused by some. Some people are also First Nation people who are on land that the First Nations want.
Mr. McDonald: Last year, I was told that the Land Claims Secretariat was going to be resolving the situation for the waterfront residents - not all of whom are squatters, incidentally; some of them are First Nations residents. I pointed out as well that only three of the residents were actually resident on City of Whitehorse lands.
I ask the Government Leader, who I understand to be the designated hitter when it comes to dealing with the waterfront residents, whether or not the Land Claims Secretariat, given that the government has rejected the old squatters policy, has presented options to the waterfront residents to resolve their situation so that they are not dealt with at the last second when a waterfront plan is finally developed.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe that land claims has offered them any options at this point. I am sure it will be dealt with when we get to settling the waterfront - who is going to have ownership of what. As my colleague said, not all those squatters are on Crown lands.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 10.
Bill No. 10 - First Appropriation Act, 1996-97 - continued
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Mr. Harding: I have some questions for the Government Leader about government policy with regard to rural banking services. As the Minister is well aware, in the last year and a half, there was a change from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in many of the rural communities to the Toronto Dominion Bank, although some of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce agencies continue to exist. There are also what would be considered full branches in Watson Lake and Dawson.
I want to get a general sense of the impact resulting from the switch to Toronto Dominion with regard to the level and range of banking services, and whether or not the government is pleased with the arrangement with the Toronto Dominion Bank.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are very pleased with the agreement with the Toronto Dominion Bank. We have received nothing but positive reports from the communities about the the bank's great interest in the communities and its efforts to see how it can continue to provide services and enhance appropriate services for people. I believe that it has done some things in the Member's community with which the people have agreed. We hope that this working relationship will continue. We are very pleased with it.
Mr. Harding: I appreciate that, but the Government Leader has to know that not all is positive. I have communicated some of the numerous concerns that I have heard to the Government Leader.
I find it somewhat disturbing. I can remember when the situation with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Faro was not good in 1992. It was not a popular situation. It was actually quite a campaign issue in the community during the 1992 territorial election. There was a great deal of enthusiasm when we switched to the Toronto Dominion Bank. However, the level of concern is still there. There are concerns about the availability of cash, the hours surrounding shift work, the range of services provided for investment opportunities, loan applications, the fact that there is still a delay in the system for depositing and taking money out of accounts, and the charges applied if one has an account with another bank somewhere else. These are all concerns that I hear on a fairly regular basis. I have worked with the former manager of the Toronto Dominion Bank to try to bring some positive change to the situation.
One of the things that I often hear is that the Toronto Dominion Bank is not prepared to invest in the community and that more people would partake in the Toronto Dominion Bank's range of services if the bank was prepared to upgrade to a full branch. Of course, when I bring this up with representatives of the Toronto Dominion Bank at community meetings that I have arranged, they always say that they are not going to do that unless the Yukon government kicks in. I am wondering what the Government Leader's opinion is with regard to that. Is the Government of the Yukon's investment to subsidize that agency in Faro the end of the line, or would it be prepared to look at any kind of bilateral agreement to perhaps improve one or a number of services in the community?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not believe that we are prepared to subsidize the branch any more at this time.
If the Member opposite has some specific concerns that he could put in a letter to me, we can certainly discuss them with the Toronto Dominion Bank when we meet with it. We meet with the bank on an ongoing basis. We would certainly be happy to raise those specific concerns.
Mr. Harding: I would appreciate that. I have given an itemized list to the Government Leader in the past. He has responded to the concerns I raised that were of a specific nature.
I also communicate with the Toronto Dominion Bank on a regular basis to try to initiate some improvement. We seem to have seen some improvement. An example is that the bank has just hired an additional trained person from the community, so that the person can help with filling out loan applications and try to encourage quicker turnarounds. They hired someone to help with investments and RRSP applications - those kinds of things.
That has been an improvement. There are still major concerns surrounding the availability of cash.
I will recap the range of feeling in the community on those issues and resubmit them to the Government Leader. I do know that we are hitting a bit of a wall on this. The Toronto Dominion Bank has come to a point at which it is not prepared to put any more into the community without the Yukon government kicking in something. The Government Leader has said that, at this time, he is not prepared to do that.
Most people in the community would agree that, although they want the government to help improve the level of service and to talk to the Toronto Dominion Bank, they are somewhat apprehensive about the Yukon government putting more money - taxpayers' money - into a bank that made a billion dollars in profit last year.
I guess it comes down to the way the question is put. If one asks people if they want a greater range of service, they would say yes. If one asks people if they knew that without the government subsidy, the Toronto Dominion Bank would not even have a branch in Faro, they would probably say no. If one asks people if they want the government to put more money into improving the range of services at the bank, they would probably say no, as well.
I wonder if the government would be prepared, rather than just raise the concern - which I do, as the MLA - to the Toronto Dominion Bank, enter into a discussion with the bank about it taking on a greater level of investment.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member will itemize the concerns that he has, we will certainly bring them up with the bank when we meet. We will go from there.
I can say that the additional person in Faro right now is as a result of the appeals the Member made to us. We will be happy to take his concerns to the bank when we meet with it. We meet on a regular basis.
Mr. Harding: For information purposes, could the government provide me with a list of itemized contributions made by the government to the rural communities - the Government Leader is nodding "yes", so I will take that.
I would like to know what the Toronto Dominion Bank's estimated revenues are, and what it brings in from running the agencies, and how much of a contribution does YTG have to kick in. Most of the people I talked to in Faro think that the bank makes a lot of money, but I do not believe it really does. For one thing, there is not a lot of mortgage business, and that type of thing, in Faro. That is sometimes helpful in explaining why there is not a full-service branch there. Nevertheless, I would like to get more complete information about what is put in and what the TD Bank does bring in.
The other argument I hear from people is that a lot of people in the community do not use the TD Bank - they use outside banks - because they are not satisfied with the limited range of services. If the services were expanded, then more people in Faro would use the branch, thus making it more profitable. It is rather a catch-22 situation that I find myself constantly discussing with people in the community. I wanted to make the Government Leader aware of the matter and of the discussions I have had with people about it.
I find it to be a frustrating problem because I have a hard time - as does the Government Leader, most probably - saying that we, as taxpayers, are going to pay more money to the TD Bank to improve its range of services in Faro, or some other rural community, when a bank is making a $1 billion profit. The sad fact, however, is that, without some kind of subsidy from the Government of Yukon, there probably would not be a branch in Faro. I do not think the message is clear enough to people what we already do, as taxpayers, toward keeping that branch there.
The other thing I wanted to ask the Government Leader regards CIBC's automated teller machines in Watson Lake and Dawson. Was the Government of Yukon involved in the decision and discussions to purchase those automated tellers? I believe both communities received them before the contract was switched.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, the government was not involved.
Mr. Harding: Was the government at all looking into an agreement with the banks to putting them in, or was it something that was not seen as fiscally feasible?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not sure exactly what happened in Watson Lake, but in Dawson City the Chamber of Commerce had to guarantee a certain level of service, whether or not it was used.
Mr. Harding: If in the information surrounding the contributions we make, could the government include some information about how it came to be, that would be very helpful. One response I often give to people who ask about an automated teller is that it is very expensive. The bank has to be very busy. They say that Watson Lake and Dawson City have them. The government helped them out. Why does it not help us out? The Government Leader has just told me it did not. If he could give me an explanation about how they came to be in those communities, I would appreciate it. That would help me out. He is nodding his head "yes".
The next question I want to ask the Government Leader about is indirectly and directly involved with this, and that is the whole issue of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation financing for mortgages in Faro.
Faro Real Estate Ltd. wants to sell about 120 units in the community. I have been told that it is by the owner of FREL. There are a lot of people in the community who want to buy their own homes, but find it very, very difficult to come up with $20,000, or whatever the downpayment would have to be according to the terms of sale of FREL.
As the Government Leader well knows, for years the CMHC has picked the community of Faro as a town where it will not guarantee bank mortgages for the purchase of housing. This is, of course, quite frustrating.
There is a history to this that provides some justification. When I explain it to new residents, they usually get some understanding of it, but I think that CMHC has taken too hard a stand as a result of what happened with the shutdown of Cyprus Anvil. As a result of that, I proposed, along with TD, some form of a modified mortgage guarantee program for CMHC with the banks, because I really want to see them sell those houses, break the rental monopoly in Faro and provide a greater sense of permanency to the community. I think that when there are homeowners who take a lot more pride in the community it will be a positive thing. I desperately want to see some relaxation of that policy by CMHC on the question of mortgage guarantees for housing purchases in Faro.
I know the Government Leader is aware of some of the work that I have done because I have made copies and sent him letters. Can the government help us to work with CMHC - and not just this local office, but Vancouver and Ottawa - to see if there is some way we could get off the list, at least in a modified form, of non-securable communities for home purchases?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I appreciate the problems the people in Faro are having. I am not fully aware of what the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation does and neither are my officials. That question might be better taken up with the housing Minister.
Mr. Harding: I have communicated in the past with Finance on this, because normally that is where we have dealt with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. If Finance could take a look at the correspondence we have had thus far with the Government Leader, I would certainly appreciate that. I, and the community, would appreciate it if there is any help that the Government Leader and his Finance department can provide in terms of these efforts.
Also, on this same issue, aside from Faro Real Estate Ltd. wanting to sell 120 units in the community, we have been working with mining companies and talking to them about perhaps expanding the base in Faro and utilizing it as a community - for example, if the project at Wolverine Lake or Kudz Ze Kayah were ever to go ahead. Again, the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation principle fits quite well in there in terms of expanding the availability of access to mortgages to build in the community.
I will just leave that with the Government Leader and ask him to see if he can help us out on that particular issue.
The other issue along with that one - and I raise it in general debate with the Government Leader because it is a substantial big-ticket item - is the recent discussions surrounding the Kudz Ze Kayah project and the upgrading of the South Campbell Highway. The Speaker has indicated that he has had discussions with the Government Leader about this. I also am very interested in seeing upgrading work done on the South Campbell and the main Campbell Highway, particularly in preparation for the Kudz Ze Kayah project, if it is going to be in operation.
Has the Government Leader had any discussions, at least in general, with the Cominco proponents and the Westmin Resources proponents of projects in the area? What is his overall vision for this upgrading work? Does he see it being two, three, four, five years away or is it still too early to tell?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is certainly too early to tell, as we have stated in this House time and time again. Until a production decision is made, we will not be investing money in the infrastructure. Cominco is well aware of that, as is Westmin. In our discussions with them, they still have not made a decision as to which way they want to ship their concentrate. Until that decision is made, it is very hard for us to start spending a substantial amount of money on upgrading the highway. When we get to the responsible Minister's budget in Community and Transportation Services, we will see that he does have $1 million this year, I believe, for engineering and upgrading in preparation for if and when a production decision is made.
Mr. Harding: When is a production decision anticipated on this project?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would expect it will be at least a year. They are doing a major exploration on all the properties, both Cominco and Westmin. There will be millions of dollars worth of drilling done there this summer. I do not believe a production decision will be made until after the results of this year's exploration have been analyzed.
Mr. Harding: Has there been any South Campbell Highway upgrading study work done in the past? If there has, could it be provided to me, or is it all so fresh there are no estimates of numbers available?
Let me put the question this way: is there any infrastructure investment cost available for roads or power for the projects on that road?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member will have to speak to the Minister responsible for highways. That is his department, and I am not aware of it. There has been no real work done on the cost to put in power. Up until just recently, we discussed a mine that would operate for a period of 10 or 12 years, and we were not too hopeful about providing a grid that would be viable for that short a mine life. Now, with the Wolverine Lake discovery, all those parameters have changed. We will have to wait to see what size of mine it will be, or if it will be two mines, or whatever. We do not know at this point.
Mr. Harding: The Government Leader said that he estimated it would be at least another year before a firm production decision is made on Kudz Ze Kayah. What is the status with Westmin Resources and the Wolverine Lake project? Is a similar process underway there?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, I believe they will both be in the same time frame.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions on the comments that the Government Leader made last Thursday. He was talking about the escalators in the formula. He made the comment that it would be "further impacted by the announcements from Quebec this morning." Mr. Bouchard spoke about balancing his budget.
Could the Government Leader enlarge on that comment?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The escalators are tied to the expenditures across this country. The reduction of expenditures in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec will impact on our formula.
Mr. Cable: Has the Minister's staff done any back-of-the-cigarette-package calculations on the impact that will likely result from Mr. Bouchard's comments? Is it likely to be marginal or significant?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have not done any estimates, as we do not have the numbers yet. It will be significant in the overall scope, when one looks at the country in general and the reductions in expenditures by governments.
Mr. Cable: I assume that will indirectly increase our transfer payment. Is that the way it will work out?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think that the Member has it wrong. It will reduce our transfer payments.
Mr. Cable: I was afraid of that.
The Minister went on to talk about Ontario and Harris' projected tax decreases. Just so that I can understand the tax factor, I gather it is some kind of a weighted average factor that has to do with the rate and the population of the particular jurisdiction.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: When we get to the tax side, if Ontario were to reduce its taxes, it would have a favourable impact on our formula, but not much - about one-half of one percent on the tax effort would be the result.
Mr. Cable: Is it a one-half to one-percent reduction in the perversity factor? Is that what we are talking about, or is it something different?
Just back to the question so that I understand how the perversity factor operates, this is a weighted average factor, is it not? It encompasses both the population and the tax rate, does it not?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, the Member is right. If a big jurisdiction drops its tax rate, it has a bigger impact on us than if a smaller jurisdiction does so. A small jurisdiction like ours will benefit from that by a more favourable perversity factor.
Mr. Cable: Ontario has about one-third of the Canadian population. If I remember correctly, in his campaign, Mr. Harris was proposing to reduce taxes by one-third. Are those the numbers that the Minister is working with - a one-third tax reduction by the Province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not think that we were as optimistic as Mr. Harris. I think that we are using a figure of approximately one-quarter. At the same time, there are other taxes being increased across the country, so it is more or less balanced out, as well. We are looking at the overall impact of about one-half to one percent.
Mr. Cable: As I said, if Mr. Harris does in fact live up to his platform promise, how soon after the reduction of taxes in Ontario would the benefit from that tax reduction flow through to the Yukon? Would it be in the same fiscal year, in the following fiscal year, two years down the road, or when?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It would probably happen in the subsequent fiscal years, not in the year that it happens in Ontario.
Mr. Cable: On another topic, I have asked the Minister and his staff in the budget briefing about long-term projections. What does the Minister use for long-term projections when making up the budget? Is there a social spending long-term projection? Are there employment projections? Are there population projections?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We use revenue projections for about three years ahead.
Mr. Cable: What about the other factors I mentioned: social spending, employment and population? Are projections made and, if so, could they be provided to the House?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: On the expenditure side, population and inflation are about the only two indicators we use.
Mr. Cable: Are those projections available to the House? What is the Minister's position on that?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, we can get them.
Mr. Cable: The other two matters I raised - social spending and employment - do the government's officers collect that sort of data and make three-year, or longer, projections?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That would tie into our population projections.
Mr. Cable: So, the information the Government Leader will be providing will include anticipated social spending and employment rates? The Government Leader is nodding his head, yes, so I hope we will see that soon.
The economy is, of course, subject to wide swings, and we have talked about this before. Are the worst and best case scenarios projected into the future for any length of time?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Everything works on a three-year projection.
Mr. Cable: Are three-year projections for worst and best case scenarios on revenues and expenditures available to this House?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, we will get them for the Member.
Mr. Cable: I have just one other matter. The Government Leader and I had an exchange of correspondence on the release of the variance reports. The Government Leader's position was that these documents are Cabinet documents and are not to be released. I accept that position, but the Government Leader also indicated that he would provide periodic reports to this House, if requested. I believe they were to be quarterly reports - is that recollection correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I said I could do that if the Members opposite requested it; I have no difficulty with it. These will not be audited statements, but we can provide the best assumptions we can make on a quarterly basis, if the Members wish it.
Mr. Cable: I would certainly like those. I take from what the Minister just said that quarterly reports are acceptable. The Minister is nodding his head.
What kind of information can we expect to see in the quarterly reports?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: All one would see is the projected revenue and projected expenses, brought up to date to the closest quarter.
Mr. Cable: When can we expect to see the first one?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The first quarter will be at the end of June. It would be the end of July or early August before we could have that figure for the Member.
Mr. Cable: In the current fiscal year, can we be provided with the quarter that I assume is already closed - the end of December of last year?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My deputy tells me that the supplementary in the House is very close to the figure the Member is looking for.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Sloan: I am interested in revenues and royalties from oil and gas. Can the Government Leader give us an indication of what kind of percentage those revenues represent of the actual production?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We can probably get those by the time we get to Economic Development. I do not have them available off the top of my head.
Mr. McDonald: I wanted to clarify a couple of requests I made last week about information I am still seeking. The first one is what the impact would be on the Yukon's financial state if the Yukon controlled all the resources that are normally a provincial responsibility. If the revenue going to the federal government were to go to the Yukon government instead, what impact would that have on the Yukon's financial state of affairs? What would the impact on the Yukon's finances be if the Yukon controlled the resources, and the mines that are currently in the permitting stage over the next few years actually go into production? In providing that information, what factors are taken into account to establish the projections?
Second, what would have to happen to the Yukon's economy to permit the Yukon to receive funding transfers from the federal government equivalent to those of Newfoundland?
I am interested in those areas, if the Minister can provide the information.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The one the Member asked for on comparisons with Newfoundland is almost done now. We will certainly have all of them before we get to the Finance department. Is the other one the Member wants based on the royalty rates that are in existence now, or what is he looking for?
Mr. McDonald: Yes, essentially I would like a snapshot now of what would happen if devolution in its entirety were to occur, and I would like to know what the impact would be on the expenditure side and on the revenue side - the expenditure side meaning that we would get some administrative costs from the federal government, which would increase our expenditure base; and on the revenue side, what would the Yukon receive in its entirety from the economic rent paid by resource companies?
Could he could provide that information, along with what might happen over the next few years if the resource sector does what the government's economic outlook says it will do?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will calculate that, but I want to caution the Member that this is going to be a very rough figure because it has to take into consideration all of the positions that are being transferred from the federal government. These are going to be very ball-park figures at this time but we will do the best we can.
Mr. McDonald: If there are some obvious factors that the government cannot take into account, perhaps it could clarify them so that we can know the degree of accuracy. I am satisfied with whatever the government can honestly produce between now and the Finance estimate debate.
Mr. Cable: I want to follow that up to make sure we are all on the same wavelength. Is the Government Leader going to be producing the cubic metres of wood, for example, as well as the stumpage rates? The stumpage rates, of course, are open to negotiation and open to being set by the government, so the actual resource quantities would be useful, too, as well as the projected revenues. I am not sure what the Minister is going to provide for the Leader of the Official Opposition, but if we can get both numbers it would be useful.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite asked me a difficult question. We do not know how much wood is going to be cut from one year to the next. One year, lumber prices may be exceptionally high and there is great demand for the resource. Another year, lumber prices may be exceptionally low and there is no demand. It would be very difficult for us to ball park that.
Mr. Cable: That is quite so.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We can do it based on the revenues that are there now.
Mr. Cable: That would be useful. The revenues right now from wood - stumpage fees - are being moved up. It would be useful to get the volume. Then we could figure it out for ourselves.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
We will go into line-by-line debate. We are in the Department of Economic Development, on page 4-1. Is there any general debate?
Department of Economic Development
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Yukon Party government believes that economic prosperity is a fundamental desire of all Yukoners. We want to prosper and provide a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and our families and live in communities where people have opportunities to create their own future.
Government alone does not have the power to create or control economic growth. We are a single partner in an economic relationship with other levels of government, businesses and communities. The challenge for us is to understand the role in that partnership and to renew and strengthen our efforts to become good stewards of our natural resources.
Our traditional role as a caretaker government for Ottawa in an economy based on public funding is drawing to a close. The devolution of stewardship and the responsibility for natural resources will empower Yukoners to direct their own economic future in an economy driven by investment in resource development.
What are the challenges facing Yukoners? First, it is the transfer of the responsibility for natural resources from Canada to the Yukon. The time of Yukoners being treated as second-class Canadians is over. We want to control our own lives. We want to direct our own economic future and we want control of the land and resources required to do that.
We have been talking about devolution for years. Now is the time to get the job done.
We must focus our efforts on creating administrative and regulatory regimes required to manage our mineral, forest and energy resources. We must prepare to be good stewards of these resources and we must do this in partnership with a whole new level of government in the Yukon - self-governing First Nations, whose rights are entrenched in the Canadian Constitution, which, I do not need to remind Members, beats our Epp letter hands down.
Forming a new type of partnership with First Nations is our second major challenge. First Nations asked for a level playing field and they got it. They have the constitutionally entrenched opportunity to be major players in our economic growth. This government welcomes that opportunity. We know that increased economic self-sufficiency in the Yukon is a goal that cannot be achieved without strong intergovernmental partnerships with First Nations.
That leads to the third challenge, the need to become more self-sufficient. Somehow, we are going to have to figure out a way to manage or increase responsibilities and meet the demands for a changing society with less help from Ottawa. In short, we must find a way to govern more efficiently with less public money.
I know we can do it. We have a lot of talented and committed public servants in the Yukon. With clear leadership direction from this government, I know that they can meet this challenge.
I speak from first-hand experience, because the Department of Economic Development has, over the past year, faced the need for change and has embarked on a rigorous process of evaluation and renewal. Every member of the department was invited to participate in the development of the new business plan. It was a difficult process. It took commitment and courage for staff to accept changes that deeply affected their work environment. They did what had to be done. They did it on their own, with only broad policy direction from our government, and they did it well.
Now the Department of Economic Development has a clear vision of its future. It has a mission. It has a set of operating principles that reflect this government's approach to economic development and it has strategies that establish the priorities and actions the department will take to support the creation of a strong and prosperous Yukon economy.
Members of the Legislature will notice that the restructuring and business planning process has been accomplished with existing staff and budget resources. We did not ask the department to cut costs; we just asked it to refocus its work, streamline where it could and get more done with the resources it had, and that is exactly what it has achieved.
The directional shift for the department could be characterized as a movement away from grant and subsidy programs in the business sector toward increased focus on natural resource development, trade and investment. The shift reflects our government's belief in the importance of the mining, energy and forest industries to the economic future of the Yukon. It also reflects the wishes of the business and banking communities that have encouraged our government to stay out of the marketplace. This is a trend experienced by governments throughout Canada.
Program evaluations indicate that small business grant and subsidy programs have not in fact resulted in significant economic growth in the economic environment. They are simply not a good investment.
Our government believes that it is more prudent now to focus investment on the primary roles of the government in economic development. These roles are to manage and regulate resource development, and to encourage private sector investment in resource development, business and trade.
The details of what the department will do to further these two primary roles are included in the business plan and the energy and mineral action plans. They have become bestsellers since their release in November. The energy plan is already in its second printing. The budget for the department reflects the resources required to implement these plans. It is quite simple - plan your work, work your plan.
I would like to mention a few highlights from the business plan. First among them is to use existing staff and resources to create a new mines and resource development division within the department. The mission for this division is fairly straightforward - to prepare for the devolution of mineral, forestry and energy resources; to work with other agencies with related responsibilities to build the legislative, administrative and regulatory regimes necessary to manage these resources; and to develop strategies to encourage investment in the sustainable development of those resources, which will create jobs and prosperity for Yukoners.
The first resource out of the devolution chute will be oil and gas. I know that my NDP colleagues share my interest in finalizing the process that began with their development of the Northern Oil and Gas Accord. If anyone doubts the importance or value of oil and gas resources to the Yukon, let me remind them that the Kotaneelee gas field alone has produced twice as much usable energy since 1992 as the combined amount of gasoline, diesel, fuel oil and propane consumed by Yukoners during the same period. As Members are aware, the federal government made a commitment to the Yukon to pass the oil and gas act and to complete the transfer of oil and gas resources in 1995. Ottawa failed to deliver on this commitment. From our perspective, further delays are unacceptable. We will be expecting Ottawa to meet its commitments in 1996.
We will also be looking to Ottawa to get on with the process of transferring responsibility for mineral and forest resources. This government's vision for a strong and prosperous Yukon economy does not include a future federal role in natural resource management.
One aspect of our preparations to accept new resource management responsibilities is my department's adoption of a new role in representing government's interests in the electricity and the domestic energy sector. The previous NDP administration relied on the Yukon Energy Corporation for policy and planning advice on electricity.
The imprudence of this practice was apparent to us at that time. Yukon Energy Corporation staff acknowledge that utility interests and government interests are not necessarily the same or, as one rate intervenor put it, it is a foolish farmer who puts a fox in charge of the hen house.
The new energy branch will be responsible for representing all Yukon government interests in oil, gas, electricity and other energy resource development. Its mission is to develop a strong information base to support decision making by government and industry.
The first task of the new branch was to develop the Yukon government energy plan, which was released in November, and is now setting the direction for energy-related initiatives.
This year my department will develop a similar planning document to define its mission in promoting trade and investment in the Yukon. It is apparent that industry and business are becoming increasingly interested in attracting investment to the Yukon and in establishing new markets for our resources, products and services. We believe that the government has an important role to play in elevating the Yukon's profile in world markets. We also believe that the government has a role to play in sharing the risk of new development with the business and banking communities.
We will do this through a new venture capital loan guarantee program, which will be more fully developed by my department and implemented in the near future.
We also believe that government has a role in supporting growth in tourism. As Members are aware, the tourism industry is preparing to capitalize on the many economic opportunities that will be created through the centennial anniversary's celebrations. Most of the capital funds included in the budget for Economic Development are directed to the centennial anniversaries program, which is our government's contribution to communities in their preparation for the anticipated increase in tourism activity.
Mining, forestry, energy, tourism, construction and retail trade - these are the engines of economic growth in the Yukon. The Yukon Party government is prepared to do its part in support of that growth and to take a message into the world that the Yukon is a good place to live and do business.
As Members know, the short-term economic outlook released by my department in February contained good news on Yukon's economic prospects for 1996. Unlike our Opposition colleagues, the Yukon Party government does not claim to control the economy, nor does it claim full credit for the economic recovery being experienced by Yukon.
What we do take credit for is our management of government through a difficult period of change. We did not panic and invest unwisely on speculative mine-recovery schemes in 1993, as recommended by our NDP colleagues. We did not try to replace private sector investments with government spending to create an artificial economy, as the NDP did during its administration. We preserved the financial integrity of government and allowed the private sector to facilitate its own recovery.
We continued to support and encourage investment in mineral exploration and mining through initiatives, such as the Yukon mining incentive program, the Yukon geoscience office and the promotional work of the Yukon mining facilitator, and we offered partnership to industry in the development of road and power infrastructure through the Yukon industrial support policy.
We successfully resisted the temptation of so many other governments to jeopardize our future financial stability for the sake of short-term gains that might help us to get re-elected. Our vision went beyond the limits of our first term in government. We focused on strengthening our ability to meet the responsibility of future partnerships with other governments, industry and communities. We focused on infrastructure development, controlling our natural resources and encouraging trade and investment in Yukon.
Now, there are encouraging signs that the Yukon economy is in a period of growth. The growth is being led by mining, with strong contributions from tourism and construction. Over the past year, we have experienced a staking rush of over 2,200 claims in the southeast Yukon. Tourism increased by four and one-half percent. This year, we anticipate a 10-percent growth in gross domestic product, a return to 1992 levels of $470 million in mining production, an investment of over $40 million in mineral exploration, and growth in retail trade that corresponds with the economic recovery experienced by other sectors.
This is good news for all Yukoners. It also serves as encouragement for the Department of Economic Development to support this economic growth through the implementation of its business plan. I commend both the plan and the budget to Members of the Legislature as examples of mission-driven thinking, open access to information, and accountability. In our view, that is what Yukoners have a right to expect from the government.
Mr. McDonald: I have been given the privilege of asking a few questions to begin.
It was another chippy partisan speech from the Minister, something we have come to expect. It would be interesting to know who wrote his speech. If the Minister would divulge that piece of information, I, particularly, would certainly appreciate knowing who is the author of the government's misfortune.
I have a number of questions to ask the government. One of the things the government put a lot of stock in in the last budget round was the whole issue of performance indicators. We were told that the government was going to throw away the old practice, which it claimed was in some respects pioneered by the NDP and did not have performance indicators, and that in its view the NDP did not care whether or not it performed but just simply kept on operating. We were told that the Yukon Party was going to institute a new system by introducing performance indicators on all matters so that we could really judge the government's performance.
When the performance indicators came out in the business plan, we discovered that one could drive a fleet of Mack trucks through any given performance indicator. All the department had to do was to show up every day and it would meet the basic requirements.
I would ask the Minister why no reference was made in his very partisan speech this afternoon - very partisan, very aggressive, very chippy speech - to the whole notion of performance indicators and why more energy was not put into actually promoting performance indicators that really could provide a measure of departmental performance.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The business plan, the energy action plan and the mineral plan, as Members are aware, have recently been adopted. There are a number of actions in each of those plans. The business plan is for a three-year period. Over the next year, there will be tests of the actions that are outlined in the business plan. As yet, we have not developed the actual performance indicators.
Mr. McDonald: I had a look at the last speech to see if I could get a sense of what the government was up to. It made me angry all over again, because it was just as partisan as this speech.
I recall the very kind and helpful briefing that was put forward by the department when it came to the energy action plan, which did incorporate some performance indicators. Obviously, they have at least done some preliminary thinking. It was very obvious that one could measure the performance of the department using the performance indicators. One could actually measure the performance of the department by almost any standard at all.
Given that this was such a major portion of last year's speech, and given that the Minister made a point of criticizing the New Democrats and every other government before them, indicating that this government was going to set new directions, I asked the Minister what the difference really is. Clearly, the department's focus has changed. It is not the first time the Department of Economic Development's focus has changed. They have a mission statement, and it is not the first department to formulate one. The one difference between this department's mission statement and those of other departments is that this one is published in a very nice document form. To the people who designed the blue and grey marbled cover, I give them full credit for a professionally printed product. However, there is obviously still work to be done, by the government's own standard.
Will there be an attempt to tighten up the performance indicators in the energy action plan? The department said it would do that when it was first announced. I asked that very specific question. Will there be attempts made to put forward performance indicators that actually tell us if the department has been successful?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In the mineral resources action plan, for instance, there are indicators in the back of the book - such things as exploration expenditures, the number of quartz claims and so on. In the energy action plan, the indicators are outlined there. They
have not been fleshed out. They are no more than what one sees in these two books at this point in time.
Mr. McDonald: First of all, I do not want to miss any word. Given that we will be dealing with the Minister's department all day today, and we will not get the Hansard until tomorrow, could the Minister have his speech photocopied for us, if it is in a useable form? I do not want to miss anything and I do not want to misrepresent the Minister's comments. May we have that speech?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I can get it for the Members opposite for this evening. It is not totally in a useable form right now. We can have the changes typed and circulate it this evening.
Mr. McDonald: I want to capture every word and every nuance. I realize that was sarcastic, and I apologize. The Minister was very good to offer the speech, and I thank him for it.
In terms of the performance indicators, the Minister has indicated that, for example, in mineral development, the amount of exploration expenditures and quartz claims are essentially an indicator of the department's performance. Is he saying that is the case? If mineral prices go up and there is more exploration spending, does that mean that the department is doing better? If mineral prices go down and exploration spending declines, has the Department of Economic Development failed to pass the test? How is it that the department's performance is measured by, for example, the two performance indicators he cited?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member is absolutely right about the exploration expenditures, number of quartz claims, and so on. We do not have direct control over those.
I will read, under the industry indicators, how we will measure progress. We will monitor trends in the following indicators in each of the three-year action plans. These indicators are affected by many factors, most of which are driven by market forces. Although the Yukon government has little or no control over many of these, such indicators do provide a measure of the health of the Yukon mining industry and can therefore be used in directing and assessing government programs, activities and policies.
As I have said before, the indicators for the actual department have to be fleshed out. We have to determine our indicators based on some of the items in here, such as the mineral exploration, development, production, the regulatory process, and so on. I would not want to see indicators that only indicated that, for example, we dealt with so many people in a given year, or that sort of thing. It is going to take some work to actually get indicators that really do measure the performance of our people.
Mr. McDonald: Yes, that is essentially the point. I think there is some confusion in the government's mind - or perhaps in the department's mind - about measuring the performance of the economy and matching that with the performance of the department. The department, for example, was not judged to be superbly successful in 1989, when exploration activity went to its highest level in 10 years in the mineral sector. The exploration activity has not reached that level since. No one in the department should feel that that is necessarily a reflection of their good works.
One of the performance indicators for the department was to meet its objective of actually developing performance indicators for itself. That was what the Minister said that it was going to do last spring. It was going to have performance indicators. He essentially threw down the gauntlet and said that he was going to do this knowing that he was tweaking the nose of the Official Opposition by suggesting that he was going to improve dramatically on the performance of the Official Opposition in this regard.
I do not think one would regard these performance indicators as a dramatic improvement, and so if one were to assess the performance of the department, one would say that it has not passed the first test and that is giving itself performance indicators that make some sense.
I do not want to take up all the Minister's time. I know my colleague has a number of questions. The Minister did make a comment as he was again attacking the NDP. The NDP record is like an itch that the Yukon Party cannot get rid of.
They are sitting in this little, private world. They keep scratching this itch that is the NDP record and cannot get it out of their minds. They cannot think forward. They always have to think in the past. It is a fascinating process to watch.
However, the one comment that did strike me as being rather strange was the Minister's indication that the department was going to take over the subject of managing energy policy for the first time, and that the NDP had been foolish in leaving that matter up to the Yukon Energy Corporation. He said something like, "The foolish farmer is the one who puts the fox in charge of the hen house." Presumably, he meant that the Yukon Energy Corporation should not be responsible for managing energy policy. In that respect, he is, of course, right. However, I am sure that the Minister knows that the Yukon Energy Corporation is integrated, more now than ever, with the private utility - which is not owned by the public - to the point that now the correspondence with the Yukon Utilities Board is sent over on the Yukon Electrical Company's letterhead with signature blocks of both the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Electrical Company, and the president of the Yukon Electrical Company signs for the Yukon Energy Corporation as well as for himself. When one talks about putting the fox in charge of the hen house, one really sees an excellent example of that happening there.
What is even more fascinating is that the energy branch - which is quite rightfully dealing with energy policy - seconded somebody from the Yukon Energy Corporation to actually draft the energy policy. To hear the Minister criticizing the NDP for its actions in this regard is very, very strange indeed.
I have a number of questions. I should perhaps turn the subject over to the critic and move back in from time to time to ask some very specific questions of the Minister. I would like to leave him with this, because it does impact on one of my own responsibilities; namely, land claims. The Minister made a point of indicating that he was interested in pursuing partnerships with First Nations. When he said "partnerships with First Nations", did he mean joint ventures of some sort with First Nations, or did he simply mean good government relations with First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think both. I cannot think of any joint venture partnerships right off the top of my head, but those are the kinds of things we would like to look at, as well as working with them government to government.
Mr. McDonald: When he says "joint venture" in the business context, does he mean some sort of economic enterprise joint venture? Is that what he would be referring to?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes. I would just like to point out, in reference to some of the comments the Member made previously about the staff person who was seconded, that that person actually quit the Energy Corporation and is a staff member of Economic Development. He is not seconded from the Energy Corporation.
Mr. McDonald: That is mildly reassuring. I am hoping that his entire orientation from the previous years has not affected in any way his thinking about putting together an economic development plan for the government. Nevertheless, point made.
Back to joint ventures. When the Minister says "economic enterprise", is he saying that the government would entertain funding joint ventures that would generate business activity or would be a business itself? Is that what he means?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes. As I said before, it would be some sort of a partnership with First Nations. We would be interested in looking at some of those types of possibilities.
Mr. Harding: I was listening to the Minister's speech as he introduced it today and I felt that I should probably go out to my truck and grab my hip-waders, because it was surely getting deep in here. I have never heard such a pile of it. The chippiness of the introduction to these estimates is something to behold from the Minister, particularly when it is based completely and totally on fiction. That is normally conversation that politicians reserve for Question Period, not for Committee of the Whole, but nonetheless the Minister has every right to spout his fiction in Committee of the Whole. The only problem is that it leads to a lot of time spent in debate responding and rebutting the fiction of the Minister, and certainly I intend to do that.
I have every right to do that. The only thing is, it is time that could probably be spent more productively on more substantive issues.
Nevertheless, I know the government spoke highly about its action plan for mining investment - you know, using taxpayers' money to buy booze for miners - this type of a strategic and aggressive approach to mining investment. I guess the government's philosophy is that the more booze bought for miners with taxpayers' money, the more exploration work is going to be done in the Yukon. Well, I do not subscribe to that. The government participated in the booze-buying arrangement a couple of years ago. Has it been buying much more booze for miners on Yukon Night, or how is that going?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Yukon government did not contribute any money for booze at this year's Cordilleran Roundup. We did provide some funding for, I believe, rental of the rooms and for food at the Roundup. I guess maybe the Member opposite is saying that we should not participate in the Cordilleran Roundup. Maybe if he were government, they would not participate in the Roundup. That is rather interesting. I would like to hear what the Member would have to say about suggesting that we do not participate.
Mr. Harding: I never suggested that. I wanted to know how much booze was bought for miners by the Yukon government - period. So, if the government did not buy any booze this year, did it buy any booze last year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No.
Mr. Harding: Did the government buy any booze the year before that one?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have been the Minister for about a year and a half now. I do not know what happened three years ago, but I do not believe that the Yukon government bought booze. However, I do not know what happened prior to me being named Minister.
Mr. Harding: Can the Minister give me a list of the booze that was purchased in that year? I would appreciate information about precisely when the booze was used; for example, was it on Yukon Night, or precisely how did the government utilize the booze that it purchased with taxpayers' dollars. If the Minister checks, he will find that booze was bought for miners with taxpayers' money.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: For this year, out of a $13,250 expenditure under the economic development agreement program, $8,500 was provided. These are the costs that go into the $13,250: room rent and food, Hotel Vancouver, $5,200; supplies, $500; fax and phone, $150; printing costs, $300; freight, $300; rentals, $100; taxes, $1,500; plane fare, $600; accommodation expenses, $700; food, $3,000; for a total of $13,250, of which we provided $8,500.
Mr. Harding: I have that list. I am not interested in this year. I am interested in the year the government bought all the booze for the miners with taxpayers' money. I would like the Minister to get from the department precisely how much taxpayers'money was spent on booze for miners. I would like him to provide me with that list.
I would also like to know why the policy was changed so the Yukon Party government does not buy booze for miners any more. Was it because it was raised in the Legislature as a criticism, or is it that the government feels that it is an inappropriate expenditure?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, I do not know if there was money spent on booze. I do not believe there was. It was never brought up with me when I approved monies to be spent on the Cordilleran Roundup. I was never asked to approve an expenditure for booze, and I have never committed any money for liquor during the two years I have been responsible for the program.
Mr. Harding: That is why I want to know why the Yukon Party government changed its policy about buying booze. The department is still the same; the government is still the same; the Ministers have changed. I would like an explanation about what was spent on booze for miners with taxpayer money. I would also like to know why the Government of the Yukon, the Yukon Party government, changed its policy with regard to buying booze for miners under this Minister.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have answered the question. I did not know there was a policy to buy booze. I do not believe there ever was, and there has not been one in the two years I have been responsible for the program.
Mr. Harding: I will ask the Minister to check it out. Will he do that? Will he provide me with a list of what was purchased and why the policy was changed to no longer purchase it for the Cordilleran Roundup? Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite is jumping to some conclusions. He is saying that there has been a change in policy. I do not believe that there has been. I have not changed the policy. I do not have a problem with getting the figures on the expenditures for whatever year the Member has requested.
Mr. Harding: Would the Minister include a list of the available funding that was given to the Chamber of Mines in each given year for the Cordilleran Roundup. My understanding is that there are some joint initiatives that the government and the chamber have undertaken and that the government has had some help from the chamber in organizing Yukon Night.
It is quite possible that the Minister might not be aware of this practice of authorizing the expenditure for booze. It might have been done through the funding agreement for the organization of Yukon Night with the Chamber of Mines.
Could the Minister also investigate that for me and bring back the information?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is a funding agreement with the Chamber of Mines. We provide a contribution in the amount of $15,000 to it. There are conditions attached to the agreement, where it provides certain information and services to the Yukon government. I can table a copy of this for the Member.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister for that. I am really interested in the government's booze-buying policy for miners. I want to know whether or not, indirectly or directly, the Government of Yukon funds organizations that engage in buying booze for miners. I would also like to know if the Government of the Yukon authorized those expenditures - now or in the past. I will be looking for that information.
I will be making much of this aggressive strategy for investment that this government speaks about because, quite frankly, the only issue the Government Leader came back with to hold up as a competitive advantage in the Yukon for mining investment was the land claims agreements and how far along we were toward settling them. The only Government of the Yukon that had any impact on that was the NDP government. We managed to accomplish an umbrella final agreement and four band finals in three and one-half years.
This government, which is on its last legs, has managed to complete zero band final agreements, and have failed on just about every other score with regard to their relations with First Nations, as well. I do not understand or see how this government has much to do with the competitive advantage that the Yukon has in terms of mining, according to the Government Leader's own view of his recent Asian excursion.
As far as the Cordilleran Roundup goes, if I were ever fortunate enough to be involved in the government, I would take a very supportive approach to publicly and aggressively supporting the Yukon as a place for investment, particularly in mining. However, I would draw the line at supporting the funding of organizations, directly or indirectly, for the purchase of alcohol for that promotion. That is where the government must draw the line.
I think that that line has been clearly stepped over by the Yukon Party in the past until it was raised by Mr. Penikett as a criticism. At that point, the policy changed. Perhaps this Minister forgets that and does not want to know the truth about that; nonetheless, that is the truth.
I also want to say that we are going to have to do a little analysis of this so-called mission-driven planning that the Minister elaborated on in his introductory speech. It is obvious from this Minister's comments that he feels that somehow something that was a grave ill of the previous administration has been corrected.
His comments about energy were incredibly outrageous, given that the NDP was the party that negotiated control over energy from the federal government in an effort to bring Yukon to Yukoners, as it were. Not only that, the integration of the private utility, YECL, with the Yukon Energy Corporation is at a level now such as it has never been, as a result of the Yukon Party putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
Not only that, I would also say that there are obvious, glaring manipulations of the members of the Yukon Energy Board. They stacked it with people who are not consumer based in terms of decision making, or at least they removed the people who were clearly consumer based in their decision making. That is an issue of considerable public debate. There were some pretty darned good cartoons in this territory over the last couple of months regarding this issue.
I think that the comments by the Minister are misplaced, outrageous and fictional, but they are in keeping with how he likes to introduce his estimates in this Legislature.
I have a number of questions about the government's business plan for the energy action plan. The three first initiatives under the strategic direction of the energy sector's mission-driven plan all have to do with oil or gas resources. We know there has been some work done in the legislative framework. Is it not true that this depends entirely on whether or not the federal government is going to devolve and have the legislation ready to be devolved? Is it not true that the Minister has put the kibosh on devolution at all levels for an indefinite period?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have to go back a little. One of the people from the department - the financial person who is sitting in my office because of the budget debate - sent me a note. I think the Member opposite is, by inference, trying to make people think that we buy booze for people. The note I have received says, "We never, ever bought booze for Yukon Night". The Member is saying, "Okay, well possibly they did not buy booze but they did support the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines probably bought booze, so therefore they probably indirectly bought some booze."
I guess that the Member is saying that he will not support the government spending money through the Chamber of Mines, so I guess what he is saying is that he does not support Yukon Night at the Cordilleran Roundup, and that is fair. If he does not support it, the mining people will be quite interested in knowing that.
Mr. Harding: What a pile of garbage. The NDP supported the Chamber of Mines when we were in government. We developed the Yukon mining incentive program. We developed the resource transportation access program. We developed initiatives in tax and off-road tax reductions for mining communities. We supported the main hardrock mine ore body in this territory with an investment into the project in training and in infrastructure. We supported geoscience initiatives under the economic development agreement. Surely the Minister can come up with better than that.
I had a discussion with the Chamber of Mines at the time about the booze issue. I had a meeting with it to discuss the booze. It certainly was cognizant of the fact that monies were invested at that point for the purchase of booze, and a policy change was made, based on the criticisms we levied at that time.
I believe that a strong plank of the Yukon Party is that it is supporting and encouraging investment. When they stand up and say that, given the efforts we undertook, which massively outweigh what they have done in mining, we will continue to point to their initiatives in that area.
It is patently ridiculous for the Minister to stand up and say, "You don't support the Chamber of Mines. You don't support the Cordilleran." That is just ridiculous, and our record is clear in terms of support for the Chamber of Mines and in terms of support for mining in the Yukon. My constituents' bread and butter is mining. I do not take the bread and butter out of anybody's mouth, and I never will.
Certainly I am a supporter of mining initiatives in the territory but I am also a supporter of the reduction of the overlap and duplication of environmental regulations. That is something this government has failed miserably to support, because in three and a half years it has just now started to barely further the development assessment process. It has stalled totally on the Whitehorse mining initiative, which was an attempt by the New Democrats to try to get a dialogue happening among conservation interests, First Nation interests and the mining industry, but the government is not interested in that.
This government is interested in the simple approach - making sure that booze is bought, that its people are down there, such as the previous Minister of Economic Development at the Cordilleran Roundup, wearing buttons saying, "Open for business." However, the tough stuff, such as the tough environmental work that has to be done has been avoided by this government, because it is not consistent with the government's simple message.
To say that we do not support mining is patently ridiculous and false. If the government bought booze, directly or indirectly, then it changed its policy simply because it knew that it was inappropriate. I do not care how many notes are sent down from the department upstairs.
The question that I asked the Minister concerns the first three items in the strategic direction for the energy sector. I asked the Minister if it is true that the Minister has told this government that devolution is on indefinite hold pending the settlement of issues with First Nations. Is that not true?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, I have to address several of the comments. I have not been able to scratch down all of the allegations that the Member has been making. I have to respond to those before I can respond to the direct questions, because they are left out there with no response.
The Member knows very well - and is telling half truths, which is not uncommon for that Member - that the First Nations were not able to respond to the development assessment process because they did not have the necessary resources and staff to do it. They are starting to come to the table now to discuss it.
It is kind of interesting, returning to the issue about supporting mining, that that Member beat on us for days and days about giving $29 million to Curragh Resources. That government had already given $5 million to Curragh Resources. We never saw that money again. It went sailing across the ocean.
We got beat on for days and days. Providing $29 million would only, at the very most, have provided two or three more months' work for some of those people. That money would have been long gone, and the Yukon taxpayer would be paying it back right now.
If that is their way of supporting mining, they would very quickly break the Yukon government.
Mr. Harding: Again, the Minister speaks complete, total and patent nonsense. If the Minister can find one quote - and I challenge him to do it - that says I want the Government of the Yukon to give $29 million to Clifford Frame, the Minister should produce it in this Legislature and ask for a full apology, which I will gladly give. Of course, it does not exist.
If the Minister can provide the quote, I will apologize. If not, then I think he should apologize.
With regard to the loan guarantee discussion that took place, I believe the Minister will find that the position of the Official Opposition was that conditions on any loan assistance to Curragh Resources should be tough but realistic. We did not want this government to just pull the plug on the largest private sector mine in this territory. We did not want it to do that, and we will stand by our position on that.
Unfortunately, the government had a feeling that Faro did not really mean much to the economy and that the government could rely on the public sector support and support from Ottawa, so it did not care if that mine stayed alive or not. Actually, we became more reliant upon funding from Ottawa as a result of that decision than ever before, and we still remain so to this day. The last supplementary introduces a budget of $507 million, the largest in Yukon history, which makes us the most dependent we have ever been upon Ottawa for funding and the least self-reliant. The government was more than prepared to pull the plug on Faro, without even looking at options, let alone the $29 million.
We never even got to square one with this government. The $5 million loan the Minister talks about sailing across the ocean was supported by the Members opposite. I have read the debates. They were in charge of ensuring the security remained in the territory when they were in government. Of course, they were too incompetent to handle that task, so they never did and lost out on that. They blame it all on us, as with most things.
With regard to the development assessment process, we never heard a peep from this government over the last three and a half years on that. The time line is February 1997. I would think that any government that is really interested in supporting mining would have made that a thrust. We know this government did not make it happen, did not even look for unique ways in which to make it happen.
The Whitehorse mining initiative has been totally ignored by this government. If one looks at some of the things that have happened in other jurisdictions, the most successful initiatives undertaken between conservationists, industry, land use planners and First Nations are initiatives where everyone is talking. That is what the Whitehorse mining initiative was.
It also had a very fundamental economic objective, which was to reduce duplicated and overlapping environmental regulations and to streamline the process, but we have to give a failing grade to the Yukon Party government on this score.
I will ask the question for the third time: is it not true that the federal Minister responsible for Indian and Northern Affairs has said that there is a hold on all devolution, pending the settlement of some very serious issues that have been raised by First Nations - is that not true?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The news that I heard was that a proposal was coming to the Yukon government with respect to devolution, and that that proposal would be provided in May. Depending on what our feelings were with respect to the proposal, it would then go to the First Nations.
Mr. Harding: I would like to get a little more information than that from the Minister. What sort of proposal is the Minister talking about? Is it a comprehensive proposal involving all the areas that have been talked about, or proposed, for devolution and that the government has failed to implement, or what is he talking about - mining, forestry, oil and gas? What precisely is the Minister talking about, in terms of this proposal?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have not heard anything further, other than what was on the radio - I believe it was on this morning's news. I have not heard anything further from Mr. Irwin, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, so I cannot say. I have no idea what will be in the proposal or exactly when we will receive it.
Mr. Harding: Is it not true then, that this entire initiative - the top three planks in the government's promoting energy/strategic directions - are totally dependent now upon this proposal from Ron Irwin? Is that not true?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am sorry. I missed the actual question.
Mr. Harding: The top three planks in the strategic directions initiatives for the energy sector speak to Yukon's oil and gas resources. So, I ask, is the ability to carry the strategic directions out not dependent upon this proposal from Ron Irwin? Is that not true?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It certainly depends on the devolution of oil and gas. Interestingly enough, we were promised by the federal government that, in the fall of 1994, the legislation would be introduced in the House. We have our legislation in anticipation of the transfer and it is almost complete. As soon as the federal government passes its legislation, we will be ready to go with ours.
Mr. Harding: If it is all on hold, which is totally out of the government's control - other than the Ministers lobbying the decision - what is the department doing in that area right now as we wait for the proposal?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There are still regulations that need to be developed pursuant to the oil and gas legislation.
Mr. Harding: Is the Minister working on those regulations right now? How far along are they and when will they be completed?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The regulations would not go with the act. Apparently, a lot of research and a lot of work has been done. They are not at the final stage at which they could go in with the actual legislation.
Mr. Harding: When will that be done?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The regulations will probably be completed during the summer. Depending on what happens with devolution, they should be ready for implementation by late fall.
Mr. Harding: How many people are working full time on the development of these regulations, which make up the top three planks of the strategic directions for the energy sector?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have three people dedicated from the branch, and we have been hiring consultants on an as-needed basis.
Mr. Harding: The top three planks were basically for developing some regulations, but we are on hold pending the concurrence on devolution from the federal Minister, which does not sound likely at this point, given the last statements I have heard. I will be anxious to see this proposal from the federal Minister.
The fourth plank in this particular book is called, "Promote coal development and encourage a secure investment climate". Of course, when we got into this debate in the supplementary estimates, the Minister could not tell me very much about coal. I asked him about Division Mountain, fast-tracking, how far along they were, could they determine yet if there were feasible, environmentally friendly and economical projects already identified, how far along these were and had they made application to the industrial support policy?
I asked any number of questions. Of course, I was told at that point that this was far too early for these types of questions and that I was putting the cart before the horse. Never mind that every budget speech and throne speech talks about coal and coal as a philosophy and the fact that it is just around the corner, and that if one looks around the next bend there is going to be a coal power source in the Yukon. I even heard from the Government Leader that in Alberta it is good for sheep - they like being around the coal mines. I had some experience with sheep being around mines, but I will not go into that.
I have a question for the Minister regarding this coal development slogan: promote coal development and encourage a secure investment climate. How strategically in this mission-driven world is the department doing that, and precisely what is it up to right now as we speak? Is this mission-driven energy action plan being implemented? What would the department be up to today, for example?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We know for a fact that the Members opposite hate the idea of coal development. For years, they opposed the development of coal for the generation of electricity. We know that. They are doing anything they can to discourage it. We have done a lot of internal work.
The Member knows very well that the company that has possession of the deposit through claims is still doing exploration work. The company wants to prove up 100 million tonnes, I believe, and it is up to somewhere around 40 million tonnes of proven reserves right now. The department has, as I said before, done internal work and has contracted a study to look at the possible development of coal for both mine-mouth power generation and for export to Pacific Rim countries.
Mr. Harding: Is this another study? I have a couple of studies already; is this a new study?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No results from this study have been released yet. It is not yet finished.
Mr. Harding: I want to reassure the Minister that the Official Opposition does not hate coal. We quite like coal. We think it is a lovely little resource and that as long as it can be economically and environmentally used we have no problem with it. But the case has not been made, so the Official Opposition is quite rightly going to point that out to the public.
The other question I have for the Minister is that he said lots of internal work has been done on coal by the department in this new mission-driven world. Has internal work been done on the feasibility of various coal options and that kind of thing?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not really know what the Member means. The particular study we are doing now looks at the two options - the feasibility of a mine-mouth power generation unit and the export market. We hope to learn from this study if it is feasible.
Mr. Harding: That study is outside, not internal, is it not?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is being conducted by a consultant.
Mr. Harding: On page 2741, on February 29, I asked the Minister about this. I got a response back saying that internal work had been done on the feasibility of various coal options. What does that mean?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That was basic information-gathering work conducted by our department. I believe the Member opposite has referred to a couple of documents he has, so there has been a fair amount of work compiled.
Mr. Harding: At the end of the day, I want to get to the question of feasibility. The statement from the Minister was that internal work had been done on the feasibility of various coal options. Then he stood up and said that was basically information gathering.
I am not interested in information gathering. He told me there had been work done on the feasibility of various options. What is he talking about? I want to know about the feasibility.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I guess the Member opposite would like me to say we can produce power through coal for X cents per kilowatt. We cannot do that yet, which is why we are looking at the various results.
How far is it to tidewater? Are there markets out there? What type of generator do we need to utilize coal for electrical generation? What is the smallest size? What if another one is needed?
That is the type of information we have been compiling, which is part of the feasibility. Right now, we are taking that and other information and looking at it more closely through the consultant we currently have employed.
Mr. Harding: I know better than to expect this Minister to have much in the way of specifics, but I do expect him to stand up and slap us in the face with his introductory comments to his budget estimates. I do expect to see, in any budget speech or any throne speech by this government, all kinds of references to coal, and jobs being just around the corner.
Since the Minister has said, in his communication to me, that internal work has been done on the feasibility of various coal options, can he provide me with that information? Can he provide me with that hard analysis?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not think that there has been a hard analysis conducted; it is part of the work that is still ongoing. However, in 1994 we produced the Yukon coal inventory. It was a study by H. A. Simons on the potential for coal-power development. We produced a biography of approximately 75 published reports that were available in local libraries, and we participated in the Canadian coal conference.
Mr. Harding: Was that internal work?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Some was internal. I believe the Member has the Simons report. He was referring to it previously.
Mr. Harding: Is that the extent of the internal work the Minister spoke about on the feasibility of the various coal options that have been undertaken in this new mission-driven world that we live in - to use the Minister's words?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There has been a substantial amount of work carried out internally on the gathering of information. The information is at the department at this time and is being made available to some people. For example, the consultant we are using right now is using that information, as well as other information, to determine the feasibility of coal.
Mr. Harding: I would like to ask the Minister this: when are we going to be getting the information package on coal that the government is putting together? What sorts of things will be contained in that information package?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that we have always provided the reports and so on that have been conducted. I believe that the Member said he had two of them. When this current study is completed and we have received the final report, it will be available to the public. I will be pleased to provide a copy to the Members opposite.
Mrs. Firth: I want to get some clarification on the coal studies that the Minister is referring to. Was one of them done by Norwest, or is that the one that is being done?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is the one that is being conducted now.
Mrs. Firth: That is the one that the Minister said he would provide to us. Was the other one done by Mr. Sweatman?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Mr. Sweatman never actually conducted a study. He gathered information. I think another one that is available is the H.A. Simon report. Mr. Sweatman worked with the department to gather information.
Mrs. Firth: Could we have a copy of the terms of reference of Mr. Sweatman's contract and a copy of the contract that was done? Do we have costs of these other studies that are being done - for example, the one being done by Norwest? If not, could we get a copy of the contract and the cost of the studies?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, we can provide that for the Members opposite. We do not have it here, but we can get it from the department and provide it.
Mrs. Firth: Where does the money identified for coal studies come from in the operation and maintenance budget? What part of the budget does it come from? Does it come out of administration or energy? It would be somewhere where the government does its consulting contracts. In what part of the budget does the Economic Development department identify those costs?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It would be under operation and maintenance, in the strategic management area.
Mr. Harding: I want to move to number 5 on the list of strategic directions for the energy sector, the mission-driven planning that the Minister alluded to in his initial comments. In this mission-driven world, number 5 says, "promote the development of Yukon's energy resources to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels". Aside from what work is being done on coal, what else is being done aggressively in that area by this government?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Coal is certainly one of them. Oil and gas is another. As we spoke about earlier, the Kotaneelee field is quite important to Yukon, and will be for possible future energy sources. The Yukon portion of the Liard basin in the southeast Yukon has 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas discovered, with an estimated 57 billion cubic metres remaining undiscovered. In other words, with the limited exploration done to date, there is an indicated potential for another five Kotaneelee-sized gas fields in southeast Yukon.
Mr. Harding: In terms of policy for this government, it has nothing to do with whether or not it is a fossil fuel. It still believes heavily in fossil fuels - it just objects to the fact that we have to import fossil fuels. So, is that the policy direction - or mission?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, that is not entirely correct. Fossil fuel substitution is certainly one of our goals, but the potential for hydro power has already been thoroughly explored in the Yukon. I cannot remember, off the top of my head, how many different sites there are, but there are numerous sites for possible hydro power generation. We are also doing some very limited work with wind generation, which we want to continue. We do have some problems with our little wind generator on Haeckel Hill that we would like to resolve and then further that technology, if we are able to.
Mr. Harding: If the government is actively looking to reduce dependence upon fossil fuels, why do I not find it listed in the strategic directions for the energy sector? Why do I not find it prominently listed in the seven items that are setting that direction? Ccoal is mentioned, oil and gas are mentioned, imported fossil fuels are mentioned, but there is no mention of anything else.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am pretty sure we mentioned hydro development in the plan as well. Everything we are doing is currently in there - including wind and hydro, although, as I said before, hydro has been thoroughly explored in the territory. Number 5.3 says to build on the 1994 non-utility generation policy by working with the Yukon Development Corporation to develop a strategy to encourage investment in energy projects by non-utility generators, particularly in communities dependent upon diesel fuel.
Mr. Harding: I am curious. I can appreciate 5.3, but with respect to the main headings - when one is looking at "mission-driven world" and "mission-driven planning" - there is supposedly some major meaning in what is identified as the strategic directions. Therefore, one would think, if one were to have aggressive promotion in the first three - for oil and gas - it indicates a high priority for the government. If two of the next seven sections talk about promoting coal development and that type of thing, and then the next section, number 5, talks about the import of fossil fuels, and it is noticeable by its absence that there is no specific strategic direction that says the government will look to alternatives other than fossil fuels, then I would say that that indicates it is not that much of a strategic priority for the government. Am I wrong in reading that, or is just not mentioned prominently for some other reason?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Point 5.4 says, "assess the potential of undeveloped energy sources in 1996, including microhydro, wind, waste wood, municipal solid waste, photo-voltaic battery hybrid systems and other small plant technology." As I said before, the large hydro has been studied thoroughly. There is a lot of information already available on that. There was little or no information available on coal up until recently, and there has been little information available on gas.
In our energy plan, resource conservation will be a priority in managing and regulating resource development. It also says that all supply options will be considered in electricity supply planning, and since both the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. are integrated utilities - meaning they give equal priority to supply and demand-side options - energy management is given full consideration as a supply option.
Mr. Harding: I appreciate the touching of that button by the Minister, but I was just making the point that when one is setting out strategic directions, it is important that clear priorities are set. I do not find it prominently listed, although the Minister is quite right that it is mentioned in other places.
I just question that. It does not mean that much in the big picture from this government's point of view.
Number 6 in this energy plan states that it will encourage the development of sufficient supply of competitively priced energy for industry and communities. The other day I asked a question during Question Period about Anvil Range Mining Corporation and I raised the issue of it having to pay substantially more for its power right now.
When I asked this question last year of the Minister of Economic Development, the Government Leader, it was stated that once the rate was set by the Yukon Public Utilities Board, if a request was made by Anvil Range, there would be a look at some rate easement under the industrial support policy.
Today I ask the Minister, given the heading under number 6, what is his department doing to encourage the development of competitively priced energy for industry?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that the Member is aware that government and industry both pay a lot higher than the cost of service. I think the government pays something like 150 percent of the cost. Residential customers pay around 65 percent of the cost. I am not sure what industry pays, but it is something like 120 percent. What we would like to do is get a source of supply that would be cheap enough so that we could have cost of service across the board and it would be affordable for everyone. That would be our goal. Right at this point in time, as long as we use imported diesel fuel, it is going to be impossible to get along without very high increases in cost to residential consumers. It would be impossible to bring everything down to where the cost would equal 100 percent of the cost of the service.
Mr. Harding: What is the Minister doing? I do not understand. He has identified some broad goal, but what concrete steps are being taken in that direction? He says he wants cost of service for mining companies and for government. What concrete steps are underway? I know what everyone would like to see, but what is underway?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is kind of interesting because one of the initiatives that we are taking is the exploration of the possibility of coal-fired electrical generation. Again, we have looked at hydro. As I have said before, that is being studied very thoroughly. There is information available on it, but some way of producing cheaper electricity is one of our goals. Right now we want to explore very thoroughly the possibility of a coal-fired generation unit.
Mr. Harding: Here we are, three and one-half years into this mandate and, as of February 29, the question of the economic feasibility of coal was way off in the distance - so far that the Minister could not tell me anything about the cost of connections, grids or where it was going to be or how things would operate. I am asking the Minister what, in the here and now, the department is doing with regard to number 6, which states that it is going to encourage the development of a sufficient supply of competitively-priced energy for industry.
Will the status quo remain until the coal-fired electrical generator happens or not?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Some of the things that the energy branch has started to explore are a survey of the state of the non-utility generation industry in Canada and the future trends and developments that may affect the Yukon; a survey of how governments in Canada and other nations backstop major electrical infrastructure projects to encourage economic development without putting consumers at risk; a survey of how research and development projects can be developed in the future as governments continue to reduce financial support; a survey of electricity market reform in Canada and other nations; and an analysis of how industry trends could affect the Yukon in the future. Those are some of the things we have been involved in.
Mr. Harding: That is all well and good. I will have to come back to that. I move that we take a break and come back to it.
Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 10, general debate on Economic Development. Is there any further general debate on Economic Development?
Mr. McDonald: In his opening remarks, the Minister indicated that the oil and gas transfer is apparently held up, or he made some reference to the fact that it is delayed. He went on to say that any further delays were unacceptable. Can he elaborate on what is happening, from his perspective?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think I probably responded to this earlier. I believe that the legislation was to be introduced in the House of Commons in November 1994. That has been delayed and delayed. The latest news I have heard - and it was on a newscast just this morning - is that the federal Minister will be providing the Yukon government with the proposal for devolution. I am not sure if that is all of the sectors, just oil and gas, or exactly what it is.
We have continually lobbied the federal government for the devolution of oil and gas, with the impression that the federal government wanted to do this as early as the spring of 1995.
Mr. McDonald: In his remarks, the Minister stated that further delays were unacceptable. Can he tell us whether or not that is the department's considered response to First Nations' concerns that, I understand, have been expressed in the last couple of weeks about the Yukon's oil and gas administration creating new third-party interests on settlement lands, where none existed before? When the Minister says that any further delays are unacceptable, is he - in a sense - responding to the First Nations' concerns?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Not necessarily. We were under the impression that the federal government had dealt with, or was in the process of dealing with, First Nations. Unfortunately for us, the First Nations have said that they have not been consulted enough, and that may be one of the reasons for the delay in the tabling of the legislation in the House of Commons.
Mr. McDonald: As I understand it, the concern that has been expressed with respect to the devolution is that there is an understanding that the Yukon government, in issuing oil and gas rights, will be creating third-party interests on lands that have traditionally had no interests and which were considered lands that were available for selection.
What is the government's position on that question? Is it insisting that it is not a significant concern and that further delays are unacceptable, or is it able to answer that concern and believe that the concern is significant enough to justify further delay?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In fact, we have not actually seen any concerns that the First Nations may have expressed to the federal government on the transfer. Monies were set aside for First Nations, by both the Yukon government and by the federal government, to assist them with the consultation process, but my understanding is that neither we nor the federal government has been successful in bringing First Nations to a table to discuss the transfer. If that is the reason Mr. Irwin is delaying the tabling of the transfer legislation, I am unaware of it.
Mr. McDonald: In the last couple of weeks, I have taken the opportunity to make myself aware of what concerns may exist with respect to the oil and gas transfer, and I am aware that there have been discussions between the federal government and other parties to the land claims negotiations about the issue of devolution. I took the opportunity to speak to Mr. Robert Wright, who is the federal government's consultant on devolution and have been able to ascertain that First Nations are clearly concerned about the Yukon government issuing oil and gas rights on traditional lands prior to land selections, particularly in the Watson Lake and the Kotaneelee district.
I am just trying to bring closure to this by trying to understand the rationale - not that I agree that it is right or wrong - for the Minister to say that further delays are unacceptable.
Is his department saying that those concerns, as I understand them, with respect to the alienation of lands for the purposes of issuing oil and gas rights, can easily be resolved, or that they are insignificant?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There was an agreement - I believe it was under the Northern Accord - in 1993. Part of the agreement stated that there would be consultation with the First Nations. As I mentioned earlier, both the federal and Yukon governments have set aside funding for the First Nations to consult with the other two levels of government. However, for whatever reason, we have not been able to do it.
We have continued to push the federal government for the devolution of oil and gas and, at the same time, we have made all of our various studies and legislative drafts available to the First Nations for their review. I am not sure if, even now, the First Nations have bought into the consultation process.
Mr. McDonald: I appreciate the point that the Minister has made three times now about both federal and territorial departments offering funds for First Nations in order to receive some feedback about the First Nations' perspective of the oil and gas transfer, but I am past that point. I am talking about the issue itself and what appears to be the pivotal issue over which they are objecting. Whatever did not happen with the consultation before is certainly happening now, and First Nations are expressing themselves about the issues that they believe to be important to them with respect to the oil and gas transfer. Even last evening, at the United Nations conference - a public forum - the issue of the oil and gas transfer was raised. There is no question that while they may have been slow in the uptake in terms of receiving funds and being involved, they are certainly getting themselves involved and offering an opinion now.
I am asking the Minister about the issue that has been raised by First Nations' representatives about the transfer. I am also asking if that pivotal issue is of concern to the Yukon government or if the government feels that it can be easily resolved.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Certainly it is a concern. I do not know if it can be easily resolved or not. I understand this issue was raised last night. However, that was the first time we had an indication of concern from the First Nation.
Mr. McDonald: I can understand what the Minister is saying; I am not sure I understand the point. Is the Minister saying that because First Nations are expressing their opinions now it is too late, the deals are cut, and they will have to live with the results? Or is he saying they have not had a chance to review First Nations' positions? Or, from his remarks this afternoon, is he commenting on the position as the government understands it to be with respect to the issuance of oil and gas rights in traditional territories in the absence of land claims?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, we have not seen an official position from the First Nations. If they have concerns, those concerns will need to be addressed. Possibly that is what Mr. Irwin's proposal, which he will bring forward in May, contains. Possibly that will address the particular concerns that First Nations have.
Mr. McDonald: I understood that these concerns were communicated to the government, particularly to the Government Leader, the Minister responsible for land claims. I thought they were the subject of some discussion between the two governments, even as recently as this weekend. I also understand that these issues have been raised by the Council for Yukon First Nations and the Kaska with the government. Someone is not giving me the straight goods in the public if the Minister is saying now that the positions respecting the oil and gas transfer has not been communicated, or that the concerns I have heard on a number of occasions, even unsolicited by me, have not been communicated to the Yukon government.
Is the Minister certain the Council for Yukon First Nations has not indicated any concern whatsoever, or any specifics of any concerns, to the Yukon government?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not sure what happened this weekend. I did not attend the forum last night. Up until last week some time, the concerns had not been expressed, at least not to the Department of Economic Development.
Mr. McDonald: I had heard that this basic issue had been related to the Yukon government - perhaps not to the Department of Economic Development, but certainly to the Yukon government a few weeks ago. I took from the Minister's remarks that he would have understood what that position was - given that people told me they had told the Yukon government that this was their position - and that when he made the remark that further delays were unacceptable, he was in a sense responding to those specific concerns, and I wanted to know the reasons.
Let me ask this question: what is going to happen now with respect to the government's position on oil and gas? When the government says that further delays are unacceptable, will it be communicating that to the federal Minister?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think possibly that is one of the reasons why the federal Minister has indicated that he will be providing a proposal some time in May. I know we have been communicating to the federal Minister that the oil and gas devolution should continue. I am not sure what has transpired in the last few days, but that has been our position right up until last week some time.
Mr. McDonald: Is it the government's position currently? The Minister made mention of the oil and gas transfer in his speech this afternoon. Is it the government position currently, and was it communicated to the federal Minister recently that any delay of the oil and gas management transfer is unacceptable, as he has stated it?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Maybe I can bring the Members up to date on the oil and gas situation. The federal Minister of DIAND has indicated that he will be introducing the legislation in the House of Commons in Ottawa sometime this spring. We have been talking with the Council for Yukon First Nations to find out how we can give it the level of comfort that it requires. As Members opposite may be aware, we are in the process of negotiating a protocol agreement with the First Nations, and we are looking for ways to resolve this issue so that legislation can go ahead. At the present time, I believe, it is our intention to table the oil and gas legislation in this Legislature this spring and let it sit over the summer to be debated next fall.
Mr. McDonald: I do not know quite where that puts the Minister's remarks about further delays being unacceptable; my understanding of what has happened in the last couple of weeks is consistent with the Government Leader's understanding, so I will leave it at that and not try to read more into what the Minister has said than I should.
The Minister indicated that a goal of the department is to pursue self-sufficiency, meaning presumably self-sufficiency for the territorial economy. I had the opportunity to receive information from the Department of Finance about resource revenue the federal government currently receives from the various resources - forestry, mining, oil and gas - and asked the specific question about what the Yukon government would be receiving if it had control over all provincial-type responsibilities for resources.
The answer was, basically, that we would be getting approximately $2 million extra per year as a result of the transfer, and we would probably get more than that, in terms of the cost of administration - we are getting more of that transferred from the federal government to the Yukon. What does the Department of Economic Development's vision tell it about economic self-sufficiency and what needs to be accomplished in order to be economically self-sufficient if, as it appears under current circumstances, our revenue would increase by only a couple million dollars if we had total control of the resources today?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not doubt the Member's numbers. They are probably fairly accurate, based on a couple of years ago - or whatever statistics were used. With respect to actual self-sufficiency, I do not believe, for one minute, that in the next number of years the Yukon will be in the enviable position that Alberta and British Columbia are in, in that they are classed as being have provinces - they provide more money to Ottawa than they receive. Something like 10 other jurisdictions in Canada actually take more money from Ottawa than they provide to it.
For Yukon to be self-sufficient to the point Alberta is, is pretty unlikely in the next number of years.
I believe that the Kotaneelee field, for instance, generates something like $1.3 million to the Yukon government - that is two wells. If that were developed, it could very easily be $6 million or $7 million per year.
Similarly, when the upward cycle hit in forestry a year ago, the federal government was not ready for it. Consequently, there was a loss of a lot of revenue to the Yukon government. I believe that forestry should be market driven, so that when the high fibre prices are hit periodically, everyone - government and the operators - can take advantage of them.
I do not know. I could not say - if and when we have control of our resources - when we would be in a position of total self-sufficiency. However, I think the goal of government should be to move toward some sort of self-sufficiency.
Mr. McDonald: I do not object to the basic objective at all. However, I want to try to understand the government's and the department's specific assumptions on this matter.
The Minister indicated that we live in a resource-driven economy. I was writing while he was talking and wrote down his words. He made reference to an economy driven by investment and resource development.
I was struck by that statement, because it followed on the heels of the Minister wanting to make the economy more self-sufficient. Having gone through the process of determining how much money is actually received by the federal government - other than the revenues that it would normally receive through corporate income taxes and that sort of thing - and discovering that we are looking at fairly small returns for the activity that is currently in place, either one of two assumptions must be true to meet the department's objectives.
The first is that we either expect that there will be substantially more activity than currently exists - many more mines, much more oil and gas activity and forestry - or we expect that we will be extracting more economic rent from resource developers for the resources they take in order to accomplish this task of becoming significantly more self-sufficient.
If the Department of Economic Development has decided that we are a resource-driven economy, and we are currently experiencing - largely determined by market forces - a resource sector that is placing a couple of million dollars in the federal government's hands - and even if it were to double or triple to $6 million or quadruple to $8 million - we are still substantially far from our target of being more self-sufficient.
I wonder about the conclusions the department draws. It is living under the operating assumption that this is a resource-driven economy, yet the revenues are fairly minor. Even with devolution, they are fairly minor.
I suppose I wonder whether or not the department is looking for a broader vision of what the economy should look like. When I was in government, I remember the Opposition of the time was encouraging government to be more interested in diversifying the economy, not just in terms of the extraction of a variety of different minerals, but in actually getting into other kinds of businesses and encouraging the government to support other kinds of businesses. That was the Yukon Party of about four or five years ago. I have not heard much talk about that recently.
Can the Minister explain or elaborate a bit on what his vision is of the economic future?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not doubt what the Member opposite is saying in terms of how it will be some time before we are in a situation similar to a few of the other provinces.
With the devolution and proper management of our resources, we can increase private sector development which, on actual royalties, may not be more than $8 million or $10 million. Even looking at forestry, at about 450,000 cubic metres of wood, in 1995, when the cycle was such that the price of fibre was very high, we probably could have achieved about $20 a metre if we had been following some kind of market influences.
Right off the bat, that is $9 million. Oil and gas, as we have said before, will be $1.3 million just for very minor activity in southeast Yukon. There is quite a bit more potential activity there. In fact, it is all of that activity combined with the corporate tax, personal income tax, additional businesses and so on, that would be generated, and because of it, we could get much closer to being on the road to at least moving toward self-sufficiency.
Mr. McDonald: I think the Minister might want to revisit some of his calculations about forestry, but I do not want to get into a big debate about it.
I would like to ask the Minister if his department is doing any specific analyses of what, in an optimistic world, could conceivably be the economic impact of devolution, and of an economy that expects to see even significant growth in each area and what it actually means to government revenues and to meeting the basic objectives of self-sufficiency?
Obviously, the Minister cannot calculate the cost of such a world because those assumptions perhaps would not be easily identified in advance, because obviously there would be some cost to government for supporting the regime. I am only interested in what the government sees to be an optimistic scenario for the receipt of revenues that would be collected after devolution takes place. Has the department been doing that kind of analysis and can he provide us with information about it?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have done some of that kind of work on a sector-by-sector basis, and we are getting more and more into it all the time; some work has been done - for instance, on oil and gas - in anticipation of devolution.
Mr. McDonald: I am asking if the departments have done that and if they can provide the information to me. I have received some preliminary information from the Department of Finance indicating, for example, that under the Quartz Mining Act, the federal government received $712,000 in royalties, fees and leases - or, over a five-year average, it received $659,000, which I presume will ultimately be transferred to us upon devolution. Under the Yukon Placer Mining Act, the federal government received on average $42,000 in royalties from the placer fields - that is a reflection of a royalty of 37.5 cents per ounce; obviously not a lot of money - and $175,000 in fees from the placer miners' coal leases. Over a five-year average, it received $35,000. From forestry, on a five-year average basis, the federal government received $70,000.
There are, of course, the oil and gas revenues of $1.2 million or $1.3 million.
I suppose I am interested in understanding what the department is projecting in terms of receipts, post-devolution, as a result of the increased economic activity in those areas. If the Minister can provide me with that information, it would be very helpful.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I certainly will provide whatever information we have in that respect.
Mr. Harding: I had been dealing with the energy issues and the strategic plans surrounding energy. I was looking at that particular item. I believe I exhausted that topic. I am not clear as to precisely - given the introductory remarks by the Minister - where the government is going. I subjected him to some questioning on that, following the political ramblings of his introduction and the sense that he was trying to portray that there was some hard, strategic decision-making process at work and a mission-driven action being undertaken by the department and himself and the political level of government.
I do not see that there are a lot of good ideas there, given the questions I raised about coal and oil and gas and looking at options other than imported fossil fuels. There are a lot of good words there and I believe a pretty good action plan. I would question some of the priorities at the political level that, I would assume, were given to the department.
I would encourage them to continue to set mission statements, but I would hope that the Minister does not make that the subject of too much political debate by making it too much of a partisan plank, as he did in his speech.
Switching from energy to the mineral resources action plan, I am particularly interested in the new section called "New directions and what will change". When I look at what was indicated as change, I find this to be an extremely thin-soup agenda.
I will begin by saying that the document talks about encouraging development access to mineral, forest and energy resources. That was done by the NDP and, one would assume, even by the Conservative government before that. Let me just ask the Minister how that is going to change because that is, I believe, a longstanding policy.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that encouraging development access is, for instance, working with First Nations, and so on, to initiate the development assessment process. I think it is regulatory regimes under the Environment Act that we want to work on with the various stakeholders, and try to get processes into place that will, in fact, encourage development rather than impede it.
Mr. Harding: Does this government think that it invented that? Does it believe that there was nothing done to encourage the development access to mineral, forest and energy resources before it came along?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that, for instance, in the forest sector there were some impediments to development. As a matter of fact, the tenure, and that sort of thing, discouraged it. I am not going to argue with the Member that no other government has worked toward it before. However, I believe that it is something that the department is focusing on. By putting it in the department's plan, it becomes an area of focus.
Mr. Harding: I would submit that it was an area focused upon under our government. I think the proof of the pudding is in the eating in mineral, forestry and also in energy initiatives, considering what we did with NCPC and some of the alternatives that we were working on".
I guess I am to assume from this that it is not really new directions and what will change; it should be called "New directions that we will continue to work on.
The next line says, "Encouraging efficient and beneficial use of mineral, forest and energy resources". Is that not something that used to be done? Why is that going to change?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: What we are talking about is value that is added. Again, if we use forestry as an example, our forest industry motto in the Yukon has been basically to cut and ship. Raw logs go offshore. We have very little actual milling capability in the Yukon. In fact, that is the kind of thing that we would like to encourage as a value-added segment to the industry.
We want to encourage that type of thing. When we get control of our forest resources, we can do that through tenure, through allocation and through investment encouragement, and so on.
Mr. Harding: Again, I do not understand how that is a change. The New Democrat government had policies for local purchase and local hire. We had a business incentive policy for the use of local products. We had programs for the development of the local value-added industry under economic development funding agreements. Heaven forbid, in terms of value added, we even tried to work with the community of Watson Lake, when it was desperate, to help with the production of a sawmill in the Yukon. Obviously what the government is talking about now is not really new, is it? It is just more of a continuation in that same vein, with the exception of perhaps changing the name of the business development fund. It will not build a sawmill, no matter what anybody asks for in the community.
It is not really new, is it? There is really not going to be any change there, is there?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is quite a bit of change. To start with, I do not think we would get into a Watson Lake sawmill situation.
I think it is not entirely new. There has been encouragement in the past. Again, we want the department to focus on it, and that is the intent of the section.
Mr. Harding: Again, it is the second item under new directions and what will change. I guess it is part of the political nature of this document, but I would simply say that the first two are not new and are not a change. The third one, however, is interesting. It says making strategic investments to support natural resource and business development. Is that rather like Taga Ku, or what would fall under this particular category? What is new about it, and what will change?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I guess an example of that could be the Yukon industrial support policy or the energy infrastructure loans resource development plan regulations.
Mr. Harding: What will change is the industrial support policy.
Is the Minister aware of any other governments in the territory that have made these kinds of strategic investments to support mining and other business enterprises?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There was a resource transportation access program, which created a lot of roads. There were a lot of wildlife habitat problems in the territory.
Mr. Harding: I do not know where the Minister is getting that one from. Perhaps if he wants to get into a debate about the protection of the environment and habitat protection in relation to some of the things we have witnessed under this government, I would be perfectly willing to engage in one. We could be talking about the government's support of Killermun Lake at the same time it was conducting the wolf kill, or the potential gutting of the Environment Act and its failure to proclaim any Wildlife Act amendments to protect habitat, or letters I have seen from organizations such as the Yukon Fish and Game Association, which are getting pretty tired of seeing nothing done by this government in terms of habitat protection. We could talk about the government's failure on the Endangered Spaces 2000 program, which it signed but failed to move ahead with for the last three and one-half years. We could talk about the government's call for something to be done about Aishihik Lake when it was in Opposition and its total lack of attention paid to that for the last three and one-half years. The list goes on and on, so I do not know what the Minister hopes to achieve by his resource transportation access program reference.
Let me just ask, in terms of what will change, what strategic investments is the Minister talking about?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have to get back to some of the points that the Member tried to make. If someone on the street said that to me, I would say that the person is a damned liar. I am not allowed to say that in the House, so how do I respond to this Member who claims that nothing has been done on endangered spaces.
I have invited that Member to have a look at the whole endangered-spaces campaign. There has been a lot done. Again, I invite the Member to come and have a look. I will set it up for him.
Chair: Order. The time being 5:30 p.m., we will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are on Bill No. 10, Economic Development, general debate.
Mr. Harding: When we left, just before supper, the debate had been reduced to an all-time low. I was going through the government's mineral resources action plan and asking a few questions about some of the so-called new directions and what will change with the introduction of this plan. It was introduced with a bit of foofaraw by the Minister and had some political overtones to it, and particularly slams against the previous government, in terms of trying to set up some impression that somehow strategic thinking was never done until the present government came into office. Of course, Yukon 2000 was a pretty comprehensive economic strategy and, I think, probably the most comprehensive ever developed in the territory.
I have gone through the plans and highlighted areas and drawn question marks and made stars and other stuff. The only problem is that we only have 35 days for this session - not 35 days for this department.
I am interested in making some points regarding these documents, and the point that I want to make was that I truly do believe in strategic planning, mission statements and a clear focus.
What I really get a little upset about is when it is wrapped in too much political rhetoric, and the opening comments this afternoon certainly fit into that category. Whenever we face that kind of situation, it behooves us to point out some of the realities surrounding the statements - from our perspective, at least.
I am going to move on because I realize that most of the points I had questions about have actually been answered the way I thought they were going to be, so I am prepared to start talking about some other elements. I know other Members might have more questions about the business plan. I think a lot of work went into this document, and I hope it will create some focus. I am not so sure it will meet all the government's political objectives, but certainly it should give the department a sense of where the political level wants to go based on their interpretation of policy, the government's four-year plan and statements that have come out of the government. The document makes reference to the four-year plan and its development and certainly, in terms of its operational principles or stated beliefs, it speaks to the philosophy the Members opposite like to espouse.
I have a question that relates back to the Minister's comment about power. I was looking at the government's commitment in the plan to provide stable, competitive electrical rates for industrial consumers. The Minister talked about some numbers that are presently paid for cost of service. My understanding now is that industrial customers pay 100 percent rather than the 120 percent the Minister indicated, and residential users pay about 80 percent, not 75 percent.
Would that more accurately reflect what is the case now?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will have to get the actual numbers. I do not know if I have them here. I think he is right. I was erroneous when I said that industrial users paid about 120 percent. I believe that industry pays about 100 percent, but I will get those numbers and provide them for the Member.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister for that.
I have a question regarding the role of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. I have been to a number of meetings. I popped into one on energy. I have been to the forestry sector conference, and so on. In February, there was a meeting. At that meeting it was said that the council "would consider working on economic development initiatives in the context of the council's overall work load." Can the Minister tell me what the council is presently working on and what it means?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We asked the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment to form a committee to assist in the development of forestry policy and in the public consultation process. It took the request back to the members. It has come back and said that it would do this, but wants to do it as a committee of the whole. In other words, it wants all of its members to sit on the committee. We did not have any problem with that. We thought that it would have three or four members from the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment and other people as needed. It has determined that it would be a committee of the whole and others as needed.
While I am standing, I have copies of my earlier speech to table at this time for all of the Members opposite.
Mr. Harding: Speaking of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment and forestry in earlier speeches, in the debate in the supplementaries, I asked the Minister if I could have the speech that he should have given in Watson Lake, not the one that he gave.
I was wondering when I am going to get it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have requested a copy of it from the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. We will have to get it transcribed from the tapes, as they taped it all. Once it is transcribed, I will provide it for the Member.
Mr. Harding: As I look through the speech the Minister just handed me, some of the old alarm bells that went off this afternoon started to go off again.
As I look at this sentence - I just love it - it states, "We did not try to replace private sector investment with government spending to create an artificial economy, as the NDP did during their administration." Did the Minister write this? Was it written by the department or by political staff?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not think it matters who wrote the speech. It was delivered by me, and I accept the responsibility and authorship of it.
Mr. Harding: Well, I just have to say then that the Minister is absolutely and unequivocally wrong. He is living in a dream world.
When the hard-rock mines went down while this administration was in, government spending actually skyrocketed from levels in the $350 million range to the point now where the last supplementary brought in a budget of $507 million.
This is the biggest spending government in Yukon history, so if the Minister is going to give speeches at least give the truth - or at least a half-truth.
The Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board just said, "When you are in Opposition, you do not have to." Well, I believe I do have to, and I believe I do. I know he is a little touchy and he might stand up on a point of order any second, but let me just say that I always speak the truth in this Legislature.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Harding: I think I will ignore the vicious heckles from the Members opposite as I humbly try to do my job as the Economic Development critic.
We have already talked about some of the other aspects of the speech - if I may use that term loosely - and I guess there is really not much more there worth rebutting because it is pretty much drivel.
I want to move on to another issue and that is one I raised in the supplementary debate. I want to raise it as a somewhat major concern because I have support for the position of mining facilitator that was created by the Yukon Party. Although I think hiring another government employee should not be what I would consider to be the centrepiece of a conservative government's mining platform - though it does seem to be with this government - that position does have some worth. Recently there were some comments made publicly by the mining facilitator that I would consider to be of a fairly partisan nature. I will say this to the Minister: I do believe it is incumbent on someone in that position to stay out of the types of arguments and the types of political discussions that should go on between politicians rather than politicians versus government employee.
I will say that the comments were surrounding the Huckleberry mine, land claims and how the Yukon has somewhat of a competitive advantage, whereas British Columbia does not. It also talked about B.C. losing investment.
As the Minister knows, there is a New Democrat government in B.C. Mining support and control of mining can certainly become a political issue. If there is an attempt to fold it in up here, it is certainly something that touches us, and we are going to react. However, I do not just want to be in the business of reacting to a government employee's political statements. If the Minister wants to talk about his view of what is happening in B.C., that is fine. We do that all of the time. I would just ask that the Minister have his people, who are employees of the government, refrain from engaging in that. Otherwise we have to respond. I do not think that is the most appropriate way to go. If the Minister does not choose to get into the specifics of this case, that is fine by me. I just want to let him know that I take a different view of the situation. I did not want to react. I did not react, because it was an isolated incident. I hope that it just remains that way.
Does the Minister not have any comments? Does he not want to respond at all? Not even in a general sense?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do recall some comments made. I will not comment on whether or not they were political. I think the frustration was directed more at the federal government. Just before those comments were made, we were visited by some Japanese people. They certainly did have some questions, which may have sparked the comments. I do not think the comments warranted disciplinary action or that sort of thing. I am not sure if they were directed - as the Member has suggested - toward the Province of British Columbia or to the federal government in general.
I do not think they were meant to be political in nature, but maybe that is the way that the Member perceived the comments.
Mr. Harding: I would hope the Minister would take another look. I am not advocating disciplinary action; I am just saying that I do not want to get into that. If the Minister respects that, that is fine. If the Minister does not want to respect that, that is fine also. We will deal with it as we deal with the cards that we are dealt, but I remember the comments and perhaps they were transcribed incorrectly. If I remember correctly, I actually heard what was said. It could have been a poor news report. I will leave it at that and I hope the message to the Minister is clear anyway.
I want to ask the Minister about the Junior Entrepreneur project. Where is that at at this time?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not familiar with that project at all. I have to get back to the Member with the information.
Mr. Harding: I look forward to that. I understand from the budget that there is a relationship in place for the coming year for geoscience work, cost shared with the federal government. My question is this: when does the Minister anticipate that we will start looking to the following year and discussing it with the federal government? Are there any future plans for this type of important work?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that we announced some time ago that there is an agreement for this year, 1996. What we want to do is get a longer term - a five-year agreement preferably - with the federal government for the continuation of that office. We hope to have an agreement of some sort by June. We are dealing with DIAND at this time. So far it has been quite receptive to the continuation of the program.
Mr. Harding: What is the situation with Loki Gold? What is the latest the Minister has heard about its schedule for operation and production?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are trying to get the actual date for Loki's start of production. In the meantime, I understand - from talking to some people who work there - that most of the construction will be completed by this summer. It should be fully operational by the summer of 1996, with an initial gold pour anticipated for September 1996.
Mr. Harding: Is the Department of Economic Development playing any role whatsoever in the discussions surrounding the, so far, ill-fated abattoir, or is that still the purview of only the Department of Renewable Resources? What is happening there?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I was taken aback somewhat by my official because the Department of Economic Development has been involved in some discussions on that project.
Mr. Harding: Has been? Is it still and, if so, what is being discussed? Could the Minister give me some more detail?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Apparently, the last time the Department of Economic Development was involved was approximately six weeks ago when various options were being looked at. A consultant has been hired to look at the options and I believe - though I have not seen it yet - that there is a report from that consultant that will probably be passed on to me, as Minister of Renewable Resources, in the next few weeks.
Mr. Sloan: Earlier this afternoon, I asked for some information with regard to what percentage of the total production value the royalties from the oil and gas represent. The Government Leader at that time suggested that I might raise that particular question during the Economic Development debate, so I am wondering if that information could be supplied to me now?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not think we have the actual percentage. The projected revenue from the two producing gas wells at Kotaneelee is approximately $1.5 million per year. Production is expected to continue for approximately 15 years based on current reserves. It is anticipated that the revenues will remain constant at present levels. Actual revenue will depend on production volume and gas prices. I do not have the actual percentage.
It says, "The Yukon portion, Liard Basin and southeast Yukon, has 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas discovered with an estimated 57 billion cubic metres remaining undiscovered. In other words, with the limited exploration done to date, there is an indicated potential for another five Kotaneelee-sized gas fields in southeast Yukon." That essentially is all the information I have here.
Mr. Sloan: I guess my question was an attempt to determine whether or not the royalties levels the territory is receiving are consistent with those that the provinces receive for the same kind of development.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes. We will have to get that information. It is a fairly complicated formula, because some of the revenues go to the federal government and some to First Nations. I am not sure if it is the same type of system as in the provinces, but I am not sure if the revenues are divided up among the three levels of government at the same level as they would be in Alberta, for example. I can bring that information back for the Member.
Mr. Sloan: I guess that would be my next question. The Minister made reference to First Nation recipients. Which First Nations are the beneficiaries of oil and gas royalties or a share of them?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that it goes into a pot that is then divided up among the First Nations that have settled their land claims. There would essentially be four of them sharing the revenue. Again, we do not have that information right here, but I can certainly bring it back for the Member.
Mr. Sloan: While we are on the subject of oil and gas, is the Minister aware of any other explorations in the area of oil and gas in the territory? If so, approximately where are these explorations going on?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is very little exploration that we are aware of right now, other than some airborne seismic work in the southeast Yukon. There are some abandoned wells in the Eagle Plains area that people are talking about developing further. We are not aware of exploration for oil and gas at this time.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a couple of questions relating to the industrial support policy and training in the mining and exploration area.
The Minister said in Question Period the other day that he would have to get back to me about whether or not the government would be funding entry-level mine training in communities. Can he provide any further details at this time?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that is in the Education area. I would suggest that the Member ask that of the Minister of Education when that department comes up.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like the Minister to elaborate on what exactly the government has done under the industrial support policy as it relates to education and training.
The industrial support policy says that the Government of the Yukon is committed to cooperating with First Nations in their interests in natural resource extraction. It states that the government will place a high priority on education and training. First Nations in Carmacks, Pelly Crossing and Mayo have been working for months with mining companies and Yukon College to develop entry-level training for people in the communities.
Has Economic Development done anything related to education and training under the industrial support policy? Have any plans been developed to work on education and training under the industrial support policy in the coming year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am sure that the Member opposite is aware that we have only one industrial support program currently in the Yukon and that is with Loki Gold. One of the clauses in the Loki agreement states, "undertake reasonable effort to reach an agreement with the Dawson First Nation that provides for First Nation participation consistent with contracting and hiring opportunities provided by Loki to other Yukon communities." I understand that Loki is hiring First Nations people.
We have encouraged all of the mining companies to enter into socio-economic agreements with First Nations. I believe Cominco, Westmin and several other companies have done that. I cannot name them all off the top of my head, but several companies have entered into agreements with First Nations for First Nations employment.
Ms. Moorcroft: That is terrific that the government is encouraging socio-economic agreements with First Nations. What I would like to know is if Economic Development is going to have any initiative that will support mine training programs in First Nation communities? The Government Leader said the other day that the government has worked with the Ross River people to develop training programs and that they will be working with the Northern Tutchone Council to develop programs in Carmacks, Pelly Crossing and Mayo. Does Economic Development have no plans to be involved in that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Yukon industrial support policy says, "Proposals will be considered for industrial support for resource development projects in the Yukon. If your resource project requires road improvement, energy, grid connection or related training programs for Yukon residents, then the Yukon government is willing to enter into a development agreement to assist in the provision of infrastructure." In fact, we have not been approached by any of the companies for that type of assistance.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has been approached by the Northern Tutchone Council asking for that kind of assistance. The council has worked with mining companies and with the college to develop curriculum. The college wants to offer entry-level mine training and is looking for support from the government. What I am hearing from the Minister is that there is no possible way that the government will put any of the economic development resources into those training opportunities, even though the citizens are preparing for future jobs in mining. Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Economic Development may or may not assist. We would assist in such cases as I have just outlined but, again, I believe that the Member should be questioning the Department of Education on what programs it has for mine training.
Ms. Moorcroft: I will take it, then, that the Minister of Economic Development is passing this off to the Department of Education and that he is not prepared to go to the Cabinet table to advocate mine training in Carmacks, Pelly Crossing and Mayo, and that he is leaving it strictly to the Department of Education.
Mr. Cable: I guess that question is going to remain hanging in the air.
At the budget briefing, we were advised that there is one person devoted to forestry, and I think there may have been some questions in the supplementary estimates on this. Is that one person devoted solely to forestry policy or whatever else the department sees it has to do in the forestry area?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes. In government there are actually two people: one from Renewable Resources and one from Economic Development. Their main focus is on forestry policy. I am not saying they work eight hours a day, five days a week strictly on forestry policy, but that is their main focus within the department.
Mr. Cable: Are these people called policy analysts? What is the Public Service Commission name used to describe what these people do?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In the Department of Economic Development, the gentleman's title is natural resource planner, and in the Department of Renewable Resources, I believe it is manager of policy and planning.
Mr. Cable: From previous comments made earlier, I gather that the energy group is being reorganized into a separate group that is devoted solely to energy.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is correct.
Mr. Cable: On the organization chart, on page 4-3 of the O&M budget, where is the energy group going to fit in?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The group will fit under the mines and resource development, under the senior director. The oil and gas will probably move over one. This is still in process, so the chart the Member has there will no longer be accurate after the branch is created. Look under "Oil and gas regime, Yukon Oil and Gas Act, oil and gas regulations" - the other ones will be under there: promote coal development, non-utility generation policy, participate in Yukon Energy Corporation/Yukon Utilities Board capital planning process and applicable Yukon industrial support policy and energy infrastructure loans resource development plan projects. Those would fit into the energy group.
Mr. Cable: What was the Minister reading from?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I assumed I was reading from the same organizational chart that the Member referred to. It is the Economic Development 1996-97 organization chart of functions. It is located right after the start of the O&M budget.
Mr. Cable: I was looking at the same document. The Minister was adding some verbiage there, and I did not pick up on it.
Where is the forestry person situated in the organization chart?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The person who is doing the work on forestry right now is in the strategic management group. After the forestry position becomes a full-time position, it should be moved over to the energy area.
Mr. Cable: There was a fairly lengthy discussion on the role of the Department of Economic Development in developing energy policy. One of the areas that was not touched upon was the policies relating to the regulatory process in terms of what the Yukon Utilities Board is going to do. That had originally been dealt with by the Department of Justice. Is that going to be turned over to the Department of Economic Development or will it be coordinated with Justice?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Policy development will be undertaken by the Department of Economic Development, naturally working with the Justice people, to create regulations, legislation and so on. The policy will be undertaken in the Department of Economic Development.
Mr. Cable: I was not talking about the regulations, I was talking about the regulatory process itself - the Yukon Utilities Board and how it operates. The investigations that went on a year or so ago, I think, were headed by Justice.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Yukon Utilities Board and the regulatory process will remain under Justice.
Mr. Cable: I would like to follow up on some comments made by the Minister in his speech about economic development programs. These are granting and subsidy programs. In the third paragraph on page 3 of the speech that he handed out, it says: "Program evaluations indicate that small business granting and subsidy programs have not in fact resulted in significant economic growth." Is he referring to an internal review done by the department, or is it some outside work on those sorts of programs done generally across the country?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That was as a result of the consultation we undertook some time ago and of the report of the business development fund that we had commissioned, which should be ready by the middle of March or so.
Mr. Cable: The Minister just mentioned consultation. Was there a consultant hired? Was this Mr. Graham's work?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The review was done by ARA Consulting Ltd. out of Vancouver. I do not believe that was the Graham report referred to by the Member.
Mr. Cable: That should ring some bells. The Minister mentioned that that report would be due in the middle of March. I wonder if he made a mistake. Does he mean the middle of next month, or what?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Probably the middle of May.
Mr. Cable: Have any interim reports been provided by ARA Consulting Ltd. that the Minister can share with the Members on this side of the House?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, we do not have anything that can be made public yet. It still has not gone to Cabinet. After it has gone to Cabinet, I will be able to release it for the general public.
Mr. Cable: Was it ARA Consulting Ltd. work though that led up to the observation I just read from the Minister's speech, "program evaluations indicate that small business granting and subsidy programs have not in fact resulted in significant economic growth?"
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It was partly that report, partly the economic development agreement evaluation that was conducted some time ago and partly our own consultation process.
Mr. Cable: I assume it is this thinking that led the government to move out of the conventional programs and into the venture capital fund it described, which I gather is essentially a loan guarantee program. Is that what is projected for the government's role, or is an equity financing role for venture capital anticipated?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, that is essentially it. It was the result of several of the studies - a compilation of studies - and our own evaluation.
Mr. Cable: Was there anything in those studies that would indicate there was a need for the venture capital programs and that they would be more successful in doing what the other programs were not successful in doing, which is creating economic growth?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: What essentially was determined was that the high-risk, upfront capital - in other words the venture capital - was what the banks, Dana Naye Ventures, FBDB and the other institutions were not addressing. Hence, that is the philosophy behind looking at establishing such a program.
Mr. Cable: Is this fund, if I can call it that, going to be funded in the conventional sense? Will there be a vote every year or is it going to be a rolling sort of fund that will eventually be self-financing?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is a little bit premature, but I can tell the Member the way I see it. What we will do is establish an upper limit of how much the annual total could be and then we would have to calculate a certain risk in there. That is what would probably appear in the budget and that would be what we calculated for the risk in the year that there would be a risk. For instance, for the first year of the program, there would likely be a zero figure because the banks are lending the money. The banks are administering it and, if there were no loss - and it would be very unlikely it would have a loss in the first year of the program - there would very likely be a minimal amount, if anything, in the budget for that first year. After that, however, we would have to determine a potential risk and budget some amount that would look after that risk.
Mr. Cable: There is a line item in the capital portion - perhaps we could deal with it in detail when we get to it; it is on page 4-4 in the capital budget. I will ask further questions on it when we get to it.
With regard to the Yukon mining incentive program, I gather that there has been a study and evaluation done on it. Perhaps Mr. Graham did it. Can the study be tabled? Perhaps the Minister has already released it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I only have one copy here, but I could make copies available for the Members. We received this a short time ago. There is no reason not to provide it to the Members. I will probably do that tomorrow.
Mr. Cable: If we could get it tomorrow, we can deal with the line item.
What were the terms of reference for the study done by Mr. Graham. Are they attached to the report?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Essentially, there was a set of questions that were required to be asked, as follows: one, is the program rationale plausible and will such assistance lead to expected outcomes; two, should the program continue to include assistance for placer claims and leases; three, what outcomes does the program produce in terms of increased economic activity; and, four, are program budget levels appropriate to achieve objectives?
Mr. Cable: A different topic, and one that has been touched on tonight, is land claims and the role of the department in relation to the umbrella final agreement obligations. I like documents - the Government Leader is always saying that I like documents - so does the department have a plan in relation to the performance of the obligations under the umbrella final agreement that one would expect the Department of Economic Development to be doing?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Under the umbrella final agreement, there are some requirements in respect to economic planning, and so on. The initiatives that the Department of Economic Development has undertaken are with the four bands that have reached final agreements. The Champagne-Aishihik First Nation has been established and meets weekly to review key documents. The Na-Cho Ny'ak Dun First Nation requested a deferral of the planning group. The Teslin Tlingit Council has partipated in a preliminary meeting with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs on February 22. The Vuntut Gwitchin proposal was to start in March. So, they are at various stages. Again, the First Nations are lacking somewhat in resources to carry on, though the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation appears to be up and running fairly well.
Mr. Cable: Is there something in the implementation plans that would spell out specifically what the Minister's department is charged by the government to do?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe it is laid out in the umbrella final agreement. We could get a copy of that section and provide it for the Member, perhaps after the break.
Mr. Cable: If it is spelled out in the umbrella final agreement, I will simply dig it out myself. The Minister does not have to bother doing it.
One other question I have for the Minister on the role of his department is this: what sort of liaison is there with the scientific communities - the science institute or the science department up at Yukon College? Is there anybody who actually carries that particular ball or is it dealt with as matters arise?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is a director of economic programs in the department. He is sort of the liaison with the various groups and the college, but that is about the extent of the activity at this point.
Mr. Cable: The Minister's department is obviously withdrawing from direct contributions to business, with the exception of wherever this venture capital fund will go. D
oes the Minister see the department taking a greater role in stimulating innovation or scientific projects?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have addressed it somewhat in our business plan. It is something we probably want to investigate a little more thoroughly to see if there is a need and what the terms of reference, mandate, and so on, would be required - if there is an actual need for government involvement.
Mr. Cable: What type of consultation does the Minister anticipate will take place with the scientific community on this particular topic?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We will be talking with Yukon College and the science community about what sort of a role they envision for the department.
Mr. Joe: I have a few comments about training.
I did not quite hear what the Minister was saying, so I kind of shied away from training. I think that training is very important across the Yukon. First Nations have been negotiating with a mining company for a long time. I think that it has come to training now. I had problems hearing what the Minister was really saying. Last week, I listened to various speakers responding to the motion tabled by the Member for Riverside. That motion woke everybody up. I think that it was a good motion. I think it is good for an argument. It made everybody get up and talk. Nobody could hide behind a curtain.
I would like the Minister to talk about what I need to hear. The speech that the Government Leader gave was a tremendous speech about how well his government works with the First Nations. I listened to all this and I thought it sounded very good. This afternoon, we spoke about training and the Minister shied away from the subject. I did not quite hear what he really was saying.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I understand the Member's point. The Department of Economic Development certainly encourages the mining companies to work with First Nations in their area. A lot of the mining companies are doing exactly that.
Under the Yukon industrial support policy, if the mining companies want to enter into a training program and need some assistance, we would look quite favourably at the request. There are programs in Education for training that are different from the types of things we offer in the Department of Economic Development.
I would encourage the Member to ask the same questions when we get to the Education budget. The Minister of that department can then outline the various programs that are available in the Yukon.
Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 10. We are on general debate in Economic Development.
Mr. Joe: I am going to try again. I did not know that I had to go from one department to another department for training and education. I did not know that.
I think training is very important nowadays. In the past, I used to hear that when the government was the Opposition they used to complain about that. When are we going to train our own people to go to work? There are too many outsiders. I used to hear that all the time. I think it is time now to try to train our own people. When we speak of training dollars, we are not speaking for ourselves only as natives. We working together. We are speaking for anyone who wants to get training. Maybe that is why the process is tied up. They think that the First Nations are getting too much and that kind of thing. I heard that once. If we do not come up with any answers, we are going to be here.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I certainly understand the Member's point. I think it is up to the Department of Economic Development to identify needs and I believe it is up to the Department of Education to provide the actual training. That is why I refer the Member to the Minister of Education when his budget comes up, because there are training programs in effect and the Member can get a better feel for the type of programs that are available by speaking to the Minister of Education.
Mr. Harding: I would like to go back to the industrial support policy. The throne speech the government introduced in, I believe, December 1994, stated that Anvil Range Mining Corporation had just purchased the Faro mine and was presently negotiating infrastructure and transportation and energy requirements, under the auspices of the industrial support policy, with the Government of Yukon. I thought that was interesting because at that time I did not know negotiations were underway. I made an issue of it in Question Period, trying to find out what was happening with regard to Anvil Range and its energy rates.
At that time, the Minister and the Minister of Economic Development told me that they were going to let the Yukon Utilities Board, under the range of rates set under OIC, set the industrial rate for Anvil Range. If Anvil Range then decided to approach the government, they would look at some form of rate easement if requested by Anvil Range.
My question is this: does that answer still hold true? In terms of its industrial support policy, is it going to be the policy of this government to wait and see if there is an application before acting? Let me ask a direct question: has there been any approach by Anvil Range since the ruling came down just a little while ago?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, there has not.
Mr. Harding: Is the industrial support policy statement on rate easements still in effect as outlined last year by the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The industrial support policy is not set up to provide rate relief. I would like to see the actual conversation with the Government Leader, because I would like to read the context in which the statement was made. The industrial support policy never came into effect until January or February 1995. It was never intended to actually provide rate relief.
Mr. Harding: Am I going to have to dig the Hansard out again? I actually sent the Hansard over to the Government Leader the other day in Question Period. I read out the date of the Hansard just the other day where the Government Leader stated this. I was asking the Minister of Economic Development questions about the industrial support policy when the Government Leader stood up and said, "Maybe I should answer this as Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation." He said that the rate is going to be set by the Yukon Utilities Board. He said that, if Anvil Range wants to approach the government at that point for some rate easement, then the government will take a look at it. If there is any support provided, it will be under the industrial support policy.
If the Minister has no recollection of that, can he at least do a little research into it? If the Minister does not know the answer to the question, then I do not know who is in charge of the policy. Who is in charge of the discussion surrounding rate easement introduced by the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If there were to be assistance to Anvil Range or any other company, it would be in the area of infrastructure support - in other words, capital costs. I will take the Member's question under advisement to see if I can provide a response to it.
Mr. Harding: Was the Government Leader incorrect when he made the statement about taking a look under the industrial support policy about rate easement after the Yukon Utilities Board sets the direction? Was that an incorrect statement made by the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, I want to look at Hansard to see in what context the statement was made. However, the Member did say it was made in 1994, and the industrial support policy did not come into effect until 1995.
Mr. Harding: I said that the throne speech, delivered in December 1994, I believe, contained that statement. In the throne speech, it said that energy, infrastructure and transportation needs were being discussed with Anvil Range - as we spoke - under the auspices of the industrial support policy. After the throne speech, and some time after the industrial support policy was adopted, the questions were asked. That is the chronology. That is what I said. I believe that if the Minister checks his facts, as I did this week - enough that I raised the issue in Question Period and sent the Hansard to the Government Leader - he will see that the Government Leader was talking about more than infrastructure; he was talking about rate easement after the Yukon Utilities Board set the rate.
Chair: Is there any further debate on the Department of Economic Development? Are we prepared to go line by line at this time?
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Hon. Mr. Fisher: For personnel, there is a deputy minister; secretary to the deputy minister; director of finance and administration; manager of financial operations; financial clerks - one indeterminate and one term; loans collector and claims officer, which is a term position; a librarian, which is half-time; a systems administrator and personnel administrator; departmental receptionist; and a records indexer, which is half-time. These positions come to 11 FTEs, for a total of $729,000.
Other includes in-territory travel and outside travel, the deputy minister to federal/provincial meetings and industry meetings for $10,000; contracts, computer programming and filing systems consulting for $12,000; photocopier service and maintenance charges for $6,000; entertainment for the deputy minister at industry meetings for $1,000; office equipment and meeting room rentals for $1,000; office supplies for the department for $15,000; acquisition of books, reports and periodicals for the library for $16,000; communications for $6,000; and non-consumable assets and minor office equipment for $1,000; conference registrations, training course fees and credit bureau fees for $4,000; computer software and miscellaneous hardware for $3,000. The subtotal comes to $83,000, and the total O&M comes to $812,000.
Administration in the amount of $812,000 agreed to
On Mines and Resource Development
Chair: There being no general debate on Mines and Resource Development, we will go line by line.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Personnel consists of 2.5 full-time equivalents for $179,000. Other consists of travel in the territory for $4,000; travel outside for industry meetings and conferences for $6,000; contract services for energy utility management and pricing for $30,000; program materials and publication for $6,000; communications, telephone and fax charges for $8,000; other registration fees, workshops and conferences for $1,000, for a subtotal of $55,000, for a total O&M of $234,000.
Mr. Harding: What does the increase of essentially 50 percent represent? Is that because a new branch has been created, or is there a new person-year or full-time equivalent? What is the reason?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There is a new half-time secretary for $24,000; maternity leave in 1995-96 and merit increases for $11,000, for a total of $35,000. Contract services increased for $30,000. Outside travel to attend industry conference amounted to $6,000. Program materials and publications increased for $5,000. In-territory travel, miscellaneous charges increased to $2,000, for a subtotal of $43,000, for a difference of $78,000.
Energy in the amount of $234,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fisher: For personnel, there are 4.5 full-time equivalents - I can read each one of the staff titles if it is required by the Members. They are: director of energy and mines, one half-time secretary, manager of mineral resource program, mineral policy analyst, mining facilitator. There are a total of 4.5 FTEs, for a subtotal of $356,000.
The remainder is for Other, including the following: in-territory travel to communities and mining properties in the amount of $5,000; travel outside, included the Cordilleran Roundup, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada and mines ministers conference, in the amount of $17,000; contract services and mining policy issues, such as the coal deposit inventory study, in the amount of $10,000; promotion and marketing, $10,000; reference materials, periodicals, $5,000; communications, telephone and fax charges, $4,000; membership in the Yukon Chamber of Mines and conference registration fees, et cetera, $2,000; for a subtotal of $53,000; and for a total operation and maintenance of $409,000.
Mr. Harding: How much does the mining facilitator make?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The position is an MG7. I am not sure what the pay schedule is, but the Member can get that from any of the books in the Public Service Commission.
Mines in the amount of $409,000 agreed to
Oil and Gas Resources
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Under personnel, there are the manager of oil and gas resources, administrative assistant, oil and gas analysts, a geologist, for 4 FTEs and a total of $290,000. Other includes in-territory travel for well inspections, Kotaneelee and other trips to Dawson and Old Crow, et cetera, $6,000; travel outside of the territory to federal, provincial and Northwest Territories meetings, oil and gas issues and legislation, $22,000; contract for services for expertise relating to consulting contract for technical advisor, royalty and taxation regimes, consultation and drafting of regulations, for $155,000; repairs and maintenance of photocopier office equipment, $1,000; entertainment meetings with industrial federal or provincial counterparts, $1,000; supplies, $3,000; postage and freight, $1,000; program materials, maps and publications, $6,000; $15,000 for communications, telephone and fax; $2,000 for other registration fees, including Canadian Petroleum Landmen Association, Yukon Geoscience Forum, et cetera, for a subtotal of $212,000 and a $25,000 contribution for Council for Yukon First Nations participation in development of the oil and gas regime, for a total O&M of $527,000.
Mr. Harding: Refresh my memory about the accord that was signed with the federal government. What do we get for all of this development work we are spending money on?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Northern Accord transfers to Yukon are $1.1 million per annum, to cover administrative costs for running the program and $750,000 for one-time start-up expenses. In addition, the Yukon government will receive the first $3 million in resource revenues, less Yukon First Nation shares, as set out in chapter 23 of the umbrella final agreement. In 1995-96, resource revenues are estimated to be $1.6 million.
Oil and Gas Resources in the amount of $527,000 agreed to
On Forest Industry Development
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Under personnel, the position of forest industry development officer is a new position of one full-time equivalent for $65,000; $2,000 for in-territory travel; $3,000 for travel outside territory for industry meetings and conferences; $13,000 for contract services and consulting contracts to research and develop forest industry issues, positions and policies; $1,000 for communications, telephone and fax; $1,000 for registration fees for workshops, conferences, et cetera; for a subtotal of $20,000; for a total O&M of $85,000.
Mr. Harding: What is the person in the position going to be doing? From what the Minister said, I understand that the person will have a budget of $2,000 for in-territory travel and $3,000 for travel outside the territory. Is this the point person on forestry policy, or what is the role going to be?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This is the person in the Economic Development department who works with the industry and Renewable Resources in creating forest policy.
Mr. Harding: How are they going to do that? What is the policy direction from the Minister on that question? What directives has he given the department - what does he want to see happen this year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In the business plan, we talk about the forest industry action plan. That will be part of this person's job, in addition to working with Renewable Resources and the industry in creating the forest policy. Mr. Harding: Does the government still plan to do a forestry policy? When I raised this in debate in the supplementary estimates, the Minister said that he was not sure, that the federal government was developing a policy and that he did not know if the forestry industry was going to be devolved. He also wondered if there should be duplicate policy development work underway with the federal government. Is it clear that the department of the Yukon government is now going to be pushing ahead, regardless of the contents of Ron Irwin's proposal in May?Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that what Mr. Irwin provided in his proposal will dictate to some extent exactly what we do. However, I think that the Member opposite knows that there are two problems with the forest policy development in the Yukon. One of the problems is that there are two sides to it. There are short-term problems that were definitely noted a year ago. There is also a long-term forest policy. Unless the devolution of forestry is off forever - or for at least the long term - I think we are going to continue our work on the long-term forest policy. In fact, we have had a meeting with the federal people. We will be working in conjunction with them on some of the initiatives.
Mr. Sloan: With regard to this individual, will the role be expanded from forest policy to making recommendations about silviculture and conservation - those kinds of things?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Those areas are more appropriately in the Department of Renewable Resources, but these two people will work quite closely together. When we look at reforestation, silviculture and conservation, the whole picture will be addressed in the policy. Again, that is more the responsibility of the person in Renewable Resources.
Mr. Sloan: With regard to the development of the forest industry development plan, are there specific time lines and targets that are to be met? For example, is there a point at which a draft policy is designed to be developed and then further consultations will be carried out - something along those lines?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The draft forest management policy should be ready for release some time in the fall of 1996. Again, that is just a draft policy. The long-term policy, which looks at long-term allocation and tenure, probably will not be completed until later. The regulations would not be completed until 1998.
Mr. Sloan: With regard to the forest management policy, we are going to see the initial draft, which the Minister has said would come in the fall of 1996. What is the next stage for the plan? Will there be consultations with industry representatives? What is the procedure following the draft plan?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Consultations are going on right now and will continue over the next few months. A draft policy will be created following the consultations, and then that will go back out for further consultation once it is in draft form.
Mr. Sloan: Can the Minister give us an idea of some of the points this plan would encompass? For example, would it encompass recommendations dealing with wood exports, value added in the territory, and that kind of thing?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Again, there are two parts to this. The first is the industry action plan, which would be the initiatives undertaken to get the industry going in the territory and then the longer term, which is right up to regulation and long-term sustainability and that sort of thing.
Forestry Industry Development in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
Chair: Before we clear the total, are there any questions on the statistics?
Mines and Resource Development in the amount of $1,255,000 agreed to
On Strategic Management
Chair: Is there any general debate on strategic management?
Mr. Harding: I do have a general question on this section. It relates to the question of mines and resource development and how it works with strategic management. It states that the program objective for strategic management is to work with economic partners to coordinate economic resource policy development and implementation. That would seem to be some of the specific initiatives that have been identified in the mines and resource development section of the department.
Can the Minister explain how they both share the same objectives?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Generally, the people in the other section actually deliver the programs, whereas in the strategic management area, most of the people are policy people - policy analysts and planning people.
Mr. Harding: On the forestry industry development section, is that person there, as in the strategic management department, to formulate policy and not to implement the program? Did I miss what the Minister said?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, that is generally correct, because his job right now is to create policy. That is why, when I was speaking to the Member for Riverside, I said that, at this point in time, the person is under the strategic management section rather than under the resource area. As I said before, he will be moved over to the resource section later when a full reorganization of the department has taken place.
Mr. Sloan: With regards to some of these program objectives and strategic management, I noticed that one of them expresses the idea to coordinate. It says, "Economic and resource policy development and implementation to maintain and assist government decision making, et cetera". When we talk about economic development, does the department have a strategy in mind or a particular direction that it wants to go with regards to what could only be called the development of intellectual and creative capital in the territory? I am referring to, for example, some of the smaller businesses involved in such things as design, engineering and many of those kinds of businesses. Is there a strategy in place with Economic Development to foster those kinds of intellectual and creative capital businesses in the territory, and can the Minister give me some examples?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In the reorganization, we have created an industry trade and investment group that would be more or less taking on the types of tasks that the Member has mentioned.
They will be putting together an action plan once the group has been formalized. One of their first jobs will be to put together an action plan that will outline what their activities should be.
Mr. Sloan: I suppose that my concern involves the fact that we are moving further into an economy based less on an industrial-type model and more on a model that reflects the importance of information technology and things of that nature.
I would like to be reassured that part of our economic development is the development of that kind of intellectual capacity and the encouragment, for example, small technological or creatively based businesses in the territory. I would like to make sure that these kinds of businesses are not overlooked when emphasizing a resource or industrial-type model. I am not sure what the Minister referred to when he said that the industry group is looking at those types of businesses.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If the Member looks under "actions for trade and investment" in our business plan, it does get around to mentioning the type of initiative he is talking about. It states, "serve as a point of contact and agent in managing economic issues related to free trade, internal trade agreements and trade relations with Alaska". There are several of those that touch on the kind of thing the Member was referring to.
Mr. Sloan: I am going through and looking for some specific reference to information-related industries or technically based small industries. I am particularly concerned with respect to some of our smaller business that are involved in very specialized kinds of services and the kind of support we would be willing to give them to develop and foster. I wonder if any thought has been given to that.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I cannot come up with any specifics. The Department of Economic Development did work on the establishment of the Internet - more or less as an information resource for people throughout the territory, but if one looks at the actions for trade and investment, the types of action the Member is referring to could certainly fit within some of those initiatives.
Under personnel, there is the assistant deputy minister, secretary, secretary-officer, senior economist, economist, manager, economic policy and planning, two senior planners, research analysts, and development assessment coordinator. There are 10 full-time equivalents, for a total of $744,000.
Under Other, there is travel in territory, travel outside to federal-provincial and/or Alaskan meetings $16,000; contract services, research and analysis for community sector analysis, economic forecast, industry opportunity studies, trade issues and policy development surveys, such as access to financing, research on development and environmental assessment process, for $90,000; program materials and Statistics Canada computer tapes reprints of reports and publications for public distribution, $7,000; communications, telephone, $12,000; Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment meetings and honoraria, $20,000; miscellaneous supplies for eight conference fees, $4,000; for a subtotal of $153,000 and a total O&M of $897,000.
Strategic Management in the amount of $897,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move that the Chair report progress on Bill No. 10.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Millar: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 1996-97, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of the 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 Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stand adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.