Monday, April 1, 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.
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?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by Ministers?
Census year; 1996
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I rise today to
bring to the Legislature's attention that 1996 is census year in the Yukon and across Canada. The census is a unique source of information about Yukon and its population. It is, in fact, the only source of reliable, detailed data for small groups and for areas as small as a city neighboUrhood or as large as the Yukon.
Census-taking is recognized worldwide as an important contribution for planning for the future. Over 85 percent of all countries currently take a census. Because a census is taken every five years, and the questions are similar, it is possible to compare changes that have occurred in the demographics of the Yukon's population.
In Canada, the first census was held some 300 years ago, in 1666, by Jean Talon in the colony of New France. The Yukon's first census occurred in 1901 when 27,219 people were enumerated. The last census in 1991 counted 27,797 Yukoners. The year 1996 will mark the third time the census is administered by Yukoners from a Yukon office.
With the exception of Old Crow, which was enumerated in March, census day will occur on Tuesday, May 14. Old Crow and some communities in the north are usually enumerated prior to census day to take advantage of a time when local residents are more likely to be at home.
The responses from census questionnaires are grouped with responses from other survey questionnaires and provide detailed information about the economic, social and demographic conditions and trends in the Yukon and Canada. For instance, federal transfer payments to the Yukon are based on census population counts. The private sector uses census data for analyzing markets and for locating products and services in communities that need them.
The Yukon Bureau of Statistics has a library open to the public with all the Statistics Canada summary reports from the census. Over 100 reports will be produced dealing with such topics as employment, education, health and language, to name just a few.
By law, all personal information is kept confidential. Published reports from the census cannot be linked to the individual who provided the information.
Aside from the long-term benefits of the census, more immediately, Statistics Canada will employ approximately 100 Yukoners this spring to help run and administer the census. Many of these Yukoners will be working in the communities.
The Yukon government will cooperate fully with Statistics Canada to ensure that the 1996 census is the most thorough census ever run in the Yukon and that, in fact, every Yukoner will be able to count themselves in.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: GST
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister of Finance. The federal Liberals appear to be experiencing some indecision over a promise made last election to scrap the GST - a promise that the federal Minister of Finance appears not to want to keep. We have recently learned that a federal initiative to have a national sales tax is appearing to find favour with the Maritime provinces and with Quebec.
Has the Government of Yukon indicated, in the first instance, to the federal Liberals that the GST should be eliminated?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not sure that we have taken a position that the GST should be eliminated. The position we have taken is that we do not want any part of paying a larger tax at the till.
Mr. McDonald: The large body of opinion in this country has expressed a view that any sales tax is an unfair tax, particularly for lower income people. Can I ask the Government Leader what, specifically, the government has done to resist any Liberal initiative to harmonize the sales taxes or to create the national sales tax?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have taken a very strong position, along with Alberta and Northwest Territories, as we are the only three jurisdictions in Canada that do not have a sales tax.
I received a call from the federal Minister of Finance on Friday to inform me of exactly what was happening across the country because of the rumours that are going around. The Finance Minister told me that we in the Yukon need not worry, because what the federal Liberals are talking about now is a rationalization of the base, not the rate of sales tax in the country.
Mr. McDonald: Indeed, it has been reported that one element of the new proposal that is finding favour in the east for a national sales tax is to have the new national tax apply to more goods and services than the GST currently covers. Under a new regime such as that, how can the Yukon avoid being penalized more than what it is currently under the GST?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding from what the federal Finance Minister told me on Friday is that nothing would change in the Yukon. The government would continue to collect a seven percent rate in Alberta and the Yukon and, I believe, the Northwest Territories, which also does not have a sales tax. So there would be no change in our jurisdictions.
Question re: Firearms regulations
Mr. Sloan: My question today is directed to the Minister of Justice. This morning on a CBC public affairs show, the federal Justice Minister, Mr. Rock, announced that he had been discussing with northern communities the local administration of firearms regulations, to make those regulations more acceptable.
Can the Minister give us a sense of the state of the discussions to date?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that a meeting will be held in Ottawa next week, or in 10 days, with various provincial and territorial officials attending. The Yukon will be represented at it to look at some of the proposed regulations and the implications the regulations will have on the territory.
We have been involved very little up to now with respect to drafting the regulations, and I believe it is the same for the other provinces. I would point out to the Member that one of the concerns we had with the firearms legislation was that it would cost us more money than Allan Rock said it would. Already, we are told that Allan Rock will not pay for the territorial-provincial meeting that will take place in Ottawa to discuss the regulations. Our first costs for this new gun control legislation are already beginning.
Mr. Sloan: Can the Minister give us a sense of what the Yukon's position will be in regard to reducing the negative impact of the regulations on northerners, particularly in the small communities where firearms are used in everyday life?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: First of all, we have to see what regulations the federal government is working on. We have not yet seen them. The position we will continue to take will be that we want to make sure that the actual conditions that exist in the north when delivering these regulations are taken into account in the drafting of these regulations. They were obviously not taken into account with the drafting of the Liberal bill.
We want to make sure that when the regulations are drafted for the bill, the federal government looks into how we can implement them in the communities so it is not a very costly effort and one that we and the federal government can afford.
Mr. Sloan: Has the Minister conducted or is he planning to conduct any discussions with local authorities, First Nations or the RCMP with regard to the Yukon's position on these new regulations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have already had extensive consultations with firearms groups and organizations. I think our position is well known on this particular issue, but certainly if there are changes, we will discuss them with the local firearms groups and organizations - once we know what they are.
The federal government was going to release the regulations early in January; now it is April 1. We have not seen them yet, so the federal government is having difficulty itself drafting regulations that are acceptable. When we get them, we will have a chance to review them. Then we may be going back to some of the groups and organizations to have further discussions with them. It is a little early, since we have not seen the regulations, to make many comments on them.
Question re: National unity
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Government Leader on the national unity debate. Last year, as the Government Leader will recollect, I put forward a motion calling on the Yukon government to immediately commence public consultation with Yukoners to determine the position and approach to be taken by our government with respect to the national unity debate.
The Government Leader scoffed at the idea at the time, voted against the motion and said, "We believe that it is premature to be undertaking public consultations on the national unity issue before the people of Quebec have been given the opportunity to make their decision on the issue."
The people of Quebec have made their decision, so the question I have for the Government Leader is this: has the time come to consult the Yukon people on the issue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member is absolutely right. The people of Quebec have made their decision on the issue. It is unfortunate that the federal government cannot make a decision on it.
I do not believe it is time yet to be holding public consultations in the Yukon. There are many things that are going to have to happen before another referendum is held in Quebec. First of all, we have to see if the federal government is going to allow one. There are a lot of issues that must be decided at the federal level. I and my colleagues across this country are still urging the Prime Minister to call a first ministers conference to decide what direction we are going to go from here and how we are going to get the consensus of the people across Canada, and on what issues we are going to be seeking consensus.
Mr. Cable: I think the Government Leader is aware of the fact that a premiers' conference is pending. The Government Leader was on the radio in December talking about the federal national unity bill - the veto bill - and was reported as saying that the Prime Minister had no constitutional game plan. He was quoted as saying, "These knee-jerk reactions, such as giving B.C. a veto yesterday, is not the way that we should be addressing the issue."
Just so that we have the comfort zone that the Government Leader is not jerking his knees, could he tell the House how he thinks we Yukoners should be addressing the issue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am glad to see the Member for Riverside jumping to the defence of the federal government on this very critical issue, but it really does not have much of a position to defend because it does not have a position. Now the Member for Riverside is asking the Yukon territorial government to play the lead role in it.
Mr. Cable: That confirms my worst suspicions; this government does not have a position either.
The Government Leader was asked in Question Period last year what he would be saying in national forums on the issue, and he was asked specifically if he was willing to present his position in the form of a motion in this House so that there might be a full discussion here before positions are taken by the government.
The Government Leader responded, "I think it would probably be a very, very good motion to put on the floor for serious debate before I have to participate in a premiers' conference on the issue." He went on to say that he would consider it and get back.
The question I have for the Government Leader is this: does he anticipate putting his government's position on the national unity debate before this House before the next premiers' conference?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That will depend on when the Prime Minister gets around to calling a conference. The Member opposite is again over-reacting and wanting the Yukon to play a lead role in this. There is going to be plenty of time to debate this. Quebec has stated quite publicly that a referendum is on the back burner, and that they have no intention of proceeding immediately. I would hope that the Prime Minister will play the lead role now in the job he is delegated to do, and pull all Canadians together and give Canadians in the north a say on the national unity issues, which he has failed to do so far in his mandate.
Question re: Government employees, political rights
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, about political rights for civil servants.
The letter that the Government Leader received from the Yukon Employees' Union last week, indicated that teachers were able to fund raise for political parties while government employees were unable to participate in such activities pursuant to the Public Servants Staff Relations Act. We believe that the public service and teachers should have equal political rights. Does the Minister agree with this statement? If so, what actions will he be pursuing to correct this inequality.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Our government believes not only should public servants have equal political rights, but all Yukoners should have equal political rights. I remind the Member opposite that it was the previous government that changed that when it brought in rules that protected jobs for teachers and public servants, which superseded rights of the average Yukoner.
This government supports the position that political rights should be equal. I have asked the Department of Justice to look at the several cases there were cited in the letter that was sent to the government, and the department is reviewing that letter at the present time.
Ms. Commodore: I do not see the government rushing to change legislation if they believe in it so strongly.
The letter that the Government Leader received from the Yukon Employees' Union indicated that certain provisions of the Public Service Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act violated the freedom of expression as contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Yukon Employees' Union requested that these provisions be struck from these acts, or it would challenge the legislation in court. Will the Minister be reviewing this legislation with an eye to eliminating or altering these provisions?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes. I have asked the Department of Justice to review the legislation, and because representations have been made by the Liberal Member, and now the Member for New Democratic Party, I will ask them to expand their review to look at the special provisions that the New Democratic Party brought in with respect to teachers and others, to see if those provisions will withstand a Charter challenge.
Ms. Commodore: As the Minister knows, an election will be occurring in the territory within the next six months - everybody is waiting for it - and many government employees have become wary of becoming involved with political parties and elections, because of perceived bias. The Yukon Employees' Union is anxious to have this issue resolved before the election.
Will the Minister commit to resolving this issue before an election is called so that all government employees will have the opportunity to fully participate in the election?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will certainly try to meet that deadline. As I said, I plan to expand it, as well, to the other special political rights that were awarded to government employees. If we could have that whole question addressed before the next election - both of those questions - I will endeavor to do so. I thank the Members opposite for the support for that.
Question re: Government employees, restoration of collective bargaining
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the same Minister regarding MLA salaries.
At the time when salary reductions to MLAs, Cabinet Ministers and political staff were announced, the Government Leader stated that his government was taking the lead in being fiscally responsible. Shortly after that, the government announced wage rollbacks to the public service and teachers.
Can the Minister inform this House if it is still the position of his government that it will take the lead in being fiscally responsible?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not know why the question is coming to me as the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. It does not have anything to do with the MLAs salaries. However, all I can say is that we will always be fiscally responsible in taking the lead and making decisions of that nature.
Ms. Commodore: The question was for whichever Minister knew the answer to the question. I put it to whichever Minister wanted to respond.
Last week, in debate on the Legislative Assembly Office, it was announced that the MLA pay and fringe benefits would increase by 1.2 percent. If the Minister continues to believe that the government should lead by example and his government has given all MLAs a wage increase, why has he not set aside any money for comparable wage increases for the civil service and teachers?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My view is that if it is a concern to the Members opposite, we have no problem withdrawing it.
Ms. Commodore: If that is the position of the government, I guess that is that.
In June 1994, the Yukon Party government implemented a wage rollback to the public service and teachers and refused to abide by the collective bargaining process. The decision was severely criticized by unions in the territory and by the United Nations.
Now that the government has given itself a wage increase, will the Minister commit to opening the collective bargaining process in the near future so that the public service and teachers will receive a similar wage increase?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think that the Government Leader has risen in the House this session already and said that he is willing to examine that very matter. I do not know what else I can add.
Question re: Local hiring, rural
Ms. Commodore: The Government Leader might have been able to add a bit more to that instead of sitting in the middle like the party to my left.
I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. I hope that he will be a bit more responsive to these very simple questions.
I would like to ask the Minister what the government policy is for hiring locally for government positions in rural Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is kind of a general question, but the Government of the Yukon endeavours as much as it can to hire locally in various communities.
Ms. Commodore: Can I ask him then what the government is doing to encourage training and upgrading for local residents who wish employment with YTG in the rural communities?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member with information on the various programs that we have in the outlying communities. I do not have information here at my fingertips but I know several programs are out there that people can take advantage of and, one hopes, receive employment from the Government of the Yukon.
Ms. Commodore: I ask these questions because we get an awful lot of complaints regarding employment from people in rural communities, because the positions are filled by people from other parts of the territory. I would like to ask the Minister if he, himself, has received the number of complaints that we have about rural local employment with YTG.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have not heard a lot of complaints. I know that there is a new apprenticeship program to provide training throughout the territory. It is hoped that people can move into various fields there.
The one complaint I have heard is with respect to Community and Transportation Services. It is regarding people who work in one community as a casual employee, but when there is a job opening, there may be somebody who is permanent in another community who gets the job. That is the problem that we have had for years. It is a problem that existed under the previous government. I think it is an agreement that is worked through the union. I can get back to the Member.
I have not heard very many complaints. If the Member has complaints about local hire and can pass them on to me, I can investigate the specific complaints.
Question re: Crown corporations, briefings
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Development Corporation and the Energy Corporation. I have been arranging briefings with the corporations. I have received much cooperation from Yukon College and the Liquor Corporation; we are presently discussing with the Workers' Compensation Board when we will be briefed. The only area where I am meeting with, not just resistance, but refusal to provide briefing, are with the Development Corporation and the Energy Corporation. The Minister indicated to me in the House on March 20 that he understood that the corporations were fairly free with their information - "If she can come with to me with a letter showing the president has refused to give her information, I may take up her case."
I would like to give the Minister two letters - one from the Development Corporation and one from the Energy Corporation - which say that they will not provide me with a briefing. One is outright - the Energy Corporation - and the Development Corporation says that it questions the usefulness of any briefings on the budget.
I would like to ask the Minister this: will he take up this cause and will he direct the president of the Development Corporation to either provide briefings for the MLAs or to appear before the Legislature's Committee of the Whole?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: When I have had a chance to read the letters, I will find out what the basis is and will get back to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I can give the Minister what the basis of the letter is - it is a one-line summary in the second last paragraph. It says "Therefore, the board questions the usefulness of any briefing on its budget since, in our view, the only legitimate budget that the Legislature can inquire into is the amount of the appropriation allotted to the corporation by that body."
I want to ask the Government Leader if he agrees with this statement: as elected representatives of the public, we have the right to ask questions about expenditures of the corporations, and particularly this corporation, which is given the power to extricate money from the public. I would like to ask the Government Leader if he agrees that we should be able to receive briefings from the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said, I will look into the matter. The board just met last Thursday. I do not have a copy of the minutes from the board meeting yet, but once I have had a chance to get all the information together, I will get back to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking the Minister to tell us whether or not he agrees with the principle that, as elected representatives, we should be getting briefed on the budgets and that we should be holding the corporations publicly accountable. Does the Government Leader agree with it or not?
The Minister does not have to discuss anything with the board. I simply want to know whether or not he agrees that we should be getting briefed. It is a simple question. Does the Government Leader believe that the corporations should be held publicly accountable and that we, as elected representatives of the public, have a right to ask these questions?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Yukon Energy Corporation is held publicly accountable by the Yukon Utilities Board. It has a $1.00 budget in this Legislature. If the Member opposite - I have had this debate with her before - wants the corporations to be accountable to the Legislature, then she should put forward a motion stating that they be moved into the Department of Economic Development. Then they would be fully accountable in the Legislature.
Question re: Faro Real Estate, rent increases
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Some time ago, I presented a petition in the Legislature from Faroite petitioners about unauthorized rent increases in Faro. The Minister responded by saying that Faro Real Estate Ltd. would be given some time to respond and that if a favourable response was not obtained, court action would be initiated.
We later heard, through media reports, that Faro Real Estate Ltd. had indeed responded, but that its response was to sue the Yukon Housing Corporation. My question for the Minister is this: who is suing whom, and for what?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Member got the first part right. The second part is not quite accurate. Faro Real Estate Ltd. is not suing the Yukon Housing Corporation. It is asking the court for an interpretation of the settlement agreement. It wants a declaration that 10730 Yukon Ltd. is completely independent of the mortgage.
Faro Real Estate Ltd. has gone to court to ask for a declaration exactly opposite of what the Yukon Housing Corporation wants. The Yukon Housing Corporation is responding to that, and it will also be asking for a declaration, or court's interpretation, of the caveat on the mortgage that affects Chateau Jomini.
We hope to get a definitive interpretation from the courts. I do not know how far we will go. As I have said before, the way we do business with Faro Real Estate Ltd. is through court order.
Mr. Harding: If I understand the Minister correctly, there will be an interpretation preceding the court action for the return of the rents that were charged and were, according to the Yukon Housing Corporation, over and above the mortgage agreement.
Will this delay the action the Minister was going to take, as he responded to the Faro Real Estate Ltd. petition in this Legislation just a couple of weeks ago?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, it will not delay that. The only difference is that, in this instance, Faro Real Estate Ltd. is the petitioner rather than the Yukon Housing Corporation. However, we are looking for an interpretation of the same thing. We will do everything we can to move the case along. I do not think it will take any longer due to Faro Real Estate Ltd. having initiated the action rather than the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Mr. Harding: So the government will essentially be settling the question of the unauthorized rent increases, as well as the non-competition caveat that is affecting the development of the Chateau Jomini complex.
At the end of the day, is the government's goal still to see the unauthorized rent increases returned to the rentors in Faro - my constituents - as well as the development of the Chateau Jomini complex?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, that is our interpretation, and that is what we are asking the court for. We believe that is the right and proper thing to do. If there has been an increase in rent over and above what the mortgage allows, then it should be returned to the people in Faro Real Estate Ltd. housing. We may not be able to do anything about 10730 Yukon Ltd., but we will receive a final answer to that from the court.
Question re: South Access Road
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding the South Access Road reconstruction project.
The Minister told the Legislature, "We think we have it under control. Members will be very proud of the road when it is finished." However, he still could not answer the most basic questions about traffic controls and intersection improvements. Since the government plans to spend $8.1 million from the public purse, can I ask the Minister if he will get some information from the department and the City of Whitehorse prior to the main budget debate so that I can get answers to some more specific questions?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I can certainly do that, but I would like to point out to the Member that it is an engineering problem. The engineering people of both the City of Whitehorse and my department are working together. We constructed the Two Mile Hill and there were a few complaints, but the traffic kept rolling and we did not hold the traffic up very long. I am sure what they learned there they can improve upon and put into effect on the South Access project.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would remind the Minister that his department did fund a functional design and planning study in 1993, and that that was used as a basis for the design of the reconstruction. That is according to the Minister's own press release.
I would like to ask the Minister if he can tell us something as simple as whether or not there would be a bicycle path on the new road, which would improve safety, and if he can tell us if the government asked the City of Whitehorse what it would be doing to ensure that traffic congestion was minimized.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have seen the rough draft twice, and the one concern was what happens when we hit the Alaska Highway - will it join with Hamilton Boulevard, which is coming the other way, or would that road come out some other place. In regard to traffic lights, I presume that if it comes out there, which the plan is now, there would be traffic lights. As for the bicycle path, that would be up to the City of Whitehorse. It would have to stay under budget, and to my knowledge I have not seen it on any plans. The only other time I ever saw the maps or the diagrams at all was to see that they were not on the property that Yukon Development Corporation claims it owns, where the road turns around by the fence.
Ms. Moorcroft: The government's initiative to open a new visitor reception centre downtown will likely increase traffic on the South Access Road. The longer this road project takes to complete, the worse the bottleneck could be for traffic.
Can the Minister find out how much, if any, construction will take place in 1996?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I can ask the city when it plan to start. The first thing it would tell us is that it does not want the road crowded so much that traffic cannot get through. If the project is done in one year, the road will be closed completely. Our plan is to work on a two-year project so that we did not disrupt traffic.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Motion to substitute sponsor of bill
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Hon. Mr. Nordling be substituted for Mr. Phelps as the sponsor of Bill No. 68, entitled An Act to Amend the College Act.
Speaker: It has been moved by the acting Government House Leader that the Hon. Mr. Nordling be substituted for Mr. Phelps as a sponsor of Bill No. 68, entitled An Act to Amend the College Act.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the acting Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 73 - Taxpayer Protection Act
Chair: We will be dealing with Bill No. 73, entitled Taxpayer Protection Act. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It has been some time since we went through second reading of this bill; it was almost a month ago. At that time, I asked Members opposite to meet with me, and we met on a couple of occasions, but no amendments came forward until about 10 minutes ago. At that time, I received a whole handful of amendments that I am certainly not going to have time to deal with before going into Committee of the Whole on the bill.
The reason that I asked Members to meet was to get the amendments ahead of time so that we would not be wasting time during Committee of Whole on whether or not we were going to accept the amendments. I have not had time to review these amendments and that is the dilemma I am in at this point.
We did talk about one amendment that I proposed to Members opposite. I have that amendment drafted. If Members wish, I have no difficulty incorporating the amendment into the bill. We will have to see how we are going to deal with the other proposed amendments as we go along.
Over the past several decades governments have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to get into financial difficulties by incurring repeated deficits. Once accumulated surpluses are exhausted - and such surpluses have been few and far between for a number of years - the only way to finance the deficits has been to assume debt.
This leads to an ever increasing debt burden for governments, not the least of which is caused by current borrowing to service past debt. Debt-servicing costs have had two principal impacts on Canadians. First, they have resulted in higher taxes as governments attempt to limit their borrowing by the expediency of raising taxes. Second, when funds are used to service debt, it means that there is less money available to conduct the essentials of government operations.
The consequences of this latter point are all too apparent, as governments throughout the world reduce spending on much-needed social and economic programs. In other words, spending for debt-servicing purposes reduces discretionary spending available to governments and limits their ability to meet emerging needs.
We are determined that this will not occur in the Yukon. Yukoners have a right to see the revenues of this government spent on programs that serve their interests, not on the carrying charges of public debt.
We in the Yukon are fortunate in being debt-free insofar as the operations of government departments are concerned. The purpose of this legislation is to prevent future governments from spending in such a manner as to cause the government to have an accumulated deficit.
This legislation does not insist that each year's budget be balanced. It simply requires that no annual deficit ever be so large as to turn our relatively small accumulated surplus into an accumulated deficit.
Given that we have a small accumulated surplus, it makes little sense to require a surplus budget every year. Were this to be the case, the accumulated surplus would continue to increase forever and never be available for other government operations.
It is entirely reasonable that a government may have a need for an annual deficit in one year, and then have excess funds the next.
This legislation will allow that to happen as long as an accumulated deficit is never incurred.
To that end, the bill does not allow the government to table an appropriation that would result in an accumulated deficit being created. If an overexpenditure of an appropriation does occur and it creates an accumulated deficit, the Government Leader must request dissolution of the Legislature and, if granted, ask that writs for a general election be issued.
I spoke earlier of this legislation having very few exceptions. The only one there will be is contained in the amendment that I will be proposing when we get to section 6 - that the Government Leader does not have to comply with subsection (1) if the accumulated deficit was created or increased in a fiscal year in which neither the Government Leader nor any Member of his or her Executive Council was a Member of the Executive Council. That is quite straightforward.
Other than that one clause being added, the Government Leader would be forced to dissolve the Legislature unless a bill were brought forward to exempt a deficit from the operation of the act, and it was approved by this Legislature. So, there is a back door that would at least cause another debate in the Legislature. It would then be up to the government of the day to prove that its definition of an emergency coincided with that of the Assembly and the people.
To prevent a government from increasing spending in an irresponsible manner but avoiding accumulated deficit by the expediency of raising taxes, this bill requires that a referendum be held to levy new taxes or to increase the rates of income taxation and fuel oil taxes.
No referendum is required for increases in property taxes, since they bear at least some relation to the level of service provided in a particular region. The same is true of sundry royalties, fees, permits and licences. Nor is a referendum required to increase tobacco or liquor taxes, because it was felt that the social costs associated with their use permitted government the leeway to readily cover the increases in costs through increased taxation.
Members will note several exceptions to the need for referendum with regards to changes in taxes paid under the Income Tax Act. These are necessary because, as Members will know, we must modify our act each time the federal act is modified. Similarly, a change in the income tax collection agreement with Canada may be required from time to time, most especially if provincial and territorial taxes are permitted to be changed by the federal government from a tax on a basic federal tax to a tax on a taxable income. These changes did not require a referendum.
The reference to taxes on mine reclamation trusts merely reflects the agreement reached by the industry and the federal, provincial and territorial governments on the tax treatment of those trusts and it will also not require a referendum.
This legislation is quite strict compared to those of other jurisdictions. I think this is for the best and will serve as a statement of principle by our government and this House about how we intend to carry out the financial duties of the government. It is, of course, always open to a government to table a bill to modify or exempt itself from the operation of the legislation. However, seeking an exemption from legislation that binds oneself is in itself a serious matter. In addition, that action in itself serves as a very useful purpose in that the incident which gave rise to the request for the exemption will receive a full and open hearing and debate within this chamber, through the press and among the public.
The passage of this bill will go a long way toward ensuring that governments conduct themselves in a financially responsible manner. It will ensure that they examine all the alternatives before incurring an accumulated deficit in contravention of the legislation or asking for an exemption from its operation.
While I am on my feet, I just want to draw to the Members' attention how fast debt can get away from governments. We need only look at the federal government's track record since 1968, and I will table that for the Members because it is a very useful chart. Some of the Members opposite will know that in 1968 our total debt was $30.8 billion. In 1995, it was $582.9 billion. We have heard partisan political debate about how and who was responsible for the accumulation of that debt. Looking at the figures, the percentage increase from 1968 to 1995 was 578 percent. Even if one were to exclude the Liberals' last two years of this mandate, 1994 and 1995, the total increase in debt would still be 462 percent under Liberal governments, compared to a 236 percent increase under Conservative governments. Yet we hear all the time, and from the Liberals in particular, the federal Conservative government of Brian Mulroney being blamed for the terrible debt crisis we are in.
I just thought that would be an interesting thing to point out to Members opposite.
Taxpayer protection legislation goes back to 1978. It started in California and then spread throughout North America quite dramatically. It is for many reasons, such as less money being available for programs. According to this document, which I think is outdated, it says 34 cents out of every dollar the federal government raised last year went to servicing debt. That is 34 cents that could have gone toward program spending.
Lower growth is another reason. As more tax dollars are used to pay the interest on government bonds, less money is available for investment in growth-creating activities. Thus, debt and deficit feed on themselves.
Currency depreciation and higher interest rates are two other reasons. As Canada's debt increases, investors become concerned about our ability to pay it back. To counter this, there is a demand for higher interest rates. Higher interest rates compound the rate of growth of Canada's already enormous debt. And the article goes on and on about the reasons why we ought not to incorporate debt.
Another interesting part of this article is what Canadians think about taxpayer protection legislation. It is interesting to note that on the control of taxes 77 percent of Canadians believe that taxation should be controlled - they believe that extremely or very highly so - 86 percent of Canadians figure that government spending is out of control, and 85 percent feel that it is important to control the debt because we are getting to the point where we will no longer be responsible for paying for it but our children and grandchildren will.
I think this is very timely legislation for the Yukon. I look forward to the debate and to the support of Members opposite for its passage.
Mrs. Firth: I want to begin by addressing the point that the Minister raised about the amendments and the amendment package that I have provided to him.
When we originally started having discussions with the Government Leader - the Minister of Finance, the Liberal Member, the Leader of the Official Opposition and I - it was my understanding that we would have some opportunity to make some changes as a result of the first meeting that we had.
At the last meeting, the Minister indicated to us his reasons for not wanting to make changes. When I heard him say that, I thought, "Well, I guess I am going to have to draw up all of the amendments and proceed with them." I am sure the Minister can appreciate that I, as a Member of the Opposition, do not have the resources available - as the Government Leader does - to have people make changes and conduct research. I wanted to finish my research and I have asked to have debate on this bill delayed once already so that I could complete that research, and these amendments are a result of that research.
For the record, I would like the Minister to know that I would like to support this legislative initiative, but I think it can be improved and some changes can be made to the legislation.
I saw the Canadian Taxpayers Federation news release about the legislation. To refresh people's memories, the news release said that Yukoners lead the pack and the proposed Taxpayer Protection Act gets the Canadian Taxpayers Federation stamp of approval. There was a paragraph in that press release that said, "While extremely supportive of the Yukon legislation, the federation has proposed a number of constructive amendments. We would like to see the bill include financial penalties for politicians who incur deficit, all tax increases be subject to a referendum and a lower threshold for the rejection of a new tax, or tax increase."
I have raised these issues before during second reading of the Taxpayer Protection Act. I have indicated that I would like to see some changes. In corresponding with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, I was able to get further information to assist me with the preparation of the amendments. The federation has sent me its model, which is referred to as "the statutory fiscal limits in British Columbia".
I got an executive summary of that. They sent me the components of effective legislation, which deals with balanced budget requirements, allowable deficits and taxpayer protection provisions.
It has taken considerable time on my part, as well as that of my research staff, to compile these amendments, and I hope the Minister will take them seriously. If he wants to wait a bit and have his officials review them, and then tell me if there are some he may be able to support, it will not hurt us to wait another day or so. I am prepared to proceed with them.
Essentially my reasoning is that I knew I was not going to win the argument with respect to disallowing deficits, so my understanding - according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation - was that if deficits would be allowed, there should be some allowable annual deficit clauses. That is what I have proposed as an amendment to deal with that particular aspect. I stated before my preference would be that annual deficits not be allowed, period, not just because there is a surplus to pay the deficit.
It brought me to another point, which was with respect to the surpluses and how we deal with them. If people are going to be involved with referendums with respect to increasing tax, they could also be involved with referendums with respect to deciding how to use the money that governments accumulate as surplus.
The Alberta government is moving in the direction of involving taxpayers somewhat in deciding what to do with accumulated surpluses. I thought we might be able to do that also.
I have made some proposals with respect to that. Surpluses, referendums for surpluses, the consequences of allowing deficits and penalties for deficits, which was another point that was raised. We had some discussion with the Minister about that, and he suggested we bring back an amendment. I have brought something back that I think his department should review and we may be able to use.
I also had some concerns about the referendum process itself, which was another concern expressed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. This bill proposes that the decision is not made by the people who vote, but by the people who could have voted. I see the Minister is shaking his head. Perhaps he could clarify that point.
I took his comment about the Municipal Act seriously and I reviewed it. I think it still refers to the referendum and that the electors who approve the imposition be the majority of people who vote.
I do not know if this is the particular clause the Minister was referring to, but the Municipal Act reads, "a submission that requires assent of the electors or taxpayers shall be deemed not to have received assent unless the submission is submitted to and voted on by the electors or taxpayers in the manner provided in the act, and that, be it subject to the other provisions, a majority of votes is cast in favour of the submission." Perhaps he was referring to another clause, but I thought it would be appropriate to change that, and I think that particular amendment would be met in a positive way by the public.
There was also an outstanding issue about licence fees and other so-called hidden taxes. What ends up happening if governments limit their ability to raise taxes is that all of a sudden all kinds of fishing licence and driving licence fees and so on are increased as a means of increasing taxes through the back door. I wanted to make an amendment to deal with that particular issue, and I look forward to hearing the government's response.
If I cannot support the legislation and I have to vote against it because no amendments to it are accepted, or if I just do not feel comfortable with it philosophically, I do not want people to be able to say that I did not at least try to bring forward some positive and constructive amendments in an effort to initiate some debate. If I am not successful, then what I have to do about it remains to be seen.
I do not have any disagreement with the principles of protecting taxpayers against governments spending their money and increasing their taxes. I do not have any dispute with the Government Leader or the Minister using the comparison of the federal budget, although it is a case of using the biggest and the smallest, comparing the mouse to the lion.
When it comes to spending, it is all relative, but it is an extreme comparison to make, although I do not deny that it was probably the Liberal federal government that invented deficit financing. Here we are as a result of it. I have always maintained that; it is nothing new in my political rhetoric.
I would like to see the government take the amendments seriously. I am prepared to advance with them this afternoon, if the Minister so wishes. If he wants to wait and perhaps do it tomorrow, that is fine, as well - of course, taking into account what other Members of the House want to do.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite is making a strong case for us to look at the amendments. I guess I am a bit disappointed that it has taken the Member a month to come forward with them. This was the reason we set aside the bill at second reading. I said at that time that it would be two weeks. I have exceeded that two weeks by another two weeks, and then I get these at the eleventh hour.
Nevertheless, I have not had a chance to look at the amendments in detail. In fairness to the Member opposite, I should have Finance officials look at them in detail. I will leave it to the call of the Opposition, but I will not delay further debate on this bill past tomorrow. It is up to the Members opposite if they want to go ahead with it now or go ahead with it tomorrow.
Mr. McDonald: I think, in fairness to all Members, that the amendments being proposed by the Member for Riverdale South be given full consideration. Obviously, some work went into presenting the amendments. In length, the amendments are probably equivalent to Bill No. 73 itself, which is no small feat for one Member of a caucus with very little staff.
The Minister of Finance should acknowledge that the discussion that was held among the government, the New Democrats, Liberals and Independent Member did produce some useful discussion initially and, at one point, I was asked to go away and propose suggested wording for an amendment, based on discussions we had in our first meeting. I, of course, did so, only to find out later that the general concept was rejected by the government caucus.
In every respect, I think the Members in Opposition have engaged in discussion in good faith, and certainly I have been prepared on behalf of the Official Opposition to debate this bill at any time. I think, in deference to the Member for Riverdale South, we should take a minimum of a day. The Government Leader should ensure that the amendments be given some consideration, even if it takes a day or two.
Having said that, I do and will be saying to the government that I feel that there are some elements of this bill that are fundamentally flawed and I will be saying so when the time comes. That is even having gone through the process of applying this piece of legislation to the period when the NDP was in government in this territory. When that test had been applied, I realized that nothing would have changed with respect to how the NDP conducted its business, or what would have happened to the NDP's financial planning process, or the results of its financial planning process.
Obviously, never having faced an accumulated deficit and never having levied new taxes, except for the sin taxes, which are exempted from Bill No. 73, obviously there would have been no difference in the actual course, but the issue for us is not whether or not there would have been any actual, or practical change in the way government has conducted its business in the past, the issue is whether or not it is good public policy.
I will reserve my comments to the time when we actually get into seriously debating the details of the act. I would note that if there is an appetite to debate this in the next week or two, and if the government is insistent that it be passed, I am certain that it will. It has the majority and it can do it, but we stand ready at any time to debate this bill.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members that we report progress on this bill?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 73.
Motion agreed to
Chair: We will now move on to Bill No. 10, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1996-97.
Bill No. 10 - First Appropriation Act, 1996-97 - continued
Executive Council Office - continued
Chair: We will be discussing the Executive Council Office. Is there any further general debate?
Is it the wish of Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a five-minute recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 1996-97. We are on general debate in Executive Council Office.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister was going to bring back some information regarding the announcement about the land claims personnel.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are in the process of gathering that information. I think my executive assistant has the letter, but I have not had a chance to review it yet.
Mrs. Firth: I will wait until the Minister reviews it and has a chance to provide it to us.
I wanted to go on to some other general questions. First of all, the government changed its process last year for providing us with information about boards and committees. The government does not publish the handbook on boards and committees any longer because the boards and committees change regularly and it was too expensive to keep republishing it. Instead, we were to be provided with board updates; however, I have not received anything since December 7, 1994.
When will we receive updates - since we are over a year behind now - regarding boards and committees, who has been appointed and how many vacancies there are?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that we still publish the book, but we do not publish the names of the people sitting on the boards any more. The number of people on the board and the board's mandate are all published. Because of the turnover of the people sitting on boards, we do not publish their names any more.
Mrs. Firth: We were supposed to get an update with all the names. I had criticized the government for not publishing the names in the book, because we never knew who was on the boards. So the Minister assured me he would provide me with an update of the names of the individuals on the boards, and that it would be provided in a less formal format - just a note with the expenses, honoraria, categories of expenses and a list of the boards and individuals.
I notice a lot of appointments have expired. According to the last list we received, there would be no one left on the boards. It would be nice to have an update of who all the board members are so, if people want to know who is on a board, we can look it up.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I understand we can get a printout for the Member opposite with the board member names, and we will do that as quickly as we can. It will take a little time, but we can get it done.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate receiving that, and I am sure all Members of the Opposition would like a copy so we are familiar with it.
I have a concern about the number of vacancies. When governments are at the end of their term, there is an urgency to fill as many vacancies as possible before the election is called. I know of at least one constituent of mine who had been appointed to a board and did not even know until her friend congratulated her on it.
I hope the appointments are being made by going through all the due processes one is supposed to when people are appointed to these boards.
I will look forward to getting that information when it is ready. If no one else has any questions about boards and committees, I would like to ask about another issue, and that is travel. I would like to find out more information, not only about ministerial travel, but travel by executive assistants, research directors and others.
If the Government Leader's political staff takes trips on behalf of the government or the Members of the Legislative Assembly that they represent, would the money for their travel come from any other budget beside the Executive Council Office budget?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, it is my understanding that the money comes from the Executive Council Office budget.
Mrs. Firth: Would the travel done by the executive assistants in the government offices have been included in the travel report provided to us by the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is what I understand.
Mrs. Firth: Do the researchers who work for the private Members of the Legislative Assembly - for instance, the Member for Old Crow or the Member for Klondike - travel at government expense? If so, where would that expenditure be indicated?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If they were to travel, I believe the expenditure would come under the Legislative Assembly vote.
Mrs. Firth: If the researcher for Old Crow went to Old Crow, would the payment for that trip come out of the Legislative Assembly budget's caucus funds? What would it come under?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I would assume it would come out of caucus funding.
Mrs. Firth: I would be interested in knowing that. I realize we are not in Legislative Assembly budget right now, but I would still be interested in knowing that. Perhaps I will follow up with a letter to the Legislative Assembly deputy minister or to the Government Leader.
Is there a set policy regarding travel of executive assistants with their Ministers? Who makes the decision? Is it the Minister who authorizes the travel or the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe I sign the travel claims, but it is discussed with the Minister who goes on trips and with whom he goes.
Mr. McDonald: To follow up briefly on the question of travelling at public expense, is the Minister saying that the Legislative Assembly Office research funds can be expended, in his view at least, for staff of the caucus or anyone else to travel around the territory or outside the territory? Is that his position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know. I will have to check on it. I know they are not funded if it is for caucus purposes. The Member opposite mentioned Old Crow. That would not be funded out of the Executive Council Office; if that sort of travel took place, and I am not certain that it has, I imagine it would come out of caucus funding, but I will check for the Member opposite; I really do not know.
Mr. McDonald: I will wait for a response.
At the closing moments last Thursday, I asked a question about what the director of research would be doing in Calgary. The Minister indicated that he would be doing some sort of research for Cabinet. Is this person responsible for doing Cabinet research, or would he be doing caucus research?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe he does Cabinet research. I will get the terms of reference again that I read into the record last Thursday.
It reads, "gathering, compiling, documenting information in response to the various requests for information received by Ministers."
Mr. McDonald: Did this person have meetings in Calgary to attend? Generally, when Ministers go on trips, they go on trips and, when asked, provide us with information about who the meetings were with. Did this person have meetings with anyone in particular?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am certain that he did. I know that he did research for Cabinet, but I do not recall what it was. I do not know if I am at liberty to say what research he was doing for Cabinet.
Mr. McDonald: Not getting into the question about what the research was specifically about, can the Minister tell us what he usually tells us about ministerial travel; that is, with whom did the person have meetings?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will see what information I can bring back for the Member on that.
Mr. McDonald: Is the Government Leader in favour, in principle, of providing me with that information? Obviously, this is not something on which I will be able to follow up easily in the Legislature, unless in Question Period. Is he in favour of this information being provided to the public?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite was part of a Cabinet, so he is aware that a lot of the work done is confidential. I will have to check on what I can provide for the Member. I am quite willing to provide that.
Mr. McDonald: This position is obviously a very small "p" political one. What assurances can the Minister give us that this position is not being used for partisan political purposes? Clearly, this is not the research director for the Yukon Party; it is the research director for Cabinet. Admittedly, this person does a lot of Yukon Party work on his own time, by the Minister's own estimation.
Can the Minister give us any assurance that this person is not dealing with partisan matters at public expense?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Most certainly, and we answered the questions. On Thursday, when the Member opposite brought up the fact that the person was in Faro, I pointed out quite clearly that he was there on his own time, not on government time. He is doing some work for Cabinet Ministers and that is what he is hired to do. I know that in a small jurisdiction like this, the activities of a person who is politically active are something that the Members opposite will question, so we are very careful about that.
Mr. McDonald: I am sure that the Minister is well aware of the rumours, as I am, that the person to whom we are referring was seconded by the Klein government to ensure that the Yukon Party is re-elected and is expected to terminate his employment as soon as the next election is over. That obviously gives us some cause for concern, because this is a publicly funded position. If there were even a hint that the person does not have useful work that justifies a probably fairly healthy public salary, obviously we would ask that the person be paid out of Yukon Party contributions and not Yukon public contributions.
Can the Minister tell us whether or not this person had anything to do with the polling that the government did last year, or that the Yukon Party did last year - or whatever it was that sponsored it - that presumably anticipated the by-elections?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: First of all, the person is not seconded from Alberta. The person is here on contract and I do not think that we have a legal ability to give him a contract past the next election.
The polling was done by an outside firm, and it was done by the Yukon Party, not by the Yukon government.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on Executive Council Office?
Mr. Cable: Let me step back to the boards and committees issue for a moment. When the government first came to power, the Government Leader introduced a motion whereby there would be a certain procedure set up for the appointments of officers and directors, and so on, for boards and commissions, and then he ran afoul of this side of the House. We did not agree with everything he said. We have not seen nor heard from him since then on that issue. Can he give us his present thinking?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not think my thinking has changed any. We presented the motion. It was not acceptable to the Members opposite and so it did not go any further. I have to tell the Member opposite that if he ever has the ability to be part of government, he is going to find that it is probably one of the most difficult tasks to find enough people to fill all the positions on the various boards. It is not a very easy task. It is a task that we must spend a lot of time on. If there is a more non-partisan way of doing it or to vet them - which we wanted the Legislature to do; we wanted it to vet them for certain boards and committees - we are quite prepared to go with it, but if I remember correctly, the amendment to the motion got quite extensive and explicit and we were not prepared to go along with it.
Mr. Cable: I think, if I recall it correctly, where the amendments were heading was that the major boards, at least, needed approval from both sides of the House. I know this was one of the Government Leader's party's planks in the four-year-plan - again, if I remember it correctly. Is this issue not going to be dusted off before the next election and brought back before the House?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe the Members opposite still have a copy of the motion somewhere. If they have any desire to debate it again, or have moved from their earlier entrenched position, I would consider it.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on Executive Council Office?
Are we prepared to go to line-by-line debate?
On Cabinet and Management Support
Chair: Is there any general debate on Cabinet and management support?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have a couple of comments on budget changes. The budget for the branch is increased by $23,000, or two percent. The increase is a result of special operating agency funds for pool vehicles, and $24,000 has been transferred from the Department of Government Services for this service. Personnel costs have increased slightly by $5,000, or one percent, primarily for merit pay increases for eligible staff. Other costs have increased $18,000, or 13 percent, due to the transfer of fleet vehicle agency costs from the Department of Government Services - $24,000 was transferred from the Department of Government Services and $6,000 was reduced from entertainment to program materials. These funds were one-time requirements for the Commissioner's swearing in. The $24,000 transferred from the Department of Government Services for vehicles is the full amount for the department. These funds will pay for the operation of one departmental vehicle used primarily by land claim negotiators travelling in the course of negotiations and the rental rates for any vehicles borrowed from the pool.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how much the merit increases were and who received them?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that we usually do not give out that information.
Mrs. Firth: I am not asking for every individual's name and their merit increase. However, deputy ministers have the ability to give a general merit increase and a percentage, and I would like to know what merit increase was given within this department so I know how much money we are talking about. Was it two percent, four percent? What was the merit increase?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We do not have that information with us. One percent is the cost of this particular branch of government.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying that the one percent in the personnel line is what reflects the merit increase? It is the difference between $792,000 and $787,000.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: For Cabinet and management support, I believe the Member is right.
Chair: Is there any other general debate?
Are you prepared to go line by line?
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Executive Council Office
On Cabinet and Management Support
Administration/Secretariat in the amount of $947,000 agreed to
Cabinet and Management Support in the amount of $947,000 agreed to
On Land Claims Secretariat
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I gave some of these figures before, but I will briefly go over them again. There has been a five-percent decrease - $160,000 - from the revised forecast for 1995-96, which includes funding for the implementation of land claims agreements. This budget provides for two additional term land negotiator research positions. Funding has been provided through the reallocation of other allotments, principally from contract services. In this way, the department will have the dedicated staff to meet the needs of negotiation, rather than relying on contractors to provide the services.
There is $665,000 scheduled for specific implementation projects in 1996-97. Individual departments are carrying out initiatives with recoverable funding flowing through the Land Claims Secretariat. Implementation project funding is provided by the federal government through a bilateral agreement for implementation projects and activities based upon departmental implementation plans and priorities.
The Land Claims Secretariat decrease is due primarily to phased scheduling of implementation projects carried out by departments in 1995-96 and 1996-97. Many projects will be phased in over more than one year. As initial phases are completed and reviewed, further funding will be allocated to the project for the next phase.
Mrs. Firth: Does this 10-percent increase in personnel costs under allotments reflect the merit increases for the Land Claims Secretariat?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Yes, I believe the Member is correct.
Mrs. Firth: So the Cabinet office received a one-percent merit increase, the Land Claims Secretariat received 10 percent, and four percent was allocated to policy and communications. Do those percentages identify the total amount of merit increases?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not think the Member can make those assumptions. The 10 percent includes the additional personnel that is being hired in the department.
Mrs. Firth: That was my next question, because in the press release that the Government Leader issued he said total personnel allotments were increased by 10 percent to cover the cost of the second principal negotiator and a third lawyer with whom the government had contracted. How much of the 10 percent represents merit increases?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have any idea.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know. I know when we had the budget briefing on Health and Social Services, we were told that there was $84,000 in its budget for merit increases. If a huge department like Health and Social Services knows how much money it needs for its merit increases, surely a much smaller department with fewer staff could provide us with an indication of about how much money it is spending on merit increases.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will see if I can get that information for the Member. I do not have that information with me.
Mr. Cable: The other day I was asking the Government Leader about the status of various boards and how far they had gotten along in setting up their administration. I believe I asked about the Land Use Planning Council, the Dispute Resolution Board and the Surface Rights Board. It was indicated - if I remember correctly - that some of these boards were working on rules and procedures, and setting up their administration.
What is the role of the Land Claims Secretariat in assisting these boards and commissions?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not exactly sure of the full involvement of the Land Claims Secretariat. I know it is involved to some extent, but I will have to come back with the information regarding its role for the Member. For instance, it may just be a facilitation role, or it may be more intense than that. I do not know, but I will get that information for the Member.
Mr. Cable: One of the reasons I am asking for this information - not the only reason - is that there are a number of common threads running through these boards and commissions. Presumably, they all need rules and some sort of administration setup. It would be useful for this side of the House to find out how this is being synchronized so that it is cost effective.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The only thing I can say is that I will have to see what I can get for the Member on that, because I do not have it with me here.
Mr. McDonald: I asked the Minister a question last week about whether or not Land Claims Secretariat negotiators could speak to waterfront residents about their land options. Can the Minister tell us what has transpired?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My chief negotiator was away last week and just got back today; I have not had a chance to meet with him. I believe the Member brought the matter up last Thursday. I will be talking to him, but I do not have any answers for the Member today.
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $2,997,000 agreed to
On Policy and Communications
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The budget for this branch has been increased by $66,000, or six percent. The increase reflects merit increases for eligible staff and one-third funding for this government to host the 1996 Western Premiers Conference.
Key budget changes include changes in policy and intergovernmental relations, where there has been an increase of $55,000. Twelve percent provides funding to host the 1996 Western Premiers Conference and merit increases for eligible staff.
In communications, the increase of $7,000 is the net effect of a number of adjustments and salary savings due to vacancies. These are being offset by increased hours for existing part-time personnel and contract services. The increased communications costs are the result of a higher number of users for the 1-800 toll line and merit increases for eligible employees.
In the federal relations office, increases costs of $4,000 are required to support a now fully staffed federal relations office. In 1995-96, the ADM position was vacant until August, when the incumbent was relocated from Whitehorse to Ottawa.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister tell us who is staffing the federal office in Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Glen Grant, who used to be with the statistics branch here. Glen Grant.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister does not have to shout. I am just asking about all the people in the office, and I believe him that Glen Grant is one of them.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am sorry. I misunderstood the Member. We have three people there as well - Raghu, Glen Grant and Debbie Kelly.
Chair: We will go line by line at this time.
Policy and Intergovernmental Relations
Mr. McDonald: The Minister listed a $12,000 expenditure for the Western Premiers Conference. Is that the full cost to Yukon government for hosting the conference?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We budgeted $50,000 for the conference.
Mr. McDonald: How long will the premiers be in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not certain how long they will be here. The meetings will run for a day and a half.
Mr. McDonald: What are the projected dates for the premiers conference?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The first Monday and Tuesday in June - either the 3rd and 4th or the 4th and 5th.
Mr. McDonald: Do the other premiers and their staff pay for their own travel?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: They will pay their travel to Whitehorse if they are coming by commercial airlines, and then we will pay the charter fees from here to Dawson. Some of them may be flying right into Dawson in their own aircraft.
Mr. Cable: I gather this unit looks after the secretarial services for the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. What issues before the council were put there by the government? I know it is also doing a few on its own instance.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: They were working to meet their obligations under the Environment Act. I believe that report has been tabled already, but I am not certain. It was supposed to be tabled this session.
I believe they are still working on the sectoral review. They are taking a sector-by-sector approach in their review of the Yukon economy. YTG recently received the council's report on the energy conference and looks forward to receiving the recommendations from the conference on forestry.
Mr. Cable: At one juncture, the government had put the issue of gambling to the council. If I remember correctly, the sectoral review had also been brought to the council, and that is what caused it to put on the seminars and open houses. Other than the sectoral review and the gambling issue, has anything else been dealt with or put before the council by the government?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The council did deal with some other issues, although I cannot recall what they were off the top of my head. I believe I asked the council for input on several issues. I know the Environment Act was a big one. The sectoral review of the economy, which is an ongoing process, is another that it will continue to do. I will get a list of what the council has done since I have been in office.
Mr. McDonald: On the subject of the council, can the Minister give us an indication of what projects the council has in mind for the coming six months? The energy conference, of course, was last spring, and the forestry conference was last fall. What is the next in the lineup for sectoral reviews?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will get a list and bring it back for the Members as quickly as possible.
Policy and Intergovernmental Relations in the amount of $511,000 agreed to
Communications in the amount of $521,000 agreed to
On Federal Relations Office
Federal Relations Office in the amount of $184,000 agreed to
Chair: Before we carry the total, are there any questions on the statistics page?
Policy and Communications in the amount of $1,216,000 agreed to
On Aboriginal Language Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The main estimates show a budget of $769,000. The budget was estimated prior to tabling the federal budget. The actual budget that will be available for 1996-97 is $909,000, an increase of $140,000 from what we had expected.
The increased level of funding provided by the federal government is a vote of confidence in the Yukon's effort to support the development and enhancement of aboriginal languages. The additional funding will be presented to the House in a supplementary. The figures presented in the budget will be increased in light of the increase in the budget for this program. The program currently shows a significant decrease in staff cost. The additional funding will allow for increased staff hours. Plans are currently being finalized, but we anticipate most staff will be working three-quarter time.
Additional funding will be allocated to the aboriginal language community initiatives program to support local interpretation services in community-based language projects. In light of the reduction of staff hours, basic territorial representative services will no longer be offered by language interpreters in the communities of Carmacks, Teslin and Beaver Creek.
Mr. McDonald: How was it determined that those communities the Minister just listed were the ones targeted for the cuts?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that they were the only communities where the aboriginal languages branch was providing the services.
Mr. McDonald: I understand that. After we had our conversation in the Legislature last week, I had an opportunity to speak to some people who had interests in the program. They indicated the services cut were obviously the last to be provided, but they were also - by some people's standards - of higher priority than other services that the program was undertaking.
The question was why cut rural positions and rural time and not look at cuts elsewhere?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that we would not have had the territorial agents' services in those communities had it not been for the aboriginal languages services. We were piggy-backed on to those services, and without the additional funding to increase the hours, we needed these people for the jobs of the aboriginal language program. That is what my understanding is. That is why the decision was made to remove their duties as territorial agents and free up the time that was necessary for them for the aboriginal language program for which they are actually funded.
Mr. McDonald: Does the program right now take direction or any advice from the Council of Yukon First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As the Member opposite knows, we stated in the House that we are in the process of talking with the Council of Yukon First Nations about taking over delivery of this program. Along with that, there is an evaluation steering committee, which has First Nation representation on it, doing an evaluation of the current program and seeing what we can do to improve and enhance it.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Are we prepared to go line by line at this time?
On Aboriginal Language Program
Aboriginal Language Program in the amount of $769,000 agreed to
Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of $769,000 agreed to
On French Language Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This program has been decreased by $131,000; that reflects the drop in funding provided by the federal Liberal government in Ottawa. The total funding reduction is $149,000, comprised of $131,000 from operation and maintenance and $18,000 from capital. Continued reductions in federal financial support through the Canada-Yukon funding arrangement have necessitated prioritizing funding so that there will be no loss to service delivery to the francophone public despite fewer resources.
There was a $29,000 reduction in personnel expenditures reflects a shift to supporting positions that can provide essential services rather than project-specific positions supported in the past.
Support for information services within education has been replaced by a translator-reviser service for education located at the Bureau of French Language Services. There is a reduction of $102,000 in other expenditures, resulting from major cuts to contract services and program materials budget. There is no funding available for special projects in the 1996-97 budget.
Chair: Are Members prepared to proceed with line-by-line debate?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
On French Language Program
French Language Program in the amount of $1,227,000 agreed to
French Language Services in the amount of $1,227,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Management Improvement
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I hear lots of kibitzing from the back benches. There is a decrease of $2,000 in this expenditure from 1995-96. The branch continues to provide audit and evaluation services to government departments, and advice on management improvement and program effectiveness. The principal changes to the budget are a reduction in funds available for contracting services.
Mr. McDonald: What is the auditors' workplan for the coming year?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: They are in the process of developing the workplan for the coming fiscal year. It will include the completion of several compliance audits required under cost-shared agreements, as well as projects requested by departments and Management Board. The workplan is reviewed by the audit committee, which then recommends it to Management Board for approval. Once this process is complete, the workplan can be made available to anyone, subject to considerations such as personal privacy concerns that may require the information not be disclosed.
Mr. McDonald: Does the Minister realize that he told me absolutely nothing by that response. Even I was awake enough to notice that answer.
Could the Minister give us a list of the projects that the audit branch intends to proceed with this year?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I can provide the Member with a partial list now, and I will probably have to provide a further list later. The compliance audits that we have to do are the strategic highway improvement program agreement, the native courtworker program agreement, the Inuvialuit final agreement, and legal aid services agreement and financial statements. There will be several other projects that the branches will want completed. Once these are finalized I will provide a list to the Members opposite.
Mr. McDonald: I thank the Minister for that. Can the Minister tell us how much time and, consequently, how many resources are dedicated to provide the service associated with the suggestion box - I do not know its technical name.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have a firm figure, but it is a very small percentage of time allocated.
Chair: Are we prepared to go line by line?
On Internal Audit
Internal Audit in the amount of $227,000 agreed to
Bureau of Management Improvement in the amount of $227,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Statistics
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This budget has been increased by $101,000, or 13 percent. This reflects the anticipated net increase and recovery of $101,000 to provide for the national survey on health and youth in 1996-97. The survey is carried out under contract to Statistics Canada every other year. Year-to-year changes in operations reflect the recoverable projects and activities with Statistics Canada and other federal departments.
In administration and management, there has been a decrease of $23,000, or 12 percent, due to the reduction of a part-time, three-quarter position with the administration unit. This is partially offset by filling the vacant director and office manager position in the past year.
In operations, there has been an increase of $124,000, or 52 percent, due to anticipated national surveys on health and youth in 1996-97. The result is an increased personnel cost of $98,000, or 56 percent. There are increased Other costs of $26,000, or 42 percent, to support the travel and other costs related to performing the surveys.
Administration/Management in the amount of $164,000 agreed to
Information/Publications in the amount of $177,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: What is that increase for? Is it for the surveys? I see the Minister is nodding his head.
Operations in the amount of $364,000 agreed to
On Research and Analysis
Research and Analysis in the amount of $186,000 agreed to
Bureau of Statistics in the amount of $891,000 agreed to
On Office of the Commissioner
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I said in my remarks, this budget has decreased by $6,000, or five percent. The budget is reduced because $6,000 was spent last year on one-time repairs to the office occupied by the Commissioner, and further funds are not required.
The Yukon government pays for the office support and most operating expenses of the Commissioner. There is no change in the program objectives of this branch.
Mrs. Firth: Just so that I understand it correctly, is this item just the Commissioner's salary and expenses, not the Commissioner's secretarial support?
I thought the Minister said that the Government of Yukon picked up the support services.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Commissioner's salary is paid for by the federal government. This is for the office and support staff.
Office of the Commissioner in the amount of $119,000 agreed to
On Cabinet Offices
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This budget has decreased by $2,000. This represents a reduction in funding of $6,000, or five percent, for ministerial travel outside the Yukon. Funds for ministerial travel outside the Yukon has been cut again this year, reflecting this government's interest in keeping travel costs to a minimum necessary to support solid inter-governmental relations and effective operations.
The only increase in this budget is in personnel costs where $4,000 has been allocated to cover the additional personnel costs associated with merit pay increases for eligible Cabinet staff and Members.
Mr. McDonald: Based on what the Minister just mentioned, that the government is interested in cutting back travel costs, has the trajectory of travel required for the Government Leader been tapering off in recent years?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will check to see if we have that information here.
On the briefing note I have here, I do not have the Government Leader travel separated from that of ministerial travel.
Yes, the overall travel budget has decreased. It is not a great amount. In 1991-92, in the revised estimates, it was a total of $1,454,406; for the 1995-96 revised estimates, it was $1,240,480. It is a very small reduction.
Mrs. Firth: I will have to do a closer examination of the numbers. I have last year's figures for the period of April 1993 to March 1994. Travel for the Government Leader was $31,742.13. I was given a 10-month report that totalled $28,062.36. With the other two months added, I imagine they are very similar. The total printout we got for the Minister's travel included all his researchers, so it was well over $36,000. It cannot be a very significant savings, if there is one.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I said I did not have the Government Leader travel. I was talking about overall travel.
Chair: Are we prepared to go line by line at this time?
Ministers in the amount of $114,000 agreed to
On OIC Personnel
OIC Personnel in the amount of $1,137,000 agreed to
Cabinet Offices in the amount of $1,251,000 agreed to
On Public Inquiries and Plebiscites
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This is a $1.00 line item because we do not know, from year to year, what the cost of public inquiries will be. However, we do know there will be changes to the $60,000 that is forecast for the 1995-96 years for the Workers' Compensation, Health and Safety Board. I believe we have had a request for another $10,000 to finish that inquiry.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister have a date that the inquiry is to be finished, if he has signed a contract for another $10,000?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My understanding is that it is the end of May.
Chair: Are we prepared to go line by line at this time?
On Public Inquiries
Public Inquiries in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: I have a question about the whole process of public inquiries. I noticed a comment the Government Leader made in the media with respect to a public inquiry that was debated in the House last week. He said that he would be seeking a legal opinion about the public inquiry. What does that have to do with the public inquiry process?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Nothing, I guess. We could go ahead and call one but, as the Member opposite is aware, this could be seen as a partisan political issue. I felt it was important that the government seek legal advice before making a decision about how to proceed.
Mrs. Firth: When the government went ahead with the Workers' Compensation Board public inquiry, was a legal opinion sought?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know if the Minister obtained a legal opinion. That might be a question better put to the Minister because I do not know. I can check on it for the Member. In this case, we are seeking a legal opinion.
Mrs. Firth: Is that being done within the Department of Justice, or is there an independent legal opinion being sought?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Department of Justice is doing the work, but I believe that it will be going outside for an opinion.
Mrs. Firth: That will be paid for out of funds from the Department of Justice, and not the public inquiries line item - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I cannot be sure of that right now, but I think that that would be part of the ongoing responsibility of the Department of Justice - giving advice to Cabinet.
Mrs. Firth: I am trying to clearly understand what is happening. The Government Leader, through the Department of Justice, requested a legal opinion regarding a public inquiry that his government may be required to vote on in the Legislative Assembly. The Department of Justice is going to solicit that legal opinion from an outside law firm - meaning outside government, as opposed to outside the Yukon.
I am curious as to why the government is soliciting a legal opinion about a public inquiry. The territory has an act in place that deals with public inquiries. I fail to see why the government would be soliciting a legal opinion on this topic. Perhaps the Government Leader could elaborate further.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: No, I cannot, because the government is in the process of having the opinion compiled right now and I do not have all of the details available. The only thing I know is that that is the method that we are using at this point. There is nothing that says what tests should be made for a public inquiry. That is a judgment call more than anything. If a public inquiry is held, it would have to be budgeted under this specific department. I believe the legal advice that we are now seeking will be paid for by the Department of Justice.
Mrs. Firth: What I find curious, or puzzling, is that a legal opinion has to be sought about a public inquiry. I have looked at the Public Inquiries Act and I do not understand what kind of legal opinion the government would be looking for. Are they seeking a legal opinion as to whether or not they can proceed with a public inquiry for the purpose stated in the motion? I fail to see what this is about and I wonder if the Minister could enlighten us about this issue? What is the problem?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I cannot enlighten the Member right now. As I stated previously, the government is in the process of obtaining an opinion on this subject. At some point I will be able to enlighten Members further.
Plebiscites in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Public Inquiries and Plebiscites in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Executive Council Office in the amount of $9,644,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now move to capital estimates on Policy and Communications for the Executive Council Office.
On Capital Expenditures
On Policy and Communications
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have a few introductory comments I would like to make.
The proposed capital for the Executive Council Office is $424,000. That is a reduction of $173,000 from the 1995-96 forecast. An amount of $300,000, or 70 percent of the capital, is for land claims implementation projects. This amount is 100-percent recoverable from the federal government under the implementation agreements.
The balance of the Executive Council capital spending is limited to essential replacement of obsolete or non-functioning equipment. The Cabinet and management support branch contains the department's entire budget for office equipment, except for what is purchased with recoverable funds.
A total of $107,000 is budgeted in Cabinet and management support for 1996-97. It will be used to purchase a computer and local area network equipment, a fax machine and a microfiche machine. The Executive Council still has some computer equipment that cannot operate with Windows technology. This level of software has become the basis for all computer applications. Without Windows, many software and communications applications cannot be used. This would include such things as Internet, local area networking and soon many YTG-specific applications. For these reasons, it is imperative that the Executive Council Office continues to upgrade its computer applications in a way that provides the highest level of productivity and establishes an equipment base that will take us into the future.
The computer and local area network equipment will be placed in the land claims negotiating unit and Cabinet offices. A number of other units will be upgraded across the departments where technology will provide the greatest productivity enhancement.
The department will also replace two other non-functioning pieces of equipment: a fax machine and a microfiche machine.
Land claims capital funding of $300,000 provided under the Land Claims Secretariat is for infrastructure projects related to implementation. The 1996-97 funds are to support the development of a geographic information system. This system will have applications across many departments and be accessible to federal lands staff as well.
The success of this project requires that all land information related to land claim agreements is properly recorded.
Policy and communications provides photographic services to departments. This budget provides for specific replacement of equipment necessary for that service.
The 1996-97 estimate requests $2,000 to purchase a new light table. The unit is currently re-cataloguing and streamlining its inventory and needs a new table to complete this project and maintain inventory.
For French languages, there is a $5,000 budget, which provides for the replacement of one special-purpose computer and upgraded monitors and other older computers. The funds to do this work are provided through the Canada-Yukon agreement for French language services and are 100-percent recoverable.
The Bureau of Statistics has allocated $10,000 in recoverable funds for capital maintenance of the computer network, which is necessary to continue the bureau's work and contracts with Statistics Canada. The computer equipment in this branch is very specialized. A number of component parts will be replaced to expand the bureau's capacity to receive and send electronic data.
As well, one obsolete computer would be replaced by a unit capable of running specialized software and with adequate memory to process very large data files.
In conclusion, the capital budget for the Executive Council Office is really very modest. Of the overall budget of $427,000, seventy-four percent, or, $315,000, is for 100-percent recoverable projects. The balance of the budget - about 26 percent - is for the necessary replacement of equipment that is obsolete or no longer functioning.
Once again, the department's budget has been kept to the minimum necessary and demonstrates the government's commitment to maintaining the high level of productivity necessary to provide quality services.
On Cabinet and Management Support
On Office Equipment
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This has decreased slightly from 1995-96. This budget primarily provides for replacement and upgrading of computer equipment systems throughout the department. The budget for Cabinet and management support contains funds for office equipment for most of the department. Only the recoverable programs have separate budgets for office equipment.
Office Equipment in the amount of $107,000 agreed to
Cabinet and Management Support in the amount of $107,000 agreed to
On Land Claims Secretariat
Mrs. Firth: I find it unusual that this would be decreased if we are going to get staff and personnel who are going to require office space, desks and whatever. How are they going to accommodate all the new people who have been hired in the land claims area?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This capital money is actually for the implementation of land claims. It is 100-percent recoverable.
Mr. McDonald: Does the Minister have a list of projects the government intends to spend this money on?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There is $300,000 required for land claims implementation contribution to a Canada-Yukon land management information system initiative that is coordinated on the Yukon's behalf by an interdepartmental steering committee supported by the Department of Government Services. Geographic information supporting land and resource management is a common implementation priority for six Yukon departments, including Community and Transportation Services, Economic Development, Renewable Resources, Justice, Executive Council Office and Government Services. The funding is a partnership arrangement involving the federal and territorial governments. The federal partners are the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and Natural Resources Canada.
The coordinated information system will incorporate land titles, land disposition, oil and gas resources, agriculture, Natural Resources Canada survey data, land and mineral resources, including district offices in Dawson, Mayo and Watson Lake. This initiative will be covered in greater depth in the main estimates for the Department of Government Services.
The reason for the $134,000 decrease from last year was that the prior year capital budget included several one-time expenditures, including gravel quarry identification, four heritage site management plans, office equipment and a common implementation tracking system.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister said "for geological information regarding land and agriculture". Are we not duplicating something that already exists? We have a federal lands branch; we have geological information being compiled; we have agricultural and mining information.
What exactly will this do, and how can the Minister reassure us this is not some duplication of something already in existence?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is not a duplication. First of all, it is not geological information; it is geographic. The systems are not integrated, and this will integrate the systems.
Implementation in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
Land Claims Secretariat in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Policy and Communications
On Photography Equipment
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I mentioned that in my opening remarks. It is for a new light table to assist in recataloguing and streamlining the slide library. This involves culling about two-thirds of the current inventory. The existing light table is about 11 years old and has a very small work surface. A larger work surface is needed to carry out the streamlining of the collection and ongoing cataloguing of photography projects.
Photography Equipment in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
Policy and Communications in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Aboriginal Language Services
Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of nil agreed to
On French Language Services
On Office Equipment
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That amount is to replace one special-purpose computer and upgrade monitors.
Office Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
French Language Services in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Statistics
On Office Equipment
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This $10,000 is recoverable funds for maintenance of the bureau's computer network.
Office Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Bureau of Statistics in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for the Executive Council Office in the amount of $424,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office agreed to
Department of Community and Transportation Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: First I would like to point out some highlights for Members opposite.
Please allow me to introduce the 1996-97 main estimate for the Department of Community and Transportation Services. The main estimate before you shows that the department plans to spend $62.3 million in operation and maintenance and $58.1 million in capital.
Operation and maintenance recoveries are estimated at $2.2 million. Capital expenditure recoveries are estimated to be $33.6 million. Estimated revenue is $6.2 million.
Compared to the 1995-96 budget, funding requirement in 1996-97 for operation and maintenance is approximately the same level, with an increase in estimated revenue by 28 percent. This is a result of improved economic activities.
The capital expenditure estimate is lower mainly because significant levels of contributions in 1995-96 toward projects such as the Dawson pipe water replacement, the cost shared Whitehorse sewage treatment plant, and Alaska Highway reconstruction under a contribution agreement with Canada are not included in the 1996-97 estimates.
The department is successfully completing planned work for the current year for these projects. Some of these projects are in the final stages of completion during the coming fiscal year.
The department continues to undertake many worthwhile capital infrastructure projects that are vital to economic development. A focus on major highway construction, as well as operation and maintenance of roads and airports, will continue in order to promote safe and efficient movement of goods and services.
The department's land development program addresses the land requirements of Yukoners in Yukon communities. Support to the Yukon communities and municipalities will continue. Our commitment to this is reflected in the level of funding provided in this main estimate for the comprehensive municipal finance assistance fund and grants-in-lieu.
Capital expenditures in excess of $44.4 million are planned for major highway construction activities. Work will continue on the Alaska Highway under the Shakwak agreement to complete 38 kilometres of new construction and BST surfacing, including the construction of a new bridge over the White River. A total of 91 kilometres of this highway has been reconstructed to date, of which 44 kilometres is BST surface. The 1996-97 expenditure for this project is $25 million.
The upgrading of the South Alaska Highway, from Swift River to Watson Lake, and the strengthening of the Teslin River Bridge at Johnson's Crossing will take place, at an estimated expenditure of $9 million.
New BST surfacing of 30 kilometres of the Top of the World Highway, at an estimated cost of $2,256,000, is scheduled to meet the government's goal of having the highway reconstructed for the Gold Rush anniversary.
In preparation for production decisions by Carmacks Copper and Cominco, design and construction on the Campbell Highway and upgrading on the Freegold Road will be carried out, at estimated expenditures of $1 million each.
The government has provided $4 million for upgrading of the South Access Road. This is related to the transfer of responsibility to the City of Whitehorse for the municipal roads that have been under the jurisdiction of the Yukon government.
Close to another $2 million is sought for the upgrades of miscellaneous other roads, including the Klondike Highway, and for assessment and strengthening of bridges.
The total capital funding requirements for highway construction of $25 million will be paid by the United States under the Shakwak agreement, and $1.7 million will be paid by Canada under the strategic highway improvement program.
Capital expenditures in excess of $12 million are planned for projects within the municipal and community affairs program. Continuing with the government's commitment to make affordable land available to the public, $6.4 million has been allocated for land development, of which $3.2 million will be used for the next phase of the development of the Hamilton area D, Copper Ridge.
Close to $3.5 million is allocated for the Whitehorse sewage treatment facility, which brings the total of this government's contribution to $18.4 million for this project, with the final contribution of $1.6 million planned for the fiscal year 1997-98.
There has been $150,000 provided for a firetruck for Mt. Lorne, to allow the fire department to become fully functional, since its firehall has just recently been completed.
As well, $300,000 has been provided for a swimming pool in Old Crow.
Close to $1.6 million is allocated for the improvement of public health and roads, streets, and facilities in unincorporated communities. Of this amount, $330,000 will be specifically used to continue the Ross River community road upgrade.
With respect to operation and maintenance, the discretionary main estimates include funding for all program responsibilities of the department, at approximately the same level of those in 1995-96. However, I would like to point out that the department absorbed a total of $1.9 million to cover funding from the increased maintenance required on the Faro ore haul and for building maintenance and vehicle usage responsibility devolved from the Department of Government Services. This has been possible through continued improvement in operating efficiency of the department.
The department has allocated $37.6 million for highway maintenance, airport operations and the administration of related regulatory responsibilities to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods in the territory.
This includes the operation and maintenance commitments in the municipal and community affairs program in the area of public health and safety, support of Yukon communities, land availability and community planning and recreation, for a total of $22.3 million. The largest component of this, by far, is in the transfer payments, totalling $17.6 million.
This government continues to provide grants to assist municipalities to meet their responsibilities to their taxpayers and citizens.
As I have stated earlier, this main estimate includes $11.47 million for comprehensive municipal financial grants, which is the same amount as in 1995-96. Payment of grants-in-lieu of taxes to municipalities are estimated at $3 million, which is 6.5 percent higher than the 1995-96 budget. The homeowners grant, paid directly to Yukoners, is projected to be over $2 million, reflecting an increase of 9.6 percent over the 1995-96 budget.
The department's main estimates reflect this government's continued commitment to advance the economic growth and support for the well-being of all Yukoners by investing in infrastructure, by supporting municipalities, and by providing municipal services and facilities to unincorporated communities.
We have presented a responsible budget, based on the careful allocation of available funds, to programs and projects that best suit Yukoners.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to begin by thanking the Minister for having his officials provide a technical briefing to the Opposition on the departmental budget. We went over a lot of information at that time. I hope that it might shorten the period of time we spend in general debate. I see the Minister nodding his head to echo that sentiment.
Since we have a few minutes before the break, I would like to begin by asking some questions related to the Motor Vehicle Act. Last year, the Minister released a discussion paper with some 34 suggestions on possible amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act. These include student transportation, suspensions for driving while impaired, vehicle registration of antique vehicles, seatbelt infractions, and so on.
I would like to ask the Minister what is happening with the review of the Motor Vehicle Act. Have any decisions been made?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes. It has gone through Cabinet, and the booklet is being prepared to go out to the public.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister elaborate on what has been approved through Cabinet and what we might expect to see come forward from the government?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: As the Member knows, it went out once, and there was a general discussion that was brought back and went through the department again. Pretty well everything that was out the first time will go back out to the public for one more look when it has been refined by the department.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know when that paper will be released publicly?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We hope within the next few weeks.
Ms. Moorcroft: One of the changes already made to the Motor Vehicles Act the last time we sat was a change to disallow people renewing their driver's licence or vehicle registration if they were defaulting on child support payments or on municipal fees, such as parking tickets.
I have some questions for the Minister relating to the implementation of those changes. Can he tell us how much money has been collected as a result of the requirement that people pay their child support before they can renew their driver's licence?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Actually, we do not collect the money. The Department of Justice collects it and notifies us to withhold the licence.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know how many cases have come before the department?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: About 700 individuals are involved. I will get the number during the break. I have seen the figures somewhere, but I am just not sure where. I will try to find them.
Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Deputy Chair: I will now call the Committee back to order.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have some information I would like to pass to the critic, to Mr. Cable and Mrs. Firth. It is not all the information the Member for Mount Lorne asked for; Justice will get the rest and I will pass it on as soon as I receive it.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have just looked through the information the Minister provided on the administrative sanctions of drivers in default of payment. This notes that there are still some outstanding problems affecting full implementation and that those problems will be resolved in the early months of 1996.
All the information the Minister just gave me relates to parking tickets and motor vehicle infractions. I would like to ask the Minister if the administrative sanctions have been implemented for people defaulting on their child support payments. That was an amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act that we passed in this House last year, and I do not see any information on it before me.
Let me start with asking him this: has that in fact been implemented?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes it has, and I have asked the Department of Justice to provide me with a copy. As soon as I receive a copy, I will provide the Member with the information.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know whether or not there are any people who have had their driver's licence suspended as a result of non-payment of child support?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not have that information right now, but I will request it from the Department of Justice and provide it to the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like the Minister to provide me with information about how many cases there have been and how much, if any, money has been collected as a result of the penalties.
I would also like to know if part of the problem is that these sanctions have to be administered manually, or if there has been a computer upgrade undertaken to do it. Could the Minister tell me whether or not there is a reciprocal agreement with other jurisdictions who use the same penalties?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Most of these issues are in the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. I will try to get that information and have it back here tomorrow when we begin Committee again.
Ms. Moorcroft: People who do not pay their property taxes within a certain amount of time have their names published in the papers, with the amount of taxes defaulted published beside the property listing. I have had people make representation to me that this is a fairly effective way to ensure prompt payment. I would like to know if the Minister would support the idea of publishing the names of parents who default on their child support as a means of encouraging payment, other than the motor-vehicle sanctions.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That question belongs mainly to the Department of Justice, not to my department. All we do is suspend licences when we are instructed to by the Department of Justice.
Ms. Moorcroft: I will follow up on that once I have received information from the Minister, and in the Justice debate as well.
I would like to ask the Minister about the transfer of the South Access Road. When the roads within the City of Whitehorse were transferred to the city, there was an agreement worked out where the city would get $8.1 million to rebuild the South Access Road. Could the Minister provide me with a copy of that agreement?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes I can, but I would point out that the city only gets $4 million in the first year. It is in our budget right now. I will get the Member a copy of that agreement.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister tell us what the $4 million that is in the budget for this year will be spent on? Surely, that is not all for design work; some of it must be for construction. Can the Minister provide any details on that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The $8.1 million is our share. If the city wants to make some changes to it, it will proceed on the recommendation of its engineers. I suspect that the city's engineers will probably consult ours at the same time.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell us what the $4.1 million that it is looking for in this budget is for?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is the first payment on the $8.1 million. It may not even use it this summer. It may decide to get organized and be ready to go in the spring after this. It is the city's choice.
Ms. Moorcroft: In the agreement, the Minister did not require a commitment about a construction schedule. He is saying that the $4 million is available if the city needs to use it, but it will be up to the city to decide whether or not it spends the present year's funds simply doing design work - is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There really was no time to get organized for this year, because it was only just signed and the money went over on April 1. The city may not have time to get its plans ready for this summer. If it does not, it will proceed next spring.
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister surrounding some lot debate. I wanted to do it during general debate because there is no particular line item for the creation of these lots. It has to do with a matter about which I have exchanged numerous pieces of correspondence with the Minister and with the federal government. The matter is the creation of some residential lots at Little Salmon Lake. The particular area of Little Salmon is not that much of a concern, but there are some prime areas for development that are adjacent to existing lots. I have had many constituents express interest.
From talking to the federal government and the Minister, some areas have been identified - I have been provided with some maps, and so on - and I am very interested in seeing the process move forward. The Minister of the Yukon government has told me that the federal government has, essentially, not wanted to commit to the development of these lots. It also relates to issues identified as surrounding the land claims process and the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation.
I am not so sure, however, that these lands are on selected areas and if those issues could not be resolved, if attempts were made to do so. Can the Minister tell me, from the Yukon government's perspective, what he knows about the selections in that area? Could the Minister determine if it is possible to get the federal government to release some of this land for the development of lots, in order that there can be a proper bidding process for them, so that residents from my community, and others, could set up cottages, and that type of thing, which they are really interested in doing there?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I sympathize with the Member for Faro. That is not the only position where I am having trouble getting lots or land for people in the Yukon. We have been trying for quite a while, and we will keep our efforts up to try and get Little Salmon transferred to us so that we can get started on setting up some cottage lots in that area. Land, to me, is one of the most frustrating things I have gone through. Just when one thinks one has a piece of land, people find out about it and claim it, so the federal government just holds it. After going through the Klondike Valley placer mining hearing, which I could say I am almost a year late getting done, it is very frustrating, but that does not mean we are not trying all the time to do it.
Mr. Harding: I thank the Minister for the commitment that this is a priority and that the government will continue to try and free up some land there. Could he provide me with a legislative return from the department, with a complete breakdown of what has been identified as potential lots there, whether or not they are in selected areas, and if there is any kind of schedule from the federal government or themselves in terms of being able to free some of that area up for the development of cottages?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have no actual schedule from the federal government, period. It just has not moved on it, and we keep on trying. I will see what we can get in a legislative return for the Member.
Mr. Sloan: With regard to the allocation for land development in the Hamilton area of Copper Ridge, could the Minister give us a sense of how large this area is, approximately how many lots there are and what kind of a population base we are looking at there?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will come back to the Member with complete information, but we have 254 lots we are working on at the present time. I will provide the Member with a complete breakdown tomorrow.
Mr. Sloan: There have been some difficulties with the sale of lots in Copper Ridge. I understand there is a plan to consolidate some lots into larger lots. Will this new area of Copper Ridge compensate for that by offering larger-sized lots, or will the lots be similar in size to existing Copper Ridge lots?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There will be larger lots. However, I must point out that the city has the final say on lot size. The territorial government is simply the journeyman, and it does what the city asks it to do up there.
Mr. Sloan: I had some earlier discussions with the city on the question of development in the Hamilton Boulevard area. There seems to be some question as to the exact route that Hamilton Boulevard will take. Apparently there are some topographical problems that have arisen that were not anticipated. Could the Minister give us a sense of how close to completion Hamilton Boulevard would be?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have been discussing that with the city and we have looked at several other things, such as whether or not to come back toward the Two Mile Hill with extra wide roads. There will not be any provision to continue that this year. There are two or three possible routes to go to the Alaska Highway near Yukon Gardens. The route that we have selected because of the South Access Road is the one that runs straight past Yukon Gardens.
Mr. Sloan: I understand that there are some problems with topography. If that were not to be the route because of topographical problems, that would presumably change the alignment of the South Access Road. Is the goal eventually for the South Access Road to hook up with Hamilton Boulevard? In other words, if Hamilton Boulevard had to be shifted, would that affect the route of the South Access?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, they are going to be directly across from each other. We have looked at other routes and that is the one that the city wanted, and that is the one that the engineers thought was the best route, so that is the one that will be used.
Mr. McDonald: I have a couple of questions, more or less on the same subject. The government has indicated that its policy objective is to have 100 lots available in its land inventory. How many lots does it have available now and how many lots will it have available by the end of the summer?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Our objective is to have a two-year supply, which would consist of 200 lots. That has been asked for by the Association of Yukon Communities, and the Land Development Committee agrees. The lots in Whitehorse right now consist of 24 lots in Arkell, phase 1; 39 lots in Arkell, phase 2; 42 lots in Copper Ridge, phase 1; 48 lots in Copper Ridge, phase 2; 90 lots in Copper Ridge; phase 3; one multiple residential lot at Granger; four multiple residential lots at Logan; and 20 country residential lots at Cowley Creek.
Mr. McDonald: How much does that add up to? Perhaps the computer to the Minister's left could answer that question.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is right in front of me; it is 268.
Mr. Sloan: Could the Minister provide us with the breakdown of those lots so that we know how many lots there are in the respective areas? It is of interest to people in Whitehorse West.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, I will have that information soon.
Mr. McDonald: How many lots were sold last year in total in the City of Whitehorse? Could the Minister give me a ball-park estimate?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: In all of Whitehorse, there were about 100. That is generally what is has been before. I will get the exact figures for the Member this evening.
Mr. McDonald: I would appreciate that. There are 268 lots listed in the inventory for Whitehorse. How many lots in total in the City of Whitehorse is the government proposing to build this summer?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are just putting in the main facilities, such as sewer and water, on the ones we are doing this year. Until those lots start to move, we will not proceed with the rest of the project.
Mr. McDonald: How many lots is the department planning, in total?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We can dig around and look that up, or we can get back to the Member on it this evening.
Mr. McDonald: Has the department given any consideration to the construction of mobile-home lots for the purpose of relocating older mobile-homes on to them, in the City of Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The city has to make that kind of decision. There is a committee, which I believe the Member sits on, that makes those kinds of decisions. If the city wants us to go into a certain area, I presume we can do that, but our policy of cost recovery would bring those lots up to just about the same as the ones in the two Arkell areas.
Mr. McDonald: The issue I am thinking of at the moment, of course, is not really the issue of how expensive the lots are but whether or not such lots exist.
Has the Minister, or any representative of the Minister in the Department of Community and Transportation Services, made any representation to the City of Whitehorse to have lots constructed in the City of Whitehorse on which older mobile homes could relocate?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I had a couple of talks with the mayor and so on, but there is nothing concrete and nothing I would want to repeat at the present time.
Mr. McDonald: Are there any lots, or is there any area, for either mobile-home relocation or mobile-home placement in the City of Whitehorse? Has any spot been identified in the land planning process for this purpose?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Again, the city does the planning and design. To my knowledge, there is nothing extra except the ones we have that are already serviced and ready to go.
Mr. McDonald: So, no new work whatsoever has been done on the identification of either another mobile-home park or lots for sale, on which older mobile homes could relocate?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we are on the committee that has been doing the dealing, but there is no concrete evidence of where we are going to put it, and how.
Mr. Sloan: I have a couple of questions about the Hamilton area, and specifically Copper Ridge D. In the future development of this area, has the Department of Community and Transportation Services decided on things such as school reserves and areas for small commercial development? Are those included in the plan?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The City of Whitehorse actually draws up the plans and we follow its advice. We do know that there is provision for a school, and such other things, included in the plan of that area.
Mr. Sloan: There have been some concerns about traffic patterns along Hamilton Boulevard. Does the Minister have any sense of what the ultimate goal for Hamilton Boulevard is, in terms of scale - two or four lanes, or anything of that nature? Has there been anything in the overall plan?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have done counts on the Two Mile Hill, and we think that will probably be a four-lane road. The one coming down by Hamilton Boulevard will probably be a two-lane road.
Ms. Moorcroft: Since the Minister was just responding to some queries about Hamilton Boulevard and the South Access Road, I would like to follow up with the Minister on that. When the Minister announced the transfer of the South Access Road, and other roads, to the City of Whitehorse, he mentioned there had been a functional design and planning study for the South Access Road reconstruction. Did that study include any work on Hamilton Boulevard and/or the intersection with the Alaska Highway?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is not exactly on Hamilton Boulevard; it is where the South Access joins the Alaska Highway, and Hamilton Boulevard will come out directly across from it.
Ms. Moorcroft: If Hamilton Boulevard is coming out directly across from the South Access, could the Minister tell me what design work will be done on that intersection to ensure that the South Access reconstruction does not create a further traffic problem?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The city will be doing the design work on the intersection. I would like to point out that roads have been built all over the Yukon and, when a road is being constructed, traffic is slowed down, but one also makes provisions for it. This was done during the construction of the Two Mile Hill, and it has been done on the Alaska Highway for five, six or seven years. This is a problem, but if one wants a new road there will be some inconvenience - there is no question about it.
In most cases, I have found that if a person is a little bit easygoing about this and not too impatient, it really is not that bad. There are routes and bypasses designed to keep traffic moving. Changing and joining roads together is nothing new in Canada; it has been going on for a long time.
Ms. Moorcroft: I was not talking so much about inconvenience due to construction as I was trying to find out from the Minister if some long-range planning had been done so there would not have to be reconstruction of the new South Access Road if the new Hamilton Boulevard intersection has an impact.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is already an agreement on that. It was made when we signed the agreement.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister tell me, when the agreement was signed, if there was an agreement made for a bicycle path down the South Access Road? I know there are many people who come into Whitehorse from the south, whether it is from the Carcross Cutoff, Wolf Creek or Squatters' Row, who use a bicycle in the summer to commute to downtown Whitehorse. Will there be a bicycle path?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: In the functional plan there is a bicycle path. Now, if the City of Whitehorse decides not to have that bicycle path constructed, the city has the right to remove it - that is the city's decision. At the present moment, a bicycle path is included in the functional plan.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am glad that it is in the functional plan. I guess I will have to wait and take a look at the agreement when the Minister provides it this evening. Since there is over $8 million in the Yukon government budget over the next couple of years going to fund this reconstruction project, I believe that a bicycle path was in there for a good reason. It should stay in there.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: As of today, April 1 - which is a funny day to do it - the City of Whitehorse took over the planning of that project. It also took over the nine roads.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister if there have been any cutbacks to highway maintenance that might affect road safety. In the winter, what is the practice to remove the buildup of salt and sand in the centre of the Alaska Highway, particularly at the subdivision access roads along the Alaska Highway within Whitehorse and at the Whitehorse weigh scales turning lane?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If there is a buildup in the centre of the road on the first two passes, it is not cleared. After that, we return and take it off. It is done on the second go-around of the vehicles when they go through.
Ms. Moorcroft: I noticed several times this winter while driving along the Alaska Highway that, at the weigh scale, there is a separate lane for truck traffic. The truck traffic is required by law to use that centre lane when they are turning in and out of the weigh scale.
There was quite a buildup of ice on that lane many times. I do not know if what the Minister described as the practice was being followed and it was just that bad anyway, or whether or not there were problems in clearing the road. Can the Minister tell me?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The policy is that, once we have made a downsweep of the road and come back on the other side, we clear that. I have had no complaints from truckers that there is something wrong with that land. In fact, they seem to be very pleased that we made that into a two-way scale. It seems to have helped a great deal for the trucks and cars, which can get into the other lane and not come down the centre lane.
Ms. Moorcroft: This fall, we heard some reports that people in the Northwest Territories were worried about the possibility of the Dempster Highway closing down for a couple of months in the winter. Can the Minister tell me if the government is looking at the option of closing the Dempster Highway in the winter?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have to get our costs down there. We are certainly not looking at closing it off so that they cannot get food and such things up there. We also expect the Northwest Territories to cooperate with us on that road because the traffic using it in the winter does not help the Yukon one little bit and they should be prepared to help us in some way. I do not know how. We are currently talking back and forth to see which is the best way to get the costs down. I cannot keep on just putting a million dollars into it every winter for the few trucks that go over it for somebody else.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister have plans to talk with his counterparts in the Northwest Territories in the near future about this?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, we have been talking with them since well into last October, and the deputy minister is in touch with them all the time.
Ms. Moorcroft: Do either the Yukon or Northwest Territories governments have any proposals on the table at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have many options, but we have not arrived at a finalization period.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know when he might expect a resolution on this?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Having been in government for some time, I would not volunteer any information about how long it would take to negotiate anything. I went through a year and a half negotiations on forestry and lost at the last minute. I am not a gambling man any more.
Ms. Moorcroft: Well, maybe the Minister could tell me when he next expects to be talking to the Northwest Territories government about this.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would have to check with the deputy minister and the director of the highways branch about when they will next be talking with them. I will talk to them tonight to find out when the date is. I do not know if it is just a matter of when they get together or when a new idea comes up they talk it over.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are there any plans in the present budget to change the funding structure for the coming year with regard to the Dempster Highway?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We definitely hope to have something in place by the fall of 1997-98, if not earlier.
Mr. Sloan: I have a couple of questions. One question that has come to my attention is about the area that was burned this summer along the North Klondike Highway toward the Pelly Crossing area, around Minto Landing. The forest growth is quite close to the road, and with the fire kill there could be a hazard of trees falling onto the road. Has the department taking any precautions to cut back the dead-standing timber from the edge of the road?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That is something that we have looked at. The foremen and the road crews patrol the road every day. They will be watching for that. The Member is quite correct; some of those trees will have fallen over, and they may be tall enough to end up on the road. Those trees I have seen along the road are not really that high, but the route is checked every day. The foremen are up and down the road every day and they would be watching for that.
Mr. Sloan: I will switch to the air from the roads. We have recently seen the transfer of the Whitehorse Airport to territorial jurisdiction and with regards to the airport, we now seem to have an embarrassment of riches - almost - with two airlines coming in and a third in the summer. Will that cause problems in terms of maintenance?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Definitely not, and if he can find three more that want to come in, let us know about it and we will look after them.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister, when he comes back with the information, when are they going to meet with the Northwest Territories? Perhaps he could answer this question now: what proposals has the Yukon government put on the table for the Northwest Territories to consider regarding maintenance of the Dempster Highway?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am not going to start negotiating that in the Legislature. For one thing, we really do not have anything to negotiate with. We have talked to the foremen on the highway, and we have their suggestions. The superintendent at Dawson is bringing his suggestions in and there are suggestions from here. We are also trying to get suggestions from the Northwest Territories so that we can come together on this thing, save some money and keep the road open, if possible.
Ms. Moorcroft: Has the Minister asked the Northwest Territories government to contribute financially toward the maintenance of the Dempster Highway? How much does it presently contribute?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Northwest Territories government has said that it is not particularly keen on that. However, it has not put forward any other suggestions, and we feel that it should have to come up with something for the road. We certainly do not want to put it in the position where food and such cannot reach the villages up there. That is just not sensible.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister about the Campbell Highway. He has just been talking about being sensible. I was rather astonished when I heard the Minister say that the roads are safer and that there have been fewer accidents on the Campbell Highway because the Tuchitua maintenance camp had been closed and the people would drive slower when the roads were not maintained. Does the Minister really believe that the roads are safer when the highway camp is closed?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are averaging four to five cars. I have travelled that road a couple of times. The speed limit says 70 kilometres per hour, and we have followed car after car, and not one of them was driving at the speed limit. They were all up around 100 kilometres per hour. If one drives for the condition of the road, which is 70 kilometres an hour, then I feel that the road is safe.
Mr. Joe: When we were speaking about clearing the main highway, it reminded me of something. Last year, a big fire went through near the Pelly River. There used to be a winter road into the mine. Last year, the mine pulled out, and we keep that road open every year for trappers. This fall there were piles of windfall for miles. I do not know who is responsible to clear it.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am not sure which road the Member is talking about. Does he mean the Scroggie Creek Road?
Mr. Joe: Up in Pelly River, to that mine at Clear Lake.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am going to have to talk with the Member for that area, to find out exactly where he means. I am not sure of which road he is talking about. If it is just a road for trappers, the government is not responsible for cleaning roads for trappers. If it is a road the government has worked on before, then we will be responsible for maintaining it. However, I need to know exactly what road the Member is talking about and where it is. We could get together after we get out of here so I know exactly what road the Member is talking about.
Mr. Joe: If the Minister would get back to me on it, I would appreciate it.
I have another question about land claims negotiations and I want to know who is going to be responsible for it. I have talked to forestry and the territorial government. In the land claims agreements it states that the territorial government is responsible for any kind of roads, including mining roads. The Clear Creek road used to be open, but the mine has been shut down for a while.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I think I know where the Member is talking about now. I will have to check that, but I do not think the territorial government is responsible for the road going down to Clear Creek, but I will check it to make sure.
Mr. Joe: I thank the Minister for that. I want to remind the Minister about forestry. I think that the Minister should do something to make the Yukon government responsible for it. Last year, firefighters did not stop the fires in the first place and it got away from them. It damaged everything. We have to deal with that problem.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If we had gotten the forestry transfer completed, one of my ambitions would have been fulfilled, which is to have the First Nations in the firefighting crew in every First Nations area.
We did not get it, and I am not going on record about whether I think the forestry people did the right or wrong thing when they were fighting the fires.
Mr. Sloan: I have a question with regard to the comprehensive municipal grants. I assume that "comprehensive" means that the grants were transferred in terms of a block grant, or were they broken down into different components?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: They are broken down into components.
Mr. Sloan: I have a question about the homeowner grants. The projected grants reflect an increase of 9.6 percent over the previous budget. Is that an increased rate or is it a reflection of increased applications or eligibility?
Chair: The time being 5:30 p.m., we will now recess until 7:30 p.m.
Deputy Chair: I will call the Committee of the Whole back to order. We are on general debate, Department of Community and Transportation Services, in Bill No. 10.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would like to correct a misunderstanding I apparently made in response to the last question from the Member for Whitehorse West. The municipal grant was given to the individuals in one lump sum. The 6.5 percent increase in the grants in lieu of taxes is because the assessments have gone up. That does not mean taxes went up, just the assessment on government buildings.
Did the Member ask a question about the homeowner grants? They went up 9.6 percent because the seniors were living longer and are staying in the Yukon longer.
Also, while I am on my feet, I would like to pass to the critic, the Liberal Leader and to Mrs. Firth the capital funding contribution agreement. I will also pass over copies of the summary of lots in inventory in the Yukon.
I guess I made it; I see the Clerk smiling at me - I am not going to get bawled out; I got around that one I guess.
There was a question about when the territorial government would next be meeting with the Northwest Territories about the Dempster Highway. The deputy minister and director of the transportation and maintenance branch had a good discussion with his Northwest Territories counterpart in October of 1995. Last month, he met with representatives from Inuvik and Fort McPherson, and department officials will begin discussions with their Northwest Territories counterpart in May of 1996. Possibly the Northwest Territories will be in touch with us before that time, depending on community interests.
There was another question about the total number of lots to be developed in Copper Ridge. The total number of lots to be developed will be approximately 1,140. I was asked how many lots the government is planning to build this summer; we are planning to do the underground work of water, sewer, hydro and telephone lines for approximately 130 lots.
To answer the question about how many lots have been sold in the Whitehorse area this year - I have an approximate figure, we do not have a real handle on it - is that 110 lots have been sold in the Whitehorse area during the 1995-96 fiscal year.
Mr. Sloan: I just have one point of clarification. The Minister indicated the number of lots to be developed this summer. Were those lots only in Copper Ridge, or was it throughout the City of Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Those are in Copper Ridge, and just the sewer, water and electricity are being put in.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister some questions relating to zoning in M'Clintock Place. We have had a few brief discussions on this matter in Question Period, but I would like to pursue it with the Minister now.
Caveats were registered against properties in M'Clintock Place at Marsh Lake for the protection of each and every property owner in the area, as well as the general environmental protection of the land and Marsh Lake water supply and, indeed, Whitehorse water supply. That is the position that has been put forward by many residents.
There had been previous attempts to have the caveat, which established this property as recreational property, removed that were objected to, so it was not done.
Lot 60 was set aside for a playground and a well under the terms of the caveat. Where the problem arose was when the government decided to remove the caveats that were registered against all of the properties. They were removed without informing any of the property owners that this would be happening. The property owners were quite comfortable. They fully believed that, aside from lots 58 and 59, which were designated as commercial properties, their neighbourhood was largely a residential and recreational neighbourhood. All of a sudden, that changed without any notice.
Can I ask the Minister why there was no notice provided to the residents about lifting the caveats that protected the land for residential purposes?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I believe I answered that in Question Period. It was an oversight. I did not even know it. The department felt that it had been illegal and had been so since 1978. It was advised right after it was applied that it was not legal. It was taken off. The department did not think it had to tell anyone because it was of no value. The Member for Mount Lorne insisted that I put it back on. What is the sense of doing that when the Justice department tells me it has been illegal since 1978. I do not understand why she cannot understand that.
I am not happy about the situation. It is there. It started in 1978. Lot 60 was never turned over to the Commissioner of the Yukon. A private individual drilled the well. He had the lot and he sold it. It did not interfere with private individuals. The playground that was supposed to go in was on Schedule B. It was never registered and it never went through the legal department; therefore, no playground was put in.
Ms. Moorcroft: If there was a problem with the legality of the caveats, could the Minister tell me why they would not look for some other way to put the same protection in place to reserve one lot for a playground and a public well, and to maintain the nature of the neighbourhood as a residential neighbourhood?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are doing our best. As I have said from the start, I asked the department to move M'Clintock Bay zoning ahead of all the other areas that have been already started. When the zoning is through, that, I am told, is the only protection we have. The way it is now, if one qualifies under the health requirements of the federal government and has all the permits, we have to allow them to proceed with their project.
Ms. Moorcroft: Why was it then that the realtor and the owner of the property who wanted to buy Lot 60 and turn it into an RV park were aware of the caveat being lifted and the other residents were not?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not know. It started in 1978 and we knew then, within a very short time, that it was illegal. From then until 1996 I suspect there were a number of people who knew. I know there were a number of people who applied before and they did not carry through so it was dropped. Then all of a sudden someone decided to carry it through. It was confirmed that it was an illegal caveat. I cannot go back to 1978 and tell you why these things were done.
Ms. Moorcroft: It was dropped previously because the residents said they wanted the caveats left there. The residents indicated that they saw those caveats as protecting it as a residential property, and the someone who decided to go ahead and go through with it a year ago was the Minister. That is who made the decision to have the caveat lifted. The Minister is responsible for the decision that was made by the department. What people want to know is why they decided to go ahead and do that without informing the residents who live there.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is the third time I have got up and apologized for the department. They should have notified them but they did not, and they did not notify me. We all make mistakes in this world. They made one. I am very sorry, but it is done. There is no point putting the caveat back on because the Justice department tells me it is illegal.
If someone else, or some other lawyer, can tell me something else, then we will look at it, but Justice confirms that it is illegal and that it has been illegal from the start. I am going to go along with what the Justice department tells me and I am not going to break any laws.
Ms. Moorcroft: The caveats had been in place since 1978 and, although the Minister is saying now that they are illegal and that is why they took them off, the fact is that they served as a form of land-use control. Why did the Minister not ensure that there was another form of land-use control in place before lifting the caveat?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I did not know it had been removed until the people from M'Clintock came to me; we immediately had a meeting and got the zoning started. I had no idea it was taken out. I have apologized for the department - for the fourth time now - and I will apologize again. They made a mistake. We all make mistakes. I was unaware of any of this until the people from M'Clintock Bay came in to talk to me, and during that time I asked them to fast-track zoning to get the zoning in. They have done their best; unfortunately, they did not get everybody stopped before we could get the zoning.
Ms. Moorcroft: When are zoning regulations going to be improved and implemented? I know the Minister went out to Marsh Lake for one meeting with the residents and that the department has held a number of subsequent meetings to talk to the residents about the regulations they would like to have in effect.
There is some frustration that the process has been stalled. Can the Minister tell me when he expects zoning regulations to be approved and implemented?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not think anything has been stalled. I have been through the ones at the Hot Springs, at Grizzly Valley and at Ibex. It takes a long time to get everybody to sit down and talk these things over and come up with a consensus.
Ms. Moorcroft: In this case, there has been very good participation on the part of the residents. I believe that virtually all of them have shown up for the meetings and that most of the residents are united in wanting to see a residential neighbourhood at M'Clintock Place.
The Minister wrote to the property owners in February, after the zoning had been proceeding for some months, and said that the zoning development process must be open and fair to all property owners in M'Clintock. What does the Minister see as being an open and fair zoning development process?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I think that everyone should be consulted. Some of the people are outside now. Once we get the zoning developed, it has to be voted on by the people to see if they are prepared to accept it. It has been a long, slow process.
Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that the residents who are presently residing in Arizona have been kept fully informed and that the minutes of the meetings have been faxed or mailed to them. They have been involved in the process.
In the letter dated February 12, the Minister said that over the past couple of weeks he had received representations directly from people who have an interest in property in M'Clintock. May I ask the Minister who it was that he had received representations from?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No. When people have the decency to come in and talk to me about something, I do not use their names.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can he tell me if these were people who were interested in purchasing property in M'Clintock or people who already own property in M'Clintock?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have had probably four or five meetings with people in each circumstance.
Ms. Moorcroft: Did the Minister put the zoning process on hold? When he sent the letter to the property owners, what was the purpose of doing so?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I sent it out because some of the people in the department were uneasy about the one meeting they went to. They felt that they were not gaining any ground. I sent out the letter. About two weeks after that, we met again and have gained considerably since then. I do not apologize for sending that letter out.
Ms. Moorcroft: There have been permits issued by the government for commercial development. The Minister was asked to postpone approving any controversial development until the zoning was in place, but he decided not to do that. Now there have been permits issued by the government for commercial development. What government regulations are in place with respect to this commercial activity?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Once people apply for a permit to build and get health approval from the federal government, the way that the rules are right now, there is nothing to stop them from doing it. If the electrical and plumbing is up to standard, we have to give them a permit.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are those permits strictly for building purposes or are they for actual operations of commercial businesses?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: They are for building.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister saying that Environmental Health has to approve any septic treatment before a building permit can be issued, or can the building permit be issued before Environmental Health has okayed any sewage treatment?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: They work very closely together, but Environmental Health has to be assured that it is feasible for the sewage tanks and fields to be there. They work very closely with the electrical and plumbing inspectors, and other such people.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are there not guidelines in place as well, for the operation of businesses?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am not quite sure what the Member is getting at. Our job is to ensure that the building is up to standard and that the electrical and plumbing codes are followed. The federal government okays the land for sewage and such treatment, and that is the end of my department's involvement in the matter.
Ms. Moorcroft: The residents have come together and developed some proposed regulations to be incorporated into any commercial development activity. Aside from providing and maintaining adequate sewage treatment facilities, they recommend, for instance, that there be standards for soundproof fencing, and that an RV park should have a children's playground with a Big Toy, a teeter-totter and swing set, provided and maintained at the operator's expense. They would also like to see liability insurance maintained and they would like to know how many showers and washrooms there are going to be for the number of parking stalls there are. Are there any regulations in effect, which govern RV parks or other commercial activities, that put these kinds of standards in place?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: At the moment, no, there is not.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the department prepared to work with the residents to establish regulations about the operation of commercial developments, as well as the zoning regulations?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The department will work with both sides. I am not prepared to allow a person who started a business, and legally did everything he could, be run out after he started the business and built it. Each side has to sit down and agree on what they want there. We will keep working with them to try to get a consensus so that they can all live happily ever after.
Ms. Moorcroft: At the latest meeting out at the Lakeview Marina to try to resolve some of the rather contentious questions about the M'Clintock zoning, there was a request made for the Minister to come out to another meeting with the residents. Is he prepared to meet with the people at M'Clintock, and if so, when?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am quite prepared to meet with them any time except when we are in the Legislature, and I have been told by my House Leader that they will not pair for us except for us to go to Ministers meetings. That certainly was not a Ministers meeting, so I did not go out.
Ms. Moorcroft: I guess what I will do is let the Minister know that if he is willing to come out to the meeting at Lakeview Marina about M'Clintock zoning, as the MLA for the area I will pair with him. I made the offer to pair with him for the last meeting that he did not come to, and I am sure we can work that out in the future, because I think it would help if the Minister would go.
Lot 60, which was originally designated for a playground and a public well, is something that the residents would like to see maintained for public use. Is the Minister prepared to consider restoring the original effect of the caveat and having Lot 60 reserved for public use?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would like to get something straight. First, the Member for Mount Lorne never did come to talk to me about pairing. She apparently talked to the department representative at the meeting, in front of the public; she never once talked to me. I am only going by what my House Leader told me, and I suspect he knows what he was talking about. As I said, any time after the Legislature is finished, I will go out.
As for reserving Lot 60, no. It is private business and I am not going to force or expropriate a private business or lot. It was never the Yukon government's; it was never given to the Commissioner. It was sold by the federal government to people who then passed it on and we, as the Yukon government, had no control over it at any time. The well was drilled by the developer, not by the territorial government.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am glad to hear that the Minister got the message from the departmental officials and his other staff to whom I talked about his attending the meeting, and I regret that he was unable to attend. Certainly, he was aware that I was prepared to pair with him for that meeting.
At the present time, a commercial permit has been issued for Lot 60 for the development of an RV park. There is some question as to how road access will come into the RV park on Lot 60 when the other requirements have been met for that RV park. I do not believe the sewage treatment has been approved or installed yet, so I do not think it is ready to operate at present. Nonetheless, the road access now stops at Lot 27. Who develops the road to maintainable standards for RV traffic through to Lot 60?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not know the complete details, but I would suspect it is the owner of Lot 60 who wants the business in there.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is possible to route traffic either through the M'Clintock Place subdivision, which would take it around in front of all the properties, or it could be routed through Lots 56 and 64 that are owned by the same person who is developing the RV park. The property owners out there are concerned that the charges of any road improvements not be levied against them. They would like to know if the road upgrade will be at the owner/operator's expense or if the government will assist in upgrading the road.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If it goes across Lots 50 and 56 and over to 60, then it is on his private property and it will be his road, not ours.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have also received a representation that the island of trees on the cul de sac should be left in place. The access would not be strictly through private property, but would come through some public property. Will the Minister take that request into account?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, I certainly would take it under advisement.
Mr. Sloan: I have just a couple of questions with regard to the airport transfer. Is the amount that we are looking at in recoveries under airports prior to the transfer of the Whitehorse Airport, or was that based on previous estimates?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Would the Member mind saying that again? I was not listening.
Mr. Sloan: The question was in regard to the recoveries on airports. Were these figures arrived at prior to the transfer of the Whitehorse Airport? Can we expect increased revenues with the transfer of the Whitehorse Airport?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, the agreement we have with Ottawa means we are covered for the funds, and that was done during their time. Can we expect an increase in revenues in the airport? I hope that the headlines we have been reading about the two new airlines coming in will help us get started. That will mean something to us.
Mr. Sloan: Also with regard to the airport, we have seen lately the transfer of some members of communications back to Whitehorse from Carcross. Is anything similar planned with regard to the transportation staff who currently deal with airports and who are located in Haines Junction? Is there any plan to transfer them back to Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is quite a difference. The staff in Haines Junction have a beautiful building, which I did not build. It is worth $2 million or $3 million. They are able to work from there and they stay there most of the time. The communications people were in Carcross - there were four to start with and only two stayed there. One was living out there, but one was living in Whitehorse. We are making a saving of $13,200 a year by moving them here. About 40 percent of their work was in Whitehorse anyway and their files were here. It was not practical. We had a chance to move the Health and Social Services people into that building, so there is no loss of rent at all. It is now being paid by them. We brought them back because most of their work is done in town and there was only one person living in Carcross. The other person was living in town. They were commuting back and forth. They would go to work out there and come back to Whitehorse to work on their files. That is one example of decentralization that did not work. Some decentralization plans work and some do not.
Mr. Sloan: So the Minister is satisfied that the staff who are in Haines Junction will be staying there, in the foreseeable future, even with increased airport usage?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes. The headquarters is located there and that is where the hub starts. They will not be doing the exact management of the airport; there will be a manager who will control everything. I am satisfied that it is there. As far as I know and as long as I am around here it will probably be there.
Ms. Moorcroft: This fall I wrote to the Minister following a public meeting at the Golden Horn School, to put forward the request to him from Golden Horn residents that the speed limit in that area along the Alaska Highway be reviewed.
At the present time, there is a 70-kilometre speed limit around the intersection of the Alaska Highway and the South Klondike Highway, where the road also goes into the Golden Horn School. The speed limit then increases to 100 kilometres per hour all the way to Swift River.
The residents in Golden Horn put forward the request, and I wrote to the Minister about it, requesting that the speed limit not be raised to 100 kilometres per hour until past the two entrances to Golden Horn subdivision, beyond Empress Road and Venus Place. The Minister told me that he would look at the situation. I would like to ask him if he has looked at it and if he is prepared to make any changes.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I have not looked into it because it meets the standard of the Roads and Transportation Association of Canada, which is a Canada-wide standard that we are trying to have all Yukon roads meet. I am not completely prepared to create a 70-kilometre-per-hour zone unless it is in the middle of a community.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister explain what the Roads and Transportation Association of Canada standard consists of?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is the Roads and Transportation Association of Canada. It looks at the sitelines on curves, and so on. Generally, it is a road that is well maintained and in good, safe shape for public driving at the designated speed. That is the only road, aside from the Haines Road, that we are allowed to post at 100 kilometres per hour. The rest are not up to standard.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do not understand why the Minister is refusing to look at this. I am not asking him to set aside a small blip with a lower speed limit within a certain area. I am asking him to take a look at the fact that the lower speed zone only applies to part of the Golden Horn subdivision area.
The residents there would like the lower speed zone to continue until it is past Empress Road and Venus Place. Why is it such an unreasonable request that the Minister is not prepared to consider it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will have the director go out some time this week and look at it to see if the sitelines require it to be that low or if it should stay at 100 kilometres.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister can explain why they agreed to reduce the speed limit near the intersection of the South Klondike Highway.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It was for the simple reason that there are always big ore trucks turning there. There is a regular turnoff on the road on to another main highway. There certainly is not that situation at Golden Horn.
Ms. Moorcroft: So the fact that there is pedestrian traffic, school children and a school in the vicinity did not have an effect on the reduced speed limit?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, it did in that area. However, the traffic going down that other road where it turns off toward Skagway is a heavily travelled highway. We have more big trucks travelling on that road than we do on any of our other highways.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would just make the request to the Minister that the fact that there is a school in the area and that it is a residential neighbourhood with children walking to school might be taken into account when looking at the lower speed limit on past the Golden Horn subdivision.
I would like to move down the highway a bit, and ask the Minister about safety at the Yukon River Bridge. Again, I have been writing letters and we have had some discussions about this in Question Period. The Minister agreed that the department would put a concealed-intersection sign from one direction at the Yukon River Bridge by the old Marsh Lake dam.
Can the Minister tell me if they are prepared to put hidden-intersection signs from both sides of the highway?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will have to look at that and find out from the director. I am not quite sure where the Member is referring to. I know the side where the sign was put up, but I am not sure about the other side.
Ms. Moorcroft: I believe what the Minister had previously agreed to was to put up a sign from the north side. I am asking if a sign could be put up from the south side, as well. I would also like to know if the Minister is still considering the request to put additional guardrails there, where there is a drop off to the lake.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The transportation division does not think they are required on that short section of road.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have had a number of constituents request that guardrails be put there, and that they would increase the safety. It is one of the more heavily travelled sections of the Alaska Highway - not just local traffic from Marsh Lake into Whitehorse, which, for many people is a local commute, but traffic coming from anywhere south on the highway.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There are standards for where guardrails should and should not be put, and that does not qualify as an area where guardrails should be put.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Lorne Mountain Community Association has been requesting status for recreation authority, in order to govern the local recreation activities within the Hamlet of Mount Lorne. The hamlet council has written to the Minister, indicating that it supports that, and the Minister and I have had quite some correspondence about that over the last few years. Can the Minister tell me if he is any closer to making a decision to award the recreation authority status to the Lorne Mountain Community Association?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The paper, Sports and Recreation: Towards 2000, is out, and one of the recommendations in it is that these unorganized areas be given the funds. It is public now and, unless the public changes that around, it will probably be in the paper when it is brought back to the Legislature.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister have a date in mind as to when that might be?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is probably going to be in the next couple of months. It just went through Cabinet a while ago and is out with the public now.
Ms. Moorcroft: Recently, the department has been holding five-year capital plan meetings around the Yukon. Those meetings have been held in some of the remote rural communities and have also been held at Marsh Lake, Golden Horn and Mount Lorne. Could I ask the Minister the purpose of that set of meetings?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The principle of it is that we are trying to figure out in our budgeting process what is required in the next five years in each community. Some of the communities have been very, very good at it and have been realistic in requesting things that we probably can do quite easily. Others have a dream world that they are going to have to take a good look at. We will be able to project a five-year plan to get things for the communities.
Ms. Moorcroft: Who initiated the meetings and what happens now with the results of the meetings?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The department did.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister saying that the department is now going to develop five-year plans for each of the areas that have held meetings and come up with recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: When they get the recommendations, they have an idea about what each community wants. They will try to work it into the budget over the next five years. Being realistic, I doubt if they will get every one of the hopes that people ask for, but at least they should be able to sort them out and get some of them to the communities.
Ms. Moorcroft: How do those recommendations coming out of the five-year capital plan meetings fit into the thoughts about land claims?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I know that we have gone to each First Nation and we have theirs in there too. Somewhere along the line, we are going to have to move some of this into the First Nations' area; there is no question about it.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the government planning on integrating what they have come up with as a result of their meetings with First Nations and with what they have heard at larger community meetings?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is going to depend on the First Nations. If they are going to undertake self-government and are going to go on their own, we will have to make adjustments based on that. Otherwise, we consider them part of the Yukon project and we are going to try to provide a share of the money to everybody.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister issued a press release today about the Marsh Lake sewage study that has been conducted. I would like to ask the Minister if he can tell us how much has been budgeted and spent to date on the Marsh Lake feasibility study? Is it a total of $50,000 or is it $50,000 for two years in a row, totalling $100,000?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will get back to the Member with a specific answer to that question and I will provide it to the Member tomorrow.
Ms. Moorcroft: There was a document about a Public Health Act review. Comments were invited by the Yukon government and they were to be in by September 15, 1995. One of the items that was going to be reviewed in regulations under the Public Health Act was private sewage disposal systems. Does the Minister know what is happening with that Public Health Act review and when they might anticipate changes being made to the regulations about sewage disposal?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I do not know just where that is. I will try to find out for the Member. It is actually not part of our department's jurisdiction. If we can find that information, we will. Otherwise, we will have to wait for Health and Human Resources.
Ms. Moorcroft: In the supplementary budget there were additional requirements for the Marsh Lake sewage disposal study for $5,000. Was that $5,000 for a public meeting? Can the Minister tell me what that amount covered?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will get back with that information. I am not quite sure what it was for.
Ms. Moorcroft: The five-year capital plan meeting that was held at Golden Horn came up with a first recommendation to develop a land use plan for the Golden Horn area and to update the regulations in place. What is the Minister's response to that recommendation?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am not going to respond to any of those recommendations until they come back to me and I see what the cashflow will be for the whole situation.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are none of the recommendations or requirements that were identified by residents on this five-year capital plan going to have any effect on the present budget?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That is right.
Ms. Moorcroft: The department has recently sent out a rezoning survey to Golden Horn property owners about designating a commercial property to allow for a 25-unit mobile-home park. Is a mobile-home park normally covered under commercial zoning, or what class is it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, it would have to be included in commercial zoning. In the case of Golden Horn, it will depend on what the statistics say in the survey we sent out.
Ms. Moorcroft: I understand that this survey questionnaire went out to property owners so that if a property was jointly owned by two people and each person completed the form, their vote was counted as a half vote. If the property was owned by one person, they had one vote. Will this be decided strictly based on the number of yes and no votes in support of the rezoning application?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not know the exact answer to that. I can get back to the Member. The RV park was turned down a number of years ago and some people or groups of people felt that it might go this time and have tried again. I suspect that the vote will pretty well settle it one way or the other.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is this really a vote and are the results binding and final?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We want to know what the people think. If there is a difference of one vote, the Minister has a problem. If there is a difference of 50 votes, there is not much of a problem.
Ms. Moorcroft: One of the things people were saying at a public meeting about this was that they would like to maintain a low density in the rural area; they do not want to see an urban density, which is what would happen by putting 25 mobile homes on one commercial lot there.
They were also concerned about the fact that the rezoning application was denied two years ago and that it was coming forward again. Is it possible for people to just keep trying - like once every six months or once a year or once every two years? What is the general process?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Certainly not every six months, but every two or three years. People change. I have seen some dramatic changes in some of the zoning. People change their minds completely after a while. As they get older, they have a different outlook on life than when they were younger. Sometimes the outcome of these votes is surprising.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Minister prepared to consider having a land use plan in effect before zoning is changed, since that is what residents have indicated they would like to see. They would prefer orderly development and to know in advance what their neighbourhood is going to be like. We do not want this to turn into another M'Clintock Place so that we have to stand here debating it for another hour.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The department will certainly consider a land use plan in the area, and the fact the government - regardless of which government was in power at the time - accepted the vote last time and refused the park indicates that we are trying to listen to the people.
Ms. Moorcroft: Another matter that I have written to the Minister about is the M'Clintock River road upgrade. The residents there have updated their application for rural road maintenance that was first submitted in October 1992. Since the original application, heavy demands have been put on the road through increased residential and industrial use. They are approaching a crisis situation, particularly with regard to safety.
The government indicated earlier that the YTG funding for maintenance is based on user density, but that the state of the road is also a factor. This road is narrow and there are a lot turns in it. It requires widening, surfacing and clearing. At the same time, with more permanent residents living in the area, there are two sawmills, five farms, logging and firewood harvesting, outfitting, trapping, fisheries work done at Michie Creek by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and there is a stream gauge site for the Water Survey of Canada.
The residents have asked that ministerial funds be used to upgrade this road. There is not only residential traffic, but there is recreational traffic, as well as the businesses that I have just mentioned.
Has the Minister considered the request he has received from me and the residents to use discretionary funds to upgrade the M'Clintock River valley road?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We will be looking at it, but will still use the same criteria for the rural roads program. That means that there has to be a certain number of permanent residents on that road.
Ms. Moorcroft: When I wrote to the Minister about this, I indicated that there were some property owners who wanted to bring the power lines further up the road. I asked the Minister if it had been the practice in the past and whether or not he thought it was a reasonable approach to straighten, widen and improve the road at the same time that clearing was being done to bring in the power poles. What is the Minister's response to that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There has to be a certain number of people living there, not just a recreational area that is used only for a short time, but that we have to look after. There is no question that if rural telephone or electric lines are going to be put in, we certainly do not want to get into a mess like we did in Grizzly, where the telephone line ended up in the middle of the road. That is not very good for anyone. Therefore, we would probably be looking at it.
Ms. Moorcroft: There are a dozen permanent residents and there are six kilometres of road that must be maintained. As I have mentioned, there is some commercial activity there as well. There is also a potential for rapid growth with land claims to be settled in the area. I believe that there are some land claims selections along the road now. Can I get the Minister to commit to anything more than taking a look at it? Can he actually promise to try to help out the residents of the M'Clintock River valley road?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we will have to look at it to see if it comes within our rural maintenance policy.
Ms. Moorcroft: I wrote to the Minister as well about the highway policy on visibility for private driveways coming on to the highway in this particular case, coming on to the South Klondike Highway. Are there standards governing private driveway access on to highways?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, there are standards. The superintendent and the director of highways go out continually to check on these things and, when it is brought to their attention, they see how it fits under the standards. If it does meet the standards then we do it.
Ms. Moorcroft: If the driveway access does not meet the standards, what responsibility does the department have to improve the roads where there are driveways coming on to it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It depends a little on the circumstances, but in most cases it is the owner's responsibility. They have to get a permit from us and come up to our standard when they come on to the highway.
Ms. Moorcroft: When the department does these inspections, does it submit a report to the property owner or is it up to the property owner to write and request it?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If they have a problem, they should go to either the superintendent of the highway in that area, to the director of highways, to the deputy minister or even to me, and we will look at the problem. That does not mean we are going to solve it, but we will look at it to determine the cause of the problem.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have copies of some correspondence between the Kwanlin Dun and Carcross-Tagish First Nations and the Minister's office regarding the Mount Lorne-Carcross Road area plan and the development of regulations for it. The hamlet has established a steering committee to make recommendations for the regulations pursuant to the Carcross Road area plan. How has the Minister worked to involve the First Nations in that process?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have 142 pages of letters that I wrote to Carcross asking them to come to meetings. They were also sent a cheque for $1,500 or $1,800 to pay their way to these meetings, but they never attended one meeting and I never got any money back out of the cheque. Quite frankly, I do not consider that to be cooperation.
Ms. Moorcroft: What are the Minister's plans, then, for bringing forward regulations to deal with the hamlet's land use plan?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are working with the hamlet council and we hope to be able to work something out.
Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole back to order. We are discussing Community and Transportation Services. Is there any further general debate?
Ms. Moorcroft: Just before the break, I was asking the Minister some questions about the Mount Lorne-Carcross Road area plan. I was a little disturbed by the Minister's reaction. The Minister has an obligation to encourage people to work together.
As I was saying, the Kwanlin Dun and Carcross-Tagish First Nation have been corresponding with the Minister about their plan and their concerns and that they be consulted before accepting the plan. I would like to know if the Minister has ever personally met with the First Nations to allay any fears they may have about the planning process and to assure them that it would not compromise their land selections?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have never had a meeting with them personally because I thought they would have attended the meetings to voice complaints. However, I have spoken on the telephone with them.
The Member is saying that I am not cooperating. Well, I have done my best. For instance, on Pilot Mountain, I stopped it completely because of a disagreement. Mount Lorne was well on its way, long before I was even the Minister. Mount Lorne had set up its committee and had also invited both First Nations, but they did not show up.
Ms. Moorcroft: Where does it sit now? Is the Minister prepared to meet with the First Nations to discuss their concerns about the planning process and the development of regulations for the hamlet area?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: They are going to have to go through the committee, which has been formed and whose members are voted in, much the same as the Member opposite and I are. I am not prepared to overrule five or six people who were voted in by the same people who voted us in.
I have copies of the correspondence that was sent to the First Nations after every meeting, even though they had been invited to attend and did not show up.
Ms. Moorcroft: How often are regulations developed by a committee in a community, rather than internally within the departments, which in this case are the Departments of Community and Transportation Services and Justice.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The department is there, but we are trying to let the people come up with their own ideas. The department is there to help and suggest things. If something is completely illegal, it is up to the department to advise the members of the committee that they cannot do it. Otherwise, I like the people to make the decisions because they have to live with them - not the department.
Ms. Moorcroft: What I am asking the Minister is if that is common practice or if in the past, in fact, those kinds of regulations have been developed by the Department of Justice.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I know it was at the Hot Springs, which we got going after I came here. I know it was in Grizzly Valley and I know that it is working at Ibex. It does not always work perfectly. There are always some problems that we must sort out as we go, but as each area and each group sits down and talks these things over, they eventually come out with an agreement.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to say to the Minister that the residents certainly appreciate being involved in the process, and I would like to thank him for the work that he is doing to include the residents in developing regulations to follow on the Cabinet acceptance of the local area plan. I do think that he should try to mediate any potential conflicts with the First Nations by working with them as well.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have no trouble with that, but if the First Nations representatives do not come and do not answer correspondence, what am I supposed to do? I do my best to contact them and they just do not bother answering. Sometimes they will not even answer the phone. I do not know what one is supposed to do past that point.
Ms. Moorcroft: The suggestion that I made was that the Minister make an attempt to meet personally with the First Nations. I guess it will be his decision whether he follows up on it.
I would like to ask the Minister some questions relating to the money that has been spent on contracts awarded to look at the Dawson bridge and the Dawson ferry option. We have a several-page report that was put together for the study of a Yukon River bridge at Dawson City and a much smaller report, which also cost considerably less, identifying ferry options for the Yukon River crossing at Dawson City.
Can I ask the Minister, now that they have spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars looking at options for improving the ferry or for designing a bridge, whether or not the government has made a decision on whether there will be a ferry upgrade, a new ferry or a bridge?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we have not. To start with, we do not know where we can get that type of money. We did the studies, and I do not think that was wasted money if that is what the Member for Mount Lorne is thinking. The plans may not be able to go for a few years, but at least the plans have been made now and the bridge is designed. The people of Dawson had quite a few members on the committee and they helped with the design. There is no doubt in my mind that the people of Dawson want the bridge and not the ferry, and we have to balance it. It is not going to be done in this budget; I can assure the Member of that.
Ms. Moorcroft: From the debate we had earlier this spring, when we were going through the supplementary budget, it is certainly clear that the ferry option is much cheaper and improvements could be done much more quickly. Will there be improvements made for this summer that will reduce the traffic line-ups in Dawson for getting across the Yukon River?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: One thing we did last year is to increase the number of passengers from 40 to 75, and we can now get a bus and some vehicles on it. Actually, it is only for a short period in the morning and a short period in the evening when people have to wait. We have heard some horror stories of three- and four-hour waits, but the average is 45 minutes and, for a trip up the Alaska Highway and on through, I do not think 45 minutes is going to hurt anyone.
We have also tried to stagger the fuel trucks. With Loki's trucks coming on, there may be more of them to stagger, so they are coming in later at night or earlier in the morning, before the traffic gets heavy.
Another thing we have looked at is the campground being on the opposite side of the river. All the traffic wanting to go to Dawson from there has to go back there, so maybe it would save us traffic if we moved the campground to this side.
We have tried a number of things and are now taking more passengers across. That is about all we can do now. As for a new ferry, we can argue that it is cheaper now, but will it be cheaper 20 years from now. What are we looking at? Do we buy another one then, or what? If the traffic doubles up there, which some people say is going to happen - we spend all that money hard-topping the BST on the Top of the World Highway, which should make more people go there - what then? For many, many years, Mr. Jenkins in Dawson and I have dreamed of the day when people can get off the boat at Skagway, go up to Dawson, turn around and come back down through Haines Junction and go out via Haines, Alaska, in a double loop. We are getting closer to that all the time, and that would be of great benefit to both Alaska and to the Yukon.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister just mentioned that one of the solutions that he saw as a possibility was to move the campground over to the other side of the river so there would not be as much traffic needing to use the ferry. Are there any plans to change the location of the campground, or is that something the government has investigated and since rejected?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, there have been no plans to change the location of the campground. Several ideas have been discussed about how more traffic can get across the river faster and that is about as far as it has gone. The government has never approached anyone, nor has it talked with the people in Dawson about it. This was an idea that came up, which, from a practical point of view, would be a great savings, but you also have to find a location for it on this side and a few other things would have to be considered. Dawson is situated in such a way that there is not too much room to move around.
Ms. Moorcroft: Another project in Dawson that the department has recently completed is the new Dawson highway yard, constructed over the past winter. I have heard complaints that the new building is only half the size of the old one. Could the Minister tell me what the difference is between the size of the new building and the old Dawson highway yard?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Member has me on that one. Is the Member referring to the square footage of the building? Is the Member sure one measurement is not done in footage and the other metres? We ran into this same problem at Swift River before where we have a difference of opinion.
I have never heard this complaint until now, so I will have to check into that for the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could check into that and get back to me.
People living on placer mining claims in Dawson have until April 30 to legitimize their status on placer claims in the Klondike Valley and to gain title of the land if they do not want to continue its status as a mine. Can the Minister tell me how many people have filed an application under the policy?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I cannot tell the Member exactly how many there are, but I would like to point out that the April 30 deadline is just to have their application in. We found that there are quite a few different problems with different people, and we are going to have to settle each case individually. As long as their applications are in by April 30, they will be processed from there. People do not have to have their applications finalized by then; they just have to have their applications in.
The committee, which has been struck by Dawson City, the Dawson First Nation, the federal government, our government and a neutral chairman will look at each case. I have been informed that a number of claims have different problems. We may have to work this out on a case-by-case basis in order to be fair to everyone.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Yukon Placer Mining Act provides residential privileges for placer claim holders who are operating their claims for the sole purpose of mining.
Can the Minister tell me if commercial operations are acceptable on mining claims?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: As long as it is a legal placer claim and it is working, yes, it is, and will not be bothered by the Klondike Valley squatters situation at all.
Ms. Moorcroft: What kinds of land use are acceptable on placer claims? The Minister has just said that commercial activities are allowable on placer claims and that residential privileges are available. Is it possible to have multiple residents on a placer claim?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, it is not. It is for one's own residence for the operation of the placer mining claim.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is there a limit on the number or the kinds of commercial activities that can also occur on placer mines?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will get back with the exact reading on the commercial ones, and make sure that we have it right for the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: When an application is approved under the Klondike Valley placer occupant review policy, "the respective government landholder will issue an agreement of sale, consistent with respective pricing policies/legislation." That is a quote from page 3 of the policy. Can the Minister identify what pricing policies and legislation are in effect that will apply here?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Basically, one has to pay for the piece of property one has applied for and entered into an agreement on, and that person would have to pay the market price - the same as anyone else would have to do.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is that part of the territorial Lands Act and regulations, or a departmental policy on land pricing, or something else? I just wanted the Minister to identify what pricing policies and legislation were being considered here.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It would go by the Lands Act and regulations and the way we sell property to other people.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister if he could come back with a return identifying what those are and setting them out so people will know how many different options there might be on pricing policies, for instance, whether pricing is strictly found under the Lands Act, or what other regulations might apply.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will bring that information back for the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: On the clearing of highway rights-of-way, I have a letter stating that contractors are required to make the wood available for salvage when there has been a road clearing project. I have written to the Minister about this, because some of my constituents are concerned that logs are being burned rather than being salvaged when rights-of-way were being cleared for widening or improving highways.
Can the Minister tell me whether or not it is normal practice to make sure that the trees are salvaged rather than being burned?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Well, they have to go through a land use committee process, which is under Northern Affairs. Northern Affairs tells them in which areas they have to salvage the logs and which areas contain logs that are not worth salvaging and can be burned. The federal government controls it.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know how they determine if the logs are worth salvaging?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is a federal process. I can describe our rules, but they are not the same. For agricultural land, anything with a six-inch top has to be salvaged.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know how much wood has been burned as a result of clearing for highways?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I do not have any idea. The federal government has its people looking after that. At the sewage lagoon, we asked other people to take the timber out and salvage it.
Even on the Shakwak project, I know lots of instances where individuals were cutting and piling the logs along the road to be hauled out. Individuals are getting their wood from some of this. We are doing our best to salvage all we can for wood or anything else that has a potential commercial use.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am pleased to hear the Minister saying that the government is doing its best. I know it is still a federal responsibility, but we do hear this government talking about how it hopes to be looking after forestry soon. There are a lot of public demands, not just for a sustainable forest industry but also that government departments be required to salvage any useable timber from clearing that they do, and I think this should apply to any clearing that is being done because of road construction.
We have had some discussion in the past about the road bypass in Carmacks and where and when a new bridge will be built. Can the Minister tell me where that stands now? What is the position of the Village of Carmacks? What is the position of the First Nation and of the Yukon government?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Right at the present moment, we have made two offers to the First Nation. Unfortunately, the last one, which I thought was a good deal for everybody, fell through. I have to publicly give a great deal of credit to Fred Blanchard who worked very, very hard. We thought we had a deal, but he has learned one thing about politics. Sometimes one thinks one has a deal, but somebody above you knocks you down and stops it.
We have not gone back out to talk with the village or the First Nation about it, because, number one, we are not sure when, if ever, that mine is going to open, although the indications are that they should know by this fall so there will be no work done on it this summer.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister is telling me that there is absolutely no money in this budget to do any further road bypass work or bridge improvements in Carmacks. Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, there is some money in the budget for it, but we are certainly not going to build a road that goes nowhere. We want to know that those mines are going to operate before we start building roads all over the place.
Ms. Moorcroft: The people in Carmacks, as I understand it, have had a longstanding request that the single-lane bridge be improved. Is the Minister prepared to do any work to improve the Nordenskiold River Bridge?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The bridge has been worked on. We fixed it up last year. Until we decide where the road is going to go, we have not made any plans about where the other bridge will be.
Mr. Joe: I think I heard the Minister talk about roads and bridges. He said if the mine is not going to go ahead, then the government is not going to go ahead and build the road. Does that mean that it is not going to build a new bridge at Carmacks?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is a single-lane bridge there and if the road goes ahead we will have to decide where it is going to go. If it goes through Carmacks, there will be another bridge built there. If the mine does not go, there is not enough traffic to warrant the construction of another bridge. The bridge was discussed last year and it was repaired last summer, so it is quite safe.
Mr. Joe: I hear a lot of things and I heard that the mine was going to go ahead last fall, and now we are hearing this fall. I do not know who is telling the truth.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It should be quite easy to figure out who is telling the truth. It has been two years and nothing has happened. The mine is not operating. If the mine begins operation, we will get the bridge in, and we will get a road into it.
One has to be fair to the mines, when mineral prices and water licencing requirements of the federal government keep holding these mines back. Many of the mines are being held back because of the environmental processes they have to go through. Until the mines complete the environmental permitting stage and mineral prices are right, the mines are not going to go into operation, and this government is not prepared to build a road into a mine that is not in operation.
Mr. Joe: Can the Minister tell me which mine is going to go ahead - Minto Mining Exploration or Williams Creek copper mine?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The one that has to go ahead to make it worthwhile for the government to put the road in is Carmacks Copper, which is what the company is called now. We do not feel there would be enough traffic generated by the others to warrant putting in a road.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister a question related to the possibility of establishing a wilderness leadership camp pilot project. The Minister's department is listed as being one of a number of agencies that might sponsor a wilderness leadership camp as a way of creating safer communities and reducing property-related crime. There is a suggestion of a pilot project to operate a summer leadership camp in a wilderness setting involving First Nations, communities and municipal councils. Has the Minister's department met with hamlets or municipal councils to gauge the support for such a project?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Although my department is involved in the program, it is not the leader - the Department of Justice is, and representatives from that department are speaking to experts from Manitoba right now - before going out to the communities - in an attempt to find out how one of these can be formed. We are partners in backing it solidly, but the Department of Justice is leading the charge.
Ms. Moorcroft: When will the departments be going out to gauge community support on this? Are they still talking to Manitoba about it, or are they actually going to be approaching some of the communities with it soon?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Department of Justice is going to have to organize a package so that we can go out to the communities with it.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know when the department expects that it might have a proposal together to take to the public?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I do not.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has received a petition from Ross River asking for support in establishing a swimming pool there. The Minister has written to the community saying that the sports and recreation branch will discuss this with Ross River Dena Council look at the capital and operating costs and timing for its construction. Can the Minister tell me if his department has contacted people in Ross River yet about the possibility of building a swimming pool?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There is a letter to them from our sports director saying that the branch will be getting together with them shortly. I can tell the Member that it will not be in this budget.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the pool in Ross River a priority for this government?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That will depend on the people of Ross River. When we first went there, the swimming pool was not even mentioned. It seems to have become a top priority now. The people there will have to discuss that with the sports and recreation branch, and it will come back with a recommendation.
Ms. Moorcroft: There is also $300,000 in the budget for a swimming pool in Old Crow. Can the Minister tell the House what he expects the total capital costs for that pool to be and also what the operations and maintenance costs will be?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have that in our budget. Would the Member like me to dig that up now or discuss it when we get to it in the budget?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The study that was done cost $35,000. There is $300,000 in the 1996-97 budget. If the swimming pool went ahead, they would receive a grant of $8,000 for the swimming pool and they now have a recreation grant for $35,193.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister just said that there was a recreation grant for $35,000. Was that grant for operation and maintenance costs for the pool or was that a separate recreation grant?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That money is already there for them to use on recreation programs. There will be $8,000 more added to that for the swimming pool.
Ms. Moorcroft: So the $8,000 will be in addition to the $35,000, and the $8,000 is for operation and maintenance. Has the government calculated the annual operating costs for the pool to be $8,000?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, it would be more than that, but they are going to have to supply some of that money, too. The government gives grants of $8,000 for swimming pools and the communities have to meet the rest of the costs.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell me what the total capital costs are going to be for the pool?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have budgeted $335,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: As far as the Minister is aware, that $335,000 will completely cover all the capital costs for the swimming pool in Old Crow. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: To the best of my knowledge, that is correct.
Ms. Moorcroft: The community of Mayo has talked about the possibility of getting a youth centre and are considering moving a building in order to do that. Can the Minister tell me if his department has offered any support for that project?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have never heard of that project.
Ms. Moorcroft: This is an item that the Member for Mayo-Tatchun had made me aware of after reviewing the November and December minutes of the Village of Mayo. Perhaps the Minister could take a look at that and get back to me on what support he feels they might have for a youth centre for Mayo.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I must point out that recreation belongs to the municipalities, not to us. We give them so much money and the recreation is their responsibility.
Ms. Moorcroft: I see that the Government House Leader is indicating he would like the Minister to report progress at this time but the Minister wants to get at least one more question in before he does that, so I will be happy to oblige him.
The government has been talking with the Selkirk First Nation about capital block funding for Pelly Crossing. There is no longer any money available through the community development fund. Can the Minister tell me how Pelly will now meet its needs?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The federal government may be talking to the community about block funding, but it is not us.
Mr. Chair, in view of the time, I move that you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report form the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Millar: The Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 73, entitled Taxpayer Protection Act, and Bill No. 10, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1996-97, and directed me to report progress on them.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried
Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Opposition House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:27 p.m.