Tuesday, April 9, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with silent prayers.
Yukon women's hockey team victory
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I rise today to congratulate the Yukon women's hockey team on their gold medal performance this past weekend in Manitoba. The team will arrive home today, proudly carrying the Western Shield. The Western Shield is a symbol of western Canadian B hockey championships. The women's hockey team posted a record of four wins, one tie and one loss in round robin play and finished second in the round robin. Against a Manitoba team in the final, the Yukon team won by a score of 3 to 2. I hope all Members of this Legislative Assembly will join me in congratulating the team and its coach on the team's achievements.Applause
Ms. Moorcroft: On behalf of the Official Opposition, we would also like to congratulate the Yukon's women hockey team on their gold medal in the Western Shield Hockey Championship. I note that women's hockey has recently been added to the Olympics. A hockey player friend of mine once said that once women's hockey was in the Olympic games, Canada would have the opportunity for another gold medal.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any introduction of visitors?
Are there any documents or returns for tabling?
Reports of committees.
Petition No. 9 - response
Hon. Mr. Brewster: In response to Petition No. 9 of the Second Session of the Twenty-Eighth Legislative Assembly, as presented by the Hon. Member for Mount Lorne on March 27, 1996, I would like to make the following statement: Lot 60 was never owned by the Government of the Yukon. The caveat was only binding on the original lot owners, and not on any subsequent purchasers of the lot, and it cannot be restored.
The Government of Yukon is not in a position to purchase Lot 60 from its private owners. Zoning is what is needed to determine land use at M'Clintock Place. That is why we are working with the residents to get zoning put in place there.
From 1978 to 1992, governments made no attempts to work with the residents toward implementing meaningful and effective land use control.
I have two documents for tabling with regard to the M'Clintock Place summary and M'Clintock Place chronology.
Speaker: Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any ministerial statements?
Social Policy Reform and Renewal in Canada: recent developments
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would like to take this opportunity to inform Members of this Legislature of recent developments related to social policy reform and renewal in Canada. As you are aware, the Premiers Ministerial Council report was released to the public last week. Last week I attended a provincial-territorial conference of Ministers of Social Services to build on the work of the Ministerial Council.
The focus of the work of the Ministers of Social Services forum has been continuing to clarify the roles and responsibilities of provincial, territorial and federal governments in the design and delivery of social services. As of April 1, the Canada Assistance Plan, which has shaped Canadian social policy and program development for over 30 years, was terminated and replaced with the Canada Health and Social Transfer. This marks a new era in social policy for the country and presents new challenges and opportunities for the government in redefining our social policy context.
The reduction in federal financial support brought about by the end of the Canada Assistance Plan will require renewed cooperation between provincial, territorial and federal governments.
In spite of major reductions and changes being driven by the federal government, this government has successfully maintained its financial commitment to social program spending. In fact, financial savings that we have achieved through increased efficiencies have been reinvested in the department so that programs and services have been enhanced, not cut.
Savings achieved through our health and social assistance reform efforts, for example, have been used to implement the alcohol and drug strategy. We have increased programs related to family violence and counselling services, increased programs and services for youth at risk, increased support for child care and redesigned and improved the quality of services provided to our social assistance clients to increase their employability and their independence.
At the recent conference I attended, provincial and territorial social service Ministers expressed their commitment to work together and continue to collaborate on a number of important issues, of which the promotion of the well-being and protection of children is a priority.
We also discussed the statement of principles contained in the Ministerial Council report. I was pleased to hear the Ministers from other provinces and territories indicate their commitment to try to develop common social principles for program delivery.
We are also going to be requesting a meeting with Human Resource Development Minister, Douglas Young, in order to renew discussions with our federal counterparts to ensure the preservation of Canada's social safety net.
This is an important and critical time for Canada's social programs, as a fundamental redesign of our social safety net unfolds. The work of provincial and territorial Ministers of Social Services will continue and will be shared with premiers in anticipation of a First Ministers Conference that will focus on national and social policy issues. As the Minister of Health and Social Services in the Yukon, I am committed to continuing to work with my provincial and territorial colleagues on this very important process.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to be able to stand here and say what a great job this Minister has done with his department but, unfortunately, that is not the case.
I have read the ministerial statement and I just listened to it again. I actually had to look at the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly to see if the this ministerial statement met the criteria, because there is nothing new contained in it.
Everything that has been said today has been said in the past. The government wants to restate the claim that it is committed to social programs when, in reality, most people who have had any dealings with that department are wondering what is happening.
In his statement, the Minister states that the delivery of social services has been improved. The question has to be asked whether or not that is a fact. One of the things the government continues to do is to intimidate welfare recipients. It did so by hiring a former RCMP officer without competition. The government has also stated that social assistance rates are too high and ignored recommendations by the Social Services Advisory Council, which said to leave them as they were.
With respect to special education, I think that program has suffered some cutbacks. I would like to believe that everything is in order, as the government says in this ministerial statement. Battered women, of course, will not agree with that. In the past, there have been concerns that a couple of the homes for battered women would be closed. Threats have been made to them, and they continue to fight for adequate funding. At some point, I would like the Minister to announce to the House that program funding will be adequate for those programs.
I keep hearing daily about the Keeping Kids Safe program. I know that it is not working - despite what the Minister of Justice says all of the time - because every single day I hear complaints.
If the Minister would stand up here at some time and announce programs that will improve a lot of the things that are already happening, I will congratulate him. Unfortunately, I cannot do that today.
Mr. Cable: In my view, I think that the Minister has correctly stated the significance of what is going on when he talks about a new era in social policy and a fundamental redesign of our social safety nets. Whatever the substance, he has correctly identified the process and the relationships that are now changing and taking place.
For many years, the federal government has driven social programming from the top, using its taxing powers as a lever. This has permitted the federal government to dominate social program development, despite the constitutional authority of the provinces and the territories. So, we will let history decide whether that was good or bad.
We have a more bottom-up kind of Confederation now. Many subscribe to that. It will require the provinces to at least in part drive the debate on national standards and what they should be. While the results are probably not predictable, certainly the debate will be healthy for Confederation.
The Canada Health and Social Transfer has given the provinces and territories increased flexibility to design programs to meet their own needs, and it is important to remember that this does not exclude national standards in some areas. We will have to wait and watch to see how this government actually takes up the federal government on the flexibility and opportunities that are described in the ministerial statement. That, I am sure, will unfold in the near future as the election approaches.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I thank the Member for Riverside for his kinder comments than those received from the Member for Whitehorse Centre.
The Member mentioned the hiring of a fraud investigator. Social assistance is a safety net that needs to be there for all Canadians and if somebody is abusing that privilege, that service, then certainly they need to be checked.
There have been no cuts. There have been no cuts in the rate. We have definitely asked for comments from the council and from Yukoners about the rates, but to date there have been no cuts in social assistance programming.
The Canada Health and Social Transfer is going to create more flexibility. There are going to be cuts in the funding provided to Yukon and other provinces, there is no question about that.
There should be some efficiencies in the removal of duplication. It does give us more flexibility to create programs that are more applicable to our own areas.
It is a challenge, as there is less money, but I think that Yukoners can accept and meet that challenge.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Land development, lot inventory
Mr. Sloan: My question today is directed to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. It arises out of some of our discussions last week with regard to lots in Whitehorse West.
Last week, the Minister said that there were 248 lots available in Whitehorse West and that there would be the further development of 130 lots this summer in Copper Ridge. Considering that only 100 lots sold last year, does the Minister not consider 378 lots somewhat of an excessive inventory?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I also pointed out that the lots being developed this year will only have sewer, water and electricity. They will not be completed.
Mr. Sloan: Notwithstanding that, on April 1, the Minister stated his objective to have a two-year supply, or 200 lots, on hand. The numbers we are talking about are still a contradiction of the government's own policy.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have a committee made up of real estate people, the Home Builders' Association, the City of Whitehorse and people from my department. This is what they have recommended. I am prepared to go with it.
Mr. Sloan: With regard to that, I did some checking and found out that, presently, there are 76 either existing or federal lots and homes available in the city. Combined with the 378 other lots, we have 474 potential lots or homes in the city. I am interested in knowing what kind of demographic or real estate study would justify such an unreasonably large inventory?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not believe that it is an unbelievably large inventory. The 76 lots the federal government has are lots that apparently people do not want to buy. They have been for sale for quite a while. They are in an area in which people apparently do not want to live.
Question re: Land development, lot inventory
Mr. Sloan: On May 12, 1993, the previous Minister stated, "I do not believe the Yukon government can afford to hold highly serviced lots."
Presentlyin my riding, there are 248 unsold highly serviced lots and a further 130 in the development phase. Would that not be a further contradiction of government policy?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will not comment about what another Minister said.
Mr. Sloan: Considering that the demand for these fairly costly lots in the Copper Ridge subdivision seems to be largely outweighed by supply, does the Minister feel that having this many lots for sale is a fair and wise use of taxpayers' money?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It was a committee recommendation. The government has an average sale of 100 lots per year, so the figure would be decreased considerably, if it maintains its recent average.
I am not the expert on the issue; that is why there is a committee that deals with land and real estate, and I am prepared to act on its recommendations.
Mr. Sloan: On May 10, 1993, the Government Leader stated, "We certainly do not want to have an excessive amount of developed land and no market for it."
It appears that the market for the fairly costly urban lots does not exist. Could the Minister clarify the government's position about surplus lots?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I clarified the government's position during Committee of the Whole when I stated that the government would like to have a two-year supply of lots. I would like to also point out that if the government had a shortage of lots, the Opposition would be the first ones climbing all over our frames.
Question re: Coal-fired electrical power generation
Mr. Cable: I have some more questions for the Minister responsible for Yukon Energy Corporation about coal-fired power generation.
Last Thursday, I asked the Minister questions about the coal-fired power generation plant at Braeburn, and I referred to the debate on energy issues last Wednesday. The Minister of Justice expressed some sense of urgency in making a decision about new generating capacities due to new mines coming on stream.
One of the questions that I asked - and I ask it again, because it was rather artfully dodged - is what time frame has been targeted for a decision? I do not mean a decision by the Yukon Energy Corporation to present some kind of capital plan to the Yukon Utilities Board - I am just anticipating where my question may possibly to - but, a decision by this government, as a matter of policy, to proceed with coal-fired power generation. What is the time frame for that decision?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite, being a former president of the Development Corporation and the Energy Corporation, should know the procedure for bringing on new facilities in the Yukon. It is not a government policy decision; it is a decision that is made by the Energy Corporation, in conjunction with the Yukon Utilities Board. They will be going into the capital hearing process this summer, as I told the Member the other day.
As for the policy about whether or not coal should be looked at, we have already made that policy decision. Coal should be assessed, along with other means of providing the base for our electrical needs in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: Is the Minister saying, then, that the issue is now out of the hands of the government? Has the government made a decision that there will in fact be a coal-fired generating capacity if the Yukon Utilities Board approves it? Is that what the Government Leader is saying?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member opposite must have a hearing problem. I said we made a policy decision that coal should be looked at as a viable alternative to importing diesel fuel into the Yukon. That is a policy decision that was made by my government, and it will be looked at in the whole context of the capital hearing process.
Mr. Cable: We have another 10 days, so we can keep going around on this. Is the Government Leader saying that the government is now out of the decision mix on the decision about whether or not to proceed with coal-fired electrical generation? Is he saying that the decision is now in the hands of the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not know how many times I have said in this House already that we made the policy decision to look at coal some two years ago - to look at it as an alternative energy source in the Yukon. However, that does not rule out any other cheaper sources that can contribute to our base load, but coal will be looked at at the same time as sources of fossil or non-fossil fuel alternatives are looked at for our energy needs
Question re: Land development, lot inventory
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a follow-up question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. When this government came to office, less than $5 million per year was spent - territory-wide - on residential land development. Last year, the Yukon Party government spent more than $10 million on land development. Why is the government tying up all this cash in land development?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I can think back to 1950, when I could not even get a piece of land to live on. This government has tried to improve that situation to provide lots, so that people are able to buy them. I am not apologizing for that one little bit, because all of that money is recoverable.
Ms. Moorcroft: The value of land that the government holds as marketable lots varied between $16 million to $17 million from 1990 to 1993. There have been land inventories in the past. In the last two years, the land inventory has risen to $23 million. Is it this government's policy to saturate the market by developing more lots than it can sell?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, it is not. The economy is growing and, on top of that, ever since I have been the Minister, different organizations - home builders, real estate and the City of Whitehorse - have asked for more lots. We have done what they have asked us to do, and I am not going to back down from that one little bit.
Ms. Moorcroft: The government does not recover land development costs if the lots do not sell. The lost interest revenue from lot development has been estimated at $500,000 per year. The amount of $500,000 could fund another women's shelter, pay for more teaching assistants, or make road improvements. Why does the Minister think that the Yukon government can afford to spend $500,000 on interest charges in order to maintain a huge $23 million land inventory?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Since we took office, the population has increased, and I hope that it increases more as more mines come on stream. We will need more homes for these people to live in, so that they do not end up getting into some kind of trailer that does not meet the standards and cannot be moved on to a proper lot because it does not meet the regulations.
Question re: Land development, lot inventory
Ms. Moorcroft: I think the Minister needs to bone up on his population statistics, as well as what is happening with the land inventory.
When the Member for Laberge was the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, he said that the Yukon government could not afford to maintain a land inventory over $20 million. Now, the government has doubled the amount of money it is spending on land development and seems to be propping up the land development industry. Why is that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are a progressive government. We like to have lots that many people can buy in order to have a home when they want one.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister did not hear the Member for Whitehorse West pointing out that the lots are not selling.
The Minister must realize that a small business operator cannot afford to keep buying more inventory than it can sell. This government is in fact creating a false economy that is going to go bust. Why is the government supporting a false economy by flooding the market with residential lots?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: As I said, we are a progressive government that is prepared to have facilities and infrastructure in place. I was criticized on highways and a few other things. The infrastructure is there so that when mines and other developments come, there will be places for the people.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister does not seem to be looking at the amount of money that the government is spending and tying up in land development and inventory. The contracting industry will not be able to sustain this level of activity year after year. What does the government plan to do when the bottom falls out of the market?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I wish that the Members opposite had looked a little bit harder before putting all that money into the sawmill that flopped in her riding. At least we have value that we can recover.
Question re: Land development, privatization
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services. It is a test to see just how conservative the Members sitting opposite are.
A year ago, almost to the day, I asked the Minister a question about the government's position on privatizing land development. Three months after that, I got a letter saying that it was committed to the concept of private land development, but "we have not yet come to any final conclusions in this matter." Can the Minister tell us today if the government has come to any final conclusions in this matter, and what its policy is regarding land development?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we have not come to a conclusion about how to make it work yet.
Mrs. Firth: That sounds pretty progressive.
Can the Minister tell me if the government is going to come to a final conclusion regarding this matter before October, when we have the general election and those fellows are on their way out? Can he tell us whether or not the government is going to come to a conclusion?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is completely hypothetical. The Member does not know that these boys on this side are on their way out.
Mrs. Firth: Does that not tell the story. The last guys to know are the ones who are on their way out, because everyone else out on the street seems to know.
Perhaps the Minister can answer this question on his way out the door: he indicated to me over a year ago that there was going to be some major revision of the Lands Act done and that the government was going to have all these meetings and look at possible amendments. There were several options that he was going to take to Cabinet on which to make a decision. Can the Minister tell us what the status is of this major review since we have heard nothing of it in the last year?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is still on its way. We would like to make sure that we have everything correct and make no mistakes like some people do.
Question re: Land development, lot inventory
Mr. McDonald: Speaking of mistakes, I think I am going to be sending the comment from the Minister that people do not want to live in Valleyview and Takhini to the people who live in Valleyview and Takhini.
My question is to the same Minister on the same topic. The Minister has clearly said that there should be an inventory supply of 200 lots. He is now building - and projects to build - more lots this year. There will be a total of 474 lots in inventory by the end of this year. Everyone who has commented on the question of the selling of lots in this city have indicated that lot sales are declining. Can the Minister reconcile the fact that he has a policy that suggests that there will be a two-year supply, but he is now overbuilding lots for sale in the City of Whitehorse by twice that amount, and it turns out that people are not buying them.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We only wanted to have a two-year supply of lots. I have said about 10 times in this House that the lots we are creating this year will not be complete. We are simply putting in the infrastructure.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister is guiding a department that has a $27 million land inventory. The population of this territory has not gone up while the Yukon Party has been in government. In fact, the total population has gone down, so I ask the Minister this: is it responsible to have $27 million tied up in land inventory, of which a large portion could be sitting in a bank earning interest income for the taxpayer?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: All the committees that have sat, met and talked with me have asked for this. We now have it and they seem quite satisfied with it. I am prepared to stay with it.
Mr. McDonald: I am not asking the Minister to pass the buck; I am asking him to continue to hold it. The buck stops with the Minister.
I will ask the Minister this question: what happens when a sensible government comes along and realizes that there are too many lots in inventory and far too much cash tied up in them, so that it finds out that it has to slow down construction? This ultimately will put people out of work. What is this government, which is on its way out, going to do to explain away that situation?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not think that there is anything we have to explain away. The lots are there for people and we know that there are more people coming to the Yukon, as there are two or three mines that may be opening up shortly. When these mines open up, there will be more people looking for property. They will not have to decide not to come to the Yukon to live because they cannot buy a house. They will be able to buy property and build a house.
Question re: Land development, lot inventory
Mr. McDonald: I have people in my constituency - the constituency in which the Minister does not think people like to live - who earn a living developing land. Those people have to eat real food and earn a real income. They cannot base their livelihoods on the fantasyland creation of this government in terms of mines in the development stage. I point out that only one new mine in this territory is going into production.
I would ask the Minister this: he says that all this land is required, but he himself, only a couple of weeks ago, said that all that was needed was 200 lots. Why is the government building 450 lots?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are not. We are developing enough to have a supply of 200 lots. The ones we are working on this year only have the infrastructure in; they are not developed.
Mr. McDonald: The government will have over 400 lots, irrespective of the work the government is doing this year on lots to be developed. It will have twice what it says it needs in developed land. There are people out there who think that it is appropriate to have lots in inventory. Who would think it is reasonable or realistic to have so much money tied up in lots that the government will not sell? The government Minister himself indicated, last week, that lot takeup is declining. How can the Minister regard this action as being responsible?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I find it strange that the Member is bringing this up. These people talk with us regularly. I have not had one person involved in the business complain one little bit about the number of lots that are available.
Mr. McDonald: The problem here is that the Minister is not telling anybody that they are overbuilding. There is a $27 million budget this year for land inventory, which outstrips the previous record of a few years ago by over $10 million. We are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest income, but he is not telling them that.
What is the Minister going to be telling my constituents when this gorging on lot development work that the government is doing in the run-up to the election has to stop when a reasonable and sensible government has a look at the land inventory and suggests that things should be slowing down?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will just have to agree with the individual across the road. I do not agree with him at all.
Question re: Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act, proclamation of
Mr. McDonald: We certainly do not agree.
Nevertheless, I have a question for the Government Leader. Allegations of conflict of interest were made in the Legislative Assembly by a government Member a couple of weeks ago - allegations that should be laid before the Conflicts Commission under the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act. In the year since the act was passed, can the Minister tell us why the government has not proclaimed the act and why the government has not proceeded with appointments?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As we said, we were hoping to have that proclaimed by April 1. We are in the process of setting up the Conflicts Commission and the Ombudsman, who will be one of the Conflicts Commissioners.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister is fully aware that we are past April 1, by a good week, and we have three weeks to go in this legislative sitting. The Minister is aware that not only does the act have to be proclaimed but there has to be a resolution of the House passed by two-thirds of the Members of the House to agree on the appointments.
Will the Minister ensure that, before this legislative sitting ends, he will have a resolution passed in this House that sees Conflicts Commissioners appointed to the Conflicts Commission?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is certainly our intention to do that. In fact, I will be bringing the motion forward for the Ombudsman, probably tomorrow, and we hope that we will have all of the Conflicts Commissioners in place. There is only one other one to appoint, because one will be from outside. The B.C. Conflicts Commission will be utilized as well, so we have one more appointment, upon which we have already consulted with the Members opposite, and we hope to have it finalized before this session of the Legislature is adjourned.
Mr. McDonald: In order not to have any further delays, I would ask the Minister that the government discuss his appointment suggestions with the Opposition so that there are no delays in passing this motion.
The Government Leader indicated that he was seeking an opinion from the Alberta Deputy Minister of Justice about whether or not to proceed with the government's motion to conduct a public inquiry. Could the Minister tell me when he expects to hear from the Alberta Department of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We asked the Alberta Department of Justice to deal with this issue as expediently as possible. The request was sent out a week ago. I hope to hear back very soon.
Question re: Coal-fired electrical power generation
Mr. Cable: I have some further questions for the Government Leader about the Yukon Energy Corporation and coal-fired power generation plants.
One of the questions I asked last week was if the Government Leader could tell us, for the record - surprisingly enough the Government Leader did not answer this question - if there have been any discussions with third parties about the construction of coal-fired power generation plants. When I say third parties, I am referring to First Nations, Alberta corporations and individuals. Has anybody been brought into the government's confidence for the purposes of discussions relating to a coal-fired power generation plant?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There are many people who are aware that there may be an opportunity to build a coal-fired electrical generation plant in the Yukon, and the government has had quite a few inquires from different companies that have expressed an interest, but there are no formal discussions of any type taking place.
Mr. Cable: I can remember the breaking of the privatization move a couple of years ago. Just so the Government Leader is not going to jump out of a cake just before the election with some kind of a decision, has the Government Leader had any conversations with anyone, other than with government officials, about constructing a 40-megawatt plant? Could the Government Leader be a little more specific then he was a few minutes ago, because he is good at giving answers that are just sort of answers.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I wish there was something to be more specific about. I do not even know where the 40-megawatt plant comes from, when estimates have been for anywhere from 20 to 50 megawatts. There are no formal discussions going on with anyone at this time. All we have been doing is answering inquiries from people who have expressed interest.
Mr. Cable: The government has been looking at this coal-fired generating plant for at least a couple of years, and I think a couple of consultants have been called in to cost the plant. What is the preliminary cost estimate that the government is working on? I do not mean down to the last dollar. I mean the preliminary cost estimate for a 40-megawatt plant.
I refreshed the Minister's memory. I referred him last week to the Justice Minister's comment on a 40-megawatt requirement. He used it 10 times in 20 minutes, so there must be something burbling there below the surface.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not sure what the Minister of Justice has to do with a 40-megawatt coal-fired electrical generating plant. I am sure the Member is aware of the Simons report, and all the figures are in that.
Question re: Ross River Dena Development Corporation, unions
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Government Leader. Reports from a spokesperson for the Ross River Dena Development Corporation have suggested that it would be in the First Nation's self-interest to prevent any of the mines in its traditional territory from becoming unionized. Does the government believe this to be a legitimate goal? Does the Government Leader believe that the social objectives of unions and the Ross River Dena First Nation do not mix?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The views were expressed by the Ross River Dena Council, and I do not have any comments. This is an argument between the United Steel Workers of America and the Ross River Dena Council.
Mr. McDonald: No, it is not between the Ross River Dena Development Corporation and the United Steel Workers of America. The person indicated that he believed that the umbrella final agreement could be used to compromise the ability of people to join unions of their choice in their traditional territory - whether it be the United Steel Workers of America or some other union. I want to ask the Minister this: is he of the view that the umbrella final agreement does compromise people's rights to organize collectively?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have not been made aware of that, and I do not recall seeing that anywhere in the umbrella final agreement. I will certainly have my officials look at it.
Mr. McDonald: My supplementary question has to do specifically with the Ross River First Nation. The First Nation indicated to me that it expected to receive the contract to maintain the Faro mine access road, and was led to believe this by the government at the time the government was talking to the First Nation about development opportunities. Can the Minister indicate why the First Nation was, in the end, unable to receive the contract work and why it was unable to do the work it believed was going to be its due once the mine opened?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I believe that I have answered this question a number of times, but I will try again. Until we came to power, nobody would help Anvil Range at all. They said it was not their road, yet we policed it and did such things as that. The deal that we have is that we will look after it in the summer and Anvil Range will look after it in the winter. That is the deal we have. We do not look after it in the winter, and we do not have to put any graders or other equipment up there. They are at Little Salmon and will stay there. It was an agreement that was good for each of us.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Notice of Government Private Members' Business
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to identify the item standing in the name of the government private Members to be called on Wednesday, April 10, 1996. It is Motion No. 107, standing in the name of the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: 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 Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 1996-97. We are discussing the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
Bill No. 10 - First Appropriation Act, 1996-97 - continued
On Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
On Capital Expenditures - continued
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division - continued
Chair: Is there any further general debate on the municipal and community affairs division?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have answers to some of the questions that Members asked.
The first answer is in response to a question asked by the Member for Mount Lorne about Klondike placer squatting, setting out options so people will know how many different options there might be about pricing policy; for instance, whether pricing is found strictly under the Lands Act or what other regulations might apply.
Of the 82 placer claims suspected of being used for non-mining purposes, 51 of those claims are in the City of Dawson and are located both on territorial and federal lands. All land outside of the City of Dawson boundaries is federal. Final disposition occurred both through the federal and Yukon land program.
The Yukon government entered into an agreement for sale under section 4 of the Lands Act and section 13(2)(a) provides the government with the authority to sell the property at appraised value.
The Lands Act provides similar authority to the federal government to sell property at market value under an agreement for sale. Approved applications will have the option of entering into a five-year agreement for sale or paying the full purchase price. The agreement for sale requires an initial 20-percent payment with the remaining balance being paid in five annual installments. The federal and territorial governments are both using a common market-value approach for disposing of approved applications.
The market-value appraisal will take into account the following adjustments: lack of hydro-electric power, lack of road access, lack of survey and suitable topographical.
Another question from the Member for Mount Lorne concerns a limit on the kinds of commercial activities that also occur on placer mines. I would like to correct my response by stating that the Yukon Placer Mining Act, which is federal legislation, is responsible for enforcement of mining land use activities within a claim area. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs has previously advised that the act cannot be used to regulate non-mining activities.
The Member for Mount Lorne provided the total value of the highway construction contracts that have been awarded to companies within the Yukon as well as companies from outside the Yukon. In the 1995-96 fiscal year, contracts totalling $41,215,842.72 were awarded for highway construction or related work. Of that amount, $31,412,307.42 was to Yukon companies for 31 contracts. Three contracts, totalling $9,803,533.30, went to companies based outside the Yukon. The single largest contract awarded to a company based outside the Yukon was $9,466,000 to LaPrairie Group Contractors Ltd. for the Shakwak project. This company did maintain an office in the Yukon during the project.
Regarding the question of the authority to remove a vehicle from the lake - vehicles recovered under section 193 of the Motor Vehicles Act: as indicated by the Minister, we usually use this section for the removal of vehicles abandoned on the road. However, subsection (2) does allow us to do the same in unusual circumstances. This section reads as follows: "No person shall abandon a vehicle upon public or private property without the expressed or implied consent of the owner or person in lawful possession or in control of the property."
Chair: Are we prepared to go line by line at this time?
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to follow up briefly on the information the Minister tabled earlier this afternoon regarding the M'Clintock place petition and the fact that the designation of Lot 60 as a playground and a well was not binding on any subsequent owners after the original 1978 plan of survey.
The Minister has made the point that zoning is needed and that is what the government is working on. My constituents have recently said to me, following this whole fiasco, that while they appreciate the Minister's apology that the residents had not been informed, they still remain concerned that the caveat was removed without any notification to the residents. In fact, they find it quite objectionable that several previous attempts to have the caveats lifted were denied; however, the most recent application to have the caveat removed was accepted and the lot was then sold a couple of weeks later, in September, 1994, to the present owner for a $13,000 consideration.
My constituents have asked me to have the Minister respond to the question of how he is prepared to rectify the error that was made in not setting aside the land by some other means for public use and for going ahead and allowing it to be put to private use.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is explained very well in the petition that Lot 60 was never ours. The federal government sold it to private individuals and they sold it again to some other private individuals. We never had any control over it. It was never transferred to the Commissioner as Commissioner's land.
Ms. Moorcroft: The measure of control - and I realize that the Minister has argued that this was not an acceptable measure of control - was the caveat that indicated it would be for playground use and that there would not be commercial developments, other than on Lots 58 and 59. What is the Minister prepared to do to rectify the fact that the land is no longer set aside for public use?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: As I have said for weeks on end, I am powerless to stop the building. They have their permits and everything else. The best we can do is get together and get zoning in place so that we can settle this once and for all.
Ms. Moorcroft: It seems that it could be settled once and for all if the Minister would agree to consider purchasing the lot to be able to set it aside for public use, which is what the residents want. I would point out that at the end of the 1995-96 year, the government is going to have a $27 million land inventory, and I think that the price of the little piece at M'Clintock Place should not be something that the Minister rules out of hand.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The land inventory is for developing land, not for purchasing land from private individuals.
Mr. Cable: I would like to get a couple of facts on the record. At the time the caveat was put on, was the land under the control and administration of the Commissioner or the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I believe it was the federal government. I will check on it again, but I am quite sure it was the federal government because it never was under the Commissioner's control.
Mr. Cable: Who was it who placed the caveat on it? Was it the local or federal government?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The local government did it.
Mr. Cable: That is the reason I asked about who had control or administration of the lands. Under what statute was the caveat placed? Was it under the Lands Act?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The land was actually privately owned. We wanted to protect the people purchasing lots. It appears that it only stood up for the two or three people who originally bought the lots in that area. The argument was that once the lots were sold to other people, the caveat would not carry through. The Member is a lawyer, so can probably tell me more about it, but this is what I have been told by the Department of Justice.
Mr. Cable: From one of the handouts that the Minister provided, it appears that someone had reached the conclusion that the caveat did not run with the title - which, I guess, is the conventional phrase. Was the opinion based on the fact that the lands had not been alienated or disposed of by the government? Or, was it based on the fact that these caveats generally do not run with the title?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We are not lawyers. I will get a legal opinion for you. We understood that it was put there and would only look after the three people who had the lots to start with. However, I will correct that if that is wrong. I will get back to you.
Mr. Cable: Just to be absolutely certain that we are talking about the same thing, I would like the basis for the legal opinion. I would like to know if it is derived from the fact that these lots were never owned or under the administration and control of Commissioner or that the subdivision caveats are generally not valid and do not run with the title.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will get that information before the session is over.
Chair: Are we prepared to go line by line at this time?
On Assistant Deputy Minister's Office
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The amount of $6,000 is for the purchase of a workstation to replace an old one that is beginning to fail and is unable to accept software upgrades.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Public Safety
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The budget of $15,000 consists of two projects: computer equipment systems in the amount of $6,000 is for the acquisition of a personal computer complete with fire soft programming; and office equipment and furniture for $9,000 is for a commercial VHS video camera and editor for use during fire investigations, video training and to produce video tapes.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Major Facility Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The budget of $22,000 is for the ongoing maintenance of firehall structures and the system within or attached to the structures.
Major Facility Maintenance in the amount of $22,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The fire protection budget consists of two major projects. The amount of $150,000 is for the purchase of a firetruck for Mount Lorne's three-year-old volunteer fire department. The amount of $50,000 is for territory-wide firefighting equipment to provide funding to equip volunteer fire departments to the standard of the fire protection policy.
Other 1996-97 project funding includes $25,000 for communication systems to provide Pelly Crossing with a telephone interconnect system; $22,000 for a tanker rebuild/ conversion to convert Keno's 1969 unit to the role of fire department tanker, and $20,000 for the purchase of a breathing air compressor for the Burwash Landing firehall.
Fire Protection in the amount of $267,000 agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The budget of $440,000 consists of two major projects: $300,000 to construct the new swimming pool in Old Crow and $115,000 for repairs and replacement of existing recreation facilities and equipment in unincorporated communities. Another 1996-97 project is to install a concrete pad for $25,000 in the Beaver Creek skating rink to expand the use of the facility in the summer.
Prior years' projects pertain to 1995-96 funding that was required for office equipment and furniture.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $440,000 agreed to
On Prior Years' Projects
Prior Years' Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Community Services
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Hon. Mr. Brewster: A budget of $32,000 is for the purchase of two computer workstations with software at $12,000 and to purchase an HP-750c plotter for $20,000 to enable hard-copy reproduction of ortho photos for distribution to individuals and communities as requested.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $32,000 agreed to
On Community Planning
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The community planning budget is $110,000 and consists of various projects in the area of community plans to fund area planning committees in Carcross and Ross River and to complete a controlled photographic program for areas from Jakes Corner to Marsh Lake/Army Beach and south to Tagish.
Specific 1996-97 projects include the following: the Marsh Lake rural area plan for $25,000; photographing and mapping for $50,000; the Carcross area planning committee for $10,000; the Ross River community plan for $15,000; and the Ross River Development Society got $10,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister had said that he would bring back a list for me of all the community plans that were presently underway. He just read out the line item for the community planning that is going ahead next year. Does he have that list?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we do not have it yet, but I will get it to the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would appreciate seeing a copy of that. I would expect that all of the funds for the M'Clintock Place zoning exercise would be in last year's budget. Could the Minister explain what the Marsh Lake rural area plan for $25,000 is for? Is it related to M'Clintock Place?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Local residents will be involved in identifying land use issues and assisting in the preparation of zoning regulations for the community. Funding is required for land use research, mapping, public discussion and consultation. The finalization of zoning regulations will help guide land use and development within the community and establish a public process to address these issues.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister explain how much of the Marsh Lake area will be covered by this rural area plan? Is it just the Judas Creek, Old Constabulary and New Constabulary subdivisions, or does the plan include the entire Marsh Lake area from the Yukon River bridge to Judas Creek?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will have to get back to the Member with the exact area, but I can tell the Member that it does not include the whole area.
Ms. Moorcroft: Who is the government working with in the community to determine local representation on the planning committee?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It will include M'Clintock Place residents and others who are interested in helping to establish the zoning area.
Ms. Moorcroft: If people are interested can they come forward and ask the Minister if they could be considered to form part of the committee, or will there be one individual selected from each area?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It will depend upon what the people want. Some residents want zoning and some do not. When the committee is established, representatives from the department will have to meet with people in the area to see what they want to see happen.
Ms. Moorcroft: I imagine the department will take out newspaper advertisements so that people will know to come to the meeting if they are interested in getting involved.
I would like to follow up on the land use plan for the Golden Horn area. There was money in the two previous budgets for a Golden Horn rural area plan that was not spent, and I would like to know if there are any funds allocated to it for the coming year.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I do not think there is any money in the budget for Golden Horn, but I will check that and get back to the Member in case it is somewhere where we cannot find it.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like the Minister to come back with that because I have put forward the request that many people there would like to see an updated land use plan in place before there are any more controversial developments. We do not want to end up with another M'Clintock Place fiasco.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I agree completely with the Member for Mount Lorne.
Community Planning in the amount of $110,000 agreed to
On Public Health/Roads and Streets
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This $6,000 is for the purchase of an additional printer and an enhancement of a printer-sharing device.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The budget of $240,000 consists of three projects: project planning assessment, water and sewer for $100,000 to provide engineering development funding to carry out required work on a smaller scale and emergency nature; project management for $100,000 to cover the cost of administration and staff development initiatives; another small project item is planning of various sites, for $40,000, which involves feasibility studies and site analyses to determine development potential at various locations.
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $240,000 agreed to
On Water Supply, Treatment and Storage
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This budget of $100,000 is to purchase a new water truck for delivery of potable water to the residents of Ross River.
Water Supply, Treatment and Storage in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The $150,000 is to identify, study and report the options and to make recommendations to improve water and sewer systems in various unincorporated communities. When funding permits, selected improvements will be carried out.
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The budget of $3,513,000 consists mainly of the Whitehorse sewage treatment centre cost-sharing project of $3,473,000 for the 1996-97 contribution toward modification to sewage treatment facilities. The other $50,000 is for Marsh Lake solid waste disposal, to implement the recommendation provided in the 1995 sewage study.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the Whitehorse sewage treatment facility going to be completed in the 1996-97 year with these expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It should be operational by the end of the year, but we will still need some funding next year to complete it.
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $3,513,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Hon. Mr. Brewster: There are four projects for the year 1996-97, including garbage dump expansion at Old Crow for $100,000 to relocate garbage dump facilities; miscellaneous garbage dump improvements of $70,000 for site improvements and construction in various locations; solid waste disposal study at Marsh Lake for $100,000 to investigate options for solid waste in the area; and the Quigley waste disposal in the Klondike Valley for $100,000 to do planning and design work and for the construction of a new facility.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister referred to a number of projects to improve the dump sites in Old Crow, Marsh Lake and Quigley in the Klondike Valley. Is there an intention to set up recycling sheds for any of these projects?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If the people in the community are interested, we can certainly work with them on that project. However, there is no money for it allocated here.
Ms. Moorcroft: I was hoping that the Minister and the department would take an interest in that so that we could work toward the goal of reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfill sites. I do not think we should have to rely on a strictly volunteer effort to reduce the amount of waste that we are paying to dispose of.
Solid Waste in the amount of $370,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The budget of $20,000 is to purchase new and replacement equipment for continuing the mosquito control program. I have asked the department to ensure that Pelly Crossing gets an application in.
Mosquito Control in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Flood/Erosion Control
Hon. Mr. Brewster: A budget of $35,000 is for miscellaneous flood and erosion control to do periodic replacement of rip-rap and correction of settlements, et cetera.
Flood/Erosion Control in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Equipment Purchase
Hon. Mr. Brewster: A budget of $25,000 is to replace aging vehicles to ensure the efficient delivery of engineering development branch field programs.
Equipment Purchase in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets
Hon. Mr. Brewster: A pre-engineering road and street budget of $50,000 will provide the engineering and development branch with funding to carry out required work of a small scale or of an emergency nature.
Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Roads/Street Upgrade
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It consists of three projects: road upgrade in Ross River in the amount of $330,000 for drainage improvements, including storm sewers and road upgrading and road surfacing, including BST application; street upgrade in Beaver Creek in the amount of $90,000 to apply BST road surfacing to local streets that were upgraded in 1995-96 and road and street improvement for $60,000 to investigate problems and make miscellaneous improvements to various roads in communities and in unincorporated areas.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will the road upgrade in Ross River complete all of the outstanding requests that the Ross River community has brought, not only to the Minister's attention, but to the Opposition's attention?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It will complete some of this program, but it will not complete everything, such as some of the things that they have asked for lately, such as a request for more streetlights that came in yesterday. There are requests such as this one still coming in.
Roads/Streets Upgrade in the amount of $480,000 agreed to
On Quarry Development
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The budget of $90,000 is for two projects: land claims quarry identification for $50,000, which is to do field work testing on identified quarry sites in affected land claim areas and quarry rehabilitation for $40,000 to cover remedial work to abandon existing and future quarry sites.
Quarry Development in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
On Prior Years' Projects
Prior Years' Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Land Development
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The industrial development line item consists of five projects in 1996-97: Carmacks stage 3 in the amount of $50,000 for legal survey and design of approximately five to eight heavy industrial lots; Dawson Callison stage 3 for $100,000 to construct eight to 10 additional lots in this industrial subdivision; Watson Lake industrial for $200,000 to design, survey and construct an industrial subdivision; Whitehorse industrial in the amount of $100,000 for legal survey and construction of stage 1 and territory-wide airport lots in the amount of $30,000 for the development of airport-related lease parcels on an as-required basis.
Industrial in the amount of $480,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The recreational budget of $100,000 is to continue pilot projects for cottage lot land, with the emphasis on areas for which land claims have been settled.
Recreational in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Development is undertaken through the leadership of the Department of Renewable Resources agricultural program. The 1996-97 budget of $410,000 consists of two projects: $350,000 to provide agricultural land and plan subdivisions throughout the territory over the next four years as an alternative to the individual site selection, and the Mount Lorne agricultural project in the amount of $60,000 to develop the agricultural parcels along the Carcross Road.
Ms. Moorcroft: When does the government plan to first create an agricultural subdivision? The Minister just stated that the government has $350,000 for planning agricultural subdivisions. Will there actually be one developed and sold within the year?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is actually under the leadership of Renewable Resources. All we do is some of the work that it asks us to do after it has classified the land as agricultural. We take over the surveying of the land and such things.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is this Minister's budget amount for $410,000 that I am interested in at the moment. Does the Minister know where any of those subdivisions are located at this time, or is he still waiting for word from Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Currently being investigated by Renewable Resources is the Hot Springs Road area, the Hamlet of Ibex Valley, the Little Atlin-Lubbock River area and M'Clintock River valley.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the note the Minister found there give any indication of what size of agricultural parcels the department is talking about releasing? Does he know how many agricultural land parcels there would be in the proposed subdivisions?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, the note does not tell me that.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could I ask the Minister to find out that information and get it back to me? I see that he is conferring with his official. He may want to have the Department of Renewable Resources get back to me. I would like to know that this information is coming.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I will speak to the Minister of Renewable Resources and one of us will get back to the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are the Mount Lorne agricultural parcels for $60,000 the same parcels that were in last year's budget?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, it is the same project. More approvals are required before we move ahead with it.
Ms. Moorcroft: I thought that was the case. I just wanted to confirm it.
I have one final question about agricultural land. I have had a few constituents approach me about agricultural land development and the enforcement of the agricultural policy. My constituents have requested that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and the Minister of Renewable Resources define what is meant by an adequate seeding rate and seed bed on the agricultural lands. Is the Minister doing any work with the Department of Renewable Resources in this area?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, that is the responsibility of the Renewable Resources agricultural branch.
Agricultural in the amount of $410,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The residential budget of $5,380,000 consists of nine projects: Hamilton area D, Copper Ridge budget of $3,160,000 for phase 5, legal survey, hydro, water, sewer and contribution to the Marwell trunk mains; Alaska Highway west country residential general budget of $900,000 allocated to specific projects once feasibility consultation and design has been approved; Haines Junction country residential budget of $300,000 for planning, design and legal survey of 18 lots; Carmacks urban residential for $260,000 to complete construction of service/residential properties; $250,000 for the Dawson country subdivision to complete legal surveys and commence construction work.
Other 1996-97 projects include Watson Lake country residential stage two at $200,000, Whitehorse North periphery rural residential at $150,000, Porter Creek lower bench at $100,00 and Mount Lorne rural residential at $60,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister spoke about doing feasibility consultation and design work on the Hamilton D lots. Can he elaborate on who the department is working with on the consultation and design?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The City of Whitehorse and the councillors for the City of Whitehorse.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister also referred to some land development in Mount Lorne. Can he tell me how many lots are expected to be released in the coming year, and does he know their locations?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Those are the eight lots we were talking about before.
Residential in the amount of $5,380,000 agreed to
On Quarry Site Analysis and Development
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This budget of $160,000 is for site identification and development of potential quarries for commercial and public use.
Ms. Moorcroft: Would all of these quarries be outside City of Whitehorse limits and other municipal boundaries?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, not necessarily.
Ms. Moorcroft: When the Yukon government transferred control of the quarries along the South Access Road to the City of Whitehorse, it was only those particular quarries that were transferred. Can the Minister explain what role the Yukon government still has with quarries in municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Member is quite correct. It was just the three that were transferred. We still own the others, and we will develop them and decide then if we will transfer them to the city.
Quarry Site Analysis and Development in the amount of $160,000 agreed to
On Prior Years' Projects
Prior Years' Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Land Central Services
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This budget of $70,000 consists of three projects: computing equipment and system in the amount of $16,000 for the acquisition of four personal computers for land disposition staff; a land information budget of $9,000 to provide additional functions; and a computer assisted mass appraisal project for $45,000 for the acquisition of four laptops, one personal computer, software and training for the assessment section.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Central Services - Recoverable
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The amount is to provide $40,000 for various recoverable legal surveys when required and $150,000 for land acquisition to purchase private property where required.
Central Services - Recoverable in the amount of $190,000 agreed to
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The budget of $150,000 is to assist rural property owners with the installation of power and telephone. The expenditures are 100-percent recoverable over a 10-year period.
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Projects - Non-Recoverable
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This amount consists of $15,000 for various legal survey activities and $15,000 for the rehabilitation of unauthorized land use for clean-up and site restoration.
Miscellaneous Projects - Non-Recoverable in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of $12,941,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Department of Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Department of Education
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I have a few brief opening remarks about the operation and maintenance and the capital budgets.
The total operation and maintenance request is for $77,152,000. Of this figure, just over $50 million, or 65 percent, is for salaries and benefits. The amount of $11,773,000, or 15 percent, is for programs, and $15,310,000, or 20 percent, is for transfer payments to various organizations such as the Yukon Teachers Association, the First Nations Education Commission and Yukon College. Our staff are located in 29 schools, Yukon Archives, the Education building, the Whitehorse Public Library, the Gadzoosdaa student residence and the Teen Parent Centre.
Through contribution arrangements with community library boards and through volunteer libraries, the department funds another 17 work sites.
We intend to maintain the current level of staffing support to our schools. There are 849.62 FTEs located in sites across the Yukon. The majority of the staff resources are deployed as teachers, educational assistants, remedial tutors, native language instructors, school counsellors, custodians and school secretaries.
Of particular note in public schools is a $650,000 increase over the forecast for 1995-96 for increased staff in schools; an increase of 10 percent, or $261,000, in program support and development; an increase of six percent, or $29,000, in the French language program; an increase of 35 percent in facilities and transportation, resulting from the transfer of monies from Government Services to the Department of Education for facilities management.
There has been a slight decrease in special programs as the result of one administrative position being deleted. The level of support staff in schools for special-needs students has consistently increased. It should be further noted that this is a $1 million increase in program delivery funding over the 1995-96 main estimates.
In advanced education, the total branch budget is $15,759,000, with a total of 29.5 FTEs, of which 13 positions are trainee apprentice positions. This program allows for an additional 13 of our Yukoners to gain work placements in designated trades and to become certified. The branch is also responsible for a wide range of initiatives in the areas of labour force development, literacy, industry-based apprenticeship and employment and training programs, as well as assisting in the implementation of the land claims training programs.
The base contribution to Yukon College of $10 million has been reduced by $500,000. YTG recoveries from Human Resource Development Canada have been reduced from $991,000 to zero in recoveries in 1996-97.
The federal government will be purchasing courses directly from suppliers such as Yukon College. The Yukon territorial government reduced the college contribution by $500,000 rather than the full $991,000 to provide a cushion to Yukon College, should the college not be successful in securing the full amount from Human Resource Development Canada.
Our action-oriented response to the 83 recommendations in the Education review has necessitated the department examining its budget carefully and reallocating money to meet recommendations outlined in the review.
A First Nations education consultant and a career counselling coordinator have been added to our team of consultants who support our teachers on a daily basis. Our school council support coordinator has been the point of contact for school councils and individuals members answering requests and disseminating information.
Based on recent information research by the Province of British Columbia under the interprovincial education statistics project, the Yukon has one of the highest per student operations expenditures in Canada, at $9,842, and consistently the lowest student-teacher ratio, at 13:1.
Over this year the government has followed through with recommendations from our special-needs task force and counselling task force, and have commenced a task force to promote safe schools and make some critical decisions about grade organization.
A new organization is alive and growing in the territory: a Yukon francophone school board. A transition committee has been established to ease the shift from a departmentally managed school to that of a board.
A five-year assessment plan is now in place for Yukon schools. Territory-wide assessments in math 8 to 11 began two years ago and this year science 8 to 11 was added. These assessments provide both educators and parents with valuable information about the progress of students. This is indicative of a trend of greater accountability in our school system and reflects assessment initiatives across Canada.
The department continues to provide quality library and resource material services, while increasing access to computer and information technology in our schools.
By the next school year, all our schools will have access to Internet, which is one more valuable learning tool in the hands of our teachers and students.
The Yukon Archives, with a budget of $623,000, acquires, preserves and makes accessible documentary sources related to Yukon's history, cultures and development. This month, the staff is assisting students from Old Crow in researching topics for their Internet web page.
During the coming year, the Archives will be a valuable resource for the gold rush and centennial celebrations.
This budget reflects our continued commitment to quality education. The financial management at all levels has resulted in positive changes that allow funds to be leveraged to meet new needs. We also know that, when all is said and done, it is the quality of the teacher/student relationships and the creation of a community of lifelong learners that will form the foundation for success in the Yukon.
With respect to the capital budget, in public schools, with a total expenditure of $10,360,000, the largest item is $4,425,000 for the expansion work required to convert Porter Creek Junior Secondary School to a senior secondary school.
An additional $400,000 will be spent on renovations to other Whitehorse schools as part of the Whitehorse grade reorganization. Our facilities manager is working closely with his counterparts in Government Services to ensure our schools for kindergarten to grade 7 requiring alterations are ready for September 1996.
I am also pleased to include funds for the completion of the new French first language school at a cost of $1.75 million. The project is jointly funded with the federal government. Even with the challenge of the recent cold weather, the school is expected to be completed on time and on budget. The students and staff will begin the 1996 school year in their new kindergarten to grade 12 facility.
Keeping all our school facilities in good repair and undertaking necessary renovations result in providing our students and teachers with a comfortable learning environment. This budget contains over $2.7 million in funds dedicated to capital maintenance repair and the upgrading of our schools, including such items as the F.H. Collins school upgrading for $275,000; grounds improvement and landscaping in a number of Whitehorse schools for $300,000; various school facilities alterations for $400,000; and capital maintenance repairs for $1.25 million.
The budget also contains $200,000 for air quality; special needs renovations and equipment, $70,000; and $300,000 for the purchase of instructional and distance education computer equipment.
School-based equipment purchases in this budget are $535,000. These funds are provided directly to the schools, to be spent on new or replacement equipment. This is part of the site-based management initiative that allows schools and school councils more control at the school level.
In library and archives, $275,000 will go to upgrading collections and equipment in libraries across the territory, and $200,000 will be designated for Yukon Archives equipment automation so that the Yukon Archives can better serve the public and so as to provide protection for the valuable collections that have been entrusted to our care.
In advanced education, the total capital budget is $850,000. The bulk of this money - $750,000 - is a capital grant to Yukon College and this grant remains the same as in 1995-96.
Overall, our request is for $12,187,000 in capital funds for 1996-97.
I understand that Members of the Opposition were given a technical budget briefing on March 4, 1996. I have a copy of it with me. I believe they were given copies of a 16-page document, and I hope they used that opportunity to go through the budget numbers and the details so that I do not have to re-read every line with respect to every item. The idea of a technical briefing is so that we would not have to go on for hours and days explaining each and every line item. The Members could get the detail from the department far better than from the Minister.
I also provided the Members opposite with responses to questions and issues that were raised by them in the technical budget briefing and also arising from the debate on the supplementaries that took place under the former Minister of Education's guidance. I provided to Mr. Cable math results for grade 12 Riverdale school-age population and enrollment, a copy of the 1962 Catholic Episcopal Corporation agreement that was asked for at the budget briefing, and the amalgamation of federal funding from the budget briefing.
I provided to Mr. Sloan the Yukon post-secondary assistance assessment unit budget forecast and a breakdown of program FTEs - all that were requested in the technical budget briefing. I provided to Mr. Harding the Faro school community counselling that he requested in debate on the supplementary estimates. I provided Mrs. Firth with a list of temporary employees and teachers and school population forecasts, both of which were requested in the budget briefing. To the Member for Mount Lorne, I provided quite a list, requested in both debate and the budget briefing: temporary employees and teachers; labour market development activities, as defined in the budget briefing booklet; school vans for rural schools; student financial assistance policies; Advisory Council on Education; a stakeholder list; land claims implementation, an update; the two streams of the grade 9 math program; a Department of Education organizational chart to January 20, 1996; the 1995-96 capital project detail; Yukon native teacher education program statistics; bachelor of social work program at Yukon College; apprenticeship statistics; First Nation curriculum resources; F.H. Collins facilities assessment; Golden Horn soccer field; the enrollment and use of the Teen Parent Centre and the old building; Christ the King Junior Secondary School expansion; rural telephone service upgrade; and Yukon Archives vault expansion.
I hope that the Members have all they need to know with respect to the Education budget. If they do not, I am here, and I have my official with me.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is there any general debate on the Department of Education?
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to begin by asking about the issue of grade reorganization so that we can deal with the issue and put it behind us.
In August 1994, the previous Minister wrote to school councils in Whitehorse about grade reorganization. His comments were contained in a letter dated August 19, 1994, and stated, "There being no consensus among Whitehorse stakeholders on a preferred alignment option, I have decided that the grade organization in Whitehorse schools will remain unchanged." So, in August 1994, this was a dead issue.
Following that, the Whitehorse school facilities study was completed. The Poon Gardner Garrett study addressed all of the Whitehorse school facilities; however, it did not look at a two-tiered system.
The Whitehorse school facilities study began close on the heels of the grade reorganization discussions, and immediately after the Minister had committed to maintaining the status quo. The consultant who prepared the Whitehorse school facilities study was in favour of investigating the two-tier concept but was directed not to, in view of the Minister's stated position on the issue. So, t
here was the Poon Gardner Garrett architectural report on Whitehorse schools, which had been directed not to look at a two-tiered system, although the consultants had thought that it might be a reasonable option.
In fact, the recommended option in the Poon Gardner Garrett report to improve available space in the Whitehorse schools for the next five years was that elementary schools accommodate kindergarten and the grade 1 to 7 students. Poon Gardner Garrett also recommended that F.H. Collins High School should retain grade 11 and 12 students and accommodate the grades 8 to 12 French immersion students.
The Minister went one further than that by doing an about-face. He decided to implement a two-tiered system in all of the Whitehorse schools. The reasons given for that were the following: it keeps kids in neighbourhood schools for a longer time, which is a benefit; it would be the most effective use of space; it would be less of a transition for the students; and these would all be of some benefit.
We have raised the concern on behalf of students, parents and teachers that a fundamental change to the education system should not be implemented without any advance warning. School councils, educators and parents should be provided with the ability to take a reasonable amount of time to implement a radical change of this nature in a rational way.
I have been at several school council meetings where the message has been delivered that the elementary schools will add grade 7 in September 1996, which is five months hence. I would like to ask the Minister if he can give us the total dollar value of the renovations that are going to be taking place - just to the elementary schools - as a result of grade reorganization.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: That figure is on page 5-5 of the capital budget. It is $400,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is that the complete figure? Has the department advised the Minister that this money will complete all of the necessary renovations to elementary schools in Whitehorse? There are a number that were approaching capacity and needing portables and are now having grade 7 added as well.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes. My understanding is that it is for the 1996-97 year. There is a separate line item, as I said in my opening remarks, for the Porter Creek Junior Secondary School renovations. It is just over $4 million.
Ms. Moorcroft: Has the work been done to calculate the long-range effect of the grade reorganization? The Poon Gardner Garrett architectural report mandate was to come up with recommendations, based on what the existing space was and on what the long-range school population projections were, about the least amount of new and additional space that would be required, what the most effective use of the existing space would be and about capital funds. How is grade reorganization going to affect that?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I had better get the question clear. Is the Member asking about the long-term effect of space availability in schools in Whitehorse? The Member is nodding her head, yes.
In response to that, the needs analysis on the space has been done. We will continue to build schools and add space as required in Whitehorse and the communities.
Ms. Moorcroft: What is the government doing to make sure that elementary students are not confused about what is happening with grade reorganization? I have spoken to students in the elementary grades, and some of them really wanted to move on into Whitehorse and not stay behind in the community school for another year. Others of them did not want to have grade 7 students in the elementary school because they thought it would lead to more violence on the school ground. I think that, right now, a lot of students do not know exactly what is going to happen next year, as to what grades will be in the elementary schools. What is the department doing to ensure that elementary students are not confused about what is happening?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: We have a grade reorganization coordinator working full time on that for the grade 6 children. It is as simple as explaining to them that they will be staying another year at their elementary school. The coordinator is working with the schools and school councils and, it is hoped, with the parents, so that the children will understand what will be happening in the fall of this year.
Mr. Sloan: Unfortunately, the idea of pedagogical impact of different grade levels is not always quite that simple. I have a couple of concerns with regard to this, not the least of which is what kind of curricula preparations have been made at the elementary schools, particularly since the grade 7 curriculum has a different range of options and a somewhat different focus from an elementary curriculum.
What kinds of options are going to be offered in some of the elementary schools to compensate for those younger students who were planning to go into a junior high and having that kind of range of activities that junior highs have? What kinds of compensatory actions have been taken in that regard?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not know. I will check with the department. Maybe my official can tell me, after I have made my comment, that those issues have been discussed. What will happen is the grade 7 students will be waiting another year for such things as shop, which are in the junior secondary school.
That was one of the things I discussed when I met with the chairs of the local school councils. They were not unreasonable in their demands. They were not asking for shops or home economics rooms and everything to be added to the elementary schools. They were quite realistic about the effect it would have and that the children would get used to the system.
As for something compensatory being added to grade 7 as a reward or an extra, I am not sure what the Member for Whitehorse West is advocating. He is an educator himself. Perhaps he could clarify what proposals he is making. Then, I will ask the officials if that or something like it is being done.
Mr. Sloan: Just for the Minister's interest, generally children who go into a grade 7 program have some greater exposure to such things as music programs, perhaps increased computer time, expanded physical education programs in terms of more outdoor activities, skiing and that kind of thing. Has some thought been given to providing these kinds of experiences for grade 7 students, perhaps by modifying the curriculum to some degree?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I think that some of that is available now. I know that the principal of Jack Hulland School is quite a proponent of physical education. I know that the children there can take the options that give them a considerable amount of outdoor education in addition to their academic studies.
Mr. Sloan: With regard to the pedagogical impact, I had the privilege of having one of the few schools that was a stand-alone kindergarten through grade 7 school in the territory. I know from my own experience that the variety of disciplinary problems or school management problems that would occur, would often occur in the upper end of the school. That is to be expected. Young people are moving into adolescence. There is all kinds of confusion that goes on and often that leads into inappropriate activities; however, a number of the elementary schools have not had this experience before. Is some preparation being done with the staff to prepare them for these kinds of changes that are coming about?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, I believe it is, and I think that is also being done through Chris Gonnet, who is the coordinator for grade reorganization.
Mr. Sloan: What about movement of staff, transfers of staff? Obviously, we are going to have some wholesale shifts. There will be, for example, people from the junior highs moving down to elementary schools. There will also be people moving from F.H. Collins to the expanded Porter Creek High School. What kinds of transfers are under way and what thought is being given to the appropriateness of placement of staff?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I think that is being looked at already; most of the staffing has been done. There was a survey sent out, and it has been collected from the teaching staff. I believe most of it has been completed.
Mr. Sloan: Could the Minister give us a sense of how interested teachers were about shifting and taking on new assignments?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is my information that there was an excellent response from the staff.
Mr. Sloan: If the scenario arose where a well-established teacher may not be interested in shifting - perhaps the person has been in the school for a number of years and feels quite successful at teaching a particular grade level - will there be an obligation for staff to move if voluntary compliance cannot be met?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not know the details about that, but I am sure the coordinator, Chris Gonnet, would be dealing with those issues. If the Member knows about a situation where a teacher is being dealt with unfairly, forced to move or forced to stay, then I am certainly prepared to find out about the policy. I would hope that the matter would be dealt with in a fair and sensitive manner. If Mr. Gonnet is not doing that, I would sure like to know about it.
Mr. Sloan: I can assure the Minister that I do not know about any specific instance. However, a couple of people have mentioned their concern about their possible assignments for next year, and if they choose to voice those concerns I will certainly bring them to the Minister's attention.
One of the concerns that I heard a great deal about during the by-election with regard to grade reorganization was attendance areas. In particular, would attendance areas be rigidly enforced as to which school a child might attend for his or her high school years? Will the boundaries be rigidly enforced?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not certain about that. Rather than answer questions one at a time and go to Mr. Gonnet and get answers to bring back for the Member, I could set up a briefing with Mr. Gonnet on the issue of grade reorganization. I am sure that he can answer the Member's question in detail about exactly what is being done, how it is being done and the timetable involved.
Mr. Sloan: I would certainly appreciate that opportunity.
A couple of things have emerged, and I guess they have arisen out of the whole question of grade reorganization. They are related specifically to the budget. I would like to get some answers from the Minister about these questions, because they reflect some policy issues.
One concern is about the professional development fund. The professional development fund has remained constant and, in fact, has remained static for the last couple of years. From an educational point of view, we are undergoing a major shift in policy with the reorganization change. One of the things that may emerge from teachers is the need, as I referred to before, to work on such things as behaviour management strategies. As well, we have been told that a major thrust has been the safe-schools initiative. I wonder if the Minister has given any thought to perhaps increasing this fund in light of the increased demands that would be placed on teachers by grade reorganization, such as reducing violence in the schools and things of that nature.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Again, I am not certain what the coordinator is experiencing in dealing with an increased demand for professional development with respect to behavioral problems or adaptation.
As an MLA, there have certainly been behavioral problems with kids at the junior high level. We are going to have the same number of children. Grade reorganization is breaking up that junior high level, where, in my experience as an MLA and in talking to parents whose children attend school, as the Member said, kids are reaching puberty and sowing their oats. I am sure that there are behavioral problems now that we have the resources to deal with, not only through the professional development fund - I believe teachers have three days for professional development - but that sort of thing.
Without talking to the coordinator of grade reorganization, I do not know if an increase in discipline or behavioral problems has been foreseen.
Mr. Sloan: I have one additional point. I am sure my colleague from Mount Lorne has some points to raise. Along the same lines, in taking a look at materials - I suppose in the library resource centres of public schools - I notice there was no increase there. Is there not expected to be a demand for more materials after grade reorganization, or at least a change in materials to provide different materials at different schools?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: There were library resources purchased in the past fiscal year, and there will be more purchased in this fiscal year.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to follow up for a minute with the Poon Gardner Garrett study, which is entitled Discussion Paper - Whitehorse Public School System, Planning for the Year 2000. This report - for an expenditure of about $140,000 - looked at the present space inventory and the need for new space based on enrollment projections and enrollment capacity for each school facility. The study laid out the cost of various options. The grade reorganization decision is supposed to be the most cost-effective resolution of the space crunch in Whitehorse schools. However, we have heard that there will be $400,000 spent next year on renovating elementary schools.
Very few people believe that grade reorganization will in fact save money, although many prefer it as a way of educating students. School council members, administrators, teachers and department officials are very busy in implementing this major change in a short time frame. Less than a month ago, in response to some questions about the growth of school populations and the need for new facilities, the previous Minister said that we could do a much better job of predicting the need for larger or new schools.
Is that Poon Gardner Garrett report of any value now in determining the need for new schools with the grade reorganization shuffling of which kids go where? Is it still going to be helpful?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: My understanding is that it will be, and especially with respect to its evaluation of existing facilities - what is wrong with them and what needs to be done to them.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister can tell me what is being done to meet long-range planning needs. Where will new schools be needed and when?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not have that information. What we are doing is taking care of the need now - with the grade reorganization and the expansion at Porter Creek Junior Secondary School. I do not know if there have been details. As the new Minister, it is a pretty big mouthful for me. I have not bitten off much that would take me into the future, beyond getting grade reorganization and the facilities expanded, added to and upgraded to meet those needs.
Let me add that - from the debate this afternoon in Question Period - I will predict that the growth in Whitehorse and the need for schools will be in the Granger area in Whitehorse West. Apparently, lots by the hundred are available there.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do not know if I would advise the Minister to bet money on that one.
Since the Minister has said that the department is focusing on grade reorganization right now in order to meet the need for space, I would like to ask the Minister this: will that solve the space crunch for a five-year period, or exactly how long does he expect that will have a favourable effect on the demography and the school populations?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is expected to carry us through the five-year period at least. With two separate high schools, we will not be facing what we would have otherwise been facing: F.H. Collins growing and growing to an inordinate size, with all of our high school students being in that one building.
Ms. Moorcroft: I will turn to another matter the Member for Whitehorse West was referring to briefly. One of the benefits of grade reorganization that was outlined in the package of materials the former Minister brought forward for me gave the rationales for grade reorganization as including that it would not only reduce the number of school transitions but that grades 8 to 12 in one high school could provide senior role models for the challenging age group of 12 to 15 year olds. The Minister was just saying that early adolescence is a time when, for those who do not have children in that age bracket or have forgotten it, they are dealing with a lot of restless energy and growth. I would like to know how else the department is meeting the need to improve education for 12 to 15 year olds. What kinds of programming is the department looking at for this age group, other than simply trying grade reorganization?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The grade 8 and grade 9 students will have all the facilities that are available in a high school. They will have their shop and their home economics room and such facilities. Again, I do not know the details of what is being looked at, but if the Member for Mount Lorne would like to attend a briefing with Mr. Gonnet, he can provide those explanations. If they are not satisfactory, the Member can come back to me. I am prepared to set up a meeting with Mr. Gonnet, the Member for Mount Lorne and the Member for Whitehorse West to go through those details.
Ms. Moorcroft: That may be helpful and I am certainly prepared to attend; however, I do have questions for the Minister now in the Department of Education budget debate.
The problem of violence in the schools gets a lot of attention. Students and teachers deserve a respectful place in which to learn and to work. The safe teen program is one successful model that reduces violence in the schools. It has been adopted in Vancouver, B.C. There was a recent visit by educators who developed the program, and it was well received by junior high and high school students. There was also a training session for adults who work with teens. I asked the Minister in debate on the supplementaries how many teachers or administrators might be taking advantage of this opportunity, and I think only one teacher was involved in the safe teen program.
Has the department considered making the safe teen program available for all students?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure what is planned and whether or not that program will be introduced or used, but we do have a task force to promote safe schools that has quite a wide and varied representation. It will review these sorts of programs and decide what initiatives the Department of Education should undertake, either on its own or in partnership with other stakeholders.
I do not know if the Member is aware of the task force, but the representatives on the task force are Roland McCaffrey, Assistant Deputy Minister of public schools; Steven Horn, Department of Justice; Maureen Mahoney, Department of Justice; Michael Hansen, manager, family violence prevention unit; Elda Ward, Women's Directorate; Al Lucier, RCMP community policing; Betsy Jackson, First Nation Education Council; Kerry Huff and Terry Price, Yukon Teachers' Association; Anne Sheffield, Family and Children's Services; Elaine Schroeder, Family and Children's Services; Tim Brady, Youth Services; Don Harding, principal of the Carcross School; Bernice Broeder, principal of Hidden Valley School; Pat Cassidy, acting principal of Riverdale Junior Secondary; Cheryl Dolan, special programs; Fred Smith, superintendent of the Department of Education; and Barb Ewert, task force secretariat. This is the group that would be looking at implementing the safe teen program.
Ms. Moorcroft: One of the unanswered questions that I had asked about during the supplementary debate relating to the safe teen program was whether or not teachers had been encouraged to participate in the training available to offer the safe teen program?
From the positive response that students had to the safe teen program, I think it could have been beneficial to have had more teachers take the training. Was paid leave available for those teachers who may have taken the safe teen program training, and were they told so in any way, or had the task force to promote safe schools not thought of making that information available, or had the Minister not thought of making that information available?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not know, but I will check on that for the Member and find out what, if anything, was done to encourage the teachers to attend and if paid leave was available to them if they chose to attend.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am interested to know what other programs are being developed to make the schools safe for teachers and students. The Minister referred to the task force. I would like to ask if any work is being done on increasing the level of conflict resolution in schools. How does the Department of Education motivate administration and teaching staff to improve their conflict resolution skills? It is not just an add-on course; it is a question of at what point does the education system incorporate conflict resolution into the fabric of the schools.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: While I am asking about the safe teen program, I will ask about what the department or the task force is recommending to increase the skill levels of teachers with respect to conflict resolution.
Ms. Moorcroft: I can see these mounds of paper growing. I already have the ones that I got from budget briefings and from questions in previous debates, and the Minister seems to want to come back with more information. I would hope that some of these questions will not be too difficult for him to answer.
I would like to go back to the subject of school planning in a bit more depth. I will use, as an example, Golden Horn Elementary School which, along with Elijah Smith Elementary School, is one of the elementary schools that will have to have portables as a temporary solution to accommodate the growth in the school, as well as the grade 7 students coming there in September 1996.
Current enrollment at Golden Horn is 235 and, with the addition of grade 7, it is anticipated to be approximately 285. This is well over its capacity. As well, the school council has asked to limit the enrollment at 250 to protect the community school atmosphere and enhance parent-teacher cooperation and participation. I think most people agree that small neighbourhood schools can offer the best in education.
The school size is limited at Golden Horn by the water delivery and the septic field. The parents have been asking the department to come up with a solution to this growth. A number of additional lots have been developed in that area. I had written a number of letters to the previous Ministers of Education, before the present Minister took over the portfolio, about the full school and the growth in the area. I was asking how they would meet that growth.
At the most recent school council meeting, the department came out and indicated that there would be a task force set up with representation from Golden Horn and Elijah Smith, from the department and others. One of the suggestions it has been given to work with is a kindergarten to grade 3 satellite school near Golden Horn. The Minister has received representations to consider building a school in the Marsh Lake area, as well.
They also have to look at growth in the number of students in the rest of Whitehorse and the adjacent attendance areas. When is the task force going to start meeting? When does the Minister expect that they can start looking at making some decisions?
Chair: We will take a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 10, and the Department of Education, general debate.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Before the break, the Member for Mount Lorne raised three outstanding issues. The first was with respect to the safe teen program.
My understanding is that that program was offered at F.H. Collins and Porter Creek Junior Secondary. The teachers came down with their classes to participate in the sessions. It was held in the school, so there was no need for the teachers to take time off or have paid leave to attend.
The other issue the Member asked about was conflict resolution. I will have a little more information for the Member tomorrow. For now, the information I have is that in January 1995, a non-violence crisis intervention course was offered. At that time, five trainers were trained for the courses. These courses have been held at individual schools. My understanding is that it is on a demand basis for those who thought they needed it. It is also part of the educational assistance and program implementation teacher training program.
The third issue was the task force dealing with the Golden Horn ElementarySchool, which is to meet in two weeks. I do not have the names of the members of the task force, but it is my understanding that there will be two members of the school council, parent representatives and someone from the lands branch who will work with them on that issue.
Ms. Moorcroft: To go back to the Minister's information about the safe teen program, I was aware that the program was offered at junior secondary schools and the high school. As well, on Saturday there was a training program to train adults who work with students, so if teachers had taken the program on the Saturday they could have worked on implementing the safe teen program across the board in Yukon schools. That was my question for the Minister, not the fact that some students did take advantage of the course in the limited numbers of classrooms in which the program was offered.
The Minister also responded to the question regarding school planning about when the task force might meet to look at the shortage of space and increased attendance at Golden Horn ElementarySchool. Parents hope that the politicians and the planners in the Department of Education would come up with a sensible, far-seeing plan. I do have a briefing note that the Minister sent back to us about long-range forecasts for capital planning, which are spread over a period of five years. The Department of Education does not speculate on migration factors or private sector development, such as a new mine. The Department of Education collaborates with Economic Development and the private sector. They look at preschool populations from health records and the current enrollment.
I think there is a need for the planners to also look at the development of lots in the geographic areas that are within any given school's attendance area. I know that the Golden Horn Elementary School has had parents prepare a population projection because they felt that the numbers determined by the department simply were not accurate enough.
Looking at the population by area - Marsh Lake, Golden Horn and Carcross Road are approximately half the Golden Horn school population. Wolf Creek, Pineridge, Mary Lake and Cowley are approximately half, as well. That might seem to the department like a neat solution, but I firmly believe that it has to not just talk about the fact that the school population is going up. Facility studies have indicated that it is at a crisis level now. There are two portables going to Golden Horn, as well as portables in other schools next year.
The task force will have to get down to looking at possibilities for accommodating growth quickly. I hope to hear a favourable report from the Minister on that.
I would also like to ask about the effect of grade reorganization on elementary schools and how education needs are being met. The Minister has offered a briefing on what the implementation coordinator is planning. I know that people are working very hard to try to make sure that students are adequately served next year.
The capital costs are $400,000.
I would like to know what kind of money is going into support for school resources. The Minister said that parents had been quite reasonable and that school councils had not been asking for shops and major facilities to be added to the elementary schools. However, we would like to know what additional library resources are being allotted as a result of the grade 7 students being retained in elementary schools. What other operation and maintenance costs are being assigned to improve elementary schools since they offer grade 7 next year?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I will ask the department that question so that I have the information when we get to line-by-line debate and deal with the $400,000. I will have a detailed breakdown of that and I will make sure that I have information on what other resources will be allocated that are not included in that capital dollar figure.
With respect to the task force, the Member's representations were valid. I hope that by having someone from the lands branch on the task force and working with it will help to solve some of those issues before something gets to the task force that ends up being impractical or shot down by the lands branch.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have some questions about F.H. Collins High School. In the supplementary budget, I received an answer that the facility assessment that is being done by a Whitehorse architectural firm for $24,000 has not yet been completed. It will provide a detailed assessment of architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical aspects of the facility.
The Poon Gardner Garrett report recommended that F.H. Collins be the subject of a full facility planning study. It gave an estimated cost of $50,000. The question I would like the Minister to respond to is whether or not the assessment of F.H. Collins had been started before the Poon Gardner Garrett recommendations, or if it is being done as a result of the Poon Gardner Garrett report.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Our understanding is that it is being done as a result of the Poon Gardner Garrett report.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is nice to discover that the cost, estimated at $50,000, is now $24,000. I hope that can do the entire job. Will the facility assessment of F.H. Collins contain the detail needed to allow informed decision making and planning for future additions or renovations for F.H. Collins? Is the study to consider the impact of grade reorganization as well as the structural and mechanical facility?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, I hope and expect that it will do the job. If it does not, then obviously we will be back in here again discussing the need to increase the budget to do a more detailed analysis of F.H. Collins High School. My understanding is that that will give us what we need.
Ms. Moorcroft: I expect that would also include the cost of bringing the facility up to standard in areas where they recommend that any upgrading occur.
I have had reports that the gym is very cold, and there have been some problems with students having had to write exams with their coats on in the gym. I have received reports of a shortage of textbooks and of textbooks not being available until October for some of the students. I would like to know if the Minister has also heard these concerns and what he has done to resolve them.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, I have not, but I will pass the concerns of the Member for Mount Lorne on to the department. Although I will not provide a written response on it to the Member, I will certainly follow it up and see what is being done.
Ms. Moorcroft: Assessments are a vital part of the education system. We believe teachers have to be included in decisions to determine what form of assessment should be used in the classroom. Assessments should provide results about individual student performance as well as the system performance. We have seen assessment highlights, produced recently, for Yukon territorial examinations and grade 12 examinations. The results of how the students did at F.H. Collins in math, for instance, were encouraging, but that is not the only high school in the territory. I would like to ask how Haines Junction, Dawson and Watson Lake did in these math results. Were they included?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: An interesting question - I will ask for the answer to that, read it myself with interest and pass it on to the Member for Mount Lorne.
Mr. Sloan: I have a question for the Minister along the same line. I believe the Member for Riverside, Mr. Cable, raised the subject of the participation rate in Grade 12 math, but unfortunately we in the Official Opposition did not get the information. The Member asked a question with regard to the participation rate versus the overall achievement rate.
Interestingly enough, when Maureen Morris of the Canadian Teachers Federation was here on Friday, she indicated that Canada tends to have a higher participation rate than many countries that boast extremely high scores. I was wondering if, in fact, our participation rate was that good.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure whether or not the participation rate is good, but for the years 1993-94 and 1994-95, it is approximately 45 percent of F.H. Collins students for Math 12.
Mr. Sloan: That means that 45 percent of all grade 12 students are taking math 12. Does the nature of how the courses are offered have any particular impact - in the Minister's opinion - on the achievement? It is my understanding that, generally speaking, students take the grade 12 math as a prerequisite to taking grade 12 calculus. Would that tend to skew the results at all?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not know. The Member might have been there himself and have some idea about the answer to his question. I do not know that, but the Member's question is on the record. I will look at exactly what it is and will try and give the Member a response to that issue.
Mr. Sloan: Since we are continuing with the assessment question, I wonder if we have any feedback on other areas of the grade 12 curriculum. I am particularly interested in such things as achievement levels on English and grade 12 social studies. Do we have any levels of success on those, compared in terms of participation rate?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: We do not have it with us, but it is apparently available from our assessment people. I will provide the English and social studies results and the participation levels.
My note with respect to math 12 is what the Member for Whitehorse West told me about calculus being an elective. I have no more detail than that.
Mr. Sloan: With regard to assessment and standardized curriculum, there has been a move in recent years to a standardized curriculum form in the western provinces, specifically the western consortium. Is it the intention of the department to continue on this path and to make greater contacts on a greater range of subjects with the western provinces?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes. As part of the western consortium, there is a protocol agreement that says we will share with the western provinces, and we expect it to continue.
Mr. Sloan: To date we have made some contacts with western provinces in math and the sciences. Can the Minister tell us what the next steps are in that regard in terms of a common curriculum?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: We do not have a great amount of detail, but I am told that there have been preliminary discussions on a French curriculum. Because we follow the B.C. curriculum, we are included in all discussions that would change the curriculum in B.C. and the Yukon.
Ms. Moorcroft: I want to follow up on the assessments. The standardized tests are only one element of testing and completing the assessments of students. The Yukon Education Review Committee report makes the point that there appears to be a negative attitude about testing in schools, and that this discredits its usefulness in providing good information.
Some people feel that too much emphasis is placed on the standardized tests, and there are certainly polarized views about the use of them.
One of the other areas that was addressed in the same section of the education report was the diversity in learning styles. Individual students learn in different ways and require different teaching styles and an acknowledgement about the range of teaching strategies available, and how important it is to meet the range of learning styles found in today's classrooms.
We have seen the government move to more standardized testing by increasing the subject areas where they have standardized testing and increasing the grade levels that are required to engage in standardized testing. Some parents are complaining; the Minister must know that. Some teachers are concerned they are teaching to a test, rather than teaching the student. I would like to know what is being done in the Department of Education to work on helping students with different learning styles, in light of the focus on standardized testing?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I think that is done at the individual class level, and I think that that is not only true of the Yukon, but probably of every other school and jurisidiction - there is a range in style and learning. This factor would be evident throughout the Canada where standardized testing takes place so we are comparing apples and apples. It is not as if other jurisdictions that are compared to the Yukon have only one style or standard learning available to students, whereas in the Yukon we have many different learning styles that teachers have to cope with. To me, it would be something that the statistics would address.
Ms. Moorcroft: What weight do the standardized tests have overall, looking at the tests given in the classroom resulting from the normal curriculum that is covered, and the standardized tests that are given across the board? What weight do they have?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is 25 percent.
Ms. Moorcroft: What reallocation of money is taking place in order to increase the standardized testing?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure what the budget was before or what it was rolled into, but the budget for the assessments unit of the public schools branch in 1996-97 is $130,000 in salaries and wages and $270,000 in program funding.
Ms. Moorcroft: A couple of recommendations from the education review were that the cost effectiveness of any standardized testing initiative should be considered when planning to implement them. It also recommended that appropriate inservicing be provided to teachers prior to implementing standardized tests.
What work has been done to meet the recommendations of the Education Review Committee?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure, other than implementing the program, which has been done across Canada. My understanding of it - I stand to be corrected by the department - is that we are simply getting on the bandwagon with everyone else when it comes to standardized testing.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister is not aware of what work has been done on recommendations 38, 39, 40 and 41, but he could come back with more detail on that if he needs to.
I would also like to know because I have been asking questions that relate to a number of the recommendations in the education review, such as: what effect has grade reorganization had on the department meeting its plan to address the recommendations of the education review?
We know that grade reorganization is a major shift in focus for the Department of Education. We know that it has had special staff resources allocated to expanding all the elementary schools to accommodate grade 7, and it is working on capital expansion to the Porter Creek Junior Secondary School to create a new high school. How much political energy is now being directed within Department of Education staff to grade reorganization as a project, and how does that relate to the response to the education review?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: As we talked about earlier, the department has assigned Chris Gonnet to be the grade reorganization coordinator on a full-time basis. He was seconded from Riverdale Junior Secondary School. I do not know how grade reorganization relates specifically to education review recommendations, but politically there has been no change in the desire to consider and implement the recommendations of the education review.
What I will do is warn Mr. Gonnet that when he briefs the Member for Mount Lorne and the Member Whitehorse West, they will want him to be able to relate his grade reorganization undertakings to recommendations of the Education Review Committee.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do not think the Minister got the point. A political decision was made. Grade reorganization is an enormous political project, as well as an administrative project. Grade reorganization has now become a priority for the department. Has that in any way meant a lessening of the amount of resources available to work on implementing the follow-up to the education review?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, it has not. I did get that point and I answered that question. I explained that Mr. Gonnet was seconded from his position as principal of the Riverdale Junior Secondary School to work full-time on grade reorganization. There were no resources pulled from implementing education review recommendations, and this government is still as committed as it was before to implementing education review recommendations.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to go back and follow up on the line of questioning about the math programs. I have the briefing note that was provided to me about the grade 9 math programs. Math 9 is the formal abstract program, and math 9A is a less abstract, applied program. The department surveyed 16 schools and found that approximately 325 students are currently taking grade 9 math and 99 students are taking grade 9A math. That is a ratio of about three to one. This is going to have an effect on the results when standardized testing is conducted, where a quarter of the students are diverted into accounting in grade 12, rather than taking calculus in grade 12.
Does the Minister know if that number is higher here in the Yukon than it is in other jurisdictions?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No. As I said, 45 percent of the students take the grade 12 math. I do not know how that number compares with other jurisdictions. I do not know if it is good or what it should be in this jurisdiction. I will have to ask the department for those statistics.
Ms. Moorcroft: Let me relate that to the personnel allotment the Minister provided us with. I have a few questions on the subject of public schools.
There are two new positions indicated for assessments in the personnel allotment. Can the Minister explain what those positions are for?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: My information is that these are not new positions created by hiring extra staff. They are reallocated positions that were within the department.
Mr. Joe: I have a question for the new Minister of Education.
I have asked different Ministers about education. I went to a third Minister because I did not get anywhere. I hear about school planning and renovations under public schools. I have heard nothing mentioned about the J.V. Clark School.
Can the Minister tell me whether or not there are any plans to do anything on the J.V. Clark School? I have been asked about it, and I do not know how to answer the questions because I have not received an answer from the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Work will be done on the J.V. Clark School as part of the global sum of $1.25 million in the budget for capital maintenance repairs.
With respect to the J.V. Clark School, the rural school facilities study has been completed, and I have authorized that it be released soon. The Member for Mount Lorne is asking where it is. I am not sure where it is. If it is not released right now, it should be within the next day or two. I have looked through it briefly. Some of the recommendations include the replacement of the J.V. Clark School in Mayo for somewhere in the neighbourhood of $6 million. It also talks about replacing the old wing of the Tantalus School in Carmacks for almost $2.5 million.
There is an addition to the Eliza Van Bibber School in Pelly Crossing, at a cost of almost $1 million. There is also a small upgrading project in every rural school. We will be looking at the facility study and deciding what to do with the budgets in the future. Those three schools are certainly identified as being in need of major repairs or, in fact, replacement.
Mr. Joe: I would like to thank the Minister for answering my question.
I am the one who will be asked what I am doing for the J. V. Clark School. At least the Minister is giving me some answers.
I want to know if there are any changes to the native language teaching in the rural community schools.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: There is no change that we are aware of. If there is, I will come back and correct the record tomorrow when we continue debate.
Mr. Joe: There is a lot of work needed to teach native language studies. There should be two hours or more of instruction per day, not just 20 or 40 minutes.
The only way you are going to teach students about native studies is to have more programs like the culture camp. Students have to speak their native language to begin with.
One cannot learn too much in school - 40 minutes a day is ridiculous.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Member has a good point with respect to learning a language. Forty minutes a day in school, or 40 minutes three days a week - I think most of us in here tried to learn French that way and can probably say "hello" as a result, but not much more.
I do not know what the Department of Education is doing or planning to do with respect to culture camps. I hope the community will get involved and that work will be done at home, too. As the Member says, if one is going to learn a language, one has to speak it, and it would be nice if it was done at the community level with parents and the elders being involved, and with the children working with them. There is only so much that the Department of Education can do in the school setting. To preserve culture and language will take a lot of effort by the whole community, not just the schools.
Ms. Moorcroft: I think the Member for Mayo-Tatchun and I might both benefit if the Minister can come back with some information on the aboriginal language service, how it relates to the native language education programs and the training of aboriginal language teachers, and how those relate to the Yukon aboriginal languages community initiatives program. There do seem to be a lot of programs available. If the Minister could come back with information about which departments fund which programs and what the different responsibilities of each are, that might be helpful; we can follow up from there.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, I am sure that there is a considerable amount of information on the aboriginal languages program. I will get it for the Member for Mount Lorne and the Member for Mayo-Tatchun.
Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 10.
Motion agreed to
Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Millar: Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 1996-97, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 9, 1996:
M'Clintock Place: history of ownership and development (Brewster)
M'Clintock Place: history of caveats on certain lots (Brewster)