Tuesday, April 22, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I rise to encourage members to pay tribute to our planet on Earth Day.
Earth Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves how dependent we are on the planet for our survival. It is an opportunity to do the earth and its atmosphere a favour. I would like to commend students aware of their world and their efforts to encourage people to park their cars for the day and bike, walk, run or roller skate instead. If members missed the free Earth Day breakfast for cyclists and walkers in front of the Elijah Smith Building this morning, there is an Earth Day extravaganza tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the basement of the United Church. It will feature local musicians, poets, storytellers and an auction for an Earth Day quilt.
Ms. Duncan: It is an honour to rise in tribute to Earth Day, a time when each of us, personally, commits to conserve, protect and renew our planet.
Our planet, our Mother Earth, like many mothers' patience with their children, has been very forgiving of our disgraceful treatment of her. Every 24 hours, 150 species of plants, animals or fish become extinct. Wind-driven pollutants are tainting the fragile Arctic. Mother Earth's patience and ability to be forgiving is wearing thin. We must be at warning number two of three, and it's time each of us took our own actions to protect and renew her. We are stewards of this environment. It is not ours to use; it is ours to safeguard for our children and our children's children.
What steps have each of us taken for Earth Day?
Speaker: Are there any introduction of visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would like to introduce a group of young people in the gallery today from Elijah Smith School. It is the grade 6/7 experiential class from the school, under the direction of their teacher, Laurie Miller. The students are Charles Stewart, Roshanna Smith, Phillip Smith, Stephanie Stewart and Arjay Peter. These young folks are with us today. They are going to try and learn a little bit about government, so I will expect we'll all be on our best behaviour.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have a document for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 6: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 6, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98 (No. 2), be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that Bill No. 6, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98 (No. 2), be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 6 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Yukon protected areas strategy
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, consistent with our election commitments and as confirmed by the budget address, the Government of Yukon is dedicated to a policy of establishing a network of protected areas representative of the Yukon's ecological regions, by the year 2000. Today, on the occasion of Earth Day, I would like to advise of steps toward that goal.
Mr. Speaker, we've proposed a cooperative, participatory approach to develop a Yukon protected areas strategy and protected areas system. Progress toward adoption of a strategy and establishment of protected areas will require the active involvement of a number of partners.
Key among these are the Government of Canada and the First Nation governments with whom we are working on a government-to-government basis. Canada has agreed to participate and is on record as supporting the protection of representative ecological areas. The leadership of the Council of Yukon First Nations has made that same commitment.
Substantive agreement on a strategy that sets out guidelines for establishing protected areas in the Yukon will only be achieved if the councils and boards are mandated in settlement agreements, as well as industries, conservation groups and the public are involved in developing those guidelines.
We have every indication that people are ready to work together for protected areas.
The Fish and Wildlife Management Board and Renewable Resources Councils have consistently advocated better protection for wildlife habitat, as have organizations such as the Yukon Fish and Game Association and the Yukon Outfitters Association.
The mining industry has expressed clear support for the protection of representative ecological areas through its endorsement of the Whitehorse mining initiative.
A range of organizations and initiatives, such as the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Yukon Conservation Society, and the Yukon wildlands project have built public awareness and interest in the need for protected spaces.
The Wilderness Tourism Association has pointed out economic potential for protected areas and their importance in building a sustainable tourism industry.
We have written to and initiated discussions with a wide range of interested parties, inviting them to help develop a workplan aimed at completing a protected area strategy by the end of this year.
In government, we will be working to integrate the protected areas strategy with the important policy work of the development assessment process and the Forest Commission. All three processes are guided by a common commitment to ecosystem management, but the decisions in one process will have the potential to affect the others.
My department has been preparing for this major push for a long time. Much of the baseline technical work is well in hand. A working group has been established to prepare a draft workplan and timetable for the protected areas strategy. It is drawing on input and expertise from across government, as well as from a number of non-government groups, as it develops the strategy.
On May 29th and 30th, we plan to hold a workshop with our partners to develop a common understanding and acceptance of the work that has been done to achieve the agreement on the workplan and timetable for what we have to do next. We want to be sure that the guidelines and classifications that the department has been using to identify potential protected areas have the broadest possible support among our partners.
The protected areas strategy will ultimately be a written document setting territory-wide direction, policies and guidelines for planning and establishing protected areas in the Yukon. Some tough questions will have to be answered, such as the extent and degree of interim protection for candidate protected areas.
Mr. Speaker, the guidelines eventually adopted need to be clear about what kinds of wildlife habitat and natural, recreational or cultural features deserve what sort of protection.
The strategy will confirm what types of designations should be provided in Yukon legislation. Parks, habitat and wildlife areas, wilderness areas, heritage rivers, special management areas, heritage and cultural sites, recreational areas or community protected areas might each provide differing levels of protection.
Our goal is a completed strategy that will result in a coordinated and effective approach to establishing protected areas; strong support from conservation and industry groups; and improved certainty for the mining, tourism and timber industries.
We believe that all Yukon people can benefit from the establishment of protected areas and from knowing what rules apply to what land in the Yukon. It is as important for mining to know where it can develop a property as it is for a wilderness guides to know where wilderness, undisturbed by industrial activity, can be found.
Mr. Speaker, most of the Yukon people place a high value on Yukon's rich natural and cultural heritage and environment. It touches and enriches all our lives, whether through subsistence activities, hunting, fishing, backcountry travel or casual recreation.
Setting aside representative examples of Yukon's land base will not in itself ensure long-term health of Yukon environment. Responsible ecosystem-based management practices for forests and wildlife and an effective development assessment process are also needed to make sure that sound decisions are made about our resources, but protected areas are an important part of the picture.
Mr. Speaker, six months ago, Yukon electors made a protected areas strategy and system a Yukon government priority. It is our hope that by acting today we will be able to offer our children and all who come after us the opportunity to experience the full diversity of Yukon's natural ecological regions.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his statement. I just want to say for the record that the target date for establishing a network of protected areas did not start with this government or with this budget. The Yukon Party government was committed to meeting the target date of the year 2000 for protected areas and was working toward that end. As the minister said in his statement, a lot of work has been done already and a lot more needs to be done.
Mr. Speaker, I find it somewhat ironic, though, and unfortunate that we have a government on one hand that is committed to environmental concerns, and yet on the other hand they make political decisions that add to environmental problems by burning more and more diesel fuel to create electricity, and by doing this, they are adding millions of tons of CO2 emissions to our atmosphere.
We heard the minister say in his opening comments in his tributes about doing a favour to the atmosphere. Well, maybe he could speak to his minister of energy and see if he won't do a favour for the atmosphere and quit burning so much diesel fuel to generate electricity.
Mr Speaker, when the minister gets up to reply, I would like to ask him if he could advise the House as to whether the mineral assessment work on the proposed protected areas is complete and, if not, when he expects it to be completed.
Ms. Duncan: I rise in response to the ministerial statement respecting Yukon's protected areas strategy.
The minister's absolutely right, this was a priority issue during the recent election campaign; it has been a priority for a number of Yukoners for a very long time. There are certain areas of the Yukon that are unique, that are fragile, and that should be protected.
The difficulty with this topic, like many other discussions, including some in this Legislature, is which variety of the truth is to be accepted.
There's a basic premise in place: protected area strategies are to protect viable, representative examples of natural diversity, including major ecosystems; protection of special features, such as rare and endangered species; critical habitats, and outstanding cultural or recreational features.
I think most of us would agree that the definition that I just stated, could include the whole Yukon. That's not realistic.
It is realistic to reach a consensus among Yukoners and Yukon governments as to which areas should be protected. It is a realistic, laudable goal; it's not going to be easy; nothing worth doing ever is.
I appreciate that what the minister has said today, is that this government will work with all Yukoners to reach agreement on protected areas. He has recognized the partners in the process. He has said that the process of reaching agreement will be cooperative and participatory. There will be a workplan and there is a deadline. The Liberal Party caucus supports a methodical approach and will be participating however we can.
I would also like to make special note of the minister's comments that this effort cannot be made in isolation. Responsible ecosystem-based management practices for forest and wildlife and an effective development assessment process are also needed to make sure that sound decisions are made about our Yukon resources.
This is really about Yukon people collectively deciding how best to protect our part of the earth on Earth Day, and it's about being part of the solution, not part of the problem. It's a challenge for us all.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I thank the members for their comments and direction. Just in response, the Yukon Conservation Society supported the Yukon government in their actions on Aishihik Lake and also supported the increased usage of diesel fuel for the short term.
The protected areas strategy that we are proposing will be proceeding based on a clear and public mandate, which has been given to us through our election platform and through the direction of people voting us in. We will be taking a responsible and considered approach to this, and I understand that this is not a short-term job, for sure. It is something that is going to take many years to do.
In putting together the strategy, we feel that one year would set a lot of goals for us in the coming years. It has been in the minds of many Yukoners for a long time to do this. Certainly, it has been a direction of First Nations as one of the key areas of negotiating land claims and putting land aside for future generations to use. Yukoners recognize that even that is not enough for Yukon, and we need to continue to put protected areas and identify protected areas for the future use of Yukoners, and we will continue to do that.
I thank members for their support.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period
Question re: Economic forecast
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development on his short-term economic outlook report.
Yesterday in Question Period, Mr. Speaker, the minister tried his best to deflect my criticism that I believed this report was politically tampered with. The minister went even as far as to allege that the Yukon Party was on a witch hunt and after a government official. Nothing could be further from the truth. People working in his department are professionals and do their job.
The minister says that the report was prepared by the department in a manner that was similar to the manner that was used to prepare the 1996 report. Yet, key economic indicators are missing from the report tabled by the minister last week. That, Mr. Speaker, leads me to believe that this report was politically tampered with.
My question to the minister is: will he come back to this House with an amended short-term economic outlook that includes the missing key economic indicators and includes more realistic visitation estimates and inflation projections? Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I have to respond to the member on a couple of points.
Yesterday he was trying to make an issue of the fact that the report was not tabled until April of this year. So, I did a little bit of history checking into the consistent practices over the last eight or 10 years with regard to these forecasts, as to when they were tabled. I also provided him with the rationale for why it was tabled in April.
I found out that last year the document was tabled on February 15th, but the year prior to that, under the Yukon Party, it was tabled in May, on May 15th, a full month after we tabled it. In 1994 they refused to release their spring forecast. So, Mr. Speaker, there is no thematic consistency other than the document, as it should be, is tabled in the legislative session within reasonable time parameters, given reasonable rationales.
I will also table now the DIAND's information on the mineral exploration that is expected to occur in the Yukon. This is normally what is the basis of the economic outlook's predictions. This wasn't available prior to this year's going into print. I will also endeavour to try and get any information. I look forward to full debate on this in the Economic Development estimates, when we get into them, that the member requests.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the member for that and for the fact that he is tabling the DIAND figures. They make it look very rosy for this government, but in fact we know the Chamber of Mines vigorously disputes those figures.
Mr. Speaker, the minister said he did research to see when these reports were filed. Well, I suggest to him he didn't do very good research because, if he'd have looked back under the previous NDP administration, he'd have found out that they didn't like one report and didn't bother tabling it at all.
My supplementary to the minister is: we heard this morning on the radio that inflation in the Yukon last month was 2.9 percent and that was before the projected 20-percent increase electrical rate hike that this government is going to subject Yukoners to, that takes effect on May the 1st. And this high inflation rate is before union negotiations are completed with two unions.
In light of that, Mr. Speaker, I ask this minister, does he believe that the 2.2-percent inflation projection in his short-term economic outlook is realistic?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I have to respond to the member's preamble. He often tries to bootleg in a lot of very incorrect information, a lot of allegations about the government's record that are, in fact, not true at all. First of all the member points to - what did he say? He said a 20-percent rate hike that the government will inflict upon Yukoners. First of all, that rate has not been determined. The Utilities Board is seized of the matter now and has not even set a date, as I'm aware, for when they would be hearing it.
Mr. Speaker, I'm confident that the rates won't be 20 percent increased and our government is looking at action right now that we can take to respond once the due process is respected and the Yukon Utilities Board, who sets the rate in the Yukon, is finished deliberating upon the matter. So his date of May 1st, I believe, is errant.
Secondly, I don't know what the member's problem is with union negotiations. He tries to imply somehow that, I guess, the collective bargaining process should not go ahead in the Yukon and makes some inference to the fact that that will have inflationary pressure.
Mr. Speaker, we are committed on this side of the House to restarting the collective bargaining process that he killed and we are presently underway with YTA on that and we have also exchanged proposals with PSAC.
Mr. Speaker, I'm not an economist. That is the economist report. I don't know who gives the member his economic advice. I do know that he presided over a very artificially inflated economy with government spending while he was in power.
Mr. Ostashek: This minister doesn't want to take responsibility for anything. That report was made for him and he tabled it in this Legislature. Ultimately, he is responsible for it, and he can't slough it off to the department.
My second supplementary is to the same minister. Since he won't give the House a commitment that he'll table an amended report, I would like to ask him how he explains it to people who refer to this report. How does he explain that key economic indicators, such as mining exploration, mine development and permitted building construction are missing in the 1997 short-term economic outlook, yet were included in the 1995 and 1996? How does the minister explain that to people.
Hon. Mr. Harding: After the controversy surrounding the Yukon Party's political vetting of their report, the economic forecast in 1993, they didn't release a report in 1994 and released a subsequent report in May 1995. There was a process change. The economists in the department followed that process change.
One of the criteria in that change does not state that there is a list of indicators to be set aside in the outlook whatsoever. That is one point: the process that they outlined did not lay out a list of indicators.
On mineral exploration, I have already indicated to the member, according to the author, that there were no DIAND figures, which they usually used with regard to the outlook. With regard to the permitting construction, in the opinion of the author, there was insufficient information available to base a reasonably accurate forecast; however a forecast of construction capital spending was included in the outlook.
With regard to mineral price forecasts, they have never been predicted by Economic Development. They are usually sourced by some outside source and do not always reflect, in a very good fashion, what will happen on major mineral price markets that are affected by so many influences around the world.
Question re: Aishihik Lake water
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the minister of the environment. This winter, his government made a decision not to draw down Aishihik Lake and, instead, to burn more diesel fuel to provide power for Yukoners.
As we know, the burning of diesel is not necessarily environmentally friendly. In fact, it produces C02 emissions, which contribute to increasing the hole in the ozone layer. His government must have considered this when making the Aishihik decision. They must have looked at all the facts and figures.
Can the minister tell this House today how many tons of CO2 emissions have been put into Yukoners' atmosphere as a result of this decision?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I certainly don't know how many tons have gone into the air, but I can tell you that the decision - and it is being supported by the Yukon Conservation Society, and knowing that this is a short-term position that we are taking on this - is one that is certainly supported by the community that is close to Aishihik Lake and the people of Champagne-Aishihik. Those are the people we need to be looking at in making these decisions. We are certainly concerned about the air emissions, and we are going to be taking action on air emission regs soon.
Mr. Phillips: Well, the horse is well out of the barn before they are going to stop the emissions, Mr. Speaker.
I would have thought that this environment minister who says he cares about Yukon's environment would have asked that very question when they talked about burning more diesel fuel, Mr. Speaker, and would know how many tons of CO2 emissions the burning of this extra diesel fuel will put into the atmosphere. The minister should know the answer to that question, and if he doesn't, he's not doing his job. Would the minister bring back to the House tomorrow the answer for us, so we all know how many tons of CO2 emissions are being pumped into Yukon's atmosphere everyday in the Yukon Territory as a result of burning more diesel fuel as a result of a political decision made by the side opposite?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, certainly the decision that was made on Aishihik Lake had a lot more than an impact on our air, and we certainly talked about the impact of the lake and the fish that are in it. We have to take all these considerations into making these decisions, and we know that this is a short-term solution to this. We're working on long-term solutions to energy and the environment, and that's why we've established the Energy Commission to work on some of these things and work on policies, and that's where we're going with this. I don't know how many tons have been put into the air, and I could possibly get some of those numbers for them for the next day.
Mr. Phillips: The side opposite shouldn't be clapping with that answer; it was a pretty pathetic answer.
I would have thought that, when the government considered a decision like this, it was based on the environment in the first place. They would have looked at the environmental impact of Aishihik and assessed it. They would have looked at the environmental impact of burning diesel fuel and assessed that.
I'm quite surprised that the minister of the environment doesn't have a clue about what he's doing out there by burning all of this diesel fuel.
I advise the minister that there is a formula that he can use. He knows how many gallons of diesel fuel that has been burned over this winter. Would he come back to this House tomorrow with a legislative return telling us how many tons of CO2 emissions that this pro-environment government has pumped into the atmosphere?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly, this type of questioning could have been easily directed to the energy commissionner.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please. Order.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have taken advice from the technical advisory committee on this. We have done what we had to do...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order. Order. Order.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: ...in making a decision as quickly as we possibly could, taking everything into consideration, including the environmental impacts on the lake.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital staffing
Mrs. Edelman: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
I have heard a number of concerns about the hospital from constituents and I've raised questions about the topic a number of times in this House.
I am pleased that the minister is working with the hospital board to solve some of the staffing and safety issues at Whitehorse General Hospital.
Public confidence in our largest health facility is extremely important. There are now nine CNA/stores positions at Whitehorse General Hospital. Four of those positions will be classified back to full-time CNA positions. Does the minister have any indication from the board that the remaining five CNA positions will be turned back into full-time nursing positions?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, I can confirm with the member opposite that the hospital has returned some of the CNAs to active patient care. I don't want to prejudge in this term what will be some of the recommendations, but we are having a director of nursing come in, and I imagine that would be one of the focuses of that person in terms of advising the board in that regard. I do know that the physicians have made some recommendations on that particular subject, and no doubt their views will be taken into account.
Mrs. Edelman: The current hospital was designed with little or no staff input. Now there are problems with the building. If the transition team identifies serious flaws with the new hospital, will this government commit to renovations or additions?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The member is correct when she says that this present design was not the original design.
I can only suggest - and once again, we would be anticipating that if there were, for example, major structural changes, or things of that nature - that that would be something that the transition team, if they were to identify some, we would have to take into account. I certainly can't anticipate anything at this point, nor would I be fair to the transition team or the board if I did that at this moment.
Mrs. Edelman: Providing quality health care for Yukoners is the number-one objective for staff at Whitehorse General Hospital, and it should be the number-one objective of this government, as well. If the transition team identifies a need for greater staffing levels at Whitehorse General Hospital, will this government commit to increased transfer dollars to the hospital board so they can hire more staff?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Once again, that's somewhat premature in anticipation of what the team will find. I can tell the member opposite that the initial report that we had from the consultant that we brought in to take a look at the hospital, Mr. Breen from Nova Scotia, indicated that he felt, at the time, that the hospital was sufficiently funded and sufficiently staffed.
Now we'll have to see what this particular group, who will have a more in-depth study of operations and more in-depth study of the arrangements at the hospital, conclude. I can't say that this particular design was adopted because of staffing - I guess - economies. I can only say that there hasn't been a decline from previous staffing levels.
Question re: Maintenance enforcement
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice on maintenance enforcement.
In 1995, this House passed an amendment to the Maintenance and Custody Orders Enforcement Act. It gave the government authority to suspend the drivers' licences of individuals who were in arrears making child-support payments.
Now, it's my information that the minister was at a meeting recently and it was stated that only one licence had been suspended for failure to pay maintenance since the act came into force. The question I have for the minister is: is my information correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I don't recall that statement being made, but I wasn't at the forum for the entire day and I will have to check and find an answer for the member on it.
Mr. Cable: Now, the minister, when in Opposition, pointed out to the previous administration's Justice minister a year ago in Question Period that at that time not one driver's licence had been suspended for failure to pay child support. Then she went on to ask, and I quote from Hansard of April 22, 1996, "Why has the minister not ensured that the law we passed in the House is respected?"
So, the question I have - and it's based on the information that the minister is going to check into - is the same question that she asked exactly one year ago: why has the minister not ensured that the law we passed in this House is respected?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I thank the member for his question. I'm very happy to tell him that, as the new minister, I have given direction to the department and to the maintenance enforcement staff to ensure that there is full enforcement of the law. As well, I have given direction that the penalties and administrative sanctions that we imposed when we passed that law in this House over a year ago will be stepped up to apply to all parents who are in arrears.
Now, I should also advise the member that a driver's licence wouldn't necessarily be suspended because, when a parent becomes aware that their driver's licence will be suspended if they don't pay up their child support, then they do pay up their child support and the licence wouldn't be suspended.
Mr. Cable: That brings me to my next question then. It's my understanding there are over 500 active maintenance enforcement files and there are 200, approximately, where both partners are in the Yukon. Would the minister provide to this House, prior to the Justice budget debate, confirmation of the present number of open files, by category, the amount of arrears in each category and the number of files actioned under the Maintenance and Custody Orders Enforcement Act amendment?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member giving some notice of his request so that we can ask the officials in Justice to go through and put that information together. I know they do maintain accurate records, and we will attempt to get it for him in time for the Justice debate.
Question re: Historic Resources Centre
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the minister of heritage.
A week or so ago, I asked several questions about the lack of funding in this budget for the Historic Resources Centre, and the minister told us in the House that he was going to look at it this summer. In fact, he said, "The Historic Resources Centre - we are going to be examining that this summer, and there are monies in there that we may roll over to examine the incentive."
I'd like to ask the minister what monies he is talking about rolling over to start the construction of a historic resources centre?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, the monies that we are looking at rolling over will be the design and planning dollars.
Mr. Phillips: I guess I can assume, then, that there'll be a supplementary on this issue because there's no line item at all in the budget dealing with the Historic Resources Centre. So, can the minister tell us, in fact, that, yes, these will be new monies, they will be inserting money in the budget, and that the deficit will be a little larger than was announced by the Finance minister because they are bringing new money in to start the planning for the Historic Resources Centre?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, as I think the member opposite is already aware, the dollars will be looked at and may be revoted.
Mr. Phillips: When does the minister plan on bringing this in - in the supplementary so that we deal with it in the supplementary? And is he talking about the full amount - I believe it was $500,000 - that they will be bringing in with respect to planning for the Historic Resources Centre?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: There has not been a decision made on this, and when we do make the decision I will certainly apprise the member opposite of the decision.
Question re: Community development fund, Taylor House purchase
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Tourism.
Last week, the Government of Yukon purchased the Taylor House. The minister, in his own words, acted quickly. The $400,000-plus dollars is to come from the community development fund, and the criteria for that fund has not been set. The government is still consulting about the terms for the fund now. The minister also, in his own words, termed this a one-time situation that wouldn't set a precedent.
Would the minister tell this House how the government plans to deal with other groups that will come forward to the community development fund with similar requests for this type of support?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I have to respond to this question as the sponsoring department with regard to finding the means of delivery in terms of paying for this particular venture. Other aspects may be able to be better answered by the Minister of Tourism in subsequent supplementaries.
Mr. Speaker, the money is not to be coming out of the community development fund as it is being envisioned now. The community development fund is presently under consultation. We were very careful to point out that we would use community development funding of one aspect or another. There are three potential sources to source this particular purchase of the Taylor House. One would be CPI funding; one might be cap lapse funding that doesn't get revoted; or one might be pre-CDF monies we would have to identify. In terms of the CDF, we are presently in consultation regarding the criteria for that particular program as we committed to doing in the election campaign.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I used the government's own words in using the term "community development funds". Perhaps the Minister of Government Services wants to answer the next questions. My supplementary deals with the fact that the government now owns three historic buildings in downtown Whitehorse. The T. C. Richards Building is managed for the Government of Yukon by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce. It is well-maintained, and it's a functional office space. The White Pass Building is owned by the Government of Yukon. It is also used - the parts of it that are usable - as functional office space. What are the plans for the Taylor House? What options is the government exploring for the use of this building?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are going to be talking with NGOs, and we're going to be looking at having consultations with the heritage folks and the Yukon Historical and Museums Association, et cetera, and we're going to be coming with NGOs and things like that.
Ms. Duncan: There are two agreements that this government has for the building and for the maintenance. These buildings require a tremendous amount of upkeep and maintenance money - in short, TLC, for lack of a better term - and there are lots of dollars attached to that.
As I mentioned, there is a functional agreement in place with the T.C. Richards Building. There is nothing in place for the White Pass Building. There are real concerns for the staff that are using that building right now and there are real concerns for the staff - NGOs or whoever it is - who are going to be using the Taylor House. We now own this building. What type of maintenance agreement is the government looking at?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Perhaps I can shed some light on the situation with regard to the White Pass Building. I am familiar with the situation there and I am certainly familiar with the situation with TIA there. I took a tour through it on Saturday and took a look at the upstairs space with the view of seeing how usable that space is.
With regard to the White Pass Building, there are a number of issues surrounding fire codes, fire escapes and things of that nature that prohibit, right now, the use of the upstairs space. Some of these actually have an impact on heritage in terms of the heritage aspect of the building. For example, an exterior fire escape - we've been advised that that would compromise the heritage situation of the building.
I have, right now, Government Services exploring some of these to see what kind of a cost we can get. The most recent cost we had on it was an estimate done in 1995, which would indicate that there are about $150,000-worth of costs involved to bring the upstairs aspect up to code.
With regard to the Taylor House, I went through there on Sunday. I have directed Government Services to do a very preliminary estimate of the, sort of, building envelope costs. As well, when some determination has been reached with regard to what groups will be going in there, we will have to then do a more detailed study of what kinds of changes would be necessary. For example, there are such things as a downstairs washroom that would have to be brought in. There are some concerns about wheelchair and disabled accessibility. There are a whole variety of issues there.
We've already begun the process. We will do a preliminary study and then we'll follow it up with a more detailed study.
Question re: Taylor House, purchase of
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Tourism, and it's in regard to the purchase of the Taylor House as well. This was a political decision to purchase the Taylor House, as it was a political commitment made last summer. There are several other buildings in the City of Whitehorse and throughout the Yukon that have similar significance to the Taylor House and are owned privately and may come to the stage where the Taylor House came to, where they would have to be moved or demolished.
I'd like to ask the minister how he's going to now be able to say no to anyone else who comes forward with a very similar proposal, and I'm sure they will come forward. How is the minister going to say no to the purchase of those heritage houses at the time they come forward?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, if I could just give some history to it, it certainly was a political decision. Why was it a political decision? Well, certainly, I was talked to by people of all stripes - the heritage community, the Museums Association, members from the Liberal Party, members from the Yukon Party - and it was quite beautiful, if not astonishing, to see democracy in process. People can get together when there's an achievement that has to be made for the betterment of society, for the betterment of Yukon, and that's exactly what happened.
We did say, and quite candidly, that we had to act very quickly, and we did act very quickly. I think that is to our credit. I think that is to the government's credit that we did act with efficiency and quickness on this. We spoke to the Chamber of Mines, and they certainly felt that they wanted to participate with this. They did have some community spirit. Of course, we involved the city - it is within the city's jurisdiction, certainly. I had conversations with the mayor and certain counsellors. It was decided that maybe this is the best answer, because if we did not act quickly, the house would be lost - and lost forever, if I might add.
The city is going to be coming in with their bylaw, and they're taking it to their readings now - not as we speak, but certainly within this month.
Mr. Phillips: I didn't really get an answer to my question.
My understanding of the heritage bylaw is that a house like the Taylor House may not be covered because of the age of the house, and so what happens in the case of some other building in Whitehorse that has historical significance that is not covered under the heritage bylaw? I applaud the government for honouring a political commitment. It's one of the only ones they've honoured since they got elected.
What I want to know from the minister, and he didn't answer the question, is how do you say no to the next person who comes by with what they feel is a valuable heritage home, and there is an outcry from the public out there to save the home? Has the minister now set a precedent where the best thing for an individual to do, if you have a heritage home, is approach the Government of the Yukon first and see whether they want to buy it?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I'll answer the question and all you have to do is say no. I've said that this was a special circumstance and I think the public is aware that this is a special circumstance. I'm also somewhat surprised, absolutely astonished, that the member opposite would be advocating that they wouldn't have bought it because it didn't meet the criteria and that it's just another piece going down because there wasn't a policy in place or because the circumstances weren't right or because the moon and the sun didn't line up. So, I'm absolutely astonished that the member opposite would be advocating that he would demolish the building.
I can look here and say, "No, this is a one-time circumstance. It's a special circumstance, and it was done for the betterment of the community." And I mean the greater community, the community of Whitehorse, the community of Yukon. As the member opposite is very well aware, as he was the Minister of Tourism, we are certainly looking to diversify the economy to make the economy better. Well, one way of doing that is through tourism. When you have the most popular home on the walk-around block destroyed, does that destroy just the house or does that start to fragment the economy? I mean, these are the types of things that we look at when we say this.
Again, I am absolutely astonished that you'd be advocating that you wouldn't have done it.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Speaker, I had asked the minister to read Hansard tomorrow and see if I did say that I thought the House should be demolished. I never did. I have never said the house should be demolished. There are all kinds of options that the minister could look at. There are all kinds of options that the minister could have looked at and the minister knows that.
The question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, was a question which he never answered, and that was that he has set a precedent here, whether he likes it or not. There are going to be other homes out there that have similar historical significance that maybe don't qualify. What is the minister going to say to those individuals that come to him and say that the last option is that we bulldoze it down. Has the minister now committed the government to purchasing any one of those homes, if there's no other option available? That's the question I'm asking the minister. That's the answer I would like the minister to give me.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I guess it's just special tactics of the Official Opposition that they would take this angle. Certainly, they've proven that they've been taking this angle for the last few days, and I'm certainly willing to continue with the waltz, I guess you can call it. Certainly, that is what is happening. So, I would certainly encourage the member opposite to read the Hansard tomorrow.
I would ask the member opposite: in his reign, did he have the opportunity to preserve and protect? Well, he certainly did, I believe - excuse me, the member opposite certainly had the opportunity. Did they take it? Did they capitalize on it - and maybe capitalize isn't the right word - but did they take the opportunity when it was there? Did they take the time to put forth a good negotiating process? No, they did not.
In answer to the member's question, which I'll answer one more time, no, this is not a precedent. No, that it was a situation of where we were stuck between a rock and a hard place and we certainly came to the rise of the community - and again, the community at large, the community that came together with no political stripes, with no barriers at all, but came together for the betterment. And that is exactly why I did it.
Is it a precedent? Well, certainly not; it's not a precedent. The city is enacting its bylaw and I'm sure that when they have that bylaw in, we will not have these eleventh-hour decisions. So, I guess I'd like just to sum it up by saying its a quality-of-life issue. We certainly believe in a quality-of-life issue. We certainly believe in the preservation of our heritage resources and we will continue to act in and for the betterment of all Yukoners on this. Let me just finalize this by saying that I'm absolutely astonished - and I must say this again - that the member opposite would be abdicating that they would not have saved it.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of Opposition Private Members' Business
Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the item standing in the name of the Official Opposition to be called on Wednesday, April 23rd, 1997. It's Motion No. 47, standing in my name.
Mr. Cable: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the third party to be called on Wednesday, April 23rd, 1997. They are Motion No. 49, standing in the name of the Member for Riverside, and Motion No. 32, standing in the name of the Member for Riverdale South.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Harding: 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. Is it the members' wish to take a short recess? Fifteen minutes.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with the budget of Community and Transportation Services, municipal and community affairs division, O&M expenditures. Is there further debate?
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1997-98 -continued
Community and Transportation Services - continued
On Municipal and Community Affairs - continued
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Indeed it is a privilege to be here once more to explain the intricacies of the budget.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Oh, yes it is, it is a deep pleasure - at least on this side of the House it is.
First of all, I'd like to start by responding to some of the questions that have been raised previously, and I will begin.
In answer to a question from the member opposite on the resident airbrake instructor for the Yukon College in Faro, the resident airbrake examiner has not lost the ability to conduct the written and the practical examination, and no changes have been made as to date. It's under consultation; they're looking at it.
As to the question concerning the statistic of 27,244 operator licences for 1995-96, this is how we achieve that. The figure in the statistic is derived by dividing the annual revenue collected for licences by the annual cost per licence. This figure is for budgetary purposes only and does not necessarily reflect on the number of residents versus the number of eligible drivers that may hold licences.
In relation to the cost of crushed gravel per load and the cost for the use of the gravel pit, as previously discussed in the House, I would just like to reiterate that what I said was true. I would just like to confirm to the member that this government has not increased charges for gravel and/or use of the gravel pits.
As to the question of the policy officer position in municipality and community affairs of the office of the assistant deputy minister, the question was what was the classification of this position and how much was lost from the ADM's office. The position was classified at an AR15 level and the total accrual expenditure, as of March 31, 1997, stands at $170,000 for the ADM office.
In response to the questions raised on the 66 mobile-home lots that are being developed in Copper Ridge - what we are estimating these lots will cost? The total lots to be developed are 66; the development cost is $1,848,000 and the estimated total cost per lot is $28,000.
On the cost of the highway enforcement cars that are driven by our people, the question was: for a vehicle with a magnitude of about a $50,000 expenditure, when you add up all the bells and whistles that are hanging off this piece of equipment, what does this vehicle cost? Two 1994 Chevrolet Capri sedan cars were purchased at a cost of $22,000 each, and they were purchased in January of 1994. In February 1997, the light bars were purchased and installed on the cars at a cost of $3,000 each, making the total cost of these vehicles $25,000 each. Light bars were also installed on two other previously purchased cars and I assume they were put on at the same cost of $3,000.
Those are the answers that I have to date.
Mr. Jenkins: If I could just question further some of the information that the minister has brought back, the freshest in his mind is probably the two vehicles that were purchased in 1994 at a cost of $22,000 each, and the light bars have been added.
The vehicles that I have seen are certainly the same vehicles that the minister is referring to and they certainly contain more than a light bar. They contain radar enforcement equipment, they contain a multitude of radios and radio equipment, as well as some other equipment normally found in an RCMP highway cruiser.
Could the minister be more specific and bring back the total cost of equipping one of these vehicles? The $25,000 that he's suggesting, I suggest to the minister, is nowhere close to what it's costing to equip one of these vehicles in the manner that I have seen in both of these pieces of equipment.
We can go back to the drivers' licences issued at 27,000. The explanation offered - can I ask the minister to repeat that? As I understand it, you take the total dollars of revenue in that department and divide it by the years? How would you publish a figure that there are 27,000 drivers' licences and come up with that explanation?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: On the first question - I believe it was on the 1994 Chevrolet Caprice cars that were purchased - we give the price for the purchase, we give the price for the cost of the cars. I'd just like to let the member opposite know that the radio equipment he's talking about specifically is in all of our vehicles. Of course, I can come back with the cost of radar and the enforcement. I believe it was enforcement bells and whistles that you were talking about, so we'll certainly be able to do that.
I'll give that formula for it. I'll just give it a bit slower, if you like, so you catch, and if you don't catch it, just nod your head, and I'll repeat it again.
The figure in the statistics is derived by dividing the annual revenue collected for licences by the annual cost per licence. This figure is for budgetary purposes only. It does not necessarily reflect on the number of residents versus the number of eligible drivers that may hold the licences.
Mr. Jenkins: It's a very interesting way to arrive at the number of licences issued, but it does give rise to the question that there is an indication that there are 27,000 valid drivers' licences in effect in the Yukon Territory. With a population of the magnitude that we have, and the statistics showing the number of people in that population under 16 years of age, where do all these other people come from that hold drivers' licences in the Yukon? How did we get the figure up to 27,000? There's not that number of individuals in the Yukon of the age to hold a driver's licence, to be licensed, as what the minister's statistics are indicating.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, indeed it is a pleasure to be standing here and corresponding with the member opposite. It's always a deep pleasure, especially when we get to the intricacies of the figures for the driving, so please bear with me.
I will say again that the figure, the process, is for budgetary purposes only and does not necessarily reflect in the number of residents versus the number of eligible drivers. The background to this, though, is that approximately 8,000 licences are renewed annually, the majority of which are good for three years. So if you take three times eight, that's 24,000. Again, about 2,000 licences are issued each year, and that's each year, and that is for learners and the transient population combined.
Mr. Jenkins: The cost of a driver's licence, Mr. Chair, is $3 per year. If you're in a category where you can hold a driver's licence for three years in the Yukon, you pay $9, and it's issued for three years. So, if you take the total sum of money that is in the department and divide it by the number of years, you would arrive at the numbers of drivers' licences so issued. If you're in a category that requires your licence to be renewed annually, then you pay an annual fee of $3 per year. So, how do we get to 27,000 drivers' licences issued in the Yukon Territory? Is that figure invalid? The figures are quite specific, Mr. Chair.
If I could take the minister back to his department, to page 3-16 - it's in the yellow pages - it says "Statistics - Motor Vehicle Registrations". I'll take him to the column for the 1995-96 actual, operator's licences - 27,244 in 1995-96. I would make the assumption that operators' licences are approximate. The 1997-98 forecast is 27,300. Now, that information presented in that fashion would certainly be interpreted that there are 27,300 operators' licences issued in the Yukon, give or take a small number. What is the situation, Mr. Minister? How many operators' licences are there in existence?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, in my endeavour to answer this question once again, I will go at it this way. The member is correct in pointing out in his yellow pages that it is 27,244 in 1995-96 actuals. Contrary to that, or just previous to that, I mean, in the same line though, the operators' licences - in brackets - "approximate" - close the brackets.
Let me say now for the last time this afternoon that the figures and the statistics have been derived by dividing the annual revenue collected for licences by the annual cost per licence. This figure is for budgetary purposes only and does not necessarily reflect on the number of residents versus the number of eligible drivers that may hold licences. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: So, what is the purpose of publishing this kind of a figure? Can the minister bring back, by way of a legislative return, the correct number of operators licences issued in the Yukon Territory? It should be readily available and I'm sure it's nowhere near 27,000, and if it is, it requires an explanation. Would the minister undertake to provide those statistics?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I do believe I have satisfactorily answered the member opposite's questions. We are doing a budget debate. We're certainly talking about the budget. I've given him the information that has come from the department. Now, I've explained quite candidly that the operators' licences are approximate. It is in brackets. I'm sure that he's reading from the same document that I'm reading from.
I've also explained to the members opposite the process, the formula that we've come up with, and have garnered to bring it to them. I've qualified that by saying that this figure is for budgetary purposes and, in my mind, Mr. Chair, I've satisfactorily answered this question. Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: With answers like that, we're going to be here for a long, long time just to extrapolate - painfully extrapolate - this information.
In 1995-96, Mr. Chair, the actual number of operators' licences issued in the Yukon, according to this document, were 27,244. Now, all I am seeking from the minister is the actual number of operators' licences issued in the last period: 1996-97. That's presented in this document and it says 27,300, which is approximate. So, approximate, let's give or take - what would be reasonable, Mr. Chair - five percent or so?
Now, if we take the population of the Yukon, as reported by our statistical department, take the age of that population and the number of individuals under the age of, let's say, 15 - which is the age you can acquire a beginner's licence - and from 14 down and subtract that from the total population, we are left with a population base of considerably less than 27,000.
Would the minister bring back, by way of a legislative return, the actual number of operators' licences issued in the Yukon Territory and, if it is 27,000, give or take a few percent, an explanation of how that many people are registered in the Yukon when we don't have that size of a population to license?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In my endeavour to answer the member's question, I guess maybe I should sustain the posture the member opposite does, and I will assume that I can do that as elegantly as the member opposite.
Let me just say, again - I do believe for the second time this evening - that approximately 8,000 licences are renewed annually. Please, let me say that one more time. Approximately 8,000 licences are renewed annually, the majority of which are good for three years. About 2,000 of those licences are issued each year for learners and transient population combined.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I certainly appreciate that the member has made a good point and I certainly appreciate that the member opposite would let me make this point.
Mr. Livingston: I would just like to support my minister in trying to proceed through these debates today. I have noticed, Mr. Chair, with increasing concern, as we go through line by line, that today we want to know the precise number of licences that have been issued. In a previous day's debate, we were looking for the telephone number and we were wondering why another minister doesn't have a particular telephone number at his fingertips.
I would suggest that we are really abusing this Legislature by asking for this kind of detail. There are forums for the more detailed briefings, and it is much more appropriate for them to be provided for. The assertion that, somehow, our ministers should be able to provide, you know, the phone number of the person running environmental protection or the precise number of operators' permits out there, is rather an absurd one.
I would really like to see us move on with the business of the people of the Yukon and leave this silliness behind.
Mrs. Edelman: I asked for some information about funding for active living and for elite athletes yesterday, and I was wondering if that information was going to be coming someday.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, the information wasn't readily available at the time I was coming to speak. As soon as it's available - and I suspect it might be this afternoon - I will certainly get it to you forthwith.
Mr. Jenkins: Let's get back to the issue of drivers' licences. I'm still seeking from the minister - and, in order to not encumber the House with his wonderful oration skills - to bring back a legislative return as to the exact number of Yukon drivers' licences issued in any given year, and how many licensed people are in the Yukon, in this year. If it is of the magnitude of 27,000, an explanation as to why that number of individuals are licensed, given that the population in the age group that can be legally licensed in Yukon is nowhere close to 27,000. Can the minister undertake to bring that information back by way of legislative return?
Chair: Is it clear?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: We're not getting answers today, and we're not getting anywhere close to an answer. So, I will repeat the question once again for the minister, and if he chooses to ignore it again, I guess I'll have to repeat it, and repeat it all afternoon.
Now, the question is: could the minister bring back, by way of legislative return, the exact number of drivers' licences issued in the Yukon Territory, and if it is of the magnitude of 27,000 issued in any given year, would he please provide an explanation as to why it is that high, given that the population of the Yukon, of legal driving age, is nowhere close to 27,000? Can the minister undertake to bring back that information?
Mr. Livingston: I'd just like to enter comments in debate, because I think as a line item under the expenditures of Community and Transportation Services, one of the things that Yukoners are looking for is a sense of service from their public service.
I would suggest that this kind of ongoing exercise - I'm not sure what the purpose of the exercise is, but it's an ongoing kind of exercise that we've seen over the last number of days here - of incredibly detailed kinds of information, and that's what our public servants end up having to do, rather than what their first job is, which is to provide a public service to the people of this territory.
While I recognize the responsibilities of the members opposite, in terms of getting pertinent information so that they can do their job, I think I would ask them, with all due respect, to respect the primary role of our public service, and that's to provide service to our public.
Mrs. Edelman: I'm not too sure why we're even responding to this, because my understanding is that my job is here to talk to the minister about my department, which I am a critic of.
Certainly, I've always taken the jobs that I've undertaken very seriously. If the member opposite is trying to make some personal slight, then I don't appreciate it.
Mr. Livingston: Mr. Chair, this is not intended at all as a personal slight but, rather, I'm attempting to fulfill my obligation, which is to try to provide a sense of good government to this territory, and it seems to me that the pace at which we're moving through this and the kind of detail that's being asked for is an impediment to that. Indeed, it derails our public service from doing their task as a public service. So, I'm simply speaking as a private member, and I have every right to participate in this particular discussion and this debate. I'm simply asking that we move forward.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, thank you very much. Mr. Chair. The minister is refusing to answer a question. He is refusing to bring back a response by way of legislative return to a legitimate concern raised. As we proceed through this budget, it is becoming more and more obvious that the minister, after being in office for six months, being in charge of this portfolio for six months, has very little understanding of his responsibilities within his department, very little understanding of the intricacies of the various aspects of his responsibilities, and less of an understanding of the financial aspects of his portfolio.
I would urge the minister to give every consideration to taking advantage of every briefing that he possibly can by his officials so that he can gain the information necessary to answer, in a timely and responsible manner, questions raised in this House about his portfolio.
The question I have here today for the minister is the same question that was asked in the House a number of days ago, dealing with drivers' licences, operators' licences. In 1995, the actual number of drivers' licences issued, according to this document tabled by the minister, was 27,244. The approximate number that will be issued in the 1997-98 estimates tabled in this House is 27,300. Given that the number of residents in Yukon of legal driving age nowhere approaches 27,000, would the minister please provide an explanation as to who we're licensing? Are we licensing other individuals? Do you just send in a number of box-tops and get a Yukon driver's licence? What are we doing here? Would the minister please provide an explanation as to how we're obtaining these numbers for licensed operators in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I guess I'd like to answer this question again. I certainly don't want it to fall on my shoulders that I never answer the question or that I certainly never replied to the member opposite's question, and I certainly appreciate that the other people in the Legislature have to bear with us. Unfortunately, they do.
The member opposite asked a question: what are we doing here? I am sometimes mystified as to what it is that we're doing here. It is certainly not what the people of the Yukon expected. It is certainly not what they voted us in for. They voted us in here for a change. They voted us in so that we might be able to provide good governance and that we might be able to work in compatibility with each other. Well, that's what I am attempting to bring to this Legislature, and I'm sure that many are attempting to bring that to this Legislature here.
The member opposite has urged the minister to take every opportunity and chance available for a briefing. Well, I do work quite closely with my department officials. I do work very closely with my departmental officials - let me clarify that. We are here to do a job, and I hope to think that we're doing a good job. When it's brought to our attention that we might be able to do things in a better way - in a more streamlined fashion or whatever - that is exactly what we do, and we move to those ends. Good governance is an evolution. Certainly, from the last administration, it is a great improvement, but it also an evolution, and we're certainly attempting to do that.
I would also like to remind the member opposite that he has urged the minister. Well, the minister personally had contacted the member opposite so that the minister might come to a technical briefing on the budget. It's unfortunate and too bad and extremely upsetting to, I think, the people of the Yukon Territory at this time that the member turned down a technical briefing. If the member would have come to the technical briefing, he would have got the answers, and I'm sure that the answers would have been the same. It's sad is what it is, Mr. Chair. It's absolutely sad that one person sitting in this Legislature would take it upon himself - pardon me, that might be sexist, and I'm not allowed to do that - take it upon oneself, that one person might disrupt the whole Assembly.
Based on the past four years, I think the people had spoken. They said that they wanted a finer Legislature. They wanted a more compatible Legislature. Well, I do think that the evidence of that is here in this Legislature now - working together. It's extremely unfortunate that one person is just not about to do that, that they can be the schoolboy bully and will continue to be the schoolboy bully even though they've been out of school for 30 years.
Chair: Order please. I believe that the use of the word "schoolyard bully" is unparliamentary. I'd ask the member to withdraw those comments.
Withdrawal of remark
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I will retract that and I will not call the member opposite a schoolyard bully. I will just say that the member opposite is certainly lacking the character of a mature individual.
Let me say again that approximately 8,000 licences are renewed annually, the majority of which are good for about three years. About 2,000 licences are issued each year for learners and the transient population combined. The figure in the statistics is derived by dividing the annual revenue collected for licences by the annual cost per licence. This figure is for budgetary purposes only and does not necessarily reflect on the number of residents versus the number of eligible drivers that may hold licences.
I offer to the member opposite a detailed briefing from my department when we are through with these budgetary deliberations, so that the member opposite might continue to build upon his somewhat limited knowledge base.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Now, is the minister prepared to answer the question and explain the discrepancy between the number of drivers' licences issued and the population of the Yukon that is of legal age to obtain a driver's licence. The minister's information provided in the House, which, if extrapolated - a three-year licence, which comes to 24,000 licences, plus the 2,000 for transients, which comes to 26,000 - gives the presentation here of 27,300 estimated operators' licences for the next fiscal period. That is still way in excess of the population that is legally allowed to hold an operator's licence here in the Yukon.
Could the minister please explain why there is such a difference?
Now, it is the minister's responsibility to answer questions about those areas he is responsible for. If he can't answer the question today, if he could bring it back by way of legislative return, I'm sure this side of the House would be quite happy. Can the minister give us that assurance?
Chair: Does it clear?
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, I would ask the minister for a legislative return on the difference between the number of operators' licences issued in the Yukon and the population that is of legal age to operate a motor vehicle here in Yukon. Why is there a difference? Will the minister please bring back an explanation by way of legislative return if he doesn't have the information here today?
Can the minister give the House his assurance?
Chair: Does the line item clear?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, there's some reluctance on the part of the minister to respond to a valid, legitimate question. Now, if the minister doesn't understand what he's in charge of and doesn't have the background knowledge at his fingertips, I can understand that. You know, just six months into this new responsibility, I can see where some of the detail will take him time to grasp. There's a whole department there at his fingertips and I'm sure that that information is there. I'm just seeking the minister's concurrence to obtain this information and bring it back to the House. Will the minister give the House his assurance?
Chair: Does the line item clear?
Mr. Jenkins: Unfortunately, the minister is refusing to respond once again and I guess we can set Community and Transportation Services aside until such time that the minister is prepared to answer questions on that area.
Can we set that line aside, Mr. Chair, and can we go into some of the other issues raised with the minister's information provided here this morning?
On Lands and Property Assessments - continued
We have the new 66 mobile-home lots that are being developed, with development costs per lot of $28,000. Yesterday, the Government Leader, in the evening during debate, made mention that the lots would be sold at market value or development costs. Now, given the government of the day's position to put these markets -
Mr. Livingston: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Livingston, on a point of order.
Mr. Livingston: I just want to clarify that we've cleared the last line item. I didn't understand that there was a concurrence to move on to another line item unless we've cleared the previous one.
Chair: It is my understanding we are currently discussing the information the minister returned with today. Once that has cleared, we will resume with the line item, lands and property assessments.
Mr. Jenkins: We were dealing with the 66-lot development provided by the information brought back by the minister, that development costs are $28,000 per lot. Now, given the Government Leader's statement in the House last night that these lots would be sold at either market value or development costs, and having repeated that information twice, and when the minister was subsequently questioned about which it would be, his officials conveyed to him that it would be development costs.
Now, is there a chance that these lots will be sold for less than development costs at a market value or a value that would be less-than-development costs, given that the government virtually controls the amount of land that it can put on the market, and does control the market value of land?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, we are going to sell the lots at development cost. Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: That is reassuring.
The other part of the land development was to ensure that there was a place for some of the mobile homes that were located in some of the mobile-home parks around Whitehorse.
Given the regulations with respect to mobile homes, in place by the City of Whitehorse, and the current codes, how does the minister envision addressing this area to ensure that these mobile homes conform to existing regulations and legislation and be placed on these lots. I'm referring specifically to mobile homes of 10 years or older.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As we reiterated yesterday - no, we stated yesterday, and will reiterate today -there is a mobile-home strategy that has been led by the Yukon Housing Corporation, and it is done in conjunction with Community and Transportation Services, and of course the city is going to be a part of that. We're certainly working to those ends now.
Mr. Jenkins: Given that the mobile homes have to conform to a number of regulations - the electrical has to be brought up to current codes in a number of these units; the plumbing has to be brought up to current codes in a number of these units; the furnaces, and even the R-values will not conform.
Mobile homes that do not have the Z-240 sticker also are not permitted in organized communities throughout the Yukon. How does the minister plan to jump through these hoops? What is the minister prepared to do with respect to these regulations?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair. No, we are talking Whitehorse when I give the answer to Whitehorse. Is it the member opposite's question as to how we would proceed within rural Yukon? I'm sorry. Was that the question?
Mr. Jenkins: In all Yukon communities, a mobile home, to be able to be placed within the municipal boundaries, must have a Z-240 sticker on it and must conform to the current CSA standards. Whitehorse, in addition to those, has more stringent standards. They actually specify the age of a mobile home that will be permitted to be placed within the municipal boundaries on a residential lot.
Is it the minister's plan to conform to the existing legislation in these areas, or is he planning on amending this legislation and seeking concurrence from the City of Whitehorse to amend their legislation to permit these older homes to be permitted to be installed on these residential lots?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As the member has referred time and time again, we are coming forward with a mobile-home strategy, soon to be coming through this House. Negotiations are happening right now with the City of Whitehorse. They are talking about standards and possibly moving away from the 10-year mobile-home standards. There are a lot of mobile homes that are in good shape and do meet the standards that are out there and should not be exempt just because of the 10-year ruling that's there.
Ongoing talks are happening right now with the city.
Mr. Jenkins: So, further to the response from the minister responsible for Yukon Housing, perhaps he would care to elaborate as to how he hopes to achieve this compromise on the standards. Is Whitehorse going to be amending their bylaws?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Like I said, members are anxious to hear the mobile-home strategy, and I'm very glad about that. Like I said, negotiations are still taking place with the city, and that is certainly a possibility that would happen.
Mr. Jenkins: But having been involved in bringing a number of mobile homes from Alaska that had six-inch walls and conformed to every standard of the day and were only a year or so old, and relocating them to Yukon and trying to obtain the necessary authorization to connect to water and sewer systems and electrical systems, I can tell you it was an extremely arduous task.
The inspection branches require that electrical inspections be conducted on these mobile homes, as well as plumbing inspections, and that they meet all the applicable codes. So, if I'm making the correct assumptions - and I would like to be corrected if I'm not - we're not going to amend or adjust anything with respect to codes. It's just going to be the 10-year life that is going to be compromised, so these mobile homes will be permitted as long as they meet all the applicable current codes and they have the Canadian Z-240 standards.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Like I said, there are going to be standards that will be used and, certainly, people are not going to be moving homes on to lots that are unsafe and are a fire trap in any way, and that's the bottom line. They have to be safe homes, and they have to meet codes. I don't believe that we would ever move a mobile home on to a lot that is unsafe and is 30 years old and requires upgraded electrical.
So, very simply put, that would certainly be part of the things that are included in this mobile-home strategy.
Mr. Jenkins: If I could just run that by the minister one more time, these mobile homes will conform to current electrical, plumbing, heating and insulation standards currently in place and currently adopted by the Yukon and the City of Whitehorse.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, they will meet the standards that are negotiated between the city and the government, and they are certainly not going to be of lesser standard than what is out there right now.
Mr. Jenkins: If we could just explore further this new mobile-home subdivision as to how the government is going to achieve a lot price of $28,000 per lot in this new 66-lot mobile-home park. What areas are we going to be looking at reducing in or upon, as compared to the previous mobile-home park?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair. No, they're not.
The last lots in Arkell that were developed were $25,000 to $27,000. We gave the member opposite the number of $28,000, approximately, and the formula and the costs of doing it. Therein is the answer.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, given that there are 39 lots remaining in the existing subdivision, how did the department arrive at the need or the demand for the additional 66-lot subdivision?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We're certainly always attempting to keep an inventory, as the member opposite is very well aware, and this represents approximately a two-year supply - or two-year inventory. We're always attempting to keep ahead of the demand.
Mr. Jenkins: But we presently have in excess of a one-year supply of mobile-home lots available, and available immediately. Is this another knee-jerk reaction to meet a campaign promise, or is there some logic to it that the minister could explain to the House as to why we're now going into just in excess of a three-year supply? Sixty-six mobile-home lots is a two-year supply. We currently have in excess of a one-year supply with the 39 lots currently available. Why are we doing this, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I think it's just basically a void of the member opposite and his deeper understanding that there are different peoples in the world. Certainly let me say that, at the request of the City of Whitehorse - I'll repeat that: at the request of the City of Whitehorse - Community and Transportation Services is developing a 66-lot mobile-home subdivision at Copper Ridge. In 1996, the City of Whitehorse expressed an urgent request for development - I'll repeat: in 1996, the City of Whitehorse expressed an urgent request for development - and release of mobile-home lots. The completion date for these mobile-home lots is anticipated to be for late 1997 or 1998 and, again, there is the answer. At that time, it is projected that that will give us an adequate inventory.
Ms. Duncan: I've been listening to this debate and, having sat in on a number of land and lot development discussions on behalf of the chamber in a former life, I think I have a familiarity with the need for lots and the need for a variety of lots.
I am concerned with this discussion around mobile-home lots, in that, in my particular riding, I would say the majority of the mobile homes are definitely unable to be moved, and I'm curious as to how the availability of mobile-home lots addresses that particular need.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I can assume that the member opposite is speaking of lots, and just let me reiterate for a moment, if I may.
There are trailers that do not make the standard now, and they're in trailer courts within the member opposite's riding?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Okay, thank you.
In part, the strategy that is being worked upon with the Yukon Housing Corporation and with the Community and Transportation Services, in conjunction with the city, is a strategy that will be looking at that exact problem.
Ms. Duncan: Point of clarification: does the strategy that's being worked on apply to land that is not necessarily a trailer park, but is held by one individual?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I would just like to ask the member opposite if she could clarify the question - for clarification as to the trailer park - and if it's like an existing trailer park such as is?
Ms. Duncan: Certainly, and I apologize if I haven't made this point clear.
I'm referring to the trailers that are housed in the Casa Loma area behind Centennial Street, and I don't have enough further information to say to the minister that this is who holds the land, et cetera, et cetera, but I do know that the mobile homes in that area are cause for great concern, and I'm certain that the majority of those are unable to be moved.
The question becomes, Mr. Chair, then: how does the development of additional trailer lots address this need? Now, it may be that the minister says that he would prefer we wait to a further discussion on a trailer-park policy and I'm happy to do that, but we seem to be delving into this area at this point and I'd like clarification.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, all of the above that the member opposite has asked for and spoken of will be developed and contained in the policy and we will be releasing that policy when it is ready, and I do believe I heard the member say last night within a couple of months, I believe it is.
Ms. Duncan: And could I just clarify, for the record, that that policy would be coming forward from the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that is correct. The housing strategy should be released during this sitting of the Legislature.
Ms. Duncan: I'd just like to confirm for the minister, then, that I would be asking about this specific situation again in relation to that policy.
Mr. Jenkins: What we're talking about here today are people who live in existing rental parks who would like to move their trailers - ones that cannot be moved - on to land that they purchase, so that they can obtain mortgage financing, but in order to do so, they have to upgrade their mobile homes to current code. Has there been an assessment done of the number of people in this category that would justify the 66 additional lots, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, the subdivision that is being developed now is being developed to the same standards. It is being done in conjunction with the city. The Yukon Housing Corporation and the C&TS, together with the City of Whitehorse, are looking at all other aspects of this very vital issue.
Mr. Jenkins: Until we undertake that kind of a review, Mr. Chair, how can we justify the addition to the mobile-home lot inventory of another 66 lots? That would leave us with three years' supply and, given that the exercise is to provide affordable lots, the lots that we're developing now come in at $28,000 development costs. To take an existing mobile home and relocate it to one of these lots, to block it in place, go through the necessary permitting process, connect it to water and sewer from the property line and to connect to electrical, we're probably looking at close to an additional $10,000. So we're up to $38,000, excluding the cost of the home.
Can the minister give me an understanding of how he deems this affordable?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. I can only speak to the development costs. The territorial government is bringing the cost to the home owner, to the lot owner I guess you might say, at the developmental cost.
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, the explanation is not very clear at all, Mr. Chair, as to how the minister determines that the cost of $28,000 for a developed lo, and probably an additional $10,000 just for mobilization, connection charges, and permitting fees, is affordable. We're looking at initial expenditure for the land approaching $38,000. Could the minister please explain how he deems that to be affordable?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I guess the question is really not who wants the lots or who's preparing for lots or how the lots are being prepared, but the actual price of the lot. I explained to the member opposite that the price of the lot would be $28,000, approximately, and that is by dividing the number of lots into the total development cost to this government. That is passing the price of the development of the lot on to the consumer.
That is my answer, I guess. If I have to reiterate it a couple of times here in the next few hours, I'll certainly be prepared to do so, but the answer is that we pass it on for the exact same cost as we develop it for. To me, that is a good deal.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, of the present 39 lots that we're holding in inventory, Mr. Chair, those lots are on the market for less of a price than what we're proposing to bring these 66 new lots on for. They are mobile-home lots, and they aren't selling. So, how does the minister explain how he's going to achieve affordable mobile-home lots if these lots are more expensive than the lots currently held in inventory?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm not sure where the member opposite is reading the information from. It might be the information that I provided the member opposite with - along with the critic from the third party who had asked for the information. I got the information for that person.
He says 39, but those are the lot sales. Let me say then that there will be a total of 31 left and that this constitutes a steady demand. Now, as I have said in the previous explanation to the member opposite, at the request of the City of Whitehorse, C&TS is developing the 66 mobile-home lots. I stress that it is at the request of the City of Whitehorse, and they deem that there is a need for this inventory, and then certainly, as good partners, I deem that it is too. Again, I stress that in 1996, the City of Whitehorse expressed an urgent request for the development and release of these mobile-home lots, and we are complying and working with the city on this.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, but that still doesn't explain the cost differential. Would the minister please provide an explanation as to the difference in cost?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly. Again, I stress that the lots we have coming will be for next year's sale. I did say that they'd be ready in late 1997 and early 1998.
The lots that we had developed two years ago, if I recall correctly, are up to $26,000 to $27,000 on average, and the lots that are coming in now are approximately going to be at $28,000 on average. I do think that that, over a two-year period, is the rate of inflation, et cetera.
Mr. Jenkins: That gives rise to the question that what we were trying to obtain was affordable mobile-home lots. Yet, these lots, with the development costs, are going to be in excess of what the previous development costs were for the other block of mobile-home lots.
Given the party's campaign promise to bring forward affordable lots, I was under the impression that we were going to reduce some of the standards that these lots were constructed to - some of the development costs - in order to achieve a much lower priced lot than what is being represented here today.
Can the minister clarify his government's position?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes. It indeed does give me pleasure - I have to say that again - to stand here and have this debate with the member opposite. My party said that we'd be making those moves to those ends, and we're certainly working and attempting to follow through on that.
I must reiterate that any time spent away from that is a waste of time. But we are working with the Yukon Housing Corporation, with C&TS and the City of Whitehorse, and we're looking at different ways and means that we might be able to provide that type of service or lot to people in need that are desirous of that. There are certainly many different options. We are looking at all those different options, and we will be apprising the member opposite.
There are two different ways and things that we're talking about here in this debate, and it's starting to come clear to me now: the one I have just spoken about, and the process of how we're going to handle that campaign promise - and we are handling that campaign promise, and we'll continue to handle that campaign promise.
The other is the development of the lots that were requested urgently by the City of Whitehorse and we're working on that also. I've explained to the member opposite the need for inventory and the time frame that the inventory takes, and therein again is the answer. I certainly look forward to continued debate from the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister still hasn't answered the question as to how he's going to achieve lower cost mobile-home lots than what he's indicating here today. He's indicating that these 66 mobile-home lots will be put on the market at development cost and that development costs will amount to some $28,000. Is the government going to be taking a write-off or absorbing a lot of these costs, or deferring them? How are they going to achieve lower cost mobile-home lots than is being presented here today?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I've attempted to answer the question in previous answers, and I will attempt to answer the question again, although for the love of the Creator and the love of the Almighty, I do believe that I have answered the question.
Let me say that it is in process at this point in time. We're working on it in process. It is a consultative process. Maybe that is what is so confusing to the member opposite; that we do consult with the people in these situations - the city and working with the interdepartmental agencies. We're continuing to embark on that, and we are living up to our campaign promise on that.
I think that the member opposite is disappointed that we're doing things. I think therein is the answer and completely the answer. I think he's absolutely and totally disgusted that we're moving things ahead and living up to our campaign promises. Unfortunately, he wants us to live up to these campaign promises in one year. Well, my dear friend, Mr. Chair, we cannot live up to our campaign promises in the one year, and we're certainly going to have to priorize and prioritize - however you say the word - and to move forward with that.
I'd like to also just state that the 66-lot subdivision was started by the previous administration. If you're not supportive of that, well then you certainly should take it up with the people you sit in caucus with and talk about it. Maybe those folks there will give you a deeper understanding of how this certainly works. Again, I thank the member opposite for his time.
Mr. Jenkins: Last night I did agree with the Government Leader, and he with me, on the object, and the object was to get on the market land at the best possible cost to the end consumer. That's the exercise: provide the highest level of service at the lowest possible cost.
I don't believe that, by the presentation that the minister has made here today, he is going to achieve those ends.
What the minister has indicated to the House here today is there will be a 66 lot development and that the price per lot will be development costs, and development cost is estimated to be some $28,000 per lot.
Now, that's a given.
We already have a number of lots in that subdivision that are on the market for sale, that are not moving, that are less expensive - they're moving slowly, but they are selling - and we'll still need more mobile-home lots, but these do not satisfy the object of putting them on the market at the lowest possible cost, and these lots do not satisfy the campaign promise to make low-cost mobile-home lots available. Would the minister please provide an explanation?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will certainly provide an explanation. I wish the member opposite would concentrate.
Now, we've been working in cooperation with the City of Whitehorse, and the land development committee, of course.
What we're doing - and, I'm sure the same line of logic was brought in by the previous administration, so that they might keep up with it. Now, the information that was provided to the member opposite last week, I do believe it was, is that there are a total of 31 trailer lots left. There are 22 in Arkell and 9 in the other portion of Arkell.
Now, why are we doing this? Why are we attempting to stay ahead? Well, we're attempting to stay ahead simply because of the fact that approximately 30 mobile-home lots per year are moving.
Now, we still have the rest of the summer to go. The next phase that we're working on, 66 lots, as I said, will be opened up and ready for late this year or next year, and that is going to accommodate.
Now, how we are going to move on our campaign promise of providing affordable lots is through the strategy that we're going to be coming with and that we're working on at this point in time.
I reiterate that the member opposite - he certainly might have been able to run all the way to the end of the lot and do things, and collectively, look at his mistakes - but we are certainly moving forward through a well-thought-out process that will enable us to provide these lots at a lower cost system.
Again, I reiterate that the price that we are providing them for is for development costs, and that is absolutely, I think, the bottom line, and I think people are very appreciative that their government would be moving forward in that manner.
Well, again, I thank the member for his questions and I thank everybody for their time. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: Again, what we're talking about here today is people who live in existing rental parks who would like to move their trailers on to their own lot so that they can obtain mortgage financing and upgrade their homes and be owner occupied, to get out of the mobile-home park that they're in.
Now the expectations are there and they've been planted by your government, Mr. Minister, that this land is going to be made available for that purpose. At $28,000 a lot, I'm sure that everyone will agree that we're not meeting that objective. So, what is the minister prepared to do or going to be doing to lower the cost of that land?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It certainly appears to me that apples and oranges are being mixed here in the same grocery bag once more, but I will certainly attempt to answer the member opposite's question. I do believe that if we take the time to educate the member opposite, then certainly, yes, things will look a little better in the future for the member opposite, and he might be able to enjoy and proceed upon this political life where we are working for the betterment of the people.
Mr. Chair, I reiterate that the strategy that we have to bring affordable housing or affordable trailer lots for people, that there is a very high demand for, is being developed. We are working in conjunction with interdepartmental groups. We're working in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse, and we shall continue to do this. When they are ready and when that strategy is done, well then, that strategy will be announced.
As for the development of the 66 lots, well they're certainly being passed on at the cost which we are developing them at and it is approximately $28,000. Two years ago - well I guess it'd be three years ago that the other lots that were developed - they were developed, I believe, and sold for $26,000 and $27,000. I think what you see in between is natural and that people - may not be desirous of that - are certainly expectant of it, with the way the world is going at this time.
I certainly wish to reiterate once more to the member opposite, as he enjoys his glass of water, that we are working upon our campaign promise and that we have put in a seed of hope and that seed of hope is long overdue. That seed of hope, Mr. Chair, is long overdue. As a matter of fact, that seed of hope has been here as long as the member has been in the territory. Has it been enacted upon? Well, no, but certainly that seed of hope is being enacted on now and it will continue to be enacted on by this government and through the process that I've described. Thank you very much.
Mr. Phillips: I'd like to ask questions along a similar vein.
Mr. Chair, if the government achieves its goal by dramatically reducing the costs of these lots to these trailer owners and we know, as pointed out by the Government Leader, that there is a fairly significant demand for these lower cost lots, as many of his constituents have told him that they would be interested in them, how does the minister anticipate the lots being sold? I know, in the past, we've done it on a first come/first served basis; we've done a lottery for the lots, and if the minister is fortunate enough to achieve an agreement with all the parties involved and can put these lots on the market at a much reduced cost, there may be all kinds of people who might put their names forward to purchase a lot.
Maybe the minister can explain to us the process by which he intends to sell these lower cost lots?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, indeed, it does give me pleasure and privilege to stand here and answer the question for the member opposite.
To the member opposite, he is asking about the lot that is coming from the strategy, I assume, that is being developed, and that will certainly be one of the items that will be looked at within the strategy, and I thank you for your question.
Mr. Phillips: I'd like to get an idea where the government's coming from on this, though. There is going to be, as the government says, a fairly large demand for these lots. They say there's a need, that's why they announced that they had a new program. In the budget, they said they had this new program for more affordable lots for mobile-home owners.
So, what I want to know from the minister is how does he anticipate the sale taking place? By lottery? First come/first served? Staking rush? How are we going to allow Yukoners to access this?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, again I will reiterate that, yes, there is a fairly high demand. We've said that. We're always looking to have things in a fair and open and transparent process, and that will definitely be one of the items that is discussed as a strategy that is being put together with the Yukon Housing Corporation, the Community and Transportation Services in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse.
Mr. Phillips: In the past, with some of the land processes that were used, there was some speculation that took place. Individuals who put their names forward were buying for other individuals or maybe buying more than one lot. Is there going to be a limit in this program where an individual can only purchase one of these lots, or are you going to allow individuals to purchase more than one?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, certainly the member opposite brings a very good and valid point to this debate, and I appreciate that you do bring that point to the debate, and I'll certainly bring that limit on lots and the problem it might cause to the process that has been established and that I have announced. The details, of course, will be announced later when we do announce the recommendations.
Mr. Phillips: Just so I'm clear, really what we have here then is a campaign commitment, which was made by the Government Leader during the campaign, to provide lower cost lots and housing for these individuals with trailers. We have a commitment in the budget speech to continue with it, but other than that, the thought of how to do it hasn't gone much further than that. No one has really done anything more than to listen to the words of the Government Leader, a couple of preliminary meetings have taken place, but really, the minister can't stand on his feet here today, or even last night or even yesterday, and tell us how this is going to happen at all.
So it really is in its infancy. Nothing has really been done about it other than a campaign commitment being made, and now they're working on how to honour the commitment. Is that all that's happening, and it really isn't anything more than that at this stage? It's really just in the egg stage, or maybe it's not even at the egg stage. Maybe it's still a thought in somebody's mind, and it's yet to even be laid.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I certainly am expecting that the member opposite would use these tactics, and I think everybody's expecting that the tactics would come out. I'd just like to say again that Community and Transportation Services, along with the Yukon Housing Corporation, along with the City of Whitehorse, are working toward a strategy. It is going to be, one, a well-thought-out strategy; it is going to be, two, a strategy that has process to it; and, three, it is going to be a strategy that is going to fit the needs of the people.
Now, if the member opposite is disappointed that they did not do that, well, what can I say? I'm sad for the member opposite that they had not attempted to look after this segment of our society previously in his career. I know that the member opposite has been around and has been a Cabinet minister before, and has worked within the process of Cabinet and within caucus, and certainly does understand the process, but certainly attempts to embellish it with wonkiness, if I can say that. It seems to move from the member's mind.
Certainly, I would just like to say to the member opposite that when we do - and we will - come with a transparent process, and we will come with a process that will meet the needs of affordable housing for the people that are in need of this type of housing, well then the member shall be able to take that and put it into his private history and archives, so it might be an example for him. I thank the Chair very much.
Chair: Is this cleared?
Mr. Jenkins: We're not clearing lands and property assessment. We're just clearing what was arising out of the responses, Mr. Chair.
Chair: That's fine.
Mr. Jenkins: We're responding to questions that the minister had brought back information on. Lands and property assessment - we're still dealing with that, Mr. Chair, and I have some questions arising out of that line item that have yet to be addressed.
I was wanting to know from the minister where we are at with computerizing all of the property assessments.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it certainly might be a part of the Official Opposition's tactics to boing-boing-boing all over the place; that's certainly their history. Talking about a knee-jerk reaction, I think they are definitely providing good examples of knee-jerk reactions in this debate.
Let me first of all say that the $30,000 that we're talking about is under the capital program, and I know that the Official Opposition is certainly used to debating the capital program under the O&M. That certainly doesn't tell me that it's going to speed things up in capital, because what they forgot to hear in O&M, they are going to bring forward in capital. I am certainly here and prepared for the long run, but that $30,000 will be discussed under capital.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, but the question was: how are we progressing? I know that they're underway. Where are we at? How many more years is it going to take? How many future dollars are we going to have to budget over the years?
There are going to be ongoing dollars budgeted for maintenance of these respective files, but the transition is something that I'm sure that more of us would want to become aware of. Could the minister please provide that information? Why doesn't the minister just read his briefing notes into the record?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: To the member opposite on his last question, I know he stood up and I did hear him, and he said, "Why don't you just read your briefing note." Well, certainly, there is not a briefing note on this, and if the member wishes questions to be answered, then the member should be patient when he's asking questions.
Again, I reiterate, it is certainly too bad that the member turned down a technical briefing, and, therein, again, lies the answer or certainly a suggestion: if the member opposite would like a briefing, well, after we're through with this, then I'm certain that I will be able to talk to my department and require the briefing.
As to his specific question: well, we're always achieving to reach modern standards, and the standards that are required, and this will certainly get us to that phase.
Mr. Jenkins: I've heard some disjointed responses to a direct question. That certainly has to be one of them.
The question of the minister is that the current computerizing of the assessment branch is underway. There is ongoing capital budgeted for it and there's ongoing O&M. Just what stage are we at with this transition within this department? How many additional dollars does the minister anticipate are going to be spent to conclude this transition and what is going to be the ongoing O&M in that area, after this transition is made? What kind of savings are going to be effected from computerizing this department?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can certainly see that the real question has finally surfaced and has come out. We will be more than happy to get back to the member opposite on this specific question.
Mr. Jenkins: It's the same question I asked the first two times, changing it around a little bit so the minister might be able to pick up on it a little bit differently, but is this information readily available or is this some information that the minister's going to bring back by way of legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's certainly wonderful when a member opposite uses his knowledge and grasp of the English language and puts it into basic English instead of posturing. If I want to see Shakespeare, I will certainly go and see a Shakespeare play.
We will get back to the member opposite as soon as we can. As soon as the department has compiled the necessary information that the member opposite has requested, we'll get back to him.
Mr. Jenkins: So, what the minister is saying in the House today is that he doesn't have an understanding of where this branch of his department is at whatsoever and the fiscal realities of that area, he doesn't have a clue about. He's got to go back and ask once again. Are there any areas that the minister understands within his department?
Now, we have here today a minister responsible for a $100 million department who has provided very, very little in the way of responses and it's getting very, very tedious asking questions to which no responses are forthcoming.
Let us move on. Let us move on to where we're dealing with the lands and property assessment. Could he also advise if this is going to be integrated with the lands branch, all this information, and what format will this conversion to computerizing that branch of the minister's portfolio take?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It is somewhat of a confusing question, but certainly it takes two or three questions from the member opposite, so, again, we will bear with the person opposite and work with it.
The information for the first part of the question from the member opposite was: "Will the information be integrated into the lands branch?" Yes, it will be. Everything is pertinent.
Will it be related? Well, yes, it certainly is and will be related; and over time, as we continue with the implementation of these systems, we shall certainly see.
Mr. Jenkins: If we look at page 3-20, under assessments, it gives the total numbers of assessed values, the properties assessed and the cost per properties assessed. Will the implementation of this system result in overall reduction in assessment per property, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The question from the member opposite is, I believe, will the cost per property assessment go down. It is approximately $20 per assessment now. That certainly is not the goal of this expenditure.
Mr. Jenkins: Did I hear the minister say the goal of the exercise was not to be cost effective? Is that what the minister is saying?
Chair: Mr. Jenk.... Mr. Keenan.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Don't you ever say that to me again, Mr. Chair. I take that highly personal.
No, let me say that, of course it is to be cost effective. It is within the objects of the department. Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: That's exactly what I was going to do - take the minister back to the departmental objectives and recite those for his information. I am sure he could find them on page 3-2, and it might be prudent if he did spend some time reading them.
Given that this database that's being created is going to be extremely advantageous, could the minister advise the House why he doesn't anticipate a reduction in assessment per property? The number of properties is increasing. The amount of time that the assessors will have to spend on site going over each property could be extended to once every five years, and they could be indexed. There's a number of initiatives that the minister could take to reduce his costs in this area, and pass that resulting reduction in cost on to the respective municipal governments who pay for the majority of the assessments.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No. I do not appreciate the member opposite putting words in my mouth. Certainly, it leaves me with a bad taste.
Why not cost-efficient? Well, certainly we're always striving to be cost-efficient. Is it the primary reason on this particular expenditure? Well, it certainly will be one of the reasons. We're certainly looking for better information and looking to make the system better in itself, and that's exactly what we're going to do. Will it be cost-efficient and will we be able to pass those savings on to the member - well, in part to the member - to the property owners and the owners? Well, certainly, I'm sure that will be a part of the system and part of the goal, also. Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, for the minister's benefit, annually that department invoices the communities throughout the Yukon Territory a fee for assessments, and that fee is part of the costs that those municipal governments have to recover from their taxpayers.
So, the object, once again, is to provide this service in the most efficient, reliable and cost-effective manner that is available.
I'm disappointed to hear the minister say that the object of the exercise was not to totally look at the efficiencies and cost reductions. I'm hoping very much that the minister today can make some sort of assurances that they will look at this department with a view of making it more cost-effective. Can I have that assurance from the minister?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, that is one of the objectives. Again, I dislike the taste that is left in my mouth by the words, or the interpretation that the member opposite puts there, but certainly, I will reiterate: it is one of the objectives. Yet, one of the other objectives is to get better information, to provide a better service, to provide a more transparent service, and, of course, to have a more efficient and cost-efficient service.
Those are all objectives. Those are all objectives that we are working dearly toward, and we will continue to work dearly toward. Again, therein is the answer and I thank the member opposite for his question.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm at a loss as to what the minister means by "transparent service". Could he please elaborate?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Transparent service. Well, I am certainly not shocked that the member opposite would ask what "transparent" means. "Transparent" means an open process, a process that people can see, a process that is understandable by the vast majority of the people. That is what "transparent" means.
I think what you have here is a transparent government. Was it transparent in the past? Well, I don't think so. Not this government, the previous administration. They said things, and did things in other ways. They went this way instead of that way. So, now, he's baffled by what the transparency of this government involves.
Gosh-sakes alive. Welcome to this government's way of doing business.
Mr. Jenkins: The only thing we have transparent here is the minister. We can surely see through him.
We haven't got one respectable response out of this minister this afternoon. It's like pulling hens' teeth. It's unreal.
Well, if the minister's prepared to bring back his legislative returns on the assessment branch as to what is transpiring there in the areas that the questions were raised on, we can move on, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I did say it to the member opposite. It's quite transparent, the answer, I think. If you'll check, I did say I'd get the information back to him, and through my transparency, I did not say by the way of legislative return. I did say that I would get that information back and I certainly appreciate that you can understand that. Thank you.
Chair: Does the line item clear?
Lands and Property Assessments in the amount of $3,317,000 agreed to
Chair: Before we go to the line item, public safety, is it the members' wish to take a 10-minute break?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: 10 minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are on the line item, public safety.
On Public Safety
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The O&M budget of $1,512,000 consists of $1,048,000 for personnel, which includes the salaries and benefits for the 17 staff and administration, electrical safety, mechanical safety, building, plumbing and fire protection areas; $464,000 for other, which includes $67,000 for travel - $60,000 in Yukon and $7,000 outside Yukon; $52,000 for honoraria for fire volunteers; $27,000 for contract services; $39,000 for repairs and maintenance; $107,000 for internal charges for vehicle usage; $87,000 for utilities; $43,000 for communication; and $42,000 for various other requirements of the program.
In comparison with the previous year, it's an increase of $5,000. The net increase of $14,000 in utilities for fire halls and various other areas is offset by a minor decrease in the personnel costs. Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister provide an explanation as to the reduction in personnel costs?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, the reduction is mainly due to the reduction in the casuals.
Mr. Jenkins: As I understand casuals, which casuals would be replaced? I'm hoping we're not talking about some of the additional summer electrical inspectors that are being added in. Which casuals? What areas?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I hope the members opposite will bear with me, but what we have here is approximately $100,000 more this year for the permanents, and a reflection within that for the decrease in the casuals.
To answer the member's question specifically on the hope that it isn't the auxiliary electrical person, no, it's not.
Mr. Jenkins: So, there's $100,000 increase in costs for permanent staff and a reduction in the costs for casuals.
Could I ask the minister for a breakdown of his total cost of $1,048,000 for his 17 staff people?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it just takes a few moments to get it all circled here.
Regular pay, permanent, 1997-98 budget, $871,614; overtime, not applicable; vacation pay, permanent, again, zero; standby pay, zero; other, permanent, $3,825.
The above were permanent, now we're into casual.
Regular pay, casual, $22,985; overtime for casual, zero; vacation time, casual, zero; other, casual, zero.
Yukon bonus, $34,714; fringe benefits, $112,719; internal charges, $2,500.
For salaries and wages, the total is $1,048,357.
Mr. Jenkins: So, that's the forecast for this fiscal period. Could he give me the comparison figures for the last fiscal period?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The 1995-96 actual dollar amounts follow the same format: the regular pay permanent, $773,600; overtime permanent, $4,549; vacation pay permanent, $1,574; stand-by pay permanent, $7,663; other for the permanent, $10,143; regular pay for the casual, $107,036; overtime for the casual, $1,031; vacation pay for the casual, $13,546; other for the casual, $3,252; Yukon bonus, $29,608; fringe benefits, $111,060; internal charges, $1,535, for a salary and wages total of $1,064,602.
Would you like me to repeat that again?
Mr. Jenkins: We've eliminated a whole group of categories from 1995-96 fiscal and 1997-98 fiscal. Would the minister please provide the information as to how this was achieved and the reason for taking this course of action?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: For the member opposite's question, the answer is that we don't generally budget for the stand-by and we don't generally budget for the overtime. Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: That gives rise to the question: is that going to be brought in by way of a supp to address the additional costs to the department for stand-by charges, overtime charges and additional costs for the payroll loading on those respective categories?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, with good fiscal responsibility, we certainly try to manage very carefully and we certainly try to avoid that. We certainly try to avoid coming with the supp, if at all possible. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: Historically, a number of these officials will get into overtime, will get into stand-by time. Public safety covers a multitude of officials responsible for a number of categories and, in the event of a mishap or emergency - and there isn't a year that goes by in the Yukon where we do not have such an occurrence - we will incur additional expenses to address the responsibility of the department in those areas. So, it's a given that these are going to occur every year. Why are they not budgeted for?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Most certainly we can never depict emergencies, and emergencies certainly do come up, as the member opposite has stated. We certainly try to avoid it and we try to find a means and wherewithal within the budget to avoid it, and therein is the answer.
Mr. Jenkins: But the minister does recognize that it is occurring, will continue to occur, and it will continue to be part of his budget. Now, can the minister advise why he is allowing his department to not budget some funds in this area, or is there great big pools of funds hidden somewhere else to cover these costs? Is there another little pocket of money tucked away there to cover these oversights?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No. Certainly in a transparent government there is no such thing as little pockets of money hidden away here or there. We certainly do try to manage our dollars fiscally responsibly, and we're going to continue to do that. It's very difficult to crystal-ball emergencies, forecast emergencies, in that light. I think that it might even be a hypothetical question, and an expression of the luck that we don't need.
Again, no, we don't generally budget for these types of things, and we'll continue in this manner. It seems to be working very efficiently. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: So how is the minister going to address what eventually will be an overexpenditure in that department? If we look at 1995-96, it was $1,064,602; 1997-98, $1,048,000. There are obviously going to be additional costs incurred. What have the historical trends been in that department?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, of the $5,600 on overtime, from 1995-96, we've certainly tried to minimize that. If we are not effective in minimizing the overtime over the whole department, we certainly try to find offsets for that.
Now, I know in the member opposite's mind he's going to say that there are huge pockets of money here and there, but certainly that is not the case. It's on behalf of our department pulling together and working cooperatively together with the objectives as stated previously so that we might be able to minimize the overall effects. Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: What the minister is actually saying is there's enough money in the budget so that it can be absorbed in other areas - slush funds held throughout the department.
Let's look into another area. If we could just explore with the minister the $87,000 in utility charges. They're justified as being attributable to additional utility costs for fire stations. Was this for an additional fire station that is being maintained or is this a budgeting for an increase in electrical costs, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly before I begin, Mr. Chair, I'd like to reiterate the member opposite's comments alluding to a slush fund. Let me say that, in his own words, it's over a $1 million department, and if it's a slush fund of $5,600, it's ludicrous for even the member opposite to suggest that. It certainly gives me a tone of how he would run a government, and heaven forbid that it ever happen to Yukon.
Certainly it's not in our minds. What we simply do here is try to work efficiently. I commend the bureaucracy for working in this manner of trying to avoid and by finding different ways that they might be able to find it, and to not have to budget for, but to try and simply work within their means. The member opposite has absolutely said, "My gosh, that is one of the objectives."
So, we are working to the objective. When we work toward these types of objectives by finding fiscal responsibility, we're accused of putting it into a slush fund, and such a minute slush fund. I wouldn't even know the percentage that the breakdown of one percent would be, so certainly I think the member opposite should be aware of that. I have to bring it to the member opposite's attention.
Concerning the fire protection for Beaver Creek, and utilities and electricity, the detail is $5,830; the heating fuel is $3,360. In Burwash Landing, the electricity is $2,120; heating fuel is $1,680. Within the fire protection in Carcross, electricity is $7,420; fire pump is $1,200. Within the fire protection in Mount Lorne, the electricity is $1,590; the heating fuel is $2,240.
Would the member like me to start over?
Within the fire protection for Destruction Bay, the electricity is $2,332; the heating fuel is $2,464.
Keno City fire protection: electricity, $1,272; heating fuel, $3,920. Fire protection for the Klondike Valley: electricity, $4,240; heating fuel, $5,040. Within the fire protection, lakeside: electricity, $2,120; heating fuel, $2,800. Within the Old Crow fire protection: electricity, $795; heating fuel, $616. Fire protection, Pelly Crossing: electricity, $2,120; heating fuel, $4,480. Fire protection for Ross River: electricity, $8,480; heating fuel $2,352. Fire protection at Tagish: electricity, $848; heating with propane gas, $3,360. Within the fire protection for Upper Liard: electricity, $742; heating, again with propane gas, $2,016.
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, if the minister would listen to the question and respond, we'd save the House an awful lot of time.
The question was: there's an increase of $5,000-odd in that department; is that attributable to another fire station or is it attributable to electrical rates, or is it just a general, across-the-board increase for all of the categories? It's got to be one of the three things.
As to the breakdown of where the funds are spent, I didn't ask that of the minister. I could have, I guess, but the question was simply stated: why was there an increase in that line item in that department?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I do believe that there is a new firehall coming on in Mount Lorne; that brought that in.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, thank you, Mr. Minister. Mr. Chair, that's amazing, finally a response to a question. I appreciate it.
Could we explore with the minister the internal charges of $107,000? Would the minister provide us with a breakdown of these internal charges and a comparison with the last fiscal period?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Could I get the member opposite to restate his question? Was the question, the internal charges of $100,000? Is that what the member opposite asked?
Mr. Jenkins: The minister indicated previously that there were internal charges of $107,000 in the estimate for 1997-98. I'd like the minister to provide a breakdown of those internal charges, and the comparison for the last fiscal period.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I did not say that. I did say that - maybe where the confusion is, is fringe benefits, which were $112,719. But the internal charges I read out - and I apologize if they were not read correctly - were $2,500 for 1997-98, and the comparison, is, again, $2,500 for 1996-97.
Mr. Jenkins: I had them reversed. I apologize.
The $107,000 - could the minister provide a breakdown of what that is attributable to?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Maybe my ears are going a little wonky on me here again, but the member opposite said $107,000 for fringe benefits. There is no number of $107,000 here. I did not say that.
For the fringe benefits, for the member opposite, I did say $112,719. Is that what the hon. member opposite is speaking to?
Mr. Jenkins: I did have a breakdown of internal charges for payroll loading of $107,000. That could probably be attributable to 1995-96, but could the minister provide a breakdown of the payroll loading costs for 1997-98.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, if I can take the member back to the conversation of a couple of days ago, the answer is the same. It is provided as a percentage breakdown across the whole department, not just specifically the one department, but everything within my mandate here.
Mr. Jenkins: How much of an increase is that line item experiencing in this fiscal period, as a percentage of the total? If it's just allocated across the spreadsheet, there has to be a percentage increase as a result of pension plans and as a result of the Canada Pension Plan, the employees' pension plan and WCB. I think they're the three main contributors to an increase in cost.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: For the member opposite's information, the Workers' Compensation benefits are paid by the Public Service Commission. The percentages for 1997-98 are 12.6 percent, approximately. In 1995-96, they were 12.3 percent; in 1994-95, 12.1 percent, and in 1993-94, again 12.1 percent.
Mr. Jenkins: Just for the record, if I could move back into utilities for the department, once again could the minister please confirm that there has been no budgeting for increases in the cost of electricity throughout this component of the portfolio?
Perhaps the minister would care to answer for the whole department. There has been no budgeted increase in electricity throughout the department. It'll save going through that question time and time again, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The actual expenditures of the department for electrical charges for 1996-97 was $906,000. The budget estimate for electrical charges for 1997-98 is $1,053,000, and this amount is included in the total for "utilities" of $1,773,000. Although a substantial portion of the increase is for the Whitehorse and the Watson Lake airports, the department estimates that approximately $42,000 is available in the current estimate for electrical rate increases, which represents about a 4.2-percent increase. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm sure, Mr. Chair, that the general population would be very pleased to hear that the department is only budgeting for a 4.2-percent increase in electrical costs. That's simply wonderful news to bring to the general consumers and the general population.
If I could just ask the minister to elaborate on the breakdown, there was $5,000 for contracts. What are we looking at there, and is there any change in what has been done previously? What has been spent on contracts in previous years?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, for a comparison that the member is asking for, contract services in 1995-96 were $30,359, in comparison with $36,500 in 1996-97, and $27,000 for 1997-98.
Mr. Jenkins: Would the minister please provide an explanation as to what this is going to be covering? What kind of contract services are we covering, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: If I can just ask the House's indulgence here just for a few moments - it'll take just a bit to put this information together.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and I appreciate the House's consideration.
For contract services in training, contract, clerical, $5,000. Within contract services in other, it's $5,000 for electrical safety. For mechanical safety, it is $2,000. For building and plumbing safety, it is $2,000.
In fire protection services, it is $12,000. In Carcross fire protection, it is for the White Pass Yukon Railroad, $1,000.
Mrs. Edelman: The $12,000 for fire protection services - could I get some clarification on that line?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The $12,000 total for contracting is hosting a national conference, for $5,000; the annual firefighters' seminar and chiefs' meeting in Whitehorse, $6,000; contractors/instructors from Yukon in first-aid, CPR, rescue and fire-fighting - there was no expenditure for that; sewage pump-outs of the firehalls, $600; and the meeting room rentals, $400. I'll go over that again, if that was confusing.
It was for hosting the conference, $5,000; for the firefighters' seminar and chief's meeting $6,000; for the sewer pump-out of the firehall, $600; and, for the meeting room rentals, $400.
Mrs. Edelman: The training for firefighters: In many of the communities, there are firehalls that have been constructed without training rooms. We had some recent visitors from Watson Lake, who came to see us out at Marsh Lake and were very much impressed with the Marsh Lake Firehall, which has quite an attractive training room on the side of it. Is there a move in the department to have training rooms attached to any new firehalls that are going to be built by the territorial government? If nothing else, it's going to save you some money on room rentals over the years.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we'll attempt to keep up with that. As the member can see, the meeting room rentals are only $400, but that certainly doesn't take away from the initiative that member is talking about, I believe, and that is for efficient and onsite training within the communities. I believe that, this year, in Upper Liard, we will be doing this on a time-to-time basis. Thank you.
Mrs. Edelman: It does cost quite a bit to bring people into Whitehorse all the time to do training, and sometimes it's better to send one person out to the community than to bring 15 people in, and that would be a major cost saving.
Now, Mr. Chair, generally speaking, is any of the work that's being done by the public safety people planning for dry hydrant programs throughout the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Dry hydrants were considered in 1993 as a means to complement firefighting water supplies for the volunteer fire departments, and the requirements to have them operational year-round in our extreme climate made it cost prohibitive, at an estimated cost of $28,000 each.
Some of the background to this is that in 1992, a water-supply system for firefighting was initiated that is referred to as a rural water supply system. This consists of tankers to transport water from a source to the fire and dumping it into a portable tank to supply the pumper that is fighting the fire. This system also includes large volume hoses and appliances to load the tankers rapidly. The dry hydrant concept was explored with the help of municipal engineering, but due to the requirements to ensure its operation, such as enclosing the above-ground portion and heat-trace taping the underground portion, the cost became prohibitive, at $28,000 per installation.
Mrs. Edelman: It's not necessary to have this going all year round. As forestry is devolved to us - and fire fighting, particularly forest fires - this is going to become an extremely important issue, and I think that we can lead the way here in the north in this, and that certainly, it has been used extensively throughout the prairies and everywhere else in Canada. My hope is that we continue to look at this, particularly because we're going to be looking at fire fighting forest fires in the very near future.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We'll certainly take the member opposite's comments into consideration when we sit down and look at the devolution process that is coming. I thank the member opposite for that.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: The Committee has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1997-98, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled April 22, 1997:
RCMP police dog: status (Moorcroft)
Oral, Hansard, p. 651
The following Document was filed April 22, 1997:
Mining and exploration expenditures by jurisdiction in Canada: 1995 to 1997 (Harding)