Thursday, April 24, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Speaker: I have a visitor from Vuntut Gwitchin. My mom, Ellen Bruce - Reverend Doctor Ellen Bruce - who is a visitor sitting in the gallery.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to introduce an elected official that we have visiting in the gallery today. Jean François Deslauriers has been elected as the regional executive vice president for the north of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. He was elected last week in Toronto at the union's national convention and represents the Alliance's 11,000 members north of 60o in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
Mrs. Edelman: I'd like to introduce Pat Carberry, who is the president of the Yukon Council on Aging for the Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I have a document for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motions?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This will then bring us to Question Period.
Question re: Beringia Interpretive Centre, staffing
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Tourism.
I'd like to ask the minister about the role of the Historic Resources Centre in supporting the Beringia Interpretive Centre.
The Yukon government is embarking upon a more aggressive winter marketing program that was initiated by the Yukon Party government. One of the big complaints by our visitors in the past is that in the off-season, most attractions are closed. The Yukon Party government built the new tourism offices next to the new Visitor Reception Centre, and we used staff from the offices to open the centre five days a week year-round, and especially for special occasions such as conventions, elder hostel, Rendezvous and the Yukon Quest. This close proximity of the tourism administration building and use of their staff saves us a lot of money and opens the facilities in the winter months.
I'd like to ask the minister if he intends to open the new Beringia Interpretive Centre in the off-season for school children and visitors, and I ask the minister how he intends to staff the facility.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we are looking to make the Beringia Centre completely accessible for educational purposes, and staffing the facility was the other question? Is that right? Yes, we are proceeding to the staffing of the facility at this point in time.
Mr. Phillips: The initial plan was to use the staff of the heritage branch who would be in the Historic Resources Centre to keep the Beringia Centre open in the winter for special occasions and for students.
The minister has told us today that he plans to staff it. Is he telling us that he plans to staff it year-round? Is that what he's telling us?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, that is not what I said.
Mr. Phillips: That's sort of brings me back to my first question again, that I really didn't get an answer for. How is the minister going to staff it? When is it going to be open, and is there money in the budget, at the present time, to staff it in the off-season?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, it is in the process of being worked on at this point in time and we are looking to the original date for opening the Beringia Centre some time near the end of May.
The other question was: will it be open during the winter? No, it is not in the plan at this point in time.
Question re: Yukon Anniversaries Commission, future of
Mr. Phillips: Well, that's unfortunate that we won't be able to use that for about eight or nine months of the year where people will come for conventions and Yukon school children will be unable to use it because the centre, of course, will only be open in the months of, I guess, late May and June and as well, part of September.
My next question, Mr. Speaker, is to the same minister and it's regarding the Yukon Anniversaries Commission.
As the minister knows, the anniversaries are starting to wind down and the minister himself has said publicly that it's time to get on to other things. I'd like to ask the minister what he plans to do in the future with the $285,000 of funding and the Anniversaries Commission. Is he planning on disbanding that commission? I'd like the minister to tell us what he intends to do with the funding.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, at this point in time, we are working and consulting with the industry as to the wind-up dates and choosing how we would wind it down. We are scheduling a meeting in the near future with industry reps and board reps as to how we would be able to do it.
As to what we would be doing with the monies at that time, well, those monies will be brought through the budgetary process and addressed through that process.
Mr. Phillips: The $285,000 in our Tourism budget is a lot of money. I would like to know if the minister could give his assurances on the floor of the House today that, whether the Anniversaries Commission continues or not, that $285,000 will not be lost to the Tourism budget, that it will stay in the Tourism budget and he will consult with the industry on ways to spend the $285,000.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I would encourage the member opposite to pay attention to what has been going on in the tourism industry for the last six months. Certainly, in the last six months, we have been consulting with the industry. The budget for Tourism has gone up somewhat and we have been working very closely with the industry and I will continue to do so.
Mr. Phillips: The minister didn't answer my question. I know that the minister has been working with the industry and I know that there's extra money in this budget. What I'm asking the minister about is that I do not want to see him give with one hand and take away with the other.
There is $285,000 in the Anniversaries Commission budget to operate the commission. If they decide that the commission is no longer needed, can he give this House assurances that the $285,000 will still stay within the Department of Tourism and that he will consult with the industry on the best use of that $285,000?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The member opposite is certainly somewhat confused, I think, as to what working with the industry means.
Working with the industry means certainly just that, working with the industry and consulting with the industry, and maintaining a close relationship with the industry and, as the member himself acknowledged, I have been doing that and I will continue to do that.
As to the acknowledgment of retaining the $285,000, well, I'm certainly there to work closely with the industry, and I will continue to do so. We will identify, as our A Better Way document said, all areas of the tourism industry and not just focus on one thing.
So, I think, the member opposite can certainly rest assured that we'll be working that closely with them, and that the budget that we do put together with them will be done in a very timely, fashionable and consultative manner.
Question re: Taylor House, proposed use
Ms. Duncan: A week ago, this government announced that they had purchased the Taylor House.
As it is now Government of Yukon property, and I have a number of questions about the plan for the building, I'm going to direct my question to the Minister of Government Services.
It was indicated that the government was speaking with a number of non-government organizations, with respect to the future of the building. Would the minister indicate if the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre is one of the non-government organizations, and if it is the only non-government organization, looking at moving into the building?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, I can confirm that the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre did approach us. They are not the only group that has approached us, but they certainly were, I guess, the first off the mark in approaching the government. They have taken a look at the property and have made a number of queries about it.
Ms. Duncan: The minister indicated that renovations and repairs to the upstairs of the White Pass building would be in the neighbourhood of $150,000, and the minister also indicated that he had toured Taylor House and that Government Services were preparing estimates as to the total cost of repairs that would be necessary for that building to make it into an office building.
In the Economic Development briefing, the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre, under the list of community projects initiatives, are shown with an application pending for $137,000 for a new centre. Is this seed money for repairs to the Taylor House?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I think it's probably more appropriate that I answer that as the minister responsible for the community projects initiative.
We made a public commitment to the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre in the election campaign, and to all Yukoners, that we would work with them to try and find a suitable home for that organization. One of the ways to do that - and they've been working quite diligently with the Yukon Housing Corporation - as well, was through the community projects initiative.
The recent events with regard to the Taylor House where we had the choice of whether to purchase it or see it bulldozed, have opened up other possible avenues of opportunity. The money in the CPI has not been identified specifically for seed money for renovations at this time.
Ms. Duncan: The arrangement the Government of Yukon has with the T.C. Richards Building, as another example, is that the Chamber of Commerce rents the office space, and it must be rented to non-profit organizations. The revenue from that money pays for repairs to the building, renovations that are required and repairs. In terms of making arrangements between the Government of Yukon and the tenants, if you will, of the White Pass building and future tenants of the Taylor House, is the government contemplating a similar type of arrangement where the space must be rented to non-profit organizations, or is it contemplating an arrangement where a non-profit organization might rent to the private sector?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can tell you right now that I took a look into the various rental and lease arrangements that this government has with non-governmental agencies throughout the territory. It's a myriad. It's a patchwork. They range all the way from us renting for no cost, a dollar, and in some cases, very modest costs. I'm sure that the member has taken a look at the property management report, which indicates that we often lease or rent space far beyond what the market value of that space would be, but we do this because we feel that it's one way to support NGOs.
Right now, I couldn't contemplate what kind of arrangement could be entered into. We have arranged for someone to take a look at the various lease arrangements we could arrange, the space, what kind of renovations. I examined the Florian Maurer report in 1985, which suggests that there would be about $80,000 just for the building envelope itself, but that doesn't really take into account what kind of modifications we would have to make for various organizations or who would come in, so we're still at a preliminary stage.
Question re: Health, extended care and respite
Mrs. Edelman: My question is for the minister responsible for Health and Social Services.
A recent report by the Yukon Medical Association stated that it was the understanding that the Yukon territorial government would be responsible for providing the non-acute care needs, such as extended care and respites. The commitment has clearly not been met. Can the minister tell the House why this commitment to Yukon doctors and their patients has been broken?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: That's an interesting way to phrase it, in such a negative way.
I can tell the member opposite that what we have been doing is working with the medical community and working with other groups to try to achieve a better level of respite care and, I suppose, a better level of convalescence care in the territory.
One of the steps that we've taken is to re-activate a section of the Thomson Centre that has been dormant for the past several months, and we hope to get that up and running very soon. That in turn, we hope, will free up some space for Macaulay, for example, and will perhaps allow us to expand our respite care in that case.
Mrs. Edelman: It's interesting, because obviously the most affected group is the Yukon seniors. Now, Yukon seniors are also affected by early discharge. Are there early discharge programs being contemplated by the Yukon territorial health department - a program for early discharge?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I presume that the member is talking about some controversy surrounding the discharge policy of the Whitehorse General Hospital. What we have is a program involving home care, where individuals - the hospital, patients, and family doctors - can refer patients to home care, and I would refer the member to the home care program brochure, which does suggest that an individual can be referred if they are elderly, chronically ill, disabled or recuperating from acute illness. So, the program is there. The nurses from the home care do rounds every Tuesday morning at the hospital, so hopefully they can keep plugged into the needs of the individuals there.
Mrs. Edelman: The head of the Yukon Council on Aging says that seniors are not receiving adequate care after being discharged from Whitehorse General Hospital. Will this government continue to ignore the expertise and wisdom of Yukon doctors and seniors, and provide the necessary health services to Yukon seniors and elders?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can tell the member opposite that we are meeting and trying to address some of the concerns for seniors. I'm meeting with the Council on Aging this Friday. As well, I also have a meeting with Mr. Carberry next week, in which we will probably be addressing these and some other issues.
As well, what we've done through the department is to approach the council about trying to get involved in some strategic planning exercises with them, to take a look at some of the long-term needs of a very growing segment of our population. We do have an initial report, an initial research paper, that will be coming out very shortly. We are at the point of doing some revisions on the draft. The title of that report is "Current and Future Demand for Services in Continuing Care," and we are taking a look at the whole question of seniors' needs in general, and the pressures as to what we will have to do in terms of such things as independent living, expanded home care - a whole myriad of issues surrounding seniors.
Question re: Visitor reception centres, opening for season
Mr. Phillips: My question is again for the Minister of Tourism.
If you look outside today, spring really has sprung. The swans and geese are flying overhead and the RVs and buses are starting to arrive.
I'd like to ask the minister if they've made any changes this year to the opening of the visitor reception centres in the territory and what is the date that the visitor centres will open?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly agree with the member opposite that it is a beautiful day and that the swans, ducks and geese have arrived, and hopefully the good spirits that they bring with them will maintain and be here for us and with us all for the duration.
As to the member's question referring to the opening of the visitor centres, that will be something that I have to get back on. I do not have adequate information, but I'm certain that it will be at the same that it was last year.
Mr. Phillips: I hope they are planning to open fairly soon because I know that our visitors are starting to arrive.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday at lunch I had an opportunity to take a walk around the new Visitor Reception Centre downtown and I notice a few things that I'd like to point out to the minister. First of all, there is a fair amount of litter on the grounds all around the centre now that the snow is gone. The windows and the walls are extremely dirty because of the dust.
I'd like to ask the minister if, since our visitors are now starting to arrive and that is a place most of our visitors are going to gather their first impressions, the minister would direct people in the department to make sure that the place is cleaned up and they put on a good face for our visitors?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, certainly the litter that is there is a disgrace as litter anywhere is certainly a disgrace, and every time I walk by there, I manage to scoop up litter, no matter where it is. Again, though, I stress that that falls within the city's jurisdiction.
As far as the windows and the walls being cleaned, well we certainly will be approaching that. Now as the member is well aware, spring did arrive, to his admission, just today.
Mr. Phillips: I'm pleased to see that the minister is picking up litter. I am, too, but I don't think it should be totally our responsibility. I think there should be others who should be making sure that the place is kept clean.
I also noticed, Mr. Speaker, that the parking lot for visitors is full of cars with Yukon plates, and yesterday I watched a large RV circled the building twice unable to find a parking spot. I know that people have been using the parking spots in the winter months, but I'd like to ask the minister if he will make sure that the spots that are designated for visitors are available for visitors from this week forward?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will refer that to Government Services.
Question re: Yukon Energy Commission, workplan synopsis
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Energy Commissioner on his workplan.
Two days ago, the energy commissioner tabled a document in the House, entitled "Cabinet Commission on Energy: Workplan Synopsis." It sets out the number of things he's going to do in the first year, finishing off with an item called supply options, which is going to be completed by the spring of 1998. Then it goes on to talk about years two and three, when he's going to develop the comprehensive energy policy which, judging from the way the document is structured, will take us up to spring of the year 2000.
Now, that is not what he said before in the House.
Is my understanding of the document and the way it is structured correct?
Mr. McRobb: It is always a pleasure to respond to questions from the Member for Riverside.
The workplan synopsis is a reduced form of the workplan which was approved by Cabinet. Year one will take us up to March 1998. It is true that the comprehensive energy policy work will require two years, up until the spring of 2000.
Mr. Cable: I was hoping the commissioner would say it wasn't so, because as recently as April 15, he was telling the House that March 1999 is the estimated termination point for this commission. What changed between April 15th and the time that the workplan synopsis was tabled in the House?
Mr. McRobb: The year-three undertaking by the commission will see the implementation of the comprehensive energy policy. This is essentially a three-year commission. We made that known at the beginning and we're sticking to that schedule.
Mr. Cable: Well, that's today's variation. I have a document that I would like to arrange for the page to take over to the energy commissioner. It is a quote from Bartlett's Quotations, and it's Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." I would suggest that the commissioner stick this beside his desk and look at it while he's working through and gestating this energy policy.
The question I have for the energy commissioner is that it looks like the energy commissioner, just before the next election, is going to present some sort of document telling us about stabilizing rates and the use of microhydro and all those other catchy political things. Could the commissioner commit to this House to having his work finished in time to present this sort of adventure in energy to his Cabinet, so that it can clear Cabinet and be presented to this House for debate, prior to the next election?
Mr. McRobb: As the member knows, the previous government was unable to produce a comprehensive energy policy within the last four years. Our government will undertake to provide it within one year, and that document will be brought to Cabinet and approved and, I presume, debated on the floor of this Legislature.
Year three is to see the implementation of that policy.
Already, the member has me getting up at six in the morning and working until eleven o'clock at night. I want to assure the member that I am working very hard, and members of the commission are working very hard, to develop this policy. Already he is invited to participate in the process and contribute something a little more constructive than the questions he raises today, which I think are quite redundant, when you consider that the work committed to in the commission's workplan is much-needed work. It's long overdue. Our government made a commitment to undertake this work. We will see that this work is done.
As the member also knows, the year-one workplan contains several other commitments that will benefit ratepayers and Yukoners alike.
Question re: Mobile-home strategy
Mr. Jenkins: My question today is for the Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. Earlier this week in the Legislature, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services stated that the Yukon Housing Corporation played the lead in the development of a mobile-home strategy, with contributions to this strategy being made by Community and Transportation Services and the City of Whitehorse.
Can the minister provide me with a copy of the strategy, and can he tell me if the mobile-home strategy includes the condominium concept, which was proposed by this party?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As the member will recall from that discussion, we said that the Yukon Housing Corporation will be bringing this strategy forward. We still have some work to complete on it, and it will be released before the end of this legislative sitting.
Mr. Jenkins: My recollection of what was discussed is that the policy was going to be brought forward. What I'm looking for is the strategy from which the policy will be developed. What role, if any, will the mobile-home repair program play in this mobile-home strategy?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Like I said, we are going to be bringing this plan forward to the Legislature soon, and, in it you'll see components that take care of the issues that are among us, in this town, with regard to mobile homes.
Mr. Jenkins: Given the fact that existing mobile-home owners are having problems with the regulations, standards, inspections and other legal problems, is Cabinet considering new legislation for the fall session that will address these problems of mobile-home owners?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of issues that are being worked on with regard to the mobile-home strategy, to take care of the whole issue of whether or not this program can work. Regulations and so on are being discussed with the city, and we have not completed anything at this point with them, and I would like the member to wait until such time as this strategy comes forward. It should answer a lot of his questions at that point.
Question re: School councils spring conference
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Education with respect to the spring conference for Yukon school councils.
The minister committed two weeks ago to provide me with an agenda for that meeting, and in keeping with the reputation as the worst member of the government to answer correspondence, I have yet to receive one from her; however, I am grateful to the school council chairs for loaning me one of theirs.
On the agenda, the minister has amendments to the Education Act. I wonder if she would elaborate on what items her department plans to bring forward under that discussion.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I regret that the member has such a poor opinion of my ability. Certainly I don't see a demonstration of the alternative to confrontational politics in her questioning today.
As to the agenda for the conference, I'll make sure that the copy she has is current and have one sent to her. The Education Act, as anyone who has read the Education Act knows, sets out that it will be reviewed in the year 2000. As the year 2000 is approaching, we just wanted to make sure school councils are aware that that would be coming up.
Ms. Duncan: As I understand the minister's confrontational answer, she's going to indicate to school councils that, at that point, the Education Act has to be reviewed in the year 2000. But the agenda item says "Amendments to the Education Act" and my specific question was: does the minister's department have amendments - not the review; amendments - that they're planning to bring forward for school councils to discuss?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We do not have specific amendments to the Education Act that we're necessarily bringing forward to the school councils. What I can undertake to do is make sure that for any further questions the member has, if they weren't adequately answered in the technical briefing she had last week, there will be a follow-up for them.
Ms. Duncan: I have read it, and the technical briefing did not mention the Education Act review.
Let's try another tactic. On the agenda there is the discussion item, "School council elections and the size of school councils". In the budget, there is a line item for education-related organizations and there is remuneration for school council committees, but there's no increase scheduled for this year.
How does the minister intend to deal with the request for school councils for additional members?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'd like to advise the member that, in case she wasn't aware of it, the technical briefing was an opportunity for members to ask any questions that they might have about the education budget. If she has further questions, I can either answer them in the House or, if they require technical information, I can get it for the member. The size of school councils and the timing for the elections of school councils is something that Whitehorse school council chairs indicated was of interest to them at a meeting I had with them early last winter. We're going to provide all school councils with a chance to talk to the department about their concerns at their May 2nd and 3rd conference.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Question of privilege
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of privilege in response to an aspersion cast upon me by the Leader of the Official Opposition in Question Period yesterday, April 23, 1997.
The following quote can be referenced on page 787 of the Hansard Blues: "I would like the minister to assure this House that in the future he will not bow to political pressure put on him by the MLA for Kluane and his vested interests in Aishihik Lake." Mr. Speaker, his reference to vested interests inferred that I was in some sort of a conflict-of-interest situation, because I own property on Aishihik Lake and had influenced the Cabinet decision to meet environmental commitments to mitigate environmental impacts on Aishihik Lake.
Mr. Speaker, the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, addendum 1, "Guidelines for Oral Question Period" specific rule number 8 states: "A question must adhere to the proprieties of the House in that it must not contain inferences, impute motives or cast aspersions upon persons within the House or out of it." It is crystal clear that this aspersion - a smear against me as a member of this House - violates the rules of this House.
The Leader of the Official Opposition knows that I met with Conflicts Commissioner Ted Hughes, who indicated that there is no conflict of interest in regard to this matter. The Leader of the Official Opposition also had the option of discussing this matter with Mr. Hughes in order to get the facts straight. Unfortunately, he chose to circumvent the process and launch an unfounded personal attack upon my credibility.
In addition, without entering into the debate over the merits of the decision, I would like to outline three substantive reasons why the aspersion is meritless. One, I am not a member of Cabinet. The decision was made by Cabinet based on our commitment to mitigate the destructive environmental effects of water use for hydro at Aishihik Lake as laid out to all Yukoners in our campaign document, A Better Way. Two, advocating positions on any issue to Cabinet is fully within my jurisdiction as a private member of this government. On this particular issue, I was fulfilling my responsibility to my constituents and representing their best interests. I happen to be only one of the many property owners at Aishihik Lake and only one of the hundreds or perhaps thousands of Yukoners and tourists who visit Aishihik each year.
This issue affects a broad range of Yukoners. Our government's decision prevents what would have been harmful effects to our environment that could have been repeated for several years to come.
Mr. Speaker, I ask you to consider what kind of a world we would have if an elected official was in a conflict-of-interest situation for protecting the environment in his or her riding?
Number three, the decision was based on recommendations made by the technical advisory group and supported by the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, the Yukon Conservation Society, the Yukon Fish and Game Association and plenty of other Yukoners who are aware of the issue and destructive impacts caused by low-water levels in the lake.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, the allegation of conflict of interest made by the Leader of the Official Opposition is meritless. It is clear that the Leader of the Official Opposition is attempting to discredit me in this House, both with my constituents and the people of the Yukon, for the sake of grabbing headlines in the local media.
Mr. Speaker, rule 117 of Beauchesne requires you to decide if this matter is being raised at the earliest opportunity. I submit that I did not hear the aspersion at the time it was made and was unaware of it until later in the day, only after the Hansard Blues were available.
Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request that you ask to have these remarks withdrawn.
Mr. Phillips: On the point of privilege, there simply is no point of privilege here. This is a member who is maybe rather a little sensitive to things that are said in this House, and I find it quite remarkable today, Mr. Speaker, that that member rose today on that matter, when yesterday in this House he shouted four times, and possibly five times, across the floor that members on this side were hypocrites. He was lucky, Mr. Speaker, that his microphone wasn't on, but he shouted it loudly enough that the media heard it and others heard it.
Mr. Speaker, before the member criticizes others on what they say, he should clean up his own back yard. Mr. Speaker, there is no point of privilege in this particular case. Last but not least, Mr. Speaker, he should have been listening. That's why he's in the House: to listen. He didn't raise it in a timely manner, and it isn't a point of privilege.
I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the member opposite raises any credible comments at all. It's true that I referred to the members opposite, or the party in general, as being hypocritical, but that's a far cry from raising on the record as a standing member on the floor of this Legislature.
Point of order
Mr. Phillips: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Point of order. The hon. Member for Riverdale north.
Mr. Phillips: He now has admitted that he said that, so I'd like him to withdraw that on the floor of the House.
Speaker: Order please. Order. The Member for Kluane. I'm ready to rule. Will you please take your seat?
On the question of privilege, I would thank the Member for Kluane for providing the proper notice, as required by Standing Order 7(1), of the question of privilege.
A review of the Member for Kluane's concern indicates that it is not "privilege" in that the essential element of privilege is the right of free speech in this House. The complaint, while serious, more properly should have been raised, at the time, as a point of order.
The Member for Kluane asserts that the Leader of the Official Opposition violated guideline 8 of the guidelines for oral Question Period which states that "A question must adhere to the proprieties of the House in that it must not contain inferences, impute motives or cast aspersions upon persons within the House or out of it." Annotation 481 of Beauchesne states, in part, that a member, while speaking, must not impute bad motives or motives different than those acknowledged by a member nor make a personal charge against a member. Essentially, the Member for Kluane is alleging that the Leader of the Official Opposition made an injurious reflection upon him. This falls within the category of unparliamentary language, which must be raised as a point of order and not a question of privilege. The Chair is not able to deal with it as a point of order as the proper time to raise such a point of order is when the offending words are used.
The Chair would, however, like to ask all members to give careful consideration to the remarks they make, both on the record and off the record, in the heat of debate. Name calling and imputing motives do not add to the substance of debate. I would ask all members to refrain from making personal charges against other members and to use language which is appropriate to the decorum of this House.
That's the ruling.
We'll continue with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 6: Third Reading
Deputy Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 6, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 6, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98 (No. 2), be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader, that Bill No. 6, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98 (No. 2), be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 6 agreed to
We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, in her capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to give assent to the bill which has passed this House.
Commissioner enters Chamber, announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms
ASSENT TO BILL
Commissioner: Please be seated.
Speaker: Madam Commissioner, the Assembly has, at its present session, passed a certain bill to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.
Deputy Clerk: Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1997-98 (No. 2).
Commissioner: I hereby assent to the bill as enumerated by the Deputy Clerk.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
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 members' wish to take a short recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1997-98 - continued
Community and Transportation Services - continued
Municipal and Community Affairs Division - continued
Chair: We are dealing with the budget, Community and Transportation Services, municipal and community affairs division, additional information.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It is indeed my privilege and pleasure to be here once more today to talk about the intricacies of the budget of Community and Transportation Services.
I was asked a question yesterday on the honoraria for the sport and recreation, and the question was, why does honoraria differ between this year's $5,760 and last year's $3,760? In the 1996-97 budget, it was set at $5,760 to cover one grant-related and two policy-related meetings. The honoraria was reduced by $2,000 at Supplementary No. 1 as there were not enough issues to warrant a second policy meeting for YRAC members. In 1997-98, it is anticipated that the YRAC members will be having their regular three meetings. Therein lies the answer.
On Sports and Recreation - continued
Mr. Jenkins: I would take it we can continue with sports and recreation at this time and, if I could ask the minister to refer to page 3-22, municipal and community affairs division, sport and rec, and it's the contributions to the local authorities. If we look down the list, we see Beaver Creek, Burwash, Carcross, Destruction Bay, and so on, and the breakdown of what they are to receive.
Can the minister provide an explanation as to how these amounts of money are so established?
Could he outline the policy in this area, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly. Mr. Chair, it depends, I guess, on the assets that the community would have; for example, a swimming pool and those types of assets. In part, again, that's the first part of the answer, and the second part of the answer is that it can be also established by the order-in-council, such as we have just done in announcing the ministerial statement, to Upper Liard and to Mount Lorne. Therein is another part of the answer. And the third part is that they could be eligible for other requests, and it is up to them to work toward asking for that, and it's entirely up to the community.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister's response is making the issue more confusing than ever. For the minister's benefit, there are a third and a fourth component that establish how these funds are created. There's the discretionary recreation grant. There's a salary grant and facility operations and maintenance grants and a special extraordinary grant. The example given is Old Crow, travel, $10,000 addition.
When one looks at it, it's virtually all based on population. Fewer than 100, there's a base grant; for 100-plus; for 200-plus; and greater than 350. This is for unorganized communities.
The only two areas that appear to be consistent with government policy or outlines are Mount Lorne that has a population of 316, according to the statistics presented, and is eligible for a discretionary grant of $6,870, and Upper Liard, which has a population of 162 and is eligible for up to $7,215. So, the total for the community of Mount Lorne is $10,620 and the total for the community of Upper Liard is $7,215. But when one tries to apply these formulas to any of the other communities identified, the numbers one arrives at are totally different.
Now, would the minister provide an explanation as to what policy is being followed to achieve the estimated expenditures that are being allocated to local authorities?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the examples that the member opposite has brought forward are correct, and the examples of Mount Lorne and Upper Liard are the first two based on the Towards 2000 report. As we move forward with implementing the Towards 2000 report, we will be bringing into place regulation changes based on the draft and, therein, we will be moving forward with the other groups.
Mr. Jenkins: If the minister were to take a moment and, beside the communities - page 3-22 - write in the following information: Beaver Creek - and what I'm quoting are the populations from the statistical report issued by Government of the Yukon in February 1997 - Beaver Creek, 135; Burwash Landing, 86; Carcross, 441; Destruction Bay, 49; Keno City was one I couldn't find a number for; Mount Lorne, 316; Old Crow, 284; Pelly Crossing, 301; Ross River, 428; Tagish, 144; and Upper Liard, 162.
Now when you correlate that back to the estimates provided for the expenditures that the government is going to incur for contributions to summer pool, recreational facility operators, programs and rec directors, there has to be a multitude of policies in place to arrive at these numbers.
I did hear the minister admit that Mount Lorne and Upper Liard were the first two that were involved in the Sports and Recreation: Towards 2000, but as to the balance of them, what policy is being adhered to to achieve the forecasted expenditures, or the estimated expenditures, for the next fiscal period? What policy is the minister following?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly the policy that we have been following is the policy that we've been going with for quite some time. As we say, as we get into the Towards 2000 report and the implementation of that, it will bring into effect the changes.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much but, unfortunately, that doesn't hold water. When one looks at Burwash Landing or Destruction Bay or those two in isolation and when one identifies that they are going through a significant increase, what justifies the increase that they're receiving? If you go back to the actual budget for the previous period that is not recorded here - 1994-95, the previous fiscal period - and just see what has transpired, all of a sudden, in the 1996-97 forecast and the estimates, we are experiencing a big jump. What is the justification?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, in answer to the member's question. Certainly, that is the truth. What we are doing is working toward a phase-in approach over two years, so that it will not bring adverse shock, or adversity to the communities.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the shock is going to occur when you have to reduce the money that you've just transferred to the respective communities.
When you look at the two areas, the two population centres, and you start looking at Towards 2000, the program that we are supposed to be working toward, and you apply the formula that is in this book for the discretionary rec grant for a base grant, based on populations of less than 100, for a salary grant - zero funding for salaries - and a facility operation and maintenance grant. When you add it all together, what we're seeing before us doesn't follow the format that we're supposed to be working toward, and it doesn't follow the previous format.
Where are these numbers coming from? What is the minister having his department do to arrive at these numbers? Do they grab them out of the air? Are we honouring a political commitment? If that's the case, the minister can stand up and take credit for it. I'm not adverse to the minister taking credit for meeting a political promise. It's done all the time on that side of the House, but we have two areas where there are significant growths that do not conform to the Towards 2000 sports and recreation strategy, and they don't conform to the previous way that these grants were calculated. Where do these numbers come from? What's the minister doing?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, it shows it as going down on Destruction Bay and going up on Burwash Landing. Now, if you'll bear with me for a simple moment here, I spoke previously to the phase-in period of over two years, and certainly that is due to going from the old policy over to the new policy, and we're doing that so that we might be able to create a level playing field, and again, it will be phased in with the communities so that the communities will have time to get used to this system, and what this system will do, by the time we have the Towards 2000 report implemented, is create a level playing field based on the formula.
Mr. Jenkins: But when we look at the other areas of the sports governing bodies, and we relate it back to the Towards 2000 paper, everything has virtually been implemented, Mr. Chair, with the sole exception of the funding flowing through the respective communities. That does not stand the test of any of the formulas that are outlined in the Towards 2000 program with the sole exception of Upper Liard and Mount Lorne. These conform 100 percent, and we have two areas that, from the 1996-97 forecast to the 1997-98 estimates, are going up considerably. Now, if we look at the 1995-96 actuals and the previous year's actuals, and we notice the change - yes, there was a downward trend - and now we're going right back up, and while one might be explainable - Burwash - there is no real explanation for Destruction Bay. It goes from 3.4 to 2.9 and then all of a sudden up to 8.7. How do we arrive at these kinds of figures? One goes down, and one goes up. Neither of them conforms to the Towards 2000 program, which we're supposed to be ultimately hoping to achieve overall. All of the other areas of sports and recreation virtually conform to the Towards 2000 initiative, which I admire. It's been adopted and accepted.
Now an explanation is warranted for these areas.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, of course, I've explained that it is done by order-in-council, and that is the way it is done. We've done two of the communities now - Mount Lorne and Upper Liard - and I'm glad to see that the member opposite does support the recommendations in Towards 2000. I appreciate that. As for the rest, they haven't been to Cabinet. Again, we're going to be looking at this as a phase-in approach.
Regarding the Destruction Bay number, it's low, and that's simply because it's a forecast, not the actual number. It's just a forecast for 1996 and 1997.
Mr. Jenkins: I recognize it's low. I recognize it's a forecast. But the question still hasn't been answered by the minister. Could he please provide the criteria for developing these numbers that he has brought forward to this House in his budget? Where did these numbers come from? Were they pulled out of the air, were they to honour a political commitment, or what? Where were they derived from? They do not follow the format of the Towards 2000 sports and recreation program. They do not follow previous years' numbers or a projection of previous years' numbers. Where did they arrive from, Mr. Chair? Would the minister please respond to the question?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, Mr. Chair, I will, by way of explanation again tell the member that last year, if I might, the community recreation grant for Destruction Bay was $2,980, plus the phase-in adjustment to the new funding formula as per the December OIC is $2,692 with the facility operation and maintenance of $3,000, for a total of $8,672.
Now, as we move forward to phasing in, this will certainly be removed and we will phase in the Towards 2000 report at that time. The policy that we were following was certainly, of course, the agreed-upon policy of the previous administration. Certainly, the Towards 2000 is going to be the new one.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm still at a loss as to the minister's explanation. If we, Mr. Chair, look at the discretionary recreational grant for which this community would be eligible, it has less than 100 in population; they receive the base grant of $2,500 plus $10 for each member of the population. So, that'd be $2,500 plus $10 for every 49 people, which is $490. So, that's another $500. So, we're talking $3,000.
If we turn to the salary grant - less than 100 population qualifies for zero funding for salaries. Now, if we turn to the recreational facilities operation and maintenance grants, less than 50 population receive zero funding. So, we don't conform to the new Towards 2000 formula and we're certainly not in line with the previous formula, and that goes for virtually all of those categories, Mr. Chair, when one applies the formula.
In fact, Old Crow is greatly skewed when it gives the example that they will receive an additional $10,000 travel bonus and yet, Old Crow, with a population of 284, is $38,800. Yet, right next to it, Pelly Crossing, with 301 people, gets $38,000 and Ross River with 428 gets $32,300.
So, when you work through the numbers and you try and apply it back and try to figure out how your department, Mr. Minister, is achieving these numbers, you can't relate it back to either the new formula or any of the previously formulas in place. So, where are these numbers coming from, Mr. Minister?
It's a bona fide question, Mr. Chair, and I would ask the minister if he would respond. If it gets a little too complicated, maybe he could bring back a legislative return, spelling out where these funds are allocated and how they're derived for each of the respective communities.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. Some on this side take exception, but we'll just have to bear with that.
Mr. Chair, Upper Liard and the Mount Lorne, of course, are now underneath a new policy. The remainder, with the exception of Burwash Landing, which is being phased over now to the new policy - we're working toward that, Towards 2000 - and Destruction Bay, in the same situation, explain satisfactorily that they are moving toward the phase-in. The rest are virtually exactly the same. Again, of course, when the new policy is done over the duration of the next couple of years, they will be phased in so that all of the communities are based on a level playing field.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I can appreciate that they're going to be phased in, and we're working toward this policy. I applaud the department but, historically, the actuals for 1995-96 - the previous fiscal - show communities like Ross River receiving the majority of the funding and the second largest, Carcross, and now those numbers are skewed and changed somewhat around. Yet the populations are relatively the same.
You know, we have a population at Carcross of 441 and Ross River of 428. If you go back to the 1995-96 actuals, then you go back to what is actually occurring today. That doesn't follow the old format, Mr. Chair; it doesn't follow the new format.
So my question, once again, to the minister: where are these numbers coming from? We're not shifting over to the new policy. We're not following the old policy. If the minister could kindly provide an explanation as to where these numbers are derived from.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In the case of Ross River, the reason for the slippage there is simply that the Ross River folks did not wish to be in charge of the recreation building that they have there, and the territorial government took over the maintenance of that building. That explains that.
In the Carcross situation, the member will see the forecast of $41,100. As to the 1997-98 estimate, the $41,300 is very close - virtually the same.
I would like to again reiterate that we are moving toward the implementation and phase-in of the Sports and Recreation: Towards 2000 report.
Mr. Jenkins: Unfortunately, that doesn't explain the total distribution of this pot of funding. We all want to address the needs of the respective community. The one that comes through as being very much on the low side, according to the new Towards 2000 policy, is the community of Old Crow. I would ask that the minister bring back a legislative return showing the actual formula, how it is being applied, how they achieve these numbers and when his department officials feel that they will have fully implemented the Towards 2000 program throughout the department.
When we look through the sports governing bodies, through all of the other areas that are under this department, it would appear on the surface and from the initial calculations that I have done, that they are all in conformity of this Towards 2000. The one area that sadly does not completely conform is the distribution of funds to the local authorities, as spelled out on page 3-22.
I would ask the minister if he could please provide by way of legislative return an outline of the distribution, how it was achieved and when they will have fully implemented the new formula for his department. Is it going to be the next fiscal period?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly. As to when the implementation of the Towards 2000 report is done - as I said to the member opposite previously - we are doing this over the course of the next couple of years; we're phasing it in and we certainly expect to have it phased in, I believe, in the next budget cycle.
As per the outline of distribution, we feel on this side that we have answered the question and that the member opposite maybe just doesn't want to hear the answer, but we certainly have answered it in a number of ways. But, if the member opposite insists, we can certainly see if we can come up with a shorter version of an answer for the member.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm not looking for a shorter version of the answer; I'm looking for an accurate reflection as to how the department achieved the estimates that they are providing on page 3-22 - the breakdown to the local authorities.
One just has to take a community like Beaver Creek, with a population of 135, go through the formula and look at the three categories and see what funds one derives for that community, and on the same hand, take a community like Carcross and apply the same formula, and then go into Destruction Bay, and it doesn't relate.
When one takes the two communities that are identified clearly, which are Mount Lorne and Upper Liard, they conform 100 percent to the Towards 2000 policy. Very few of the other communities come close, and the one that shines as not even in the ballpark - as to being underfunded - is the community of Old Crow, according to this paper.
I'm asking the minister - he's tried to explain it here; he's had a difficult time with it; I can appreciate it being an involved question - if he'd please bring back, by way of a legislative return, an explanation as to how the funding for the various communities are derived.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we will be able to provide an answer for the member opposite.
Mrs. Edelman: Back to the Sports and Recreation: Towards 2000 report. The draft summary of this report came out in March of 1996. It's been around for a while, and I know that the staff in the sport and rec branch - they're really a good bunch of people, just about all of whom I know personally - would probably take it upon themselves to think ahead of the direction that things are going in. I see, under "Partnerships to strengthen aboriginal recreational development", one of the strategies is that the sport and recreation branch work with Yukon First Nations and partners in the delivery system to offer courses in cross-cultural awareness aimed specifically at sport and recreation volunteers, staff, boards and funding agencies. I'm just wondering if there has been any move to already start that process?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, we will have to get back to the member opposite on that, and we certainly will.
Mrs. Edelman: Along the same vein, one of the other strategies, on page 31 of the report, strategy 29.5, talks about the Yukon government continuing to take a lead role in implementing the federal/provincial/territorial ministers' directives to work in cooperation with national aboriginal sport representatives to develop joint strategies to eliminate barriers to participation in sport and recreation. I am wondering if there is already some work started in that area. I know that there has been continuing and greater funding for the Indigenous Games. I'm wondering if there is some other work being done in that area as well.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, we can elaborate a bit on it. I just received a letter from a member of the federal minister's office, and in that letter is an invitation to come to a ministers meeting, and I do believe, again, that it is in August, and at that point in time we will be taking up this issue with all of the ministers at that meeting. Contained within the letter is the question asking the territorial government if they will continue to take the lead in implementing and developing just such leadership.
Mrs. Edelman: Also in the report - and I've seen this in previous documents coming out of the branch - they are talking about partnerships with not only aboriginal recreational development but also the private sector, and I'm wondering if there is any ongoing work in that direction.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, as per the question before the previous question about working with the private sector, we will have to get back to the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: One of the other areas of the policy that gives rise to another question deals with unincorporated communities that are going to be recognized as local recreational authorities, and I refer to the hamlets of Ibex Valley, Mount Lorne and Marsh Lake and Upper Liard. Now in this distribution of funds in this fiscal cycle, Mount Lorne and Upper Liard have been identified as receiving funds, but the report goes on to further state that residents of these communities have reasonable access to the programs, services and facilities of the City of Whitehorse or Watson Lake, and sports and recreational clubs and associations in Whitehorse or Watson Lake, and therefore, the feeling is that, while these communities warrant some assistance for recreational support, the overall need is not as great as more remote or isolated Yukon communities. Well, that's fine, Mr. Chair.
Now, if we look at that statement, and we look at the funding that is flowing to Whitehorse and Watson Lake as a consequence of their population base, it doesn't identify the peripherals around these communities and the burden that these communities have to address the sports needs of these people flowing in from outside their boundaries.
What steps is the minister's department taking to identify this and increase the level of funding to Whitehorse and to Watson Lake to address the recreational requirements from the areas peripheral to their boundaries?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, as for the existing formula, I guess it could be argued that, to some extent, it is included in there. But for the sake of argument, not to cause argument, this is certainly going to be one of the issues that we'll be continuing with for the peripheral users surrounding communities, and it will be done through the rural services option paper.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: So, Mr. Chair, how does the minister address the inequalities as a consequence of not funding Ibex Valley or Marsh Lake, and yet funding the two other areas, and yet not providing a similar amount of funding to, in this case, Whitehorse, which is addressing the recreational requirements for these peripheral communities?
Surely that can be looked at in isolation and can be justified, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, this problem has been around for some time. It hasn't just been a matter of six months or 16 months. This has been around for some time.
Again, I stress that, to some extent, people could argue that it is contained within the formula, although I am certainly not one that will argue with that. I'm certainly wanting to do things in a consultative manner and to be working with people in a consultative manner so that we might come to a satisfactory arrangement for the benefit of the communities and for the benefit of the recreational users. Again, I reiterate that this will be brought up under the auspices of the rural services option paper.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: We have done the consultation. It's Sports and Recreation: Towards 2000. It identifies this abnormality within the system. It speaks to it. It spells out the cost that should be attributable to these communities to support the recreational infrastructure they have and it clearly identifies that these residents of these communities have reasonable access to the programs, services and facilities of Whitehorse and Watson Lake.
Why is the minister not taking steps to address it in the context of these papers. We can hide under the umbrella of "we are going to do this or that study". Now we're going to hide under a rural service consultation study. We are going from one study to the next study. I don't know if the minister will ever be able to line up his ducks and have a consistent formula for all of these areas. But, there is a methodology in place now, that has been subscribed to and is being subscribed to and is implemented. These areas of shortcoming have been clearly identified. Why is the minister not prepared to implement this policy and address these inequalities immediately?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I can see the tone starting to change and I was expectant of that.
Let me first of all say that the Sports and Recreation: Towards 2000 draft summary, and the findings, are just one aspect of community living. I must commend those folks for doing a good job on the consultative work on the Towards 2000 report. It is simply one of the many tools that have to come before we can have something that is concrete and is going to be agreeable to all people.
Again, I stress, is it lining up the ducks? I am not sure, although this certainly is the time of year for the ducks to come back to the Yukon for the summer. Is it lining up the moon and the stars? Again, I am not so sure. It is certainly something that has to be done and this government has had the courage and is taking the courage to tackles these issues.
We are very understanding that the Association of Yukon Communities feel that they need increases in their base grants and what not. I've said already that we have maintained the level of funding that they've enjoyed over the last couple of years. That is not exactly what they accept, but they certainly want to have an increase and we are willing to look at how we can make something fair. So, we go through these consultative processes, of which Towards 2000 is one, but it is not solely the only tool. Again, the rural services options paper is another paper. It is not a matter of consulting, and consulting and not implementing. We are certainly looking to implement and make things much better for communities - perhaps "much better" are not the right words, though I would use them - and to bring security and a sense of security to the communities. We can only do that when we have all of the "ducks lined up". Thank you very much.
Mr. Jenkins: Once again the minister has failed to respond to the question and answer it directly. It's a simple yes or no answer. Is the minister prepared to recognize these communities around the peripheries of Whitehorse and Watson Lake as identified in the Sports and Recreation: Towards 2000 paper? It's on page 27, for the minister's information - which states, "There are several unincorporated communities with the potential for being recognized as local recreational authorities in the near future. These communities include the hamlets of Ibex Valley and Mount Lorne and the communities of Marsh Lake and Upper Liard."
Now, in this Community and Transportation budget, page 3-22, we have recognized Upper Liard and Mount Lorne and funded them directly. Now, the paper goes on to say, "Residents of these communities have reasonable access to the programs, services and facilities of the City of Whitehorse or Watson Lake and sports and recreational clubs and associations in Whitehorse or Watson Lake. The feeling is, therefore, that, while these communities warrant some assistance for recreational support, the overall need is not as great as more remote or isolated Yukon communities."
So once again, the question is: will the minister consider additional funding for Watson Lake or Whitehorse to address these peripheral individuals who use the facilities in these two communities? It's a simple question, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we will be taking the Towards 2000 report and, hopefully, it will be going to Cabinet by October 1997, and of course, that is, again, to the phase-in approach that I have spoken about numerous times with the member opposite.
As to the periphery services concerning the Whitehorse and Watson Lake municipalities, a simple answer is requested; a simple yes or no. Well, it's always difficult to answer with a simple question because of circumstances, but I will certainly attempt to do that.
First of all, let me say that, not outside of an established process - and this is very complicated as the member knows, and I'm certain that the communities and the Association of Yukon Communities wish to do this in a fashion that is going to be well thought out; that is going to be timely; that is going to be conscious of all aspects of consultation. Therein, would be the simple answer of no. We will not do that not outside that established process, and certainly we are working toward establishing that process.
If I might say that this process that we are talking about, we are looking to do that and establish the process forthwith. We are working now, as the member opposite knows, on the rural services options paper. Well, that is one of some that have to be done. We are going to do this in a timely fashion. Well, my government is doing that. We are absolutely doing that. We're committed to doing that. Can we do it in the first six months? Can we do it in the first year? Well, certainly, we have to do it within a process that brings security to all folks.
Again, I guess I might add that we're doing it and the previous government did not take the time to do it. I'm not sure if it was because of political considerations that they chose not to do that kind of thing, or because their ducks weren't lined up, or that the moon and the stars were not there, or bebopaloola the comet was not around or anything like the such.
Mr. Chair, this government does have the ability to do that and this government is going to be doing that.
Mr. Jenkins: Wow, Mr. Chair. Well, Mr. Chair, under what authority did Mount Lorne and Upper Liard receive their funding? The minister mentioned an order-in-council. Was there an order-in-council passed specifically advancing these funds to these two areas?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, it was done by order-in-council, and I can certainly provide that order-in-council to the member opposite, if he chooses.
Mr. Jenkins: So it appears if there's a political will to provide the funds, we can do it. We can find a method. The order-in-council is one of the easiest tools the government can use to provide funding - and, you know, fair ball. I don't have a quarrel with that, but what we are looking for, Mr. Chair, is a fair distribution of these funds to the respective unorganized communities in Yukon and recognize the needs for the more isolated ones.
Now, this paper, Towards 2000, certainly addresses that, and it's a fairly comprehensive document. It is being implemented by the government. It's being used, as we speak, as a tool - and it's being implemented, as we speak - to address the recreational needs and a lot of the other arts' needs. If you look at the branch goals, this document is very comprehensive, but the exercise that we're engaged in, Mr. Chair, is a fair and equitable distribution of the funding pie to these unorganized communities, and not place a burden on communities like Whitehorse and like Watson Lake, who have these satellite communities around them, which these people use, unless of course the government sends funds to these respective communities, recognizing the needs.
Now, why is the minister not prepared to go to his Cabinet with an order-in-council and add on some funds addressing these other areas and send those funds to Watson Lake and Whitehorse? He's prepared to do it for these two others, but not for the other communities. Is that not abdicating his responsibilities, Mr. Chair? Why is the minister not prepared to fund all of the partners in Yukon equally?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I will reiterate my previous answer, in that we are going to be going to Cabinet by October 1997, and we'll consider these questions within Cabinet, and the Towards 2000 report.
Again I must reiterate that we are going to do things in a timely fashion. We are going to be working with due diligence to bring a sense of security to, I think, all of the communities of the Yukon Territory, and especially the ones within the organization of the Association of Yukon Communities, and we're gong to be working toward that. We're going to be doing this in a timely fashion. We're going to be doing this in a consultative fashion, and we're going to be doing this together with them.
So, I think that if the member opposite wishes to choose that as an answer, he will be doing himself a great favour because I think that by doing that, he will be accepting of the process, and he will also be endorsing a process that would certainly lead to timely consideration and will lead to consultation and not in an ad hoc way - certainly not into a knee-jerk fashion, as the previous administration was used to doing.
Mr. Jenkins: The calculations have already been done, Mr. Chair, with respect to Ibex Valley and Marsh Lake. They clearly indicate that the population in the Ibex is 240 and the total amount of funding is $10,050, and it clearly indicates Marsh Lake with a population of 300 and a total possible funding of $10,500, so add them both together.
Mount Lorne and Upper Liard are already being funded under the same formula, and yet the minister is refusing to acknowledge the total picture. If anyone was acting in an ad hoc manner, it is certainly the minister.
Now, why is the minister not prepared to address the needs of these other two unorganized areas and pass the funding on to those governments that would supply the services to these two unorganized areas?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. As for the member opposite's example of the Ibex Valley and Marsh Lake, we're expecting that they will be coming forward within the report, as the member opposite is well aware, and we are willing to work with those folks at that time. But again, I must remind the member opposite that this is a people-driven process. The people will drive this process and we will work with the people to drive this process, in conjunction with them, and that is the process. We are fully aware and fully expectant that we will be doing that.
Mr. Jenkins: So we're aware that these two unorganized communities will be coming forth with a request for funding, yet it's not budgeted for. Why, Mr. Chair? Why is the minister not budgeting for these funds if he's aware that they're coming forward for them?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We had not been requested to by the time this budget was put together. We're expecting that they will be coming with this and we're certainly expecting that we will be working with those communities on that particular subject. We'll also be working with these communities in other aspects of rural consultation and whatever goes.
I must take the time here again to stress to the member opposite that we will do things in a timely fashion, a well-thought-out fashion and a fashion that will be pleasing, I'm sure, to even the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm also pleased, if we look on to page 3-23, to see the elite athletes funded and the apparent double standard that the government opposite is creating by awarding athletes that excel and yet not wanting to continue with students that are achievers in our scholastic programs. It seems to be a double standard that the government is getting involved in, and I'm disappointed to see that.
But the level of funding that is earmarked for sports governing bodies and for these other training programs and for competition is, I'm certain, going to be well received.
The one amount that appears to be omitted, Mr. Chair, is with respect to some funding for the Canada Winter Games in 2007. Where will that be coming from if it's not in Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, toward the games in the year 2007, we're going to be coming with funding, if awarded, and we will be looking at it in that time. We are going to be looking at this in a timely fashion, again, and it is one item on the agenda that we're going to be looking at and approaching. Of course, I stress that we do have 10 years, but 10 years can slip by quickly as we all know as we get older in our lives, but we certainly will be looking at this to see how we can best implement it.
Mr. Jenkins: So, what the minister is saying to the House is that his department has not budgeted any funds for the potential occurrence of the Canada Winter Games coming to the Yukon in 2007. It could be under another area of the government.
I was just wondering if the minister could find out if his department has advanced this cause and where it's at and if it's not in his department, if he could advise accordingly. What steps is the government going to be taking to attract this very worthwhile event to the Yukon, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We certainly will be taking a proactive approach to the Canada Winter Games in the Yukon. It'll be hosted in Whitehorse hopefully in the year 2007.
No, certainly there is nothing that is reflected in this year's budget for that but, Mr. Chair, certainly you would not be putting issues within the budget concerning something to the magnitude of the games, and we would certainly be doing this in a consultative fashion with the City of Whitehorse. I can assure the member opposite that we are going to be speaking with the City of Whitehorse and looking at how we could possibly do this. We'll also be completing the marketing feasibility study to host the 2000 Canada Winter Games, and we're hoping to do that soon. The study will examine potential revenue sources and the generated revenue potential that's associated with hosting the games, and the study will also examine the anticipated costs associated with hosting the games.
So, Mr. Chair, we are moving forward to bring, to secure and to garner the games in the year 2007 to Whitehorse, and we're certainly hopeful that we will be able to secure them. We're certainly looking to do this in a timely fashion and a well-thought-out fashion.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I laud the minister's initiative in this area. Obviously, by the briefing notes that he was reading a few seconds ago, the department is very much aware of it.
Were the funds allocated for the undertaking that the minister has just mentioned? Where in the department's budget is that being funded from, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the process started in 1996-97, toward the end of the fiscal year, and I will be seeking and hoping that the Cabinet will consider a revote for these dollars.
Mr. Jenkins: The Towards 2000 draft report provides a summary of the consultation findings and more than 60 strategies or possible actions. Sports governing bodies and special recreational groups are aware that there is no new funding available. T
his Towards 2000 program addresses the request for a more flexible request of funding criteria that will enable them to better meet the needs of their members in Yukon communities.
By and large, we're very, very fortunate here in Yukon, because the territory is its own jurisdiction and Yukon athletes are able to attend national events as members of Team Yukon, and that's very, very beneficial to all of our athletes indeed. But it does place an added burden of responsibility on government to fund higher levels of travel, and all of these programs are extremely beneficial to our athletes.
Would the minister have any ideas about the cost and level of funding that his department will be pursuing to put together the bid to attract the Canada Winter Games in 2007? What are we looking at, money-wise, there? I'm sure it's farther down in his briefing notes, and it would probably be of interest to all to get it on the record.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, certainly no decision has been made. It is certainly part of the process that we'll be working toward, and that is the answer therein, I do believe.
Mr. Jenkins: I just find the minister's response somewhat annoying. Given that we have an event of national importance that we are attempting to attract to Yukon, the minister hasn't a clue as to what his department is suggesting the costs that will be incurred will be - even on a partnership basis with the City of Whitehorse. There has to be some understanding of the magnitude of expenditures that the department is going to be spending to attract these games to Yukon. There have to be some numbers there as to what we are going to spend in this forthcoming fiscal period in this area, and surely the minister must have it within his department, and his officials must be able to provide him with that information. Perhaps I could suggest to the minister that he just look farther down his briefing notes. I'm sure there has to be something there. Something of this importance has a price tag attached to it.
I'm not quarrelling with the price tag that the minister might eventually suggest here in the House. I'm just asking what it might be, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm certainly displeased with the member opposite's language, Mr. Chair. I know it's not unparliamentary or anything but, if I could say, it's somewhat annoying, Mr. Chair, and I don't think the member opposite has a clue, Mr. Chair, as to what his question actually is.
Mr. Chair, this question has been answered previously and, you know, I find it somewhat annoying that the clueless member opposite would not be able to understand and comprehend.
So, I will again read the answer to the gentleman, to the hon. member opposite. This study that we're embarking on will examine the potential revenue sources and self-generated revenue potential associated with hosting the games. The study will also examine the anticipated costs associated with hosting the games. He asked for numbers specific. We do not have numbers specific at this point in time, Mr. Chair. We're certainly working towards putting something together that's concrete, and that is what I have said. I do believe I've repeated that a couple of times now.
What we do have, though, Mr. Chair, for the member opposite - for ourselves, actually, not for the member opposite, but I would be willing to share with him - is a funding framework from previous locales in Canada that hosted games. It's a funding framework. We do have a guideline, but that is not specifically what the member opposite asked for.
If he would ask for that, then I do believe I've answered both questions for the member opposite. Therein again, I think, is the answer twice now, so thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: But not anywhere in that last outburst from the minister did he mention any dollars. He mentioned he has an overview of what was spent in other jurisdictions attracting the Canada Winter Games. He mentioned that they were doing a study. Now, the study must have a cost associated with it. The preparatory work to attract the Canada Winter Games to Yukon has a cost associated with it, Mr. Chair. What I'm looking for is what the government will be spending in this fiscal period on that endeavour, that very worthwhile endeavour. What kind of dollars will his department be spending on this study and this review, Mr. Chair? I'm sure the minister must have those kind of dollar numbers available.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, if the member opposite is asking what is in the revote that I will be seeking and hopefully the Cabinet will be considering, it will be approximately $35,000.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to thank the minister for the time he spent searching for that information. That's what I was looking for at the onset. That's what I asked for: how many dollars was the department going to spend in attracting the Arctic Winter Games this year.
We have to go around in a circle for something that simple. You know, it would save the House an awful lot of time, Mr. Chair, if the minister would answer these questions in a timely manner and in a direct manner, instead of going off into this airy-fairy land of lining up the moon, the sun and the stars and all his ducks.
Well with that, Mr. Chair, I think we can clear that line item and move into the next area, unless my colleague has some questions.
Sport and Recreation in the amount of $1,845,000 agreed to
On Community Services
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the $15,975,000 consists of $583,000 for personnel, which includes the salaries and benefits for the director, 4.4 full-time equivalents in community planning and three FTEs in community services; $75,000 for other, including $15,000 for travel in Yukon and $9,000 for contract services; $8,000 for photocopier rental and internal charges for vehicle usage; $16,000 for supplies; $8,000 for program materials; $10,000 for communication; $9,000 for other program requirements; $15,317,000 for transfer payments; $3,745,000 for grant-in-lieu of property taxes; $11,470,000 for comprehensive municipal grants; $52,000 for community hamlet operations and maintenance grants; and $50,000 for the Association of Yukon Communities.
With the O&M comparison of the previous year, there is an increase of $745,000 from 1996-97, of course, to 1997-98. There is an $8,000 increase in personnel; $752,000 in transfer payments, of which $725,000 is in grants-in-lieu, and that is mainly for the hospital, $526,000, and the airport, $157,000; and $27,000 for the community hamlet O&M grants previously in the capital budget, and it's offset by a decrease of $15,000, mainly in contract services.
Mr. Jenkins: There are two components in that total of $15 million that have remained constant for quite a number of years, and I was just wondering if the minister had any idea as to what he was going to be doing. One is the municipal grants-in-lieu. That amount has been static now for 10 years. The other one is the $50,000 to the Association of Yukon Communities. Both these amounts have been static for some years, remained constant, indexed for inflation. If you want to look at it, there hasn't been a reduction in these two areas over the past decade from when they were first instituted.
What is the minister prepared to do in these two areas? Is he just going to hold them static or is he prepared to address the need for additional funding in these two areas, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes. Concerning the grants-in-lieu, which I believe the member opposite's question was about, in the year 1995-96, it was $2,988,878.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, municipal block funding - municipal grants. The municipal block fund and the AYC, the $11 million and the $50,000. Before we get into Never-Never Land.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much for that name. I certainly appreciate it, and my forbears and forefathers do, too.
Concerning the $50,000 and the AYC, yes, the member is right. It has been quite constant. On the $11,470,000, it is for the comprehensive municipal grant. I must say that it was with some difficulty, but with the help of my Cabinet colleagues and through our budgetary processes we did manage to hold the line on the municipal comprehensive grants. I have spoken to mayors within the communities, and some were quite thankful for that. I explained what we are going to be doing with the Association of Yukon Communities and that is to be talking to them through the processes that I spoke of earlier. For the member opposite's benefit, we certainly will be looking at it.
Please, Mr. Chair, do not take this as a promise that these are going to be going up or going down. This is certainly a very complex issue. Again, I reiterate that some of the mayors feel that this is a very fair process that they've gone through, but some of their complaints have been that there hasn't been an index or anything for inflation.
I am going to be talking to the Association of Yukon Communities and we are going to be seeing just what type of a process we can use. Again, that is just going to be one of many processes that we are going to be able to use as we define the roles and the responsibilities of the communities as we go into the future.
Of course, we do know that, through the First Nation final agreements, there is provision for district governments, where the First Nation communities would get together with the municipal government, and together they would, for the sake of that one certain locale, or that one certain geographical location, whether it be Dawson City, the member opposite's riding, or whether it be any of the communities within my riding; when they are ready, then we will certainly be able to expand upon their mandate. That is one process, and other processes may be defined and I'm certainly going to be speaking with the communities regarding this. Thank you very much for the opportunity to explain.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to ask the minister, in his briefing for this line, he reported the grants-in-lieu in bulk amount. Could I ask for that to be broken down please? I'm not expecting the minister to stand on his feet and give me that breakdown, but if he could, by legislative return, tell me by community, by property and street address. I'd prefer it written, as opposed to taking up the House time with that detailed information, if he could just send it.
I'm specifically interested in, for example, the Yukon Arts Centre, what that amount would be, and in the federal government buildings, once devolution has occurred.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Yes, I'm interested in that, if the minister could have his department provide it to us by return, that will be fine.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much for your consideration on that. For a moment I was quite frightened that you wanted a breakdown of all the property, and I tell you, my knees did start to shake a little on that. It's not impossible, but we'd certainly be debating this particular line item until we went to the OIC, to the Cabinet for the other services.
So, I certainly will be able to provide for the member opposite. If the member opposite would like a breakdown of communities, I certainly have that and I can read that into the record for the member now if you like.
Ms. Duncan: If the minister could just provide that information to us by written return, that's fine. I just wanted to advise him that we were looking for some more detail.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, it will be my pleasure to do that indeed.
Mr. Jenkins: If we could just go back into the municipal block funding with the minister, Mr. Chair, there are two components of it that are somewhat contentious and have been for a number of years. One is the actual formula by which these funds are divided, and the other one is the indexing of this sum of money to meet the growing needs of the communities to provide for services, which are, on an ongoing basis, being downloaded from the feds to YTG, from YTG to the respective communities.
Now, what is the minister's understanding of the formula? Will he be looking at it, or is this going to be another dog-and-pony show for a consultative process that has been ongoing for as long as I can remember? The process has been gone through and through and through again. Where are we at, or are we going to do another review? The Municipal Act is again under review, and the municipal block funding formula is going to be talked about again at AYC, so would the minister advise us what direction he's going to provide to his officials in regard to municipal block funding?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I mean, the ducks lined up, dog-and-pony shows - I'm starting to think that we might have the ability to have a wildlife zoo here, and certainly I think that there might be representatives of wildlife already in here. I know I've stated that I like to run through the forest, and I know that others didn't think that was such a nice thing to say and ridiculed it, but I think we should all have a run through the forest, and then we might see that there is enjoyment to dogs and ponies, and there's enjoyment to watching ducks, and there's even enjoyment to listening to the member opposite. I must say again that I certainly do enjoy this debate.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, thank you very much.
Mr. Chair, previous ministers of Community and Transportation Services, when speaking at the Association of Yukon Communities meetings or in response to written correspondence, have indicated that they were willing to review the existing legislation and, subsequently, the block funding formula. Now, they would do that on the basis of a formal request from the Association of Yukon Communities. To date, no request has been made for that. Of course, there is a meeting coming up in a couple of weeks - in two weekends, I guess it is - of the AYC, and I'm sure that they will be discussing it with me there and, again, if a request is made, I certainly will carry on with the tradition of the previous ministers.
Mr. Jenkins: There is another area we should explore with the minister, dealing with municipal block funding. Now that the Yukon land claims are being finalized in a number of areas, there are First Nations that have suggested that they should have access to municipal block funding. What is the minister's position in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Pardon me, Mr. Chair. I would ask the member opposite to repeat his question, if he would, please.
Mr. Jenkins: We look at municipal block funding and we look at the Yukon First Nations and their land claims coming to a conclusion. It is my understanding that some of the First Nations feel that they should have access to this municipal block funding for the services they provide. What is the minister's position with respect to divvying up the pie further to meet some of the suggestions coming from the First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Oh, no, most certainly, Mr. Chair. If I understand the question correctly from the member opposite - are we going to take dollars from the Association of Yukon Communities for their block funding and subsequently put it over to the First Nation communities? No, we are not going to do that.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I have a question for the minister on block funding. I remember being a rookie member of this House. A budget was brought in by the Yukon Party government that actually cut block funding, and I remember being lobbied vociferously by the AYC to have the cut restored. Then there was a cut of some $25 million that has been in effect every fiscal year since the federal Liberals cut our block funding, if you will, for the Yukon government.
I'd like to know how the minister achieved such a significant, monumental testament to his concern for municipal block funding by maintaining the level as it was last year and not taking the cuts that we were given by Ottawa - offloaded to us - and inflicting them upon the municipalities. How did he do that? That must have been very tough. He must really care, does he not?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I do thank the hon. member for such a good, well-thought-out question. Certainly -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, it does indeed give me privilege and pleasure to answer such a question and, Mr. Chair, it was done with a great deal of difficulty. It was a decision in which all my Cabinet colleagues, including myself, had gotten together, and we started to look at just what the priorities of this government are, and how we are going to be able to move forward and provide security to people in the communities. We just thought that one of the first things that we should not do is to cut the Association of Yukon Communities' municipal grant.
I thank the member opposite very much for his applause. It gives me again a deep pleasure to hear such wonderful applause.
I might say maybe it's not as long, and he didn't stand, and I would certainly ask him to do that if he so chose, but I guess he might not choose to do that.
But, Mr. Chair, it was done with great difficulty. When you do maintain one, others have to be balanced and flexible but, in this year of financial restraint, we just simply did not feel that it was morally right to pass those cuts on to the communities, especially when we're going into the consultative period with the communities, as we are.
So, with those statements, I thank the member, the hon. member, if I might add, for his question.
Mr. Jenkins: Personnel. We show an increase of $8,000, to $583,000. Is that just an overall across-the-board increase, Mr. Minister, or is that something that is attributable to payroll loading, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, that is attributable to payroll loading.
Mr. Jenkins: Other, that catch-all little area - $75,000 - what does that break down into?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, if the member would like, I'll read into the record as to where that $75,325 has come from, and therein is the total. It's for employee travel in the Yukon, $12,500; other travel in the Yukon, $2,500; honoraria, $4,000; contract services, $8,500; rental expense, $8,000; supplies, $15,500; postage and freight, $200; advertising, $4,500; program materials, $8,000; communications, $9,625; and other, $2,000; for a total of $75,325.
I'm terribly sorry. I have made a mistake and I accept that and I apologize for the mistake and the intrusion on the House's time for that, Mr. Chair.
Internal charges: labour from the Bureau of Statistics to gather the information required to determine the amount that's to be paid to municipalities for the comprehensive municipal grant, $9,700; labour from the Queen's Printer, $1,000; for a total of $10,700.
Chair: Is it the desire of the Committee to have a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Mr. Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order. We are discussing the line item community services.
Mr. Jenkins: If we could explore with the minister some of the costs in the unincorporated communities for the provision of their services. I take the minister to page 3.25. If we could deal with the water delivery customers - let's leave Old Crow out of the scenario - are these estimates the direct cost, net of receivables, or is this the total cost for the provision of, let's just take water delivery, customers in Carcross, Keno, Old Crow and Ross River. I'll leave the sewage eduction out of it.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, if I might point out - it has just been pointed out to me - that on page 3-25, those numbers are not dollars, such as the instance of the streetlights at 228 streetlights, and in the delivery of water to its customers in Carcross, it's 125, et cetera.
Mr. Jenkins: Okay. Let's take it one step further, Mr. Chair. Of the total amount of customers receiving water delivery in each of the communities - and let's go community by community; there's 125 in Carcross - what are they paying? What is it costing? Could we do the same for all the four communities, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will ask the House to indulge us. This is going to take a bit of time, and it's with a bit of difficulty, but we'll certainly try to provide the answer as best as we can.
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps, while the minister is exploring that, his official could look further. What I'm looking for is how much these communities are receiving per customer as a subsidy on these services, and what the customers in Old Crow are paying for sewage eduction, and what it's actually costing. I'm looking for what it's costing the government to provide this service and subsidy.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: If the member opposite will indulge us, we will certainly have to get back to him. We will get back to the member as soon as we possibly can with that information. It's a bit complicated, so I'd appreciate the member's indulgence.
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps, while his officials are exploring this, they could bring back the total cost for water delivery in each one of the communities for a fiscal period. The total number of customers are clearly indicated here, although I would suspect that it varies seasonably - that there are more customers in the summer. Is that a weighted average, or what is it? And what they're charging for water delivery and what the subsidy is for each one of the respective communities.
While we're on those areas, if the minister could also provide the cost of sewage eduction service in Old Crow and the cost that the customers are paying, what the subsidy is. Obviously we must have two tankers in Old Crow, one for sewage eduction and one for water delivery, unless the minister has figured out some way to use the same truck for both, but I'd be very much concerned if he did.
And then, if we look at Destruction Bay, could he advise as to what his costs are per customer? Are they on an ultimate septic field or lagoon? There must be some pumping costs associated with the sewage, or is it all gravity? What are the costs? What are the consumers paying? And what is the level of subsidy in those areas?
Can the minister undertake to provide that by way of legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we will give it our best shot. The member opposite has asked us for quite a detailed breakdown, but certainly the department will endeavour to do its best and we will get back with the information to the member as soon as it is possible, with the accurate information.
I am heartfelt and heart warmed that the member opposite would have concerns for the people of Old Crow and whether we are delivering the water and sewer truck, or maybe the member was simply being amusing.
Mr. Jenkins: The Government of the Yukon operates 20 garbage dumps throughout the Yukon, according to the stats provided in the House. I was wondering if the government is going to be bringing forth a consistent policy for their maintenance throughout the Yukon. It is pretty helter-skelter, the way a lot of these dumps are treated in rural Yukon. The maintenance on them is certainly not provided by the government at a consistent level.
What is the policy that the minister is going to have in place? It's not an issue that requires a comprehensive study and it's all coming together and his ducks are lining up. It is simply an issue of commonsense management, that has a definite cost associated with it, and that is much needed.
We commented earlier that the Minister of Renewable Resources is going to be bringing forward emission controls and standards. If that is the case, what is the minister going to be doing when random fires are set in these garbage dumps? Is the government going to end up fining itself when some of these fires take place occasionally by spontaneous combustion? More often than not, they are deliberately set, Mr. Minister.
I'm looking for his policy and his direction as to what he envisions occurring with garbage dumps.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I thank the member of the Official Opposition for the question. Certainly I would enjoy to share some of my thoughts with the member opposite on the problem of the dumps.
Not only is it a fiscal problem, and that's always of great concern to government; I know government is always looking to do things in a better way. We certainly hope to do that and take in all the principles. Of course, one of the principles, as the member opposite knows, along with his colleagues that have been asking me questions regarding the hazards of burning at the dumps, et cetera - I personally want to correct this problem and I want this to be done in a consistent fashion.
We'll be working very closely with the Member for Tatchun, I believe it is, and the Minister of Renewable Resources for the air emissions. Right now, my department is working on examining different solutions and different options besides the open-pit burning, or just simply burying. We're looking at all avenues, Mr. Chair, and I certainly hope that the member opposite that asked the question - I'm sure he is as environmentally conscious as he is fiscally prudent - will work with us and help me to make the right decision and to give me the input that the member might have.
It's not just for the member opposite only. It is an invitation to all members of this House to be able to assist me in this endeavour. With those thoughts, I certainly hope that we'll be able to accomplish this within the year and be able to make some very prudent decisions based on the findings.
Mr. Jenkins: It looks like here we go into another la-la land of another study on garbage dumps - sanitary landfills.
Mr. Minister, the problem is here, right now, and what it requires is that maintenance be done on a regular and ongoing basis, and a consistent level of maintenance throughout the Yukon and at the various sanitary landfill sites. That is not the case, continuously.
I was hoping that the minister could at least provide his assurances here, in the House today, that he is going to provide a consistent level of maintenance at the sanitary landfill sites that are operated by the Government of Yukon throughout the territory, and provide that maintenance on a consistent basis. I don't mean consistently poor, like it's done many times at the present, I mean consistently, much better.
Now, the only area that we appear to be addressing is we're going to be regulating air emissions. Now, I'm at a loss as to how we're going to even begin to enforce that on government sanitary landfill sites that are set afire occasionally, haphazardly. It's going to be interesting to see the process that evolves. One minister will be the prosecutor, the other one the defendant. It should be an interesting scenario when it unfolds, but the exercise is that we have to maintain the present garbage dumps, or sanitary landfill sites to a much higher and consistent level. What I'm looking for from the minister here, today, is a commitment to provide that higher, consistent level of service in maintaining the dumps. Will he give the House his assurance here today?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I might be able to give a description of la-la land to the member opposite. Certainly, la-la land, as he's characterizing it - or as the member opposite is characterizing la-la land, or how we do things - it's not fair to me to say that one of my colleagues and I would be the prosecutor and the defendant, or whatever the language was that the member opposite had stated.
La-la land, in the member opposite's mentality or mind, is likely this: it's likely a place where you would be able to talk with one another; where you would examine all the issues; where you would not look at one increment of an issue that has many increments, and that you would look at those increments in a holistic fashion, for what? Well, I would say for the betterment of this universe that we live in.
Why would we do that?
Well, I would say that we would do that so we might be able to encourage tourism, and we might be able to encourage what the people of the Yukon want, and that is clean, sanitary sites. They want fiscal prudence, et cetera.
That is exactly what I am going to be able to do, and that is exactly what I am going to be able to focus on.
It certainly does take some time but, Mr. Chair, to do the right thing in a thoughtful way does take time, and we're certainly going to be able to do the right thing in a better way. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: Now we're into holistic treatment of garbage dumps. This is going to be simply amazing. All I'm asking the minister is to provide a consistently higher level of dump maintenance throughout the Yukon Territory on those dumps operated by the Government of Yukon. Would the minister give the House his assurances here today that he is going to maintain garbage dumps to a higher level than they're presently being maintained? We can't even get that assurance. We're going to have a holistic treatment of garbage dumps, whatever that entails, Mr. Chair. Perhaps the minister would care to elaborate how this wonderful holistic treatment of these garbage dumps is going to take place.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can elaborate, but probably not in the scornful way that the member opposite has insinuated.
I did not say holistic treatment of garbage dumps; I said a holistic approach and to the universe, and I guess that is absolutely right, but in this particular case, it is Mother Earth, if I might say it in that fashion. What we do is that when you substitute one for the other, it must be balanced and put off. Now, I don't expect you to accept that because that is a Tlingit philosophy; when you take something, you put some back. It does not have to be of the exact same nature, but it must be done with goodness and thoughtfulness and in that way.
Now, I must say that my people have inhabited that particular piece of land since time immemorial - a very long time. So, obviously the holistic approach to life does work.
Now, how did we do that? How did my peoples historically do this? By thoughtfulness, by working it through and doing it in a holistic fashion. It is not simply concentrated in one increment of maintenance of dumps, not one increment.
Now, I know that the former Government Leader and the Member for Porter Creek North are certainly having a snicker about that. Well, snicker on; snicker on because what the people have done is elect this government here to do a good job and I do believe that we're going to do a good job.
I take very seriously the maintenance of garbage dumps, of sanity landfills. I take very seriously the cause and effect. I take very seriously maybe the other approach of education, of educating people.
In what, now, you might ask. Would you ask that? I'm not sure. I don't know if I should go on because it seems as if it's skipping stones on a pond and it certainly doesn't sink in until it finally runs out of energy and, boom, it finally sinks in. Well, I don't think that I'm at that point yet with the member opposite, but certainly I will be looking at providing good quality maintenance. We'll be looking at finding ways and initiatives to do that as fiscally responsibly as possible. We'll be looking at all of those things.
Why are we endeavouring to do that? We're endeavoring to do that so that we might keep Yukon as Yukon is and deserves to be kept, and unfortunately it is not moving in that fashion, but fortunately we have a government in power at this point in time that does wish to do that, that is living up to the environmental issues and we've proven that. We've proven that through many statements that we made within our document that got us elected.
We're doing that through our actions and, by gosh, the people of the Yukon endorsed us to do just that, so it must be extremely frustrating for the members of the Official Opposition that this is happening, and I'm absolutely amazed that they would think otherwise.
We are not a knee-jerk operation like the previous administration. We're not running strictly on the basis and the merits of popularity, but we have substance and we have depth, and certainly that depth is going to be what will get us re-elected, because I do believe that that is what the people want.
So, I thank you very much for your time.
Mr. Jenkins: It looks like, with the response to a simple question such as it was, I am just amazed, Mr. Chair.
Well, I happen to disagree with part of what the minister said. He said he wanted to maintain the Yukon as it is. Well, in one area I certainly do not want to maintain it as it is, and that is in the one area for which the minister has responsibility. I'm referring to those 20 garbage dumps throughout the Yukon Territory.
What I am asking of the minister, Mr. Chair, is that he give his assurance here in the House today that he is going to maintain those garbage dumps to a higher, consistent level than what they are presently maintained at. That's all I am seeking. I am not seeking a holistic treatment of garbage dumps or anything of the sort. I am just seeking the minister's assurance that garbage dumps will be maintained at a much higher standard than what they are currently maintained at. Can the minister give us his assurance here in the House today?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Indeed, it does give me great pleasure to be standing here again, once more, to be able to defend the environment and to be able to talk about the environment. It's simply a great pleasure to be able to do that.
Certainly, Mr. Chair, one of the increments, as we move to looking after and setting a regulation in place or whatever the case might be, regarding sanitary landfills or garbage dumps, call them what you will, will be to achieve a higher standard of maintenance, so the member opposite can - I was going to say "rest assured" but I just don't think there's any rest there. I would say he can be assured that I will be doing my utmost to ensure that the maintenance of dumps is kept to a level and it will be done in a thoughtful and timely manner and process.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to thank the minister for his answer. Now, if he could think about what he just said and respond in a similar manner to some of the other questions, we can get through this budget a lot faster.
Could I refer to the mosquito control program? Does the minister anticipate any changes in the way that this mosquito control program has been put in place in previous years - hire one contractor who undertakes the total service for the Yukon - or are we going to embark on an in-house type situation like we tried a few years ago that failed? In what direction is the minister going to take us in the mosquito control program, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly there is going to be a change. We are going to be doing the mosquito control program in-house this year. The member opposite said that it might be - I'm not even sure what his comment was any more; I've gotten beyond that actually. The reason why we're doing this in-house is simply for the fact that it is cheaper for us to do that.
The previous contractor bid was much too expensive and, upon the assurance of my officials within the department, I was assured that the quality and the control of the mosquito control program will be there, so I certainly authorized the department to move forth in that manner.
Mr. Jenkins: History has a funny way of repeating itself, Mr. Chair. I can remember having gone through the same exercise a number of years ago, where the government took it upon itself to hire an individual who worked previously for the company doing the mosquito control program - buy the larvacide, lease a helicopter and put the package together, because it was going to be cheaper. The end ultimate result was nowhere near as effective as communities have seen and received under the way it has been operated by having a contractor in place.
Now, how much cheaper is it going to be? Do the ends justify the means or are we going to have to hire another two individuals to justify this? It would seem that, the way we're heading, we have to get tenders out for products. The product that's being used is a single-source - Abbott Laboratories - the single source of supply. Helicopters are readily available, but people qualified and experienced in the application of the larvacide are not readily available. Are we just going to repeat history and have another problem on our hands and all the additional costs running around?
What if the program is not successful? What is the minister going to do? Is he going to undertake to go around again and do a second treatment? Timing is critical; it's very important, Mr. Chair, with respect to the application of this mosquito control larvacide.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, certainly we do believe that we can do it efficiently in-house. I certainly will be working toward those ends. I think that's a given, an absolute given. I do like to believe that my bureaucracy, and especially the people that work... I guess it's not my bureaucracy, but certainly the people that work within the Community and Transportation Services branch do their very best and their utmost to deliver a quality product for the dollars that have been allocated.
Now, for the member opposite to say, "Oh my gosh. History's repeating itself; this is going to be a terrible thing," is not fair at all, I don't think. I will just go on to say that the tender prices that were submitted far outweighed the budgeted allocation. Now I know the member opposite can argue that until the old cows come home, or you know, until the ducks get lined up, or the moon again, or stars, or whatever, but it just did.
Now, we want to do a quality job, and we're going to do a quality job. So the budget allocation was certainly less than the tender prices, and the request for proposal offer was withdrawn and all tenders rejected. Now how are we going to do this? Well, we're going to do it in-house, as you say, and we'll be working to accomplish this and we'll be utilizing the available Renewable Resources staff and purchasing the materials direct from the factory. Of course, we'll be utilizing the locally based helicopters.
So certainly that is what we're going to do, and we're going to follow through on that, and we're going to do the very best job that we can, and I'm certain, with my faith in the department and the bureaucracy in general, that we will deliver. If that doesn't work, I'll certainly ask the member opposite to contact me. I'll see if I can get him a fly swatter.
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, the minister has not provided an answer. The question was: how much money are we going to save by proceeding in this manner? The minister's response was that the bids came in over budget expectation. Did we budget less this year than we did last year? Or, how much are we saving? How much are we saving, overall?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly I will have to get back to the member opposite with that information, and I most certainly will.
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, we go through all of this rhetoric and the minister doesn't know what he's talking about. He doesn't know how much he's going to save, and yet he's hanging his hat on the exercise that the exercise is going to prove to be a net saving to this government - the taxpayers are going to realize a saving - and that might not be the case.
The other side of the equation is the level of delivery of this product. How is the minister going to assure that it's consistent. What you have now is basically a contractor under the previous way it was done, and his department overseeing it. If it wasn't done satisfactorily, they went back on it and did it again. Now, we're going to see the people that oversaw it undertake to do it themselves. Whose going to be watching the watchdogs? Who is going to be watching the people that used to watch to ensure that it's done well, because if the timing of the application of this larvacide doesn't coincide with a certain stage of the growth of the mosquito, it is ineffective. In years past, when the government undertook to do it itself, we had that same situation arise where they said there was going to be a net saving, we're going to do it ourselves, and ultimately the program was a flop. We had mosquitoes everywhere.
Or is this another area where we're going to save the environment by allowing the mosquitoes to grow. Yukoners could lose a lot of blood if the minister doesn't address his responsibilities. What is the minister going to do, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It does give me privilege to stand here to talk about mosquitoes and other aspects of life in the Yukon, in the north and life in general.
Certainly, mosquitoes are a part of that, but I won't get into that deep debate, because obviously the member opposite does not look at life balanced. He does not see that everything here is a part of the land and is part of the water and is part of the universe, and so I simply cannot continue to waste my time and effort to educate a person that does not wish to be educated. Now, I must say that it is deeply unfortunate for the member opposite to be missing something as critical as the love of nature in his life, and I would certainly encourage the member opposite to loosen up, enjoy himself, as I am.
Mr. Chair, we always strive to maintain the standards. The member opposite said "a couple of years ago." Well, Mr. Chairsome things man simply cannot control. Water and floods are one. It was not too many years ago when we had horrendous floods within the Yukon, within my Teslin, within my Teslin Lake. And what happened? The floodwaters backed up very high, very much more than where mosquito control normally had existed, therefore giving birth to the larvae, and the mosquitoes that had laid dormant for over a hundred years came there. Now, can we control that? Can this minister control that? Can the Minister of Renewable Resources control that? Absolutely not. We can't control that.
So, Mr. Chair, I will get back to the cost of the budget and how we're going to do it. We're going to be doing this in conjunction with the Renewable Resources staff. I'm certain that the Renewable Resources staff will be doing a very bang-up job on this, and I certainly will be consulting and talking with my colleague, the Member for Tatchun, the Minister of Renewable Resources, to ensure that he does have his thumbs on and his hands on the department.
Again, I would just like to say that we must have faith. We must have faith in one another. If we all pull together to do a good job, then, by gosh, we're going to do a good job, and I encourage the member opposite to work with us to that end.
Mr. Jenkins: I hope that's effective at killing the mosquitoes that are going to be born very, very quickly in the Yukon.
Could the minister advise how many communities are buying into the government program this year, and if there is an outside contractor coming into the Yukon Territory, and how many communities are dealing directly with an outside contractor and not dealing with the government agency?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will certainly get back to the member opposite on that question.
Mr. Jenkins: Can the minister provide his assurance that we'll have that information Monday before we clear this area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'll give it that old college try. I will certainly attempt to do that for the member opposite. I'll give it my best shot. I will absolutely say that I will do that. Therein is the answer.
Mr. Jenkins: I thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's amazing where we've gone today. Could I explore one other area with the minister: grants in lieu of taxes. With the current transfer of a multitude of federal buildings, along with the respective responsibilities to the Government of the Yukon, in the negotiated block of funds that comes associated with it, there would be an allowance made for grants-in-lieu previously paid by the feds, now paid by YTG. How long before we run out of the funds that are being transferred and have to raise these monies internally, Mr. Chair, to meet the obligation of grants-in-lieu of these buildings so transferred?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair and end the great mosquito debate.
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 Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. next Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled April 24, 1997:
Departmental Assessment Committee (DAC): purpose, committee members; status of the Yukon excellence awards program; departmental option paper (Moorcroft)
Oral, Hansard, p. 649
The following Document was filed April 24, 1997:
Parkinson's Law (1957): quote from Bartlett's Quotations (Cable)