Thursday, May 8, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers. I would ask members to bow their heads in a moment of silent reflection.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Mr. Cable: I would like to pay tribute to the Member for Mount Lorne and the Member for Porter Creek South, and the Member for Riverdale South, and all mothers, in recognition of upcoming Mother's Day. I would have to say this is a money-saving venture; this is in lieu of flowers.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to introduce Bradford and Barbara Washburn to the House today. Both Dr. and Mrs. Washburn are distinguished explorers of the earth's highest mountains, especiallythe Yukon's St. Elias Mountains, and are here to attend the Kluane Mountain Festival.
Sixty-seven years ago, Dr. Washburn began to explore the unknown frontiers of the St. Elias range. In 1935, he led a National Geographic expedition into that range, and spent 89 days on the ice fields mapping and photographing it extensively.
The result was the first reconnaissance map of the St. Elias Mountains. He literally put the St. Elias range on the map.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Dr. Washburn's exploration, mapping and photography work of the northwestern portion of the St. Elias Mountains.
During that expedition, he and his associate, Bob Bates, traversed the range on foot from the Logan Glacier over the tops of the 17,000 foot mountain, Lucania, and the 16,600 Mount Steele to Burwash. The climb of Mount Lucania was the first ascent and the second ascent of Mount Steele.
Mrs. Washburn is also a renowned world mountaineer in her own right. Fifty years ago, she was the first woman to ascend Denali, Mount McKinley. She has stood side by side with her husband for the last 57 years, assisting with their many mapping accomplishments, not only in the Yukon, but around the world.
The number of joint, international awards the Washburns have achieved for their achievements attests to their team work.
Dr. and Mrs. Washburn have made a significant and lasting cultural, social and economic contribution to the Yukon through their exploration and mapping of an area of the Yukon that was little known, not only to Yukon people, but to the world.
Today, the area they explored over 60 years ago is part of Kluane National Park - a United Nations world heritage site. They are accompanied today by well-known Yukon businessman, Al Kapty.
Mr. Speaker and members, I would like to ask you to join me in welcoming them to the House today.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to welcome one of the students from Golden Horn Elementary School, who is present with us today. David McDonald is job-shadowing one of our staff members. Please welcome him.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motions?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Health billings, outstanding
Mr. Ostashek: My question is for the Government Leader, in his capacity as Minister of Finance. The minister well knows the federal Liberal government in Ottawa are expert at offloading expenditures to the provinces and the territories. Indian Affairs, which is responsible for status Indians in the territories, is particularly adept at this. I know this from personal experience of four years of trying to deal with them and get money out of them.
Yesterday, during the Health and Social Services estimates, we were informed that there is a staggering $28 million in native health billings that are outstanding over the last four years from the federal government to the territorial government. Can the Minister of Finance tell me if he has raised this matter personally when he met with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, Mr. Speaker, indeed I have. This is a very large outstanding bill for services rendered to First Nations people by the territorial government over a number of years. We have indicated to the federal government on a number of occasions that it is our intention that they pay this bill. As the bill gets larger and larger, it causes us greater and greater concern. So, I have raised the matter with the federal government, and I know that there are continuing discussions between governments at the officials level, as well, to see whether or not there is any likelihood that the federal government will come across.
I'd like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that Wood Gundy recently reported that the federal government will probably be showing a multi-billion-dollar surplus by the year 2000. It's only seeming that this outstanding bill should be one expenditure they should, and can, make to the Yukon government for services already rendered.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that but, Mr. Speaker, $28 million is a lot of money. Over a four-year period, that's $7 million a year; $28 million is about 10 percent of one year's transfer payments to the territory.
This is clearly an abuse of Yukon taxpayers by the federal government.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the federal government knows full well that the territorial government isn't about to cut off services to First Nations people because we're in a dispute with the federal government over the amount of money that's owing.
Can the Government Leader, as Minister of Finance, advise me if he has sought legal advice in respect to this outstanding claim in the event that the federal government refuses to pay it. I know when I was in government an amount was owing. I didn't realize that it had got up to $28 million. It just seems to be escalating, and it seems like they are being a lot slower as each year goes by in paying this bill. Has he sought legal advice on it to know what our exact position is?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not asked for legal advice on the question at this point. I have asked for the considered advice of the officials of the government on a number of occasions, and they have indicated to me that, while the precise amount of the bill is in dispute, there is still a recognition, at least by the federal government, that they themselves owe approximately $23 million. So, the amount in dispute is probably about $5 million. The fact remains, of course, that they are not paying any of it, and that's causing us great concern.
We've had a number of discussions in this Legislature only recently about all the ways that the Government of Yukon can spend money. Most recently, there was a request for a new jail for the territory. I would point out that if this bill were paid, this project, along with other school projects, could all go ahead, but as long as it remains outstanding we are caught in quite a dilemma.
Mr. Ostashek: I appreciate the minister's answer, and quite clearly he is right. The $28 million is a lot of money, and it impacts on our surplus position.
I guess I need to know this from the minister: is this government prepared to follow through with legal action as a last resort? Now I know the federal government has admitted to owing some of the money, but I can recall a set of negotiations that I went through with them a couple of years ago on formula financing where we thought there were tens of millions of dollars that were owing to us and settled for somewhere less than $10 million because the federal government just refused to pay it.
Will this government consider legal action as a last resort?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That may well be possible, Mr. Speaker. The possibility of legal action was raised by provinces and some provinces were facing exactly the same dilemma. As I think I remember mentioning to the House, the aboriginal affairs ministers conference last November dealt exclusively with the issue of federal offloading.
Now clearly, while we would want a negotiated settlement, we must be prepared to go the distance in order to protect Yukon taxpayers' interests. So, I wouldn't rule out the possibility. At this time we are still in negotiations and if they don't prove fruitful, we'll have to pursue other avenues.
Question re: Health billings, outstanding
Mr. Ostashek: I'm pleased to hear that the government is prepared to play hard ball with the federal Liberal government in Ottawa because sometimes it's very necessary to fight very, very hard in a small jurisdiction like the Yukon because it seems like every time we turn around, we're being slapped along side the head again by the federal government.
Mr. Speaker, when we look at the amount of money outstanding and we look at where it's outstanding to, we've got child care, some $25 million, $2.7 for the Thomson Centre, $638,000 owing to Kaushee's Place, $383,000 in social assistance and $214,000 for McDonald Lodge.
Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Minister of Finance. This is a pure case of the federal government abrogating their fiduciary responsibility for First Nations people in the Yukon and this could have a serious impact on First Nations people if we pull down programs from the federal government. Does the minister not agree with me that this would have a negative impact on First Nations trying to draw down these programs?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, that's certainly possible, particularly if the assumption being made by the federal government is that the Yukon government has assumed responsibility because they are paying the bills.
The Yukon government, for years, has been caught in a dilemma here. We don't want First Nations citizens of the territory to be pawns in a financing debate, so we clearly live up to our moral obligations to provide services to citizens. There is very much a recognition that the payment for these services should be borne by the federal government and this is not even in dispute with the federal government. We are simply not getting paid.
I would point out again that the Wood Gundy report projected that, by the year 2000, the federal government is going to be projecting a $60-billion annual surplus if things continue. It doesn't seem right to me that First Nations people would be a pawn in this dispute. We, of course, would want to continue to provide services, but we must make it very clear that this is a federal financial responsibility. They have admitted as much. It is clearly, legally their responsibility and that will be the case that we take to negotiations, and perhaps to court, if necessary.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I thank the minister for that. He is right, because if you calculate it even just roughly, that's $7 million a year that the federal government is reneging on and, in the event of devolution and First Nations drawing down these powers that they're entitled to under their land claims agreements, they would be short $7 million that the territorial government would be picking up on behalf of the territorial government. I don't think we could go ahead on any devolution on that sort of a basis.
Has the Government Leader raised this issue with the Council of First Nations?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have. I raised the matter with the Grand Chief of the First Nations back in November, prior to the aboriginal affairs ministers conference in Calgary, indicating that this is a major concern for us and for other jurisdictions.
We had received a missive from Ovid Mercredi, from AFN, who participated in the conference, suggesting that the provincial and territorial governments should not accept federal responsibilities, should fight very hard to ensure that the federal government does live up to their fiduciary responsibility to aboriginal people, and that position was supported by CYFN.
Mr. Ostashek: As I said earlier, $28 million is a lot of money to a territorial government of the size we have with the budget that's less than half a billion dollars per year.
Has the Government Leader considered making a joint representation to the new minister of DIAND, after this next election, a joint representation to help himself and the First Nations to see if we can get this issue resolved. Has he considered that? Or would he consider it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I have considered that matter, and as a matter of fact, the Cabinet of the government of the Northwest Territories will be visiting us, probably within three or four weeks, and spending a couple of days with us.
This item will be raised with them to see if there's a joint action that the northern territories can take, along with First Nation groups, to make a joint appeal to the new federal minister.
Question re: Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the minister responsible for the Women's Directorate. During the September 1996 election campaign, the NDP promised they would find a home for the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre. It's been seven months and many offers later. Could the minister please give this House an update of the ongoing negotiations on this issue.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, yes, I can give an update, Mr. Speaker, but there's not very much that's new to the report. We have had meetings with the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre, and they are actively looking on the market for a place and have not found one.
Mrs. Edelman: One of the offers that this government has made is the Taylor House. It would be a very good home for the Women's Centre in Whitehorse. It would be central, accessible and attractive. The only problem is that the rent the government wants to charge this NGO is over $1,300 a month, plus utilities. Now, the Women's Centre can barely afford the $500 a month that they are paying now. What is the minister going to do to help this worthy organization truly find a home?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: What I can tell the member is that we have made more than one offer on ways of helping the Women's Centre. We have approved funding under the community projects initiative, so that if the Women's Centre finds a house, they will be able to do renovations on that building to make it suitable for their purposes. They have put in offers on a couple of houses, and unfortunately, have had them taken off the market.
The Taylor House is an option for the Women's Centre to rent. Now, the member is saying they can't afford the $1,300 a month rent for the Taylor House. That is indeed the case, and I think the Women's Centre is taking a very responsible position by not wanting to tie themselves to paying rent over a 25-year period when they don't have a guarantee of funding to cover it. That $1,300 figure is far below market rent, and the utilities on that building are a very high figure, so there's been no final decision made.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I have yet to hear anything practical come out of this. Now, this was the pressing issue in the campaign almost a year ago and I still have heard nothing, and certainly they are very concerned. I was just recently at their meeting and they were very, very concerned about this issue.
Mr. Speaker, the community projects initiatives funding for the Women's Centre runs out at the end of June and there is only $5,000 allocated in the budget for the Women's Centre. How is this government going to truly support the work of the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong on her facts. There is a $5,000 increase to the Women's Centre. This year, our government is providing $20,000 in a contribution agreement for the Women's Centre. That is not only a significant increase from the previous year, but we have decided to give them the funding in one sum of $20,000 for a contribution agreement rather than giving them $5,000 as a grant and $5,000 as a contribution agreement and $5,000 if they can do reports and measure up. So, I think we've done a considerable amount to improve relations with the Women's Centre and to support them.
The details have to be worked out about their housing. They can't buy a home if there isn't a home. They're actively looking on the market. They have help, both from government officials and from the government, and they're not the ones that have been raising this problem with me. We do have the funding set aside with the community projects initiative and that money is there for them when they can find a house.
Question re: Carcross waterfront contamination
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Renewable Resources on the Carcross contamination clean-up.
Yesterday, the minister provided the members with a copy of the workplan for further testing of the Carcross former railway plant site, and I understand that when this testing work is finished, a report will be prepared, which will include what is called in the report he tabled yesterday as "cost-effective solutions for mitigation" or a clean-up plan, and then at some juncture in the future after that, the clean-up will be carried out. Now, I gather from a news report yesterday, it is anticipated that the clean-up will be done by the end of the summer. Is this a firm commitment from the White Pass Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I was quite glad that the White Pass did table their report on time like the order said. I have directed my department to review this, and they are presently doing that. They did say - and gave, I guess, an update to us - that they will have this site cleaned up by the end of the summer. I do believe that, you know, we have to take their word seriously, and the First Nations are certainly happy about that, and we certainly will continue to monitor it. With the report, the department has given them the go-ahead to continue to do testing in and around the site and not to hold up the clean-up.
Mr. Cable: Now, this further assessment work and the eventual clean-up will, of course, cost some money. Has White Pass Corporation given this government its commitment that it will absorb all of the costs associated with the site testing and the clean-up?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, we haven't heard anything different than that. We felt that in the order, it did say that they were the responsible party and that they should be the one that pays - the polluter-pay policy within the regulations.
Mr. Cable: There was a comment that came from the residents in Carcross relating to cancer rates. There were some questions put to the Minister of Health and Social Services in December relating to cancer rates. He indicated that there were no anomalies shown in the rates up to 1994, but that he was looking at the rates after 1994, and he was also indicating that he would look at the birth defect rates.
Could the Minister of Health and Social Services give us an update on that?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: In the 10-year period from 1986 to 1995, there were 24 deaths recorded for residents of Carcross. Cancer was noted as a contributing factor in six, or 25 percent of these. For the same 10-year period, there were 1,080 deaths recorded in the whole Yukon. Cancer was identified as the cause of 287, or 26.6 percent of these deaths.
I suppose one could say that the rate of cancer as an identifiable cause of death is roughly the same for Carcross as it is for the Yukon as a whole.
In terms of birth defects, that's a bit harder to pin down, because we don't have the same kind of records in this regard. What we have done is largely dependent on anecdotal evidence from the nursing station there, which indicates that there have not been marked incidences of birth defects in the Carcross area during that period.
Question re: Boards and committees, appointments to
Mr. Phillips: My question is to the Government Leader regarding appointments to boards and committees. I asked the minister a question about the all-party committee process on April 14th, and the minister, in his first answer to the question, wasn't aware of the meetings that had taken place.
But, at that first meeting, the government member - the Member for Laberge - indicated to me and the Liberal caucus representative that they were interested in setting up a process where all parties would have real input into the selection process for the major boards and committees. This would help to ensure that all parties were assured that the appointments were not purely political.
In a meeting this week, the government representative presented the government's position, and that position appears to be contrary to the first position that was presented in the first meeting and also contrary to an amendment to a motion on boards and committees in December 1992.
Can the Government Leader tell us why the government has decided that Opposition MLAs will have very little input into this new process?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: To correct the record, first of all, I will point out that when the member asked the question before, I indicated that I was not aware of the results of the most recent meeting. I was not saying that I was not aware of the existence of meetings or the existence of the committee that had been struck between the three parties to review boards and committees appointment procedures.
I was under the impression, having been given an update of the most recent meeting by the Member for Laberge, that the discussions were continuing and that the Member for Laberge was going to be reporting back to our caucus and asking our caucus for advice, based on the most recent discussions that he had with the members opposite.
Apparently, the member wants to deal with the matter here rather than in committee, so I presume that the committee meetings are now defunct.
So, I will tell the member this: I will report back in Question Period next week the results of the discussion that caucus has, and we'll take it from there. The Member for Labarge will give the caucus a review of the matter and make his recommendations.
Mr. Phillips: It is important to bring it to the floor of the House, because there has been a bit of a flip-flop here.
In the first meeting, we were told by the Member for Labarge that we would have some meaningful input. In the second meeting - and I'll table the document - we were given a document, which is a flowchart, that really pretty well says we're out of the picture, other than recommending names to the minister, and that we won't be on an all-party committee.
My question to the minister: can the Government Leader explain why, when he was in Opposition, they proposed the creation of an all-party standing committee with the power to substitute names for those proposed by the Executive Council and major boards and committees - that was in 1992. Now that they're in government they appear to be changing their position 180 degrees from that and opposed to the very concept of an all-party committee reviewing appointments.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, I would point out to the member that they had agreed to an all-party meeting for next Tuesday to discuss this very matter. But, I am presuming from the member's question that he is not interested in attending those meetings and would prefer this route. That's fine; we can do it any ime in Question Period.
I'm certainly very interested in what the member has to say. The caucus discussion will take place in due course on the subject of boards and committee appointments, and we will be able to respond to the member thoroughly when we've given it due consideration.
I don't understand it to be any flip-flop whatsoever, frankly. I am aware of the member's request. I am aware of the issues in general terms and I will be able to give the members a response next week.
Mr. Phillips: The reason I'm raising it here is because I want to get the real position of the government on the record.
In 1992, they were in favour of an all-party committee. In the first meeting we had in the committee meeting here, a few weeks ago, their member indicated that they were in favour of our participation. In a document that was given to the committee members the other day, it spells out no committee, no involvement. I'd like to know from the Government Leader, what is it? Are we involved? Should we proceed any further with the committee meetings? Is there going to be a third position tabled at the next meeting? Maybe the member can tell us what position they really are taking with respect to this.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, Mr. Speaker, the New Democrats' position was very clearly laid out in the Public Government Act, which the members opposite rejected absolutely and outright, which dealt with the subject of boards and committees appointments.
Secondly, the motion that we were dealing with three or four years ago was their motion, not ours.
Mr. Speaker, I was under the impression that one of the points of this appointment procedure was to ensure that we got not partisan boards, with representatives from New Democrat partisans and Yukon Party partisans and Liberal partisans on boards. But I've got to tell you that the experience of the Member for Faro, who was trying to put together the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board and seeking nominations for the chair, received strong party operatives as nominations from both opposition parties.
So, perhaps they do want a very partisan board process. Perhaps the Yukon Party is searching for something to ensure that their partisan operatives are on boards and committees. I don't know that, but I think it would have been worthwhile to explore this issue further in the all-party process that had been going on, and I understood to be going on until the member opposite announced his intention to cancel it.
Question re: Boards and committees, appointments to
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Government Leader. I'd like to remind the Government Leader of his former leader's comments in Hansard when the issue of all-party committee appointments was discussed. His leader at the time, Mr. Penikett, the Opposition Leader, said, "After he has been in power for a year or two, he certainly will not want to do this. By then the growlies that surround one when you are in government will be trying to discourage him from providing any information to the House, even that which his good common sense tells him he ought to do."
Well, the growlies seem to have started rumbling. Good sense is saying that there should be all-party committee appointments to major government boards and committees. As a policy statement, does the Government Leader want to see an all-party process for nomination and appointment to major boards and committees?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, I guess the feeling is unanimous among the Opposition parties: the all-party committee to develop the rules is defunct now - cancel it. So, that's the measure of cooperation we're going to expect on the subject.
With respect to the general question, Mr. Speaker, I'll point out to the member once again - it's something I pointed out to the Member for Riverdale North. We had indicated an interest in seeing boards and committees representative of the public they serve. We indicated that we wanted balance on boards and committees. The process, which the member herself lauded, and that was undertaken by the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board to seek a chair, resulted in the Liberals nominating a past candidate, a past Liberal Party researcher and the director of policy for the Liberal Party.
The Yukon Party nominated a past president of the Yukon Party. So, Mr. Speaker, if that's what the members are searching for, if that's the kind of process and that's the kind of result they're searching for, we're not playing that game, and we won't play that game.
Certainly we are seeking representative boards and committees. That's the public objective. How we can reach that public objective is something that I thought was worthy of discussion in this all-party committee. If we want to discuss it right now, it's fine with me.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, this debate and this question, the whole issue seems to be degenerating into the same old bickering and bullying we have seen in this House for years. What a contrast to March 26th of this year. The Government Leader said, "This was done through a process which involved all the caucuses in the House, and a process that is both, in fact and in perception, above board and above partisan interests." The Opposition Leader said, "I thought that this would be an ordeal, and that we would be a long time coming to a consensus. That wasn't the case."
Those comments were made in reference to the all-party committee that sought and reached a consensus agreement on the ombudsman appointment. The exercise we went through a short time ago proved that the process can work. It worked because there was political will, and there was some assistance available to the committee.
Would the Government Leader consider the suggestion of asking a neutral individual to chair the all-party committee that's currently in place - a neutral third party such as the Clerk, the Clerk Assistant, or the Public Service Commissioner? In light of the former NDP Leader's remarks that the penchant for this process is rapidly lost, will he instruct his representative on the committee to work toward an all-party agreement on nomination and selection by the end of the summer? Will he commit to that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I'm not certain that the Clerk will be too interested in trying to resolve disputes or being, somehow, the honest broker who's going to resolve disputes between the parties. The whole notion of all-party discussions is that the parties are to work together. Any committee that would be struck in the future, if that were the decision, to actually determine appointments, would presumably need the Clerk to continue his good works, because the assumption being that the three parties cannot work together.
Now, I was given the impression by the Member for Laberge that there was an agreement among the members that there was going to be a meeting next week, and that this was going to be continued discussion. Clearly, that's not the case. The member wants to raise the matter now, outside the committee work. So, clearly, the member doesn't have faith in all-party committees, particularly this one.
I don't know why she would want to set up more, but I would point out to the member, and I would ask the member to respond, in some way, to this nagging concern I have, in the appointment of a neutral chair to the Workers' Compensation Board: why would the Liberals ask that the government consider a Liberal candidate, a past Liberal caucus researcher and the director of policy for the Liberal Party? Why would they consider that to be an advancement to the appointment process for boards and committees, when we've all presumably agreed that we want representative boards and committees that go beyond the partisan politics of the territory, acknowledging the fact that, among the three parties, there's probably only 10 percent of the public that is actually hard-core partisans, and that it excludes 90 percent of the public, who have an interest as well? Why would they want us to proceed with a policy of that nature?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I'm absolutely delighted that the Government Leader has indicated that I will be allowed the latitude to respond to our nominations for the Workers' Compensation Board. For the record, our nominations included a former NDP candidate, a person who was formerly sought by his leader to be a candidate, and another individual who serves in a non-partisan way to the Yukon Utilities Board.
To me these are highly respected individual members of our community. Because they chose to work with, or be a part of, the Liberal Party at some point in their life is not to be held against them - or the New Democratic Party, for that matter.
My supplementary question, Mr. Speaker ... What I have tried to do and what the Member for Riverdale North has tried to do today is to establish for the record the government's position with respect to an all-party committee appointments process for nominations and appointments. We have repeatedly asked for the government's position to be put on the record.
We have asked for this position and I am asking the Government Leader to state his position for the record because the information coming from the Member for Laberge is not clear. And for the record, Mr. Speaker, it was the Member for Laberge, in answer to criticism, who first stood up and said, "This committee meeting is defunct." It was not the people asking the questions.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, I would ask the -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would ask the member, if she wouldn't mind, to cool her patronizing tone.
Mr. Livingston: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: A point of order has been called.
Mr. Livingston: The member opposite has just made some allegations regarding remarks that I have made and they are simply untrue.
Speaker: There is no point of order. There is just a dispute.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, the patronizing tone of the member does not assist this debate one bit. The fact of the matter is that the nominations that have been put forward by the Liberal Party are strong Liberal operatives. I'm not saying for one minute that the people who the Liberals nominated are not good people. In fact, I know two of them and they are fine, decent people.
But that's not the point. The point is that it is not an opportunity for the Liberals to stack committees with Liberal appointments. That's not what the point of this process is. It's to bring balance - not partisan balance, so that we can all jam partisan appointments onto boards and committees - to boards and committees, to a state where they are representative of the broad public, not just the partisan...
Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ... but the broad public, and that's the objective that we've been seeking all along. That is what we're intending to do, Mr. Speaker, and if the members opposite are insisting that partisans be jammed onto boards, we can't accommodate them.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are on general debate in the Department of Tourism.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1997-98 - continued
Department of Tourism - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Mr. Phillips: I have a few more questions in general debate.
Mr. Chair, maybe I'd like to go back just for a second to Beringia. I've had an opportunity when I was in Watson Lake to pick up some - I think at the tourism booth - Beringia brochures. There's a brochure, I think, in English, French and German at the booth, and I'm not sure whether that's the only brochure they've produced so far, but if it is, and there are more of them out there, I have talked to some people in the industry who would like to get copies of them. I believe the City of Whitehorse is interested in passing them out to individuals, and I don't believe they've received theirs as yet, and other spots, I guess, up and down the highway and other areas of the territory - wherever we get our brochures out to. Maybe the minister could look after that.
Mr. Chair, the other concern I've heard - and maybe the minister can confirm it for me - is that the City of Whitehorse has dedicated a bus this summer to travelling around to all the attractions in the City of Whitehorse, and they are doing it by way, I think, of a small fee for people to travel on the bus, but they're sponsoring the bus by a fee per month for various attractions. I think the Transportation Museum pays a fee. I know that other attractions in Whitehorse pay a fee, and my understanding is that they approached the Department of Tourism for participation, and the fee, I believe, is $200 a month - I guess $600 for June, July and August - and they were turned down.
Can the minister tell me if that is accurate or not?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: On the first point that the member opposite has brought forth on the Beringia, yes, it is a brochure, and I thank the member opposite for the suggestion, and certainly we will be sure that Whitehorse and all highway stops and visitor reception centres are certainly aware of the world-class stop that we have and make sure that it is out and available for them.
The second question of the member , regarding the small fee - we'll have to certainly check into that and get back to the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: The Beringia has got to be a must-see on the bus tour, and I think that they're going to be at the Transportation Museum, and it would be a shame if non-profit organizations, such as the Transportation Museum, were coming up with the $600 to help sponsor it, and we couldn't come up with $600 from the department. We're spending $60,000 at Rendezvous Canada, I think the member said yesterday. Once the visitors get here, to actually get them to the exhibit we're going to tell them about isn't a great expense. I would encourage the minister to look at that.
I'm going to move back downtown for a moment to the new visitor centre and maybe get an update from the minister on the computers that were going in there. There was a program being developed through the winter, and I just wanted an update on where we're at with the program. I've heard a lot of hype lately about the City of Whitehorse kiosk and what they're doing with theirs, but I haven't heard a status report on ours. Could the minister bring us up-to-date on how many kiosks we're having and if the computers are up and running in the new visitor centre?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can tell the member opposite that the contract has been awarded, and I can let the member know that it is to Hyperborean, which is Bob Nardi's outfit. Also, work will be commencing and finished and done and ready for rolling by June the 15th, but we will certainly affirm that date.
Mr. Phillips: That's a little later than I think we hoped. I think the original plan was they would be in and sort of tested prior to the official opening of the centre.
What are we going to have in the meantime? Can the minister give us a rundown on what is in there now and, as well, maybe just what is there? We know that the displays are there. There was some more work to be done with the screen, the film, the projectors - that kind of thing. Just give us an idea of, when someone walks into the centre, other than when we saw it at the official opening, what's new since then?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Since the Visitor Reception Centre has opened, what is new is the film or slide show that we have, inviting folks over. I believe the member was one of the ones that was there to witness it - both critics, actually. That is the only new thing, other than our staff, who are back and being trained now. They are pumped for the season and happy.
As the member opposite has said, the displays are there and we are certainly looking forward to the kiosks being developed so that we may have more to offer the people. I see a note coming here that says that the slide show is the one that came down from the Visitor Reception Centre on the hill. We do have those to offer.
Mr. Phillips: Just so I have it right, the gold rush slide show is moving down on a temporary basis. The new film has gone out to contract and will be ready by later this year, and the minister will fill me in on the date - November, I see the member saying. I hope I caught the sign language there.
The kiosks - getting back to them for a second - is June 15 because of a late tender or is that just the delivery date that the contractor can supply us by? Are we absolutely certain that it will be by June 15? Much later than that, and we'll be into full season here.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can say that, no, that is the date that was arranged, and on June 15th they will be delivered. And, yes, we'll certainly have to check that date, but most certainly that is the date that is targeted for now and that was due in the tendering package. So, it wasn't tendered late. It was just that the department is extremely busy, and that was the earliest possible date that they could get around to getting it all organized and out.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, how many kiosks will there be, once they're installed?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: There will be four.
Mr. Phillips: Is there a plan in the future that we increase the number of kiosks, or are we sort of set up for just four and that's about it?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, there is not a plan at this point in time - certainly, the four we have. But there is a plan to certainly tie the communities into this system.
Mr. Phillips: I know we talked about that before, as well - of tying them into the system. I would encourage the minister and the department to keep any eye on that because kiosks, although they're very interactive with people, are sort of interactive with the person who's standing in front of the kiosk. So, sometimes they're a great tool, but they're rather limited in scope. It's not like a film, or like some other thing - there's usually one or two people standing in front of it. So, if the centre happens to fill up with people in the future, there may be a need to look at expanding the number of terminals in the facility.
Mr. Chair, another bouquet that I would like to hand out - the minister shouldn't get too excited. This is not for him, and it's not even for the department. This is a bouquet for the committee that selected the artwork for the building. I think they did an admirable job. I looked at the mock-ups of the artwork initially, and I know that when you looked at it in the initial drawings, you had an idea of what it might look like when it was finished. But, every one of those pieces of art are beautiful pieces of art.
Ruth McCullough deserves credit for the work she did in working on the selection committee and at the arts branch but, in particular, so does the group of private citizens who sat as jurors and selected the artwork from the many talented Yukon artists in the territory. I noticed that they all met the deadlines, it seems, as well as getting it in there. I think it really adds to the facility, so we can be very fortunate in having these great, talented artists in the territory who contributed to that centre.
I would just like the minister to pass that on to the committee and the artists themselves and to the others who were involved in that. It was a job well done.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I can certainly agree and concur with the member opposite that it is beautiful artwork and it did take an enormous amount of effort and time on behalf the committee, and I will be more than happy to pass on the member opposite's good wishes and good words of encouragement to the committee and also to Ruth McCullough. I certainly appreciate the words of encouragement on behalf of the government from what the member opposite has stated.
Mr. Phillips: Now, before I leave the VRC downtown, I want to, I guess, for about the fifth time in about two or three weeks, raise the issue of parking. The parking lot, again today, was full of cars on this side and full of cars on the other side.
In fact, yesterday, there was a long RV parked along the front street in a bunch of vacant government parking on this side because they couldn't park in the RV parking lot. So, I think we've got to get tough, I guess, with some people.
The visitors are here. I think the problem this year might be a bit compounded because of the shutdown of the South Access and the fact that we no longer have the downtown RV park. There aren't a lot of areas downtown where these people can park their long RVs and disconnect their little vehicle from it and so they're sort of wandering around the streets with another truck or a car in tow and really nowhere to park downtown.
We do have the Visitor Reception Centre there. We have all the signs in the world, and I think the city and others did a great job in directing people to the centre, but when you get there you're out of luck. You can drive around and around and around the place and you'll never find a parking spot there. There were a couple there this afternoon or before lunch, but this morning there weren't any and yesterday there weren't any. Especially this side, where small RV and car parking is supposed to be, was jammed yesterday and the day before.
I would just like to bring that to the attention of the minister. I noticed that about 99 percent of the vehicles sitting in parking lot had Yukon plates on them. So, I think they are residents, for the most part. We have to deal with that problem.
I don't have any problem with Yukoners using it in the winter months, I suppose. You know if it's convenient - but even then - I guess you get used it; it's a habit of pulling in there and parking there every day. It is time to make way for our visitors, for whom that lot was designed. So, I ask the minister to take some strong steps, please, maybe this week, and try and get that problem cleared up.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I know sometimes the Opposition can feel left out of the process and feel that they are not being heard, but I can certainly assure the member opposite that he is being heard and adhered to. This is critical, especially, as the member opposite has said, with the problem being compounded this year, but certainly signs are in the process of going up at this point in time.
YTG employees are being advised that the parking is for our visitors, and our visitors only, at this time of the year, and carry on with that spirit and let folks know, not just our own employees, but certainly, Yukoners in general. Notices are going to be placed under the windshield wipers asking people to respect the need for our visitors' parking and we're also going to be putting ads in the newspaper. After that, if that doesn't work, we'll certainly have to get tough and start calling tow trucks.
Mr. Phillips: I'm going to move on to another area, but maybe the minister can just tell me when that will be done. Is it going to be next week or this week that they are going to put notices out to people?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I can say that we are going to be starting on it by the end of this week, realizing that this is Thursday. I've been assured by the department that we will be getting at it, hopefully soon, but we're certainly going to be pushing toward that end.
Mr. Phillips: I hope it happens fairly quickly, because I want the minister to enjoy himself at Rendezvous Canada, and I don't want him to hear my voice ringing in his ear when he's down there about the lack of parking, and me having long distance phone calls trying to get hold the minister all of next week.
The Yukon Quest - I know the Department of Tourism and Holger Bergold, our representative in Europe, were involved with the Yukon Quest in recent negotiations with respect to sponsorship of the Quest. Can the minister give us any kind of an update about where we are at now with Yukon Quest and Fulda's participation and sponsorship?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As for my statements from the TIA annual general meeting, I did allude that there were good things on it at that meeting and I certainly did not want to take from the Quest board their ability; it is the Quest board's show. Certainly, I am not absolutely certain that they have announced it yet. I do believe that they haven't announced it as yet. I will certainly have to check with the Quest board before I can make any announcement further to that, through respect for that board.
Mr. Phillips: I understand it's pretty good news for the Yukon. We'll let the Quest board make the major announcement. I just want to thank Holger and Klaus Roth in the Department of Tourism and others who have worked so hard in the last two or three years to pull this together. I think it's a golden opportunity for the Yukon to promote winter tourism and also summer tourism, I guess. Fulda is spreading its wings a little further into the summer, as well. I think it worked out well for everybody.
One of the promotional programs the Government of Yukon has embarked upon quite vigorously, and it's tied into Yukon Quest and Rendezvous, is winter marketing. It is getting much more aggressive in winter marketing in trying to sell the Yukon to our visitors in the wintertime.
I would just like to get a commitment from the minister that, as we receive more visitors in the wintertime, we are going to be able to show them a few of the things. One of the things we would like to show them is our visitor centre. I want to get assurances from the minister that the centre will remain open year-round and, especially, the centre will be staffed during significant important events, such as major conventions and the Quest and Sourdough Rendezvous and those kinds of events.
Along with that is a concern I raised with the minister, I think, in Question Period, about Beringia - I know that it would be quite a bit of an added attraction in the winter months, as well, especially for things like the Quest and Sourdough Rendezvous - and whether the minister has plans to staff that, as well, for those kinds of events.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I concur that winter marketing, as the Member for Klondike spoke about yesterday, is increasing the shoulder season and increasing it from 100 days, or three months, to 120 days now. It is certainly viable and clarifies that there is a need in the market for winter marketing.
With regard to the Visitor Reception Centre, certainly we're going to keep it open for the winter as long as the city remains committed to it, and we will be looking to staff it for events such as the Rendezvous, the Quest and others. The only problem they might have is with conventions. I don't want to get into a conflict with any of the hotel operators or convention operators in that light, so I don't want to take from private enterprise because of what we have in the government, but we can work with the industry and work between the windowpanes with the industry on that, because certainly government is not to take away.
As far as the Beringia, certainly my government is going to make and take all efforts to make Beringia work. I'm certainly committed to making it work, and certainly we will be opening it at special times throughout the winter for information-type tools, educational tools and during times of festivities such as the Rendezvous and especially this year with the amount of people that we have coming from Europe and other areas to enjoy the Yukon Quest. This will certainly be one of the initiatives that we concur on and go forth with.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I don't want the minister to be under the wrong impression. I'm certainly not suggesting that we use the visitor centre facilities or Beringia facilities to host a convention. What I'm suggesting is that if there is a convention in town of doctors or a convention in town of something, it gets opened up for a limited period of time so people may go and see the displays and watch the film. So, that's what I mean, not necessarily to use it as a convention hall or anything like that. There are lots of those around in the private sector.
The minister mentioned briefly that they wanted to keep the visitor centre in Whitehorse open year-round if it receives support from the city. Is the minister now saying that unless it gets some support from the city, it won't be open year-round, and what kind of support is the minister indicating he needs from the city?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you for the clarification of my misinterpretation on the Beringia and the convention issue. It certainly will be open for conventions if there are doctors, lawyers or conventions - Indian chiefs, I was going to say. So we will certainly have it.
Mr. Chair, also on the question regarding the involvement with the city, certainly the Visitor Reception Centre is good for all Yukoners, and it is good then for the City of Whitehorse also. My department has been meeting with the City of Whitehorse for some time to talk about financial support, staffing-wise, for the Visitor Reception Centre in Whitehorse. I don't believe it is all that much, but certainly last year it cost us approximately $5,000 to keep it open. We're certainly just in the spirit of working cooperatively with the city, and the city working cooperatively with us. That is the direction that we are taking, and I will certainly be able to provide the member opposite and the other critic of the third party, as time goes on, with the update on that. Thank you.
Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I appreciate that. I know when the minister goes back in the record and looks, he'll see there's lots of indication of working with the city and making some kind of an arrangement. I think a previous mayor of the city actually supplied a staff person for one summer at the visitor centre up the hill. There was some arrangement there, I think, quite a few years ago - five or six years ago, or something. I know the city was interested in it being open year-round, so we'll have to see what comes of that.
Mr. Chair, the Historic Resources Centre - there's no money in the budget, but the minister has indicated that they want to continue on with that project. The minister has told us in the House that there will be some planning this year for that. Can I ask the minister if it is still this government's intention to build a Historic Resources Centre adjacent to the Beringia Interpretive Centre?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I will reiterate what I believe I had said earlier in the House, and that is that I'm going to be taking to Cabinet, and having Cabinet consider, a revote for the Historic Resources Centre. If that is done, then I'm certainly feeling positive with myself that if certainly it is within the process then we must leave it within the process. If and when approved, we will certainly be looking to keep it in the place that it was originally planned for.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I'm very pleased to hear that. I think that's extremely important, because one of those facilities can benefit the other, and vice versa. And it will lend itself in the future to - I'm sure what will happen is a future expansion of the Beringia Centre. I can see it growing somewhere down the road. But I think that having the Historic Resources Centre there and the heritage branch there will be a great benefit.
Mr. Chair, the minister mentioned the fish ladder funding to Renewable Resources. I know it's gone out and into the Renewable Resources budget, but can the minister tell me if it's the same amount of money that was pledged last year so it hasn't decreased - it's the same amount?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I've been assured by the department that it is the same amount of money, and would you believe that it is $60,000?
Mr. Phillips: I'll ask further questions on that to the Minister of Renewable Resources when we get to that line item.
Mr. Chair, the vacation guide has always been an issue that seems to crop up almost on an annual basis. The biggest problem with the vacation guide was the time lines. No one complained more about the time lines than I. I know the industry complained, but I felt somewhat like the industry, from time to time, as the minister, because I used to receive it hours before it was going to press. It was just a condition, I think, of so many things happening at that period of time in the year, and everyone was busy. When it finally ended up on the desk, we were trying to meet deadlines. We all realized the obligation, but everyone felt rushed, and I know the industry felt rushed, as well. I know the government has been talking to the industry about this, and I understand they've reached a better understanding. Does the minister feel comfortable that the industry is satisfied now with the arrangement that they've made with respect to the time lines?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, in regard to the member opposite's question, certainly the publication date is still for September's end and we'll be working with that. I've been assured by the department that we are working with the industry and that the industry is supportive of this and we are trying to work the kinks out so that the industry will be in full support. I concur that it is a frustrating process at times, with the time frames as they are, but we're certainly working with the industry and working closely with them to iron out all problems.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I just have a few more questions. The anniversaries enhancement program - the booklet that the department put out - was an extremely successful program. It really got the message out and, with the partnering that was involved at the time, it took our dollars, I think it was eight to one, roughly. It expanded our dollars eight to one. It really spread the message of the Yukon Territory throughout the world.
I read the book and it's a great publication; it explains all the programs. This was the status report in April of 1997, but it was a status report of everything that happened in 1996. Can the minister tell us what kind of enhancement programs are planned for 1997, for this summer, this fall and winter leading up to 1998, or is this it? Is this the end of the enhancement program completely and we're not doing any more of this for the present time?
I know most of these programs happened between the 15th of July and the 15th of August 1996. What I'm asking, is there anything running this year? Are there any stamp programs, coin programs or any other programs running that are sort of an add-on to the enhancement?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I can let the member opposite know about the anniversaries enhancement program. We are going to be continuing with the program. Nothing is new on the program at this point in time, except what's there, but we'll certainly be able to provide a more detailed update - yes, that is the right word - for the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: I'd also like the minister to provide the most recent update of the wilderness tourism regulations. I know that Renewable Resources is doing a lot of that, but from the Tourism standpoint, maybe they can give me an idea of where that is.
Also, I don't need it - unless the minister has it at his fingertips - right now, but the Rendezvous Canada that the minister is going to attend next week - we're spending $60,000 - could I get a rundown from the minister about what we are going to be doing, what we are going to be sponsoring, and that kind of thing? Just sort of an itinerary of what is going to happen there and what each event is going to cost us, and that kind of thing.
I'm familiar with Rendezvous Canada because I was there last year and a couple of years ago, so I kind of know what is happening, but I just want to know how much of the event we took over this year. We stole it from Alberta last year, and I understand we're in the process of stealing it from British Columbia this year. So, I just want to kind of know where we are at with the promotional campaign next week.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I don't have to explain to the member opposite the purpose of Rendezvous Canada, and he is certainly correct, as I've been told. I wasn't there, but the member opposite was there in Edmonton. We did steal it from Alberta and we're certainly out to do it to Vancouver, and if anybody from Vancouver is listening, be warned, because that is the department's wish and desire.
I can give the member opposite the financial breakdown on the $60,000 if he chooses, and I can read it into the record now: $19,500 will be used for the registration and sponsorship of the lounge and for luncheons; $18,500 will be the associated promotional display costs; $4,000 for the Associated Press conference costs; and coordination costs of $10,000; travel costing, $8,000; for a total of $60,000.
Mr. Phillips: You know, Mr. Chair, if I wasn't so busy in my personal life, I'd feel slighted that the minister didn't invite me to go down to Rendezvous Canada with him, because I recall inviting the critic last year to go down to Rendezvous Canada, and he couldn't attend. I think he was busy at the time. I think he had a recital of his daughter or something, and that was more important, of course, and that's what the critic did, but I wish the minister well. I know that the department will put on a great show, and the people from the industry will do a great show for the Yukon, and it will benefit us.
Mr. Chair, I have three last items. On the arts budget, I'm pleased to see that the minister, I believe, has increased the budget for the Arts Centre this year in some areas. There is an area that I got calls on when I was minister, and I got calls on it again the other day from Yukoners, and that is the advanced artist awards. The advanced artist awards are selected by a jury, I believe, of Yukon Recreation Advisory Council, and the government really doesn't have any input into the selection other than a committee, but I got a call from some individuals this morning who are involved with other social groups in this town who are vying for government money - like YES and other programs - and when they see somebody going to Latvia or somebody doing some of these other things that they feel are maybe frills in some ways, they get rather frustrated.
They said that when you have to apply for funds from the Government of the Yukon - like YES or like these other types of programs - there is fairly strict criteria you have to meet, and the sense is that maybe there should be some tighter criteria on what we consider for advanced artist awards.
It's a genuine concern. There are some people out there who look at that and wonder why we are awarding funds for these kinds of things, so I pass that onto the minister.
I got it when I was the minister, and I admit that I didn't change it, but I think it is worth looking at and is worth considering putting in some criteria, which would maybe bring some stricter guidelines into how this money was used. I believe it was $30,000 this time, and we're turning down a lot of very worthwhile projects in other areas of the territory because we're crying poverty, and I realize the arts are unique unto themselves, and the advanced artists feel that these are very valuable programs, but I think we have to at least listen to the other side and hear what they have to say and maybe put in some guidelines or criteria that make people feel more comfortable with the system of awarding these types of funds.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the member opposite is correct in his analysis of the advanced artists awards, and certainly we cannot please all, but I'll certainly be taking the member opposite's direction and advice into context when we sit down and have a look at this. Thank you very much.
Mr. Phillips: One last item, and then I'll let the critic from the third party - it still sounds terrible - have an opportunity. Mr. Chair, this is more of a pitch. It's not a criticism. It's one where I, after having been in the job for a while, and observing what's going on, am making a recommendation to the minister on.
I see in this year's budget there are increased funds for some staffing, but I would ask the minister to take some time. You'll see it at Rendezvous Canada, but take some time and sit down with your staff in that department. We've seen, in some cases, between a 20- to 100-percent increase in some of our numbers in tourism over the past four or five years, and we've been doing it with the same staff. They're burning the midnight oil. My concern is for the staff there that I believe are doing an absolutely outstanding job, but we're not going to keep these people around very long if we continue to work them at the rate we're trying to work them now. That's my concern.
I would be very supportive in the future if this minister were to come forward with proposals to look at, in conjunction and in consultation with the industry, of course, augmenting or increasing his staff in some of those areas where we are seeing very positive results, but are finding that we're almost spreading our resources too thin. Some people, I think, in some cases, are near the breaking point. I know that some of our officials in the Department of Tourism were gone away from home last year for almost half of the year carrying out marketing initiatives, and that's almost too much to ask of anybody. These people are absolutely dedicated, and they never say no, and they work very hard. I ask the minister to keep that in mind, and maybe sit down with the deputy minister and the rest of the staff and discuss that, because it is a serious matter. Some of these people are extremely key to the areas they're in, and if we lost one or two of them, we would feel the effect of it. So I think that it has to be addressed, and addressed fairly quickly.
So, Mr. Chair, I'd ask the minister to consider that.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, the member opposite is absolutely correct in the dedication and the drive of the marketing staff, and not just simply the marketing staff, but purely the Tourism staff of the territorial government in general. They are a remarkable group. They are like family with one another and somewhat with me, as well. I'm getting to have a very deep respect and great admiration for the folks that work within this department. Certainly, at times, they must keep a stiff upper lip and smile in the face of adversity and they certainly do.
I think the member opposite would be very encouraged to hear that we are taking measures at this point in time to try and get some of these folks to stay at home once in a while and enjoy their home life, also. We have statistics over there where the staff is spending as much as up to six months of their time away from home, and it is very hard. As I say, it is almost as difficult as being a politician; we all know what that feels like, when one is taken away from one's home life. They are certainly in that category, and I don't mean that to be a slur to any of the staff, also.
We are looking at bringing on a trainer and manager of marketing to assist within, and we are also looking at a First Nations trainee this year, so that we might be able to accommodate the staff in the direction in which we are going. I certainly concur with the member opposite that we do have a great staff - an admirable staff - and I will be taking time to sit down with them. I have taken time to sit down with them and we had some good heart-to-heart conversations. Certainly, I'm starting to feel very comfortable working with them, as I hope they are with me. I thank the member opposite for his direction.
Ms. Duncan: It's a real pleasure to be here to debate the Tourism budget in general debate.
I have had an excellent briefing from the department in terms of the programs and work of the department. We didn't get into the budget at that time, line by line, so I hope the minister and his deputy will forgive any questions that seem a little bit off the wall.
I have been going through all of my Tourism notes, and I have quite a number of questions of a general nature that I would like to get into, and they're really all over the Yukon map, so to speak.
I would like to start with Rendezvous Canada. I noted in the minutes that the theme for this year was an aboriginal theme. Has that theme indeed been established, and how is the Yukon participating in that respect?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, actually, the theme is Canada's north. Certainly we have banners that are going up for that. Canada's north would not be Canada's north without aboriginal people. We are taking the Ross River Kaska Nation drummers, singers and dancers with us to this and we are hoping that will help, in part if not in total, to steal the show and certainly encourage all people to come north for a demonstration of this unique culture.
Ms. Duncan: That's great to hear that they're travelling to the Rendezvous Canada. The same note that I have indicates that there was some thought by the industry that there should be included in the budget a new territory-wide photo shoot. I'm wondering if that is in the budget somewhere, or if it's in the planning stages for a future budget.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can let the member opposite know that, no, it is not in the budget.
Ms. Duncan: Could the minister advise if there's some planning in this respect? I seem to get a sense that our "official shots" are getting a little tired and re-used. Is there some thought to doing this perhaps within the mandate of this government, then?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: To be quite honest, no, I hadn't thought about it. I appreciate the member opposite's advice on that, and I will certainly take it into consideration. It certainly sounds like a good idea. Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to delve into the issue of Parks Canada for a moment. I understand there was some difficulty with the Chilkoot Trail and the collection of fees and, of course, the issue of Kluane access is ever present. Is the Department of Tourism participating in the whole devolution discussion, and are the parks issues on the table, or are they simply raised at the federal level?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, as I've been informed, Parks Canada is not a part of the devolution package. With the impact of the Chilkoot Trail and the multi-jurisdictions contained within the trail - British Columbia, Alaska, et cetera - it does make for complicated governance, I must say. But to be quite candid in the answer - no, we have not considered, and Tourism is not involved within the devolution process in that light and manner.
Ms. Duncan: Has the Minister of Tourism raised with his federal counterparts the issue of Parks Canada fees and their collection? I'd also remind him of the issue of Kluane access. Have these issues been raised with the federal minister? Or, in light of the fact that we are in the midst of a federal election campaign, does the minister intend to raise these issues with the new federal government?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, no, we have not in the past raised our fees or access with my federal counterpart, but it is most certain that we will be sitting down with my federal counterpart - whoever it might be in the future - to discuss these types of questions that we have from this point of view.
Certainly, also, the one point that did slip from my brain and is most important is the search and rescue component of rescuing and the dollars that it costs the territorial government. So, thank you for that advice and direction.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, while we're on the subject of the federal government and its relationship with Tourism, the Member for Riverdale North raised the issue of the Canadian Tourism Commission and he raised it, of course, with his background of having been the Minister of Tourism.
Could I ask this minister to elaborate on our relationship and our linkages with the Canadian Tourism Commission, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair - a new Mr. Chair to me. Welcome, Mr. Chair.
Certainly from the Canadian Tourism Commission and the aboriginal tourism component of it, the sponsors are picking up the travel to the tune of $6,000 for our First Nation entertainment. I know that's not specifically what the member asked, but in part that is part of our linkage and our relationship with them.
As the member opposite spoke to the issue of the Canadian Tourism Commission yesterday - and I have the notes right here - of all the components. We certainly fit within the umbrella of the Canadian Tourism Commission and we work toward and assist in - and they are assisting us with - not only Canada's marketplace, but in part, Yukon's share of that marketplace within the international market.
I'll be having lunch with Mr. Doug Fyfe of the Canadian Tourism Commission during Rendezvous Canada, as I had at the Berlin meeting at the ITB. Certainly we have to strengthen our relationship and we have to get the Canadian Tourism Commission to know that we're very serious, that we need more than certainly just having the department's deputy minister and the department's marketing director sitting on technical committees, but as the critic for the Official Opposition stated yesterday, we must certainly look to getting ourselves more solidly ingrained. So, these are certainly some of the issues that I'll be bringing up with Mr. Fyfe at such time.
Ms. Duncan: My colleague further down in the Opposition benches has passed me a note respecting the funding, which I will pass over to the minister, and that is where I was going with that question.
It sounds like we just serve on technical committees, and I note that the federal government announced increased funding for new tourism infrastructure. The Government Leader, in an interview on this subject, indicated that the Yukon would be unlikely to see any of this funding. Does the minister share that view, or does he feel that we might possibly get some of this funding through the service on these technical committees.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I believe that the Government Leader is correct in his analysis, and that is simply for the fact that the industry enhancement committee doesn't seem to understand that we're a small jurisdiction but we're a very important jurisdiction We're only 30,000 strong here in the Yukon, and most of the guidelines that come from the CTC and the industry enhancement committee - they take the macro approach, when we can't fit into the macro approach; we're simply on the micro approach.
So, simply, when they are here in early June - I believe it's June the 7th - we'll be making that pitch or that statement to them, and I'd like to take the opportunity at this time to - certainly, I cannot now invite folks to come with me to Rendezvous Canada, but I can certainly invite both the Official Opposition and the member of the third party to be with me when we make a presentation, and to let them know we are very serious about working with them and that we do come from one point of view when it comes to tourism in the Yukon.
Ms. Duncan: In the same notes that I was reviewing about the Canadian Tourism Commission, I noted that there was $45 million identified over three years to promote Canada abroad.
Could I just ask the minister to indicate how our marketing efforts tie in with those efforts. Do we give out Yukon maps at the same time, or how do we tie in to that?
I'll repeat the question. It's Thursday afternoon.
There was another $45 million identified over three years to promote Canada abroad. I'm just wondering how our Yukon efforts in marketing Canada abroad tie in with the Canadian Tourism Commission efforts.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I thank the member opposite for repeating the question for me. Many times I can blame my ears for not hearing the question, but certainly this time it was for different reasons that I never heard the question, so there are certainly different reasons.
We are in the Canadian Tourism Commission Canada program, and we're certainly also in the overseas program. Again, though, it comes back to that dynamic where we are treated as just a smaller pawn, and we must elevate ourselves. Again, this will be certainly one of the issues that we'll be bringing up at Rendezvous Canada with Mr. Fyfe, and also when the industry enhancement committee comes here. Although it's not directly within their mandate, they'll certainly be able to take a message back to the folks in Ottawa.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to digress, if I could, into a brief discussion about one of the most fundamental elements of our tourism industry, the people who actually work in the tourism industry.
Training, of course, is fundamental to people who work in the industry. I note that, in 1994-95, the Tourism Industry Association, which at that time had responsibility for tourism education training, received $186,000 through the Tourism EDA. After that, YTEC was formed, and they received $197,000 in 1995-96, and this year, 1996-97, another $170,000 for education and training went to YTEC.
As I understood it, there was a funding application that wasn't actually made through Tourism. It was made through Economic Development and Education, but certainly the Minister of Tourism should have been aware of it. Can he tell me the status of that agreement and funding for YTEC?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, funding was available through the trust fund, and Tourism has been very supportive of the application, and certainly the funds have been committed for a three-year period from the training trust fund.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I understand the minister to have just indicated to me that the training trust fund is going to be used to fund YTEC and that a new three-year agreement has been signed. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly before the debate is finished and before the day is over, we will have a detailed briefing note for the member opposite's consideration.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, yesterday in the Tourism debate, I used some figures from a rather dated study that was done by several partners - the Tourism Industry Association - and it was funded under the Yukon tourism subagreement. It was the "Yukon Tourism Training Needs: A Call to Action." The study was done in June 1990, and that study indicated that 2,500 people are employed year-round in tourism in the Yukon, and the number of people employed doubles, of course, during the visitor season. Could the minister advise what efforts the department is taking at this point in time in terms of job-tracking? How are they now tracking the jobs in the tourism industry and the growth of these jobs? Are they doing it?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, in the past, it has had one system, and we're certainly working now to develop a new tracking system with the statistics bureau, and we're doing that at this very moment, and when we have the system up, we're hoping that it will be a more efficient and updated system so that we might be able to track these all-important figures so that we might use these within our budgeting process, and it will certainly help others in Yukon with their business plans, et cetera.
Ms. Duncan: Will this new tracking system be used this summer?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, it will not be ready for this summer, but certainly it will be ready for next season.
Ms. Duncan: There was a CBC news report on Tuesday, March 4th, that says, "Even though the north has the highest wages in the country, Statistics Canada says the kind of work you do is more important than where you do it. The numbers show wages for workers in the mining industry average more than $1,000 a week. People working in the food and beverage industry make just over $200." Is the system that's being put in place by, I would assume, the Government of Yukon statistics branch tracking wages and tracking the number of jobs?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the member opposite for some good, solid direction. No, Mr. Chair, the wages weren't included, and I assure the member opposite that we will be looking at that important component now.
Ms. Duncan: I would like to thank the minister for that commitment. I believe it's an important element in how we track the value of the industry, as well as the value to our economy.
The notes that I have received about the tourism industry and activity in the tourism industry indicate that the Yukon enjoyed some writers from Snowriders West: An American Snowmobiler, here in March. In turn, there was a piece that was distributed through Snowriders and direct mail. I'm just wondering if the minister could provide an update on their visit and on the increase in this facet of winter tourism.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, it will be our pleasure to share that information. I will get that information for the member opposite.
Ms. Duncan: The Member for Riverdale North mentioned wilderness tourism. Could the minister give us an update on the discussions with the wilderness tourism operators and the licensing procedures?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the department has just received back, earlier this week, a draft copy of it. We are going to be discussing this again with the Department of Renewable Resources, the wilderness tourism industry, the territorial government, of course, the Department of Tourism and also the insurance broker, so that we might be able to come up with some credible discussions. I'm anticipating that within the next short while, I will say, that we'll have a more consolidated approach. But things are looking good, and we're certainly working with the industry on developing these guidelines in comfort and in consolidation with them.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I just ask the minister to indicate: have those discussions included Workers' Compensation Board requirements and/or ethics on the part of the wilderness tourism operators?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I haven't looked at this paper myself for approximately two and a half or three months now. Certainly, I'm looking forward to getting a draft of it and will be reviewing it quite carefully. The questions about whether the Workers' Compensation or the ethics are contained within the paper - I'm certainly eager to see myself. So, certainly, when we get the paper rounded out, I'll be able to provide the member opposite, and the Official Opposition critic also, with the paper for their critique.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to address a few questions about Taylor House to the Minister of Tourism, as he has taken a lead responsibility for this. As I understood it, Taylor House did not qualify as a heritage site. Could the minister verify that that is indeed correct and whether or not the department is looking at changing the requirements for what constitutes an historic site?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the Taylor House was deemed not to be, of course, of national significance. Certainly, it was very, very important, as we're all aware, to local Yukoners, though.
As far as changing the regulations and that, I do believe that that lies within the city bylaws, and it is certainly within the city's jurisdiction.
Ms. Duncan: Could the minister indicate whether or not the Taylor House, or renovations to the Taylor House, would be eligible under - I believe it's called - the historic projects assistance program - would it be eligible?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Unfortunately, because it is not of national significance, it is not eligible for the program.
Ms. Duncan: Even though railways are always governed by the federal government and they take a keen interest in them, in terms of regulating stop signs and flashing red lights and so on, is the White Pass building eligible under this program?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That is something that we'll have to check, and I certainly could always use the member opposite's connection within the local Liberal Party, with connections to the federal Liberal Party, to help promote some of these issues so that we can work jointly, hand in hand, to change these issues.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to talk about the CIBC bank for a moment.
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce offered, in February, $50,000 to any non-profit group willing to take on restoration of the bank's building in Dawson City. I noted this in several news reports in February.
I'm wondering if the minister can advise whether or not he's aware of any non-profit group that took up the CIBC offer. Also, in the news report an official from the bank says, "$50,000 isn't enough to finish the job, but it will get the restoration started," she says, "A community group or government department will have to come up with the rest of the money."
The first question: is the minister aware of any non-profit group that took up the CIBC's offer? And the second question: has that non-profit group or the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce approached the government for money for this restoration?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, the CIBC, in the old bank in Dawson City - and the bank is where it is - certainly is an issue that has to be addressed, and I do believe quickly. It was brought to my attention through the same forum that the member opposite, I'm sure, got the directive, through the media, et cetera.
The CIBC, the bank, feels that $50,000 is adequate to have offered out to any non-profit group. Certainly none have come forward. There has certainly been interest to do it, but certainly we feel that the $50,000 is certainly inadequate. It's going to take much more than $50,000. Certainly the work and the investigation that we've done, and it's certainly only been at a surface level at this point in time, has proven that point.
What we are doing, though, is I've instructed the deputy minister, just a short time ago, to set up meetings with me and the bank manager, so that we can - not have a duke out - but certainly start to clarify how we're going to preserve this heritage building in Dawson City.
Ms. Duncan: I would just ask the minister if he could keep the two Opposition caucuses apprised of those discussions, if possible. I would be interested in progress on this issue.
The Yukon archaeologist at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, there was another news report that that individual was retiring and the position would not be filled, although the retiree indicated that this shouldn't have any effect on archaeological work in the Yukon. Could the minister just provide some further advice in that respect? What is our new relationship in the absence of this individual with the Canadian Museum of Civilization?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly on that relationship, no, Mr. Chair, I don't have anything off the top of my head, or within reach of briefing notes, but certainly we'll have to get back to the member opposite on that particular question regarding the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, or Hull, I guess it is.
As to the previous statement, yes, we'll be more than happy to keep both colleagues in the loop. Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, just before the particular individual who handles heritage - who I'm sure is listening - figures I'm finished, could I just ask that there be a briefing note forwarded on what I'm sure was the success of the Anthropological Association meeting here and whether or not any of the papers presented or discussions held will be presented at all in the Beringia Centre, or if those discussions had an impact on our planning for that centre.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, Mr. Chair, if I could take this moment to say, Jeff, if you are listening, will you please concur? Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: Could I have an update from the minister with respect to the homecoming program? I noticed that it was scheduled to be launched and I thought I had been dutifully reading the papers, but I seemed to have missed it. Can I have a progress report, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, in consultation and direction with the industry, the homecoming program was revamped and it is now going to be called the created-in-the-Yukon program. Now, I've been deliberately holding off announcing this because certainly the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, I believe it is, has wanted to put together a little announcement on this. Unfortunately, it's just been scooped on them. Certainly, it's gone from the homecoming - and again, in consultation with the Tourism Industry Association - to the created-in-the-Yukon program.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I ask the minister to provide some kind of a time frame, given that we seem to have preempted the announcement of the official launch of the created-in-Yukon program.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I can do that, and I should have done it when I stood up the first time. The program will be launched on May 22nd, 1997. We did consult with a number of individuals in the organizations - and it included TIA, the First Nations Tourism Association, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce - and additionally the department consulted with representatives from the visual and performing and literary arts.
They can certainly appreciate, as I'm sure we all can, that the consultation process does not happen overnight and therefore we have the time frame of May 22nd. The Yukon Chamber of Commerce is going to be a partner in the program in assisting the department by registering the individual artists and retailers who are participating. Certainly, on the 22nd there will be a bit more information unfolding on behalf of the Yukon Chamber. Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for that information.
Before I get into my next question, I'd just like to extend my heartfelt compliments to the staff and individuals and everyone involved with the new tourism centre, and I guess that would include the former government. Having worked in the visitor information centre downtown - the T.C. Richards Building - for a number of years, I believe there are a number of visitors who are downtown, and I am so pleased that the centre is open downtown, that there is staff there in the wintertime. I know that this has eased the burden on the Whitehorse Chamber tremendously, and it is a beautiful building, especially the artwork. My hat's off to the people involved. It really is a site for an attraction in itself in Whitehorse.
I'd like to get into the issue of tourism marketing if I could for a moment. A number of years ago, the firm of BBDO was awarded the tourism contract for our advertising, and I understand that that contract is up in July of this year. Could I ask the minister to provide me with how the work of that firm is being assessed, and when and how that contract will be tendered?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, on the member opposite's question of how it was assessed, I can just simply say that the department has been satisfied with the work of the BBDO. Certainly, their contract is coming up, and we are going to be going out to tender with it. The process will firstly be that we'll be looking for an expression of interest, and it will certainly be advertised early this summer.
Ms. Duncan: I'm a little concerned that the sole assessment is that the department is satisfied with the work. Is there not some formal measurement process in place that we can point to or some other measure of effectiveness? We, in effect, as politicians, are audited every four years or so. I'd like to know how we are auditing this firm.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The 17-percent conversions on all of the marketing programs is certainly one indicator and the other indicator would be our overall success. Certainly, this decision wasn't just one that came from the department, but it was done in consultation with the Tourism Industry Association, also.
Ms. Duncan: It's difficult, though, in those two factors that the minister mentioned, to separate out the anniversaries' success. It might have happened anyway, is what I'm saying. How do we separate that out?
Are there thoughts, when the tender is being called, of putting in place any other measures of success, other than this conversion rate or, as the minister and deputy minister have said, the tourism overall success? I'm concerned that we may, in the year 2000 or 2001, see our tourism decline - heaven forbid that this should happen. If it does, are we going to be blaming our agencies? How are we separating all of this out? How are we actually measuring the work of the agency?
Maybe the minister is going to come back to me and say, "Look, we can't, other than the way we're doing it." I would just like to know that the department has investigated all possible methods of measuring the success of this firm.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the member for her input. Certainly, we will be looking to make sure that it is measured against all factors and to make sure that we have a very credible measuring factor, other than the conversion factor. Certainly, it is one of those issues that I'll have to be sitting down with the department to consider and make sure that we do have a measure - or an audit, if I can say it in that manner - that is credible. Of course, I am not saying - as I know the member opposite was not saying - that the conversion factor is not credible.
You've put a caution in my ear now and the hair is standing up a little bit on the back of my neck. We'll have to look at it in a serious light, because, if I can quote, "heaven forbid", I surely don't want that to happen. I'm sure that the Tourism Industry Association doesn't want that to happen, as all operators in Yukon don't want that to happen. I thank the member opposite for her direction.
Ms. Duncan: If I could just ask the minister to clarify, before we leave the subject of this particular agency - there has been some discussion in industry circles about a full-service agency. Could I just ask the minister to define for me, for the record, what is intended by that, and what the parameters of service that we'd get from this full-service agency are?
Hon. Mr. Keenan:
Certainly, I could say that we do have a paper on what a full-service agency is, how it works, and what we expect of it, and I will be more than happy to provide that paper to the member opposite. In relation to the previous question, with the BBDO, the industry support has been very strong, as we've said. National tourism awards have been won and received for products that they have produced. For example, one would be the anniversary enhancement program.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for that information. Certainly, my questions were not meant as a criticism of that particular agency, just simply: are we measuring the effects of our success?
There are a couple of points that raise some concern with me. At a Tourism Industry Association meeting, there was discussion about the relationship between Holland America and the tourism industry in the Yukon, and some concern about the tourism industry aligning itself with one company. However, we do need to take advantage of partnerships and be a partner.
I was concerned when I read a news report that said that tourism officials in Skagway were predicting a record year and the Yukon Tourism official said, "While the opportunities that may result from it" - "it" being 600,000 tourists in Skagway - "may be shore activities to Carcross, increased tourism to the Yukon via cruise tour packages won't see a dramatic impact." It said that is because only day trips are actually sold on the cruise ships.
As the Member for Riverdale North has noted, we have incredibly hard-working officials in that department, and they tend to get their head down and get to work. I'm worried that we're not seeing an opportunity with the cruise ships that come to Skagway, and luring these visitors on a day trip to Whitehorse or to Carcross.
I would just like the minister's reassurance that the department is indeed addressing this opportunity, and perhaps provide a concrete example of how we are taking advantage of this opportunity.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, the departmental staff are working very hard to work with Holland America, and I can inform the member opposite that Holland America is a member of the Tourism Marketing Council. Certainly, what we have here in my briefing book - it says that Holland America has committed to the inclusion of the Beringia Interpretive Centre into some of their land tour packages and has already provided the facility with a financial deposit - I believe it's $6,000 if I remember off the top of my head - in advance of this summer's operation.
That is the one example that the member asked for, and we're certainly going to be continuing to work with Holland America to encourage more people to come to Whitehorse and the area.
Ms. Duncan: Holland America certainly isn't the only cruise line coming into Skagway. Are we making some efforts and overtures to other cruise lines?
Six hundred thousand visitors are a lot of visitors into Skagway, and they are missing out by not coming to Carcross and Whitehorse.
What efforts are we making with the other cruise lines to ensure that their passengers, who are spending a day in Skagway, have an opportunity to not just go to Skagway, but at least further afield to Carcross, as well?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As to the overtures to the other cruise ships, that certainly is something that I will have to come back to the member opposite with. What we could also come back with is maybe the inaugural arrival of some of the cruise ships for the member opposite, and for the other tourism critic, because we just received some of the inaugural dates and would be pleased if members opposite, of course, with my colleagues, would partake and visit those inaugural ships as they come into the Port of Skagway.
Ms. Duncan: I guess we'll all go down to Skagway and wave our "Welcome to Whitehorse, Come On Up and Visit Us" signs, and hopefully will divert some of that traffic our way.
My colleague, the Member for Riverside asked about the clean-up program in Carcross during Question Period today. I'm wondering if the minister could advise whether or not tourism officials are being kept informed with respect to the clean-up of the contaminated site in Carcross. There's been concern expressed that that would have an impact on the tourism traffic to Carcross. Are they being kept informed, and are they working with officials in Carcross?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, yes, we are working with Renewable Resources and the Carcross Area Advisory Planning Committee. The First Nation of Carcross has been working with due diligence, and yes, we are kept up to date and informed and working with due diligence on this problem.
Ms. Duncan: Can the minister advise if there is a continued concern about tourism traffic in Carcross this summer, or if those concerns have been dealt with?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I do believe that everybody is working quite cooperatively toward those ends. I believe, if I can, off the top of my head, remember that the fencing has been narrowed down to a very narrow parameter, and that has been done with the wishes and the blessing of the advisory committee to government, which is, of course, comprised of different government departments and the town of Carcross.
Ms. Duncan: I digressed from marketing to the subject of Carcross. The marketing budget includes - I believe this is where these are included - the postage inquiry cost. There's a huge cost attached to mailing responses to visitors who inquire about coming to the Yukon. The vacation guide, while it's an absolutely wonderful tool, is incredibly expensive to mail. I believe that we would see a decrease in cost with the greater use of CD-ROM. Is that correct, and are we seeing this decrease in cost yet? Are we mailing out CD-ROM?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the postage is very, very expensive, and we are going to continue with the mail-out of the vacation guide. Certainly, within the suggestion by the member opposite, which is a very good suggestion, and I'm certain, as time evolves, that it will come into existence, but certainly, at this point in time, a lot of folks don't have access to Internet, or have CD-ROMs, but certainly, as I say, as time evolves, my department is constantly striving to keep up with the technology, and I thank the member opposite for the question and direction.
Ms. Duncan: There has been a great deal of discussion in this House about this government's relationship with non-government organizations, and certainly in the area of tourism we have the convention bureau, the First Nations Tourism Association, the Tourism Industry Association, the Yukon Anniversaries Commission and the wilderness tourism guides, and the list goes on and on - the Klondike Visitors Association, and the City of Whitehorse now have a tourism coordinator. At one point in time in a previous lifetime, there was a discussion about the future of these organizations and about re-establishing roles and priorities and so on.
Can the minister advise what sort of relationship he envisions with these organizations, and does he envision working on them on any sort of consolidation?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, when it comes to the non-governmental organizations, the NGOs, we have a relationship that is continually evolving. Certainly my government is looking to bringing a certainty to the funding so that the NGOs will have, as I say, certainty, and it is working with them in that manner.
As for re-establishing the roles, at this point in time, the work that I have been doing and carrying on has been one of coordination and working with the existing organizations, and certainly the Tourism Industry Association - in my mind and in most other minds, I believe, or the majority of minds within the industry - is one of an umbrella, and certainly the others, such as the convention bureau, and the list does go on and on and on, would be components within there.
As for re-establishing the roles, I'm not so certain that it is something that could or should absolutely be done. Maybe over time we'll certainly have to do that, but at this point in time we are working very closely with the industry so that we might be able to have something that is concrete, have something that is transparent and something that is knowledgeable to all, so that when my government - or, specifically the Tourism department - goes out to consult on direction within the tourism industry, we would have that umbrella organization in place, which would be representative of all of the NGOs.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in the preamble to my question, I neglected to compliment the minister on the assured funding for the First Nations Tourism Association. I believe that to be a very positive step by the government and they are to be complimented for initiating that, or for ensuring that it happened.
As I understood the minister's comment, he would like to be working with an umbrella organization and its various components, and he would consider that the NGOs in the tourism field would come under the policy that the government's working to develop in terms of three-year funding for NGOs. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, that is correct.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to ask about the overall direction in Tourism, in terms of working with the communities.
I had the very good fortune of working on the Whitehorse area tourism planning, which, with its many hundreds of volunteer hours, was a bit of a push-me/pull-you exercise, I must confess. However, at the end, it was an incredible document and an incredible working plan for Whitehorse area tourism.
Could the minister advise what the status is of other Yukon area tourism plans? The Whitehorse area tourism plan is about three years old, I believe. Could I have an update on the other communities, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, we have been working not only within the Whitehorse area, but also I can say within the Dawson area - and I've been assured that that is done - and within the Watson Lake area and, again, that plan is done.
We are going to be going into the Kluane area and working with the people of the Kluane area. We're also working on the Silver Trail area and we'll be looking at other areas through such things as land claims commitments and honouring the implementation of land claim commitments, such as the Teslin Tlingit Council and within their traditional territory.
As I've said already, we're going to be moving into the Kluane area, which is the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation area and also within the Silver Trail area, which is the Na-Cho Ny'ak Dun. So, those are simply some of the ones that we're moving toward. Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: Can I ask the minister to bring back or send over to me an update in terms of the Teslin area, the Watson Lake area and Faro-Ross River? I thought that they had done a tourism plan, but it would be some years old now. If I could just ask for an update of when those plans are being reviewed and what their current status is.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I would like to say that we would be more than pleased to provide the member opposite and the critic for the Official Opposition with the updated plans that we have for all areas, with a schedule that would provide the areas we are going to be moving into.
Ms. Duncan: The subject of air service to Whitehorse and our tourism industry has been the subject of much debate in this House. In December, I asked the Minister of Government Services to request of his colleague that an economic study be undertaken, in consultation with the Department of Tourism, with respect to the feasibility and economic viability of the air service to the Yukon, and I believe I also asked, within Yukon.
I don't believe that that request was ever followed up and that we are not, in fact, actually studying this feasibility. Can the minister enlighten the House as to that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As far as enlightening the House, I can say truly that I don't think we are moving in that direction. We certainly know that, as the member opposite and others on the opposite side have brought forth, yes, air service is very much desired by the industry and certainly by this government and, I am sure, all representatives of governments, or MLAs, in the room - and outside the room also.
We are putting forth $250,000 this year for marketing initiatives. The department is going to be striving, with due diligence, to continue to get over this problem that we have this year and to bring certainty, hopefully, to the industry in the Yukon.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd like to reiterate my concerns that, while the Department of Tourism is doing the marketing and is undertaking joint initiatives, we're doing this in the absence of any concrete, real information. For example, at the Tourism Industry Association, one member said that the problem the Yukon faces is not fares but capacity. Another member says that the capacity question isn't the problem, it's the fare question. Another member believes it's the routing, and the average Yukoner just knows that we used to have four flights a day, and now we're back to two and one carrier. It's just a question that we keep going around and around on, in the absence of real facts.
I would reiterate and restate and re-emphasize my request to have the government, prior to undertaking on any more marketing initiatives or any more sales pitches, that we know what we're talking about. We need to be able to provide the airline industry with the facts, and we can't, quite simply, support 400 seats a day out of here in February. We need to be clear with our expectations of the industry.
I would just like the minister's assurance that we can't lock the barn door after the horse has gone, but we need to get the horses in the stable. We need to know what we're talking about, and I don't believe, at present, without this information, that we do.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I think that there might be some credibility to the member's suggestion but, in the absence of doing this study of the facts, I can certainly say that when I was in the ITB in Berlin in the previous - gosh, when was I there - this spring, in March, the very first and foremost issue that came to me from all of the travel trade representatives was, one, that we did not have air access now to fulfill the seats that they had sold. Now, it's a back-and-forth thing, but I can directly quote from my briefing note on this. "The net result of the Northwest Territorial Airways cancellation is the loss of up to 8,000 seats", and this comes from the industry, from Europe to the Yukon. Now, discussions with Air Canada's field offices in Europe indicate that the demand for the Yukon is so high that they could have sold 12,000 seats this year, had the NWT Air been flying.
So, this message certainly provides us with further encouragement to continue to find ways to resolve the air access issues, so that the Yukon's tourism industry can realize its true growth potentials for the socio-economic benefit of all Yukoners. With that indicator from Europe and the amount of press that we are getting now, I would certainly make ourselves available - and if the member opposite would make herself available - for a briefing on what is happening.
We've gone now from truly a one-page portfolio in some magazines to multi. We've even been getting centrefolds in travel trade magazines throughout Canada and Europe. It's absolutely incredible that the Yukon could be in the centrefold and I can't be. Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for the advice that he is now a centrefold.
In all seriousness, I appreciate where the minister and the department are coming from. I also have a concern, and a recognition, that our existing Canadian Airlines has provided good service to the Yukon and that there are some 40-plus jobs at stake with that airline, too. It's an extremely difficult, thorny issue, and my advice for the minister - centrefold or not - is to proceed with caution.
I just have two more questions, and then we could break.
I note in the First Nations Tourism Association newsletter there was an attraction and a partnership with Yukon Anniversaries Commission: the Rainy Hollow Wilderness Ventures in the Klukshu area. There was much discussion about that area, and Rainy Hollow, in particular, as one of the contaminated sites that we're still monitoring. Are industry, Tourism, Renewable Resources and the Environment people working together on this? I'm sure we're not marketing visits to a contaminated site, but could I have the minister's advice on this, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I know nothing about the problem, but we'll certainly have to be checking with the tour operator. Is it the Rainy Hollow Tourism Adventure? I'd appreciate the name, so that we can check into it.
Ms. Duncan: One last question, Mr. Chair. The hotel room tax has been much discussed in this territory, sometimes factually and sometimes simply with fear. Have the department prepared for the minister, and all of Cabinet and caucus, a briefing on this issue, and are they preparing facts and figures on the impact or non-impact this would have on the tourism industry?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We have no numbers on that but certainly that is best left, and I can certainly check with the Tourism Industry Association, because I do believe that falls more into their hands. So I will certainly do some checking on that, and I will certainly get back to the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: I have a couple more questions, but Mr. Chair, before we go any further, I want to make it clear that the Yukon Party is not in favour of a hotel tax, so that that's on the record. It is an issue, I think, that has been out there for some time, and we're more concerned about the Yukon being affordable and competitive. So, we take the strong position of not supporting that tax.
I have a couple of questions on the arts. We had been working on an arts policy, and it was going through the process and was just coming to Cabinet in its final draft. I understand it went through the new government's Cabinet, and now we have adopted an arts policy. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, that is correct.
Mr. Phillips: Did the government change the policy from the previous government, the last draft that I saw that went to Cabinet? Is it the same policy?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I do not believe it has been changed. If it has been changed, it had been changed very insignificantly, and we'd be more than pleased to provide a copy of the new policy to the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, that's certainly one for the history books: that the Yukon Party developed an arts policy, and the New Democratic Party sanctioned it whole-hog, so that's pretty good. I think that will be good for the arts in the long run.
Mr. Chair, part of the arts policy was the development of an arts act. Can the minister tell us what the time line is for the presentation to the House of an arts act?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We haven't put together a legislative agenda as of yet, but it could be going as early as - but I'm not absolutely sure at this point in time.
As to the member opposite's first remark considering, I guess, the hallelujah about the arts policy and it's something there, I think that we all have reason for a mail-out to show that we can work together cooperatively here with this. So, I think that just on that basis, do a mail-out.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I thank the minister for his very definitive position on the arts act and when it's going to come into the House. I'm still not sure whether we're getting it or not getting it, but I know that the minister is considering it, so we'll leave it at that.
Mr. Chair, I have one last question, and that is the Trans-Canada Trail. I've raised this before in the House, but I just want to reiterate again that I think the Trans-Canada Trail is a real opportunity for tourism in both winter and summer. I think the Trans-Canada Trail Committee in the Yukon is focusing primarily on the Whitehorse-Braeburn section first, and so I would like to know from the Department of Tourism how much they are involved in that, and whether they feel it merits some support in any way to see it come to completion.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the Trans-Canada Trail is something that is happening, and yes, the member is absolutely correct that they are focusing on the Whitehorse to Braeburn area.
Certainly, there is a committee that is working and certainly we're going to continue participating within the committee works, but I would like to put a caution that this is something that is out there.
We have dog mushers that want to enjoy the trail. We have cross-country skiers that want to enjoy the trail. We have snowmobilers that want to enjoy the trail. We have simply just hikers that want to enjoy the trail, horses that want to enjoy the trail. It has to be focused and it has to be worked through the system as of yet.
So, it's not without controversy, but it's not a great big blowup either. People are working with due diligence so that we might be able to participate within this fine federal initiative.
Mr. Phillips: What I'm concerned about up here is that I know there will be some concerns about the use of the trail and where the trail will actually go, and whether it will go this way or that way kind of thing in various areas.
What I'm concerned about is, and I want to know, if the Government of the Yukon, Department of Tourism, sees merit in establishing the Yukon as part of a link of the Trans-Canada Trail and is willing to participate in that by way of advice, future marketing and other things that are involved with respect to the Trans-Canada Trail.
I know, right now as we speak, in places like New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where the trail has already advanced, and in Ontario, it's widely used for tourism purposes with snowmobile clubs, with hikers, bikers - the whole works.
So, other jurisdictions have utilized the trail extensively for tourism purposes and, from articles I've read and discussions that I've had, people outside of Canada who are fascinated by Canada as a country see it as a real way to sort of make a trip over here for many years in a row to actually travel various parts of the trail and experience various parts of Canada, and travel a trail that they would feel relatively safe on.
I think if you look at our marketing initiatives and our marketing study, that's what people have told us, that they like the feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness, but they also like to know that they're safe. So, the Trans-Canada Trail provides that kind of wilderness experience, and ties in nicely with what our focus study has said. So, I encourage the minister to give it serious consideration.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: To the member opposite, yes, I will give it serious consideration. The original question, I guess, was asking if we see merit? Certainly we see merit. It is something that can be used simply not for recreational hikers or local hikers, but it can certainly be used in the global aspect, and it can also be used, I guess, somewhat for what all of us want to see here: a keeping-Canada-together-through-Canadian-unity initiative.
So certainly I do see merit in that. Thank you.
Mr. Phillips: I have a couple of other brief questions about the focus study. High awareness, general images: "In general, awareness of the Yukon was high, but the respondents felt they knew very little about what the Yukon has to offer. They consistently showed concern over the availability and quality of lodging, the availability of emergency resources and the lack of people."
Are we doing anything different in our marketing now to address those concerns?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we've just received the focus test results. We do treat them, certainly, with respect, and we do formulate our market initiatives around there, so the department is going to be working quite closely with the focus results, and certainly will be bringing in initiatives based on that. Certainly, it's just a little premature for myself to say if there'll be any change at this point in time. We're certainly going to be working with the results, though. Thank you.
Mr. Phillips: I'd be interested in getting a copy - and I suppose the critic for the third party would, as well - of the government's response to the focus study and how they're going to deal with the recommendations in the study.
In sort of ending my concerns in general debate, I have to tell the minister that I was somewhat satisfied with the focus study when I heard the minister tell us the other day that Beringia, First Nations people and the Ice Age were things that people who wanted to travel to the Yukon would be very fascinated about. I thought, when we came up with the idea of Beringia, that we were being futuristic, and some over on the other side said we were being crazy. So, I'm glad to see that the focus study has shown that people are interested in the educational component of our history, the First Nations and the Beringia and Ice Age mammals, and I'm very glad to see that this government, under this minister, has chosen to continue with that type of marketing. I think it will not only be good just for Whitehorse, but it's going to be good for the whole territory in the long run. Mr. Chair, I have no further questions in general debate.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the member for his comments. Yes, certainly, the focus group has certainly focused on something that is dear to, I think, all of our hearts, and is certainly dear to my heart. So, I thank the member for his comments and advice.
Chair: It is now 4:30 p.m. Is it the desire of the members to take a break?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes, please.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there any more general debate?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I just have one more question with regard to general debate.
Could the Minister of Tourism advise whether or not the department is working with the group that is trying to restart the White Pass and Yukon route - the train?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'd appreciate it if I could be asked the question again.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm sorry. I didn't note that the minister hadn't heard it.
There is a group of individuals who have been working to restart, or to work with, White Pass in terms of eventually restarting the train, or a portion of the train ride, around the Whitehorse area as a tourism attraction. I believe that the society working on this had some 250 members. I gather that they go under the name of the Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society.
Is the Department of Tourism working with this group at all?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, in the recent past we have not been meeting with them, but in the past past we had met with them and had provided advice to the society as to what it would take, I guess, in terms of cost and coordination to do it. Historically, yes; in the very short past, no.
Ms. Duncan: In terms of a tourism attraction, I believe this could be quite valuable. One of the concerns is of the right of way, as I understand it. Has the minister, either in his capacity as Minister of Tourism or his capacity as Minister of Community and Transportation Services, had a briefing note with respect to the White Pass right of way?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No; in both portfolios, no.
Mr. Phillips: I know we're eager to move on, but there are some very important questions we have to ask.
Mr. Chair, about a year ago, or a year and a half ago, we were approached as a government with respect to an individual who wanted to set up Whitehorse as a base for their RVs. It was a fly/drive operation where they were wanting to operate out of an existing local RV campground. One of the issues that came up is that they had planned to pre-sell the fly/drive package and then - mostly to European clients - at the end of the tourism season move the units down to somewhere in the U.S. and operate a winter program in the U.S.
They ran into difficulties with Customs and Excise. Because the vehicles were being used in the U.S., the individual ended up having a choice, and the choice was to set up in the Yukon and pay a huge federal government tax or fee for running the operation here, hiring mechanics and having the European visitors come in and out of Whitehorse as a base and buy all of their supplies here, and actually spend some money here. Or, set up in Skagway, or set up in Fairbanks, or set up in Anchorage, b
ecause, if he set up there - because he was operating in the summer in Alaska and Yukon, and in the winter in the USA - he didn't have any fees to pay, so he bypassed those fees, and we were looking into that for the individual.
I just wonder if the individual has pursued that any longer? Is there anything happening there? They were talking, I think, about 15 to 20 units to start and they were going to set a garage or shop up here, and operate out of that; hire a mechanic or two, and of course then there would be people arriving and buying all of their goods and services here, so it would have been a bit of a base start of some of that European travel.
So, I just wonder if anything has come of that, or if it's sort of died. Has the individual given up and gone somewhere else, based out of maybe Alaska instead of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We will have to get back and check within the departments. Certainly it is outside of my knowledge base and I have not been briefed on it. The deputy minister clarifies that, since the process that you have stated, nothing has moved. We can certainly check within the departments and see if there has been less or more talk on this.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if, while the minister is checking that, another issue that comes up from time to time is the ability to rent a car in Whitehorse and drop it in Anchorage, or rent a car in Anchorage and drop it in Whitehorse. Because the cars are brought across an international border, there's a problem.
Yet, if you go to Europe, I think you can go all over Europe and rent cars and drop them all over the place. You don't seem to face the same problem and those countries used to be at war with each other at one time. They seem to have solved their problem. With the United States, we seem to have this problem at the border, where both governments have a pretty rigid policy and concerns about smuggling cars or whatever. Maybe the minister could check into that.
The third Customs issue that I'd like to find out if the minister has any information on is, we had some requests last year about the ability of some local airline companies to clear Customs in Haines Junction. We dealt with the problem last year. We met with the Customs people - our industry services people, I believe, facilitated the meeting and worked very closely with the industry in Haines Junction - and the matter was solved. I just wondered if that's cropped up again or if, in fact, everything is fine there this year and they are going to be able to clear Customs there.
There was a point at which, if a person was bringing someone from Alaska and they wanted to land in Haines Junction, they had to land in Whitehorse and clear Customs first and it ended up being another hour and one-half on the flight. Of course, someone had to pay for that. And, of course, there was extra time, as well.
We did work out an arrangement last year, and I was wondering if that arrangement is still in place this year, and if the minister has heard any concerns raised about that.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We will certainly look into the issues of renting a car in Canada and dropping it in the USA, or vice versa, knowing that it has been done in Europe. As far as we are advised, nothing has changed on clearing Customs at Haines Junction, or vice versa, but we'll certainly get back and check into that for the member opposite.
When the Industry Enhancement Committee is here, we also intend to raise this outstanding question concerning our Customs concerns, as this falls within their mandate, and to ask for their support to bring about change for this initiative. I thank the member for bringing it forth.
Mr. Phillips: The minister can certainly pass on, from our caucus, strong support for changes in that area. We'd even go as far as to bring a motion forward and, hopefully, get support from all parties in the House to ask Customs to have a good look at that. I know it's been a discussion of Tourism ministers all across the country, because it is not just a problem in the Yukon; it's a problem everywhere, of course, where we have to travel through the USA. We're talking about open skies, and we don't have open roads.
I think we do have to look at a better way of doing things in today's world, when more people are travelling.
Mr. Chair, the last comment I would make before I end my comments in general debate is about the airline industry and the air access, only to add that any initiatives that this minister makes with respect to bettering the air service in and out of Whitehorse, and increasing our access to our European markets, would have full support of our caucus. We certainly will do whatever we can to demonstrate that support publicly. As the minister said, Air Canada had some 12,000 seats it could have sold this year, if it had access. It sometimes makes you wonder why there's no airplane flying, but there are other costs, I guess, to running an airline. I think Northwest Territorial Airways was in more trouble than maybe some of us knew when this all came about.
We certainly would support any initiative the minister would make with respect to charter companies in the future, and work with the minister on making sure that we could accommodate them in the territory, making Yukon a cheaper and more affordable and more accessible destination.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, regarding the support, I certainly appreciate the support, and I take it that there would be support from the House, in general, regarding clearing Customs in Haines Junction. So, I'll certainly take that support forth with me and, certainly, on the invitation to meet the committee of the Canadian Tourism Commission on Industry Enhancement, I'm hopeful that the members opposite will take me up on my offer to collectively meet with them. I thank you very much for your questions, support and direction.
Chair: As there is no further general debate, we'll move on to corporate services. Is there any general debate in corporate services?
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Ms. Duncan: Could we allow the minister a moment so that we might have some general comments from him on these lines prior to clearing them? I don't have very many questions, but I wouldn't mind hearing any comments on these lines, if he wants to make them.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In regard to comments from the member opposite, was the member opposite referring to comments line by line? I'm certainly willing to speak to whichever figure is up.
I could start then with O&M. It is $1,178,000, which is comprised of $486,800 for the salaries for seven full-time equivalents, including the deputy, the director, the manager, two clerks, one full-time and one part-time secretary and a part-time records clerk;
$19,500 for travel in and out of the territory; $62,300 for department-wide photocopier supplies, fax costs, memberships, repairs and maintenance; $164,000 for the operating costs of the building; $445,000 for transfer payments to the Yukon Anniversaries Commission, the Tourism Industry Association, and the First Nations Tourism Association.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, on operation of the building, the minister must be talking about the new Tourism Business Centre. I wonder if the minister could bring back for me - I don't need it right away - just to refresh my memory, the total cost of operating the Tourism department in the various buildings it was in before, just so I can get a comparison. It's $164,000 for this building, which includes the Tourism Business Centre and Visitor Reception Centre. So, if I could get a comparison of the costs between the two, just to see what they show up.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I can provide that information now. Prior costs were $169,377, and the cost now of $158,000 is the estimated total operating cost for the Visitor Reception Centre/Tourism Business Centre, which includes the utilities, the building maintenance, security, ground maintenance and custodial services; $96,070 is for lease costs of the Medical Arts building, which is tourism space; $19,187 is for lease cost of Main-Steele building; $54,120 for the operating costs of the Visitor Reception Centre near the airport; and that is that.
Mr. Phillips: So, I guess I can just conclude that it's turning out to be quite a bit less expensive to operate out of the new Tourism Business Centre over here than it was to operate the way we were before. So, the O&M costs for the Department of Tourism and their expenses have gone down considerably.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, as I understand it, the government has not budgeted for any increase in utility costs in any of their buildings, so this would apply to Tourism as well. Are there no budgeted increases for increases in utility costs?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That is correct.
Operations in the amount of $1,178,000 agreed to
Corporate Services in the amount of $1,178,000 agreed to
Chair: We are on heritage. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, of the $366,400, $137,800 is for two employees, the museums advisor and conservator. There is $12,400 for travel in and out of the territory, $75,000 for the passport program, $141,000 for the transfer payments to the museum and $200 for miscellaneous.
Chair: I see that there is no further general debate. We'll go to O&M expenditures, under activities.
Operations in the amount of $282,000 agreed to
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, did the museums see any increase in any O&M money this year, and if so, which museums? Was it four percent across the board, or was it based on some other formula?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, we did manage to do it across the board for museums and increase the grant of $1,500.
Museums in the amount of $367,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, of that, $131,400 is for two employees, the historic sites coordinator and the historic sites technician, $5,700 for travel in and out of the territory and again, $200 for miscellaneous.
Historic Sites in the amount of $137,000 agreed to
On Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, of this total, we have $175,500 for a full-time Beringia program coordinator and seven seasonal interpretive staff, which includes one supervisor. All that totals 3.7 full-time equivalents. There is $19,500 for supplies, uniforms, communications, vehicle rental, postage and freight, $111,000 for internal charges for maintenance, utilities, snow removal, landscaping, et cetera and $52,000 for the facility marketing and program materials.
Mr. Phillips: Have we hired all the staff now for the Beringia Interpretive Centre?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we're in the process of advertising and all staff will be in position and ready for the opening at the end of the month, May the 29th.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, you'll probably really like this question: are these all going to be local Yukoners that we hire for the Beringia Interpretive Centre?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I should bring joy to everyone when we say, yes, it certainly looks like it will be that way.
Mr. Phillips: No, I'm not going to let it go, yet. As some members know, I have an interest in this project, and I still have the scars, although I didn't do any of the work.
One of the programs that we talked about running at the Beringia Interpretive Centre, was an educational program for students - "Sleepless in Beringia" was one idea that came forward, and some other ideas about getting the kids from our schools to go through the Beringia Centre, I suppose in May and June and again in September. Is that still planned?
I know now that the centre is not going to be - because the Historic Resources Centre is not there, at least for this year - open much past the regular visitors centre opening dates.
What are we planning to do with respect to the educational program? How does the government plan to operate the centre in the winter? Do we have a way to shut it down, say from September through spring, or are we going to keep the heat on and keep a person there all of the time? How are we going to ensure that all of the exhibits stay intact and that kind of thing?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, "sleepless in Beringia" is going to be alive and well and the staff are certainly using their imaginations to create other programs of an educational nature, just to get people in and to enjoy the building.
We are going to be keeping the heat on in the building for the duration of the winter and, as previously stated, I believe that we will be opening it for conferences, et cetera, and for educational tools. So if we get a conference of bone-gatherers again, or whatever, we will have it available and open it for them.
Mr. Phillips: Did the minister say paleontologists? I wasn't sure what he said. It didn't sound like that, but it was similar to that.
I would like to make another suggestion to the minister about Beringia and about the Northern Lights Centre and about some of the other CAP projects that are coming on-stream.
What I've seen of the plans - I've seen the Northern Lights Centre and I've had a look at Beringia, and I've seen some of the plans of some of the other CAP projects - I think there's a real opportunity, not only for our visitors from outside of the territory to see these displays, but also for Yukoners to see these displays.
I don't know what the minister is planning for the grand opening of Beringia, but I think that the minister should also look at tying the Northern Lights Centre into some kind of a way for Yukoners to get out and see their own territory - some kind of a program down the road to encourage us to travel around our territory and see the various things that we have.
I don't know what we're planning to do, but I would make the suggestion to the minister that if we don't do it this year, by next year, 1998, there will be an awful lot of these attractions onstream in all the communities.
The museums that we developed over the years are unreal. A lot of Yukoners just haven't seen them, and they should get out and see them. Maybe there's some kind of a program that we could develop in our own territory to encourage us to go and visit these facilities.
I came up with an idea one time that sort of got blown away, and that was to offer some kind or prizes for people - you know, if you visited several places, almost like a passport program, you could qualify for a Holland-America cruise or a Canadian Airlines trip, or something like this, sponsored by these people, just to get Yukoners out to see these places themselves, because the best ambassador, for the Yukon are Yukoners themselves. If the people in Whitehorse go to Watson Lake and see that fantastic facility, when their relatives arrive in Whitehorse, they're going to make a trip down to Watson Lake to show them that, because they're very proud of it. That is the kind of thing I would like to see us develop, if we could.
I'll leave it up to the minister and the creative people in the department to come up with some ideas. There's got to be a way to get us out to see our own territory a little more.
I would remind the minister that, I think a few years ago, the highest number of visitors that people in British Columbia had to their various sites were people from British Columbia. So, people from Vancouver were going to Whistler. People from the Okanagan were going to Vancouver, and vice versa.
Tourism within our own territory is valuable, as well, because those people do spend money and stay in hotel rooms and buy gifts and souvenirs, go to the Northern Lights Centre, the Beringia Centre or Diamond Tooth Gerties. It all helps in the scheme of things. I encourage the minister to probably develop a program like that, now that we're getting some very top-quality, world-class attractions in the territory.
Ms. Duncan: The Member for Riverdale North has raised an interesting point. I would just like to add another suggestion to the long list we've given the minister today. The Department of Renewable Resources, in their campground guide, identifies the campgrounds that have the Big Toy or playground equipment. There isn't anything in our tourism literature that identifies exhibits or museums or attractions that are suitable for children, and an age range. That is one comment that I heard when working on the Whitehorse area tourism project. There isn't a lot for children to do.
My sense of Beringia is that it will be something that will fascinate children. I would just like to make that suggestion for future vacation guides, interdepartmental planning, and so on, that I think it would be tremendously useful to identify our attractions that are suitable for children.
Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre in the amount of $358,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the statistics?
Ms. Duncan: I have a couple of questions for the minister. There's a tremendous increase in the number of heritage impact reviews being done by the department, by the looks of things - a 63-percent increase. Are there additional personnel resources identified to account for this increase?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, there are not.
Ms. Duncan: Then I'm given to understand that we've just almost doubled the workload of the people involved. I would hope that we are recognizing their efforts in that respect.
I also note a tremendous increase in the number of applications approved for geographic place names. Could I just ask the minister to send over to me, when he gets an opportunity, the process for the submission of names? I assume this is names for mountains, rivers, creeks and stuff.
Could I ask the minister to send me over the process of how that's dealt with? Also, again, is this a volunteer committee that we've doubled their workload?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we will be happy to send over the process to you, and no, it is not a volunteer committee. It is a heritage committee that is called in the UFA.
Mr. Phillips: I have a question on Canyon City. My first question is that I can see the numbers are going up and have gone up each year. It's been a very popular attraction just for people to see the dig going on. Is the dig going to continue this year, and are we hiring summer students? When is it going to start? How long is it going to go for?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, yes, we are going to be working in conjunction with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and yes, we will be hiring students again. The member asked how many students. I do not know at this point in time, but I'll certainly have to get back to the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, Canyon City has quite a significance in the history of the Yukon, from the First Nations history at Canyon City to the gold rush history. We're sort of missing the boat, so to speak, by not getting on with the project and building the replica of Canyon City and reproducing the First Nations history in that area.
Is there any plan to go back to work there? I know we started on it at one time, and then it was part of a pre-selection process by Kwanlin Dun, and so we stopped and involved Kwanlin Dun in the archaeological program. I just wonder if we've come to a resolution so we can actually start reconstruction and putting some sort of historic display there so that people see more than just the little square holes in the ground and people digging and the explanations they get when they go there.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, exploration and archaeological - I apologize for before; they are archaeologists and not bone-diggers and bone-gatherers. Certainly, those are just short terms. No, that work is being done and will continue to be done. Preliminary work has been done on an interpretive sense, but certainly the planning component of it, anyway. But it is certainly subject to the land claims process, and nothing has come of it as of yet. Certainly, it's still an initiative to be carried through with the Department of Tourism.
Heritage in the amount of $1,144,000 agreed to
On Industry Services
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the minister could just give us the details on that line item. I know it's the staff that's there, and I just want to know what projects they're working on if that's listed in the line item.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Absolutely. My pleasure indeed.
Of this $470,000, we are spending $356,800 on salaries for five employees, which include the director, a secretary, tourism planner and two development officers; $20,000 for travel in and out of the territory, and $7,000 for communication. We're spending $62,000 for contracted industry development support, which is including the industry joint research projects, the resource library maintenance, the special workshops, industry communications and database maintenance; $24,300 for miscellaneous, which includes a newsletter, which is Tourism Talk, print materials and library acquisitions.
Mr. Phillips: I have no real questions on this line item, but I do want to commend industry services and the staff over there for the development of the research library. I know the industry is using it more and more all the time. It is an idea that, I believe, came out of that department and has proven to be very useful for the industry. I know the people have put together some great programs over there, and I just want to congratulate the staff and industry services, Mr. Spicer, all his staff, and the director for the hard work they've done in developing a very comprehensive library that I'm hearing many positive comments about from the industry.
Operations in the amount of $470,000 agreed to
Industry Services in the amount of $470,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any general debate? Seeing none, we'll go to O&M expenditures under activities.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Of that, $624,800 is the salaries for 9.6 full-time equivalents, including the director, the manager, a secretary, five marketing officers, an assistant marketing officer and a First Nations trainee; $521,300 for advertising, which includes the SCA program, which is an outdoor adventure program - style conscious campaign - the winter program, and other miscellaneous advertising; $22,000 for communication; $72,000 for marketing research, which includes the focus groups, the conversion studies and border crossings, and $12,400 miscellaneous, which is also including in-territory travel.
Operations in the amount of $1,252,000 agreed to
On Public Relations
Public Relations in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Keenan: There is no salary component to this activity, but I can tell you that $59,400 is for travel to various trade shows and market places, which also includes the registration and exhibit space rental cost; $30,000 for the fam tours for travel trade; $15,000 for program materials for promotional items and exhibits; $90,200 for promotional activities for the SCA campaign; $138,000 for the Tourism North joint program with Alaska; $250,000 for the cooperative marketing with air carriers; $246,000 for transfer payments to the Alaska tourism marketing council; $25,000 for the transfer payment for convention program; $331,200 for the anniversaries enhancement program; $180,400 for the European marketing program; and $60,000 for the Rendezvous Canada program.
Promotions in the amount of $1,425,000 agreed to
On Information Services
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, $734,700 is for 15 full-time equivalents, including a travel counsellor, distribution clerk, part-time data entry operator and 33 seasonal Visitor Reception Centre staff, $459,400 for envelopes, postage and freight, $482,500 for departmental publications, which include the vacation guide and the tour planner and $150,200 for operations in six community visitor reception centres.
Information Services in the amount of $1,827,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on statistics?
Mr. Phillips: Before we clear this area, Mr. Chair, earlier in the debate I spoke to the minister about the Department of Tourism and the work that it has been doing and the increased load that is coming on to the Department of Tourism in all areas, in all parts of the department. This is an area where I feel that there are a lot of people working awfully hard and I want to flag that for the minister and I think special attention should be paid to staffing needs and the staffing workload on the people in that area. So, I'll just flag that again for the minister.
Marketing in the amount of $4,604,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Three hundred and forty-nine thousand, one hundred dollars is for five full-time equivalents, which includes the director and a secretary, the art curator, the arts consultant and film officer; $21,000 for travel both in and out of the territory, which includes registration and booth rentals; $9,800 for the arts board and juries, including the honoraria and travel from communities; $63,000 for contract services, and this is mainly for the arts marketing, arts awareness initiatives, and the film development activities; $49,900 is used for advertising, as is $5,500 for communications; $42,600 is for the miscellaneous, which includes program materials, supplies, repairs and maintenance for the fam tours for the films; $774,300 for the transfer payments to the Yukon Arts Centre Corporation, the YRAC arts group and artists and the artist in the school program. This includes a forecast recovery of $200,000 from the Yukon Lotteries Commission. Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like some clarification from the minister with respect to the film program. I understand there are two initiatives in this respect: there's the enticement, or desire, to have people film their films in the Yukon, or their commercials, and there's the desire to promote a local film industry. Could I just have the minister's clarification on that, please, and the initiatives of the department?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I'm very desirous, and I agree with the member opposite and say yes. That is correct.
Operations in the amount of $1,315,000 agreed to
Chair: Any questions in statistics?
Arts in the amount of $1,315,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions in recoveries and revenue?
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Tourism in the amount of $8,711,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Chair: Is there any general debate? Seeing that there is no general debate, we'll move to capital expenditures.
On General Corporate Support
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
Corporate Services in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Historic Resources
On Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre - Development
Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre - Development in the amount of $750,000 agreed to
On Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre - Marketing
Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre - Marketing in the amount of $94,000 agreed to
On Museums Assistance
Mr. Phillips: Just a comment here. I am concerned, and I have heard concerns from some of the museums about the decrease in the museums assistance and the exhibits assistance, so I just flag that for the minister.
Museums Assistance in the amount of $330,000 agreed to
On Exhibits Assistance
Exhibits Assistance in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing
Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
On Conservation and Security
Conservation and Security in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
On Historic Sites Maintenance
Historic Sites Maintenance in the amount of $265,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Inventory
Historic Sites Inventory in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Ft. Selkirk
Ft. Selkirk in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Planning
Historic Sites Planning in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
On Canyon City Tramway
Canyon City Tramway in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Interpretation and Signage
Mr. Phillips: Where is this, this year? Can the minister elaborate on this line item?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, ongoing development, maintenance and removal and replacement of points of interest pull-outs and signages, according to the guidelines that are established in the interpretive signage strategy, and applicable corridor interpretive signs are planned.
Out of the development of the interpretive plans for the Haines Highway and the Silver Trail we have: $78,700 for the research, design and fabrication contract, and $79,300 for the salaries for the branch capital support staff; and there is $42,000 for the travel and the rental of assets for the materials and charges for the work. Specifically, I guess, it's the Haines Highway and Silver Trail.
Interpretation and Signage in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Rampart House
Rampart House in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archaeology
Yukon Archaeology in the amount of $170,000 agreed to
Palaeontology in the amount of $125,000 agreed to
On Heritage Studies
Heritage Studies in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Heritage in the amount of $2,709,000 agreed to
On Industry Services
Chair: Is there any general debate? Seeing none, under capital expenditures.
On Industry and Regional Services
On Industry Research and Strategic Planning
Industry Research and Strategic Planning in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Product and Resource Assessment
Product and Resource Assessment in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Tourism Industry Resource Centre
Tourism Industry Resource Centre in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
Industry Services in the amount of $147,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any general debate? Seeing none...
On Visitor Reception Centres
On Multi-media Equipment
Multi-media Equipment in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On VRC Capital Maintenance
VRC Capital Maintenance in the amount of $57,000 agreed to
On Beaver Creek VRC Development
Ms. Duncan: Can the minister just provide an elaboration on this? Is this just planning, pre-design work?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Definitely I can, Mr. Chair. This project will include the design costs and preparatory work for the development of a new visitor reception centre in Beaver Creek.
Beaver Creek VRC Development in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Travel Equipment, Displays and Productions
On Purchase and Maintenance of Displays
Purchase and Maintenance of Displays in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Production, Distribution and Versioning of Vignettes
Production, Distribution and Versioning of Vignettes in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Production, Distribution and Versioning of Films and Audio-Visual Shows
Production, Distribution and Versioning of Films and Audio-Visual Shows in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Marketing in the amount of $242,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any general debate in Arts? I don't see any.
On Visual Arts
On Visual Arts Acquisition
Visual Arts Acquisition in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
On Arts Acquisition Endowment Fund
Arts Acquisition Endowment Fund in the amount of one dollar agreed to
On Traditional Native Art Acquisition
Traditional Native Art Acquisition in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
On Facility Development
On Arts Centre Capital Maintenance
Arts Centre Capital Maintenance in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
Arts in the amount of $78,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions in the recoveries? Clear.
We are on transfer payments. Are there any questions on transfer payments? Clear.
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Tourism in the amount of $3,196,000 agreed to
Department of Tourism agreed to
Hon. Mr. Keenan: If I may, I do have an answer to a question I was asked on the Yukon Tourism Education Council, and I'd like to read it into the record.
The human resource development training was originally a branch of TIA. YTEC was formed to concentrate the efforts and receive funding from the Tourism EDA, averaging approximately $150,000 a year for three years. YTEC has been able to partner with the Western Canada Tourism Standards consortium, and the consortium may receive the funding from the Western Diversification. However, YTEC needs $40,000 a year for three years in order to participate and access part of an estimated $5 million over the three years.
Education, Tourism and Economic Development work together to assist YTEC in accessing any public funding that they may need, and the three departments looked into the possibility of helping YTEC access the tourism training fund, which is, of course, administered by TIA.
Chair: Order please. The time being 5:30 p.m., I will now rise and report.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1997-98, and I now 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.
The time being 5:32, this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. next Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:32 p.m.
The following Document was filed May 8, 1997:
Boards and Committees: flow chart re appointment process (Phillips)