Tuesday, November 25, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed with prayers at this time.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
Tabling returns and documents.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have for tabling a report of the Chief Electoral Officer made pursuant to section 335 of the Election Act.
Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I have for tabling a legislative return in response to the Liberal caucus' questions about the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers' position on our oil and gas legislation, and one for the Yukon Party caucus with regard to our training protocol and land claims training.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Code of regulatory conduct
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House of a policy initiative that is well on its way to completing another commitment our government made to Yukon people before the last election.
Recent studies undertaken by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, by various chambers of commerce, and by some provincial governments, have indicated that the paper work required to comply with the myriad of governmental regulations is becoming more and more onerous on the small business sector. This paperwork is referred to as "the paper burden" or simply as "too much red tape".
Mr. Speaker, our government made a commitment to introduce measures in the form of a code of regulatory conduct that would reduce the amount of red tape that confronts business people, and we are in the process of doing exactly that.
It gives me great pleasure to inform the House that a draft code of regulatory conduct has been prepared. This draft code spells out clearly to Yukon government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations that they must consult publicly with members of the business community and other affected stakeholders before new legislation, regulations or policies that could affect them are introduced or adopted.
The purpose of such consultation is to assess whether the proposed new administrative requirements are truly needed and, if they are, whether or not introducing them will add to the paper burden.
Because the Department of Government Services is the frequent point of contact for many in the Yukon's business community, it was charged with taking the lead role in developing a code of regulatory conduct. Under the auspices of a government-wide steering committee, complemented with representatives from the Whitehorse and Yukon chambers of commerce, the department undertook research, reviewed the existing literature and assessed some of the administrative paperwork problems that Yukon businesses face at present.
The code of regulatory conduct is designed to provide guidance to government departments, agencies and Crown corporations when preparing legislation, regulations or new policies that affect the public. The draft code has been circulated to stakeholders for further input over the next couple of weeks. In its final form, the code will be presented to Cabinet for review before being adopted. The final regulatory code of conduct will ensure that businesses, stakeholders and citizens have a better understanding of the regulatory process, as well as better access and input to that process.
This government recognizes the contribution that small business makes to the economic well-being of the entire Yukon, and I'm proud that we're contributing to an environment that will make it easier for businesses in this territory to do business.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Jenkins: We in the Yukon Party also fully recognize and appreciate the contribution that the private sector lends to the Yukon economy. We are familiar with the term "red tape" and the many problems associated with having to deal with red tape on a daily basis.
As the government that is representative of all people and all interests, it is necessary that regulations and procedures are monitored regularly to ensure that they are practical, efficient and are not excessive or burdensome to the business or to the public. To build upon Yukon's economic well-being, it is important that governments of all levels also create an environment which encourages private sector investment and business growth by developing policies, programs and regulations that are conducive to the well-being of the Yukon's economy and not hinder growth. This government should have supported the multilateral agreement on investment.
The proposed code of regulatory conduct is a good initiative that will ensure Yukon businesses have access as well as input in the preparation of legislation, regulations or new policies that may have an adverse impact upon them.
Members of the Yukon Party would like to express our thanks to both the Whitehorse and the Yukon chambers of commerce for their valuable input to the steering committee that have led to the development of the draft code of regulatory conduct that is before the House today. I am pleased that further input is being sought and look forward to hearing of the results from these consultations. I would, however, like to know from the minister how the draft code is being circulated and to whom it is being circulated, and particularly in rural Yukon.
We commend the government's verbal commitment to creating an environment that will make it easy for business in this territory to do business, but I have to say this: action speaks louder than words. If this government were sincere in honouring this commitment, it would develop programs to promote local hire by encouraging industry to hire locally versus its proposal to introduce formal unionization, I'm sure.
It would utilize local housing and it would purchase goods and services from local suppliers where beneficial.
Perhaps if this government could begin working toward these objectives, Yukon communities and Yukon businesses could then begin to enjoy working in a business-friendly environment, but first this government must start with an economic game plan for Yukon.
Ms. Duncan: On behalf of the Liberal Party caucus, I'm pleased to respond to the statement regarding the draft code of regulatory conduct. Reducing red tape is something that all governments should be trying to do.
This code may help to slow the increase in the amount of paper that people dealing with government will have to put up with. I say "may" because without proper enforcement and buy-in by those administering and those using it, it's just another piece of paper from government.
What provisions is the government contemplating to ensure that provisions in the code are enforced?
Because this code of conduct only deals with the introduction of new regulations, legislation and policies, it does nothing to reduce the existing amount of red tape. Even with the new policy in place, the amount of red tape will continue to grow.
Business people and other Yukoners tell me every day that there's too much paper burden when they deal with government. What steps is the government taking to reduce the existing burden?
In A Better Way, the NDP promised to conduct an economic impact test for the proposed regulatory and legislative changes. I would like the minister responsible for the statement today to outline where that economic impact test is in this draft regulatory code of conduct.
Other points I would like the minister to elaborate on in his rebuttal - these economic impact reports to be done outlining changes, and the makeup of the steering committee - how many people are involved; who are they?
The code also includes a chance for the public to provide input into bills and regulations through consultation - through what process? I would like the minister to elaborate on those points in his rebuttal.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'll try to respond to as many as I've jotted down here.
With regard to the Member for Klondike making an interesting reference to the multilateral agreement, that's interesting because I think the MAI would probably end any type of local preference or local hire that we're trying to build on, so that's a bit of a non-starter.
With regard to some of the issues surrounding how it will be circulated, this is a draft that would be circulated to the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, and we would hope that they would use their offices to circulate it to their component members as well as the chambers in outlying communities. We're certainly interested in getting some input on this and getting some suggestions. This is, after all, a first draft and we'll be following up on that.
The Member for Porter Creek South brought up the question of existing regulations. The initial cut at this is to deal with new regulations being in place, but we certainly anticipate, flowing out of that, going back and reviewing existing regulations with the aim of seeing how those could be adjusted - seeing, for example, if there are unnecessary paper burdens for the business community. But, initially, we're looking at it for new regulations coming into place.
In terms of the makeup of the committee, the present steering committee basically consists of the senior manager in Government Services, who, I have to acknowledge, has made a tremendous effort on this. When we began it, we thought it would be a relatively minor kind of thing, but then we actually began looking into this and the amount of material in this whole area is just prodigious; it's huge. I think going through and gleaning, looking at two codes in particular - one, the Ontario and the other one, the Saskatchewan code - sort of gave us some direction in this regard.
Anyhow, the senior manager in Government Services, an ADM of Justice, an ADM from the Executive Council Office, director of environmental protection and assessment, Renewable Resources, senior economist in Economic Development, the general manager of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, and the executive director of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce made up the project's steering committee. Part of what they did was a literature search, looked at other jurisdictions, did up summaries, circulated them around to steering committee members and began pulling together from that what they were seeking.
In terms of trying to get buy-in and how we would go about it, what we anticipate would be, say, for example, we were looking at - just for the sake of argument - regulations concerning wood products or something of that nature. We would want to sit down with representatives of the industry and say, "Okay, here's what's being proposed in this regard. What kind of impact will that have upon your industry in terms of the kind of economic burdens and just time demands. Could these regulations be put in a different way so that it wouldn't be quite so onerous?" What we would likely look at doing is try to target, as much as possibly, industry-specific groups.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I heard that. On that encouraging note, I will close my remarks.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Mile 918 Driver Development
Mr. Phillips: I was worried we weren't going to get it in this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. On October 10, 1997, I wrote a letter to the minister outlining a series of concerns between a private company, Mile 918 Driver Development, and a chief driving examiner of the Government of Yukon. The concerns involve the potential conflict of interest, in view of the fact that the chief driver examiner, prior to his appointment, was the owner of a competitive and rival driving school.
The issues of fairness and equal treatment in relation to the chief driving examiner, and his relationship to his former company and Mile 918 Driver Development, as well as other issues in relation to the provision of road test worksheets, are a concern.
Over a month has passed since I wrote the minister, and he has failed to respond. Would the minister be prepared here today to call for an independent inquiry to address the allegations? It appears the minister is not going to respond himself.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, we have received the letter from the member opposite, and we're certainly working it through the process now.
Mr. Phillips: The process with this government seems to involve three, four, six, seven, eight months before they respond to anything.
The chief driver examiner was still answering the business phone for his former company while he was working as the chief driver examiner for the Government of the Yukon, Mr. Speaker. In a subsequent inquiry, conducted by the Department of Community and Transportation Services, they deemed this to be inappropriate rather than wrong. This is why an independent inquiry is required in this case.
Would the minister move to call for an independent inquiry with respect to this serious conflict that has arisen?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, because my government takes time and takes thoughtful and deliberate moves with the public, certainly the member opposite should not get disgruntled with that thoughtful process.
Certainly, the member will get a response. We are investigating the charge, and we're going to continue in that manner.
Mr. Phillips: It seems that this government and minister spend most of their thoughtful time sitting on airplanes travelling around the world, Mr. Speaker, rather than sitting in their offices dealing with issues.
Ever since the chief driver examiner assumed his position, the student pass/failure rates of 918 Driver Development have been adversely affected, and I call upon the minister to initiate an independent investigation of Mile 918's pass/failure rate in comparison to a comparable listing of students from the chief driver examiner's former company. Has the minister completed that independent investigation that I asked for in the letter? What were the results?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's certainly ironic the way the member opposite will attempt to bootleg different issues in, so let me speak to the first issue that he bootlegged in. My leader answered a question last night. I was being addressed, and certainly when we do these business trips, they're certainly bringing home fruitful energy to the people of the Yukon Territory, and you may stand and ask that question again, if you have any gumption to do that.
Certainly let me say that you will get a response, and we're investigating the charge, and it is a personnel issue at this point in time, and it's not to be addressed on the floor of the Legislature.
So thank you very much.
Question re: Mile 918 Driver Development
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Speaker, then the minister should answer his letters.
Mr. Speaker, I didn't ask the question on the floor of the Legislature. I asked it initially to the minister with a letter over a month and a half ago, and the minister doesn't want to respond to a very important issue.
Once again, another question to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services: the allegations that are being made by Mile 918 Driver Development against the chief driver examiner go beyond conflict of interest. The company is fighting for its economic life and has the right to expect fair and equal treatment from a government official.
Can the minister explain why in May and June of this year the chief driver examiner provided information in person to students of his former company about his methodology of examination but would not agree to provide similar briefings to Mile 918 Driver Development? Has the minister conducted an independent investigation, Mr. Speaker, in that area - I asked that question in my letter - and if so, what has been found; and if not, why hasn't he conducted an investigation into that area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate that the member will get a response to his letter. We are certainly investigating the charge. I'd like also to remind the member opposite that it is a personnel matter and we are looking into it, and we are going to, but I would also like to remind the member opposite that he's not always correct. If we're looking for sensationalism on this floor, well then certainly that's what the member is going for and that's what the member is getting. But, certainly, he must respect the process and understand the process.
Mr. Phillips: Well, if the Minister of Community and Transportation Services hadn't spend his whole summer fishing and travelling around the world, Mr. Speaker, he might know some of the answers. He might be able to stand on his feet today and give me an answer to this question. I would remind the minister that these allegations go back to June of this summer, and I find it astounding that little has been done.
Can the minister advise the House if he's brought these allegations to the attention of the Department of Justice and the Public Service Commission, or does he just plan to keep them in his own house and hope these allegations will simply fade away?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, what I do in the summer in my own personal time is certainly what I do in my own personal time, and the member opposite should have respect for that. Obviously, the member opposite does not have respect for much.
Certainly, Mr. Speaker, as for the travel, I would ask the member to put that question into the context of a question. I will expect it as the next question.
Certainly, Mr. Speaker, we are working within the department to correct and to investigate the alleged allegations and will continue to do so. When it is completed, we will certainly get back to the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: I listened intently to the answers from the minister across the floor, but I must apologize to you, Mr. Speaker, I do have a bit of a hearing problem. Sometimes his answers don't come through very clearly and very coherently and this is one of those incidences.
There are also issues involving public safety where the chief driver examiner in testing class 1 applicants has been using non-truck routes in both Faro and Dawson City, and some parents have expressed concern over safety of the children. This is a serious allegation. Proof has been shown to the Community and Transportation Services people. Has the minister bothered to look into this allegation and what is the minister doing about it?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I guess, based on my handicap of a hearing problem, I would have to ask the member opposite to repeat his question.
Mr. Phillips: There are also issues involving public safety wherein the chief driver examiner, in testing class 1 applicants, has been using posted, non-truck routes in both Faro and Dawson City and some parents have expressed concern over safety of the children. There is a reason for civic governments and territorial governments to post signs that say "no truck routes". The chief driver examiner has required individuals taking a test to go down these routes. It's been reported. The incidents continue. It's been reported to the department. What is the department doing about it? Is the minister aware of the allegations and why isn't it being stopped?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I will have to get back to the member opposite with the information that he is asking for and certainly will investigate the charge.
Question re: Crown attorney office, devolution
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice on the devolution of Crown attorney's office. Last March the minister wrote to over 30 organizations seeking input on the transfer of the prosecution function from the federal government to the territory, and she later wrote to me in May saying that there had been, by that time, limited response from those organizations, but those that had responded had been generally favorable. Would the minister provide an update on the responses; what level of response did she get; whether reservations were expressed, and if so, what were they?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to provide an update for the member opposite. As the member opposite may know, there has a federal election; there is now a new Minister of Justice. I look forward to meeting the new Minister of Justice at an upcoming conference and I will raise the question with her of the devolution of the Crown attorney function from the federal government to the Yukon government.
Mr. Cable: Sort of casting back about 30 seconds, the question I was asking the minister is what came out of the questionnaire that she put out to these 30 organizations. Could she advise us what these 30 organizations wrote to her and said? Were they in favour of the devolution, and what level of response did she get? What reservations were expressed, and if so, what were those reservations?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The preliminary inquiry that I made did generate some response and I certainly would be happy to supply a summary of those for the member opposite. However, in order for the transfer of the Crown attorney function to occur, there needs to be support for that on the part of the federal government. The federal government has indicated that they would work with the Yukon government to develop a consultation paper to take out to interested groups and to the public. We're waiting to move that along with the federal minister, and I look forward to having an opportunity for a meeting with her to see what transpires.
Mr. Cable: Could the minister tell us what target date she and her government have set for the devolution of the Crown attorney's office?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We haven't set a firm target date because we haven't got a clear indication from the federal government as to what date they are willing to work with. When the Lal report was commissioned about three years ago, there was a target date in that set for the year 2000. I would hope that we could meet that date, but it is something that can't be negotiated by the Yukon government alone; it's something that the federal government has to participate in.
Question re: Crossroads Treatment Centre audits
Mrs. Edelman: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Last week, the minister agreed that when we privatize services, especially social services, there have to be checks in the system to ensure accountability, by checking that services we were paying for were provided safely and that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.
One of the health and social services that the minister is responsible for, although it's not a service directly delivered by the department, is Crossroads Treatment Centre. So, I will ask the minister again: can he provide this House with safety audits, on-site written inspection reports and program reviews on this service?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: As the member asked a similar question last week, we have provided that. I just checked before the session to see if she has already received it. If she hasn't received it now, I would imagine it will be in her office very shortly. It was being copied and will be delivered to her on the other question.
Certainly in this regard I can provide whatever material we can provide, of course excluding any material that might be of a confidential nature. I hope she can appreciate that sometimes, as you have to go through records, some of these do take a few days, so we will endeavor to get that for her as soon as possible.
Mrs. Edelman: It's good to hear, Mr. Speaker.
The Crossroads Treatment Centre was recently closed for a month, ostensibly to regroup and review programming. Now, I have recently met with just about all of Yukon's First Nations health directors, and they were never even contacted for their input on this review. Why were Yukon's First Nations not asked for their input in the review of this treatment centre's programs?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: That was an internal review by the organization themselves. I can tell the member that one of the things that we have done is take a look at the entire field of alcohol and drug treatment. That was done by our director of ADS. First Nations were contacted at that point and were consulted.
With regard to the internal review, I would suggest that because it was internal perhaps they wanted to keep it in house. As I said, we've taken a look at the whole question of alcohol and drug services.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, despite the lack of First Nations programming at Crossroads, there is still a waiting list to get into the substance abuse treatment centre. In addition to that, people are often sent outside for addictions treatment. Yukon First Nations health directors are saying to me that, if we took all the money that we spend on per diems, travel costs and admin. costs, plus what YTG kicks in, then we could have some really bang-up alcohol treatment centres in the communities, with the appropriate followup, which is missing from the Crossroads program today.
What is the minister doing to address the issue of developing addictions treatment programs in the Yukon's rural communities?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: One of the first things we did was go around and meet with all the communities to determine if, indeed, there were gaps in our alcohol and drug treatment programs. We have been given some preliminary results. We've taken those in. We have been taking a look at some different options. I met just on Friday with some of the folks over in ADS where they were outlining some of the different kinds of programming they felt they could be working with. As well, I've also met very recently with the Northern Tutchone Council who outlined some of the programming they wanted to do in that regard. I believe I also met with them on, yes, it was on Friday, along with the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, and we will be continuing to discuss with the Yukon First Nations how programs can be delivered in a more appropriate and more culturally sensitive manner.
Question re: Driver training/class 1 licences
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and it's concerning the Yukon's chief driver examiner and class 1 licences.
The minister is aware that Mile 918 Driver Development has had to cancel its class 1 driver training over the issue of liability and the use of non-truck routes to conduct class 1 road tests. At the present time, under the Motor Vehicles Act, the chief driver examiner is not required to hold a class 1 licence. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, he's not required to hold any licence at all. In fact, he could even give road tests while being impaired, because peace officers and driver examiners are exempt from all provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act.
When does the minister plan to change this absurdity, since he failed to address it during the sitting when he presented other amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act? When is the minister going to act on these issues?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm aware of the position of members opposite, and certainly the members opposite are certainly aware of the motor vehicle amendments that just went through. There were three specific issues, and we will be looking to further amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act in the coming years.
Mr. Jenkins: It'll be very unsettling to the general public of Yukon to learn that for a class 1 road test, neither the applicant nor the chief driver examiner are required by law to have a class 1 driver's licence - or any driver's licence whatsoever.
Will the minister advise the House here today that he will ensure that the Motor Vehicles Act will be amended to ensure that a class 1 driver examiner is required to have their class 1 licence for a good number of years plus to have the appropriate air brake ticket before they are allowed to conduct class 1 road examinations?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly it is not my process in its entirety. It's a process of the people, and certainly the people have spoken through the consultation. As I've previously said, we will be looking to bring in new amendments, and certainly the caucus involved will be addressing that issue.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, but who's the minister here? We've gone through all this consultation process. All these issues are before us. We could have brought these forward to the House in this sitting, and we could have dealt with them, Mr. Speaker.
When the minister finally does bring back amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act, will he also ensure that there is a new provision in the act requiring driver examiners to have driving experience in the area that they are testing for, and to requalify their licence on a regular basis, as well as bringing forward and introducing mandatory drug and alcohol testing for commercial drivers and examiners?
Will the minister give us that assurance also, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I am the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Is it my sole responsibility? Certainly not, Mr. Speaker. I speak for and on behalf of the people of the Yukon Territory, and I will continue to do so. If the members opposite have difficulty grasping a thoughtful and deliberate consultation process, well it's obvious why they're over there. I find it absolutely ludicrous that the member opposite would suggest that we would have a drunken person with absolutely no licence going out and examining people. Absolutely ludicrous, and I cannot imagine that something like that would happen.
So certainly we are going to be continuing with the process, as I've said, of change and of consultation, and we're going to do that.
Let me ask the Yukon Party: you had four years - what did you do in your four years? You did exactly what you're doing now. What else did you do? Well, when we had the sitting here with the House in this legislative sitting, did you ask these pertinent questions? No. I did not hear these questions.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well certainly you will have opportunity, and I certainly appreciate the clarity with which you're coming now.
Question re: Handy Bus service
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Funding for the Handy Bus was increased recently to cover off some of the expenses of extended hours and special events service. Is the minister still committed to providing Handy Bus service to seniors and persons with disabilities?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting topic, because yes, we have increased it. We've increased it fairly substantially in terms of the Handy Bus. But, you know, increasingly, I've become sort of interested in this, because in doing some research in this area, I discovered that we are probably one of the only jurisdictions in Canada that actually pays for this in its entirety. As a matter of fact, in every jurisdiction we checked, it was a rather substantial municipal injection - or at least a worthwhile municipal injection - into this service, and I was quite, I suppose, surprised to note that we were fronting the entire cost.
Mrs. Edelman: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's very interesting.
Now, while walking my riding this fall, I heard from a number of constituents who had problems accessing service from the Handy Bus during the day. They were most concerned because the majority of trips for the Handy Bus were to the Thomson Centre for physio or to the Thomson Centre for trips for residents. The basis of my constituents' concern was that while they had trouble getting a seat on the Handy Bus, a perfectly good, empty bus which costs almost $250,000 sat unused at the Thomson Centre.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I've asked about this before. This beautiful bus sits at the Thomson Centre because there is no one to drive the bus. Will the minister make available the funds to hire a driver to put this donated bus to use for the Thomson Centre residents, as it was intended?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would just refer the member back to a comment made by the Member for Riverside earlier, who was quoted in the paper as saying, "The government can't keep spending like this."
I would be loathe at this point to commit further money to this, because, as the member has noted, we've increased this to $183,000. I suppose that if we could get some buy-in from the city here, we would have a bit more flexibility in the kinds of services that we could offer and the way that we could provide it, but I think as long as we are sort of the only players in this, it becomes very difficult to increase funding in that regard.
Mrs. Edelman: Certainly, the minister has already said that he is committed to providing services to seniors and to persons with disabilities, many of whom become quite isolated in the winter.
During the recent review of City of Whitehorse operations, city transit came under scrutiny. Now the Handy Bus, which is funded directly by YTG, as he well knows, never had any sort of review of service. However, the report does note that considerable additional demand exists among the communities as evidenced by a high percentage of trip refusals.
Will the minister consider doing a program review of the Handy Bus service in Whitehorse with a view to checking on the wise use of taxpayer dollars and assets - like the empty bus up at the Thomson Centre and the proposed use by the Department of Education - so as to provide good accessible transit service during peak hours to Whitehorse seniors and persons with disabilities?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would be more than pleased to participate in a review. I'd be particularly pleased in participating in a review with the city, which I think, in this area, is perhaps unaware of their responsibilities in this regard. I would point out that we're coming up to the point where we would have to replace one of those Handy Buses and just an approximate calculation of this would work out to about four and a half Crown Victorias.
Question re: Driver training, class 1 licences
Mr. Jenkins: Once again my question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. My colleague from Riverdale North has already raised the issue of public safety in relation to class 1 road tests being conducted on non-trucking routes this summer in both Faro and Dawson City. Mile 918 Driver Development has been forced to cancel its class 1 driver training because it will be held liable should an accident occur, even though the driver examiner has instructed the class student to use the non-truck route.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services was advised of these infractions this summer. Can the minister advise the House why less than two weeks after being so advised, class 1 road examinations were still being conducted on non-truck routes?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I guess in a short answer, no, I cannot answer why in two weeks after the letter it was still done, but certainly I'll reiterate that we're investigating and that we will be getting back.
Mr. Jenkins: This is an issue that was raised this summer. The minister was aware of it this summer. Does the minister not understand his responsibilities or is he just procrastinating, hoping to sweep it under the carpet and it will go away?
There are good reasons to have no-truck routes in communities, Mr. Speaker. Having tractor trailers travel through residential areas shows a great, high disregard for the safety of children, pets and property.
Will the minister ensure that, henceforth, driver examiners will obey the no-truck route signs posted in Yukon communities? Can he at least give us that commitment, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I will certainly assure the members opposite that my folks will not break the law. I will certainly investigate it. I am not saying that things do not happen from time to time, but I am not always in charge of all situations. Certainly, people will do things as they will. But certainly I can assure from this side of the House that we will investigate and will make proper moves so that those types of situations do not get out of hand.
Mr. Jenkins: It's very obvious that there are major problems with class 1 road tests and driver examinations, both with respect to the Motor Vehicles Act and the manner in which the current provisions of the act are being administered. Will the minister give this House his personal commitment to make changes to the Motor Vehicles Act as a matter of immediate priority, and will he finally agree to address the many serious allegations he has ignored since being advised of them this summer? And can he give us a time frame for reporting back?
Just to say that it's "under investigation and we'll get back", the time frames extend and extend and extend. Can he give us assurance that before the end of this year he will have a response?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, we will be getting back as soon as we can. I'll have to take it under advisement with the department and find out where we're at, but we will certainly make our best efforts to get back to the member opposite.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. Is there a party House leader?
Notice of opposition private members' business
Ms. Duncan: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I'd like to identify the item standing in the name of the third party, to be called on Wednesday, November 26, 1997. It is Motion No. 83, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Riverdale South.
Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I'd like to identify the item standing in the name of the official opposition, to be called on Wednesday, November 26, 1997. It is Motion No. 80, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Klondike.
Speaker: We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and 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 the Committee of the Whole to order.
The Committee is dealing with the Bill No. 8.
Bill No. 8 - Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98 - continued
Chair: We are in general debate.
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
On VHF system - continued
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In answer to questions that were raised yesterday in the House, I was asked a question about the four-by-four vehicle for the mobile enforcement for the transport services branch. The question was if the minister could bring back the total cost of the vehicle. The new Expedition cost was $36,000, and the radio gear, light bar, the siren and the radar gun were pre-existing equipment that was installed on to the new vehicle.
There were questions raised by the Liberal member yesterday. There were questions about the bridge painting, and the question was, "Could you indicate the dollars that it would require over a period of years to bring the Lewes River bridge back up to standard?" The Lewes River bridge - the cost to remove the areas of paint that are flaking off is estimated to be between $100,000 and $150,000, and the cost to sandblast and repaint the entire bridge is estimated at $650,000.
Another question: would the minister indicate when the policy not to use lead-based paint was made? An epoxy paint system was first used in 1989 and since that time lead-based paints have not been used on our highway bridges.
A further question: why is the paint flaking on our bridges - if it's an application issue or an issue with the paint. In the case of the Lewes River bridge, the flaking is felt to be primarily the result of poor preparation of the steel surface and, as far as other bridges are concerned, some flaking does occur as part of the natural wear process.
Mr. Jenkins: I thank the minister for his response to the questions, but with respect to the highway enforcement vehicle, he failed to address the most important question, which was the reasoning and justification for a four-wheel drive vehicle for that role.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I do believe I answered that question last evening. The question that was put to me was if the minister could bring back the total cost of the vehicle. I have satisfied that requirement.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the issue as to the justification for a four-wheel drive for that vehicle, when a two-wheel drive vehicle sufficed in that role for a seven-year period, still hasn't been responded to by the minister. He walked all around the issue - the safety issue. It was addressed that it was not the most important group of safety vehicles on the highway. The most important group of safety vehicles on the highway are the ambulances.
It is my understanding that there is not one four-wheel drive ambulance in the fleet of ambulances operated by the Government of Yukon. There are some four-wheel-drive fire protection vehicles and rescue vehicles, but that is the extent of it, Mr. Chair.
The minister has still not responded in a manner that is anywhere near acceptable as to the justification for a four-wheel drive vehicle in this area, Mr. Chair.
Chair: I would like to point out for the record that the discussion right now is on returns, and we are on line item VHF system. Do you wish to continue the discussion on the returns? Further questions?
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, back to that, can we get a bit more detail on how this is going to impact on the emergency measures system and how far back it's going to put us? Is there any relationship to the JEPP program, et cetera, et cetera, or the money that the RCMP were going to put toward this?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I can assure the member opposite that there will not be an impact on JEPP or the EMO.
Mr. Jenkins: We were just getting into this last night and I'd appreciate it if we could continue on that same plane. It's with respect to the MDMRS system that is covered under this line item. The question was raised of the minister last night with respect to the microwave towers on the Dempster Highway, owned and operated by Northwestel, that carried the MDMRS signal in that area and the justification for these towers. I've reason to understand that Northwestel is abandoning, or looking at abandoning, this line.
What is the minister aware of and what additional costs are we incurring to date in regard to this issue?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the member opposite has given information that I'm not aware of. Northwestel has not indicated that they are going to be abandoning any towers and certainly if the member opposite has information, I'd appreciate the information.
Mr. Jenkins: The reduction in saving is as a consequence of Northwestel not having in place a tower necessary in the Pelly Crossing area. That resulted in a subsequent saving. Are there any other areas where this will occur, that the department officials feel that they need extra coverage that has not materialized?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, no, we are not aware of any other areas at this point in time.
VHF System in the amount of an underexpenditure of $100,000 agreed to
On Transportation Division
On Transportation Facilities
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister please provide a breakdown of how we incurred these additional costs? Is this for all the engineers and planning people necessary to plan for the non-existent highways, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, it will give me pleasure to provide information: $11,000 is a revote in the airports computing equipment and systems, to connect the local area network sites to the YukonNet; a $50,000 revote in transportation maintenance computing equipment and systems for an automated budget and planning system; a $73,000 revote in transportation service office accommodation for office improvements to the first and second floors of the Lynn Building; and, a $21,000 revote and an additional $17,000 in transportation maintenance office accommodation to complete the renovations at the central workshop.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister elaborate further as to the $73,000 for the first and second floors of the Lynn Building? Why was this necessary at this juncture? We've spent almost $100,000 in office renovation within that one department alone, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's in as a revote. It's work that was provided for in the previous year that didn't get finished until early this previous summer and spring.
Mr. Jenkins: Was this all done by tender or was this done in house by the usual methods employed by your department, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It was done by the usual method of my department, and that is by tender.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $172,000 agreed to
On Maintenance Camp Facilities and Equipment
Mrs. Edelman: Can we have detail on that? There was talk earlier about closing one of the maintenance or highway camps. I wonder if that's still a possibility?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I can certainly elaborate. The net decrease of $3,000 in the capital maintenance is a result of cancellation of a planned upgrade to the Stewart Crossing grader station, as the tender came in higher than anticipated. There is $110,000 of miscellaneous lapses and $17,000, which are offset by $124,000 for the renovations to the Mule Creek shop.
Mrs. Edelman: So, am I to understand then that there are no planned closures of highway camps coming up in the next year?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No. I can assure the member, no, not this year.
Maintenance Camp Facilities and Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $3,000 agreed to
On Highway Construction
On Non-YTG Funded:
On Alaska Highway - Strategic Highway Improvement Program (SHIP)
Mr. Jenkins: A question of the minister is, why? Perhaps he can go through the strategic highway line and the Campbell Highway and the Top of the World. They are all tied in together, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. The Alaska Highway is a reduction of $225,000 and is due to the reallocation of recoverable strategic highway improvement program funding that was to be used for the reconstruction of kilometre 1056 to kilometre 1102 in the current fiscal year to do more winter work than was done in 1996 and 1997. On the Campbell Highway, a reduction of $298,000 is the result of lower than estimated tenders for reconstruction at Money Creek, and in the reconstruction and BST of kilometre 0 to kilometre 427. A large portion of this reduction, $187,000, was transferred for work on the Top of the World Highway.
And speaking of the Top of the World Highway, the net increase of $187,000 is covered by the transfer from the Campbell Highway, which I just explained. It's from higher than estimated cost of base course by $293,000, which is offset by a reduction of $106,000 in the resurfacing project at kilometre 0 to kilometre 60 on the Top of the World.
Alaska Highway - Strategic Highway Improvement Program (SHIP) in the amount of an underexpenditure of $225,000 agreed to
On Campbell Highway
Campbell Highway in the amount of an underexpenditure of $298,000 agreed to
On Top of the World Highway
Top of the World Highway in the amount of $187,000 agreed to
On YTG Funded:
On Alaska Highway
Mr. Jenkins: Again, Mr. Chair, if we could just ask the minister for an overview of the YTG-funded highway systems, please - justification.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: On the Alaska Highway, a $25,000 increase was required as recoverable funding under the strategic highway improvement plan for a reconstruction at kilometre 1056, at kilometre 1102, and it has been reduced for 1997-98 as funds were spent in 1996-97. There's a $15,000 increase for cleanup of logging debris and stumps for reconstruction at kilometre 1558 to kilometre 1634.
On the Campbell Highway, the $8,000 increase required as recoverable funding under SHIP for reconstruction of Money Creek has been reduced.
On the Dempster Highway, this decrease of $45,000 consists of a $60,000 savings realized from the reconstruction of snowdrift cuts, which was offset by an increase of $15,000 required for additional erosion control and flood prevention.
On the Top of the World Highway there is a reduction of $3,000 from the resurfacing work at kilometre 0 to kilometre 60.
Within the Bridges - Numbered Highways, there is an increase of $147,000 revote for the design of a replacement bridge for Nares Lake; $921,000 revote for Teslin River bridge for phases 1 and 2 of the strengthening work; and $105,000 required for repairs at the Lewes River and Pelly Crossing bridges due to accident damage.
Mr. Jenkins: I could take the minister back to the Dempster Highway and the capital expenditure and the resulting decrease in O&M costs as a consequence of the snow control. Could the minister advise us how he is going to monitor how effective this program is and if he's prepared to allocate funds in the next fiscal period in the event that this program is not as effective as it was originally envisioned, and the same for the rip-rap placed under the flood control program?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, so far things look good on the Dempster Highway. How we will be monitoring it will certainly be by the budget and the folks on the road. We will certainly be looking and considering the other initiatives that the member spoke about as we go through the process of monitoring.
Mr. Jenkins: With respect to bridges, I note a number of repairs are occurring as a result of accidents - some of these costs. What amount are recoverable from the insurance companies involved in the accidents? There must be a recoverable amount there, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I have been advised that we must get the conviction first. And yes, we do have insurance coverage on the bridges. At this point in time, it is not sure until we get the conviction and then we go to the insurance and we hammer it out with the insurance company.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm sorry, Mr. Chair, my understanding of what the minister said and didn't say is somewhat confusing, his response. Am I given to understand that, yes, the bridges are insured? Is the minister indicating that the bridges are insured? What I was looking at, Mr. Chair, is, in the advent of a motor vehicle accident, which I'm sure is where the damages are occurring, the party involved in the accident hitting the bridge or damaging the bridge, his insurance or her insurance, as the case may be, would be responsible for that portion of the repairs attributable to that accident. Is that what we are looking at, or does the government not bother with that issue, carry its own insurance and access its own coverage? What's the case, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As I said, we will be going, after conviction, after the insurance company of the driver. I'm sorry for any confusion.
Alaska Highway in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Campbell Highway
Campbell Highway in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Dempster Highway
Dempster Highway in the amount of an underexpenditure of $45,000 agreed to
On Top of the World Highway
Top of the World Highway in the amount of an underexpenditure of $3,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Mr. Jenkins: Included in the $1.17 million supplementary, was there an amount to continue with the planning for a Yukon River bridge a little north of here, at Dawson City? Is that why we're incurring so high an expense, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I can assure the member opposite that that is not the case.
Mr. Jenkins: So, I know this government, Mr. Chair, is not proceeding with the construction of this bridge immediately, but there's a lot of planning process that is underway. Can the minister give us his assurances that, in that budget, that work is continuing, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: On the Dawson bridge, a decision will not be made on the construction of a bridge until the new environmental impact studies are completed. However, the high capital cost of a new bridge is unlikely to be within this government's means in the short term. Certainly, no promise has been made to build the bridge, and it will only ever get considered based on an analysis of overall needs.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair, but back to my original question, are the planning and the environmental studies still being proceeded with by this government?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we had that data on fish and fish habitat collected in the summer of 1996, and a report on the impacts of the bridge on the fishery resource has been completed. Further studies in the hydrology and construction impacts are planned, including the use of coffer dams, environmental controls, and of noise. These studies will be carried out over the next year or so, as the funding permits.
Mr. Jenkins: If I take the minister back to the budget debate last spring, his assurances were given that work would be continuing with the planning process. Could the minister advise, in this total cost that we have before us, what work was undertaken in this last fiscal period by the government? And I don't want to know about what work was completed, because I have a copy of the report on the fish habitat, clearly indicating that it would be advantageous to the fish habitat to construct a bridge there, Mr. Chair. But what work has been undertaken in this existing fiscal period that is covered by the main estimates and the supps here?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, as I said, it will be considered on an analysis and, if there is money around, certainly that will be the case. But I can get back to the member opposite with a more detailed answer.
Mr. Jenkins: I guess, to put it in a simpler term for the minister, what work did this government undertake this past summer on this bridge - the environmental studies, the impact studies that were underway in the flow? Have they been stopped, are they continuing, what's the problem? Why can't the minister answer? He's responsible for his department; he's in charge of his department; he should be aware of what goes on in his department.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can certainly assure the member opposite that no, no work has been done. There was no money allocated to it and it does not look good for the immediate future either.
Mr. Jenkins: It took a while to get that answer. I'm sure a great many Yukoners will be pleased to hear the minister's response as to what is going on and what is underway. Perhaps if he allocated the $73,000 for the office furniture to the bridge in Dawson, they might have someplace to sit down and plan.
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of $1,173,000 agreed to
On Aviation/Yukon Airports
Mr. Jenkins: Will the minister please provide a breakdown of the overexpenditure in this category?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: There's been a $44,000 revote in the capital maintenance. For the repairs to the baggage carousel, $21,000; to re-upholster the waiting room seating at the Whitehorse Airport, $6,000; for entrance signs at the Whitehorse and Watson Lake airports, $13,000; and to complete refurbishment of the Whitehorse Airport combined services building, $4,000.
There's an additional $40,000 increase for capital maintenance at the Whitehorse Airport. To carpet the main level office, $12,000; to move security offices, $5,000; the MO office renovations, $3,000; and $20,000 for the miscellaneous work.
A $26,000 revote and an additional $17,000 is required for the purchase of an airless spray paint machine to keep the runway markings fresh in order to maintain the certification and to paint ground side roads and parking lots.
There is a $35,000 revote for final design, site survey and preliminary development work for the lease lots at the Haines Junction airport, a $40,000 revote for purchase of a fuel tank for the Haines Junction airport, and $3,000 is required for the purchase of an emergency power unit for Beaver Creek.
Those are the increases.
The reductions, if I may: a $5,000 reduction for the Old Crow airport is due to the cost of an environmental audit being less than anticipated; a $20,000 reduction in Haines Junction airport as the cardlock system will not be installed; a $15,000 reduction in planning and engineering due to the airport drawings and digitizing being done in conjunction with an O&M contract, $10,000; and the airport plan deferred at Teslin, as airport land has not yet been transferred to the territorial government, for $5,000; $20,000 due to contract run-up pads not required for Beaver Creek and Teslin, as the rubber mat run-up pads that were used as a test in 1996-97 were found to be satisfactory; and a $14,000 reduction in the Whitehorse Airport as tender for phase 1 underground work to correct the water problem was less than anticipated.
Mr. Jenkins: Some of these costs kind of just jump out: the $40,000 for the fuel tank for the airport at Haines Junction, and the subsequent reduction of $20,000 for not installing the cardlock. Why has the Government of Yukon taken it upon itself to install a system in this area when all other airports in the Yukon, with the exception of Old Crow, are operated by a fuel supplier?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I've been advised that we have certainly attempted to do that, but there were no people who wished to provide this service so we anticipated that we had to provide it for ourselves.
Mr. Jenkins: It's news to me that the Government of Yukon is now operating a fleet of aircraft. For the amount of movements in and out of the airport in the Junction, and with its location and proximity to Whitehorse, could the minister provide some background information as to how this expense was justified? Given that the cardlock is not in operation, how is the fuel being dispensed there, to whom and under what method? Have we hired an individual to oversee this? Is this a Yukon-hire program?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I'll take it upon myself to see that we get the information back to the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: This is something that the minister should be prepared for. Is this a change in policy? Why is there not a fuel dispenser in Beaver Creek of a similar type? Why is there not one in Teslin? Burwash? Why are they not located in these other areas? Why Haines Junction? Why not Carmacks?
You know, there are a lot of airports in the Yukon that have more movements - way more movements, Mr. Chair - than the Haines Junction airstrip. Now, why is that singled out for this special treatment?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, for the issue of Haines Junction, we did it on the basis of a trial. We're going to be able to move our fuel tank. It is what we consider a tourist stopover place, and people based in Haines Junction were desirous of it in Haines Junction. So we're going to be looking at it and monitoring it.
Mr. Jenkins: Which gives rise to the question that the tanks are owned by the Yukon government. Now, who owns the fuel in the tanks? Who's dispensing the fuel? Who's collecting for it? Do we have another scam underway here, Mr. Chair, or what's happening? It has an odour about it, Mr. Chair, that I don't really appreciate.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I will rise above those comments, and I won't let those comments bother me.
Certainly, Mr. Chair, I think I've answered the question to the best of my ability at this time. I have offered to get back to the member with the information, and I certainly will get back to the member with the information. Certainly, they can lampoon and be as ludicrous as they want, but all they are is a reflection of their true inner spirit.
Mr. Jenkins: Who owns the fuel in the tank, and who is responsible for selling the fuel in the tank at the Haines Junction airport, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, there is a contract in place and, as I have said, I will get back to the member opposite with the details.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, that's what we're here for today in this budget session. That is what we are here for, and the minister must have an understanding of what is going on through his department officials, and I'm sure he must have more information in his briefing notes than what he's alluding to.
I want to know, Mr. Chair, who owns the fuel in the tank? And the minister has indicated that there is a contract in place for the sale of this fuel. Who has the contract? I'm sure that information must be readily available and very, very simple to obtain.
How did this all come about, because I don't recall seeing any tender notification to operate a system on behalf of the Government of Yukon at the Haines Junction airport? I do recall seeing something to the effect of putting in a total fuel system, but I did not see a subsequent tender call for the operation of the system. Would the minister please provide that information?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I will reiterate, I think, for the third time that I will get the information back to the member opposite.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, we're here on budget debate - the line items in the budget - the questions are legitimate questions that the minister ought to be able to answer. Who's got the contract? It's a very simple question. Could he tell this House who has the contract for dispensing the fuel at Haines Junction? That's all we're asking.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I certainly appreciate the endeavours of the official opposition party to come from two ways, and I will tell the member opposite that I'll get back to him.
Mr. Ostashek: Why can't the minister tell us now? What is he afraid of? Why can't he tell us now who's got the contract? Surely, through his official, he can tell this Legislature a simple answer like that? Who has the contract to dispense the fuel at Haines Junction?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Pardon me, we don't have the information here at our fingertips. Now, if you wish to beat up my officials, and I guess that's what you're doing - but I have answered the question, not once but two or three times in this sitting, and not to one person but to two people of the official opposition. We will get back to you with that information. Thank you.
Mr. Ostashek: Sure, then, is the minister prepared to stand this line aside until we get that information?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No.
Mr. Ostashek: Then we will stay here until we get the information.
Mr. Phillips: I've got a whole bunch of questions on this issue. Mr. Chair. Can the minister tell me the oil company that is supplying the fuel to the particular tanks at the airport?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, yes, we do not have the information that the member opposite is requesting, so we will certainly get back to the member opposite with the information.
Mr. Phillips: Maybe, I can suggest that we can take a short recess, because I know that it would be just a phone call from the deputy minister to individuals involved and the information could be made available to us and we can come back in here in five minutes and we will have the information we need. This isn't any information that someone will have to go through a big filing drawer for; it's just that I'm sure there is somebody they would have to call and that individual could say it was so and so and here is where the fuel is, and here is how the tender took place, and this is what it is all about.
So, let's take a short five-minute break, out of respect for the minister wanting to provide us with that information - because he said it's at their fingertips - and we'll come right back in here and get right back at it as soon as the minister provides us with the information.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, it was nice to hear that the members opposite would have respect for a minister - two words that are not uttered out of their mouths very often.
Mr. Chair, I would prefer to continue along and we will get the information as I volunteered to do for the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: Maybe the minister can advise us why he doesn't want to provide the information now for us. Does this kind of information take a long time to compile? I would have thought that as we are speaking, right now, someone in the department who is listening - and I know they are - is compiling the information and writing it down.
It could be easily faxed over to the minister's office, almost as I'm speaking, and we could take a short break, the minister could go up and review the information and come down here and present it to the House.
We are not trying to be unreasonable here. This is a budget session. This is about these issues - specifically about these issues. This is not a question where we are saying compile it for the last five years; we are saying, what is going on, what is the arrangement? Somebody knows.
It means a quick phone call to an official who knows, a message to the minister, and the minister could convey it to us in a very short order.
Let's take a quick five-minute break. We take five-minute breaks for a lot less than this. So let's take a quick five-minute break and come back with the information and we can get on with it.
Chair: Does this item -
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, we at least deserve an answer from the minister. I'm asking the minister. I am asking the minister if he couldn't just take a short break. I'm wondering why the minister is so uncooperative. I mean, we're looking at information that is handy.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: "Detail," the Member for Faro says. Hogwash, Mr. Chair. Hogwash.
We just want to know what the arrangements are at the Haines Junction airport with respect to the fuel. The headquarters for the airport is at the Haines Junction airport. Somebody could be on the phone right now and find out all the details and get back to us.
I sure hope this isn't something that the government buried in the file somewhere because it didn't want anybody to find out about. I'm sure this government never does that. Every time it gets a complaint or a concern about something it responds right away - well, within eight or nine months, or a couple of years anyway, you know.
As quickly as it suits itself, I'd like to ask the minister why he won't provide the information immediately to us. We can take a short five-minute break - three minutes, if that's a problem for the minister. I mean, all the minister has to do is run upstairs, get the information and read it in the House. It's something the minister should have here anyway. It should be information that should be here. It's unfair to ask us to continue on in the budget if the minister's unable to provide the information that he's supposed to be providing when we're in the supplementary budget.
Could the minister tell us how many landings and takeoffs there are at the Haines Junction airport in a given year? We're going to talk about this for a long time.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It gives me deep pleasure to speak with the members opposite on how little they might be. Certainly, Mr. Chair, I will get back with the information as requested, and therein lies the answer.
Mr. Jenkins: That information is relevant information to a budget debate, which determines the level of traffic - the number of movements at that airport. It's compiled on a regular and current basis by his officials. It's done monthly, and that is information that one asks when one is in the business of government and certainly charged with that responsibility.
Now, the minister must have at his fingertips the number of movements at the various Yukon airports, and what we're looking for specifically is the number of movements at the Haines Junction airport. Would the minister please provide that information?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly Mr. Chair. I will have to get back to the members opposite with that information. Neither I nor my top bureaucrat have that information available.
Mr. Jenkins: While we're at it, Mr. Chair, we might as well find out when the tank was installed at the Haines Junction airport, the tendering process followed, the number of litres of fuel dispensed so far, year to date, what kind of fiscal arrangements the contractor has with respect to the operation, the terms and conditions of the contract that the contractor - whose name we can't find out because I'm sure the minister must be trying to hide something at this juncture. Can the minister please provide that information.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, I'll get back to the members opposite with the information.
Mr. Phillips: Can the minister tell the House how his department chose Haines Junction for this particular pilot project? Could he tell the House how Haines Junction was chosen for that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we know that it's a very important tourism stopover for people. There were people interested in it. Certainly, as I said and I'll reiterate, the fuel tank can be moved and, certainly, I also clarified that it would be monitored. It is being done on a trial basis and it will be monitored to see if it is successful. I will get back with the other information as previously requested by the member opposite.
Mr. Phillips: Can the minister provide us with a list of criteria or tell us today what the criteria was for setting up this fuel depot at Haines Junction? Was it based on the number of landings and takeoffs? Was it based on primarily the request of the individuals? Was it based on future growth to the area? What was it based on? How did they come to the decision to choose Haines Junction? It wasn't clear by the minister's previous answer.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I have answered the reasons why. Certainly, with the information that member opposite has requested, I will certainly get back in an open and transparent manner, as this government is known.
Mr. Phillips: I guess that's my concern. So far, nothing has been open and transparent about this thing. We really just wanted to take a short break and allow the minister some time to gather his thoughts and gather the information and come in the House and provide it as he should do for members, but it appears that the minister is just being plain old stubborn, I guess. I don't know. I can't figure it out.
Did the minister look at any other areas of the territory with respect to providing fuel? I know that there are some areas in the Finlayson Lake area, in the minister's own riding, where there are quite a few tourism opportunities and mining opportunities. Did the minister look at providing these kinds of facilities there as well? Maybe I'll let the minister answer that.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This item was in the 1996-97 budget. Certainly, there was no interest for folks up there to do it, so we had to do it ourselves. To answer the member's question if they are considering it, no at this point, but as we monitor this on a trial basis, we will certainly expand our thoughts.
Mr. Phillips: There are other locations in the territory where there are people available to operate it or monitor it, or whatever. We don't know what this other arrangement is, so I suppose there are other people in the territory that would be willing to do whatever the mystery individual is doing in Haines Junction.
Did the minister look at any other opportunities throughout the territory like this? Why was Haines Junction chosen over other areas? There are a lot of wilderness tourism operators who operate out of different lakes in the territory - in the Mayo area and other areas - and we don't provide these kinds of facilities there. I know it ends up being a convenience, I suppose, for the operator, but I just wonder why we chose this area over others as the spot for the pilot project.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I feel that I've satisfactorily answered these questions.
In the spirit of cooperation with the members opposite - the official opposition - I will get back with the information. I want to reiterate and categorically state that I'm not hiding anything. I have nothing to hide. Certainly I will get back the information as requested to the Member for Klondike and the Member for Riverdale North.
Mr. Phillips: Well, maybe I can suggest to the Chair then that we take a five minute break and allow the minister to go out, find the information and bring it back - in the spirit of cooperation, as he says. Because I really want to cooperate with the minister, too, and I know that it's not a big problem.
If they take a five minute break, we can have the information provided to us on the floor of the House, and we can proceed. This is something that is at the department's fingertips, and it shouldn't be difficult to obtain. So, we'd just like for the minister in, as he says, his great spirit of cooperation to -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: The Member for Faro asked if I have a problem. I do have a problem. The minister always apologizes to us all the time because he can't hear and he wears his headphones, and he's taking his headphones off like he's not interested in listening. I have a real problem.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: Talk about an insult. The minister is not even prepared to answer questions on his own department in line by line. The minister's not doing his job. If he hadn't spent the summer floating around on Teslin Lake fishing, Mr. Chair, he might know some of the answers to the questions.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to ask the minister why he won't take a five minute break - because he said it won't take long to get the information - and we'll come back here and deal with the matter.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, I've been in this House for only five years now, I guess, but I sat on that side of the House for four of those years.
This is a question of detail, not a question of policy. The minister's answered the policy question. The detail is not available at the fingertips of either the minister or the official here. The minister responded that he will get the information back to the member opposite. He said he will try and get it as soon as possible.
We have never, as long as I've been a member of this House, taken short five minute breaks while the minister ran up to his office to accommodate a detail question of the members opposite, then run back down and hand it to the member opposite. The minister has said he will try and get the detailed response back to the member as soon as possible. That should suffice. The Member for Riverdale North knows that. It was done hundreds of times - probably even thousands - when they were in government for detail questions, particularly in Community and Transportation Services, which is a very large department with a huge budget and a lot of detail.
So, Mr. Chair, I think the minister is being extremely accommodating, consistent with the practice of this House in the five years that I've been here, and I don't know why the members opposite - other than I guess to rag the puck - are taking this tack. He's been as accommodating as any minister I've seen in this Legislature in terms of responding to the questions asked.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the Minister of Community and Transportation Services could tell me how long this pilot project is expected to last?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We are wanting to monitor this for at least two summers.
Mr. Phillips: Is there any intention of providing this kind of service to any other community in the pilot project time frame, or are they going to wait until the completion of the project?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We have no plans to expand and we'll wait until the conclusion of this project.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, can the minister maybe provide for us - he probably has them there - some statistics. I asked him for Haines Junction. Could he provide us with up-to-date statistics for the other airports? Could he do that for us, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Phillips: Do we monitor just the arrivals and departures of aircraft? Do we monitor the arrival and departure of people as well, in our accounts, or is it just strictly the number of aircraft?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I've been informed that the statistics that we have are based on the aircraft.
Mr. Phillips: Can the minister tell us when he expects to have the numbers for us with respect to the number of aircraft landings and takeoffs at various airports? Does the minister have that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we will give best efforts and get back to him as soon as we can. I do believe that we are representative and have proven that we will get back, just simply by the time limits that we've got back with certain other questions.
I would let folks know that it is in Haines Junction and the folks up there don't particularly have the radio to monitor it. We will give it very best efforts and get back.
Mr. Phillips: I didn't quite understand that answer. Could the minister repeat it? What did the minister just say? I mean, I couldn't understand. He said that folks in Haines Junction can't monitor the radio. I didn't know that was what we asked.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will make best efforts, and I will get back to the members opposite.
Mrs. Edelman: Because we are talking about airports here, we heard about an old sort of new technology to do with the ramps going on to some of the Yukon airports, and the problem was that the asphalt kept deteriorating, so that they would replace it quite often. Now we're replacing it with a new system. Now, is this the rubber system, and is this new technology? Is this something that is up and coming in the world, or is it something that we've stolen from elsewhere?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, certainly it is not new technology, but certainly the rubber mat run-up pads that were used as a test in 1996-97 were found to be satisfactory.
Mrs. Edelman: I wonder if this is being used elsewhere in northern Canada, and if it's worthwhile looking around and seeing if that technology could be used elsewhere. It sounds like this is something innovative that the department has done. Is this something that we've done before, or what's going on?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, we got the idea from other people, but we're certainly implementing it, though.
Mrs. Edelman: It's good to see the department using something that works. Thank you.
Mr. Ostashek: It appears that we're waiting for some information. Well, we'll keep this going while we're waiting for this information.
It is my understanding that the government has put in a double-walled tank at Haines Junction - full underground wiring. I'm not sure if it's a full cardlock system or not. My understanding is that the government has paid for that, and that there's an arrangement with a private contractor - namely Sifton Air - to operate that facility. Can the minister confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, as I said, YTG did pay for the tank, so that's why it's a topic of discussion here. It is a double wall, yes.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, we're starting to get there, part way. The minister has ignored answering the second part of my question, and that was who was operating it. Does Sifton Air have the contract with his department to dispense fuel out of this government tank?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As I have said, I certainly will get back to the members opposite with that information.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, it's just simply amazing that the minister can sit there and say he'll get back to us. He has his deputy minister sitting beside him, who I know has a pretty good handle on what's going on in his department, and people are listening in the department. It's not that long ago that we were on that side of the House and we knew that when our minister was under severe pressure like that, somebody from the department would get an answer for the minister. Now, we've been on this for about 45 minutes and the minister still doesn't have an answer from the department. What is the minister and the department trying to hide? What are they trying to hide? It is a very simple question. We've asked a very simple question and we expect a straightforward answer.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, no, I am not under severe pressure. I am doing my best to answer the questions of the gentlemen opposite and I'm certainly going to get back with the information.
Mr. Ostashek: The minister must know that the longer he avoids answering this question the more negative press he's going to get. We are not going to walk away from this issue until we get answers. We are not asking something out of the ordinary.
This Legislature is here for the opposition members to ask questions on how government dollars are being spent. We are doing our job and I would hope the minister would do his job and be prepared for those questions. This is not something on which there are multitudes of these kinds of contracts out there; this is a one-off thing.
I don't know what the minister is trying to hide, what he is afraid of, and I don't know why he's afraid to give us the information. I don't know why he's afraid to confirm the information that we are giving him because we are fairly confident that our information is accurate.
If in fact this arrangement has been made, it is a major change in policy and it has to be discussed at a political level and the minister ought to have been made aware of it.
Haines Junction is not the busiest airport in rural Yukon, by a long ways, by a long ways. It's a real stretch to spend that kind of money, taxpayers' dollars, putting in a fuel dispensing facility that comes up to all the environmental standards - and I'm sure it does because the government has got to do it - to say that this was done for the tourists that stop at the Haines Junction airport because I know, from 25 years of flying in that area, that there is nowhere near enough traffic to justify that type of investment.
The sooner the minister clears this up, the sooner we can get on with debate in the supplementary budget and let him off the hook on this one, but we're not prepared to leave this until we get some answers. Would the minister respond? Will he confirm Sifton Air has this contract?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Severe pressure; negative press; hide and afraid; let me off the hook; why not confirm my info? Doggone it, I'm going to get back to you. I said I would and I will, and I will get back to them with all the pertinent answers, but certainly we do not do things for sensationalism or anything like as such. I reiterate again, I will get back to the members opposite with the information requested.
Mr. Ostashek: We asked the minister to stand this line aside until he gets the information. The Member for Faro jumped up and said no. We want to be able to debate this issue when we have the information. We don't want to go through this and approve this, not knowing what we are approving. We need that answer before we can fully debate this issue, to give it a full airing and then move on. That's our responsibility as the opposition in this Legislature.
We are questioning what the government feels is a legitimate expenditure of taxpayers' dollars and we have the right to get some answers to it and we also have the right to be able to debate it, and we can't debate it if in fact we allow the minister to come back after his budget has gone through this House and has been approved. That is why we are wanting an answer before we move off this line item.
If the minister is prepared to stand this line aside and come back to it after we have all the information to debate it, then we will move on to another topic, but we're not prepared to close this supplementary budget until such time as we know we're going to have an opportunity to finish debating this line when we have the full information that we've requested.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I appreciate that the members opposite perceive that they are doing their job and certainly I believe that I am doing my job. I am going to get information back to the members opposite. I'm not trying to withdraw information. I'm certainly standing in front of the Yukon people who are listening to this debate and working it through.
So, I will reiterate: I will get back to the members opposite as soon as I have the information, as requested. I cannot confirm no matter how much the member opposite wants me to confirm. I have department people and I will continue to work with my department and we will confirm the information and get back to the member opposite. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: Can we stand the line aside, and just go on until the minister has a response?
Mr. Phillips: We understand now that the government did pay for the tanks, and the equipment that was put there, at least, is the government's. Can the minister tell me if the contract that was issued to the individual was a sole-sourced contract, or was it a tendered contract?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, we did start with a proposal call, but there wasn't any interest. I guess people thought that there was no money in there, so we were left with nothing, and we certainly had to have a service, and therein upon is the answer.
Mr. Phillips: Well, they started with a proposal call. Is the minister saying that they put an ad in the paper the way they normally do - invitation for proposal - and advertised it in Whitehorse in the local Whitehorse papers and in rural Yukon, and asked for proposals for this? What date did they do that? When was this call for proposal?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we'll have to get back to the member opposite, and we will get back to the member opposite as to the dates, et cetera. I would just like to let the members know that he starts off with one question and ends up with 16. It gets convoluted, but certainly we will continue to get information for the members opposite. I'd just like to reiterate that the folks that work for us within the department in Haines Junction do not have the luxury of an FM station such as we do, so it's going to take some time, but I must say that, based on our initiative here, we will get back and continue to get back to the members opposite.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, that's very simple, and if the minister is prepared to stand the line aside, we'll let him off the subject until he gets the information. That's not an unreasonable request. It's been done time and time again in this Legislature. We're going to be in session all day today, we're going to be back here tomorrow and can stand this line aside. We will give the minister time to get the information that he requires. That's not an unreasonable request.
Will the minister do that?
We're not prepared to clear this. We will continue to talk - I can assure the Member for Faro that we will.
Mr. Chair, the minister says there are 16 questions and that it is getting convoluted. I say to the minister, the only reason it is is because he has failed to answer the question. It was a very simple question. So if it's getting convoluted it's by the minister's own doing, not by the opposition. Every time he gets tired of answering the questions, he throws in another one from left field. Now he says there was supposedly a call for proposals, but nobody on this side of the House ever saw it.
The other issue is that he said there was no demand, nobody answered the call for proposal, so they had to go to a private contractor, but he still won't confirm, and I don't know why - he's got all of that information and yet he's trying to ask us to believe that he doesn't know the name of the contractor.
So I ask him once again, will he confirm that the contractor is Sifton Air?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, as you can see, a courier has brought in the information for me. Certainly, it is Sifton Air there that has the contract, but they also say that the fuel tank project funding was approved in 1995-96 and revoted in 1996-97 and again in this budget of 1997-98.
And so, Mr. Chair, I will get back to the members opposite with the rest of the information as it becomes available.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, that certainly doesn't leave the minister off the hook. I mean it was his government that completed this arrangement. Even if there was budget allocation for 1995-96, the members opposite have been sitting in those chairs since October 1996.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Ostashek: Well, we'll see how weak it is.
Is the minister prepared to table the contract that has been drawn up? It's sitting there. We want to table the contract.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I'd be willing to table the contract.
Mr. Ostashek: When, Mr. Chair? When will the minister table the contract?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, when I have the information I will provide the information to the members opposite, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, it's like pulling teeth around here to try to get information from this minister or this government. This is a government that is going out to the public and saying, "We're an open and accountable government," yet they're not prepared to divulge any information on the floor of this Legislature without us having to continually question to get it out.
I would like the minister to make a commitment that he will table that contract in this Legislature tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I've been assured that I may be able to table this contract in the Legislature tomorrow.
Mr. Ostashek: I still want to know why Haines Junction, based on the traffic volumes that are there, was picked? There certainly is no justification for tourism traffic. There is no justification for it at all.
The other question - I'll ask the other question later. I want that question answered first.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'll answer this one more time. Certainly, it was based upon all the reasons that I have just said. First of all, it is done on a trial basis. Hopefully, it will increase traffic there. It is certainly a tourism stopover at Kluane Park, and we would certainly like to encourage more people. There are people that fly from the lower 48 to Alaska, and we would like to encourage them to come in.
What else should I say? I've talked about the tendering process, the people based, and it's a tourism stopover. I feel that I've satisfactorily answered the question to each of the members of the official opposition.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, the minister may feel that he's answered them sufficiently, but we don't feel that he's answered them sufficiently.
The minister said that there was an invitation for proposal. Was that invitation for proposal put out in the papers? Was it put out in a public forum or was it just thought about - the minister wasn't clear when he got up - whether they were just thinking about going out for proposals or if, in fact, they did go out for proposals.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, as I said, I will get back to the members opposite soonest and, as I said, we do believe that it was put out. That's straight up. The dates, as I said, we'll have to get back to the member opposite from the member to your right, and we will. So therein lies the answer for the member opposite.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, we're starting to get somewhere.
Will the minister commit to bringing a copy of that invitation for proposal, along with the contract he's tabling tomorrow? Will he also commit to bringing back the number of responses that he had to the invitation for proposal that went out? Will he commit to doing that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Let me say, Mr. Chair, that whatever I can do in tabling this within the legalities, I guess I could say, is what I will do. I've said that I would get back all of the information the members previously had talked about, and I will, Mr. Chair. When will I do it? I will do it as soon as it is humanly possible to do that, and I think I've proven that here now, as my department is working with me on this to provide information. I do think that the member opposite should consider that.
Mr. Ostashek: I just simply don't understand the minister when he says, "everything that's legally possible." He has told us that he believes there was a public invitation for proposal that went out. That is, in my opinion, a public document. He should be able to table it, Mr. Chair. Along with that, he should be able to table the number of responses that they got to it. We're not asking him to do something to divulge any confidential information. All we want is to be able to get to the bottom of this issue and find out what has transpired here with taxpayers' dollars. That's what we're trying to find out.
Mr. Phillips: I was interested in some of the minister's comments. He said something about giving us everything within the legalities. I didn't understand that. I mean is there some law that says he can't give us that information or what are the legalities that he can't give it?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, if it comes into commercial confidentiality then certainly I can't table it in here. Certainly anything that I can legally table I will certainly table.
Mr. Phillips: Well, it's a government fuel tank. Some individual is operating it. There's no one else selling fuel there. The way I look at it, there doesn't seem to be a ton of competition there. There doesn't seem to be an awful lot of confidentiality issues around that. I mean, the government made a deal with somebody.
What I'd like to know, also with respect to the proposals, is what date the proposals went out, how much time they gave people to respond to the proposals. I think we've already asked the question about how many people did respond.
I'd like to know what happened after that. Who did the government contact if they didn't receive any proposals? Did they contact just one individual? Did they contact more than one individual?
Really, I want the minister to kind of give us the whole lowdown on what exactly took place with respect to the final awarding of this contract, and maybe the minister could make sure that he brings that back as well. How long is the contract for? Is the contract for just the two years of the pilot project or is that tank going to stay there after the pilot project and they're going to put another one in another airport if it works? What's going to happen with the tank and the equipment afterwards and the length of the contract with the individual?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, Mr. Chair, some of the questions that the member opposite has asked have been asked previously in here and I will certainly get back to the member opposite with the answers to the questions.
Mr. Jenkins: I am interested in the statistics of the aircraft movement at the secondary airstrips throughout the Yukon - as to who is compiling them - and I refer specifically to Haines Junction, Burwash and the other strips that do not have a full-time CARS or airport individual.
What's the basis for this review, and the basis for this test project? It must be predicated - something has to trigger it, and it's usually aircraft movements or demand. Could the minister indicate what the aircraft movements were that triggered this, or what else triggered this installation?
I just checked with some of the people I know in the aviation business and the number of transit aircraft landing at the Junction are next to none, Mr. Chair. The number of local flights taking off and landing and using that airport are what drives it.
So, could the minister have a look at this area? Because it certainly wasn't the transit flights of visitors that triggered the installation of this fuel depot. It was something else, and could the minister advise us what that was, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, it has been brought to my attention by my deputy minister. When it was conceived in 1995, there was a proposal to change the pattern of tourism movement, of aircraft, - and the member opposite should certainly appreciate this - by trying to get folks to stop over and enjoy the Haines Junction area. This has just been installed this year, just this summer, and therein we need a couple of seasons to monitor it and to see if it is going to work.
It has been brought to my attention that there was previously no fuel supply at the airport there, so in trying to encourage tourism growth within the area, it brought in supplies that would encourage people to stop in TROY.
Mr. Jenkins: I would very much appreciate if the minister would table this tremendous review that he is referring to, that triggered the installation of this fuel tank and fuel system at the Haines Junction airport, because I don't believe there is such a study. I believe that the minister is searching and groping for answers that are not there. It's probably contingent upon the minister at this juncture to just say what he knows at this point, and I'm sure he is aware of who has the contract there and the reason that that contract was awarded. I know that the minister has assured us and this House that he's going to table a copy of this contract tomorrow, so we could have saved this House an awful lot of time if the minister had just responded and told the House who has the contract and why this firm received the contract.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I'd just like to correct the statement of the member opposite. I did not say "a study". This was done in 1995 by the department, and, I'm sure, in conjunction with other departments, and we did want to get people to stop within the Junction, Mr. Chair.
Certainly, I think I said about 10 minutes or so ago - 15 or 20 minutes ago, I'm not sure - when the information was made available to me, that it was Sifton Air in Haines Junction that has the contract, and I will further elaborate to say that I will get back with the information as the members opposite have requested.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to thank the minister for providing this House with the information after holding up the proceedings of this House for the last number of minutes. The minister really shouldn't have anything to hide within his department, but he seems to want to make it very, very difficult to address his responsibilities. He's making it not only difficult on the House, but difficult on himself because these kinds of incidents are not easily forgotten, Mr. Chair.
I would urge the minister to give careful consideration to responding in a straightforward manner rather than walk all around the bush. We don't need to go walking in the forests with Mr. Fentie at this juncture. The minister has a responsibility, Mr. Chair, to answer these questions in a forthright manner. That is what we're here for.
Is the minister giving consideration to the installation of these tanks in other secondary airports throughout the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I have answered this question before, and in this spirit, I will continue to reiterate the answer, and the answer is known.
This has been done on a pilot-project basis, but please, Mr. Chair, I must speak to the assumption - and I certainly think that they are assumptions that the member opposite has - that we are hiding something. We are not hiding anything. It feels that since we started this discussion now, I have been threatened; I've been bullied; I've been criticized for my hearing impairment. I do not know how much more of this I can certainly take, because I think that the members opposite are intentionally trying to slow down this House. For what reason, I do not know. But certainly, Mr. Chair, there is a reason, and whatever that reason is, it is only in their minds.
So, Mr. Chair, I'm not hiding anything. I'm here to share information with the members opposite, and I have not only alluded to that, I have categorically stated that I will share information with the members opposite, and that is just what I am going to do.
So, Mr. Chair, maybe it is my problem, but I certainly cannot understand where these members are coming from.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister is right. It is his problem. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt at this point that he didn't know, but if he didn't know, why didn't he know? He should know, because these are areas under the minister's responsibility and he should know answers to basic questions concerning budgetary funding and contracts. That is the minister's responsibility, and if he doesn't know, he should be able to access that information immediately.
The minister had access to it, had it on his desk before him, and chose to withhold it from this House until a great deal of time had expired in this House. That is the point I wish to convey to the minister, and I'm very, very disappointed to see the way he's responded over the course of the last question period, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Phillips: I have a few questions about another airport, and that's the Whitehorse airport. One of the restrictions that we face with respect to our tourism industry is air access, and the problem we have in the Yukon is that we don't have an airport in the territory that can handle the larger-size charter aircraft in a safe manner in which the airlines like to operate.
Can the minister tell me if there are any plans in the works at all to look at what we can do with respect to either expanding the Whitehorse Airport - and I don't know how much room there is to expand it there and, even with the very limited expansion we'd be allowed to have up there, whether or not we could still accommodate the larger aircraft.
The other option, I suppose, is a relocation of the Whitehorse Airport in the future to possibly accommodate larger aircraft, because I know that, for instance, we're having one charter company come in here next year once a week, whereas Anchorage is going to have wide-bodies coming in on a regular basis, and possibly even more. So we are quite restricted in our marketing initiatives, simply because of the length of the airport and the type of aircraft we can handle.
What is the minister doing, if anything, to try and find a solution to this problem?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, let me say at this point in time and clear up any misconceptions that no, there are no plans to relocate the Whitehorse Airport at this point in time. Certainly though, I've had deliberations with my Government Leader when we had a successful deal signed with Air Transat and it was brought up that there could be a potential problem if we're going to continue with our marketing initiatives the way this government has been. Certainly we'll have to look at it. So, we're going to be looking at it in the preparation of the budget as a line item, but again, that takes cooperation, and I find that there is cooperation with my Cabinet colleagues on these very important issues.
Mr. Phillips: I understand Air Transat's coming into Whitehorse with less than a full load or they can arrive with a full load, but they can't all disembark here - they can't leave Whitehorse with a full load. When they go back to Europe, they have to land at another airport to carry fuel, primarily because of the load restrictions and the airport runway length and all those other things that airplanes have to consider when they're trying to take off and land.
Can the minister tell us what length of runway Air Transat or any of those charter companies require, what length we have now and what kind of expansion - how many feet or metres - would we have to be looking at for the Whitehorse Airport to accommodate that kind of air traffic in the future?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: At the airport now, we have approximately 7,200 feet. We need at least 1,000 more feet, or more, for the extension of the runway.
Mr. Phillips: I know there are some run-up pads at either end of the runway right now. Is there enough room right now? The airport is bordered by a gully at either end, unfortunately. Is there 1,000 feet or 500 feet at either end to actually expand the runway at this present time, to get the extra 1,000 feet that we might need?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That is what we're hoping to look at, to get that type of information up and ready within the cycle that I have described.
Mr. Phillips: Well, the budget then for next year would possibly include some work on that. Before you got to that stage, you would have to do some survey work this year. Have we done any survey work this year with respect to a possible expansion of the airport an extra 1,000 feet? Have we done any of the technical or survey work at all in preparation for the plan?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: There was some information from Transport Canada that was transferred with the file. We are working, at this point in time, to gather the basic physical information that is required for the extension. Certainly we will be gathering that information through the confines of the budget process, as I stated.
Yes, though we have done a little bit of that gathering, it is not quite complete. Hopefully, it will be soon.
Mr. Phillips: Is the minister saying that Transport Canada has done a report with respect to the expansion of the Whitehorse Airport, and if they have, could the minister table that document in the House?
That's my first question, Mr. Chair, if the minister could table that document in the House.
My second question would be, what kind of a scenario would we be looking at if the minister was successful in the budgetary process, and we won't prejudge that? What would be the minister's best guess on the time frame that we might see the work beginning at the airport and possible finish of construction, because I know there is a lead time to marketing these kind of things to let people know that our runway is actually longer and can accommodate larger aircraft. So, what would be the minister's expectations for the time frame in which this particular airport might be open in an expanded form?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: With the Transport Canada documents, it's been brought to my attention that's it's not necessarily a report but that it is certainly information that Transport Canada had at that point in time, and yes, I can certainly share information with the member opposite on it.
My best guess time frame, I couldn't actually say. We would have to look at the information as it comes up, as it's there, how we are going to expand within the tourism industry. Certainly this government is dedicated and sincere about the expansion and the development of the tourism industry, hence the effort that was put into the Transat Air situation. But for a time frame, that is certainly up to my colleagues and myself to do, but I must say that we are working in concert with the industry and will continue to do so.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I think that would be something that the tourism industry would welcome. Any expansion of the airport to accommodate more charter companies would be, I think, useful for the industry.
Mr. Chair, the other question I have about the Whitehorse Airport is the walkways, or the - I forget what they call them - the jetway that people step off the airplane into. I noticed this summer, one of the charter outfits chose not to use it. The other one did, and I think there were some almost conflicting times when Canadian was there, as well as one of the other carriers. I just wonder if there's been any thought given, since we're trying to attract more here, to purchasing a second jetway. I know the building is evidently equipped to handle one eventually. It was designed so that another one could be put on it.
Are we planning on doing that? The reason I ask the question is I had heard from some people that there were some concerns about handicapped people who are required to get off through a ramp on an airplane that wasn't at a jetway, and then try and get into the building and get up into the building. It's a bit of an inconvenience for people who are handicapped or limited in their ability to just walk off the aircraft.
I just wonder if the minister has any plans for a new jetway or improvements to the jetway system that's there.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, certainly, I can say that the charter company chose not to use the ramp. There are no plans at this point in time to put a second one in. At this point in time - certainly we can maybe work with scheduling, such as we have been within my Department of Tourism, to ensure that there is fluid and quick and easy access.
Mr. Jenkins: If I could just go back to the breakdown that the minister provided on the baggage handling repairs, the $44,000 at the Whitehorse Airport, could he provide a further breakdown as to why this was necessary? Was this just for routine repairs and maintenance? It seems quite high for just normal O&M. Or was it a rebuild of a system? Just what was it, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We don't have that information at our fingertips, but we'd certainly be willing to get the information for the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: Does this mean that he won't lose my bags any longer at the Whitehorse Airport?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I've been held responsible for a lot of things in this House but I didn't realize that was just another one.
Mr. Jenkins: The issue of run-up pads was discussed briefly by my colleague from Riverdale South. Run-up pads are quite necessary on a lot of the gravel strips, Mr. Chair. Is the government looking at or anticipating installing them at a lot of the other strips?
The rubber run-up pads are working well, depending on the underlying ground conditions, and they're certainly much, much better than the chipseal that has been installed in a number of the airport facilities.
The optimum would be a concrete run-up pad, but the cost is very prohibitive for those.
Just what direction is the department indicating to the minister that they should be taking in regard to run-up pads?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we take the endorsement from the member opposite and thank him for his advice on this.
As we go through this, we will certainly be looking to get the best service and the best bang for the buck.
Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will resume with Aviation/Yukon Airports. Is there further debate?
Airports in the amount of $131,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
On Public Safety
On Fire Protection
Mr. Jenkins: Please provide an overview as to the additional cost overruns, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, in fire protection, the increase is a $219,000 revote; an additional $100,000 required for the construction of the new firehall in Burwash; a $30,000 revote and an additional $4,000 required for the purchase of the VHF communication system for Pelly; and a $20,000 revote to purchase a breathing air compressor for the Golden Horn.
And there is a reduction of a purchase of a test bench to repair fire service, self-contained breathing apparatuses, and it's $4,000 less than it was estimated originally.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister advise who has the contract in Burwash for the construction of the firehall and what led to the cost increases there, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, the contract lies with the First Nation in the area and we do believe that it was - and I'll have to get the information; we're looking now - with the foundation that was the added cost.
Mr. Jenkins: Was this an open tender or was this a sole-sourced contract?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It was done through a capital funding agreement.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister was going to provide some additional information as to the reasons for the cost overruns.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes. I've been advised that we're very sure it was the foundation, but we'll have to confirm that for the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: Can we have time lines for returning this information?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly. I will get it as soon as I possibly can. I don't anticipate a problem.
Mr. Jenkins: Before the end of the budget debate, I would assume.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I will certainly endeavour to do that.
Mr. Jenkins: The additional costs for the self-contained breathing apparatus test bed - where is that going to be located? I was under the impression that there was one central unit. I would envision this is for testing the bottles as their dates expire. That is done presently by private contractors in the Yukon. What is the Government of Yukon doing competing with private contractors in this area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it is for the Whitehorse area, and it is not additional. It is $4,000 less than estimated.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, but it leads to the question, what is the government doing competing with the private sector, purchasing a test bed for the breathing apparatus containers. It's the bottles that have to be tested and recertified on a regular basis. I believe it's once every 10 years.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the intent is not to run in the face of the private sector. Mr. Chair, though I do not have the absolute information at my fingertips, I will have to provide that information back to the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: I thank the minister for his response.
Can I just take the minister back to the Burwash fire hall and could I ask the minister to table, tomorrow, the financial agreement with the First Nation that has undertaken this construction, with the terms and conditions attached, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair.
Fire Protection in the amount of $369,000 agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Mrs. Edelman: Could we have the detail on that line, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair. There's a $5,000 revote in computing equipment and systems for cabling and network installation, and $11,000 in office accommodation for the acquisition and installation of office walls.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister provide a breakdown of the department's expenditure in this area, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, certainly: a $59,000 revote to deal with the deficiencies in the community hall and the gym facility within Beaver Creek; a $277,000 revote for the design and construction of a youth centre in Old Crow; a $19,000 revote to complete the installation of a concrete pad in the skating rink in Beaver Creek; and a $30,000 revote required for the Canada Games 2007 marketing study; with a reduction of $11,000 in various recreation community centres due to the reduced demand for emergency capital funding to repair community facilities.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister elaborate on Canada 2007, as to what undertakings have gone on to date and what he envisions the department is going to have him take from here?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly a joint working committee between the territorial government and the city - we have been meeting regularly to assess the hosting requirements and our ability to measure up to the requirements. The decision as to whether to submit a formal bid to the Canada 2007 Canada Winter Games must be made no later than 2001. We have been provided the opportunity, and a full report from this working committee is expected to be completed and before the territorial government and the city to review in March 1998.
Mr. Jenkins: Could I take the minister back to Beaver Creek again and ask the minister to provide a overview as to what the Government of Yukon has spent to date on recreational facilities in that community through capital agreements and through funding agreements, as well as the additional costs. Some of these costs that we're starting to incur in this area look like they're a duplication of costs that have been incurred previously. It looks like some of the areas are growing at a much greater rate for that community than any of the other communities that the minister has direct responsibility for. Could the minister undertake to do that, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes. Certainly, I will get the pertinent information from my department for the member opposite.
Chair: Does it clear?
Mr. Ostashek: While we are on recreational facilities, I have just a very simple question for the minister. We have a curling rink sitting at Destruction Bay that hasn't been utilized for some five or six years. In fact, I think there was ice in it only once after the government built it.
Is it the department's intention to leave that curling rink there, or can it be salvaged and moved to some other community where it can be used? It seems like a waste of taxpayers' dollars just sitting there not being utilized year after year and just deteriorating.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thought that was a simple question. How the heck is it simple to move a curling rink?
There are no plans to move the curling rink in Destruction Bay. Certainly, the community might become innovative and find ways and means to use the building.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $374,000 agreed to
On Community Services
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
On Community Planning
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister provide a breakdown of what this community planning pertains to and what areas of the Yukon, please, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, there is an $11,000 revote for the photography and mapping, and that's to complete a mapping project that is held in the Watson Lake area; a $63,000 revote for the Hamlet of Ibex Valley local area plan to complete the project, with a reduction in photography and mapping, as bad weather did not allow the completion of all aerial photography originally planned.
Mr. Jenkins: Under community service, I thought the minister would have some funds budgeted for the firehall in Burwash. Is any part of the engineering for the firehall in Burwash Landing part of this community planning, or is this separate? And if it is separate, where would those funds be allocated, Mr. Chair, and how much were they?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the firehall in Burwash Landing was not done under the auspices of community planning. It is a separate item, and certainly the information that the member has requested will be contained within the capital funding agreement.
Community Planning in the amount of $71,000 agreed to
On Public Health/Roads and Streets
On Water Supply, Treatment and Storage
Hon. Mr. Keenan: If the members prefer, I can just stand up and read this.
Yes, the water supply treatment and storage is an increase of $299,000, which is due to revotes for the purchase of new water trucks for Carcross, at $142,000, and Ross River, at $157,000.
Mr. Jenkins: I guess that leads to the question that these are very important vehicles. Are they two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will have to get back to the member opposite with that information.
Water Supply, Treatment and Storage in the amount of $299,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is a surplus of $5,000 due to minimal water and sewer improvements, identified within the communities.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister elaborate which community, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, they are within the territorial government's jurisdiction, such as Destruction Bay and the Keno area. It is a lump sum of money that was there for all of the communities, and there was a $5,000 savings within it.
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of an underexpenditure of $5,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, a $596,000 revote for the sewage treatment and disposal at Carcross, for the water licence application, design work and the start of the construction, and a $26,000 revote for the sewage treatment and disposal at Marsh Lake, for the water licence application and to start the detailed design. Couple that with the reductions at the Whitehorse sewage treatment project, reduced by $100,000, to adjust the budget estimation, and $29,000 reduction in sewage treatment and disposal at the Marsh Lake, as tender prices were less than anticipated.
Mr. Jenkins: Has the minister given any more consideration to a uniform water and sewer charge, based on the cost of the installation, or based on some other criteria, as was requested previously of his people, or is this part of the community consultation process that is going to be underway for four years?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it is contained within the rural services consultation.
Mrs. Edelman: Issues around the Carcross sewer system - is there a design system for that yet?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We are seeking Water Board approval, and it is in the conceptual design stage.
Mrs. Edelman: Are we looking at getting another lagoon system in here, or is this going to be wetlands?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It is a lagoon, Mr. Chair.
Mrs. Edelman: Are we looking at primary treatment here, and how long is it going to take to design and to build the lagoon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the lagoon is a fully contained lagoon. It's based on evaporation and seepage within the ground, and we're expecting to be able to go to the Water Board for permission to proceed within the next few months.
Mrs. Edelman: Am I to understand that, if you're talking about it going into the ground, you're talking about secondary treatment?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I've been notified by my resident sewer expert that it is better than primary, and certainly I will take his word for that.
Mrs. Edelman: Well, I've spent many a lunch hour talking about sewage with your advisor. I don't know why.
And are we looking at secondary treatment out at Marsh Lake?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I do believe it is secondary, but certainly we'll have to confirm that - it is not contained within my briefing notes - and get back to the member opposite on that.
Mrs. Edelman: I'd appreciate an executive summary of the design proposals so far.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we can share the design with the member opposite.
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $493,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Hon. Mr. Keenan: There was a $97,000 revote for a solid waste disposal study at Marsh Lake to carry out a study of options for solid waste disposal in the Southern Lakes area; $30,000 required for the dump sewage pit relocation at Carcross for minor completion and decommissioning of the old dump; and $5,000 for solid waste disposal consisting of $15,000 required for the Mount Lorne facility improvement, which is offset by a $10,000 reduction in funding for the miscellaneous garbage dumps improvements.
Mr. Jenkins: There was $97,000 for a study of solid waste management in the Marsh Lake area. That seems a little bit on the high side. Could the minister advise why it was so expensive a study?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we can provide the terms of reference for the member opposite, and maybe therein will lie the reasoning for the $97,000. It does seem to be certainly high, but it's certainly in the area. It has certainly been a controversial issue, and it is certainly a revote, but I would be more than pleased to provide the terms of reference for the study.
Mr. Jenkins: Would the minister also undertake to table, along with the terms of reference, whether this contract was awarded in the normal fashion, or was it sole-sourced, and a copy of the contract also, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes.
Mr. Jenkins: Given the high cost of maintaining the dumps today, who pays for the electricity for all these fancy fences, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Within our own dumps, the electricity is generally supplied by a solar panel. If it is not, then certainly it is the responsibility of the territorial government.
Mr. Jenkins: As long as I don't hear that the minister operates it with a battery-operated flashlight, I'd be most happy; we can keep the cost in line.
Further to that, there is an initiative underway to reduce the amount of sanitary landfill in Yukon dumps by 50 percent by the turn of the century. The latest initiatives are the recycling of tetra packs which constitute a very, very small component, and will, if it's adopted, as the paper has been circulating, the deposit charge will be higher than the refund charge on these items. It will certainly add to the food cost of Yukoners.
I don't have a quarrel with the deposit charge being higher than the refund charge on luxury items like soda pop and liquor bottles, but when we get into food-item containers, the refund and the deposit should be the same if we're going to entertain that.
I wonder if the minister can elaborate on the program of reducing the amount of garbage going into our landfill sites. How is that program coming, whether it's on target, whether we're going to be able to achieve our targets? I know the minister shares that responsibility with the Minister of Renewable Resources, but it certainly is an area of concern to all of us, and it is getting to be a more costly area in terms of the lives of the grizzly bears also, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, for the member's critique, and certainly, it is something that has been done with the Department of Renewable Resources, as the member has stated, and I thank the member for the direction.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm sorry, Mr. Chair. I didn't hear what the minister had to say on that point. If I could ask the minister to kindly repeat what he had to say -
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I thank the member opposite for the direction that has been provided, and certainly it will be taken into consideration. I know that he is absolutely right with the statement that we're doing this in conjunction with the Renewable Resources department and C&TS, and we'll work that into the system, and therein lies the answer.
Mr. Jenkins: But a reduction of 50 percent of what goes into our sanitary landfill sites will have a tremendous repercussion on the construction and maintenance of the dump, which is this minister's responsibility, Mr. Chair.
The question was how are we progressing on targeting our goals of achieving a 50-percent reduction? At what juncture are we? Because, from all the information I have to date and from everything I see, despite a very, very elaborate recycling program with bottles and liquor bottles and cans, we're still increasing the amount going into our landfill sites at a very alarming rate. This will certainly have an impact on the budget of C&TS - both capital-wise and operating in this area.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the reductions that the member speaks about could be and should be very realistic targets.
In my department, we only run the dumps. We do not run the recycling program. The recycling program is run by the Department of Renewable Resources.
Mr. Jenkins: I guess that leads to the question of the minister: what are the trends today in the sanitary landfill sites operated by the Government of the Yukon? From my observations, there has been an increase in the amount of material going into these landfill sites. Is that not the case? Is it going down as a consequence of our three-R program here in Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can assure the member that, in some cases, it has gone up and, in other cases, it has been going down. Factors to that are population growth or population shrinkage. We do encourage - I know that it's through the Minister of Renewable Resources department - local recycling, and therein would be the reduction that the member has stated.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister indicated, Mr. Chair, that some are going up and some are going down. Of the dumps that I've had occasion to frequent in north Yukon, all of them have increased, with the exception of the dump around Elsa, but Mayo and Keno Hill have gone up. Certainly, Dawson, the Quigley pit, has increased. The one at Stewart Crossing has increased, and the ones at Pelly Crossing, Carmacks and Faro, despite a downturn in population. These are the ones I am familiar with. I can even throw in Ross River, from one trip there this summer.
Could the minister elaborate? I guess Clinton Creek in my area would be the only one that's decreased, but that has been closed for quite a number of years, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I don't have information on the Mayo, the Dawson, the Faro or the Carmacks dumps. They are certainly run by the municipalities.
The Ross River and Stewart Crossing dumps - I can say that no, we have not really monitored them over the years. We've tried to maintain them. On the Elsa dump, I would naturally think that is going down. I would agree with the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: Which takes us first circle to the desire of us here in the House to reduce the amount going into our landfill sites. That is not the case. That is going to impact on the capital budget of Community and Transportation Services and it's going to impact on the O&M budget of Community and Transportation Services, because there is going to be more and more requirements on dumps and dump maintenance to maintain them in an orderly fashion.
Some of the municipal dumps are well-organized and well-maintained and well looked after. Such does not appear to be the case with the dumps operated by the Government of Yukon.
Of all of the dumps in the Yukon, they are probably in the worst shape - worst condition - and have the lowest level of maintenance, despite all of the recycling programs and despite these initiatives.
I just wanted to know what initiatives the department is going to take, in concert with Renewable Resources, to ensure the lowering of the amount that goes into our sanitary landfill sites.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We do cooperate with the Renewable Resources department on this. I do believe that they would have the answers within the Renewable Resources department.
Mr. Jenkins: Renewable Resources might have the answers, but the department that the minister is responsible for bears the cost. It bears the cost, not just the capital cost of building the dumps but the O&M cost of maintaining the dumps, so I believe it is imperative that the minister just find out which way we're heading and at what speed, because these costs that we are incurring - and one just has to look at this supp and the increase of another $132,000 on top of $170,000 vote, to a total vote of $302,000 - brings us where we are today. That's a significant supp at this juncture and it translates back to what is occurring in our sanitary landfill sites and what is going in there. There is a direct correlation.
So, never mind passing the buck, Mr. Minister. What steps are you taking to ensure that your costs are going to be contained?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the member for his advice and certainly will have to work within the department to encourage recycling. I must say though, my locale, where I live geographically in the Yukon, is without services of a municipal dump and the periphery pressure is on them. So, if the municipalities encourage recycling, it will go down, but certainly the member has a point and we will take it and work with the department to ensure that we can monitor it in some manner.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chair, but the minister is asking us here today to approve about a 75-percent increase in that line item alone and that is a considerable increase. That increase comes as a result of additional capital expenditures, despite the efforts of the Department of Renewable Resources to reduce, recycle and reuse. All of our initiatives do not appear to be coming to fruition.
Yes, it's another department's responsibility, but I want to hear something a lot more positive from the minister than, "We're going to take it under advisement and have a look at it," because this is a considerable sum just on the capital side.
can suggest to the minister that, unless we take immediate steps, the O&M side of this ledger on these landfill sites is going to be rising in the same manner as the capital side is. It'll probably stay up there because the next step is regulations coming in. The regulation of landfill sites is going to have a cost associated with it, not just for the municipalities that operate sanitary landfill sites, but for the government, which is one of the major operators of sanitary landfill sites.
So, we all have to be cognizant of what we can do to reduce these costs and reduce them significantly. I was just hoping that the minister could elaborate somewhat more on this area and give this a more definitive answer than "take it under advisement".
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can say that, within the recycling, we should bring it into the context that it is. Of that total, $97,000 is for a revote for the solid waste disposal study at Marsh Lake. It's the carry-out study of options for the solid waste disposal in the Southern Lakes area. Coming from within that study of options will be, certainly, options that would be generic, I would say, to the Yukon territorial dumps. Therein, we would be working with and for those recommendations.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, I move you report progress on Bill No. 8.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:26 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 25, 1997:
Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on elections of Members of the Legislative Assembly and other related matters (November 25, 1997) (Speaker Bruce)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 25, 1997:
Letter dated November 21, 1997, from the president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, David J. Manning, to the Minister of Economic Development, re support for the proposed Oil and Gas Act (Harding)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1370 and 1371
Land claims training: information re contract with LegendSeekers Anthropological Research (Harding)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1529 to 1530