Thursday, November 27, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
White Ribbon Week
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask members of this House to join me to give tribute to the white ribbon campaign.
This campaign is an effort by men working to end men's violence against women. It is symbolized by a white ribbon, worn particularly by men and boys, as a personal pledge to not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. Women wear the ribbon to show support for that effort.
This year, the White Ribbon Week is from November 28 to December 6. I invite all members of this House and people throughout the territory to wear white ribbons on their coats or jackets during the next seven days, and to remember its purpose throughout the year.
Mr. Phillips: On behalf of the Yukon Party caucus, I rise today to offer our full support to the white ribbon campaign as a means to raise awareness of the problem of violence against women and how we, as men, can work together to stop acts of violence from occurring.
Violence against women is a serious societal problem that occurs far too often. It's a problem that cannot be solved overnight. It is a problem that has been with us since time began and it's a problem, Mr. Speaker, that needs to be addressed.
In the last few years, a territorial-wide survey of women was conducted. During the consultations, violence against women and children was a concern raised most frequently by community members, and it's one of the concerns that is of highest priority to both First Nations and non-aboriginal women in this territory.
Emerging from the survey were testimonies of harassment, brutal beatings and sexual abuse that women in the territory have experienced. In one rural community, nine out of ten women in the focus group had experienced sexual abuse. Most had been abused by more than one person and several had been abused repeatedly over a number of years. Those abusers were, for the most part, family members - fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins. I recall I had many difficulties in reading that report and reading about the agony that some women had to go through.
Violence against women is something that is absolutely intolerable in my mind and something that should be eradicated. Men have been defined as part of the problem, but we think that men can be part of the solution. The white ribbon campaign encourages men to look at our own attitudes and behaviour and to challenge other men to stop all forms of violence. As legislators, we have a responsibility to do our utmost to help create awareness, educate and help facilitate change, so we may be able to address and find solutions to the problems associated with violence.
Regardless of our political differences within this Legislature, I believe we share a common goal, and that is to end violence against women.
Mr. Cable: I rise to respond on behalf of the Yukon Liberal caucus.
Mr. Speaker, in six short years the white ribbon campaign has become the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women.
The white ribbon is a very public pledge to be part of the solution to end violence against women and our caucus supports the campaign and hopes that it continues to expand in our territory, across the country, and the world over.
I commend the Government lLeader for putting this important item on the public agenda.
I understand that over one million white ribbons had been distributed across Canada this year for White Ribbon Week. We hope that all men in the Yukon will show their support for the campaign by wearing the ribbon and joining in this worthy campaign.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Mr. Hon. Mr. Harding: I have a document for tabling, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have a legislative return.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have the 1996-97 annual report of the Department of Education for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the annual report of the Yukon Liquor Corporation.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Petition No. 4 - response
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the Member for Porter Creek South for presenting this petition to the House on behalf of the residents from her riding. To begin my response, though, I'd like to stress that our government has made a strong commitment to creating more parks and protected spaces in the Yukon. We believe it is very important that we act now to protect the ecological diversity and the natural attributes of this beautiful territory so that future generations will be able to enjoy the close relationship with nature that Yukon people value so highly.
With respect to the petition at hand, Mr. Speaker, I should point out that the settlement and implementation of land claims and self-government agreements is our government's top priority. Further consideration will be given to the specific park land petition once the First Nation land claims are settled in the area.
As well, this area has previously been identified as potential future endowment lands for the Yukon College, and the Minister of Education has made a commitment to consult with all the parties involved, including the City of Whitehorse, First Nations governments, and the residents of Porter Creek before making any final decisions about that land.
On May 1 of this year, the Minister of Education told this House that she would ensure, "land claims agreements are finalized and in place and that the college community and the public at large will have an opportunity to comment on any proceedings on college endowment lands."
I know the minister will want to make sure the people who signed this petition are included in any consultation on this question. While the area in question is Commissioner's land, it falls within the boundaries of the City of Whitehorse and therefore comes under the municipal zoning jurisdiction.
Mr. Speaker, the City of Whitehorse has identified this area in its official community plan as one for which an area development scheme should be completed. According to the city's official community plan, the consideration of the provision of parks, recreation, open space and facilities is among the aspects that would be examined through an area development scheme.
I would like to assure members that members of this government will respect the rights of all parties in this matter, including the city and First Nation governments and the residents of the area who asked that this land be designated as a park for the use and enjoyment of Yukoners and the college.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any petitions to be presented?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 45: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 45, entitled An Act to Amend the Public Utilities Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 45, entitled An Act to Amend the Public Utilities Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 45 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Livingston: I rise to give notice of motion
THAT, while Members of the Legislature have the privilege of speaking in this chamber freely and without risk of legal censure, it is the opinion of this House:
(1) that this privilege imposes on Members a particular duty of trust to all citizens of the Yukon;
(2) that the privilege of legislative immunity should not be used to malign the reputations of public servants, members of the Yukon community or any other individual citizens or groups of citizens who do not have a voice in this House to defend themselves from comments of elected Members; and
(3) that this House urges all Members to exercise a high standard of fairness and discretion when discussing the affairs of individuals citizens or groups of citizens, and refrain wherever possible from making unsubstantiated allegations against individuals or using the names of individuals in a way that would bring them into disrepute when such individuals have not been accorded the right of due process to defend themselves against such allegations.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Haines Junction airport fuel dispensing system
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
On Tuesday, in supplementary debate, and after considerable prodding, the minister finally admitted that he chose to install and supply an aviation gas fuel dispensing system at the Haines Junction airport at a budgeted cost of some $40,000. All this for a private operator.
In view of the fact that there isn't even enough fixed wing movement at that airport to keep statistics, can the minister advise the House why he installed this system for a private, commercial operator?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, my colleague to the left is certainly correct. It was, I believe, contained in the 1995-96 capital projects in the consideration of the following. We felt that - well, at the time, the government felt, since the Yukon Party was in government at the time - the number of overflights between Whitehorse and Northway, Alaska each summer has been estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000 flights. The unavailability of aviation fuel between Whitehorse and Northway has forced many pilots to use car gas when low on fuel, which is not approved for use in many aircraft.
Due to the unavailability of the fuel, tourists flying light aircraft spent little time in the area and continued their flights non-stop from Northway to Whitehorse.
The Haines Junction airport was selected for the fuel capacity test due to the market and the increased tourism interest the area had been experiencing.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister knows that's pure bunk. The pilot project, or whatever the minister wants to refer to it as, at the Haines Junction airport - there are other airports on the route - Beaver Creek, Burwash - whose movements of aircraft are way in excess of anything that has been recorded at the Haines Junction airport. And both of these other airports are without fuel dispensing systems. Their aircraft movement justifies it.
Why was Haines Junction selected, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can certainly reiterate that it was contained within the 1995-96 capital projects. Certainly, we all know who was suffering through their governance period at that point in time, although I will say that the decision, I think, was a good decision. If we're going to enhance tourism in any spot, and there where it was needed, well certainly that's what it is.
Maybe the member opposite would like to consider calling this bunk. A similar approach was used at the Dawson and the Mayo airports to attract service and, once a demand was established, the private sector willingly invested in their own infrastructure.
So, certainly, this government planted a seed and will continue to plant those seeds to increase tourism within the region.
Mr. Jenkins: Why is the minister mad if he is right? But he is wrong. At both the Dawson airport and the Mayo airport the systems were installed by private operators, by fuel companies. Now, there was a publication of a notice of interest for Haines Junction and no interest was shown by the major fuel handlers because there is not ample movement of aircraft to justify it. The only individual in that area who wanted fuel was one private operator, and that private operator came to the minister and ended up being the contractor for this service.
This contract was entered into with Sifton Air to dispense fuel. Could the minister explain why this company doesn't even have a Yukon fuel vendor's licence to do so, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly Mr. Speaker. I do not wish to be considered "mad" or "rabid" or any other such thing - frustrated after reading papers and documents, certainly. The public certainly deserves better and I will certainly give them better.
Now, to the question at hand, certainly, it is a requirement for the fuel vendor to have a fuel permit in order to carry out the contract. All operators are required to operate within the law, and dispensing of the fuel in Haines Junction requires just such a permit.
Let me further say that it is a principle of law that contractors must meet all the legislative requirements including the fuel oil tax requirements. There is a further requirement in the licence that was issued to Sifton that all legislative requirements are to be met. On that basis, and as it is standard business practice to operate within the law, departmental staff do not routinely check that contractors meet all the requirements of legislation that apply.
Certainly, Mr. Speaker, it is happening at this time.
Question re: Haines Junction airport fuel dispensing system
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, to my favourite minister, the Minister for Community and Transportation Services, who spends so freely and fast with Yukon taxpayers' money without checking on the legalities of it or even if the contractor is conforming to the existing regulations.
Can the minister advise the House why he installed the fuel system in Haines Junction for Sifton Air, and that firm doesn't even have to pay for the electricity to pump their own fuel to fuel their own aircraft. Why is this so?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I am very, very pleased to be known that I am his favourite minister on this of the floor. It gives me great pleasure to be able to communicate with somebody on the other side of the House. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I think that if he would take that into question, he would start to understand that he can grow from examples.
Yes, I would like to say that the number of flights between Whitehorse and Northway, Alaska, each summer has been estimated between $10,000 and $15,000. There were not enough people stopping in to the airport there. The previous government, in 1995-96, thought that they should be able to attract aircraft there to get people to spend more time within the community, hence the decision.
I certainly support the decision.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister explain why he hasn't tabled the documents regarding the arrangements his government has with Sifton Air, like he promised to do? These documents were supposed to be tabled yesterday. The minister hasn't done so. What is the minister hiding, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, the minister and my government have absolutely nothing to hide. I did say that I would table documents, but certainly, I will table those documents. I did say that I would table documents within the Committee of the Whole. As my department gathers the information, I shall gladly share it with the member, and it will be soon.
Mr. Jenkins: If the minister would care to check Hansard, he will find out that he promised to table the documents yesterday. Yesterday has come and gone. Today will be come and gone as far as tabling of documents, Mr. Speaker.
The minister indicated in previous debate that there was a contract in place with Sifton Air. Can the minister assure this House that this contract conforms to all existing contract regulations? Can the minister give the House that assurance, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I've gone from a "favourite" to "come and gone". I would just like to reiterate, Mr. Speaker, that sometime I must have said it - that there is a good example across the floor of "come and gone".
Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I will live up to my words as I said. We did check the Hansard. I did say in the Hansard that I would table it to the Chair, and I certainly will when the time comes.
Thank you very much and, absolutely, I have nothing to hide.
Question re: Yukon Federation of Labour, funding application
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development.
Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Federation of Labour has applied for $200,000 of funding under the NDP government's new NGO funding policy. The application is dated in October this year. Can the minister tell this House whether this application has been approved?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if the member's figures are entirely right. I'll have to look back into her suggestion. I don't know whether she is opposing or proposing that there should be some acceptance by government. It's hard to find out. Perhaps when she stands up again, she can tell me if she's advocating for or against some kind of funding in this respect.
With regard to a final decision, it is being discussed at Cabinet, and there should be some answer forthcoming for the organization in a very reasonable period of time.
Ms. Duncan: I have to remind the minister it's about Question Period. We ask the questions; they provide the answers. That's the theory.
There are many, many social service organizations that are in desperate need of funding. They include Crossroads Treatment Centre, the Hospice Yukon Society, the Yukon Council on Ageing, to name just a few. This is about priorities. Can the minister assure this House that if the government has $200,000 funds in NGO funding it will go to social service organizations and not to their NDP friends in the labour movement?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, it seems like the Liberals have taken a position. They are opposed to the Yukon Federation of Labour being involved in decision making and public policy in this territory. I welcome that the member has finally come out of the closet on this question, but I would say that other organizations receive fee-for-service funding for providing service and input to government - the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, Klondike Placer Miners Association, the Chamber of Mines. Many different organizations have fee-for-service agreements and receive funding to participate in public projects.
This government believes labour and organized labour have a role to play in terms of providing advice on public policy making in this territory and we're considering their requests. I'm not sure that the member's numbers are correct, as usual, but we'll check into that and we look forward to having a response sometime in the near future.
And Mr. Speaker, if she thinks she's going to get away without taking positions in Question Period, I've got news for her.
Ms. Duncan: This government is considering giving $200,000. Mr. Speaker, I stand corrected; the actual figure is $189,925, what the application is for - to an organization that's currently telling people not to donate to the Salvation Army Christmas fundraising drive, is this the better way? With so many worthwhile organizations that could use this money, I find it hard to believe that the NDP, the party that sells itself as the party of compassion, is considering funding a lobby group that advocates this sort of action.
Will the minister reconsider this pending decision and ensure that this $200,000 will go to a social service organization that needs the money?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I can rule out the consideration of $189,000 right off the bat. With regard to NGOs and our government, this Yukon NDP government came up with a multi-year funding commitment to NGOs of three years, for the first time in the territory, making good on a major election commitment and we're very proud of that. I think a lot of the NGOs are very happy about that action that was undertaken by this government.
Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the Liberal Party is obviously showing their anti-labour colours in this territory. They did it when they voted for the wage restraint budget when I was in opposition and they're doing it now.
We believe that labour has a legitimate voice, as do business organizations in this territory, like the Chamber of Mines, like the KPMA, like the Yukon Chamber and Whitehorse Chamber, who all receive forms of government money through fee-for-service to provide information and participate in public policy making.
We believe that labour has a role in inputting into government decisions that affect them and we are going to try and ensure that they have some ability to do that.
Question re: Yukon Fereration of Labour, funding application
Ms. Duncan: One of the principles of the NGO funding policy is that the government would consider the precedent-setting nature of each funding decision. The first reaction that I've received from many groups I've spoken to about this application is where do they line up? Now that the government's in the business of handing out money to lobbyists, I expect that the proposals are going to come flooding in. Is every group that wants to comment on a bill or policy now eligible for money?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe the hypocrisy of that member. Workers are now lobbyists and the voice of labour is -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: On a point of order.
Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. "Hypocrisy" is unparliamentary and the minister should withdraw it.
Speaker: Would the minister withdraw his unparliamentary language?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I certainly will, Mr. Speaker, and I will conclude my answer by saying that we have a fundamental difference of opinion with the Yukon Liberal Party.
The Yukon New Democrats believe that workers and organized labour have a legitimate voice in public policy making in this territory, the same legitimate voice that is used to make decisions about funding fee-for-service agencies like the chambers of commerce and chambers of mines when they participate in public decision making. We're very proud of that. We think that's the right way to approach public policy making. We are going to continue to do it that way.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the minister has just stood in this House and informed us that the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the Klondike Placer Miners Association and others have been paid, on a fee-for-service basis, for advice given to this government. Is the minister prepared to table the service contract with the Yukon Federation of Labour? What services are they providing for this non-government organization funding?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, we would be more than happy, once a final decision is made regarding any arrangement that is struck with the Yukon Federation of Labour, to provide that fee-for-service agreement, if one is struck, in the same way we would provide the fee-for-service agreements that are presently held between the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and my department, or the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and my department.
Mr. Speaker, we believe in balanced debate in this territory; we believe labour and workers have a voice in this territory and should have a voice. I'm really surprised - actually, I shouldn't say that. I'm not really surprised that the Yukon Liberal Party is taking this position.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, none of those organizations that the minister mentioned took out ads in the 1996 September election campaign. YFL paid for ads in local newspapers, telling people to vote NDP. This organization has funded advertising for NDP conventions and paid for members to work on NDP election campaigns. The YFL has not been shy about funding the NDP.
Is this $200,000 the patronage payback for the support of the YFL leadership during the last election?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, we didn't get a lot of support in the last election from the organizations that were involved in the election campaign, from the KPMA, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. That doesn't mean that this government doesn't want to involve them in decisions that affect them. It doesn't mean that we haven't continued funding arrangements with them that were undertaken by the last administration and the previous NDP administration before them.
So, Mr. Speaker, what we believe in is balanced input in decision making. We believe that business has a voice in public decision making, and we believe labour has a voice in public decision making.
Mr. Speaker, I think what the member is advocating, if I hear her correctly, is that we should do a full analysis of the funding arrangements with all organizations, including business. And from what I hear her saying, she's against business receiving these fee-for-service arrangements as well. So, taking her advice, I don't think we'll agree with her, but I think we have to try and convince her that it's a good idea to have both business and labour and working people involved in decision making in this territory.
Question re: United Keno Hill Mines, environmental requirements
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the environment.
Mr. Speaker, we heard this morning that the power has been shut off to the Elsa mine, United Keno Hill mine. I asked the minister yesterday about our concerns with the anti-pollution system that's running there. It's powered by electricity. Is the minister prepared to tell this House if arrangements have been made to keep power going to the pumps and pipes that are necessary to protect the environment? Have there been arrangements made?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, Renewable Resources department officials have been in contact with the federal officials responsible for enforcing the United Keno Hill Mines water licence. We did have discussions with DIAND in regard to environmental problems that could arise with the shutting off of the electricity. We were advised by DIAND that they have asked Yukon Energy Corporation to restore power for environmental reasons, and that will be done. I believe at this point that the power at United Keno Hill will be reconnected.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I thank the minister for that. This could develop into a very serious situation and a very costly situation for taxpayers if in fact we have a spill at that site.
Can the minister tell the House today if this is a short-term, stop-gap arrangement, or is the minister not concerned about what's going to happen over the winter? We're going into a winter period now - a very cold winter probably - and I think Yukoners need some comfort to know that this government is going to act in the event that there's total financial failure of the company that's responsible for the environmental problem that's there now.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I just mentioned to the member that the power will be, if it hasn't already been, turned back on in Keno. It's not because DIAND had recommended it, at all.
Mr. Ostashek: Can the minister tell this House if it is the Yukon taxpayers who are going to pay the bill or is the federal government going to accept the responsibility, which they should because it's their responsibility. Is the power bill and all the mitigating actions being taken going to be - who's going to pick up the bill for it?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'll respond as minister responsible for the Energy Corporation because what the member asked does not really pertain to the environment, specifically. The arrangement is that YEC and the board had a board meeting today. They've been in contact with the United Keno Hill Mines, with NDU, that's interested in the property. They are discussing it. This morning there was some routine maintenance work being undertaken, but the instruction of YEC to YECL, the manager of the utility, is to reconnect while these discussions are underway this afternoon.
The Energy Corporation has communicated to DIAND that if there is no arrangement struck and the power were cut off, at DIAND's request, YEC would immediately reconnect the power to avoid any environmental problems, which is a very big concern and priority of this government.
Question re: Children's dental program
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The Yukon children's dental program is one of the best preventive health care programs in Canada and for the third time in five years, this program is being reviewed. This time the government has hired Dr. Uswak from the Northwest Territories to do the review. Could the minister tell this House when this latest review of this program will be complete and will he commit to providing a copy of the results of that review to this House?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, we can provide a report on that. As the member has said, we have recruited a doctor from the Keewatin district, who is doing that assessment now. He has met with a variety of groups involved in the dental program. As well, he has made some trips out to communities and will be developing his report.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, earlier this year I expressed concerns to the minister about the continuation of this vital preventive health program at the grade 8 level, and the minister committed to continuing the grade 8 program for this year. Now I'm hearing from organizations that have been consulted on the dental review that it is likely that the program is going to be reduced to the pre-school level.
Is this accurate, Mr. Minister, because this program was just devolved to this government a few months ago and already we're talking about cutting eight years out of the program. Is that the minister's intention?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure where the member is getting her information, because certainly there hasn't been any information conveyed to me. I understood that the doctor in question was going to be consulting with a variety of people and probably one of the issues that has been discussed is the whole question of age levels and things like that. That doesn't necessarily mean that that is going to be a final decision.
Certainly, nothing of that nature has been conveyed to me in any form.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, that's very interesting, and I hope that we get a commitment for a full service.
Mr. Speaker, one of the best features of the children's dental program in the Yukon was its universality. In other words, universal programs cost less to administer and you are more likely to get to the root of a community health problem.
Mr. Speaker, part of this review is looking at making the program income-tested and delivering the program differently in rural Yukon than in Whitehorse. The reason that the Yukon children's dental health program, the oldest dental program in Canada, is so successful is because it is available to everyone, especially those children who tend to fall between the cracks of the bureaucracy.
Mr. Speaker, is this the harbinger of a policy change in the Department of Health, and is this the beginning of developing a two-tier health system in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We were chided for this before in the press, but I won't give the member a brush-off and we won't get into duelling puns again.
I can tell the member that there is no attempt to make this into a two-tier system. What has been an issue has been the question of trying to perhaps deliver the program in areas where private dentists are not in practice, and we are certainly concerned about rural areas where there isn't an availability of dentists, whereas in Whitehorse, sometimes, many parents who have access to dental insurance programs choose to take their children to private dentists.
But there are no plans at this point to do any kind of two-tier privatization.
Question re: Haines Junction airport fuel dispensing system
Mr. Jenkins: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and it's concerning the Haines Junction refueling and it's concerning Sifton Air. We now learn that there is a contract in place between Sifton Air and the Government of Yukon. The minister has failed, as promised, to table a copy of this contract. We know that Sifton Air doesn't have the proper licence to dispense fuel. The minister has admitted to that.
Other than that, can the minister assure this House that this contract with Sifton Air and his government conforms in all respects with the existing Government of Yukon contract regulations and guidelines? Can the minister give the House that assurance?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I can say, in support of the department, that I do believe that it would be conforming. Yes, sir, I would.
Mr. Jenkins: I guess that leads to the question, Mr. Speaker. Why will the minister not table a copy of this contract? What is he hiding? Why will the minister not tell us why this company doesn't even pay for electricity to pump fuel to their own aircraft? Can the minister tell us that? Why is the government paying? Why are the taxpayers paying for this cost?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This government has absolutely nothing to hide. I say that to the people at large within the Yukon Territory.
As far as the electrical requirements as the member opposite is speaking of, I will certainly have to check into that and get the information back to the gentleman opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, this morning I did check, and I'm sure the minister was alerted when I called the tax department and asked them if a fuel vendor's licence had been issued at Sifton Air. I had to go through three different people in the department before I was told that an individual would call me back. I'm sure that, during that time frame, the minister was alerted as to what I was seeking from the department.
Let us take this one step further, Mr. Speaker. The government is paying out this kind of money for a private contractor to fuel his own aircraft. Why did this occur with taxpayers' dollars and why is the government continuing to pay the electrical bill?
I've had an opportunity to check and that is the case. Why is the minister trying to hide behind whatever and avoid the question?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I must reiterate once more that I am not hiding behind anything. But, Mr. Speaker, the gentlemen opposite certainly does not give me much trust factor to take his word. Certainly what I will do, Mr. Speaker, is I will continue, as I said, to examine as I will and to get back to the member opposite but surely, Mr. Speaker, I do believe that nothing has been done illegally.
As to the question why, in 1995-96, the previous government opposite, in their wisdom - which came through like lightning in a lightning storm occasionally - and certainly thought that in order to enhance tourism in the Kluane district that we should do something for the people at the airport, as we have done in the Dawson area and in the Mayo area. So, I do hope that will absorb into the member opposite and that he would stew on it.
Speaker: Question Period has now elapsed, and we will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 23: Third Reading
Clerk: Government Bills. Third reading, Bill No. 23, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 23, Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 23, entitled Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 23 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 23 has passed this House.
Bill No. 30: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 30, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 30, entitled An Act to Amend the Constitutional Questions Act, be now read a third time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 30, entitled An Act to Amend the Constitutional Questions Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 30 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 30 has passed this House.
Bill No. 31: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 31, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 31, entitled An Act to Amend the Cooperative Associations Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 31, entitled An Act to Amend the Cooperative Associations Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 31 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 31 has passed this House.
Bill No. 25: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 25, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 25, entitled An Act to the Notaries Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 25, entitled An Act to Amend the Notaries Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 25 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 25 has passed this House.
Bill No. 34: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 34, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 34, entitled Continuing Consolidation of Statutes Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 34, entitled Continuing Consolidation of Statutes Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 34 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 34 has passed this House.
Bill No. 46: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 46, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 46, entitled An Act to Amend the Partnership Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 46, entitled An Act to Amend the Partnership Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 46 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 46 has passed this House.
Bill No. 38: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 38, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 38, entitled An Act to Amend the Consumer Protection Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 38, entitled An Act to Amend the Consumer Protection Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 38 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 38 has passed this House.
Bill No. 37: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 37, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 37, entitled Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (Consequential Amendments) Act, 1997, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 37, entitled Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (Consequential Amendments) Act, 1997, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 37 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 37 has passed this House.
Bill No. 24: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 24, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 24, entitled Family Violence Prevention Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 24, entitled Family Violence Prevention Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Mr. Phillips: I just want to speak briefly in third reading of this particular bill.
Mr. Speaker, last night in debating this bill in Committee of the Whole, I asked the minister to provide us with an amendment to strengthen the bill with respect to violence against women in the issue of when a firearm was used in committing the offence. I want to thank the minister for putting some teeth into the bill and strengthening the bill somewhat, but I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I am a little disappointed.
All members in this House have spoken out strongly with respect to gun control and the use of firearms in committing crimes. We had an opportunity last night in this bill to demonstrate to the Yukon people that if someone uses a firearm in committing an offence it won't be tolerated, and the government chose to take another route.
I'm disappointed about that, Mr. Speaker, but I believe this piece of legislation is a good piece of legislation and will help women in this territory who are abused. I think, though, that we really missed an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to put some teeth in the bill. As I said last night, the Government Leader stood up in the election campaign and stated that he would fight the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to have local hire in this territory. Last night I asked the government to go that extra mile with respect to putting in a strong law, and they said that, well, we can't supersede federal law.
It seems that for local hire we can, but when it comes to protecting women's lives and sending a strong message out there, we can't take that stand. I was disappointed in that, but I believe, in the long run, this bill is a lot better than what we have now and will protect women in the territory. We support the bill for that reason.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question? If the member now speaks, she will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say before this passes that the Yukon Liberal caucus brought forward a bill in the spring of this year and clearly it was an idea that was shared by all the people in this House: that there needs to be more to protect people who are abused in our territory.
This government has worked with us very, very well to bring forward a bill that I think is very good and I think it's going to help not just women but men in our territory. I think that's something that we all need to be proud of, and I commend the minister for that.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members of this House who have spoken in support of the Family Violence Prevention Act. I would like to state for the record that I believe that this legislation will enhance safety for victims of family violence in the Yukon, which is a very real need.
We felt, as a government, that there was a need to offer women more choices and the Family Violence Prevention Act allows for, in instances where the threat of family violence is immediate, family members to obtain an emergency intervention order to be able to remain in their own homes and to have dangerous or violent people removed from the home.
This bill is also about holding offenders accountable for their actions. I'm very proud of the good work that's been done by the many, many contributions we've received from First Nations, from community groups, from social service agencies and women's groups that have helped us to strengthen this bill and to move on the model that we used, based on legislation in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island.
We had some discussion with the Member for Porter Creek North last night about the ability to withhold firearms from people who are dangerous and, as I indicated in the debate last night, we, as a territory, are not able to enact legislation in the criminal arena. We respect the federal jurisdiction. Where there are weapons offences, Criminal Code provisions continue to apply.
I believe that we've brought forward a strong bill and I would like to encourage all members of this House to continue to support our work as we move through implementation and as we build both increased knowledge and consensus in the communities through the consultations on the implementation of the bill.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. Livingston: Agree.
Mr. Ostashek: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Cable: Agree.
Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried and that Bill No. 24 has passed this House.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 24 agreed to
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 Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 8 - Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98 - continued
Chair: We will begin with the Department of Education.
Department of Education
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Department of Education is requesting a supplementary of $1,344,000 in operation and maintenance funding for the 1997-98 fiscal year. The major items included in this supplementary include additional costs for increasing staff at the Faro school of $500,000. As well, there are funds included for the Yukon Teachers Association collective agreement of $576,000. The additional costs incurred for replacement of individual teacher curriculum aids materials and to set up the temporary housing for the teachers because of the Old Crow fire is $75,000.
The Department of Education is also requesting a capital supplementary of $5,176,000 for the 1997-98 fiscal year. The largest single request in this area is for the funding required to begin the construction of the Old Crow school in the 1997-98 year - $2,825,000 is allotted for that.
There is an insurance recovery of $2,945,000 included in this supplementary for the Old Crow school replacement. The recovery is all-inclusive and covers such things as building materials, replacement of school items lost in the fire, and cost of replacing the furniture and fixtures in the teachers' housing. As well, in the capital budget, there is a revote of $1,972,000 to complete the construction of the Porter Creek Secondary School.
I look forward to the members' questions on the supplementary budget.
Mr. Phillips: I want to start today in an area that I've been talking about in Question Period for some time, and that is the math and the math marks that we've been hearing about lately, Mr. Chair. I want to make some suggestions to the minister.
Since I raised the issue, I have had literally dozens of phone calls from parents who are concerned, who have students who didn't do that well in this first semester. The minister provided us with a document in the defence of her argument that the students are doing well, and I've gone through that document and I have some questions about that in a few minutes.
But, I want to make some suggestions to the minister. I have had parents call me, students call me, and teachers call me from several schools in the Whitehorse area, and everyone seems to say that all is not well, but there are all kinds of suggestions and solutions from all sides on how to make things better.
So, what I would like to suggest to the minister is that - I asked initially for an independent inquiry on our math marks from grades 7 to 12 and I would like to ask the minister that again. But, I would like to make some suggestions on who takes part and how it might come about.
Mr. Chair, I am concerned about it and there are a lot of parents who are concerned about it. My suggestion to the minister is that not everyone here is totally right, but there is room to look at the problem and to look at how we can solve the problem.
What's been suggested to me by some is that an independent inquiry might go some way to solving the problem we have.
Now what I'd like to suggest to the minister is that the minister talk it over with the school councils of the various Whitehorse schools from grades 7 to 12 and see how they feel about it; talk it over with the teachers in the various math departments of the various schools and see how they feel about it and talk it over with the principals of the schools as well and the department. Among those four groups, possibly they could come up with an individual in the education system - from outside of the territory so they would be impartial - to come in and have a look at our overall math marks, the math department and see how we're doing overall.
You know, I might get some surprises, but I think the minister will get some surprises, as well. So, what I'd like to suggest to the minister is that she talk to the partners in education and offer to carry out a small, independent investigation into math where this individual would speak to students of the various schools, the parents, staff and others and come forward with some recommendations on where we're at and what we can do to improve our standing from where we're at today.
I would like to ask the minister if she would consider that. And I want the minister to think about it very seriously, because I have to tell the minister that I've had an awful lot of people call me, including an awful lot of teachers. So, I know there's support out there from even teachers. Some teachers who called me felt I wasn't totally correct on the issue and suggested to me that an independent inquiry might give some answers, not only to the minister, but to me, as well, and to some others. That's what I'm suggesting to the minister.
This isn't something that is meaning to criticize the minister. The purpose of it, of course, is to get an independent evaluation of where we're at with our math in this territory and some suggestions on how to make it better or to accent the things we are doing well on now. Would the minister consider doing that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I'm prepared to consider the member's suggestion, but I do have some comments to make in response to his position as he's presented it. I have heard from parents, as well, and the member, in Question Period, asserted that there was a crisis. However, the failure of students to achieve passing marks is isolated to one high school.
There is not a similar problem in the other high schools in the territory, including the two other high schools in Whitehorse, and when we compare the assessment results in the document the minister said he is going to get into questioning on later, so perhaps I can leave that for now, I don't think we see a crisis. Certainly there are concerns about the numbers of students who are failing in grade 9 and grade 10 math at one high school at the present time. That may, in part, according to some of the parents who called me with concerns, be due to the numbers of tests that students are taking.
This is a problem that the school administration and the superintendent and the department officials are investigating at the present time. I have not heard a request for an independent inquiry from anyone other than the member opposite but I am certainly willing to continue to hear from school councils, administrators, parents, teachers and other partners in education.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I'm pleased to see that the minister is willing to listen, at least.
In the document, Assessment Highlights, Yukon Territory Examinations, 1996-97, mathematics and sciences, although the document that the minister shows us, which shows that in the higher grades, math is doing a little better, when you look at the document, it's clear that math is the poorest of all the other sciences that are there. Math is the one that has suffered the most, and that's something that I've heard from a lot of people.
Mr. Chair, another suggestion I would make for the minister is for the minister to produce assessment highlights of each individual school once a year, or possibly at each semester, and circulate that, make those documents public so that various schools can see how they're doing compared to other schools, and we'd get a better idea of exactly where various schools sit.
Now, the minister tells me that it looks like it's just F.H. Collins that has the problem. Well, if we put out this kind of document - an assessment document like this - then we could see clearly where there may be problems.
But I go back to my concern. The minister said that the department is looking at the math, and the department is examining now what's going on with the math, but the concern I heard from some parents and teachers is that we need somebody independent to do this.
The department has looked at some of these problems in the past, and the feeling is, appoint an individual who the department, the teachers, the school councils, and others, would agree upon as a qualified individual, and have that individual look at all the schools in the territory and report back to the minister, possibly before next summer, or before next fall, with recommendations and possibly an action plan that we might look at.
Like I said, I might very well get some surprises when the person reports back, but I know from what I'm hearing, and from what I've heard the minister say, the minister is going to get some surprises as well. So all is not well in our math departments in our schools in this territory. Maybe we have something to learn from different math departments in different schools. As the minister says, some are doing better than others. Well, let's have somebody independent come in, somebody agreed upon by the partners in education, and have a look at it.
I don't think it's an onerous task, or a hugely expensive task. I think it's an important one, and I think it's one that we'd all benefit from in the long run.
Mr. Chair, the minister, earlier this year - I believe in August - talked about First Nations students and First Nations education. I just wondered what programs the minister plans on bringing into place, or are there any new programs in place with respect to the concerns that we heard about in August about First Nations students and First Nations programs in the schools? Are there any plans in the works to make any changes there?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the member could be clearer about what his question is. We're not changing, mid-year, the existing curriculum. I'm not clear what the member is asking about or what its relation is to the supplementary budget.
Could he try that one again?
Mr. Phillips: It was a report that was commissioned by the government to look into the native teacher education program at the Yukon Native Language Centre. I just wonder what the minister is going to do with respect to the concerns that were raised in that report.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The review of First Nation's education programs that was initiated under the former government has been completed. The review has now been provided to First Nations in the Yukon, to school councils and to the public, and it has been widely distributed among the education community, to the Yukon native teacher education program, Yukon College, the Yukon Native Language Centre and so forth. The final report was submitted in September, 1997, and then the report was distributed to the school councils at their fall conference on October 25.
The intent of the report, when it was commissioned by the previous government, was to work with First Nations on any changes that needed to be made to First Nation education programming. The intent is - although the meeting came up briefly at a meeting with the CYFN leadership and the chiefs of other First Nations outside of CYFN - there will be further ongoing meetings with First Nations on the report and how to proceed.
Mr. Phillips: The Department of Education and F.H. Collins produced a report, F.H. Collins Senior Secondary School Growth Plan 1996 to 2001. It was revised in June 1996. That was prior to the election. Can the minister tell me if F.H. Collins is still following that growth plan? Have there been any changes or amendments to it with respect to the types of programs they wanted to bring in? Can the minister enlighten me on that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I do not have any information with me in relation to the F.H. Collins growth plan. I expect that it is still being used by the school community. I can come back to the member with a written answer to that.
Mr. Phillips: If the minister would do that, I would appreciate it.
Mr. Chair, I have a few other issues here.
Can the minister tell us if the government has any plans to change the status of the student financial assistance plan? I'm getting quite a few calls in my office from time to time regarding individuals who are disqualified or who, for one reason or another, have lived here all their lives and can't qualify any longer. There are all kinds of horror stories out there from individuals.
So, I'd like to know this from the minister: what are they planning to do with student financial assistance? There was a study done a few years ago that made some recommendations. Is the minister planning to change the student financial assistance program in any way?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, on that subject, the main activity that I am pursuing is working with my colleagues across the country. The Canadian Council of Ministers of Education is hoping to schedule a meeting with the federal minister to lobby and encourage them to restore funding for post-secondary education needs, which have been drastically cut.
There are no present plans to review the Students Financial Assistance Act in the Yukon.
Mr. Phillips: There are those terrible Liberals in Ottawa coming back to haunt us with all those cutbacks to education.
Mr. Chair, there was some talk prior to the settling of the contract between YTA and the Government of the Yukon with respect to some of the things that were said at the bargaining table and some of the ways the teachers felt they were maybe mistreated by the government, and I just would like to ask the minister what kind of a relationship the minister has with the executive and the union of YTA. Does she meet with the union on an ongoing basis? What kind of dialogue do they have? What kind of input do they have? Maybe the minister can tell us - the minister has been in office for a year now - how many times has the minister taken the opportunity to meet with the president of the Yukon Teachers Association?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I can tell the member that yesterday I received an invitation to attend and speak to the Yukon Teachers Association annual convention in the spring. I also met with the president of the YTA following the conclusion of their negotiations. During the time period that the Yukon Teachers Association was at the table negotiating with, and then subsequently in arbitration with, the Yukon government, we did not meet. But I have met with YTA on occasion and recently.
Mr. Phillips: The minister - the government - has talked about communication and working with the partners of education. Doesn't the minister think that it is a bit unusual to wait almost a full year before she would request a meeting with the YTA? It seems kind of unusual that they wouldn't actually sit down and discuss with YTA their concerns from time to time?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The member seems to have misheard my answer. I have met with the Yukon Teachers Association very shortly after coming into office on the first occasion.
During the time that the teachers were in arbitration and at the negotiating table, I did not meet with them, but have again met with the president of YTA subsequent to the resolution of the YTA agreement.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I guess my concern is that I understand that the agreement with YTA is a two-year contract. The minister said she doesn't like to meet with the union while they're negotiating. She met with them just after the election and met with them after the arbitrator made a ruling. She's going to speak to YTA next spring, but they're going to be back into negotiations right away, almost, this spring. Maybe if it takes another year or year and a half to negotiate, like it did in the past, the minister, in four years, will have had one or two meetings with YTA. I would have thought there would maybe be a more regimented schedule with YTA, that they might meet every six months or quarterly, or something, with the executive of the YTA.
Does the minister not think it's important to do that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I am happy to meet with the YTA on a regular basis. I certainly appreciate the member's helpful recommendations that I meet with them on a regular basis; that is my intention, and I expect that I will continue to do so.
Mr. Phillips: What would the minister consider to be a regular basis?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'm not sure what the member is asking me to do on a regular basis. I expect that I will meet with the Yukon Teachers Association at least once or twice a year, and I can tell the member opposite that I will certainly meet with them when they request a meeting. As far as I know, they haven't requested the member opposite to intercede on their behalf; they don't seem to be the least bit hesitant about picking up the phone and communicating with me directly, and I communicate with the YTA, as well. I have also, on numerous occasions, attended events where the Yukon Teachers Association is involved. Recently, the executive director of YTA was involved, as I was myself, as a judge on a panel for the Vanier Secondary School Talent Show. There have been many occasions where I have been at public events where Yukon Teachers Association members or executive members were.
Well, the minister doesn't have to get so defensive. I mean I'm not attacking the minister, I am just asking the minister. I know the minister is probably stressed out a bit, but I'm just trying to ask the minister, has she met with them, how often does she meet with them, does she have a schedule; it's not a real big deal.
So, the minister doesn't have to be so defensive and talk about passing them on Main Street, or whatever. We can get carried away here, but I'm pleased to see the minister is going to set up a schedule of meeting over a period of a year.
Mr. Chair, we currently follow the B.C. curriculum, and I've had some concerns expressed to me by teachers and others that there has been, in the recent past, several changes to the B.C. curriculum in midstream. I think some of the elementary programs were changed.
How does the minister and the department react to that? I know that there are some teachers out there who are concerned that adequate inservice is not being provided at times because, when British Columbia switches midstream, some of our teachers are kind of left out on their own to try to deal with the problems. Can the minister maybe answer this question: what programs has British Columbia changed in the last year or so that the minister is aware of, curriculum changes with respect to elementary and high school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There are a couple of initiatives that I'm sure the member opposite is well-aware of and that I can highlight for him. There is the Western Consortium on Curriculum that the Yukon, as a jurisdiction, participates in. Also, recently, there was a common framework for a pan-Canadian science curriculum that was adopted by most jurisdictions in Canada, and that was primarily developed by British Columbia. The Yukon has agreed to implement that. The Western Consortium includes Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., Yukon and the Northwest Territories. They work jointly to develop new curricula, and they look at mathematics, English, language arts and social studies. I think the Yukon's participation in the western Canadian protocol projects has been helpful.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the minister for that, but I'm not sure if that's the answer to my question. Are there any curricula that we've changed in the past year, since the NDP government was elected? Is there anything in school curricula that has been changed in the elementary grades that has been changed in, sort of, midstream? Because that's what I'm hearing, and I wasn't sure by the minister's answer whether or not that's happened. She said they are more involved in developing new curricula, but she didn't say whether or not we've adopted any of that yet and whether it's in place or not.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I am not aware of any mid-year changes in curriculum. I can come back with an answer on that question.
Mr. Phillips: I would appreciate it if the minister could do that, because I have heard concerns about changes in curriculum and the amount of inservice training that was allowed for or given to teachers with respect to the changes, and what I've heard is that some teachers felt they were maybe out there on their own, being left to interpret the new curriculum and teach it without the inservice. I don't know if that's a very good idea. The whole purpose is to bring teachers, I believe, up to speed on any changes like that that might occur.
Mr. Chair, can the minister tell me ... I've had a concern raised by a businessman with respect to student fundraising. The person wasn't concerned and was more than willing to contribute to the fundraising project, but did express the concern that the students were fundraising in the middle of school hours, and knocking on the doors of businesses in the middle of school hours. The question is that there is a concern that the time is less and less that students are in the classroom now.
Is it a policy to allow students to fund raise within school hours? I know they go around in the evening. They used to knock on my door, selling chocolate bars, or doing other things in the malls, and that kind of thing, but this businessman was concerned that in the middle of the school day, when the students should be in the classroom, they were soliciting donations from the business person at their business.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It is not an educational policy that students spend school time fundraising. I think that the business operator, if they know what school the student is attending, should contact the school directly or bring their complaint forward, but I'm certainly not aware of a policy of any individual school or of the department that authorizes fund raising as a scholastic activity during school hours.
Mr. Phillips: Okay, I take it from that, Mr. Chair, that the minister is not supportive of that.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: Well, the minister said it might be the entrepreneurship program. It could be a program similar to that, I suppose, but I'm not sure what it would be, and that's why I asked the question. I'll look forward to the minister maybe getting back to me on that, but I will pass the minister's concerns on to the individual that raised it.
Another suggestion I'd like to make to the minister ... Well, I will do that one a little later.
I want to talk about substitute teachers for a moment. What I'm hearing out there, Mr. Chair, is that a lot of substitute teachers who were on the list in the past as substitute teachers, are qualified and have the certificate, are not getting calls. They have found out that in the school that they normally substitute in, or in other schools, they are using substitute teachers, but the feeling is that the department is calling in teachers that do not have the full qualifications of a teaching certificate.
Although they may be qualified - they may have a degree and be qualified to be in the classroom - my understanding and the concern I heard is it's about half the cost to the department to call in a student, say a university graduate, as a substitute than it is to call in an individual who has a teaching certificate.
I see some members on the other side shaking their head, but I have talked to teachers who say, "They can call in two people for the cost of calling me in," and these individuals are concerned that they're not getting called any more and it may be based on funding rather than the qualifications. Can the minister tell us if there has been any policy change, and what is the policy with respect to calling in substitute teachers?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Calling in substitute teachers is something that is managed by the principals and administrators at the school level. The question of availability is the first consideration. Often, a principal will not know until that morning that someone isn't coming in - whether they've called in sick. They then turn to the list of substitute teachers and start making phone calls to see who's available. As far as I am aware, substitute teachers who have teaching qualifications are eligible and are called to come in if they are available.
Mr. Phillips: Can the minister tell me, then, if there is a graduated payscale for these substitute teachers, like someone with a teaching certificate would get paid X dollars per hour and someone possibly without a teaching certificate, a graduate student - would they be allowed to come into the classroom, say in the elementary grades, and substitute for a day? Would they be paid less than another teacher?
Because that's the concern that I'm hearing, that it is becoming more of a monetary decision for the various schools to call in someone who costs $6 or $7 or $8 or $10 less an hour to have in the classroom, and that way they can better manage their budget.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There are different pay rates. I don't have the details with me, but I can certainly get that information for the member opposite. I'm certainly not aware of any departmental policy that encourages hiring people who are not qualified teachers on a preferential basis for substitute teaching.
As I indicated earlier, it's a matter of the school administration making the phone calls to people who are on their list and seeing who's available to come in, often on short notice.
Mr. Phillips: Okay, Mr. Chair. I'm not suggesting we're calling in unqualified people. I believe we're calling in people who are qualified to teach the grades they're being called in to teach. What I'm concerned about is that there are some people who are more qualified than others; there are some people who have been here in the Yukon longer than others. Is there a type of seniority list that we've developed over the years where, for instance, a principal would have a list of a dozen teachers that they normally call in and then they would go through the list in order of seniority? Is there any kind of an agreement, for instance with the union, that these substitute teachers would be called in in the order of their seniority or in order of their experience or their qualifications?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There is not, that I know of, a hiring protocol in place for substitute teachers. There is, as the member knows, a hiring protocol for permanent positions, which was also the practice under the previous government.
Mr. Phillips: Well, who chooses then? Is it the principal who, in the morning when they find out that Mr. or Miss So-and-So will not be in today, just opens his book or her book and goes to the list and says, "Let's call So-and-So" and if they don't answer the phone they call the next one and the next one and the next one until they get somebody? Is that how it's done? Or is it the principal's preference? Is that how it's determined - the principal can call in the same person every time if they wish? Is there any kind of schedule to calling in these people, or do we do a rotation so that they all get a chance? How does it work?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I've indicated to the member, that determination is made by individual school administrations. Principals may prefer particular substitute teachers for certain classes if they've had substitute teachers come in and teach science or English or math to the students before. It is dealt with at a school level because when there is a teacher who is unable to come to class, the school administration in place makes the phone calls to try and locate someone to come into the classroom on a short time frame. They may have 45 minutes, they may have 20 minutes, to get somebody there to teach.
Mr. Phillips: Can the minister tell me how it affects the principals' individual budgets, because I suppose you would have to continue paying the teacher who was ill, so that wouldn't change. If it's going to cost you a couple of hundred dollars, or $150, that day to call in a substitute teacher, is that allocated to that particular school and is there an allocation to the department - sort of an averaging - of how many days a year you might have to call in substitute teachers? How does that work exactly?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There is some money allocated to the school for substitute teaching. There are also some monies within the departmental budget itself. It's a contingency fund.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I don't know if the minister knows what I'm trying to get at here. If the principal makes the decision, does the principal have sort of a contingency fund level that they have to try and maintain for the year? Are they told that they might have $5,000 this year for substitute teachers in a particular school, and so each time they call in a substitute - what I'm worried about, Mr. Chair, is that there is some concern that people who cost more are being called in less. I just wonder if the principals have the flexibility to call in whomever, whenever and even if it exceeds their allocation, do they have to go before the superintendent or somebody and say, "Look, I know I was only allocated $3,000 this year for substitute teachers, but I've had to call in quite a few more and they've cost me a little more because they're people with more experience, more degrees and more time." Is there some kind of an accounting that way, or is the principal pretty free to call in whomever they want to call in to deal with the issue of a teacher calling in sick?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I think I understand what the member's concern is. I can only repeat for him that school administrations do maintain their own lists of substitute teachers who are available to come in on short notice to substitute for certain classes. There may be preferences based on past experience with the substitute teachers who've come into schools. As well, certain substitute teachers prefer to teach a certain subject or certain grade levels or at certain schools.
Very often, too, in the rural areas, there may not be certified teachers available, so in rural schools, there may be people coming in to teach on a substitute basis who don't have a teaching certificate but do have a degree to enable them to teach. The principals call, as the member indicated. The principal can also discuss extra funding with the area superintendent in exceptional circumstances.
I think I need to be clear, though, that the reason that we support school-based budgeting - and I think that the member opposite, when he was in office, attempted to support school-based budgeting as well, for the same reason - is that it's worthwhile to empower principals. Principals are professionals who would not knowingly shortchange the kids. I believe that principals call in substitute teachers who they believe would be qualified and be able to teach the students in the subject areas that they need, and they do what they can to meet these demands on what is often short notice.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I do believe in school-based budgeting as well, and I believe that the principals wouldn't shortchange the kids, but I guess the minister raised an issue that, in some of the rural communities, someone who doesn't have a teaching certificate might be called in in some cases to deal with a shortage of staff.
Well, the concern I'm hearing from some rural communities is that there are qualified teachers in the rural communities, and the call is going out to people who aren't certified but are qualified to teach the classes. The feeling is that some of these people have moved into these communities, they are certified teachers, they may be retired or may have been teaching at one time and have a certificate and lived in the community for a long time, and they're being bypassed because the department would have to pay them more money.
Now, the person in the classroom may be entirely qualified to teach those kids, but because someone went out and furthered their education and got extensive degrees that would benefit the children, they are being penalized in a way, because they're making $5 or $6 or $7 an hour more than the other qualified individual, who may not have a teaching certificate.
So, I pass that on to the minister to maybe examine. Maybe the minister, for her use, should ask various schools in the Yukon to provide her with a list of the times they've called in substitute teachers, and whether they called teachers in who had certificates, or whether they called teachers in who were not certified.
Maybe the minister could look at that and see whether or not the budget constraints we're putting on the principals may be having some effect in determining who gets called and who doesn't get called. I'm not criticizing for a moment the substitute teachers who don't have certificates who are called in. Some of them are excellent teachers and outstanding teachers, and the kids love them, but what I am concerned about is that money doesn't become the criteria by which we would call either a certified or more qualified teacher in to teach a class. That would be a concern that I'm sharing with the minister.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: If the member has any specific instances that he is concerned about that he would like investigated, I would encourage him to let me know, and I can follow up on them.
Mr. Phillips: I can tell the minister that I have probably three or four, but I don't know whether these individuals, who were even nervous with me asking questions about this point, would want me to raise their names, because the fear is that they only get called a few times now, and they might not get called at all if they were seen to possibly be complaining. So, you know, I think we all appreciate there's that concern out there, that one doesn't want to rock the boat, but it is a concern that people have.
I can discuss the matter further with some of the individuals that I've talked to. If they wish to do this, then maybe they can do it confidentially with the minister, and they may pass on their concerns to the minister. In fact, I've been given a couple of specific instances which seem unusual, but that's one side of the story. There may be other sides to the story, as well, that one would want to hear. So I wouldn't want to judge the facts just based on one side.
The grade reorganization - can the minister give us an update on how that is going along?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we hope it's winding up.
The supplementary budget does contain some capital monies for the Porter Creek Secondary School. I can tell the member that in the 1997-98 budget there has been $4.32 million expended to date and another $1.3 million in commitments, and that renovations in other schools associated with grade reorganization is approximately $3 million. As far as the changes in the schools, as the members know, F.H. Collins has a very full student population this year. The grade sevens are in the elementary schools. There have been a number of moves. Both the Catholic elementary and Catholic high schools have moved, and the project is drawing to a close as we complete the Porter Creek construction.
Mr. Phillips: Porter Creek construction - can the minister tell me if there have been any cost overruns or change orders at the Porter Creek school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Porter Creek school is still on budget. This is a revote that we have in the capital budget: $1,972,000. The students and staff have scheduled the move into the new part of the school to take place during the Christmas break so as to minimize disruption to the students and teachers.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the minister for that information, but it wasn't the answer to the question I asked. The question was, have there been any change orders or any cost overruns in particular areas at the Porter Creek school?
I was told, Mr. Chair, that there were 88 change orders to the tune of some $500,000 in the school. Can the minister confirm that there have been a very large number of change orders to that particular school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, there have been change orders in the Porter Creek Secondary School construction. There are almost always change orders during a construction project. The Department of Education is paying and Government Services is the delivery agent for the construction project. I believe that the Minister of Government Services has details in relation to the change orders, that he can provide during Government Services debate.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to see a copy of all of the change orders with respect to the Porter Creek school. I know that it will be volumes, but I would like to look at the change orders for that particular school.
Mr. Chair, when you read the rural schools facilities study, it focuses on a couple of areas where work needs to be done, and one school that was mentioned for major changes, or actually a new construction, was the Mayo school. It was determined to be, out of all the schools, probably in the worst shape of any school in the territory - after Old Crow, of course, which was in pretty poor shape after the fire.
I'd like to ask the minister why her department has made a decision to go ahead with the Ross River school prior to the Mayo school? The Ross River school, with the rural schools facilities study, seemed to be in a little better shape and, as the minister says, she has very limited dollars, so I would have thought that they would look at the worst school and work their way up from that.
Maybe the minister can enlighten us why they chose the Ross River school over the Mayo school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I fail to see the complete relevance to the supplementary budget estimates in that question, particularly since we spent considerable time in the main estimates debating it. However, I will attempt to provide the member with an answer. I find his question somewhat puzzling, given that the rural schools facilities study was completed by the previous government and they put no capital construction monies into either the Old Crow or the Ross River or the Mayo schools, which were identified as the three schools most in need of replacement.
As the member knows, the Old Crow school was put forward as the first school needing to be replaced since it burned down in January of this year.
The commitment that our government made during the election campaign was to involve the school councils in determining what criteria should be used and how we should prioritize the competing needs. During the spring school council conference, the issue of the priority of the various school projects was discussed. Education had already committed to the replacement of the Old Crow school during a visit when the Old Crow school burned down. The school councils, after looking at slides and after talking about the various needs in the various communities, agreed that the Ross River school should be built second and the Mayo school built third.
The main estimates do contain monies in this budget for design work of the Ross River school. A building advisory committee has been struck, and since the member has asked about this generally, I will also advise him that Charles McLaren Architects of Whitehorse was selected as the architect for the Ross River school project on November 7 of this year.
Mr. Phillips: I'm extremely pleased to hear that. That's got to be a first for this government - choosing a local architectural firm to do the design work. So that's a positive move, at least.
What does the minister estimate the cost of the Ross River school will be when it's completed?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I don't have an estimate with me in the House. Perhaps I could get back to the member with that when we're debating the capital budget in the spring.
Mr. Phillips: In the past, the department was using some of the architectural designs it had on the books - I think the Golden Horn and the school in the MacPherson area. Are we trying to encourage the people in Ross River to utilize an existing design and thus save some design money with respect to building this new school or are we looking at a from-the-ground-up design completely designed by the architect from directions of the people in Ross River or are we encouraging the people in Ross River to select a predesigned school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The facilities manager with the Department of Education is in Ross River meeting with the building advisory committee today. Perhaps what I can do is provide an update for the member. I can tell the member that, with the Old Crow school project, the Hidden Valley/Holy Family School design was used as a starting point for the design work that was done in order to minimize design costs.
Mr. Phillips: Well, since we use it for a starting point, I would hope, then, that when we look at the design of the Hidden Valley School and the cost of that design and we look at the new cost of the design of the Old Crow school, we'll actually see a savings, because they didn't start from square one. Hopefully, we'll see some savings in the design. I think that's the intent of using an existing design - that the taxpayer will see some savings.
Mr. Chair, we've heard some discussion in Ross River that the community may want to combine the college with the school. Is the minister discussing that with the community and is that the intent?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The member is correct that the community is very much in support of including a new Yukon College community campus in the new school. That is part of the discussion that the facilities manager is having with the building advisory committee.
A decision will be made prior to beginning the production of contract documents, but we haven't made a final decision on that as of yet.
Mr. Phillips: Yukon College was housed in the arena at one time in Ross River. I'm not sure if they're still there. Those are relatively new facilities. Have they been outgrown? I don't have as much problem with the college being attached to the school. I know we attempted to do that in Haines Junction, and had some opposition from some of the residents there, with the adult students being in the same building with the children. That was a concern that was raised. I think it was somewhat accommodated at a later date, but I know that that is the kind of concern that gets raised in these things.
Has that been raised in Ross River - the concern of the adult students attending school, going in and out of the same, I suppose, front doors of the building that the students would be going in and out of?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I haven't heard that concern in any of the discussions I have had with members of the Ross River community, or when I was at Ross River school a couple of weeks ago.
The model of including the college campus with the community school is in place in both Mayo and in Watson Lake and, from all accounts, it's working fairly well. There are separate entrances provided for in both of those instances. So, I'm not sure if that's considered to be a problem by the community. I do know, as I indicated earlier, that the community has asked us to consider placing the college campus in the school, and we're looking at the feasibility of that now.
Mr. Phillips: Well, the reason I raised it is I still have the bruises all over my body from Haines Junction, because I used the same rationale that the minister used - that Watson Lake does it, and checked with them; Mayo does it, and checked with them - and yet it was a rather difficult sell. From having a look at it, I do agree with the minister that it's a good concept - that it does make things more cost-effective - and the savings can be passed on, of course, into the Department of Education for real educational needs.
Can the minister tell me, Mr. Chair, what we're going to do, if there are any plans to do anything with the existing Yukon College space if Yukon College moves out of that space? What's going to happen to that government office space in Ross River?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I believe the member's asking a hypothetical question. There hasn't been a decision made yet as to whether the community campus will be included in the new Ross River school. The request to consider that possibility has been made from the community, so we'll see what happens there - whether in the end we make the decision to proceed with incorporating a community campus and whether we can afford to do that.
As to the other building, the college is still in that building, and I believe that Government Services is responsible for government buildings.
Mr. Phillips: Well, if the minister could provide me with the information that comes out of the meetings with the building committee, I would appreciate that.
Mr. Chair, another issue that I want to touch on with the minister is all about national unity. Last night, we had a meeting in Whitehorse that discussed national unity, and we talked about our country and the future of our country. It has been brought to my attention that there are very few schools in the Yukon that start the day out by the singing or the playing of our national anthem. Some do and some don't, but there doesn't seem to be a policy overall. My suggestion to the minister is that this is about a minute out of our day.
There was a recent, sort of person-on-the-street, interview done by BCTV, and they wandered around from schools to the general public and said, "Sing the first two bars of our national anthem," and it was really embarrassing. There were a lot of people that do not know the words to our national anthem.
I would suggest to the minister that, maybe in the spirit of national unity, the minister join with me in singing - no, I'm just kidding, Mr. Chair. No, I wouldn't do that to the minister. If the minister doesn't follow through with what I'm asking her to do, I might stand up in the House every day at a certain specified time and break into the national anthem and see how many members join me. It would be interesting to see.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: Yes. There would be one proviso, and that would be that the Minister of Tourism wouldn't be allowed to sing.
Mr. Chair, on a more serious note, would the minister consider, in the spirit of national unity, asking all the school councils in schools in the territory to consider, if they don't do it now, to take a minute out of their day in the morning and either sing or play our national anthem? I think it's a very small gesture, but it means an awful lot to this country, and I would be interested to know if the minister would do that.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I am very glad the member is not asking me to stand here and sing the national anthem, although I hasten to ensure him that I do know the words. In fact, I even know the words of the new version which is more inclusive language.
Certainly, I appreciate the member's suggestion and am happy to pass it along.
Mr. Phillips: Would the minister be prepared to even go further and make it a policy that that will be sung in all schools?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I think the member got it right the first time when he asked me whether I would consider speaking to school councils about whether they were interested in having the national anthem sung at the beginning of the school day in cases where it is not sung at present in the schools. That is a determination of the parents and the school councils at individual schools, and I intend to leave that decision in their hands.
As I've indicated to the member, I can either speak to school councils when I next meet with them or I can send them a letter indicating that this issue has been raised and ask them to consider it.
Mr. Phillips: Well, what I am trying to get at is, I would like to find out how the minister feels about it. I feel pretty strongly about it. I think that we should be doing it, and I just want to know how the minister feels. Will the minister be urging the school councils to do it or will the minister just be throwing it up in the air as a suggestion?
I mean, we are talking about our country, our national anthem, something that's pretty important - one minute out of your day. I mean -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: I think it's an important issue and I know it's not the only way to demonstrate that we're Canadian and we believe strongly in our country. But, a national anthem is a pretty important part of any country. I just feel that we've lost some of that.
I mean, we've got a lot of kids in elementary school and in junior high school who wouldn't know the national anthem or couldn't sing the national anthem if they had to, and I think it's important. It's very small, but it's an important value to have.
So, I just urge the minister to encourage, in the strongest terms, that it might be something that we could do to encourage our schools to show that we care about our country.
I guess it didn't warrant a response from the minister, but, Mr. Chair, the Yukon College wage impact - the Yukon College just signed an agreement with its staff at the college. I believe it was a two-percent increase over one year, with a 1.5-percent signing bonus. In today's labour market and labour negotiations, that's a pretty significant increase. The president of the college has expressed some concerns about the ability to continue with all of their programs. Has the minister had any discussions with the college with respect to their concerns over the impact of the wage settlement on their budget?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair, I have not spoken to the college administration or the College Board about the recent wage settlement. Education does not have details, other than the news reports, and there are no figures in the Education supplementary budget before us in relation to that college collective agreement. The College Board of Governors is an independent entity and they negotiate with the college union and manage their budget. We merely provide the college with its core funding at the beginning of our fiscal year.
Mr. Phillips: The minister kind of forgets, I guess, maybe, that this is going to have an impact on our budget. They do manage their own budget, but it's going to have an impact on college education in this territory. It's either going to affect programs or the college is going to come back to the government and ask for more funds to cover the increase, so I would think that the minister would be wanting to get a hold of a copy of the agreement. I mean, I respect the independence of the college and the right of the college to make their decisions, but this 3.5-percent increase over this one-year period is going to have a fairly significant impact on the college's budget. Maybe the minister should sit down with the college and at least discuss with the college what programs they may be cutting back on, because they've indicated that they're going to have to trim.
There may be some people out there who are planning to go to college in the Yukon and may be concerned about what might be offered in the future or not offered in the future because the college no longer has the ability to provide it. I know the minister is always striking agreements with the college to carry on new programs, but with this settlement we may be losing some existing programs. So the minister should at least be made aware, or want to be made aware, of the direction the college is going with this.
When does the minister plan to meet with the College Board to discuss the recent impact of the settlement?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: First of all, the college has not come to the Department of Education requesting any additional funds in relation to their recent collective agreement. The Yukon College is aware that they have a responsibility to manage their budgets.
I'm certainly not aware of any intent on the part of the college to reduce programming. I've met with the College Board of Governors to discuss any issues that they wanted to put on the table, and I'm certainly not at the present time aware of any desire on the part of the college to reduce programming.
Mr. Phillips: I'd have to get a copy of the transcript from the news, but I was sure I heard the college president talking about the impact this might have on the college in their programming and in their ability to continue the way they are now.
So I would hope that the minister would want to meet with the college president, or the board, and find out what impact this may have on the board. I know that this government has talked about education and training as being a priority, so I'm a bit surprised, in light of the announcements about the settlement and the statements made by the college president, that the Minister of Education hasn't at least requested a meeting with the president of the college to get an indication of where the college feels this may impact them, so at least the minister might have some understanding whether it's going to affect the minister's agenda with respect to education and training in the territory.
Why hasn't the minister given the president of the college at least a phone call to find out how the settlement will affect the college and programs that are offered to Yukoners at that college?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I can tell the member that I will continue to meet with the College Board and the college president. I know that the college will be looking at how they're going to deal with the impact of their contract settlement, but I believe that when the College Board made its decision about their negotiating mandate, it must have had the facts before it on what budget they had and what they were able to do. I did not interfere in that process.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I didn't ask the minister to interfere in the process, but I would think, as the Minister of Education, the minister would be concerned about the impact that might have on advanced education in the territory. Obviously, the College Board had to come to some decision as to why they made the decision they made. You would think the Minister of Education wouldn't just say, "They're independent. I have nothing to do with them. All I do is write them a cheque once a year and I'm not worried about it." Well, I am worried about it and I know there are some students out there that might be worried about it and there are some staff at the college who might be a little worried about it. It is going to have an impact.
This is only a one-year contract. They're going to be in negotiations almost immediately, because it's a one-year contract. So, we're going right back to the drawing board and there will possibly be another impact here another year from now, so it will affect our education system.
Mr. Chair, the minister gave us some figures on the Old Crow school - $2,825,000 is going to be spent before the end of this fiscal year. I think the minister has elaborated on that earlier in the House, and that's the purchasing of materials and that kind of thing. Is the minister talking about any building taking place before the end of this fiscal year or is this primarily purchasing the materials and getting them to the site?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, we're not anticipating construction beginning prior to March 31. The funds that have been identified in the supplementary budget are for building materials.
Mr. Phillips: The minister also mentioned the insurance. I think it was $2.8 million as well. Do I have those figures right? It was running kind of fast when the minister was going through that. It's over $2 million of insurance, at any rate.
Was that the full replacement cost of the existing modular school and the residences, or was that a portion of the insurance? Did it cover 100 percent or did it cover 60 percent? How much of it did it actually cover?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'm just looking for the copy of the information that Government Services has prepared for their minister on that subject. I do have with me some information now. The recovery of $500,000 is associated with the fire loss. The department spent approximately $575,000 on costs associated with the fire loss, including replacement of materials lost in the fire and personal belongings of the staff. The insurance will cover up to $500,000 for those items.
As well, the recovery for the Chief Zzeh Gittlit School replacement is in the amount of $2,945,000. I know that the Minister of Government Services has additional information on that and perhaps the member could follow up with him.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I'll do that. I would be very interested, just so the minister is aware, and if he could provide us with information before we get to his budget item, it would be great, of the exact breakdown of the insurance on the school, what it was insured for, what we got out of it, what it covered, and those kinds of things. So, if the Minister of Government Services could provide that for us - I'm sure he's listening intently - I would appreciate that.
Mr. Chair, I have some other questions with respect to Education in general debate, but I'll let the Liberal critic go for a while, and then I'll come back to it in a few moments.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I have a few questions I would like to address to the minister in general debate on Education.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Exactly. On the supps. Yes.
I'd like to first of all ask the minister this: I note that there hasn't been any discussion either in the supps or in our discussions in the House to date regarding the scheduling for the Education Act review. Has the minister given any thought to this as of yet?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, I guess the short answer, Mr. Chair, would be not in the supplementary budget estimates.
Certainly, we are well-aware, as all members of the House are, that the Education Act of 1990 called for a 10-year review, which would mean that it would take place in the year 2000. We may begin that process prior to the year 2000, but I can assure the member that if that is the case, there will be lots of notice of that.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I ask the minister to provide for me at some point in the next time period, prior to Christmas, the statistics on the home schooling in the Yukon, and could I have a yearly breakdown - say, for the last three or four years - if home schooling has increased? I'd just like the statistics on the amount of home schooling, if that's possible.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We'll try and pull that information together for the member as quickly as we can.
Ms. Duncan: There has been a great deal of discussion in the House about the assessment and, in particular, math has been a subject that has been highlighted by the Member for Riverdale North. The minister has provided to us an Assessment Highlights, Yukon Territorial Examinations, 1996-97 document, which is quite useful. It provides some good information.
I'm wondering if the minister can indicate how an assessment is conducted, overall, of our curriculum? Now, I'm certain departmental officials examine this on a regular basis to ensure that it's meeting Yukon needs. I understand, however, there have been changes in the B.C. curriculum, which we use, over the past while. When do we stop and say, "Is the B.C. curriculum the best one for Yukon?"
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'm not sure that that's an assessment question. Certainly, it's an assessment of whether the curriculum is effective, as opposed to an assessment of whether the students are doing well in their subjects.
I think the Yukon does benefit from the curriculum development work. We don't pay for the development of curriculum when we use the B.C. learning resources.
I can tell the member that there is a lot of Yukon-developed curricula, as well, that is used. For example, in the career and personal planning program, there is a lot of local input, as well as with some of the First Nations education that's incorporated into various subjects.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in the introduction to the supplementary estimates, the minister indicated that the $500,000 in operation and maintenance was additional funds required for Faro. Would the minister confirm that that was the right figure?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, that was for additional staffing in Faro, because the school enrollment was higher than we had anticipated as a result of the Faro mine reopening.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in the technical briefing I received from the department this spring, prior to debating the budget, a question was asked, "How much will you need if Faro opens again," and the answer given was, "The $700,000 we took out this year should cover it, but we're only putting $500,000 back in." Now, even with my Yukon-education math, seven's different than five.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I certainly hope the member wasn't criticizing the math curriculum in Yukon schools. The figure of $700,000 was used for a full complement of 9.6 teachers in Faro. While there was an increase in enrollment, I believe the figure is 7.5 teaching staff in Faro, so that's why the figure is $500,000. I would like to confirm that second number for the member.
I'll have to get back to you, but I think it's 7.5.
Ms. Duncan: That's fine. I just was curious as to why I had one figure from the spring and another figure was presented today. I was just curious.
I was looking through these technical briefing notes again, and having heard a number of concerns about a 20-percent cut to educational assistants budgets, I'm concerned that, if if those figures are correct, has the amount of money allocated for educational assistants in our schools been reduced?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The information that I have is that, as of October 1997, sixty-eight education assistants are deployed throughout the Yukon school system. After consultation with the Association of Yukon School Administrators, there was a decision to increase support to the level 3 category. There are three levels of service when looking at education assistants, and the decision was made to increase professional staff, in some instances through remedial tutors, for the level 3, which has resulted in fewer education assistants, but more remedial tutors.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could the minister advise what the reaction has been from school councils to that? Has she received complaints from school councils with this change?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Not to date, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: There has been a parent concern that has been expressed to me that there's a reduction in education assistants, and the concern that was raised with me was that this seemed inconsistent with the government's message of early intervention and particularly ministerial statements with the government focus on children. So, perhaps the minister could take that parental concern under advisement and deal with it at another point?
The minister also mentioned that additional funds were required for the wage settlement reached by the arbitrator, and a comment made in November by the president of the YTA I found particularly interesting. I certainly don't expect the minister to defend someone else's comments, but perhaps she could elaborate?
The president said, "We've had some very interesting language on violence and violent acts performed by our students, and those sorts of things were important to us." The background to that is that, earlier, the president of YTA had said, "Before we went to arbitration, we were able to come to some agreement at the table on seniority and we've had some interesting language."
Would the minister elaborate on any discussions she's had with YTA regarding violence and violent acts performed by students?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I believe that there were some discussions at the bargaining table, as the member has indicated from reading the YTA press release, where some language changes were made in the contract dealing with violence in the school. It's not simply a question of violence between students. There is, on occasion, violence between students and students being violent towards teachers. In all cases, violence is a very serious concern and we, in the department, as well as in individual schools, attempt to do all we can to reduce the level of violence.
I can also probably bring back further information for the member in relation to what changes may have been made to the contract.
Ms. Duncan: That was actually for the minister to reference a CBC news transcript that I was noting that comment came from.
Could the minister have her departmental staff provide an update on the implementation of recommendations in the task force to promote safe schools - the recommendations from appendix 3 - or if she has some information on progress that's being made and how the, for example, interagency committees and so on are working? If she can, just give a brief update on that initiative please.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, I have quite a substantial update of activities and initiatives in relation to the safe schools. The bully prevention program and bully proofing is underway in several schools. There has been an enhancing school safety half-day session with administrators, superintendents and the safe school coordinator attending with someone from the Vancouver school board. The department has been providing workshops for administrators on how to enhance their own individual safe school plans. The comprehensive guidance and counselling program has been established and is an ongoing program.
As well, all Yukon school councillors attended a three-day workshop at the end of September 1997, with a focus on the second step program. That is a child abuse awareness and violence prevention program covering the age range from kindergarten to grade 9. School councillors were trained to deliver second step programming to students and to train classroom teachers.
The RCMP school resource officer program has been initiated at F.H. Collins, Porter Creek Secondary and Vanier Secondary, where an RCMP officer is stationed in the school for one half-day per week to meet with students and teachers as necessary.
There is also a non-violent crisis intervention training workshop available and there are three qualified instructors in the Department of Education who can provide training to all schools with that.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to follow up with the minister. She mentioned community policing and the RCMP presence in three Whitehorse area high schools. I understand they're also working closely in the communities with the schools.
My concern on this subject is that there appears to be an excellent working relationship between the RCMP and our school system. However, the Department of Education doesn't seem to be coming to that working table with any money in hand to assist in the salary costs of the RCMP or support for the program, and this goes all the way back to the previous administrations and the PACE program and other programs. We seem to appreciate the service and want it to work well, but we don't want to come with any money.
The minister may want to switch hats and put on her Minister of Justice hat; however, I would like her to elaborate on the department's position in that regard.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, as the member has just alluded to, the Department of Justice does contain a substantial budget line item for the RCMP. Within the Department of Education there is an in-kind contribution by providing the RCMP with office space in the schools to offer the school resource officer program a phone line, a computer, a printer, and office supplies are available so that any officer can use the space to complete paper work and thus, move in and out of the school at any time.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate that the minister has said that there is an in-kind contribution. I think that, in these days when every resource is being examined, it would ensure its continued presence if there were a little bit of money attached with it.
I'd like to discuss a few school council issues that have been raised with me. One of those issues is membership. A number of school councils have asked repeatedly for additional members for their school councils, and in one case, it has dragged on for in excess of 14 months - the request for a replacement.
Now, the school councils - as the minister and I share the view - are incredibly hard-working volunteers. I understand their need to ask for additional members, but there seems to be some difficulty in achieving that. Can the minister indicate what the delay is?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, in some cases the school councils are unable to fill all the positions or don't have a full complement of attendance of the school councils. Nevertheless, as the member has just stated, there have been requests to expand the size of school councils. There does need to be, I believe, some balance between the size of the school community and the size of the school council.
In discussions with school councils and in correspondence with various school councils that have been inquiring on this subject, I've indicated that when the Education Act is opened up, that might be a time to look at how to establish some kind of a formula and some kind of a rationale for the size of the school council in relation to the school population.
Ms. Duncan: The minister just stated, "when the Education Act is opened up." A school council desire is to have the Education Act amended to move the election of school council members as well. I note that it has been the subject of at least two recent school council conferences.
Would the minister indicate when she anticipates this happening?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Pardon me, Mr. Chair, I wasn't clear. When does the minister anticipate opening the Education Act?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, that's a question that the member asked earlier, and the response I gave is the same now. The requirement in the legislation is that the Education Act be opened for review in the year 2000. We may go forward earlier than that and, if we do, I will certainly be advising the member and the public with lots of notice and lots of time for participation in that review.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the difficulty that we're experiencing is that the school councils seem to see an amendment - for example, for elections - as a simple, straightforward procedure. Now, I understand they see that without the benefit of sitting in this House and realizing what it takes to get an amendment to an act through. However, I think the impression I have - and the impression certainly contained in the school council conference minutes that I've read - is that they would like this amendment sooner than when the actual comprehensive review of the Education Act takes place. They'd like to see an amendment sooner than that.
Is the minister prepared to entertain an amendment in advance of the review?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'm aware that the school councils would like to see an amendment come forward in relation to the timing of elections sooner rather than later. However, the reason that the Education Act was able to pass through this House with all-party support was that all partners in education had been involved in coming to a consensus on a wide range of issues.
I can assure the member that, if an amendment were to be considered on one subject at the request of school councils, there are many other groups and organizations within the territory who would like to see other specific and, in their point of view, minor and easy amendments come forward. I don't think it's going to be possible to accomplish all of the requests for amendments on an ad hoc basis.
I think that we are only a little over two years away from reopening the Education Act to look at amendments, and that we'll need to look at doing all of the amendments at once.
Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with general debate on Education.
Ms. Duncan: The minister and I both ran down to resume our question and answering.
I have just a couple of final questions with respect to school councils. I note that the per diem paid to school councils is not particularly high. However, the workload is enormous and they have quite a number of tasks and expertise that has been required. Have there been requests from school councils or information presented to the minister about the per diems or monies that are allotted to school councils?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, has the minister given any consideration to this issue? In examining the vast number of boards and committees, it seems a bit incongruous that there are boards that are paid at a much higher rate than school councils. Now, is there an issue? I realize there is a scale, and my concern is that school councils are at the bottom of it. When the workload we're doing - and we go on and on, and every member of this House says, "Our children are our most precious resource," and I'm not disputing that. It's like women's work not being recognized. It's the same analogy. School council work doesn't seem to be very well recognized.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I appreciate the member's concern, and I can come back to her with specific information in relation to the per diem as compared with other boards and committees. If the member is advocating that additional financial resources be applied to school council honoraria, I would certainly appreciate it if she would come forward with a recommendation on where we might find some savings in order to do that.
Ms. Duncan: There are numerous places - if there was an opportunity for me to be on that side - that I'd think I'd like to rearrange, but we'll wait until another election to talk about that.
My point is that I believe school councils do very valuable work, and I'm not certain that that work is recognized. No school councillor has ever complained to me about it. I just have noted it in terms of having served on other boards and committees myself.
In terms of the school councils developing policy, I notice that Yukon school councils are working independently in the area of policy development. That's a note from the most recent Yukon school councils conference. I'm concerned about this. You can go to half a dozen different school council meetings, and they're all working on the same policy.
There is some assistance provided by the department. Could the minister elaborate on that assistance and indicate where it might be improved?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Department of Education does have a liaison officer who works with the school councils and attempts to help them coordinate their efforts. Certainly, we attempt to keep the school councils informed of any departmental policies that are in place that might apply across the board or that could provide direction to school councils. Often, school councils will want to vary certain elements of a policy where there might be a common subject but there might be differences in the elements of an individual policy at the school level.
I want to assure the member that I appreciate the work of school councils and that they are recognized for the work they do by members of this government. We find that the school council members who are serving - largely on a volunteer basis, in spite of the honoraria that they receive - have, in many cases, run for office and, in some cases, been appointed because they do have a desire to participate at that level.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate what the minister has said and don't want to leave a misimpression that we on this side do not also appreciate the work of school councils and the very hard work on the part of these individuals. We do.
I'd like to ask the minister about school accreditation. Jack Hulland is going through this process this year and I've watched it to date with quite a degree of interest. There have been a number of accreditations completed so far in Yukon schools. Could the minister provide, or have her departmental officials provide, specific examples of what changes have taken place in those schools that have completed the accreditation process? I'm looking for a list of specific examples of improvements after accreditation has taken place.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This question does relate to the previous subject under discussion, which is the amount of work involved in the school improvement process. I would like to begin by telling the member that the accreditation or school evaluation program is now known as the Yukon school improvement plan. This more aptly describes the basic premise of the process in a way that teachers, parents and students can understand.
Rather than read an extensive briefing note into the record, what I will do is provide for the member opposite a response to her question about some of the specifics in relation to individual schools, if we can do that without overburdening the workload of school council members and the school administration with the teams of school staff.
Ms. Duncan: Am I to understand, then, that this would not be something that the department would not have at their fingertips, in terms of - They certainly would have the Yukon school improvement plan, so would they not have these examples of where improvements have been taking place at their fingertips?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The department does have copies of all of the school improvement plans. The growth plans for the schools lay out the goals for the school to improve or build upon. What I'm saying to the member is that all of that information will have to be analyzed in order to come back and answer her question, and we will get her an answer as quickly as we can.
Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for that. I just don't want it to become another piece of information that school councils are burdened with trying to do. So, if it's something that can be done at the departmental level, I would appreciate it.
I would like to ask the minister specifically about the Yukon school improvement plan model. Is it the same model that B.C. uses?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It is based on the B.C. model. The Education Act, in Section 114(2), requires the evaluation of schools every five years, so there is a five-year improvement plan model. At that time, the school does an internal self-assessment involving the staff, the students and the parents, and community members, and prepares a five-year school growth plan. That is then reviewed by a team that includes educators from other schools in the territory, parents and/or community members.
Ms. Duncan: The minister indicated that, more or less, with some Yukon improvements, it was the B.C. model, and it was required per the Education Act. Is the B.C. model in B.C. used every five years? Does she have that information? Do they do the same thing every five years?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, it is done on a five-year basis in B.C., as well as in the Yukon.
Ms. Duncan: There was a draft agencies in the schools policy that has been given to school council chairs to comment on. I would like to compliment the department on this policy. I note that in an application for registration there's proof of security or criminal records check in references. I think that's very important, and I was pleased to see that was added.
The difficulty I have with this is that all of us qualify as one of these 60 agencies trying to get into the schools, in that the Speaker, as the minister will know, has undertaken a program of parliamentary outreach that the Speaker, the Member for Lake Laberge, and myself are aware of, so we qualify as one of those agencies trying to get into the schools to assist in the curriculum. I just wonder if the minister could take a look at that outreach program, including the teacher's guide that was supplied with it, and just perhaps bring it to the attention of those drafting this policy, because we are also one of those agencies trying to get into the schools.
I think there is a role for members of the Legislature to play in augmenting the school curriculum and undertaking the sort of parliamentary outreach work that was proposed.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Decorum? Yes, it's very important.
Well, it's not decorum and good manners we're talking about. It's why we behave the way we do in the Legislature and what we do, and it's very important and could assist in grades 4 through 7. It's important work, and I would just like it brought to the department's attention in the context of that policy.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Duly noted, and I know that the department is listening to the debate.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to discuss the busing for a moment. The minister and I had a discussion about that - I guess it was only yesterday, but it feels like rather longer ago. I just have one point I'd like to raise with the minister - pardon me, a couple of points.
I understand that there will be no savings this year in terms of the contract, because the recommendations and so on won't be able to be implemented until 1997-98. I did ask the minister, though, about the advice of the busing committee or school councils on where potential savings should be allocated, and the minister indicated that the department and herself are seeking advice and input from volunteers as the implementation committee and tendering committee do their work. Has this specific question been asked of the people serving on the busing committee: where do you recommend the dollars that we save are spent? Has that specific question been asked?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I had a meeting with the busing review committee a couple of months back and that item was discussed at that time. In addition, at ongoing meetings between departmental officials and the busing committee members, that question has been asked.
Ms. Duncan: Have the minister or department officials given any sort of indication as to what the formal lines of communication will be after the recommendations have taken place? What I'm asking here is, what happens next? Once we've implemented the changes recommended by the implementation committee and the tendering committee, what body will be dealing with school busing issues?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, as I indicated to the member in answer to the previous question, I had a meeting on September 18 with the school council chairs and the busing committee members to discuss where the review goes from here. There has been a review steering committee that includes representatives from the busing committee and from the high schools, since, as the members know, the recommendations to do with busing had to do with secondary students' use of Whitehorse Transit.
That particular issue is being considered by the implementation committee and they are also meeting with the transit subcommittee. They are working with departmental officials and will provide recommendations to them. We anticipate the work on the implementation of the review to be done by the end of January 1998, so that we can have an adequate period of time for the busing tender for the 1998-99 school year.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, next year.
Ms. Duncan: So, in other words, then, the minister just said a tender for the 1998-99 school year. What happens with the 1997 - pardon me, I lost track of time.
One of the difficulties with school busing is that for years, if I have an issue, well, I'll just call the minister's office and, guess what? Busing happened. That's really an unfortunate circumstance. I think the minister recognizes that and I feel that way.
Does the minister anticipate a recommendation for a committee that would remove this political sensitivity?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There is a Whitehorse School Busing Committee in place now. As the member knows, there are a number of agencies, committees and decision-making bodies, aside from the political arena, that are in place to deal with many subjects. However, in the Yukon I think that we all know that people do contact their political representatives on a regular basis, as well.
I am not sure what the member's further question is here. Perhaps she can elaborate.
Ms. Duncan: I'm not making myself clear. It must be Thursday afternoon at five o'clock.
What will be the line of communication once the committee has done its work? Does the minister anticipate formalizing the committee, so that when there's a request for school busing in Porter Creek there is an appropriate set of steps for that request to fall under?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Under the present system, Mr. Chair, the requests are supposed to come to the school council. From the school council level, they are referred to the existing Whitehorse Busing Committee, which may change as a consequence of new contracts in the future. We'll see what the future brings. After the Whitehorse Busing Committee considers it, they come to the Department of Education, and then, in some instances, it's dealt with by the department and it is sometimes brought to the minister's attention.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to move to the subject of the excellence awards, and I understand the minister has sent this out to school councils for consultation. In the course of sending it out for consultation, is the option of discontinuing the awards altogether an option for consideration by school councils?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Not that I am aware of, Mr. Chair. I don't have a copy of the paper that went out to the school councils with me in the House, but the recommendations, if I can summarize them, were to maintain the program unchanged; the second recommendation was to change the objectives of the excellence awards programs to motivate Yukon students to work hard in school, recognize academic excellence, and provide support for post-secondary education based on student achievement; the third recommendation was to publicize any new objectives of the YEA and clarify their eligibility and publicize the department's long-term assessment plan; and the fourth recommendation was to invite school councils to take a leadership role in involving students, teachers and parents of their individual schools in the preparation of a student-recognition plan for grades 8 to 12.
As the member has indicated, we've provided the overview to the school councils and asked for their further recommendations.
Ms. Duncan: I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that once the money's put in place, it's difficult to try and remove it or perhaps redirect it, and that may be an option that some school councils will select anyway. I suppose that's up to the school councils.
I have a question with respect to programming in terms of high-risk senior secondary students. I understand at present, the Wood Street facility is meeting the needs of high-risk secondary students this year and that Wood Street is intended to continue through the 1998-99 school year, but is intended to be discontinued in June 1999. Would the minister indicate if this is correct - that that's the current plan of the department?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I think that what we're going to have to do is consider what will happen in the 1999 school year in future budget debates. There have not been finalized plans for the 1999-2000 school year that I'm able to report during this debate on the supplementary estimates.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps the minister could just clarify then, for the record, is the Wood Street facility meeting the needs of the three Whitehorse secondary schools in terms of their high-risk students or is it just meeting the needs for one high school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There are a number of programs offered at the Wood Street Annex, and I have been informed that there are students there from all Whitehorse high schools and there are also discussions among the principals about ways to ensure that the special needs of at-risk students are met.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to move to some questions regarding the capital expenditures on the supplementaries. The Member for Riverdale North has raised the issue of Porter Creek Secondary School. Could the minister bring back to the House what exactly - and they're not actually additional; they're revotes - will be accomplished for that revote of money?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, we will provide that information to the member. I believe it is available in Government Services, and so I think that may be the minister who brings it forward. However, if I can get it for the member sooner than that, I will do so.
Ms. Duncan: I would also like to ask the minister to indicate in that information what's being left out. There's been a great deal of discussion about the student parking lot, the bus drop-off, the turnaround, the landscaping, the outdoor recreation, and that's just in terms of the outside of the facility. On the inside, I understand that there's little or no equipment in the brand-new tech labs, and that there are some needs with respect to the cafeteria.
I'd like a very detailed explanation from the department and Government Services of what's being left out and hope to be budgeted next year, and what's being done for the revote of money.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As I've said, we will get back to what is covered under the revote. The final phase of the Porter Creek Secondary School addition will involve the upgrading of the school site, including a new student/public parking area, a relocated bus drop-off area, a new parent drop-off area, additional staff parking and various pedestrian safety improvements.
The member can confirm with the Minister of Government Services on the scheduling of that work.
Ms. Duncan: Unfortunately, I won't be able to confirm the dollars until next spring's budget.
Could the minister also ask the Minister of Government Services to indicate, in terms of the outdoor landscaping and outdoor finishing of the school, what were the requirements from the City of Whitehorse, and what were the costs?
The minister has indicated she will get that information.
I would like to ask the minister about service agreements. The City of Whitehorse has a service agreement with the Department of Education for the use of Whitehorse schools, and I understand that Yukon College is an arm's-length institution, although we certainly discuss it in the budget. Has the minister given any thought, or had any request, in terms of establishing a esrvice agreement between Whitehorse schools and Yukon College, in terms of their facilities?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I can tell the member that there is increasing use of the college facility on the part of Whitehorse high schools. For example, the shop areas at the college are used for high school programming. So, yes, it is a matter that has been given some thought. There are regular meetings between the college president and the deputy minister, and a number of mutual education issues are addressed at that forum.
Ms. Duncan: I understand, at the political level and immediately next to the political level, that there is agreement; however, I think that misunderstandings can arise among various levels of instructors. I would like to put that forward to the minister as a very constructive suggestion, that there be a service agreement put in place between Yukon College and the Department of Education that spells out the use of these facilities, the terms, the conditions, and how they are to be used by educators.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: The criteria for planning capital expenditures was discussed at the school council spring conference and it was to be discussed again at the fall, - I believe this was put off to some degree.
There's been some concern expressed by school councils about a sense that, yes, we agree that we need to spend the money on these facilities: Old Crow, Ross River, and Mayo. What happens next? And, what about my school? What happens with these criteria?
Could the minister give an indication of how she anticipates the long-range discussion for Education capital planning?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: What I can tell the member is that that will be an ongoing discussion as we debate capital budgets in future years. The Government Leader has made a commitment that we are going to look at a three-year budgeting cycle and try to do more long-range planning. However, in the area of schools, the consensus that was reached with the school councils at their spring conference is that rural schools needed to move to the fore because the needs in the rural communities had not been addressed for a long time and that Whitehorse schools would have to take a bit of a back seat on capital construction, notwithstanding the ongoing grade reorganization project that has cost several million dollars - all in Whitehorse schools.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could the minister clarify for me where the ongoing capital requirements of schools fit in that process? I'm thinking of the need for a new roof at Jack Hulland school. Now, I understand there is ongoing maintenance. These are ongoing major capital needs of schools. Where do they fit in terms of that planning? Do they just wait until we've done all of the necessary work on rural schools?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as the member has mentioned, there are budget line items for capital maintenance renovations and for various school facilities alterations that do cover other projects. As the member knows, it's a matter of balancing the competing needs among schools around the Yukon. We do have limited funds available and we try to allocate them as fairly as we can.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, does the minister anticipate any kind of process where the department could indicate, certainly in general terms, the amount and have school councils agree, not just on these major capital expenditures, but some of the ones I've just mentioned?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the facilities manager at the Department of Education does regularly work with school councils and certainly gets an indication of where the needs are. There's never any shortage of identifying the need. The member is probably aware that we also have, in the operations and maintenance budget, some property management funds, so we try and address the needs as best we can.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I raised with the minister the other day the need to improve that process, and I would hope that she would discuss with school councils that concern in terms of addressing building needs.
In the 1997-98 planned projects that were given to me in the briefing - she didn't mention any of them in supplementary expenditures - could I just have an indication at a future date that those have, indeed, been accomplished, that there's nothing left undone from last year's projects?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We can bring some information back for the member.
Ms. Duncan: I just have a couple of final questions in terms of capital. The minister has indicated that some of the additional expenditures will be used for purchasing the building materials for the Old Crow school. How is it intended that these building materials will be stored and kept in a secure situation?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, the logistics of the school supplies in Old Crow will be worked out by the Department of Government Services acting as the agency for Education. I know that they have been considering various possibilities, and I'm not sure whether the Minister of Government Services will be able to have an answer for the member on that for the supplementary budget debate, or whether that decision will be made later.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps we could have the Minister of Government Services get back to the opposition caucuses on that.
The F.H. Collins expenditures that were done this summer - the minister responded to my questions with respect to this by saying that the department had established a tentative replacement target date for the F.H. Collins Secondary School of 2006. I'm just curious as to why the department has been able to make a commitment on F.H. Collins, but we still seem to be without a commitment on Grey Mountain. There seems to be no decision as to whether there will be a school or whether there will not. The most we've ever had in five years is a discussion or commitment of the minister. Is there further progress on the commitment to Grey Mountain Primary?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair. There is nothing to report on that, and particularly not in the supplementary estimates.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Not seeing any, we will proceed to operation and maintenance expenditures, page 5-2.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Education Support Services
Ms. Duncan: Could we ask, as a matter of course, to have the minister explain these line items, please, prior to clearing them?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The education support services show a net increase of $54,000. There was a decrease in relation to a program transfer and two vacancies in administrative positions.
Education Support Services in the amount of $54,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It is $1,309,000. There is a $158,000 transfer from support services for two positions; $500,000 for staffing to accommodate student enrollment in Faro. This is where the $75,000 costs associated with the Old Crow school fire is, and $576,000 is the cost of settling the YTA collective agreement.
Mr. Phillips: Could the minister tell us what the complement of staff is now at the Faro school, along with the number of students, please?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We went over that with the Liberal critic. I believe it is 7.5, but I will come back with a written answer for the member, just to ensure that we're accurate.
Public Schools in the amount of $1,309,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This is a reduction which represents funds that will not be required for the interprovincial computerized management system.
Advanced Education in the amount of an underexpenditure of $19,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $1,344,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Education Support Services
On Staff Support, Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This is delayed computer purchases in order to develop, train and implement the current technology available to the department.
Staff Support, Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of an underexpenditure of $50,000 agreed to
On Computer Labs Upgrading
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This line item is to construct computer labs at various schools.
Mr. Phillips: Where? Various schools - is there one particular school that's getting the bulk of this?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There was a need to renovate the lab in Haines Junction, and the tender was higher than anticipated. No local contractor bid on the job, and it was subsequently awarded to a firm in Whitehorse.
Mr. Phillips: How much higher was it? I mean, that doesn't quite explain it to us. Was it a full $26,000 for the computer lab in Haines Junction? Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that it was, but I'll have to confirm that detail for the member.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I don't want to hold the item up, but does the minister know when we might get that information? Is the minister planning on bringing it back Monday?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We'll try to have the information for the member on Monday.
Mr. Phillips: The minister, in her notes, said that it was a higher than expected cost. Could the minister give us an estimate of what they thought it would cost - just a breakdown of what happened with that particular contract and how it ended up being $26,000 - in a legislative return or a briefing note?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have committed to bring the information back for the member.
Computer Labs Upgrading in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
On Capital Project Planning and Pre-Engineering
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This funding was transferred to computer labs, $26,000, and $350,000 for the design of the Ross River School. It has been determined that the Ross River project will only require $300,000 for this fiscal year. Therefore, $50,000 has been made available for a transfer or allocation to other projects within Education.
Ms. Duncan: Could I ask the minister just to clarify that? It sounds like what the department did was realize they didn't need as much as they'd budgeted for the Ross River school so they put it all over the place without coming back to this House.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we didn't know what the tender for the design work would be for the Ross River school, and we estimated it higher than it came in at.
Ms. Duncan: So, Mr. Chair, the budget approved this spring was $500,000. What is expected to be the final price, then, for the design and pre-engineering of the Ross River school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The contract awarded to Charles McLaren Architects is for $283,262. As well, there are funds required for travel and other costs.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, doesn't the minister think that that figure is a little high, considering that we're hoping to use an off-the-shelf design as a starting point? It seems to me that it used to cost us just that to design a whole new school from scratch, and it seems to me that that's an awful lot of money if we're going to end up with a similar school to Mount Lorne or Hidden Valley or even the Old Crow school. It just seems like it's high, you know?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we did spend some time discussing this issue in general debate. I will repeat for the member that the design contract for the Ross River School - and I remind the member that earlier he was complimenting the government on the fact that a Whitehorse architectural firm had been awarded that contract - has, as part of the contract, the possibility of including a new Yukon College community campus and community library in the school, as is being discussed with the community of Ross River. There is some considerable design work involved in the tendering.
Mr. Phillips: Well, the minister just told us that, today, her officials are up in Ross River and discussing the design, so I don't think we've reached the stage where we're at the final design or anything yet.
The minister also told us that we try and encourage schools to use off-the-shelf - or use it as at least a starting point.
I'm not saying that it shouldn't be local architectural firms that get it. I think it should be. What I'm questioning here is if we're going to use a design similar to existing designs that we've had - and it might even have be done by the same architect - there should be a cost saving. If we're going to use a similar design, there should be a significant cost saving. That's all I'm asking the minister.
Surely to goodness the minister would question, if we're using similar designs, the need for almost $300,000 worth of design fees for a school that we've got a couple of sets of plans already for, that are going to be similar to that. The minister isn't telling me that it's costing an extra few hundred thousand dollars to design a college on to that, because these aren't complicated buildings we're talking about here with complicated facilities.
So, my question is if we're getting value for our dollar. That's what the minister should be questioning. I'm not denying the fact that it should go to a local contractor. It's great that it is. I'm just questioning that it seems to be a little high for a school the size of the one we're going to get in Ross River, and possibly utilizing some old design plans as a starting base from what we had before.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I can appreciate the member's concerns. What I can offer is to provide him with a copy of the tender documents so he understands what was in the tender documents. As I indicated earlier, there is the possibility of including other facilities within the school design.
Mr. Phillips: What I'd also like, if the minister could, is to provide me with a copy of the final plans of the school. I'll tell the minister that I will return the plans immediately. I'll look at them right away, so we don't need to add a pile more money on top of this to pay for the one extra set of plans. I know that they are in demand, but if the minister could, in the process - maybe even while they're going to tender - provide me with a copy of the plans, I'll look at them quickly and get them back, just so I can have a look at the plans and compare them with some of the plans from some of the other schools that we have.
She could maybe provide me with a copy of the Hidden Valley plan - just the plan sheet is all I need; I don't need the spec book - and then the new plan of this new school. I'd like to have a look at both, if I could.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'll have to confer with my colleague in Government Services on that request.
I move that you report progress on Bill No. 8.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. next Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 27, 1997:
Department of Education 1996-97 Annual Report (Moorcroft)
Yukon Liquor Corporation 1996-97 Annual Report (Fairclough)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 27, 1997:
Oil and Gas Act (Bill No. 22): limitation period for prosecution of an offence (Harding)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1376
Little Salmon-Carmacks final agreement: consent of Kwanlin Dun re land selections in overlap area (McDonald)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 1591
Chief driver examiner: related matters (Keenan)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1637