Tuesday, December 2, 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?
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the Yukon Housing Corporation's annual report.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have a legislative return for the Member for Riverdale South.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 47: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that Bill No. 47, entitled Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission that
Bill No. 47, entitled Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 47 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Burwash firehall, cost overrun
My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I'm very concerned about the statement the minister made last week about there being a $100,000 cost overrun in relation to the construction of a new firehall in Burwash.
Under the Yukon Party government, new firehalls were constructed at both Tagish and Ibex Valley for just under and just over $200,000 each.
Mr. Speaker, it would appear that, once again, Yukoners are perched on the perilous slope of major cost overruns on capital projects, which were so typical of the previous NDP government.
Can the minister advise the House how much over the original $235,000 estimate this project will ultimately cost?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, as I had talked to the member opposite regarding the Burwash firehall, new initiatives have come up and taken place, I believe, in the terms and forms of the permafrost and the footings. They had to take another look at it and had to make sure it was done in a proper and effective manner.
Mr. Jenkins: It is my understanding from the minister that this project is being undertaken by the First Nations in Burwash under a capital funding agreement. It is the Kluane First Nation, Mr. Speaker. Can the minister advise the House why this project was given to this First Nation rather than the community club, which heretofore has always been recognized as the local authority for Yukon government-funded projects of this nature?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly elaborate somewhat on the initiative, and certainly it is correct, as stated by the member opposite, but only in that the Kluane First Nation does have the contract, and it certainly was done through the cooperation and spirit of a government-to-government relationship, with the intent of having community goodness at heart for all of the community. The firehall certainly is not certainly just a First Nation initiative, but it is there for the protection of all.
Mr. Jenkins: Again, Mr. Speaker, a non-answer to a direct question.
Can I ask the minister to advise the House what financial control mechanisms there are in place to manage this project?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the terms and conditions are laid out within the agreement. Yes, they are being adhered to. It has certainly been a pleasure to work with the First Nation on this, and I certainly wish them good luck in coming through, as I know that they will, with a very good fulfillment of the agreement.
Question re: Burwash firehall, cost overrun
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, my question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Mr. Speaker, I'm extremely shocked to learn of how little the minister appears to know about the issue in view of it having been raised several days ago in this House.
This is an issue of an original budget amount of $235,000 that is now overspent by $100,000. This is taxpayers' money. Perhaps the minister isn't concerned. It is my understanding that the firehall is only partially completed. The walls are up. No mechanical work has been done, and a lien has been filed for $9,020 against this project - property owned by the Government of Yukon - for non-payment of wages.
What does the minister plan to do about this situation, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Speaker, certainly I am in control of the situation and working with the First Nation through my department on this initiative. Certainly, the project did come under some difficulty, as alluded to or stated in the beginning, concerning the permafrost situation and the ability to build on it. It had to be looked at in that manner and it was still a very worthwhile project. Well, let me just say that the terms are in place and there has been maybe a change in the management but, certainly, with the new management now, it is up and running and it was going to be completed.
Certainly, again, let me say, Mr. Speaker, that the monies that are there are going to be spent, not because of mismanagement, but certainly because of the concept that I've stated regarding the permafrost.
Mr. Jenkins: That doesn't answer the question and, Mr. Speaker, these are non-answers coming from the minister. In the capital funding agreement that the minister provided with the government and the First Nation, he either committed an oversight by not including schedule A, which was the financial part of these agreements, or he's deliberately done so to hide something.
Can the minister advise the House just how much he is prepared to finance the construction of this firehall in Burwash? What's the upper limit - $400,000, $500,000? Or is there no upper limit, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm used to ludicrous statements by this gentleman and certainly the ludicrous statements are going to continue to follow through, no matter what I answer or what I state to the member opposite.
The project is a very good project for the community. It is there to provide fire protection and services for the community at large, and certainly it is going to be done within the confines of the agreement, as I have stated.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, the minister has missed the point again. We're not criticizing the construction of a much-needed firehall. We're not criticizing the agreement with the people in that area to construct it. What we are criticizing, and want answers to, is this government's inability to control capital expenditures, or indeed any other expenditures of that nature.
I know that the minister will have the backing of the Government Leader, who is infamous for having an elaborate $404,000 firehall constructed in Keno City - in the Government Leader's former riding. I would remind the minister that this is Yukon taxpayers' money, and whether the minister likes it or not, he is accountable for the proper spending of these funds.
Will the minister report back to this House with a full and complete accounting of what went wrong with this project and how he plans to make it right? Will the minister give that commitment?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I am certainly going to work cooperatively with the First Nation, so that we will ensure that the project is committed and is done.
As far as the rest of the member opposite's ramblings, I will simply state that they are ramblings.
Question re: Klippert's Transfer Ltd., court settlement
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
In 1992, a contract was issued to Klippert's Transfer Ltd. for work in the Logan subdivision. The issue ended up in court. Five years later, in July of this year, the judge found in favour of Klippert's Transfer against the government. Now, four and a half months later, the government still hasn't paid this company.
I remember hearing about this government being open and accountable. Accountable means paying your bills. Would the minister tell this House and the public why the Government of Yukon has not paid the amount they owe?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of an open and accountable government, it certainly gives me pleasure to be able to address the situation.
I have spoken with the proponent of the case that was stated, just last week. I have talked with the gentleman to assure him that I would be working with the department to ensure that we bring things toward an end in an expeditious manner, if I may say so.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the plaintiff should not have had to go to the minister's office. It took four and a half months to get an appointment to get in to say, "Why haven't you paid the bill?" It is the minister's job to know why the judgment wasn't paid.
I wrote to the government on this matter. I have written steadily since my election last year. Ministers of every party colour and in almost every department have been lobbied on this issue. Why wasn't the judgment paid? Why has it not been paid?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe the gentleman in question had to wait for four and a half months to get in to see me. As I recall, he showed up on my step. I gave every courtesy for the gentleman to come in to speak to me, and certainly he has come to speak to me and I have spoken to him. I have let the proponent know that I'm going to be looking into it and checking into it and that is exactly what I'm going to do. I have done some preliminary work with the department and what they tell me is that it is in the hands of the lawyers.
Simply stated, I'm going to work with that direction, as I have assured the proponent that I will be working with it, and I will get back to him, hopefully, with adhered-to points.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services has said over and over and over again in this House that this government and his officials will do "due diligence" and he refers to things as "ludicrous". This whole situation is absolutely ludicrous. Will the minister, immediately upon leaving this House today, do more than due diligence and make absolutely sure that Klippert's Transfer Ltd. have a cheque in their hands before Christmas?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Over and over and over, due diligence, proper process, thoughtful deliberation, listening, commitments made -
Speaker: Order. Would all members get to the questions.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I think that those cannot be repeated too much. Will I give due diligence? Yes, I will. I have ensured the member opposite that I will be working with the proponent. The proponent, at the time that I met with the gentleman, did not ask for a cheque immediately. He had spoken to me of the principle, and I certainly assured him that I would be working with him to ensure that both are looked after.
Certainly, what the member opposite is asking for may be a band-aid solution. Well, certainly I'm not looking to put a band-aid on the solution. I'm certainly looking, through due diligence, through openness and thoughtful deliberation, to bring forth something that will never have to happen again.
Question re: Klippert's Transfer Ltd., court settlement
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I'm delighted to address the principle of this issue with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. The judge called this case, and I quote in describing the government's position, "an absurd position, one that is out of touch with the facts as they were at this time."
The government went ahead, bullied the little guy, and they lost. They haven't paid the judgment and nothing has changed. Not a thing. Not a review, no tough questions.
This government promised Yukoners a better way.
Will the minister recognize that there is an issue here and make changes in the way the Department of Community and Transportation Services does business?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, all of the comments from the member opposite from "absurd, out of touch" - in a way, nothing has changed from A Better Way.
Certainly I can speak about A Better Way, and I think that is what we are attempting and are going to be doing here - to implement A Better Way. It certainly takes time, and you have to do it in a thoughtful way. There are many, many people that are involved. It is not simply a small matter. It's a very large matter. Does that mean that we have to watch? Yes, it does mean that we have to watch how we approach it. Does that mean that we are going to approach it? Yes, it certainly means that we are going to approach it. Does it mean that we are doing it now? Yes. At this point in time though, it is in the hands of the lawyers. Certainly, we're restricted somewhat from that, but not from other things. So, yes, I will be working with it, as I have explained to the proponent of the business, and it certainly seemed that it was working for the proponent, and he offered me his luck on it - I guess I could say it in that manner.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, Klippert's Transfer Ltd. was a Yukon company. They had done business for over 20 years in the Yukon employing nothing but Yukoners. This was local hire at its absolute best. Their work with the Government of Yukon in 1992 cost them their business. Klippert's Transfer no longer employs Yukoners. They work out of B.C. This minister has had ample opportunity, since the government took office, to make changes, to show people the better way in Community and Transportation Services.
Mr. Speaker, this minister has had a year, yet it's the same old story, and the only people not working and not getting paid is the contractor. Will the minister commit to an independent review of his department's actions in light of this court case?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I will not commit to an independent review. Mr. Speaker, let me say that my government is in touch with people. My government is in touch with issues, and we will continue to be. Are we going to continue to make government better? Certainly, we're going to make government better, and we will continue to work like that, because that is a better way, and that is why we were elected, and that is what we are going to do.
Ms. Duncan: The better way is reviewing the actions of the department in light of the judge's comments, in light of the court case. I'm asking the minister to have the political courage to review these actions, in light of the promises he made to Yukoners and all of the members on the benches opposite made to Yukoners. They promised a better way. Will he be accountable for it, and will he review his department's actions in light of this court case? The government lost.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As I have said to the member opposite, yes, we are going to be looking at this. Yes, we are looking at this. I have spoken to the proponent, who is standing in the gallery and watching with great interest. I want to assure the folks - Yukoners - that this government was elected on A Better Way and is implementing A Better Way and will continue to do so, and they will continue to do it in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. They will not be bullies and they will not work in any other way than to work with the people.
So therein lies the answer, and thank you very much.
Question re: Burwash firehall, cost overrun
Mr. Jenkins: My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Mr. Speaker, the people of Burwash wanted a firehall, one similar to the ones constructed in Ibex Valley and Tagish - $234,000 would have been more than enough. What Burwash now has is a cost of some $335,000. The firehall, as of last week, was only 36 percent complete.
At that rate, Mr. Speaker, we are looking at a firehall that could cost well over half a million dollars. Can the minister advise the House if he has instructed Yukon government agents to inspect the progress of this project, including all the financial records as they relate to this project? Has he at least done that? Is the minister going to be doing his job with respect to overseeing these projects, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, the minister is going to be doing his job, and the minister's going to be doing his job in a manner that enables people to work cooperatively together. Certainly, we are not a bully government, and we are not any other government than a thoughtful government, if I can continue to say that, so that, at some time, it might be absorbed by members opposite.
Fear mongering - I'm certainly used to the mischief-makers on that side of the House, but certainly appalled that they're fear mongering and the attitude that they take to fear mongering. Certainly, the dollars that were brought forth were not brought forth because of shoddy work. The dollars that were brought forth, were brought forth because of permafrost, and because of the situation that is used to build. So we thought that if we're going to do something, we're going to do it right, and we're going to do it once.
Mr. Jenkins: How much money has the Yukon government paid out to date on this firehall - this albatross of a firehall? Has the government given written approval to alter the original scope of the project to accommodate these what we are now lead to believe are going to be outrageous cost increases? What was the minister's direction in this matter?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: My direction in this matter was to get the job done within the confines of the agreement and to do it so that it is to the benefit of the community. Certainly, that is exactly what is happening.
Mr. Jenkins: So the minister's direction was, "Get the job done." I'm sure the corollary to that was, "Spend as much money as you have to do to get the job done."
It is my understanding that there have been two project managers on this job since its inception. Both of them have left; the last one has filed a lien for wages.
Is a project manager currently on this site? Is there work progressing? After this, Mr. Speaker, will the minister call for an immediate audit, before more taxpayers' money is spent on this project?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I cannot answer the first question on the project manager. I know there has been a managerial change and that another project manager was brought in. I will certainly have to get back to the member opposite on that.
As for the call for an audit, no, I will not call for an audit. I know that the terms and conditions are being worked with and will continue to be so.
Question re: Har Randhawa payment
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, on the Har Randhawa case. This is a racial discrimination case that was started by a government employee about a decade ago, and it has been before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on two occasions, most recently in September. When the tribunal gave its most recent decision it was anticipated - or, I suppose, "hoped" would be a better word - that the matter would be resolved by last Monday and payment made to Mr. Randhawa.
Last night, when I asked the Minister of Justice about the status of the payment, she said she would have to confer with the minister. Mr. Randhawa, I'm told, has not been paid, so, just for the record, could the minister tell this House why?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, this issue has been of concern to this government as well; I'm sure it was to the previous government. We've tried to move steadily to conclusion on it. There was recently a second tribunal. The finding are clear, and a payment consistent with that tribunal will have to be made.
Mr. Cable: Well, I think Mr. Randhawa agrees with that; his lawyer agrees with that. The question is, why hasn't it been made?
Now, I understand that there is some argument on calculations, and that there is only $3,000 or $4,000 separating the parties out of a total of about $45,000. Now, presumably Mr. Randhawa, like Mr. Klippert, know best what to do with their own money, rather than have the government hang on to it.
Is the minister prepared to authorize payment of the money not in dispute, so the taxpayer doesn't have to pay any further interest on that amount of money?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Without negotiating with the Liberal caucus on the floor of the Legislature, I will tell him that my instructions to the Public Service Commission have been to try to settle this responsibly and reasonably and do it as quickly as possible.
Mr. Cable: For the minister's benefit, there is a letter to Mr. Randhawa saying. "Likely the payment will be made on the December 17 payday." Now in view of what's taking place in the past, could the minister say definitely that this sorry case will be finished by that date, and the payment made on that date? That's all money owing Mr. Randhawa, all settlement documents signed and all payments turned over, the whole issue concluded by that date?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I want to tell the member that this government is very interested in seeing this sorry case cleared once and for all. And, we want to go further than that, in terms of trying to make changes to ensure that this kind of thing never takes place again in the workforce. We're working on a couple of fronts, Mr. Speaker. And, I want to tell the member opposite that I respect the fact that this issue has dragged on a long time and I know there's been a lot of pain and anguish. I think that it's important that it's resolved reasonably and responsibly as soon as possible.
I think the time lines in the letter that were referred to are certainly the intent of the department to carry out.
My instruction to the department have been clear: move as quickly as possible to resolve this situation.
Question re: Ministers meeting with constituents
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
There's a considerable concern in the public about the fortress mentality of this government. Yukoners who have problems with government are pawned off on the bureaucracy or on the political assistants, rather than being allowed to meet and discuss their problems firsthand with the NDP ministers.
A mother and father, who reside in Carcross, have been attempting to meet with the minister since September 29, 1997, to discuss the future of their son, who has a medical disorder and has been in trouble with the law. They have asked for one hour of the minister's time and have been waiting a month for a positive response. Will the minister now reverse his decision not to meet with them and give these parents at least one hour of his precious time to discuss the future of their son?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: With regard to this case, it involves a situation with a young offender. It's not appropriate for me to meet. Also, due to the fact that I have personal knowledge of the case, it would not be appropriate for me to meet with them, as well.
Mr. Phillips: This minister reminds me of the character Major Major in the novel Catch-22, whereby the only time the minister is prepared to meet with anyone in his office is when he isn't in.
Can the minister advise the House as to why he and his Cabinet colleagues have barricaded themselves in their offices and are not prepared to meet with individual Yukoners who have valid concerns respecting the minister's department and the way it's handling this particular issue?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: This is patently false. I advised the person in question that we would make the offices of our department available to her. We would make everyone who is involved in this particular issue available to her. But, as this is a young offender's issue and, as I said before, because I have personal knowledge of the family in question, it would not be appropriate for me to meet.
Mr. Phillips: This is a minister, Mr. Speaker, who hides behind boards, hides behind his department, hides behind everybody, but never takes responsibility for anything he does. So much for the election pledge of greater accountability.
Can the minister advise the House why he believes the NDP Cabinet minister's only function is to prepare policy and that they will not meet individually with any Yukoners who are having difficulties dealing with the government bureaucracy?
The minister has told us today he has advised his officials to be cooperative. Well, Mr. Speaker, they haven't been cooperative. They've run out of cooperation. They now want to meet with the minister. I'd like to ask the minister if he would do his job and meet with individuals who are concerned about issues when they can't get through to the bureaucracy.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I have advised my department to be as cooperative as possible. If the individual in question is having difficulties, she can contact my assistant. We will set up whatever meetings we need with the department. As I said before, it is not appropriate for me to meet, as this is a young offender's case, and, in addition, because I have personal knowledge of the family circumstances.
Question re: Klippert's Transfer Ltd., court settlement
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regarding Klippert's Transfer Ltd.
This company took the government to court - the court of absolute last resort. It wasn't their wish to go to court. They lobbied ministers in the last government - three of them; they lobbied this government, every single minister, including the Government Leader and others; I wrote on their behalf to the Minister of Justice last November urging her to review this case before going to court.
Nonetheless, the government, for reasons which are not altogether clear, not only saw fit to proceed on a case that many people felt should have been settled out of court, but they saw fit to use an Edmonton lawyer and an Edmonton law firm, who has probably already been paid while the contractor is whistling in the wind.
Will the minister come back to this House with a full accounting of the costs of proceeding on this action, including the transportation and accommodation costs for using an Edmonton law firm?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I can get the information for the member opposite.
Ms. Duncan: In his review, will the minister also examine why the government proceeded on this case?
The government was being as bull-headed as only governments can be.
Will the minister come back with who made this decision to proceed to court? Was it a Cabinet decision to proceed, or did the minister make it in isolation?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I can get the information and do research into the situation. Certainly, though, alluding that I would have made this decision is, I find, very gross.
Ms. Duncan: The only thing ludicrous about this situation, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that the government went to court, the government hasn't paid, and the minister hasn't done anything about it in the year since he has taken office.
When the minister does his review of this case on why the government proceeded and how much it cost, will the minister come back with the information on how much it cost and why there was a decision made to go with an Edmonton law firm?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I can get back to the member opposite with the information, as required.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of government private members' business
Hon. Mr. Harding: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the government private members to be called on Wednesday, December 3, 1997: Motion No. 73, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse Centre and Motion No. 53, standing in the name of the Member for Kluane.
Bill ordered dropped from Order Paper
Speaker: Before proceeding to Orders of the Day, the Chair would like to inform the House that Bill No. 101, entitled Domestic Violence Prevention Act, 1997, standing in the name of the Member for Riverdale South, will be dropped from the Order Paper as it is similar in intent and subject matter to Bill No. 24, entitled Family Violence Prevention Act, which passed this House on November 27, 1997.
We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 26: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 26, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fairclough.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 26, entitled An Act to Amend the Animal Protection Act, be now read a third time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 26, entitled An Act to Amend the Animal Protection Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 26 agreed to
Speaker: I declare the motion carried and that Bill No. 26 has passed this House.
Bill No. 27: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 27, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fairclough.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 27, entitled Animal Health Act, be now read a third time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 27, entitled Animal Health Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 27 agreed to
Speaker: I declare the motion carried and that Bill No. 27 has passed this House.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, 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 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: Committee will be dealing with the Department of Renewable Resources. Is there any general debate?
Department of Renewable Resources
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I will make this brief, Mr. Chair. I will make brief comments to the supplementary budget estimates.
The Department of Renewable Resources supplementary budget includes a decrease of $181,000 in O&M expenditures, an increase of $20,000 in O&M recoveries and an increase of $334,000 in capital expenditures. This results in a net increase of $133,000.
The decrease in O&M expenditures is primarily due to reduced personnel costs from temporary vacancies and staff turnover.
The increase in capital costs is due to the revotes of $134,000 and the allocation of $200,000 for the protected areas strategy. Costs for this strategy were not fully included in the main 1997-98 estimates because the project was not really underway until well into the year.
Mr. Chair, I look forward to questions from the members opposite and will answer in detail when possible.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for his brief overview of the supplementary budget.
I've got a few questions today that I would like to explore with the minister as we debate his budget in general debate before we get into the line by line, and see if we can't garner a little more information than what we were able to get from the minister in Question Period.
We brought up several issues with this minister and this department and we would like to explore those a little bit further.
One of the issues that is probably at the forefront is that we heard that Canada came out yesterday with a position on the global warming, on CO2 emissions, and I believe the Prime Minister said yesterday that Canada was going to set a target of reduction of three percent from 1990 levels by the year 2010.
My question to the minister is, do he and his colleagues support that target and are they going to be making a similar commitment?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In our recent meeting in Regina, that was not the number that we agreed to. We agreed to a reduction of stabilizing the 1990 levels by the year 2010. This is a bit different from what most of the provinces across Canada agreed to in Regina. I know that this will be an issue - it's an issue right now - with regard to what that really means to the provinces as far as costs to reduce greenhouse gases.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I appreciate what the minister said. I know it wasn't what was agreed to in Regina. I am fully cognizant of that. We heard the Premier of Alberta come out yesterday, and the Premier of Saskatchewan - or at least an official from the Saskatchewan government, I am not sure exactly sure who made the statement on behalf of Saskatchewan, but I do know that Premier Klein made a statement on behalf of Alberta - that he couldn't support it. I understand Saskatchewan has also said that they are going to have great difficulty with it.
I understand that this minister is going to Kyoto. I want to know what position he's going to be taking on behalf of the Yukon people. Are they going to be supporting the federal position or are they going to take a position that's contrary to the federal position? That's what I'm asking the minister here today.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We haven't changed the position that we had put forward in Regina, so the position we'll be taking is to go and talk to the federal minister to see how the federal government could aid - if there are additional costs to the provinces and territories to come to this point. So I think there's a bit of lobbying that needs to take place on our part. We continue to stick by the position we took in regard to stabilization at 1990 levels by the year 2010.
Mr. Ostashek: My concern, Mr. Chair, is that we hear talk of developing nations having to do more than Third World countries in relation to greenhouse gases. While I don't want to compare the Yukon to a Third World country, we are in a very similar situation here, and we have watched this government that's in power today, in the 12 months that they've been there, increase the CO2 emissions quite dramatically, and have yet not increased the economic activity in the territory.
So I see it being very, very difficult for us to have any sort of economic development in the territory, and being bound by a position that the federal government wants to take, or even trying to live up to a position of not stabilizing at 1990 levels by the year 2010. I guess that's my concern; this government has been sending mixed messages to the public. On one hand, the minister goes and lobbies his counterparts about CO2 emissions. On the other hand, we have a Cabinet that makes a decision to increase CO2 emissions in the Yukon, without any increased economic activity even as an argument for their rationale for increasing the CO2 emissions.
Does the minister not agree that it's going to be very difficult to have any economic development in the Yukon if we're going to commit the Yukon to stabilization of CO2 emissions by the year 2010? We've only got 30,000 people in the Yukon. Let's be realistic about this.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Ostashek: We hear the Minister of Economic Development talking about principles of equitable distribution, but I haven't heard that, as our position, being taken abroad.
The fact remains, what the minister is saying is that we need to be given some breaks here. I just believe that we ought to be taking a position that we can successfully defend in the light of any kind of criticism and, at the same time, not put the Yukon in a position that we cannot have any economic development and we continue to live off federal transfer payments.
Can the minister respond to that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The member had heard from this side about the concept that was put forward in Regina about equitable distribution, and that's the position that we took. We know that the Yukon has basically very little development happening here. We have potential for oil and gas and much more in regard to development of minerals, and we understand that. We also have pressures from the First Nations. Some of them have completed agreements and want to get into the economic development side of things and to keep going on those fronts.
We're confident that - well, I shouldn't say confident, but I don't know what's going to result in the end in Kyoto. It's a bit of a concern to us that, should there be a strong position that comes forward, we would be stuck in that position, but at the same time we need to work within Canada to make sure that the provinces and the territories are not impacted in a big way - those that have potential for much more development. Positions have come forward from some provinces - the same as what the Yukon has put forward.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that. I want to assure the minister that I find it very enlightening and refreshing that First Nations are moving toward economic development and trying to develop an economic base, and I want to do everything we can in this Legislature to support them in that respect and to create jobs for Yukoners, instead of our children having to leave the territory to make a living.
I want to ask the minister this question, though: in light of the statement that there should be some special considerations given a jurisdiction like the Yukon, did he raise that in Regina? What kind of reception did he get from his colleagues in Regina in asking for some leniency so the Yukon wouldn't have to live up to the same standards as Ontario and Alberta and other jurisdictions?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have made the point that Yukon has to have the ability to develop and that's the position we have taken forward. We had to try to come up with a balance somehow in regard to the environmental impacts that are happening right now. We cannot forget the fact that climate change or global warming are affecting the Yukon. We had some studies done recently by Environment Canada, the Mackenzie Delta Impact Study, which stated that the north in particular is going to be most greatly affected by climate change, and that is already taking place with increased temperatures in the north and the melting of shoreline on the north coast. There is a feeling that the increase in temperatures here could increase snowfall, which would affect the caribou herds. That also has to be taken into consideration when we do make a decision. Also, there could be increases in insects that could harass the caribou herds and drain them of energy and of fat for survival through the winter months.
We also need to consider the fact that there could be increased costs in forest fires and the amount of dollars that the federal government is putting out right now in regard to fighting fires, and also other things that could be happening like permafrost melting and what it could do to our highways and to the communities in regard to housing and so on.
These are some of the things that we brought forward in Regina, and there has been recognition that, yes, in fact, the north is being affected, not only Yukon but N.W.T. and actually Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. - those areas that flow into the Mackenzie River. Alaska and Siberia are also going to feel most of the global warming.
For those reasons, with Yukon and N.W.T. making up basically a majority of the land mass in Canada, we were invited to participate and advise the federal minister in Kyoto, Japan. I know where the member is coming from. We had long discussions with the Minister of Energy and Economic Development to come up with a workable solution, trying to be realistic in the targets that have been put forward. We felt that the target we put forward in Regina - reductions to the 1990 levels by 2010 - was something that would be very difficult to meet by many provinces, although Quebec has already met those goals. We are hoping that, should there be a strong position that comes forward, it would result in a lot of new technologies coming out.
There's another side to that in job creation around the world, but the fact of the matter is that climate change basically is going to affect the Yukon in big ways and in many ways, we feel. There's no solid evidence, I guess, to say that it will, although, right now, we're seeing a change. We're seeing major things like our north coast eroding away a metre a year, basically, with the sides basically being 20 metres or 30 metres high and the elevation of the water levels in the sea.
I guess there are many things to this. In regard to whether or not we can meet these goals, it would be very difficult. We, as Yukoners, have a lot of potential to do development and we cannot throw that out. We're a small place in the Yukon. We don't have too many people here - only 30,000 people for a fairly large land mass. We need to take all of those things into consideration, both the economic and the environmental issues.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that. I'm pleased to hear that he's partly on track to where I want to see him go with regard to development in the Yukon. We may differ on what is causing climate change. I'm not certain that greenhouse gases are the cause. The jury's still out on that in the scientific world. We may just be going through a long period of climate change, as the earth has gone through for hundreds of thousands of years. Nothing moves forward at the same pace or backward at the same pace, so there is a great debate in Canada.
The concern I have here is that CO2 emissions cannot be isolated by provincial, territorial or even country boundaries. No matter where the emissions are being produced on this earth, they're all going into the same atmosphere. Emissions being produced in Europe or in Asia or the Orient are having an effect on our Arctic. It's not the greenhouse gases that we're producing here ourselves that are having the impact, it's the collective world emissions that are having the impact, if that is the cause of it. I'm pleased to hear that the minister will be taking a strong position and that this government will not be putting the Yukon in a position that we're going to curtail economic development by some unreasonable goals and objectives that cannot be met without having some serious downside to it and curtailing our development.
I'll move on to a couple more questions and then let my colleague in for a few minutes. I have several areas I want to go over with the minister today in general debate. The one question I have for him now is about the questions we raised in Question Period, in regard to the alleged misappropriation of funds in the contribution agreement with the Carcross First Nation for the caribou survey in the Southern Lakes area. The minister has told us that he has called for an audit into that contract.
Can the minister tell us in the House today when he expects that audit to take place, and when he expects to get an answer back to us?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The department is now discussing the process with the First Nation. I can't give a time line to that, but we have been pushing for an early and quick audit so that answers can be given to Yukoners.
In regard to the later comments regarding climate change, we can't advocate doing nothing because others are polluting and we are. I think we could show some leadership in this and provide new technology to the rest of the developing countries - Canada can. I think we can give direction in that way by just showing some leadership without jeopardizing our economic future.
Mr. Ostashek: I appreciate that we can't do nothing when it comes to reaching an agreement on CO2 emissions, but I have great difficulty with the federal government's position where we had to do something that was better than the United States. I have some great difficulties with that. We have a developing nation. We talk about a small population in the Yukon of 30,000 people; we have to remember that the huge land mass that Canada has comprises over one-third of the North American continent. We only have 30 million people; we are a very sparsely populated area on this globe compared to other areas. I am not asking the minister to do nothing, but I'm also asking the minister not to be on the leading edge and put the Yukon into a position where development in the Yukon is going to be curtailed.
Mr. Cable: No, I thought the minister was going to make a comment.
I have some questions about greenhouse gas as well. The minister was recently in Toronto at a special meeting of the Canadian Environment ministers. Prior to going there - I was just advised that it was Regina, not Toronto - he gave a ministerial statement on climate change, in which he said that one of the principles he would be pushing for would be emitter responsibility - making the end users of carbon-producing resources take ownership of the greenhouses gases they produce - and I think he had indicated that one of the ways that would work is if we dug up coal in the Yukon and shipped it to Japan, then Japan would be responsible for assuming the greenhouse gas content of the coal.
What is he advocating for the combustion of fossil fuels mined in the Yukon and also burned in the Yukon? How is this emitter responsibility going to work in that context?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: If they are exported, it would be handled in the same manner.
Mr. Cable: Well, I think the minister actually had mentioned what would happen with respect to exports. What I'm asking is, what happens in the Yukon if the coal is mined in the Yukon, or if fossil fuels are taken out of the ground in the Yukon, and the combustion takes place in the Yukon? Assumedly, it would be the Yukon who would be the actual emitter. What kind of responsibility are we talking about? How is that going to be translated?
Just let me put the minister's words to him that he had in the ministerial statement, "We will also advocate the principle of emitter responsibility. This means that end users of carbon-producing resources must take ownership of the greenhouse gases they produce." How would that work here in the Yukon?
And let me give the minister an example. Let's say the oil up in the Northern Cross area is suitable for burning at the Energy Corporation. How would the Energy Corporation actually account for that combustion of the fossil fuel here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess a simple answer to that is, if we're using it here in the Yukon, then it would be basically charged against us. If we're displacing diesel fuel and using the fuel from Northern Cross, then that could be balanced, I guess, in what we don't use as far as diesel fuel.
Back to the member's first question in regard to the fuel used to extract fossil fuels, anything that we use here in the Yukon would be used against us. If the fuel is taken out of the Yukon, though, it would be the end user that would end up with the responsibility.
Mr. Cable: Okay, let me just get my head around this. If in fact there's a new generating facility - let's say the Braeburn coal is used to fuel a new coal plant - would there be a notional charge against that in the sense that rates would have an element in them involving carbon dioxide tax of some sort?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, Mr. Speaker, the simple answer to that is that it's not something that has been discussed in Regina or brought forward by the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: Well, when the minister's talking about a charge and the users of the carbon-producing resources must take ownership, just what is he talking about? Is there some financial transaction contemplated?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: One of the things that has not been fully looked at yet by Canada and the provinces is how the emission credits would work. If we were to be burning cleaner fuels, for example, there is a credit, or we are proposing this as a position to that. Those that are burning cleaner fuels would end up with credits, and if you are polluting, I guess, a bit more and putting more CO2 into the air, it would take away from those credits.
It's a system that we haven't fully worked out yet. Canada wants to pursue this because we do export a lot of propane and natural gas to the United States and we feel that, because of that, we should be credited for cleaner fuels.
Mr. Cable: Okay. I take it, then, that the principle of emitter responsibility has been accepted, but just what the mechanics are have not as yet been worked out. Is that basically what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's correct.
Mr. Cable: On another issue associated with carbon dioxide greenhouse gas, the issue of voluntary versus mandatory restraints has been debated extensively in Canada, and I think at the last go-around, two or three years ago, the Environment ministers sort of took the lowest common denominator approach and worked up voluntary restraints. I think there was some comment anyway; I don't know if there was consensus or not, that voluntary restraints don't seem to be working.
What is the position of this government on carbon-dioxide restraints? Should they be voluntary or should they be legislated?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The position that we took down to Regina is that we supported the voluntary position. It has worked to a certain degree in Canada. There have been companies that are joining in and trying to develop better technologies to reduce CO2s, although you can break it down, I guess, into some areas. For example, we can support things like mandatory positions on things like automobiles and that side of it. If it was to be, you know, pushed across Canada and basically everywhere, I think technologies can come out with the bigger companies to address that situation.
Mr. Cable: Is the minister saying the government has not yet reached a conclusion on whether voluntary restraint will work, that the door is open to legislated restraints?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have agreed in Regina to go with the voluntary option and not have some of the provinces that may not be able to meet these goals restricted to that. That was, I guess, a very difficult position to take on this when there are provinces and territories that are basically at the start of development.
Yukoners are doing a number of things to try and address this ahead of time. One of them is through the air emission regulations that are going to be put forward.
Mr. Cable: The minister touched on the transportation sector, and it has been indicated that over half of the greenhouse gases produced are generated by fossil fuels or burned in cars and trucks. I don't know if that statistic holds here or not, but it is a Canadian statistic.
I think in his ministerial statement, if I remember correctly, he did confirm that that is one of the big areas where greenhouse gases are produced, and the minister made some general comments on what could be done. Could the minister be a little more specific? Has he asked anybody in his department to review potential initiatives in the transportation area? Has anybody been actually mandated to look at the transportation area for carbon dioxide emissions?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In regard to the air-emission regulations, what's going to be brought forward to the public would be the government considering prohibiting tampering with automobile air pollution control equipment, regulating open burning of industrial and domestic waste, and regulating large sanitary facilities that use fossil fuels as well as other sources of air emissions.
We have tried to address this in a couple other ways, and I'm hoping that what we can do is focus on energy efficiency. We've recently come out, through Economic Development, through the energy commission, with two programs - the REMP program and the CEMP program - and those are directly to basically get off electric heat and on to a source of heat that produces, I guess, much less CO2. It's one of the initiatives that we have been bringing forward to try and focus more on energy efficiency in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: Now, the previous administration had developed a plan that had a number of points on it - about a dozen points - relating to energy efficiency. I think it was focused on greenhouse gas reduction. One of the facets that I remember was the use of wind power. I think it was thought that this would save four and a half megawatts of diesel generation, if I recollect the numbers correctly.
Has this administration - the minister's government - updated the previous administration's plan? If so, could he provide the House with a copy?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not aware of any plans to update the energy plan. It is something that is in another department. I guess, simply put, I'm not aware of any updates to the energy plan.
Mr. Cable: This wasn't the energy plan I was talking about. It was a plan that Mr. Fisher, I think, as the Minister of Renewable Resources, had worked up, maybe in conjunction with Economic Development, that had a number of carbon dioxide reducing initiatives in it.
I can provide the minister with a copy of that in correspondence, rather than rattle through the files there. If he would indicate to me by letter if there are any planned updates, I would appreciate that.
On another issue - the abattoir - the minister gave a legislative return in which he refused to provide the proposal. I think the rationale, as I understand his legislative return, is that it includes the business plan. Then he quoted a section of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Can the business plan be separated off from the main body of the proposal, so that we can look at the proposal itself?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not sure of it. The initial word that we got back was that it could not be, but I can provide as much detail to the member as possible from this and get back whether or not that section could be taken out from the business plan.
Mr. Cable: Okay. One other aspect of that: is there a contract with the proponent relating to the grant and the use of the grant monies and the use of the production facilities?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We don't have a contract that's set up with them, but what we do have is a five-year security agreement with them in regard to the equipment side.
Mr. Cable: Well, this money, I understand, is a grant as opposed to a loan. Am I correct in that assumption?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, it is a grant, but it is paid down through the security agreement over a five-year period. Should they fail to meet their requirements as spelled out, then we have the opportunity to seize the equipment.
The grant is basically paid down at 20 percent, per year.
Mr. Cable: Okay, that was what I was working up to. I assume there are conditions that they have to supply the facilities to third parties and do a number of other things.
Is the minister prepared to make those conditions, the security agreement itself, public, so we can judge the effectiveness of this initiative two or three years down the road?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't see that there would a problem with that, although I will look into it.
Mr. Cable: Well, just let me ask some questions in case there is a problem.
The fee schedule that set out in the legislative return - is the maintenance of that fee schedule one of the conditions? Can the minister tell us that? Is that fee schedule to hold for the whole of the five years? For example, for poultry, the fee that can be charged, as indicated in the legislative return, is 44 cents a pound.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The fee schedule that is in the legislative return, I'm not sure if there is an increase for the five-year projection. So, your question is whether or not those amounts that are on the paper would stay for the next five years. I'm not sure on that.
Mr. Cable: Well, perhaps the minister could check, and while he's checking, could he find out if in fact there is an attempt to charge fees in addition to what the government has authorized that will trigger the security agreement. Could the minister do that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I can look into that.
Mr. Cable: Now, in the legislative return, there's a citation of the section of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, section 24. It's fairly wide here. I'm not sure where the minister and his department are coming from exactly, but it would appear to indicate that there is some commercial information valuable to a third party, which would harm the competitive position of the proponent.
Are there any competitors in the Yukon to this slaughter-house application?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, there is one, in the south Yukon. It's a mobile unit, a fairly small operation. They had not put a proposal forward to us, although we don't know whether they want to get into the business, either. At this point, this is basically for protection should anyone else want to look at the numbers and get into the business. As far as competition goes, I don't know.
You're asking whether or not there is a bigger type of operation in the Yukon? No, but there is a smaller one that's in the south Yukon that has been operating, but at this point it's not a competitor to this abattoir.
Mr. Cable: Is the minister saying this small operation actually kills animals or simply cuts them up? Is he aware of that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This operation is basically a farm-gate operation. They do do some butchering and some packaging - some are basically, I think, more or less private - and they also do wild meats as well as some farmed animals.
Mr. Cable: Did I hear the minister correctly? He said he wasn't sure whether this operation was competitive with the Partridge Farm operation. Is that what he said?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I said that, at this point, this operation is not competitive to this abattoir. The number of animals, I guess, produced in the Yukon, I guess, are not big enough to basically support other abattoirs at this point. Should the industry grow, I think that there's an ability for another abattoir to be competing with this one.
Mr. Cable: Now, the amount of money that the public's put into this, I think, is something in the order of $185,000, if I remember correctly. Could the minister just confirm what the amount of money is that's going to be invested in this operation, and what's the total amount that's going to be invested by both the government and the proponent?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't have those numbers in front of me. Through government, though, the grant is approximately $113,000. It's not $185,000. We had budgeted for $150,000, and it came in under that.
Mr. Cable: Okay, I thank the minister. If the minister could indicate subsequently what the total cost of the enterprise is, I would appreciate that. I'm having some trouble agreeing with the minister and his department that this information should be protected by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Let me ask these questions. The eventual slaughter of chickens in year 5 is to be 13,500, out of a total Yukon consumption of 540,000. I think that represents 2.5 percent of the market. What percent of the local chicken population does that represent - the chickens that are actually raised for third-party consumption, not John and Jane Doe raising a few chickens in their backyard, but people raising chickens that are eventually slaughtered and put into the Yukon market?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't have those numbers with me as to what percentage that would be. I just don't have those numbers with me.
Mr. Cable: If the minister would provide those numbers and also the numbers with respect to cattle as well - the proposition is sold in part as a diversification initiative and an infrastructure initiative. So, to see whether it's effective would be useful to find out if the cattle or chicken populations climb as the abattoir continues on in operation.
What's intended with respect to the actual after-slaughter facilities, if I can call them that? Is it intended that frozen chickens will be put into the market? Is that what this walk-in freezer, which is referred to on the back page of the legislative return, is for?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess a couple of things could happen here. One of them that we're hoping for is that the meat that's being produced is put in a cooler and distributed to Whitehorse and surrounding communities as soon as possible so that fresh meat can be available to the consumer, although, yes, chickens can be frozen and sent to the stores.
Mr. Cable: The members are starting to "bawk" like chickens, so I'll cut this short, Mr. Minister. I just have one more question here. For the inspection of the facilities, is it anticipated that the inspector will go up to the facilities periodically and that the proponent will organize the various people using the facilities to bring their animals all in one batch or a series of batches? Just how is the inspection service going to work?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There will be a periodic inspection that does take place, although the inspectors will be there to inspect animals when the slaughter does happen.
Mr. Cable: No, I think that's acknowledged. What I'm wondering, from the standpoint of the people who will use the facilities, what are their obligations - to get together with a group of people to ensure the inspector is there or will the proponent organize an inspector to be there when a group of them bring their animals up for, say, a long production run of chickens or a long production run of cattle, for example?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That would have to fall on the proponent. In regard to the slaughtering of beef, normally that is done at a certain time of year. In regard to the slaughtering of chickens, for example, that could take place in more than one part of the year. I think that's where the proponent needs to play a role in this. The inspection does take place while the slaughter is taking place.
Mr. Ostashek: I have a few more questions for the minister and I would like to follow up on this abattoir while the thoughts are fresh in the minister's mind.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Ostashek: Well, it will be fresher than the meat that comes from the abattoir, I presume.
I've had quite a number of Yukoners raise concerns with me about this abattoir being situated where it is. I don't know Partridge Farms. I don't know if they can do a good job or if they can't, but the biggest concern was the location. I'll just relate some of the concerns that were relayed to me.
People from Watson Lake are further ahead to go to Dawson Creek than to go to Pelly Crossing. That is going to do nothing to enhance the sale of local meats - I meant Stewart Crossing. That's going to do nothing to enhance the sale of local products in Yukon stores. Other people, even in the Whitehorse area, have said, "Well, if we take a load of cattle or livestock south, we can bring back a load of feed and reduce our costs. If we go to Pelly, we have to haul them up there and haul them back. It's going to be expensive." I also would like to know - well, let's do this one stage at a time, so that we don't put too much on the plate at once.
Can the minister tell me if it's his intention to fund any other abattoir if an application should come forward in some other part of the Yukon? Is it the government's intention to fund another one?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, at this point there is no intention to fund another one. The situation the member brought up in regard to location would be an issue, it doesn't matter where it is. If it's in Whitehorse or if it's Watson Lake the people in the north would have the same problem in taking their animals to slaughter. I know what the member is saying; on the other hand, there are a lot of people that have come forward in support of having a place to take their animals.
Mr. Ostashek: I don't think I could agree with the minister on that, because we have people who are raising livestock in Haines Junction, we have some in Watson Lake, and we have some north of Whitehorse. This facility is going to be located in a place that is awkward for everybody. I don't see who, outside of people maybe in the Dawson area, would have their livestock slaughtered and hauled to Whitehorse for resale.
If there was one in the Whitehorse area, you would have people coming from various different directions. My understanding is that the government's intention in this is to create a local industry and to have local products sold in our stores here.
But, I think that we have sort of defeated that aspect of it by situating the abattoir at Stewart Crossing, because these are the concerns that have been raised by farmers to me, that it's just not convenient for them to travel with a truckload of livestock from Whitehorse, even, to Pelly Crossing and back to Whitehorse to sell them. For the people at Watson Lake, it's almost impossible. The distance is almost the same and they can go to Dawson Creek and probably get as good or better a price for their livestock and not have to worry about it - get a cheque in their hand and they don't have to worry about selling it.
I just want to get clear in my own mind from the minister as to what's going to transpire with this abattoir. The way I understand it - the minister can either agree or correct me if I'm wrong - is that if I was wanting to have 10 cows slaughtered, I would take them to Pelly Crossing, I would have them slaughtered and it would be up to me, the owner, to deliver them to wherever they are being sold, if I had a contract with the store to sell them, or whatever. It won't be Pelly Crossing buying the cattle and then reselling them. Have I got that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that could be the way it goes, although they could also go the route of making a deal with the Partridge Creek farm to pick up and deliver their meat to the market. That hasn't been thrown out. It has been put on the table by Partridge Creek for them to have the ability to do that.
One of the problems that faces Partridge Creek is to have the whole issue of transportation worked out in bringing in animals from afar.
Also, in regard to its location, basically 50 percent of the agricultural meat production is in the north and very little is produced in the Watson Lake area. It is moreso in the north and around Whitehorse.
With that in mind, those who are trucking their cattle south from Watson Lake would have a closer abattoir to truck to than they normally do down into B.C. or Alberta. This one is a few hours out of Whitehorse - three or four hours out of Whitehorse.
I don't know what to say to that. I know that it becomes, I guess, a bit of a problem for those down south, but if you're focusing on where most of the meat is being produced, 50 percent of it is in the north and most of it around Whitehorse.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I appreciate what the minister is saying and I can understand the dilemma that they were in in trying to get this thing off the ground, but I still can't agree with the minister when he says that it's just a short hop up there. Well, it's not a short hop up there. It's a long hop, especially if you've got a load of cattle.
The other thing to understand is that there is an access road that isn't suitable for a liner, and you can't get a liner in to the place. So, what are the people going to do? Unload the cattle at the highway and walk them in, or are funds being provided to upgrade the road?
What about inspectors? How are we going to operate inspectors? I see a very costly inspection process here if an inspector has to run up from Whitehorse every time some farmer comes in and wants one or two cows slaughtered or 100 chickens slaughtered. This meat is supposed to be graded and inspected so that it can be sold at a retail outlet. How is that going to transpire?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I would think that the Partridge Creek business - they do have a good business plan and have been operating in a successful way, and I don't believe that they would be organizing one or two cattle to be slaughtered at a time. I would think they would put their minds together and have more cattle gathered together for this to happen all at once. I have to give them, I guess, credit that they're not going to be doing one at a time.
In regard to beef, it's also focused on one time of the year, later in the fall, when beef is slaughtered. So, it basically gives the inspectors, I guess, a little easier time in that there's a focused time period when they need to be up there doing inspections.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I wish the minister luck with this, but having had some experience in dealing with livestock and knowing how farmers operate, it's going to be very difficult to get five or six farmers together to kill their cattle all on the same day, and we're going to be looking at feedlots or a place to hold these cattle. We're going to be looking at great expense here.
The minister says that it's still shorter for a person from Watson Lake to go to Stewart Crossing. Well, I disagree, because when he goes to Dawson Creek, he sells his cattle, and he doesn't have to worry about taking it to a retail outlet or anything else. He gets a cheque in his hand and loads his truck up and comes back home again. So, I don't think we're going to encourage any people from the southern Yukon to be utilizing this facility in the northern Yukon.
I appreciate that maybe 50 percent of the cattle today is being raised in the Dawson area and the central Yukon, but I thought that the intention behind this was to build an industry in the Yukon and to put it in a location where it was going to be fairly favourable to everyone. Those are concerns that are being raised with me by the general public. While they appreciate that there is an abattoir, they really don't see how it's going to work.
The minister still hasn't replied to me on what's going to happen with the road. My understanding is that now it's not even maintained in the wintertime and that you can't even get in there in.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The company did not say that this would be a problem. It's not like there's going to be loads and loads of cattle that do come in in big trucks. They reassured us that getting in and out would not be a problem. So, Mr. Chair, I guess in simple terms, should that arise, I'm sure that the company would address that problem.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, we're not going to debate this all afternoon in the Legislature, Mr. Chair. I'm just trying to get a few answers for some of the concerned Yukoners who have phoned me about it and raised their concerns with me.
I would like to just ask the minister to repeat - I missed it when he was on his feet, if he did answer my question. Is it the government's intention to fund any other abattoir in the Yukon at this time?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, there's no intention to fund any other abattoir at this time.
Mr. Ostashek: I'd like to just switch gears here a little bit now, before I let my colleagues get a chance to ask some questions. I want to talk to the minister about the alarming number of grizzly bears that have been destroyed by his officials in the wildlife branch this year.
The minister had a letter delivered to me yesterday, outlining what was happening, and I thank the minister for it. It did add a few things in here that I wasn't aware of, and I would like to discuss them with the minister today.
First of all, just for the record, I want to say that 15 grizzly bears is a lot of grizzly bears to be destroyed. I think it is cause for concern. I appreciate that we can't have grizzly bears wandering around in residential areas in Whitehorse. I fully agree with the minister on that. I'm not even adverse to him fencing the dump, but I am opposed to how the problem bears are being handled, and many Yukoners are and have raised this concern with us. They believe, as I believe, that these bears are very valuable animals. Bears are on a quota in the Yukon. They're on a point system for outfitters, and have been for almost 20 years now.
We've seen information where bears in the north need to be managed a lot more cautiously than bears in the south, because they don't mature as fast. I'm concerned that the department didn't have a concrete plan to deal with the bears that were going to come to the dump and find it fenced and then end up in residential areas. I don't know if the department thought they were going to come down, find it fenced and go back up the mountain. That just doesn't make sense to me. As the minister is aware, the residential areas are very close to that dump.
We know that that's in the past. We can't go back and save those bears that have been destroyed. But, I would like to see a stronger plan in place to deal with the bears that are going to come down next year. I don't think it's appropriate that we attract those bears with the smell. It's not the garbage that's attracting them, it's the smell of the garbage. It carries for many, many miles. And where our dump is situated, on the side of a mountain where we have the morning air prevailing and going back up the side of the mountain and drawing them down, we get the winds going up the side of the mountain every morning.
My concern is that, next year, we are still going to have bears coming down to the dump - not the ones that were inhabiting the dump, but we will have bears on a continual basis coming down there. As they go around the perimeter of the fenced area, they automatically end up in residential areas. I don't think it's appropriate to keep destroying these bears without giving them a chance.
I would urge the minister to reconsider his plan. In the information he has sent me, on page 2, he states, "In fact, in the fall of 1995, one female grizzly was collared, three male bears had ear tags installed for identification, after being snared at the dump. The female and her two cubs subsequently moved into the Ibex and Pilot Mountain area and never returned. One male was shot by a hunter near Carcross in the spring of 1996. Two other bears have not returned to the landfill."
Fair enough. Here we have - what is that? - five bears in total, one female and three males, and two cubs. Six bears. Now, these bears weren't even moved from the dump by the helicopter. They were just snared, had the trauma of being snared and ear tagged. One has been harvested by a hunter - fair game, nothing wrong with that. That's a valuable animal, and we do have a hunting season on bears. The others are still out there somewhere. I can't agree with the minister that this is too expensive a process to try and save these bears. I really believe that we ought to be doing something to try and relocate the bears.
I just want to go on. In the information that the minister sent me - a very long letter, which I appreciate fully - on the back he attached the record of 16 grizzlies trapped and moved over a 13-week period in the Yukon. If I am to read those statistics accurately, we had at least a 25 percent survival rate of bears that were trapped and moved. It says, "Four bears, fate unknown." That leaves me to believe that four survived, at least for an indeterminable period of time.
Does the minister not believe that it's worth the dollars and the effort, even if it were only to save 25 percent of the bears that we move? This summer, we would have saved three grizzlies out of 12 that were trapped. We'd have had three more grizzlies in the wild.
That's my concern, Mr. Chair, and I would really like to ask the minister for his thoughts on reconsidering the plan for dealing with the bears next year.
I don't think we want to take the fence down around the dump and have the bears eating in the dump, but I do believe that, because of the dump location and the proximity of residential areas, we're going to have a problem on an ongoing basis. Next year it might not be 12 bears; it might be two or three bears. Yet I don't think it's right to be destroying these animals who are on an endangered species list when we have had such very strict controls on the hunting of grizzlies for the last 20 years in the Yukon.
And I don't think it's that much effort to locate some bear traps between the dump and the residential area and to try to trap these bears before they get into a residential area, and remove them. Ear-tag them. If they come back the second time, so be it; then they have to be destroyed. I think then the minister could stand up and defend what he's doing there.
Now, I know the minister's going to get up on his feet and say, "Well, this has worked in other communities." Yes, it has, to a certain extent. In Haines Junction, it has funnelled a few bears into the residential areas. It has worked well at Destruction Bay. The dump is located halfway between Destruction Bay and Burwash. The bears come down to it, go around it, and go back in the bush because there's no community there.
But here at Whitehorse we're going to continue to have this problem. As they go around this fence, they're only a few hundred metres from Crestview and there are smells of human habitation in those residential areas and we're never going to be able to get rid of them. Dog food - bears smell dog food; they'll come in for that. And dogs, too. They've eaten a few of them over the years.
But I don't believe the department has done enough to deal with this very serious issue and I would like to ask the minister for his thoughts on it. Would he reconsider his plan and look seriously at trapping these bears that come down to the dump, and at least give them one chance?
When we look at this letter that says of the five - the sow and two cubs and the three males - that were just snared at the dump, ear-tagged and turned loose, I presume, from what the minister told me here, that they were turned loose right at the dump, that they weren't moved anywhere? The minister can confirm that when he's on his feet.
That was very successful. So, I believe it's worth the effort.
Could the minister respond to that, please?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There's a lot that the member brought forward in regard to concern for the bears and the value of the bears. Mr. Chair, it was decided to not destroy grizzly bears at the Whitehorse landfill prior to fencing in order to give the bears an opportunity to go back to the habitat that they came from and to continue living on.
Mr. Chair, there are approximately 6,000 grizzly bears in the Yukon, and 16 bears make up, I guess, a fairly small percentage of that. Normally, we have between five and six grizzly bears - nuisance bears - that are taken out, and the communities around the Yukon are going to continue to experience this situation. It has been going on for many years, and I believe Whitehorse will continue to experience this situation even though the fence is there. The bears may not be coming toward town for the purpose of going to the dump. We're going to continue to have bear encounters in the surrounding areas of Whitehorse, and our departments are going to continue to respond to that.
Next year, we're not sure what's going to take place in regard to bears coming into town that normally use the Whitehorse landfill. At that point, our department is going to continue to be on alert to deal with that situation.
The member is right. Approximately 20 percent of the bears that are relocated survive. The other 80 don't make it past five months. That was not an option that the department wanted to take. Rather, if the grizzly bears do come into the landfill area and walk away - and I guess we may not know how many have gone back and survived. I think that's a much better option that we can have right now.
In regard to the plan, a plan was developed, and the department has done a lot of homework in regard to this - even bringing in bear biologists to help deal with this situation earlier on in the previous government's mandate.
We just carried out the plan. Somebody had to, I guess, basically bite the bullet and do something about this, because this situation would only get worse. There was a greater fear that, with the increased number of bears coming into the Whitehorse landfill, they would have been coming into the community in search of food.
So, Mr. Chair, I'm confident the department COs will be working hard to try and lessen the situation that could arise, should bears come into town next year.
Mr. Ostashek: I'm going to disagree with the minister. I think the department is taking the easy way out. We need to only look at the situation in Churchill, Manitoba, where they have polar bears coming into town on a regular basis. They don't destroy them. They don't destroy them at all. They do everything in their power to make sure that those bears survive, and I think that the minister and his department are taking the easy route out here.
What I want to point out to the minister is, I mean, having been involved in the industry, I know how valuable bears are, both to consumptive and non-consumptive users. I also want to say to the minister that nuisance bears, when they are taken, are considered in the bear quota that's allocated to outfitters. It's taken off their quota. If there are an undue number of nuisance bears that have been taken in an outfitter's area, it impacts his quota. I don't think it's appropriate for this government, this department, to be destroying 12 grizzly bears in a very short period of time.
We are going to continue to have bears coming to the Whitehorse dump. That is a huge dump; it creates a lot of smells. Bears from many, many miles away will smell that and will continue to come there and continue to try to get in.
What we have here is a situation where, when they come there and can't get in, it's not very long until they're around the dump and, if the prevailing wind is coming up the side of the mountain, they get the smells from the residential areas and automatically keep going down in there.
What we're asking the minister to do is to come up with a plan to at least try to intercept these bears before they get into those residential areas.
Mr. Chair, I had one of my constituents, who does a lot of running on the trails in Porter Creek, say she was going to take her kids to the dump and run, because the only safe damn place in Whitehorse was inside the dump.
It's alarming, and we're very fortunate that nobody was hurt. It is not a situation that I would think the minister wants to be in next year again - having conservation officers trying to destroy bears out of helicopters in residential areas. I don't think what we're asking, or what the general public is asking, is unreasonable in trying to come up with a plan that will at least give these bears a chance.
I want to ask the minister one thing, if he would agree. When his party was in opposition and we came forward with our wolf control program, they were very critical of it. The members opposite were very critical of it. And, in fact we even heard, during the election campaign, the Member for Faro say he was going to kill it; he was going to cancel it. And, he had to cancel it for a week and then start it up again to finish the program, just so he could live up to his election commitment. That aside, recently there was a panel of international biologists that determined that the Yukon Party government's predator control program was one of the best in the world. And the minister is aware of that. An independent panel assessed it and said it was the best in the world.
I want to ask this minister if he would be prepared to put his bear management plan at the Whitehorse dump to an independent, international panel of experts and see if they agree with his plan that these bears should be destroyed without being given a chance. Would the minister make that commitment that he would subject his bear management plan at the dump to an independent body for an assessment on it? And, if they come back and say it is all right, then he can rest assured that I won't ask him any more questions about it, and I will tell the general public that the minister had it assessed by an independent panel and they said that this was a legitimate way to handle it. I would like to ask the minister if he would consider that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In regard to the plan, we have taken measures to work toward public safety. We understand that there could be bears that come into the City of Whitehorse next year that normally visit the landfill, but we don't expect the numbers to be as high as they were this year.
We haven't done a review of this plan itself. Until such time, I can tell the member that we are going to look at the review and should there be discrepancies or recommendations that we should have done things differently, then I can bring those forward. But, at this point and time, we have not considered this panel at all. It is fairly new. I think the department itself felt confident that the plan they had out in place was one that could work for Yukon. I don't think that we need to be putting those extra dollars into more consultation. We're going to have more advice coming forward in regard to bear and bear management through the hiring of a bear biologist for a term period next year.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I've just asked the minister if he would consider this, but I would see that if he would do something like this, the public would find it far much more acceptable. The minister is saying that we won't have as many bears coming down next year. I agree with him. There probably won't be 12 bears that come into the neighbourhoods and have to be destroyed. But, is the minister standing there in this House today and telling me that it's acceptable to destroy three or four grizzlies that come down to the dump because they end up in a residential area? Is the minister telling me that that's acceptable to him and his government?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, Mr. Chair, I'm not saying that. If it's in regard to public safety, then the conservation officers will react.
In regard to the panel and us considering that, yes, we can consider it and look into it. At this point, I really do feel that the department did do a lot of homework on this. They did have their facts together and a plan put in place on how to deal with this situation. They knew that there would be possibilities of safety issues that come up. They've tried a number of things in regard to education and making the public aware.
With that, I guess those areas could be improved - always could be improved, I guess - when one is dealing with the public. Again, we could consider having the panel review this.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for considering it because I think it would be a worthwhile effort and it wouldn't be a very expensive effort. It wouldn't be a very expensive endeavour at all to have a group of independent biologists analyze the plan that they have in place.
I am concerned with the plan the minister's department had this year. I see in the plan where they said they surmised that they may have to destroy 12 grizzly bears. I don't find that acceptable. I don't find it acceptable at all that there could be as many as 12 grizzly bears that would have to be destroyed. I just don't think that's acceptable and Yukoners have told me they don't find it acceptable.
The fact is the safety problem that's being created is being caused by the fencing of the dump. I think it's the minister's responsibility to try to do something to intercept those bears before they get into the residential areas. Is he going to intercept them all? No, he's not. But I believe it's worth the minister making the effort.
I do thank the minister considering, at least, submitting the plan to an independent board of biologists to get them to critique it and maybe provide some recommendations to the department. Quite clearly, the plan the department had in place this year was not acceptable to all Yukoners.
I'm just surprised that we haven't had a real uproar from the Conservation Society, who are always the watchdog on habitat protection and endangered species protection. Yet, we haven't heard one word from them on this issue and I'm just astounded that they haven't been doing their public duty and playing their role as watchdog in society of how wildlife and wildlife habitat are being dealt with.
So, I do want to thank the minister for at least considering going to an independent board and at least have his department analyze that and see if it's worthwhile. I'll let somebody else ask questions at this time.
Ms. Duncan: I have a number of questions for the minister with respect to the Department of Renewable Resources. Perhaps I could start, though, by just following up on this bear issue in Porter Creek. I'd like to state for the record that, while this certainly isn't my favourite decision taken by the department, I accept that the minister feels that the department has done due diligence in selecting the option that was offered.
My concerns - there are a number of them. First of all, and I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who sat in my window and watched these bears at three in the morning in my yard and have the destroyed garbage can to prove it, I dealt with the frontline staff a number of times over the summer and I've indicated to the minister many times that I give these people a great deal of credit. I'm very concerned, though, that the last time I spoke with one of them I said it had been a fairly busy summer and the response I got was, "Yup, I got about three days off from mid-July until November." I'm concerned about the toll on staff.
Has there been a remarkable increase in overtime? Have there been concerns expressed? Have they even had an opportunity to express concerns to the management of this department about the toll that this summer has taken on these conservation officers?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the conservation officers did put in a lot of overtime during that period. That is the period in which we had a lot of the encounters - not so much in the spring but during the summer and fall months.
In regard to looking into the number of hours worked and so on, it's something that I guess we can review a bit more and come back to and make some recommendations. These conservation officers are very dedicated to their work and have shown that this past year.
Ms. Duncan: It's not my intention to create more work for departmental officials by asking them to count the overtime hours. I just was concerned that, first, there was recognition of the very fine work done by these individuals and their dedication to their jobs and, second, that they have done a good job on behalf of the department, and that should be recognized.
In that vein, there are volunteers that work with the COs, and they were called out a number of times. How does the department recognize this volunteer effort?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the department does follow up with letters thanking the volunteers for their dedication and efforts. That is, I guess, normally how it's done.
I don't know if the member is looking at other ways that we look at recognition of them. Many of them, I guess, being Yukoners, normally put themselves out front to do something for the general public. There are a lot of volunteers that are not recognized that have been doing things within the community and have not been part of, say, actions taken by conservation officers, just with families, and so on. Those people, because they're not involved with the department, haven't been recognized.
Ms. Duncan: This is a particular issue of mine. I feel very strongly that volunteers in our community should be recognized. Maybe, as it's within his mandate, the minister could look at something simple like giving these people who commit to be volunteers a campground permit for the summer, for use by them and their families - something simple like that that they could use - more than a letter - might be something for consideration.
As I've stated, the decisions respecting the bears and the bear problem in the Porter Creek area this year may have not been one of my favourite government decisions. I think one of the problems - or the problem - with the decision and the actions by Renewable Resources was the communications. I've said this over and over to the minister and to the media and to people in my riding, when I go door to door.
While the department reacted somewhat in the sense of putting up the emergency transmitter, it was a band-aid solution, and I'd really like to strongly recommend to the minister that, in their evaluation of this decision, they go through the communications. Let me explain it from the public's perspective.
I was sitting at a school council meeting - a Jack Hulland school council meeting, to be precise - where they have a wonderful outdoor running program. They use the greenbelt areas. That school is almost surrounded by greenbelt. There were three parents at the school council meeting who had contacted the Department of Renewable Resources. Every one of them had reached a different person and had received a different response.
That's a communications problem, and it was compounded when sometime later we had the infamous helicopter situation.
My suggestion for the minister is, first, to review what happened this summer and, second, to next year put in place a point plan. Put in a point person who is going to do nothing but deal with the public on that situation, and it has to be a person that the public considers credible. Time and time again, they would say, "Well, I didn't get the official and I went and talked to so and so."
That's where the rumours start and problems start. There has to be a clear, effective, strong communications plan on this decision by the department and for next summer.
Will the minister consider that suggestion and rethink the way communications were done this summer?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In reviewing the plan and the actions taken, I'm sure communications are going to be very much a part of it. There are some good suggestions that the member put forward and we will consider them.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the minister's consideration of that, and I would just remind him that it takes a lot sometimes to get through to Yukoners. I got all that mail. I read the press releases. I read the newspaper accounts, and it still didn't occur to me that I would be sitting watching a grizzly bear in my backyard this summer - several times.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Pardon? It's part of wildlife viewing? Not at three in the morning it's not.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: I'll be asking the minister about the wildlife viewing program at another point in time.
One of the points that I haven't learned - and perhaps I've missed it in all of the information that the minister has sent me, and I do appreciate the fact that the minister and his staff have been most thorough in their information - is, in the listing of the bears that were terminated this summer, I didn't catch a sense of what the condition was of the bears. Of the12 grizzlies, two of them at least, as I understand it, were in very, very poor condition. Did I miss that in the briefing? Does the minister have information on that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that information has not been compiled altogether. We do know that most of the bears that have been taken out were old bears in poor shape.
Ms. Duncan: My colleague has noted that they're probably senior citizens.
Out of this unfortunate killing of the bears, was there any good that came out of it in terms of scientific research? Were the carcasses used for anything in particular or are the pelts being used for something? Is there any positive points that the minister can indicate that came out of this situation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, the point of putting up the fence was to break the cycle of garbage bears. That's the biggest positive thing that could be learned from this; we don't have the cubs returning to the landfill. In turn, I guess this is saving a lot of bears, if you look at it on the other side.
In regard to what else has been learned, I think that, because this had such an impact on the residents of Whitehorse, it brought bear awareness to a lot of people's minds and to think of exactly what dangers there are in encountering bears. I don't think something big like this has happened in the Yukon in the past number of years, but more and more people are now aware that, yes, bears can be very dangerous. Maybe it's time that people do act in an appropriate way, so that they don't attract bears.
Also, in the communities, since this is happening in Whitehorse, community members are also picking this up and basically becoming more bear aware in terms of the safety of bears. We hope and do feel that the general public is more educated on this more than ever now. It is unfortunate that it had to happen in this way.
In regard to the products - bear products and hides and so on - some of the skulls, for example, are put into education in the schools, for them to view and basically get an idea of how big a bear is and and so on. The hides are auctioned off through the Yukon Trappers Association. The Trappers Association gets an administration fee and, as for the hides that are auctioned off, the dollars go back into general revenue of government.
Ms. Duncan: Was there some consideration given to perhaps using the proceeds from the auction of the hides for a specific charity, or was it just simply, no, the money will go into general revenue? Was any thought given to a particular group that might benefit from this funding, or was that not discussed?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, that was not considered as something that we can do under the Financial Administration Act, although there are a couple of organizations that have come forward asking for the by-products of the bears, and the First Nations people are ones that have asked what we are doing with the hides and the paws and so on and are interested in maybe talking with us and trying to work something out. It's just very much in the beginning stages. We don't know exactly what's going to happen, although the normal process is, like I said, laid out.
Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for elaborating on that situation. I have some questions in terms of the general direction of the department I'd like to receive an update from the minister on.
In the technical briefing last year, we were advised that one of the major initiatives for the finance and administration section of the Department of Renewable Resources would be the provision of support services in respect of the devolution of DIAND. Could the minister elaborate on how this portion of his department is supporting the devolution discussions?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we have several personnel that have been basically assigned to work in regard to devolution. They're doing several things, I guess, in regard to job descriptions, in reviewing assets that the federal government has within that department that could be devolved down to us, and to see whether or not those assets are up to standard.
We've also done some reorganization within the department, although that has not come back to Cabinet yet. It's just an internal reorganization that they have developed. So there is a lot of internal work that's being done to prepare for devolution.
Ms. Duncan: One of the comments I've heard with respect to the devolution discussions - and this relates more to forestry, so the minister may wish to defer this question - is that there's a lack of analysis of the resources. We don't really know what we've got in terms of forestry, or what's being transferred. The minister talked about a costing of resources and of assets. My concern from his departmental perspective is the resources. Is there a sense of the costing of these resources?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Can I just get a clarification as to what the member is looking at? Is she talking about financial resources? Is she talking about the forest resources that we have - in regard to inventory?
Ms. Duncan: I'm talking about the inventory of renewable resources, such as forestry.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, one of the areas that we would be looking at in regard to devolution is to get adequate dollars to do an inventory of the forest resources that we have in the Yukon. Although, if that is not provided or if the resources are not there for us to do a fire suppression, or that sort of thing, it has been stated by our Government Leader that we would not be entering into the devolution of that program, if it's going to cost YTG dollars to do it.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the minister's response.
I would like to ask the minister, in terms of overall direction of the Department of Renewable Resources, for a sense of how the department is working with the renewable resource councils in terms of the implementation of the umbrella final agreement. I note in the technical briefing that there was a new initiative, a board and council administration, and there is one position, a two year term, to develop and carry out administrative processes respecting implementation requirements, including that of renewable resources councils.
What is the minister's overall sense of the direction of how the renewable resource councils are going to work with the Department of Renewable Resources?
Has anyone sat down and charted out a future for the minister's department and the councils to work together?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: With the UFA it states that resource councils will be formed with First Nations that have ratified agreements. Right now, we have two that are outstanding, but names have been submitted by one, so hopefully both Selkirk and Little Salmon First Nations will have resource councils up and going.
The resource councils have regular meetings, and there role is to basically give advice to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and/or the Department of Renewable Resources and the minister.
I had a meeting on Friday with the renewable resources councils at their annual general meeting in Mayo. We continue to trying to work together with them.
It's a fairly new area but, I guess, it's a mechanism that I think is very positive that resulted out ofthe land claims agreements that really bring direction from community members at large up to both governments' level - First Nation and Yukon government.
Again, she asked whether we had charted some direction in which we would be working with the councils. We do flow information back and forth to them. We ask at times that they do reviews or look into matters for us because they are basically a good link to public consultation.
Those have been taking place fairly well so far and the direction that has been given to Fish and Wildlife Management Board does flow up into us as kind of the direction in which things should be working, although, should their direction not be taken seriously or taken into account by the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, they have that opportunity to come directly to the minister. That's how it's laid out in the agreements.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I appreciate the minister's response and setting it out from his perspective. What I'm trying to ascertain from this question and trying to determine is this: is there a formalized process or does the minister anticipate some kind of formalized process for the renewable resource councils to provide him with advice? The minister indicated that it had been working informally up to date and that he had attended the renewable resource councils' meetings. Is there a more formal process anticipated?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, there is not a formal process set up with the department and the councils, in that we meet every now and then and work on the project together, but basically it's a local forum in which advice can be channelled up through the Fish and Wildlife Management Board to us. That's the process that's been laid out in the agreements.
In regard, for example, to regulation changes within the department, the local RRCs can go through their process of public consultation and flow that direction back up to us.
This is the process we've been using now and it has been fairly successful. The resource councils have regular meetings in the communities; they meet together and they also meet with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board to try to bring the general direction in which local people are steering them.
Also, the bigger issues are pumped down to them to deal with at times, and I would say, at this point in time maybe something could be set up in the way you are bringing up, but right now, because the resource councils are not all up and going, and we'd like to hopefully see that happen soon, we feel that the process in place is working fairly well.
And really, I guess, bringing a lot of the local concerns up as an issue to be dealt with, whereas many times they had no avenue or no process to even deal with that, it goes to a certain point, and nothing is brought forward, but now we have local organizations that can really push and bring the issue forward again.
Ms. Duncan: I would like to make it clear to the minister that I support the work of the renewable resource councils, and I've seen them in action, so to speak, and I appreciate and agree with what the minister has said - that they are doing a very, very good job - and I just wanted to get a sense from the minister of how they were working with the department.
I appreciate that it's informal, and that's working well. I'm just concerned that ministers change, governments change, departmental officials change, and sometimes, when there's a more formalized process, it can accommodate that change, and there are ground rules that everyone understands. I just caution the minister in that respect.
The responsibility and the mandate, if you will, of the department under the Yukon Environment Act requires comprehensive tracking of various indicators in terms of our renewable resources, and most of the best indicators are non-game species. The department has been criticized in the past quite extensively for a lack of attention to non-game species and for its focus on large game versus some of the other areas of responsibility.
Can the minister indicate what changes have been made in the last year and what the department is doing to focus its efforts on all of Yukon's renewable resources, and not simply on big game?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess one of the biggest ways we're dealing with this is through the protected areas strategy and trying to look at managing things with an ecosystem approach, although what we are doing is moving away from a species-specific biologist and trying to hire biologists who have a wider range of backgrounds. We have two who are going to be hired, one in the southern part of Yukon and one in the northern part, and that should take care of basically all of the Yukon. We wouldn't have an empty spot within Yukon on that, although I did mention that we were going to be hiring a bear biologist, but this is for a short-term period, unlike the biologists who would work directly with the renewable resources councils.
Ms. Duncan: Still with the responsibility and mandate of the department, in the briefing, there was the policy and planning. The policy analysis unit was to focus its efforts in a number of areas. I wonder if the minister could just update us on their progress.
There was to be an annual review of the implementation of the Yukon conservation strategy, development of regulations under the Environment Act, development of regulations under the Wildlife Act. I've noticed some of these proceeding in the 60-day period for public comment. Perhaps the minister could just update us on progress of the policy analysis unit of his department.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess in regard to the policy review, some of the things we have been doing is the conservation strategy, which is being done now, and so is the state of the environment report. But I would like a little more clarification on some of the things you listed off.
Ms. Duncan: Well, perhaps we could approach this by taking these one point at a time, and the minister could just update us on the progress. Has there been any progress on the development of a habitat protection strategy?
Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a break at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with Renewable Resources, general debate.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In regard to the habitat protection strategy, Renewable Resources is proceeding and working toward the proclamation of amendments that were contained in the 1992 act to amend the Wildlife Act, and sections in there pertaining to designation and management of habitat protection areas, and also measures for the conservation and habitat protection of wildlife populations that are at risk. This will be done largely through the protected areas strategy.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, given that the House is in session, I haven't had a great deal of opportunity to attend some of the open houses on the protected areas strategy that the minister's department is hosting, and I note that there have been a number of them held.
Can the minister give us some indication of what the public response has been?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There has been a lot of public participation in the open houses that were put on by Renewable Resources. The reaction we get is very positive. People want to see things done in a balanced form.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, perhaps the minister has some sense of how many written responses they've received. I note that there was a form to fill out in the protected areas strategy document, and unfortunately there was also an envelope, so there may be some stuck in the mail. How many written responses has the minister received?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, Mr. Chair, we don't have that number at all. I know that we have received written responses, but as the department moves from community to community, we expect that there would be a lot more followup.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there was some concern when the minister outlined the protected areas strategy in the discussion. It's a very, very large advisory committee - 18 members, if my memory serves me correctly. How well is the committee functioning, given its large number?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: They've had to deal with a lot of the very tough issues and really bring their positions forward. This is one of the things we wanted to see happen with this. There are stakeholders involved, from the mining industry to conservationists to the agricultural industry and outfitters. A lot of them have a lot of different views. To bring it forward and to come up with something is going to be really something unique to see.
They have had disagreements within the board, but tried to resolve it to satisfy, as best as they can, everybody that's involved, knowing full well that what we wanted to see out of this was the protection of certain areas in the Yukon with regard to either wildlife or unique features of the Yukon. With those general things in mind, all of them who are sitting on the board are considering that. At this point in time, it is proving to be favourable to have that large a board.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the minister's update that they're still endeavouring to try and reach some consensus agreement. I appreciate that they have a difficult task and that they're continuing to function. That's to the credit of the members involved.
I'd like to ask the minister a few questions with regard to specific issues in his department, the first of these being the Finlayson caribou herd. They were in the news yesterday, and again in the news today, with regard to the restriction of hunting. I understand that the Fish and Wildlife Management Board has proposed regulations.
Could I just ask the minister to outline the problem and the suggested solutions from his perspective, please?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Fish and Wildlife Management Board has been working to make some regulation changes in this regard and try to bring forth a registration hunt. Our department has been working with the First Nation to try to see how we can put together a management plan on how we can deal with this situation.
A First Nation has come forward with some possible options, or things that we could be doing. One of them was to restrict hunting on that herd and focus on the surrounding herds that are around it - this is a voluntary thing that they are doing - and looking at some sort of wolf management plan. Not a wolf kill like had happened on the Aishihik herd. They have asked the department to come forward to the community and look at a trapper training program, and focus more or less in that area.
Ms. Duncan: If I understand the minister correctly, one of the options put forward by the department has been to focus on the predators, rather than the restriction of the hunting, which is what the head of the Yukon Fish and Game Association is advocating. His view on this issue is that the problem is the wolves and the predators. And, what I understand the minister is saying is that one of the options being considered by the department is if the wolves are targeted by trappers. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It was one of the things that the First Nation had brought forward: to increase trapping and to bring the trapper training program to the community to have trappers updated on some of the new technologies that other places have used - some that have been successful in the Aishihik caribou plan - and to work on a plan to see if we can somehow work around it and increase the number of caribou in the Finlayson herd. One was by focusing their own hunting on the other herds that are in and around that area. I think that there are three or four other herds that they could be using.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to focus on the caribou north of Eagle Plains. The caribou management board apparently met last week. Has the caribou management board addressed the issue of hunting by Vuntut Gwitchin or First Nations people from Fort McPherson area and over hunting?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know that we will be receiving recommendations for them. We haven't had anything formal on this, although, in regard to conditions put on, one of the things they did say in regards to hunting was that this would basically apply to all hunters.
Ms. Duncan: Is the minister saying that restrictions on hunting on this particular herd would apply to all hunters, or is he speaking from a Yukon-wide perspective? I'm sorry, I didn't catch the answer.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, we haven't got formal letters from them on this, but I believe that they're going to be focusing on the corridor of the Dempster Highway and this would be focused on all hunters.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm hearing comments in the public of situations of over hunting in this area. Has the minister or his department received any informal representations of over hunting of caribou in this area?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we have not gotten anything in writing in regard to over hunting. We have not had any evidence of this to date.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps I'll be able to come back with specific questions on that for the minister.
I would like to talk about the Whitehorse fish hatchery, if I could. This is a wonderful resource. The minister sent me an agreement in the followup to the briefing session and there was a transfer. It was in the copies of significant contribution agreements that the minister sent to me in May. I note that, in this agreement among the Department of Renewable Resources, Yukon Energy, Yukon Fish and Game Association, that the Department of Tourism is also involved. The funding agreement has expired, according to the documents the minister provided to me. Have there been some efforts to renew this, either in the supplementary estimates that have been tabled or in discussions with the minister's departmental officials for next year?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This is ongoing funding that we have with the hatchery. It's not something that's going to show up in the supps; it's through the mains.
Ms. Duncan: So, I'm understanding from the minister's response that there's a commitment to continue the government's support of this effort.
Could I also ask the minister if there's been any long-term planning discussions between these organizations? One of the difficulties with the fish hatchery is that it's a seasonal sort of arrangement, in that it's not in the public eye all year long. Perhaps there could be other initiatives. One of the ones that was suggested to me by someone closely involved with it was some kind of a lottery system - not that I'm advocating gambling - for guesses as to how many fish the fish ladder will see this year in the fish hatchery. Has there been any discussion about long-term planning?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There hasn't been put in place a plan for long-term planning, although we continue to expand the freshwater fish hatchery by putting in tanks and so on. But there's no official plan that has been put in place for a long-term plan.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could the minister indicate if there is some intention at some point to do some long-range planning? The problem is that this resource to our community and this wonderful attraction for our visitors is existing year to year to year, and there's no long-term planning in this regard. Could the minister indicate if this is a priority of his, or if it will even be considered by the department that there will be some long-term planning for this attraction, which is also a resource?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not exactly sure where the member is leading with this, but in regard to priorities or interests of government, hopefully the Yukon River salmon negotiations that are taking place would be completed. With that would come dollars for salmon enhancement, and I would think that, at that point in time, Yukoners would want to see the increased numbers of salmon in the Yukon River. It's going to be beneficial both to our commercial industry and to resident fishers in the Yukon and in Alaska. So, you know, with that, I think it's just a matter of having those agreements in place.
In regard to putting additional dollars in that, we're always limited, of course, by fiscal realities.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, it's not so much additional dollars that I was lobbying for. It was for somebody to take charge of this issue, to take ownership and to, say, recognize, year after year, that, as opposed to ad hoc arrangements between two government departments, one Crown corporation, several governments and the Fish and Game Association, that there was one focus and one person who would take charge for this, so that when, for example, I get complaints about, well, I took my school class out there and I couldn't get hold of anyone, and the staff weren't appropriate, who does the public direct those remarks to? They can float all over the place, between DFO and Renewable Resources and Tourism. I'm lobbying the minister to have one body designated as the lead agency for this particular resource.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Tourism dollars in this regard were transferred over to the department. The person that's basically been the one in charge of this is from the fish and game branch, Don Toews. So we do have a person, I guess, directly dealing with this issue. I'm not sure where you're coming from on this - whether it's on the ground or in the department.
Ms. Duncan: I think that could be resolved if that person were more publicly identified with the fish hatchery.
Still with fishing, last year the minister was asked about joint fishing licences for boundary lakes. It wasn't possible for this fishing season. Is it likely to be available for the 1998 fishing season?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Talk with B.C. and the federal government is still continuing. We were hoping to have it within this fishing season, although it sometimes takes a bit of time to make changes through the federal Fisheries Act.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister's answer last January said that a tentative agreement had been reached with B.C. for licence reciprocity and common catch limits. The regulation proposal was undergoing public review in the Yukon through the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and final approval was required from B.C. And then, if approved, the regulation change would require a change to the federal/Yukon Territory fishery regulations.
So, is the minister saying that this hasn't even been forwarded for the federal/Yukon Territory fishery regulations? Is it still sitting somewhere in Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know that we haven't finalized all the details on this, but I will check into the matter and get back to the member on it.
Ms. Duncan: Could the minister update the House as to the waterfowl management plan? The last one I have is some two years out of date. What work is the department doing on updating this plan?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'll have to get back to the member on that.
Ms. Duncan: I just have one more question on campgrounds for the minister, and then I'll let the other individuals have an opportunity to ask the minister some general questions.
One of the issues that was raised with me was the evaluation of the campground operators, if you will. Is there a process in place whereby there is an evaluation carried out as to how well a campground has been maintained, overseen, fees collected, et cetera? Is there some kind of an evaluation process conducted on each of the campgrounds and their operation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have the operations and guidelines which the campground operators follow. We don't have an evaluation process of the operators, but more of a monitoring type of process, and they do give reports as to whether or not the operators follow the guidelines that are spelled out for them.
Ms. Duncan: If I'm to understand what the minister just said, he said that there is a monitoring process that takes place of the operators of the campground over the season, and this monitoring report is then forwarded to the officials. Is that what the minister has just said?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that is correct. It is done through our parks people.
Ms. Duncan: While we're discussing campgrounds, is there long-range planning for additional new campgrounds for this to be available later this summer or in the future?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't believe that we have, for this coming season, plans for developing any new campgrounds. In regard to the budgets and having to put a budget together, this was unfortunately an area that was cut back, even in regard to maintenance. So, we did not put any new dollars forward into development of new campgrounds.
Ms. Duncan: Just one last question. I do understand, though, in the budget documents that I've received and the supplementaries, that all of the anticipated fees were collected. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Is this in regard to campground fees?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Okay. I don't know if all of them were collected. I could find that information and bring it back for the member.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, in the proposed wildlife regulations changes for 1998 by the Wildlife Management Board, there's talk of making Tagish Lake a high-quality lake. I have a couple of questions about that.
How do we deal with Tagish Lake with respect to it being a trans-boundary lake? It's easy to do Marsh Lake or some other lake in the territory as a high-quality lake, because it's landlocked within the Yukon, but Tagish Lake goes into British Columbia. I don't think we have jurisdiction yet in British Columbia, so how do we join the regulations, where, if we go to a high-quality lake on the Yukon side, we'll have a two-fish limit per person, but on the B.C. side, it'll be five fish per person. How is that managed?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Part of the talks with B.C. involve having the high quality lakes designated, I guess, on the B.C. side of the border and having a single bag limit.
Mr. Phillips: But the problem I have with that, Mr. Chair, is that there have been discussions for about six years with British Columbia over a joint fishing licence and joint bag limits and control. It's monitored that way, and we haven't gone anywhere. So, I just wonder why it's even up for discussion at this time when we're not any closer to coming to an agreement with British Columbia over a universal fishing licence that will cover us on both sides of the border.
Can the minister tell me this: at the present time who monitors trans-boundary lakes? I know I've seen our conservation officers out on Tagish Lake and Marsh Lake, but do we have some kind of agreement with British Columbia where we will dip into British Columbia with our officials and check people who are fishing in, for instance, Tagish Lake or even Teslin Lake, another trans-boundary lake that comes to mind?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know that this is a tough area to deal with. Although we do have conservation officers that do have the authority to do business across the border, this is an agreement that is with the Government of B.C.
Mr. Phillips: Is the minister saying that, for example, if some folks are out fishing on Teslin Lake, and they're just on the other side of the border, and our conservation officers are out there, they have the ability to cross over into British Columbia and check the licences and the bag limits, so to speak, of the fisher people on the B.C. side?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, they would not have that ability, but they can, only if requested by the B.C. government.
Mr. Phillips: So, do B.C. officers have the authority to come into the Yukon side? Is there any record? What I'm asking is, how do we patrol it? Have there been any incidents in the last year or two, or couple of years or so, that the minister or his officials are aware of, where local Yukoners, or people from British Columbia, were questioned on the other side by - I don't know which officials it would be - whatever the enforcement agency would probably be at the time? Has there been any record of us checking them and them checking us on our bag limits and on the fishing practices?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Over the past year, to my knowledge, there have not been any incidents like this taking place, although we have not asked the B.C. conservation officers to come over and do any work on our side, although the requests that do come from B.C. are sometimes asking our conservation officers to maybe do an investigation of a bear being killed, or what not, close to the borders.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, do the B.C. conservation officers, then, ever patrol lakes like Teslin Lake and Tagish Lake - the far end on the B.C. side? Do they patrol them, and is there any record of them questioning Yukoners and finding Yukoners on that side who don't have the appropriate licences or the correct number of fish in the boat - that kind of thing? Or actually maybe the individuals might even be just on that side with no fish in the boat yet but have their lines in the water and don't have a B.C. licence.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I believe that B.C. does have conservation officers in Atlin who do do patrols, but in regard to the incidents that have taken place, like I said, I haven't heard of any this year but I can certainly go back and check to see what type of incidents have taken place over the last little while.
Mr. Phillips: Yes, Mr. Chair, I'd be interested in that. If the minister could check, say, for instance, the trans-boundary lakes. Like I said, the two that come to mind are Tagish and Teslin lakes. Is there a record this year or in the past year of Yukoners who were questioned on that side, maybe given warnings, that kind of thing, or if they were ticketed. It would be interesting to know if any Yukoners were questioned, warned or ticketed on the British Columbia side of the border.
Maybe the minister can bring back for us whether the plan is that when they reach a reciprocal agreement with British Columbia there will be one monitoring agency or whether there will be some kind of an agreement with respect to monitoring in the future. That would be interesting to know, as well.
The last comment I would like to make about the high-quality lakes and the high-quality designation is that there is a really strong concern out there from people who fish those lakes that we're going to get the worst of all worlds when it comes to regulations, once we get a reciprocal licence; that we're going to go to the Yukon bag limit, which is lower than B.C.; that in the Yukon at the present time we can use herring, but on the B.C. side you can't, so we're going to lose the right to use herring. If the minister could see what I'm getting at, it is that we're going to be restricted moreso than we are in probably any other lake in the territory with a high-quality lake.
I think that the Yukon regulations that are in place for a high-quality lake, if that's what happens to Tagish, are more than adequate and that the Yukon should take a strong stand on any negotiations that it has with the federal Department of Fisheries and British Columbia that our rules, at the present time, are even more strict than British Columbia and that our rules are adequate.
If high quality rules work in Wellesley Lake, in Marsh Lake and in many other lakes in the territory already, than they should be fine for Tagish Lake and the B.C. side of Tagish Lake. I'm sure the minister will have all kinds of people at his door if we choose to tighten up the regulations any more than they are proposing even in this. I'm hearing a lot of opposition to this even. But, if they tighten them up even more I think the minister is going to have a lot of angry fisherman - fishers - at his door and those people can be rather upset when their recreational activities are limited.
So, I just forewarn the minister that there is a lot of concern out there about the direction we seem to be going and I would hope that the minister would take a strong stand that the Yukon high-quality regulations are adequate enough and that we shouldn't be imposing tougher regulations on that end of the lake and limiting people's recreational activities in that area.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I understand where the member is coming from. We do recognize what potential concerns would come out by people using the lake for fishing and we've always maintained that we would like to see that as a high-quality lake and push the Yukon position on this.
In regard to the information the member requested, we can put that together and forward that information to the member opposite in regard to both Tagish and Teslin lakes.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I would like to know the number of patrols that B.C. has done in the past in Tagish and Teslin lakes and the number of people that they've questioned or asked. I've been stopped in British Columbia and on Tagish Lake from time to time by the B.C. conservation officer. He comes down the Atlin River in a riverboat and comes into that area or flies in, and then I think he rents or charters a boat out of Graham Inlet somewhere. If the minister could get back to us on the number of incidents, whether there were warnings given, whether anyone was charged, and what the results of those charges were, if anyone was charged, and that kind of thing.
I have one last point that I'd like to make to the minister. We talked about salmon, and the minister talked about salmon negotiations and treaties and the fish ladder and the fish hatchery. A pet peeve of mine for years has been that we tag all these salmon at the Whitehorse fishway, we monitor them extensively at the Whitehorse fishway, we monitor them at Wolf Creek with the Fish and Game Association, we now have started monitoring them at Michie Creek, but nothing was done in the past at the Han fishery in Dawson City. Although we knew how many fish we released in 1992 and we knew how many came back in 1995 or 1996 to the creeks, we had no idea how many of them were actually caught in nets at the Han fishery and actually made it into the river system, and I don't think we have any reporting from Alaska either.
So, I would think if we're going to do a program like that - if the federal Fisheries are going to do a program and YTG is going to be involved - it should be a complete program. We should have compulsory reporting right from the mouth in Norton Sound, the mouth of the Yukon River, right to Michie Creek.
Will we know what's actually being caught and what escapes? I suggest that to the minister as something we should be concentrating on.
The other thing the minister could bring back for me I know the Member for Porter Creek South talked about the fish hatchery, and I was of the understanding that it's all under Renewable Resources now, that they're managing it. Tourism's out of it and YDC's out of it. There was an agreement, I think for two years or three years, with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, and they're the managers and they've actually expanded it. The agreement also includes rainbow trout, some more chinook salmon, pothole stocking and Arctic char, and that they are going to be operating year-round now with this two-year or three-year agreement. Maybe the minister could get back to me on whether the agreement's in place, how long it's for, who the parties are that signed it, and how much it's for.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We agree with the member that a lot more monitoring needs to take place in regard to salmon and the tagging of salmon. I'm sure that the panel that we have in place also recognizes this. We both want to be keeping a little more tighter numbers in regard to where the salmon are going and where they're being taken out. I'm hoping myself, and we'll be pushing the issue of having these checked on through, right through Dawson and down through Alaska.
This is of interest to everyone.
In regards to the other, we don't have the information with us and we can get back to the member with it.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Chair, I move you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Sloan: 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 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. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled December 2, 1997:
Yukon Housing Corporation 1996-97 Annual Report (Fairclough)
The following Legislative Return was tabled December 2, 1997:
Residential lots: number available in Faro, Mayo, Teslin and Haines Junction; explanation of discounted lots and building restrictions in Porter Creek C subdivision (Keenan)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1470