Thursday, April 16, 1998 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any reports or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I give notice of the following motions:
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to subsection 16(1) of the Human Rights Act, appoint Lillian Nakamura Maguire and Robert Oliphant to be members of the Yukon Human Rights Commission and;
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to section 21 of the Human Rights Act, appoint Michael Dougherty and Brenda Jackson and reappoint Jan Kulicki to the Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication.
Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that in view of the current unacceptably high employment rate in Watson Lake, the Government of Yukon should undertake some major capital projects in that community in order to create employment opportunities for the many living there who are unemployed.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Capital projects, rural Yukon
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and it's on TROY, specifically Watson Lake.
Yesterday, the Government Leader announced a $4.3-million increase in capital spending in the current fiscal year. While this is welcome news to many unemployed workers in Whitehorse, there is little to cheer about in TROY - meaning the rest of the Yukon. Out of the $4.3 million that is planned to be spent, rural Yukon will only see upgrades to some eight campgrounds, totalling $410,000.
Jobs are in very short supply in rural Yukon, much more so than in Whitehorse. Can the minister explain why rural Yukon is once again being given the shaft by this government?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm going to respond as the acting Minister of Finance. This is not a Community and Transportation Services question.
The member opposite is doing his best to try and raise flags about our spending in rural Yukon. Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party's last budget for capital had a budget of some $300,000 for capital for the Watson Lake area.
Our last budget was over $6 million. That's not to mention the fact that a highway job just south of Watson Lake has just been approved for some $8 million. It also looks very good for some Shakwak highway funding this year - certainly next year - which will greatly benefit rural Yukon and the rest of the Yukon.
We also believe that the major runway extension, which is a massive tourism infrastructure project, which has been wanted by Yukoners for some time, will benefit all of the Yukon for the tourism business. I think members would be hard pressed to argue with that point.
We are also doing numerous amounts of campground improvements around the Yukon for the tourism season and also to create jobs in the communities.
Just recently, in the last little while, we have approved three community development fund proposals in the community of Watson Lake, and most of them will be construction jobs.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, that's certainly a stretch if I've ever heard one. Here we have the Minister of Economic Development touting the undertakings in the Province of British Columbia. I'm sure that, next, he'll be taking credit for jobs in Alaska and jobs in the Northwest Territories that Yukon contractors have successfully bid on and won.
There's no work here, and that's a direct result of the budget put in place by this government, and,
Mr. Speaker, the community of Watson Lake is particularly hard hit, economically.
There are many unemployed. It's one of the highest pockets of unemployed Yukoners in this whole territory. And there is nothing in this $4.3 million that I can see is going to Watson Lake.
Would the minister be prepared to undertake some major capital project in Watson Lake as a special case?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think the member ought to get a geography lesson, because Iron Creek is in the Yukon. Secondly, the Shakwak project that was so much touted by the Yukon was funded by the U.S. Congress. This particular job, the Iron Creek job, is going to be funded by the federal government, just as the Whitehorse hospital construction was. The most salient point, though, is that this is a Yukon contractor who is going to hire Yukoners to go to work on that job. The contractor himself told me he's looking at 70 to 80 people who will be working on that job, and it's a major job that's going to employ a lot of Yukoners. That's the point.
With regard to the community of Watson Lake, the Member for Watson Lake has been working very hard in the community and we've been working on some substantive issues, trying to settle them in the community - issues pertaining to land claims, economic development. He's been very active in terms of working with his community. They have just developed three CDF proposals that were accepted, which will create jobs in the community. He's working very hard on fire suppression and working on proposals with government to do fire suppression to create jobs in local Yukon communities.
These are all initiatives that are being undertaken by this government and the MLA and they're doing a very good job, and the Yukon Party has absolutely no room whatsoever to talk after putting a minuscule $300,000 in capital in their last budget for Watson Lake when we put in almost $6 million.
Mr. Jenkins: What a story, Mr. Speaker. The issue is that there is an additional $4.3 million of capital expenditures authorized by this government. Of that, $410,000 goes to rural Yukon. The balance is being spent in Whitehorse. That's the issue.
The largest pocket of unemployed individuals, as a percentage of the population, is in Watson Lake. Watson Lake has been particularly hard hit with the destruction of its administration building, the current forestry fiasco, the failure of the Sa Dena Hes mine opening. There is a dismal overall performance of the economy in that area.
I'd like the minister to explain to Watson Lakers why this government isn't concerned with their economic plight and isn't prepared to help.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the case. I have explained to the member opposite that we invested over $6 million in capital in the area. There is going to be some work on the Campbell Highway in the area that I'm sure will benefit some of the people in Watson Lake. There will be an Iron Creek job, which is going to benefit some of the people in Watson Lake who will be working on the job. There will also be tremendous spinoffs in the area as a result of that work. We have approved three community development fund projects, which are going to create construction jobs in the community.
Mr. Speaker, the MLA has been working actively on fire suppression ideas, and for the member opposite to claim that there is a current forestry fiasco is quite ridiculous. There was a forestry fiasco in terms of the Yukon Party government's approach to the forestry situation, which basically was to wash their hands of it and say that it was a federal issue.
We, on the other hand, have been developing a made-in-the-Yukon forestry policy, and we'll be prepared to present key elements of that in the very near future, which I'm sure will have significant buy-in from Yukoners and will help to pave the way to create a solution to the fiasco that was left to us, largely in part by the Yukon Party administration and was largely why they lost that seat in the last election.
So, Mr. Speaker, we will continue to provide support for rural Yukon. We're excited about the prospects of the Shakwak funding for rural Yukon. We're excited about the jobs that will be created in the Iron Creek area. We are happy about the major tourism infrastructure work that we've put in to extend the main airport, which will benefit all Yukoners, and we are excited about the campground improvements to prepare us well for this anniversary year and better tourism years in the future to come.
Question re: Old Crow school tender
Mr. Phillips: My question's for the Minister of Government Services about the Old Crow school tender. Today the minister issued a press release on the Old Crow school tender, which states the tender will finally maximize local hire, Mr. Speaker, but this is after the government awarded the architectural design to a Northwest Territories firm, the joists to an Alberta firm, the insulation to outside firms as well.
Well done, Mr. Speaker. The MLA for Whitehorse Centre must be rather pleased with that. However, I didn't see too much in the news release that was really new. Up to $140,000 incentive is being provided under the old Yukon business incentive policy that was in place under a Yukon Party government and, secondly, the requirement for contractors and subcontractors to sit down with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and sign an agreement defining local hire is also a commitment under the land claims agreement.
I'd like to ask the minister if he can outline for the House the local hire commitments that the government would like to see, or is planning to put and provide to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, and what job opportunities will be provided as well.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: For one thing, we have worked with the Vuntut Gwitchin, and we have discussed in detail our requirements under chapter 22. We have a preferential hiring of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation members in a section of the documents. It's fairly extensive and asks for active involvement of the Vuntut Gwitchin in getting work for interested members. It requires the contractors to actively pursue Vuntut Gwitchin hire, and the economic benefit agreement will be signed between the Vuntut Gwitchin and the contractor before contract award.
Mr. Phillips: In the news release, the Yukon government has made it clear that the tender is going to comply with the Yukon's commitment under Canada's agreement on international trade, leaving the contract open to bids from both Yukon and outside contractors. Again, the Member for Whitehorse Centre, Mr. Speaker, will not be pleased with this, because he was in Ottawa - or maybe he wasn't in Ottawa - representing us and speaking out on that issue.
Is this the agreement that the member wanted to rip up during one of his many frequent trips to Ottawa? Can the minister advise the House if he now has full and unqualified support of all members of his caucus to live up to the internal trade agreement?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We tend not to work in the negative. What I have done is, as the contract was being developed and the various parameters of the contract were being developed, I talked with the local hire commissioner on some of these issues.
We had tried to put in some things under the bid depository, which is being managed by the Yukon Contractors Association, for the use of mechanical and electrical subcontracts. Bidders will be required to list subcontractors, which is somewhat unusual from previous management.
We are also facilitating meetings ourselves between the Vuntut Gwitchin and local contractors on the whole question of preferential hiring. I believe that meeting is tentatively set for Thursday, April 23. What this is going to do, we think, is facilitate the ability of our local contractors to make those connections with the Vuntut Gwitchin and be able to take advantage of their local, specialized knowledge.
Mr. Phillips: Yes, I understand that there were some discussions between the laid-off local hire commissioner and the Minister of Government Services with respect to local hire and this particular project. At times, I believe, they were even a bit heated when they were discussing the matter.
Can the minister advise the House if all the building materials required for the construction of the Old Crow school are now in place? What material is not at the site? Can the minister also advise us if local airlines will be bringing this material up, or will outside air carriers be contracted to do the job?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: First of all, I can tell the member that he has probably been misinformed as to the relationship between the local hire commissioner and me. Our discussions have always been amicable. They've been frank. They've been spirited, sometimes, but they've always been amicable. I respect his expertise in this area and I've sought his advice on occasion.
With regard to the materials, there were 60 truckloads of building materials hauled into Old Crow and that included insulation, joists, grading for exterior stairs, glulam beams. There were materials which we were aware we would not be able to get in and, despite the best efforts of the Member for Klondike to get his air carrier friends in Alaska the job, we haven't made any commitments yet with airlines. I recall that he was advocating, because of his close connections with Fairbanks, that we give this to American companies; however, I would expect that some of our local airlines would be more interested.
Point of order
Cancer Society fund raisers
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker, as you are probably noticing an increase in reflected light in the Legislature today. It appears to be coming from the gallery, which is filled with a remarkable group of people who had their heads shaved in support of cancer fund raising. They are students and teachers from Vanier Catholic Secondary School, and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Through the efforts of the students and teachers and the RCMP, over $8,000 was raised for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Now, before the Member for Riverside tries to recruit them all into one of his favourite societies, I would like to honour our visitors, as well as others who contributed to the project, by reading their names into the record and asking them to stand as their names are read.
From Vanier Catholic Secondary School, students Hank Vanderbyl, Jesse Pratt, Peter Jickling, Duane Shewfelt, Jessica Mombourquette, Luke Wadey, Keenan Ireland, Peter Webber, Teagan Avoledo, Blair Hubely, Doug Stilwell, Daniel Collon, Peter Loovers, and Daniel Putland.
Teachers from Vanier Catholic Secondary School are Jason Jennings, Denise Chisholm, Judd Deuling and Jeff Teasdale.
Seventeen members of the RCMP also participated and some of them are present: Inspector Reg Rienhardt, Corporal Al Tousignant, Steve Daley, Wayne Foster, Drew Kyle, Keith Ryzowski, Sergeant Rick Aberson, Corporal Ross Milward, Don Dupasquier, Cory Hoehn, Leanne Lind, Scott Wessell, Staff Sergeant Al Hubley, Constables Rick Boughem, John Ferguson, Spencer Hornoi and Al Lucier.
Included also are Education's own Patrice Berrel, Superintendent of Schools, Area 2 and Vanier Secondary School organizers, Kristin Grabowski, Christine Kent, Luisa Zimich and from the Canadian Cancer Society, Lori O'Malley.
Mr. Speaker, we're all very proud of those who participated and we join with the shaved-head league in praising the community for its support and the people in businesses who made contributions.
Congratulations to you all and thank you.
Speaker: We will now continue with Question Period.
QUESTION PERIOD - continued
Question re: Alaska fishing licence fees
Ms. Duncan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is a tough act to follow. I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources about the 1998 fishing licences in Alaska. I do hope the minister is aware that the State of Alaska has doubled some fees for non-resident fisher folk for the upcoming season. For example, non-resident annual licences have jumped from $50 to $100 U.S. King salmon annual tags have jumped from $35 to $100, again, U.S.
Mr. Speaker, these sharp increases have made the Yukoners' family weekend fishing trip to Haines or Skagway that much more expensive and that much further out of reach. What efforts has this government made to deal with the State of Alaska regarding these fishing licence fee increases?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, this issue has been raised with the Government Leader, and he has brought it to our attention to start working with Alaska to see if we can make these fees a bit more fair, I guess, to Yukon people.
Ms. Duncan: Well, last fall, the Government Leader met with the Governor of Alaska to sign a cooperation deal on issues such as tourism and fish and wildlife management issues. Increasing fishing licences to these new levels is going to do nothing to increase the number of Yukon tourists visiting southeast Alaska. Part of the agreement called on the Government Leader and the Governor of Alaska to meet as necessary to review issues of mutual interest.
Now, the minister has said the issue's been raised with the Government Leader. Has the Government Leader taken immediate steps, or does he intend to take immediate steps, to contact Governor Knowles and deal with this issue?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: My understanding is that the Government Leader did take up this issue. It was passed by the Legislature, not the governor, but he also met with the governor and raised this issue.
Ms. Duncan: Well, if what the minister has said is that the Government Leader has met with the governor, or spoken with him, and raised this issue, what were the results of the discussion? Is there any hope for Yukoners for this year's fishing season?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, certainly this, as I said, is of interest to Yukoners in spending our big dollars down there on fishing licences and that, and it doesn't seem fair. We have been working with them and will continue to work with them. More than likely, it will not be reflected in this year's fishing season licences.
Question re: Finlayson caribou, zones 10 and 11
Ms. Duncan: Well, the changes may not be reflected in this year's fishing licences, but certainly they will be reflected in the tourism season.
I would like to ask the Minister of Renewable Resources a question with regard to the Finlayson caribou herd. As the minister is aware, there has been some controversy and discussion in the media about the proposed registration hunt for the Finlayson caribou herd in zones 10 and 11, and I note that the proposal is discussed in the fish and wildlife regulation changes proposed for 1998.
Now, at the bottom of the proposal, there is a questionnaire: "Do you support this proposal? Yes or no. Do you have comments on it?"
Can the minister advise this House what response was received to the questionnaire at the bottom of this proposed change?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can bring back information for the member as to what responses there were to that particular issue, but in regard to the Finlayson caribou herd, of course, we have a process that we follow in getting back recommendations from the Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
We take those very seriously. We have been working with the Ross River people to put together a plan, along with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, to better manage and look at managing the Finlayson caribou herd.
We're just following that process and working with the local people. It has been in the works for a couple of years now, and we'll see, I think, a lot more results from the management team in Ross River over the next little while.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister has said that they will give due consideration to what recommendation comes forward from the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. What I was asking was what information had been given to the board.
Now, it's my understanding that of some 90-odd responses sent on this particular proposal to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, some 87 of them - or almost 100 percent of them - said that this was not a recommended solution for the management of this particular caribou herd and that the government should be examining other options.
Now, what I'm wondering is if the minister is prepared to listen to that recommendation.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This permit hunt is not a solution to management of the caribou herd. It is a way for us to monitor what hunting takes place. Once the numbers do come back from that, we can be better informed as to what hunters are taking as far as caribou, so that we can come up with a more realistic and more meaningful direction to give to the management team in the Ross River area.
At this point, we don't feel that the Finlayson herd is in trouble. It's still the largest woodland caribou herd in the Yukon. Our last count, I think, was around 4,000 head. When the wolf management was in place and finished, I think the numbers were around 6,000. We need to determine what number will be stabilized with the amount of hunters there are in the area and with the wildlife taking their share.
Ms. Duncan: What I heard the minister say was that this particular herd was not in trouble. The reading and the background on the Finlayson caribou herd seems to indicate that it is of concern and that the cow/calf ratio is not acceptable and that it's in a state of decline. That is a great deal of concern to the Ross River Dena, as well as for the Fish and Game Association.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: As the Member for Riverdale North is kibitzing from the side, hunters aren't shooting the cows and calves.
Would the minister indicate what other options they're looking at, other than just this registration? What discussions are ongoing with the Ross River Dena Council and the Fish and Game Association?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The member is right. We have been working quite closely with the Ross River Dena Council. They're proposing to handle things, I guess, more in a local way. What they would like to do is have their hunters hunt other caribou herds that are nearby. There are three other herds that are quite close.
So I think what they're wanting to do is really take the management into local hands and come up with solutions and, so far, they have. Permit hunting was something that they agreed to, but they wanted to do more than just that: looking at their own hunters, for example, taking caribou out of other herds and lessening the impact on the Finlayson caribou herd.
And they were interested in other things; for example, trapping. They wanted the department to be of assistance in bringing someone in and looking at different trapping methods, and so on.
We are going to do that with them. I believe the department has met a couple of times in trying to come up with time frames and some realistic schedules to do this in.
It's in the works. I guess until we do another count of the Finlayson caribou herd, having this permit in place, we would come up with real numbers to show whether or not this herd is in trouble or in need of more close management than we have at present.
Question re: Whitehorse International Airport tower
Mr. Jenkins: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and it's on the tower at the Whitehorse international airport.
Yesterday it was announced that this government will spend an additional $2.2 million for 1998-99, and a further $3.5 million has been earmarked in next year's budget to extend the Whitehorse Airport runway to accommodate larger aircraft.
Mr. Speaker, this news has been welcomed by the tourism industry, and it's an important investment in Yukon's transportation infrastructure.
As I stated in the House on April 8, however, the extension of the airport and the provision of appropriate services and equipment is but one of two major problems confronting the Whitehorse International Airport and Yukon's tourism industry. The other major problem is the airport control tower itself.
Many air charter companies will not land at uncontrolled airports. There will be little advantage to extending the airport if we lose the control tower.
Does the minister have a firm commitment from NavCanada that the tower will remain operational at the Whitehorse International Airport?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In short, no, we do not have a firm commitment, but certainly discussion is ongoing, and hopefully we will be seeking a resolution that will be to our side and to the benefit as well of the Yukon.
Mr. Jenkins: That's a pretty high risk to take, Mr. Speaker. When is such an arrangement going to be firmed up with NavCanada? What's the time frame for this?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, as the member is absolutely aware, there is a process in place right now. We are working with the proponents and working with the industry to ensure that we will have a flight service tower here. Certainly, it is very, very important to us.
As to the actual time frames, I will have to get back to the member opposite but the process is happening now.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious matter. This government will be spending approximately $6 million improving the Whitehorse Airport, which will mean little if we lose our operational tower. It is time for the minister to do some effective lobbying. We don't want a repeat performance of the lacklustre lobbying effort to secure Shakwak funding here again.
Will the minister table a list of all the correspondence he has sent to date on this matter, together with a listing of all of the persons he has contacted to date?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the member opposite for bringing forth the successful Shakwak lobbying effort. If we continue to lobby in the manner that we have with Shakwak, I would say that, certainly, things are going to be looking very fruitful.
This government would not go out and spend in excess of $5 million over two years if we did not feel confident. We feel very confident that we will have a very successful negotiating process with NavCan. As the member is well-aware, we are involving other players within the industry and will continue to do so.
Question re: Liquor Act review
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation.
Last year, during the budget debate, I asked the minister several questions about the Yukon Liquor Act. The minister stated, on May 13 - almost one year ago - in response to a question about when and how a public review of the act would take place, he said, "We will be beginning this at the end of the summer, and going on a community-by-community basis." That was then and this is now. Where is the promised public review of the Yukon Liquor Act?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, we are not going to be doing a review of the Liquor Act this year. We have had the corporation go to the communities and get some direction as to how they feel about establishments in the communities and generally look at some of the problems the communities are having to see how we could be dealing with them through the Liquor Corporation.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister said, last year, that we're getting increased demand from the community for the corporation and the department to look at different matters and situations that are out in each community. That's almost the same answer as he's just given me.
Last year, he committed that a discussion paper would be produced for Yukoners. What's going to happen with this discussion that's taken place with the various outlets he referred to in the community? Is there going to be a discussion paper produced for Yukoners at large to look at?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the Liquor Corporation has made several visits to some of the communities. We would like to look at the Liquor Act. We feel at this point right now that doing any review or any major amendments is going to be major, and we don't feel at this point that it should be done.
What we would like to do is to go to the communities and get responses back from them. We're not scheduling communities on a regular basis, but have been going to communities more on call as to when they would like to have the Liquor Corporation come down and explain certain things to them and get feedback from them on those issues. We don't have the discussion paper that I said that we would have. We decided to go this route instead.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, this doesn't sound like open and accountable government to me. When is the minister going to allow the public to have input into whether or not there should be changes to the Liquor Act? When is that discussion going to take place?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In going to the communities and getting feedback, you would expect that comments would come from the community members - exactly what the member has raised. Opening up the Liquor Act or changing things in it, like any other act, I guess, takes a lot of effort and has a lot of implications on a lot of businesses. We will continue to work with communities, get direction from them and have them drive the process.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Some Hon. Member: On a point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the third party, on a point of order.
Ms. Duncan: It's come to my attention that, last evening during Committee of the Whole debate, a member of the Legislature had a personal laptop computer in this House, in the Legislature. Now, the rules respecting order and decorum are found in -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker?
Speaker: Continue please.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the rules respecting order and decorum are found in Standing Order 6(1) through 6(8), 17(1) and 22(1), and there are as well many standards or customs respecting decorum that have evolved through practice over the years in this particular Legislative Assembly. These have been listed for us and circulated.
None of these rules and practices deal with the issue of personal laptop computers or any other electronic devices in this House, and I would respectfully request, Mr. Speaker, that you provide us with a ruling in this regard.
Speaker: The leader of the third party, on the point of order...
Speaker: The Chair will take the point of order under advisement and report back to the House next week.
Request for unanimous consent
Hon. Mr. Harding: I would request the unanimous consent of the House to call Motion No. 120 and Motion No. 121 for debate at this time.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.
Motion No. 120
Clerk: Motion No. 120, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Justice
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to subsection 16(1) of the Human Rights Act, appoint Lillian Nakamura Maguire and Robert Oliphant to be members of the Yukon Human Rights Commission.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I rise today to bring forward the names of two individuals for appointment to the Yukon Human Rights Commission. This will increase the size of the Human Rights Commission to the maximum of five members, as has been requested by the commission.
Ms. Lillian Nakamura Maguire has lived in Whitehorse for many years. A Japanese-Canadian, she teaches at Yukon College and has led human rights workshops with students and colleagues throughout the Yukon and in southern Canada.
Reverend Robert Oliphant is Minister of the Whitehorse United Church and also a member of the Social Justice Ecumenical Council. He has been involved with non-government organizations improving people's rights.
I want to express my pleasure that these people have expressed their willingness to serve on a commission and note, as well, that the opposition parties are in support.
Motion agreed to
Motion No. 121
Clerk: Motion No. 121, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Speaker: It is moved by the hon. Minister of Justice
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to Section 21 of the Human Rights Act, appoint Michael Dougherty and Brenda Jackson and reappoint Jan Kulicki to the Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I rise today to bring forward the names of people for appointment and reappointment to the Human Rights Board of Adjudication.
Ms. Jan Kulicki has served on the adjudication committee for the past three years and is willing to stand for re-appointment.
Mr. Michael Dougherty is active on the Social Justice Ecumenical Council and has participated in human rights activities in both Latin America and Canada.
Ms. Brenda Jackson is a northern Tutchone member of the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation and now is employed with the Council of Yukon First Nations justice program. I am pleased that these members have indicated their willingness to serve on the Board of Adjudication.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Livingston: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: The Member for Lake Laberge, on a point of order.
Mr. Livingston: Mr. Speaker, further to the request for a ruling on the use of laptop computers or electronic notebooks in the Legislature, I would just like to draw the attention of the Speaker and members to the role that electronic notebooks can and do play in our world today.
It's true, Mr. Speaker, that it took us 100 years to move from slates and chalk to pencils and paper. We're in 1998 now and the move to electronic notebooks is a rather normal transition.
Further, I would note that telephones already exist in the Legislature. The electronic notebook, I would note, is simply for use as a notepad and a pencil.
And, Mr. Speaker, I would respectfully ask you to consider that in your ruling.
Speaker: The Chair thanks the member for his point of order. The Chair will take the point of order under advisement.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 9 - First Appropriation Act, 1998-99 - continued
Department of Justice - continued
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I have a couple more questions for the minister in general debate. Last night, we talked about the top job in the RCMP, and the minister said that they were making representations to the federal government with respect to that. I wonder if the minister could provide me with a copy of the criteria that the minister will be using to ensure that we have input. I suppose we'll draw up some criteria about some First Nations experience, northern experience and that kind of thing, and tenure. If there is such a document, I would appreciate it if the minister would provide that. Would she do that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As I indicated to the member last evening, the officials from the RCMP are meeting with my department within the next couple of weeks. We are, at the present time, developing a profile of the attributes we feel would be beneficial for the candidate to have. When that is completed, I would be happy to share it with the members opposite.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the minister for that, and I'll look forward to receiving it.
Another question I had, Mr. Chair, was about computers. I've asked this of all the other departments, with regard to the year 2000. Is there a document that the Department of Justice has that lays out where we're at, where we have to go and what the estimated costs are going to be for preparing for the year 2000 changeover, when we switch over and all the computers are supposed to crash? There's a lot of information on the computers in the Department of Justice, and I just wonder if we are adequately prepared for that and if there's such a document that spells out exactly what the Department of Justice has done and what we have to do to prepare for the year 2000 - some 20 months away.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I know that the member is raising this with departments individually. I can advise him that Government Services and Finance are ensuring that there is a plan in place that affects all computers in all government departments so that the Y2K project is on track.
The Department of Justice, as I think the member may recall from previous budget debates, has addressed it internally already and made some accommodation within the computer systems in the Department of Justice.
Mr. Phillips: Could I get a copy of the presentation, or the document, we gave to Government Services laying out where we're at? They must have done something, or do they do it individually with the department - come into the department and work through the department and sort it out?
If they did that, and the minister doesn't have a copy, I wonder if the minister could ask her colleague, the Minister of Government Services, to provide us with a copy of the document that the government is using with respect to the Y2K project.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I don't believe that there is a particular document that the Department of Justice has. In previously updating the land registry system, updates were done to address Y2K, as the year 2000 conversion is known. I believe Government Services does have formal written documentation and the Minister of Government Services has already indicated that he would be pleased to make that available.
Mr. Phillips: We're not in that minister's debate right now and it would be useful to have that, because it covers other departments, in Government Services debate. I wonder if the minister could entertain asking the Minister of Government Services to provide that document to us, either sometime today or tomorrow so we could have it for next week as we go through some of these other departments? I think it would be a useful document to have.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, I'll be happy to see what I can do to accommodate the member.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I was pleased to hear the other night that we have hired a new head of corrections. I was somewhat surprised to see that he was from British Columbia, because I know that this government has touted the local hire issue quite strongly.
I don't know the individual and I don't know the individual's qualifications, but I'm sure that they're very good and we should try and get the best people we can for these types of jobs, but it is a bit inconsistent with this government's policy that was put out prior to the election where it was going to try and hire everybody it could locally. So, I just make that point.
Bill C-68 - the minister touched on that the other night as well. The minister said, Mr. Chair, that she was going to keep her options open with respect to implementing C-68. I was under the understanding that the minister had already said that we were going to implement C-68 if we lost the court case. Are we still just considering implementing it and we'll make that decision after the court case? What is our actual status? I thought, initially, the minister had said that we weren't taking the same position that Alberta and, I believe, Saskatchewan and some other provinces were and that we were actually going to fight the court case and implement it if we lost it. So, what is the real status of this?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the position is virtually the same as it was when that member was in this position. We have asked the court for advice on that subject. When we get the ruling from the Court of Appeal, then we will look at the decision and make a final decision. As the member knows, the federal government is proceeding apace with implementation of Bill C-68 and has been funding the positions to train the people who are working with the federal government and other jurisdictions. We don't agree with the federal government, as the member and I have discussed at some length in previous budget debates, but we believe it's best to be inside the program for now until the court gives their advice, as I stated.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I don't think the minister should try and put words in our mouths. Our position isn't the same as the government today's position is. Our position is that we wouldn't implement it.
We were going to take the same position as Alberta and other provinces were taking, and that was to fight the court case, refuse to implement it and let the federal government go it alone. This government has chosen that it will fight the court case, but implement it anyway.
Mr. Chair, the minister said that the federal government is training individuals. Are they training our individuals - our firearms officers? Is that who they're training or do they have their own staff that they're planning on training, who will take care of the implementation?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we have seconded a person in our administration who is being trained at the expense of the federal government.
Mr. Phillips: Can the minister tell me what position that is in our government? Was it our chief firearms person that was doing it before? Is that the position?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes.
Mr. Phillips: How much time is involved in this training? Is there someone filling in the job for the firearms officer to do the existing work that he was doing prior to this training program?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, there is someone filling the position from when the chief firearms person moved into being trained to work with the implementation of the federal Bill C-68.
Mr. Phillips: Have any of the other jurisdictions changed their minds about the implementation of Bill C-68 - of the ones that initially were in the court case with us and saying that they're weren't going to implement it? Have they still got the same position or are they working with the federal government to implement it, doing the same thing as we're doing by having some people seconded over to the federal government for implementation purposes?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I have been advised that all of the jurisdictions who appeared at the court case are maintaining their positions as they were, until the decision from the court of appeal.
Mr. Phillips: Are we still the only ones in that court case, or are the Northwest Territories and us the two? Is the Northwest Territories doing the same as us - we're still where we are and the other parties are still where they were?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the jurisdictions involved are the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario and the Yukon. And yes, they are still maintaining their positions.
Mr. Phillips: Just a side note to all of this - and I'm sure that some members have read it. I believe that an outgoing superintendent of the RCMP, who was involved in these discussions, did an interview, I think, in the Globe and Mail with respect to the number of violent crimes committed with firearms. In fact, he has admitted that the numbers that were given to the federal government - to Mr. Allan Rock, when he was using them for his ammunition, so to speak, to bring in this onerous gun bill - were in fact quite incorrect, and that the number of violent offences committed by firearms was quite a bit lower.
So, it seems that it was a bit of a scam by some of the bureaucrats in Ottawa, and the federal government at the time, that there was a serious problem with firearms. In fact, many of the responsible firearms organizations and groups spoke out loudly and clearly that the numbers that the federal government was touting were inaccurate. It appears now that they are inaccurate, and it's unfortunate that we have a law that was partly as a result of contrived figures by some officials in the federal government and promoted by Mr. Allan Rock.
Unfortunately, we're going to have to live with that until we change the government in Ottawa.
Mr. Chair, one other item that I have in general debate that I want to touch on - actually, I've a couple more left - is the victims trust act that we passed. The minister talked about this a little bit last night, but what I'm wondering is, is it in place now and have we used some funds for this act? Maybe the minister could give me a breakdown, if it is being used, of the types of things it's being used for and what kind of money has flowed out of the trust fund with respect to victims.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'd be happy to give a further update to the member on that.
The trust fund has not spent any monies, as of yet. After the fall legislative session, when the bill was passed, we sent letters out to many different groups and organizations, asking them to nominate candidates to serve on a board of trustees. Some organizations were a little slower than others in responding. We are just at the stage now of finalizing the membership of the compensation board.
Mr. Phillips: Does the member have a time line of when she expects that this trust fund will be up and running and sending out cheques to these various individuals or groups and organizations, or whatever?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, we will be doing that as soon as possible. As the member appreciates from debating the bill itself, the first task of the board is to set up its operating rules and the criteria for funding, and we'll be happy to provide regular information to the member.
Mr. Phillips: The Salvation Army Adult Resource Centre - I believe that's the one up on top of the hill, by the airport - have there been any changes with respect to the type of people who come in there, and what kind of working relationship does the minister or her department have with the federal parole officials who send people up into the territory?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I believe there is a good working relationship between the department and the Salvation Army Adult Resource Centre. I can tell the member that I toured the facility and met with their director and one of their board members.
There has been no change in the policies. As the member is aware, all clients are subject to a risk assessment before they are accepted into the program.
Mr. Phillips: I have just one other question here. Mr. Chair, I received a copy of a letter from the Teamsters' Local 31 with respect to the fair-wage schedule, and they asked some questions about being included in the fair wage schedule in the future. I understand we're doing a review of the fair-wage schedule. I don't know if it's complete yet, but what's happening as a result of the request in that letter? Can the minister advise us on that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I've met with the Employment Standards Board and requested that, pursuant to the Employment Standards Act, they review the fair-wage schedule.
That review is underway and has not been completed.
Mr. Phillips: Okay, Mr. Chair, does the minister know when she expects to have the review completed and any changes that might be contemplated to the fair-wage schedule?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, past practice has always been that they do these things properly, and there's no reason to believe that it would take an undue amount of time.
Mr. Cable: I've got some touch-up questions. I asked the minister some questions on the RCMP auxiliary program, and she indicated she would do her best to bring in legislation in the fall. Could she tell the House what problems the legislation will be addressing? I know there was a problem of liability, and I think the Workers' Compensation Act was amended to deal with that, at least in part. Are there any other problems that the legislation will be looking at?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As the member has indicated, liability is one of the issues that the auxiliary police and the RCMP and the government all share a concern on. As well, we will be looking at the scope of duties and the function of officers of the auxiliary police.
Mr. Cable: Has the minister and her department reached any conclusion as to whether the members would be entitled to bear firearms?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we have already discussed with the auxiliary police the issue of whether they are able to bear firearms, and are not in support of that.
Mr. Cable: I thank the minister for that. On the litigation list that was provided to us a couple of days ago, there are a number of wrongful dismissal cases, some of which involve people who I assume were fired by public servants, as opposed to the political arm.
I've asked this question before. Is there any education that is given to the members of the public service on how to handle dismissal cases, so that we don't invite this litigation on wrongful dismissal?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, that is a question that would more appropriately be directed to the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, during debate on the Public Service Commission. But, I believe that that kind of information is part of the work that the Public Service Commission does through its staff training and development branch.
Mr. Cable: Well, I assume that the advice would come from the minister's department, though. Is that not the case?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The instructing department is the Public Service Commission. They may ask the Department of Justice for legal advice, but the Public Service Commission does play the lead on personnel issues within government.
Mr. Cable: Okay. The Public Service debate may be this afternoon. We'll explore that further.
Another question I've asked the minister and her predecessor before is about the limitation period on sexual assaults on minors. I note from going over the December 1 Hansard that the minister had invited me to sit down with her and discuss the issue. I haven't taken her up on that, but what is her present position? Is she going to be bringing in legislation dealing with that particular part of the Limitation of Actions Act?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We are considering that, Mr. Chair, and I think that the member opposite would find the editorial in yesterday's Globe and Mail quite interesting on that subject.
There is a strong debate on the recovered-memory syndrome, and we will be considering all aspects of the question before we make a final decision on the subject.
Mr. Cable: Yes, I think that recently there has been some discussion by psychologists on this particular syndrome, and that's actually the reason I was asking the question. Is there some time line that the minister is working toward?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Not specifically, Mr. Chair. We're looking at the question at this time.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions on maintenance enforcement and some comments that the minister made over the last couple of days.
The minister will recollect that yesterday she said, "We are also working on getting the federal government to respond by being more involved in chasing people who do not make their maintenance payments." Now, I had thought that that was a matter of provincial jurisdiction or territorial jurisdiction. Just what is she expecting the federal government to do?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The interprovincial matters are a federal responsibility. As well, Mr. Chair, we need the federal government to use their clout and their abilities to issue passports and their possession of social security and income tax information in order to better track down debtors who are fleeing one area of the country and taking up residence in another and avoiding the payment of child support.
Mr. Cable: I just wonder if the minister would check out - the enforcements carried out under reciprocal enforcement legislation, which is provincial in nature - what role does the federal government has under that legislation?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we are only able to use the reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders legislation if we can locate the debtor. This is a problem with a national dimension. The federal government does have better access to locating people through the social service registries and income tax and other arenas.
So, it's a problem with a national dimension where federal government participation could help to locate defaulting debtors.
Mr. Cable: Okay, so what the minister is saying, then, if I've heard her right, is that the federal government's role is simply to help locate but it's not to actually do the enforcement itself. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, the member heard me right.
Mr. Cable: The minister, on Monday or a couple of days ago - I guess that was Tuesday, wasn't it - said that there were only six bad debtors out of 542 active files in the maintenance enforcement area. Our researcher called up one of the matrimonial lawyers in town, who said, "Shucks, I've got way more than six in my own office."
Just how is a bad debtor defined? Is it somebody who's never paid any maintenance payments at all, or is it somebody who, on occasion, will make payments but presently is not in good standing?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I understand it, a bad debtor is someone who repeatedly refuses to make payments of any kind.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, sorry, members opposite are being a little bit distracting here with some of their heckling, Mr. Chair. I will not respond to that.
Mr. Cable: Just for the record, it wasn't me that was heckling. I just want to get that straight here.
That number appears to be very, very low, you know. The number of deadbeat dads, I'm sure, is a lot greater than six. Is this exhaustive of the number of people who are in arrears on payments, or are these just files that the government might have - might be maintaining?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, the term "deadbeat" tends to be used for people who refuse to respond to overtures from the department or the courts or their ex-partners and to make their child support payments. There are people who are in arrears, but who then do make payments.
Mr. Cable: Okay, so the 542, less the six bad debtors, would include any number of people who periodically make payments, but are not necessarily in good standing. Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair. I should add, too, that we try to ensure that debtors make regular payments. The maintenance enforcement office is collecting an average of $130,000 per month in payments and the majority of the clients do pay on a regular basis. Some are in arrears and, when they are, the staff in the office make an attempt to contact them and to see if there are ways that the department can help the debtor to make regular payments so that children are not suffering.
Mr. Cable: It'd be useful, in trying to determine the dimensions of the problem, to find out how many cases are paid in full and up to date out of that 536 that are considered not-bad debtors. Is that a major chore, and can that number be brought up fairly easily?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that we can find that information for the member. For example, I do have information with me that the total funds paid from January to December of 1997 were $1,580,316.
Mr. Cable: I'm sorry. Could the minister indicate whether the actual number of active files that are paid in full and up to date is retrievable, or is that just what she told me? I was distracted here for a moment.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, I indicated that we would try and find that information for the member. One would hope that the computer programming is able to help break down the information in various ways.
Mr. Jenkins: I have some questions of the minister in general debate on the statistics provided to the House on drug enforcement. I'm aware of the acuteness of the problem we're having in our community and in rural Yukon with respect to soft drugs - let's call them marijuana and hash. I'm noticing an alarming trend in the number of charges laid for simple enforcement. It was running about 160 a year, Mr. Chair, and we've dropped over 100 charges this last year.
Could the minister indicate what is happening? What has changed? Is there not the emphasis being placed on enforcement in this area?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I indicated to the member when we spent considerable time discussing this on Tuesday, the RCMP are targeting serious drug-related crime in the territory, such as drug trafficking. Out of the 180 drug charges, 47 of these were for trafficking in cocaine or marijuana.
There are three major activities associated with drug enforcement and education in the territory. In drug education, programs are directed toward school-age children, with participation on interdepartmental groups. There is a position dedicated to drug education in the Yukon.
It should be noted that all RCMP detachments throughout the territory have individual drug education programs.
In drug investigation, there are four RCMP officers dedicated to target operations, such as trafficking. As is demonstrated by the statistics, the vast number of possession charges are laid as a result of a general investigation by regular members of the RCMP.
In addition, the Department of Justice is working with the RCMP and individual communities to identify key issues and concerns throughout the territory. This is a serious matter that the RCMP and the government continue to take action on. If the member would like a briefing from the RCMP on drug enforcement policies or education practices, officials within my department would be pleased to arrange a meeting for him.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I do agree with the minister that it is an important issue, but something has changed, Mr. Chair. I'm aware of the investigative arm of the RCMP in this regard. I'm aware of the education program in this regard, but the incidence of drug use is increasing, and there appears to be a de-emphasis on simple possession.
Now, what has changed? Has there been direction given to the RCMP not to bother with simple possession? It now appears to be less and less of a crime. Simple possession is like getting a traffic ticket, Mr. Chair, but there is an alarming increase in drug use in rural Yukon to the detriment of our communities. So, something has changed within the department, either within the enforcement area or within the direction given to enforcement to not enforce in the areas. Has there been some direction of that nature from the department, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair, there has been no changes given to the RCMP by the Yukon government. In addition, as we have debated in this House over the last three days, the prosecutions are handled through the Crown attorney's office, which is a federal jurisdiction and works with the RCMP.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister should spend a little time out in rural Yukon and in a number of the communities that I have had an opportunity to visit. The smoking of marijuana is readily available. It's more available, I'm told, than getting a bottle of liquor in many areas. People are walking down the streets smoking it and congregating on corners at night in front of lounges smoking marijuana. It has all the appearances, Mr. Chair, and yet, when the RCMP come by, they do nothing, because it appears to be just a simple possession.
So, something has changed in the enforcement end, and that's what I'm trying to get a handle on.
Can the minister enlighten me as to what has changed?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I would suggest that, if the member is aware of people who are walking down the street committing illegal activities, he might want to report those people for that.
I would also point out for the member, since we are on the subject of crime statistics and the member is focusing on the charges in relation to trafficking and possession of marijuana, that in 1996 there were 20 marijuana trafficking charges, in 1997 there were 19. Of cocaine possession and trafficking, in 1996 there were 28 charges and in 1997 there were 25 charges.
Now, I would like to draw the member's attention to the rate of charges for impaired driving for that same period. There were 346 impaired driving charges in 1996 and there was an increase to 419 in 1997. In both those years, there were 42 charges against people who refused a breathalyzer or a blood-alcohol count, and there were also charges laid against 28 people in 1996 and 36 people in 1997 for driving while suspended or disqualified.
Mr. Chair, that is one of the reasons why this government brought forward Motor Vehicles Act amendments to increase the penalties against people who drink and drive. The numbers between 1996 and 1997 went up in relation to impaired driving.
Since we passed that legislation, the Yukon government, together with the RCMP, have embarked on an aggressive advertising campaign to ensure that the public is aware that, if you are convicted of impaired driving after January 30, 1998, you face longer periods of disqualification.
In addition to court-ordered driving prohibition, people will lose their licence for the following period of time: one year on a first conviction, three years on a second conviction, and indefinitely on a third conviction.
Mr. Chair, I have available for the member a poster with a keyring saying "Kiss them good-bye" to emphasize that message, and the member opposite might want to ensure that such posters are prominently displayed in drinking establishments in his home town and throughout the Yukon.
Mr. Jenkins: What I'm curious about is why the minister doesn't place the same emphasis on drug use and drug abuse as we're placing on alcohol abuse. Some of the statistics arising out of the U. S. on motor vehicle accidents there show that a high number of the individuals either killed or infirmed are impaired by a narcotic.
I don't want to get into the liquor. The liquor - we appear to have a handle on it. When you're in a stop-check, it is a very simple exercise for the RCMP to ascertain whether you've been drinking or not drinking, but it's not an easy task for them to determine whether you're under the influence of a narcotic or not. Therein lies a problem.
Judging by the number of cases of simple possession - the charges that have been laid - there has been a change in policy somewhere along the line, Mr. Chair. We are de-emphasizing simple possession. Now, why is that occurring?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Impaired driving charges also includes intoxication by drugs. It's not simply for intoxication by alcohol. I can also assure the member that the RCMP is continuing to place an emphasis on investigating and charging people for both the trafficking of drugs and the possession of drugs.
A continued emphasis on enforcement against people who traffic does reduce the availability of the drugs that they're trafficking. There has been no change in emphasis on the part of the police force or the government.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, is the minister concerned about this issue? We have a growing drug problem in the Yukon that is not being addressed by government and we're de-emphasizing simple possession of marijuana. That's obvious by the statistics.
Perhaps the minister condones the use of this substance; I don't know. But there's something that's changed that's decreasing the number of individuals who are charged with simple possession. Now, is the department going to address the problem or are we just going to sit idly by?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I don't believe that anything that I could say would reassure the member that there has not been a change of emphasis or that the RCMP are not, in fact, changing the way that they investigate.
This government continues to offer drug education programs as part of the regular course of instruction in the school system. This government has treatment programs available within Health and Social Services. The government has made it clear to the RCMP that we support their good work in investigating and laying charges on all crimes, including crimes of drug possession and drug trafficking.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister must start to recognize that we are not putting the same emphasis on drug use as we are on alcohol abuse. We are certainly faced with a growing problem across the Yukon of an alarming trend toward more and more drug use. The enforcement side of it doesn't support what is transpiring. We know. We see the use of needle exchange programs in Whitehorse growing at an alarming rate - up over 1,500 needles a month now, Mr. Chair. When it started, it was just a matter of fewer than 100 a year. So, we know that there is a big drug use and a growing drug use in the Yukon, and I know from my own children attending school that we have a growing drug use in our schools.
Now, we appear to have a handle on the alcohol side of it and the enforcement side of alcohol. When a vehicle is stopped, it's a simple exercise for the RCMP to ascertain when a person has been drinking and if he has a level of impairment above .08, but the same does not hold true for a testing program for someone under the influence of a narcotic when that individual is operating a motor vehicle. The tests are quite extensive at that point.
So, Mr. Chair, we have a growing problem in the Yukon. We have a growing problem in our schools, and the statistics for simple possession have gone down by some two-thirds. Why? For simple possession, there just seems to less of an enthusiasm to enforce this area. The question of the minister is, why?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, what I think it indicates is that the statistics suggest that our enforcement measures are working. The statistics suggest that a continued, sustained approach of charging traffickers with the offence of trafficking has an effect on the availability of drugs and, hence, the use of drugs. I would suggest to the member that, in fact, we cannot blindly assume that the problem with alcohol abuse is under control when there are hundreds of charges of impaired driving, an offence that can lead to personal injury and death.
That's a serious problem that we need to continue working on as well, and I can't understand how the member can believe that there is a more serious problem with drugs than there is with alcohol when there are so many more charges related to impaired driving in the territory. That is a serious problem that we are working hard to address.
Mr. Chair, we also have, as I've said to the member, programs in place both within our school system and within the community at large to reduce the level of drug and alcohol abuse within the community.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, obviously the minister doesn't feel that there's a problem in this area and I guess the statistics will prove in a year or so that we do have a growing problem in this area of drug use in Yukon that isn't being addressed and isn't being enforced to the degree that it should be enforced. Statistics will prove that out just down the road.
If I could explore with the minister another area under her jurisdiction, the Liquor Act.
There's one area of the act that a number of individuals in rural Yukon feel should be changed, and that is the part of the Liquor Act dealing with the serving of alcohol to a minor in a licensed dining room or restaurant who is accompanied by their parent or guardian. This has given rise to concern. The explanation in the act is that it's done for religious purposes. There's a move afoot to exclude serving hard liquor and beer to a youth or a minor, and just leave it at wine. I'm sure that's been brought to the minister's attention and I'm just wondering what position she feels would be appropriate in this regard.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Is the member making a proposal and bringing forward a representation for particular changes that he's asking the government to undertake here? If so, I would be pleased to take that to caucus, but perhaps he could rephrase that.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the issue of serving alcohol to minors is not something new. It's been in the act for a number of years, Mr. Chair. A minor accompanied by their parent or legal guardian can be served alcohol. The reasons given is that it is for religious or ceremonial purposes.
Now, I'm not aware of any religion where an individual can sit down with a minor and order a rum and coke or a rye and ginger ale. I'm not aware of any religion that purports this approach.
Wine is for ceremonial purposes in a number of religions, Mr. Chair, and it's also a common table beverage with meals, predominantly throughout Europe, but it is giving rise to concern. I know representation has been made to the Liquor Control Board, and I know representation has been made to other individuals within the government on this point. Why it hasn't gotten to the minister's level now, who's responsible overall for this act, I do not know, but the issue is the consumption of liquor by a minor while in the company of a parent or guardian in a licensed dining room or restaurant. There is a move afoot to have that changed or amended to exclude liquor and beer, so that it just is for wine. I was wondering if the minister has a position on that approach at this point?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I think it's important that kids learn how to be responsible about alcohol consumption, and I believe it would be more responsible for families to introduce their children to having a glass of wine with their meal, if families are drinking wine, than the kids go off on their own to bush parties and drink to excess and run a number of risks.
In response to the member's indication of a movement afoot, I am not aware of any complaints that have been made, either to officials in my department or at the political level, but I am certainly willing to respond to requests to look at that matter.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, we will move to management services.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Management Services
Is there general debate on this?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This branch is composed of the deputy minister's office, under which is consolidated finance and administration, human resources, policy and information systems. Its budget for this year is $1,427,000. A decrease of $55,000 is due to a base transfer of leased space costs to Government Services and salary savings resulting from an amalgamation of clerical responsibilities in the deputy minister and policy units. As well, administrative costs, such as photocopy paper have been transferred to individual branches of the department.
Management Services in the amount of $1,427,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Chair: Is there general debate on court services?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Court services is responsible for the operation of the Yukon court system and also runs programs, such as maintenance enforcement, witness administration and the sheriff's office. Their total budget is $3,445,000, which is a decrease of $29,000. This change is because of a drop in actual expenditures last year relating to jury and witness fees. These savings were reallocated to other areas in the department.
Mr. Cable: In these line items in this particular area, we'll find the salary for the territorial court judges - is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, that is in the court operations line.
Mr. Cable: The minister recently appointed three deputy judges. Could she tell the House how many deputy judges are now female and how many are now male?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We'll bring that information back for the member.
As the member is aware, the minister approves candidates recommended by the Judicial Council.
Mr. Cable: Has there been any suggestion made to the Judicial Council on affirmative action with respect to the appointment of judges? Has the minister expressed her wishes to the Judicial Council?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Not recently, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Cable: Has the minister expressed her wishes, recently or otherwise, on the appointment of aboriginal deputy judges?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I have indicated, as I believe the member is aware, to the judiciary and to the Judicial Council that a more representative bench is a worthwhile goal that we should be striving for in the Yukon. That would indicate, Mr. Chair, a need for consideration of both women candidates and First Nations candidates for appointments.
Mr. Cable: Can the minister tell us whether the Judicial Council shares that view?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I would hope so. I think it's an important public policy to ensure that decision-making bodies, whether in a court structure or in legislatures or in business or government, need to be representative of the public that they serve.
There are many national studies that confirm the appropriateness of increasing the number of women on the bench. I have not received anything formally expressing the views of the Judicial Council on the subject of affirmative action measures to increase the participation of women or minorities on the bench.
Mr. Cable: The reason I asked the question is of the latest round of appointments, the three deputy judges who were appointed quite recently, are all female, and I was wondering whether the minister had been successful in persuading the Judicial Council to her point of view.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'd like to take credit for, at the very least, expressing my views on the subject publicly.
Mr. Cable: It's now in Hansard, so I guess it's as public as you can get.
Just out of curiosity, the issue that Mr. Hughes is looking at, had he originally agreed to the March 15 time line for his report?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes.
Mr. Cable: Has he indicated to the minister why he needs another three and a half months to reach conclusions?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, there are a couple of factors at play there. When Mr. Hughes came to the Yukon, he had a large number of people who were interested in speaking to him and making their views known. We are also trying to resolve some differences between the judiciary and the department informally. Mr. Hughes is in support of those discussions and is supervising them.
Mr. Cable: So, the reason that Mr. Hughes needs another three and a half months is because there were a large number of people who had approached him, more than what he had expected, and also he wants to allow some time for consensus building between the government and the judiciary. Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Hughes is participating in a consensus-building exercise between the department and the courts.
Mr. Cable: Just glancing at the submissions made by the ministry and the submissions made by the territorial court and the replies, there appears to be a little fireworks going on between the two. What basically are the major issues between the two parties that Mr. Hughes is allowing some time for consensus building on?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As I believe the member will know from reviewing the contents of the government submission to the Hughes inquiry, the basic issues that are being worked through are the compensation of the judiciary and the composition of the judicial compensation committee, required pursuant to the Prince Edward Island decision.
Mr. Cable: So the main area of disagreement between the judiciary and the minister's department relates to compensation of the judges. Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we are resolving those issues with Mr. Hughes' assistance.
On Court Administration
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The court administration consists of the director's office and the court reporting contract.
Mr. Cable: How much of that is the court reporting contract.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The estimate for 1998-99 is $297,500.
Court Administration in the amount of $611,000 agreed to
On Court Operations
Court Operations in the amount of $2,045,000 agreed to
Sheriff in the amount of $258,000 agreed to
On Maintenance Enforcement
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Members will note that there is an increase of $94,000 for the maintenance enforcement program. This includes additional funding for the child support guidelines program, as well as an increase in salaries for the maintenance enforcement program itself and an increase in salaries due to the re-integration of a disabled employee.
Mr. Cable: Does the minister have the number of FTEs from last year and from the proposed budgeted line item?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There is one increase in the maintenance enforcement program and another increase in salaries for the child support guidelines program.
Mr. Cable: That is an increase of two. What was the base - the previous number of FTEs?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'll have to bring that information back to the member.
Maintenance Enforcement in the amount of $353,000 agreed to
On Witness Administration
Mr. Phillips: Why is there a decrease in this item? The minister could maybe just give us a brief explanation.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, as I indicated in the opening remarks on this branch, the change is due to a drop in actual expenditures last year relating to jury and witness fees.
Witness Administration in the amount of $112,000 agreed to
On Yukon Review Board
Yukon Review Board in the amount of $66,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there questions on the statistics?
Court Services in the amount of $3,445,000 agreed to
On Legal Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Legal services prosecutes territorial and some criminal offences and provides legal advice to the Government of the Yukon and drafts legislation and litigates civil matters. It also administers the legal aid and native courtworker programs.
This branch has been budgeted at $2,961,000, which is an increase of $175,000 from 1997-98. This increase results from the inclusion of funding for programs falling under the access-to-justice agreement into the branch's budget and also the $75,000 for the consolidation of Yukon statutes mentioned earlier.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, after a good night's sleep, did the minister think to consider a little more money for the legal aid side for the maintenance enforcement as per our discussion last night? We talked about the concerns that are being raised over individuals who have to vary the maintenance orders. I know it's difficult sometimes to change this budget, but I just wonder if the minister is prepared to give that strong consideration in the future.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, having failed to rise to the bait when the member was being somewhat provocative yesterday, I'm not going to take him on this afternoon either. I have written to legal aid and asked them to identify any issues requiring response from the government. I am in support of the good work of the legal aid program, as well as the continuation of the public legal education and native courtworker programs, and this government will continue to support them.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I don't think I was being somewhat provocative last night. I think, Mr. Chair, -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, the minister said I was attacking the minister personally. Well, I'll remind the minister that it was that minister, when she was in opposition, who used to say it was a priority. So, I was just asking the minister why the priority wasn't reflected anywhere in the budget. I think that's a legitimate question. When they're on this side of the House they claim that it's one of the most important things, near and dear to their heart, and then when they have the opportunity to set the priorities, there is no change.
The only change we see in the maintenance enforcement line item, that we dealt with a few moments ago, was the federal government's change in some minor salary changes and staff changes, but no real new money for new programs or new promotions from this government. So, I think it was a legitimate question.
Mr. Chair, would the minister provide us with a copy of the letter that she is going to send to the council that reviews legal aid and interpretation? She mentioned she was going to be sending them a letter, I think. Would she give me a copy of the letter?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I have sent the letter and have corresponded with them some time ago. We'll see if we can locate the letter for the member.
I do have to respond, though, to the member's inaccuracies, stated in his preamble. Of the total $94,000 increase in the maintenance enforcement program, $25,000 of that is recoverable from the federal government. The other sums are for increases in the maintenance enforcement program and are being funded by the Yukon government to the tune of $69,000 for an increase in maintenance enforcement.
Mr. Phillips: I know we've passed that line item but maybe the minister can provide me with a breakdown of how much is going to salaries, what's going to programs, what programs, that kind of thing?
On Program Director
Program Director in the amount of $184,000 agreed to
On Solicitors Branch
Mr. Phillips: Do we have any vacancies right now in this particular branch and, if so, when do we expect them to be filled?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No.
Solicitors Branch in the amount of $886,000 agreed to
On Legislative Counsel
Mr. Phillips: Could the minister maybe give us an idea of what these major changes are?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair. As I indicated in general debate on the branch, the significant increase is of $75,000 for the continuing consolidation of Yukon statutes.
Legislative Counsel in the amount of $397,000 agreed to
On Litigation Costs/Judgments
Litigation Costs/Judgments in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Outside Counsel
Mr. Cable: We talked about this briefly in the briefing that the department put on for the opposition members. Who actually retains outside counsel for departments other than the Justice department? Is that all done through the Justice department?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As a rule, it is done through the legal services branch of the Department of Justice, with instructions coming from the line department.
Mr. Cable: What sort of instructions are given to the person or persons who retain outside counsel? Are there instructions to hire locally?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, I gave those instructions last year and the department has been implementing them.
When there are cases - for example, the present Anvil Range case - proceeding in the Ontario courts, we would engage a legal firm in Ontario to represent the government's interests.
Mr. Cable: Could the House have the benefit of a copy of the instructions that are given to the solicitors branch on the retaining of outside counsel?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, those were verbal instructions to the deputy, who carried them out in the normal course of his duties as the supervisor of the management staff at the department. I regret to inform the member that I don't have a terms of reference or a report or a letter to provide actual written instructions.
In addition, we've been meeting with members of the local bar to ensure them that we are giving instructions that, whenever and wherever possible, local counsel are employed by the government.
Mr. Cable: What sort of determinations are made when outside counsel is used, local or otherwise? Are there some terms of reference for the use of outside counsel?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: A number of factors are taken into account when selecting counsel, at all times, both selecting local counsel and selecting outside counsel. Perhaps I could suggest that the member, in his next meeting with the deputy to provide additional information that he has requested throughout the departmental debate, pursue that subject, too, for a fuller explanation.
Mr. Cable: Yes, that'd be helpful, but before we get there, are there any written instructions to the solicitors branch on the retaining of outside counsel, or is it all oral?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It's oral.
Outside Counsel in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Community Legal Support
Community Legal Support in the amount of $1,284,000 agreed to
Legal Services in the amount of $2,961,000 agreed to
On Consumer and Commercial Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This branch includes labour services, corporate affairs, consumer services and land titles, coroner's and public administrator's offices. Combined, these units administer some 50 pieces of legislation. The branch budget for 1998-99 will be $2,382,000, a decrease of $106,000.
The main reason for this savings relates to the elimination of an auxiliary clerical support position and a decrease in the coroner's budget by $50,000, to more closely match historical actuals for costs associated with inquests.
Mr. Phillips: Does the minister have any plans to make any amendments to the Employment Standards Act?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as the member is aware, the Yukon hire report recommended some changes to the Employment Standards Act. As members have been informed, the Minister of Government Services will be responding to the Yukon hire commission recommendations with the government's response and at that time we'll address the issue of any potential changes to the Employment Standards Act.
Mr. Phillips: Surely, the minister must know whether we're going to be going out to the public on consultation on the Employment Standards Act. Or does the government just plan on taking the consultations that they heard through the local hire commissioner and just bringing in an act in the fall with those changes in the act without any further consultation?
What is the plan? Usually with the Employment Standards Act, Mr. Chair, there is a consultative process for that act itself. Does the minister feel that the consultation has already taken place with the local hire commission and that there won't be any further consultation?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'm not prepared at this time to preempt the announcement from the Minister of Government Services that will be forthcoming shortly on the government response to the Yukon hire commission. In addition, Mr. Chair, I can assure the member that this government, myself and my department will continue its good working relationship with the Employment Standards Board on matters relating to the Employment Standards Act.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, as the minister can remember, the last go-around of the Employment Standards Act was extremely controversial - I think the last two go-arounds with it were extremely controversial. I think the public would expect no less than a full consultative process.
When are we going to hear about changes to things like the Employment Standards Act? Our session is scheduled to finish in two weeks. Are we going to hear some kind of an announcement prior to the completion of the session, or is it going to be like the last session, where a whole bunch of announcements are made about a week after we're out of session when we can't really question the ministers on the items?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I've indicated to the member throughout general debate and just now, the Minister of Government Services will be responding to the recommendations from the Yukon hire commission, which held a number of consultations throughout the Yukon, as the member is aware. The Minister of Government Services is the lead on responding to that and it does include some suggestions in relation to amendments to the Employment Standards Act.
On Program Director
Program Director in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
On Consumer Services
Consumer Services in the amount of $432,000 agreed to
On Corporate Affairs
Corporate Affairs in the amount of $347,000 agreed to
On Labour Services
Labour Services in the amount of $394,000 agreed to
On Occupational Health and Safety
Occupational Health and Safety in the amount of $329,000 agreed to
On Public Administrator
Public Administrator in the amount of $156,000 agreed to
On Land Titles
Land Titles in the amount of $315,000 agreed to
On Chief Coroner
Chief Coroner in the amount of $229,000 agreed to
On Yukon Utilities Board
Yukon Utilities Board in the amount of $156,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there questions on the statistics?
Consumer and Commercial Services in the amount of $2,382,000 agreed to
On Community and Correctional Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Before I provide the details of the community and correctional services, I have had information provided to me for the Member for Riverside in response to his question on the staffing levels at the maintenance enforcement office. Last year, there were three staff and this year there will be 4.25 full-time equivalent positions in that area.
The community and correctional services branch administers the victim services and family violence prevention unit, and probation services for adult offenders to help them to re-enter their communities. The branch also operates the Whitehorse and Teslin correctional facilities.
Its budget is $8.726 million, which represents a decrease of $295,000. This year's estimate is lower than 1997-98 as last year's forecast included a one-time amount of $200,000 from the federal government. These monies were for administrative costs relating to the amendments to the Firearms Act. The remaining decrease is because of a reduction in overtime costs.
On Program Director
Program Director in the amount of $677,000 agreed to
On Community Corrections
Community Corrections in the amount of $816,000 agreed to
On Institutional Facilities
Mr. Cable: With respect to the Teslin institution, I understand that there is a steering committee made up of members of the public that provides input to the administration of the Teslin jail. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, there is a community advisory committee, which includes representation from the Teslin Tlingit First Nation and the community.
Mr. Cable: And what, specifically, is the role? Are there any terms of reference around for this community advisory committee?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, and I believe we provided those to the member last year but, if we haven't, we'd be pleased to ensure that he has a copy of them.
Mr. Cable: I thank the minister for that. I'll look forward to receiving the terms of reference. Have there been any recommendations from the committee with respect to the staffing of the Teslin jail?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The advisory committee is not directly involved in personnel issues at the Teslin Community Correctional Centre.
Institutional Facilities in the amount of $6,217,000 agreed to
On Community Residential Centre
Community Residential Centre in the amount of $176,000 agreed to
On Victim Services and Family Violence Prevention Unit
Victim Services and Family Violence Prevention Unit in the amount of $840,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there questions on the statistics?
Community and Correctional Services in the amount of $8,726,000 agreed to
On Crime Prevention and Policing
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This branch was recently renamed from community development and policing to crime prevention and policing. This new name more clearly reflects its function of administering programs directed at deterring crime in Yukon communities. Its 1998-99 budget is $10.588 million and is an increase of $668,000.
Again, this larger budget is due to anticipated salary increases for RCMP members, the creation of a crime prevention coordinator and funding of other crime prevention initiatives.
On Program Director
Program Director in the amount of $356,000 agreed to
On Police Services
Police Services in the amount of $10,232,000 agreed to
Crime Prevention and Policing in the amount of $10,588,000 agreed to
On Human Rights
Chair: Is there general debate?
On Human Rights Commission Grant
Human Rights Commission Grant in the amount of $243,000 agreed to
On Human Rights Adjudication Board
Human Rights Adjudication Board in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
Human Rights in the amount of $252,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Justice in the amount of $29,781,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Chair: Is there general debate?
On Management Services
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: These expenditures relate to information systems and communications, and include systems development projects, workstation replacements, telecommunications equipment and other infrastructure.
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $326,000 agreed to
Management Services in the amount of $326,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
On Community JP/Court Support Offices
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, this line item includes an increase for a stand-alone public access computer system for the Yukon law library and development costs for joining the Yukon library's union catalogue on CD-ROM by converting to the bibliophile cataloguing system.
Community JP/Court Support Offices in the amount of $42,000 agreed to
Court Services in the amount of $42,000 agreed to
On Consumer and Commercial Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
On General Program Equipment
General Program Equipment in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
Consumer and Commercial Services in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Community and Correctional Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
On Replacement Equipment
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This category is comprised of replacement equipment required for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and the carpentry shop at WCC. The equipment for the shop includes as-needed replacement of assorted construction tools.
Replacement Equipment in the amount of $38,000 agreed to
On New Equipment
Chair: Mr. Chair, this new equipment includes a computer intake photo system for admissions and a dolly for the WCC, and in Teslin, administrative equipment and staff lockers will be purchased.
New Equipment in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Correctional Facilities Renovations/Construction
Mr. Cable: The minister has provided me with a letter dated April 14, indicating that the capital projects for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre will total $90,400 out of this $152,000, and I believe that she has said previously - and I had asked her to confirm - that the expenditure of these funds will mean that the Whitehorse Correctional Centre then has all the health and safety concerns dealt with. Have I understood her?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, pursuant to the fire marshall's correspondence that we are making available to the member, that is indeed the case.
Mr. Cable: Okay, the question that I am asking though is wider than fire concerns. It's health and safety concerns generally as identified in the Barr Ryder report, and as subsequently added to by the fire marshall's reports. Will all of those concerns - the Barr Ryder report and subsequent fire marshall's reports - raised in those reports then be dealt with so that there are no health and safety concerns at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As I believe I have indicated previously to the member, the occupational health and safety concerns and the safety concerns arising from the fire marshall's report have been addressed. We have provided considerable detail for the member on how those needs have been met, and we are meeting with him to provide further follow-up information. There are a number of reports available, so I don't want to blur things for the member.
Mr. Cable: No, that's the point of the question I wanted clarified.
Just for the benefit of the staff and the inmates, then, when the work is done that's described in the letter of April 14 - $90,400 - will the Whitehorse Correctional Centre then be considered safe from a health and safety standpoint, according to the concerns that have been raised by the Barr Ryder report and the subsequent fire marshall's reports?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I believed I'd made clear for the member, and will try this again, the immediate concerns that were raised in occupational health and safety reports, as well as in the fire marshall's reports, have been addressed.
The Barr Ryder report examined both short-term and long-term needs, including replacement of the facility. I believe the member is aware, from the time we've spent on general debate on this subject, that monies have been spent to bring the facility up to standard, bearing in mind that it is continuing to age.
Mr. Cable: Okay, I think we're three-quarters of the way home. We've talked about the fire marshall's reports. Could the minister just be absolutely clear, though.
There were a number of concerns raised in the Barr Ryder report. There were security concerns, which we're not talking about. There were health concerns, and I believe there were building concerns - I don't know what the rubric was under which they were captured, but I think it was safety concerns.
Have all of the non-security concerns raised in the Barr Ryder report either been dealt with or will they have been dealt with by the time the $90,400 is expended?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair. In response to the member's statement, to the best of our knowledge, those concerns have been resolved. If the member who has received copies of these various reports would like to follow up on specific details or specific areas of concern in his next technical briefing, we can ensure that he has answers to them. But as I have stated, to the best of our knowledge, yes, the concerns identified have been addressed through budgeting funds for facility renovations and construction measures.
Correctional Facilities Renovations/Construction in the amount of $152,000 agreed to
Mr. Phillips: Just one final issue that I want to bring up with the minister. The people at corrections in the carpentry shop had done some work a few years ago on the Wolf Creek salmon project. They built the sign for it. I just wanted to remind the minister that it does need updating, and it probably needs some minor maintenance.
If they're looking for projects to do, I'd just suggest to the minister that's one they may want to do, as that project is going to take a much higher profile this year. They built the fish ladder there last year, and more and more public are going there. I think it's about three or four years behind in the numbers that they put on that big board they have there in the information.
They did an excellent job of building the sign, but I think it's probably time that it had a minor update.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I thank the member for his request, and I will bring it forward.
Community and Correctional Services in the amount of $225,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Justice in the amount of $599,000 agreed to
Department of Justice agreed to
Chair: We will proceed to the Public Service Commission.
Public Service Commission
Chair: Is it members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We're dealing with the Public Service Commission.
Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Today I'm pleased to introduce the 1998-99 budget for the PSC. I'm requesting $9,647,000 in O&M over the next year. The PSC provides the corporate management, direction and administration of human resource services within the Yukon government.
Programs and policies respecting human resource management for the public service are developed under the provisions of the Public Service Act, the Public Service Staff Relations Act, the Education Act and government policy direction.
In accomplishing its mandate, the PSC is committed to the effective development and delivery of a comprehensive human resource management service that is consistent with these acts, is responsive to general government policy, and which supports departmental and corporate organizational goals.
The Public Service Commission places emphasis on service and leadership to the human resource community in government, adherence to the merit principle, support for a representative workforce and a cooperative approach to union management relations.
With respect to the O&M budget, there are a number of areas I wish to draw to your attention. This government is committed to new partnerships with First Nation governments. The commission has been allocated $450,000 for this budget to enhance employment equity in land claims training initiatives. This will add to and support the activities initiated in the 1997-98 budget.
The commission is nearing completion of the patriation of the benefits plans. It is continuing negotiations for the patriation of the pension plans. This will allow Yukon public servants to administer and tailor their plans to match their requirements.
This government has affirmed its commitment to free collective bargaining, and the Public Service Commission continues to be involved in the collective bargaining process with the Yukon Government Employees Union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
The department will also be commencing negotiations with the Yukon Teachers Association.
The overall budget request for the commission represents a two-percent increase over the 1997-98 estimates. The increase of $180,000 is mainly accounted for by the new funds that have been allocated to land claims training and employment equity initiatives.
However, the Public Service Commission budget also shows a decrease of $162,000 in personnel. This two-percent decrease results from a reduction of four full-time positions and a 0.9-percent decrease in the employee leave liability fund.
This concludes my introduction to the 1998-99 operation and maintenance budget for the Public Service Commission, which I stayed up all night last night writing.
Mr. Phillips: Well, after listening to that, there was no need for the minister to stay up all night to write it. I know that staff did, and the minister took a few minutes today to read it to us.
Mr. Chair, I don't have a lot of questions in general debate. Generally, I don't see a lot of changes in the Public Service Commission, other than the new initiatives in employment equity, and they are relatively new. So I think we have already debated and discussed our concerns with respect to some of those initiatives. We'll just have to wait and see how they pan out, and how they work out when the implementation starts to take place.
I do have a couple of questions, though. I understand today from the briefing - and I thank the department for the briefing this morning - that we're back to the bargaining table with the teachers on May 6, 7, 8 and 12 - or June 8 and 12, I guess. A month later, or are they both together?
Hon. Mr. Harding: A month later.
Mr. Phillips: A month later. Okay, I'm sorry.
What happens now with the Government Employees Union? I know that we are in conciliation. Can they issue us a notice of bargaining as well?
Although they haven't concluded one contract, it has sort of run out and it's time to start talking about the other one. Or do they usually wait until one is completely cleared off the slate before they'll sit down and start discussing the next contract?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The first process has to conclude first.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, we were given a list of a couple of letters I received today shortly after we came into the House, and I appreciate the quick response from the department, although I haven't had a great deal of time to go over a lot of them, because I was involved in the Justice debate. The one letter that I'll bring to the minister's attention is with respect to the number of grievances.
There's a total of 86 new grievances, as of May 1997. Does the minister feel that that is an acceptable level, or does he feel it's rather high? I know the officials this morning pointed out that it does sometimes have a tendency to rise when we're in negotiations.
Does the minister feel that this is a normal course of events that we're experiencing with this higher number of grievances?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm informed that it's fairly typical, particularly during a period of negotiations where sometimes relations become a little bit tense, as bargaining seems to dominate the agendas of the employees and the employer.
Mr. Phillips: So the minister finds it average or consistent with what it's been in the past.
Mr. Chair, the HRIS project and system - maybe the minister can bring us up to speed on the status. How's it working? Have there been any major glitches with it? I know we had an office set up and quite a few people working on the project, so maybe the minister can bring us up to speed on that wonderful new system.
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's been delayed, but we're in the final, final, final stages of implementation, and they're looking at this summer. There have been some glitches. People have been working hard on it; a lot of money's been spent. It's taken somewhat longer to implement, but we're in the final stages, which is probably the same answer I gave to the member in the last debate.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I'll look for the continuing saga of the HRIS system. I think I can recall saying it was in the final stages at one time, too, or it was coming to near completion, and it wasn't going to take any more money, so I'm glad to see that we're in the final, final, final stages, as the minister said.
I'll take his word on that, because we know that the minister really means it, so we'll trust him on that one, and hopefully the next time I ask the question - probably six or eight months from now - the minister will be able to tell me that it's all complete and on time and on budget.
Ms. Duncan: Earlier, in the Justice debate, my colleague from Riverside mentioned the number of wrongful dismissal suits. I had an opportunity to review the list of litigation that was given to my colleague, and noted the number of these suits that are ongoing or settled most recently.
Have there been specific steps taken by the Public Service Commission to reduce the number of these cases overall? I notice that there were eight on the papers that were distributed. Is eight the correct figure of pending wrongful dismissal suits?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, there are a total of six, not eight. There's a constructive dismissal claim - that of one of the Crown corps and then there are a number in wrongful dismissals. Some of them stem back a fair length of time. It's difficult, obviously. The Public Service Commission does numerous staff training and development and works with the managers, but I think there are always going to be times of conflict.
The member will note that a couple of the dismissal actions are fairly senior people. It's been quite a common practice for people at this level to take some kind of action when there has been a removal or a refusal to accept another job.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, perhaps the minister could indicate, after speaking with his deputy, if this is fairly much standard over the number of years in the Government of Yukon, in the last 10 years or so. Is it pretty standard that we have about half a dozen of these cases ongoing at any given point in time, or is this a record high or a record low?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm advised that it's pretty standard.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, these cases are particularly difficult for everyone involved and they are made even more difficult by the length of time that they drag on. Is there a point at which the government examines other alternatives, first of all, like mediation, or is there a point at which the government says, "This has dragged on long enough and let's settle this issue"? Is there a time frame on these?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Not really, because it's a confrontational process and it depends on whether there's a willingness on behalf of the parties to settle. I've seen cases where - as the minister responsible - there's been a reluctance to settle, for what I would consider to be good reasons on behalf of the Yukon government generically. In other cases, there is a settlement attained, but it depends on the lawyers and their clients as to whether or not there's ever a settlement range identified.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, at other points in time, it's, for lack of a better word, sheer bull-headedness on the part of the parties where they just can't reach an agreement, and there's a very clear example that comes to my mind in a recent case. It's not a wrongful dismissal case, admittedly, but the party was ready to settle up until the time they walked up the steps to the court-house and the Government of Yukon was not, and the Government of Yukon subsequently lost the case.
I'm just wondering if there's some point, say after three or four years, where the Public Service Commission or the Department of Justice says, "All right - enough - let's bring in a third party to evaluate this situation"?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Sometimes the judge, I'm advised, does make a settlement or has settlement discussions or settlement conferences with the clients. And the member's right; sometimes there's bullheadedness on behalf of the Government of Yukon; sometimes bullheadedness on behalf of a plaintiff. I think it's the responsibility - in the case of bullheadedness - of the Government of Yukon to push the bureaucracy and Justice to try and find settlement ranges, and we're accountable for that. In many cases, we are briefed, but we're not experts, as politicians, and it's important sometimes to respect, even if you don't agree with the advice of Justice and your officials who put a lot of work into it. What you have to sort out, I find, is the challenges if there is an inherent stubbornness built in or perhaps a personal dislike or a personal agenda that might have developed. I have not encountered that personally, but I think you always have to try, as responsible minister, to ensure that we look at the big picture.
Ms. Duncan: I don't think that addressed perhaps putting a time frame on these, but I'll leave that issue for the moment with the understanding with the minister that these cases do seem to wear on all parties.
I would like to publicly thank the department for their prompt response to providing the official opposition critic and me with details we'd asked for in this morning's briefing. I was very interested in the information regarding the grievances. I note there's a line marked "Other" in the description of the grievances. Could I just have an elaboration on what that "Other" is?
Hon. Mr. Harding: They may be contract interpretations. I'll try and get the member a little bit more of a breakdown. It could be a wide slew of things that don't fall in the major categories.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'll take it as miscellaneous and leave it at that then - miscellaneous other.
The leaves and pay administration - generally, what are the issues in these sections? Are they job classifications, taking unauthorized leaves? Just generally, what are the issues in these sections?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The leaves would be a dispute about whether or not they were actually entitled to the leave that was outlined in the collective agreement. The pay administration would be disputes around acting pay and those kinds of issues that crop up.
Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for that. I noticed in the 86 grievances per year, it would appear from the table that about half of these seem to go to level 3 and, of course, there's only one individual who can hear the level 3 grievances. I'm sure I asked the minister this last year, but I can't remember the answer. Is there a reason why we can't have a second person trained to hear level 3?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's an agreement between the employer and the employee to have that particular position. That's what they want.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, can I ask the minister then if this has been raised at the bargaining table - having more than one person? If it's an item that's agreed upon between the employer and the employee, has anyone raised the issue of having a backup? This is certainly no offence to the Public Service Commissioner, and there is none intended. It simply seems to me that you never have just one person able to do a job. There's always a backup somewhere.
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's never been raised at the table. My experience, which is not lengthy in employee relations, but I do have some, is that there is a desire at the third stage to have the top person in the department or from the employer at the table for the third stage. It has never been raised at the table as an issue by the union or by the employer, because we think it works fairly well.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I appreciate the minister's answer, but it doesn't seem very prudent. Not that I wish anyone ill will, but what if something happens to the one individual who can hear the grievances at the third level. Also, when there's a length of time, memories start to fail and people's recollections aren't as clear, and it starts to become less just, if there's such a word, for all parties. It just seems to me to make sense that there would be a discussion about it at some point in time.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm not going to interfere in the collective bargaining process. It's never been identified as an issue by the union. I understand and take the member's point, but it's always been worked around and managed.
If there was a lengthy absence or something, there may be some accommodation agreed upon between the employee and employer. Anything can be mutually agreed upon and terms could be changed or - I'm not sure what the exact wording is - there may even be room for designations. It has not been the practice; it has not been done, but it hasn't been an issue, either.
Ms. Duncan: Some years ago, the Conference Board of Canada did a report on work and family challenge issues and options. One of the suggestions prior to the conclusion, with regard to corporate culture, was to have employees rate management on flexibility and sensitivity to work and family issues as part of the performance review. In the performance review of employees, is there any discussion with regard to sensitivity to workplace and family issues?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the collective agreement is really quite dramatically good, in terms of its arrangements for flexible work alternatives and those kinds of things. It's probably leading-edge, I would suggest. Certainly, compared to the private sector it would be. With regard to the performance evaluations, they're not. However, they are, mostly, in terms of the managers. They're rated against how they are stacking up against government priorities, such as meeting employment equity targets and that kind of thing.
Ms. Duncan: With regard to employment equity, in one of the responses that we got prior to coming into the House, there was information contained about women in the public service, in the Government of Yukon. Overall, the figure used is 34 percent. I don't immediately have at hand the figures across Canada on this issue. Where do we stack up in relation to the other provinces?
Hon. Mr. Harding: There hasn't been a recent comparison. That work is being looked at, but the last time there was a comparison, we were fairly high. I think perhaps even better than the federal government.
Ms. Duncan: As my colleague from Riverdale South has noted, unfortunately it's not reflected in the Legislature. However, that time will come.
We had a discussion during the briefing this morning about the response my colleague had received from the president of the Treasury Board regarding repatriation of the Government of Yukon public service pension plan. The minister's now had an opportunity to review the letter.
And I note that my reading of the final paragraph is that the Treasury Board officials are informing YTG that if it wishes to proceed now with withdrawal from the PSSP, the transfer of funds would be based on the actuarial value of benefits accrued by plan members. The other option is to decide to await the outcome of pension reform consultations.
Is the minister taking this issue under advisement or is there a decision forthcoming as to which of these options the Government of Yukon intends to pursue?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'll be writing to aggressively pursue it in concert with the employees.
Ms. Duncan: Has the minister put a time frame on that, then? I assume he'll be writing immediately.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Absolutely. We're working on it right now.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, how does the minister intend to address the other issues raised by the Hon. Marcel Masse? The issues of concern to Treasury Board are detailed information from the Government of Yukon on pension arrangements and consultation done with affected employees.
It seems to me that the minister has indicated there has been some consultation with employees and the unions - consultation regarding past service. How does the minister intend to address the second page, in essence, of Mr. Masse's letter?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I have a two-part response to that: we'd be bringing forward any enabling legislation that had to be brought forward, and secondly we have and we will continue to have an ongoing joint committee to deal with issues as they arise.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, that would be similar to the other benefits that we've discussed, then - an ongoing joint committee. Is it the minister's hope that we'll be looking at this enabling legislation this fall, of 1998, or would it be fall of 1999?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, we'd like to do it, if we could fit it in the schedule, this fall. That would be great. But it depends on the actuarial work whether we could complete it in time. There may be a way we could complete it, hopefully, this year but I wouldn't want to lock myself into that.
Ms. Duncan: I don't want to lock the minister in, but there are certainly a great number of employees out there who are interested in this issue. What, in terms that are more applicable to the general public, are we to take from the minister's comments then? Are we saying that there's hope that, within the next couple of years, we'll be able to offer teachers, for example, an early retirement package - next year? In two years?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I don't want to speculate on the nuts and bolts of the outcome yet, but I have made it a priority with the department. The department has put a push on for it. What the average Yukoner can take from that is that if I can do it by the fall and do it well, with agreement from the employees, then we'll do it. If we can't, I have the option of getting some agreement to some small legislation with the opposition in the spring session, if they want to bring it forward, or maybe in the fall of next year. We'll see, but I've certainly made it a priority.
Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for doing exactly that - making it a priority. There are a number of Yukoners who are concerned about this.
The transfer of the health employees under the phase 2 transfer - there were a few bugs involved in that process. I believe that they have all been worked out, but certainly there were lessons to be learned with regard to the future transfers and devolution. Have we made an assessment of the transfer of these employees and made some notes as to how to do it better with devolution?
Hon. Mr. Harding: There hasn't been a detailed analysis per se, but there has been a lot of information gleaned from the process. There wasn't enough detail, was the bottom line, if there was a critique of it provided - nor did we ask going in. But, the Public Service Commission will be doing some work on the outcomes and is hoping to ensure that we can learn from any mistakes or ways that we could have done things better.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, do we have an individual in the Public Service Commission assigned to devolution and to being made aware of this process and are we prepared?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, we do and their job is to do the coordination of it.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, an issue has come up and I contacted his department about this issue. There was a transfer of insurance companies from Sun Life to Mutual and during the process there was a form that was sent out to all employees and of course, we, as legislators who also buy into that plan, received that form. That form came out in English and there have been no forms available in French and there has been no accommodation made through ECO or the Public Service Commission to get those forms in French. I'm just wondering, has the department looked at this and is this going to be common practice, then, that we can't receive forms in French? This has become particularly important, of course, for teachers, for example, up at Émilie Tremblay and people whose first language is French and they continually use it in the service of this government.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Because of the time frames, it was rather difficult to accommodate that. It hasn't been the practice of the PSC generically. The Yukon government has used the language of business, which has been English and that's why. They could look at doing it in the future, but obviously it would involve more time and probably some more funding.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I guess I'm not really clear on it. So, the argument is that there wasn't enough time. Well, surely the Public Service Commission knew that they were going to be transferring to another carrier. How long is long enough to provide information in French?
Hon. Mr. Harding: There was only about a month from the time that they got everything finalized with the carriers, and that wasn't my only argument. My other argument was that the - it's not even an argument; it's just a fact - the Yukon government has always conducted this type of business in English. It has not been translated into French.
This would be something new, and the member is, I assume, proposing that, and I'm saying that we would consider it. However, I would have to know what it would mean in terms of a commitment of resources. That's ultimately what it would come down to. Some things that the government generically does are immediately translated into French; some things are not.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, it's interesting, because this is a national organization, and, of course there are two official languages in our country. Certainly, other companies have transferred over other large bodies, and they may have had forms that were available already in French. Certainly, the words that you use - actually, some of them are not even remarkably different from English. And I'm wondering why that avenue wasn't at least explored.
Hon. Mr. Harding: It was explored, and the forms had to be devised here locally. They weren't available from the carrier.
Just to give a little more detail, the French language agreement from the federal government is pretty specific about where dollars are to be applied for areas of translation, and this is not one.
Mrs. Edelman: I'm just wondering whether this has become an issue with any other parties. I know from a couple of constituents of mine that this is an issue, and I'm wondering whether there is anyone else out there that the Public Service Commission heard from - the unions or whether they heard from, say, the Teachers Association or any other groups about this issue.
Hon. Mr. Harding: No.
Mrs. Edelman: The minister has never heard from the Association des Franco-Yukonnais either?
Hon. Mr. Harding: No, I haven't.
Mrs. Edelman: I think what I'm going to do is I'm going to accept the minister's word, because that's the right thing to do here but, in the future, there will be a good possibility that, if there is appropriate time, that there'll be due effort made to provide information like this in a good portion of the Yukon population's first language.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Based on the member's representation, I'll be writing the Liberal government in Ottawa for some increases to the French language agreement.
Mrs. Edelman: Well, that's good, Mr. Chair, because the government's job is to represent Yukoners and to get the best deal that they can for us in Ottawa and anywhere else. Thank you.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Finance and Administration
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. Harding: The increase results in changes in personnel. It's about $43,000.
Mr. Phillips: Changes in personnel? What kinds of changes? Did we hire somebody new? What did we do?
Hon. Mr. Harding: There was a different person who came in who had a higher salary and then there was merit pay.
Hon. Mr. Harding: This is an expected increase in the use of the First Nations Training Corps.
Administration in the amount of $487,000 agreed to
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I think something happened here. I don't know whether the minister tried to pull a fast one over on us or what, but I asked him to explain the line of $487,000, and he gave me an explanation, then you read out the number again and he gave me a different explanation. So, which one was it? The first explanation or the second one?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I have to apologize for trying to sneak one by the member opposite. If we're talking about the corporate human resource services, the budget was increased seven percent. The allotment for that is that the personnel dollars have been increased by six percent, due to merit, as I said, and expected use of the First Nations Training Corps. This increase is 67 percent.
Chair: I want to make sure that administration, for $487,000, is clear.
Finance and Administration in the amount of $487,000 agreed to
On Corporate Human Resource Services
Chair: Is there general debate?
On Staffing Administration
Staffing Administration in the amount of $829,000 agreed to
On Staffing Operations
Staffing Operations in the amount of $63,000 agreed to
On Employment Equity
Employment Equity in the amount of $358,000 agreed to
On Classification/Competition Appeals
Classification/Competition Appeals in the amount of $38,000 agreed to
Corporate Human Resource Services in the amount of $1,288,000 agreed to
On Pay and Benefits Management
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. Harding: This is a $1,000 increase due to merit. And, of course, there's the other increase, too. There's 10 percent due to the results and delays from patriation of benefits and pension plans. The patriation budget was reduced in the main estimates. This year, we expect to complete the benefits plan and will pursue the pension plans, and that increase is $26,000.
Administration in the amount of $891,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there questions on the stats?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in the pay and benefits management statistics, just to make sure we're all on the same page, there's quite an increase in the transfers between departments and temporary assignments. Is there any specific explanation for that?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's a reflection as a result of pursuing of transfers with First Nations governments and sometimes that has a reflection within the government as well.
Pay and Benefits Management in the amount of $891,000 agreed to
On Staff Relations
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there's an 11-percent increase in long-service awards. Would the minister care to explain that?
Hon. Mr. Harding: More employees are staying longer - and we added a new cut of roast beef to the dinner fare.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, did you buy that roast beef locally?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Actually, I think it was Alberta beef.
Administration in the amount of $539,000 agreed to
On Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada
Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada in the amount of $192,000 agreed to
On Yukon Teachers Association
Yukon Teachers Association in the amount of $68,000 agreed to
On Managerial/Confidential Exclusion
Managerial/Confidential Exclusion in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Long Service Awards
Long Service Awards in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
Indemnification in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there questions on the statistics?
Staff Relations in the amount of $895,000 agreed to
On Workers' Compensation Fund
Chair: Is there general debate?
On Workers' Compensation Payments
Workers' Compensation Payments in the amount of $1,834,000 agreed to
Workers' Compensation Fund in the amount of $1,834,000 agreed to
On Planning and Research
Chair: Is there general debate?
Administration in the amount of $213,000 agreed to
Planning and Research in the amount of $213,000 agreed to
On Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment
Chair: Is there general debate?
Mr. Phillips: I thought we capped this account. Why do we keep increasing it if we capped it at a certain level?
Hon. Mr. Harding: We have to keep bringing it up to $30 million. We capped it at $30 million, but every year, there are some that need to be brought back in.
Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment in the amount of $2,064,000 agreed to
On Staff Development
Chair: Is there general debate?
Administration in the amount of $1,525,000 agreed to
On Employment Equity/Land Claims Training
Employment Equity/Land Claims Training in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the stats?
Are there any questions on the recoveries?
Staff Development in the amount of $1,975,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $9,647,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I'll just say that the commission is a very frugal commission, and they have unfortunately been beaten down on their capital budget requests, but we were pleased last year to make some changes to some areas that were very crowded and overstaffed. This year, this budget is essentially just a photocopier, a couple of computer upgrades and some miscellaneous furniture replacement.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I certainly would concur with the minister that the department has been most frugal. There is a 49-percent decrease in their capital budget.
The minister mentioned a couple of computers that are being purchased. Are we well-prepared for Y2K?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the PSC is working under the government's abacus policy, and we're hoping to have all of the employees back to abacuses within the next year. Failing that, I understand we will be ready for the year 2000.
On Finance and Administration
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
Public Service Commission agreed to
Yukon Liquor Corporation
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I have some brief comments on this department. For 1998 and 1999, the Yukon Liquor Corporation estimates that its total sales will be $18,325,000, which is a small decrease of $175,000 from its projected sales for 1997-98 of $18,500,000.
The budget for 1998 includes a capital budget of $200,000, which is $30,000 lower than 1997. Half of the capital budget will be dedicated to the upgrade of the current point-of-sale system and inventory and management system to meet the year 2000 requirements.
The remaining $100,000 in the capital budget relates to the contingencies for equipment replacement or repairs and upgrades in the event of failure. These contingencies will only be expanded if necessary or in response to previous unforeseen circumstances.
The corporation continues to review its various processes and procedures for looking for ways of improving and increasing efficiency. For example, in the past year, empty beer bottles began to be shipped directly to Raven Recycling to Vancouver through Yukon Liquor Corporation's carrier rather than being shipped by Yukon Liquor Corporation's warehouse and handled a second time and shipped by the same carrier to Vancouver. This reduces the handling cost by both Yukon Liquor Corporation and Raven Recycling.
Again, in 1989 and '99, as in the previous year, the corporation has a social responsibility budget of $40,000. This budget will continue to be used to emphasize the role the corporation has to encourage social responsibility in the sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
The BARS program has been expanded to include sessions targeted at managers and licensees in addition to the servers, and also a separate BARS program is used to train volunteers and servers who work with various non-profit organizations who operate under special occasion permits to raise revenues on behalf of their organizations.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, last year the minister advised the House that the department was conducting a review of the Yukon Liquor Act and they were going through community by community, consulting with the respective municipalities and areas where liquor licences were held.
Today, in Question Period, we had a different spin put on this review that's being undertaken, that we're just consulting with certain individuals.
Could the minister outline for our benefit the process that this review is taking at this juncture?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What I said in Question Period was that we are doing things a bit differently. We have the corporation going to communities and working with the communities. I'm looking at ways of improving things. I'm looking at the problems the communities are having with alcohol-related issues.
The corporation is going to continue to have the board go to the different communities and get feedback, rather than going and looking at a discussion paper, as I said before, on how the act will be reviewed.
Mr. Jenkins: So, just who is going around to the communities? Is the board going around and conducting this review?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, it will be the entire board that goes to the communities and has public sessions. The first one we're going to do as a board will be in Dawson, in the month of June.
Mr. Jenkins: Probably either June 13 or June 21, the busiest days of the year.
When was it decided to undertake a review on this basis? It seems like a different kind of approach to reviewing the act. I'm not sure if this approach has been taken previously on any of the acts that we have.
What's driving this process at this juncture? I know that the board used to go and hold meetings around the territory on a regular basis, outside of Whitehorse. That has transpired in the past, and anyone who had any concerns or any dealings with the board could meet with them or schedule a meeting with the board at that time. But these meetings that you have advised the House are going to be held by the board, are they going to be throughout all Yukon communities? What's the time frame for them to take place throughout the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, it's our intention to have the board go to all communities that it possibly can. I am hoping that they will do every community in the Yukon.
It was the direction to the board to have the board go to the communities and actually hear from the communities what their concerns and problems are, rather than have it fed through the other way. I feel that once they get a better understanding of how communities feel, the decision making on their behalf would more reflect what Yukoners think.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm somewhat concerned. Is this a planned review of the act or are these just information sessions that are being held?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, it's not a planned review of the act; it's basically to get the board to hear the concerns from the communities.
Mr. Jenkins: If I go back to the Question Period in the House today, the message came across that the act was being reviewed and this was the process that it was going to take. So, that is not the case?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, that's not the case. That's what we originally wanted to do, and we've made mention of that. We're hoping that, once the board finishes its tours, a recommendation would come out of that.
Mr. Jenkins: So, this is just the routine movement of the board throughout the Yukon Territory - no change, really. This is an ongoing process that's been underway for quite a number of years.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The board has been in the communities in the past and has held public meetings. We have had requests from community members to have presence in their communities - people from the Liquor Corporation - and we would like to have expanded it a bit more from what their normal routine was and to make sure that they do go to the communities and hear concerns straight from the communities.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, how does the minister envision expanding this role, or this visit to the communities? What areas are going to be expanded on?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The board has not gone to every community in the past. There are several, I guess, that they have gone to, and we're hoping that they can be directed to those communities that never see visits from the corporation.
Mr. Jenkins: And what communities might those be, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly I can bring a list of communities that have not had visits. I can say, for example, Burwash would be one that has not seen a visit from the Liquor Corporation - and it's those communities, too, that we would like to have feedback from.
Mr. Jenkins: What are the time lines after this overview of all Yukon communities is undertaken before we take that information and go back and look at the act again, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We haven't set a deadline or time line for this to happen. As you know, we're hoping to have it done in a year, but the departments in government right now are doing a lot of consultation and we're hoping to work this in with the schedules that this government has right now. A lot of departments that are doing a lot of consultation right now and the communities, at times, feel overwhelmed by the number of people who are coming down, although we're hoping that, within a year, we could have something back and put on paper for the general public.
Mr. Chair, I move you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: 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: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 9, First Appropriation Act, 1998-99, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. next Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.