Monday, May 4, 1998 - 1:30 p.m.
Clerk: It is my duty, pursuant to the provisions of section 24 of the Legislative Assembly Act, to inform the Legislative Assembly of the absence of the Speaker. In his absence, the Deputy Speaker shall take the Chair.
Deputy Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Deputy Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Tribute to Mrs. Renée Alford
Mr. Phillips: On behalf of the Yukon Party caucus and the office of the official opposition, it gives me great pleasure to extend congratulations to a fellow constituent and a friend of mine, Mrs. Renée Alford, upon recently being presented with the Caring Canadian Award.
The Governor General's Caring Canadian Award honours Canadians for unpaid, voluntary contributions, who work behind the scenes in the community with little formal recognition of their significant and valuable efforts.
Having contributed some 30 years helping and caring for Yukoners in so many ways, the award comes to Mrs. Alford with deserved merit and is indeed an accomplishment of which Yukoners can be very proud.
Throughout the years, Renée played an integral role in the Yukon Family Services Association, developing and promoting family counselling services. As a team player, and with a vested interest in Yukoners' well-being, Renée was successful in obtaining the support of health professionals to advance a proposal on counselling services, for which a grant was awarded and the Yukon Family Services Association came into being.
Today, the association continues to provide invaluable services for children, couples, families and individuals at large, for which Yukoners are grateful. In recognition of Mrs. Alford's hard work and efforts over the years, she was awarded an honourary lifetime membership with that association.
Renée was also instrumental in the development of French immersion programs in Yukon schools. As a mother of six, and one whose homeland was France, Mrs. Alford found herself promoting and raising public awareness about French immersion in our schools by organizing talks, meeting with people and talking about the importance of such programs.
Again, through the years of hard work and perseverance, Mrs. Alford succeeded in having French immersion programs adopted in our schools. While holding the best interest of Yukoners at heart, Renée Alford took a specific interest in the growing number of young women having children and not being able to complete their grade 12. In response, Mrs. Alford worked with a number of professionals and Yukoners at large to come up with a solution. In turn, the Teen Parent Access to Education Society was created to work with the Government of Yukon to create a teen parent program and later, the Teen Parent Centre.
Thanks to these efforts, student mothers were able to continue their education today with the assistance of the centre and its program - another invaluable service that can be largely attributed to the efforts of Mrs. Alford. The caring and compassion by Mrs. Alford over the years has touched the lives of many Yukoners and has in turn improved the quality of life of the Yukon for many.
Though retired now, Renée continues to play an active role in the community. A recent example of her caring efforts is that of the creation of the weekend soup kitchen at the CYO Hall. Renée Alford is truly an inspiration to fellow Canadians, and I am pleased to see that her efforts have been recognized on a national level.
Once again, congratulations to Renée Alford on behalf of the Yukon Party.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to rise today to pay tribute to Renée Alford, who was recognized by the Governor General with the Caring Canadian Award. Since coming to the Yukon in 1951, Mrs. Alford has made many contributions to our community. Her work with French language programs and social service organizations has enriched the Yukon.
As Minister of Health and Social Services, I would like to pay particular tribute to Renée as a founding member of both the Yukon Family Services Association and the Teen Parent Centre. Renée is renowned for her warmth and caring, and this award is justly deserved.
Deputy Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Petition No. 7 - not received
Clerk: Mr. Deputy Speaker and hon. members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 7 of the First Session of the Twenty-ninth Legislative Assembly, as presented by the Member for Whitehorse Centre on April 30, 1998. Pursuant to Standing Order No. 66(1) of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, it is the responsibility of the Clerk to report whether petitions conform to the rules recognized by the House.
Petition No. 7 does not conform in the respect that it is addressed to the Government Leader and the Cabinet, rather than the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Deputy Speaker: Accordingly, Petition No. 7 may not be received.
Deputy Speaker: Are there any new petitions to be presented?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 12: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 12, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1998-99 (No. 2), be now introduced and read a first time.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 12, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1998-99 (No. 2), be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 12 agreed to
Deputy Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Phillips: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) catch-and-release fishing is of particular importance to Yukoners who enjoy the wilderness, to the sports and recreational fishing industry, and especially to Yukon tourism;
(2) catch-and-release fishing is a proven fish conservation practice that should be encouraged and promoted without the imposition of arbitrary limits; and
THAT the House encourage the government to expand and improve the existing catch-and-release program through better public education.
Deputy Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
Circumpolar sustainable development conference
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, it is the policy of our government to work cooperatively with other jurisdictions in the circumpolar world to identify ways of sharing information and expertise for the benefit of all residents of the north.
In that context, I'm pleased to rise and advise the House of the Yukon's participation in an international conference on sustainable development of the Arctic, which will be held in Whitehorse, May 11-14.
The theme of this important conference is "Lessons Learned and the Way Ahead." This theme is particularly relevant to the territory as we set our sights on expanding and diversifying our economy in a way that also protects our environment and our culture for future generations.
This conference is expected to bring together over 300 northern circumpolar stakeholders and policy makers, to develop recommendations on priorities, goals and processes that will contribute to sustainable development at local, national and international levels.
This conference has attracted participants from the eight circumpolar countries, representing a broad range of backgrounds. It will hear from hunters, trappers, public servants, non-government organizations, aboriginal groups, developers, industry spokespersons, researchers, teachers, politicians and community representatives.
Yukon will be well-represented with a number of Yukoners or ex-Yukoners playing important roles as theme coordinators, facilitators or workshop resource people. Our recently appointed ambassador for circumpolar affairs, the Hon. Audrey McLaughlin, will be one of the conference co-chairs.
The conference will focus on three main topics: living in communities in the circumpolar north; making a living, training, trade and investment in the circumpolar north; and decision making and priority setting in the circumpolar north.
The world's northern regions are blessed with a wealth of natural resources. At the same time, we share an environment that is increasingly feeling the impacts of global industrialization. Circumpolar nations need an integrated approach to sustainable development. Progress will be best achieved by working together to implement sustainable development initiatives at the local, regional, national and international levels.
This conference is an example of circumpolar nations working in partnership to advance the long-term well-being of the north and help build stronger, healthier communities.
Sustainable development is an investment in the future of generations to come. Participants will be called upon to share knowledge and understanding of sustainable development to identify the challenges ahead and to recommend new directions to integrate social, cultural, environmental and economic facets of development in the future.
The Yukon government will be hosting the opening of the reception for all conference participants on May 11, 1998, in the foyer of the main administration building in Whitehorse. I look forward to the support of all members for this circumpolar conference as well as the active involvement of interested Yukon people.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, while we in the Yukon Party caucus and the office of the official opposition welcome the circumpolar sustainable development conference to the City of Whitehorse, we are concerned that this ministerial statement is an abuse of this House's rules.
Standing Order 11(3) on ministerial statements, as listed in Standing Order 11(2), states that a minister may make short, factual statement on government policy, but there is no new government policy announced in the statement. The announcement should have been simply issued as a press release. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to make a ruling on the appropriateness of this ministerial statement and whether or not it conforms with the rules of this House.
Ms. Duncan: I rise on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party caucus to respond to the ministerial statement regarding the circumpolar sustainable development conference. We in the Yukon Liberal Party welcome the conference's arrival in the Yukon and feel that it's important that we state at this point that we cannot underestimate the value of these conferences.
There's a value in terms of tourism, in that there are some 300 participants in this particular conference, who will all be enjoying our wonderful city and the facilities that we have to offer over the coming days of the conference. There's a tremendous economic spinoff as a result of that, in terms of individuals visiting not just local stores, but those who also work to host the conference. Thirdly, there's an educational perspective that must also be highlighted when these conferences come to the Yukon, and it is an honour indeed to host them.
While it is an honour to host these conferences, we in the Yukon Liberal Party caucus believe that this statement is more appropriately placed in the coming events column, rather than in a ministerial statement today.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Deputy Speaker's ruling
Deputy Speaker: In response to the request from the leader of the official opposition, the Chair will take the matter under advisement and report back to the House later.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I suppose that the comments coming from the official opposition are a reflection of their circumpolar vision, which was remarkably narrow, and they consequently could not see the value of improving, emphasizing and increasing of our circumpolar relations with our neighbours around the circumpolar north.
I find it disturbing that the official opposition and the Liberal Party, who are now clearly linked at the hip, would find this something that is not a significant event in Yukon political affairs.
It's too bad but, nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I want to commit to the public - if not to the opposition -the government's policy of working more closely together with our circumpolar neighbours, and reversing the trend initiated by the Yukon Party to abandon the northern forum, as one example of their lack of faith in these kinds of relationships - I would like to commit to the public that the relationship will be enhanced and respect for our neighbours and their opinions will be demonstrated by this government now and in the future.
I'm looking forward to the conference. A lot of people have worked very hard on the arrangements around this conference, and I know that the 300 or so distinguished visitors from our circumpolar world will appreciate the fact that the conference was held in Whitehorse and will appreciate the progress that has been made on the ground in the Yukon to achieve the basic goals that the conference is all about.
So I for one, at least, along with my colleagues on this side of the House, am pleased that this conference is proceeding.
Deputy Speaker's statement re anticipation
Deputy Speaker: Before proceeding to the Question Period, the Chair would like to explain the practice that the Chair follows with respect to Guideline No. 12 of the Guidelines for Oral Question Period.
It is often called the anticipation rule, and it states a question is out of order if debate is scheduled for that day on the same subject matter.
Following the past practice of Speakers in this House, the Chair will not allow questions relating to the Department of Renewable Resources, because that is the department first up in Committee of the Whole today.
The problem for the Chair is whether questions related to departments or agencies following Renewable Resources should be allowed. Again, following past practice of Speakers in this House, the Chair will not rule such questions out of order, based on the anticipation rule, because the Chair cannot be certain that the House will reach those departments or agencies during today's debate.
Ministers and Cabinet commissioners, however, may use their own judgment in this matter and, if they are concerned about a question anticipating debate later on, they are free to refuse to answer.
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Cabinet commissions, progress of
Mr. Ostashek: My question is to the Government Leader on the big expensive Cabinet commissions, which were a brain child of his and proved to be an abject failure.
The local hire commission is the only commission that's completed a report. I might add that the report completely misrepresents what a majority of Yukoners want to see in terms of Yukon hire. The energy commission, in my opinion, has run out of power, the DAP commission has been lost in bureaucratic purgatory, and the forest commission has just released a two-year old Yukon Party government report in order just to get back to square one.
My question to the Government Leader now is, will he do the honourable thing and put these commissions out of their misery by cancelling them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, first of all, there is nothing honourable about such a course of action. In fact, I would suggest and argue that it would be quite the opposite. But, to be encouraged to behave that way by that member is not surprising.
With respect to the purposes of the commissions - to pursue significant policy development in critical areas - the member will not be surprised if I disagree with virtually everything he said in the preamble to his question.
First of all, Mr. Speaker, the DAP commission was responsible, first of all, for ensuring that the Yukon public had a role to play in the development of the most important environmental assessment legislation this territory is likely to see for 25 years, something that the member himself refused to let happen when he was in the government.
Secondly, the local hire commission did produce a report, which, with the exception of a couple of recommendations that were raised in this Legislature as objectionable by the opposition, has received widespread public support with respect to the bulk of the recommendations.
I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that even though the critic for local hire - the Member for Klondike - indicated that he could ask a question every day for 35 days, he has done no such thing. So, the threats were clearly without foundation.
The energy commission is still doing very good work, Mr. Speaker, as you know more than anyone. The papers that were produced are a vast improvement on the no-work done by the Yukon Party to develop a comprehensive energy policy.
Deputy Speaker: Order please. Would the member please conclude?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would love to continue, Mr. Speaker, but I'll wait for the next two chances.
Mr. Ostashek: I was so enthused by the member's debate that I'll give him the opportunity to continue. My first supplementary is on the local hire commission. The report proposed latent union provisions to create a union hiring hall and raise the fair wage schedule as well to include employee benefits in the business incentive policy.
Now, the Government Leader may think that this is welcomed by companies, but it certainly isn't because most Yukon small businesses aren't unionized and this would mean that only union shops could bid on government contracts.
So, I would like to ask the Government Leader, will he now side with small business and reject these requirements which will ultimately save Yukoners a lot of money?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker, let me just respond by saying that once again the member's allegations that the local hire recommendations constitute mandatory union hire is a complete fabrication on the member's part. They have nothing to do with reality. There is nothing of substance in those allegations and, consequently, Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to respond to the question.
With respect to the promotion of small business, a lot of the Yukon hire report, in fact, does address the recommendations put forward by small business people.
With respect to the fair wage schedule, Mr. Speaker, that's all about fairness to people who work for the public and if the member has a real serious problem with the fair wage schedule, I'm sure he can state so clearly. But the fair wage schedule ensures that there is a level playing field and that is appreciated by business.
Mr. Ostashek: We're speaking on behalf of small businesses who believe that there is going to be unionization imposed upon them for government contracts.
All right, I want to get to the energy commission, Mr. Speaker, because it's proved to be very useless and it has cost the taxpayers a lot of money and will probably end up like the energy commission, coming back with a report that the Yukon Energy Corporation already knows, and it would be very similar to what was undertaken by a previous NDP government and never acted upon.
So I would like to ask the Government Leader, will he cancel this commission and put the money that's being spent on it into a rate stabilization fund, so Yukoners might see better use of their tax dollar?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all, the reason why trusting small business thought that there was something constituting mandatory union hire was that trusting small business believed in the Yukon Party's analysis of the local hire commission report, and believed them when they jumped the gun and said it did constituted mandatory unionization.
Foolish small business for trusting the Yukon Party.
Foolish me for trusting the Yukon Party.
With respect to the comprehensive energy policy, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party had promised a comprehensive energy policy year after year after year after year; produced nothing. The only news that came out of the Yukon Party's term of office was a roller-coaster ride for ratepayers, a request for 58-percent increases from the utility. It was a schmozzle, Mr. Speaker. Consequently, the energy commission is trying to bring order to the situation and, frankly, the commission, Mr. Speaker - and you're not even prompting me on this - is doing a good job.
Question re: Cabinet Commission on Forestry, work with First Nations
Mr. Ostashek: Well, if the Government Leader thinks we were on a roller-coaster ride under the Yukon Party government, I don't know what they call it under an NDP government, because the hills and valleys are a long way in between, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Government Leader on his commissions - and this Government Leader has made much of his relationship with Yukon First Nations. However, this government's rhetoric and the fancy words about cooperation do not appear to reflect reality.
Mr. Speaker, the NDP government committed itself to working with Yukon First Nations in developing a Yukon forestry strategy, yet last Friday, the Council of Yukon First Nations severed its relationship with the forestry commissioner, accusing him of poor judgment and reflecting bad faith. In view of this betrayal of First Nations, I would ask the Government Leader: will he be demanding the resignation of the forest commissioner and cancelling the lost-in-the-woods forestry commission?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member doesn't know what he's talking about. First of all, I'd like to point out to him that if the NDP was trying to sell rides on our roller-coaster, we would go broke, because it's such a stable and flat ride that not too many people would find too much of an interest in such a ride.
Mr. Speaker, the forest commission has been working with many First Nations people. It is doing precisely what it said it would do, which would be to work with First Nations and other stakeholders to develop a draft. They've issued that draft to the other parties to continue working, and the commission is doing precisely what it indicated it was charged with doing.
So, contrary to the member's suggestion that doing what it said it would do requires capital punishment on my part - once again, I say to the member, I cannot be doing what the member thinks I should be doing. I just wouldn't be able to live with myself.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is to the Government Leader on the forest commission, which spent a year and a half developing a strategy that was already in place and announced two years ago.
The NDP promised to do something different. Does the Government Leader believe that the First Nations criticism of the forest commission is unfair and unjustified?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, I love listening to the member's nervous laughter, Mr. Speaker. It suggests that the member is truly on shaky ground.
The member makes the allegation that the strategy is the same as the Yukon Party strategy. Of course, that is a fabrication, even though, if I hadn't read it myself, I wouldn't trust the member to give me the clear goods on that subject, in any case.
Nevertheless, the forest commission has been working with First Nations and will ensure that there is appropriate dialogue with First Nations before any final strategy is complete.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, it's unfortunate that this government can't do their job - that they have to depend on the opposition to do it for them.
Mr. Speaker, while the forest commission has actually gone into the woods and got lost and the DAP commission never got out of the woods, is the Government Leader now prepared to admit that the DAP is effectively a federal process and will be subject to the federal government's timetable, and that he made a mistake by highlighting it and trying to make a big issue out of nothing when, in fact, there was a lot of progress made on DAP without all the political rhetoric that came from the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Progress? Progress? The members opposite - the member himself said, in December of 1996, that the work had all been done on the development assessment process. And, I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, the first thing we heard from the mining industry and the first thing we heard from the developers was to plead with us to ignore the leader of the official opposition - to ignore that particular member - because that member, far from doing our work - good gracious, what a scary thought - the member had not done any work.
It certainly did not involve the public in a design of the development assessment process. We have committed to ensuring that the public is involved in the design, that we will not accept any solution that does not involve the public in the design, and we will do precisely the opposite of what the Yukon Party was demanding, and appears to be demanding today.
Question re: Forestry strategy, First Nations involvement
Ms. Duncan: My question's for the forestry commission. On Thursday, this NDP government took a giant step backward by releasing the draft forest strategy without the support of Yukon First Nations. Mr. Speaker, the commissioner has described, and I quote, "an extensive process of working in partnerships with First Nations" in putting this draft strategy together.
In the local media on Friday, the Grand Chief of the CYFN has described this statement as, and I quote, "misleading and inaccurate". There certainly appears to be a difference of opinion between governments.
Would the forestry commissioner explain at what point did the partnership with First Nations on forestry end?
Mr. Fentie: Well, first let me say to the member opposite that the partnership has not ended, and that her comments, as such, are completely false and wrong. The partnership continues. That is why we have taken the work to date, released it to our partners - including the First Nations - for their review and comment, and we will allow them time to do so.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, let's look at the A Better Way for a moment, and I'll quote from page 3: "An NDP government will move quickly to work with all Yukon First Nations in a government-to-government relationship that is marked by cooperation and respect."
We are 18 months into this government's mandate, and the Grand Chief of the CYFN has said, "The commissioner clearly doesn't understand what government-to-government relationships are all about."
Why has the NDP broken their promise to involve First Nations on a government-to-government basis? At what point did the partnership with Yukon First Nations on forestry end?
Mr. Fentie: Again, I would like to make the member aware of the fact that the partnership has not ended. In fact, we have been and will continue to negotiate a letter of understanding with the First Nations. We are open and willing to settle that at the earliest possible date.
I would also like to point out that the First Nations have participated in the work done to date. Members of First Nations participated in all the workshops. We have participated with the First Nations in the forest management program by providing them with assistance to do their work and bring a First Nations perspective to the overall strategy. They've also participated in intergovernmental technical working teams.
So, Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong. The partnership has not ended, and we will continue to do work with First Nations on a government-to-government level.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Deputy Speaker, the NDP have broken their commitment to work on a government-to-government basis with First Nations on forestry. What happened to the promise on page 5 of A Better Way: "First Nations must be at the table"?
Mr. Deputy Speaker, the NDP was trying to negotiate a letter of understanding with First Nations, and now these negotiations appear to have ended because of this government's insistence on going ahead without the First Nations.
What steps is the forestry commissioner and this government going to take to repair the damage they have caused by leaving First Nations out of the draft strategy on forestry?
Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, again, the member is wrong. Let me repeat for the member's sake that we have not left the First Nations out of the draft strategy.
The work done to date has been provided to our partners for review and comment. As in any partnership, each partner must do their work. That's what we have done by taking the work to date and giving it to the First Nations so that they may comment on the work.
The First Nations have participated in workshops. The First Nations are actively pursuing their own visions and principles, which we will wait for them to complete to allow them to merge with the work we've done to date.
So, the member again is wrong. There is no end to the partnership. We continue to work with the First Nations as Yukoners and as a government here in the Yukon.
Question re: Forest strategy, embargoed
Mr. Cable: I have some questions also for the Yukon forestry commissioner on the Yukon forest strategy.
Last Thursday, the commissioner gave a commissioner's statement in this House saying that the commission had completed a draft Yukon forest strategy, and an embargoed copy was released to the opposition with a request that the document not be made public.
Now, I've looked at the document - that's after closing the door and turning the lights down and pulling the blinds - and I'm just wondering what is the document? Is it a position paper? Is it the Yukon government's position, this document that was given to us, this secret document, or is it a public discussion paper?
Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, the document in question is the compilation of work done to date and when I say "work done to date", this side of the House is very conscious of spending taxpayers' money in an intelligent, productive manner so we did not ignore all the work done to date; we compiled it and then we set out on a process of involving Yukoners in a meaningful way. This document, released April 30, is a compilation of all that work. It is a document that is in draft form. It has been given to our partners for their review and comment and, when they are completed, we will go on to the next step of the development of a forest strategy for the territory.
Mr. Cable: So, let me get this straight. The commissioner makes a statement in the House saying that the strategy document exists and he provides a copy to the opposition and he's just confirmed - I think - that it's a discussion paper. I'm not sure what he's said, but I think he said it was a discussion paper and he's giving it out to all the stakeholders. What's the secret? Why can't the general public have the document?
Mr. Fentie: Very simple, Mr. Speaker, the general public will have the document once our partners have done their work. Once they've provided their input, we will then go out to the public, through a final consultation process, to bring a final draft together.
Mr. Cable: The covering letter that came with the document to the caucuses, to our caucus anyway and I assume to the Yukon Party caucus, said the document had been released to Yukon First Nation governments, renewable resource councils, the Yukon Forest Advisory Committee and the Yukon Land Use Planning Council. Now, I'm assuming that's maybe 100 people
Did the commissioner tell all of these people, "Look, this is for your eyes only. Don't go out and tell the public about this document"?
Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, out of respect for governments, we have chosen this path, and out of respect for the Members of this House, we have given them the draft, and I think the Liberals would much better serve their constituency if they were to critique the draft and provide their comments.
Question re: Convention bureau funding
Mr. Phillips: My question is to the Minister of Tourism.
The minister and his colleagues are well aware of the dismal economic performance of the Yukon's economy this past year and the outlook for the near future, but one of the bright spots in the economy has been tourism, especially during this centennial year, and the onus is on the government to help the tourism industry maximize its opportunities for the good of the Yukon economy as a whole.
One such opportunity, Mr. Speaker, is the convention destination tourism. There is also an added advantage of being able to bring them here during the off-season to give the economy the much-needed shot in the arm.
Mr. Speaker, at the TIA convention a couple of weeks ago, there was strong discussion about the convention bureau and the fact that it was underfunded. I'd like to ask the Minister of Tourism if he recognizes the importance of convention tourism in the Yukon and if he's prepared to increase the budget in the near future.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I'm pleased with the work that has been done on behalf of the Yukon government by the Yukon convention bureau. The work that they've done has been a great contribution, so certainly I recognize the value of their contribution.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I don't really think, Mr. Speaker, that the convention bureau was just looking for a pat on the back. I think they're looking for a pat on the wallet and a few more dollars.
Mr. Speaker, what was raised at the convention in Dawson City was the need for a convention budget of some $300,000. Right now, it's probably near the $50,000 to $75,000 mark.
I would like to ask the Minister of Tourism if he will meet with the Yukon convention bureau and TIA Yukon to discuss future enhancements of the convention budget section of the Yukon Department of Tourism's budget.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Of course, we do know that this is a contribution to the O&M budget, and I thank the member opposite for the satisfaction of saying that he would support it.
Certainly, we have many challenges in front of us with the advent of the new direction for tourism - well, perhaps not a new direction, but certainly an ongoing direction - and working with the four pillars. Certainly, we'll be working with TIA and all other members of the Yukon public - certainly, the interested ones - in the direction that we're going and of which this could certainly be one.
Mr. Phillips: Well, when I was in Dawson City a couple of weeks ago with the tourism industry convention, I attended the part of the conference where they discussed the convention bureau. Although the member was in town, unfortunately he was not available for that discussion.
The concern is that, right now, the Government of Yukon contributes a $25,000 investment, but there is a sense in the convention marketplace that that is money well-spent and that, if we enhanced it, we could see a greater return on the dollar. So, I would like to get some assurances from the member that he would meet now, because they're going to be putting together their fall budget soon, with the convention bureau and with the Tourism Industry Association to discuss future enhancements to the convention marketing budget in the Department of Tourism.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I acknowledge the fact that I was at the convention, as well as the member opposite was at the convention, only I work with people; I do not direct people, Mr. Speaker. Certainly there's certainly a difference from this style and previous styles, and I will continue to work with people. I will continue to work with all peoples of the Yukon Territory, of which this group will be one that I will continue to work with and look to better ways, and find better ways, and if I can use the term "better ways" knowingly, certainly, this is the better way that we'll go with tourism.
Question re: Thomson Centre, empty beds
Mrs. Edelman: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Mr. Speaker, there are seven beds that are empty at the Thomson Centre because the minister has not made the political decision to staff that pod. Mr. Speaker, the argument that the minister is making is that it will cost close to $700,000 a year to staff these much-needed seven beds.
It would cost over a million dollars to keep the same people who could be using these beds in the hospital this year. Right now, there are seniors who are being shuffled back and forth between the Thomson Centre and the hospital because of this bed shortage, and every time they get shuffled back and forth, they become more confused, and the quality of their life becomes poorer.
Mr. Speaker, will the minister reconsider and open those seven beds in the Thomson Centre?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Before I get into my response, I'd just like to acknowledge the leader of the opposition. I should remind him that it was his government that shut down those seven beds.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan:
Absolutely. As a matter of fact, it was largely because of the short-sightedness of the previous government that phase 2 of the Thomson Centre was not able to be constructed because of some myopic decisions by that previous government.
As I've indicated to the member before, we are looking at options surrounding these beds. She's indicated it is a substantial amount of money and, beyond that, there are also some staffing issues that need to be resolved.
We are looking at some options in that regard, and I hope to be able to make some decisions in that regard soon.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, that decision could not come soon enough.
Now, the Thomson Centre is used not just for permanent residents, but also for respite. By keeping people at home instead of in an institution, the government then saves many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Mr. Speaker, there is an incredible cost to these care givers to give 24-hour-a-day care in their homes. Respite from this onerous responsibility gives care givers the ability to carry on. The waiting list for respite is long.
Would the minister consider opening up those seven beds at the Thomson Centre at least for respite care?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can tell the member that no one knows better than I the tasks of giving long-term care for, in some cases, an elderly relative or perhaps an individual who has very special needs, and I'm certainly very cognizant of that, and we are very aware of the needs in that regard.
Any plans that we make with regard to these beds will certainly take into account the aspect of respite as well as permanent.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, a large number of people on the waiting list for the Thomson Centre are from Macaulay Lodge. They're waiting to get an appropriate level of care only available at the Thomson Centre. People at the hospital and people at Macaulay are not getting the type of care that they need.
Would the minister consider opening the seven beds, the empty beds at the Thomson Centre, as an interim measure to deal with the tremendous and growing waiting list to get into the Thomson Centre from Macaulay Lodge?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can tell the member that we are certainly aware of the situation. We're not looking merely at the short term, which would be something akin to opening up those beds at the Thomson Centre, but also at the longer term, because we are very aware of the fact that the numbers will not diminish.
Seven beds are seven beds, and the indications that we have are predicting much larger increases in the future, and that's what we're planning toward. We're looking at a long-term goal, and any long-term goal would certainly be something larger than seven beds.
Question re: YES funding
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Justice.
The minister was recently criticized by the media for not reading the Ward judgment and totally ignoring the recommendations of two judges calling upon the Yukon government to take new and renewed action against teenage drinking.
Last fall, the Youth Empowerment Success group, a program set up for youth-at-risk was forced to close its office and a drop-in resource centre because of the lack of stable funding. Subsequently, in January of this year, YES managed to get $48,000 in federal funding for a three-month period for a program called YES Links. Is the government now prepared to do its part and support the very worthwhile YES program now that the federal funding is expiring?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, first of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to make it very clear that the member is not being accurate in his preliminary statements in saying that the government is not working to respond to the needs of the community. We are aware of the problems of alcohol and drug addictions, both among youth and among adults, and are dealing with that.
Secondly, I have to tell the member that this government has put an enormous amount of money into funding youth projects that can help youth to turn their attention to constructive activities. That includes funding the Red Cross Society to bring abuse prevention services aimed at youth, not just in Whitehorse but in the rural communities, a youth recreation leadership summer program for Kwanlin Dun, for Liard and Ross River First Nations, an outdoor youth education camp put on by the Yukon Fish and Game Association, and many other initiatives that do give youth constructive activities.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I can't understand for the life of me what the government's reluctance is to fund YES, a group that is helping combat teen alcoholism and drug abuse, especially in light of the recent comments made by the judiciary about the need for more programs. I applaud some of the programs that the minister is funding now but YES has a proven track record.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the minister if she could advise the House if YES has access to the youth investment fund for core funding for a new resource centre? Would she do that for the good of her Yukon youth?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, that member knows, as the government who was involved when the youth investment fund was established, that it does not support core funding for youth organizations but is designed to support projects that help youth at risk.
Now, the member is saying that we're not supporting youth projects. Nothing could be further from the truth, Mr. Speaker. The youth investment fund recently made awards totalling $68,500, which included a youth student crime stoppers program, respite program for youth with developmental disabilities, the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, the Dawson City youth centre for a supervisor to work on a crime prevention conference for Dawson City, a part-time youth coordinator for the Beaver Creek school council, and, Mr. Speaker, I could go on and list many more initiatives, but I don't want you to rule that I'm out of order in extending the answer.
That member knows that we are supporting youth projects and that we continue to invest in youth in a number of ways.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, during the last election campaign, I attended a meeting in the member's riding, at Mount Lorne at the cadet camp, where all three parties participated. That member's representative, along with the other two representatives of the political party, stated that they thought YES was a great organization, a good group, worthy of funding.
Mr. Speaker, the reason they're not funding it is because it was a federal government program and they don't want to give the federal government any credit for it.
Mr. Speaker, why won't this government consider applications from YES and fund YES, which had a proven track record of helping youth in need and youth in trouble? Why won't the government do that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This government is funding youth projects that have been brought forward by great youth groups. Mr. Speaker, the youths-at-risk program and members of YES were part of the youth strategy work that is ongoing. They've been funded for that. The member knows that we've been continuing to fund youth projects, both for mediation, for crime prevention, for youth activities by students against drinking and driving, and I think the member should recognize that this is important and good work for youth, that youth themselves are continuing to do and that we're continuing to fund.
Deputy Speaker: The time for Question Period has elapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Deputy Speaker, the House leaders have agreed that the House should proceed with Bill No. 12, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1998-99 (No. 2), at this time. This includes second reading, consideration in Committee of the Whole and third reading.
Pursuant to Standing Order 55(2), I would request unanimous consent to permit the House to proceed at this time with second reading and, following the report from Committee of the Whole, third reading of Bill No. 12.
Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.
Unanimous consent granted
Deputy Speaker: Government bills.
Bill No. 12: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 12, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 12 be read a second time.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 12, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1998-99 (No. 2), be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The circumstances leading up to the need to introduce this bill this afternoon are, in my opinion, truly unfortunate. I do not think that this is one of the Yukon Legislature's stellar moments.
As we all know, it will provide spending authority to the government for May until such time as the main estimates have been approved. For the most part, the sums contained in the bill represent one-twelfth of the departments' annual expenditures, although there are several exceptions for large commitments that must be made during the month.
Mr. Ostashek: I'll be very, very brief on this bill. The Government Leader made some comments on it. I would just say that it's a bill that we would have expected to receive last Monday but, nevertheless, we give unanimous consent for it to go through today.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 12 agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the acting government House leader that the Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 12. - Interim Supply Appropation Act, 1998-99 (No. 2)
Deputy Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, as I've just indicated, the sums being appropriated here will permit us to pay our bills for the months of May, prior to the approval of the main estimates. One-twelfth of the annual appropriations are requested, but there are some large amounts that result from commitments that are required to be made in May for future months, especially in capital.
I can answer any questions.
Deputy Chair: I see no questions.
On Schedule A
Schedule A agreed to
On Schedule B
Schedule B agreed to
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, I move that Bill No. 12 be reported out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the Deputy Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker resumes the Chair
Deputy Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Deputy Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 12, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1998-99 ( No. 2), and directed me to report it without amendment.
Deputy Speaker: You have heard the report from the Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 12, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Bill No. 12: Third Reading
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 12 be now read a third time and do pass.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 12, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1998-99 (No. 2), be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, once again, I repeat that I think this is a truly unfortunate situation. It's a unique situation, unique to this Legislature. I believe it has forever changed the trust relationship between the parties in the Legislature, and that is truly an unfortunate occurrence.
I hope that members will all give this measure unanimous support.
Mr. Ostashek: It's unfortunate that the Finance minister won't just get on with the business of putting this bill through but continues to blame the opposition for his shortcoming. As Finance minister, he's responsible for government funding. It's his responsibility to see the funding is in place.
The Legislature could have been extended at any time for any reason and, in fact, Mr. Speaker, had the Legislature run past midnight, which it probably would have if we'd have gone along with the motion to extend hours and not concluded until six o'clock in the morning, the government would have been technically in default and would not have been able to spend money - as the Government Leader said - in the event of a medivac at one o'clock or two o'clock in the morning; they still wouldn't have had the authority to spend government money.
So, we did give unanimous consent to pass the bill today so the government can get on with their business, and I would hope next time the Finance minister will do his job.
Deputy Speaker: Are you prepared for the question? Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker...
Deputy Speaker: If the member now speaks he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, the mistake that I made was I trusted the opposition. I apologize to the people of the territory for having done such a foolish thing. As early as last week, the members in the opposition were suggesting that the Legislature would end, after 35 days, on Thursday. At no time during that week did the members give that impression to us or to the media that the session would end at any other time other than Thursday. So, the members, of course, in the opposition have not shown, in my view, good faith.
Mr. Speaker, this is a one-of-a-kind, serious situation. There is no precedent for this and this is not a game. The government was forced, on Friday, to initiate an orderly shutdown of the government because the government did not have vote authority to proceed.
The leader of the official opposition suggested at the time that the government could simply treat this matter as routine business and come back for retroactive approval in the Legislature. Such a callous disregard for the law, Mr. Speaker, is one I do not share.
The members opposite and member himself knew full well that the situation with the demise of the spending authority on Thursday was different from that which exists between the sittings of the Legislature. The member knew full well, Mr. Speaker, that, without the Commissioner's approval and without the Legislature's authority, that the government would not be in a position to make payments and, in fact, would have to operate in an illegal fashion. It is for that reason that I gave the departments the authority - or I took responsibility, at least - to ensure that the orderly operations of government could continue.
The opposition, in this particular game, has decided that they are going to take Yukon people hostage, something that they have indicated that they want to do, in order to make a political point.
The members opposite said last week - last Thursday - that they might be prepared to give us vote authority and that they might even be prepared to give us approvals today, permitting the interim supply to come through, if we gave them something - if we gave the opposition politicians something.
With the gun to Yukon people's heads, they have indicated to the Yukon government and the NDP side of the House, that they want something. They've not ever asked for anything, but they want something. This is all about gamesmanship. It's about playing a macho game, led by the leader of the official opposition and supported fully by the Liberal Party in this Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, the big mistake that we made, for the Member for Klondike's information, was that we trusted them. It is a mistake that will not be repeated.
The opposition has said that the government is bullying them or is arrogant to them. I would suggest that they don't like the government's answers to various questions. Well, what opposition has not said that in the last 20 years? The difference between this time and other times is that they took the people of this territory hostage in this political gamesmanship. That is fundamentally wrong.
Mr. Speaker, the government side of the House has complained, too, about the nature and the tenor of the questions. But, what government has not complained about the nature and tenor of the questions? So, the fact that we complain about listening to the Member for Klondike ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services for four solid hours about what the cost of a bag of insecticide is - we suggest that that's a waste of time. What brand it is, what the effect of it is - as if the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is some insecticide technician.
That took four hours with the debate. We've had members in this Legislature ask the Minister of Health and Social Services whether or not the minister could influence the colour of Jello in the Whitehorse Hospital cafeteria.
Now, Mr. Speaker, we do complain about that waste of time. However, what opposition, what government, doesn't make those kinds of complaints?
What makes this situation unique, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, is that the Yukon Party and the Liberals had decided to draw to make people's lives affected by this gamesmanship, and that is the problem. That is the dishonourable thing, Mr. Speaker.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Riverdale North says I messed up. I did mess up. I trusted them, and it won't happen again.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On Monday, the opposition were all commenting in the media that they were going to honour the 35-day element of this agreement. Even the leader of the official opposition, over two weeks ago, said that they had said all they wanted to say in this session anyway.
So, Mr. Speaker, when the member started off his debate on Thursday, he started off by saying - as he was laughing and chortling his way through this particular game, this macho game of his - and I quote, "This is in no one's best interest." That's the one element of his entire speech that I could find complete sympathy with.
The members opposite have said that the government has only itself to blame for there being no interim supply bill. Mr. Speaker, that's like a hostage taker telling the hostages - the people of the Yukon - that the police were to blame for not ending the standoff.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, the members opposite say, "Do your job". Yes, I am going to do my job, Mr. Speaker, and I'm going to learn a lot. I've learned a lot from the members of the opposition and, believe me ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Deputy Chair: Order please. Let the member speak.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ... that message that is delivered by the opposition - both the Yukon Party and the Liberals - will not be forgotten.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Now, the members refer to that as revenge. That's not revenge. This is called living and learning. When the opposition tells you something -
Deputy Speaker: Order please. Let the member speak.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member for Klondike is hardly one to talk. The Member for Klondike, Mr. Speaker, only this last week virtually reduced the Minister of Tourism to tears when he went on some political harangue about carrying the same kind of nonsense message into that conversation that his leader was carrying on in this House - an absolutely disgusting performance from somebody who is elected to support the public good.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the members opposite made the childish argument that it's okay for the Yukon Party to break this agreement, because the NDP broke it when they were in opposition. Nothing could be further from the truth, because it was not -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Liberal member, who is now joined to the hip with the Yukon Party, seems to be in agreement with this particular assessment.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the member will remember - you may not want to admit it now - that the NDP did honour the agreement, but there was a non-signatory to that agreement who is a member of this Legislature, and that member made it very clear that not being a signatory to that agreement meant that she was not bound by that agreement. The members opposite were fully aware of that fact, and, in fact, the House leader for the government - the member who is now the House leader for the opposition - commented upon that in the media. So, Mr. Speaker, things are substantially different.
The member opposite, the Member for Riverside, was, at one time, indicating that he was going to promote a non-confrontational approach. The one thing in the last election that the Liberals knew they would have to live up to was that they promised to be non-confrontational.
And in the very first opportunity - in fact, in a whole series of opportunities - the moment they get to take direction from the leader of the official opposition, they can't move fast enough to get confrontational and to join the Yukon Party.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Deputy Speaker: Opposition House leader, on a point of order.
Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Chair, the Government Leader, in his distressful tone, seems to be wandering from the topic, which is the interim supply bill, to talking about the last election. I don't know why he's still smarting -
Deputy Speaker's ruling
Deputy Speaker: Order please. The Chair sees no point of order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Thank you for interrupting that rude and crude interruption, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite - the Liberal Party - who has tried to stand back and behave like an honest broker has clearly demonstrated how thoroughly in bed they are with the Yukon Party with this gamesmanship that has been undertaken and engineered, largely by the wizardry of the leader of the official opposition. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is truly an unfortunate occurrence. I can tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, that in all the time I have been in the Legislature, never, never have I allowed the gamesmanship that does take place in this Legislature - never have I allowed that to affect so thoroughly the people in the public.
Clearly, the Yukon Party and the Liberals have gone way, way over the line in their desire to be confrontational and to bully the government.
I'll tell the members one thing right now, as we all go through this process of living and learning - and, Mr. Speaker, I'm still learning. I have to tell you that, while I know a lot about government - I've been in government for a long time, and in the opposition too - I've learned a lot about trust and a lot about the antics in this House. Last week was another lesson. It was another lesson learned.
The Member for Klondike asked me if I'll do my job from here on. If that means not trusting the Member for Klondike, then I will do my job from here on, yes indeed.
Now, Mr. Speaker, the members opposite have talked about wanting us, in their game of blackmail, to fire the government House leader and they wanted us to show, as they say, lots of cooperation. Well, we've shown an enormous amount of cooperation.
Information that's been requested has been provided. Briefings that have been requested, even if they don't attend, have been provided. And, Mr. Speaker, we will continue to show cooperation even if it's not part of any deal, because that's obviously the right thing to do.
We have faith in our government House leader, Mr. Speaker, make no mistake, and we will not give in to the blackmail of the opposition.
But, Mr. Speaker, let me just say this. This is not a stellar moment in the Yukon's legislative history. This is a very unfortunate moment in Yukon's legislative history, and I am embarrassed for the opposition, both the Liberals and the Yukon Party, and particularly the Yukon Party, for engineering such an unfortunate and disgusting tactic in this manoeuvre.
Deputy Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 12 agreed to
Deputy Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried and that Bill No. 12 has passed this House.
We are now prepared to receive the Administrator to grant assent to the bill which has passed this House.
Administrator enters the Chamber, announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms
ASSENT TO BILLS
Administrator: Please be seated.
Deputy Speaker: Sir, the Assembly has, at its present session, passed a certain bill to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.
Clerk: Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1998-99 (No. 2).
Administrator: I had no idea that my first appearance before the Twenty-ninth Legislature would be under such rushed circumstances, but, yes, I hereby assent to the bill as enumerated.
Administrator leaves the Chamber
Deputy Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the acting government House leader that the Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Deputy 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.
Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 9 - First Appropriation Act, 1998-99 - continued
Department of Renewable Resources - continued
Deputy Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Ostashek: When we left this debate some time ago - I'll have to review my notes, but maybe the minister has it handy - I believe we asked for some information. Does the minister have any more information that he's ready to table today in regard to the questions we asked?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't have information with me for tabling. If the member could refresh our memories as to what he asked, I'll send a note up and see if it's there in the office.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, one of the questions that I recall off the top of my head was that I asked the minister to go back and check with his department on what was the optimum population level that they were looking at for the Finlayson herd. Did the minister go back and check on that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It was agreed by the planning committees that they would like to try to keep the population at around 4,000, but they did not come up with a number that they thought was sustainable, other than trying to work at a number. They started off at 2,000, built it up to 6,000, and the middle number being 4,000 and one that they felt they would drop to, and have the wolf population increase, and have it, they felt, sustainable at around 4,000.
That's the only number that I can provide the member at this time.
Mr. Ostashek: Okay, that's fine, I'll accept that. It seems to me I've heard that number somewhere before, but I just wanted to clarify that the department wildlife managers would be satisfied at stabilizing the herd at 4,000 animals. My understanding is that that's what the expectation is right now, that the herd is about 4,000 animals, but they don't want to see it drop any lower.
So, I will accept that answer for now. I don't want to spend any more time on that issue, because we've thoroughly debated it.
I do have one question, though, that relates not to the Porcupine caribou herd but, in fact, to a question I asked at the start of the general debate, and that was the department's new policy to fund the Yukon Conservation Society for $35,000 this year, which the minister said was increasing to $40,000 next year.
I asked the question about how the minister determined which groups he would go to for policy input. We know that the minister does approach all of the groups for policy input at certain stages and on certain issues, but the fact remains that there seems to be some inequities by funding one group, the Yukon Conservation Society, for policy input, and then not funding groups such as the Outfitters Association or the Agricultural Association or the Fish and Game Association or another group or the Access Alliance Association.
Would the minister and his department consider a matching contribution to each of these groups, if these groups requested it?
Now, I know the minister can stand on his feet and say, "Well, we haven't had a request." Well, the reason they haven't had a request is because they never knew that the department would entertain funding these sort of organizations for policy input, and there's no doubt about it that they could do a better job or providing the government with policy if, in fact, they were funded at the same level as the Yukon Conservation Society is. The Conservation Society used to supply the government with policy input prior to getting the funding.
So, what these groups are looking for, and what I think the minister should consider, is a level playing field for all the groups. If we're going to fund one, we should be funding others, and if we're not going to fund them, what criteria does the minister use to fund a group to provide policy direction to the government without getting into the situation that we appear to have got into now, with some groups being very, very upset that one group, which they call a special interest group, is being funded, yet their special interest group isn't being funded.
Could the minister elaborate on that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What we have done in the past is provide funding to those NGOs on a regular basis - on a project-by-project basis - and we've had funding going to the Yukon Trappers Association, the Yukon Outfitters Association and the Fish and Game Association. Now, what we have said in the past - and there was a commitment made by this government - is that we would look at long-term funding for NGOs.
Now, there have been NGOs that have requested long-term funding and they have provided rationale with it and justification, I guess, for funding, and we have looked at that and have taken that into consideration.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I hear what the minister is saying, but my understanding is that the Fish and Game Association, the Trappers Association and the Outfitters Association, as the minister mentioned, have not been funded for advising government on policy; they've been funded on a project-specific basis for some project that they undertook or were undertaking like, let's use, for example, the fish hatchery that the Fish and Game Association operates on behalf of the government. There is a funding agreement for that specific purpose.
I'm talking about policy advice to the government, and this has caused some concern in the community to some different groups, who feel they aren't being treated in an equitable manner. Is the minister saying that, if another group representing outfitters or trappers or the Agricultural Association, or somebody, was to approach the minister's department for a request for funding for policy advice, that the minister's department would seriously consider it?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In recognizing the Yukon Conservation Society, I did say to the member that they have a lot of experience on board in this organization. They're not just an environmental organization. They have been around for a long period of time in the Yukon and has developed a respectable role in the communities. Should organizations come forward and request long-term funding from us, we will look at it and make decisions on it.
Mr. Ostashek: Okay, well I thank the minister for that commitment. I can get back to those organizations and let them know. I just wanted to draw it to the minister's attention. I don't have any difficulty with the Conservation Society, being a long-term organization in the Yukon, but so is the Outfitters Association, so is the Yukon Fish and Game Association, and the Agricultural Association. It's been around since agriculture started in the Yukon.
All of these people have access to some very good expertise that would be comparable to what the Conservation Society is doing. The Conservation Society is basically a volunteer group, as are these other organizations, but when they're being funded at that level - and this is a new policy decision, Mr. Chair, by the minister's department. If it was an old policy that was in place, I wouldn't be questioning it, but it's a new policy that has just come into effect under this administration.
So I will get back to those people and relay the minister's comments on the possibility of funding.
I want to move on to agriculture now, because there seems to be a lot of controversy in light of the minister's ministerial statement in the Legislature here a few weeks back. In fact, there was a press release put out by the Agricultural Association that was, I feel, very condemning of this minister in this government in its relationship with the Agricultural Association.
In fact, the allegations that are being made in this press release are that the association and the industry is confused; that they don't know where this government is going; that they, in fact, themselves have been working for a period of three months at a series of community meetings across the territory talking to association members and to non-members about a Yukon agricultural policy, about the policy that was adopted by YTG in 1991 by the previous NDP government.
They said that they had been promised a public agricultural policy review for the last four or five years, and it hadn't been forthcoming so they did it on their own. They've also stated that there was a request for financial assistance of some $15,000, which was to be matched by the federal government, which I believe would have gone a long way to help the agricultural industry in doing consultations and putting advice together for the minister's department.
What they are alleging is that the department's denial of their request not only ensures the department retains control of the consultation process and therefore the result, but it also ensures that the Agricultural Association will be losing $15,000 worth of federal grant money that is waiting to be called on and comes with no other strings attached.
So, does the minister not agree that if he is to go out on a consultation process that he stated in his ministerial statement, he would be duplicating what, in fact, the Agricultural Association has already done? And would it not be in his interest and his government's interest to possibly match the federal $15,000 worth of funds so the association could do this on behalf of his department and bring forward to him what they heard from Yukoners? I'm sure that the department would ask some of the questions that the minister wanted along with questions of their own.
One of the greatest concerns is that it appears the Agricultural Association doesn't trust the minister's department because it makes the statement in here, "It's like having a fox as the door-keeper for the chicken house." They claim to have met with almost 100 farmers and industry representatives and that their process is not yet complete, Mr. Chair.
What is coming out of their consultation is a very unflattering picture of the department's handling of land disposition. That's one of the major points that has emerged, and another is that there appears to be 174 applications for land across the territory under the new policy; approximately 23 have gone to agreements of sale and only two pieces in seven years have gone to title. This seems to be a very serious situation that's out there and it's been highlighted already by the Agricultural Association.
I guess my concern is for the minister's ministerial statement to come out, especially from this government that prides itself on public consultation, in this Legislature of all these great things that he's going to do for the agricultural industry, and then, within a matter of days of his statement coming out, being condemned by the association.
Has the minister not been in consultation with the association at all, prior to making his announcement in the House?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we have been in consultation with the Agricultural Association. As the member well knows, we did say that we were going to be looking at an agricultural policy review, and we committed to Yukon people that we will do just that. We understand that the Agricultural Association has a lot of interests in doing this review. They have gone ahead and got federal dollars to do a consultation and a review of policies.
We have done this without getting prior commitments from the Yukon government to fund a portion of this policy review. Now, they've got some money through the card funds and have, I believe, done a lot of work in regard to putting together a review. But, we feel that the agricultural policy affects a lot more than the Agricultural Association and agricultural people out there. There are a lot of other interests that Yukoners have with regard to the effects of agricultural lands, and we want to make sure that all Yukoners are consulted in this respect.
We will be using and can use the Agricultural Association in parts of these reviews.
Mr. Ostashek: I guess that's what causes me some concern, Mr. Chair, because the Agricultural Association believes that, in the ministerial statement the minister put out, they were put in as an afterthought, almost. They go on to say in their media release that the YAA will be consulting with a broad range of stakeholders in the environmental community and the lending community, the tourism community, and the mining and trapping industry, et cetera. So, why does the minister need to go out a month or two later and consult with these same people?
We don't need another spectacle as we witnessed last Thursday in this House, with the forest commissioner tabling a document that was two years in the making which was almost identical to what was on the government's books before this government came to power. It was ridiculed by not only First Nations but also by professional foresters, as well.
So, we certainly don't need another spectacle like that.
I would ask the minister, why was the association turned down for $15,000 so that they couldn't capitalize on the $15,000 that the federal government was offering them in matching funds?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We understand that this is going to be of much interest to Yukoners in regard to doing a policy review. We had attached in our ministerial statement that we were going to be looking at the grazing lease policy review also. We feel that it is quite linked together. Agricultural land is a public resource and so many policies related to disposition of it could receive, of course, a wide review. For the department to take on the lead in coordinating such a public review, it is definitely not the case, as the member had brought forward, of the fox being in charge of the hen house. It could conversely be argued that having the key industry stakeholders at YAA in charge of the process would be having the fox in charge of the hen house. So I would think that it is actually the other way around as far as public perception goes. So, we feel that we are doing the right thing by going out to Yukoners and involving all aspects of users of land out there. When it comes to assigning and giving out agricultural land, it affects a wide range of people and we will consider using the Yukon Agricultural Association in this public review.
Mr. Ostashek: I guess I'm somewhat bewildered, because this government campaigned in their Better Way on public consultation. The key stakeholder in this area of policy review was not even aware that the minister was making a statement in the House. They were surprised by it - blindsided by it. I would have thought that, if the minister and his government were sincere about public consultation, they would have talked to the Agricultural Association and looked to see how they could have done the review together, if they were hesitant about funding the farmers to do a review.
The farmers are the main stakeholder in this. There's no doubt that all other groups have a very vested interest in what happens in farming, but I believe that the farmers are the biggest stakeholders. They're the ones who are investing in land in the Yukon. They're the ones who are putting their time and energy into trying to grow crops in the Yukon and to help to have a local-grown food market and food crops for Yukoners' tables, and they're competing in a very tough environment.
As a result of that, one of the biggest obstacles to the farming industry for many, many years in the Yukon has been land accessibility. There seem to be some real problems with the way the government is handling land applications now. I just find it somewhat amazing that the department will go out and do a public consultation and treat the farmers as just another interest group, and not give them some weighted input into policy development that's going to affect their industry, their livelihood and their ability to have Yukon-grown produce on Yukoners' tables.
Does the minister not think that the Yukon Agricultural Association, which represents a major portion of the farmers in the territory, from my understanding, ought to have a weighted interest in the policy review, and not be treated just like another special interest group?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This government respects the Yukon Agricultural Association. We have been dealing with them a lot in the past few years, as the member will know from his term in party.
This policy review, of course, affects a lot of different sections and different interests in the Yukon, including things like habitat and the wildlife perspective. The policy review was required. Three years after the policy was developed, the Yukon Agricultural Association knew full well that this was coming forward.
Ms. Duncan: I would just like to follow up on the same topic with the minister, to begin with.
First of all, I note that the Yukon Agricultural Association media release gives reference to several internal reviews of the agriculture policy within the department. It indicates that these reviews have not been made public.
I wonder if the minister's prepared to provide the opposition caucus with copies of those documents.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We said that we would like to go into phase 2 of this evaluation. Phase 1 was an internal review and this was given to the Yukon Agricultural Association. So, I guess in that respect, it is out there in the public.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, is the minister suggesting that I ask the Agricultural Association for copies of these internal government documents?
What I asked was, would the minister, his office or staff, the department, be prepared to provide opposition caucuses with copies of these documents?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Phase 1 of the review is, of course, going to be a full part of the completed review. Having both phases included in there, we can provide the opposition members with what has been done in phase 1.
Ms. Duncan: A large part of the concern that also seems to be coming from the agricultural community is duplication. Now, I think every member of this House can appreciate that Yukoners have been consulted on a variety of issues to varying degrees, and there seems to be a healthy skepticism on the part of the public about these consultation processes. I'm concerned that the government initiative appears to duplicate and overlap the Agricultural Association's initiative.
Now, the leader of the official opposition has asked about funding application. I'm concerned about duplication, asking the same question. So, could I ask the minister to indicate to the House what the differences are? What are the differences in terms of the department's focus and the focus taken by the Agricultural Association?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, this government is concerned with duplication. We have had a lot of discussions with the Yukon Agricultural Association, and we have repeatedly told them that this department would be going out and doing a broad public consultation. So, they have known full well that we would be going out to do it.
It would be unfortunate if they had gone out and done a very extensive consultation and we were to do the same.
We are going to be continuing to do our consultation with Yukoners, and we would like to work with them on this. We have not sat down recently and gone over what work they have done.
It would be unfortunate, again, to have both organizations doing the same work, although they knew full well that this department would have been going out to do broad public consultation.
I think that they jumped the gun a little bit in getting these federal dollars without having a commitment from the Yukon government to fund the other half. We're left in a difficult situation, which we, I think, have to resolve fairly soon.
We made a statement in the House about our government's intentions, and I think we can work with them on this review.
Ms. Duncan: Well, if I could just outline this for the minister, I see two points that have to emerge from this debate. Number one, one of the key stakeholders that is involved in these discussions is the Yukon farmers themselves, and presumably this summer they are going to be out with their livestock or their crops, and, in short, like every other Yukoner, they will be busy. It seems to me unfortunate if we're asking them to attend two different meetings to discuss the same topic.
Now, I also heard the minister say in his response that the door was open to cooperating with the Agricultural Association by sitting down and discussing with them what work they've done to date and what work could then be combined and what questions could be combined. Have I understood the minister correctly in that regard? Is the door open to working with the Agricultural Association on this review?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, the department has provided funds to the Yukon Agricultural Association. There was $5,000 forwarded to them for a farm survey and this was, in part, to do some work for the department in this review. What we haven't done lately is to sit down and discuss with them as to where the YAA can continue to work with the department in this review. In the ministerial statement I did say that the agricultural lands review would be including the grazing lease. So, that's a bit different because they're two separate policies. Although there is a lot of interest for them to both go ahead together, we did not see where it would be controversial to have both policies reviewed at the same time.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, if I understand the minister correctly, the minister just stated, "We do not see where it would be controversial to go ahead with both reviews at the same time." Could I just ask him to clarify: is he saying that it's not appropriate that these be combined in one meeting in, say, Carmacks or in Stewart, that these same discussions not be undertaken in one meeting? I realize that they are different topics to some degree, but we're dealing with one public here and it makes sense to me that there should be, where an attempt is possible, to marry consultation processes. It seems to me that we did this with the protected areas strategy workshops and with forest commission meetings. They were held jointly in the communities. So, why can't we work with the Agricultural Association to deal with these issues in the same meeting? Why are we summoning people to two separate meetings in the middle of the summer when they're trying to get crops off or in?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Agricultural Association has gone to communities, and they've dealt with those involved with agriculture - farmers and so on. We would like to do a consultation with all people who are affected by agricultural land.
As I said earlier, there is a habitat interest, there's a wildlife interest that we must look at, recreational and so on. It's beyond just the interest of agriculture itself. When we speak of lands that are being designated for specific reasons, it creates a lot of controversy among people in the Yukon.
What I have said to the member was that, having the grazing lease and the agricultural policy done at the same time would complement each other, seeing how they're so closely related. That's what I was focusing on: having little to no controversy.
Mr. Cable: I have a couple of neighbours who are into game farming. Over the years, I've tried to get a clear signal from government on its posture toward game farming. I know there are some reservations expressed with respect to what's called genetic pollution and also with respect to the transmission of disease, particularly among the ungulates.
Is there any other problem with game farming? Can this government give us a clear signal? Does this government have any philosophical objections to game farming?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we don't have any major problems with game farming. What we've said in the past is that we would like to have some assurance for Yukoners that we would not have a spread of disease.
We've taken steps to assure the public that the government can act on this. There are concerns out there with regard to certain animals that are being farmed, and so on.
We will continue to take those concerns and work with them.
At this point, no, we don't have any major concerns or reasons why we would not be game farming.
Mr. Cable: Let me go one step further, then. Is this government supportive of game farming? Is it more than simply a passive actor? Is it supportive of the idea that game farming should grow in the Yukon Territory?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, what we do know out there is that there are those who support it and those who have mixed feelings about it. We have not made any major steps toward not supporting game farming at this point.
Like anything else, whether fishing licences or what not, if the general public out there wants to have some things changed, then we would go and look at public consultation on this.
I know that some people have some concerns with regard to game farming affecting industry - the trapping industry and so on - if the game farming was to be able to get on the market and compete with them.
There are a lot of concerns out there at this point, but we have not said that we do not support game farming at all. We have, to this point.
Mr. Cable: Other than the game farming of animals that have pelts that would compete with the trappers, is there any other objection? Does the minister have any objection to the increase of, say, elk farming or bison farming? Are there any other problems, other than the problems that the minister has just expressed, which I assume relate to the trapping industry?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We continue to support game farming and we have supported bison farming, although I think that, should there be an increase in numbers, the general public will have concerns. That has been expressed to us so far and we have not made any commitments to make any major increases in, say, elk farming.
We do have concerns with regard to escapement and how it may affect the wild animals that are out there, whether they breed and so on with them. The local people have forwarded to us some real concerns on how they see possibly the wild animals out there being affected or even eliminated through diseases and so on through interbreeding with game farm animals.
Mr. Cable: I'm sort of getting mixed messages from the minister. I know there are different opinions out there on game farming, but does the minister have any problem with the game farming industry increasing in size? If somebody were to walk into his officials' offices today, wanting to start up a new game farm, would they be put through the hoops or would they be encouraged?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, it's not our intention to have anybody go through a process and, in the end, have them denied. They will go through the regular process that we do have in place.
Mr. Cable: My recollection of the regulations is that they deal with certain classes of animals. Is there any intention to extend the regulations to cover other, non-indigenous species?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: At this point, no. To my knowledge, we have not had that put forward to us.
Mr. Cable: Okay. Then let me ask the minister some questions about fish farming. Does this government have any philosophical problem with fish farming, the cultivation of fish in a domestic situation as opposed to catching fish in the wild?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, the member knows that we continue to support some organizations in regard to fish farming, and we have not said that this government would be totally against it. Again, what we have been concerned with is the escapement - having farmed fish, basically, take over the wild habitat of our fish in our waters. That's still the major concern to the general public out there, but we don't have a problem at this point in supporting the fish farming industry.
Mr. Cable: Does the minister's department have any forecasts with respect to those two particular elements of agriculture, I guess I could call it, of game farming and fish farming? Do we see growth in the future and, if so, what sort of guesstimates have been made as to the size of these two sectors of the industry?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: With information that we have, we have not seen any major increases in the numbers over the last few years. We do anticipate that it will rise, though. There are more people out there who have an interest in game farming and fish farming. There is success in the Yukon, and I think that there are people out there who would like to be part of that industry.
Mr. Cable: I take it, then, there's no specific forecast directed to both of those elements of the industry. The minister's shaking his head and saying no. Is there a forecast of the industry generally? Do we have a growth projection for the future? This is the agricultural industry.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we do feel that, with the amount of requests we have for agricultural lands, that there is going to be an increase in the farming industry and the agricultural industry. This is one of the reasons prompting us to continue to deal with the review. We have interests from the general public, from the First Nations out there, who have gone and selected lands specifically for agricultural purposes.
I feel that in the near future there is going to be increases in the Yukon. We do import a large amount of produce from the south. I don't know what the real numbers are, but I thought it was around $31 million worth. The Yukon has responded in the sense that we are having our products now in Yukon stores and I think that is going to continue to grow.
Mr. Cable: I'm sorry, I didn't connect on that answer. Is the minister saying there is a forecast around on the total agricultural industry that he can provide the House or provide me with and anybody else who is interested by way of letter? Can he give a dollar value for the industry over the next two or three or four years?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, I can ask the department to look into what dollar values are out there but we do feel that the value of agricultural products have increased a fair amount over the last couple of years. Let me see; I'll read the numbers here: $3,501,000 in 1996-97 to $3.9 million this year. So, we feel that there is going to be a continuing trend of increases over the next little while in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: Has the minister's department done any analysis on what they see the growth sectors to be in agriculture and any new sectors that may come along that could be developed in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, I think that, over the next few years, a lot is going to change in the Yukon, in that we will have more certainty as to what lands are available out there, having land claims negotiated by First Nations, particularly around the Whitehorse area. In the north, in all aspects of usage of the resources that we have out there, there's going to be an increase, simply because there is more certainty for people out there as to which land belongs to whom.
We think that, with some of the support that this government has provided with regard to the abattoir and so on, there would be an increase of red meat products in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: When the minister replies on whether or not there is a forecast for the industry and, if so, what it is, could he also tell me what sectors his officials think will be the growth sectors and whether there are any new sectors?
Does he see the greenhouse business expanding, for example? Does he see mushroom houses? Does he see vegetable gardening or hay as expanding? - By way of letter, in view of the fact that we are hopefully getting out of here sometime soon.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we can provide the member with that, to the best knowledge that the department has.
Mr. Cable: Now, on the abattoir - the minister just mentioned that a moment ago - is the construction on time and is the inspector in place and do we expect to see the operation beginning this fall? Was that the scheduled date?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the opening dates are for this fall. We have had, as the member knows, a delay because of its going into late last fall. He couldn't do construction until the ground thaws this spring. So, they will be doing the work this spring and should be underway right now, looking forward to the fall opening.
Mr. Cable: One of the other pieces of infrastructure that the Agricultural Association has been promoting over the years is a vegetable cold-storage facility, and I think the minister's colleague's department, Economic Development, has done studies on cold storage. What does the minister see for the future as to a facility of that sort? I know they were dealt with sort of as companion pieces - the abattoir and the vegetable cold storage.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not sure where the general public is going to go with this. They have made some requests and I'm not sure if this would have been a major part of it, but they looked at an agplex, and I think there's general support out there for a storage facility. But, at this point in time, we have not seen anything come forward.
I think that, until such time as the industry starts to grow and we start producing a bit more in the Yukon, there will be more interest out there, even from the public sector, to try to accommodate the industry.
Mr. Cable: I think the reports that were done are a few years old. Is the minister prepared to update those reports on the economic feasibility of a vegetable cold-storage facility?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we could have a look at whether or not it should be reviewed. We don't have, in our department here, any commitment to go through with that at this point, but I can take the member's interest and have a look at this just for our own usage and for those that are interested in this type of information.
Mr. Cable: When the minister's replying to the various questions that have been raised, could he indicate whether, in fact, he is going to go ahead with that review? I think he used the word "could." Could he let me know when he thinks the review would be finished?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We've had no plans to do the review. If there's interest out there, then I can have the department look at it, but at this point in time we don't have any plans to do a review.
Mr. Cable: After the minister has had an opportunity to consider it, then, perhaps when he is replying, he can indicate whether or not he will carry out a review.
The ministerial statement that the minister gave on the agricultural policy review was reported on briefly in the news. I think one of the comments may have been misinterpreted. I'm just reading from a CBC news clip of Thursday, April 23.
It starts by saying the Yukon government is opening up the issue of agricultural land to public review. It's going to look at whether agricultural land is currently being well-used, or whether there is enough to support a viable industry. Some people have misinterpreted, I think - and the minister can clear this up - those comments meaning what the minister's going to be looking at is the determination of whether the industry is viable. I think what it meant was whether it's viable on the present land base. Is that the minister's intention - the latter, not the former?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's correct.
Mr. Cable: So the review then, in effect, is looking at whether the private land base should be enlarged. Is that he's looking at?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What we're going to do is look at how we release land, and what lands are available for release. I think that has been a major concern to many people in regard to whether these lands are released for the purpose they are intended. I think the member could understand why we would do this. That is basically the process we're using for this review.
Mr. Cable: On another topic, the old forestry reserve out at the corner of the Hot Springs Road and the Mayo Road, that's been used by the ag branch for the last few years. What's the long-term intention with respect to that land? Is it going to be a regular agricultural farm? Are we going to be doing species breeding there - northern species breeding? Are we going to wrap it up and convert it to something else?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can get back to the member with an answer to that.
Mr. Cable: Just one more question. The minister probably read the same newspaper I read a few weeks ago on hemp production. The federal government is releasing its hold on hemp production and apparently the species that's used for fibres and for other purposes other than smoking is low in cannibis and also grows on dry land. I was down at the agriculture branch getting briefed on the abattoir a few weeks ago and I happened to mention to one of the minister's officials that it would be interesting to get some information on that and he said I would have to stand in line or something to that effect, because I guess everybody and their dog had been banging on their door.
What does the minister see for the production of hemp in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, it's of more and more interest to Yukoners. There are a lot of good things that have occurred as far as the history of hemp goes in regard to making good rope and that sort of thing, and it being very durable. I think that has prompted Yukoners to have another look at this sometimes controversial product. I think a lot of people don't understand the fact that it's not a product that is illegal; it's not drugs and so on. I don't really know what the Yukon holds for this product but I know that people, from what they have read, are quite interested in looking at this as a product that could be introduced to the Yukon.
Mr. Ostashek: I'm going to wrap up general debate here fairly quickly. I just have a couple of questions that I need the minister to answer. There are many more I would like to explore, but we don't have time.
I was listening with some interest to the debate between the minister and the Member for Riverside on game farming, because I've always been one that believed that there was a great future for game farming in the Yukon and a good economic base. Other countries have proven that there is a great demand for game products, being that they are low in cholesterol. There's a tremendous market. We've seen what New Zealand has done with red deer farming.
But I couldn't decipher from the minister's replies as to whether he and his department were encouraging or discouraging an expansion of game farming in the Yukon. Could the minister be clear on that? Are they encouraging it or are they discouraging it?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Chair, we're not discouraging it.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, if we're not discouraging it, we must be encouraging it, are we? Or, are we just not going to bother looking at it? Are we not going to do any analysis as to whether there would be any benefit in the Yukon to expand it?
I'm not talking just about species indigenous to the Yukon. I know there's great concern about mixture with the wildlife population, but I think there's some merit to the department exploring the options in marginal land for crop production or grain production as there is in the Yukon. There's very good lands for forage production.
As close as we are to tidewater, there is a potential to develop a great export market if the minister's department could do some groundwork on it. We are talking about a self-sustaining economy. I think this is one of the areas we should be looking at.
I'll leave that with the minister for now. He may reply when he's on his feet, or maybe I'll just see if he has anything to say to it right now.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, we also recognize that as being a significant contributor to the Yukon economy, and at this point in time, we have not gone out there and tried to discourage any type of game farming. What we wanted to make sure of - and we've made commitments to it already - is the possible effects - and not only with this, but with other animals - of having the spread of the disease.
The public perception out there is to be cautious, and we've taken that approach, and we'll continue to do so. We'll continue to support game farming at this point and until such time as the general public comes out there and directs us otherwise.
Mr. Ostashek: Let's simplify it. The member is going out for policy review. Is one of the questions that he's going to the public with going to be: should there be an expansion of game farming? Is that one of the questions that's going to be asked?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, I don't know if that is one of the questions. It certainly could be something that would be considered in the review. Again, what we have been doing is to basically weigh the interests of the Yukon people and whether or not they are supportive of this industry - and we've got both, of course. Like many of the other directions in which the public is taking out there, there is support and no support for those. At this point in time, we will let the public out there drive this. I'm sure that this is going to be raised again with the agricultural policy review.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that, but the public can't drive it if they're not informed. What we have are people out there now making emotional statements for or against game farming. They don't have enough information.
If the minister is going to do justice to a question, if the question is being asked about expanding game farming, then he has an obligation to provide the people with as much information as possible so they can be making informed decisions and not emotional decisions. There are some people who are against game farming on principle, and whether that means the Yukon should not have game farming or whether it means they should have game farming is not really the case.
I think the case that we have to look at is this: is it a sustainable industry that can happen in the Yukon? Can it add to the gross domestic product of the Yukon? Can it create employment in the Yukon? Can it do so without any harm to indigenous species?
All of that information should be made available by the minister's department when the question is asked, so that there can be an informed decision, not a decision based on philosophical beliefs: that you either like game farming or you don't like game farming. I don't think that that is a responsible way to make a decision in the best interests of all Yukoners.
Now, I don't know what the answer will be in the end but I think that what we need to have is an informed debate on the topic so that government can make a decision somewhere down the road.
I have just one further question on that. The minister says they're not discouraging it, and I think the Member for Riverside asked the question, but if someone came forward with a proposal at this time for game farming of some sort, would they be tied up in bureaucratic red tape for three or four years so that they would just get discouraged and not be able to go ahead with it or would they have a timely processing of their application and is there a possibility that it would be approved?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Of course, those who apply or want to game farm would go through a critical review by the department. It's not as if they will not have the opportunity to do this but I think there is nothing out of the normal that we would be doing at this point in time. We have not made changes in this process and we will continue to operate with how it has gone over in the past.
Mr. Ostashek: Does that include animals that the department describes as exotic animals as well as indigenous animals, or is this restricted only to indigenous animals? I believe there's some sort of a variance in the department on whether they would allow the farming of exotic species in the Yukon or not. Can the minister clarify that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Our interests that we have had put forward from the general public was to make sure that any exotic animals being brought into Yukon are disease free and to make sure that when they're here they're not in a position to escape and possibly cause concern with the general public.
So with that, I think we have not excluded them from that list.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that. I know he won't have the answer on his feet, but if he could get back by way of a letter to myself - and I'm sure my colleagues are interested as well - could he tell me how many applications the department has processed for game farms in the Yukon in the last two years, and how many have been approved and how many have been refused.
I have one final question that I'd like to ask in general debate, aside from game farming and those issues we've covered, and that's the Carcross audit on the caribou recovery program down there.
Now, while they never found any evidence of wrong-doing, the audit certainly didn't give a good report on the government's handling of contribution agreements, and there were some two and a half pages of recommendations that the government should do so that there's more accountability in the process.
Can the minister tell us in this House today: is he in agreement with the recommendations made by the auditor, and is it his intention to implement them in his department? Or is the government looking at contribution agreements government-wide, in light of the weaknesses that have been pointed out by the audit on the Carcross caribou recovery program?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we did say that we have agreed with the auditor's recommendations. I'm trying to go back over them. There is one, I believe, that we said we would agree with and work with, and possibly make additional changes to it to refine it a bit more.
It was a very expensive process to go through. I think it cost the government for this $25,000 contract approximately $10,800 to do this. I think we could have gone through a very simple process in having departments go back and review these contracts and come up with better lines of communications and a reporting system back to government so that we can keep track of what monies are being spent, for what and whether or not they're going toward a project, rather than going through this process.
Ms. Duncan: I have a number of questions in Renewable Resources general debate - just a number of different topics and short questions.
The first of these is the firearms acquisition course that was formerly run through the Department of Renewable Resources. I have had some concerns raised by constituents that there is quite a waiting list now that Justice has taken over this course and that some of the experts that formerly taught the course are being lost to those taking the course now or those who are on the waiting list. Can the minister outline the change in the situation? Has he received any of these concerns and what is the department doing about it?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, we haven't received those concerns. As the member knows, we have been taking this task on on behalf of Justice, and they would like it to revert back to that department.
Although First Nations, for example, who have a lot of concerns with this, have requested that they possibly get involved and look at how they could possibly have these courses run through their First Nations and put on by their own people. One First Nation is very close to getting this done and wants to be able to take this over and have their own FAC given out to their members. They would like to focus a lot, of course, on the safety aspect on this.
Ms. Duncan: Well, I'm concerned that the minister hasn't addressed the question of expertise; that individuals who previously taught the course through Renewable Resources were able to work with the public taking this course and to offer other options and information to them. I'm concerned that this expertise is being lost through the course being offered through a different department. I'm also concerned that there's a lengthy waiting list. Is this, in fact, the case? Can the minister advise if the Department of Justice has even asked for this expertise to be loaned to them?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The person we have been using, we have offered basically his expertise over to Justice. That offer has been put out there.
I don't believe that, at this point in time, we have any loss of expertise to this course at all.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, is the minister expecting the Department of Justice to take up this offer, and is there a time frame on it for when they might receive a response?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, it's our expectation that they would accept. As far as a time frame goes, they have until the end of June.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, let's hope that they take the minister and the department up on that offer and that concerns that have been expressed to me are resolved. Could I have an undertaking from the minister that he'll get back to me with information with regard to if there is a waiting list and what the department intends to do about it? I also understand that there's quite a problem in rural Yukon with this issue, and I wonder if the minister is aware of that.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I can get back to the member with that. I know that courses offered are scheduled.
There is a concern that it's not being brought in often enough, but we've tried to make sure that people in all communities in the Yukon have access to these courses. It could be better, I suppose, by having more people up to speed. Some have not taken the FAC course in the past. More and more are wanting to get on with it, because they feel that it's there forever, and they're looking at the fact that basically, if you want to buy a firearm, you need it.
That is why, I think, that some communities that have First Nations only, are looking at having to run this on their own. I think if they sit down and design it properly, it's relatively easy to suit it and still fall under the guidelines that are proposed in these certificates. I believe that some are quite close. I know that a lot of them are very interested in this. I think that it can not only be offered to just First Nations people, but once we have this process in place, it could be offered to all community members.
Mr. Jenkins: While we're on the topic of FACs in rural Yukon, there is a problem out there, whether it be a first-time application or a renewal of an FAC, where one has to go and take this course or challenge the course. I don't know how the minister would be aware of whether there is a waiting list or not, because if you submit your renewal application and you do not have that course completed, it's sent back. And there are no courses scheduled in rural Yukon that I'm aware of or that I've been able to find out about.
So, there is a problem, and how you would undertake to find out what the waiting list is I do not know.
It's really quite interesting, Mr. Chair, when you look at a renewal of an FAC. I know personally I'm going for my third renewal and I can't get it until I either challenge this course or take this course, and can't find out where this course is being given in rural Yukon or where I can challenge it.
Now, the office is located downtown here and you can do it in Whitehorse, but there are no provisions on a regular basis outside of Whitehorse. There have been in the past, but, as of late, there have not been.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, these courses are offered to the communities. They are not offered on a regular basis but they are scheduled in the communities.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the issue is if you're renewing - the first application, when FACs were brought in, cost $5.00; then it went to $10. Then, if you were renewing, it was $25 if you renewed before the expiry date of your FAC. But you have to have that course. Now it's up to a $50 renewal fee.
Does the minister believe that that's fair, because I can't find when the next course is going to be scheduled? Perhaps the minister could let me know? When's the next course going to be scheduled in Dawson City? There hasn't been one this year and there's usually only one held in the fall.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can find out for the member. As I have indicated earlier, it was bumped from our department back over to Justice. At the end of June, they would have full control of this. At that time, there could be a lot of changes made in regard to schedules.
Ms. Duncan: Well, my information was, when an individual in Whitehorse was trying to register for the course, they were told there was a waiting list. So I'd like to know how long that is and how long some people have been waiting.
I'd like to move to the topic of campgrounds. The minister has provided me today with some information that I asked for in the House, and I just have a couple of questions on it.
The Yukon River campground at Dawson City is, according to the information provided by the minister's staff, at a minimum; the usage is four times any other campground in the Yukon. Now, I'm well-aware of the City of Dawson and the situation of Dawson in the summertime. However, I'm wondering what is the current status with regard to this campground and working with the City of Dawson.
Are there ongoing discussions to review this situation? Are there any other proposals out on the table to provide alternatives for individuals? Where do the discussions with this campground sit now?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Is the member asking what other alternatives people have for campgrounds in that area? Because there are two of them in Dawson. One used to be run through the city, and now it's part of the land claims.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, let me spell it out for the minister. There are 4,000 people using that campground in a summer, and those are the ones that are tracked. My concern is that, environmentally, this is a very high-impact usage.
Now, I understand that there are people who are staying there in Dawson City in the summertime because accommodations are very short and I also understand that it's been a concern of the City of Dawson for a number of years. I wonder what discussions are ongoing between the Department of Renewable Resources and the City of Dawson with regard to this campground. Are there concerns about the environmental impact? What's the discussion on the table at this point in time?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, the department has been concerned with the issues that the member has raised in regard to environmental issues, overcrowding and so on. We're hoping that this could be alleviated in the future by having an alternative for them.
Transients have used this campground in the past. Our concern for this year is the campground that the transients use across the river - just across from where the barge is - in that it is presently part of the negotiations, and we would like to work with the First Nation that has indicated an interest in running the campground this coming year as part of their land claim - although what they have expressed to us is that they feel they could not, because the land claims have not been ratified. They were looking at June, but there are no plans in place to have this under their department for operation and maintenance.
They would like for us to sit down with the city and try to work something out to make sure that this campground is being used.
Ms. Duncan: As to the minister's statement, "to make sure that this campground is being used", I would assume he meant to say used for camping, as opposed to transients.
Now, the minister also said that it was recommended that Renewable Resources sit down with the City of Dawson and the Dawson First Nation to discuss this campground and its future. Are there plans for a meeting at this point in time? Are they hoping to meet within the next two or three weeks or are we looking at over the next winter?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, I've recently met with the Chief of Tr'ondek Hwech'in and he expressed this to us. We did not set up any meetings, but we're hoping that they can sit down with the city first and try to resolve this before we step into this picture.
Mr. Jenkins: While we're on the topic of this campground, if I could just explore with the minister what is actually going to happen there. There are two campgrounds that we're referring to: there's the Government of Yukon campground, which is usually well-run and the length of stay is a policy, and then there's a transient campground, which was built and operated by the minister's department and overseen by the minister's department. It has a considerable number of individuals - transient workers and the like - residing there.
Most of these people like and enjoy that type of lifestyle and they're not prepared to pay anything for any of the services, and it was the minister's department and his officials that put this campground in place and, frankly, it is a health hazard. What is the minister going to do?
This forthcoming season is upon us. It's going to be occupied again, under the same terms and conditions, from what I'm given to understand. It's just the status quo. And, yes, there have been advances made by the Dawson First Nation to operate the government campground in west Dawson but not the transient campground. That is still on Commissioner's land. It's actually on the ferry reserve land and subsequent land taken over by this government for the purpose of a park, and there is a responsibility associated with the design of your department and the operation of it.
So, just what are you going to do for this forthcoming season?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, I need to go back and get some clarification on it, because my understanding is that the transient campground is the one that the First Nation was to be taking over and running, and that it was the government campground that hasn't changed at all. It was my understanding that it was the transient campground that was run by the city. Now, it's being wrapped up in claims, and the concern is that because ratification isn't until June, the plans to make sure that this campground will be open are dealt with by either our department or the city. I can get more clarification on this, because with what you've been putting forward, there seems to be a misunderstanding there.
Deputy Chair: It's 4:30 p.m. Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Deputy Chair: Ten minutes.
Deputy Chair: I will call Committee back to order. We will continue with debate on Renewable Resources.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I just checked with the department with regard to the Dawson campground and the transient campground. That has been the one that the First Nation had an interest in. I know that they also have an interest in running the government campground.
In relation to concerns the Liberal Party have brought up with regard to environmental impacts and so on, this is probably - I think it's the biggest campground that we do have. It's got approximately 100 stalls and they do clean it daily so, to take care of the high traffic that is expected to be around Dawson, that is being taken care of by those that run the campground.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the minister's information. Although I knew it from my knowledge, to see documented the degree of usage of that campground was quite interesting.
I have a couple other campground questions. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit, just in terms of looking, the Tagish site, and I was quite disappointed in terms of the state of repair. I understand that Renewable Resources and their staff do a very good job in terms of keeping signs up to date and brush clearing and so on, but it seems to me that - and it's almost an impossible task to keep up with - the tables, in terms of fresh paint, required on the picnic tables - the shelters appear to be in very good shape, but the signs also show signs of wear and tear.
One of those is due to the fact that the type of signage we are using is the sandblasted signage. Now, I wonder if there's thought to changing that in the coming years to something that's perhaps more durable. Although the sandblasted signs look very good, thay're not as durable as some of the others.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I have to check with the department to see whether there are new types of signs that are being used, and I will get back to the member.
Ms. Duncan: I look forward to receiving that information from the minister.
I also wonder if - in the Department of Renewable Resources, I realize that they have staff who work on these campgrounds in terms of maintenance, the picnic tables and the shelters. Is there also the use of correctional inmates to complement the work of this staff?
I'm not talking about usurping it, but certainly with Girl Guides, we approached the correctional institute. They made a sign for us and did some clearing at our campsite, and so on. I just wonder if they are used at all to complement the work of Renewable Resources staff or if that's impossible from a union perspective.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, they're not part of doing any type of maintenance. They haven't been making any signs, or what not, for us. I know that municipalities and so on have used them to make these signs, but, no, we have not for the campgrounds.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what about non-profit groups? For example, the city used an adopt-a-park program and some of these campgrounds are quite close to municipalities. It was some years ago that I last stayed at it but the Carmacks one was right within the community. Is there any effort to work with non-profit groups and adopt a campground similar to the adopt-a-park program?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, as the member knows through First Nation agreements, some First Nations have looked at taking over, I think, probably one government campground per First Nation. I think that's how it's been working. The Selkirk First Nation, for example, has the one down at Minto and the one that's presently in the town of Carmacks is run by the Village of Carmacks and the First Nation itself. They have put their own money into it in the past years to try to bring it up to speed with the rest of them. I know that there has been concern in regard to adopting the campgrounds. We have not looked at that. We have looked at contracting them out. We've done that in the Dawson area for many years so there is an interest out there from the general public to run these campgrounds.
Ms. Duncan: Are there proposals on the table now, then, to look at - the minister just said there were interests from individuals, in terms of contracting out these campgrounds. Are there proposals on the table that are actively being examined, if not for this year, for next?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The interest we have out there is basically from all over Yukon, but the only one we have now is in Dawson City.
Ms. Duncan: The minister's letter to me of May 1, which was just delivered after lunch - there's a line in here I feel is very important to be on the record. It's a discussion of campground fees, and it says, "Finally, there are some people who simply don't pay. With self-registration, our compliance checks indicate more foreign and U.S. travellers do voluntarily pay - about 90 percent - but Canadians less so, and Yukoners the least."
That is really disappointing to me, in terms of fellow Yukoners.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: The Minister of Health and Social Services is saying he put his money in there. I have the campground sticker to prove that we've paid it.
I'm just really concerned about this, wondering - it's disappointing to me that Yukoners don't appreciate this tremendous resource that we have. Is there any public education program planned by the department to heighten Yukoners' awareness that this is a resource we must value and, in terms of valuing it, we must pay for it?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, the department has that concern, too, in that Yukoners in general have not been putting out the dollars as much as those who have been going through the territory. Sometimes it's almost expected that there is a campground for local people to use.
However, we can try to increase the awareness out there for those local people who are using campgrounds to make sure that they know that there is a cost to running campgrounds in regard to having garbage hauled away and enough campfire wood for people to use, and so on, and to encourage local people to pay their fees, too.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, a person only has to travel outside the territory. In fact, I would dare to suggest our neighbours in Alaska don't have near the campground facilities we have, and my experience of staying in their campgrounds is that they are not nearly as well maintained.
So, I would hope that Yukoners this summer, when they are using the campgrounds, would appreciate that and pay the fee.
As I understand it, there is to be no fee increase for this year. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That's correct.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I have also suggested twice now during debate that the volunteer COs' efforts be appreciated with a campground permit being given to them, those who have volunteered their time over the winter and who volunteer their time in the fall.
Is the minister going to put this suggestion into effect?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know the member has raised this during a briefing. It is a good suggestion that we can bring forward. It's not going to be a major cost to us. It just shows a lot of appreciation to those who do a lot of voluntary work for us.
Ms. Duncan: That's why I suggested it. It is not a huge cost to the department and it shows a real appreciation for our volunteers. I actually had raised this last year during general debate and that's why I'm restating and reiterating my concern.
Still with campgrounds, I couldn't let the debate go by without a bit of a question about the Big Toy equipment. I know the minister's been waiting for this question. But, in the letter, it says that Kookatsoon would lend itself nicely to this equipment, given its high day use and will be targeted for a playground when funding is available.
Now, I appreciate that these are very expensive. However, on page 3, the minister writes and says that there are some campgrounds where playgrounds may be installed in the future. He lists among the campgrounds: Teslin Lake, Twin Lakes, Dezadeash Lake, Little Salmon Lake and Tombstone. I'm curious as to how the department arrived at this list. All of them make excellent suggestions with the exception of Tombstone.
The people using this type of equipment are travelling with little children. Their tendency is not to travel very, very long distances over long, dusty roads. Their tendency is to travel shorter hauls. Tombstone seems to me to be a very surprising suggestion for this type of playground equipment. Is there some statistics or information that the department collects that indicates why these choices have been suggested?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Other than the fact that some of these campgrounds are used more by towns that are close by - ones that are closer to towns - I can try to find out why Tombstone was picked over other campgrounds that could have this. I know that there are local people from Dawson who do go up there. It is kind of the end of a line. I don't think too many local people go beyond that. I can't say that for sure, but I can get back to the member as to why this particular campground was chosen.
Ms. Duncan: I have a few questions arising out of the technical briefing from the department. There is an update being prepared, and there's work toward the approval and implementation of the Kluane land use plan. Is there a date for when the land use plan might be signed off?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That is an issue, as the member knows, that we brought up right at the beginning, and we wanted to make sure that we follow through with this plan.
We did have a couple of concerns in making sure that we do this properly, and this was to go out and consult with the affected First Nations. There have been two First Nations that wanted to negotiate their claims before they look at this to make sure that it's not affecting any negotiations whatsoever.
We have continued to have discussions with Champagne-Aishihik First Nation. They are very much supportive of this plan even being implemented the way it is now.
We have a lot of concerns in regard to development and agricultural lands within the plan, but we thought that we could possibly speed this up by involving Champagne-Aishihik and the department and possibly bringing the plan in in phases.
If the other two First Nations wanted to have more input into this plan, we could possibly give them time to do that. It has thrown all schedules off course because we wanted to have this new plan adopted and in place a lot earlier than we have it now. We don't have any specific dates in place but we wanted to be able to work it out with the land use planning council. We wanted them to have a full part in this although they have their own priority list at this point. I don't have to point out to the members the difficulties we're having with the land use planning council in regard to board members, but it's been a very difficult process to get them up and going. We would like to have this resolved very shortly. I would say that if we can get all players at the table, we would like to have this in place within a year.
Ms. Duncan: What I understand the minister to have said is that it's a slow and ongoing process but everyone's trying to keep people at the table and they're working toward a solution on it, and I see the minister nodding.
The protected areas strategy committee, when we discussed this last in the Legislature, had a membership of about 18 people. I would like to ask this of the minister: is everyone still at the table in terms of that steering committee?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we have all the players still committed to this committee, except for CYFN, which has pulled off - in the last few months, I think it was - this advisory committee. They're the only organization that is not part of the advisory committee any more.
On the advisory committees, as you well know, there are the RRCs that still attend, and also First Nations reps.
Ms. Duncan: So then, one would assume that the government would be dealing with the CYFN on a government-to-government basis on this, as opposed to as a member of this advisory committee. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: CYFN had expressed some concerns in regard to the process. It is one of those areas that we're trying to weigh out as to where we need to take consultation - where do we need to go for consultation.
First Nations have expressed concerns that, regardless of the position that CYFN has taken, they want to be part of this process and have asked us to make sure that First Nations are represented on the advisory committee, and that continues today.
Regardless of them being off the advisory committee, we still have input from them.
Ms. Duncan: Are we still looking at a June date for draft strategy for public consultation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we still feel that, yes, we can meet that schedule and have that draft strategy by the end of June.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to ask the minister about the biodiversity forum that was held in early March. A number of suggestions came up, and one of those that came up several times was the involving of students in long-term projects. The suggestion is some kind of a central information database where an individual could then keep track of all the different research going on in the Yukon in terms of the biodiversity inventory, cataloguing, surveys, and so on.
What has happened with suggestions coming out of the biodiversity forum? Has a report been prepared for the Department of Renewable Resources, and what action has been taken?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As the member knows, we have been working quite closely with Yukon College in this regard. Those suggestions are being reviewed by the department.
We have been working with the college on a number of other things, looking at Whitehorse being a central organization.
One was for climate change, and we've made suggestions to the federal government on this whole aspect of global warming, to have Yukon as a central point for all of the north and to have information and studies flowed through the college. But that's a pretty new concept and we've just forwarded that letter to the federal minister.
As the member knows, we still have the contribution agreement with the college in ecosystem monitoring.
Ms. Duncan: Well, related to this is a discussion about endangered species legislation. Now, the federal endangered species legislation died on the Order Paper. I'm wondering where we're at in terms of Yukon legislation, particularly as it concerns plant harvesting.
The minister indicated in the briefing that money has been committed to continuing the developing of the endangered species management strategy. Exactly what are we going to get from this money and what's the overall direction for the department in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, we have been working with the federal government with regard to the Endangered Species Act and the fact that the Yukon had a lot of concerns and interests that have not been reflected in the act that was proposed. But, she did give us a commitment that our concerns, along with those of the Northwest Territories, would be reflected in the act and that they would be putting it forward this summer. We would like to have a look at the federal government's Endangered Species Act and work from that and develop our own, once we have a good look at, and knowledge of, their act.
Ms. Duncan: Am I to understand from the minister's answer that we're not going to do any further work in this area until the federal government proceeds? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have been working with the federal government on this, and we need to make sure that the act that we put forward is compatible with the federal government's act. It only makes sense to make sure right from the beginning that the Yukon has its input into the development of this act, and that seems to be the way it's unfolding.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what's the department's position with respect to harvesting legislation with regard to the commercial gathering of wild plants and fungi? What's the department's position?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As the member knows, for a long time now, Yukoners have gathered berries, mushrooms and so on. We have not had any policies put together on the gathering of wild plants.
I'm not sure if the member is going beyond that. Is she looking at medicine plants, or is she looking at plants like berries and mushrooms and so on?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, let me clarify it for the minister. I was specifically interested in commercial harvesting. I was also interested in whether the department was using this as an information-gathering tool, or if there were any plans to use it as an information-gathering tool.
Now, I realize that Yukoners hate to tell where their favourite berry patch is, but there is important information that can be gleaned from gathering information about commercial harvesting or domestic usage. I just wonder if the department had any plans for using this sort of commercial harvesting specifically as an information-gathering tool.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: At this point, we did not have any plans, I don't believe - I can check into it again - of gathering this information and putting it on paper. I know First Nations have done it in their GIS systems. They've put all this type of information for their departments to use.
From what I gather, it's always up to individuals to go out into their favourite spots.
Ms. Duncan: It was the commercial aspect I was most interested in. I just want to make it clear to the minister I don't want to have my concerns misrepresented somehow. I was interested in the commercial harvest.
I'd like to just touch on one last issue in terms of the general debate on Renewable Resources, and the issue is fishing and, specifically, fishing licences.
The joint fishing licences for boundary lakes are, as I understand it, unlikely to be available for the 1998 fishing season. This is joint with the British Columbia government. Is that correct, or are we going to see joint fishing licences for boundary lakes?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we don't believe that's going to happen this year. We should already have had the agreement with B.C. on this. They have shown a lot of interest in making sure that this happened this coming fishing season, but it has not. It has to go through their process first.
Ms. Duncan: Then the holdup is with British Columbia, as I understand the minister's answer. What about Alaska? Is there any progress from my last questions in Question Period with Governor Knowles, and are there any discussions? Has anything happened since the minister's last answer that indicated there was concern expressed to Alaska about this summer season.
Is there any progress?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The progress that we have made on this is to secure days for a meeting with the commissioner of fish and game. We will be in Juneau on May 19 and 20.
Ms. Duncan: Can I ask the minister what position the Yukon is putting forward at those meetings?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Of course. We're going to be raising a number of issues with them and one of them is to try - we haven't put a bottom line or anything on the cost of licences that Yukoners have to pay to go fishing - to negotiate with them to see if we can reduce that cost for Yukoners and try to keep the good relationship that we do have with them.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, during the discussions we had previously with the minister on this, I suggested that Yukon College has reciprocity arrangements with Alaska. We pay fees in Alaska to attend the University of Alaska as if we were residents. So, is that in the minister's briefcase to go to Alaska to say, "Look, we do it on this occasion; can't we do it on this?" Is that in the minister's arguments?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, that's not part of what we would be taking down. We would like to try to get some special exemptions for places that are most frequented by Yukoners.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I don't think it hurts to have all the arguments with you, and I just recommend to the minister that they take it.
My last question is about long-term planning with regard to the Whitehorse fish hatchery. The minister advised me that this is an agreement that renews automatically every year. Well, an automatic renewal every year doesn't allow the various organizations to sit down and do a five-year business plan and a five-year management plan in terms of the resource. Now, while it renews every year, it's also, of course, subject to discussion.
Is there any thought to sitting down and doing a long-term plan for that resource?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the department has been wanting to engage in long-term planning even though the resources that we do have are specifically set this year. And next year it's the same, I think, and for the next four years that we can see, but we would like to see long-term planning.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I just ask the minister to elaborate. Is there a time frame on sitting down? Has the minister suggested this to the Fish and Game Association and DFO and are they planning to sit down in the near future to do a five-year plan, or is this just somewhere on the to-do list? Is there a time frame attached to it? Has it moved anywhere other than "Yes, we'd like to do it"?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we don't have a time frame on there, other than having the interest to do it at this point.
Mr. Jenkins: Can I just explore with the minister some of the reasons behind his department's decision? I'm referring to the larvicide - the great mosquito debate that I had with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I'm sure I gave the department a heads-up. Vectobac is the larvicide that is used quite commonly throughout the Yukon. It is restricted in its use. Can the minister tell us why?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, I can't give an answer to the member.
Mr. Jenkins: For the minister's information, its use is restricted in commercial quantities. Yet, on the other hand, the two adulticides, Malothian and Propoxur, are readily available. The only way one could be hurt by Vectobac is if a bag fell out of the sky and hit you on the head. It can go into the food chain, the fish can eat it and the birds can digest it with no ill-effect. These two other products, which are readily available, are not restricted by the department. I want to know why.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, we don't take part in mosquito control. C&TS, as the member is fully aware, runs this program. I can't give the members details as to why these are being restricted.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm well-aware as to who conducts the mosquito control program in the Yukon, Mr. Chair. That's not the issue. The issue is the area that the minister and his department have control over, and that is the control of these pesticides and larvicides.
There are two that are extremely toxic and that are readily available in commercial quantities - they are adulticides - and there are no restrictions on their use in the Yukon. Yet one, Vectobac, which is one-ten-thousandth less toxic than either of these other two products, is restricted by the minister's officials, and I would like to know why. Perhaps, if the minister can't answer it, I'm sure he can bring back a legislative return, because it is a very important issue, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I can get back to the member and try to find out for him to answer his question as to why and provide this information by letter.
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question about the Klondike Valley, and it's from the Klondike Valley chapter of the Yukon Agricultural Association. It's dealing with the lynx reserve.
There's a move afoot to develop some agricultural land in that valley - some large acreages that are outside of the land claims selection of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in - and yet they've been denied. The department has said that they want to study - and I'm talking in the area from the Henderson's Corner to the Dempster Highway corner - the lynx population in that area for another 10 years, despite having studied it for a previous eight years.
Can the minister give some indication as to why an additional 10-year study is necessary in this area before agricultural land can be made available?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Recently I had a look at that note, but I know that, because this is a very unusual area for high numbers of lynx in this area, the department wanted to go through a good study process on lynx. Why eight years versus 10? I can ask the department to get back to the member.
Mr. Jenkins: The issue is, Mr. Chair, we've already studied the lynx population in that area for eight years, and the department has requested another 10-year window to continue a study on the lynx population of that area. Well, that means an 18-year total window that we're going to undertake these studies in, which precludes the development of any agricultural potential in that area for another decade, Mr. Chair.
What is the reason for requiring that long of a window to undertake a study for a lynx population in a specific area?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't believe the member has correct numbers, but I'll have to go back and have a look at that. I had thought there was a 10-year study that had to be done, and that it was not in addition to that. But I'll have to get back to the member and check out the number of years that they require for study for the lynx.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I have a courtesy copy of a letter addressed to the Government Leader, dated February 12, from the Yukon Agricultural Association Klondike Valley chapter and it deals with this specific situation. The studies that are outlined here in this letter are for another 10 years of studies on top of what's already been completed. I'm just at a loss to justify - as I'm sure the minister is - why another 10 years of studies are needed on top of the previous eight. Can the minister find out that information and get it back by way of legislative return, if it's more appropriate, because I can't answer that for the questioner.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I need to go back and make sure that what has been said by the Agricultural Association is correct. I don't know that. I can have that information returned to the member by letter.
Mr. Jenkins: I have one final question dealing with our recycling program that the minister's department is charged with, and it's with respect to the tetrapacks and the new refund/deposit. As I said earlier in this House, I am not adverse to imposing a deposit on tetrapacks to ensure that they're recycled. But, what we're doing is imposing a deposit, and the refund is half the amount that's being required for a deposit. This is, in fact, another tax on the end users. It's another tax; another charge. Call it anything you want, but it is another tax to fund a specific area of government one way or another.
Has the department undertaken a study to see what the impact will be on a basic family on their food costs for the additional charges levied for the non-refundable part of the deposit?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As the member knows, the other half that is not being refunded goes toward handling charges. This is all related back to basically getting garbage recycled and cleaned up. We don't believe that it would have a big impact on the end consumer in regard to the cost of juices and so on that are in these tetrapacks. There are other ways that they could be buying these products and avoiding the charges that are put on them for recycling.
I think what we can do is make sure that the general public out there is aware that the other products that are out there do not have these additional charges put on them. They are not taxes. They are for proper handling and recycling and so on of these containers.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we can call it anything we want, but it is an additional charge; it is an additional tax or a user fee, or whatever you wish to call it. I'm sure the minister should go back to his department and conduct a further review and make the deposit and the refund equal for any food items.
Now, the minister is going to rise on his feet and say some of these are beverages that could be determined to be not quite a food item, that they are more of a beverage like a soda pop. But they're non-carbonated and yes, some of them are in that category. They're a fruit punch or something of that nature, but they're much better for our youth to consume than soda pop.
I want to know why the minister won't adopt a policy to make food items and beverage items have a uniform deposit and refund. I think there's tremendous costs that a normal family will incur by having this additional burden on them, Mr. Chair. Can the minister give some reason other than it goes into a fund to recycle? Why this item alone?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There are a lot of items that we had in regard to recycling. What we did not want to do was to get into putting these additional charges on foods that go through the household. Like I said, there are other containers that these families can be purchasing.
As to making it a bit fairer, this was a process that we thought would make it a bit fairer for those containers. We did not want to be impacting, again, on the end users and those who are using it for the purpose of food. We wanted to focus this more on the mixing of drinks, and so on.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I just want to get into this debate, because this particular deposit is going to have a huge impact on the family grocery bill, and anyone who suggests that it isn't, hasn't grocery shopped lately. The minister stands on his feet and says there's product alternative available elsewhere.
Deputy Chair: It is now 5:30. We'll be taking a break until 7:30.
Deputy Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there any further general debate on Renewable Resources?
Ms. Duncan: I was in mid-sentence when we noticed it was 5:30, and I'd just like to finish this issue with regard to the tetrapacks and the juice packs. The minister indicated that juice was not considered a food and this is one of the reasons. Well, I'd just like to remind the minister that the WHO, or World Health Organization, formula for children who are suffering from diarrhea or dehydration is water, orange juice and sugar. I think that's it. The orange juice comes in tetrapacks, and not everyone has access to a freezer for juices, and juices are not to be refrozen. If the alternative comes in a can, I can tell you, as a reasonably diligent shopper, although I'm not nearly as good at that as some of my friends, they will tell you that the price is certainly comparable.
Now, I have no issue with deposits and recycling. Our family recycles diligently. However, I do have an issue with paying 10 cents and getting back five. I support the recycling fund but even half is - 10 cents on a tetrapack of juice, if it's the larger container, is a lot of money, and for the minister to stand and say that it doesn't impact family budgets is absolutely incorrect. With all due respect, it's going to have a huge impact on my family budget and, in spite of the recycling, we're only going to get back a portion of that.
Now, I understand the pop can lobby and others who have suggested that there are reasons for these soft drink containers to be recycled. I fully understand that, and we recycle those as well, but I would put to you that a can of soft drink is a luxury, whereas a tetrapack of juice is not. It's a food item.
And if these regulations are going ahead, I just would like to see the minister, one, take some of these points into consideration, and, two, if this is the stance of the department, when are we getting a recycling deposit on milk cartons, because as far as I'm concerned it's the same issue?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I understand where the member is coming from on this. I did say that we tried not to impact on the family foods, basically, and increase the dollars to that. I did say that there were alternatives, I guess, to juices and so on. The way in which the department had come up with this was, basically, through public consultation and public review done a while back. There was a lot of support for this, and there was also support for getting rid of tetrapacks altogether because they are not environmentally friendly containers. Also, there were a lot of different comments through this review. Most stakeholders, basically, supported these containers for deposit refund, so that's where this had come from. They had talked about these containers having juice in them and the fact that they're bought for the common household.
As far as foods go, I did not say that they were not considered food. What I said was that we tried not to hit that market, and this, in ways, does, for those who buy tetrapacks. They can go to other types of containers that have juice in them if they want to get away from this deposit.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm certainly not pleased with what the minister had to respond with. Tetrapacks are recyclable. There are two plants, one in Wisconsin, and there's another one being constructed down in Washington state, I believe, that will recycle tetrapacks.
Tetrapacks are a proven and probably the most inexpensive way to ship liquid commodities - the most inexpensive way, Mr. Chair.
We're not asking for anything significant from the minister. All we're asking for is that the deposit and refund be of similar amounts. I'm looking for a commitment from the minister that when it comes to food items, that that kind of a presentation be there.
We're not opposing recycling; that's not the issue. We're for recycling and we think a lot can be done. Mind you, when you look at the statistics as to how much we're going to save in landfill by recycling tetrapacks, it is extremely insignificant when it comes to - let's say for comparison purposes - to newsprint or cardboard cartons or cardboard packaging.
They are the major items, and that should be the area that should be addressed, not the food items of the households here in Yukon. And I'm looking for a commitment from the minister here today, Mr. Chair, that he will undertake a review of this item and look at making the refund and deposit the same amount, because whether the information the minister has presented to him is accurate or not, it is going to have a significant impact on the normal family budget.
The small tetrapacks - there are three in a Saranwrap; they come that way and sell from $1.00 to $2.00, in that range. They are usually the main items that are in a lunch for our children, Mr. Chair.
You can look at all of the remote areas that have juices shipped into them, and it is very difficult to ship frozen, and cans are out of the question. The easiest way, Mr. Chair, and it's been proven time and time again all through the Northwest Territories, all through the remote areas of Canada, is with tetrapacks. Milk in tetrapacks, the UHT, was a tremendous improvement over powdered products and canned milk.
It has a taste that is very similar, when it's cool, to that of whole milk. Now, it's been widely accepted, and this government's platform, Mr. Chair, was no new taxes, and this is another form of taxation. So, I want the minister to stand on his feet, address this issue and look at reviewing the area of refunds and deposits and making the refunds and deposits similar - not a deposit of 10 cents and a refund of five cents, like the regulations they are going to have on a lot of these products. That is going to cost a lot of families a lot of money, and the minister is doing a disservice to Yukoners by implementing this kind of a policy. Now, will the minister entertain that kind of a scenario?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I've said to the member that we have gone through a public consultation on this, and it was supported that tetrapacks and tin be part of the recycling material. I can tell the member that there hasn't been any final decisions on this, and I can take his suggestions back and have them considered, along with others.
Mr. Cable: I've listened to the debate on wolf management.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: Very little. The leader of the official opposition asked what I knew about wolves, and the answer is, very little. That's why I'm asking the question.
When we first started off in Question Period, the minister mentioned gunship-control over the wolves. Then, during the rather extended debate on the Finlayson caribou herd, I had the impression that the minister had ruled out "lethal control" - I think the jargon is - of the wolves. Could the minister clarify for us, on this side of the House, who are not familiar with wolves and wolf control, what his philosophy is. Is he against the killing of wolves for predator control?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What we would like to do is have the wolf conservation management plan to guide us through the management of wildlife, and wolves in particular. We had said that we would go to all measures to try to avoid getting into a situation where we'd be faced with doing predator control.
As you know, I said earlier that the wolf conservation management plan calls for two years of no hunting, if we are to look at even considering a wolf predator control. Although, we have continued, through our department, to have our technical people out there training people in the snaring of wolves and have tried to get people interested in trapping wolves again.
The price is low. It had an impact on trappers but I think the interest is there with them once again. Just having these new humane methods of trapping - using the new traps that have come out - had a bit of an impact on the industry out there, and we're trying to help them out with that.
This government will not be going out and killing wolves by helicopters. We will be out there, should it be a safety concern with the general public. We will be enforcing, having our officers out there protecting the public, as we do with bears.
Mr. Cable: Okay. Just let me feed back what I think I've heard over the last several weeks, and what I just think I heard the minister say.
There is no absolute reluctance, then, to control wolves by killing them.
Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It's our position and we've said it over and over again that this government will not be going out there and will not be taking any helicopters and killing wolves. We think that there is a better way of involving people more and more in better management. Just talking with, for example, the Ross River people, they have the same interests. They understand that wolves do take down animals and can reduce the numbers fairly quickly. There is an interest on their behalf and of ours to try and get trappers a bit more active, but we would not be going out and killing wolves. It's not our position as a government at all unless, of course, it relates to the safety of people. Now in saying that and saying that we support the wolf conservation management plan, I just laid out how, if you were to go to wolf control, what needs to take place during that time and I think those are fairly major steps to be taken. Even during those two years of no hunting, I think we still can come up with ways of lessening the impact on the caribou and moose that we have out there.
Mr. Cable: Okay, so what I think the minister is saying then is that there's no absolute bar to a wolf killing and that if it's to be done it'll be done under the terms of reference of the Yukon wolf conservation and management plan, but it will not be done from aircraft. If it's to be done, it'll be done through the mechanics of trapping. Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What I've said in the past is that we don't support these methods that have been carried out in the Aishihik caribou herd. It's not what we want to do. We would like to try to find other ways of doing it.
Mr. Cable: The other ways of doing it then is killing wolves by trapping. Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I said that we would be supporting trappers and having our technical people teaching them new methods, and we'd be supporting the public on this. At this point, we have been directed by the public, and it's our belief that we don't need to go to the extent that we've gone to with the Aishihik caribou herd. I think that by working closely with local people, we can do things differently.
Mr. Cable: The problem that I'm having is that I don't really see the philosophical advantage of trapping a wolf and letting it die in a trap, while at the same time saying that there's some philosophical problem with shooting it from a helicopter. What is there about trapping a wolf that makes the killing of the wolf acceptable, while the shooting of the wolf from a helicopter is not acceptable?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, I didn't think we would get too deeply into this at all, but people in the Yukon have been trapping wolves for years, and to go out and shoot wolves by helicopter and so on is more or less a slaughter of wolves.
It's not considered an income, like trappers rely on. It's more of an accepted type of method with a lot of Yukon people - not all. A lot of them don't support any type of killing of wolves at all, and in considering the overall approach to ecosystem management, wolves play a big role in the circle of life out there.
Mr. Cable: Let's leave that then. Something I'd like to ask the minister about is his efforts in greenhouse-gas control. The minister was in Saint John's, Newfoundland, I guess it was, at a meeting of the ministers of the environment, and I gather that there was a Canada-wide accord on environmental harmonization signed. Was the Yukon Territory a signatory to that accord?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we were.
Mr. Cable: The copy that we pulled off the Internet has a number of subagreements referred to in the document. The paragraph on subagreements says, "The governments will enter into multilateral subagreements to implement the commitments set out in this accord."
Where do those subagreements sit? Are they being negotiated? Have any been signed? Just what are they going to deal with?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There was an agreement that we would continue to work on several subagreements. One of them was on the monitoring and reporting, research and development, and the environmental emergencies, and also proceed with the development of subagreements on enforcement. The enforcement one was one that the provinces and territories have been showing more interest in, and also, the subagreement on international agreements.
Mr. Cable: I'm not sure I follow that completely. I wonder if the minister would give me a letter on these various subagreements that are being negotiated or have been negotiated, and the status of the various subagreements, and when does he anticipate they will be signed, if, in fact, they haven't been signed?
The last question I have is that the budget item that's found in Renewable Resources - I think the minister's predecessor, who had two hats on - one, Economic Development and one as Renewable Resources minister - dealt with them through both departments.
Who is actually driving the greenhouse-gas control train? Is that Renewable Resources, is it Economic Development, or is it both of them together, through some committee?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Both departments have been working on this, although the Department of Renewable Resources is basically the one that is driving this.
Mr. Cable: I'm sorry. Could the minister just repeat that last answer? There's a cartoonist in the House, who just tickled my fancy here.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Both departments have been working on this. It's Renewable Resources that is the driving department behind this.
Deputy Deputy Chair: Any further debate?
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Deputy Deputy Chair: Any general debate on administration?
Mr. Ostashek: I just have one question on administration. I see there is a reduction of transfer payments, from $714,000 to $449,000. Can you explain what that is?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Is the member speaking about the 30 to 65? Is that the number?
Mr. Ostashek: I'm looking at the financial summary page. Under allotments, at the bottom of the page, it says transfer payments are down 37 percent. Could the minister tell us why they're down 37 percent?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not following what page the member's on.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Just give me a second. I have to get back to the member on that. I know that the transfer payments are due to the funding to the Yukon Conservation Society and that has increased to $35,000.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I don't believe the minister is following me. It's on page 11-4 of the budget book and it's the total transfer payments to the department. It's the financial summary at the top of the page. And when we look, there's $449,000 estimated for this fiscal year and the estimate for last year was $714,000 and the 1996-97 actuals were $752,000. And if you go over to the first page of when you start getting into the administration, I see that one alone has dropped from $405,000 to $289,000.
So, if the minister could give us why the overall transfer payment has dropped, we don't have to ask it in each section of his department. That's the only reason we asked the question here now. Could he just tell us: what is the reason for the 37 percent drop in transfer payments?
If the minister doesn't have it, I would appreciate a letter from him so I would understand why the transfer payments have dropped.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't know all that is in this but I know that the $289,000 part of this was the reduction in the payment into the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Trust Fund that we had basically paid up to date and we had budgeted for but did not need to put any more money into that trust. So, the majority of that is from this.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, I'm not satisfied with that answer, and I would ask the minister, if he would, go back to his department - I don't need it now. I'm prepared to clear the department, but I want to know why there is the reduction.
The $289,000 is on the administration page, and that's the total estimate for 1998-99. The page previous to that though, which says "Vote 14 Department of Renewable Resources Financial Summary," the transfer payments overall are for $449,000 for the 1998-99 estimate, where last year's forecast for 1997-98 was $714,000.
If the minister could write me a letter and tell me why there is the drop of 37 percent, almost $300,000 in transfer payments, I would just like to know for my curiosity and being able to verify the budget that the minister has put forward.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We could bring back to the member in writing a breakdown of that. I know that we would come back to this amount, the Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Trust Fund, which was an agreement made through the land claims agreement through the department, that we no longer have to put dollars into. We've taken that out and used it elsewhere.
Deputy Deputy Chair: Does general debate clear on Renewable Resources administration?
On General Management
General Management in the amount of $202,000 agreed to
On Finance and Administration
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,279,000 agreed to
Deputy Deputy Chair: Are there any questions on statistics?
Administration in the amount of $1,481,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Deputy Deputy Chair: Is there any general debate?
Director in the amount of $267,000 agreed to
On Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis in the amount of $336,000 agreed to
On Planning and Resource Policy
Planning and Resource Policy in the amount of $155,000 agreed to
On GIS/Remote Sensing
GIS/Remote Sensing in the amount of $259,000 agreed to
Deputy Deputy Chair: Are there any questions on the statistics?
Policy and Planning in the amount of $1,017,000 agreed to
On Environment, Parks and Field Services
Deputy Deputy Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Office of the Assistant Deputy Minister
Office of the Assistant Deputy Minister in the amount of $88,000 agreed to
On Field Services
Field Services in the amount of $2,428,000 agreed to
On Parks and Protected Areas
Parks and Protected Areas in the amount of $2,295,000 agreed to
On Environmental Protection and Assessment
Environmental Protection and Assessment in the amount of $996,000 agreed to
Environment, Parks and Field Services in the amount of $5,807,000 agreed to
On Resource Management
On Office of the Assistant Deputy Minister
Office of the Assistant Deputy Minister in the amount of $89,000 agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife
Fish and Wildlife in the amount of $3,908,000 agreed to
Agriculture in the amount of $565,000 agreed to
Resource Management in the amount of $4,562,000 agreed to
On Land Claims
Ms. Duncan: In the technical briefing, there was a note that said, "This particular section will provide the department's lead in the resolution of outfitter compensation claims arising from the settlement of land claims." It's on page eight of my technical briefing notes. Could the minister provide me with a legislative return as to how many outstanding outfitter compensation claims are presently faced by the government and what the value of those might be? Could I have that by legislative return please?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we could provide that.
On Land Claims Administration
Land Claims Administration in the amount of $233,000 agreed to
On Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA)
Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) in the amount of $728,000 agreed to
Deputy Deputy Chair: Prior years' activities, zero.
Land Claims in the amount of $961,000 agreed to
Deputy Deputy Chair: Are there any questions on recoveries and revenue as shown on the green page?
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources in the amount of $13,828,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Deputy Deputy Chair: Is there any general debate on administration in capital?
On Equipment and Furniture
On Departmental Equipment
Departmental Equipment in the amount of $45,000 agreed to
On Office Furniture and Equipment
Office Furniture and Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Information Systems
On Computer Equipment
Computer Equipment in the amount of $56,000 agreed to
On Information Systems
Information Systems in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Local Area Network - Phase IV
Local Area Network - Phase IV in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Deputy Deputy Chair: Is there any general debate in policy and planning?
On Renewable Resources Geographic Information
Renewable Resources Geographic Information in the amount of $67,000 agreed to
On Land Interest Management System
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, this is an extension of the LIMS project under Government Services, is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That's correct.
Ms. Duncan: I would anticipate, then, that this is the digitizing of the maps and so on that was to be put out for local tender. Do we have a date when that tender might be issued?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, I don't have a date for this tender. I can have that sent to the member.
Land Interest Management System in the amount of $18,000 agreed to
On State of the Environment Report
State of the Environment Report in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Greater Kluane Land Use Plan
Greater Kluane Land Use Plan in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
Policy and Planning in the amount of $125,000 agreed to
On Environment, Parks and Field Services
Deputy Deputy Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Lands and Facilities
On Capital Maintenance Upgrades
Capital Maintenance Upgrades in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Energy Management Project
Energy Management Project in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Territorial Parks and Protected Areas
On Park System Plan
Park System Plan in the amount of $190,000 agreed to
On Resource Assessment
Resource Assessment in the amount of $180,000 agreed to
On Coal River Springs
Coal River Springs in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Kusawa Lake Management Plan
Kusawa Lake Management Plan in the amount of one dollar agreed to
On Environmental Protection and Assessment
On Special Waste Collection
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister just elaborate on what we're going to undertake here? I thought most of this was a federal initiative, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This project is basically for identification and disposal of special waste in the Yukon. YTG coordinates efforts by tendering the annual contract and paying the overall contractor costs up front and recovering individual generator costs on a user-pay basis, after transportation and disposal costs have been calculated. Individual waste generators are responsible for disposal costs, which will result in an estimated recovery of $24,000, based on previous experience.
Mr. Jenkins: This was an issue that was addressed by the federal government some years ago, when they did an assessment throughout the Yukon. A complete catalogue was done, funds for cleanup were identified, and the federal government undertook that initiative. Now, what areas are we going to be specifically targeting in this regard, to justify this kind of capital cost, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Basically, it's expected that the $60,000 will cover the cost of collection.
Mr. Jenkins: That's what I'm getting at: collection of what? All of the areas were identified previously by the federal government. The costs that were incurred were a federal government responsibility of cleaning up in remote areas. Now, what are we doing this time that hasn't already been done?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This is basically household hazardous wastes and the high cost of $80,000 of the 1995 collection is attributed basically to household waste that was diverted at the City of Whitehorse landfill, at a cost of $21,000.
Special Waste Collection in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Global Warming/Climate Change Analysis
Mr. Jenkins: Other than putting a range hood over the NDP caucus to collect all the high gases that are originating there, what are we going to be doing in this regard to justify this capital cost?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It is a $50,000 amount for this year, initiated to do a review of the predicted effects of climate change on the Yukon, accounting for both the environmental and economic implications.
Global Warming/Climate Change Analysis in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Territorial Campgrounds and Day Use Areas
On Capital Works - Campground Facilities
Mr. Jenkins: The busiest campground in the Yukon is the one across the river at Dawson City. What capital undertakings do you have identified there, Mr. Chair? It has the highest use, by and large, of any of the campgrounds in the Yukon.
Is there a move afoot to expand this campground? What capital undertakings will be done there this fiscal period?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We're checking to see but I don't believe that there are any dollars in our capital plan for any additional major expansion of the campground in Dawson. This $200,000 was going toward the campground in Watson Lake.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, it looks like we've finally got some work for Watson Lake. I'm very pleased to hear that.
The campground in west Dawson, on the west side of the Yukon River, is the busiest campground in the Yukon. It has just shy of 100 stalls that have the highest occupancy rate of any campground in the Yukon.
Why isn't this being clearly identified as a region that requires attention and expansion, and why isn't your department undertaking that requirement? We're supposed to meet the needs of the travelling public. Tourism is the last surviving strength that we have in the Yukon as far as an industry. Are you going to kill that too, or are you going to expand the areas that need expanding?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The department has been doing the evaluations of the different campgrounds throughout the Yukon and have put a priority list together. They have ongoing programs to do upgrades and so on. This year, it was identified that the Watson Lake campground will receive a large sum of money to do rehabilitation and reconstruction of the campground and day use area.
Capital Works - Campground Facilities in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Outdoor Recreation Sites and Corridors
On Outdoor Recreation System Plan
Outdoor Recreation System Plan in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Heritage Rivers
On Yukon River (30 mile section)
Yukon River (30 mile section) in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Bonnet Plume River
Bonnet Plume River in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Tatshenshini River
Tatshenshini River in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Environment, Parks and Field Services in the amount of $875,000 agreed to
On Resource Management
On Wildlife Viewing
Ms. Duncan: I would just like to express on the record my support, which is well-known in this House and with the public, for the wildlife viewing program. It is an important element of our tourism industry, as well as education for Yukoners. I'm disappointed that the funding for this area has been reduced. I'm wondering: why the reduction?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It was just a matter of priorities within government budget planning.
Ms. Duncan: Am I to take it from the minister's remarks then, Mr. Chair, that this is not a priority for the department?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In the government's overall budget, this is just one area that did not receive any additional dollars. It is not an area that we said is not a priority. It's of much interest to us, and in the future we would like to see additional dollars going to wildlife viewing.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, two of the major wildlife viewing sites that immediately come to mind are Swan Haven, and in the Tombstone there's a site. I know from the budget briefing that almost half of this funding is going toward the five locations within the Town of Faro. I'm wondering, on the list of wildlife viewing locations, could the minister or his staff provide me with a list of other areas in the Yukon that are targeted and that didn't make the cut this year?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we can do that. Just for the member's interest, we're in capital where we have $60,000, which was a reduction over the previous years, but we did have an increase in O&M in this program, and overall, it has been an increase from $197,000 to $206,000. So, it's very slight, but it's not a major increase.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, just for the record - and I don't want to sound snarky - but I did realize that we are in capital, and what I was expressing was my support for this program. What I'm looking for is an additional list of targeted sites that the department might be looking at as funds become available, much the same as the department has given me a list of targeted campsites when funding becomes available to add the Big Toy facility. What's on the list of potential wildlife viewing sites within the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't see a problem with the department doing that.
Mr. Phillips: Just an update, more than anything else - one area that we haven't heard a lot about in wildlife viewing is the Mount White Goat project, and I wonder if the minister can maybe give us an update on the population in that area now.
What is it doing? Is it going up or down? Quite a few years ago, I think, there were about 15 goats put on that mountain, and I understand it got up as high as 23 or 24. You can see it from the Alaska Highway. Are there any plans in the future to expand that wildlife viewing area to maybe slow our visitors down on the highway?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The department has been looking at this area to have dollars come toward it for wildlife viewing, but in regard to numbers we don't have that with us but we can get them back to the member.
Wildlife Viewing in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife Management Planning
Fish and Wildlife Management Planning in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Aishihik Caribou Evaluation
Aishihik Caribou Evaluation in the amount of $134,000 agreed to
Resource Management in the amount of $294,000 agreed to
Deputy Deputy Chair: Are there any questions on recoveries?
Does the capital carry?
Mr. Ostashek: The capital carries as far as I am concerned. I just want to tell the minister that I don't need a letter from the department on the reduction in transfer payments. With the help of the Clerk, I've found it in the budget book.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We did the same thing.
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources in the amount of $1,434,000 agreed to
Department of Renewable Resources agreed to
Deputy Deputy Chair: Shall we take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Deputy Chair: Ten minutes.
Deputy Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We're entering general debate in the Department of Tourism.
Department of Tourism
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chairman, I'm very pleased to present the 1998-99 operation and maintenance and capital estimates for the Department of Tourism.
Under operation and maintenance estimates, this year, the department will spend $8.9 million. It's a slight overall increase from the last fiscal year. In an era of government living within its means and faced with significant economic challenges, this budget will provide the necessary support to ensure our tourism base continues to thrive and to grow.
Within corporate services, this branch provides leadership and management support to the department in the attainment of its goals. The major change in this budget from last year is a reduction of $213,000 in the contribution agreement of the Yukon Anniversaries Commission. This reflects the end of the anniversary celebration and our commitment to funding these events.
On behalf of the government, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the commission staff and their board, who worked so diligently over the years to make our celebrations the success they have truly been.
Within the heritage branch, in cooperation with the Yukon Historical and Museum Association, the heritage branch is co-hosting the annual meeting of the Canadian Museums Association in late May and early June. This is the first time that these national meetings have been held north of 60O and they will contribute significant economic benefits to local hotels, restaurants and related tourism sector businesses. The heritage branch is also hosting the annual meeting of the association for the conservation of cultural property just prior to the museum meeting.
Within industry services, in addition to ongoing activities, the operational budget for the industry service branch includes expenditures for the continued maintenance of the tourism industry resource centre for such things as acquisition of new resource materials. The resource centre also services an outlet for the Canadian Tourism Commission reports and literature.
Within the marketing branch, the overall budget has increased by two percent, or $118,000, from the 1997-98 forecast level. The department's efforts in the targeted markets into Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are continuing, reflecting our awareness of the ongoing need to remain competitive in the world market.
This budget contains an additional $50,000 for a tourism strategy we developed in cooperation with the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon. This strategy will address market-driven product development initiatives and enhance the quantity and quality of market-ready Yukon products.
Within the arts branch, our government continues to recognize and support the social, cultural and economic contribution made by our arts and cultural industry sector. We are pleased to announce a number of new initiatives in this important sector.
In recognition of the first ever Commissioner's potlatch, we are pleased to announce a $10,000 contribution to this important initiative. The funding will be used, in part, to support the many First Nations artists, storytellers, dancers and musicians expected to take part in this historic celebration.
Also in this budget, we are pleased to announce the first of two $35,000 contributions to the Arctic Winter Games year 2000 cultural celebrations. This funding will provide the opportunity for a major celebration of northern culture during those games.
Mr. Chair, I would now like to speak to the 1998-99 capital estimates of the Department of Tourism. This year, the department will be spending $2.7 million.
Within the heritage branch, $250,000 has been provided under the heritage sites attraction support program to address the landscaping, signage and second access road planning requirements of the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre. This initiative responds to concerns about property landscaping raised by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the City of Whitehorse during the early consultation on the Beringia project.
Under the heritage interpretation and signage program, work will begin this year on the development of a highway interpretive signs plan for the Alaska Highway south and plans for the north and south Klondike highways. The Silver Trail and the Campbell Highway have already been completed.
In conjunction with the celebration of the gold rush anniversary, 15 new signs will be installed this May in the Klondike gold fields, thereby increasing visitor awareness of the Yukon's heritage and enhancing their visit to the Dawson area.
In industry services, formal planning for the 1999 Yukon visitor exit survey is underway, with consultation with key industry stakeholders scheduled for this spring.
In partnership with the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon, the department has budgeted $40,000 to develop a tourism industry profile which will measure the economic value of tourism in the territory.
To assist communities in preparing and implementing their economic plans, this year the branch will undertake three regional tourism development plans instead of the normal one per year.
A workshop approach to tourism planning is underway in Old Crow, in coordination with the First Nation economic development planning, Parks Canada, final agreement initiatives and the Yukon College.
An update to the 1989 Kluane plan will begin in May in consultation with the First Nations and communities of Haines Junction, Destruction Bay, Burwash Landing and Beaver Creek, and the Campbell region will be the third region.
Within the marketing branch, the decline in the capital budget of the marketing branch reflects the completion of the film for the Yukon Visitor Reception Centre last year. This year, the department will purchase multi-media equipment for the five rural visitor reception centres. Each VRC will receive a touch-screen computer, to be used by the public, as a resource to answer questions on the Yukon's communities, attractions and histories. These computers will be identical to the ones currently in use in the Yukon Visitor Reception Centre here in Whitehorse.
Within the arts branch, the capital budget continues to include our support of the Yukon Arts Centre and the arts community with a $50,000 contribution toward the upgrade of its production room facility.
The branch will contribute $50,000 for a major First Nations art and cultural exhibit in Zurich, Switzerland, this summer. This exhibition will see tens of thousands of visitors enjoy and experience our Yukon First Nations culture and will reinforce our overall tourism initiatives in the European market.
I will now take questions and elaborate on specific activities in both the O&M and capital estimates for 1998-99, and thank you very much for the time.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I don't have any questions in general debate, and I'm prepared to go line by line - oh, just a minute. I do have a couple.
Mr. Chair, first of all, I want to do a couple of things. One is to thank the members of the board of the Yukon Anniversaries Commission, in particular the late Marvin Taylor, who did such a great job and was absolutely dedicated to the job on behalf of the Anniversaries Commission.
I want to thank Mark Smith and his hard-working staff at the Anniversaries Commission for their hard work and spirit, which has emanated throughout the various communities in the territory, and wish them well in their future.
I know they've done a great job. The calendar of events that, I think, the Chair is reading as we're speaking, as a matter of fact - probably the only Chair in Committee of the Whole anywhere in the country who reads a paper while we're in the middle of debate, I might add, which is an interesting change to the protocol in this House, and one that I think would be shocking to Chairs and Speakers across the country, if that activity were carried on in other jurisdictions and maybe shows a lack of respect for the House.
Deputy Deputy Chair: I note that the Chair is reviewing some of the tourism materials for the territory, namely the Gold Rush Gazette. Would the member please proceed into the Tourism debate?
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, tonight you got lucky. Mr. Chair, there has been night after night, when you've sat in that chair reading other magazines and books, and I don't think that's the role of the Chair. When we're in here debating a budget, the role of the Chair is to chair the meeting, not to read magazines and newspapers.
Deputy Deputy Chair: Order please. Pursuant to 42(2), could you stick to Tourism and the department debate?
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, there is decorum and protocol in this House that one should observe. Is the Chair telling me that it's appropriate for the Chair to read the Province, as he was the other day when he was chairing Committee of the Whole, or read other newspapers when he's chairing Committee of the Whole? I have observed the Chair many days in this House doing this and haven't said anything, but it seems to me that there is a total lack of respect for this House.
There was an article in the paper last night about people sitting on the other side with their feet up on the desk. The Deputy Speaker, the other day, was reading the Globe and Mail while we were in the middle of debate.
Deputy Deputy Chair: Could you return to Tourism department debate. If you want to raise a point of order and recall the Speaker in to make a ruling, that's your prerogative, Mr. Phillips.
Mr. Phillips: I'll tell you what I'll do, Mr. Chair, I'll ask that you refer the question of the Chair of Committee of the Whole reading a newspaper in the middle of debate when he's supposed to be chairing Committee of the Whole. I ask you to refer that to the Chair and bring it forward to the House. Mr. Chair, I'll ask you to do that, and you tell me if it's right.
Deputy Deputy Chair's ruling
Deputy Deputy Chair: I hear the member has a concern. If you want to refer it to the SCREP, the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, that's your prerogative. I ask you now to return to Tourism debate.
Mr. Phillips: I will, Mr. Chair, but I also ask the Chair to cease and desist reading newspapers in the House when he's chairing Committee of the Whole. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the producers of the new film for the VRC and the staff of the marketing branch who worked with them in producing the film. I had an opportunity to view it the other night and I think the film was very well done. It expresses the spirit of the Yukon Territory and, of course, we always talk about the people and the beautiful scenery and I think the film does an outstanding job of both of those.
Mr. Chair, a couple of questions that I have for the minister - one concern that has been raised is about the direction that one of our key partners in tourism is going, and that's the Alaska State Department of Tourism. They've changed the way they're marketing and what they're doing with respect to their programs. In fact, they're eliminating the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council and my understanding is that it may put in jeopardy, and raise concerns about, Tourism North.
We do a lot of partnering with Alaska. We gain a lot of benefits. We piggyback on their efforts and we've gained a lot of benefits.
Does the minister have any concerns over how that might affect us with the huge marketing dollars that have been spent in Alaska before - that draws thousands of visitors to Alaska each year to stop in the Yukon? Does the minister have any concerns about where Alaska is going and how that's going to affect our rubber-tire traffic, primarily, on the Alaska Highway?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Deputy Chair, we do have concerns with our nearest neighbour, but we certainly continue to work with our partners in Alaska and will continue to do so.
As to the specific changes that are being put up, I'm not completely briefed as to all of the changes but, certainly, I know that there's a close proximity. Our closest neighbour in the north, at least on one side certainly, has been able to work greatly with them to encourage many people coming to the Yukon, not only in terms of the Shakwak project, in international marketing, joint marketing together - not only those issues but, certainly, many other issues.
Certainly, I do have concerns with anything that would be to the detriment of the Yukon Territory and tourism and we'll have to find out what is going on.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, has the minister seen this document, "Attention Alaska Traveller or Industry Members"? It's a document that's got the Alaska flag in the corner - commerce and economic development. I believe it must be their letterhead from their Department of Tourism, but it says some things that are quite alarming. It says, "The division of tourism would be stripped of all marketing and promotion powers. Programs like Tourism North and the joint offices we operate with the Division of Trade in Japan and Korea would be threatened, as would targeted off-season marketing efforts in our work with the North American travel trade. The Tok Visitors Centre, which is now operated by the Division of Tourism, would close. The rural tourism centre operated by the Alaska Village Initiatives and funded by Rural Division would close."
And it says at the bottom, the last note is in bolder letters, says, "Now is the time to make your voice heard."
If the minister hasn't seen a copy of this, I would make it available to him. I don't need it right now because the minister said he isn't fully aware of it, but maybe I could have an update from the department of these dramatic changes to Alaska's marketing, and what effect they might have on us. If the minister could provide that in writing, I would be happy to receive that.
I raised this question in Question Period - and I didn't really get an answer - that I believe the people in the industry are concerned about. There was a concern expressed at the Tourism Industry Association AGM in Dawson City over the high power rates, WCB increases, travel costs like fuel which are more in the Yukon than they are in other jurisdictions, and the concern about the Yukon product remaining competitive.
So, I would just like to ask the minister if he shares those concerns, and what is the minister doing - I mean, these are immediate concerns. I don't want to hear the minister talk about what happened in the past. These are concerns that were expressed by the people in the industry a couple of weeks ago about things that are coming down the tube now that are going to affect the businesses. So, does the minister share those concerns, and what is he looking at doing to sort of counteract these higher costs, which will drive our product costs higher?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Deputy Chair, I'd certainly appreciate it if the member opposite would provide the letter that he has, or at least the date of the letter so that we might get a copy, because there are very, very significant allegations within the document that are quite scary to us here. So, if we could have a copy of that, I would very much appreciate it so we can get right on with countering it and to working with the Alaska folks so that we might be able to continue the relationship that we've grown to find very mutual and beneficial to both jurisdictions. So, I would certainly appreciate having that document.
As for keeping our product competitive, there is quite a challenge for the tourism industry, for the Department of Tourism, and all players within the Yukon Territory that hold tourism dear to their hearts. As it's been said by all sides of the House - from the official opposition to the critic of the third party to me, and I think not just limited to the people who are focusing on tourism, but to all members of the caucuses - that we share the desire to keep tourism going as it has been and as it will continue. Therein lies the greatest challenge.
After the decade of the anniversaries, we do have our four pillars that we're working with - the nature, the people, the era of Beringia, and the gold rush and the Klondike era. They are certainly all beneficial to us.
The advice that I've sought and have been provided with so far - and certainly we are going to be receiving more professional advice - is that the challenge is keeping the Yukon very much a high-end destination - I know that the member opposite is very aware of that - and to keep people coming, not to a mom-and-pop kind of show, but to the Yukon, to the people of it, to what the Yukon actually means.
Therein is the challenge. We find that it is going to be quite a challenge, but I do believe that we're up to it if we all pull together and work together for it, and we'll get into providing more people coming to the Yukon Territory and more people exposing themselves to our wonderful country and to the businesses that providing the tourism secrets. Well, pardon me, it used to be a secret, but now it is globally marketed. It has become not just our little secret now but a world secret. People are coming here.
As we keep it a high-end market, we will keep our product very, very competitive, because nowhere else in the world, I think, do they have the product that we do have.
Now, the Member for Faro, the Minister of Economic Development, has spoken to the power rates increase and the fuel increase, but I believe, as the Minister of Tourism, that if we keep the marketing as we are and we keep allocating resources toward tourism, we will, with everyone working together, get to where we want to get to; that is, to keep the Yukon as a world-class destination and a high-end market.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I have to differ somewhat with the minister. I, too, think the Yukon has a great product, but we're now ending the era of the celebrations and the anniversaries, and we're moving into another realm of Yukon product.
I know that one of the areas the minister is interested in is First Nations products. The other areas are wilderness tourism and outdoor adventure. My concern, Mr. Chair, is that there are a whole bunch of other jurisdictions that have been there before us, have more money than us in the marketing field and are offering very similar products.
Maybe they're not as beautiful or exclusive as we might have in the Yukon, but the minister must admit that he's been to ITB and he's been to London. He's opened the brochures of other jurisdictions like Iceland and South America and others. It would almost be hard to tell the difference between the kind of white-water rafting product in Iceland and the white-water rafting product in the Yukon to someone choosing a product. What makes the big difference sometimes is the price.
I think that that's the concern I have. We are going to be selling the Yukon - a special place - but we're also competing now in the same marketplace, such as white-water rafting, wilderness tourism and those kinds of things, as others are. My concern is that we have to remain competitive. There are governments in other jurisdictions that are doing many, many things to make their product competitive.
We have the added disadvantage of being a little farther away from everything and a little more costly to visit, and that drives our price up. My concern was this: what are we doing to ensure that we don't price ourselves out of the marketplace?
Unless you are really focusing and really target-marketing, if you have an extremely high-end price, you'd better be really good at it, or you're not going to get the people to come here.
A lot of the people who drive up our Alaska Highway or do fly-drive kind of trips are not really the high-end market. Like, the German market that's coming here are not the highest end German market. The ones that are coming this year with Air Transat are sort of the middle-of-the-road German market.
Hopefully, they're going to spend a lot of money, but if they find out that our gas prices and all our other prices are extremely high in the Yukon, they've got four wheels on those vehicles, and in one day now, with our good highways, they can be in Alaska, where it might be cheaper, and they can do some similar things.
That's my concern; we have to remain competitive with the cost of our hotel rooms, the cost of our packages and the products we serve. So, I'd encourage the minister to continue working on trying to get the price down on the products.
The other concern I have is about First Nation products. I know the minister is working on that, as we did when we were in government; we developed some First Nation products, Mr. Chair.
Is the minister satisfied that we're getting more good product on line? I know there was a shortage of product before, and we needed to get good, high quality product on line. I attended things like Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, and saw that type of product there. We have the individual at Haines Junction, who has a fantastic product out near Champagne.
There are a few others that are developing now, but I know we were really crunched - the demand was much higher than the product we had. I wonder if the minister is satisfied with the development of the product and whether he thinks we can meet the emerging needs.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the member opposite for the comments. Certainly, I can agree with the member opposite that we do have a challenge ahead of us. I found most interesting the Thursday that we were both at, where we had Kent, Trent and Peter come up and talk about their different ways of doing things.
I think we might have to focus more on that. We might have to facilitate more of those type of workshops, because I found that so very, very interesting when, I believe it was Peter, was going through that very growth dynamic, and he was on the one lake. I forget the name of the lake, off the top of my head, that he was at, but there were resorts all around. They started to look around at the packaging and how to dovetail with other things. Now, I understand that they even have a polar bear scoot almost up to Churchill, Manitoba, and different products that they match.
I think therein lies the challenge, and certainly you've given me food for thought that we might be able to rustle that around and be able to work with the existing operators, so that we do not have one operator over another or one sector of the tourism industry over another sector of the tourism industry, but we work with the people we have.
I know the member asked about the product development and am I satisfied with the product packaging. I'd just like to say that, as the minister, I'm not here strictly with loves for a First Nation product or the Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon, but represent the tourism industry as a whole, including hoteliers, the restaurateurs - everybody. And that's the challenge, where we have to pull them together and we have to come up with that high-end product.
Right now, as I notice the member opposite is very much aware, we do not have that high-end product for the Asian market, et cetera, and if we're going to be looking at that, we have to have a product of three-, four-, five-star quality that will come about. And that is, in my mind anyway, and certainly help me out if you can, to find a way that we keep that high-end product with the people we have here, package it with the existing product and four pillars, because certainly people do want to see Yukon nature and they do want to see Yukon First Nation products.
Now, this is probably a rather long-winded answer and the member opposite asked me if I was pleased with the packaging or the product that we have now, and certainly I think that we can always afford to have more quality First Nation products and more quality tour operators - not necessarily just First Nations - but certainly things that revolve around the four pillars: the nature, the people, the era of Beringia and certainly the gold rush.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the minister for that answer. Mr. Chair, I certainly, for one, would be supportive of the government putting more efforts into product development, both First Nation and otherwise, because I think that right now is where we need more effort, because I think we've got a demand building.
Mr. Chair, the reason I raised the First Nation issue and the First Nations' product was that it was noticeable at the TIA convention that the executive director of the First Nations Tourism Association was there to hear that presentation that was given by the two marketing people, which was excellent by the way, and I agree with the minister that it was first class. All the presenters at that conference were very good this time.
But, what I'm concerned about is that some of the young people, First Nations young people and others, who are thinking of getting into products need to hear that stuff, too.
And they won't just hear it at the First Nations tourism conference. I would ask the minister and encourage him to come to all those conferences, because when we get those kinds of people here - and we get them so seldom - it's very valuable for everyone to hear them. I know I heard it from everyone in the room, "Boy, I'm glad I came this Thursday." A lot of people didn't come in the past, but they were glad they came that Thursday to sit in and listen to those people, because they gave them a lot of food for thought and a lot of ideas about packaging. That's what I think everyone has to hear, including the First Nations people.
My concern was that it was only the executive director there. I think that, later on the Saturday, one other First Nations person from Dawson was there. There wasn't a lot of other products that are on the market. It might have been valuable for them to listen to that. I just encourage the minister to encourage all people to attend those kinds of meetings in the future - and, vice versa. The TIA people should make a genuine effort to go to the First Nations tourism conference when they have it to learn about the new products that are out there that they didn't know about before, and to hear some of the presenters that they bring up.
Mr. Chair, in preparing for the future, we've prepared well for the gold rush and the gold rush era, but we're moving beyond that now. We started work on that back in 1995-96, with some of the promotions we did about the future. Beringia was a development that was preparing for that and some of the other activities that took place. I know that this government has some money in this budget to prepare for the future.
We saw quite a downturn in 1993 after the 1992 celebration and a bit of a blip in 1997, after the 1996 celebration. 1998 should be a good year. Barring natural disasters, the message is out there about the gold rush and we should have a good year. But, I'm worried about 1999 and the year 2000 and beyond. We are now moving into the realm of a very competitive marketplace with people who have a lot more money for marketing than we do. We've been extremely successful with our marketing now and our target focus marketing and what we've done, but we are changing. It's a fairly major shift. Does the minister feel comfortable that, in 1999, we won't see much of a decline and, in the year 2000, we'll continue in the same upward trend?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Deputy Deputy Chair, I certainly hope that doesn't happen, and I'm not even going to try to crystal ball and forecast it to say that that might happen but certainly, as the member opposite has laid out, that has been the trend in the past. But certainly again I'd say that the challenge is there that we put some resources toward it to have $50,000 to look at the post-anniversary period. We've spent some of that money now in bringing Kent, Trent and Peter up to talk to us about packaging and consolidating.
I'm hoping not; I'm hoping that they'll be able to work with players such as White Pass so that we can get the train in and so that we can start to aggressively market a high-end product based on the four Ps. Certainly, I do believe that we can. We're looking.
As the member opposite has said, if we can couple packaging together in the different areas, based on the four Ps, we should be very successful.
It's very encouraging to hear the member opposite say that the member opposite is supportive of government helping to identify the package and through partnership get folks out there, the entrepreneurs, to actually deliver the product. That's very encouraging, and I do believe that if we continue with the focus test results and the four Ps, we do have it there and if we continue with some aggressive marketing, and continue with that, I'm hopeful that life should be good for us and that we won't suffer much over that, but I'm certainly hoping that we won't.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I was noticing in our technical briefing we had with the department, one of the areas that we talked about in marketing was the exchange. Under our administration, we had suffered a little bit from the downturn in the Canadian dollar and we built in a process by which we allowed the Department of Tourism to come back in August or September, after they knew what the exchange rate would be, and come back with a supplementary which would cover the loss in exchange, so that the marketing dollars that we had would be real marketing dollars and we wouldn't suffer the international world effect on our dollar that drove our dollar down.
I think we did that for a couple of years, and then the dollar was fairly stable, so we added that amount of money into the A-line base of the budget. But since then, the dollar has taken a tumble, as the minister knows. This year, I understand, we've seen a $25,000 loss in the marketing department - a $28,000 loss, the minister has corrected me - with respect to the exchange.
Is the minister prepared to sort of go to bat for the tourism industry and do the same thing that we did back in 1993, 1994 and, I believe, 1995, where we determined what the exchange was and came in with a supplementary in the fall budget to cover the loss of exchange? Because it's through no fault of the tourism industry that they lose it, and we already do have a minuscule marketing budget compared to other jurisdictions, and it's a shame that we're losing it.
I might even go as far as to suggest to the minister that if they do that, I've got a good place where they can put the $25,000, and that would be toward convention bureau marketing. I think that when they've had a few dollars and some energetic people there, they've been really successful at bringing these people up. I know May is a good month. The government itself has done a good job in all kinds of government conferences. The convention bureau under Mark Smith a few years ago did an awful lot of work with respect to getting conventions here for 1998, and this is going to be a great year in the Yukon for conventions - one of the better ones we've ever had, from the number of conventions that I've seen. Most of this is in May and early June, or in September, and that's our shoulder season. I think they would be the best bucks we could spend.
So, I'd ask the minister to do two things: one, to give a commitment that he'll get down on his knees and beg his colleagues for that $25,000; and two, that when he gets the $25,000, he will sit down with the Tourism Industry Association and discuss with them the most appropriate place to spend it, and maybe even suggest that the convention bureau might be a good target area. Would the minister do that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Deputy Chair, as the member has pointed out, the current rate of exchange is 42 percent and losing $28,000 worth of buying power off of a small budget in the first place is something that is detrimental to our growth. That's definitely for sure.
We've looked at and talked internally a bit about the $200,000 that we have over and above, and taken a portion of that and put it toward that, so that we don't suffer. But, certainly, this government does believe in the development of the industry of tourism and the continuation of the development of the tourism industry. Certainly, my caucus is very supportive of the tourism industry and the development of tourism within the Yukon. Certainly, that is one of the issues that I will take to my caucus and try and garner support for it.
As far as where we actually spend it, the member opposite had a very good suggestion in terms of the convention bureau. Certainly, this year should be good for conventions in the Yukon. They come at the appropriate time of the year, as the member opposite has said. It fills the void within the shoulder seasons.
Anything to do with tourism and the development of tourism, I'm ready and here to go to bat for it.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see how big a bat that minister swings in the Cabinet room. Let's see if he can hit a few home runs for tourism this time around.
Mr. Chair, while he's up to bat for the Tourism department, there was a resolution passed at the TIA convention with respect to the $1.5 million remaining in the CAP. The Tourism Industry Association was concerned about the initial announcement that there was $9 million of capital infrastructure to go into tourism. As we all know, Whitehorse didn't meet the criteria and $1.5 million of the $9 million didn't get spent.
The resolution that TIA passed was basically that that money not be lost in general revenues. Capital money is very hard to find in tourism. Our visitor exit surveys tell us that we need to develop a good product.
I would just like to ask the minister - he's seen the resolution from TIA - is he prepared to go to bat for the Tourism Industry Association and encourage his colleagues to see fit to put the money back into the tourism budget, so that they can look at spending it on the very necessary infrastructure that we need with respect to developing our product in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we will continue to work with the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon and continue to treat them as the meaningful partners that they actually are, and representatives of most of the entrepreneurs of the Yukon Territory. Certainly, they are going a long way to providing that umbrella. Certainly, I'm always looking for ways to continue to help product development and to get product development up and on its feet and the resources required to do that. You can't have ideas without resources. And certainly, just resources without ideas, there is not anything there. So, certainly, we'll put a very strong consideration to the resolution. We'll talk to my caucus and others about it.
But again, I reiterate that we are very much a government that wants to advance the tourism initiative within the Yukon. So, again, we'll continue to look at ways to help product development, and we'll consider the resolution in that and look for ways to rise to the challenge that is before us post-anniversary.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the minister for that positive response in going to bat for the industry.
Mr. Chair, when we're talking about capital projects, one capital project that was under CAP has turned out to sort of motivate a community into working hard to make it successful, and that is the Watson Lake Northern Lights Centre. The individuals in that area went all out in the last year or so to attract a specific market to their facility. In fact, they marketed in Taiwan and, I think, this year exceeded their expectations. I think they were planning for 50 people and got about 100 who came there. They're expecting to do better again next year.
But some concerns have been raised about that, and I want to raise an issue on their behalf now. They have done a lot of this on their own, especially the Taiwanese marketing. One of the requests I know they've made to the minister and his department is for some help in translating, I believe, their presentation into Taiwanese in the Northern Lights Centre. I know that, in the past, the government has helped a lot of individuals translate brochures and other things into other languages of our visitors, like German and others. I've even seen Japanese brochures that the department has produced over the years.
I'd like to ask the minister to give strong consideration; $10,000 isn't a lot of money, and this particular group in Watson Lake has done a heck of a job in going it on their own with the Taiwanese and actually surprising a lot of people in the industry to be so successful in such a short period of time. I think the government should maybe demonstrate a vote of support or thanks to those individuals by acceding to their request for $10,000 for something as useful as translating some of their information into Taiwanese.
Would the minister consider that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Deputy Deputy Chair, let me join with the member opposite in congratulating the people of Watson Lake in their success. Certainly, it's talking to the president of the Tourism Industry Association who was instrumental with others down there in organizing and to bringing the Taiwanese to Watson Lake, to our unique southeastern corner of the Yukon. They deserve every congratulation and every thought for going out and doing it.
To tell the member opposite the gospel truth and nothing but the gospel truth, I have not found that there has been a request for help in the translation of the Taiwanese. Now, certainly that doesn't mean that it's not there and it's certainly something that I will check into and look at ways that we can help, if there are ways that we can help for that translation or other ways that we can. But I'd like to also say that we have helped with fam contracts and provided help to them in that manner.
But certainly, if the request is in, I'll certainly look for the request and act on the requests and I will certainly contact the president of the Tourism Industry Association in that area for help.
I know we've had ongoing chats about what we can do together and he's certainly proven to me that he's willing to work and he's desirous of having us work with them, and certainly I think that's what it's going to take to work into a successful transition from the post-anniversaries to the new era.
Mr. Phillips: I will convey the minister's points to the people in Watson Lake first thing in the morning and advise them. My understanding is that they had made a representation to the government, and I don't think they were received as favourably as they thought they might have been. I'll check on that and pass Hansard on to them tomorrow morning so they can read it. If they still feel it's important to do it, then they can get hold of the people in Tourism and make such a request.
Mr. Chair, another issue I heard at the TIA convention was that we're doing a lot of off-season, shoulder-season and winter-season marketing this year. I know that we've been fortunate enough to have the Tourism staff in the new Tourism building over here right next to the visitor centre, so the visitor centre has been open at regular hours, and the visitors that have come in the off-season or in the winter have still had an opportunity to tour the visitor centre. But what I heard at the TIA convention is regarding the communities. There are a lot of people in the communities who are regular summer visitor centre staff, and they live in the community all winter long, and there are opportunities - for example, when the Taiwanese are in Watson Lake, where they may want to go to the visitor centre one day for two hours. I just wonder if the minister would give consideration in the future to looking at our regular summer staff who are living in the communities being used in the off-season on a part-time basis. As long as they are given enough notice, they could be called in for a half a day or whatever to accommodate the conventions or the groups that are in the community at that time, just to show them a little more about, for instance, Watson Lake. They could have seen the Signpost Forest. They could have seen the Northern Lights Centre and maybe gone in and viewed the visitor centre. There are some interesting things in the visitor centre. And the same for maybe Dawson City or some of the other areas, where there are some interesting things for people to see in those visitor centres.
So, I just ask the minister to consider that. It was raised by people in the communities who felt it might be important from time to time, and it certainly wouldn't turn into a really busy thing, but I think, you know, you'd have to set certain criteria or guidelines. The group would have to be so big or whatever. You wouldn't want to open it for one or two people, but if there was a group of, like I said, Taiwanese, where there were a dozen there, it might be worthwhile to have somebody coming in for two hours and showing them the visitor centre and that kind of thing. I know it means a little more money in the budget, but one of the frustrations people feel when they come to visit a place like the Yukon in the off-season is that many of the attractions are not open.
It's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem and the government has a little more wherewithal to deal with that than maybe a private business does in opening their small facility, but maybe the minister would give that some consideration for the future.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Deputy Chair, the initiatives that are happening now within the Yukon Territory and, in particular, the Taiwanese initiative with the folks from Watson Lake are good initiatives. The beauty of them is they're community initiatives and that they are taking place in the wintertime.
Just to describe how communities can come together how myself, as the minister, and the department in total goes to work - just as an example - Mr. Irving had talked to me about what can we do to entertain these folks to give them a unique Yukon experience; experience that is based around the four pillars. Certainly, we can't show them in the Watson Lake area anything about the Beringia era or anything about the Klondike era, but we can certainly talk about it. So, we had fostered the idea that they'd be able to stop in at the George Johnston museum on the way down, that they'd stop in and see the local Tlingit First Nation and that they would have a meal in a restaurant there as a break in going down.
Certainly, these are the types of initiatives that we can facilitate and we are willing to do it. But, certainly we realize that there are implications both on the resource side and maybe even on the union side. I don't know.
Those are the initiatives that certainly have to be looked into, but the idea of partnering and giving a complete vacation trip, no matter what time of the year, is certainly one that will go a long way to improving tourism in the winter markets and in the shoulder season when we need the help the most. Certainly, it is something that we can and will look at.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I had a concern raised with me with respect to a winter operator. It involved dog mushing - a winter package. I think the minister may be aware of it.
There was some concern raised about the quality of the product. The individual concerned did have some support from the Department of Tourism for some other initiatives they were doing.
The concern that was raised with me, Mr. Chair, is that we want to make sure, as we've heard from many, that we produce a high-quality product in the marketplace at all times. There have been some complaints. I know we're developing some wilderness tourism legislation with respect to how people operate in other industries.
Will that legislation cover things, such as dog care for the winter tourism and standards like that? Other than the Humane Society, is there any other avenue that one can go along? I know that, in this particular instance, a couple of complaints were filed, the RCMP and others were involved and some warnings were given.
The concern is from some in that industry who are providing a high-quality product that it only takes one bad apple to send a bad message out there to others that the Yukon might be a place to stay away from or there might be a problem.
So, my concern is, and I'm asking this question on behalf of the responsible dog mushers that are out there offering this product, what can they do to ensure that the dogs are well taken care of and that the product that's offered is a fair and reasonable one? I know that, in this particular case, the dog teams they were using were very small. In fact, five people for 16 days with two dog teams, instead of what most people would use - five or six or seven dog teams. That's working the dogs pretty hard. The housing for the dogs wasn't that great and, like I said, the RCMP had to come in, and warnings and threats had to be issued.
So, what can we do other than that to make sure that these people are providing a quality product?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Deputy Deputy Chair, let me say that, as a department, we're very concerned. As a government, we're concerned. Personally, we're very, very concerned. We've had folks go and chat with the individuals in question, and have good chats with them, to ensure that these type of initiatives are not Yukon. You just don't come from someplace, come here and become a Yukoner, as most people come. Yukoners have high standards, high ideals, and you must fit those high standards and high ideals in order to keep us as a high-end destination.
So, certainly I've been informed that the legislation can deal with the sector standards and we'll have to look at ways that it does deal with those standards, so that we keep those high-end quality destinations here.
It should be industry driven. Certainly, it is one of those initiatives that I would have to chat with TIA about, as the umbrella, so that they can chat with the Wilderness Tourism Association and the First Nations Tourism Association, because it would be nice to achieve consensus on these standards, so that when any new businesses come into the development, entrepreneurs or otherwise, that we would adhere to the standards and that we would have a quality Yukon experience.
I thank the member opposite for the question and certainly we will look at how we can bring it in to legislation, so that we can deal with these standards.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, it is my understanding that Tourism Yukon has actually been involved in sponsoring this individual with respect to a trek that might be happening across the country. Is Tourism Yukon still considering that, in light of the recent events that have happened in the last few months and weeks of this last winter, considering some of the complaints that have been filed and some of the actions that have happened? What involvement was Tourism Yukon planning with the individual that the minister is aware of?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Deputy Chair, to the best of my knowledge, I have not authorized others within the department to go out and sponsor the individuals in question. Certainly, I don't want to sponsor the individual in question to take a cross-country trek with a product that is maybe not to the standard that we'd like to see here in the Yukon. No, I have no desire previously and no desire to bring any dollars forth for this person in the future.
Mr. Chair, I move that we report progress.
Deputy Deputy Chair: It has been moved that we report progress. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the Deputy Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Deputy Deputy Chair: It has been moved by the acting government House leader that the Deputy Speaker do now resume the Chair. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker resumes the Chair
Deputy Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Acting Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Livingston: Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 9, First Appropriation Act, 1998-99, and directed me to report progress on it.
Deputy Speaker: You have heard the report from the Acting Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:29 p.m.