Monday, November 9, 1998 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Tribute to energy efficiency workshops
Hon. Mr. Harding: I rise today to announce a number of events that are occurring this week as part of this fall's energy awareness campaign.
The Yukon Conservation Society, in partnership with the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon government, have brought in speakers and organized a series of workshops that focus on the cost-savings of energy efficiency and the contribution of these efforts to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This really concludes a panel discussion on building energy-efficient homes, climate change research in the Yukon, community energy systems and discussing more environmentally friendly transportation options.
The energy fair will be held Friday and Saturday at the Wood Street Annex. This is all to encourage awareness of energy-efficiency initiatives and for the public to recognize the importance of energy in everyday life of Yukoners, how we might be able to improve our use of energy and how we can recognize the potential costs to the environment of overuse of energy sources.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
introduction of visitors
Mr. Jenkins: I would ask members of the House to welcome to this Assembly the Mayor of Dawson City and President of the Association of Yukon Communities, his Worship Glen Everitt.
Mr. Jenkins: I would also ask members to welcome a former member of this Legislature, representing Dawson City and the Klondike riding, David Millar.
Speaker: Before proceeding to tabling returns and documents, the Chair wishes to inform the House that the Chair has reviewed a ruling made during tabling on November 5, 1998. The ruling was made on a point of order raised by the government House leader when the leader of the third party was providing some remarks before tabling a document. At that time the Chair said that it was not a point of order. In fact, there was a point of order as it is clear that a speech may not be given when a document is tabled.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in final self-government agreements in both English and French.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that:
(1) televised coverage of proceedings of the Yukon Legislative Assembly has been made available to Whitehorse residents in recent years;
(2) televised coverage of proceedings of the Yukon Legislative Assembly has recently become available in all Yukon communities through the efforts of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon;
(3) televised coverage in rural Yukon is only being made available for a short time and is not scheduled to air throughout the duration of the fall sitting;
(4) the provision of Yukon-wide televised coverage has prompted numerous calls of support from constituents in rural Yukon to have this service continued indefinitely;
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) televised coverage of proceedings of the Yukon Legislative Assembly has proven to be an effective mechanism of keeping constituents informed of work done by members on their behalf;
(2) Yukoners residing in outlying communities ought to be afforded the same opportunity to see their elected members at work;
THAT this House commends Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon for its initiative to provide Yukon-wide televised coverage of proceedings of the Yukon Legislative Assembly on its own time, its own merit, and without financial support from the public purse; and
THAT this House urges support for the continuation of this service for the duration of the fall sitting of the Yukon legislature, and that a full evaluation of the program involving all Yukoners be taken at the end of the sitting.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
Forest Cabinet commissioner?
Yukon forest strategy
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I rise to update the House on recent developments with respect to a made-in-Yukon policy for managing our forests.
The Yukon forest strategy, which I tabled last week, resulted from extensive public consultation and discussion among three levels of government and a wide variety of stakeholders across the territory. This reflects our policy of involving people in the decisions that affect them.
Thanks to their valuable input, we can now move forward to a new regime in the management of Yukon forests, based on three core principles. These core principles are that all activities involving our forests must be ecologically sustainable, they must be economically viable, and they must be socially acceptable.
The completion of the Yukon forest strategy marks the formal end of the Cabinet Commission on Forests. I would like to thank the members of the policy development team for their hard work on this very important initiative.
During its mandate, the commission acquired a number of books and publications on forest issues. I am now pleased to turn these materials over to the Yukon's public library system for the benefit of all Yukon people.
While the commission has formally ended, I am pleased to announce that the Government Leader has asked me to stay on as forest commissioner, to coordinate our approach to forest management and to act as spokesperson for the Yukon government on forest issues. I can assure members that the ongoing policy work leading to full control of our forests will be conducted in accordance with the blueprint provided in the Yukon forest strategy. As we develop the necessary legislation and regulations, we will be guided by the principles outlined in the strategy to achieve the goal of cooperative forest management that directly involves forest users.
We will continue to pursue the goals and actions in the strategy that are designed to protect the health of Yukon forests. We will also follow the goals and actions in the strategy that are aimed at ensuring an integrated and balanced approach to planning. This involves recognizing both scientific and traditional knowledge in our planning activities.
And we will continue to pursue the fourth goal of the Yukon forest strategy, which is to build a resilient and diverse forest economy in the territory as part of our ongoing efforts to diversify the territory's economy and provide jobs for Yukon people.
Mr. Speaker, Yukon people demanded a forest strategy that would recognize the importance to all of us of this complex and vital part of our heritage. That is what we have delivered.
Our government recognizes that the forest is an important source of jobs in such areas as timber harvesting, hunting, trapping and tourism, to name a few. It also provides the resource base for future economic activities, including expanded processing and manufacturing opportunities that can only be realized through responsive, responsible and sustainable development. Most importantly, Mr. Speaker, the forest is one of our primary ecological treasures. Our task as a society is to ensure that it is managed in such a way that future generations can enjoy its diverse benefits for all time, including the substantial economic benefits it can offer Yukon people.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to respond to the commissioner's statement on the Yukon forest strategy.
There are two points that the commissioner has neglected to discuss in his statement to the House today. Point one: where are the Yukon First Nations? The examples of the Yukon government trying to proceed alone without other levels of government in accord are legendary. In February 1997, all three parties agreed to work - all three parties being the federal government, CYFN and the Yukon government - together to produce a Yukon-wide policy. Where are First Nation governments with respect to the Yukon forest strategy and where is CYFN?
Point two: the commissioner's terms of reference, provided to the opposition in December 1996, state, and I quote, "The commission will cease to exist when legislation is complete." The legislation is not complete and yet the commissioner's statement today says that the commission has formally ended.
The Yukon Liberal caucus has been supportive of this particular commission, in that we have recognized that moving forestry issues forward would require dedicated, focused effort. The commission, however, must be given a failing grade, as they have not completed the assigned tasks.
Mr. Fentie: Well, from the silence from the Yukon Party benches and from the comments from the Liberal bench, it's obvious that the opposition parties in this Legislature are somewhat confused by forest management. They, on the backs of Yukoners, and with our forests at stake, are applying partisan politics to this issue. There are absolutely no political boundaries out there in the forest, Mr. Speaker.
The differences between the parties in this House are very evident and can be distinguished by labeling the parties. We have, on this side of the House, the NDP government - the NDP - and we can label this party the make-it-happen party. When it came to forest management, we made it happen.
Yukoners demanded that we take action and we did so. We developed a forest commission. We made a surgical strike in a very difficult issue and the results are before us today - the Yukon forest strategy. The forest commission set out upon organizing first its own government, its own departments and its own agencies. We completed that task and then set out to work with other governments, federal and First Nation. We've completed that task and we also involved the Yukon public. Over 800 Yukoners participated in building this strategy. It truly is made in Yukon, Mr. Speaker. The Yukon forest strategy is a significant improvement in managing Yukon forests.
Now, the Yukon Party, in their silence, sitting here today, watching as they were in government. We can label them the watch-it-happen party because that's all they did, Mr. Speaker. When Yukoners came to the Yukon government - to their government - and requested that their government assist and work with Yukoners, the federal government and the First Nations on developing a policy for this territory, what did they say? They said to Yukoners, "There's nothing we can do. It's a federal problem." Without their government, Yukoners persisted, and the federal government relented and called the parties to the table; they called the First Nations to the table; they called the stakeholders to the table and they called the Yukon government to the table. The Yukon Party government came as an observer. Make no mistake about it: when it comes to forestry in this territory, the Yukon Party watched it happen.
They also stand in this House and discuss and make claims of job creation. Well, I can tell you, as government, to a great degree, the Yukon Party were the architects of the loss of jobs in this sector.
And now for my friends from the Liberal benches, Mr. Speaker: we have to label them the wonder-what-happened party.
The Liberals, true to form, have taken no position whatsoever, and then they claim and imply that we have not worked with First Nations, that we have not worked with governments, and that's simply not the case.
Now, I'm not sure what would constitute working with governments for the Liberal leader - possibly a 21-gun salute - but this is not the intermarriage of royal families. This is forest management and governments working together for forest management and the development of the made-in-Yukon forest policy.
You know, the success and the example of good government that the Yukon forest strategy provides makes me feel very generous today, Mr. Speaker, and I have some free advice for the Liberals: get off that fence on the side of the Yukon forest strategy - that would be the left side - and you, too, can participate in making it happen.
Mr. Speaker, today we are much better prepared to manage our forests in this territory, given the guide that the Yukon forest strategy presents. There's no doubt that we will be able to manage our forests so that they are ecologically sustainable, economically viable, socially acceptable. That's completely consistent with our commitment to the Yukon public and, Mr. Speaker, that certainly is, when it comes to forest management, a better way.
Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Trade and investment mission to Latin America
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, that was tough to top, but I rise today to inform the House about the latest example of our government's policy of taking action to strengthen and diversify our economy by working with Yukon business people to help them pursue trade investment opportunities in Canada and abroad.
Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to announce the Yukon's participation in a special trade mission to Latin America, specifically Argentina, Chile and Peru. This delegation just left on Friday.
This nine-day trade mission includes representatives from 34 Canadian companies, as well as senior executives of Canadian resource associations, aboriginal groups, provincial governments and Natural Resources Canada.
The objective of this mission is to showcase Canadian excellence in all facets of the natural resource sector - specifically mining, geospatial information technologies, energy and forestry. The federal presence is very important as it helps advance public policy issues of concern in the sustainable development of natural resources.
Mr. Speaker, two Yukon business people are taking part in this trade mission.
Neil Letang will be there to build on his earlier success promoting modular home design and building with Chilean businesses. Members will recall that Mr. Letang recently went to that country on another trade mission with a representative of Yukon Housing Corporation.
Joining him is Bob Lorimer, who is president of the Engineers Association of Canada. Mr. Lorimer, who speaks Spanish fluently, is also a member of the Yukon Housing Corporation board of directors and a past member of the Water Board.
Under a unique partnership agreement, Mr. Lorimer will be acting as the Yukon government's representative on this trade mission. When he returns, he will be advising my department officials on market activities in Latin America and potential opportunities for other Yukon businesses.
We recognize the important role of the private sector in generating new jobs in our economy. We believe that diversifying their markets will put Yukon companies in a better position to succeed and grow. Government can be a positive catalyst in that success.
We also firmly believe that diversification is the key to creating jobs and strengthening our economy. That is why we strongly support trade and investment missions, such as this mission to Latin America and last month's highly successful mission to Alaska with 19 Yukon businesses.
Our goal is to build real and long-lasting partnerships that will benefit Yukon workers and Yukon businesses. I'm pleased that Mr. Lorimer has agreed to take part in this research and marketing initiative, and I look forward to sharing his findings with other Yukon business people.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, if our economy wasn't in such dire straits, this ministerial statement would be really comical. I find it very ironic and further proof that this government is so void of ideas, so void of initiatives of what to do for the Yukon economy, that they have to take credit for federal government initiatives.
And that is exactly what this is, Mr. Speaker: it's a federal government initiative, not a Yukon NDP initiative.
Mr. Speaker, I myself participated in such a mission to Japan and Taiwan two years ago, on an invitation from the federal government. We took business people along with us, and we did it with all the fanfare that this government is trying to do. The only reason they're trying to do it is because they have no ideas about how to put Yukoners to work. Yukoners have given up on them and are leaving the Yukon by the hundreds, and we have the Government Leader saying, "We're going to replace them, one job at a time."
Mr. Speaker, I urge this minister and this government to face the reality of the tradespeople that are leaving the Yukon by the hundreds and do something in the near-term and the mid-term, to keep our skilled workforce.
Promoting trade and investment is laudable, and it's something that's done by every government that's in power, but it isn't the be-all and end-all to the economic woes of this territory.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: The Yukon Liberal caucus is pleased that the Government of Yukon chose to participate in the Government of Canada's natural resources trade and investment mission.
The mission, headed by Minister Ralph Goodale, is intended to help Canadian natural resource companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises - such as we have in the Yukon - increase exports to Latin America.
Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased that the federal Liberal member heading this trade mission is a minister who actually travelled to the Yukon this summer, and met firsthand with Yukoners. Minister Goodale's experience, not only as a provincial Member of the Saskatchewan Legislature, and as a federal Member of the House of Commons from a small riding - Wascana - will help Yukon as he speaks first hand about doing business with smaller centres in Canada.
I'm also pleased that local businessperson Mr. Neil Letang is on this particular trade mission. Like all Yukoners, I'm hopeful that he'll be able to build upon his initial successful trip there this summer. It's my understanding that the earlier trip by Mr. Letang was part of the Yukon Housing Corporation's participation in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation trade show.
That trip was accomplished without briefing and/or assistance by the Yukon trade and investment diversification officer. In fact, we didn't even send the Yukon delegation with a proper booth.
Mr. Speaker, these missions, in order to be successful, must build upon one another. They must be coordinated, and we have to provide our delegates with the information before they go and a debriefing when they get back.
All Yukoners would hope that never again would we send Yukoners to Chile without proper tourism brochures, particularly as Chile has very good air connections to the Yukon with our resident airline. Surely the instructions should be given to everyone travelling on these trade missions to maximize every single opportunity, whether it be learning English as a second language at Yukon College, seeing the northern lights in the Yukon first hand, or using Yukon contractors to build infrastructure to Canadian building standards.
The Liberal caucus is also please that Mr. Bob Lorimer is also participating in this trade mission. Mr. Lorimer is, indeed, a respected individual from the private sector in the Yukon. Would the minister explain the details in his response of the unique partnership agreement with Mr. Lorimer. What sort of a unique partnership agreement would see a private sector individual representing the Government of Yukon, speaking for the Government of Yukon? What happened to the trade officer?
I do appreciate the opportunity to put these questions on the record.
Hon. Mr. Harding: More negativity from the opposition, particularly the Yukon Party, whose acid tones we're getting to know all too well in this Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, they are completely stuck in the Dark Ages. They have no sense of how to deal with the fact that the Yukon economy must change in terms of becoming more diverse in its outlook. We must broaden our horizons as a territory.
The quote from the leader of the official opposition said we are void of initiatives. Nothing could be further from the case. I have listed off all of the initiatives we've undertaken in the export trade investment strategy, from the trade missions that we've just taken, Team Canada and the deals that have been signed, to the recent trip with the Yukon Housing Corporation to Chile that resulted in further contracts.
These are all initiatives that this government has put a renewed emphasis on with a trade investment diversification strategy and formed a partnership with business and labour that's never before been seen in this territory. This product is coming as a result of the desire by this government to improve our ability to be competitive in world markets, and to ensure, Mr. Speaker, that we broaden our horizons in terms of how we look at doing business, so that when we have downturns in the resource sector, we can ride through those areas of economic troubles.
We've initiated a new tax reform process for the first time in this territory. We've initiated a red-tape-cutting exercise with the business community. We're bringing forward an immigrant investment fund, a protected areas strategy - which is going to have solid economic and environmental impacts on this territory - and a new forestry policy. Initiative after initiative. The leader of the official opposition stands up and doesn't offer this House one idea, not one new statement of anything positive, anything concrete, and says this government is void of initiatives. It's the opposition that has no new ideas, just negativity, Mr. Speaker.
I also want to say that his reality, when he was government leader, was railroads to Carmacks, things that never materialized in this territory. What we had was another boom in the worldwide mining economy, Mr. Speaker, and now we're seeing the results of that narrow thinking, that myopic view of the world, that you can base an economy entirely on his massive government expenditures, his large tax increases as Yukon Party government leader, as well on cyclical resource sectors.
Mr. Speaker, we want the resource sector in more. We're doing lots in mining; we're developing oil and gas when the Yukon Party government could get nowhere with that particular initiative. When we choose to participate in these initiatives, it is something that the Yukon government has not done ever before to the extent that we are doing it, and it's simply because we believe there's got to be a new Yukon economy that's got to move away from being so susceptible to booms and busts.
Mr. Speaker, you can't take 18 percent of the gross domestic product, like the Faro mine shutting down, and not expect it to have an impact on the overall economy.
The member opposite says that people are leaving the territory in numbers. These are the stats, Mr. Speaker, for the Yukon government, and it clearly shows that in, 1993-94, far more people left the territory in that Anvil Range mine shutdown when Curragh went down. The workforce today is still larger. There are more people employed than when that person over there was government leader of this territory. So, the numbers, the statistics, just don't add up, Mr. Speaker. He can read them. They are the facts.
So, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite talks about 1996. The false economy propagated by the Yukon Party - we are not going to make the same mistake, because we believe we have to catch the upturn in the resource sector when it comes, but we're not going to stop there. We're going to go further. We're going to try and move the members opposite in the opposition, if possible, out of those dark ages.
Mr. Speaker, the other comment I want to make is in response to the Liberal leader when she said that there was poor support for the work that was done by the Yukon Housing Corporation and the export trade facilitator: I resent those allegations; they're false. There's been lots of support. The export trade facilitator now has over 70 businesses working through my department on export trade issues simply because of the success of the initiative. There are over 70 case files.
The Housing Corporation and my branch couldn't have done such a bad job because of the successes Mr. Letang had when he was negotiating his new contract. So, instead of nitpicking away around the edges, perhaps the members opposite should grab the rope and start helping pull this territory along instead of, for such base, partisan, political reasons, continuing to be Mr. Doom and Ms. Gloom.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Range Road mobile home park development
Mr. Ostashek: Well, if political rhetoric created jobs, there would be no unemployment in the Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Government Leader concerning the impact of the Range Road mobile park development and the impact it's having on some of his constituents.
Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Housing Corporation is totally out of control with this development. There is evidence of abuse of authority of the Housing Corporation overstepping its mandate and a breech of a sale agreement.
The Gonders existing property, together with two parcels of land that they were applying for, were included in the mobile home park development on the basis that YHC would sell these lots to the Gonders.
Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.
Mr. Ostashek: Yes, Mr. Speaker. YHC is now refusing to honour this sale agreement and has commenced action to evict these people. My question for the Government Leader: will he have Yukon Housing Corporation honour the sale agreement and put a stop to the eviction proceedings against the Gonders?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't believe that we should be bringing this matter to the floor here. This matter is presently being dealt by the Yukon Housing Corporation Board, and we're not prepared to discuss details of those disputes.
Mr. Ostashek: Here we have the government hiding behind a board, hiding behind something else.
Mr. Speaker, it's quite interesting. The Government Leader can sit down for a cup of tea with one of his constituents with a $100,000 cheque in his pocket, while others who have a legitimate right to the property they are on, he chooses to ignore.
Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is this: can he explain why the Housing Corporation included the Gonder existing property and lot expansions in the mobile home condominium, agreed to sell them the lot expansions, and then reneged on the deal? Can the minister tell that to this House today?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, in regard to the design of the mobile home park, we had to do a couple of things. One was a road design - and the existing road that went into the Gonders' property - and there was extensive talk with them in redesigning and bringing a different road through. But in regards to the dispute itself, the board felt that the Gonders have not dealt with them in good faith on this issue - in regard to land - and I have met with the Gonders to hear their concerns, and I've also passed those concerns on to the board chair so that they will be able to...
Speaker: The minister has 30 seconds.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: ... continue with this issue and use the information to further try to resolve the situation between the Gonders and the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, this is another example of big government using a big club on people who have to spend thousands of dollars to defend themselves.
Mr. Speaker, the Gonders and their young child are now being forced to live in a camper inside their shop, because they have been evicted from their trailer and a stop-work order has been placed on the construction of their new home, and all of this because of the bullying tactics of a project development officer. It's not the Gonders who haven't been reasonable. It's the project development officer, Mr. Speaker, by the information that I have reviewed.
I would ask the minister this question: will he see that this official is removed from this project and some common sense used in reaching an amicable agreement with the Gonders?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I believe that the Yukon Housing Corporation Board has information that they deal with to make decisions. I trust that the board and the Gonders would be able to resolve this issue, so I did bring some of the information and concerns that the Gonders presented to me to the Yukon Housing Corporation Board chair. They have indicated that they will consider this additional information and wish to provide that to the board, so that they can make proper decisions if need be.
Question re: Nurses and doctors in rural communities
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I have a question today for the Minister of Health and Social Services concerning the lack of physicians and nurses in rural Yukon communities.
I've been raising this issue for quite some time to ensure that the minister was aware of the problem, but it has all been to no avail. As recently as October 1, I received a letter from the minister claiming that the Yukon has more family physicians in relation to their population than any other Canadian jurisdiction. Now the Yukon Medical Association and rural Yukon doctors have stated publicly that there is a medical crisis in rural communities, with three of seven doctors leaving in one year, as well as the problem of the lack of nurse practitioners in rural communities. This has resulted in communities like Ross River being left without a nurse at all.
Does the minister now, in fact, recognize that he has a crisis on his hands, and what is he prepared to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I'm afraid that some of the information that the member has may not be as current as he would like. For one thing, when we mentioned three physicians leaving rural Yukon, what we haven't mentioned is the fact that two of those physicians have been replaced, in Watson Lake. We also failed to mention the fact that one of those physicians in Watson Lake has left the practice of medicine and the other one has moved into town.
When we actually take a look at it, we've only had one community suffer a net reduction in physician services, and that was Faro. I think that that is fairly understandable, considering that the population in that community has been halved.
With regard to the issue of nurse practitioners, I've spoken on this before and the efforts that we're making. Just by way of interest, it may be useful for the member to know ...
Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: ... that, today, we do have a nurse practitioner going into Ross River on an interim basis and that we've had some very positive response from the recent hiring fair in Toronto, held this past weekend.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm pleased to hear, Mr. Speaker, that there is a nurse practitioner going in to Ross River, but the situation with respect to doctors in rural Yukon communities has reached a crisis situation. They are threatening to withhold their services in order to force the government to act, because the minister wouldn't recognize he had a crisis on his hands.
What immediate steps has the government taken to resolve this crisis, after having ignored it for virtually over a year, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: It's always delightful to be read to by the member opposite. I'm afraid that the member perhaps was not listening. This apparent crisis has been restricted to one physician in Faro, with reference, perhaps, to Dawson - because I believe it was a physician from Dawson who raised this - I should remind the member that Dawson was approved for a third physician in April, I believe - I have the letter here someplace. In the letter to the Physician Resource Council from the physicians in Dawson, it quoted the fact that they felt Dawson warranted a third physician, so the opportunity is there for Dawson to recruit a third physician.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the issue is standby time, and the amount of time that doctors have to be available in rural communities, and they're not getting paid for it, Mr. Speaker. The minister is doing nothing about that issue.
The other issue that he is doing nothing about, or very little about, is the issue of reclassifying the nurse practitioners through the Public Service Commission. This government is on record, time and time again, as stating that they would not cut health or education funding.
Can the minister advise the House how he will be immediately addressing the Yukon's shortage of nurse practitioners and the issue of standby time for doctors?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think I've already mentioned, to some degree, the things that we have been doing with regard to nurse practitioners, including some very, very aggressive recruitment.
With regard to the question of reclassification, we're currently involved in that right now, and I do have a letter from one of the local rural physicians, commending the people we've brought in as having a clear understanding of some of the issues ... I'd be happy to share that with the member.
With regard to -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, perhaps you should always read the second letter. I would like to also refer to the on-call fees.
It may be of interest to know...
Speaker: The minister has 30 seconds.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: ... that the Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine quoted the Yukon as having a 50-percent higher than national average fee schedule. Just take a look at the top 10 fees. They range anywhere from 47 percent to 175-percent higher than the nine provincial averages. The Northwest Territories reduced their fees by two percent; we have not -
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Question re: Range Road mobile home park development
Mrs. Edelman: My question is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, and it concerns a parcel of land that has been in dispute for a number of years.
Mr. Speaker, the Yukon government, until October 27 of this year, owned the land in question. On that date, the Yukon government transferred the land to the Yukon Housing Corporation. Jean and Doug Gonder have been attempting to purchase this property from the Yukon government for a number of years; in fact, they have been negotiating all summer to purchase this very property.
So why then, did the government not sell the land in question to the Gonders? Why did the government instead transfer the land to the Yukon Housing Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Housing Corporation had identified a need for these lots. One was in regard to road access to the Gonders' property, and we made an agreement with them to relocate the road. We had identified these two parcels of land to be transferred to the corporation.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, unless that road is going to come right off a cliff, it's unlikely that's an adequate reason to transfer that land. In June of this year, an agreement to purchase was drawn up between the Gonders and the Yukon Housing Corporation, but it was never signed.
On September 2, the Gonders received a letter from the Yukon Housing Corporation stating, and I quote: "As for previous discussions and correspondence, please note that it is our intent to enter into an agreement to enable you to purchase lots 8-4A and 8-4B."
It seems quite clear to me that the Gonders had every reason to expect that they would be receiving this land. Why has the government reneged on all these commitments?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In dealing with this issue, we must not forget that the Housing Corporation has a board of directors that makes a lot of the decisions with regard to land. They felt, as I said earlier, that the Gonders have not dealt in good faith on the issue of land. They had their reasons, and they continue to have communications with the Gonders. I did bring additional information to them that they could use in continuing discussions with the Gonders.
Mrs. Edelman: Once again, the question is for the minister who is responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Now, it is bad enough that the government has reneged on this deal, but it gets worse. Yukon Housing told the Gonders that they were going to sell them the land in question. The Gonders went to the City of Whitehorse and got a building permit for a 5,000-square foot home and shop. Over the summer, it started to take shape. A small piece of it is on the land that the Gonders were going to purchase from the Yukon Housing Corporation - they thought.
Yukon Housing, as the new owner of the land, has issued a stop-work order on the property through the City of Whitehorse. Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell the House what he plans to do about this situation that he has created?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Housing Corporation hasn't created any situation. They didn't acquire a piece of land and decided to build on a piece of land that wasn't theirs. I don't want to be getting into any details on this case. I think it is best dealt with through the Housing Corporation. I had given the board of directors some information so that he can continue to deal with this situation, so I don't think we need to have this issue debated on the floor here.
Question re: Range Road mobile home park development
Mrs. Edelman: I have some further questions for the minister on the same topic.
In anticipation of becoming owners of these new pieces of land, the Gonders, on September 4 of this year, moved their mobile home on to the new land. This is their home and that is where they currently live. On November 3, the Gonders were notified that their trailer was now on Housing Corporation land and that they were trespassing. They were given 10 days to vacate the property, and that was last week.
Can the minister tell the House if throwing people out of their homes as winter sets in is now part of the Yukon Housing Corporation's new mandate?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That is not the way we deal with things. I don't want to get into the details of the case at all. There is a lot more to this than we even know about. I would prefer that the corporation continue to handle this.
As you know, it was the City of Whitehorse that put the stop-work order on their building. I've met with the Gonders to try and resolve this issue and have gotten some of their concerns and information. I've forwarded that to the chair of the board of directors. I don't know how many times I have to repeat this, but this is an issue that has recently arisen because of the stop-work order, and I hope that the corporation board and the Gonders will resolve this situation.
Mrs. Edelman: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's important that the minister intervene in this particular case. The Gonders have tried to meet with the Yukon Housing board twice. It's my understanding that presently they may be having a meeting with the Yukon Housing board, but it's not a given.
Now, there is some urgency to this matter. After all, the government is throwing someone out of their house in the middle of November.
Can the minister tell the House when that meeting will be held?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I am not sure of the dates. I have expressed some urgency to the chair of the board to have this issue resolved.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, this situation illustrates a larger problem, namely that the Yukon government has been told repeatedly by the Auditor General that they are holding onto excess land. They have too many lots. There is a cost to holding on to these lots, and according to the Auditor General, it is approximately $1 million a year. The government had a perfect opportunity to divest itself of two lots from this so-called excess land inventory. Why did they not do so?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, what the corporation has been doing is working closely with government. We have said that we wanted to develop a mobile home park. Obviously there are a lot of problems that could arise along with development, and this is one of them. It has already caused delays for us this year, but I'm sure that we're able to resolve this situation.
Question re: Range Road mobile home park development
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, it's really unfortunate that the Government Leader can't speak up on behalf of his constituents.
Mr. Speaker, I have a further question for the minister responsible for the Housing Corporation on this very same issue. The mobile home park development is rapidly becoming a boondoggle, not only for the Gonders but for mobile home owners and for the Yukon taxpayers as well.
Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that nobody has taken them up in purchasing any of the lots in the development. Further to that, the minister and the Housing Corporation accuses the Gonders of not dealing in good faith and not doing everything they should, yet it is my understanding that the development was started by the Yukon Housing Corporation when they in fact did not have all the permits and approvals in place.
Can the minister confirm that construction started prior to the Housing Corporation having all their permits and approval in place?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: First of all, Mr. Speaker, the mobile home strategy, and our developing the mobile park, is to hopefully better the lives of those who are living in unsafe conditions, and we will continue to make that happen. Although we have a bit of a delay right now, we feel that this park will be completed early next year so that we can have people moving into the park.
In regard to the other item, I can look for the information for the member to see whether or not this is indeed true.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I'll be looking forward to the minister coming back with the information as to whether or not the Housing Corporation had all its permits.
Mr. Speaker, further, to the minister responsible for the Housing Corporation, it is our understanding that the role of the corporation is supposed to be looking after social housing needs as its main responsibility. Can the minister advise the House where in Yukon Housing's legislative mandate it has the authority to take over the responsibility from the lands branch of the Department of Community and Transportation Services to manage and develop territorial land as it is doing in relation to the Gonder land application? Can the minister explain that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, we are agents for the Department of C&TS in regard to lands. We have taken over that portion and I can find, for the member, information between the two departments if he would like to see it.
Mr. Ostashek: I find it somewhat ironic that the lands branch can't deal with the application of the Gonders themselves, and has to go through the Housing Corporation to do it.
My final supplementary is to the minister responsible for the Housing Corporation: it appears that the relationship between the development officer in the City of Whitehorse - the relationship - has become so strained between them over the treatment of the Gonders that all communications must now be done in writing. I want to ask the minister one more time: will he do the right thing and remove this project officer from this project and put somebody else in who may be able to get this thing back on track?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know that the opposition would like to see us fire people on the floor of this Legislature. That's not what we're about to do. The corporation has been doing a lot of good work, and I commend them on a lot of the good work they have been doing. Mobile home development on Range Road is moving along as fast as they possibly could. The development will be shut down very shortly because of the weather, but we will continue to make sure that this is available for people next year.
Question re: Range Road mobile home park development
Mrs. Edelman: Again, my question is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, and it concerns the new mobile home development on Range Road.
The government has poured almost $2 million into this project, and counting, to develop 69 new lots. Mr. Speaker, the first lottery for lots was held on October 26 of this year. Can the minister tell the House how many lot applications were received, and how many lots have been sold?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Because of the delays that the corporation has had to deal with, the development is behind. We did say that we would like to be able to finish off at least phase 1 of this development this year and continue on phase 2, and have land available for the people.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons that there's been little interest in the lots to date is the fact that they cost between $25,000 and $32,000, the same as other mobile home lots in Whitehorse. Now, one of the reasons this development went ahead was to provide more affordable lots. That goal hasn't been met. The government has completely failed to meet this objective.
How do you propose to sell these 69 lots when they're not affordable?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, the objective of this is to provide lots for people so that they will be able to fix up their old units, and move them on to these lots. We have supporting programs to do that. I think, with all of these in place, people would have an interest in going through the programs and acquiring these lots.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I had a chance to tour the new development over the weekend, and what I saw was a clear-cut waiting to turn into gumbo in the spring. Now, Mr. Speaker, there isn't a tree left standing in the entire development. It's ugly. It's not somewhere where anyone would want to build a home.
Can the minister explain how taking away every tree is going to help sell these lots?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, the comment is not true. If the members looked carefully at the lots, they'll see that there are buffer zones between the roads and so on. There was one section of the development that had trees mistakenly taken out by the contractors, and they said that they would be putting those trees back in.
Question re: Psychiatric program at Whitehorse hospital
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
This NDP government has been constantly on record saying that it has been maintaining and improving Yukon's health care and hospital services when in fact, Mr. Speaker, the opposite is the case. The minister has been forced to admit that there is now a crisis in rural Yukon in relationship to the shortage of both nurse practitioners and rural doctors, but the problems do not end there.
He also has a sick hospital on his hands once again because of his failure to act. Mental patients are occupying acute care hospital beds because the minister has failed to provide for them in the Thomson Centre or elsewhere, and he has failed to provide funding to open a further 10 acute care beds.
When is the minister going to -
Speaker: The member has 30 seconds.
Mr. Jenkins: When is the minister going to address this health care crisis situation?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm afraid the member is somewhat off base there. For one thing, it's not appropriate to place individual psychiatric patients in the Thomson Centre, which is a long-term facility and is the home for residents there, and if he had even a modicum of understanding of what the nature of extended care means, he would realize that that's an inappropriate setting.
With regard to the funding of the hospital, we have increased the funding by almost $1.5 million. We wiped out their accumulated deficit. That hospital was dramatically underfunded by the previous government. We stepped in. We took steps to deal with it. If the member even had a rudimentary understanding of health economics, he would realize that that hospital is currently operating at about 66 to 69 percent occupancy.
Speaker: The minister has 30 seconds.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: So therefore, Mr. Speaker, I don't think at this time that it's necessary to increase the number of beds for the rare occasion when the hospital reaches maximum capacity.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, standards
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I know that the minister has the ability to spend money. In fact, his department is the most overspent department in the Government of Yukon today. The minister had better get used to crisis management, because this is the way he is running our health care system.
On the weekend, my office received a complaint from a senior citizen who recently spent six days in the Whitehorse General Hospital for a foot operation. During his stay, his bed wasn't changed, his food was cold and he was told to change his own dressing because of a staff shortage. Is this what the minister calls quality health and hospital care?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the member is trying to parlay one instance into a crisis. I responded to the member on October 2, in which I told him that the issue of the hospital - there are 49 acute care beds and other beds can be activated in two hours should an emergency arise. However, beds don't take care of patients, nurses do. It is apparent that the member doesn't really understand the fact that that hospital is currently operating at 66-percent capacity.
If an individual has a concern with the hospital, there are avenues for them to take with the management of the hospital - the CEO, for example.
I should point out that, normally, in the typical usage of that hospital, with 49 acute care beds, is 31 to 35, so that leaves, on average, 14 unoccupied.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, for what we're spending on health care in the minister's department, we should have one of the best health care systems in North America. But that is not the fact. The senior citizen who raised the concern about the lack of hospital care he received is so upset that he and his wife are planning to leave the Yukon. They are prepared to speak out because he wants things changed.
Will the minister agree to put his money where his mouth is and provide adequate funding to deliver quality health care services, which Yukoners deserve?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I think I've already mentioned the fact that we have increased the hospital's base budget very substantially. We've also taken steps to eliminate the deficit of the hospital that had accumulated over the years. We've also put into effect a new board and new management at the hospital. In general, things, we feel, have improved substantially in terms of the operations of the hospital.
The member is taking an incident - one that, quite frankly, I've not heard of, either directly or indirectly - and has tried to make that into a crisis. Well, he may choose to run around and say that the sky is falling, but I have confidence in the hospital. I have confidence in the board and I have confidence in the management of the hospital. It is too bad that he doesn't.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
Orders of the day
Speaker: Government bills.
Bill No. 58: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 58, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fairclough.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I move that Bill No. 58, entitled An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 58, entitled An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: For 14 years, enforcement officials of my department and the Inuvialuit, exercising their treaty harvesting right on the Yukon's North Slope, have been puzzled by the contradictions between the Inuvialuit agreement - usually called the IFA - and the Yukon Wildlife Act. Both have said different things about the management of North Slope wildlife and, although the IFA has precedence, the contradictions have been confusing.
The bill now before us, An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, will eliminate the inconsistencies between the Inuvialuit final agreement and the Wildlife Act. It is the product of cooperative efforts of this government and the Inuvialuit, and the co-management bodies established under the Inuvialuit final agreement.
The Inuvialuit final agreement is a land claims agreement between the Inuvialuit and Canada, which came into effect in 1984. Under the agreement, the Inuvialuit have rights in the Yukon, based on their traditional use and occupancy of the North Slope.
The Yukon government, although not a party to the Inuvialuit final agreement, is a signatory to the agreement and acknowledges its obligations to implement those parts of the IFA that affect the Yukon government's jurisdiction.
This bill confirms that the Yukon government accepts its obligation to give effect to the Inuvialuit final agreement through appropriate legislative change.
The amendment has been a long-standing interest of the Inuvialuit, as the contradictions between the Wildlife Act and the Inuvialuit final agreement have come, from time to time, to cause real confusion and frustration for both Inuvialuit beneficiaries and the department staff.
At the North Slope conference last year, this government committed to rectifying the problem, and announced its intention to introduce the required legislative amendments, in the fall of 1998.
We proposed to deal with it as a stand-alone set of amendments, a new part of the Wildlife Act, which could be easily referenced by both Inuvialuit beneficiaries and officials of this government. I am pleased that we are delivering on this commitment.
The legislation was developed with the assistance of a working group, with representation from the Yukon government, the Inavialuit Game Council, Wildlife Management Advisory Council North Slope, Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee and the Inuvialuit Joint Secretariat.
A summary of the proposed amendments was developed to identify the reasons and need for legislative changes. It formed the basis of public consultation, and consultation with affected interests. The working group forum provided the necessary structure to ensure extensive consultation with affected interest.
The amendments have specific application to the Inuvialuit in the Inuvialuit settlement region of Yukon's North Slope. They do not affect the harvesting rights of resident Yukon people.
The amendments are a recognition of the legal rights of the Inuvialuit, as they have existed for 14 years under the Inuvialuit final agreement. The amendments provide the Yukon government with the legal means to manage harvesting consistent with the requirements of the Inuvialuit final agreement. They will also improve the ability of the Yukon government to manage wildlife on the Yukon North Slope.
The amendments are primarily incorporated in the new part of the Wildlife Act, part 9, which provides the necessary clarity that Inuvialuit rights are specific to the geographical area of the Yukon North Slope.
As the Inuvialuit final agreement is paramount over the Yukon First Nation final agreement, and the Inuvialuit settlement area is distinct from Yukon First Nation traditional territory, the amendments are independent of the rights of Yukon First Nations.
The amendments clearly set out the Inuvialuit harvesting rights on the Yukon North Slope and eliminate the limitations and restrictions in the Wildlife Act that the Yukon has no authority to apply. For example, the Inuvialuit need not obtain the services of a special guide or outfitter to exercise their harvesting rights on the Yukon North Slope, nor would they be committing an offence should they exercise their current traditional methods of harvesting. The amendments identify the process to give effect to the preferential and exclusive harvesting right of the Inuvialuit. I have said the Yukon resident hunters are not affected by these provisions because they simply provide certainty on allocation of wildlife in a manner that is consistent with the requirement identified in the Inuvialuit final agreement.
These changes and others accurately reflect the content of the Inuvialuit final agreement and will offer those responsible for implementation clear legislative guidance to assist in their operational activities.
This act is a clear demonstration of shared interests in respectful and effective land claims implementation and is an example of the Yukon government's commitment to work cooperatively to meet the direct and indirect obligations arising from the Inuvialuit final agreement.
In closing, I commend all those involved in the development of this bill, An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, and I think that work involved in developing this bill will serve to build a stronger foundation for the cooperation of wildlife management on the North Slope.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for his outline in his second reading speech to Bill No. 58. We will be supporting the bill in principle. It's been a long time in coming. I know that there are some problems out there that the bill will address.
I will have a few questions as we go through it line by line, but while I'm on my feet in second reading debate, the minister made the comment that this bill flows from obligations under the Inuvialuit final agreement.
And he has set it up as a new part of the Wildlife Act to meld with the Inuvialuit final agreement.
We are going to have, I believe, a substantial amount of further amendments to deal with the land claims agreements in the Yukon - the umbrella final agreement and the band final agreements. I believe, if I remember correctly from my days in government, amendments are going to be required to the Wildlife Act for full implementation of the band final agreements.
When the minister is doing his summation, I would just like to ask him if he could relate to the House if he has given any thought as to how he is going to handle those amendments, what stage in the process we're at now - and while I know they don't particularly pertain to this bill, they do pertain to amendments to the Wildlife Act, Mr. Speaker, so I believe that the question is in order - and has he come to a decision as to how they're going to handle that?
Are we going to have another addendum or another section of the Wildlife Act that will deal with the band final agreements for each and every band along with the umbrella final agreement, or are they going to be just incorporated as amendments to the act itself?
I say this to the minister with all sincerity, because I want to see an act that's going to work. I'm sure that the minister is aware that there were some problems this fall with the resident hunters' interpretation of boundaries for category A lands of First Nations, where they did not have a legitimate right to hunt without permission of the First Nations. I understand that there were several infractions there.
With the finalization of land claims agreements and all of our desires to coexist in a peaceful manner, it is incumbent that we make it very, very clear in our legislation as to what rules apply. The education of the general public with regard to final agreements is going to be a monumental task for quite a few years to come, without having conflicting legislation.
So, if the minister can comment on that in his summation, I would certainly appreciate it. As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting the bill in principle. We may have the odd question through Committee debate, but I don't see them as being monumental, as I concur with what the minister said in his second reading speech.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to speak to this piece of legislation on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party caucus. We are pleased to see the introduction of this bill, and if ever there was truly a piece of housekeeping legislation to bring Yukon legislation into line with existing agreements, and so on, this is definitely it. As the minister noted, it has been some years in the coming before this House.
I understand that the officials actually began working on drafting the specific changes some time ago and appreciate the thoughtfulness and the work that has gone into this.
At this time, I'd also like to extend our thanks, on behalf of our caucus, to the minister for providing a briefing from his staff on this particular legislation this morning. We appreciate that effort, and the staff that were provided to us were very knowledgeable and very helpful to us. One of the questions that we asked in the briefing was what future changes were anticipated for legislation as a result of future Yukon First Nation agreements, and we received a well-put answer to that.
One of the other questions we asked that the technical staff were unable to answer was the question of resources in the department and a question of whether or not there's anticipation of additional resources in the future in this regard.
I'd like to make one comment while we're on second reading of this bill regarding the consultation process. It's our understanding that the Wildlife Management Advisory Council, the Aklavik Game Council, a hunter and trappers committee, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, and the Yukon Fish and Game Association, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation - the Speaker's riding - the Vuntut Gwitchin Renewable Resource Council and the Fish and Wildlife Management Advisory Board and the Yukon Conservation Society, have all been involved in the consultation process on these specific amendments. We appreciate that the comments that have been made by these organizations and their input into ensuring that the legislation before us takes into account any future situations.
In closing, I would like to indicate our support for this bill, and we'll be asking more detailed questions as the bill moves into Committee.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I guess in brief, just to reiterate some of the things I've said before, the amendments to the Wildlife Act would not affect Yukon hunters or Yukon First Nations rights. The Inuvialuit final agreement has been in place for approximately 14 years now, and it has been a long time since there was a commitment to deal with this. We recognize our obligations under those agreements, when it does affect us.
I thank the members for the support of this bill. You are right. I think that this is a very good bill with which to start building a relationship with our partners to the east.
In regard to further amendments to the Wildlife Act, I feel that, should we get into amendments, it would take a long time to do - more than a year, I would say. Perhaps a couple of years. It would be very detailed. It would be a comprehensive review, should we get into that. That is why we stayed away from doing more amendments to the Wildlife Act. We know that it could become very controversial. There is a lot of interest out there among Yukoners in regard to this act. It is behind. We have First Nation final agreements that have been in place now for a number of years. We were hoping that we would have completed First Nation final agreements and have devolution, so we would have been able to move amendments to the Wildlife Act at that time.
I don't believe that we will be amending the Wildlife Act every time a First Nation ratifies a final agreement. I think we can do it in a general way. First Nations themselves are starting to pass wildlife acts. We have two, I believe, that are in place already, and that is something else that the department has to start dealing with. It is a ways down the road. A lot of people are going to be involved, and it is going to be a very expensive consultation, once we get into that process.
I feel that this is a very good piece of legislation and amendment, and it would really make the people of the North Slope and the Inuvialuit people very happy.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 58 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
Committee of the whole
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 56 - Spousal Tort Immunity Abolition Act
Chair: Committee is dealing with Bill No. 56, Spousal Tort Immunity Abolition Act.
Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As I indicated during the second reading speech, the Spousal Tort Immunity Abolition Act is to bring about consequential amendments to a number of pieces of legislation to provide the ability for one spouse to sue another spouse.
As I've also indicated, this is an action that all other jurisdictions in Canada have already taken. It's necessary, in order to recognize the reality in today's society, that rather than wives being the personal property of their husbands, that they are each people in their own right. When it comes to insurance provisions or contributory negligence or other bills, one spouse should have the ability to sue another.
Chair: Is there further debate?
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 56 out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 48 - An Act to Amend the Fuel Oil Tax Act
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, the remarks I made in second reading pretty well cover the reasons for this amendment to the Fuel Oil Tax Act. It will permit the government to refund overpayments of tax paid for a period of six years rather than the limited period currently in the act. The six-year period, as I mentioned, was chosen because we can verify claims that go back that far.
I can tell the members that the issue did arise as a result of a trucker who asked for a refund for a number of years of overpaid tax. His claim amounted to $3,800, and I think that covers all the sums outstanding. The financial impact of the amendment is insignificant, but it is important to those people who do not claim in a timely manner.
As I indicated in second reading, there will not be a major impact on the government treasury as a result of this particular amendment, as most claims are paid out soon after the tax has been paid.
Mr. Ostashek: We don't have much difficulty with the amendment. I accept the Finance minister's rationale that it won't involve any work to extend it to six years, but six years seems like an awfully long time in comparison with other legislation - even our own. I think that GST rebates are four years, maximum, if I'm not mistaken.
I guess I'm a little concerned that six years on this one may set some precedent as to what term we use for rebates. Let us look, for example, at the home owners grant on taxes. If you don't apply by the end of the year, you're not eligible for it.
That amounts to a substantial amount of dollars to homeowners as well. It's not because we can't track it. We can track it, I'm sure, but there's some legitimate reason why we don't allow it to be claimed after the end of the year. I believe also six years for a fuel tax rebate is out of sync with other jurisdictions. I don't believe that they go that long in the provinces. Does the Finance minister have examples of other jurisdictions that go six years - or are we stepping to the front of the pack with this? Does the Finance minister not feel that there may be some precedent set by this for rebates in other areas where government gives rebates?
As I said, I don't have much difficulty with the amendment in principle; I just would like to know where the rationale for six years comes other than the fact being that we can go back six years, because we can do that with other taxes that are paid; yet, we don't allow that longer grace period to reclaim the dollar.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Chair, I think that the member may be right that we are creating a precedent. I think the precedent is an entirely morally justifiable precedent. I do regard, though, the situation being different from that which exists for the home owner grant, which essentially is less a rebate and more a grant to people, a benefit for being in a home owning situation. We refer to it as a rebate only because we do a calculation that subtracts it from the taxes payable but, in a sense, it's a grant and we do have a time limit period on which the person can make application and receive that benefit.
Like so many other programs, I do feel that it is qualitatively different from that situation. But where there is a situation where people overpay their taxes and the government is holding taxpayers' money that they should not have received or should be paying back, then perhaps the precedent is worth setting, because the principle is that the money is not the government's money, it's people's money.
In this particular case, the member's quite right. The reason why we are considering a six-year limit is because that is when we reasonably keep records, and to do it differently would force us to keep or manage records longer than we are today, which would be an expenditure and cost to us.
If there are other cases or situations where people's tax is over paid and they were due for a refund, then maybe we should be looking at those as well.
Mr. Ostashek: Now I guess we're playing word games as to whether it's a grant or a rebate, but that's immaterial to this. It's just that I say I believe that the six years will be precedent setting, and the Finance minister will have to be prepared for applications coming in. I can't think of any right off the top of my head right now that may be of concern to Yukoners, but once we do it in one area of taxation - that we give a rebate and extend the grace period to a substantial length - then it does make the question whether or not the government is prepared to do it in other areas.
I want to ask the minister a question, just for my own satisfaction. He may not feel it's appropriate to answer it, and I guess I'll accept that, but I was curious if he'd be prepared to name the trucking company that asked for the rebate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Sure I can. I don't know the trucking company, but certainly I can. I'll provide the information to the member. That's not a problem. I believe there are only a handful - well, I'll be careful. There are not many people who applied for the rebate for this length of period back. I think there have been, according to the Deputy Minister of Finance, in the last significant term, there are only a couple of people who have been turned down in the past because they have not applied for the funds in a timely way - meaning under the act - and the amounts owing, according to the department, were less than $1,000. So, this is more a matter of principle than it is a matter of cost.
But the trucking company - yes, sure I can. I think it's an American trucking company, as a matter of fact. I don't know where it's based, but I can find the information.
I do think the issue that the member raises is an important one, however, with respect to the subject of what kind of precedent we're setting here. I think it's a defendable precedent, of course - otherwise I wouldn't be bringing forward the measure - but I think there is a distinction - I wouldn't refer to it pejoratively as a word game - that should be made between grants and tax rebates. I think we'd want to be pretty careful about maintaining that distinction, otherwise there could be significant cost implications to setting a precedent of this sort.
But this is a case where tax revenue was received, but it wasn't technically owing. We are simply returning it to the people, rightly - people who paid it at the pumps. So, I think it's a reasonable one.
There is not going to be a financial implication to this. I doubt that the implications will ever be noticed by the Legislature again, because the amounts are so small. But I do think that as a principle, it is worthy of consideration.
Mr. Ostashek: I don't want to prolong the debate on this; we have a lot of bills to go through this session. I just want to say for the record, and the minister may want to respond to it, that he stated quite clearly that his Finance officials said that very few people apply for this rebate.
One of the reasons that has been raised with me by people is that they can't be bothered doing the paperwork for the amount of money involved. I can't even tell you for sure that I'm fully aware of how much paperwork is involved with this now. I know that they do have to calculate the number of litres of fuel they burn, over the period that they burned it, and submit it to Finance officials, and be able to produce evidence of those purchases in order to qualify for the permit.
Has the Finance minister and his department looked at the possibility of whether, in fact, there aren't very many claimants, as the minister has stated? There has to be some reason for it. People aren't about to just leave money in the hands of the government if they can get it back with reasonable effort.
Has the minister reviewed the forms that have to be filled, and is he satisfied that they're not so cumbersome that they're stopping people from applying for the rebate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, I have not reviewed the forms that people have to fill out. I can't say that I've ever had to do that, and I've never known anybody who's had to do that, either. Nevertheless, it sounds like an excellent candidate for a review by the red tape-reduction round table. I will pass on the member's comments, and the issue, to that round table and see if they can give us some consideration.
Chair: Is there further debate?
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 you report Bill No. 48 out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: Committee will now proceed to Bill No. 49, entitled An Act to Amend the Securities Act.
Bill No. 49 - An Act to Amend the Securities Act
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the Yukon registrar of securities is a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators and participates in a national instrument designed to harmonize securities administration in Canada. The national instrument calls for a mutual reliance review system to provide for a national registry system for securities brokers and sales people. Accordingly, each jurisdiction across Canada is amending their securities legislation to match the MRRS, to take effect over the next year.
In addition, the amendments before us allow for an administrative change to have the registrar appointed by the minister. This is in line with the practice in other legislation that we have in the Yukon.
Chair: Is there further debate?
Mr. Cable: I believe it was this act where I asked the minister about the recent court decision, where fees that were, in effect, a tax, had been set aside by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: Probate? Probate fees. But it was the general proposition of fees being equivalent to services rendered, rather than set out as a tax, as I think was the case with the probate case in Ontario.
What has the minister done in this general area to ensure that the fees under those acts that she administers - and she administers a lot of them where fees are charged for various services down at the Justice building - concord with services rendered rather than being an indirect tax?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In the amendments before us on the Securities Act, there is no intent to raise the fees for the renewal of registration. The present fees are $200 for broker renewal and $50 for sales person renewal. Generally, the fees that are charged in the Yukon are at the low end of the scale, when compared with that in place in other jurisdictions. Certainly, any proposal to raise fees would be linked to the costs of provision of service, and there are no major fee increases, either in this amendment or others, that I can advise the member of.
Mr. Cable: No, I wasn't asking whether there are any fee increases anticipated. I was just wondering, in view of that case - which was based on the probate situation - whether the minister has given her staff any instructions to review the fees that are charged now to see whether they accurately reflect services rendered, or whether there's no relationship to the services rendered.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In response to the member's question about probate fees, I have taken notice of that question. I understood the member would be bringing it back when we discuss the estate administration, later in the legislative session.
Mr. Cable: No, I think the minister's missing the point of the question. The recent decision related specifically to probate fees, but the rationale of the case related to fees generally charged by government for services rendered in filing, and whatever, and it would certainly relate to the fees that are charged under the many statutes that this minister is responsible for. So I was wondering if she had instructed her officers to look at the situation and to make sure that the fees that are being charged under these various statutes accurately reflect the services rendered, rather than being indirectly a form of money-grab by the government in the form of a tax.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, in most cases the actual cost of service is higher than the fees that are charged. Governments are normally reluctant to raise fees, and we have not seen large fee increases in any of the statutes that are administered. In general, the fees that are charged by the Yukon government are low in comparison with fees charged by other jurisdictions. I want to be sure that the fees are, in fact, not inordinately high and have no reason, from the review I've done to date, to believe that they are so.
Mr. Cable: The minister is saying that there has, in fact, been a review done to date. Is that what she's saying?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as individual bills are dealt with - for example, the Securities Act amendments and the fees that we charge - I asked for information on the revenues that the governments receive from registration fees and the numbers of securities brokers and sales agents that are here. There is no intent to raise the fees for the renewal of registration.
Chair: Is there further debate?
On Clause 1
Clause 1 stood over
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 49 out of Committee without amendment.
Chair: Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 63 - An Act to Amend the Dental Profession Act
Chair: Committee will now proceed to Bill No. 63, An Act to Amend the Dental Profession Act. Is there any debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: During the debate in Committee of the Whole on the Dental Profession Act, there were some questions in relation to the subject of professional development.
I contacted the Yukon Dental Association and learned that in fact they generally hold two educational lectures per year, consisting of 28 to 30 hours, delivered by lecturers or guest dentists from other jurisdictions in North America. These educational lectures cover a whole range of topics associated with dentistry, and most Yukon dentists do attend these lectures. In addition, many dentists on their own initiative go outside for lectures and workshops.
The discussion centered in part around whether there was a need for a mandatory provision to provide for professional development for the dentists, as there is for the optometrists with other amendments that we have debated in this House during this session. Accordingly, I have a proposed amendment to Bill No. 63, entitled An Act to Amend the Dental Profession Act.
On Clause 3 - revisited
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move
THAT Bill No. 63, entitled An Act to Amend the Dental Profession Act, be amended in clause 3 on page 1 by adding the following subsection to it:
"(3) Section 4 of the said Act is amended by adding the following subsection after subsection (2.1):
"(2.2) The Registrar shall refuse to renew the registration of a dentist unless the dentist supplies satisfactory evidence that they have completed the courses and hours of continuing education and the minimum hours of practice that are prescribed by the Commissioner in Executive Council."
Mr. Phillips: I don't necessarily disagree with the amendment, but I just wonder: is this in order? Shouldn't we be going through the bill and, when we get to that section, then that's the point at which the minister would come forward?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: Oh, so we're just going back to that one clause? Okay.
Chair: Committee is dealing with an amendment to clause 3. The particular act has already been read and dealt with.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I just want to say that the Yukon Liberal caucus strongly supports this amendment. It makes a lot of sense. Most professional legislation throughout Canada does have a clause that's very similar to this.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I just want to ensure that the members are aware that the wording in this amendment is the same as the wording in the amendments to the Optometrists Act.
Amendment agreed to
Clause 3 agreed to as amended
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that you report Bill No. 63 out of Committee with amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: Committee will now deal with Bill No. 50.
Bill No. 50 - An Act to Amend the Jury Act
Chair: Is there general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Just to refresh the memories of members on this bill, as we discussed during second reading, the amendments are to recognize First Nation chiefs as leaders of government and exempt them from jury duty. In addition, we are strengthening the provisions to provide that a citizen who sits on a jury cannot face any penalty from an employer for being absent from work to serve on jury duty. As well, there are amendments that ensure that persons convicted under an act of parliament for which they could have been in prison for more than 12 months cannot be impaneled as jurors.
Mrs. Edelman: This is a related issue to do with juries, and I'm wondering if it is already covered in the policy of the department.
A number of friends of mine have served as jurors here in the Yukon. Two of them, in particular, served on very difficult sexual abuse cases to do with a child. At the end of the experience, they were quite shaken and were just sent home. That was the end of the process.
I know that when there is a critical incident in the health profession, there is a stress debriefing at the end of it. It helps to clear the air and is a useful exercise. I wonder whether the department has considered doing anything like that with juries in which there is a particularly difficult case?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Jurors serve and are working in a court situation. There is a very important distinction between the functions of court and the functions of a government.
What I would like to do is to take the member's question and come back to her with a response.
Chair: Is there further debate?
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that you report Bill No. 50 out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: Committee will now proceed to Bill No. 59.
Bill No. 59 - An Act to Amend the Limitation of Actions Act
Chair: Is there any debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The removal of the limitations of actions is designed to make it possible for victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct to bring forward an action and not be subjected to the existing two-year time period. Other jurisdictions in Canada have brought this forward. We want to make sure that the force of law is available to survivors of sexual abuse through civil remedies.
Mr. Phillips: As I said in second reading, our caucus certainly supports this initiative. I think it's important, Mr. Chair, to recognize that sometimes it takes many, many years for an individual to come forward and raise issues of sexual abuse, and we should be doing whatever we can to eliminate sexual abuse in the Yukon. I think this will go a little way in allowing those individuals their day in court, so to speak, if they feel that they are ready to come forward and speak out about an incident that happened in years past.
We certainly support it and are prepared to go line by line.
Mr. Cable: The Liberal caucus is also supportive.
There is a question, though, that I pose to the minister in second reading. On April 16, during the justice budget debate, I asked the minister when she was going to bring in legislation of this type. In response she said, "I think that the member opposite would find the editorial in yesterday's Globe and Mail quite interesting on that subject." That, assumedly, would be April 15, 1998. Then she went on to say, "There is a strong debate on the recovered-memory syndrome, and we will be considering all aspects of the question before we make a final decision on that subject."
Was there some consideration made? What sort of information did the minister receive on the recovered-memory syndrome? There was, in fact, a very active debate in the mental health community at that time.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, let me respond to the member by saying that false-memory syndrome, as it's popularly called, is a psychiatric debate among experts. It is up to the courts to decide if the information that is given in a courtroom is accurate, is valid, is appropriate, and how much weight should be placed on it.
This scenario could arise under the current law, as under the present law, so it's a matter that's properly left to the courts.
Mr. Cable: I had the impression, though, that the Department of Justice was actually going to look at the issue and perhaps advise the minister on whether the syndrome had been thrown out the door by the psychiatric community.
I take it from the fact she's brought this legislation forward that she doesn't see it as a problem. Where does the debate sit, though? Is the psychiatric community of a common mind on the syndrome or is the discussion still up in the air?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, there is in fact still debate among various psychiatrists and the professional community about whether or not there is a valid syndrome.
What the Department of Justice provided in making a decision to bring forward amendments to the legislation was the history and the philosophy of limitation law. They talked about the nature of sexual abuse from the victim's perspective. We talked about the kinds of amendments that have been made elsewhere in the country, and the need to set aside the limitation law so that survivors of sexual abuse can pursue civil remedies more than two years after they have reached the age of majority if they were a child victim and more than two years after the alleged assault if they are an adult victim.
There are many reasons that survivors of sexual abuse or sexual assault may not bring forward an action within the existing limitation period. I don't believe that that means they are sitting on their rights. I think that it's often a case of them being afraid of their abusers or being incapable of acting with diligence under the present limitation law.
We've brought forward these amendments in order to offer more support for victims. A court takes into account the legitimacy of the evidence from all parties and makes a decision. I don't think it's up to us as legislators to draft legislation to reflect current debate among psychiatry professionals.
Chair: Is there further debate?
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that Bill 59, entitled An Act to Amend to the Limitation of Actions Act, be amended in clause 4 at page 1 by, in the English version, deleting the partial word, "sec-" and substituting for it the following: "section 3 of this act is revived if the right to bring the act is not barred under section 2 of the Limitation of Actions Act as amended by section 3 of this act."
Mr. Chair, I believe that the members have the complete bill. This was incomplete and this phrase was inadvertently dropped when the bill was reformatted and printed on two pages instead of on one.
Chair: Does the amendment carry?
Amendment agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move the same amendment en français.
Chair: Are you agreed?
Amendment agreed to
Chair: Does clause 4 carry as amended?
Clause 4 agreed to as amended
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 59 out of Committee with amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: Committee will now proceed to Bill No. 58.
Bill No. 58 - An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act
Chair: Is it the Committee's wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee is dealing with Bill No. 58, An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act.
Is there any debate?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Just in brief, I have covered off most of the main points earlier today. This amendment to the Wildlife Act is really focused on the Inuvialuit final agreement.
As we go through the act, you'll find that we have a number of amendments to the Wildlife Act - a number of sections in the Wildlife Act - and after awhile we'll get down to part 9, which will really be focused. People can use that portion to see if the Inuvialuit agreement is reflected under the act.
I think it's fairly straightforward for the easy use of the act by the Inuvialuit people and our department.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I just want the minister to reiterate and clarify for me, for the public record, that what he said in second reading was that all the amendments that are here are basically housekeeping amendments because of the Inuvialuit final agreement and its correlation with the Yukon Wildlife Act - that nothing in here will change any section of the act, as it pertains to the rest of the Yukon, other than the area that's affected by the Inuvialuit final agreement, and the responsibilities and the commitments that have been made in the Inuvialuit final agreement for access to our wildlife resources, and that that is what this act is depicting and there would be no other changes in here that aren't in as a result of the Inuvialuit final agreement.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can give that reassurance.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Ms. Duncan: Sorry, I was sidetracked there for a moment. I had asked the minister in second reading about any additional resources as a result of this particular piece of legislation. Is there any plan for any additional resources to be dedicated to the North Slope, or is this simply to be dealt with within existing resources?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, there would not be any additional resources. Any time we do enter into any conservation mode here, in any part of the Yukon, it would be applied in the same way by adding additional resources to do monitoring, and that sort of thing. But, as a result of the act itself, no.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Mr. Ostashek: Prior to getting into clause 1, I would like to refer to the preamble of the legislation, and paragraph 3. The minister may think I'm nitpicking, but I think it's a very important issue.
"Whereas it is desirable to ensure that the Wildlife Act is consistent with the Inuvialuit final agreement" - my question to the minister is, isn't it far more than "desirable"? Isn't this a legal requirement of our Wildlife Act to be consistent with the Inuvialuit final agreement? Are we not obligated to make these changes, not just because we want to make the changes?
I just want a clarification on that.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we are obligated to make these changes, although, down the road, we do have it reflected in the act that should we oversee part of the Inuvialuit agreement that needs to be changed in our act, their agreement would always be paramount.
Mr. Ostashek: Yes, I understand that and I don't have any difficulty with it. Perhaps it will clear up as we go through, but it just seems to me that if we put the words in there, "it is desirable", it is something that is not legally required, but just the whim of the government that it is desirable - for it to be compatible with the Inuvialuit final agreement. I would have thought that there would be a stronger word used in that clause than "desirable".
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not sure where we can go with this. I guess one of the reasons for it is that we basically want to ensure that we are able to show those reflections. If we were not to have those wordings - we could go back and do further amendments should we find, I guess, a place where we need to make those changes.
Mr. Ostashek: Okay, I guess I'm beginning to see what the minister is saying. What the minister is saying is that they didn't want to use a stronger word for fear of being locked in to not being able to make any further amendments or asking for changes to the Inuvialuit final agreement if, in fact, they found inconsistencies. Am I correct in my interpretation of that word?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that is the thinking of the drafters that worked on it.
Chair: Is there further debate?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm just expressing a concern that the extensive consultation that was undergone in drafting this particular piece of legislation - there isn't any sort of mention or attribution or legal requirement for that kind of consultation and involvement by the necessary organizations. I'm thinking of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the North Slope Wildlife Management Advisory Council. Now, is that somewhere else in this legislation and I've missed it, or is it simply because it's not spelled out?
My understanding from the technical briefing this morning was that the Inuvialuit final agreement doesn't spell out that type of consultation, and therefore it hasn't been spelled out here, and that was the reasoning. Is that correct, or does the minister have another explanation to offer?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Is the member speaking of consultation to this draft legislation or future consultation?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I complimented the minister and the staff in terms of dealing with consultation prior to drafting this legislation. What I'm concerned about is that with this legislation there is no further reference to the input of these organizations, like the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. Now, is that because of the way the Inuvialuit final agreement is drafted, or is it because it simply felt it wasn't required in this legislation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There was consultation with those groups. It wasn't spelled out specifically in the IFA, but they did take it to the affected interests to get feedback from them.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm not making my point well enough for the minister. I understand the consultation took place prior to drafting and during the long process leading up to this legislation, the necessary groups - and when I say necessary groups, I'm referring to the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, the Inuvialuit Regional Development Corporation - have been involved in drafting this and they've been consulted, but it seems to end there. We don't seem to recognize their input any further in the legislation. Now, is that simply the way the government wants it, is it the way the groups have recommended it or is it the way the Inuvialuit final agreement is itself drafted?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Inuvialuit final agreement recognizes those groups in the agreement and they have been used within it. Is she talking in regard to permitting or conservation, or is it on implementing of the agreement? I see the member is nodding her head "yes". In regard to conservation, certainly they will be involved with us on that. We would have to be dealing with them. With some of the animals that have been identified in the act, the Inuvialuit have exclusive rights to them and Yukoners, in that case, are not really affected by conservation of, for example, polar bears and so on because the Inuvialuit have exclusive right to them and any animals on Herschel Island.
We will, I guess, continue to work with those organizations that have been identified through the IFA.
Chair: Is there further debate?
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Mr. Ostashek: Just a clarification - clause "8. Section 43 of the act is amended by adding the following subsection after subsection (2):
"(3) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(b), an Inuvialuit who is hunting wildlife on the Yukon North Slope under part 9 is a resident."
Are the Inuvialuit required to obtain a hunting licence, even though there's no fee for it? What kind of documents are they going to have to produce if they're stopped by a conservation officer?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This is one of the key areas that the Inuvialuit had identified. They are, for the purpose, I guess, of this act and the North Slope, considered resident. They will not be required to produce a licence, but they will have to have identification that shows that they are part of the Inuvialuit final agreement or beneficiaries of the Inuvialuit final agreement.
Mr. Ostashek: I believe there are some inconsistencies there with our own land claims agreements, are there not? I know in the area of fishing, while aboriginal people can fish, if they're sport fishing they're still required to get a licence, even though there's no charge for it. We're asking our conservation officers to interpret band memberships and verification that they are a beneficiary of the Inuvialuit final agreement. I think we're asking a lot of our conservation officers when, in fact, would it not be just as simple to issue them with a hunting licence that shows them as a bona fide user of the resource, based on the fact that they are a beneficiary of the Inuvialuit final agreement and not ask our conservation officers to interpret documentation other than a valid hunting licence?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That's a good point. I know that these agreements are definitely a bit different from the First Nation final agreements. Under the IFA, it is spelled out clearly that the Inuvialuit does not require a hunting licence.
Mr. Ostashek: Okay, I will accept that, but I will ask the minister to make note of that. If, in fact, there're going to be inconsistencies, as the member said in his opening comments, in being able to request amendments to the Inuvialuit final agreement, this may be one of the areas he may want to look at.
Clause 8 agreed to
On Clause 9
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Mr. Ostashek: I was just wondering if the minister could give me a quick explanation of 149, which is a regulation being repealed and substituted with "149. A regulation made under this act may be made to apply to all of the Yukon or to any part of the Yukon."
Chair: Can we clear clause 10 before proceeding?
Mr. Ostashek: Sorry, Mr. Chair.
Clause 10 agreed to
On Clause 11
Mr. Ostashek: I hope I don't have to repeat that.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we did make a change to that section. What they had in there previously was "parts of the Yukon" and we wanted to change it to "part", so that it doesn't appear that these regulations are in different sections of the Yukon. It is strictly for the North Slope.
Clause 11 agreed to
On Clause 12
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, this section puts the following in: "...requiring the payment of such fees as the Commissioner in Executive Council considers necessary for the administration of this act." Does the government anticipate fees?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that is a change. Those are free, but only within the North Slope. Should they be going anywhere else in the Yukon, they would have to purchase licences.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, would they be subject to resident or non-resident fees?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: They would be subject to non-resident fees. They are only to be considered residents within the North Slope.
Clause 12 agreed to
On Clause 13
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I believe I'm in the right section, "Clause 13 is amended by adding the following part after section 190 and before schedule 1:" If you go to page 4 of the document, the fourth paragraph down is causing me some concern. And I understand, Mr. Chair, that these clauses are from the Inuvialuit final agreement, if my interpretation is correct. First of all, is my interpretation correct on that? Are these clauses from the Inuvialuit final agreement that we're talking about here?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, they are based on the IFA.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, the minister says they are based on the IFA. Are they clauses from the IFA that have been re-drafted by his officials for this legislation, or are they taken verbatim out of the IFA?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Some of the definitions are taken straight out of the IFA, but some sections were not.
Mr. Ostashek: Okay. I have some concerns about the fourth paragraph. I will read it to the minister: "... 'subsistence usage' means subject to international conventions, the taking of wildlife by Inuvialuit for their personal use for food and clothing and includes the taking of wildlife for the purpose of trade, barter and, subject to section 27, ..."
Now, I don't have section 27 in front of me, but "sale among Inuvialuit and trade, barter and sale to any person of the non-edible by-products of wildlife that are incidental to the taking of wildlife by Inuvialuit for their personal use; ..."
Is the minister saying that wildlife has to be taken for personal use, yet they're entitled to sell the by-products, such as gall bladders, claws, or bear paws? Will this give them the right to sell these parts of the wildlife?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This section is straight out of the IFA, and I believe what you've said is true.
Mr. Ostashek: I was afraid it was. I know there's nothing the minister can do about it now, but I think it's something that we're going to have to watch with extreme caution.
It seems to me a fairly wide-open clause that could be subject to abuse, and I don't know what the department could do about it if, in fact, we're going to adopt that into our Wildlife Act. It's very vague - it says that they must take animal products for their own use, but any non-edible by-products of the wildlife, that are incidental to the taking of the wildlife by the Inuvialuit for their personal use, they can sell.
I think that would raise concerns with quite a few Yukoners who, by the mere fact that they have to buy a hunting licence, are entitled to only take one animal. It keeps control of those kinds of issues. Where one group of people can take any number of animals for their personal use, that does leave open to question the by-products and what's happening and if, in fact, the right is not being abused.
Could I ask the minister - and it may be in the act as we go further through it, but in case it isn't, I'd like to ask the question now. If it is, the minister can just tell me and I'll wait till we get to it. What is the reporting process on the taking of wildlife by the Inuvialuit? What kind of checks and balances are going to be in place by his department so that they have a good understanding of what is being harvested up there so that we don't leave ourselves open to the process of being abused because we weren't diligent enough in putting our legislation in place?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The amount of harvesting that does take place has to be reported to the Inuvialuit Game Council or the Hunters and Trappers Association and we would work with them for that. We still can draw the line at conservation. A minister still can say where hunting can and cannot take place once we look and re-evaluate the number of animals that have been taken.
Mr. Ostashek: I understand that and I'm not debating that issue with the minister. My concern is this: how often are they required to report to the minister and his department on what is being taken? Is it every month, every quarter, every six months, every year? My concern is this: the fact that this group of people, by way of their final agreement, have the right to harvest wildlife with very little control by way of the Wildlife Act and the conservation measures that are put in place by this government or any government in power.
When I look at the clause that allows for the sale of the non-edible portions of the animal, I wonder about what kind of reporting procedures are in there so that we don't end up in a situation where all of a sudden we find out - and the minister may think I'm being dramatic - that all of a sudden there are 50 grizzly bears killed and under some auspices that they needed the hides for their use, but the gall bladders and paws were sold. So, what kind of reporting procedure is going to be required so that the minister's department is aware of what's happening there on a timely basis?
Let's look at what happens in the Yukon itself and I think we need to be consistent. Outfitters have to report by November 15 what wildlife they took so the minister's department people have a good idea as to whether an area is being over harvested - the same as the rest of us have to report - so that the minister's department can be right on top of an overharvest in any one area.
Are there similar requirements by the Inuvialuit to report? That's what I'm asking the minister. What is the time frame for reporting?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not sure about this, but I think they do an annual report. If it's any different, I'll have the information given to the member. Although the minister can still set total allowable harvest for certain animals, and if it's 10, then we know this species is not going to be overharvested. I know what your concern is with the others, for example, grizzly bears, where there could be a large number and so on.
If it's any different from an annual report, I can bring that information back to you.
Mr. Ostashek: I'm concerned even with an annual report, and I just want to make it very clear to the minister. I'm not trying to be difficult on this issue, but I've a real valid concern here. These people can hunt 12 months of the year. It's not like our resident hunters, or outfitters, who only hunt for several months of the year and have very strict reporting procedures. In fact, I believe the spring grizzly season has to be reported within 15 days after the season is over. It doesn't give to November 15 or December 15 to report.
So, I'm concerned. I appreciate what the minister's saying, that he has the right to put quotas on, and limits but, in the advent of no limits being placed on them, and with only once-a-year reporting, we could run into a situation where we have an overharvest, and I used an example - maybe not the best example, but it is something that concerns a lot of people - and that's the trafficking of gall bladders and bear paws. The fact is that these people aren't limited to one animal a year. They're limited to whatever they can justify for their own use. I'm not saying there's going to be abuse, but it leaves room so that there could be abuse, and the department wouldn't be aware of it. I would hope the department could come up with a little firmer reporting procedure than once a year.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I believe that there is an ability, I guess, to require more reporting, especially in permitting and licensing - when permits and licences are given out. One can tack on to them a stricter reporting time.
Mr. Ostashek: I understand the minister, but the minister also just told me a few minutes ago that these people don't require licences. That is my concern. How are we going to monitor it so that it isn't being abused? And, the monitoring, the minister says, he believes is once a year. Is that in legislation, in regulation or by mutual agreement?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I think that what we're talking about is going close to the line of conservation. Once we hit that line, we would have permits or licences that the Inuvialuit have to purchase. With that, we would have to have a lot stricter reporting.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, could the minister produce any reports that he has received to date from the Inuvialuit? Or have they been ignoring reporting because there is no compatible legislation in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we can produce and give the member a report that we get from the hunters and trappers committee.
Mr. Phillips: How does the minister's department set quotas for certain species; for example, grizzly bear, polar bear or muskox, or whatever species are up there. The minister says that when we reach a certain quota, they might become a little more strict. Well, how do we determine the quota in the first place?
The minister didn't seem to be very certain on how often we report. We need to know how we reach the quota in the first place. If we only do it once a year, we certainly could be past the quota very easily in a six-month period if people can hunt year-round. I think that's the concern that was raised by the Member for Porter Creek North. How do we establish quotas? If the minister has those for the species up there, could he let us know what those quotas are?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I think once we feel that the numbers are being threatened and only a few numbers of animals can be taken, then we can establish quotas. It is laid out in the IFA that we do work with the number of organizations that I listed earlier - the game council and the trappers and hunters committee - and we can establish quotas through them.
I did say earlier that in regard to permitting and licences, the Inuvialuit would purchase licences. I would like to scratch that, because they are not required to purchase licences.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, we're not going to belabour this, Mr. Chair. I'm just trying to point out to the minister a weakness that I see in the legislation. We have a group of people who, in absence of any conservation measures being in place - and I don't believe there are any in place right now on the North Slope, or if there are, I would like the minister to tell me about them - have basically an unlimited right to hunt under the Inuvialuit final agreement. And I don't take any argument with that.
My concern is that we could be put into a situation where the minister has to conserve the resource because of the long period - the 12 months - between reporting periods, and these people having the ability to harvest 12 months of the year. That's the concern that I'm trying to raise so that we have something in place that the department can have a little better understanding of what's happening out there without having to resort to putting on quotas. I think if we put something in front of that, we may never run into the situation where the minister has to impose conservation measures. That's the point I'm trying to make.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I understand where the member is coming from. In regard to the process of establishing quotas and so on, as we go through section 9, we will have, I guess, a little clearer understanding about how the process works. It's laid out in section 203 through 210.
Ms. Duncan: Could I ask the minister to clarify this for me? The definition of subsistence usage, which we're discussing now, includes the taking of wildlife for the purpose of trade, barter and, subject to section 27, sale among Inuvialuit, and trade, barter and sale to any person of the non-edible by-products of wildlife that are incidental to the taking of wildlife.
Then, when we move on to section 195(2), it says, "Nothing in (1) authorizes the sale of wildlife or any part of the carcass of any wildlife."
Those two seem to me to be inconsistent. Could I ask the minister to explain that to me please?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It gets a little bit bit confusing, just going back and forth, but we're talking about the Inuvialuit subsistence hunting rights. It doesn't mean that they have a right to hunt for sale.
Mr. Cable: I guess the clarification we're seeking is that these sections don't completely overlap, but they are partly coincidental. Subsection 195(2) seems to preclude the sale of a part of the carcass, and we've had discussions here a few moments ago on the sale of paws and other parts of the animal.
What does the preclusion in 195(2) specifically relate to, and is it contradictory to the definition of subsistence usage?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I just want to get this a bit straight, I guess. He is talking about section 195, to barter products, and we're talking about basically back and forth among Inuvialuit people or the adjacent First Nation land claim settlement.
Now, in regard to section 27 - I just need to get this clear. Just give me a minute here. We're talking about permits and how a person would acquire a permit to buy parts. Just give me a minute.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess, in trying to clarify this issue, the Inuvialuit final agreement, in regard to the selling of by-products is subject to general application, and refers back to the Wildlife Act under section 27, which states that "No person shall buy or sell or offer to buy or sell or keep for the purpose of sale any wildlife or any part of the carcass of any wildlife." It also states that a person has to, I guess, qualify to be able to have a permit to buy these products.
Mr. Ostashek: The legislation, if these clauses are taken out of the Inuvialuit final agreement, is not very clear, because the first issue I raised on subsistence usage, which my colleagues have also raised, gives the Inuvialuit the right to sell byproducts. It gives them the unequivocal right to sell by-products. That's what the legislation says there.
Then, 195(2) says "Nothing in subsection (1)" - which deals with the Inuvialuit dealing with another Inuvialuit or beneficiary of an adjacent land claim agreement - "authorizes the sale of wildlife or any part of the carcass of any wildlife." Doesn't the minister find that conflicting?
Mr. Chair, basically the way I interpret the legislation is that you can sell by-products to Japan or anywhere you want, but you can't sell them to another First Nation next door to you.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The section that deals with the sale of by-products refers back to section 12 of the Inuvialuit final agreement. It doesn't say in there that they have the right to sell by-products of anything other than migratory birds. On the others, it says that it would be under the laws of general application.
Now, I'm just trying to check out in the agreement what the laws of general application really mean.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, this is getting more complicated than clarified, because if you look at that clause that the minister says refers back to general application - he's trying to figure out what general application is - but your clause here under 191(1) says that the "sale among Inuvialuit and trade, barter and sale to any person of the non-edible by-products of wildlife that are incidental to the taking of wildlife by Inuvialuit for their personal use; ..."
That gives them the unequivocal right to sell that. Now, you're telling me the rules of general application under the Inuvialuit final agreement apply only to migratory birds. Well, that's not what this section says in your amendment, and it's in conflict with section 195(2), which says they're not authorized to sell any part of the carcass.
So, we need to clarify that somehow, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Ostashek: Now, Mr. Chair, perhaps I could suggest to the minister that we just set those two clauses aside, continue with the bill, and that he come back with an explanation on them for me later. We're early in this session. We're not here to play games and hold the bill up. We just want to see good, clear legislation. So, if it will help the minister to set them aside, go back to the lawyers and get an interpretation on it so he can explain it to this House, then we can move on with the rest of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As we go through the bill, maybe we can have a little clearer picture of this. We're bouncing back and forth between different sections, and it's hard to refer back to them. We're talking about section 12 of the IFA and section 27 of the Wildlife Act, and I know that as we go through section 9 of the amendments, a lot of what the member is asking here is laid out, I guess, in a manner that I think we can understand a little bit more.
If at the end the members still have an unclear picture of that, then I can come back with, I guess, a little clearer definition for them.
Mr. Ostashek: Okay, I don't have much difficulty, Mr. Chair, but I'm reluctant to clear these clauses. If they are clear at the time we've gone through the bill, I'd be quite happy to clear them at that point, but I'm reluctant to clear them now and get through the whole bill and then find out that I'm still not satisfied that I fully understand what we're trying to accomplish here. It's not clear to me now - and it may be at the end of the bill; I'm not saying that it won't - but if the minister would stand them aside until we get to the end of the bill at least so that we can be comfortable with them, I would be quite prepared to do that.
Ms. Duncan: Excuse me, Mr. Chair, I'd just like to state for the minister's review that it's not clear to me that these two sections we've discussed are not in conflict. They seem to be in conflict with one another. If they don't make sense and seem to be in conflict to us, I can only imagine what they must be to the average Yukoner or a member of the Inuvialuit. The minister has said it's difficult bouncing from one section to the other. Well, the point is that it has to be consistent throughout and it does not appear to me to be consistent, and I would like to return to this section with a more detailed answer from the minister later on in this debate. I do not want to clear this until it makes sense to people and that it's clearly consistent.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: These sections do not overlap. If the member feels that we need to come back to this for further clarification, then we can. I have been working with the Inuvialuit final agreement in front of me. I don't know if the members across the way have the same information that I do. I have been referring back to section 12 of the Inuvialuit final agreement and also to the replacement of section 27 under the Wildlife Act.
Mr. Cable: Whatever the Inuvialuit final agreement says, this statute has to make sense, of course, and I think part of the problem is there is not concordance in the language. The definition of "subsistence usage" talks about sale among the Inuvialuit and trade, barter and sale to any person, which would include the Inuvialuit, you know, of the non-edible by-products of wildlife.
Then section 195 talks about the sale of wildlife, but it's triggered by the first subsection which talks about exchange or barter of wildlife products. So, the language isn't exactly the same. There is not complete overlap, but there appears to be partial overlap and I think that's what we'd like the minister's officers to clarify.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: For clarification, I can bring back the wording with that. I know we'll still be going through this clause 9 here and will be running across some of these definitions again. I understand where the members are coming from and I can bring that back at a later date.
Chair: Is it the wish of Committee to go through clause 13 section by section? Clause 13 goes right to the last page, page 15.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I'm going by what the minister said. He said that as we go through the rest of these amendments, those two clauses that we were questioning will be clarified. If they are, then we're prepared to clear them, but what I don't want to do is clear them and then at the end of the bill not be satisfied that we have the clarity that we've asked for and not have the ability to go back and question them. Whatever way the minister wants to do it - if it's clause by clause, that's fine. At some point in the debate this afternoon, I'm hoping that I will see the clarity and rationale behind these two clauses so that we can clear the entire amendment package. If not, I would like to stand those two clauses aside and have the minister come back with an explanation for us. Then we can clear it tomorrow or the next day or whenever.
We don't have to do the whole clause; just those two parts. It is those two parts that I'm having difficulty with. It's the paragraph that describes subsistence hunting and the clause that I believe is conflicting - 195(2). Those are the only two pieces I want to stand aside. I don't want to give my consent until I have a better understanding of them. That's all I want.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I think that if we go through it clause by clause and walk through clause 13, we will be able to better understand it. We're moving back and forth through this document. If, in the end, the members are still not clear on this, I can go back and try to bring some clarity to the sections that the member is talking about.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I don't want to be holding up debate in the House. I want to continue with the bill, and I want to continue going through by sections. I just want the right to not give approval to that entire clause until we're satisfied with those sections of it - that section with the other one, 195(2). That's all I want.
I don't want to continue by saying that we have to approve those, because we haven't approved them at this point, and if we do see clarification of the end, I have no difficulty giving the minister passage of the clauses.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I would prefer to go through the section and go through the definitions, one definition at a time, if this would give more clarity to the situation, and I can make reference back and forth to the IFA, if need be. Hopefully this would clear things up for the member.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the House seems to be talking at cross purposes here. What the Chair's talking about is doing clause 13, which takes us all the way to page 15, as a lump. The minister is talking about going through, using the numbers on the far left, section 191(1), for example, and doing each one of those. Now, what I hear the Member for Porter Creek North saying is that subsistence usage - one part is not cleared by the opposition benches until such time as we've gone through these other parts of clause 13, such as section 192. That's what I'm understanding the discussion's about: we want to stand aside the definition of subsistence usage until we've gone through the other parts of clause 13.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I think the question from the Chair was whether or not in clause 13 we go through this in detail, and that was the question that was put forward, and my preference is to go through it so we can have a clear understanding and not pass the whole thing at once.
Chair: We will proceed with the interpretation.
On Clause 191(1)
On definition "conservation"
Definition "conservation" agreed to
On definition "harvesting"
Definition "harvesting" agreed to
On definition "Herschel Island Territorial Park"
Definition"Herschel Island Territorial Park" agreed to
On definition "Hunters and Trappers Committee"
Definition "Hunters and Trappers Committee" agreed to
On definition "Inuvialuit Game Council"
Definition "Inuvialuit Game Council" agreed to
On definition "subsistence quota"
Definition "subsistence quota" agreed to
On definition "subsistence usage"
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess just for a bit more clarification on this "subsistence usage" is that the IFA reference clause 12, we had mentioned clause 27 in here for clarification, and I can read out section 12 of the IFA, I guess, for the members, if that would help.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, we need something to help us understand this. I would prefer if the minister could just come back with a simple explanation as to whether his department believes there is a conflict between that section and clause 195(2), and, if not, give us the rationale as to why they do not believe there's a conflict. I don't think it's necessary for the minister to stand here and read entire sections of the Inuvialuit final agreement. We've just asked for a simple clarification.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I was hoping that we would not have to do this, because I don't believe there is conflict. Section 27 does deal with the laws of general application and it is referred to in section 12 of the IFA. If members continue to want a little more clarity to section 195(2), I can stand this aside and bring it back another day.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would appreciate it if the minister could stand it aside and bring back a detailed explanation.
Chair: Does Committee agree that the interpretation for subsistence usage and clause 195(2) be set aside?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Chair: Does Committee agree that the definition for "subsistence usage" and section 195(2) be stood aside?
Definition "subsistence usage" stood aside
Section 195(2) stood aside
Chair: Does Committee wish to proceed with the interpretations?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
On definition "total allowable harvest"
Definition "total allowable harvest" agreed to
On definition "Wildlife Management Advisory Council"
Definition "Wildlife Management Advisory Council" agreed to
On Section 192
Section 192 agreed to
On Section 193
Section 193 agreed to
On Section 194(1)
Section 194(1) agreed to
Section 194 agreed to
On Section 195
Section 195 agreed to
On Section 196
Mr. Ostashek:I have just one simple question on 196(1). For an Inuvialuit to ship or remove any wildlife or part of the carcass of any wildlife lawfully harvested in the Yukon or the Northwest Territories, they won't need any permits for that, I understand, but if they were to export it to other jurisdictions, will they require an export permit?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, they would have to acquire a permit, like the rest of Yukoners, to ship these by-products or carcasses out of Yukon.
Section 196 agreed to
On Section 197
Section 197 agreed to
On Section 198
Section 198 agreed to
On Section 199
Section 199 agreed to
On Section 200
Section 200 agreed to
On Section 201
Section 201 agreed to
On Section 202
Section 202 agreed to
On Section 203
Section 203 agreed to
On Section 204(1)
Section 204(1) agreed to
On Section 204(2)
Section 204(2) agreed to
On Section 205
Section 205 agreed to
On Section 206
Section 206 agreed to
On Section 207
Section 207 agreed to
On Section 208
Section 208 agreed to
On Section 209(1)
Section 209(1) agreed to
On Section 209(2)
Section 209(2) agreed to
On Section 210
Section 210 agreed to
On Section 211(1)
Section 211(1) agreed to
On Section 211(2)
Section 211(2) agreed to
On Section 212(1)
Section 212(1) agreed to
On Section 212(2)
Section 212(2) agreed to
On Section 213
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I'd like just one quick question on section 213 before we clear it. In 213(a) it says, "In determining a subsistence quota, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) must take into account: (a) the food and clothing requirements of the Inuvialuit." Is the minister saying that those requirements would come ahead of conservation of the species?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, Mr. Chair, this is part of the subsistent harvesting of the Inuvialuit, to include both food and clothing.
Section 213 agreed to
On Section 214
Section 214 agreed to
On Section 215
Section 215 agreed to
On Section 216
Section 216 agreed to
On Section 217
Section 217 agreed to
On Section 218
Section 218 agreed to
On Section 219
Section 219 agreed to
On Section 220
Section 220 agreed to
On Section 221
Section 221 agreed to
On Section 222
Section 222 agreed to
On Section 223
Section 223 agreed to
On Section 224
Section 224 agreed to
On Section 225
Section 225 agreed to
On Section 226
Section 226 agreed to
On Section 227
Section 227 agreed to
On Section 228
Section 228 agreed to
On Section 229
Section 229 agreed to
Clause 13 stood over
Chair: We will proceed to clause 14.
On Clause 14
Mr. Ostashek: The minister said that all of the amendments that we're dealing with were for the Inuvialuit final agreement. Now we've come on to these with the First Nation final agreement. Could the minister give us a quick overview as to why these were included in this amendment?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This is the Yukon act that basically permits a First Nation person to hunt in the North Slope. It does not, I guess, require First Nation people with final agreements to do that. The Yukon act is an old act that still has that reflected in there, so we just made reference to that. We need to change that down the road.
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 15(1)
Clause 15(1) agreed to
On Clause 15(2)
Clause 15(2) agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I thank the members for their support on this bill. I will bring back to the members a little bit more clarification on the two clauses that they asked for.
I move that we report progress on Bill No. 58.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 56, Spousal Tort Immunity Abolition Act, Bill No. 48, An Act to Amend the Fuel Oil Tax Act, Bill No. 49, An Act to Amend the Securities Act, and Bill No. 50, An Act to Amend the Jury Act, and directed me to report them without amendment.
Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 63, An Act to Amend the Dental Profession Act, and Bill No. 59, An Act to Amend the Limitation of Actions Act and directed me to report them with amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Bill No. 65: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 65, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Keenan.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I move that Bill No. 65, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 65, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker and hon. members of the Assembly, last fall, I brought before you Motor Vehicles Act legislative amendments, bringing in tougher laws for impaired, suspended and uninsured drivers. Like those amendments, the legislative measures included in this bill are intended to make driving on Yukon highways safer and to improve the efficiency and convenience for the public.
The most significant legislative safety measures contained in this bill are designed to improve Yukon highway safety by bringing the nationally formulated and agreed-to National Safety Code standards into Yukon law.
The National Safety Code is a safety program covering all aspects of the commercial transportation business. It is a set of commercial vehicle safety standards ranging from vehicle mechanical fitness requirements to the number of hours a commercial driver can spend behind the wheel.
Since 1988, Transport Canada has funded all Canadian jurisdictions, including the Yukon, to implement the National Safety Code for cross-border traffic. In order to establish a common across-Canada commercial motor vehicle safety regime, the Yukon has implemented aspects of this code on a policy basis since then for application within the Yukon.
To date, all western jurisdictions, including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, except the Yukon, have made the code into provincial or territorial laws to make them legally binding and enforceable. We expect the rest of Canadian jurisdictions will bring the standards into full legal force soon.
These are important changes to our Motor Vehicles Act, Mr. Speaker. Mandatory inspections will apply uniform safety standards to commercial vehicles to ensure that equally safe commercial vehicles are on all Canadian highways, including the Yukon. This benefits the trucking companies and better ensures safe vehicles for the drivers and other motorists.
Companies operating commercial vehicles will be required to register under the National Safety Code. This is the first requirement of the program that will also entail compliance with the various standards applicable in the Yukon. If vehicles do not meet entrance criteria, they will not be allowed to operate on Yukon roads.
Mr. Speaker, this will do away with the two-tiered system now in the Yukon. Carriers transporting goods or people beyond Yukon borders are required to meet National Safety Code standards of the jurisdiction they travel to, and carriers operating solely within the Yukon are not required to meet those standards or even register with the program. Companies will now be required to maintain, keep and supply safety records regarding their motor carrier operations to ensure the National Safety Code standards are being obeyed.
The department has consulted with Yukoners on changes to safe regulation. The department has also agreed to review changes to the regulation that will be made following passage of this act with the Yukon Transportation Association.
We recognize that there are aspects of the National Safety Code that will need to be applied differently in the Yukon, and in recognition of differing geographic and climatic conditions north of 60° , special provisions will be made for carriers operating within the Yukon, and hours of driving could be extended longer each day. A special provision will also allow a driver to work additional time each day during bad weather.
Under the National Safety Code standards, drivers of commercial vehicles will be required to do pre-trip inspections of their vehicles and equipment, to ensure it is safe. Inspectors are authorized to do quick road checks of the mechanical fitness of the vehicles and the driver's authority to drive.
In conjunction with the National Safety Code vehicle inspections, we are also proposing periodic mechanical safety inspections for commercial vehicles, such as trucks and buses operating solely within the Yukon. Currently, commercial vehicle operators crossing the border are already subject to this standard requirement.
There is a demonstrated need for this initiative. Without the requirement to undertake regular mechanical inspections and safety checks, there are a large number of commercial vehicles that are not as safe as they should be on our highways. During Road Check '98, a total of 110 trucks were inspected in the Yukon, with 16 being placed out of service and detained; 17 required repairs before the next dispatch and 77 passed inspection. Of the 93 trailers inspected at the same time, nine were placed out of service and detained, 18 required repairs prior to the next dispatch and 66 passed inspection.
Adoption of the amendments we have tabled respecting the National Safety Code for all Yukon carriers, including those who cross our borders and those who stay within the Yukon, will increase safety on Yukon highways.
In addition to the more important National Safety Code amendments, we are also introducing other significant changes that will improve safety to the travelling public. The implementation of a graduated driver's licence system for new drivers of cars, light trucks, and motorcycles are designed to protect new and current drivers from collisions by extending and graduating the new driver learning period.
New drivers would gain experience in their driving skills and responsibilities by progressing from a basic driver's licence with restrictions and conditions on driving to a full driver's licence.
All Canadian jurisdictions except the Yukon currently have some form of this program, and it was supported by 84 percent of the Yukoners that responded to the 1996 questionnaire during the earlier public consultations.
Mr. Speaker, although we know Yukoners strongly support this initiative, we will consult directly with you as these specific regulations are being developed.
The government is proposing that drivers' licences be renewed every five years instead of every three years and that drivers now be required to take a vision test in conjunction with renewing their licence every fifth year. Where vision tests are now required only for first-time licence applicants and for drivers of commercial vehicles, comprehensive vision testing will ensure that vision problems are not a cause of accidents.
Also, where a person fails to renew their licence before it expires, the period they have to renew their licence or to re-qualify by passing a written and driving exam will be increased from six months to 24 months.
The government is also taking action to make government regulation more efficient and convenient for the public. We are taking action to reduce government red tape for business while, at the same time, giving the same assurances and safety.
We propose to simplify the registration requirements for the owners, operators and lessees/lessors of vehicles over 9,100 kilograms. We will also remove the unnecessary 30-day time limit distinction between rented and leased vehicles to help streamline business administration.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to comments that were made last year that there were problems with the law and the sections dealing with the driver-examiner. I then promised to look into the matter, and I did. We took the concerns seriously and have introduced amendments to correct the situation.
Mr. Speaker, these are some of the more significant amendments. I know that many of the members opposite have expressed their interest and concern with the Motor Vehicles Act, this year and in the past. These are important observations, and motor vehicle safety is a matter that can affect all of us on a daily basis. I believe these amendments provide us with a tremendous opportunity to make our highways safer for all Yukoners and, for government, more efficient.
I'd like to draw members' attention to the fact that these amendments came as a result of substantial public consultation and, in this regard, I'd like to specifically recognize work done by the former minister, Mr. Brewster.
I look forward to a productive debate of the bill.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: The hon. Member for Kluane, on a point of order.
Chair of Committee: addendum to earlier report
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I have a housekeeping matter to finish.
Further to my earlier report on Committee, I would like to add that Committee has considered Bill No. 58, An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: Is the amended report carried?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried as amended.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, our party is appreciative of the efforts that the department has gone to for the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act, this bill that we have before us. We are enthusiastic that now we have the National Safety Code standards in part of our act here in the Yukon. It will require that, if you are your own carrier or a private carrier, you now come under this authority.
I guess the main issue is that, in the past - and I'm sure it will continue to this day - the certification and the testing people who issue the PMV-1 stickers have been underfunded and there have not been enough of them around to ensure that the inspection of all of these vehicles are covered on a continual basis.
I guess the larger problem in this area is that the Province of British Columbia has jurisdiction over main parts of our highways here in the Yukon. There are parts of the B.C. highways that flow in and out of the Yukon. This situation still hasn't been rectified in this area, to the detriment of Yukon truckers. In fact, Yukon truckers are not afforded the same rights into and out of the Province of British Columbia as B.C. truckers have here in the Yukon.
I think it's of paramount importance that the provisions contained therein under this act and the corresponding act and the negotiations that have been ongoing - I'm given to understand, for quite some time, by the respective departments in British Columbia and the Yukon - be signed off. We were told in our briefing, Mr. Speaker, that they're close, but close still affects our truckers. They do not have the same opportunities that truckers from British Columbia have here in Yukon. Our Yukon truckers are discriminated against as a consequence of not having a full implementation of all aspects of this trans-Canada jurisdictional exchange.
We welcome the issue of graduated licences, and the view of extending licensing periods from the current one year or three years to five years. A licence is a privilege, it's not a right, Mr. Speaker, but we should be focusing on the issue that is paramount to the issuing of a licence, and that is the continuing testing of drivers and the medical and sight condition of our drivers. The sight and medical condition of drivers does deteriorate, or change, as we age, and that's clearly identified; if you have a class 1 licence or any commercial licence and you achieve the age of 45 years, you have to go for a medical every year except, previous to that, it's every three years.
So perhaps some method could be used by the department to explore licences that are only valid if they have a medical certificate attached to it.
If you operate interjurisdictionally and you operate in another of the states today, you have to have a medical certificate attached to, and forming part, of your driver's licence, if you are operating the higher classes of vehicles covered under, I believe, 1, 2 and 3 classes of licences.
We also welcome the changes to the driver examiner. This will ensure that the individual conducting the exam is trained to at least the same level as those he's testing - this is a welcome change - and that that individual also has to conform to the rules and regulations. He's not completely exempt from the Motor Vehicles Act.
I guess the most interesting part of the amendments being proposed, Mr. Speaker, is the provisions to allow continuing use of dealer plates for virtually any purpose, and I guess we'll refer to that as a Dave Keenan amendment.
It will allow for any vehicle to have a d-plate on it for personal transportation, pending sale of that vehicle. It's a very interesting concept.
There are a couple of areas that we believe should be tightened up. Some of the definitions that are being advanced and looked at - we get into the graduated licences and eventually we're probably going to restrict them to daytime operating hours or something of that nature. British Columbia has two standards - one for the northern part of the province, one for the southern part - but we either have to specify the hours that the person can operate or define daylight. We might look at the Aeronautical Act in Canada to see what the definition of daylight is, if it's quite different than what is being proposed here. That came about as a consequence of the many concerns with daylight and how it's defined north of 60.
There's also some areas where we have to refer to the Insurance Act to see the definition of something like an insurance adjuster, when all we have to do is add it in to the beginning section.
The insurance requirements speak for themselves, Mr. Speaker - the increase to current standards - but again, it's an area that if you have an operating authority, you have to have your insurance tied to your plates, and in the case that your insurance is cancelled or revoked, your insurance carrier must report that immediately to the authorities, and your plates are revoked. That provision could be greatly enhanced in here to cover virtually all operators, with very little effort, so that we are pretty well assured that people have ongoing and continuing insurance in place on their motor vehicles.
At the present time, all you're required to do when you go in and pick up your licence plate is to provide your pink slip. Your licence is valid for a 12-month period or whatever period you insure under an operating authority, but with a private vehicle, it's usually a year, and your insurance could expire any time during that year. There are no provisions for you to continue that, other than you are required to do that.
So maybe tying insurance to the licence in the same manner that it's done when you are issued an operating authority would take very little additional effort but would ensure a greater compliance.
And that, Mr. Speaker, is an area that I have some concerns with and it has raised problems in the past.
One of the other areas we have some concerns with is the changing of posted limits. Right now, the limits on all Yukon highways is 90, unless otherwise posted, unless you're in an organized community. What this act does is reduce that to 50 unless otherwise posted. Now, that deserves a thorough explanation because the government will not take the time to look at all of these secondary roads and re-post them to whatever limits are appropriate for that stretch of road - and we're usually talking of secondary roads and back roads, but it's most interesting that we take that route after so many years of it being stated the other way. I'd very much like to know what precipitated this tremendous change at this juncture.
We have a lot of other comments on various clauses in this act, Mr. Speaker, and we'll look forward to going through the act clause by clause.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I am pleased to rise in support of the Motor Vehicles Act amendments before the House, which are designed to improve highway safety for the benefit of the travelling public and to bring about administrative amendments for public convenience.
Speaker: The time being 5:30 p.m., the House stands in recess until 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
The motion before the House is: It is moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is that Bill No. 65, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a second time.
When the House recessed at 5:30 p.m., the Minister of Justice was speaking.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to highlight some of the more important safety provisions in the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act before us. There are many benefits to having a common safety standard across Canada that covers vehicle safety and mechanical fitness, as well as the medical fitness of drivers. The National Safety Code is such a program, which covers all aspects of the commercial transportation business and which has, in fact, now been endorsed in all other Canadian jurisdictions.
Commercial vehicles must register under the National Safety Code and maintain safety records, which can be inspected to ensure compliance with safety standards.
Commercial carriers are aware of the National Safety Code, and it's been implemented to date on a policy basis. It is timely to bring forward legislative amendments now.
The act is also being amended to allow for a graduated driver's licence program. The purpose of graduated drivers' licences is to protect new and current drivers from collisions. Imposing certain driving restrictions for new drivers has proven to be an effective way to help new drivers acquire the experience they need to drive safely in all weather conditions. All Canadian jurisdictions except the Yukon currently have some form of graduated drivers' licences, which has been found to reduce the numbers of accidents, injuries and deaths by vehicle collisions. New drivers are most at risk for accidents because of their lack of driving experience.
Since young people will be the most affected by this measure, our government will talk with youth to ensure that the regulations governing graduated drivers' licences will meet our community needs. This is an important part of including youth in the decision making of government.
There are other amendments which have been designed for public convenience. We will extend the period of time a driver's licence is in effect from three years to five years. The five-year renewal will be linked to a vision test. As most of us in this House will know, Mr. Speaker, after the age of 40, one's vision may deteriorate significantly over a five-year period.
Ensuring that Yukon residents have good vision when they renew their driver's licence every five years will greatly improve public safety on our highways.
We are also allowing a period of up to 185 days for a resident of other parts of Canada to obtain a Yukon driver's licence. Summer students may be here for longer than the present 30 days that they have to change their driver's licence from another province or territory to a Yukon driver's licence. A new resident will still be able to apply for a Yukon driver's licence at any time during the six-month grace period. These amendments will reduce red tape and will particularly help reduce the administrative burden in our rural communities and in Whitehorse. It can support shorter lineups and quicker service and help government officers who administer the Motor Vehicles Act.
There are amendments, as well, governing special licence plates for firefighters, people with mobility restriction and dealers. We recognize that dealers pay a premium fee for their dealer plates, and it is in their best interest to use them responsibly. Currently, dealers use dealer plates for a wide variety of purposes. Dealers must carry an appropriate level of insurance, whether vehicles are used for test drives, personal transportation pending sale or business use. The new section recognizes this reality and makes it legal. The public is protected because of the additional level of insurance that is required by dealers.
Firefighters, who have special driving authority under the Motor Vehicles Act, will now have a special plate that will help police recognize them as people who need immediate access to a fire scene and are not media or spectators.
Another measure, which helps the protection of the public, is the requirement for insurance adjusters to provide the vehicle identification number from a written-off vehicle. This complies with national and United States consumer protection measures. It reduces the chance of stolen vehicles being registered under the vehicle identification number for a written-off vehicle.
It also serves to make consumers aware that a vehicle has been previously written off.
Another safety measure is that people who are riding in the back of a pickup truck must be more than seven years old, and properly seated, with their waists below the top of the truck box. This is a reasonable, commonsense proposal, to reduce the risk of people being thrown from the back of a truck.
Last year, this government brought forth some tough measures to penalize drivers who risked their lives and the lives of others, when they drive while impaired. The Driver Control Board can order an interlock ignition device be installed as a privilege for drivers who have made a substantial effort to deal with their drinking and driving problem. Current amendments will make it an offence to tamper with, or disable, an interlock device.
The Driver Control Board includes medical physicians and members of the public. They will now be able to make the final decision on reinstatement of drivers' licences, with or without conditions. The Driver Control Board is a cost-effective and timely way to review the files of drivers who have been found guilty of Motor Vehicles Act offences.
The Driver Control Board puts effort and expertise into reviewing the files and determining if the driver's licence reinstatement is valid. The Chief Justice has indicated support for this. It reduces the workload of the court and we recognize the Driver Control Board as a legitimate body, which allows the driver to appear, and be heard and it can now make decisions on reinstatement of drivers' licences.
Mr. Speaker, these are important public safety measures that I urge members of the House to support. There will be further public participation, particularly, as I've mentioned, of young people in developing the regulations that will be built following this legislation. There will be public education campaigns to make sure that people are well aware of these changes.
I look forward to support for the amendments before the House.
Mrs. Edelman: By and large this is a series of amendments on a number of different topics. What I was most pleased to see with this sort of ombudsman act was the possibility for graduated drivers' licences here in the Yukon. It is my understanding that this is just the framework for that happening here in the Yukon, and we have to wait for regulations. I wonder if the minister could get back to us before the Committee of the Whole and tell us about some of the details on that. What are the timelines for the regulations that would be bringing graduated licensing? What is the consultation process that's going to happen with that?
We had talked here about graduated licensing in terms of different types of learners' licences, but the greatest risk for death is youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Are we talking about graduated licensing just for certain ages or are we going to have people who are in their 40s and 60s having to wait three years to get a full licence, when clearly they are not the most at risk?
In addition to that, in most other jurisdictions, drivers' education is part of the graduated licensing process. What I'm wondering about from the minister is if this is going to be part of the consultation. Is this part of the plan or the regulations? How is the Department of Community and Transportation Services working with the Department of Education in that particular area?
One of the other things that comes out in the act is the idea of moving from 30 days to transfer your licence from another jurisdiction to now 180 days, which is essentially six months.
Now, there are other places in Canada where people come up and only work in the summer, and they have very small offices. Banff is a perfect example of that - students coming from all over Canada and some from the United States who go in to work in Banff and change their licences over after 30 days. So I guess I'm a little unclear as to why we're going to six months from 30 days. Why did we pick six months as the time?
Now, I know for a fact that if this was the Dawson amendment, so to speak - most of the young people who come up to work in Dawson City arrive in April and they're back by the end of August and the beginning of September, and that's certainly not six months, so I'm wondering where we got this figure from - and if there are any other jurisdictions that are anywhere near this. It is my understanding you have to change your licence after 30 days everywhere else in Canada.
Last but not least, there are some sort of follow-up amendments from the amendments that happened last year in the Motor Vehicles Act, and those were to do with impaired driving. Part of impaired driving is just not those who drink alcohol but those who use drugs.
Now, in some jurisdictions in Canada, there is something called a drug-recognition expert, or a DRE, and these are very trained professionals who are able to determine whether someone is drugged as opposed to drunk. Those are the drug-recognition experts, the DREs. Those people sort of pave the way for an RCMP officer, or whatever the officer is, to give tests for drugs, whether that's cocaine or marijuana.
Now, it's my understanding that what the young people are most often using, in the Yukon anyway, is marijuana. My concern would be that we're coming down on the people who are drinking, and there are people who are equally impaired that are using marijuana. Some are using cocaine and various other drugs.
I think that we need to take a look at that very seriously, and if there is something that the government is already doing, if there is an initiative going on, could the minister update me on that? I would be greatly appreciative.
In the meantime, I can hardly wait for the Committee of the Whole to go over this line by line.
Mr. Livingston: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'll be brief tonight but I do want to speak in favour of the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act. I think that there are two key initiatives that are contained in the various amendments, and as the member opposite has pointed out, they cover quite a wide variety of different cases. There are two key issues that are addressed: that of safety on our roads and our highways in the Yukon and the matter of cutting red tape for Yukoners and for various commercial ventures that are involved in public transport in the Yukon.
The safety issues are addressed through a variety of measures, through the registration with the National Safety Code program, the health requirements that are included, the investigation of safety records, the establishment of limits on the number of hours for commercial operators to be on the highways and air brake endorsements as well.
As has been mentioned, such matters as graduated licences, where we're basically providing an opportunity for our youth to drive after having gone through the initial testing and so on to get out on the roads and so on, but also recognizing, particularly through examination of accident records, that there is certainly a very steep learning curve. Having a graduated licence program can help us to address some of the concerns that arise from that in a very responsible way.
We have a very mobile population. I don't think anyone wants to inhibit the youth from getting and being able to get to skating rinks and all those kinds of things, but we do want to ensure that we have highways that are as safe as possible, and this is a way to gradually increase their responsibility on the road.
The assurance that we have adequate liability coverage, that commercial motorists have adequate liability coverage, such things as division testing and so on, all help to make our roads safer.
I think the cutting of red tape is important, too. We're not only cutting red tape for commercial operators, lease vehicles, the use of dealer plates and such, but we're also cutting it for all Yukoners with such measures as increasing the application from three to five years, so that Yukon motorists can apply every five years and every three; ensuring that, even though they may have neglected to renew their licence or may have gone off on other business or whatever, they've got a little bit more leeway there, as well.
The use of the interlock device is another matter I'd like to just briefly address. I think that that is a measure that can help to ensure that we have responsible use of motor vehicles, and it may indeed help to keep some people at their jobs and on the highways in order to get to their jobs that might not otherwise be able to do so.
So, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to support the amendments. I think that they do address a number of safety issues, as well as cutting red tape for Yukoners. For those reasons, I'm pleased to be able to support it.
Speaker: If a member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to hear the desire for safe highways, making life simpler for folks in general, if I may. Certainly, I will reiterate a bit of what I've heard here, if I may. Certainly, I do look forward to line by line and getting into some good debate.
I'm to go with the Member for Klondike. As he was first, I would like to say that he spoke of issues, such as the B.C. jurisdiction in the Yukon and the Yukon truckers. I'm very pleased to say that an agreement has been reached on the log and gravel haul issues and is presently waiting my signature. I'm working now with the minister from British Columbia to bring authority to it and a signature to the paper.
I expect that will be happening, hopefully, sometime soon, but certainly it's in the works at this point in time. Certainly, again, with the driver examiner, yes, there was an oversight in previous years. But the department of the government feels that we must conform to the rules of the road. They're made for all folks, and driver examiners must be role models.
To go on, with the insurance adjuster - the member was asking why it is not described in the beginning of the definitions section. The insurance adjuster is described within the Insurance Act. It's quite a lengthy description, but for legal clarity and purposes it is contained within the Insurance Act.
On the issue of the insurance being revoked and tied to the plates, I spent quite some time here during the dinner hour going over the different reasons, and some of the reasons for streamlining the act are to create efficiency, to cut red tape and to cut the bureaucracy. So, if we attempted to tie the insurance to the plate, it would be difficult. Impossible, no - nothing's impossible - but very, very difficult, if I could say it in that manner.
With the registration every 12 months, folks are required to sign at that point in time, and it says that you will keep insurance on your vehicle for that time. In terms of computers, we know that we're coming into a crisis in the year 2000. We know that compatibility between the insurance companies and government is near impossible, simply for the fact that even between insurance companies, it's not compatible. So, to tie compatibility between insurance companies with the government is very, very difficult, if not impossible.
Now, if you don't have insurance, of course there is a $400 fine that will come into effect in January - and impoundments for no insurance - so hopefully with the $400 fine and impoundment regulation coming in - the first offence being the 30-day impoundment, the second, a 60-day impoundment and the third, a 120-day impoundment - these should be very useful detriments to keep people insured and on the road. So, it's very difficult to try and solve that one problem. Certainly, between the impoundments, the heavy fines and people writing as they register that they will maintain is adequate at this time.
The member went on to speak about posted speed limits. I'm going to have to leave that for a second. Well, as folks know, a lot of the roads, especially the type of roads that we're speaking about - the tote roads, the mining roads and the industrial roads, if I may - are roads that are not maintained somewhat, in the first place, but are considered public roads, et cetera. It is not meant to bring in more government. It is certainly meant, though, to bring safety to the roads.
I know that most folks will drive within their capabilities and certainly within the law. I can say that I do have a complete list of roads throughout the Yukon Territory - one, two, three and one-half pages, I guess you could say - and most of them are posted at this point in time. Certainly, I don't expect that it is going to cause much detriment, but I certainly expect that it will be cause of and for debate.
On the graduated drivers' licences, for the Member for Riverdale South, and the graduated timelines, it's got to be for first-time drivers and not anybody between the ages of 18 and 24. The problem is not so much with the youth, but the first-time drivers. It's going to affect first-time drivers, is what it is going to do.
I feel, though, that we're going to have to go because, predominantly, it is going to affect the youth. So, certainly, over the course of this winter and certainly before the school year ends, I do hope that we will be working in conjunction with the Department of Education doing consultations with the school councils around the territory and asking for their input so that we might be able to get some ownership, because we want first-time drivers - and again, as I say, it is predominantly the youth - to come home at night. We don't want to be picking them up off sidewalks or wherever they might injure themselves. So, certainly, we're going to take the time to talk about that with them.
We don't expect that a restriction on night driving - of course, now, I'm not trying to jump the gun here or anything, but it's going to be very difficult to create a two-zoned system within the territory here, as the B.C. example. Certainly, we're going to hear what they have to say and look at different issues, so I'm not so sure if it's the driving at night, because if you say, "You can't drive at night," well, then, in some spots in the territory, you're not going to be able to drive at all. So, that surely will not bring anybody expertise in driving at nighttime or driving during winter conditions or anything like as such. So certainly we're going to talk with the folks and we're going to meet with the folks and with the children and youth to get their input into it.
On the 30 days to 185 days - again, I would ask the member opposite to understand that we're trying to make it administratively easier for us and for people - for government and for people. I think it was in debate last year when the Member for Klondike asked the question during - I think it was budget debate: why are there more drivers' licences issued than there are people actually capable of driving? Well, therein lies the answer. I guess it's quite a souvenir, too, to be able to take home your driver's licence from the Yukon, but that's not the point.
So, we did look. We wanted to certainly make it easier on the bureaucracy. We wanted to make it easier for folks in general. We wanted to cut some red tape, and so we decided, after careful consideration and consultation with other jurisdictions, that we would go with the 185 days. I do have a paper here, and I can read it out for the benefit of the member opposite.
In terms of residency for driver's licence purposes now in the jurisdiction of British Columbia, it's immediately upon establishing residency. In Alberta, it's after being in the province for 30 days; Saskatchewan after 90 days; Manitoba after 90 days; Ontario after 90 days; Quebec after six months; New Brunswick after six months; Nova Scotia after 30 days; Newfoundland after three months; Prince Edward Island after four months; the Northwest Territories after 90 days; and the Yukon after 30 days. So, we thought that it would certainly enable people to continue to come. As you say, the youth predominantly flock to Dawson City and the Yukon Territory to look for seasonal work, wherever it might be. So, we thought that that would be a good saw-off date there, if I could.
On the issue that was brought up by the Member for Riverdale South on the drug recognition expert, I'm sorry, but I will have to seek further information on that and get back to the member opposite, if I may.
So, I have attempted to answer some of the questions, as I have here. I would like to thank my colleagues on this side of the House, certainly, and members from all parties for their comments on the Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act. As I said earlier, I do believe that these amendments will provide us with a tremendous opportunity to make the highway safer for all Yukoners, and I certainly do look forward to a productive debate on this act. Thank you very much.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 65 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Bill No. 65 - An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with Bill No. 65, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act. Is there any debate?
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I do have some concerns about this proposed section 3(1) and would ask the minister to go back and rethink and pursue further the reason why we're extending the period that an individual is allowed to move to the Yukon before he must convert his drivers licence from 30 days, or one month, to six months. It was interesting to note that in the technical briefing that we received - and I thank the minister's officials for that briefing - but the reason that we were given to extend it to six months was because of the tremendous burden it places on the officials for a very short period of time of the year.
So perhaps the way we should look at changing this is if we do go to six months or whenever that individual commences employment here in the Yukon - either/or. Maybe we can look at that kind of suggestion, because there are a lot of individuals who find their way up here, and there are a lot of individuals who find their way into British Columbia and into Alberta to work for the summer, and these individuals come from all other jurisdictions in Canada - a lot from Ontario, a lot from across the prairies.
In British Columbia, they are adamant that you change your licence plates over. They are adamant that you obtain a B.C. driver's licence. The same holds true for the Province of Alberta - that you obtain a licence - and I know that when I first came up to the Yukon to work, I had to change my vehicle licence plates over immediately, but I was allowed by the officials to maintain my British Columbia driver's licence and obtain a Yukon driver's licence when they came around to the remote and outlying communities. So there was a time frame there, but it was at that time 30 days, and I'm afraid the reasoning for this change is, in my opinion, not adequate to justify throwing it wide open and giving it carte blanche.
Now, if the minister is prepared to say six months or whenever that individual commences work in the Yukon, fine. I'd be prepared to accept it, but just a carte blanche six months - I think it's a disservice to Yukoners, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, as I said earlier, we were certainly hoping to reduce red tape and to make it easier. It has been said, and I'll just reiterate some of the reasons one more time. It will substantially reduce the administrative burden on the motor vehicles branch, especially in the Dawson City and Whitehorse areas, where a lot of young people do come. It will also inadvertently make it easier for Yukon drivers to get their licences and registrations. We expect that the reduction in applicants will result in shorter lineups and quicker services, for our own people. As I said before, it will certainly bring some clarity, and it will not distort the figures that are there. Now, I would hope that the member would accept that, because it's certainly not to make life harder for anybody, it's not to discourage folks from coming or anything. It's certainly to cut red tape for Yukon people and for folks in general, and it will certainly give us better statistics on the number of drivers that we do have here.
As we know, drivers can apply for a Yukon licence at any time that they choose to become a Yukon resident. So, certainly they may do that.
Mr. Jenkins: Is the minister prepared to entertain a clause in there that a Yukon driver's licence must be obtained as soon as that individual commences employment here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As I said, Mr. Chair, you know, it's not a figure that was just simply plucked out of the air. It took into consideration the unique circumstances here, checking with all of the other jurisdictions and, certainly, wanting to make it easier. I would expect that the Member for Klondike would accept it as it was because, certainly, if we can cut down on the red tape and we can make life easier for the average Yukoner, and still encourage young folks who travel to other parts of the country and here to the Yukon Territory, that should suffice.
The member opposite asked me to think about it, and I can certainly do that, but I would certainly ask the member opposite for his support in the initiative as it's laid out also.
Mr. Jenkins: The question I posed to the minister is this: would he consider the requirement for a Yukon driver's licence immediately after commencing employment here in the Yukon, irrespective of the length of time? Could that be a condition applied here, that as soon as you start work in the Yukon, you must obtain a Yukon driver's licence?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't think that that's going to shorten administrative procedure or help cut red tape, or anything like as such. I don't see that as doing that. If they're required to immediately after getting here and getting a job, and it's a seasonal job, say - well, it doesn't matter where it is; if it's a seasonal operation - it would take away, and we'd still be in the administrative burden that we are in now.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, for purposes of clarity, Mr. Chair, just how many drivers' licences are we issuing or changing over in the Yukon, and could the minister break it down for Dawson City and Whitehorse, which appear to have a bottleneck in the summer season? How many drivers' licences are the territorial agents in the outlying regions issuing during that period, that places such an onerous burden and additional red tape on the system?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I've been advised by my deputy minister that we could get the information. It won't be this evening, but I would like to cast our thoughts back to the budget debate this year and the previous year when I've had the honour of leading the department. I can remember with clarity the member opposite asking why we have X-amount of licences and why we only have this much of a population. I would encourage the member opposite to put that back into the member opposite's thinking. At that time, the member opposite was encouraging us to cut red tape. At this point in time, it certainly doesn't seem to be such. Certainly, I can do that.
Mr. Jenkins: How will we realize savings? There is not going to be a reduction in the number of territorial agents that we have in place, Mr. Chair. There's not going to be a reduction in the hours that the licensing branch here in Whitehorse operates. There's not going to be a reduction in the number of personnel that the government has in place. Where are these net savings going to be realized?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I guess it's not so much a matter of being able to identify that you're going to save $3.13 in this particular pocket. It's certainly not like that. We are looking at this so that we might be able to make it easier for folks to come here and get into lines. There is probably not one person in this room who holds a driver's licence at this time who has not had to stand in line. Therein would be savings. There would be savings to the general public. That is, itself, a good savings at that point in time. When we can cut the red tape and make it that much more administratively easy to get a driver's licence in that procedure, that makes it very plausible, in my mind.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, when the system was changed a number of years ago, Mr. Chair, and licences expired and were renewed on your birthday every three years or one year, depending on the classification you were in, and that reduced, considerably, the load that the motor vehicles branch had on their office personnel at specific times of the year, and it correspondingly reduced the load for the territorial agents. At the same time, the system where licences expired according to the first letter on the registration so that they were slotted in throughout the whole year - as to the 12 different months as to when they expired - that, subsequently, reduced the load on the office of the motor vehicles branch for having personnel lined up at the counter. The lines there, Mr. Chair, do not exist as they did before.
Now, there has to be something else driving this. Have there been complaints from individuals about the length of time that they have to change over their driver's licence? Why are we doing this? Why are we granting people who come up to the Yukon the opportunity to work here for six months without converting?
During that time they're not covered by their health care program in their respective areas because they only have a 90-day extension. So for health care purposes, for every other area that I can recognize, the period of coverage is considerably less than what is being proposed here. Yet we're advocating that drivers' licences remain valid here for six months irrespective of if that individual comes to work here or not. Why?
It's not going to reduce government red tape. It's not going to reduce the burden on the offices - it might have a minor reduction - and the minister doesn't know how many licences we're changing over in the summer months in Whitehorse and by the territorial agents. Now, if that burden is so high that it would require extra people and personnel to be hired, you know, I could be sympathetic to what is being advocated here, but that doesn't appear to be the case. There has to be something else driving this change from 30 days to six months. What is it, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I have been advised that it was triggered by the Dawson territorial agent who spoke to the Liquor Board saying that this was very much to their detriment and it is causing a lot more grief, I guess - if I may use that word - than anything. Well, maybe "grief" would not be the correct word, but certainly, it is causing congestion at the territorial agent's office in Dawson City. It was not working for them. They did not see it as working. They had some suggestions. We listened to their suggestions.
Certainly, I do feel that it does make it easier for the territorial agent. It certainly makes it easier for other Yukoners who have to get in line, and I do believe - and the member opposite says it does not reduce red tape - in my mind, that it does reduce red tape.
Why was it triggered? Certainly, therein is the reason.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, is the minister prepared to accept a lesser amount of time - say, 90 days? Most of the individuals coming up to work for the summer season would fall into that category. Is the minister prepared to accept 90 days?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I recall days when I was employed seasonally and had to work long and hard to find jobs, et cetera, as many other people have. I feel that 185 days or six months - I guess, as it's categorized - is a good figure. As I've said, Quebec has that. It's a mirror of Quebec. It's certainly a mirror of New Brunswick. If you look at the jurisdiction of Prince Edward Island, it's four months. Again, Nova Scotia is 30 days, mind you. Newfoundland is after three months, which equates into 90 days.
Now, if you look at seasonal jobs, some folks get here - I think it was the Member for Riverdale South who said that they come in April, and if they get a job in April, then they go to May, to June, to July, and close down in August. Well, Mr. Chair, that's five months, and certainly, five months or 150 days - 185 days, I do not think is unreasonable.
Mr. Jenkins: I can recall, growing up in Quebec, Mr. Chair. Most of us - the licensing age there was 16 for a driver's license - established residency in the Province of Ontario and obtained our first driver's licence at the age of 15.
Now, what with the graduated drivers' licences coming into place here in the Yukon, what is to preclude a student, let's say, from getting a driver's licence, taking the test in the Province of Alberta, and maintaining that driver's licence, while they come up here for the summer and return to school in Alberta?
That would usurp the whole process that we're looking at putting in place for graduated licences for beginners here in the Yukon, so that they have an opportunity to come through the system.
Now, I am a proponent of a graduated licence, don't get me wrong, but I'm just looking at what this other section could possibly do to usurp this new process that we're proposing. Has that been anticipated by the department, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, it's under section 8(1)(j) - we'll get the page number here; it's on page 3.
Section 8(1)(j) speaks to "prescribing requirements to be met by new residents of the Yukon in order to be issued a Yukon operator's licence to replace one they hold from another jurisdiction." Now, this section will allow the government to make regulations stating how those licences fit into our licensing program, including the new graduated driver licensing program.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, but I did review that section, and I'm somewhat familiar with it. Let's put this hypothetical case before the minister: you have an individual who's never been licensed before in the Yukon, and who attends high school in Alberta, or moves there for the summer to work - which will probably be the case very quickly here in the Yukon - and obtains their initial driver's licence in the Province of Alberta, where there is a non-graduated system, and they can attain it very quickly and at a very young age. They can come back to the Yukon, for a considerable period of time now and drive legally with that driver's licence. That would be the case, unless you can show me something in this legislation that would act to the contrary, because I'm not aware of anything. They would have the legal authority to obtain a driver's licence in Alberta, because they are attending school, high school, college or university there. So, they could usurp the whole process we're putting into place for a graduated licence here in Yukon. That would be the case. So, why are we going for six months?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the member always manages to find something - he feels that he's found something at this point in time. Certainly, I must commend the member opposite for his support of the graduated licence program because it does seem to be something that all jurisdictions across Canada have come into. So, I certainly understand the hypothetical sector of the question from the member opposite.
Certainly, Mr. Chair, we are endeavouring to make our highways and byways safer for folks. The majority of accidents are with beginning drivers. So, it's not an age group we're targeting, but beginning drivers. So, in the member opposite's scenario, I would suggest that folks are going to have to get into the system at some point in time. If the young person or first-time person has gone out and got the licence in another jurisdiction which, at this point in time, does not have a requirement for a graduated driver's licence, knowing full well that when they come back they will, then I would suggest that common sense will prevail.
Mrs. Edelman: I have a couple of issues on the same line. The government is trying to find a way of proving that people are Yukon residents. One of the ways they use is the Yukon health care card. One of the other things that I've seen on various job qualification things as they go around is a Yukon driver's licence. Isn't this sort of working against the whole notion of proving your Yukon residence if you're extending the period of time it takes to get a Yukon driver's licence?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, for the question. The new Yukon hire policy, which was adopted into the Yukon now, requires that a Yukon health care card be produced for the purpose of residence of three months.
Mrs. Edelman: True. So, it is three months for the health care card. I have seen job postings with the territorial government, as a matter of fact, where they ask for a Yukon health care card or a Yukon driver's licence.
Now, if we extend it from 30 days to six months, it's going to get harder and harder for people to prove their residency. It would seem to me that if we're being clear as to when you can be covered by Yukon health, we should be at least as consistent about the driver's licence, as well. That, to me, would make administration just an awful lot simpler.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is slightly different in terms of the health care card. The jurisdictions across Canada require that all jurisdictions as of three months be confirmed. I think that - I go back to my point- we are looking to make it administratively easier. We are looking to cut some red tape, if I may. We're looking to make life that much more simple.
I did commit to the Member for Klondike that I would think on this a bit, and I certainly will.
Mrs. Edelman: Well, Mr. Chair, once again we have one department doing one thing and another department doing something entirely different and ne'er the twain shall meet. It is a little frustrating. It's also frustrating because if you have a class 5 licence you cannot change your licence for 185 consecutive days, but if you have a class 1 with air, you do have to change it within 30 days. There is no consistency here whatsoever. I went to the briefing and I listened to all the reasoning, but for the life of me, I still can't see why you would have to get the class 1 with air within 30 days and for the class 5 and all the other classes you have to get it in 185 days. I still don't understand what the reasoning would be for that.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, if I may then, the card dealer who comes to the card shark, certainly the fellow who deals blackjack in Diamond Tooth Gertie's, his or her - their - class 5 licence would - well, the Yukon Territory recognizes all class 5 licences throughout Canada, whatever jurisdiction it might be, whether it's in the Maritimes or right from coast to coast to coast, recognizes this class 5. The difference being with the industrial trucker or the heavy-duty truck driver - the person who steps on the brakes and it goes tush, tush - certainly we want to ensure that those folks, when they're driving - and they are driving at minimum sometimes a 10-ton truck - now, there is a very big difference between operating a 10-ton gravel truck or a buggy or a loader, or whatever it may be, than operating a half-ton pickup. We want to ensure that those folks have the ability and the capacity to operate the industrial truck or the vehicle requiring the air brake ticket. That is the reason.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, there is no denying that if you get run over by a buggy, then you're really flat, but if you get run over by a car, you're equally as dead. I think that the point that I'm trying to make is that still there is no consistency here. I mean, granted we recognize class 5s right across Canada, but there is class 2, class 3, class 4, class 6 as well, and I don't see any consistency here.
I don't see any consistency between departments on residency and I don't see any consistency between one class of licence and another. It seems to me that if you're trying to make administration simpler, then you should at least use the principles of consistency first.
I hope that the minister hears what I'm saying because, truly, operating a vehicle, as the Member for Klondike has pointed out a couple of times already, is a privilege; it's not a right. This whole notion of how one type of driver's licence is somehow a special case doesn't make an awful lot of sense because in all cases it's a human being out there operating a motorized vehicle.
This is what the whole thing about licensing people who drive is all about. It just makes sense that we should be consistent with that process, and it makes sense to be consistent between one department and another, particularly because the issue of Yukon hire has become so important to us politically lately, and it would make sense - and I hope that the minister takes this as a practical suggestion - to have some consistency in that area.
Mr. Jenkins: In the interest of moving on, Mr. Chair, would the minister entertain an opportunity to just stand this one section aside and review it with respect to looking at an alternate time frame for licences and come back to it? I think it's in all our mutual interests to explore that avenue and look at some consistency across the board.
We're not talking about a big issue, but I see some additional burden of problems that the bureaucracy will realize down the road as a consequence of adopting this long-term position.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I said earlier that I would talk to my colleagues, and I will talk to the department. Certainly, the forecast of being down the road is certainly not a good forecast, but I will talk with the department and my colleagues here. But I would very much appreciate it if the members opposite were not here - I hope we're not all here just to make political brownie points or political points that are to squire back and forth. I do hope that people recognize that the government of the day is here to make things better. It's here to expedite the process. It is definitely to be consistent in working with other jurisdictions.
As I've said and read out about other jurisdictions, the Yukon is not nearly the lowest in terms of the time frame. But certainly, I think that I laid out my arguments rather well. I guess they're not arguments really, but I've laid out the points, if I may, that it is for a certain group of people, and we want to make it easier for those folks, and we also want to make it easier for Yukon folks, and we want to make it easier for our folks that administer the paperwork here.
So, I certainly understand what the Member for Riverdale South said, and as I said before, the health care card is three months, and that's consistent throughout all jurisdictions in Canada, as others are not. But, certainly, I will be back tomorrow with some thoughts.
Clause 3 stood over
On Clause 4
Mr. Jenkins: I have some concern here. I don't have any quarrel with what we're doing, Mr. Chair. We're requiring a visual examination of the applicant for a licence. But in a lot of cases a medical exam that includes a sight exam is conducted by a doctor. What I see is the potential for duplication, that after you go in with your medical certificate, the territorial agent will say, "Here, you have to come over here, and do this sight exam, too." Now, if you have that medical examination from your doctor, how do you foresee that working? Will there be a requirement that you take an additional test for vision at the territorial agent's, or the licensing branch, or are we going to double up? Is one sufficient?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, one would be sufficient, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: That leads to the question, Mr. Chair, which one?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The first, Mr. Chair. If you came in with, maybe in your case a pilot's licence test or something, then certainly that would suffice.
Mr. Jenkins: Which leads me to another little bone of contention: a medical for the various classes of licences is now running about $80, Mr. Chair, and it's a little bit more expensive for your medical to fly, yet the motor vehicles branch won't accept the medical for flying, which is more extensive. They want their own form filled out, which costs you another $80 on top of it.
Can provisions not be made to accept the Ministry of Transport medical for motor vehicle purposes?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I've been informed that if it's within the six months, your doctor has the discretion to absolutely do that. For the purpose of determining the medical fitness to drive, Motor Vehicles can accept medical information resulting from an examination within the previous six months. If the licence holder is not able to present the doctor with both forms at the time their aviation medical is performed, the licence holder may ask the doctor to transcribe the appropriate medical information from the aviation medical on to the driver's medical form.
Mr. Jenkins: From my understanding of it, they won't accept the MOT form that the medical is done on. They want everything done on the Government of Yukon forms. Is that not the case, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, I've been informed that it would have to be appended to the form, but it would suffice.
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Mr. Jenkins: The other concern that is not covered under this section, Mr. Chair, is that the applicant be fluent in the language of the test. That is an area that's raised some concern, primarily in British Columbia, and to a lesser extent in Toronto and Montreal. I've checked across Canada. The issue of language is a concern. Now, is that covered off somewhere else in the act, or should it be included here?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, there is not a requirement for an applicant to have a specific level of fluency in English. At the present time, here in the Yukon, the majority of the driving population have English as their primary language. I don't think it's a problem here in the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I cite British Columbia. British Columbia didn't think it was an issue a few years ago, but it's a major issue now, Mr. Chair. In Ontario, it's less of an issue, but it is a significant issue in the major population centres. Our birth rate across Canada is virtually flat and our population is going to grow by immigration, which is probably an area that we should be covering off in this section at this juncture. Could I ask the minister to entertain it at this point?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I have no appetite to entertain that thought at this time. I know that British Columbia certainly had extenuating circumstances at the time. Hong Kong was shutting down and many folks were leaving the country, and it certainly did. I have no ambition or appetite to entertain that at this point in time. Certainly, over the years, the acts do come open and it might be applicable at some time in the future.
Mrs. Edelman: Just to check on a detail, the driver's test in the Yukon is available in both official languages, is it not?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, it is available in both official languages.
Mr. Jenkins: On 9(2)(c), I do have some concerns. Upon checking this section, it requires that if a learner is operating a motor vehicle, the person beside that individual is able to immediately take over the lawful operation of the motor vehicle. From the information I have received, this would require the vehicle to have dual controls. Is there some way that that could be mitigated, so that it does not require dual controls for the vehicle when there's someone with a learner's licence or graduated licence in place?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, certainly, Mr. Chair, the word "immediately" is not meant to be interpreted as meaning that we have to have a dual-control style. Certainly, the intent is to ensure that the teacher is able to take over the lawful operation of the vehicle.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I agree with the minister, Mr. Chair, that that's the intent of it, but that word "immediately" raises concerns. How do you immediately take over the control of a vehicle from someone behind the wheel? You can't access the brake pedal. You can't access the gas or the clutch. You can grab the steering wheel. That's about all you can do.
Then if you look at the whole section on who is in care and control of the vehicle, Mr. Chair, the person seated behind the wheel is in control of the vehicle. If you look at the section on someone intoxicated, it doesn't matter if the vehicle is sitting there at idle and he's trying to warm up, he's in care and control of that vehicle because he's behind the wheel of that vehicle. Now, that is the individual in care and control. Now, I really have concerns with that word "immediately."
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the member raises a point, but certainly, the word "immediately" is not meant to imply taking over instantaneous control of the vehicle.
You know, folks are out there to learn something like as such. So, if you're going down the road and you have your Uncle Harry over here on the other side there, and you're driving around the road, and your Uncle Harry is sitting there with you, and you come into a little spin, and you go wiggle-woggle-wiggle-woggle, or however you do it, you can get a little hyped up and nervous. Uncle Harry's there to say, "Yes, calm down. This is how you come out of those types of things, you know. You put your -" Well, I don't have to explain that to you; you know that. That's what it's meant to imply. It's not meant to imply that, as the member is coming down the road and he goes wiggle-woggle-wiggle-woggle, Uncle Harry would immediately grab it and say, "You're doing this wrong, and here we go in this way." It's not meant to imply that at all. It's rather to imply that, if necessary, the teacher - in this case, my Uncle Harry - could direct the learner to pull over and to allow the teacher, my Uncle Harry, to drive from that point onward, so that is what is meant. It is not meant to take over immediately in the middle of the skid or anything like as such. It's meant to imply to take over.
Mr. Jenkins: I have a pretty good understanding about what is intended in this section. But, then if you look at lawful operation of the motor vehicle, what does one have to be doing to have lawful operation of the motor vehicle in his care and control?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The question was what is meant by "lawful". Was that the member opposite's question?
Mr. Jenkins: What does one have to do to have lawful operation of that motor vehicle in his care and control?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: You must have a driver's licence and it must be in the same standard that you are teaching or the family member is teaching. You cannot be impaired. If you need glasses, you must have your glasses on, and those types of things. It is just the common rules of the road.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister look at removing the word "immediate"? He cited the word "instantaneous", which is very similar to the word "immediate". From what I've read and what I've looked into in other jurisdictions, it just says "lawful control". It doesn't say "instantaneous" or "immediate".
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The difference between "simultaneous" and "immediate" - I guess this proves that the world is full of lawyers and will continue to be. I go back to what I said earlier. To allow the person to take over - now it's not to take over instantaneously; it's to take over when common sense prevails - immediately. That's what the word "immediately" implies. It is to take over at that point in time. Say, Uncle Harry says, "Davy, pull over." Davy pulls over and Uncle Harry takes over the controls.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, is the minister prepared to find another word other than "immediate" or "instantaneous" for that section or to delete it entirely? Will the minister consider that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can seek advice on this, but I think at some time here we had better find some mutual ground, because if we keep going back and forth and debating whether the difference between the word "immediately" and the word "instantaneously" or another word, we're certainly starting to deviate from the intent of the legislation. Now, the legislation's intent is to teach the driver to drive and enable them to immediately take over. Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, that tells me that they should be able to immediately take over. If I've had a bit of a start or something like as such and I don't feel quite composed, here I am over here. My Uncle Harry, in this scenario, is then allowed to take over and is capable of immediately taking over the lawful operation of that motor vehicle.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister did make one other statement in his previous response to the question and that was that you had to be sober when you were sitting beside someone you were teaching to drive. As the act currently exists, is the minister aware that if you're seated beside a learner or someone with a learner's licence, you don't necessarily have to be sober?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, this is going to make it so that you have to be sober. It's teaching the driver to learn the laws of the road and that's not drinking and driving.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair, but that is an amendment that is being proposed in this legislation that is before us. It doesn't currently exist. There is not a requirement that the person seated beside a learner be sober, and it happens on a continuing basis.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, the member brings up an interesting point. I'm certain of that.
Okay, so in my scenario here with my Uncle Harry, he must hold a subsisting licence for the operation of the motor vehicle being used, have held that licence for a period of not less than two years and who is seated immediately beside the licensee and is engaged in teaching him or her to drive or is engaged in conducting a driver's examination on the licensee.
If you go over to (c), it says "is in the motor vehicle, is teaching the learner to drive, and is able to immediately take over ...". I've been informed that that qualifies the other and does make it as such.
Mr. Jenkins: But that's in this proposed legislation. That does not already exist, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That's right.
Mr. Jenkins: While we're on the issue of licences, does the department anticipate any changes as to how licences for class 6 are going to be issued and conducted?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: There will be no anticipated changes to class 6.
Mr. Jenkins: So, if I hear the minister correctly, if one applies for a motorcycle licence, there will be no graduated licence for motorcycles? That would be an immediate issue.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, that is one of the challenges that will have to be attained and put forth in the regulations segment. I thank the member opposite for bringing that up.
Mr. Jenkins: So, from what I'm hearing here, the minister hadn't even anticipated the need for graduated licences or considered it for class 6 operator's licences.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, that is not true. That is one of the questions that we said that we wanted first time people who are getting their licences to have graduated licences; we surely do. There are different challenges that must be overcome, and certainly through the regulation consultation we will overcome those challenges.
Mr. Jenkins: I am prepared to move on if we could just have the minister's assurances that he'll review 2(c), with respect to the word immediate, and bring back a response, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan:I think that I described it. I understand, Mr. Chair, that we understand where we're going with this. I think we all understand what the word "immediately" means, and I'd like to stick with that.
Mrs. Edelman: In some jurisdictions, with a learner's licence there's only allowed to be one other person accompanying the person who is trying to learn. Is that the case here as well?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I've been informed that you would be able to have others in the car with you, so if it's a case with my Uncle Harry, well, Aunt Sue would be able to come along with us.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, that makes me a little concerned. I'm thinking particularly about bringing babies in the car, and children. For a variety of reasons, number one, I don't think it's appropriate to have children along when you're trying to teach someone how to drive and, number two, as children get older - as the minister is very well aware - they tend to divert your attention from the road as you turn around and discuss things with them.
So, I know that in other jurisdictions it's quite normal to have only just the one person accompanying the person who's learning how to drive. I wonder whether the department is looking at that.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It is not, at this point in time. Certainly, the Member from Riverdale makes an interesting point. We can certainly talk with the youth regarding that situation. As we go to the regulation part of the GDL, we can certainly ask and find out their thoughts at that point in time.
Mr. Jenkins: The Member for Riverdale South is correct. The current practice in other jurisdictions is that, for the initial period, only a trainer or one person is allowed to accompany the person with a graduated licence. I am sure that will take some time to work through the system.
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Mrs. Edelman: What clause 6(2) says is that if your licence expires and you forget to go down and get it renewed, you actually have 24 months instead of, I guess, the six months that you had previously. If you don't renew your licence within the 24-month period, you have to take the test all over again. Of course, this can be quite an onerous activity, especially for those of us who aren't into metric yet.
What I'm wondering about is why we picked 24 months. That seems like a very long time to let someone go with an expired licence.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I would like to just state that the person, whoever it may be, may still be penalized for driving with an invalid licence. Certainly, that is a question I would ask the department. Why would they have a 24-month period? It seems to me that, going off the top of my head, 20 percent of Yukoners at just about any point in time are in that stage. I know, it certainly does seem a bit abstract, but, certainly, that is the reason.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, can I follow up on that last comment? Am I to understand then that 20 percent of Yukoners generally let their licences expire for 24 months? Is that the norm for Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, if I had alluded to it in that manner, that's not what I meant. Certainly though, over six months, yes. Over six months, certainly.
The change is premised on the understanding that the driver will not usually forget the rules of the road and vehicle operation in a period of six months.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, based on the occupancy load of this room right now, two of us here are driving with expired licences, Mr. Chair, according to those statistics. That's when you add everything up.
Well, Mr. Chair, I can see extending the date, but to go from six months to 24 months - I don't have a major concern when you're talking about a class 5 licence, but with any of the other licences when there is the requirement of that licence for work, or when they're using their licence in conjunction with their occupation, I think it's mandatory to keep their licence in good standing. I would suggest that it would be prudent to probably restrict that to a class 5, and perhaps only look at a slight increase in time for all the other classes.
And further to that, there are occasions when - and you get up into having a class 1 with an air endorsement, and you attain the age of 45 years when you have to renew your licence each year, and that's coupled to a medical - it would be advantageous if you could renew well before. I believe you have a three-month window now when you can renew. It would be advantageous, if you're going to work in another jurisdiction like Antarctica, that you could come in and renew your licence six months or seven months before you go so that your licence will still be in good standing. But to extend to 24 months, especially commercial operators' licences, I think we're erring considerably, and it's not on the side of caution, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, the member opposite raises a point about renewing a licence before expiry. I will certainly have to seek some information to see if that's possible at this time or not.
In the case of the industrial driver, though, I think the professional driver will not find themselves in this situation as much as maybe the class 5 operator certainly would. Again, I say that it's based on the understanding that a driver will not forget the rules of the road or the operation. At this point in time, it's very much an inconvenience for folks.
Again, as a note, if a person fails to notify Motor Vehicles of a change of address, they may not receive that renewal notice and, again, could end up driving for up to a year or more, Mr. Chair. So, I would like to reiterate, though, that this will not change the fact that a person may be penalized if caught driving with an invalid licence.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'd suggest to the minister, Mr. Chair, that what we're going to do, under what is being proposed in this act, is increase the number of people in that category. We're going from three years for a normal licence, where we have 20 percent of the population driving around with expired drivers' licences, and we're going to increase that period to five years. I'd like to suggest to the minister, Mr. Chair, that the number of individuals in the category that would be forgetful about not renewing their licence would increase, and we'd have more individuals driving with an expired driver's licence. Does the minister not agree that there's quite a potential for this occurring?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, the Member for Klondike and I don't agree on occasion and this is probably meant to be one of those occasions once more. I'd like to reiterate that it's still going to be an offence that folks will not forget how to drive or the rules of the road. Certainly, sometimes, as I've said, it's certainly a move they forget. I know that probably most everybody in this room thinks to immediately notify the registrar as soon as they move. I can just about guarantee that. Sure I can. So, certainly I don't see that is going to add, Mr. Chair. No, I think it's going to work exactly the way it should work.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, does the minister not feel that there might be a problem with individuals with other than class 5 licences if you extend the period to 24 months? We're talking about an individual with a class 1 licence with air who can be driving 20 tons of rig down the highway not having a driver's licence and he can walk in and renew it. I know quite a number of individuals who have been in that class and have let their licences expire and have had to go back to the beginning, redo their tests, apply and take the air brake course, re-certify, go through the whole nine yards. I don't think they'll ever forget to renew their driver's licence again after doing that, because it's really an uphill battle, but this would allow this to occur.
I thought we were looking at safer highways and encouraging safety. But, by extending the licensing period from three to five years and extending the period during which you would renew your licence - or, if it expired, from the present period to 24 months - and given the minister's position that he's been advised that 20 percent of Yukoners are driving with expired licences, boy, those numbers are scary, because as soon as we extend to five years that 20 percent is going to increase. Is the minister not concerned with that possibility?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, let me reiterate that the intent is not to legalize driving. At any point in time in there, they can be charged. The intent is to make highways safer and certainly will do so. It's not to put more encumbrance or red tape onto folks. It is not, as I've said, so that they'll be caught without it. Driving within a time frame, you can still be penalized if caught driving with an invalid licence. That has not been taken away.
What is being taken out is the example of the Member for Klondike. It is my old Uncle Harry again. Uncle Harry over here on this side of me would be more than able to go back and get his licence without going through the rigors that you mentioned to get the air endorsement and to go back with a written test for the driving test.
So, it's not legalizing it; it's trying to make it a little easier for those folks in extenuating circumstances.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, but I'm not suggesting it's legalizing an expired driver's licence. An expired driver's licence is not valid for operating a vehicle. In fact, if you get into commercial vehicles, the insurance is tied to the driver having the appropriate licence for the class of vehicle, and that driver must have a driver's licence in good standing.
Furthermore, given the number of people who drive here, with expired licences, which the minister admitted being some 20% - we're not going to provide additional safety by legislating this way; we're going to expand on the number of individuals who will be driving with expired licences. Because when you go from three years to five years, that sets your renewal date further down the road. Unless you receive that notification from the motor vehicles branch, the only other way you sometimes pick off that you have an expired driver's licence is when you go to rent a vehicle somewhere, and they say, "Well, this driver's licence has expired."
I don't know how many Yukoners have faced that embarrassment.
More often than not, that's how you pick off that you have an expired driver's licence, Mr. Chair. I'm very, very concerned, given this extension from three years to five years, that we would even consider going to 24 months, and not having to redo your exam if your licence had expired. If you were within 24 months of the expiry date, it would automatically be renewed. This is not in the interest of safety. It's going to cause us more problems. Does the minister not see that and agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Chair, I move you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb:Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 65, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
The time being 9:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 9, 1998:
Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in (formerly known as the Dawson First Nation) self-government agreement and final agreement (McDonald)