Tuesday, November 17, 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?
In remembrance of Chief Margaret Nieman Glazier
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I rise today to pay tribute to Chief Margaret Louise Nieman Glazier, who suddenly passed away on November 6.
Chief Glazier was born in Whitehorse on August 13, 1950. She was the fifth of nine children born to Agnes and Paul Nieman, and was raised at Mile 1191 on the Alaska Highway, Dry Creek, Snag and in Sleepy Hollow, Whitehorse.
Margaret had many careers over her lifetime, from hairdresser and bookkeeper to band manager, and, for the past six years, Chief of the White River First Nation. During her 10 years as chief, she oversaw the formal separation and recognition of the White River First Nation as a legal entity. As well, she was instrumental in leading her First Nation to successful negotiations of land claims final and self-government agreements.
Chief Glazier will be remembered as a caring and compassionate person. Her concern for her people was of paramount importance to her, and she worked very hard as their chief to improve their lives.
She will also be known for being very proud of her Ahtna - Copper Indian - heritage. The reunion of the Copper Chief family and the Copper River people in Copper Centre, Alaska, in 1993, will long be remembered by all 500 who attended as a reaffirmation and celebration of the Ahtna people.
Margaret's passing was most unexpected, and leaves in its wake a great loss to the White River First Nation. I ask the House to join me in expressing our condolences to her husband, Tim, her sons, Kevin and Brian, and her extended family and friends.
Chief Margaret Nieman Glazier will always be remembered as a true wife, a loving mother, a supportive sister, a determined leader and a good friend.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Yukon Party caucus and the office of the official opposition, I would also like to take this opportunity to join with the government in paying tribute to a lifelong Yukoner, a leader, Chief Margaret Nieman Glazier.
Margaret dedicated many years of her life to the people of the White River First Nation. She will be remembered as a leader who was determined to help her community. It is in a large part a result of her efforts that the White River First Nation has achieved self-independence, and self-recognition, for which many are grateful and can be proud.
On behalf of the Yukon Party caucus, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to Margaret's family, friends and members of the White River First Nation.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: I rise on behalf of the Liberal Party to join with other leaders in this House in paying tribute to Margaret Nieman Glazier.
Mr. Speaker, I had the honour to meet with Margaret this summer. I was truly honoured to have met this strong woman who led her First Nation through difficult and trying negotiations.
We can best serve her memory as we honour the spirit and intent of the agreements she helped to reach. On behalf of the Liberal caucus, we extend our sympathy to Margaret's family, her First Nation and her many friends.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: I also rise in tribute to Chief Margaret Glazier. I knew her only for a short period of time, just over two years, but in that time I grew to respect her as a person and as a leader. Within this time under her leadership, the White River First Nation developed its land claims agreement and new administration building, which will guide the First Nation into the new millennium in proper, decent office space that will surely help to develop the First Nation, and she'll be long remembered for doing that.
I'll always remember her for her smiling face and friendliness. I attended the tribute to her on the weekend, Mr. Speaker, along with several hundred other people. I can tell you that she had many, many friends from all over the Yukon and Alaska.
In tribute to that, I would like to table the eulogy pamphlet that was available to people at the funeral.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It does give me pleasure indeed today to be able to rise and introduce Mr. Larry Bagnell, the executive director of the Association of Yukon Communities, in the gallery, here for the tabling of an act today.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have for tabling the Family Property and Support Act summary of proposed amendments, which was mailed out by the Department of Justice this spring.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have some legislative returns for tabling today.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Petition No. 8 - response
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In response to Petition No. 8 of the First Session of the Twenty-ninth Legislative Assembly, as presented by the Member for Riverdale South, on November 3, 1998, I would like to make the following statements, if I may.
First of all, let me say that I very much appreciate the opinions expressed by the Tagish residents in this petition. I understand that having an undeveloped area tends to provide nearby residents with a feeling of ownership. I also strongly agree that it is important to understand the existing uses of the land and accommodate these uses whenever possible.
The wish to maintain a neighbourhood in its existing state is very understandable. However, the desires of local residents must also be balanced with a significant demand for recreational lots and for country residential lots, particularly in this area of the Whitehorse area.
We recognize that Tagish West Six Mile lots are likely to be used primarily for country residential purposes over time and therefore wish to develop any lots there are in such a way as to provide for year-round use.
The Government of the Yukon will continue to work closely with existing area residents to ensure that their interests are considered in the development design process. The department also routinely works closely with the local advisory committee in the consultation and design processes as well as consulting with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.
We have already received much valuable input from local residents and potential lot purchasers regarding lot configurations that respect local needs, such as existing lot accesses, trail systems and lake access, as well as concerns about density. These ideas will be given serious consideration as the project moves forward to make land available for Yukoners.
The Auditor General has repeatedly brought to the attention of the government that it is inappropriate to retain lots in "finished land inventory" for resale if the intention is not to sell the lots in the near future. In accordance with this direction, the department is currently reviewing its entire inventory of developed lots to determine which lots can be sold "as is" and which lots can be reconfigured and sold. These Tagish West Six Mile lots were originally surveyed by the federal government and transferred to the Government of the Yukon in 1982 as a part of the cottage program transfer, but never released for sale. This land needs to be included in the review of land inventory available for sale.
There are no lot enlargement requests from residents of West Six Mile that are outstanding at this time. Residents can apply for lot enlargements under the lot enlargement policy to access public land where available.
A letter has been sent to the petitioners informing them of the possibility of lot enlargements where circumstances permit. If approved, residents would be eligible to purchase the enlargement area at a price based on market value. Should the development design process indicate the availability of land for consolidation with private lots, existing residents would be provided the opportunity to purchase these enlarged areas prior to a general lottery being held for the remaining lots. We'll be working with area residents to pursue this choice further.
Our government is committed to making land available for all Yukoners, and to understanding any land development in a manner that is respectful of the needs and desires of both existing residents and new lot purchasers.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any petitions to be presented?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 69: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 69, entitled Municipal Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 69, entitled Municipal Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 69 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Interchange on Canadian studies conference: Whitehorse (May 1999)
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It is the policy of our government to encourage and promote activities that help our young people prepare to play a positive and responsible role in their communities. I am pleased, then, to advise the House that Whitehorse has been chosen as the venue for the annual Interchange on Canadian Studies conference from May 1 to May 8, 1999.
As Minister of Education, I will be inviting each of the provinces and territories to send 10 students to attend the conference. The visiting students will be paired with 120 Whitehorse students in grades 10, 11 and 12.
Interchange on Canadian Studies is a national organization that promotes opportunities for young Canadians to meet, hear prominent speakers and share ideas and experiences on matters of national significance.
In my other capacity as Minister of Justice, I am pleased to note that the conference theme is "justice: a community commitment in the new millennium". Sessions will focus on crime-prevention initiatives, youth justice legislation, repeat young offenders, aboriginal justice and community-based sentencing. Delegates will hear keynote addresses by prominent judges, legal and social experts and take part in seminar groups, question-and-answer sessions and role playing. They will also develop position papers for presentation to Departments of Justice and other interested bodies. There will be sports and cultural activities available in Whitehorse and nearby communities.
Mr. Speaker, approximately 12,000 students have taken part in the interchange experience since it started in 1972. It has proven to be an excellent forum for promoting understanding and tolerance among young Canadians. Interchange also promotes appreciation of Canada's diverse heritage and geographical regions and encourages young Canadians to participate in the political, economic, social and cultural life of their country. The Yukon previously hosted the interchange in 1983 and 1992. Next year's conference will be co-hosted by the Department of Education and four Whitehorse secondary schools. The Yukon government is providing a grant of $75,000, and the department will provide additional staff resources to help plan and run the conference.
Mr. Speaker, exchange programs such as this are excellent ways for Yukon young people to gain insights and experience that will serve them well as future leaders in our society. They also provide clear examples of our government's commitment to fostering healthy communities.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, we in the Yukon Party certainly strongly support the initiative that has been announced today by the minister. This is a program that has been running for several years now. It's an excellent program for the students. I would suggest to the minister, though, and others, that not only is it a good way for the students to gain insights and experience as future leaders in our society, but also, Mr. Speaker, as you well know when you travel to new parts of the country, you gain insights into what the people are like.
I don't think there are better programs available. I suppose one of the best things we could do for uniting this country would be to somehow be able to have many of our young students travel to other parts of the country and spend more than a week - maybe a month - in a certain area. I think we'd find that they'd come back with a totally different perspective of what this country is all about.
I know that we, as members of the legislature, when we travel and take part in meetings and go to different constituencies in this country, understand that the country is an awful big country, and people do think somewhat alike, but somewhat different. It helps us understand and be more tolerant of each other. I think this is an excellent program.
I do have one question, though, to the minister. Maybe the minister could elaborate when she closes on how we're involving the Yukon students in the program. How do we select Yukon students to become involved in this particular project?
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: I'm very pleased, on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party caucus, to rise in support of the minister's statement today. We're very pleased that Whitehorse and the Yukon will again host the Interchange on Canadian Studies.
It is a true credit to the volunteer committee who have helped organize the interchange in the past that Whitehorse was able to step in, and host again on what I understand was relatively short notice, and that we will be again welcoming these students.
The volunteer committee has been supported in their prompt response by the department, and I'm very pleased that the department has chosen to support them.
Some of the volunteers working on this particular interchange are ones that have worked on the previous hosting, and I congratulate them and wish them well on their volunteer efforts.
Mr. Speaker, the minister said that exchange programs such as this are an excellent way for Yukon's young people to gain insights and experience that will serve them well as future leaders of our society. Well, as a Yukon participant in 1978 in the Interchange on Canadian Studies to Quebec City, I couldn't agree more. They truly are a valuable learning experience.
I look forward to welcoming the students and observing Yukon's future leaders next May.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'd like to thank the members opposite for their support of the Canadian Studies conference. All four high schools in Whitehorse are participating, so they will be involved in making sure that students are aware of the program and the opportunity to participate in the conference. This is also a good tourism promotion for the Yukon.
As the youth strategy that I tabled in this House yesterday is called Young Voice:, the key to our future, I'd like to make particular mention of the fact that we are supporting this program, not simply to give an opportunity for our students and students from across Canada to come together and exchange ideas, but so that we can learn from the students. This is another way to listen to youth and to legitimize their voices and recognize that not only do they learn from each other in this kind of conference but that we can learn from them.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Probate fees
Mr. Phillips: My question today is for the Minister of Justice. Last month, Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the probate fees are unfair taxes and illegal and, until recently, the Yukon Territorial Court levied a charge of $140 for the first $25,000 of a person's estate and $6 for every $1,000 contained in a will thereafter.
More often, this amount would add up to an exorbitant sum in thousands of dollars. This assessment, by the way, Mr. Speaker, wouldn't include - if a certain estate had a great number of debts, they would have to still pay on the total value of the estate before they figured out how much the estate owed, so it could be rather onerous on the people who were involved with the estate.
The Yukon Supreme Court has joined with the Supreme Court of Canada in its decision to drop the practice of collecting these so-called death taxes, and placing the issue of probate fees in the hands of the territorial government. I'd like to ask the minister if he's had an opportunity to review the court ruling, and if she's arrived at a decision regarding the future of probate fees in the territory.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I thank the member opposite for the question. As the member opposite is aware, and I believe he may have indicated this in his preamble, the probate fees are set by the Rules of Court. Justice Hudson has amended the Rules of Court in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision. When the Supreme Court made that decision in Ontario, they provided six months for the Province of Ontario to take into account their decision. At the present time, Legal Services and the Department of Justice here in the Yukon are reviewing that decision and will be bringing information forward to me.
Mr. Phillips: I sure hope we don't have to wait for Ontario before we make a decision on this important issue. In light of this recent court judgment, Yukoners who have had to pay probate fees in previous years will want to know if they can recover some of this money. As currently as in the case in Ontario, people have either filed a class action suit or filed an individual suit. I would suggest to the minister here today, Mr. Speaker, that she could adopt the approach that the government could review all the cases back to 1992-1993, when I believe it was changed, and work out an arrangement where these people would be paid back those probate fees.
Will the minister consider paying back the retroactive probate fees that have been ruled by the Supreme Court of Canada to be unfair taxes?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Rules of Court, which established the probate fees on March 1, 1993 and then continued by orders in 1994 and 1996, have been used across the country for some time. I think it's fair to make a reasonable and informed decision. I have asked Legal Services to review the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada and, upon completion of their review, will consider all the implications that are contained in the recent ruling.
Mr. Phillips: Well, the ruling is clear, Mr. Speaker. The ruling is that these types of fees are taxes, and the Supreme Court says that if the government wants to come back and impose a tax on an estate, that's a different matter than establishing a fee. So, the issue here is, does this government want to impose death taxes on an estate, or is it prepared to return the money that was taken inappropriately in the last few years back to the appropriate estates? Would the minister consider doing that?
This is a question of whether they believe they should tax estates, and the minister should return the money if they don't think they should tax estates.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, as the member has indicated, there has been a Supreme Court of Canada decision, which sets out that specific legislative authority is needed in determining probate fees. At the present time, the decision is being reviewed to determine whether it needs changing, and whether there might be other fees that would be found invalid in light of the reasoning of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to wait until that decision has been reviewed. The courts themselves indicated that there should be six months provided to either adjust or change the legislative defect, and I am going to take some time to look at the review of the decision before making a change.
Question re: Local hire, Old Crow school
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Government Services on the issue of local hire.
On November 4 in this House, the minister gave a ministerial statement about locally manufactured furniture for Yukon schools. In his response to some of the issues that were raised by members of the opposition, the minister went on record as saying that, as a consequence of an agreement with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, 18 out of 26 workers on the school were from Old Crow.
My question to the minister: is the minister going to stand by that statement today, or would he wish to correct it at this time?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The information that I have was that 18 of the 25 people on the Old Crow project were Vuntut Gwitchin members.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, the minister took great liberties in patting his government on the back for local hire, taking issue with issues raised by the opposition, and I want to say, after the minister made that statement in this Legislature, we received several calls from Old Crow disputing the numbers the minister used. I can say that residents of Old Crow were offended by the minister's claim that the majority of workers on the project were from Old Crow.
My question to the minister: is he confident that the information that he has is factual and up to date?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I can go back and I can check the details on particular projects, but I can tell the member that when I was up in the summer, the vast majority of the people working on the project - and at that time the foundations and the flooring were being put in - certainly the vast majority the individuals there were from Old Crow.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, in my final supplementary, the minister said the other day, "18 out of 26 workers", about two-thirds of the workforce. I think his numbers were close, but I think he had them reversed. I would ask the minister to check that because the information we have received is that there have never, ever been more than 10 out of approximately 30 workers on that project from Old Crow. As of the week that the minister asked the question, only six people from the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation were working on the project, along with two cooks. How does the minister reconcile these numbers with the ones he stated in this House on November 4 as being factual?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, at any given time, there will be different aspects of the construction project going on. I can tell the member that, when I was there, the vast majority of the people working on that aspect of the project were Vuntut Gwitchin. I believe the Education minister reported to me that, when she was there, there were 20 out of 26 people working on the project. It may be, at this particular stage in the project, there are more, I suppose, people from Whitehorse working on that aspect of the project.
I can get the details on what aspect we're at right now and the numbers that are involved.
I can tell the member that, just last Friday, I was talking with a person who has just returned from Old Crow, who noted to me how very pleased he was with the quality of work that he saw up there. As a matter of fact, he's hired one of the local people there to work on a project here in Whitehorse.
As well, I also understood that the training aspect has gone very well. I can check on the most recent aspects of the project.
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Question re: Kindergarten busing
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Education. This spring, I questioned the minister's decision to eliminate noon-hour kindergarten busing for seven Whitehorse-area schools. Recently, officials from the minister's department have been saying categorically there will be no kindergarten busing for the September 1999 school year.
The busing committee, school council chairs and school principals were under the impression, from a meeting held in April, that there would be consultation about this decision.
The minister's partners in education are confused. Consultation means one thing to the NDP government and another thing to the public. Is the kindergarten busing for seven Whitehorse-area schools in place for September 1999, or not?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'm somewhat surprised by the member's question, because I understand the facts to be otherwise. I understand that the officials from the Department of Education have been meeting with the busing committee, and have been talking to school councils, and there has not been a decision made to end kindergarten busing for September of next year. The consultation process is presently underway.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's different from what school council minutes are saying. Eliminating kindergarten busing, as the minister suggested last spring, was not based on children's education needs. It wasn't based on consultation with school councils, and it didn't come from the busing committee. No, the minister elected last spring to forge ahead on her own, to save $100,000 on the backs of five-year-olds.
Now, the minister has said that there's some kind of a consultation process in place now. Would she outline how and when this decision is going to be made for the September 1999 school year?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The member opposite is not only being alarmist, but being inaccurate in her statements. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education officials do meet with the school busing committees; they do meet with school councils and the decision on the busing contract for next year will be made after full participation of the school busing committees working with the Department of Education.
Ms. Duncan: Yes, the minister's correct - they do meet on a regular basis. They met last spring to tell the busing committee and tell school councils that school busing had been cancelled. It was only when I raised this issue in the House that the minister agreed to a consultation process.
She's still not saying when the decision is going to be made for the September 1999 school year. This is incredibly important for planning for schools. When is the decision going to be made for September 1999?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is being completely inaccurate in her statements in her preamble, and so I must say that at the outset.
As I have indicated to the member, the department does meet with the school busing committees and does regularly meet with school councils. The decisions are made after that consultation and discussion takes place.
Question re: School replacement in rural areas
Ms. Duncan: Well, the only thing that the minister didn't say in the previous question - her usual answer is the money in Education isn't for the transportation budget.
In her ministerial message this year to teachers, the minister wrote - the supposedly inspirational message given to teachers - "I am committed to supporting the best programs for Yukon students in the best possible facilities."
Mayo, the community, began their discussions about a new school at the end of October this year. There's a sense that that community is actually going to see a new school. In fact, opening is scheduled for the year 2001. This summer, during repairs, one contractor actually fell through the rotten roof of that school.
Does the minister have assurances that the school is safe for students and teachers until the new school opens?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: I'm sure the minister has those assurances in writing.
Let's move to Dawson's capital projects, where the minister is fighting with the city and the school council. The portables at Robert Service School are again without a proper lease because of the minister's fumbling. A new lease arrangement was drawn up by the City of Dawson, in consultation with the minister's department and the Dawson City school council. The minister has refused to sign this agreement. Instead, she rewrote the lease, took out the timelines for decision and the provisions for consultation and the guaranteed involvement of the school council. So much for working with your partners in education. It sounds like another example of the NDP arrogance.
Is the minister going to resolve this issue, or does she plan on operating outside of city laws for the entire school year?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure what kind of an exploration the member opposite thinks she's undertaking here, but let me assure her that the Department of Education has worked with the Dawson school council, that the school council is the first we turn to in looking at the education needs for any particular community, and that, in my understanding, the school is continuing to operate this year without difficulty. The facilities are acceptable to the community and we're continuing to provide a good education for the students in Dawson City, as we are elsewhere in the Yukon.
Ms. Duncan: While on the subject of school facilities, this minister has been shortchanging Porter Creek since she took office, because it wasn't her government's project. One of the results has been that Porter Creek school can't offer automotive mechanics, building construction and other programs at their school.
The proposal for the school to use Yukon College facilities has not worked out. Porter Creek high school students, some 650 of them, would be best served if the appropriate facilities were added to the present building. Is this project being considered by the Department of Education or are only the schools in NDP ridings eligible for capital funding from this government?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, that is an extremely offensive and extremely ridiculous statement that the member opposite has said. Let me say -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please. Order. Order. I would ask both sides of the House to stop their heckling please.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, let me say, for the record, that education is a priority for this government. The Porter Creek Secondary School has had hundreds of thousands of dollars voted in support of that project by this government. At the present time, this government is building three schools in rural Yukon. We have reached agreement with school councils on the priority in which those schools should be built because of the great need in Old Crow and Ross River and Mayo.
The member opposite is completely ridiculous that Porter Creek Secondary School is not receiving funding because it is represented by her in the Legislative Assembly. Porter Creek Secondary School has received hundreds of thousands of dollars and we are going to continue to ...
Speaker: The minister's time has elapsed.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: ... make education a priority.
Question re: Government vehicle use
Mr. Ostashek: It seems like the government's very sensitive today.
My question today is for the Government Leader. Yesterday in the House, my colleagues raised the issue of ministerial misuse of a government vehicle by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and there was a written question tabled to the Government Leader on the issue.
This issue was first raised by our side of the House on November 5 and, to date, we have not received any formal information directly from this government.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that some of the information we requested was released directly to the media, rather than being tabled in this House for the opposition members.
My question to the Government Leader: is this the NDP's version of being an open and accountable government, when it demeans the importance of this Legislature?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I apologize if the member thinks it is wrong for us to speak to the media about public issues that the member opposite raises and the false allegations the member puts on the floor of the Legislature. But, nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, it is the duty of our ministers - and as spokespeople for the government - to actually get factual information on the table when we have it.
If the member looks to the legislative return today, the member will see that some of the information that the members were requesting is, in fact, on the table. I would also point out to the member, and to the listening public, that it doesn't at all support the false, negative allegations that the members opposite presented in trying to make their case that a hard-working minister was, in fact, getting a private benefit.
I can only say, Mr. Speaker, that it must seem defensive to the members opposite that they heard about hard-working ministers, and they heard about ministers working on weekends. That is something that does happen; it does happen more often than not in our government, and I'm proud of it.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, let's look at some of the factual information that was released to the media yesterday, Mr. Speaker. It's little wonder than the NDP spin doctors didn't want us to have this information before they spun it out in their own style to the media.
I want to point out to the Government Leader that in the list of meetings provided to the media yesterday or the day before by his government, three of the seven meetings were likely to have been held in Whitehorse, and two of the seven were held in the minister's home community. Yet, the rental agreement states that 4,170 kilometers were put on the vehicle in the time that the minister had the car.
My question to the Government Leader: does he really expect Yukoners to believe that the minister did not utilize this vehicle for his personal use during the time that he had control of it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, it may come as some news to the member that government ministers do do government business in their own ridings, and I encourage the government ministers to do government business in their ridings. I encourage ministers to get into rural Yukon more often than not. I encourage much more contact with rural Yukon than was ever practised by the Yukon Party. We intend to represent rural Yukon well and we will be out there often.
Now, the member opposite, only a little while ago, was saying that he believed that the use of government cars should be encouraged by people often, because when he was government leader, he said it was less expensive to use government cars than to use the mileage rate for private vehicles.
Now I know, for example, the Member for Dawson gets a mileage rate that's probably equivalent to about $500 for every trip he takes into his riding. It would be cheaper, Mr. Speaker, for the member opposite to use a government car. I would make the offer to the Member for Dawson.
Speaker: The Government Leader's time has expired.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, when we were in government, we encouraged ministers to use pool cars. But we didn't encourage them to abuse that use of pool cars. The Government Leader seems not to have any control over what his ministers are doing.
My final supplementary: a car is signed out of the pool for a period of two days, and it is returned one month later with 4,170 kilometres on it. The Government Leader did not respond whether he expects Yukoners to believe it was used entirely for government business.
The memo further goes on to say that, because of an oversight, it sat in the parking lot for 10 days. But Mr. Speaker, it has come to our attention that the vehicle agency phoned the minister's office every week to see what the status of the car was.
Can the minister tell me how this could have been an oversight, if the fleet agency was checking on the vehicle on a weekly basis, and the minister's department -
Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Mr. Ostashek: - was extending -
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The member opposite has expressed concern from the beginning of our term about the amount of travel - about the amount of times that ministers have gone to see rural Yukon. They've complained about the travel budgets; now they're complaining about the details of how the ministers get into rural Yukon. They don't want ministers to go into rural Yukon, because they didn't practise that themselves.
Mr. Speaker, the Member from Riverdale North, even this afternoon, made a grand claim that it's important for MLAs to travel around the country, get to know other regions of the country. Yet his colleague - the leader of the official opposition - objects and finds it offensive that ministers of the government would be going into rural Yukon.
Ministers of the government will be going into rural Yukon. Ministers of government will be talking about -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: On a point of order.
Point of order
Mr. Phillips: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. The member is misinterpreting what I said. On government business, it's fine to travel. When you're on personal business, you do it like every other Yukoner...
Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Phillips: ... you pay your own way.
Speaker: The Government Leader, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite claims that his desire for MLAs to get around the country was all to be done at private expense. Of course, it is not true. He was expecting that the government would be paying for members...
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: ... of this Legislature to go around the country.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please.
Speaker: There is no point of order. There is just a dispute between two persons. Government Leader, continue.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, of course you're right, Mr. Speaker. There was a point of rude interruption by the Member for Riverdale North, as per usual.
Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Yukon will encourage the use of government cars for government business in rural Yukon, and I can tell the members opposite that we will be going into rural Yukon often. I can tell the Member for Klondike, as a formal offer, if he wants to use a government car because it's less expensive to the taxpayer than the $500 a trip he gets right now -
Speaker: The Government Leader's time has expired.
Question re: FAS/FAE testing
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Minister of Education, and it relates to yesterday's discussion regarding assessing students for FAS and FAE in Yukon schools.
Yesterday, the minister -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please.
Ms. Duncan: Yesterday, the minister made it clear that the NDP government could survey prisoners in the jail for FAS/FAE, but they can't assess students in our school system for fear of labelling. The reason the government cannot do this is because they have independent education plans for students with special needs.
Would the minister tell this House how many students are currently awaiting assessment prior to developing their independent education plans?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, I do not have a number available. I can take notice of the member's question and see if I can bring back further information on that.
But, Mr. Speaker, I can let the member know that we do not lump FAS students into a group. We do not say that if a child has special needs that they'll fit into one program or a second program or a third program and provide a limited number of options. What we do do is provide for individualized education plans to meet the needs of the children. Every child gets personal attention. It's not a counting exercise. We provide personal attention to the students who have special needs and who need individualized education plans.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, some school council minutes I have read indicate that the department may - may - get the backlog of assessments cleared up by the end of the school year. Another school year lost for some students.
Any thinking person has to realize that if we knew that 10, or 20, or 100 of these students awaiting assessment suffered from FAS or FAE, the task of developing plans, and getting the best from education for them, would be easier.
Why is the department adopting - in the words of some - such an appallingly short-sighted view? Will the government consider testing for FAS/FAE in our schools?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'd just like to respond on this, because I think the members perhaps didn't hear what I mentioned yesterday. The fact is that the Minister of Education and I have had discussions. We've talked with the stats branch, we've talked about the kind of appropriate model, the kind of appropriate testing, the kind of parameters that could be in place for FAS/FAE.
I also have to tell the member that I had an interesting representation today from a rural community that took tremendous exception to some of the comments that were made in this regard, because they wanted to convey to me that they were not particularly enamoured with the concept of testing for FAS/FAE for precisely some of the concerns that I brought forward to the member yesterday.
I have suggested to these individuals that they may want to convey their feelings on this to the member -
Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Ms. Duncan: Well, again, for the Minister of Education, yesterday the minister said the government is increasing early intervention models in the education system. What does the government mean by this? Is the government targeting parents who may be tempted to drink during pregnancy or is the government targeting students who are affected by FAS or FAE? If the minister is targeting students, how does she know who they are?
The minister told the House yesterday she didn't know how many students have FAS or FAE. She told the House she had no plans to find out how many students were affected. She said she didn't need to know in order to provide them with proper programming. What students will benefit from the early intervention models? If the minister wants, I can wait while she gets her notes from all her colleagues.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, sometimes we need to repeat the answers because sometimes the members don't seem to hear them or don't appear to understand them, because they keep asking the same question. Each and every child, regardless of an FAS or FAE diagnosis, still needs to be assessed individually to determine the nature and extent of their learning problems and how best to deal with them. This is what we do when we develop an individualized education plan for Yukon students.
We know that FAS and FAE children benefit from early intervention. The Minister of Health and Social Services has made announcements about some of the early intervention measures, because they are most effective within the first two years of life. We also know that individual students who have FAS and FAE benefit from specific education strategies. Those are part of what forms an individualized education plan for the student, whether they have FAS/FAE or not.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of government private members' business
Hon. Mr. Harding: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the government private members to be called for debate on November 18, 1998. They are Motion No. 142, standing in the name of the Member for Kluane, and Motion No. 135, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse Centre.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move 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. Member: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 51 - Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act
Chair: Committee will be dealing with Bill No. 51, entitled Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act. Is there any debate?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just in brief, during second reading we had a number of questions I was asked by both opposition parties. There has been some general support for this bill and we feel this is a very friendly bill and really is to the betterment of Yukon people. I would just like to get right into the guts of it and work on answering the questions from the members.
Mr. Ostashek: As the minister said, he does have some support for the bill. I, for one, am on the public record as saying that I believe that we need a regulatory regime for the industry to prosper. I guess our concerns are about the demands that will be placed on the operators under the regime - and maybe some constrictions - and we hope we will be able, as we go through general debate on third reading and hear it clause by clause, to allay some of our fears on this bill and be able to support it in third reading.
Before I start in to the bill itself, I would just like to thank the minister for the backhanded compliment that he gave me yesterday on my stand on environmental issues back in the mid-80s, before a lot of people were even concerned about the environment. I just want the minister to keep a hold of the article that he read and, when he and his colleagues start to accuse me of not having any care for the environment, that he read that clause that he read in the Legislature yesterday. That doesn't mean that I support all of the policies of this administration on how they go about protecting the environment, Mr. Chair.
One of the biggest concerns that I and my caucus have with this bill is the amount. As the minister himself said, this is an umbrella bill, and regulations will be developed as we go along. That, in the opinion of my caucus, is a carte blanche to the government to go ahead, once we approve this bill, to make regulations that we in opposition will not have a chance to debate in a public forum, outside of Question Period or questions that we ask of a minister in budget debates.
So, at this time, I would like to get on the public record from the minister - since he said yesterday that this bill was industry-driven and there was full consultation with industry on drafting this bill - I want his commitment here today that the regulations will also be industry-driven and there will be full participation of the industry in the drafting of the regulations.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can give that reassurance to the member. We are following the act under 14.2 on public consultation. We will be involving those who are affected by it and making sure that the regulations go through all the necessary steps with industry to be developed.
I guess just at this point, the Liberal member asked who we had consultation with in regard to this bill, and I can, I guess, send some information to both members and a list of people who have been contacted.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I thank the minister for that assurance. That goes a long way to helping us alleviate some of the fears that we have of this legislation.
First of all, I'd like to thank the minister for providing the briefing yesterday morning and the members of the government who conducted the briefing. It was very helpful and useful.
I said to the member in second reading that there were people who didn't realize that this Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act was going to affect them. In fact, some of the people that I have been in touch with over the last few days hadn't hardly heard of it, yet they will be impacted by the bill. I just want to put that on the public record, so that when they do draft the regulations, they may want to do a little more advertising. Maybe it was because there weren't clear terms of reference as to whom the bill was going to affect that they didn't hear from all of the people.
But I talked to several lodge owners and some outfitters that didn't know that this bill was going to affect them. It will. We hope that we can clarify some of that as we go through.
One of the major concerns - and I would like to ask the minister if he has had any further briefings on it, or if the government has given any further consideration to it - is what I call "dual licensing". For example, if a highway lodge rents out a fishing boat for four or five hours, with somebody along to look after the boat and the client, he's considered to need a wilderness tourism licence. And, as officials told us in the briefing yesterday, so will a big game outfitter who has a client who goes fishing and sends a guide with him. Having been in the business, I know, you're very reluctant to allow them to go without a guide.
The fact that he sent a guide would deem him to require a wilderness tourism licence. Is that the case, again for the public record, and has the government given consideration as to how they can rectify that situation so we don't have that overlap that we believe we see in the act right now?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: First, just to let the members know, both the draft act and the draft regulations were released at the same time to the operators in the month of September - September 11 - so there was a lot of time to deal with that.
I just want to let the member know that those lodge owners who provide trips - fishing trips and so on for their business - don't have to go through the process of getting a licence if those trips are not guided trips. If they are, they themselves will have to acquire the licences. It's not the guides themselves who require the licences - just the owner of the business. The guides, though, could be required to have first-aid training.
Mr. Ostashek: Maybe the minister could clarify for me, then, what constitutes a guided trip.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: A guided trip, I guess, would involve a guide present with the people, whether it's a fishing trip or a dog-sled trip or whatnot. It's the person who's with them, guiding it.
Mr. Ostashek: Okay, well that's basically what I said. It's the person who's with them. But I mean, is there no threshold? If the person is with an employee of the lodge for one hour or with the employee of a big game outfitter for one hour, does it constitute an infraction against the Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act if they don't have a licence?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Can I get the member just to clarify that question a bit more?
Mr. Ostashek: Under the act, I would like to know what constitutes a guided trip. For example, in the act, are there going to be regulations that say that if a person goes on an overnight trip, that's considered a guided trip and a person would require a wilderness tourism licence? Or, the other extreme is a lodge owner renting a boat for one hour to a tourist and sending a person with him. Does that constitute a guided trip and would there be an infraction if the highway lodge operator didn't have a wilderness tourism licence? I'm trying to get the parameters of what constitutes a guided trip under the Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: If we start going back to the definition of "wilderness tourism", it says in there that "'wilderness tourism' means a sector of the tourism industry where an operator, for gain, reward or material or financial benefit received, provides a wilderness based activity." I think that answers the concern you have.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to be difficult here, but it doesn't answer it because I'm asking if there are any parameters. I mean, are you saying that, based on that broad interpretation - what I understand it to mean is that if a big game outfitter even sent a guide with a hunter for one hour of fishing, that would constitute an activity under this act, and he would require a licence for it. That's what I'm trying to clarify from the minister.
Is it going to be that tight, or is there going to be some threshold set at a day trip or a half-day trip or one hour? What is it? I mean, I'm trying to get the threshold before one would be in violation of the act if one didn't have a licence.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We're trying to provide a level playing field among operators. It is tight. In regard to the outfitter who takes the person away from the activity of a hunt and goes off into a wilderness trip with a guide and a client, that outfitting company is going to have to have a licence and abide by the regulations under the licence.
We are wanting to provide a level playing field for people and don't believe in thresholds. We would like to give everybody the opportunity to be able to purchase licences and abide by the regulations and not have operators - for example, outfitters who have a business operating out in the wilderness - go off and be doing something else. I think everybody, as far as the industry goes, felt that everybody should be provided with a level playing field and each, if they were doing a wilderness tourism trip, should be licensed and abide by those regulations.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, I don't want the minister to get me wrong. I'm not debating with him for or against. I'm just asking him what the thresholds are so I can tell the people who are calling me. All I'm doing is seeking information here. I don't want to be giving misinformation to people. That's why, as we go through the debate of this bill, I need to be clear in my mind exactly what constitutes a wilderness activity and what would be a violation of this act.
From what I can understand now from the minister, there are no loopholes, that even if somebody were to engage in this activity for a period of - one guide, one person, one hour, it would require a wilderness tourism licence. Am I correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's correct. We've tried to eliminate that. I know that the thresholds were carefully considered by people putting this together, and it was ruled out because of offering, basically, a minimum number of trips. The concern is that people can come over from out of Yukon, out of Canada, and come out on these one-day trips or short half-day trips versus overnight trips. We think that would provide a fairly serious loophole for many companies, especially the non-resident operators who offer only a few Yukon trips per year to avoid the licensing.
Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that.
Another area I need clarification in is what constitutes a wilderness trip. What's considered as wilderness? Now, I'm going to use a very specific example. Highway lodges along Kluane Lake that are using the lake - is that considered wilderness tourism activity by the definitions of this act?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that is interpreted as a wilderness activity.
Mr. Ostashek: Okay. Navigable waters - will an operation such as the Yukon Queen, which runs from Dawson over to the Alaska side and back, be considered a wilderness activity?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that would be considered a wilderness trip. All motorized boat tours are included as a wilderness tourism activity.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, I guess this is where there is some dilemma for us, because I believe I heard the minister say yesterday that the MV Schwatka would not - this act would not apply to their people, yet the Yukon Queen is doing the same thing between Dawson and Circle, Alaska, or whatever the place it runs to. Basically it's the same operation.
What is the difference?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The member might have misunderstood me, or I might have given the wrong information, but that particular activity would also be included as a wilderness activity - the Schwatka Lake.
Mr. Ostashek: So, then, you're saying that the activity of the Yukon Queen would not be considered a wilderness activity, and would require a wilderness licence for it. Is that what you're saying?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, they would require a wilderness tourism licence.
Mr. Ostashek: The minister said, "Yes, they will require it." And will the MV Schwatka also require a wilderness licence then? Is that what the minister's saying?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, Mr. Chair, it's yes to both; they would both require a licence.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, just to clarify, while we're still on that subject, then, the Schwatka Lake - given that it's a manmade lake - technically may not qualify as wilderness. However, the fact that the activity is a motorized boat tour is what's qualifying it as a wilderness tourism operation.
So, what we have is one particular operator qualifying under one section of the act but not qualifying under another definition. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Both would be considered. We did include motorized boats and tours as a wilderness tourism activity, and that was a lot to do with the industry coming forward and putting questions forward. Also, the member from the Liberal Party had put that forward, but I would think that, with this case, both would be considered under this act. The lake itself would be considered a wilderness.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I think the minister might be open to challenge with Schwatka Lake as a definition of wilderness, because the definition of "'wilderness' means any area of the Yukon in a largely natural condition ...generally unaltered by human activity...". Well, it was created by human activity so it's a bit of a stretch, but if the minister would care to elaborate on that particular section, he can do it now or we can get some more return when we do definitions.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: If you continue to read through the definitions, closer to the bottom, where it says that it "may include areas of visible human activity", so that would basically constitute it as a wilderness tourism activity, should they be using it.
Ms. Duncan: Fair enough. I'll accept the minister's explanation on that. I'm not going to get into a word-by-word, comma-by-comma discussion on that.
I would like the minister, though, prior to getting into more debate on this, to address some of the concerns that were raised in second reading. For example, could the minister address the issue of low-impact versus no-trace camping and what public education processes might be undertaken by the department in that regard? The minister will recall that I was particularly interested in the issue around the actual administration of this act in terms of setting up the registrar and so on. The minister has had overnight to think about my comments and suggestions. If he has given those some thought, could we hear a response please, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm just going to look at a more detailed answer. I know that we took all the questions that the members had yesterday, and I just leafed them in throughout the act where I thought they might be. Either we can go and try to find it or wait until we do come across it, but it is here.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I am going to try to get most of my questions answered in general debate so that we don't need to spend a lot of time going line by line - unless there are some things that the minister can't answer now, then he'll have the opportunity to come back in line by line with an explanation.
As I look at the act and comments made a few moments ago by the minister about guides requiring a first-aid certificate, is it the intention of the department in the regulations that all of the guides employed in the wilderness tourism industry will have to have first-aid certification, or are they talking only about the person in charge of the party?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: All those that accompany clients, if they are guides, will be required to have a first-aid certificate. It will also be one of the regulations that would be required of anybody that's acquiring licences. There's a set of general regulations, like I said before, that all licensees will be required to abide by, and liability is one of them. They will also require basic first aid, and also, to maintain the licence, they will have to make sure that reports are filed - trip reports and rental reports - and also comply with the low-impact camping and waste disposal standards.
Mr. Ostashek: My question to the minister hasn't been clarified for me yet. Let's just take a hypothetical situation. There's a party of 10 people and four guides with them. Do all four guides - all four of those employees of the outfitter - require a first-aid certificate? That's the question I'm asking. Or does only one for each party require a first-aid certificate?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: All those involved in guiding, who are guides, who are taking people out, require first aid. The other helping hands - for example, in outfitting, if there are wranglers, or cooks, or whatnot - those people don't require first aid under this act.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I'm just wondering about the consistency of that. It's a long time since I've been in the outfitting business - almost 10 years now - but have there been changes made to the act for the big game outfitters, I'm talking about now, where all guides require a first-aid certificate?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, I'm not getting into that one. All I'm saying is, if they go off and do a wilderness tourism tour with their clients, and they have a number of guides with them, and they're overnighting, and there are people who handle horses, or cooks, those people don't need to have a first-aid certificate. It is only the guides who are required to have one under this act.
Mr. Ostashek: I understand the minister's dealing only with this act. I'm trying to point out the inconsistencies between the requirements under this act and the requirements under other acts that involve wilderness activities.
It would seem to me that there ought to be some consistency between acts of this government, so that there are no misunderstandings as to what is required and what is not required. I just think it's going to be very difficult to administer if we're going to have one set of rules for one segment of people who are using the wilderness and a different set of rules for another group of people who are using this same wilderness, probably in the same general area. Does the minister not agree with me?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This is a new act. I'm sure that many of the other acts that we have in government could be worked on for amendments, and probably will be, throughout time, to bring them up to speed. This is driven by the need to improve the wilderness tourism industry to compete with other countries that have standards in place to make people feel safe when they come on trips to the Yukon. This is driven by industry to try to promote the Yukon as a safe place to go when they do come and want to go out on an adventure in the wilderness, whether it's by dogsled or by river raft or whatnot. I can't really get into comparisons. I know where the member is coming from. I'm sure there are a lot of differences between acts that we have, but this is a new one and we would like to try to develop it the best we can to fit today's needs and standards that people are asking for.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I'm not arguing with the minister on his intent of the act or what he hopes to accomplish with it; I'm talking about the consistency between various acts of this government and how we run into problems of different interpretations of acts.
Let me just use another example. The minister says he's doing this for the safety of the industry. Well, is the minister saying that because every guide is licensed - and, for example, knowing that there may be four guides to a party - that people are going to be a lot safer because all four of them have first-aid certificates, rather than just the person in charge of the party?
Let's take a construction site, for example. They don't have a multitude of first-aid people on staff. They have one first-aid person for so many employees working for the company. I'm just trying to find out the rationale behind why these requirements are going to be put into the act.
While the minister is at it, maybe he could answer another question on the licensing side regarding the big game guide, who's licensed to the big game hunters. Are they also going to be required to pay another licence fee if that outfitter is involved wilderness activities?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes to the last question there. I would think that this act would be only a plus to other activities that are happening by having people to have first aid to be able to deal with emergencies and so on, but if you have four guides out there who are together on a trip with clients, often they do not stay together. If they were to split and take a few people here and there then they would be covered in having first aid, under this act.
Mr. Ostashek: I think these are some of the places we have been pointing out where, while we support the act, we believe that there is some overkill in how the act and regulations are being put together.
I want to move on, though. I'm not going to belabour that point forever. I'll let the industry take it up with the minister and his officials when they're bringing regulations into place. I'm sure he will be having some representation in that respect.
I want to now look under the definition section where it says "vehicle" means "any conveyance that may be used during a wilderness tourism activity". Would the minister call a horse-drawn cart a vehicle?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we do. I know that in putting this act together the word "vehicle" was a very much discussed issue, but there was no other language, I guess, that they could come up with. A dog sled, a dog team, is a vehicle. It's used for transportation.
As we go through the act with regard to inspections and so on, I can explain a lot more about where inspectors are to be carrying out their duties. The definitions here are not definitions of vehicles used to transport people to and from the site. If they were to take a bus to the site where they were going to split off and do their wilderness tourism, that bus is not considered under this act.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, just to clarify that issue, then. The definition of "vehicle" in this particular act is anything that people use to transport themselves while in the Yukon wilderness. That can be a kayak. You're sitting in it, and you're in the wilderness, and you're moving from place to place. So, "vehicle" in this instance is anything that transports people in the wilderness, from a kayak to a dog team. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's correct. It can be horses, or dogs, or a kayak, or canoes or boats, you know, that we talked about.
Mr. Ostashek: What the minister has said is "any vehicle that's used in the wilderness". They're not interested in the bus that hauls people to the site.
What about the situation where the wilderness guide provides his own transportation - a minivan? Is that going to be subjected to the inspections under this act? Because this act talks about vehicle inspections, and stuff like that. So where's the line drawn?
Many outfitters, I'm sure, in order to provide better service to clients, would be using their own vehicles to transport supplies and clients to a point where they may take off from, or they may be used in off-road situations. Where does that fall under this act, or is it exempt under this act?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: If the licensee is using their own vehicle, or a company vehicle, to transport people to the site, that is not covered under the act.
It's only a vehicle used in the activity of a wilderness tourism activity. For example, you can have heli-skiing, where they are transported by helicopter from one spot to another - a mountaintop - and the helicopter goes back. That is not included as a vehicle.
The most common vehicle to transport people from one place to another to start the wilderness tourism activity is not included, but if they were to get on to a dog team and start that activity, that would be included as a vehicle.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, those are some of the concerns I have that I need further clarification on, because we're saying in this act that we have a very broad definition of "wilderness". What the minister is telling me is that a tourism outfitter could be transporting people with a four-wheel drive quite a way back in the mountains on an old tote road or something to get to the point that he's departing from. His vehicle is not subject to inspections under this act, yet somebody who is going down that same tote road in the wintertime with a dog team is subject to the term "vehicle." Are there not some inconsistencies in the act?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, I think that if we get into the inspections part, the inspections are very broad. The inspectors are - for example, if it's a snow machine, they are not going to be checking the mechanics of it. They may check for things like first-aid kits, safety flares or whatnot - things that may be listed under the regulations as needed for that particular trip - and they won't be doing any mechanical inspection other than to look at safety features of the vehicle.
Mr. Ostashek: Well again, Mr. Chair, these are some of the things causing me concern. We've heard the minister stand on his feet here and say that the reason for this licence is to provide assurances to our tourists that these operators are licensed and are operating in a very safe manner. The minister says that that's the reason for this licensing act and yet, on the other hand, he's saying that something like a vehicle will not be inspected by the inspector.
At the same time, he's saying that every guide that's out there has to have a first-aid certificate. That's very inconsistent. This is very similar to the Motor Vehicles Act, which we just debated, where they reduced the speed limit on unposted highways and yet allow people to ride in the back of a pickup. There are a lot of inconsistencies there and they are going in a totally different directions.
I'm having some difficulty with how we're going to reconcile that. On one hand, we're saying to our tourists, "Look at this. We've got this Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act, and you can rest assured that you will be well looked after while you are in the Yukon." Yet we're not going to be concerned about inspecting the vehicle that a tourism outfitter may be using to transport his clients, but we're going to be very, very concerned about what he does after he gets those people out of that vehicle and into an area where probably they don't have nearly the risk that they had while they were in that vehicle being transported to the site.
Does the minister not agree that there's some inconsistencies?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The definition a vehicle comes under in the act is in regard to activity. One is for transportation, and one is for activities. If people are being transported to a spot where they're going to begin a wilderness tourism activity, it is not our duty to be doing inspections. They would fall under the laws that exist today. They would have to be licensed and insured and follow the rules of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Ms. Duncan: Just to follow up, I asked the minister to respond to some of the questions I brought up in general debate. It was my understanding that the minister has put those answers in order section by section, line by line of the actual act. So if the minister wishes to answer the questions at that time, I'll be pleased to deal with it in a line-by-line fashion, rather than in general debate.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In regard to low-impact camping versus no-trace camping, we can get into that. I can tell the member that we did receive a letter yesterday from the Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon, stating that they did not see them or any other in the industry to be the registrar. Basically, it is a government agency.
In regard to the cost of running this, and so on, they felt it was best left within the department. So, just for the sake of information, I read that out to the member.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate that the minister has explored the suggestion I put forward with the Wilderness Tourism Association. I note that, on re-reading the act for the third or fourth time, when it comes to the registrar section, the act says it has to be a member of the Government of the Yukon. So, had this suggestion met with some positive response, then it would have required an amendment. Perhaps it's just as well.
Then, if I could ask the minister, these funds that are paid in terms of licences will disappear into the general revenue of the Government of the Yukon. How is it anticipated that we deal with future education needs from the industry perspective? Are we simply leaving that as an industry responsibility or does the government feel some responsibility in terms of ongoing education programs?
For example, the regulations and the act, as I've read them, seem to indicate a preliminary first-aid certificate - your basic St. John Ambulance, as opposed to a more advanced wilderness first-aid certificate. So, if we wanted to encourage industry to advance their training and raise the standard, how do we help fund that? How do we help fund that? How do we work with industry to ensure that that training is provided?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have been working fairly closely with the Tourism department and Economic Development. We believe that we could be helping out a lot in some of this training. First aid, for example, is offered and quite easily accessible in the Yukon, but as we continue to put together regulations, some of these regulations could, I guess, be more stringent on some of the activities. For example, heli-skiing could require that the guide have a bit more training than the basic, standard first aid. Also, I think that, once we really get into training and having specific activities - for example kayaking and so on - the industry itself is going to be offering this. That's happening a bit in B.C. where, in regard to kayaking, the industry uses the survival training and so on that's taking place as a secondary activity for themselves, to provide the training and as an additional business to keep themselves going.
So, I would anticipate a lot of this would be brought forward by the industry itself, but we are working with Tourism and Economic Development in regard to providing the basics.
Ms. Duncan: Well, a couple of points to follow up with the minister then - is there any sense or commitment on the part of the government to use some of the registration fees that are going to be paid - a portion of that each year - to be dedicated to training and working with the industry?
That's part of the question. The second part of the question relates to overall implementation. The minister is quarterbacking this bill through the Legislature. We've had briefings from both the Department of Renewable Resources and the Department of Tourism. There's been a really excellent level, obviously, of cooperation, and the minister has mentioned the Department of Economic Development. Is it clearly defined that Renewable will take the lead role once the bill is in place or is that up for negotiation and discussion?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Renewable Resources will administering this act. In regard to funds collected for licences and so on, they do go into general funds and there is no provision in the act to direct dollars elsewhere.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there is no provision in the act. Is there a commitment on the part of the government to ensure that these funds are used to further the industry, to live up to some of the goals stated in the preamble to ensure the health and future growth of the industry - even a small portion, 10 percent, dedicated each year to future training in the industry or research or perhaps some to marketing? Is there any sort of a thought to that idea?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we're not taking the approach of taking the funds that are collected from licences and so on. If there is an increased need and demand for additional training then we can, together with Tourism, look at dollars that could flow from general funds into training - or within departments - with regard to training.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, the problem with that approach is that it responds to a need, as opposed to responding to the future and anticipating that need. It's taking a narrow view, as opposed to the broader view. Perhaps, at this time, I could just ask the minister to give some consideration to that idea in future discussions with the industry.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we can forward this to those who are dealing with putting together the regulations and so on - it's mostly the industry - and consider that.
Mr. Phillips: I want to follow up on the training issue. I guess it was the intention of the minister to have this in place for this spring. My concern would be, though, that there are some new requirements under this act, which of course people will have to meet if they're in the industry.
At the present time many of the local operators hire individual students who are going to school in the Yukon may be out at university at the present time and aren't available to take certain courses. They may not have those courses for next year, and/or they may have employees who may or may not have all the qualifications required under the act. They may be down in Costa Rica for the winter, guiding whitewater rafting tours, or doing some other stuff, and still are unavailable to take the first-aid course, or certain courses that are required under this act.
So what I'd suggest to the minister is that he sit down fairly quickly with the industry and try and establish what type of training needs there are and, hopefully, plan it around some kind of seminars or training early this spring, if they're going to get people qualified for this season.
Many of them may be qualified now. Many of the people I know who are doing this have the existing qualifications, but there may have been some cases where some Yukon students last year were acting as guides on a whitewater rafting trip with a party of six, with possibly two guides, where one had all the certifications and the other was a bit of a junior guide and didn't have it all, and may require it before this spring because of the act.
So it's very important, I think, to the industry that training that's going to be made available be made available in a timely fashion, s o that these individuals can take advantage of it.
There is anther issue that I think is important. Maybe the minister would look at if there's training available now in the southern climates - say, in British Columbia, Alberta or Ontario, or wherever - with respect to these first-aid requirements. If the government's going to provide some incentive or help to these people, are they prepared to help their guides take the courses out there before they get here?
It doesn't really matter where they take them, as long as they are qualified. So, I'm just wondering if the government's prepared to provide that incentive - if it feels it has to - for the training, no matter where they take it, so that they're qualified under this act.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: With regard to training and the students who are involved in some of these activities - I know that some may be involved in doing guiding, or are guides themselves - they would require the basic set of training and certificates needed.
It is the licensee who will require liability and Workers' Compensation, like most - and they will be the ones who would be doing the trip reports, and the rental reports, and so on. I don't think there is a whole lot, other than that, under the basic regulations - other than basic first aid, and to comply with low-impact camping.
But we can work with industry to try to bring people up to speed for this summer's activities. We can work with industry on that.
Mr. Phillips: What does the minister mean by "work with the industry"? By just providing the courses, or is the minister going to subsidize individuals to take the courses? I know that in some cases, many of the guides throughout the territory may or may not have the required first aid, and you may end up having to do sort of a travelling first-aid seminar that goes around to some of the communities.
Some of the guides, as the minister knows, probably live in his community, and would they be required to come to Whitehorse? What kind of arrangements would be made for the program, or would they just offer it in Whitehorse, and everyone would be required to take it, or it would be up to the individual to pay for the course and come in and take the program?
As I said before, some of these guides are young university students who are now out at school. Would they be required to come back here and take the course, or if it's available in British Columbia or Alberta or Ontario or wherever they happen to be going to school, could they take it there and qualify? Maybe the minister could elaborate on that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, basically, I guess, the training that we're talking about is the basic first aid. That's offered in some of the communities in the Yukon and can be, I guess, taken there. It's offered a fair number of times in Whitehorse. Basic first aid is available right across Canada, and if it were taken elsewhere, outside of the Yukon, it could be applied here.
In regard to the training itself for a specific activity, we can work with industry to try and identify what training is needed and work with them. At this point, we haven't put forward dollars, I guess, for this basic training, although we can explore funding options with industry with regard to specific training.
Mr. Ostashek: I'll have a couple more questions in general debate.
I want to talk about the section on appeals. The appeal process, in my opinion, is good the way it's laid out. My concern is that there is no legislative mandate that appeals be done in a timely manner.
A case in instance: the registrar suspends an operator's licence for some infraction on the first trip of the summer; there are other clients booked; he cannot satisfy the registrar; he appeals to the minister; the minister appoints a board; the board holds a hearing. I would like to see some time limits addressed in there so that appeals could be heard in a timely fashion.
We're giving a lot of powers to officials here, and while we do that in good faith and believe in our officials, there are cases where there are abuses. I would like to see some time frame addressed for responses to submissions and a time frame for when an appeal, if necessary, would be done.
What I'm concerned about here, Mr. Chair, is that we may run into the situation where someone partway through the season has his licence lifted for one reason or another. Other clients have been booked with him and, all of a sudden, we are putting the Yukon in general in a bad light, not because this outfitter was suspended but because the suspension wasn't handled in a timely fashion to see whether he could get it cleared up and be back in operation to take the rest of his trips.
Has the minister given any thoughts to that issue and to maybe addressing some time limits on this process? Without time limits, it could drag out over quite a period of time.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This has, again, been considered by industry and by the department. We have worked in close cooperation with Tourism officials, and we're very much aware of the potential damage that a licence suspension could cause the tourism industry. We believe that licence suspensions would only be used in extreme circumstances. I don't believe that this would be something that happens quite often. We don't believe that field suspensions are going to occur at all, so a trip can finish off. We feel that the cancellation or suspension of a licence for a violation of environmental standards is not anticipated.
I guess, as we get further into developing regulations, and more and more rules are set in place for the different activities, that's when I think we can consider this a lot closer. Right now, we have a set of regulations that are basic to all licensees, and the other sets that are more directed to the activity will be developed later with industry.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, I don't believe there are going to be a lot of suspensions either, but I think the legislation should be clear. If there are, the suspensions should be dealt with in a timely manner, not left wide open for the bureaucracy to run amok if they so choose.
This is probably one of the biggest complaints of people dealing with government. The government can drag its feet. It doesn't cost the government anything. It's costing the person who is not getting timely responses from the government a lot of money and maybe their livelihood.
I would feel a lot more comfortable if the minister would consider putting some time limits as to when this would be heard - whether it's a 30-day period or whatever it is. I just think it would be prudent and would give some comfort to everyone to know that if the unfortunate situation arose - and I don't expect it's going to be happening in the near future; maybe it might not even happen at all - to protect the interests of everyone, I think there should be some time limits addressed in the appeal period.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The member raised, I guess, a very interesting and realistic issue here. I can tell the member that the procedures of the rules of appeal and the suspensions, and all that, have not been worked out completely. They will be developed over the next few months and I can bring that particular interest forward.
I can tell the member that I don't believe that with this there will be suspensions in the middle of an activity. It's not going to just happen because a licensee has violated the low-impact camping regulations. There are procedures to go through, so that the whole season is not stopped just at that juncture, although, in cases of emergency, an activity can be stopped for safety reasons, and so on. If, for example, an activity such as heli-skiing is happening and we know that there is danger of avalanches and so on, that activity can be stopped. I think in that case it would be in the interest of all people for safety reasons.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, that's not the area I'm talking about at all, Mr. Chair. That is common sense and good judgment.
My concern here, Mr. Chair, is that the registrar has broad powers under this act. There is nothing to say that he needs a court order to suspend a licence. The registrar is the final authority, other than appealing to the minister.
Those are very broad powers to give to a bureaucrat - no slur intended on bureaucrats, but there can be an abuse of power. I believe that time limits ought to be addressed to give some comfort to people so that if they do feel they are being improperly treated and they do appeal to the minister, the minister will file an appeal in a timely manner so that the Yukon in general doesn't get a black eye because there are a bunch of trips lined up there that can now not be taken, and these people have airline tickets booked, have made their plans, hotel rooms and all that. That in itself could be a black eye for the Yukon.
Not for one minute am I going to stand here saying that there are a whole bunch of irresponsible operators out there, but the minister has to indeed be cognizant of the fact that the situation could arise. If it did, I believe that the outfitter or the person who is being suspended by the registrar has the fundamental right to be dealt with in a timely manner. That's all I'm looking for.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I have said earlier that over the next few months the rules will be developed for the appeal board. That's still being worked on, and this, I believe, would be very much part of the discussions.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, that goes back to my opening comments. We are approving an act here but we really don't know what it's going to look like or what power it will have until the regulations are developed.
The minister's saying he thinks it would be addressed at that point. That's why I'm going on the public record now and saying that it has to be addressed at some point. I feel very helpless in trying to promote good legislation, when I have to approve an open-ended situation like that when I really don't know what it's going to look like when it's completed. We are not talking about - again, as I said - about the outfitters in general, but the situation could arise and it ought to be addressed.
I would certainly hope that the department will give serious consideration to putting some reasonable time limits on the process so the process doesn't get hung up by stubbornness or inability of a registrar - or maybe a personal dislike for the operator - and he could hold it up, because there's nothing in the act that stipulates you must deal with it in a timely manner.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I am quite concerned with the extent that we've cast the net for this act. Yesterday in the House, the minister spelled out that the Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act is an umbrella legislation that "provides the authority to develop regulations for commercial wilderness tourism on a step-by-step basis, as needed or called for by the different sectors of the wilderness tourism industry."
Given that statement and given my understanding of "wilderness" - and I'm sure the minister has a similar understanding of "wilderness" - how do we include the MV Schwatka and the Yukon Queen in that category of "wilderness"?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: They're both included in that. In regard to going through the act, we have included motorized boats - if there are activities on land - that people are using, and those are activities in the wilderness. In regard to a step-by-step basis, like I said, the regulations would be developed, I would think, over the next number of years for each specific activity that comes forward, and it could very well be new ones that we have not heard of that are taking place elsewhere, of people wanting to do here.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, what I was getting at is the definition of "wilderness". So, the minister considers the MV Schwatka operating over here, within the city limits of Whitehorse, to be a wilderness experience and a wilderness tour. Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes. Under the definitions, if the member looks, it doesn't lose its wilderness value because of it going through city or community boundaries.
Mr. Jenkins: Then, I take the minister back to the purpose of the act, which is to ensure for safety, consistency and liability insurance. Now, the Yukon Queen and the MV Schwatka currently have to conform to the Canadian Coast Guard act. They're inspected annually, their captain has to be licensed, and they have to conform to virtually all of the areas covered off here. Why is there duplication here over what is currently federal legislation, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't believe that there is a duplication. Where activities and businesses are guided by rules of other acts, and so on, with regard to safety, that doesn't mean that they would be exempt, I guess, from the Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act. They are carrying out an activity that is considered to be an activity in the wilderness. The industry, in putting together this act, wanted to make sure that everybody had a level playing field - big or small operators - and that they abide by the rules of this act.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, in the case of Holland America's Yukon Queen, it is a U.S.-registered vessel plying Canadian waters, having to conform to the U.S. Coast Guard regulations, having to conform to the Canadian Coast Guard regulations, having to be inspected annually in both jurisdictions, having to have a U.S.-licensed captain certified by the Canadian Coast Guard and operating on an international waterway. The Yukon River, Mr. Chair, is an international waterway.
Has the minister sought legal advice as to whether he can superimpose his legislation over federal legislation that controls this area?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Once again, I would say that this act will not duplicate any of the requirements of the Navigable Waters Protection Act or the Coast Guard regarding safety or inspections and so on. The regulations that each activity requires, again, are very basic ones, and I have listed them - having liability, Workers' Compensation, basic first aid, doing the trip reports and complying with low-impact camping. Those are what each activity is going to require under a licence.
As we go on throughout the years and we start taking one activity at a time and working on the regulations, then we can look at what else the activity has. Or, if they already have the necessary safety requirements, they don't have to be going through and requiring more, or whatnot. They just need to be able to transfer that to these regulations, I would think, similar to what other people have.
If they have first aid elsewhere in Canada, they can apply that to abide by the licence required by the operator.
Mr. Jenkins: Again, I take the minister back to his preamble, which says, "Operators booking trips with international visitors recognize that legal standards for insurance, safety and skills are important if Yukon is to maintain and improve the market's confidence in our products."
Now, given that statement, and applying it to the Yukon Queen - Holland America's craft - why is there a need for this additional licensing at this juncture?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: All they need to be able to do is take that and apply it under this licence. We want to use this act to gather information - everybody doing reporting of trips, how many people are going where, and so on, and what type of camping is happening - which could all be used in the future for either regulating or limiting trips on rivers, and so on, so there's a lot of information that could be gathered from this.
Mr. Jenkins: Ah, now the truth is starting to come our, Mr. Chair. We're looking at regulating and limiting the number of trips that we can take on the Yukon River and various other rivers. Is that the intent of this act - this piece of legislation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I would think that if we have many, many people on one small river, they just don't get the feeling of wilderness anymore. We do have the ability, I guess, to limit trips. We have a limited number of trips on the Tatshenshini River, and this would give us a better idea of where people are going in the Yukon - and for us to be able to use that information.
You never know how big this industry can grow. It's grown, like I said, from 50 operators to over 200 over the last number of years, and there is an increase in demand for this product. The number of operators that are out there could grow, and we need to be able to know and get a handle on what type of activities are happening where, so that we can make these decisions in regard to safety, or conservation and protecting the wilderness, and keeping things more in their natural state.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I certainly have to agree with the minister in most of the areas that he covered off, but he still hasn't provided an adequate explanation for the regulations covering a craft like the Yukon Queen.
If he wanted to know how many passengers were carried every day, they are available in two forms. They're available directly from Holland America, who will provide that, I'm sure. It's being provided on a regular basis to the ministry of Tourism. It's also available from U.S. and Canada Customs, because each time they cross the border the number of passengers embarking and debarking is adequately listed and recorded as well as the number of crews going back and forth. So, that information is already there.
There is less of a requirement in this wilderness act for health and safety standards than there is currently existing in federal legislation covering this type of operation. The only area that the minister appears to be hanging his hat on is restricting the number of trips that could be taken on the Yukon River. Is that the intent of the minister and his department - to restrict the number and frequency of trips on the Yukon River by a craft such as the Yukon Queen?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, that's not the intent at all. I told the member what is required under general regulations under licence. The industry is the one that brought this issue forward and they wanted all activities - that's wilderness activities - to report so they themselves can know where they can best apply their business and so that information is out there for anybody new coming on stream and to keep the impact on rivers low.
I would think that it would take awhile before any type of decision is made to limit trips. We have only 200 wilderness tourism businesses, and that's grown substantially, but this industry can grow fairly big.
You never know how big it can grow. People do want to be able to be reassured that the businesses that we do have have some basic first aid, some safety standards and liability, and so on. That's the demand of people wanting wilderness tourism activity.
The industry itself is coming forward and asking that a reporting system be put in place. So, I would think that, for that particular business, it would be very easy for them to comply.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, I recognize the need for safety standards, for first-aid training, for liability insurance. But this is a firm that I was referring to, which has all of those in place, and the need to include those types of operations in this legislation, I think, is certainly an overkill.
I would ask the minister to consider excluding those types of operations from this legislation, because it's just going to add an additional paper burden, on top of a horrendous paper burden presently.
The die has already been cast with respect to restricting the number of visitors travelling in our wilderness. We currently have restrictions on the number of people who can climb the Chilkoot Pass. If we go back to the turn of the century, we had thousands upon thousands of people who climbed the Chilkoot Pass. Today we're down to so many per day. The same goes for the Tatshenshini. That water course is being restricted as to the number of people who can enjoy that wilderness travel. I expect that, as soon as the minister is aware of the length and type of activity on a lot of our other rivers and streams, their activity will also be curtailed.
I have serious reservations - and I know there are some out there in the industry who would like to see a firm message delivered by this government - about how far we're going to go in this area, and where we're going to say, "Stop" or "Go", as far as the number of visitors that we'll allow into certain areas.
If this legislation is being used to restrict the number of visitors going into our wilderness - which I'm sure it ultimately will be used for - I have serious reservations, Mr. Chair.
Can the minister assure us that that is not the intent?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The reporting system that's required under this act as a regulation is a very useful tool for gathering information. It's for the need for industry to be able, I guess, to use that information to better the wilderness tourism industry itself, but I would draw the attention of the member to 14(1)(m) of this act. If you just read through that, it talks about exempting a vehicle or a class of vehicle or a piece of equipment from the application of this act. Now, with that, regulations can be made to exempt a vehicle from this act if it's already adequately regulated under another piece of legislation.
The member said watercraft is not a vehicle. It is under this act.
Chair: Is there further debate?
Seeing none, we will proceed to clause 1.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I ask the minister to elaborate on clause 3, which says that this act does not apply to wilderness tourism activities in national parks, as defined by the National Parks Act. Here, the department has made a specific exemption and is dealing with the national parks, and yet we've had several lengthy discussions in terms of other national legislation - the Navigable Waters Protection Act. So why did the department go with clause 3 and then not another exemption for the Navigable Waters Protection Act?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The national parks basically have their own regulations with respect to guided and commercial operators, so we didn't see the need to duplicate that.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, what's the difference? There has been a lengthy discussion several times now regarding the other piece of federal legislation, so why did we make an exemption? The minister's answer is that it's because commercial operators are covered under the National Parks Act. Well, they're covered under the other piece of federal legislation, so what's the difference between the two? What was the motivation inspiring this section of the act?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess the simple answer is that the Yukon Act gives us the authority to make regulations over Yukon lands outside of national parks.
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Ms. Duncan: I expressed some reservations about the administration of this act, and this particular section is the one that appoints the registrar. While it's in all likelihood that there will be an honourable individual fulfilling these duties, I have problems in that there's no check and balance outlined in the system. You've got one individual who presumably, because the minister has said that Renewable Resources will be the lead department in this, will be an employee of the Department of Renewable Resources. It's later spelled out in the act that the registrar is more than simply someone who issues licences. This individual has a lot of authority over the operators and these businesses, and there really aren't checks and balances. They may appoint deputy registrars but the route of higher authority is the minister and, by the time you've got a hold of the minister, there can be quite a time delay in dealing with some of these issues. So, is there thought to somehow having more than simply a person acting as the hand of God in this case?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This particular position is one that can deliver suspensions and so on and it's more than just a clerical position. We could have, in the communities for example, agents who issue licences and so on, but they're not the ones who do suspensions. There would be a deputy registrar and you could have more people trained. They would have to do a certain amount of training. They would have to have some education and training for this particular job, so we're hoping that the industry has identified that to make sure that somebody is there who knows all the rules and regulations that are being developed under this act so that they can basically use them and not go beyond what the act is allowing them to do.
Ms. Duncan: Well, maybe the minister could outline what checks and balances they see upon this one individual. I mean, we're going to appoint someone who- as the minister has said, it's more than a clerical position - has authority over more than just handing out licences. There are also suspensions - this is the registrar, this is the person who holds the reins of wilderness tourism in the territory.
I am just expressing concern that, in the appeal process later in the act, the sense of fair play isn't clearly outlined, in that the appeal is to the minister and this registrar. There are no layers in between; there's no one but this one individual who's charged with an awful lot of responsibility. I just would like the minister's clarification that there are some sort of checks and balances somewhere in the system.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not exactly sure where the member is going, but I can tell her that the registrar is bound basically by the terms and conditions that have been authorized under the regulations, and I guess in the end it would be that Cabinet is the one that is approving the regulation, after consultation with industry, and so on.
I'm not sure if you want to go beyond that. They're tightly bound by these regulations, and aren't really to go out of those. With regard to the appeal board, that's separate from the registrar himself, or herself.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, to my understanding, then, if the registrar exceeds the authority of this act, then the route that a wilderness tourism operator has to go is, to the minister, to Cabinet, perhaps to the ombudsman. All of those are lengthy procedures. Hopefully, this would never happen, but what if it does? That's the concern that I'm expressing, and I was looking for some sort of a - that the registrar must report regularly, or annually, on such-and-such a basis, to the minister and the association, or something along those lines. Perhaps we can get into this more in the appeal process, because the suspension of the licence is where it would particularly come forward; not so much in this section. So I'll get into it more then, but the minister might want to give that some thought.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In regard to reporting, this particular person being in a department under a deputy minister and a minister, we can ask for a report any time we basically feel, or we can set one out on a regular basis for them.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, the Member for Riverdale South has picked up exactly on the same topic I was raising concerns about with the minister yesterday and again today. Let me see if we can get around this and get a better understanding.
There are very broad powers for the registrar under this act. There are also offences that are listed under this act that are going to be enforced by the conservation officers. Let me ask this question of the minister, just to see what powers this registrar has. Does the registrar have the ability to suspend licences without a person having his day in court? Will the conservation officer be laying charges that the person will have a chance to respond to in a court of law before their licence is suspended, or does this registrar have the authority to suspend licences without going through a legal procedure and having an offender have his day in court prior to a licence suspension?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, this person would have the ability to suspend a licence before it goes to court. I would think that this would be a very rare occurrence though.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, whether it's rare or not, that's a tremendous amount of power that is being given to a person. I don't even believe that under the Wildlife Act the department could suspend a licence prior to an outfitter being charged and having his day in court, unless he can't meet the criteria for getting a licence, but not for an offence. The department doesn't have the right to suspend a licence prior to a person having his day in court and being able to have a judge pass judgment on whether, in fact, he has broken the law or not. Does not the minister understand that that is tremendous power to be putting in the hands of an official, and no recourse for the person who is going to be accused of something?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, this person has the ability to suspend licences. I would think that it would be an exception, I guess, on very rare occasions that this would ever take place. Again, this is how the industry felt that they can get a handle, I guess, on activities that are not abiding by the rules that are laid out before them, and I would think that this is not something that's going to occur on a regular basis.
I know that people are really focused on the business itself. Also, these licences are only issued on a yearly basis, as the industry wanted it to be. So, it's not like a business that is looking at clients many years down the road is going to be abusing regulations set out before them. I think most of them have already stated that they do abide by these and have them as part of their overall principles in their activity, and there are just some basic ones that I think need to be offered for everybody else that's coming to this country to experience a wilderness activity.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Chair, I'm sorry. I just can't accept that from the minister, because we are putting in place legislation that people have to run their lives by. I'm not even sure of the legality of being able to lift somebody's licence without them having their day in court. I am not aware, off the top of my head, of any other act that gives those broad powers to the bureaucracy.
The minister says that this is only a year-to-year licence, but I say to the minister that these wilderness outfitters that are making a livelihood of this are booking trips a year, two years and three years in advance.
It's not just a piece of paper to say, "Well, here, we have a licence." I mean, they're looking for a regulatory regime that's going to govern their industry and I'm sure that they would like to see some checks and balances in it and be able to defend themselves. Nobody is saying it's going to happen on a regular basis, but we're looking at the fairness of the act to when a person or a company does get into that situation. Those are very, very broad powers that are laid out in this act without a person having a chance to defend themselves through an impartial body.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In developing this act, people have considered this and an appeal mechanism has been set up and will be continued to be worked on, but other licences in different departments can be pulled. Drivers' licences, for example, or liquor licences are some that, if the member is looking for examples, can be pulled and taken away. Again, I must say that the registrar is bound by the terms and conditions that are laid out in the regulations, and regulations are being developed by the industry and our departments and are approved through Cabinet. So, there's a lot of thought, I guess, that will be taking place in developing these regulations that give the registrar the ability to do the job that is required of him through the act.
Mr. Ostashek: The minister cites liquor licences as an example, but liquor licences are not pulled until the person has had a chance to appeal the decision prior to the licence being pulled. Under this act, the way I interpret the act, the licence can be pulled and then the person can appeal to the minister. In the meantime, his licence is suspended. I understand, under the Liquor Act - I'm not totally versed with the act - if, in fact, a person's licence is pulled, they have the ability to appeal that prior to the licence being suspended and the suspension takes place sometime in the future, not immediately. I'm very concerned about the powers that are being given to the bureaucracy here without the person who is being charged having a chance to defend themselves prior to being put in a position where they, in fact, may lose their livelihood.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I just want to reassure the member that in creating our regulations - this particular one, with regard to suspensions and so on - the regulations can be made to address those issues the members have put forward.
I'm sure that there will be a lot of warning to the operator who has a licence that they are violating regulations under the act before a suspension takes place. I believe it would give the operator, the holder of the licence, a lot of time to take corrective measures, and so on. But, again, this type of regulation still needs to have that type of work done, similar to the rules and regulations that would be applied to the appeal board.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps I could outline some middle ground here, for the two members, and provide some comfort. First of all, the difficulty, as I see it - and as people have tried to articulate in this House - is that there's an awful lot of authority vested in one individual in the government. Most of that person's authority is the ability to revoke a licence or not to issue it, to either revoke or refuse.
That denies someone a livelihood. That's the pinnacle of their authority. So, the minister's saying, "Well, it's unlikely that that would happen." Well, "unlikely" isn't good enough when you're creating legislation that's supposed to stand the test of time.
So, what are the options? The options are to put some sort of a check on the registrar's activities, such as adding another section under 4 saying that the registrar shall report on a regular basis, or from time to time, to the minister on a refusal or suspension of licences.
The appeal process: the minister has said that it's going to be spelled out clearly in regulation. Actually, it's fairly clear so far in the legislation. The only thing where it could be tidied to meet the needs expressed in this Legislature would be to say, "If a licence is under appeal, the licence shall remain in force until such time as the appeal is heard." That would give the comfort to members in the Legislature, and I think it would also act as a check on the registrar. Maybe it won't ever be necessary, but couldn't the licence stay in force until an appeal is heard? I think that would meet the need, and also requiring in law for the registrar to report on a regular basis to a higher authority in the Public Service Act. I think that would meet the needs expressed by members in the opposition.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I said that the registrar is basically bound to the terms and conditions that have been authorized in regulations. There would be a basic set of regulations that each licensee would have to abide by, and then the specific one to their activity.
But what is not in place right now is the regulation for a suspension of licences, and that still needs to be developed. It would be developed with industry, and the regulations for this would be worked out with industry. At that time, I would think that, for the registrar, it would be very limited to what his actions are and what his ability is until this regulation is developed.
Chair: Does it clear?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I don't see any limitations to the registrar in the act. The registrar can delegate his or her powers and duties to deputy registrars and the registrar can alter, suspend or cancel a licence. The decision regarding a licence shall be a decision of the registrar. What's wrong with adding - and perhaps the minister could come back with this tomorrow - a clause requiring the registrar to report on a regular basis to the minister? That, at least, puts the requirement to report to the public, if you will, through the minister, what this particular individual is doing and why licences have been suspended. The industry needs to know that information if we're going to live up to the preamble of recognizing that we're trying to build an industry that is a vital economic sector in Yukon's tourism industry. It's a constructive suggestion, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't think that is needed at this point. A number of things can be developed under regulations. There are, from the licensees themselves, trip reports that need to be submitted and can be submitted after the season, whether it's a summer season or winter season, and rental reports. A lot of that information can be used by the department and by the industry. At any time that either the Tourism department or Economic Development or any other department feels it necessary to have a report done by the registrar, we can ask for that or we can ask that they do a report on a regular basis.
Mr. Ostashek: One question before the break, Mr. Chair.
I would like to ask the minister if he could confer with his officials during the break. I think the request that was made by the Member for Porter Creek South was a very legitimate request. It would give us some comfort on this side of the House if, in fact, there could be an additional clause inserted into the act.
I don't believe it would obstruct the administration of the act at all, saying that, because of the broad powers we feel are given to the registrar here - they can suspend a licence without having to go to court - the licence remain in effect until such time as the appeal has been heard.
I would ask the minister if he would confer with his officials during the break to see if that would - I don't believe that would compromise the integrity of this bill or the principle of this bill, and it would certainly give some comfort to us on this side of the House.
So, Mr. Chair, I would just ask the minister if he could do that during the break and report afterwards.
Chair: Committee will now recess for 10 minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee is dealing with Bill No. 51, clause 4(1). Does it clear?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I have talked this over with the officials, and we don't feel that any change is necessary. We want to ensure that on the safety of a person's life, when it's in jeopardy, we have the ability to shut down that activity to keep people safe.
I guess, to give a little example, what happens if we have visitors who have died while in the care of an operator? I don't think that we should give the ability to that operator to continue to operate the next day.
One example that I can give is in regard to heli-skiing, for example. People have died in an avalanche, and the operator continues to hold a licence and take people out without doing the necessary tests for snow, or whatever's needed - I don't know what could be the requirement of this - but that was the reason for having that in place.
Now, as I said earlier, regulations will be developed to lay out the terms of how suspensions will be handled and, of course, as within the act, the process calls for both public and industry consultation.
Mr. Ostashek: I'm not going to belabour this, Mr. Chair, but I am going to get on the public record that I find the minister's explanation and defence of it very, very weak - first of all, if somebody dies or other things that come into place, such as the RCMP, such as a police investigation and everything else. If this minister is going to try and stand in this House and tell me that this act is going to be paramount over all other acts, I think that he's not looking at it in a realistic manner.
The reality of it is that if the minister is going to be fair in administering this act - and he's talking now, you know, about the inspection part of this and the qualifications that these inspectors are going to have to have to administer all the aspects that this minister is talking about - it's going to be a monumental task and not one that I believe would be accomplished with fairness.
So, I'm not going to belabour the point. I'm on the public record as disagreeing with this section of the act, and I will continue to disagree with it, even though I do support the act in principle.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm assuming that in clause 3, "The registrar may delegate any or all of his or her power and duties to deputy registrars." - is that correct? The minister indicated when he was responding that he or she could delegate the licensing, but this seems to read that he could delegate any or all of his or her powers.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, he or she would be able to delegate their power to the deputy registrar. It's different than an agent in the community - the territorial agent who's delivering licences. They don't have the powers to suspend licences or whatnot, but it's only in the case of being absent from their duties.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I understood the minister to say that the delegation of powers may only be in the absence of the registrar. Is it conceivable that deputy registrars could be appointed in other Yukon communities? For example, we could have the registrar located in Watson Lake and deputy registrars in Whitehorse, Dawson and Mayo. I mean, it's certainly conceivable that wilderness tourism activities take place in all those places.
The other avenue for questioning in that regard is First Nations governments. Is it conceivable that the registrar could designate officials within First Nations governments as deputy registrars?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We do have the ability to have agents in the communities to give licences. There's going to be only one registrar in the department, and it will be in Whitehorse, or for whatever reason they could be in another community, but there will only be one. At this point until such time as the First Nations pass their own laws on settlement lands and so on, we would not see a deputy registrar within the First Nation. I think that, once we do have more of a working relationship and First Nations are up and passing their own laws and they have a law like this, we could work a lot more closely with them. They could, for example, take over issuing licences on settlement lands once they have an act that is comparable to this, or better.
Ms. Duncan: Am I to read that last line in 4(4) as "to a person requesting it" - "The registrar shall maintain a current list" and shall provide it "to a person requesting it", so presumably this is in concert with our access to information. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's correct.
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Ms. Duncan: Could I ask the minister to elaborate? In briefing and during the discussion, there's been mention that there are a number of out-of-Yukon operators. This clause makes sure that they get a licence in the Yukon to operate. How do we intend to capture those individuals? How do we intend to reach them? Once the act passes this legislature, is there some kind of method by which the minister hopes to reach these individuals? Will we be publicizing this in British Columbia? How are we going to make sure that those who should have a licence make sure they get one?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The department will be in contact with those who have a wilderness business that's operating in the Yukon. They have been in contact with these businesses over the last six months, and they're aware that there are changes taking place.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, is the minister saying that we are aware of every business that has operated a wilderness tourism package in the Yukon? Because I'm hearing that some of the wilderness operators are running into people they've never seen before, who are actually guiding on the rivers. How do you get hold of those people? They'll arrive at the Whitehorse Airport, or come up the road by truck - in fact, I'll give you an example.
A few years ago, I was at the airport seeing someone off, and I ran into half a dozen Americans - about eight or 10 of them, I guess - and they had a bunch of fold-up canoes. I talked to one of the individuals and asked, "Where were you?" and he said, "Oh, this guy does this every year. We're from California, and they bring a van up from California with a bunch of fold-up canoes, and the clients all fly in, and they pick them up in Whitehorse in their van, and they take them to the Teslin River, and they go down to Dawson City."
They didn't have a licence. I don't imagine they had anything other than the fact that they picked these people up and took them out. So, if they don't register with anybody now, and they don't necessarily talk to anybody on the river, up until now, how can we capture these folks when they arrive at the airport this summer with a group to take down the river?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, the department, along with Tourism, will continue a search. I know that we'll probably run into cases, maybe even over the next year while this is being implemented, in which people do operate businesses that aren't aware that an act exists to regulate their activities. We will continue to search for the people who do have businesses and to make people aware that there is an act and regulations in place that they need to follow.
I know where the member is coming from. I believe that if there wasn't close attention paid to this, there would be people missed. When they do come here, it would be a bit of inconvenience for them not to be aware of the act, and they would have to make sure that they are up to speed with what's required under the act.
Mr. Phillips: Well, this is sort of a what-if scenario, but I guess my concern around this, Mr. Chair, is if this individual markets a Yukon tour in southern California, sells it to his or her clients legitimately - they think it's a bona fide Yukon tour - and they're stopped somewhere down the Yukon River. Is that grounds to suspend the individual's licence because they didn't know anything about the act, and they haven't got any licences? My concern then would be not so much for the operator, but for the eight or 10 people who would have paid good money and thought they were getting a good Yukon package and thought everything was on the up and up. Maybe the operator didn't even know there was a process.
So I just wonder if there's any kind of grace period or any kind of opportunity where you'd give the operator a chance to purchase the necessary licence on the spot, so to speak, or immediately after getting off the river, because sometimes it might be difficult if he's halfway between Carmacks and Dawson City to find any place to buy a licence.
I just wouldn't want to see all their clients left out in the cold. The impact would be on Yukon tourism and we'd get a bit of a black eye because we shut down an operation midstream.
In fact, I can see there having to be some kind of a grace period when this act starts up, as some operators may not be aware of it. I don't know how you'd make them aware of it other than maybe letting people know at places like Fort Selkirk and other such places - maybe by posting something at those places, letting people know there is an act in place now and you need certain licences to operate. I think you'd have to give somebody a bit of leeway if they weren't aware of it.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The department is making an attempt to make people aware of this. We have been advertising in magazines and so on in the States and overseas to bring this forward. I think a lot of people would take an interest in some of the changes that are taking place. We want it to apply to all people and hopefully this doesn't occur, but if it does they'll need a licence to operate a wilderness tourism activity.
Mr. Ostashek: I'll just ask a question of the minister. As we're going through this, other scenarios keep popping into mind. I'm going to ask the minister about another scenario: van tours - we have all kinds of them that travel B.C., Yukon and Alaska, camp at our campgrounds along the highway, take day hikes with their clients. Are they going to require a wilderness tourism licence or are they going to be exempt under this act?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: If they are guiding day trips, then yes, they are required to have a licence.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, just to follow up on the Member for Riverdale North's question, if an inspector or conservation officer comes across an individual who is guiding a trip and has asked them to produce a licence and they don't have it, obviously they can't suspend their licence. They're going to be told, "Well, you've got to get one." Will the regulations prescribe a substantial fine for operating without a licence?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I would think that that would be taken into consideration. This is still being developed, along with the fee schedule and so on. I think those concerns would be incorporated into the regulations.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, we're insisting that people have a licence. I think it's also incumbent upon us to prescribe the penalty for operating without a licence. I think that that's an important point for consideration and that it should be given some weight when the regulations are drafted.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I would agree with the member that, when these regulations are being drafted, all of those points are taken into consideration, along with the procedures. Also, if a guide does not have the proper information with them, it doesn't mean that the operator would lose their licence. They could be asked to produce it and make sure that they have all the information on them the next time they're being checked.
Ms. Duncan: Right, I understand that it's the same situation when someone is asked to produce a fishing licence. Presumably you're supposed to have it on you and, if you don't have it on you, occasionally I understand the conservation officer will give you a chance to produce it.
My colleague has just pointed out to me that section 12 of the act says that every person who commits an offence is liable to a fine of not more than $10,000. So, presumably then, operating without a licence would mean you would be liable to a fine, as per section 12, and/or the minister is presumably going to say that they will be proscribing the fines for operating without a licence - that specific offence - in regulation. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's correct.
Mr. Ostashek: I want to get back to the question I just asked the minister about these van tours coming to the Yukon. There are a substantial number of them coming to the Yukon with 10 or 12 people, and they do take day hikes from our territorial campgrounds. What is the law in British Columbia?
If there's a van tour going up the highway that stops and takes a day hike, or a few hours' hike - are they subject to a wilderness tourism licence? What is it in Alaska? I'm very, very concerned that if we don't have regulation or an act that's compatible with those jurisdictions, these people may just stop coming to the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not sure what B.C. has. I don't believe they have one in place for that. They may have similar regulations for those. It may not be specifically under a wilderness tourism act, but the only one that's close to us is the N.W.T., which does have an act that's quite similar to what the Yukon has.
Again, this is not something that the government pushed, but rather industry wanted to put together to see how they could make it more attractive to people wanting to have wilderness adventures. This is to heighten and enhance the tourism industry, not to put it down, and I don't believe that any of this - anything written in this act - is going to be doing that.
Mr. Ostashek: I'm not arguing that it's industry driven. I agree that they need a licence. I'm just questioning the broadness of this licence and what we're interpreting as a wilderness act. I know that - because when I was in the business I handled a lot of these van tours that came up the highway. They do stop at different campgrounds; they do take a hike back along the lakeshore, or up in the mountains for a few hours, on part of their tour. They do use facilities along the highway. They're not really in the wilderness, is what I'm saying, and it would be very, very easy to drive those tours out of the territory if they're not subjected to the same type of restrictions in Alaska and British Columbia.
So, I caution the minister on that, and ought to look long and hard at it - whether the licensing is driven by the industry or not. What we're talking about here is what's interpreted as a wilderness activity. It's really a stretch, when we're saying that somebody who's going through here with a van tour and stops and takes a hike for four hours is subjecting themselves to a wilderness activity that ought to be licensed.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, my concern here was, again, over the people who aren't aware of the act and need to have a licence. The minister stated earlier that they would be writing letters to all those individuals that they know operate in the territory at the present time. But what other plans do we have to inform companies of that want to come to the Yukon and operate or have come here year after year and maybe aren't on the minister's mailing list? How do we intend to capture their attention so they know that there is a new act in place, and that there are licensing requirements, insurance requirements, and so forth?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The department will be continuing to work and make an attempt to contact them. We are working with the Tourism department to make sure that information is going out worldwide for people who are interested in having this type of business in the Yukon. So, Tourism has, I think, a lot better grip on the type of people who are coming over here than our department, and we're working quite closely with them to make sure that whatever we can do to bring people up to speed is done.
Mr. Phillips: Well, maybe I can make a couple of suggestions to the minister. One area where there seems to be a lot of activity is in river travel in the territory, and maybe the minister could look at some significant put-in points - we know they already exist on Yukon rivers, not only in the Yukon but in the Northwest Territories, and maybe even Alaska and British Columbia - and work with those governments as well to put up a small kiosk or something to let people know that there is existing licensing, because you're not going to catch them all by writing them, because some of them are going to just arrive in the territory that we don't even know about. They have been up here a couple of times, decided to run a guided tour in the territory, arrive on the Alsek River, Snake River or some other river, put in up there and take four or five people down the river. They're not on a mailing list that we have right now. They could be someone who has never been here before and is planning to come this year guiding a group through here. That happens quite frequently in other jurisdictions, as well as in the Yukon.
It's just a suggestion to the minister that they could maybe look at some sort of a notification at put-in points throughout the territory and throughout other jurisdictions. It might be a way of catching some of those people and informing them at least that there's a requirement for a licence.
Having done that, the minister didn't quite explain what he would do if, for example, the conservation officer or whomever is administering this act came across a party of six or eight or 10 on the Snake River or Bonnet Plume River or some other river in the territory, and they weren't aware of any licensing whatsoever, and they were prepared to get licensing, but they didn't have the required number of guides with first-aid certificates. There could be all kinds of problems because of what they didn't have because they weren't aware of the new requirements. What would happen in a case like that? Would they be asked to leave the river immediately until they got all the requirements, or would they be given a bit of grace so they could at least make that trip and make some changes before they did a second trip? How would we handle it?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I take the suggestions some members have made. We have been working a lot with the businesses, and we can continue to work with them to make sure that they are expressing the requirements that are being enforced upon people who have wilderness tourism businesses in the Yukon.
In regard to what procedure takes place when people are, I guess, caught during a wilderness tourism activity - if they're doing a river trip or whatnot, and they have a guide with them and they don't have a licence, if this is a guided trip, then those specific procedures still can be worked out, but I don't believe, the way it's laid out here, that we would be interrupting a trip. I think they would be allowed to continue but with the requirement that they either have a licence or be under a business that does have a licence.
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Ms. Duncan: With regard to subclause (1), could I ask the minister to indicate if it's anticipated that there will be one fee for residents, and a non-resident fee, and if the definition of "Yukoner" as used by the Yukon hire commission will define "resident" for this act?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, there will be no difference in fees.
Ms. Duncan: Why not?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't know the full answer to this, but I know that what guided the people developing this are things like the NAFTA agreement, and so on. So there are other factors that have come into effect here.
Ms. Duncan: I have a little difficulty with subsection 6(9), in that it says that the notice sent by registered mail shall be deemed to have been received 30 days after the date it was mailed. We're dealing, on occasion, with non-resident operators who may or may not be available at their mailing address - they might be on a trip in the Yukon somewhere - and not able to be contacted.
Could I just ask the minister to give the rationale behind the subsection, please?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The number of days has been bounced around at between 14 and 30 days and it was agreed to that 30 days was long enough time for a person to respond. The reason for having registered mail is that the mail would not just go to a resident, it would be signed for and that means that the notice is being picked up and information should have been forwarded to the person responsible.
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Mr. Cable: I'd just like to pursue with the minister a line of questioning that was brought by various other members on this side. This section does not require the registrar to give any reasons for altering, suspending or cancelling a licence. Then we have section 13, which holds officials not liable for purportedly acting in good faith.
I would suggest to the minister that there is a very wide window of opportunity for abuse of power and, at the very least, there should be some requirement that reasons be given for any decision.
If the minister will also look at clause 8, it talks about a notice of a decision but it doesn't talk about reasons, and I think that's a glaring gap in the fairness to anyone who would have their licence altered, suspended or cancelled.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Okay, I'm looking at the different sections. I'm wondering what was the question the member had - was it a statement, or did he have a question?
Mr. Cable: Yes, the question I have for the minister is why don't we have in these sections - section 7 or section 8 - some suggestion, anyway, that the registrar has to provide reasons, when a licence is dealt with, either through alteration, suspension or cancellation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'd have to get back to the member. I know it's in here somewhere. I'm not sure whether it's under appeals or whatnot, but it is somewhere in the act. I have to check and get back to him.
Mr. Cable: Well, in the event that we don't find it, could I get a commitment from the minister that he will at least put in some sort of clause that the registrar will give the reasons therefore? I think that's the conventional sort of verbiage that's connected with this type of action. Could I get a commitment from the minister that, if we don't discover it in the act - and I haven't seen it and I'd be pleased to have it pointed out to me - that we'll get that put in there?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I think it's common practice to do that and should be reflected in the regs. We can have that forwarded to those developing regs.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: The member asked me to be short. I think that's what I heard her say. Mr. Chair, I have been short most of my life, so I will be short here as well.
Mr. Chair, I don't think it's good enough to put a letter of reasons for the suspension in the regulations. I think it's a very, very significant issue.
It should be in the bill, and it should be under the section on suspensions so it's clear to someone who is reading the act that they will be provided reasons for suspension in a timely fashion. After all, who could they sue, or how could they make their argument if all they received from the government was a notice that the decision was made to suspend their licence but no reason given? I don't think it's good enough to put that in the regulations. That's a pretty hefty thing to load on to an individual, and I think that it should be spelled out very clearly in the act by way of amending this act. I suggest maybe overnight and tomorrow the minister could attempt to have his officials do that, because I think it's significant enough that it should be in there.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In the briefing, we did provide some draft regulations to the members. In the section about a licence being refused, suspended, cancelled or altered, it does say that the applicant may ask the registrar to provide reasons for refusal, so that's already being talked about and dealt with through the regulations.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the various members on this side of the House are vehemently making the case to the minister that it must be. If it's in the act - the ability to revoke the licence - you have to also get the decisions for it. You don't get a City of Whitehorse parking ticket without knowing why you got it. It's not enough to put something in regulation; it must also be in the act that the reasons for a decision must also be provided to the individual.
It's very simple, to add under the appeals that "a person who is served with written notice of a decision, order or ruling by the registrar" shall be provided also with the reasons for it.
There are innumerable examples. You don't receive a judgment from a court without knowing the reasons for it. That's how you appeal a decision. That's how you deal with it.
If it's an emergency situation - the minister uses that as an extreme example of the suspension of a licence - then say that. Because then the person who's appealing it can say, "The emergency is over" or, "I took XYZ precautions. But if they don't know why the licence was revoked, they can't appeal it.
I would argue, ask, plead with the minister to look at the section overnight, and come back with some wording that adds a provision of the reasons for the decision somewhere in this legislation.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I can take this and talk to the officials about it. I know that the industry, in developing this, thought about this. It would have gone in the act if they felt it necessary. They did feel it should be in the regs at this point, but I can take it forward to the officials and have a discussion about it.
Mr. Chair, I move that 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: The Committee has considered Bill No. 51, Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Documents were filed November 17, 1998:
Margaret Louise Nieman Glazier: commemorative pamphlet (McRobb)
Family Property and Support Act: summary of proposed amendments (Moorcroft)
Keenan, Hon. Dave: travel itinerary for July 8 to 25, 1998; rental agreement between the fleet vehicle agency and the Hon. Mr. Keenan (Keenan)