Tuesday, March 9, 1999 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 16: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 16, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1999-2000, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 16, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1999-2000, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 16 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Physicians, on-call services in rural communities
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
For over two years, doctors in rural Yukon have been calling upon this government to negotiate on-call availability fees to provide after-hours emergency coverage. As is currently the case, rural doctors provide voluntary emergency coverage seven days a week, 24 hours a day, with rare lapses in their availability. With only a few doctors in each rural community, this means a tremendous amount of time spent on-call, which leads to their burnout and exhaustion. Despite repeated pleas for relief over the last two years, this government has chosen to do nothing.
Mr. Speaker, there is a problem and that problem has reached a crisis situation in my constituency. As of April 1, Dawson residents have been put on notice that emergency medical care will no longer be made available until such time as on-call fees are negotiated.
I'd like to ask the minister why this government has chosen to do nothing to resolve this problem despite repeated pleas for help over the last two years? What immediate steps is the minister taking to resolve the medical crisis in Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: First of all, I should just say that we have been having discussions with the Dawson doctors for the past several months, and we've discussed a whole range of possible compensation packages - such things as call-out fees, fee for service, et cetera. We've come out with some proposals that we've brought forward to the doctors. In the case of the physicians in Dawson, they've rejected those.
We'll continue to work with the physicians there. If we can't reach an accord, I think probably we should be taking our discussion to the YMA.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, why do things have to come to a crisis before this government reacts? As the minister knows, Dawson is well over 500 kilometres from the nearest hospital. Without emergency services, low-risk deliveries will have to be moved to Whitehorse, no longer any emergency treatment for heart attacks, increased medevacs, reduced level of health care, and it'll result in increased costs to Yukon taxpayers.
That's the end result, Mr. Speaker. No one in this government will share the blame or the responsibility. You know, this is a crisis. The rest of Canada has responded by providing on-call reimbursements for its rural physicians. This government refuses to do the same. Doctors in Dawson have had enough - they're threatening to withdraw emergency service as of April 1 to force this government to act.
What is it going to take to have this minister admit that there is a problem, and what is he going to do?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I think the member is somewhat overstating the case. We have been trying to reach an accord with the physicians in Dawson. However, the options that we have presented, which we think are extremely fair options, have been rejected. In fact, the proposal that has been brought forward by the physicians is extremely high in cost.
The member has stated that there will be no emergency medical coverage. That is patently absurd. We have nurse practitioners in the community, we have the availability to consult with Whitehorse General Hospital and we have medevacs. The member has said "increased medevacs." There were 19 medevacs out of Dawson last year. We estimate that probably this would involve perhaps five to 10 more, if it came to that.
I think I need to point out that other communities, without doctors, have nurse practitioners on call 24 hours a day, as does Dawson. The member is choosing to ignore that.
He is also choosing to ignore a very salient fact of this whole debate, and that is that he is portraying that doctors are not compensated if they are called to the medical centre. That is wrong. There is a $93 call-out fee that they receive, which I should point out is 149 percent higher than the average in 10 provinces. As well, they received a fee for service.
The member is really trying to create an atmosphere here of alarm. I don't think it serves anyone.
Mr. Jenkins: The issue is one of alarm. There is an alarm bell ringing for the minister. Here we have Dawson, the second-largest populated centre in the Yukon. Unlike Watson Lake, it does not have a hospital. It has a nursing station. The issue is standby fees for the resident doctors. Now, this situation has arisen in other parts of Canada. It has been addressed, but unlike his colleagues in British Columbia who have to address it, the minister is refusing. Now, when he's sitting here in Whitehorse, it's a different situation. Will the minister go to Dawson, sit down with the individuals and resolve the situation? It's a much different situation when you're sitting in Dawson and looking at it than when you are sitting in Whitehorse looking the other way, Mr. Speaker, and the minister knows that full well.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, the member is once again trying to posture and go on and rant on. The fact is that our rural physicians in this territory receive, on average, about $188,000, which is higher than other areas throughout Canada. I can produce a chart showing what the fee schedules are in other areas of Canada. We have, in this territory, traditionally met our needs, compensated physicians for being on-call by means of a fee schedule, which averages 40 to 60 percent higher than the Canadian norm. That's really what it comes down to.
The member has made references to British Columbia. I suppose he is referring to the Dobbin report in British Columbia. The Dobbin report, interestingly enough, suggested yes, on-call fees, but they also suggested that there be a system of nurse practitioners, which we already have in this territory. The member just cherry-picks. He picks and chooses facts as he sees fit. He ignores the big picture. He ignores the larger issues.
Question re: Tombstone park
Mr. Ostashek: My question is for the Minister of Renewable Resources on the proposed Tombstone park.
Mr. Speaker, in 1974, some 25 years ago, the Yukon government of the day requested a park notation to the Tombstone Mountain area. In 1987, the federal government finally responded by reserving a 295-square kilometre area for park purposes.
When the Yukon Party government was in power, a variety of resource assessments were conducted in a 2,000-square kilometre area around Tombstone Mountain, in order to identify the most appropriate boundaries for the park. As the minister is aware, Archer Cathro had mineral claims that they let go voluntarily, and the Tombstone Range was withdrawn for protection in 1994 by the Yukon Party government.
My question to the minister: is he aware of the findings of the preliminary review of the mineral potential of the proposed Tombstone park, which was done in April 1994? If so, can he advise the House what those findings were?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: When the boundaries were talked about with people in Dawson City, they did take into account claims in and around the core area of Tombstone. If the member looks at the map that was drawn out of the proposed study area, it took into account and went around a lot of the claims that have been staked there. So, they've taken that into account.
In regard to the numbers themselves, I can tell the member that the department did deal with all the information that they could gather. This information will be handed down to the steering committee, which is now in place, dealing with the matter of the study area boundaries, and dealing with the management plan.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister has conveniently avoided answering the question. I would just like to draw his attention to the preliminary findings in that report, which were that the Tombstone area has high mineral potential and further work is warranted before any land is permanently withdrawn from mineral development. That was the crux of the report.
Mr. Speaker, can the minister advise the House when he commissioned the full comprehensive mineral review of the proposed park area? I ask this because the technical paper number 5, entitled "Social Economic Assessments of Protected Areas", of December 1998, only states that mineral, oil and gas assessments "may" be done. It does not say they "shall" be done.
So, could the minister tell me when he ordered a full assessment of the mineral potential of the study area?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I did not order a full mineral study done in the proposed expansion area of the park, but I can tell the member that this park is development through negotiations, through the federal government, the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in and Yukon government. In there, it calls for a setting of a steering committee, and that's the process we're following.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I find the minister's answer somewhat alarming, because his own protected areas strategy itself, on page 26, states, "Where reasonable options exist, the Yukon government will avoid areas of high mineral potential and development activity while setting up protected areas. Meeting this commitment requires a reasonable knowledge of where minerals and other economic resources are likely to be found."
That's why, Mr. Speaker, resource assessments are carried out, and they need a reasonable level of detail and to be within prudent timeframes - those are an integral part of the protected areas strategy. That's what it says in this book.
So, in view of the fact that the Tombstone and Cloudy Ranges have been identified as one of the most highly mineralized areas in the Yukon, will the minister ensure that a full and comprehensive mineral review will be done, and that this review will be utilized in helping to set the ultimate boundaries of the new proposed Tombstone park? Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the steering committee that's set up to deal with this matter - the study area boundaries and putting together the management plan - would take into account all affected people, whether it's the trappers or the outfitters. Also, they will be taking into account potential mineral development in and around the area. They will be compiling all that information to bring forward to us.
I can tell the member, and remind him again, that Tombstone park was created through the land claims process, and the member knows full well that was agreed to before we put together the strategy.
But we'll still use the strategy as a guideline when we develop the proposed boundaries - the study area.
Question re: Deafness, interpretive services
Mrs. Edelman: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services, and it concerns support for the deaf community in the Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, as the minister is well aware, the deaf community in Whitehorse is growing, and this is partly because we've had a number of industrial projects over the years and we have developed a large number of people who are hearing impaired because of that.
Now, the government brings interpreters up from B.C. at great expense, and usually after a considerable wait. These interpreters are used in WCB hearings; they're used in the courts, and in other capacities.
Mr. Speaker, the government is spending a lot of money in interpretive services and that expenditure will only be increasing over time. Could the minister explain his plans to deal with this increasing demand for interpretive services for persons who are deaf?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I assume that the member is referring to services for individuals with hearing impairments from the medical perspective - from the hospital services.
I can tell the member that, in general, we haven't received a lot of requests for signing interpreters for hearing impaired or deaf. I believe the last one was in May 1998, and we haven't had any in the last several months.
With regard to services, we do have, on our government interpreter list, three professionals with signing skills.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, there are more issues than just the health issues. Interpretive services are used in a number of different areas. It pays to look at a coordinated approach to this issue, because the demand is increasing in a number of different areas.
Now, it's possible that the local deaf community - or hearing-impaired persons - is looking at developing an interpretive training program locally. This would save a lot of money in the long run for Yukoners and would provide employment and services for people who need it. The group would probably need assurances that the government will work with them to pay for people who wish to take the training program and pay for interpretive services locally and in the rural communities. Is the government willing to look at the option with local people?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Mr. Speaker, we already do utilize local people, as I've told the member. We have three professionals with signing skills on the government interpreter list. I believe that the Whitehorse General Hospital has one signing interpreter on the list. As well, our medical travel program will cover the cost of a sign language interpreter to travel with a person who needs assistance to communicate when receiving medical or hospital services in B.C. or Alberta.
We care very deeply about the need to provide interpreter services. I think we're always willing to discuss programs where we could assist members of the hearing-impaired community.
To be quite frank, I haven't received anything in this regard. I don't know if my colleagues in Education or other departments have received requests in this regard, but I certainly haven't.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, it's probably time now to look at a coordinated approach. I'm sure that there have been requests. I know there have been requests through the Workers' Compensation Board. I know there have been requests through Justice. It makes sense at this point to look at the whole picture and to look at a long-term strategy, perhaps with the people who have the greatest stake in this issue.
Now, Mr. Speaker, next year, the national deaf curling championships will be held here in Whitehorse. Almost 500 people will be coming to Whitehorse for the event, ready to curl, see the Yukon and hopefully spend lots of money. Now, adequate interpretive services simply are not available to deal with this large an influx of people. How is the minister going to help to provide interpretive services for the championships?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I need to remind the member that my role is primarily in the areas of health and social services. What she seems to be referring to are issues around recreation. I can raise this with my colleague, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, who has responsibility for recreation in general. To be very frank, it isn't an issue that has emerged with me before. I don't know the degree to which it has been raised with other departments, but I can certainly look into it and find out what range of interest there has been in this regard.
Question re: Young Offenders Act, amendments
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services on the Young Offenders Act. Amendments to the Young Offenders Act are expected to be introduced into the House of Commons on Thursday, and the federal budget has already set aside $206 million over the next three years, which is new funding for youth justice initiatives, part of which will be devoted to administering the extra costs that will arise from the amendments to the Young Offenders Act. How much of this $206 million is going to wind up in the Yukon to service the Yukon cost of the amendments to the act?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'll be responding to this question since the issue of the amendments of the Young Offenders Act that have been long promised but not yet delivered have been raised at a couple of Justice ministers conferences that I have attended.
There has been a repeated request on the part of all provincial and territorial Justice ministers across the country for the federal minister to share the draft legislation with the provincial and territorial ministers before it's introduced in the House. We have heard that the bill will be introduced in the House, but we have not seen a copy of the bill. To my knowledge, there has also been no discussion with officials at the provincial and territorial level about the funding that will be made available and how that will be allocated. We simply do not have an answer from the federal minister on that yet.
Mr. Cable: Well, the media seemed to have an idea of what's going to happen. There was a fairly lengthy article in the Globe and Mail last week. One of the amendments to the Young Offenders Act calls for every young offender who serves jail time to receive a mandatory period of probation, which will increase the amount of supervision and the cost of supervision.
Has the minister's department reviewed the effect of this amendment, insofar as the increase in the number of youth probation officers that will be required to service the effect of that amendment?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I would submit that a respectful partnership between the federal, the territorial and the provincial ministers of Justice and ministers responsible for the Young Offenders Act would mean that the federal minister would be providing information to her provincial and territorial counterparts. We could hardly be expected to rely on reports in the Globe and Mail for current and accurate information about legislative amendments.
We haven't seen a version of those legislative amendments. We do not know yet what the full impact of the amendments will be, because we have not received a response to our request for that information from Ottawa.
Mr. Cable: Maybe the minister and I can fly down to Ottawa and talk to the Justice minister and berate her.
Now, there is a number of amendments that are being proposed. There's the increase in the number of adult sentences that are to be given to young offenders. Young offenders as young as the age of 14, if they're convicted of violent crimes, can receive adult sentences. There's a suggestion that parents of young offenders, who are capable, pay the legal cost - the cost of lawyers.
There's the amendment that will deal with the publishing of names of violent young offenders.
I know there's been some conversations among the minister, the federal Justice minister and her provincial counterparts. Where does this government sit on those amendments?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, there is the possibility of adult sentences being in place where charges are moved to adult court - where young offenders have committed crimes - based on the nature of the offence.
There have been discussions among federal, provincial and territorial ministers about some of the proposed amendments to the Young Offenders Act. I cannot respond to the member's question about the Yukon government position on four or five different amendments that he's saying he knows are in the legislation without having seen the legislative package.
We will be happy to respond. I can provide the member - in fact, I believe that we have already provided the member - with a copy of the letter that the Minister of Health and Social Services and I sent to the federal Minister of Justice outlining the Yukon government position on a number of subject matters.
We have not received recent correspondence that has indicated to us what the bill that will be introduced in the federal parliament will look like. We certainly look forward to receiving that information.
If the member opposite has it, perhaps he could share it with other members of this House.
Question re: Tombstone park
Mr. Ostashek: My question's to the Minister of Economic Development on the proposed Tombstone study area.
Mr. Speaker, one of the major reasons why mining companies left British Columbia was the manner in which the NDP government in British Columbia handled the Windy Craggy mine development. Unfortunately for Yukoners, the territory's been tarred with this same anti-development NDP brush.
We now have a situation here in the Yukon where a Yukon mining company has staked claims near Horn Mountain in the Cloudy Range in the study area of the proposed Tombstone park, which I must say once again is one the most highly mineralized areas of the Yukon.
This has made the president of CPAWS very angry and, in fact, he went as far as to call it an outrage and claimed that these claims should be cancelled because they were nothing more than nuisance claims.
My question is to the Minister of Economic Development. What is the Government of Yukon's position? Do they believe they're legitimate claims or are they just nuisance claims?
Hon. Mr. Harding: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I should tell the member that we're not B.C.; we're not Alberta; we're not Saskatchewan; we're not Manitoba; we're not Ontario or Nova Scotia or PEI or anywhere else. We're the Yukon. We're the Yukon government. We have our own policies, our own positions. As a matter of fact, the member opposite spoke of the Windy Craggy. It was our position that the environmental assessment on that particular project should have been allowed to carry through. That differentiates very much from B.C.
I would say to the member opposite that we have a balanced agenda. We have a very strong environmental agenda. We also have a very, very strong economic agenda, and that can be evidenced by the fact that we've brought in such new initiatives as the mineral exploration tax credit. We've been working with the federal government to try and improve the permitting process. They are currently in control of it through the blue book initiative. We have successfully accepted, from the federal government, an offer of devolution of control of the mining resource to the territory, something that I think will hold us in good stead for the future. We are very, very supportive of the mining industry and have demonstrated that in many, many ways.
We have also increased resource assessments so that we do good resource assessment work, in this budget and in others, to ensure that we have a good level of information on the whole issue of mineral staking and resource opportunities.
Mr. Ostashek: That was quite a speech, Mr. Speaker, but we didn't hear an answer to the question. The minister may state that they're not Manitoba, or they're not British Columbia, but I say to him that mining is in a deplorable state in the Yukon, and exploration's at an all-time low.
Mr. Speaker, the owner of the current claims has stated that the proposed park boundary that was established by this NDP government is simply too big and that Yukoners need jobs. The economy is in tough shape partly because there is no longer a balance between mining and environmental concerns.
I want to ask the minister again: does he support the mining company in their position of wanting to mine these claims, or does he support the people in CPAWS, which call these "nuisance claims"?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, what the member is trying to do is polarize debate. He is not being helpful to settling the tough land use issues. Obviously, that's the statement and the tactic of the Yukon Party. Obviously, the Yukon Party would have never finalized the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in land claim agreement, which our government finalized, simply because they never would have been able to finalize and settle the issue surrounding the Tombstone park.
Our government does have a balance - a very, very good balance - when it comes to economic activity and the environment. We don't think the two prospects of furthering agendas in each respect are mutually exclusive. We think they can be complementary. In this case, the mineral claims are existing. We have to respect that. We've made that known to the federal department that's handling the land use application.
We have put a lot of work into resource assessments. We've added money into the budget. We also put a lot of work into settling the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in land claim, of which the creation of this park was key to our settling it, as a New Democratic Party government.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, that's two times, Mr. Speaker, and the minister still hasn't answered the question. I can understand why he's trying to skate around the issue.
Now, Mr. Speaker, it was precisely because of the region's enormous mineral potential that the previous Yukon Party government limited the core area protection of the Tombstone range and worked with Archer Cathro to get them to voluntarily relinquish their claims on Tombstone south.
Mr. Speaker, we also endorsed the concept of multiple use of parks, which was first rejected by the NDP, but has now been adopted as a core philosophy of their protected areas strategy. Would the minister support a multiple use concept of Tombstone park, protecting the core Tombstone range, while permitting various degrees of resource development in other areas of the park? Will the minister do that?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have been answering the member's question. The member is trying to put it in the most polarized terms. We are saying that these are challenging land use issues. We are going to work through them. It is pretty obvious to anyone listening, I think, that that particular party, had they managed to win the next election, would still be sitting on an unresolved land claim with the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation.
Let me say to the member opposite that we put a lot of work into settling that particular land claim. A committee was established to deal with some of these challenging issues. We have always supported initiatives that resolve tough management of land issues through management plans, through land use committees as established under the umbrella final agreement, and through other vehicles.
So, we think these issues are best left to due process. We believe that we have demonstrated our commitment to the mineral industry and to the environment. It's a difficult balancing act, but we think we will continue to be successful as long as we involve people in decisions that affect them.
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 item standing in the name of the government private members to be called on Wednesday, March 10, 1999: Motion No. 157, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse Centre.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Do members wish to recess?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with main estimates. We are on the Department of Education.
Bill No. 14 - First Appropriation Act, 1999-2000 - continued
Department of Education - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Mr. Phillips: I just have one area I would like to ask the minister a question in. It's regarding the student financial assistance.
Several years ago there was a study done with respect to student financial assistance, and there was a recommendation made at that time to increase the amount of the student financial assistance.
Since that time, there have been some significant cost increases throughout the country in advanced education institutions - universities in the south - which have made it more difficult for our Yukon students to afford their education.
I see in this budget there's no increase to it, and I would just like the minister to tell us if there is any plan in this fiscal year to review the student financial assistance and whether or not the Yukon government is going to consider increasing it in the future, or making changes to it.
There was some discussion before about changes, as well as increasing the student grant. Are there any plans to do that, in light of fairly significant increases in university costs in southern Canada?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I appreciate the member's question. The Yukon has a very generous student financial assistance package available for eligible Yukon students, and it includes the Yukon excellence awards, the Yukon grants that are available to students who attend post-secondary education, whether at Yukon College or outside of the Yukon, as well as Yukon training allowances and Yukon scholarships.
Yukon College also has among the lowest tuition rates in the country. We have generally built in increases to our student financial assistance program to meet the demand. The Yukon post-secondary grant for 1998-99 is $1,660,000, which shows a slight increase over the 1997-98 actual, and we have projected that amount of funding to continue for the 1999-2000 budget year that is up for debate now.
In addition, the Yukon training allowance is for a total of $895,500, and the Canada student loans are approximately $1.5 million - just a few hundred dollars less than $1.5 million.
So we are aware that students who attend post-secondary education require assistance, and our student financial assistance package is richer than virtually all other packages in the country.
Yesterday, the member also was asking a number of questions in relation to training trust funds. So, I wanted to bring back a report for him to assure him that we are going to continue maintaining a good working relationship with Yukon College and that we have worked with Yukon College on training trust funds.
I might point out to start that the Yukon Party government, in 1995, put out a press release where they announced that they had put $200,000 in the Association of Yukon Communities training trust fund and were full, at that time, of praise for training trust funds. It is important to set up a mechanism to meet specific training needs of various industries and communities.
The new fund that was set up to be administered by AYC had a board of directors. Now, the previous government did not put a member of Yukon College on that board on that particular training trust fund. Nonetheless, we are encouraging training trust fund boards to be aware that Yukon College does offer a number of programs and, indeed, the college has benefited from being the delivery agent for a number of training initiatives that have been funded under the training trust fund.
The total contributions to Yukon College for the 1998-99 fiscal year, in addition to the $10,179,000 that was put in their O&M budget, was over $1.2 million. That's up from the $994,000 that I had a report on for the member opposite yesterday.
Members also had some comments about services for youth. I want to provide a brief update of our community youth activities program that has been developed to offer youth in rural communities fun and meaningful activities in the summer.
We have had the youth exploring trades go-kart camp, which ran in Carmacks. Burwash Landing had a youth exploring trades as part of their youth cultural camp. The Southern Tutchone gathering was supported with youth leadership activities. In Pelly Crossing there was a program that had elders working with 18 youth between the ages of eight and 13 on how to run a fish camp, and four local senior youth were hired to coordinate that project. In Faro, there was a youth exploring trades camp. In Beaver Creek, there was a combined computer and youth exploring trades camp, as well as in Mayo.
In Old Crow, there was a computer camp that was linked to some recreational activities. Also, in Watson Lake there was an animation camp for youth between the ages of 10 to 14, and 15 to 18. That particular project at the Northern Lights Centre was funded in partnership with the town and NMI Mobility, the DigiPen computer graphics, Microage Computer Store and Central Mountain Air. In Ross River, there was a training course available for youth as well as the youth recreation leadership program.
So, the youth strategy that was launched by the Yukon government in October and the funding that we put in the budget to support youth having more recreation available to them, as well as working to include youth on boards, is something that has been very active over the current budget year, through last summer, and will be supported in the next budget year through the funding that we've supplied with an additional $200,000 for youth recreation.
Ms. Duncan: When we left debate yesterday, I had asked the minister about the Old Crow school, and she seemed to be having a slight change in the date for the opening of the new Chief Zzeh Gittlit School in Old Crow. The minister had stated that July 15 is the scheduled opening date, and that this date has been in effect for quite some time. However, according to the Hansard from March and September of last year, the Minister of Government Services was indicating December 1998 as a completion date. At what point did we move the seven months?
In the Hansard for as late as March 2 again last year, Mr. Sloan said that our preferred date is the end of the year.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: What the members opposite seem to be telling me is that there was no change in date, that July 15 seems to be what they have been working under.
We also talked about Faro, and I asked the minister if she could indicate what condition the school is in as it has been some time that we've had a rural school facilities study. Can she give us that indication?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Just to respond to the member's question first about Old Crow, we have known for some time that the completion date for the Old Crow school would be toward the end of the present school year, so that the school opening would be September 1999, rather than part way through the 1998-99 school year. That has been the intent for quite some time. It looks as if the school will be finished a little early and that we'll be able to move supplies, furniture and equipment into the school, so that the teaching staff can have some time for set-up before school actually opens in September.
I have no notes on the condition of the Faro school. While the rural school facilities study was completed in 1995, I believe, the condition of the school doesn't change a huge amount per year. As far as I'm aware, the Faro school is in sound condition. I apologize, I didn't follow up on that for the member, but I will do that and come back if there's anything different to report on the condition of the Faro school.
The member also asked about the location of the community campus in Faro. That is presently still located in the mall in downtown Faro. The college is offering courses and programs out of the downtown location that they've used for awhile.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, a couple of years ago, there was quite an issue about the Big Toy in the Golden Horn Elementary School in the minister's riding. It's not actually a brand name Big Toy; it's a piece of playground equipment. It took quite some time and quite a bit of parental involvement before the repairs were completed. I'm wondering if we eventually have replaced that equipment or are we looking at replacing it. Is there an assessment of playground equipment at other Yukon schools? Are we replacing them in this particular budget?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There's money in the budget for routinely surveying the condition of playground equipment, and that is done. I don't have a note with me on the Golden Horn Elementary School Big Toy, because this question has been asked a number of times and responded to.
The last time that this issue was raised, I indicated to the members opposite that there had been an engineering study done, that there had been some improvements made to the Golden Horn Big Toy, that it was safe for use and that the school council was in support of it being used. In the event that it is not safe for use, then it would be decommissioned, and no longer used.
But part of the regular review of playground equipment includes recommendations from the school councils and Government Services as to whether any repairs are needed.
Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for that follow-up.
I'd like to talk about capital planning, generally. At the beginning of this year, 1999, school councils were asked to submit their three-year capital plan, and I would presume that they're also going to be discussed at the school council chair spring conference - those capital plans.
Where are we at generally, in terms of planning after the construction of the new Mayo school? In that regard, I'd like the minister to indicate - we've had discussions in this House previously about combining required recreational facilities in communities with development of new schools. Is this in discussion with the community of Mayo? And are members of the community coming into Whitehorse to have a tour of schools, as some members of the Chief Zzeh Gittlit School did? Where are we in terms of planning, specifically for the Mayo school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In Mayo, the building advisory committee is up and running. It is active. There have been members of the building advisory committee who have been in Whitehorse and who have toured some of the schools in Whitehorse. The planning process is underway. The municipality has indicated that they have an interest in supporting enhanced recreation facilities in the new school, and that they would be prepared to help with the capital construction, in order to accommodate those enhanced recreation facilities, whether it's the gymnasium or other services.
We're interested in that. We're working with the municipal council. The Village of Mayo town council, as well as the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation have representatives on the building advisory committee. The discussions include accommodating operations and maintenance costs. They include what the effect might be of the facility being available for adult users, as opposed to youth recreation outside of school hours.
The actual planning comes a little later, when we develop the detailed design with the building advisory committee, and engage an architect to do the outside plan.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, many Yukoners, I think - if they stopped and thought about it - realize that there can be some cost savings, as well as an enhancement to the community, if we can combine facilities. The minister said that the building advisory committee was looking at enhanced recreation facilities; there was interested discussion.
Can the minister elaborate? What sort of options are we talking about with the Mayo school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I thought that I responded to the member saying that we support the principle of community-use schools. We recognize that, particularly in rural communities in the Yukon, the schools serve as a facility for the benefit of the entire community.
The building advisory committee has suggested that there could be a larger gym as part of the new Mayo school construction project. They've also expressed an interest in continuing to have the Yukon College as part of the project. There have been suggestions of a small weight room as part of the project. All of these are fleshing out the schematic design. We're waiting until the design is complete.
We're looking at the costing of various options and so the building advisory committee has played a good role in bringing together the various interests in the community and we will do our best to accommodate those.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, it was the listing of what options the community was looking at that I was interested in and the minister has elaborated on that. When do we expect to see an actual schematic design? What is the time frame on that?
When the minister is on her feet, perhaps she could elaborate, as well, on the Ross River school, and I have the same questions, Mr. Chair. I'm looking for information as to what the community has asked to be included.
Of course, I appreciate that Ross River is further along in the planning than Mayo and perhaps the minister can get a time frame for that as well.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, first of all, since the member was looking for the details about the project scope for the Mayo school, there has been a floor-area program developed that includes kindergarten, elementary and secondary classrooms, a science lab and a computer lab, a native language room, a native culture multi-purpose room, an art room, a home-economics kitchen, an industrial arts room, a learning assistance room and a library and a gymnasium.
The planning has been underway with the building advisory committee. We anticipate selecting an architect in April 1999 and hope that the schematic design phase can be completed by the end of June 1999.
The member also had some questions about the Ross River school replacement project. We have the floor area, which has been determined for the project's scope, of 2,920 square metres. The location would be at the northeast corner of the existing school site, which is to the east of the current school. Again, there are six general classrooms, a science lab, an alternate learning room, a computer lab, home economics room, industrial arts room, a community multi-purpose room, as well as a combined school and public library and a community campus. The planning is underway. As I believe I've indicated to the member earlier, we also, in this budget year, installed a new septic system for the Ross River school and hooked that up to the old school, so that we didn't have to spend money fixing an old system when we're just getting ready to construct a new facility, since the septic system did need to be replaced.
The completion of the detailed design phase and preparation of tender documents is underway at the present time. We hope to have the tender for the main building construction contract let in March. In addition, in Ross River we have done some skills inventory and pre-trades qualifier training for members of the Ross River community. We want to build on a very successful model that was in place in Old Crow.
In Old Crow, we had a member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation hired as a project manager trainee. The project manager trainee then worked with the contractors as well as the community. We want to develop that kind of training in Ross River. We also want to ensure that we have effective local hire in Ross River for the construction of the school project, which will get underway in this budget year.
We are well-placed with the training we've already undertaken in Ross River and can give the member updates as the Ross River project proceeds.
Ms. Duncan: Does the minister or her colleague, the Minister of Government Services, have a more specific date, other than March, for the initial meeting with the potential tenderers on this project?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The consultants have concluded about 95 percent of the contract documents. The negotiations of the economic benefits are expected to take place in both March and April.
We are looking at a contract tender issue for March/April of 1999. My colleague has already talked about some of the local hire elements incorporated in the design and training opportunities.
Basically, we've had several meetings with the community. We held a meeting on September 29 and 30 to discuss the initial parameters of an economic benefit agreement. We held meetings on January 19 and 20 of this year to review community input and ongoing design decisions. The contract tenders will include a requirement for community consultation for the contract award, development of a plan to make best efforts for employing Ross River residents, and methods of monitoring, reporting and assessing the effectiveness of the process.
We've also done such things as a community, door-to-door survey, carried out in January, which determined the interests and capabilities of the local workforce, with respect to working on the school construction. We've worked with the Ross River Dena Development Corporation, and Yukon College has compiled a list of local businesses and contractors. The current survey will be used to update and verify this list. That's where we will have a list of people who have a series of skills or perhaps some ability to supply services, be it trucking or whatever.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I was looking for a specific date for the meeting of the contractors, and it doesn't appear that either of the ministers has that specific date, so, at this point of time, March/April is as close as they've been able to come.
I'd like to go back to my opening comment - the capital planning from school councils. My understanding is that school councils were asked to submit a three-year capital plan in January of this year.
What happened with those submitted lists? Were they submitted by everyone? My expectation is that they would be used for the basis of discussion at the spring meeting of the school council chairs. Perhaps the minister and the department have another understanding of these three-year capital plans.
I'd like the minister to elaborate on when they were submitted, and what the process is now for those plans.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There are two sets of questions there. There is the minor capital works that are done across the Yukon in schools on a regular ongoing basis, and the school councils have submitted lists of the various projects that they would like to see done.
We use that list to prioritize locally initiated renovations. That might include painting of classrooms, replacements of flooring - either indoor or outdoor work - it can accommodate lighting. There are a number of criteria that are weighed, including whether there are any safety concerns or what the greatest needs are.
Those lists are submitted, and we develop the lists of projects based on budget allocations, how much we can afford to do and meeting the greatest need first.
I believe the member was also inquiring about the major construction - such things as the replacement of the Old Crow school, and the Ross River school, and the Mayo school. The member is aware that there was an election last year, and a number of new council chairs took office.
School council chairs have been provided with the rural school facilities study, as well as the Whitehorse school facilities study. When they sat down and developed a recommendation of what they thought would be the most important projects over a three-year time period, the recommendations were for Old Crow, Ross River and Mayo, in that order. Those recommendations were accepted, and we're seeing Old Crow construction completed this year, Ross River construction beginning this year, and Mayo school construction slated for the following year, in 2000-01.
We've asked the school councils if they are able to achieve a consensus on future major capital projects. We will do our best to accommodate those needs and to allocate funds in the budget for major school construction on an annual basis.
The school council chairs are meeting again in April for their conference. We do have a little bit of time, given that we're still planning ahead for the next couple of years, and I think the school councils have demonstrated that the confidence we placed in them was well-placed, in coming up with the recommendations for the three schools that have now been accepted. We look forward to meeting with them and hearing if they have further recommendations on what they consider the priorities to be.
The school councils also, when they provided recommendations to the government, came up with a list of what they felt the most important criteria were in determining where our capital budget priorities should be. Those are obvious issues, such as safety, the age of a facility, the ability to offer good education programs, and whether the education programs are affected by a deteriorating condition of a school.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, when the school councils come together in April to revisit this issue and look at what happens after Mayo, in terms of major capital projects, they also, I would think, should be made aware that the minister's correspondence with me - which has been developed by the department - targets F.H. Collins for replacement in 2006, and there's also been tremendous discussion around Grey Mountain Primary and the Riverdale consolidation study.
Grey Mountain also has, I understand, some air quality issues. It's a rapidly aging facility as well - the portables are. It has to certainly be given consideration by the school councils.
Can the minister assure me that on commitments such as these - the commitment to F.H. Collins - and the concerns respecting Grey Mountain, school council chairs will be made aware of these. It is really additional information to the school facilities study, although the school facilities study does outline some of the difficulties with Grey Mountain.
The minister appears to be wondering where she made me the commitment of the 2006 for F.H. Collins. I had asked in one of our debates about putting a number of resources into F.H. Collins, and it was in a written reply. It was an answer.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: I will sit down and address Grey Mountain Primary, and I will pull up the date for her on that letter.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: First of all, I would appreciate it if the member could provide that correspondence, because I have no record of a commitment to a date for replacing F.H. Collins. As a government, we haven't made a decision on a date for replacing F.H. Collins. Certainly we're aware that it's an aging building. It remains in use and is a usable facility, and we fund the ongoing maintenance of Grey Mountain Primary School.
Certainly the school councils chairs conference will be made aware of all of the needs and all of the education issues across the Yukon.
The Grey Mountain Primary School Council will be present, as will all other school councils. The education officials have already identified major capital projects that are under consideration based on the enrollment patterns, based on the findings of the rural school facilities study and based on needs that have been identified by individual school councils.
The Riverdale capacity review has not begun yet. We indicated to the school council chairs at the fall 1998 school council conference that we would be undertaking a Riverdale capacity review. That work will be done with the school council representation of Grey Mountain Primary, Selkirk Elementary School and Christ the King Elementary School. There will be full involvement of the school councils on that.
School council chairs have also been made aware of what the various needs are, and I'm sure that they will continue to know that there are a number of requests for capital works. The Catholic elementary schools have also put forward a request for expansion at two sites and for a cafeteria in the high school that is now located in Riverdale, Vanier Secondary School.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister is saying that the Riverdale capacity study then will not be complete in time for any discussion to be held with all school council chairs in April. The minister is nodding her head. So, in discussions of future capital planning in April of this year, the future of Grey Mountain Primary will still be uncertain.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, again I repeat for the member, as I stated in the House during the last sitting, no decision has been made on the future of Grey Mountain Primary School and will not be made for the next one or two years. That's a commitment that I've also made in writing to the school council.
The school councils meet regularly. We fund the school council chairs to meet twice a year. They meet normally in the spring and the fall.
The Riverdale capacity review will be conducted in cooperation with all of the Riverdale elementary school councils. After that review is completed, it will be discussed at the school council chairs conference and with Education.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister also restated that there was a commitment to do ongoing maintenance at Grey Mountain Primary. The difficulty is that there are only so many times that you can repair a facility.
The minister is wondering when she corresponded with me about F.H. Collins. It was June 13, 1997. We were at that time spending $1.3 million on F.H. Collins, and I asked how much of an extension of the life of the school we were getting for that money. The minister responded with a point about long-term problems with the school building and also responded, "The department has established a tentative replacement target date of 2006".
There were three reasons for that date: the number of years left in the building, and the department's capital budget for the next five to seven years would be committed to the replacement or expansion of five rural schools, as well as the construction of one and possibly two urban elementary schools, and, of course, the possibility of Whitehorse hosting the 2007 Canada Winter Games. The proposed delivery time frame would match well with that particular date.
I had asked if the school council chairs had been made aware of this correspondence. Presumably they will for their spring council discussions. That will be part of the discussions, one would think. I was curious as to what other information, in terms of school facility studies and so on - if there was any new information that school council chairs were going to be receiving.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the school council chairs have been regularly receiving information about some of the major capital projects that are under consideration, based on the rural school facilities study and the Whitehorse school facilities study. That information is not new and there's not much of an update required for the school council members on that.
The member, when she is quoting from the letter of June 13, I think, has answered her own question. The tentative replacement target date is a fair assessment of a possible, future, tentative target date for F.H. Collins replacement. The capital budgets are subject to government decisions, bringing the budgets forward in the House and defending them, as we're doing here today. This budget brings forward a three-year plan for capital construction, which is a new feature in government budget planning. It's something that we made a commitment to do and our planning doesn't extend beyond that three years.
Needs may change and finances always come into play.
Ms. Duncan: Plans are also subject to elections and changes in government. Certainly, these sorts of questions are going to come up when Yukoners next go to the polls. They will be asking what are the plans and will any particular group, party or individual candidate support decisions reached by the school council chairs and recommendations of the school council chairs at their spring meeting. That's why I'm asking if they were getting more information or if there was any new information.
The Riverdale capacity consolidation project that the minister mentioned a few moments ago - I would also note for the record, Mr. Chair, that we can put a tentative target date for F.H. Collins replacement, but we can't seem to put that tentative, replacement, target date on Grey Mountain Primary.
If the minister will go back to the Riverdale capacity consolidation project, what is the specific mandate of that project? Has there been a consultant hired to work with school council chairs? Are there terms of reference, with regard to that project, that the minister can provide to us?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In relation to the member's questions on the Riverdale capacity review, the scope has yet to be determined. There are no terms of reference in effect. I have written to the school council chairs and indicated that we're interested in doing a Riverdale capacity review.
We will work with the Selkirk Elementary, the Grey Mountain Primary and the King Elementary schools.
The member is asking why we do not have a target date for replacing Grey Mountain Primary School, and making the case that that should be accommodated. I think the member should visit rural Yukon and see the condition of some of the schools in rural Yukon.
The reason that Old Crow, Ross River and Mayo were the ones selected by school council chairs is that those schools were in rather desperate need of being replaced. There are also outstanding needs for an addition in Pelly Crossing for the Eliza Van Bibber School and for the replacement of an old wing in the Tantalus School in Carmacks.
The Robert Service School council has been requesting an addition, and we're looking at the needs in Dawson City. Watson Lake Secondary School has requested an industrial arts wing upgrade, and I've already mentioned that Vanier Catholic Secondary School would like to see a cafeteria, so that their high school offers the same level of services as other high schools do.
The Catholic elementary schools have requested expansion, and we have also taken on a Riverdale capacity review to look at enrollment trends and how we might accommodate needs in Riverdale.
That will depend on what emerges from the consultation with the elementary school councils in Riverdale. There has been no consultant hired as yet.
Ms. Duncan: I really didn't require the minister to provide me with, not just a wish list, but a needs list, of schools in the territory. I have visited rural Yukon schools. I had an opportunity, in particular, to take a really good look at the Mayo school this summer, and it is - I couldn't agree more. School council chairs agreed and made some very good decisions, very good recommendations to the minister, based upon the information they had. The information they had also talked about Grey Mountain Primary portables that are almost as old as I am, and we're all aging rapidly, as has been pointed out more and more in this Legislature.
The point is that Grey Mountain Primary, like every other school in this territory, needs a commitment from the government that they're at least on the list, and they don't even seem to be making the minister's list. She can reel off every school in this territory and recite their needs, and recite what they would like to do, and recite the pressing needs of these schools - and I understand there are only so many capital dollars. All I'm asking is, is Grey Mountain Primary on the list? Instead, I get told "No, there's a Riverdale capacity consolidation project," but with no terms of reference, and that we're going to consult with school council chairs.
What is it going to take to get the minister - who was committed to that school in opposition - to commit to the school, now that she's in government? What is it going to take?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we're committed to working with school councils on capital construction projects. There are factors in Riverdale public schools. We need to assess the impact of the relocation of Christ the King Elementary School to Riverdale and the effect of grade reorganization for Catholic schools. We need to do a Riverdale capacity review to determine the need for future classroom space in Riverdale.
When and if grade 7 is added to Christ the King Elementary School in Riverdale, that again affects the capacity of the facility. We can't look at Grey Mountain Primary School in isolation from looking at Selkirk Elementary School and Christ the King Elementary School. All three of those elementary schools are located in Riverdale. That's why we're doing a Riverdale capacity review.
I am not prejudging the results of the review. We're going to look at the enrollment. We're going to look at the conditions of the schools. We're going to look at the impact of having Christ the King Elementary relocated into Riverdale. It may be possible that a future capital budget would include a replacement for Grey Mountain Primary School.
I'm not going to make a commitment here on the floor of the Legislature, prejudging what the future capital construction will be. We have made, as a government, a commitment to working with school councils in identifying the needs and meeting the needs. We have accepted the recommendations of school councils on what the criteria should be. I've provided the member with a list of the criteria that was developed by the school councils in 1997. I've also indicated - and I repeat - that we will work with school councils and respect their input.
I can certainly provide the member with the terms of reference for the Riverdale capacity review when they are developed. We've written to the school councils. We're working on that. We haven't engaged a consultant yet, and I'll be happy to provide the member with information as we proceed down that road when it's ready.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, it's interesting that we have a list of capital projects and known projects for the future for the other Riverdale schools - Selkirk as well as Christ the King - but poor old Grey Mountain that desperately needs another paint job, has had that put off for another year, even though it's peeling off the sides of the portables.
The other issue that's come up, of course, is the desperately needed new playground equipment. The school council, in desperation, is now thinking of applying to the community development fund in order to get the money to put in their own playground equipment.
Plainly, the needs of this school are being ignored in the hopes that somehow or the other, there just won't be enough kids there to justify its existence in some point in the future. It's an odd, odd state of affairs and I don't see a commitment by the minister to this school.
Can she say that she will at least look at some of the capital needs for the Grey Mountain Primary School, the same way she's looking at the other schools in Riverdale?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, in the current budget there is $5,000 set aside for playground safety at Grey Mountain Primary. I have committed to ensuring that the existing structure and program will continue to be maintained.
We will also examine the full impact of grade reorganization and complete a Riverdale capacity review before we make long-term decisions.
The Grey Mountain Primary School Council is treated with the same degree of respect and consideration as every other school council. Grey Mountain Primary put in requests for various improvements to the facility that have been accommodated. I can bring back for the member a list of those. I know I provided them for her in the last session of the Legislature, but I can assure the member that we are responding to requests for maintenance for Grey Mountain Primary School and that I will continue to respond to them.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the list of questions with respect to the Riverdale capacity consolidation project that the minister outlined in her previous response was quite lengthy. It sounded quite a lot like terms of reference. If these questions were answered, there would be an outline for the minister.
What's the time frame? It sounds like she's got quite an idea of what the terms of reference should be. What time frame are we looking at for this consolidation project? When will it be done?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we hope to have the terms of reference developed for that project by the fall, in September of 1999.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the fall is a considerable time away and I appreciate that school councils generally don't meet over the summer months but, from a previous answer, I understood she had sent these questions out to school councils already.
Are we providing school councils the opportunity to respond to those questions? The questions she outlined for me certainly sound a lot like a terms of reference. If those have gone out to school councils, is she expecting an answer before they break for the summer and, if that's the case, why couldn't this project be undertaken sooner than September or the fall?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I'll ask the member to let me review the Blues and provide a response to her in writing on that. There are a number of questions there and I can bring back an answer for her tomorrow.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, when the minister provides an answer, perhaps she could also provide some time frame for when she would expect a consultant to be involved and what time frame she's looking at for completion of that.
I'd just like to review this issue around working with school councils and the capital planning. I understand there are really two questions. There are the major capital projects, which we have discussed at length, and there are also the school-based renovations - a "wish list", if you will, from the schools as to needs that they have identified for capital planning, things that they would like to have done.
Now, I had asked the department - and I stand to be corrected as to whether or not we actually received the wish list from the schools - if that was possible. I see the official indicating no, that we wouldn't likely get that.
The schools submit their lists and the department looks at them and says, all right, these are the criteria, such as safety and the ones mentioned by the minister. The school might submit $200,000 worth and they might get $80,000 worth of those renovations done. Is there any follow-up with school councils, in terms of going back to them and saying, this is why everything wasn't done on the list and this is what we were able to complete this year due to financial reasons? What follow-up is undertaken with school councils in that respect?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: A memo was sent from the property management staff to the school councils indicating what the approved projects were. That is followed up then with the superintendents, who regularly maintain liaison with individual school councils, and the superintendents follow up with school councils if they have further questions.
I also would be happy to provide the member with a list of the approved projects that are detailed in this budget for school-initiated renovations. I have provided that for her in the past, and would be pleased to provide it to both the opposition critics for this budget.
Ms. Duncan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I would very much like to see what the list of approved projects is for the 1999-2000 school year.
The minister has provided a list of school-based funding, these renovations, and what schools have spent their funds and what is remaining to be spent in the 1998-99 school year. That list was provided to us in the briefing - not specific renovations, but just a dollar amount. Are school councils reassured that any of the funding that's not spent in 1998-99 is returned to the school-based renovations line in the budget, or is it used for something else?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, we have confirmed that we will be doing revotes for those projects, and make the funds available to the school councils to complete any of the projects that for various reasons may not have been completed during the present fiscal year.
Ms. Duncan: I'd just like to deal briefly with respect to the Porter Creek school. Aside from Old Crow, it's the most recent major school construction project completed.
Now, my understanding was that this year's project was for the paving of the school parking lot, which may not have been the top priority of the school or the Department of Education, but it was a top priority of the City of Whitehorse. Porter Creek has also submitted plans to a number of different agencies with regard to their outdoor recreational facility plans.
Could the minister tell me what money is allocated for the finishing, if you will, of the Porter Creek Secondary School, what specific projects the department will be able to undertake this year in funding for that school, and what funding is available for the outdoor recreational facility?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: For Porter Creek Secondary School in this budget there is $80,000 for soft landscaping and lighting. That is among the largest allocation of the total of $309,000 that's available for site development - the site improvement and recreational development line item.
Ms. Duncan: What the minister's telling me is that there is $309,000 in this line item. Is that $309,000 for Porter Creek alone?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Eighty thousand is for Porter Creek. And that soft landscaping - did the school decide on that or did the school council decide on that or did the department decide that was how the $80,000 would be spent?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It's all part of the work that was outstanding from what couldn't be completed last year. The superintendents and the school councils do work together. There is $80,000 available, which is being applied to soft landscaping and lighting, as well as the funds for paving the parking lot in the present year - no, that isn't yet in the budget. We will continue to complete the work at the Porter Creek Secondary School site, as at other school sites - Vanier Secondary and Christ the King Elementary both have plans to complete all of the landscaping and site development work.
We put $300,000 in the budget for schools for site development work, and $80,000 is how much has been allotted to Porter Creek Secondary.
Ms. Duncan: The money that was allocated for the completion of these outstanding matters at Porter Creek seems to be ever-diminishing. My understanding was that the discussion started out at paving, or finishing, the student parking lot, given that that was a request from the City of Whitehorse, in terms of the development permit, and so on, and now we've gone from the student parking lot - which may not have been the school council's or the department's first priority - we've gone to $80,000 of soft landscaping.
Who is deciding on that soft landscaping and, most importantly, the outdoor recreational facilities work that was done by a group of volunteers of that school - they have been approaching other organizations for funding, but other organizations' funding is also contingent upon the Department of Education's commitment, and I don't hear, financially, a commitment from the minister to those outdoor recreational facilities.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, of the $300,000 that is in the budget for site development and recreation, there are 17 schools that are being funded. I can appreciate that the member opposite is advocating for the work that needs to be done at the Porter Creek Secondary School in her riding. This year, we have to do a lot of lawn and soccer field repairs. This was a major problem that had to be addressed at a number of schools. There are 17 schools that are being funded for various site development projects. The $80,000 that has been allocated to Porter Creek Secondary School includes not only the landscaping but the lighting, which was a component of the request from the City of Whitehorse.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I appreciate that there are a number of schools that require money from this line item, and the minister's remark about me advocating for one school in my riding at the expense of others is simply not correct.
Why I am raising this issue is because her partners in education have raised it with me. Their expectation was that there was a $200,000 line item for finishing the parking lot. Their expectation was that there was a commitment to outdoor recreational facilities. That's their expectation.
I didn't give them that expectation. The minister and the minister's staff have given it to them. They are wondering how $200,000 in a budget that they understood was marked for Porter Creek and the completion of Porter Creek Secondary School all of a sudden shrank to $80,000.
Now, if the minister is standing there and telling me that that's competing priorities and that they got to the bottom of the list and that there are other priorities established by the department, that's fine and that's her responsibility to live up to, but the commitment that that school council understood was $200,000.
All I am trying to determine from the minister is how that shrunk. I'm not standing here saying that Porter Creek should be funded over any other school in the Yukon. However much the minister tries to say that's the case, that is not the case. I'm talking about commitments that the minister and the minister's department made to the school.
If I have to go back through every budget and every time we've discussed this school, I'll be glad to do it. That was the understanding at school council meetings; that there was that money in the budget and now it has shrunk. If competing priorities is the reason, then stand up and say so. That's what I'm asking for.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, it is a fact that there are competing priorities for site improvement and recreation development budgets, as there are competing priorities for all the line items in Education and all of the line items in all of the departments.
We have a budget of $300,000 for site improvement and recreation development. That includes Big Toy sand replacement in all schools, which is a necessary safety feature every year. That includes playing field repair in Carcross for $5,000; Christ the King Elementary School, front lawn repair and soccer field contribution for $15,000.
There is money for Del Van Gorder, l'École Émilie Tremblay, Elijah Smith, F.H. Collins, Golden Horn, Grey Mountain, Hidden Valley, Johnson Elementary, Jack Hulland, Porter Creek Secondary School, Selkirk, Takhini, Tantalus, Vanier and Wood Street.
All of those are necessary projects, Mr. Chair. The Porter Creek Secondary School landscaping and lighting for $80,000 is much larger than the budgets for other schools. We know that work needs to be done. We were not able to complete all that work in this budget year. We will continue to allocate funds and continue to meet the competing demands and complete the work at Porter Creek as quickly as we can.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister hasn't yet addressed the whole issue around the outdoor recreational facilities plan, which is separate from this line item in the budget. It's a separate project entirely from the bus turnaround in the parking lot.
This is a study that was done by a group of volunteers - very hard work on the part of the Porter Creek community as a whole, with assistance from the Department of Community and Transportation Services. For those outdoor recreational facilities - the various components of it - they are looking to service organizations, they are looking to CDF, they are looking to a number of funding organizations for money to complete the facilities. Contingent upon their application is a commitment by the Department of Education.
Has the minister written a letter that says the Department of Education philosophically, if not financially, supports the development of these facilities? There's obviously no money in the budget for them. Has the minister written a letter that these groups could then take to these funding organizations and say, "Look, the Department of Education supports this initiative. They just don't have the money to do it"? Has she written that much for the groups that are proponents of this project?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'm aware that the Porter Creek Secondary School outdoor recreation committee has proposed a site development plan that would include a baseball field, two basketball courts, an exercise circuit, two beach volleyball courts and a tennis court.
That site development would have to come out of the site improvement and recreation development budget allowance, which this year is $300,000.
I cannot recall having an outstanding request from service organizations or Porter Creek Secondary School on the outdoor recreation plans and when we might be allocating funds to accommodate them. That's certainly something that I can follow up on.
Ms. Duncan: Is this outdoor recreational facilities plan scheduled for discussion with these in terms of the larger capital planning project exercise, undertaken in April? Is that where it would be discussed, if there was a request for funds? Or is it simply in this other line item? It would be submitted as a request from the school for renovations.
The minister's saying she's not aware of any request from the school for funding for this.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In the past, the Porter Creek Secondary School project was part of the grade reorganization initiative. Now it is considered part of the site improvement and recreational development line item that we've created to accommodate the ongoing needs for site improvement and recreation development, both for existing schools and newer schools.
Ms. Duncan: What I hear the minister telling me is that this site development line item isn't necessarily part of the capital planning project at school council chairs. Fair enough.
The minister's also stood and said she doesn't have an outstanding request for funding of recreational facilities for consideration in this line item. She doesn't have an outstanding request in that regard.
Can the minister confirm that there's been no request to fund outdoor recreational facilities in this line item?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, that's not what I said to the member, Mr. Chair. The member asked me if I had written to service groups and Porter Creek Secondary School about the recreation plan that was developed by the outdoor recreation committee.
My response to the member is that I was not aware of outstanding correspondence on that. I am aware - as I said in response to the member's last question - that the outdoor recreation committee has proposed a site development plan that includes baseball, basketball, beach volleyball, and tennis courts, as well as an exercise circuit.
I've also indicated to the member that we have $80,000 available this year for landscaping and lighting for Porter Creek Secondary School. We're aware of their request for additional outdoor recreation development, and we'll try to accommodate that need as we can, subject to budgets.
Ms. Duncan: So, what the minister is telling me is that there's $80,000 allocated for site development at Porter Creek. That $80,000 does not deal with the request from the outdoor recreation committee for funds to develop the outdoor recreational facility. That is what the minister has said.
The outdoor recreation facilities committee, then, must apply and try to get the funding from somewhere else. They are not making the radar screen of this ever-diminishing line item, so they've got to go somewhere else, trying to get the money to do this project. If they write to the minister and say, well, look, we didn't make the cut for this year's money, is the minister prepared to write and give her blessing, so to speak, for this group to speak to other funding organizations?
The reason I'm looking at this - I'd just like to explain it to the minister - is that groups like the Lions Club have funded and built a number of parks in the Porter Creek area. So, this committee of volunteers has said, "Look, we want to build a baseball field or a beach volleyball court." They want to go to the Lake Laberge Lions Club, for example, and ask if they will help fund it and do it. What the Lions Club and organizations like that are looking for is a letter from the minister that says, "We can't fund that this year. We are philosophically in support of this." If the committee comes to the minister and asks for that letter, is she prepared to write it?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, earlier this afternoon, we were discussing the reality that Yukon schools are community facilities. I'm aware that at F.H. Collins the track was replaced by the track club. Certainly, I support having community organizations working to help build good recreation facilities that are used not just by schools but by communities and kids outside of school hours on school grounds.
I would be happy to provide a letter of support. The recreation committee can certainly look to alternate means of funding. That's always an option, and many schools do that. Many schools do that successfully, as do many community groups. They also could wait for future years. We will continue to budget for site improvement and recreation development, and we will continue to support Porter Creek Secondary School, as other schools.
If the recreation organization requires a letter of support from the Department of Education or from me, as Minister of Education, in order to apply to Lotteries or other funders, I would be very pleased to support that.
Ms. Duncan: Thanks, Mr. Chair, that's what I was looking for, and also to clarify that $80,000 - that it was not scheduled for these particular facilities but for other soft landscaping.
Who will make the actual decision on the expenditure of the $80,000? Would that be the school council, or will it be the department?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The superintendents make those decisions in the department and, as I have indicated, Mr. Chair, in response to the previous questions from the members, the superintendents do work quite closely with the school councils.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd like to rewind the tape, so to speak, to yesterday afternoon and just discuss briefly the Wood Street Annex with the minister. The minister has talked about options for this school, and there were a number of options discussed. Would the minister outline what the options were and whom they were discussed with?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, when the member was making inquiries in this House about the Wood Street Annex last sitting - last fall - what I indicated in response to those questions was that we had a three-year agreement in place on the Wood Street centre that actually was initiated by the previous government when the grade reorganization project was undertaken.
There was an agreement that Wood Street, when it was vacated because Christ the King Elementary School moved over to Riverdale, would operate as a facility to offer the MAD program, ACES, the experiential science program. It ended up also hosting the entrepreneurship centre and the coordinator for student work placements, as well as a Youth Services Canada project. The three-year agreement was made and was in effect up to the end of the 1998-99 school year, the present school year that finishes in June.
The options that were available to us were obvious: to use other high schools in Whitehorse for the locations of those programs.
I discussed this subject with school councils, with the City of Whitehorse, with teachers at Wood Street, with Yukon College, and with students at the Wood Street centre who were in the programs. In addition, there were letters and phone calls that came in from members of the public and members of various groups and organizations who had an interest in the subject. There was a virtually unanimous recommendation that Wood Street, as a central location, was the most effective way to offer those programs, and that using Wood Street had also built the ability of the programs to accommodate students from all of the high schools in Whitehorse, rather than strictly from F.H. Collins, or l'École Émilie Tremblay or Porter Creek or Vanier schools.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm hearing the same arguments that the minister heard me make in this House when I asked the question of what was happening to Wood Street - my arguments, which I had also heard from members of the public and school councils and parents and others, that this was a wonderful central facility, that it worked very well for the offering of these programs, and so on. I'm hearing those same arguments come from the minister's mouth. Everyone is delighted that the Wood Street Annex is going to continue to offer these programs and to remain a central facility serving the four Whitehorse high schools.
For how long? The member will forgive me; I don't have the media release in front of me, but she issued a media release indicating that Wood Street Annex would continue to offer these programs. Does she have a sense of a time frame? Is it another three-year agreement, so that in three years some member of the opposition is going to stand up and ask whoever is the minister of education what's happening with the Wood Street Annex, and we'll go through this again? Or is there some longer shelf life, so to speak, than three years? What time frame has the minister committed to?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the Wood Street facility will offer the programs that are presently there and whatever other programs that it can accommodate indefinitely. The high schools in Whitehorse and their school councils, as well as the Department of Education, see the ability to use the programming at Wood Street as an incubator for developing other experiential programming in both Whitehorse and rural schools. We will continue to use Wood Street for those programs and have not placed a time frame on the use of the Wood Street facility.
I've always acknowledged that the programs at Wood Street are valuable programs, and have seen personally how those programs can deliver great success for students. Parents are happy with them, so I'm quite pleased that we've been able to continue to offer those programs at Wood Street, as youth and adults have recommended.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there is no question that programming offered at Wood Street Annex is of an incredibly high caliber and is well used. Indeed, teachers offering those programs have won awards for their teaching skills.
The programming at Wood Street Annex, in particular the experiential sciences program - my understanding is that the program is oversubscribed in the first semester of this school year, so that would have been the September to January session, and we ended up with an extremely difficult situation where students jumped through a number of hoops only to find at the end that, even though they had thought they were on waiting lists, they ended up not being on waiting lists and re-doing essays, and so on, and being terribly, terribly disappointed.
I understood there was a commitment to do a second experiential sciences program, or to at least start having a second teacher offer this course and work with the existing teacher in that regard. The minister has said these are wonderful programs, and this is one of them. What are we doing to ensure they continue and what are we doing to ensure that students who very much want to take these programs and are unable to - how are we meeting that demand and that need?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the programs do require considerable effort and energy on the part of the instructors. There are entrance criteria for being accepted into the programs. They wouldn't succeed if the students weren't committed to them - as well as the teacher being fully committed to them.
There are field trips that take place that have the students and the teachers together for 24 hours a day for extended periods of time.
There was more of a demand for the program than one teacher could accommodate.
We did hope to be able to offer a second course; however, we were unsuccessful in locating a teacher who was able to teach that program for the current semester. We hope in the future to be able to provide the course, and to meet the demand for it. That's something that we're working on, and we're not able, unfortunately, to achieve it for this semester, because there was no teacher available who was willing to take on that workload this year.
Ms. Duncan: I don't recall the position being advertised - the second teacher. Can the minister, perhaps, by legislative return, outline what steps the department took to try and locate a second teacher for this course? And I understand the requirement. I also can feel for the students who, even though they met all the entrance criteria - not once, but twice -were unable to take the program, because of some administrative mixup.
I'm sure the minister can feel for the disappointment of these students as well. And I want the reassurance that every effort was made to try and locate a second teacher for this course, and that we are - since the minister has indicated the department was unable to locate a second teacher - are we re-doubling our efforts to make sure that we have a second teacher, so that it doesn't happen again?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I do sympathize with the students who were eligible for the program but who weren't able to enter it, because there was more demand.
Yes, we are making efforts to ensure there are teachers available in future years to offer the program, to meet the demand. I can supply her with a written response on how we endeavored to find a teacher for the semester, but were unsuccessful.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in previous years, the minister has provided me with an outline of what schools have waiting lists for students, and there was only one. Christ the King Elementary School was the only school that had a list of students wanting to attend. The list was largely non-Catholic students who wanted to attend that school. Could she provide me with that information again?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, I can check and see if there are any current waiting lists for any Yukon schools and provide it to the member.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd just like to speak generally about enrollment in Yukon schools, particularly in our high schools. Do we have a number of non-Yukon, non-Canadian students registered in our Yukon schools?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I know that there are some, Mr. Chair. I don't have precise numbers. I can see if that information is available. If it is, I will bring it back to the member.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, we have a number of programs, such as the Rotary exchange student, where we have foreign students studying at Yukon schools. I'm not speaking about that program; I'm speaking about other students who, for one reason or another, end up in the Yukon and attending Yukon schools. Are there any fees levied to non-Canadian students?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair, there are not. I believe the member is aware that we do have students in the Yukon school system who come from Atlin and Good Hope Lake and other northern British Columbia areas, and that that's not the numbers that she's looking for. She's looking for the numbers for foreign students.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Right.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm looking for the number of non-Canadian students. I went to school with people from Atlin myself. I remember that quite clearly.
I also understand that some of our schools offer second-language courses, such as German and Spanish, for example. And, of course, there are a number of Yukon adults, especially those in the tourism industry, who would be interested in taking these courses and who are actually available during the day. Are they able to take these courses and, in effect, show up and take a course at a Yukon high school that's offering these?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair. The French language programs are available for adults at the Education building. This is the first year of implementation for both the new Spanish and German integrated resource packages for grades 5 through 12. Yukon College also offers English as a second language.
The rules in relation to attendance at Yukon high schools are that you must be someone who has not completed high school and be under the age of 21. So, there is not an opening for adults to attend high school classes with students.
Ms. Duncan: It must have been an incredibly humorous anecdote that caused such mirth.
I'd like to talk about testing at Yukon schools. The minister briefly spoke to other members about the SAIP tests. The briefing provided by the minister's office seems to indicate that the Canadian tests of basic skills are going to be disappearing from Yukon schools. I don't see them continuing. Is this the case? What has been the reaction of school councils to that suggestion from the department?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We're in the early stages of looking at an overall assessment program review. There have been information sessions at the fall school administrators conference, as well as the school council chairs conference, the primary and the intermediate curriculum committee meetings and the public schools branch staff meetings.
We have, based on the recommendations of the departmental assessment committee, approved the use of the Alberta mathematics 9 achievement test. We are also considering adopting the Alberta mathematics and language arts assessment at grades 3, 6 and 9 for future years.
The assessment tools are something that we have discussed with our partners in education in the Yukon. We are also working with the western Canada protocol on curriculum and looking at the experience of other western Canadian jurisdictions.
The introduction of the Alberta achievement test in mathematics and language arts could result in some overlap of testing at the grade 3 and grade 6 levels with our use of the Canadian Test of Basic Skills. The implementation of the achievement tests could mean the possible elimination of the CTBS from the Yukon assessment program.
The Council of Ministers of Education and western Canada protocol, on an ongoing basis, look at the assessments that are used, their reliability and whether they're appropriate. We have begun discussions about the potential for change. We haven't made a final decision on that.
I should also advise the member that the western Canada protocol in math and language arts is using a common curriculum with western provinces, as well as common resources, and, because of that, we're looking at common assessment tools.
The current use of CTBS in grades 4 through 7 doesn't provide a criterion based on the form of the evaluation of our students or our system. In other words, we're not testing the curriculum that we're teaching.
The proposal is to use the math and language arts assessments at the grades 3, 6 and 9 levels, which would provide us with reporting that's designed together with the curriculum that we're using.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I think I followed all that. I will re-read the Blues and see if there are any more questions on that.
My concern is twofold. How is the minister discussing this with school councils - the overall assessment tools? And I didn't hear anywhere where teachers fit into this process of discussion. Teachers do testing all the time - Canadian tests - in their classrooms. They also know the curriculum they teach. The Canadian test of basic skills is just one assessment tool, good or bad, and the reviews vary.
I wonder if the minister could answer two questions. How is she discussing the use, or non-use, of these assessment tools with school councils, one of her partners? What information are they given in this discussion? And where do the teachers fit into this discussion?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the member will see, when she reviews the Blues, that I have indicated that there were information sessions at the school council chairs conference on this subject. In addition, the administrators and the superintendents work with the teachers in keeping them abreast of changes on assessments and involving them in knowing what assessments will be used.
There are also information sessions and in-services available for teachers on both curriculum and assessments.
I think, too, that teachers participate in the western Canada protocol testing. I know that there are departmental officials who participate, and teachers are an important part of the information gathering on what assessments were used, particularly when there are changes in curriculum and changes in assessments.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd like to talk briefly about special programming - this part of the Department of Education. Can the minister indicate if this part - or if this branch within the department - is fully staffed at this time? Are we actively recruiting? And what positions are vacant?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I don't believe that we're recruiting for anyone right now in the special programs area. I know that when the members were provided with the briefing from the department, that they were given a list of the people who are employed in the special programs division. I don't have that list in front of me right now. I believe I have it available, and can read it into the record for the member, if she doesn't have it.
Ms. Duncan: I was just looking to determine if there were any vacancies coming up in this branch. What happened with the - I don't recall reviewing an answer - we had a retirement with the visually impaired position in special programming last year. Was that position re-staffed?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The work is being done through a contract at the present time.
Ms. Duncan: The situation from the last information from the minister basically hasn't changed, then. We're not looking at a full-time staff person; we're contracting that out.
The driver education program - the budget line item, I believe, is $20,000. Can the minister provide me with a brief background as to this whole discussion with the driver education contractors in the Yukon community, how the budget line item came about, and where this is at in terms of the contracting?
I had written the minister in January that I felt that the contract request for proposal should be withdrawn and there should be some consultation with the contractors involved. Can the minister provide me with some background and her particular perspective on this line item?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, I wish that I had with me a copy of the letter of response that I sent to the member. I appreciate the member's request to be briefed, and the letter did lay out a brief background on the subject of driver education. Nonetheless, I'll do my best here on my feet.
We want to help Yukon youth to have professional driver education available to them. This is in response to what students have said to me, what parents have said, and what we've heard from the public in various places.
The Department of Education is working to develop a model where driver education, by arrangement with the school councils, could be delivered in Whitehorse and rural communities by driver education instructors.
The funds that were allocated will go toward supporting the additional cost that rural schools incur when they bring in a driver education instructor from Whitehorse to the rural community.
This is something that I spoke to school council chairs about at, I think, their spring conference last year. It may have been at the fall conference as well. There have been a number of high schools that have indicated an interest in offering driver education and they wanted to have some guidelines on how they might accommodate that.
The department prepared a brief manual that lays out some information on how other school councils and schools have offered driver education in the past. For instance, in Haines Junction, driver education has been offered, and the school council, the First Nation and service clubs all contributed some funds toward offering driver education, so that the tuition for the students was reduced to, I think, approximately $150. We will provide for school councils to request funds to offset the student-cost component to a maximum per course of $500 for rural schools.
The government also placed notices in the paper to request a qualified source list in order to provide the school councils that were interested in offering driver education with a listing of who was available to offer driver education so that the school council could contact them and set up arrangements to offer driver education in their communities.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what I understood the minister to say, then, is that we're essentially allocating this money to assist rural Yukon driver education.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There is both a rural and urban component to it. We have developed a manual that has the information needed to help school councils set up a local driver education program. We're going to allocate funds, as I said, to cover the costs of a Whitehorse instructor providing services in rural communities. We will also provide funds where school councils can request funds to offset the student cost component. We are going to set that at $500 for rural schools and $1,000 for Whitehorse schools. In Whitehorse, we anticipate that there will be greater numbers taking the course, so that's why we have a larger maximum fund.
There will be a contribution agreement, where school councils can apply for the money to cover the cost of delivery in a rural area. That might include accommodation and per diems for the instructor or the cost of taking vehicles to rural communities. This helps to make things fair for rural communities, to sort of offset the disadvantage of being outside of Whitehorse.
Ms. Duncan: What I understand the short form of the minister's answer to be, then, is that this line item is subsidizing driver education in Yukon schools - and there are parameters around the Whitehorse and the rural. Now, what's the process about who can offer this? Is there only one sanctioned driver education provider or has the department reviewed those who offer this and said, "Well, you can choose from A, B, or C"?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps what might help the member would be if I were to provide her with a copy of the driver education manual that's been approved. It's being updated for April.
The procedure is that the school councils - and school councils have been informed that this program is being supported and that there were funds in the budget last year, and a number of them are interested. What we've done with the manual is provide an overview. We've listed the service providers who are available and what their costs are, and we're leaving the decision making in the hands of the school councils to contact the various driver instructors to see if they're available, and to negotiate the terms of an arrangement whereby they would teach driver education, whether it's in Dawson City or in Watson Lake.
There was a qualified source list advertisement, and the driver educators are listed in the manual that gives the information for the driver education instructors.
I want to also come back to the support that was provided in Haines Junction in the past where, as I've said, the students' costs for taking driver education were offset with financial support from the Lions Club, from the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation and from the St. Elias Community School Council.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for that update as to where this project is at.
What initially drove this initiative by the government? Was it a campaign commitment? Was it representation from school councils? And if they were verbal recommendations at a meeting, I would certainly expect that there would be minutes available. If there's any written correspondence or written minutes available where this was a request from school councils or from parents, I wonder if the minister would make that available to me, or if she could indicate where the initial idea for this came from.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I think that, like many good ideas that end up in budgets, it doesn't come from just one source. I know that I've spoken to a number of students and parents who have indicated that a driver education program that could be offered through school councils would be useful.
I can check and see if there are minutes of meetings or formal records of requests for driver education, and if that's available I'll provide it for the member.
Ms. Duncan: I also would expect that there are some parents who have paid for this service - or some students who have paid for this service in the past - who are less than thrilled with the decision to have it subsidized.
However, that's up to those individuals to make their representations known to their MLAs. Certainly I have heard some of them.
The excellence awards - the minister had a discussion with the other members in this House regarding the excellence awards. The department provided us with the number of students who were eligible for these awards. In 1996-97, I have 675; 1997-98, I have 685. They usually do a forecast for the school year. What is the forecast for 1998-99 for the Yukon excellence awards? The school councils were asked for feedback on this program. What has been their collective response? If she hasn't received it yet, what is the time frame for it?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Those are questions that I believe I have in my notes that I was responding to yesterday, and I'll just look for those.
I want to just follow up on the member's last comments about driver education and indicate to her that we see great value in offering driver education. It will mean, most importantly, safer roads and better drivers. It also has the ability to lower the cost of insurance for parents and students, so I believe that setting aside funds for supporting driver education is a worthwhile endeavour.
The Yukon excellence awards - as I indicated in response to questions from the Member for Riverdale North, last year we received recommendations from the student recognition options paper.
We have also forecast the Yukon excellence awards for the 1998-99 school year at approximately $145,000.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, did the minister address the question around school councils' review of the excellence awards and what happened with that? There was a blue paper, and there was quite a discussion around the future of these awards. School councils were asked for their review of them and, quite frankly, I lost track of it at that point. What happened from there?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, that's what I spent a little bit of time discussing with the Member for Riverdale North yesterday afternoon. When I referred to the student recognition options paper, that is the blue paper that the member is referring to.
The results were received and tabulated. Recommendations were then forwarded. I read those recommendations into the record yesterday, if the member could just review the Blues.
Ms. Duncan: I'm not going to make the minister redo everything twice. I just didn't catch all of the debate yesterday.
The collective bargaining between the Yukon government and the Yukon Teachers Association - the parties agreed to amend the collective agreement by adding a new article 38.2, which included that the association and the employer agreed to continue their efforts in the establishment, implementation and maintenance of effective measures for violence prevention and protection in the school.
This was done in 1997, and I asked the minister last year for an update on the continuation of these efforts, and I wonder if she could further elaborate with an assessment of how effective the efforts have been and what initiatives and resources are being dedicated this year to continuing her efforts, as the employer, with regard to effective measures for violence prevention and protection in Yukon schools?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I am glad the member asked. I have some information to provide for her on that. The principle of gender equity in education is one of the objectives in the Education Act. We have a gender equity committee that was set up in part in response to the A Cappella North study that was done, and we're continuing to add core curriculum based on gender equity principles.
There are a number of programs that are delivered through both the career and personal planning programs. We've been delivering the second step program. There has been an abuse program that has been offered in partnership with the Red Cross, and there are safe schools initiatives that include training for Yukon school staff in the second step violence and child abuse prevention program, which is part of the career and personal planning curriculum.
We have safety committees in place in 24 of 28 schools. We're also continuing to look at gender equity resource materials to provide for the schools, and I can give the member further information, either in writing or in response to questions if she would like more information.
Ms. Duncan: I would like further information. The minister's answer focused a great deal on gender equity, and I appreciate that. It does cover off some of the discussions around violence prevention and protection in the schools, but I think there are other initiatives underway in the department. The minister can perhaps provide me with a written response to that.
The professional development fund is contributed to by both the Yukon teachers and the Department of Education, the Government of the Yukon. Have there been discussions with the Yukon Teachers Association regarding this professional development fund? Have there been discussions around increasing it? Have there been discussions around how this fund would be or could be best used for our teaching force? Has there been anything new with that fund since the government took office?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that the member is aware that the professional development fund is a component of the collective agreement. There is a professional development committee in place that includes representatives from the Yukon Teachers Association and the Department of Education. I don't have an update on any current discussions that they've been having, but I can look and see if there might be some information available.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I understand that it's part of the collective agreement; what I also heard the minister to have said is that there's no increase in it and no increase contemplated.
My concern is that I don't believe that there's been a look at this fund in a number of years by that joint committee, in terms of new directions or, perhaps, alternatives. For example, the government has undertaken initiatives to discuss tax reform. There have been initiatives undertaken to speak with nurses about the retention of nursing staff.
What are we doing with the teachers in terms of professional development? What are we doing with our professional workforce? Are we sitting down with them in this professional development fund committee and looking at the long-term needs of the Yukon? For example, are we saying, "Look, we have increased the computer capabilities in our schools, but we haven't increased the funding available for teachers to upgrade their skills." Has the government, in concert with their professional workforce, looked at this issue? Do they plan discussions around this issue? Are there going to be any new initiatives, or is it status quo?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, my understanding is that the Yukon Teachers Association does, in fact, have a very active professional development committee. I also understand that the YTA and the representatives from the PD committee do meet with the department. We also support inservices and training for teachers. I believe that professional development is important. As I've said, I will look into the subject further, as the member has requested, and see if we can provide further information on the nature of the discussions between the YTA, the professional development committee, and the department. But, I do know that they are active and that professional development is important to teachers, as it is to me and to the department.
Ms. Duncan: Professional development is important to everyone. It's important to our students, to parents, to teachers, to the department and the minister saying that it is to her, as well. It's critical, and I would indicate to the minister that my request and my discussion around this isn't simply a request for information. It's also a prompting for the minister and a request to please take a look at this area and see if, perhaps, we could initiate innovative programming in this regard.
The minister has provided a list of the school councils and the vacancies in response to a request, and vacancies in terms of First Nations appointments. Could I ask the minister to provide updated information in that regard?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I understand that the information that was provided to the member was current up to last week. I don't believe there is more current information available, but I will check into it.
Ms. Duncan: If there is no more current information than what was provided, that's fine. My concern is that I've heard at many school council meetings that the turnaround time is quite lengthy for individuals to be appointed and this causes difficulty for them. I can understand that, in a small community, it's difficult to find volunteers and so on, and that has been a concern expressed.
Another public concern expressed in the editorial pages of a Whitehorse paper was a comment relating to a judgment issued in the courts. It concerns a particular case, and I'm not asking the minister to comment on the case, but the editorial indicated that the judgment raised alarm bells and concerns for educators in our societies.
Were the judge's comments taken to heart by the department? Was there any action taken, a review - was there any sort of initiative by the department to take Judge Lilles' candour and his remarks to heart, and to review them?
The editorial I'm referring to is almost a year old, but the headline was, "Judge Lilles' candour was right on the money", and he was reflecting - it was a judgment that Judge Heino Lilles issued, but he also raised a number of red flags for Yukoners as a society, and the education system as part of that society. I wonder if the Department of Education, or the minister, followed up on the judge's remarks.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It is a priority for this government to foster healthy communities for all members of society, both youths and adults. Certainly the Department of Education is aware that there is a wide range of needs. There are students in our school system and our society from all socio-economic levels. There are students with special needs; there are a lot of demands for services to be provided, both within the school system and outside the school system to keep people safe.
We make supporting healthy communities a priority. In the health budget there are new funds being allocated for the healthy family program. We have round tables established for various communities where there are difficulties to work with parents and youth. Our youth strategy is about supporting young people so that they can have constructive activities, and not engage in unhealthy activities.
We have alcohol abuse programs, and addictions prevention programs in the school. We're working on updating those. We're working on making those relevant to young people.
So, the short answer would be yes, the government is aware of concerns, the government is aware of criminal activities and of needs in communities, and we are responding to them.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to ask the minister to provide me with an update in a written response on specific initiatives for high-risk youth, and I'd also like to touch briefly on the issue around resource programs under the expansion of the five-stage, intervention model design and time frames.
The minister provided me last summer with an update when I asked for more information regarding design work and so on. The information provided by the minister indicates that in the 1998-99 school year, which, of course, we're in, Jack Hulland Elementary has two resource programs for youth who require stages 4 and 5 of the intervention model.
I'm just wondering how the department went about selecting a school to have these resource programs. Was it a discussion? Was it based on facilities? Was it based on availability? Now that this 1998-99 school year will be coming to a close, what will be happening in 1999-2000 with respect to these resource rooms? What is the future and what's the evaluation of these resource rooms?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There are a number of questions there, and I could respond to some of them in part, but since the member has requested a written response, I'll bring a written response back to her that addresses all of those subjects.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate that.
One of the issues I've heard at a couple of school council meetings concerns questions from school council members around how to establish peanut-free schools, and this is in response to the allergy issues in our society. I wonder if the department has made available to school councils an information package on how to establish a peanut-free school or if they are just providing an opportunity to discuss this at school council meetings.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'll have to check on that. Last week, I was out at Hidden Valley School, and they have a classroom there where one student has a severe nut allergy, as does one of the teachers. There used to be three students with allergies, but now there is only one. I think that there have been materials provided. Whether that has been distributed to schools upon request or to all school councils, I'll have to check and get a response to the member.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, if I could make the suggestion to the minister, there is some very good material out there, and this is something that could be supported by school councils if the department could make a package available. I know that there was some scrambling going on by one school to find information, and perhaps the department could establish a short guidebook or something based on this information that's available, if I could make that suggestion to the minister.
Another issue with regard to the department and public comments around the department, the issue around the public schools branch report on February 25-28, 1999, was rather a sore point between the minister and myself - the public/not public report of the meeting - but, I'll get the exact reference of the report for the minister.
The report was Department of Education Public Schools Branch Action Plan, February 24-25, 1998. I'm sure the minister recalls it now. Could she provide an update as to what happened with that report?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In response to the public schools branch action plan, which was an exercise done with consultants within the public schools branch and was intended as a unit team-building exercise, there have been other meetings and workshops that have been done for follow-up. In June of 1998, personnel met to develop a yearly plan for better collaboration and communication among themselves. There have been regular information sharing meetings. In December of 1998, the public schools branch staff were surveyed on areas identified as being in need of attention, during the initial workshop in February, and the majority of issues were identified as no longer of concern.
In addition, in December, staff and management met to review the survey and develop a future plan to address outstanding issues. There has been a workshop for three days with personnel and management within the branch, as well as a superintendents' retreat to develop a strategy for initiating program development implementation and evaluation, as identified in the issues forum.
There is a future strategy being developed in implementing a workplace, quality of life and fitness strategy and, as a result of open dialogue, there are several other practices that have been put in place, including regular staff meetings and an open-door policy between staff and superintendents.
Staff are encouraged and invited to meet with management whenever they have topics that they want to discuss in relation to their daily work, and staff are participating in the budget target-setting process and other workplace processes that are important for staff.
So, in general, we characterize the workplace as healthy and productive. We've made an opportunity for staff to work with management and management to work with staff.
Chair: Do members wish to recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is there further general debate?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I don't want to re-hash yesterday's debate on Yukon First Nations teacher education program, but the minister indicated in her information to me on February 22 of this year - so I would assume it to be correct - that there were five non-Yukon First Nations students that were not being sponsored by the Yukon in attendance at the program. I am assuming that this figure is still current. It's only a couple of weeks old.
These individuals then, assumedly, are sponsored by another First Nation or by some other organization.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Another province or territory.
Can the minister also confirm the fees charged or the costs levied to these individuals is the same as it is for other individuals in the program. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I believe it to be the case that the First Nation students who are not members of Yukon First Nations are sponsored by their home First Nation. I will bring back the information as to whether the fees are identical.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in the discussion yesterday, there was a discussion around the report that had been released, the review of the program - the review and the recommendations were under discussion. The minister mentioned, either in written or in verbal form, that it is being reviewed by CYFN and the 14 First Nations. Is YTA also involved in discussions on the future of this program?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I will have to check on that, Mr. Chair. I will just take a quick look at the note on the Yukon native teacher education program. No, I won't. I believe I pulled that note out yesterday, so I'll bring an answer back for the member.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I can certainly understand and appreciate one of the philosophies underlying the program as an attempt to have First Nations study together. I'm thinking also of other programs - the all-girl math classes, for example. I can appreciate the desire to have all First Nations in this program. Is one of the options - considered, discussed or on the table - to have one year out of four where non-First Nations would be allowed to register? Is that an option that's on the table?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, under the five-year agreement that is signed, there is a call for an expanded advisory committee dominated by First Nation representation, as requested through consultation. I can ask for an update from the advisory committee and from the program as to whether that is under consideration.
I believe we're in agreement that it benefits both native students and non-native students to see First Nation teachers as role models. It is also beneficial to all of our children, regardless of their race, to have an understanding of Yukon First Nation cultural values and contributions to society. That's one of the goals and objectives in the Education Act, and the Yukon native teacher education program is one way of accomplishing that, as well as supporting local curriculum development, which we do on an ongoing basis.
Ms. Duncan: Absolutely; I don't disagree. Let me be as clear as I can be. I don't disagree philosophically with any of the objectives outlined by the minister. What I'm concerned about is the looming shortage of teachers. I don't want to get sidetracked into a lengthy discussion like the minister had yesterday, but the harsh reality of the fact is that we're going to need more teachers.
We also have non-First Nation Yukoners who would like to take this program; that's clear, and the minister had a lengthy discussion with the Member for Riverdale North about not offering concurrent programs and running parallel and - the debate went on.
My question: is having one every four years, one every three years, having X amount of non-Yukon First Nations, is that an option that's on the table? And when does the current five-year agreement expire? Could the minister refresh my memory?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the new five-year agreement was negotiated and signed by Yukon College, the University of Regina and the Department of Education in 1998. That would bring the expiry of that agreement to 2003.
The subject of teacher shortages is one that we are responding to in a number of ways. We have found that using a Web site to post vacancies has generated a lot of applications. We are looking at developing a further electronic version of what our needs are. We are also circulating a revised version of the "Teaching in the Yukon" handbook. We are also discussing with the college the possibility of offering a teacher education program whereby residents of the Yukon who already have an undergraduate degree could take a teacher education program for a year in order to get a teaching certificate. I know there's interest in that. People have spoken to me about it and the college is investigating, right now, what the need might be and when they might be able to accommodate that and see more trained, certified teachers in the Yukon so that they would be eligible for vacancies in the teaching profession.
Ms. Duncan: I still want the minister to indicate whether or not having - once every four years; once every three years - a limited number of non-First Nations participate in the YNTEP program is even on the table for discussion. Is it even an option?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have indicated that I will check with the YNTEP advisory committee and bring an answer back for the member on that.
Ms. Duncan: The non-Yukon First Nations that are registered in the Yukon program - is this part of the agreement that's signed with the University of Regina that the minister talked about? Or is this simply a case of other First Nations who have recognized the value of the Yukon program and elected to participate? Is there some protocol in place, or is this simply an appreciation of what the Yukon has to offer?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I can bring a response back on that, with the information on the fees that the member has requested. We attempt to fill the seats for the program. They are often under-subscribed by Yukon First Nations, and so then there are seats are available, but other First Nation citizens from outside the Yukon may wish to enroll, and they're able to.
I'll check into the specifics of the agreement on that subject.
Ms. Duncan: Just before I turn the debate over to my colleagues for more general debate, I would like to return to the subject of the training trust. And I'm not going to re-hash yesterday's debate, or re-hash the minister's answer at the opening of this debate.
I would like to state, for the record, that I asked for and received copies of a spreadsheet outlining the training trusts and outlining the funding involved, and it was last updated in January 1998.
A quick tally during yesterday's debate indicated that there was in excess of, over a number of years, $5 million in these trusts, put in by the government. "Trusts", Mr. Chair, is a word that I do not like to use with respect to these programs. They are not true trust funds. They are some kind of variation thereof, and they're all a little bit different.
The minister has been asked by the Member for Riverdale North for a commitment that the department will work with the college in this regard. Mr. Chair, I go further than that. Can the minister provide me with some reason why Yukon College has not been asked to administer all of these? There's a lot of money. There are a lot of different areas where these training trusts are dedicated. It seems to me that if we truly respect our partners in education and we support and believe in the future and in the institution of Yukon College, we should be asking them to do this. We should be giving them the responsibility to work with these partners.
The problem that I, as an opposition member, and our caucus members have with these is that it starts to appear that these little pots of money are buried everywhere. If you want to work on developing XYZ industry, this trust might apply or that grant or the other one. And, the college ends up as an afterthought. Then, there's yet another board established, and we've only got so many resources. Rewind the tape to the length of time it takes to appoint some First Nations representatives to school councils.
There are a lot of boards. There is a lot of volunteer work in this area, and it seems to me to be a duplication of effort to have the Department of Education administering training trusts and the minister being lobbied on the floor of this House to have the college work with those training trusts. Why aren't we asking the college to do this? Why aren't we assigning it the responsibility?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, training trust funds were created by the Yukon government to give community groups and industry the opportunity to make training decisions. Several communities in the Yukon have obtained training trust funds to identify and deliver training programs that meet their particular skills requirements. The training trust funds represent a commitment to partnership among the government and the private sector and the community.
I spoke yesterday about some of the examples of the training trust funds, and I have indicated that I will provide an update for the opposition on the training trust funds that exist and what kinds of training have been offered with them.
We have made a commitment to involve Yukon College in training trust funds. I fully recognize that Yukon College is an excellent post-secondary institution and the only one that we have in the Yukon. They have their central campus in Whitehorse and 13 satellite campuses in rural Yukon. Many of those satellite campuses in rural Yukon are involved in training trust funds - for example, in Carmacks and in Watson Lake.
It's a two-way street. Yukon College has worked closely with the Government of the Yukon to develop and implement training programs. The government recently released its revised training strategy with many new initiatives designed to prepare Yukon residents for opportunities in newly emerging economic sectors. The college has provided advice to advanced education, and advanced education also works with Yukon College.
We have seen training trust funds being very successful in providing for oil and gas instruction in various areas to take advantage of new economic opportunities in that area. The college has been involved. The college has been involved in the Kwanlin Dun airport training project, the Old Crow level 2 carpentry, the Ross River pre-trades qualifier, as well as some heavy equipment operator training for Burwash and for White River.
We're also working with Yukon College on literacy initiatives and the Canada/Yukon youth internship program.
The training trust funds are administered by boards that have a specific interest in various economic sectors; for example, mining and forestry and agriculture. They're also offered in communities.
I have made a commitment to work with the college. We are working with the college. Advanced education and the college are working together. We will continue to do that, and I believe we have a good working relationship with Yukon College, and I will continue doing my best to maintain that.
Ms. Duncan: I'm not criticizing the minister's working relationship. I'm not criticizing the people involved in the training trust boards.
Yukon College is a recognized institution within our territory and outside of the territory. It has agreements with other provinces. Yukon College has a board of governors. Yukon College has a three-year funding agreement with the Government of Yukon. Yukon College has advisory committees on programs, which they recruit from the private sector. There are boards that work on these training trusts.
What I'm trying to ask the minister - and what she is either unwilling to respond to or doesn't see the point is - it's a very simple question: what is the reason why the Government of Yukon would not assign Yukon College the responsibility of administering the training trust funds?
The minister has listed off a number of examples that have been successful under these funds, and she has said, "We have worked with Kwanlin Dun, we have worked with Liard -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: - Yukon College has. Well, why does the advanced education branch have to be involved? Could that responsibility not be assigned entirely to Yukon College? That's what I'm asking the minister, and that's what I'm not hearing a reason for why not. It seems to me it fits within Yukon College's mandate.
I'm sure there could be discussions undertaken with the staff involved. Is there a reason why they couldn't? If there's some specific reason in law and some specific reason that I'm not hearing in their mandate, then that's all I'm asking the minister to state, but I haven't heard that yet, and that's what I'm looking for.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, let me take another stab at that for the member - and I appreciate the member's representation.
The Yukon government has made a commitment, as part of our economic planning agenda, to support training trust funds as a core part of our training strategy. That was developed in consultation with the public, with industry and with the college, among others. We do not want to deny industry sectors and community groups the ability to make decisions about their specific training needs. We do encourage training trust fund activities to use the college whenever they can, where the college can deliver the training.
We have, in many cases, had either ex officio members of the Yukon College involved or had members of the training trust fund boards there, who represent Yukon College. There have been good collaborative efforts with community campuses.
We continue to support Yukon College. We also are going to support the goals of the training strategy to support industry-specific and community-specific training needs through training trust funds.
Ms. Duncan: The minister's two key points were that the government has made a commitment to training trusts. There's no reason why the government can't delegate the fulfillment of that commitment to Yukon College.
I still haven't heard a reason.
The minister has said we do not want to deny the ability for communities to make decisions about training required in their community. Asking Yukon College to fulfill that responsibility wouldn't deny the ability of a community to make decisions, because communities have Yukon College representation. They work with Yukon College now.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre can come in this House and table a report that suggests we establish a department of labour, and I can remember, like many Yukoners, when it used to be education, advanced education and manpower.
Governments make decisions about departments and responsibilities all the time.
I'm asking the minister to discuss it, to review it, to come back to me with an answer why the government wouldn't delegate the responsibility for training trusts to Yukon College. If the minister wants to come back in written form and say, "Because we don't want to, politically", then that's the answer. But I'd like to know if there's some legislative stumbling block, or is it political will? Like I said, governments make decisions about the assignment of responsibility all the time, and it seems to me it would make the best use of resources to have Yukon College do this.
I haven't heard an argument as to why not, and that's what I'm looking for from the minister.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I provided some examples yesterday in debate with the Member for Riverdale North on the subject of training trust funds, where they have been used in ways that the college would not deliver. As an example, the Association of Community Youth Initiatives, which we set up in order to support a training trust fund for youth, with youth members on the board making decisions about the funding, has chosen to provide $22,500 for supporting a youth conference.
A youth conference is not part of the mandate or the program delivery that Yukon College normally engages in.
Now, the member's colleague, when I made the announcement about the establishment of a training trust fund for women's transition funds, indicated her support for the training trust fund, saying that the money from this fund will be disbursed by a three-person committee made up of representatives from the three transition homes, and that this seems like a practical and very fair approach.
We want to encourage the training trust fund boards to use the college where the college can offer the training, and we are very upfront about that. The department is able to support training in various ways that the college would not be able to do. This includes some of the examples that I provided yesterday, and I believe mentioned again today, for wage subsidies for trainees such as the college access road expansion and the airport runway extension.
The member has asked for a written response, as well as what I've said in this debate. What I can do is review the Blues and come back with a further response for the member on this subject.
Ms. Duncan: I'll leave it that for now.
I just have one other question to deal with at this point, and it also relates to responsibility and direction of the government.
Can the minister just outline what process has been established for the Education Act review?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: At the present time, we are in discussions with education partners - the Yukon Teachers Association, with First Nations and with school councils. What we would like to do is set up an advisory committee that would function as a steering committee to develop a review process with input from all of the partners.
We, as the department, are not saying, here's the review process, and then going out and speaking to First Nations, and school councils, and Yukon Teachers Association. We're creating a steering committee that involves the partners in determining the review process itself. We hope to have a steering committee - there are discussions underway now. We hope that the steering committee can be in place by the fall, and then, at that time, we could launch the actual Education Act review process, which we'll allow at least two years for, because there's a lot of interest, and people want to have a reasonable amount of time to respond to various issues that may be identified in the review.
Ms. Duncan: Then, can the minister just restate for the record when the results of the review - she said a two-year process from there, so fall of 2000 for the committee, 2002, say, for the results of the review, 2003 or 2004 for legislative changes. Am I following that process she's outlined?
Obviously not correctly, she's shaking her head. Could she just review the time frame?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: We hope to have a steering committee functioning by the fall of 1999, and be able to start a two-year review process in 1999, which would then see it ending in 2001.
Now, it may happen that, with the partners involved in designing the review process, they recommend that it take three years, instead of two years. But the general time frames are that we would have a review process in place for the fall of 1999, to start then, and to allow at least two years for the review.
Mr. Jenkins: I have a number of questions for the minister arising out of the debate here this afternoon.
If we could take the minister to the training trust funds and the issue as to why, in one of the programs, it didn't work, because there was no mechanism for establishing a rate for people in training, could the minister advise the House if that area has been addressed and resolved?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There have been discussions with employers, labour groups, advanced education and the labour services branch of the Department of Justice about the need for a training wage. I don't have anything to announce to the member now. We recognize that a training wage might help with ensuring people are trained and become employable and are hired, and we're looking at how we can accommodate that.
Mr. Jenkins: So, what the minister is saying is that currently there is no training wage established for work under this program. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister advise the House what the timelines are for establishing such a wage? Now, I understand that the minister has gone on at great length to outline whom the consultation process is taking place with, but this is one of the impediments to the successful integration of this into the workforce - the establishment of a training wage for people in the various trades and professions.
Could the minister advise the House as to a timeline for the establishment of such a wage?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As I am sure that the member opposite is aware, we do have an apprenticeship program that covers many occupations in the Yukon, and there are wage scales where, at various levels of the apprenticeship, a different percentage of the wage is paid, up to 100 percent.
The member is talking about expanding beyond that to allow a training wage for occupations that are not apprenticable trades. I hope to be able to have a decision on that later this spring.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, that is one of the areas, Mr. Chair, that is causing grief in the implementation of this program. Some of these programs are very, very worthwhile, but they're not be used to the maximum because of the lack of a training wage. When you have to take people on and pay them the same wage as a journeyman or a fully qualified individual - who is working side-by-side - and pay them the same wage as that individual in order to train them, it's not fair and it reflects poorly on both sides.
So, I would urge the minister to bring forth some sort of a process. She could use something similar to the apprenticeship program, where they're paid a percentage of the journeyman, or whatever, but there has to be some mechanism in there that would establish a fair wage for these individuals in a training program.
Now, the minister did indicate this spring - and I would hope that it could be in place prior to the commencement of this construction season and the timelines for this commencement this spring. Can the minister give that assurance, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, that's a goal that I'm working toward. We want to support recognized training programs for trades that are not presently part of the apprenticeship program. I will bring an answer back for the member as soon as I can.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I hope it's resolved because it is a very serious issue, Mr. Chair.
One of the other areas that I explored at the last session was the capacity of Robert Service School in Dawson City.
I'd like to thank the minister for finally getting back to me on February 23 of this year with a non-answer to the question, offering me the opportunity to go and look at the drawings for the school.
So, I've gone back and researched my notes and my understanding of things at that time, and I would ask the minister to table the consultants service agreement that is in place between the Department of Education, Government Services acting on behalf of the Department of Education, and the architects that were hired for the initial design of that school. Now, that consultants service agreement can be readily found and I don't see any need to spend any more time, if the minister would just give us an undertaking here to table it, please.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I will have the department officials look and see whether that document is, indeed, available, and if it is, I will provide it for the member.
On the subject of the Robert Service School, we are continuing to work with the Robert Service School Council on meeting their needs.
Mr. Jenkins: For the minister's advice, Mr. Chair, I can advise that the consultants services agreement provides for a nominal capacity of 200, which includes 170 students and 14 staff. The total capacity, including students and staff, was subsequently raised to 240. What I would like is for the minister to provide and table the outline as to how the department is going to establish the occupancy load and number of students that can fit into any given structure. We have to have a process in place and guidelines in place for this type of a situation, because we're constantly varying the rules of the game.
I would ask the minister to table the current rules that they're using to establish the school capacities throughout Yukon.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I will respond to the member on that.
I want to make it clear for the member that we have agreed and met with the Robert Service School Council to assess the effectiveness of the use of space at the Robert Service School. The school council did not have a quorum at their February meeting, so we're awaiting the results of their March meeting to continue to take direction from the school council on the survey of the space needs and planning for the Robert Service School.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, what I'm asking the minister to table are the guidelines that her department is using to establish how that space is being used - the plan that is in place that her department is using to decide what the optimum student occupancy load should be.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I said that I would provide the response for the member. I will provide a response for the member to that question.
Mr. Jenkins: Could I ask for an undertaking from the minister that that information be provided before the session rises?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I don't foresee any difficulty with that request. I will provide a response to the member, and if the information isn't completely available before the end of the session, I will indicate that to him in writing. I anticipate that we can have a full answer for him before the end of the session.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, it's just that I'm still receiving responses from last fall's debate, Mr. Chair. That's why I'd like to get some timelines down on the provision of information in a more timely fashion.
Could the minister advise the House as to just where we're at, with respect to the portables in Dawson City, and what arrangements have been struck?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As I indicated in response to the previous question, the Robert Service School Council is going to be getting back to us after their March meeting. They were intending to discuss this at their February meeting, but they didn't have a quorum. At their March meeting, they will discuss the subject and will get back to the department.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister must have some idea beyond what she's just outlined in the House - that she's waiting for the school council to get back to her. Now, I know she's aware of a game plan, and there's a game plan in place.
Could the minister just enlighten the House with where we are going with respect to the portables?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, we have made a commitment to review the capacity of Robert Service School; we're working with the school council on that. The school council is the lead on education matters in Dawson City. They will look at programming, as well as capacity.
I've indicated that we are continuing to work with the Robert Service School Council, and can provide the member with updates.
Mr. Jenkins: One of the other issues, Mr. Chair, that I didn't get a very satisfactory answer from the minister or from Government Services on was with respect to classroom lighting and the standards that seem to be varying between facilities.
How are we going to address that issue, because there is quite a variance with the lighting standards within our various institutions? Are we going to establish and adopt a uniform policy, or are we just going to leave it where it currently is, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I will discuss that subject with my colleague, the Minister of Government Services, and will provide him with a written response.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the last written response I received from the minister - if I could read back what the minister said in her letter that is dated June 13, 1997: "Light levels are not uniformly applied in all schools. Many schools have lowered levels by de-lamping their fluorescent fixtures, particularly in areas such as corridors where high levels of lighting are not required." That makes an abundant amount of sense, but in the preamble to that, it says that, "This is not an issue about which there is a uniform agreement."
I'd like to ask the minister, given that lighting is so important, why there isn't a uniform agreement with respect to lighting standards.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, as I've said, Mr. Chair, that's a subject that covers both Education and Government Services. I will discuss the question with my colleague, the Minister of Government Services, and will be happy to provide him with a written response. If he's not satisfied, he could also take the matter up again with the Minister of Government Services.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, in all other industries, there are standards for offices for all types of occupations, and the only one that we appear to not have adopted a standard for are classrooms, and that gives rise to the question of why.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, as I've said, I've taken notice of the question and I will provide him with a response.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could the minister provide me with an update on the discussions with the City of Whitehorse respecting school busing? This is an initiative that's on-again, off-again. The talks seemed to slow down, and then there were changes in personnel.
Is there any political will, either at the territorial level or at the City of Whitehorse level, to see an agreement reached with the Department of Education on making use of City of Whitehorse transit buses?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, yes, there is. We had a lot of discussions with the Whitehorse busing committee and the City of Whitehorse. Those discussions did not result in a change for the present school year. We indicated that we would initiate them again, and we will.
Ms. Duncan: Maybe 1999-2000, maybe 2001; we hope so. If I could just urge the minister to keep working on that, it's something that a lot of Yukoners and Whitehorse residents have expressed a desire to see some agreement on and to see some progress on.
When we were discussing the training trusts, I neglected to ask the minister for an update on the January 1998 spreadsheet that officials provided me with last year. She did say -
Okay, the minister is indicating she will get that to me.
The previous training trust spreadsheet doesn't include any evaluation on the trusts. For example, there is not a column that says, "95 people trained" - statistics is what I'm looking for, statistics on how many people have taken the training and how many people are now employed using that training. If the department keeps that information, I'd like that as well.
On the subject of editorials, I neglected to ask the minister about an editorial that appeared in the LDAY newsletter.
It had to do with the subject of literacy. Dare we ask why it is that our students are unable to read past the time when one would expect that.
I would ask the minister if she reviewed the editorial - it's from the fall of this year - and also if she could outline the relationship between the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the department, and any cooperative initiatives that are undertaken between the department and that particular organization.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, the focus of our contributions for literacy programming is $150,000 per year, a three-year contribution agreement with Yukon Learn. We also have provided funds to the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon for software and an inservice on how the software can be applied to literacy instruction, as well as for workshops in rural communities on literacy programs.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there is no increase in the support to LDAY in the budget we're discussing then. Is that what the minister is saying?
Okay, it's a separate line item, separate department, the minister's telling me. So, I'll save that question for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Chair: Is there further debate?
Mr. Phillips: I move that you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker 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 the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 14, First Appropriation Act, 1999-2000, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:26 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled March 9, 1999:
Whitehorse Correctional Institute staffing: personnel allotments. (Moorcroft)
Written Question No. 9 dated February 23, 1999 by Mr. Cable