Wednesday, April 21, 1999 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed 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: I have for tabling Restorative Justice in Yukon: An Overview.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to advise members about a policy initiative that will foster healthy Yukon communities by easing the transition of hospital patients back to community life. Funding for hospital-to-home links was first announced in the budget speech on February 22. Today, I am pleased to announce details of how this program will be implemented.
The Whitehorse General Hospital has been given additional funding of $140,000 to enhance social work and psychiatric nursing services. The goal is to work to reducing unnecessary hospitalization and improving community support for two client groups in particular. These two groups are frail or elderly persons who need extra support when they are discharged from hospital and people whose mental health problems require coordination between hospital services and community-based services.
For patients being discharged, the social worker will work with patients, families, physicians and community nurse practitioners or community services, such as home care or Meals on Wheels. The social worker will also help identify ways to avoid or shorten hospital stays when the client's needs can be met in the community.
The addition of a second psychiatric nurse will ensure that people experiencing mental health difficulties will benefit from specialized mental health nursing care while they are in hospital or after they are discharged. This service will be available seven days a week.
For people with serious mental health problems, access to hospital-based care is important. It is equally important to make sure that the support is available to them to help them live with safety, dignity and purpose in their own homes and communities.
The hospital-to-home link, together with a timely follow-up by community mental health services, will ensure that people with serious mental health problems are cared for and supported outside the hospital setting.
Mr. Speaker, this initiative represents a major advance in fostering healthy Yukon communities. I would like to commend the Whitehorse General Hospital for its work in partnership with our government to make this service possible.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Yukon Party caucus and office of the official opposition, I rise to respond to the minister's statement regarding the hospital-to-home links program.
As was identified by a task force to combine Yukon's mental health services into an efficient network last fall, service provided to mental health patients are underdeveloped, and mental health services in the hospital need improvement.
Given the need to improve the appropriateness and quality of services provided to people with acute and/or chronic severe mental health problems, I believe the decision to add a second psychiatric nurse to the Whitehorse General Hospital is a wise move and a positive initiative that will certainly alleviate some of the challenges that exist today.
As the minister stated, access to hospital-based care is important to people with mental health problems. Help with advising family members with how to support patients and advising patients on how to take care of themselves will be of great benefit to the patients themselves and also to their family members.
Specialized nursing care in the hospital is critical to the patients' ability to recover. Just as important, however, is the need to provide services after a patient is discharged, whether it is helping with housing, how to access vocational services or how to fit in with the rest of the community.
One of the goals of the task force was to see that each community had one contact person at the Whitehorse General Hospital to respond to questions about how persons should be assessed and to how to manage their situation. Having a liaison person for rural communities to call makes a lot of sense in the delivery of services which will make it more streamlined and more efficient.
Perhaps the minister could advise as to whether either of the two nurses will be responsible for providing this service to the outlying communities. If not, what are the government's plans in seeing this service come to fruition?
I'd also like to ask the minister as to how his government is acting upon all of the recommendations, as identified by the task force, and if our caucus could also receive an update with respect to initiatives taken by the department to respond to the needs of patients with mental health problems.
Last November, in an article in one of the local papers, reference was made to a need for a 24-hour non-clinical crisis support facility that would provide a place where people could go that wasn't a hospital, and could access some kind of emergency services.
I would like to ask the minister if he's given any thought to such a facility, and also has any work been done with respect to the issue of emergency services?
I'd also like to ask the minister if any of the funding as identified in the hospital-to-home links program is dedicated to rural Yukon.
As the minister is aware, there are many people who have chosen to retire in the communities who require continuing care services. As most of them do not wish to relocate to Whitehorse, I believe additional assistance like that identified in the hospital-to-home links programs would be of great benefit to many rural Yukoners.
Again, I'm pleased to offer our support to the hospital-to-home links program, and look forward to hearing more about this initiative.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Liberal caucus to respond to this ministerial statement on hospital-to-home links. This program, that's going to be delivered by the Whitehorse General Hospital, was discussed at some length during the Health debate back in March of this year. This statement is a rehash of the extended conversation that the minister and I had on this very issue and about a hospital program that all parties support. And so, at $1,150 an hour for Hansard costs alone, Mr. Speaker, I find it strange that the minister feels that he has to repeat that conversation again.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Just with reference to the fact that I had mentioned this before - as I had advised the House on the 22nd during the budget speech - during the Health debate, it was discussed in some detail. However, surprising as it may seem to the Member for Riverdale South, not everyone has their radios tuned in for that. I think they may have been deprived of our cogent conversation there, so I felt it was worthwhile to repeat and to give some further details on it.
The Member for Klondike has made reference to a review of mental health services. I'll just take a moment to make some reference to that. These positions, by the way, were two positions that were identified by the hospital to us as what they saw as key needs. So, when we were discussing with them where we were going with delivering services, particularly at the community level, we felt these were positions that we needed to support. We worked with the hospital on this.
In a similar manner, they gave us an indication that they wanted to see an enhancement of the diabetes education program, which we've also enhanced. So I think what this is, is a response to community needs coming forward, and we're very pleased to be part of that and to be able to support the hospital and support citizens.
There are a number of changes that have gone on as a result of that review. I can provide some of the highlights to the member, and perhaps I can provide more detail in the form of a letter, but if I could just take a moment, we've been moving from a one-to-one counselling to more of a group counselling program within there. We've recruited two community mental health nurses, which has brought the mental health staff up to complement. We've enhanced the intake process for mental health. We're doing more consultation with our social services colleagues to try to meet some of those special needs that people with mental health problems have, such as geo-diagnosis, and so on.
We've done more training of Health and Social Services colleagues. We are also working on the idea of recruiting a second psychiatrist for the Yukon, and we've been working with a mental health professional to act as a key contact, or liaison, with resource people in communities.
So, we're working on some of those things that have been identified, but I can provide that to the member in a bit more detail in the form of a letter.
I'd just like to say that this is something we're very pleased about. I think it's going to enhance services. I had a meeting just last Friday with the Canadian Mental Health Association, which is sort of trying to get a bit more active in the territory. They were very supportive of this particular idea. They felt this was very much in keeping with the idea of trying to make mental health services far more of a community-type service so they were supportive of this idea and we're happy to support people in their needs.
Restorative justice: public consultation
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, our government sees the need to change our justice system to better reflect the values and needs of Yukon communities.
I rise to advise members of a major step forward in our government's policy of involving Yukon people directly in that process of change.
Our government believes people must be consulted about potential changes to the justice system. It is important for communities themselves to take a direct role in determining what changes should be made and how these changes should be implemented.
Many societies have begun to recognize the need to look beyond retribution or punishment as the foundation of their criminal justice systems. The Yukon has shown considerable leadership in seeking positive alternatives to diversion programs, community policing, community justice programs and measures to address the needs and rights of victims. We recognize that new approaches are required to change the orientation of the mainstream justice system toward restoring balance and harmony to a community affected by criminal actions.
Restorative justice is a different way of delivering justice services. It looks at the effect of criminal behaviour on victims, the community and the offender, and involves community members in repairing the harm caused by crime.
Last December, the Justice department began drafting a discussion paper on restorative justice as a way of promoting dialogue among Yukon people on this important topic. That paper was based on several principles, including the need to ensure public safety by preventing crime; the need for people to take personal responsibility for their actions; the need for programs that are effective in rehabilitating offenders; respect for community decision making; and, a commitment to address the needs of victims.
It is now time for the next stage in the process. Immediately after this legislative sitting ends, I will be visiting all Yukon communities to hear what Yukon people have to say about future directions for justice in the territory.
I'm pleased that the commanding officer of the RCMP in the Yukon, Chief Superintendent John Spice, will accompany me on this tour. He is also firmly committed to restorative justice as a way of dealing with conflict and crime, and sees these community consultations as an opportunity for change.
In preparation for these community consultations, a series of issue bulletins is being prepared to provide background information on key aspects of the mainstream justice system. The first bulletin, which I tabled a few moments ago, gives an overview of the upcoming discussions. Other bulletins will deal with such topics as alternative measures, community and aboriginal justice projects, community justice processes, correctional reform, court reform, crime prevention, criminal prosecutions, funding mechanisms, policing policy, victim services and youth justice.
I encourage all Yukon people to read these bulletins and to participate in these discussions, which will make a positive contribution to the goal of fostering safe and healthy communities throughout the Yukon.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Phillips: As has often been the case on the floor of this Legislature, Mr. Speaker, this ministerial statement fails to report anything significantly new. Rather, the statement before members today is yet another example of another government initiative that has been announced over and over and over again.
As members will recall, the restorative justice initiative was first announced in April 1998. It was re-announced last December, in a ministerial statement, and was re-announced in the government's budget address in February and, today, it has been re-announced yet again.
Mr. Speaker, the government should really be presented with an academy award for its repeat performance of recycled announcements, and its failure to show some leadership in the think-tank department.
The fact that the minister chose today, Mr. Speaker, which is interesting - opposition motion day - to make this ministerial statement is yet another example of this government's lack of respect for this Legislature and members opposite, as they'd like to take up the time that is supposed to be set aside for members opposite to present their motions.
Despite the blatant disrespect and arrogance that continues to be shown by the government, I do have a few words which I'd like to say in response to the statement.
As I stated in my tribute to Law Day, Yukoners have come to learn all too well that there is very little justice in our legal system, and they've come to learn the hard way that the justice system does not always work in the territory. It's a system, Mr. Speaker, that costs millions of dollars, but appears to produce little other than heartache and pain.
Like other jurisdictions in Canada, Yukon's justice system's in trouble, and changes must be made to restore the public's confidence in the justice system. The previous Yukon Party government held extensive consultations with Yukoners in every community, regarding crime and the Yukon's justice system, which lead to the Talking About Crime report.
I believe the Talking About Crime report was a good initiative, in which a number of good recommendations were made, including the need to address the root causes of crime, to hold offenders accountable, and to provide victims with more of a voice in the system.
The concerns that were heard then haven't changed all that much, Mr. Speaker. If anything, these concerns have become more prevalent among Yukoners, leaving many of them feeling helpless and discouraged with our justice system.
While I believe people must be consulted about changing our justice system to reflect the needs of our communities, I believe people are growing tired of talking about what is wrong, and want to know, instead, what the government is doing in response to concerns that have been relayed to it over years, Mr. Speaker - years. Yukoners want action.
Mr. Speaker, one of the biggest complaints in the Talking About Crime report that we heard is about government individuals continually coming around all the time saying they're listening, and nothing ever happening. Mr. Speaker, they want more than talk. They want action.
There was a lot of useful information that was derived from the discussions that were held in the communities not that long ago on the Talking About Crime initiative. I would hope that this information would be used as a basis for future discussions, and that we're not simply trying to reinvent the wheel.
As I mentioned last December, members of the Yukon's judiciary are key components of our justice system and should therefore be involved in any discussions or consultations that are going to be held in the near future with respect to restoring a balance in our system.
In view of recent court decisions made by members of our judiciary that appear to be unfair and unjust in the public's eye, I would hope that our judiciary offers their full participation in these discussions and that they become part of the solution and are supportive of the decisions made by all Yukoners.
I noted today that the Chief Superintendent of the RCMP will be touring with the Yukon minister. I would urge the Yukon minister to invite the Chief Territorial Court Judge to tour with them as well.
As I mentioned earlier, the restorative justice initiative was first announced over a year ago. Yet, consultations are just now going to begin.
Given the fact that it's taken this long to get discussions underway, I am hoping that it'll take the government a lot less time to follow through with the recommendations that come forward.
The Yukon Party caucus is pleased to support restorative justice initiatives and looks forward to hearing from Yukoners again, and hopes that the government will act on what it hears this time, and not just consult, consult, consult and do nothing.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cable: I rise on behalf of the Liberal Party to respond to the minister's statement on restorative justice. The minister, in her ministerial statement of last December 7, had covered the reasons for the government's restorative justice initiative and her intention to carry out consultations.
The Liberal Party is on record as supportive of both the restorative justice initiative and the public consultations, so I don't need to till that ground again.
The minister's overview pamphlet tabled today, sets out the principles behind restorative justice. I think the last paragraph was worthy of reading into the record. "Restorative justice can be summarized as a philosophy that recognizes crimes are committed against people and not just committed against the state. Furthermore, this type of justice emphasizes the resolution of conflict over punishment."
Our caucus fully supports that direction for the minister. If ownership of the justice systems is to be restored to Canadians, that principle has to be the beacon guiding us, because I think the statement that was read out of the pamphlet encapsulates the thinking of most Canadians.
We in the Liberal caucus are particularly pleased that the Chief Superintendent of the RCMP, representing the policing function, will accompany the minister on her tour, and it will be useful to hear from the minister who else will be accompanying her - what other groups and stakeholders will be represented.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I would like to assure the Member for Riverdale North that I respect this House and I also respect the desires of the Yukon public to make change. That is why we're doing this work. That's why it's important to draw attention to this work.
Our government has demonstrated an awful lot of leadership in responding to crime in our communities. We've brought forward a crime prevention and victim services trust fund that has this year supported some community projects. The Act to Amend the Limitation of Actions Act brought forward benefits for victims. We've seen in the Liard community the successful signature of a tripartite policing arrangement, which involves the First Nation there and their Dena Keh community justice project. We've recently announced that Crime Prevention Yukon will be housed in the Roger Street building, and that the Yukon government is providing that so that there can be a storefront operation in downtown Whitehorse so that the many new crime prevention programs that are being undertaken by Crime Prevention Yukon and by community groups with governments will have an accessible location.
We've supported the Skookum Jim First Nation diversion program for youth and youth recreation leadership programs in a number of communities. All of those are just some of the new actions that this government has taken. I believe it is worth acknowledging in a ministerial statement today that we welcome and are looking for public input on how to have effective rehabilitation. What we all want to see is effective rehabilitation for offenders, effective crime prevention measures, correctional reform and victims' services.
We are working to see a victim-centred approach to offender management. I've spoken about some of the alternative measures we have in place that are very successful. Visitors in the gallery are aware of some of the community programs and how well they're working around the Yukon. We can benefit from what we hear from the Yukon public about alternative measures and about our policing policy.
So I would encourage the members opposite to go beyond making partisan shots and to contribute to a solution for creating a better justice system in the Yukon that's based on a model of restorative justice, of bringing justice closer to home, which can be a healing process for victims and offenders and communities. It is time and an opportunity for change.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Coroner position, vacancy
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Justice.
Mr. Speaker, it's come to my attention that the Yukon coroner may soon be leaving the Yukon and I'm not aware of any Public Service Commission advertisement yet to seek applicants for this position.
Can the minister advise the House if the government will be seeking to fill this position locally before advertising outside the territory?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, what I can advise the House is that I do not have the information with me as to the exact date of the effective date of the resignation of the coroner.
I can also assure the member that we will follow our normal hiring procedures that the department, not the minister, use in advertising for positions. There is no political decision making about who gets hired and who gets fired. Our procedure is to advertise within the Yukon to seek qualified, local candidates as the first step toward filling vacancies.
Mr. Phillips: Well, that's my fear, Mr. Speaker, that in filling this position the government might follow its normal hiring practices, which have been abnormal, to say the least.
The NDP's track record in filling senior Yukon government positions with Yukoners isn't a good one. The deputy minister position of the Executive Council Office and the chief land claims negotiator's job were both filled by individuals coming from the NDP government in B.C.
So I would like to ask the minister to assure this House that the coroner's position will not be filled by a hand-picked individual, that it'll be a fair and open competition and that Yukoners will be considered first for the job. Will she give that assurance?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, it is a completely unfounded and scurrilous accusation that we have a hand-picked candidate for the position of coroner. That's not how we hire. Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member that this government has increased local hire by 30 percent over the record of the previous Yukon Party government.
Mr. Phillips: We won't get into the numbers game because, as the minister knows, her numbers are inaccurate.
Will the minister confirm or deny today that the information that I've received, that she has already met with an individual from outside, apparently a close friend of the Deputy Minister of the ECO, who is being considered to fill the Yukon coroner's position? Has she met with an individual for that position?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, first of all, I'm glad that the member opposite isn't going to try to get into the numbers game. We saw him yesterday accusing me of cutting the college budget when, in fact, we've increased the college budget and, aside from that, put $700,000 into building a new college road - budgets that that member voted against.
The member has asked whether I've - how did he put it? - had a meeting with a candidate. Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. I don't know what rumour mill the member is basing his questions on, but I can assure him that he is completely out to lunch.
Question re: Range Road mobile home development project
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. On September 11, there was a picture in a local newspaper showing a smiling minister putting up a sign at the official opening of the new NDP Range Road mobile home development project.
The caption read that the minister and the Government Leader get their hands dirty at the launching of the new Range Road mobile home development project. Well, little wonder their hands were dirty, as they were creating what appears to be a $2 million mud bog that no one wants to live in. Can the minister advise the house how many agreements for sale they currently have for these lots?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The member knows, from the questions that have been asked in this House, where we are with this project. It is not completed yet. We said that the contractors went into late fall and, because of weather, will be continuing construction of the mobile home lots this spring and summer.
Mr. Speaker, I did tell the member that it would give us an opportunity to work throughout the winter. I know that we'll get additional interest once the mobile home park is up and ready, so that people can see where they could be moving to. We will also again be boosting the programs offered through Yukon Housing Corporation.
Presently, we have approximately - I don't have the numbers in front of me - 19 applications.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister will recall that I questioned the economics of this mobile home development since it was first announced. I stated it would become a major boondoggle, and to date I haven't seen anything that would convince me otherwise.
Can the minister explain why a mobile home owner would want to pay $32,000 for a lot, then factor in the moving and upgrading charges to improve the quality and safety of their own mobile home, when it would be much more economical to invest in a new home, especially given the prices in today's market here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member is assuming that all of those costs are going to be borne by the mobile home owners. We have programs in place for moving and repairing their units. The member speaks of a "high end". Not all of the lots cost the same. I think the highest one brought forward by the corporation was $32,000. I know that they're reviewing it to see if there are ways to reduce the cost of those lots.
Mr. Speaker, there are programs in place for people to use to upgrade their homes, to move their homes - their trailer units - to the mobile home lots, and we're taking care of a problem and a concern that the mobile home owners had asked us to do. It's a health and safety issue that we're looking at. We're trying to move them into better units, and a better place to live - move them on their own lots eventually, that they will own, and pay on, rather than renting a pad.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I guess we're getting to the crux of the situation, with respect to these lots, Mr. Speaker - that they're not going to be sold under the current policy, which is recovery of the development cost. Is there going to be a new formula in place by this government to sell these lots, that the government will absorb a considerable amount of the upfront development costs, before these are sold to the general public?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the final costs of developing the mobile home lots have not changed, and the construction is not finished yet. We haven't got the final dollars in place. If anything additional comes up - which we don't foresee at this point - we'd have to deal with it at that point, but right now we're using cost recovery for the lots, and Mr. Speaker, we still feel that, with the programs we have in place, to help these mobile home owners to move their units - upgrade and move them - to this mobile home lot, that it's more beneficial to them to get a better home, to get a safer environment than what they could be living in, in some of the unsafe areas, and unsafe mobile home lots. So it's taking care of a health and safety issue. It's looking at how we can upgrade the living conditions - some of which are very poor -
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Question re: Technology Innovation Centre
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Government Services relating to the Technology Innovation Centre. The minister, in his press release of March 11, stated that the Yukon government was committing $275,000 in seed money to establish the Technology Innovation Centre and to support research at the centre.
The centre has been brought up on many occasions during this session by government ministers, both the minister himself and his colleagues, and we're getting mixed signals from the government on what the centre will be doing. The objectives in the terms of reference talk about the development of innovative information technology, and the minister's press release seems to emphasize this. Yet, other ministers have talked about research in northern climates.
So, just for the record, what is this centre supposed to be doing? What does the minister see the Technology Innovation Centre doing?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can understand that there may be some confusion because the centre itself is housed at the Northern Research Institute, which has had a very strong track record in such things as building for northern climates, and so on and so forth. We asked the Northern Research Institute to be the home for the centre.
With respect to the amount of money, I need to correct that: $75,000 is actually for the administration of the centre - that's an agreement that we signed with the Northern Research Institute - and, then, the $200,000 is seed money to help fund projects.
We've had an interim steering committee established of business and education partners like the Yukon Chamber, Yukon College, Yukon Net Operating Society, Northwestel, Computer Information Processing Society, and others working with us. Our goal is, indeed, to explore new applications for technology, to improve information technology, for one thing, and the opportunities to help Yukon businesses develop a knowledge-based economy. Now there was reference - I do recall -
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Mr. Cable: We can finish that conversation in the members' lounge, perhaps. I know the minister is doing his best to get it all out, but maybe he could talk a little faster.
But the minister's press release talked about seed money, which suggests that the funds are start-up funds. Just so we're clear, is this government committed to keeping this centre going after this budget year? Should we be expecting an allotment for the centre in next year's budget?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, indeed. We'll be continuing on with, of course, funding the centre, but the seed money, the fund itself, is designed to encourage projects, and hopefully there will be some payback. By presenting some seed money, there will be in a sense a bit of a reinvestment, a bit of money coming back to help keep that fund going.
What I was trying to say before - and I'll speak very, very rapidly in the spirit of information technology - is that there were actually two initiatives. The climate change centre was one that was sponsored by my colleague in Renewable Resources, and this is the Technology Innovation Centre. So, we are focusing in on information technology.
Mr. Cable: I thank the minister for speeding up his answer.
I wonder if the minister can give us some information on timelines. One of the first orders of business was the establishment of an advisory council. Where does this sit? When are we going to see it? And when are we going to see the centre up and running?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, first of all, I am going to have to take speed talking classes, because what I didn't get in was the fact that yes, our commitment is ongoing. I don't think I was clear on that, that the $200,000 per year will be ongoing as well.
But with regard to the interim steering committee, they have met twice and are developing the workplan. The centre opening is tentatively planned for this summer, and once the centre is established, the interim group will disappear, and there will be an ongoing advisory committee who will review the operations of the centre and review work with the fund itself.
Question re: Tagish, lot development and sales
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and it concerns the development of new lots and the sale of those lots in the Tagish area.
In August of last year, this minister said that lots on the west side of the Tagish River would not go into public lottery. A month later, he completely changed his mind and said that they would.
In response to a petition that I delivered to this House in November of 1998, the minister again repeated that a public lottery would be held to sell these lots. That land sale is scheduled for later this year.
Mr. Speaker, residents have opposed this plan from the start. Why has the minister gone back on his original commitment?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Firstly, Mr. Speaker, we have not gone back on our original commitment. We said we would work with the people and we've continued to work with the people. We said that we are looking to define, because certainly there's been some usage overlapping on lots in the area, and we looked to define it. We sent letters to all of the folks who are looking for an extension of their land. We've done that. We've given every opportunity and we'll continue to take every opportunity to work with the people out there on this problem.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, it's interesting that the minister brings that topic up because, despite repeated requests that the minister attend a public meeting to discuss these plans with Tagish residents, he has thus far refused.
Now, there is another meeting scheduled for the last week of May or early June. Will the minister commit that he will attend this meeting?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely wrong. I have never refused to meet with the people in the Tagish area. I've met with them; I have open meetings with them, and I'll continue that. There's a two-way street to my office and it can be used in both ways, so, I will continue to work with the people in the area.
Mrs. Edelman: Revisionist history is not a great way to make your point. However, if the minister does go ahead with this unwanted lot development, there will be new local improvement charges for residents who already live in the area. Now, these higher taxes are to pay for things like the new access road to the new lots, things that the residents don't want in the first place.
Can the minister tell the House - and Tagish residents who currently live on the west bank of the Tagish River - what new local improvement charges will come with the new development?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The member is rambling on, I think, if I can say it in that way. We committed that we're not going to raise taxes. She's alluded to the point that there were going to be higher taxes - absolutely false, absolutely wrong, Mr. Speaker.
We're going to continue to work with the people of Tagish West, Tagish East, people generally within my riding, wherever my ministerial portfolio takes me to work with those people, and we'll do that in a meaningful, fair and consistent manner. And no, there will be no raise in taxes.
Question re: Education, log-scaler course
Mr. Phillips: My question's for the Minister of Education, concerning a log-scaler course, which was being provided in Faro. We have received complaints about this course and the manner in which it was being provided. As I understand it, Mr. Speaker, the week-long course was being provided in Faro for five to eight people. The trainee received $79 per night to stay in the hotel, however it appears that the hotel was effectively shut down and there was very little heat in the rooms - but that's not the main concern.
The main concern that was expressed, Mr. Speaker, was the certification of the instructor to teach the course. Can the minister advise the House if the instructor is a certified log-scaler and a certified instructor for that program?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The course that the member refers to is a course that was put on by Yukon College. I can ask the college to inform me about the qualifications of the instructor.
Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, I guess the minister's not responsible for Yukon College either now, Mr. Speaker, but apparently this is a serious issue. The trainees - some of the trainees - complained about receiving sufficient information to know that the answers they provided on tests were in fact correct.
Can the minister advise the House if she'll check into the matter and report back, so that we can at least find out whether these individuals who actually wrote the test could find somebody who could mark them?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I understand that there was one student who was taking the course who has registered complaints with the college and has also contacted the Department of Education. They are working with him on his problem and on his complaint.
Mr. Phillips: Isn't it interesting, Mr. Speaker, when I asked my first question the minister didn't even know what it was all about. Now, with the second question, she knows exactly what it's all about.
Mr. Speaker, the one trainee that the minister talked about, who contacted us as well, has attempted to make the minister aware of the problems but can't get into the minister's office by her overly protective staff, in this open and accountable government.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the minister if she will take some time out of her busy schedule to schedule a meeting with this individual, so the individual can sit down with the minister and explain the concerns that he has.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is being absolutely ridiculous. It is not the responsibility of the Minister of Education to meet with the students at Yukon College, when Yukon College is a post-secondary institution that has instructors, that has a Board of Governors, that has a president and administration who are dealing with the problem, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Kindergarten, Elijah Smith Elementary School
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Education. On Monday, the minister announced that the Elijah Smith School would offer a half-day kindergarten program, and an optional full-day program, with the class limited to 18 children, starting this fall.
I'd like to publicly recognize and applaud the school council for their efforts in recognizing and responding to early childhood education initiatives that are undertaken in other parts of this country.
Mr. Speaker, Elijah Smith is offering this pilot program this fall, and it will be evaluated at the end of the school year. How does the minister and the department intend to evaluate the program - school council and parental recommendation, or will there be an evaluation of students? What's the plan for evaluating the full-day kindergarten program?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for asking the question, because we're quite pleased that we've been able to respond to the Elijah Smith Elementary School community. The school council came forward with the proposal, based on work that they had done, as well as the school administration, the community education liaison coordinator, and the First Nation. They indicated that they thought a full-day kindergarten would be of particular benefit to some of the students there, so we agreed to offer it on a pilot basis.
When the education community does an evaluation, they do look at the success and the effect of the course for all the parties involved, and that would include the students, parents and school community.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, a recent report prepared for one Canadian government suggests that the wiring for the brain sets in with infants and toddlers and that governments should be focusing their money and programs toward children during the critical early years, which is up to age five.
Kindergarten in the Yukon is for children who are four years and eight months, or almost five. We don't have programming for four-year-olds, although the Education Act does give the minister the ability to establish this programming. Is the government considering offering other, new pre-school programming, in addition to the pilot, at Elijah Smith - junior kindergarten, for example? Is the government considering that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member isn't aware that in the communities of Pelly Crossing and Old Crow, at the present time, four-year-olds are able to attend kindergarten and do so. This government does believe in supporting early intervention measures. The significant increases in funding that the Health budget has seen with the healthy family program and funding to the Child Development Centre will increase the range of services that are offered to children between the ages of birth and school age.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm glad the minister raised the issue of early childhood education and intervention. Early childhood education involves parents, as represented by school councils, the Department of Health and Social Services, the Child Development Centre, the Department of Education, day cares, and community and recreation and leisure programming. Any changes to early education programming has quite a ripple effect throughout the Yukon community. It's an important topic for discussion in light of the Yukon's fairly consistent high birth rate.
Will the minister consider appointing a task force on early childhood education in the Yukon to make recommendations on future direction for early childhood education, and allow these individuals an opportunity to get together and discuss some of the innovations that are going on elsewhere in the country? Will the minister consider that suggestion?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm always pleased to entertain suggestions from members opposite and from the public on ways that we can improve the services that government offers. I would also like to say that we have a good working relationship with a number of community groups who advocate for services for children and youth. The work of our youth strategy is involving youth themselves in decision making and taking recommendations from youth on how we can offer an education system and other programs and services that meet their needs.
There are a number of opportunities for public input on the subject of the kinds of programs that we offer to youth. That's an interesting suggestion that the member has made, and I'll discuss it with my colleagues and with interested members of the public.
Question re: Whitehorse Airport runway extension
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. After considerable debate in this House, the minister finally admitted on April 13 that there were indeed some obstacles in the flight path that were restricting the use for landing on the Whitehorse Airport extension to some 50 feet.
A $3-million investment for a 50-foot extension isn't value for our money, Mr. Speaker. First, I believe that the minister stated that there was a television antenna in the way, then it was a satellite dish, then he admitted that there were some chimneys, and finally, houses in Valleyview that were in the way.
Can the minister advise the House if the full 900-foot extension is to be utilized for landing if there are any other obstacles in the flight path that he is aware of?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I think I will use a colleague's line. I think the only obstacle here that we have for this wonderful extension is the Member for Klondike. He certainly does not seem to be supportive of it at all.
We've gone through many hours of debate on the obstacles that are there. The Member for Klondike is very well aware that there is a process with Transport Canada that we are adhering to. We've gone through a survey of obstructions to see what the obstructions are. Once they're clearly identified, we'll be working with Transport Canada to correct them.
So, Mr. Speaker, I can say that the money that's spent on the airport is very well-founded. The figures of the tourism increase over last year of 11 percent is largely due to the impact of the airport and the work that we've been doing with the airport, and we'll continue to do that fine good work.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the first flights are starting to arrive in about three weeks. Will we have everything in place by then?
Also, Mr. Speaker, I'm somewhat concerned that the Yukon Arts Centre may be in the flight path when the full extension is utilized. Can the minister allay my fears in this regard and advise me today that the Yukon Arts Centre is not in the flight path?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, the member knows that we've gone out to do an obstacle survey. I have not been apprised of the results of the survey as of yet. We do know that the survey has commenced and, certainly, the process of identifying the obstacles is in the works and very near to completion. We will be working with Transport Canada on those issues - whatever is identified.
What more can I say, Mr. Speaker? It's in process, it's in the budget, it's doing great things for the community at large, and I do believe, again, that the only obstacle is the Member for Klondike himself.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the Whitehorse Airport extension was well-intentioned, and it was supported by the Yukon Party but it's been a complete fiasco when it comes to proper planning. Trees, power lines, TV antennas, satellite dishes, chimneys, Valleyview homes have all come to light as obstacles. We're going through the planning exercise after the fact, after we've done this.
Can the minister assure the House that the Art Centre is not in the flight path, is not an obstacle? Can the minister assure the House of that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I must take exception to the Member for Klondike's remarks. He said that he supported the airport extension. Where? Show me the proof. He has voted against every budget that we have put forward and we've done great things. We've had increases in the Tourism budget; we've had the gumption to go and do the airport extension and to work with the industry. We looked at air access and all these other wonderful things that we're doing. So, show me the support. He has not supported and he should not say he has.
Mr. Speaker, we will continue to work for the benefit of the good people of the Yukon Territory by defining projects, working with them through consultative processes so that we might be able to continue to do good work.
Isn't it absolutely astonishing that there was an article in the paper by the airport manager just a few short weeks ago saying that there are no obstacles, that it's a good thing that we can continue to work there.
So, thank you, Mr. Speaker, for one more opportunity to put some of the ludicrous fears of the Member for Klondike to bed.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed with to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
opposition private members' business
Motions other than government motions
Clerk: Motion No. 173, standing in the name of Ms. Duncan.
Motion No. 173
Speaker: It is moved by the leader of the third party
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(2) tourism is a major economic benefit to the Yukon; and
(3) the effects of tourism - economic, environmental and cultural - are of importance to all Yukoners;
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to recognize the importance of tourism to the future of the Yukon; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to ensure that tourism strategy consultations, which were announced on December 1, 1998, include all Yukoners by holding round-table public discussions in all Yukon communities.
Ms. Duncan: It is a real pleasure to speak today on the subject of Yukon's number-one industry: tourism. The minister's discussion document, The Promise and the Challenges, was tabled seconds before my motion. In the spirit of cooperation, one would think that the Minister of Tourism and I had somehow spoken on this.
Mr. Speaker, there are so many issues and exciting aspects of the tourism industry that my tabling a motion on tourism at the same time as the minister tabled a discussion paper on the same subject speaks to the importance of having the Yukon Legislative Assembly address this subject.
The government is suggesting that we are somehow wasting time with this motion and that there are more important things to be done. I couldn't disagree with him more. Wasted Wednesday, it is not. The importance of discussions with Yukoners is emphasized, Mr. Speaker, throughout this document. That's what we are: we're Yukoners, and we represent Yukoners.
We need to remember that. Yukoners put us here, and Yukoners' voices should be heard.
That's what happens when the alphabet decides the order of departments in the budget debate. Line-by-line work on the budget - full and fair debate on department expenditures - does not necessarily mean that the department's vision for tourism is given full scrutiny. That vision needs to be fully explored, and this is an excellent time to do that, especially with the Tourism Industry Association annual meeting coming up this weekend in Skagway. What an opportune time, Mr. Speaker, to talk tourism in the Yukon Territory.
This is not a waste of time. Tourism is extremely important. It's increasingly important in a territory whose economy is suffering, thanks to the NDP government. What is a waste of time is a re-debate of a previous motion, as we saw last Wednesday. Our rules speak to the fact that repetitious and needless debate is not appropriate in this House.
Needlessly debating an issue that the opposition and the government are not going to agree on is indeed a waste of effort. In previous weeks we've seen hour after hour after hour of debate on specific issues where it's beyond the ridiculous to expect an individual to know about their department.
If the government had really wanted to maximize the use of time, they would have called a different motion last week - or given up the time in favour of continued budget debate. They didn't.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: The Member for Faro, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Harding: The member is somewhat defensive, Mr. Speaker. We haven't even risen yet to take a position on her motion.
Speaker: There's no point of order. The member may continue.
Ms. Duncan: Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I recognize that there are some...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: ...games afoot. That's a good way to put it.
What our motion sets out to do, Mr. Speaker, is to ensure that every Yukoner in every community - as well as Yukoners living in isolation on the land - are heard from in setting a new direction for our tourism industry.
The strategy tabled by the minister indicates that that's the government's intention. One could assume then, that the government will be supporting this motion.
Mr. Speaker, the discussion paper that we had delivered this week is a framework to develop a new tourism strategy. It urges us to come up with a vision of how we want tourism to work here - what sort of a destination we will become. It speaks to the need to develop a set of principles and talk about the major tourism issues. The minister, in providing this document and circulating it, has asked us to set priorities to make sure that this important industry continues to grow.
Now, it's quite likely that people - Yukoners - being as innovative as they are, will come up with other issues and other priorities that haven't been identified in this discussion paper. The government, I hope, recognizes and realizes that.
There's a very obvious question that immediately springs to mind in reviewing the tourism strategy discussion paper: how will the individual community tourism plans be incorporated in any final document? There's clearly a process outlined that the government wants us to follow.
Some Yukoners will look at it and say, "Well, that's obvious. We just need to do this, this and this, and that's what's most important." It's funny, Mr. Speaker, but every few years, the process and the way we should arrive at decisions changes. Some years ago, we used other terms, and now it's "vision", "principles", "priorities". The buzz words change.
Everyone is supposed to see the new way of doing things. And I'm not suggesting for a moment that that's wrong. I'm just suggesting that we do recognize that experts keep changing the process as we work toward the best answer.
So, some people will see clearly what they think needs to be done, and the answers - it should not come as any surprise - won't always agree. Some people will need to work carefully through the process until they are satisfied that they have the answers. As long as we are working honestly through the process to arrive at what will be best for the Yukon and for Yukoners, that's great. The priority has to be what is best for us - not specific individuals or specific interests, but what's best for the Yukon and for Yukoners. It has to be the best thing for this territory that we live in and that we are so very proud of.
We are interested in the Yukon gaining a bigger and better tourism industry. We aren't interested in more government doublespeak and study for study's sake. The tourism strategy must be done carefully, one step at a time.
Mr. Speaker, I should note that while we're speaking to tourism today and a discussion paper on tourism, that is not to suggest that we have forgotten the other industries in the Yukon that are so very important as well. We have other opportunities. We will have other opportunities to speak to the importance of the mining industry - placer, prospecting and hard rock - and other initiatives in efforts to come up with a diversified economy.
The government will be looking for participation of all Yukoners, they tell us, in this strategy as we develop the tourism strategy, that there will be public meetings. Mr. Speaker, it doesn't look like they'll reach all Yukoners. We have another example of the NDP and their lack of understanding of the business community.
When he announced last fall that consultations would begin in February, I thought the minister understood the importance of that time frame. That would only make sense. Then we could take the middle of the winter to talk to people, the majority of whom make their living in the summer. The NDP didn't meet the February timeline.
Now, I'm sure there are any number of reasons for that, and the minister may speak to some of them. The point is that the government has more recently said that community meetings will start this spring. Well, it's been spring for a month by my calendar, Mr. Speaker, and I did hear some members, when we came in today, speaking of having seen their first robin. And I know the swans are back. It's been spring for awhile now, and I've yet to see a schedule for these meetings.
The result is going to be that we'll have consultation with Yukoners, including those involved with the tourism industry, in the middle of the summer. Mr. Speaker, we can't ask people to drop everything during the busiest time of year to talk about the entire direction of their industry. To talk about a subject that is so important and that really isn't a one-word answer - it requires careful thought and careful planning - and I know those involved with the industry will want to give this subject their very best efforts. So, let's do it when we have time to do that.
How can the government expect people to participate in a meaningful way when they're busy trying to earn a living? The draft strategy is supposed to be available for public review this fall, with a second round of community meetings after that for feedback on the draft. Then the government expects the strategy should be finished by November. No way. That is just too much work in too short a time period, and it's too important a subject to rush.
For full consultation with Yukoners, the time frame, as presently stated, is unrealistic.
The public meetings must be participatory. They must be round-table discussions with all Yukoners. They don't want to sit back and listen to what the government has in mind. Yukon people, all Yukoners, need to tell the government what we have in mind. We need to be proactive.
The minister's document says there will be private meetings. Yukoners need to know that private interests won't take precedence over the public interest in determining the future path of tourism. The discussion paper says, "We anticipate that subsequent workshops with key stakeholders will be necessary to address specific issues, develop consensus on priorities and provide clear direction on the objectives for each priority."
The key stakeholders the government talks about have to include the Yukon public. The priorities and objectives have a direct bearing on our future, and we must all be involved. It's no surprise to any member in this Legislature that Yukoners wear many hats. Many of us do. As business people, public servants, hockey coaches, parents, students, members of groups and associations, involved with or not involved with tourism, we have one thing in common, Mr. Speaker - one very important thing in common.
The Yukon is home. Whether we're members of a First Nation, a born-and-bred Yukoner or a transplanted Yukoner, we are Yukoners. Like any individual, we, in our home, must have a say in who visits and what they find to do when they are with us. We're very, very proud of our home.
As legislators representative of Yukoners, it's reasonable to assume that the government would be interested in hearing from us. Discussion of the tourism strategy, as outlined in this motion, provides an opportunity to clearly articulate the views of the Yukon Liberal caucus on tourism.
Now, some people have misapprehensions - misunderstandings - about our position, and sometimes that's perpetuated by other interests in this House and outside it. Question Period sometimes turns into an opportunity to misconstrue what we say. Well, that's all part of the cut and thrust of political life.
You wouldn't ask a GM dealer for information about a Honda, so let's get the Liberal position from the Liberals. If individuals are going to explain the Liberal position, I'd urge them to listen and remember. Then, Mr. Speaker, they can speak with the authority that truth conveys.
Some say that the Liberals and I neither understand nor appreciate and support the tourism industry. I'd caution those individuals to listen very carefully. I'll be laying out for you what our position is so you'll understand where the Liberal caucus stands on tourism and the tourism strategy.
One of the key points with regard to tourism is the definition of a tourist, and it's one that I have urged the minister repeatedly to consider. We have to recognize one another. Yukoners are tourists too. People from Dawson come to Whitehorse. People from Whitehorse don't travel enough - some of us - to some of the other communities in the Yukon.
I can recall, in one of the youth trips that I facilitated and helped to organize, there was one young Yukoner, born and raised in the Yukon, who had never been to Watson Lake. I couldn't believe it. It seems so basic to me that Yukoners should travel within our own territory. We should recognize and welcome one another.
Sometimes it's pleasure. Sometimes it's business. Sometimes it's a medical appointment. We should be travelling throughout the Yukon, and we should be recognizing our visitors from outside our community.
There are many business travellers who come to the Yukon. They come up for conferences and for work on various projects around the territory.
In profiling Yukon tourism and defining tourism in this strategy, while the opening paragraph has the phrase of business travellers and MCI - and for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the tourism jargon, that stands for "meetings, convention and incentive" travel, and is bulleted on page 12 - there is no direct reference or indication of increased marketing incentives by Tourism Yukon to support a multimillion-dollar potential market.
The bulk of the travel by meeting, convention and incentive travel individuals takes place outside the windows of the 1994 exit study, and I hope that the minister and officials will make some effort in 1999 through pulling data directly from, perhaps, the convention bureau and hoteliers to incorporate these statistics into this study. That's a constructive suggestion right out of reviewing the tourism strategy paper, which is what we as Yukoners are trying to do today and over the time that's been allotted for this important project.
Meetings, convention and incentive travel in 1998 brought more than 6,000 people to the Yukon, and more than half of those would be outside what we consider to be the tourism season or the summer window. It's an important element to consider when we're talking about what is a tourist, who is the visitor. The visitor comes from communities within the Yukon. The visitor comes here for something other than to visit museums and attractions. The visitor comes here for meetings and incentives and business. There's the air traveller who comes on holiday. There's also what we lovingly call the "rubber-tire traffic". There are lots of ways to describe a visitor. Some of them are us - we live right here - and our opinion, as consumers of the services and attractions offered here, is important, too.
Mr. Speaker, nobody disputes the growing economic impact of tourism. In 1998, 365,509 people came into the Yukon through Canada customs points. That's from the Yukon Statistical Review, the 1998 annual report. Of these people, 60,000 were Yukon residents, travelling within the Yukon and outside of the Yukon; 18,000 were from other parts of Canada. Just under 30,000 were from off the North American continent, and over 250,000 visitors were from the United States.
A lot of American visitors do not see the Yukon as a destination. We're just a wide spot on the road to Alaska for some of these people.
They're the majority of our visitors, but they're not really here to see us, and we need to change that.
As well, we have a lot of American visitors coming up from Skagway. They may get as far as Carcross by train and bus, and then go back to get on their cruise ship. We can change that.
Air travel has increased, and the discussion paper mentions the air traveller survey that was done last summer. Compared to the 1994 figures, 40 percent more people came to Yukon on an airplane, and their spending was up 72 percent.
Mr. Speaker, we seem to get one message - speaking of air travel - from Tourism: a focus on air travel, following up on those statistics I just mentioned - and let it be perfectly clear to everyone that the Liberals support the growth of this market. We could also do a lot to improve it by publicizing more of our North American successes. How do we fare statistically with the money we spend closer to home - in Canada, in the backyard - particularly B.C., Alberta, Alaska and the lower 48 - how do we fare with that?
If you spend a million dollars in Europe and recoup $20 million in visits, that's great. If you spend $1 million in Canada and U.S. marketing and get $50 million in visits - they spend less per day - there's a whole bunch of mitigating factors, and there's a lot to consider in this discussion and in the discussion paper.
One of the things I cannot stress strongly enough is the importance of buying into this process, Mr. Speaker, and the importance of Yukoners contributing to this process.
There is a place for everyone's view, everyone's efforts, as this tourism strategy is developed. There has to be collaboration and support by all Yukoners on a new vision.
Mr. Speaker, it's unfortunate that some residents - you'll still hear, the odd time, the resentment of the tourists. You'll hear complaints about too much traffic on the highways, and not being able to get into their favourite restaurant or camping spot. "That motor home is in my parking spot on Main Street." That attitude has to change.
The tourism industry is a lot of things to a lot of people. It's jobs to many people. It's a key economic factor in Yukon's future successes, and the Yukon tourism strategy has to have buy-in support and input from Yukoners themselves.
I've already mentioned some of the economic statistics and how important tourism is, and how it generates income and employment for Yukoners. I've talked about how we could look at perhaps one other method of looking at the statistics. The tracking of visitors and expenditures should be carefully examined. We should all know how the department and how a statistical review determines the figures that are presented, and we should have agreement on those figures that are presented and acceptance by Yukoners.
The question becomes: how does the industry grow? We know this is a success story. We know it's an economic generator of wealth. How do we make it grow, in what direction does it grow, where do the community tourism plans fit in, how do we blend them with an overall tourism strategy?
I'd like to speak for a moment about the community tourism plans. Dawson City is an excellent place to start. Right now, Dawson focuses on the Klondike heritage. Really, when you sit down and look at it, one of the major events in that community - or one of the major tourism factors, I suppose you could say, in the overall success of Dawson - is the winter tourism. I'm speaking in particular of the wonderful weekend with the Yukon Quest sled dog race, the trek over the top and the opening of Gertie's for those events.
The Klondike Visitors Association is truly a Yukon success story - absolutely - and the economic statistics bear this out. The Klondike Visitors Association has delivered on its goal of community economic impact - $170,000 in investment in local events and attractions, $860,000 in local wages and benefits, half a million dollars in local contracts and spending, $50,000 to local community groups. The KVA is one of the most successful, non-profit organizations in Canada, as a direct benefit flowing from extraordinary community support and participation.
It's the thousands of volunteer hours that set Dawson and the KVA apart from many others who envy their success. That's from the KVA's annual report, and this one is somewhat dated, Mr. Speaker, from 1996. It does point out and reinforce the argument that tourism is a key economic indicator and that it's successful because of community support and community buy in.
It should also, while we have time, be appropriate to examine, just briefly, a little bit of the history of the KVA. The Klondike Tourist Bureau was the first tourism organization in the Yukon. It changed its name to the KVA in the 1960s, after the Yukon Travel Bureau was formed in Whitehorse. The KVA started out in 1952 as a publicity stunt. A group of very eager, very strong community-minded people dressed up in gold rush era costumes to meet a revived riverboat service bringing tourists from Whitehorse to Dawson City. This was a new tradition.
Those dedicated community volunteers were the ones who organized the Klondike Tourist Bureau. They hosted tours of Dawson and the gold fields and treated visitors to coffee and tea and home baking. Providing services is what the tourism industry is about.
Soon they hosted Klondike nights at the Palace Grand Theatre, and proceeds from the Klondike nights created the very first tourism pamphlets in this territory. They set up Dawson's first RV welcoming site and campground.
Gambling was legalized on a limited basis in 1971 in the Yukon's former capital. What we have now, Mr. Speaker, is a unique Yukon success story.
The KVA is still a non-profit society, but it pumps more than $1 million annually into the local economy. It has not only funded the restoration of many historic sites, but its attractions and events entertain more than 60,000 visitors to Dawson City each year - Mr. Speaker, a tourism success story.
And it is also working on a tourism marketing plan over the next coming months. How does that tourism marketing plan fit with the overall tourism strategy discussion paper that the minister has tabled? How are all of the community plans going to be worked in to an overall Yukon direction for tourism?
Dawson isn't the only Yukon community with a tourism plan and a strong tourism organization. Although Mayo and the Silver Trail have an organization, I was really disappointed this summer at the lack of support for that community's tourism efforts - Mayo tourism, in particular. The closest RV services are at Stewart Crossing. Of course, the government is doing their level best to see an end to that tourist and highway service. For heaven's sake, Mr. Speaker, they even left it off the Yukon visitor map one year.
Binet House is hardly given any recognition, and yet, I looked at the artifacts that have been stored there, and they truly are Yukoners' history.
Yukon mining history - the mining museum in Keno is really about the people and it really contains the stories of people, some of whom are still with us. Some of them are in this Legislature today. They are the stories of relatives and friends who have made their contribution to the Yukon community.
I know that the government did make efforts to improve the road to that particular attraction over the summer.
I've asked the minister previously in this House what efforts there are for tourism strategy in his own riding? The cruise ships coming into Skagway and Haines carry thousands of passengers. Why on earth haven't we worked with Carcross to capitalize on this opportunity - worked with people to develop, with White Pass, "You bring them to the summit, and we could have a first-class facility there - a first-class lodge, just inside the border - serve the winter markets, snowmobilers and the skiers, and the summer traffic who would want to get onto dry land and escape the wall-to-wall people in Skagway when the cruise ships arrive two and three at a time. Why not? Why don't we bring these visitors through the Yukon and let them rejoin their ship in Haines?
Mr. Speaker, I can stand on the floor of this House, and I can stand and sit with Yukoners and talk about these ideas, and explore them, and discuss the pros and cons. It has to be the community that makes the decision that that is what they want to do. It has to be the community that says, "We see an economic opportunity here. We want to do this."
The community has to want to take advantage of the economic opportunities, and they have to be helped, not hindered, by the other organizations and groups they work with.
Watson Lake has to get an A for outstanding effort to build their tourism industry. That community has worked diligently and hard, with effort above and beyond - volunteer efforts. The Northern Lights Centre, the marketing to the Taiwanese markets. Mr. Speaker, there is no reason why Watson Lake shouldn't be outstripping Yellowknife in the Asian visitors who go to Yellowknife to see the northern lights. Why can't Watson Lake have more visitors than Yellowknife?
In my experience in both communities, you've got way better facilities in Watson Lake and way more to go and see than in Yellowknife.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Yes, they do. Having spent time in both communities, I'll take Watson Lake any day of the week.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: They have the Northern Lights Centre. The Member for Riverdale North is kibitzing that they don't have the northern lights the way that Yellowknife does. They've got the Northern Lights Centre, they've got the amenities, they've got the facilities - thanks to the hard work of the members of that community. Well done.
The Speaker's own riding, Vuntut Gwitchin in Old Crow - the business plan that was developed by the now Minister of Tourism for the Beringia Centre talked about the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation tourism and heritage and talked about a visitor centre and talked about a parks centre in that location. We don't mention, in any of the statistics or the glossy reports that I've seen, the number of individuals who would be interested in what the market is for visitors travelling to your community, Mr. Speaker.
Kluane country has a wonderful convention facility. Why on earth are we not making more mention of the fact Kluane is a world heritage site? Why not?
You know, in examining all the different communities and their tourism plans and looking at what some individual communities have done, an interesting point comes up when they're looked at by an outsider. The Faro and Ross River communities - Carmacks, Faro, Ross River, Tuchitua, Watson Lake - I'd be willing to bet that, if a map of the campgrounds was overlaid to Tuchitua, if we overlaid a map of the campgrounds, we'd see a great many of them are in that particular area and on that particular Yukon route. An individual mentioned to me that Frances Lake is, in their view, the nicest campground in the whole Yukon and completely under-used by visitors. That is a point as well in our tourism strategy and in our efforts on tourism that we should be looking at - the campgrounds, and how excellent they are. Compare them with any other campgrounds in Canada or in Alaska, we have the best bar none, Mr. Speaker.
I've talked about the community tourism planning exercises in some of the other communities. I'd really like to talk about the community tourism planning exercise that I'm most familiar with, which is the Whitehorse area tourism plan.
There were a number of tourism plans done for Whitehorse: one in 1992 and others previous to that. This particular one was done when I was with the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce. There were over 600 collective hours of volunteer work put into this Whitehorse area tourism plan and it was a real pleasure to get out this document and take a look, for the benefit of six years' history, and say, "Wow. Hey, I worked on that." Look at some of the things we talked about, and look at what we tried to do in developing a tourism strategy. It's remarkably similar to what the minister has done with his paper.
One of the key things we talked about was the need to have a collective, coordinated approach. Some of the comments from the workshop participants were so appropriate. We have big, captive markets and lots to work with if only we realized it. We don't have a lot of money or people here. We take our present markets for granted and don't know much about the new ones. It's time we got our act together - too true.
The volunteer committee talked about what improvements were needed to encourage tourism awareness development and infrastructure for the benefit of the Whitehorse area. The community planning process was a long process, and it worked.
We talked about attractions, events and activities and it's interesting, Mr. Speaker, that we spent so much time talking about attractions and what we had in Whitehorse for tourists. I'd like to speak briefly, for a few moments, about attractions.
There is one that has been a favourite subject in this House in recent days: the Beringia Centre.
It has been a favourite subject, as it is a Whitehorse attraction, and there are a number of questions and comments with respect to that particular facility and its benefits to Whitehorse tourism. I'd just like to speak briefly for a moment about that facility.
The Beringia Centre questions - and I should note, Mr. Speaker, that it wasn't a suggestion in the Whitehorse area tourism plan that we develop the Beringia Centre. What we focused on in the discussions were the attractions that we have, and there was a list. When the volunteers sat down to develop a list of what Whitehorse has in the way of attractions and facilities, the list had close to 500 different aspects of this community that attracts visitors, and the development of a Beringia centre wasn't one of the recommendations.
Some of the questions now, when we have that facility, is who will cover the maintenance of the building should the government transfer it to the MacBride Museum, and what costs will the government continue to carry? Who will cover the $8 an hour difference in wages? Who will cover marketing expenses? Who will cover the accounting for the centre? Who will cover the hiring?
It seems like the reaction in the House in recent days is just so the NDP government doesn't have to carry the blame for the facility if it continues not meeting revenue targets. It's not about tourism.
One of the questions with the Beringia is how does it fit with the Transportation Museum? Will MacBride offer joint tickets with Beringia, leaving the Transportation Museum out of the picture?
The Transportation Museum had a great year last year, in part because of joint efforts with Beringia. What happens if the MacBride Museum says no? What if the deal's not good enough? What's the future?
The point is, Mr. Speaker, decisions about tourism attractions and facilities, including the recognition of these facilities as visitor attractions, have to come from the community, have to be community driven, have to be community supported. The government cannot, in this situation with this key attraction, establish a from-the-top-down response. It has to be a community-driven response, and the same applies to the tourism strategy. It has to be community driven, just like recognizing the existing attractions that we have in Whitehorse was community driven.
The community tourism planning exercise also focused on retail services and infrastructure, infrastructure like air access, hospitality awareness and industry training, marketing and promotion.
When this planning exercise was undertaken, the document that was used was the Government of Yukon community tourism planning guide. It talked about and developed ways to establish public priorities and issues. It's interesting to note, also, that in this document, as well as in the document that was tabled by the minister the other day, there's the comment that we're not recognizing our winter tourism potential. There's also the comment that the Whitehorse waterfront was one of the higher ranked concerns as an undeveloped asset in Whitehorse. The Government of Yukon and the City of Whitehorse have made real efforts on the waterfront and waterfront planning exercises, and I commend them on it.
I commend them on their efforts to listen to what Yukoners have had to say. It's not just this government. There are other governments, as well.
Comments came out of the plan, and I again quote from a workshop participant: "The plan emphasizes improving what we already have. The message is consistent. We need to work together, sharing resources. The community has to want tourism, and we have to give people value for their money."
Those are words from Yukoners, and they are as strong and as guiding today, and should be taken just as strong an account of in this document as they were in this one.
There is also another telling point. We do not need another tourism plan that sits on the shelf. It has to be practical and produce results that everybody can see. The return on investment needs to be visible and measurable. You can have more visitors, but if they spend less, you may not be any further ahead because of the additional operating costs. That was from a Whitehorse hotel operator who participated in this process.
I'd just like to talk, for a brief moment, about the participants in this process, many of whom are still involved in tourism today - individuals I worked closely with. There is the owner of a retail tourism business, still active in the Tourism Industry Association, who participated in this planning exercise. There are the representatives from the Department of Tourism, who are still there. There is a former - and present - city councillor, and there is an individual involved with a major American tour company operating out of Alaska. And Mr. Speaker, there is also an individual who was involved in this exercise and who was involved in the service industry at the time, and I'm referring to Mr. Perry Logan.
He committed many, many volunteer hours to this Whitehorse area tourism plan and to working with us, and this was a frontline individual who worked in one of the Whitehorse hotels at the time and who is one of those individuals - and every process has them - where you've got to say, "Yes, yes, you can do this. Come on, participate." You encourage them to be at the table and once they get there, boy, are they committed. He didn't miss meetings and thoughtfully voiced his concerns and was, front and centre, one of the key individuals in helping to make the planning exercise work.
Now it's interesting, Mr. Speaker, that after a short time out of the territory, Perry's back at the Mountainview Golf Course, and that's a tourism facility that too often we don't recognize as such. It points out the point I'm trying to make about involvement of the community.
Just for the record, for a little bit of economic exercise, there are approximately 40,000 rounds of golf played at that golf course. It would probably be a bit of a stretch to say a quarter of them are visitors, but certainly a good portion of them are visitors, and at $30 a round that's an economic generator in this community, not to mention the gas; not to mention the money -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: It's fascinating that the Minister of Economic Development should just pipe up and say, "CDF project" because, guess what? They haven't had any CDF money. Mountainview has not received CDF money.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Well, let's just see the proof. The members opposite may or may not have paid their dues.
The point is, Mr. Speaker, that the Mountainview, along with the golf course in Dawson and the golf course in Watson Lake, are visitor attractions as well as facilities for Yukoners.
They are important parts of our community, and we need to work with them and build them, and they need to be a part of this strategy, and it is individuals like Perry who participated in the Whitehorse area tourism plan and who now works at a facility that serves visitors, whose opinion needs to be heard, and it's people like the members opposite who are at the golf course who also have to say, "Yes, we recognize and appreciate the value of visitors here. We see this as an economic generator, and we want to build upon it." That's what I'm talking about as a community in building a tourism plan.
One of the advantages of doing these tourism plans is that, as a community, you sit down and you go through a checklist of questions. You sit down and you really - and I must say that there is a quote that always come to my mind about this when I'm thinking of these sorts of subjects, and I think it was made at the Berger inquiry, and it was made by a former mayor of Calgary who talked about Canada as a country. He said that we were continually ripping ourselves up by the roots to see if we're still growing. In part, that's what we need to do with our tourism strategy, and I think the minister wants to take this industry and say, "Okay, what direction is this plan going in, how are we, as a community, going to make sure that we have got the right conditions to ensure this grows, and let's take a good look at what we've done. Let's take a really good look at where we've been and set some new directions."
One thing about doing a checklist of questions and answers is that it does get community buy-in. It allows us to see ourselves as others see us. We look at ourselves through new eyes. The planning exercise for tourism works, and it works well.
There's a section in the Whitehorse area tourism plan that talked about turning the plan into reality. I'd just like to share that with members. "From the outset it was recognized that promoting cooperation and coordination among government, tourism agencies and business communities, the community-at-large would be the key, creating a workable plan, and selling the ideas it contained. Broad community support isn't easy, but until the community supports and appreciates and buys in, you're not going to have a successful plan."
The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, in sponsoring this plan - and I must say just briefly for a moment, it was a bit of a tough sell to persuade everyone that Whitehorse needed a plan as well as every other community, but we did it - wanted a commitment to action through the planning process itself. We didn't want another plan that would sit on the shelf.
The members of the steering committee and the working group represented the full spectrum - I mentioned one of them in particular, but we had everybody in that working group: the City of Whitehorse, Yukon Tourism, boards of directors of the Whitehorse Chamber, Tourism Industry Association, B.C. Yukon Hotel Association, Yukon Anniversaries Commission, Industry Science and Technology Canada - they all supported this effort. They bought in; and they worked on implementation. The planning exercise works.
Now, how will the tourism strategy and the plan outlined by the minister work? How are we going to create a new vision for tourism?
I do have a couple of immediate critiques, and the minister should take them in the constructive method in which they're offered, and not as an aggressive, negative comment - as a "There's a suggestion for you."
A couple of critiques - in my initial reading of this paper, a couple of things leapt out, and it's language, as much as anything, Mr. Speaker, but they are important points nonetheless. Page 3, "Adventure tourism will grow in importance, tourists will seek learning travel experiences, First Nation and cultural tourism will grow, winter travel will grow, and shoulder season travel should grow." How come that one "should"? You bet shoulder season travel will grow, because our tourism industry's going to grow.
There's a comment in here about many challenges facing Yukon tourism, increasing air access to the territory. The minister and others in this House have gone on and on and on about air access, but they're always talking about Whitehorse. What happened to Watson Lake and Central Mountain Air? Has anybody sat down and said, "Hey, how come you're not here?"
If they have, that's great. What other airports are we going to see improvements to? The Member for Klondike has spent years lobbying for relocating the Dawson City airport, but that seems to have dropped off the agenda. What about air access throughout the territory, not just Whitehorse, although, for the minister's edification and benefit, the Liberal caucus supports the extension of the Whitehorse runway?
Timing is a big issue with this tourism strategy discussion paper. It's a big issue. It's not going to be an easy road. The original strategy, from January 1987, has been the basis of tourism efforts and much of it is still valid. We need to add some light to that.
The timing of the minister's, which agrees with the point of doing this - the problem is the timing.
Now, this was tabled in the House on Monday, and this is April 21. Every tourism operator you speak with, every individual who is so critical to the services in our industry and the experience that visitors have while they're here, is awfully busy right now. They're taking time out for their convention this weekend, and then it's full for making sure they have their facilities in top form and their staff trained and hired in order to greet our visitors with our best face as they start to arrive, and as the campgrounds start to open, as well.
I do hope the minister is going to stand on his feet and recognize the efforts that individuals have made in reviewing the paper to date, recognize some of the suggestions, and advise this House and the Yukon public that the time frame originally written in the report is somewhat ambitious, and that they are prepared to ensure that this is done carefully and thoughtfully, and will take their time in this process.
That's not to say it's not urgent, and it's not to say it's not important. Let's make sure it's done very well, and let's take the time to do it right.
Another issue I have with this tourism strategy discussion paper, at first glance, is the whole issue around heritage. On page 8 it says these initiatives embrace the principle of sustainability and will play an important role in preserving our natural, cultural and historic resources. Well, where's the money?
The heritage budget has been cut, cut, cut. It's an important, fundamental part of First Nations agreements with the government - preservation of heritage and historic resources. It's also fundamental to every Yukoner, and we spend a lot of time discussing the preservation of heritage and the historical facilities in our territory. I'm not going to rehash that debate for the minister or for other members. The point is, it's a public commitment by the minister, and it's an important part of our tourism strategy - live up to commitments.
There is another language issue that I take strong exception to in the strategy discussion paper tabled by the minister, page 13. It says, "Significant opportunity exists to develop authentic First Nations tourism product in the territory." There isn't a Yukoner I've spoken with who disagrees with that statement. You bet - there is significant opportunity. But the minister's document says "but" first.
The word "but", you should think of as an eraser, I was once told. It immediately negates everything that went before it. If the minister and the department recognize the opportunity that every other individual in this territory recognizes, then let's work on it. It's a small criticism. It's one word in an overall document containing many. It's the thought behind it that the minister needs to take into account.
First Nations tourism has incredible opportunities in this territory.
I've spent some time speaking with some of the operators of the First Nations facilities in our territory and really enjoy the enthusiasm and the recognition they have for the opportunities and the desire to promote tourism and to work with tourism in this territory, and to be part of the process and to be there working with other Yukoners and sharing in the excitement of this industry.
Another recognition of a key tourism area of growth that's highlighted in the minister's tourism strategy and that is outlined and has been discussed in other areas in this House is the opportunity the Yukon's environment affords us. I already spoke about the opportunity afforded for the enjoyment of the out-of-doors, in terms of the Yukon's campgrounds and, in particular, in some areas in the territory.
Our environment is unique. The parks we have created and areas we have protected and areas we are moving to protect are unique in the world, and we have an opportunity to share them, and it's recognized in this document that we must share them wisely. We must make the decisions as to how they're shared.
One of the other critiques, and again it's a constructive point for the minister, is that the workbook style that has been used in the past was very effective. In part, it's used in this document as well, and I commend the individuals who developed it.
The advantage of a workbook style is it ensures it's not just another consultation process and a document. It actually asks the questions and asks Yukoners to think about the tough questions, and their answers help guide the final document.
In advance, I'd like to applaud and give recognition to every Yukoners who takes the time - and I hope there is enough time allotted - to participate in this really important discussion on the future direction of tourism in the territory and who takes part in creating a vision for this industry.
I'd like to respond to some of the workbook-style questions that are outlined in the tourism strategy. The second question talks about product development: what are your views? And I'd like to put forward to the minister that we must, first and foremost, recognize those who have made an investment in our territory, whether volunteer or financial, whether their future financial savings are vested upon the future success of their industry. Let's recognize the investment that they have made. Let's support those who are interested in tourism business, and let's support them in a manner that is fair.
I'd like to speak briefly about the breakfast meeting that was sponsored by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Industry Association with our marketing representative in Europe and representatives from Fulda. There was quite a discussion by those individuals at that breakfast about the facilities in Whitehorse and about the Yukoners who didn't work together, and it was quite a critique. And there was a real mixed reaction in the room. There was the defensiveness that comes whenever a criticism is levelled. There was also a recognition and agreement by some that the criticism was fair and justified.
There was also the statement by many in the room who said, "Wait a minute. We decide where the Yukon's industry is going, and we decide if this is what we want to do with our tourism industry. We decide if we want a five-star hotel or if we want four- and three-star hotels." I raise that point with the minister because I think it speaks to product development. We need to, as a community, agree on our future direction. We need to appreciate the investment that others have made, and we need to work with them. There are many whose future rides on their investment in the visitor attraction and in the visitor facilities and in the visitor services that they offer, and we need to work with them. In promoting new businesses, we need to recognize investments that have already been made and we need to ensure that our programs are fair. I have raised that point repeatedly with the minister with respect to air access and subsidy - in dealing with business, recognition of investment that's already been made and fairness.
The next workbook-style question in this paper talks about tourism marketing: what are your views? There have been many discussions in this House about marketing and marketing individuals. There have been many questions in Question Period. There have been many comments that I have received from others, and I would remind members of the comment that's been made that asking questions doesn't denote a lack of support or respect.
The events over the last few years or so, with changes in personnel, have unfortunately resulted in negative press and negative media attention in this particular aspect, and it has to be recognized that the marketing, in particular, in years gone by, has developed very valid and innovative marketing programs for the Yukon with very few staff and not all the resources that they could have used. Unfortunately, some of these seasoned professionals have left, and there are some strained conditions for others.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the department negotiated cooperative agreements and arrangements with neighbours in Alaska and British Columbia, by way of the Alaska Marketing Council and Tourism North programs. Our former director of marketing was an elected official on the Alaska council. These are important points.
It's also a full and fair comment to state that, in Question Period throughout this session, there were questions with the marketing on the contracting process. The minister didn't deny that the rules were broken. It was a fact.
There were comments about the successor candidate in marketing. There was a scathing review by the Auditor General. It was a fact.
These, however some people might choose to portray them, were not criticisms of individuals. They were not an attack on an individual. They were facts, plain and simple facts, and they reflect on the way the government does business. They were examples of the ends justifying the means, and Yukoners did not accept them.
In politics, perception is reality, and those facts led to a perception of a closed shop, of a cliquish group.
I have an excellent comment from an individual whose expertise I trust in this area, and it was a full and fair comment. I'd just like to relay it to the minister and to the House. The biggest thing that the department and the branch in particular has touted is accountability - openness to public input, and scrutiny.
The trouble is that the perception of a closed-door, deal-making group - cautious about upsetting an apple cart. And whenever anything's mentioned or tough, fair questions are asked, there are the letters of protest. They're starting to sound like a broken record.
The Department of Tourism, the marketing branch - all the branches - have a strong number of dedicated and hard-working individuals who do their job well. Full and fair questions are reasonable and should be expected. And, Mr. Speaker, they should be answered.
The reality is that how the department works with the industry must be fair and it must be seen to be fair - has to be without question. There are some very good comments from the Yukon business summit in this regard. And it supports what I've just said about the excellent work done by officials. The business summit said, "The tourism industry is seen as a significant opportunity for the Yukon. The industry's exhibited growth in recent years. It continues to play a relatively minor role, generating approximately 10 percent of the economy. Although growth in this industry is determined by the recreation choices of people living outside the Yukon it is seen as an industry that could benefit greatly by proactive steps taken by the Yukon. Traditionally, given heavy political and fiscal support, and not stifled with impediments, this sector currently enjoys the best relationship with government of any of the economic generators."
That's a strong comment and support from the business community for the efforts of the individuals who work for government in this particular branch and the department.
They have also offered comments, which I have cited in this House and would like to cite again in today's debate, with reference to fullness and fairness and support for the industry. Recommendation 1.7 of the report, "Improve the ability of Yukon to access and maintain competitively priced air access, without compromising the sole year-round major carrier" - without government subsidies. Fair - work on it, but be fair.
Again, Mr. Speaker, there's the recommendation about enhancements and improvements to the area around the Whitehorse city limits. Summer tourist traffic needs to be encouraged to stop in Whitehorse and aesthetic improvements are necessary to attract the drive-through traffic. How many times have we heard that in the tourism discussions? Improvements have been made, and there are more that can be done.
The business summit also spoke to the improvement within themselves of industry, and that's a point that was recognized in the Whitehorse area tourism plan, and it's also recognized in the government's tourism strategy document that was tabled on Monday - the recommendations saying that "the private sector operators can improve their operations by enhancing pricing and service, after-sale service, niche marketing, product knowledge, staff training and education, business ethics and etiquette, diversity of operations and products, and the ability to work together." Those are some of the recommendations from the business summit, and they relate to the tourism industry.
In product development, which I had spoken about earlier, before I got into the marketing, Mr. Speaker, I neglected to mention some of the new products in Whitehorse and throughout the Yukon that deserve strong recognition as well. Some of these include those begun by l'Association des Franco-Yukonnais and their new organization, Savoir Faire, which is attracting French-speaking visitors from Europe to the Yukon, and their attraction is mainly adventure tourism.
Another area, Mr. Speaker, in product development is the dog-sledding industry and the wilderness and adventure tourism travel. If you look at recent history, the number of operators in this particular area has grown quite substantially, and I note that the minister's tourism strategy also noted the growth in this particular area.
So, we've answered the product development and the tourism marketing questions, and with respect to the tourism marketing, should the principles outlined above or other principles guide marketing efforts in the future? Well, the principles that should guide marketing are community support, fairness and the best value for dollar. In our view, that's how we as Yukoners would answer that question from the minister.
The tourism strategy goes on to discuss tourism organizations and partnerships - "What are your views?" In 1993, the former Minister of Tourism had a summit on this particular subject, and one attendee has referred to that as inconclusive.
I've spoken about the communities and individuals who are involved in tourism who are some of the partners. There are also a number of organizations that are involved, and I'd like to speak about them briefly.
I've mentioned the Klondike Visitors Association as a strong Yukon success story and a model for many others, and I've mentioned the Silver Trail Tourism Association. The chambers of commerce are also very strongly involved in tourism in their individual communities.
There is the First Nations Tourism Association and, thanks to the strong efforts of the volunteers involved in that particular organization, they've seen tremendous growth as an organization in recent years. Their comments on many initiatives certainly have been, in my experience, full and fair and very appreciative in recognizing the work that has been done to build their industry.
I've had many discussions with Debbie Parent, the president and former president, who is involved nationally now in marketing and working with the national organizations of First Nations tourism and loaning her expertise nationally. We Yukoners sometimes don't always appreciate individuals at home, and certainly she's done a very good job helping nationally and working nationally.
The Wilderness Tourism Association sat with us in the House as we debated one of the really key issues facing their industry: licensing. They supported our work and worked with all members on that particular piece of legislation to get the best piece of legislation we could for Yukoners.
Now, it's taking some work. It's not going to be easy to wrestle issues like licensing, and so on, through regulation. They're continuing to work with all of us on that and I applaud their work.
The Tourism Industry Association, the former Yukon Visitors Bureau, has enjoyed a tremendous growth in the years that I've been involved with these organizations. We sometimes forget to appreciate those who have gone before and I'd like to recognize the work that people like Judith Venaas put into that organization and into the Yukon, and now I see her periodically working with Inuvik and Northwest Territories tourism.
She continues her interest in the Yukon and it spreads our Yukon national network in the tourism industry - also others who have been involved in those and who serve on the board now. I note the president has served a number of terms and the volunteer effort by individuals has been commendable, as well as the executive directors who have worked with these organizations - Shelda Hutton, Lowry Toombs, Claire Festal and others. The executive directors - I have a special fond place in my heart for those individuals who work with the boards and I applaud their efforts and I look forward to seeing them at the Tourism Industry Association convention that's coming up, and seeing others as well and those involved with the industry.
The Tourism Marketing Council and the department staff - I have spoken about the department staff and the accolades that they have received. There's one document I had an opportunity to review yesterday, which came from the National Tourism Organization in reference to a video that was done in conjunction with the marketing staff - the minister is nodding proudly about that letter and he certainly has every right to. The letter is a strong endorsement of the individuals who worked in that effort, and they're to be applauded for it.
As well, one of the unsung things that the department and the government do, and one of the dollar items the minister is accountable for in the House, is the sponsorship of the luncheon at that annual meeting. It's one of those things, Mr. Speaker, because tourism's one of the last departments and we don't always get into in-depth, line-by-line debate, saying, "Yes, we agree with that expenditure, support that expenditure, it's good value for dollar." So, when we stand on our feet and ask questions about the dollars that are spent in the more confrontational forum -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: The Member for Watson Lake, on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: I believe we do not have a quorum.
Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2), if at any time during the sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bells to ring, and then do a count.
Speaker: I have shut off the bells, and I will do a count.
There are nine members present. A quorum is present. We will now continue debate.
Ms. Duncan: Again, it's a pleasure to be discussing tourism this afternoon with members of the House. We were talking about the strategy from the minister, and we were talking about one of the questions in the tourism strategy, tourism organizations and partnerships, what are the views.
I had mentioned a number of organizations and the very laudable work that these organizations are doing.
The business summit also had comments on the industry organizations, and their comments - again, I would urge members to accept them as full and fair criticisms. I would suggest they are put forward in that manner.
It said industry associations need to strengthen their appeal and consider initiatives that serve the interests of the private sector first.
It was suggested by some delegates that some initiatives are directed by and serve government agendas, and may be distracting the organization from best serving its members' needs. Industry organizations should review their method of operation to determine how closely they should work with government.
Now, there are a number of tourism industry organizations that do work closely with government, and they would, I believe, want to consider those comments. I think they're directed at all organizations. I think they would want to consider them.
The industry business summit also recognized that both government and business associations should provide incentives for recognition of outstanding performance of public servants. At the same time, public servants need to be held accountable for actions or inactions.
It's the responsibility of industry associations and individual operators to advise government of concerns with performance, and it's the responsibility of government to fairly consider the comments - fair comments on the way business and industry organizations work together, and comments that can be taken in the context in response to that particular question, in the discussion of tourism's future strategy - the promise and the challenges of the future strategy.
One of the organizations that I haven't mentioned to date is the Yukon Tourism Education Council, and their involvement in the tourism industry. I have followed the development of this organization, and the individuals who have done a very good job in hospitality awareness, and awareness of the opportunities in the tourism industry. I've been really pleased to see them working within our education system - the programs that are offered at F.H. Collins and other high schools, as well as the participation in the career fairs.
Buy-in has to happen throughout our community, and it starts with some, with the recognition of the job opportunities in this industry - and the future in this industry. And that these are not - and dispelling the myths that these are somehow jobs that are not as rewarding financially, or not as rewarding personally.
They are absolutely jobs that are worthy of consideration. They're working with people - as the minister is fond of doing, as all of us who are here are fond of doing - working with people. That's what the tourism industry jobs are about, and the Yukon Tourism Education Council has done a marvelous job in promoting a career in tourism to young individuals throughout the territory, and also in bringing the notion of certification, and the notion of standards and manuals, and training manuals.
The only criticism and regret I would have - it's the same comment that many in this House have levelled at the government with regard to the training trust funds, and it directly relates to the training trust funds, because they are, in part, used to facilitate the participation in YTEC courses. I would prefer to see a stronger, closer working relationship with Yukon College for that particular organization.
I believe that's a fair point, and one of the things, in terms of the tourism organizations and partnerships - what are the views? I'd like to see stronger working relationships and organizational relationships. And I would like to see, at some point in time, a full discussion about options in this area.
Now, I have asked that question of the minister in the House, and it has been summarily dismissed by many - a discussion about options. Alaska has done some very innovative work, in terms of working with the industry. Have we discussed a sub-chapter of AVA in the Yukon? Have we discussed it and thought about how it would work? Is that an option for Yukon to pursue?
In British Columbia - "Beautiful British Columbia", "Super Natural British Columbia" - which has done such an excellent job with tourism in many, many ways, their tourism is organized through a Crown corporation. Alberta - this method, I'm advised by some in this House that a different method of operation was not successful.
I would like to see a discussion of options at some point in time. I think that many Yukoners would like to review what happens elsewhere. We can always benefit from looking at other successes - and the other failures. We can look at them. It's not a streamlining; it's not a downsizing; it's not a job loss situation, in any way, shape or form that anyone is suggesting, in terms of looking at options.
I'm thinking about the best bang for the buck and organization - what's the best way to do that. It involves everyone in the Yukon working together in the tourism industry and, again, in developing a tourism strategy, and who should do what - a clarification of the roles.
The business summit recommends that. Clarification of the rules was discussed previously in 1993, I understand, somewhat inconclusively by some of the participants, and it never hurts to sit down and to clarify rules - what do you do, how do you do it, what are the best ways of work? When we look at what we're doing, we can look at our best ways of work.
I want to be clear, Mr. Speaker, that I'm not advocating one method over another. I am certainly applauding and expressing the support and recognition of the many volunteer hours that individuals have put into tourism. I know there is an individual who has consistently, every year, on a volunteer basis, reviewed, for full and fair comment, the visitor tourism vacation guide that is produced by the department, and this individual, who also served as a volunteer on the Whitehorse area tourism plan and on the tourism committee, and who again works in the visitor industry as an owner, has repeatedly gone through and made suggestions with a very fair eye on the vacation guide.
Those are people that we need to hear from, pointing out areas where we could do better. And it is volunteers like that who help to make the tourism industry associations, chambers, First Nations tourism associations and wilderness tourism associations really work. It is the volunteers, as well, of course, as the executive directors.
Mr. Speaker, tourism is increasingly important to the Yukon. It has potential for growth for years to continue. Adventure tourism and First Nations tourism are key areas of interest to people and where the opportunities for growth are just tremendous.
People want to have a reason to travel, to learn something. Visitors seek information. They seek an enjoyable experience and we know in the Yukon we have one and could offer it. That's not just in the summer months. There is also travel in the shoulder season.
It's not going to be an easy road, growing and enhancing Yukon's number-one industry. There is keen competition to get a visitor to come here instead of any number of other destinations throughout the world. There is keen competition for them to come to the Yukon. As more businesses get involved in Yukon tourism, competition inside Yukon's borders increases too. Local businesses compete with businesses from elsewhere, as well as other local businesses.
Developing a tourism potential of the Yukon must be done carefully to ensure protection of the environment, social responsibility and economic growth. That's what we're talking about is growth in the number-one industry.
Products can be improved and new products can be developed. I mentioned earlier that we're seeing new products and we've seen new products in recent years.
We must invest in our industry. We must have investors for tourism opportunities here. Tourism operators have to also work together. The last tourism strategy is more than 10 years old. It's more than time that we did this, Mr. Speaker. It's more than time that we took the time to update it.
The strategy will provide the framework for Yukon's tourism partners, governments, communities and the private sector.
The Member for Watson Lake would like me to commend the government for producing this document. I already did commend the government for producing the document. I offered some fair criticism on it. I also offered them the best of luck. I also offered them options, thoughts.
Because it's important that the government hear from Yukoners, and that includes members of this Legislative Assembly. It may come as a surprise to some, but we're people too, and we're Yukoners too.
The strategy that's been tabled will only be successful if partners collaborate in developing it. It has to have a buy-in from Yukoners; it has to have support; and it has to have participation.
All Yukoners have to have input. So my criticism of the government is for not allowing enough time. I've urged the minister to stand on his feet, when he has an opportunity to respond, and reassure Yukoners that there will be time for everyone to participate in this discussion paper - there will be time and there will be best efforts made to ensure community support.
The original strategy that guided the development of this document, and that's been guiding our tourism strategy - much of it's still valid, but we need to add more in light of recent successes and world changes. We need to also build flexibility. We need to recognize the growing interest in wilderness experiences, in First Nations cultural experiences, in the opportunity to share and to show off our Yukon.
Visitors themselves can tell us what they want, and they have done that, through the various visitor exit surveys that the Yukon government has done - various Yukon governments have done.
This is nothing new elsewhere. Tourism spots all over are setting their priorities, developing their mission statement. We have an opportunity, with this discussion paper, to get in on the ground floor, as Yukoners, to set new directions for our tourism industry, and I would urge every Yukoner to participate.
The mission statements that are outlined in this document - the mission statement from Montana, I thought, was an example of a vision statement. The one that's spelled out for the Yukon Department of Tourism is some years old. The one about Montana talks about tourism as a leading year-round industry. We can have that.
It also talks about "an industry based upon the preservation and enhancement of natural, cultural and historical resources" ... "growth in this industry, balanced with environmental and cultural sensitivities, providing authentic and unique guest experiences" ... "In a spirit of cooperation, public and private sectors of the tourism industry work together, as well as with other key industries in the state." And, "Overall, tourism fosters an enhanced quality of life for residents and guests and, as a result, tourism is recognized as a vital industry by residents and policy makers alike."
As policy makers, we recognize tourism as a vital industry. Many Yukoners recognize this. The guiding principles outlined in the particular comment that's contained in the tourism strategy discussion paper are excellent guiding principles. Yukoners could use the opportunity to discuss them.
When I say Yukoners could use the opportunity to discuss them, I'd urge the government, in their tourism consultations and the work on this new strategy, to ensure they not forget all Yukoners. In particular, there are many - they are the obvious ones, obvious people and individuals and organizations that come to mind that would be interested, and let's not forget some of the attractions that we don't always realize our visitor attractions, as well as being facilities we all use daily, or as daily as we'd like. I've mentioned the golf courses, and there are, of course, three in Whitehorse, and others in Dawson and Watson Lake, and other communities have considered building them. There's also the fish ladder.
The most - let's state this clearly - the most visited attraction in Whitehorse is the fish ladder. And the minister has nodded. Now, I'm glad we got that straight for the record - as much as some predictions would like us to believe -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Oh, the minister's saying he nodded in recognition of what I said. Well -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: He's got that right. The Beringia Centre is another visited attraction, and the MacBride Museum. There are many in Whitehorse; I've mentioned the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake, the Binet House in Mayo and Keno's museum.
It's obvious for the consultation process to work with these individuals. It's not as obvious that we ensure we do some consultation with seniors, and what directions and changes they've seen - and I'm sure the minister will hear, and members who are involved in the consultation will hear, "Well, we've been down this road before, and we've still got the same problems." Well, we've still got bigger and better opportunities, and we can talk about directions for those opportunities.
And we have an opportunity in the tourism discussion paper to talk about the opportunities for this industry. And I've already mentioned the examples of the vision statement, and one in particular that hit home.
I would urge the minister and Yukoners to examine that vision statement, and to look at it in terms of what principles we want to articulate for the future, and what vision we want to articulate for the future of this industry in the territory.
I've spoken briefly about new products, as well, Mr. Speaker, and I mentioned l'Association Franco-Yukonnais and their new innovations. There are a number of other tourism operators who have made efforts to ensure that they are able to provide services in languages used by our visitors. There are also efforts by the Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society and their efforts in their new project, which will not only be a visitor attraction; it will also serve Yukoners and remind us of our history.
Adventure travel and ecotourism are growing. People want to explore wild places that the Yukon has in abundance. They want to raft untouched rivers. There are other areas we can focus on and develop. People don't expect to find all Yukoners in Klondike costume, living out the days of '98 theme. There is increased interest in the culture of Yukon First Nations. Some businesses already exist in this area, and more tourism opportunities are being developed. There are many benefits, including more employment in smaller communities.
There has been an interest in preserving heritage sites and other sites. The designation of the Bonnet Plume last summer is a good example of such designations that can improve the visitor attendance and visitor numbers to any specific community. In that community, in particular, I took an opportunity to go back and attend that ceremony. There were many, many Yukoners there and visitors, as well. That gave us all an opportunity to increase the number of visitors to another Yukon community.
The points that I would just like to reiterate briefly, Mr. Speaker, with regard to this motion and my support for Yukon tourism strategy and discussion paper, and my urging all Yukoners to be involved - I'd just like to emphasize a couple of points before I allow other members an opportunity to fully debate this motion.
The strategy document, The Promise and the Challenges - the title really speaks to the opportunity that's before all Yukoners to participate in the future direction of this important industry. And again, I stress the importance of having the Yukon Legislative Assembly, as Yukoners, discuss this issue and review the discussion paper and talk about the value of this industry, not in terms of "my government did this and your government did that", but in terms of the opportunities that lie before us and the directions that we, as Yukoners, want the tourism industry to go.
Tourism debate - again if I could make a pitch for a change to have not the alphabet decide the order of departments but another method be chosen so that we can have opportunities like this to talk about industries like tourism to the Yukon. Renewable Resources is another example, and the environment and the importance to Yukoners.
The discussion paper is a framework to develop a new strategy, and it's urging us to come up with a vision of how we want tourism to work here - what sort of a destination we will become.
You know, I can't emphasize enough how important it is that Yukoners decide. Do we want to be another Banff? Do we want to be another destination in Canada? Or do we want to be a wilderness area? What do we want our parks and our territory to look like? What do we want in the future for our industry? Do we want to have a focus on attracting large-scale conventions or do we want to focus our efforts on the individual traveller, or do we want all of it?
We need to talk about what we want the tourism industry to become. There are major tourism issues. There are our products and what we've got here, and we need to recognize that as Yukoners. We've got some fabulous, unique wilderness areas, some fabulous attractions. There are wonderful businesses here. There are great products we can improve on and work with.
There are also other issues like what sort of treatment our visitors receive and what impression do we want them to go home with - first class service? How do we work to get to that point? How do we work with organizations to ensure that the visitor does receive a first class world experience? That's the sort of discussion that needs to be obtained through a discussion paper, like what's been presented. There is clearly a process that the government wants to follow in the document and again, I would urge Yukoners to participate.
Some people will see clearly what they think needs to be done. The answers won't always agree. Some people need to work carefully through the process. They'll need time to do that, and I urge the minister to ensure that ample time is allowed for them to do that. Let's honestly work through this process to arrive at what will be best for Yukon and for Yukoners.
The priority has to be what's best for us, not what's best for specific individuals or what's best and what's going to look the best in the final report card when election day comes, but what's best for Yukoners.
What's the best thing for the territory we live in, for its inhabitants? What direction do we want to go in with the tourism industry? Let's take the time; let's make sure that it's done right.
I hope, when the minister speaks in response to this motion, that he will indicate that full, fair and ample time will be allowed for discussion of the strategy paper and the options that Yukoners are going to come back with, because they will come back. Yukoners are innovative people. They care about this industry, and they're going to come back with strong, good suggestions for the minister. I urge the minister to make sure there's time to fully explore them and to work with others who are involved in the industry.
I don't think the strategy will be finished by November. I'm hopeful the minister will make sure there's enough time. Another key point to this motion is that public meetings must be participatory, and I hope there will be round-table discussions with individual Yukoners, and just use this document as a starting point. There are lots of studies, papers and statistics. We have to have Yukoners who can look at those and know what's in them - and many of them do know what's in them - and say, "Yes, it's time to look at where we're going now, and these are my suggestions."
This document reminds us of some of those papers, and gives us the current reality as a starting point for discussion. I urge the minister to use it.
The document says, and I used this quote earlier, "Subsequent workshops will be necessary to address specific issues and develop consensus on priorities and provide clear directions." I hope that the key stakeholders are the partners, the organizations who work with tourism and who are representative of tourism, and I hope they are also individual Yukoners.
The minister refers to individual Yukoners in talking with folks many times in this House, and I urge him to ensure that, in discussions on the Yukon's tourism strategy paper, he makes sure he does - not just talk with them, but listen and hear what they have to say.
The next steps outlined - the discussion paper is a process for developing a comprehensive Yukon tourism strategy. It's a framework. I've talked about that. The vision will serve as a broad framework for developing a new strategy. The strategy will ultimately set out the direction and priorities for tourism in the Yukon as we move collectively into the 21st century.
The paper recognizes that it's essential that elements of the tourism strategy be supported by the Yukon people. It urges active participation by the public and tourism sector. In fact, it says it cannot be overemphasized. I cannot agree more.
The closing comments on the strategy are that they look forward to participation in the process. The document says that the department and the minister look forward to participation in the process. I've given a little bit of participation in the process today, reviewing the strategy very briefly, the discussion paper very briefly, and reviewing some of my thoughts on the tourism industry and some of the key points I would like the minister to consider.
Just for the minister's benefit, Mr. Speaker, I've outlined some of the points. I've also expressed our support for the minister's initiative in reviewing the future direction for tourism. I've expressed our support for the industry, recognition of it as a key economic indicator in the territory. I've also taken an opportunity to thank volunteers who have been involved, and I've also taken this opportunity to review some of my past involvement in helping to shape a tourism vision in the community that I live in.
I support the government's efforts to develop a new vision and strategy for the territory in tourism. I support them; I wish them well in their discussions, and I look forward to the minister's comments, particularly comments with reference to the ambitious time schedule that's been set.
Certainly, if I can leave the minister with a thought, it's that I wish him well with the process and with creating a new vision, and I very much look forward to hearing from other Yukoners on this issue.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Certainly the wind is blowing from Porter Creek South today, and it's certainly been a refreshing, warm wind.
I'll start off with the Member for Porter Creek South, the leader of the Liberal Party, saying that she supports the industry, that she supports the initiatives of the government. I think there's really only one true way to show support for the industry and to show support for the initiatives that we as a government have, and that is to vote for the budget. So I will be anticipating that there will be certainly support more meaningful than just verbal support.
But let's put your vote where your mouth is, and let's show it. So let's not say one thing in debate, and then turn it into a fractured debate, where you say, "Well, this is what I said, but that's not what I meant."
And that's exactly how it would be perceived, certainly by me.
So, the Member for Porter Creek South certainly did speak in some situations quite elegantly, quite repetitiously, but I do know that that is the only way to drive your point home, and that is certainly what she has done.
I would like to say - and I'll go back now from the last comment that the Liberal leader made to some of the first comments that the Liberal leader made, and some of the first comments that were made by the Liberal leader were: what is the department's vision? The department is under scrutiny.
Well, the department's vision is contained within the objectives, and the objectives are purely in front of the Liberal leader now. Those objectives speak to working with the industry, to ensuring that we have growth in the industry.
Now, I know what she was doing as she spoke to that, and she was saying that it's the department's vision that's under scrutiny, and then she spoke for many pages of The Promise and the Challenges, the document that was tabled here just on Monday.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm somewhat mystified - puzzled. If the Liberal leader does not know what this document contains and is questioning the vision of the Department of Tourism, then she's got it absolutely wrong, and that is what was said at the beginning of the Liberal leader's statement. She has it absolutely wrong. We are going out to solicit the vision, the incorporation of a vision, the development of a vision by and for the people, not the Department of Tourism.
The Department of Tourism does such wonderful work. We have, as a department and as a corporate team, increased visitation figures by 11 percent. This did not happen because of planning that was done six months ago or a year ago. The planning for the Department of Tourism to go out and to continue to aggressively pursue tourism has been the result of decades of work, decades of work by this administration, by the previous administration and by the administration that was previous to them.
So, thank God that the governing administrations held that dear to their heart and knew that tourism could, would, should and will be - as represented by the numbers - a driving force, a driving economic engine of the Yukon Territory.
The Liberal leader went on to say that, in some cases, it's a ridiculous debate in the House here, I assume. Well, again I take exception to that because there's no such thing as ridiculous debate. One of the things that you do, if you're a consultative government or minister, is that you must take the time to listen to people, because I have heard it said - I guess I can't use it; it's just an old country boy wisdom there, and you're just going to think that all I do is whittle and whistle and say wise things. So, I guess I won't be saying those wise things here for you because that's certainly country boy wisdom. That's all that is.
But certainly truths are to be held from people. If people will speak at length, you must listen intently to what they say, because if you're a good listener and you have an open heart and a desire to hear, you will take a portion of what they say and treat that as something that is very outstanding and as a direction. So, you have to shed the anger and all those other things - the emotions that might come around it - and concentrate and listen.
Certainly, in my wisdom, it was told that maybe only inebriated people and children say those type of things. But it's not ridiculous. Whatever they say, the debate in this House is not ridiculous if you take the time to listen. I think, in some cases, we do get caught up in the passions, but you must take the time to listen, because other things are said in the heat of the moment, in the heat of debate.
So, I guess with that, I would like to assure the Liberal leader, who is the Member for Porter Creek South and the critic for the Liberal Party, and the Member for Riverdale North, who is the critic for the official opposition, that as I do take the time to listen, I do take what you say, and I do write it down, and we do take it to the department, and we do work with what your wisdoms are.
Now, here's a chance for me to take a shot at her, but I'm not going to do it because I do listen. I listened to her so I can have an understanding because the debate can get heated, it can get very dramatic and it can get very passionate - as the member put it, exactly. But within each of us, as legislators and as critics of tourism, we do want the best for the industry, so we do listen to each other.
She wanted to ensure consultation - to "ensure" consultation. Well, we are going to be going to every community. We're going to be talking in every which way we can. We're going to be talking in coffee shops - well, simply, I guess, to shorten this, all I'm going to say is that we're going to be there with open ears - absolutely open ears - and we're going to be listening carefully. Because I have, in some cases, been accosted on the street and in other cases praised on the street, and I'm sure that's happened with previous Tourism ministers long before that, because you have to listen.
I was accosted in the situations by people who treasure their lifestyle, and live behind a spruce curtain or however they live. That is their lifestyle and they don't want people encroaching on it.
Now, do we do things as an individual right or do we do things through a collective right? Well, we work as a government and how we base our policies and our positions, in part, is on what the people say. In part what you say. And then we put it all together and we do the right thing.
It's a give and a take, and it's very important that we do hear those types of people, because if communities want to be protective, if they feel that there's a need for tourism but not at this point in time, then that has to be considered. That absolutely has to be considered and built into the process.
So, are we going to be leading it? Well, we're going to be leading it with the document. We know, as a department - I'm so proud of the department because they've been so successful over the years by listening and talking to people and by taking risks at times, and you have to if you're going to be a good government and if you're going to lead. Then you have to take risks and, at the same time, you limit your risk factors and you talk to the people, so that you can blend the two. It's called leadership.
And any day after the House is out, I would more than love to sit down with the Liberal Party and talk about quality of leadership - of course, there will be a fee - and I'm sure that others in this room could do the same.
The Liberal leader went on to ask: how did the regional tourism plans fit in? Well, the regional tourism plans - let me just speak about the regional tourism plans here for a short moment, if I may.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I want to share some time with my colleagues also.
Regional tourism plans are basically what they say: they're regional tourism plans. We solicit the people, we talk with the people, consult with the people and, most importantly, listen to the people to see how they would like to emerge into the future. What it does is identify the opportunity. We sit down with them through my department and we talk with them.
Again, the department does very good work on this issue because the regional tourism plan, as it identifies opportunities, whether it's in marketing or capitalization, it's identified not only to government, but it's identified to the people at large - the people who see it as an opportunity; for example, an entrepreneur who will take a chance and take the initiative. Those come from a regional tourism plan.
So, if you would like to look at tourism in the Yukon, the Promise and the Challenges, which that will be, it will be a collective contingent on all of the regional tourism plans to typify what the people want to hear, what the people want to say and where they want the Yukon government to go with tourism in the future.
The Liberal leader went on to say that the process changes. There are buzzwords. The experts keep changing the process. Well, I like to think of the Tourism department as experts. I have a team of experts over there who are very committed - very committed - to one thing, and that's the enhancement and the betterment of the quality of life for the people of the Yukon, and we do it through the Department of Tourism.
Yes, I think that, to be futuristic, to develop visions, and to divine visions that are a part of the Yukon mosaic, processes must change. But one thing that is consistent is that we do have a process of consultation that will continue to speak to the people. The buzzwords might go out somehow or other. I mean, geez, I remember when I was a kid in school, we used to say, "Mint. That is mint." That was the buzzword of the day. I haven't heard anybody say that in 20 years. So buzzwords do change. Does the process change? No. The process is still, "Go out, talk to people, continue to talk to people." So buzzwords may change. I mean, you know, we can't all live in 1967 - or make that '73 in this case. We can't all live in 1973, the highlight of your life, likely.
I'm just trying to pick out where the buzzwords might have come from, because you know, there were all these, and then there were these, and there were all sorts of things. So buzzwords change, but consistently the principle of consultation with this government, with the Department of Tourism, has not changed. We want to hear what the people say, and that's been consistent since the Yukon has had its own Tourism department and governing structure.
The Liberal leader went on to say, "And studies for studies' sake." Well, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We don't go out and create bureaucracy and study for study's sake. We go out and consult with the people so that we might be able to implement what the people say.
So we don't do things like study for study's sake. This hasn't taken place since the late 1980s. Certainly, it was time to do it, because we had just came off a very successful decade of anniversaries. It worked quite well, but it expired. So I guess you might say that those are some of those buzzwords - and now we're moving on. We're consulting with the people to find out where we're going.
So it's not studies for studies' sake; it's not bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake. It's to go out and talk to the people, to examine, through the Tourism department, what the people have to say - and then to go ahead through budgetary process and implement the vision that the people of the Yukon Territory have.
The Liberal leader went on to say, what about other industries: hard-rock mining, placer mining, et cetera? Well, I've worked in both of those industries, and I know that the tourism industry is a plus and a benefit to those industries. It's a service industry, but certainly it has its affiliations, and it makes the Yukon economy better, and tourism, in relation to any other industry, whether it's a primary relationship or a secondary relationship, absolutely enhances those other industries.
Now, as we go out and we talk about the consultation and what we're going to do, we are going to go out and talk to the people, and we're going to do meaningful consultation. The Liberal leader did not quite seem to think that it would be meaningful because of the time frame, but certainly, in something that is as critical as this, we'd want to hear what the people say. We have opportunity to work with the industry and to speak to the industry, and if we have to go back and talk to people again, we will do that, because we are not going to set a vision - the people's vision - for the next decade or two by ourselves. We've got to do it, and will do it, in conjunction, in partnership, with the people of the Yukon Territory.
It's very ambitious. There's a lot of work, but I have a department that I'm very proud of in the work that we do and continue to do. They believe in it. They're true professionals and, in 99.99 percent of the cases, they don't leave a stone unturned, as to hear what the people say.
So, we're going to look at it in that light, and we'll continue to do things in that light. People are very proud of our home - absolutely right - and I'll get into this initiative a little bit later, but we talked about our home, and what we have.
Well, Yukon people live here in the north country, north of 60, in Yukon, because it is exactly what we want.
And it's becoming more and more for what other people around the world want. So, do we want to be proud of our home and protect our home? Absolutely, and through this visioning process, this consultative process in tourism, we'll be factoring in some of the strengths that the people have and the pride that they have within their home and looking to protect some of those initiatives.
So, we will listen not only to the opposition, because the opposition certainly has wise words at times to give us direction with, but we will certainly continue to listen to all people.
The definition of a tourist - well, what can I say? You know, Whitehorse is a centre, and then all of us folks who are the rest of Yukon - TROY, if I can use the member's words - come here. Are we treated as tourists? Well, you know, we're all the Yukon community, and I think that we really should continue to look at the Yukon community.
She then went along and continued to speak - the Liberal leader did - about: are you going to implement things? Well, again, this is not the budgetary process. This is the identification process and the direction process that we'll take from people. The process that will put resources toward this is the budget process, and the Government Leader is the Finance minister. He goes out and he talks to people. He's continually talking to people. It's a process that just doesn't evolve two months before the Legislature starts in the spring. It starts much sooner than that, and a part of that budgetary process - the tools that we use to guide our budgetary process - are strategies. That is exactly what we have here.
The member went on to speak about incentive travel. Incentive travel is very much a part of our objectives and is very much an injector into our economy, and for the most part - well, for every part historically, I guess, for the big incentive travel initiatives - we've managed to bring them here in the off-season, on the shoulder season, so it's an added incentive.
It's an addition to the economy. It's not shouldering out people where it's busy in July, et cetera. But it's adding on to the shoulder season, and it will continue to be one of the initiatives that my government and my department will aggressively pursue.
We have brought forth agencies of record in the United Kingdom now. I am very impressed with the work that's been done in the United Kingdom. We are working with much due diligence to enable companies, incentive travellers, to come to the Yukon. We're doing that right now. So, do we stop in the middle of where we're at? Absolutely not.
The minister went on to talk about the air travellers and the local people and the rubber-tire market. Are we just a wide spot on the highway? Well, I've got to tell you that that truck-stop mentality of being just another truck stop on the way to Alaska from wherever you came from down south or whatever is a mentality that is slowly evaporating. It's slowly evaporating. As you look at the different markets, the European market is stringently different from, say, the Asian market. The European people will come over and spend megabucks, and they like three-week packages, whereas Asian people like four-to-five day packages and have different needs and desires, as the rubber-tire market has different needs and desires, as the local people have different needs and desires, as do air travellers.
So, there are many different components of tourism and marketing and the direction that you point them to, which we work with, and we continue to, because it's encumbent upon government to continue that work. I do not want to lose any one of them. I want to continue and to ensure quality growth.
So, certainly, I've spoken about the collaboration of all Yukoners and that we have to have all people come together. We have to provide leadership, and we will provide the leadership.
It's mentioned that the attitude has to change. The Liberal leader said the attitude has to change. Well, certainly, what we will do is work with all attitudes of the people so that we can come to a defined strategic visionary process, so that we might be able to have, as a direction, a good mission statement that all will flow from.
The member spoke about Dawson being a good place to go and to grow from and a good starting place because of all the good work that the KVA has done.
Well, the KVA - I'm very, very proud of them. They do very good work - very professional. I think that's why this government has supported them and created initiatives, such as the tourism marketing fund, because we, as a jury, I guess you might say, as the grantors, did allocate $35,000 to develop a marketing plan to maximize the resources and develop partnerships in the Dawson City region and the North Klondike corridor. Denny Kobayashi, who is the executive director, said - and it's a quote - "Cost is often prohibitive for tourism organizations to develop marketing plans." The tourism marketing fund provides an excellent opportunity to achieve that work.
Now, she went on to speak about the Miles Canyon Historic Railway Society. Again, the government, in its wisdom and listening powers, has put money where it is most needed, where it is most felt, to benefit both the existing and new entrepreneurs of the Yukon Territory with some new and exciting products. So, certainly, I can share the kudos for the KVA - and certainly not only to the KVA, but to all the tourism organizations of the Yukon Territory.
Certainly, the member took a run at my riding. Certainly, I can give kudos to the people within the Teslin region because there are people there who have put together a Chamber of Commerce. Why? So that they might be able to take opportunity and have an input into it. So, it's just wonderful stuff.
Again, a shot was taken at me, saying that I was trying to put people in Stewart Crossing out of their RV centre business. That is as far from the truth as anything could ever be. We're not doing that at all. When we go through and do our identification of regional tourism plans, it identifies opportunity for private entrepreneurs to take advantage of.
It's not for the government to take advantage of. The government does it through their facilitation to identify them and then encourage private entrepreneurs. So we want only the best for the Yukon Territory, only the very absolute best, and of course I can absolutely agree that it has to be the community that wants it. Must we help them? Yes, that is exactly why we're going out on this round of consultation on this document, The Promise and the Challenges - absolutely the reason why we're doing these initiatives - to help the communities, to listen to them, to identify their vision of tourism, and then to help them implement them.
The member went on to speak about the Northern Lights Centre and the different regions in the country. Well, I'll speak to that a little bit later - about the different markets that we're looking at. She spoke about the Carcross area, the Mayo area, the Teslin area, the Kluane area, the Old Crow area, the Faro area, the Ross River area. I think she hit every area.
So I hope that, through the regional tourism plans, we do it, and I encourage all MLAs of this House - and I say again, all MLAs of this House - to work with me cooperatively in identifying tourism plans, because I will listen to all of you. I know I speak with many of you on a personal basis out of the House, and many good things come from those conversations, because we do listen. I know, as legislators, we might have political or philosophical differences, but our intent as a government, or as legislators, is for the betterment of all Yukon people.
Tourism infrastructure in Whitehorse - well, I guess it would be hard to define, but certainly this government is working with the city in identifying infrastructure development. We're working with the city on the waterfront to clean up the city waterfront, so that we might have some good, meaningful development. We're doing all these things for the betterment of the Yukon community.
We've done such wonderful things with the White Pass fire buildings, the Taylor House, and everything - I still have a prepared text to read.
We spoke about golfing. Well, when I was in the United Kingdom and when I was in Germany at the ITB, I ran into sports writers. Now I know the previous Minister of Tourism is well-versed in this type of initiative and understands the merit of these initiatives. The Liberal leader is, of course, just getting her feet wet within tourism but certainly, as we go out and promote, we do promote for the betterment of the golfing industry.
I have spoken to a gentleman who is a foremost golf writer, and I had given him the opportunity - and the names of the people - to come to the Yukon Territory. Now, I can't do anything but encourage him and that's exactly what we've done. So, many, many things have been done.
The government here says that we do need attractions. That's why we help people with the development of prospectus, et cetera, to site attractions, because we know that we have to put very limited resources to the very best expenditures as possible. It can't be just a pie-in-the-sky dream and then that's what you go with. No, it's got to be well thought out. That's why we've used consultative approaches and we know that ancient history, the Klondike Gold Rush, that the people, that the Yukon geography are very good starting points for business.
The previous administration and before have helped to develop the Tourism Business Centre, which will enable somebody to go from A to Z - A to Z, in terms of developing marketing. If there was another letter, we would add it, but there isn't, so you go from A to Z, and included within every one of those segments is how to develop a successful tourism business, and that's exactly what we've done.
The Liberal leader went on to say that there were wise words from the Berger inquiry, that first of all, we rip up, by our roots, to look at what we've done. No, no, no, no, no, that is not what this government is going to do. We're not going to rip up our roots and have a look and say, "Well, this is where we come from." For one thing, we'd lose a little dirt and don't want to be sharing dirt with you at all. What I want to do is put a little - here's one for you, Jack - fertilizer on it. Maybe then we'd be able to add a little water to it.
We can dig it up in the winter and it'll thaw out by the springtime. So certainly, that's what we'll do, we'll continue to preserve our roots, because our roots are some of the marketable things in the ancient histories - the people, the geography, the Klondike Gold Rush. Those are our roots; we know what our roots are. It's incumbent upon this government and the people of the Yukon to look at what we've done and to where we're going, and to have buy-in, complete buy-in.
So I know that the Liberal leader then went on to say, "Well, on page 13 you shouldn't have put a 'but' before this", but - and I just put a "but" before again, didn't I? Well, gosh sakes, that doesn't make what I said obsolete, because in this case it's not obsolete either.
What the "but" focuses on and pertains to, is that it has to be authentic, that it has to be not too much, because we want to keep it a high end, world class destination, and these are the words, quote, "High end, world-class destination".
Now that is the focus of where we're going, of the goal of what we need to get to, and where we need to get to. Absolutely - high end. It can't be just the truck-stop mentality, a wide spot on the way to Alaska, or anything like as such. It has to be high end and authentic.
So when you do put a "but" behind the statement, it's a qualifier. It's not nuke everything that went before; not at all.
So, the member again spoke about air access, and not just simply to Whitehorse. Well, this government works within the process - will continue - and again, I've had some very good talks with people; is that how we really, truly open our north to visitors from Alberta?
Ah hah - now, the Member for Riverdale South is saying - body language - "Gosh, I don't know." But you know, I went out and I talked to people, and gosh, I just got an idea. And I'm starting to implement that idea.
I shared that vision and idea with the president of TIA, Mr. Pat Irvin, who also leads a consortium in Watson Lake and does much good work. Many of the initiatives that he and his consortium have developed have proven to be triggers for program development of the Yukon territorial government. So, we can work in partnership with private industry, and there is living proof that we have. Now, they are aware of it, and I am talking with other people so that we can open the north up into those types of initiatives, and we will do that.
Time in consultation will always go along, so I appreciate that you applaud the intent of where we are going. Certainly, I look forward and I will be watching. As we know, we sit directly across from each other in debate, so I will certainly be sitting here chewing my nails, sitting on the edge of my seat, saying, "Gosh, she's going to vote for the budget because she said so" - well, not in the Tourism debate but on the Wednesday of her initiative.
So, we're going to continue to re-examine. We're going to continue to look at options for marketing. Absolutely. This is not a government that just has a success story and then says, "Ha ha ha, this is going to make it much better for me to sit back and twiddle my thumbs when I'm doing all that carving and whistling and saying wise things." No, no, no, no, no, no. We're going to continue to move to the future to secure and preserve the prosperity of the people of the Yukon Territory.
She spoke about mission statements and mission statements from the United States of America and others. Let me just say that in the world now, our competition is not necessarily Alberta or Alaska. Our competition is worldwide, and so we have to think in that worldwide focus, and we'll have to continue to think in that manner, because our competition isn't the kid next door or the girl next door, or whatever. It's the people on the next continent and the next country. It's countries that I've witnessed - and I know that the previous Tourism minister has witnessed - that countries at war can sit down in the marketplace and share common visions for tourism. That is our competition, and that's mega-competition.
So, we have to keep up with the world trends, we have to do things at the high quality end.
Now, I do have a prepared text that I'd like to speak from, if I may.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: But do you listen? That is wonderful. It is so wonderful to have an appreciative audience.
As I said before, it does give me a pleasure to be able to stand and address this issue, because I believe so strongly in what we're doing, as well as my government does. And we know that this government has continued to take very strong and very bold steps to build a new economy that will take us into the next millennium, and that economy is not just going to be a resource extractor type of economy. It is going to be an economy of service such as the tourism industry does. So, it's very clear that tourism is definitely one of our main economic generators in the territory.
We have very clearly shown our support for tourism, and how have we done that? Through our Economy 2000 initiative that includes $175,000 for the film incentive program, and we're already seeing positive results - the Pontiac commercial. So, we're seeing positive results on some of the initiatives we've already put in. The Yukon retailers will continue to feel the positive effects of the film work that is in the Yukon.
Our support comes through loud and very clear to the industry and to the public through our new and exciting initiatives, such as the tourism marketing fund. Just this year, we committed $750,000 to assist the Yukon businesses to build capacity and, I tell you, that's commitment. That's absolute commitment to the industry when we do those types of things. The runway expansion - again, another Economy 2000 initiative worth $3.4 million. What's it doing in the global context? It's bringing the visitors on the other side of the world right to our doorstep, right to our doorstep. It's modelled on a 767 model, and it's just so exciting. It's terribly, terribly exciting for the majority of the people in this House.
We're going to do $315,000 worth of work on the visitor exit survey. This is clearly something that you should be listening to because, as we go forth and we talk to the people in the Yukon, the promise and the challenge here, what we're doing on the visitor exit survey is talking to the people, so we're talking to the tourists, so we're sitting and we're listening and we're talking, whether it's in a coffee house, or wherever it is, with the Yukoner and, at the same time, we're talking to the people who are coming, and asking, "What is it that you like to see; what can we do, as a government?"
So it's a two-way street, and really, in some cases, it's a three- or four-way express lane, because that is the quality and the feel that we have for tourism.
So we do, we recognize that tourism is very vital to the Yukon's new economy, and we're working to increase tourism year-round.
Now, the tourism strategy here that we're debating today is - you know, I'm a little surprised that we're actually even debating it, but I kind of know now why we're debating it - because of the Tourism Industry Association meeting that's coming up this weekend.
So I'm absolutely surprised, because I know that the Liberal Party has continued to criticize just about everything that this government has done for tourism. They surely haven't voted for it. They consistently come out against all of our initiatives. They not only criticize our plans and our priorities, but they vote against our budgets. They voted against the money that we put toward the tourism marketing fund. They voted against the opportunities of a tourism operator to pursue new opportunities. The leader and her Liberal colleagues, who are waving a flag around over there at this point in time, have voted against the additional money that we put toward tourism marketing. How's that?
And they stand there audaciously and say that they support tourism and the industry. I mean, what a crock. They voted against the film incentive fund. They voted against the millennium fund, and the list goes on, and on and on and on and on, and it will continue to go on.
I know you're only looking at this politically. You're not looking at what is for the betterment of the Yukon Territory. You're looking at it purely politically, and what a way to waste energy.
So, as we embark on our tourism strategy, our biggest challenge - and you must listen closely - is to preserve and protect the prosperity of today, so that we might have the enjoyment -
Speaker: Order please. I would ask the minister to address his remarks through the Speaker, please.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
So, the prosperity of today, the enjoyment that we have through the bright light of tourism, and to move into the future, so that we can enhance it - so it's consistent growth that we have, a protection for prosperity, but with a vision to move forward.
Please, would the leader of the third party know that we're going to go out, and we're going to talk to Yukon people, and we're going to continue to listen to Yukon people. Why? Because we're a consultative government. The Liberal members opposite know, and knew before they put this motion in, that we're committed to developing a truly Yukon tourism strategy to take us into the future.
People in every community in the Yukon, wherever they live, are invited to participate and to share their vision. We encourage people to fax, e-mail, through smoke signals - if it's pertinent - walkie-talkies, whatever it takes -
Speaker: Order. I would remind the minister to address his remarks through the Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the future of tourism is so important that I would like to convey that point to the Yukon Liberal leader, if I may - and to everyone. Tourism is the bread-and-butter industry - over $100 million into the economy. So, that's why we've been working with tourism. That's why we're continuing to work with tourism.
I've been continually called on to speak about tourism, and I love to speak about tourism, because I can never really get tired of the subject, because we're doing lots, and the government will continue to do lots. We're going to continue to work with the people. We're going to work with the operators, museums and the heritage people. We've committed $315,000.
I want to talk again, a little bit, about the Yukon protected areas strategy and the parks strategy.
These dovetail with the tourism industry - absolutely dovetail. The protected lands that come out of the negotiation process again dovetail. My government, in our economy 2000 initiatives, tie directly into it. The tax credits and the investor funds are vehicles that will greatly enhance tourism growth over the next few years.
Now, listen. We've put $500,000 into historic site maintenance and in interpretation and signage, $460,000 into assistance for museums and exhibits. And in 1999-2000, there is $166,000 for the Yukon archaeological program, $115,000 for the paleontology program, and $30,000 for heritage studies. We funded video projects for the Selkirk First Nation in Pelly for their interpretive centre. We're working with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in training heritage officers. We're bringing them down, and we're doing that by accessing the native training corps for a two-year internship. We're doing work with the MacBride Museum. We're doing new geology work for the Dawson City Museum. We've done boat construction at the George Johnston Museum. We funded, again, the drafters of the Dawson Museum and the Transportation Museum, the MacBride Museum, staff training at the annual Canadian museums conferences. Our commitment to heritage and museums remains stronger than ever. We work through various branches. We've maintained consistent O&M funding. We've again funded heritage days. So, we do truly recognize the value of heritage and museums to the tourism industry.
Another good initiative is the Beringia Centre. It was a very good initiative of this government to explore options for managing the Beringia Centre by moving to that community base. We have not given up on the Beringia Centre, and we will not give up on the Beringia Centre. It's there. We just have to find a new way of managing it and a new way of looking at it with the community, so that's exactly what we're doing. So, Beringia is very much a part of the dream.
The market - we're going into new markets. We've entered the United Kingdom - 800,000 people. The largest market ever for Canada is 800,000 people coming from the United Kingdom, and we're looking for our share of that.
We want them to come to the Yukon.
Are we doing things right? You bet your booties we're doing things right, Mr. Speaker, and the living proof of it is that, while the German Canada-wide numbers are down by eight percent, the Yukon's numbers are up by four percent. Four percent, and they're down eight percent nationally. Is that good work? Many kudos to the marketing branch and the tourism branch for doing that.
So, I've outlined a very clear direction that this government is going with tourism and the consultation. My comments make it very clear, I hope, that the motion put forward by the Liberal Party is not necessary but we can certainly talk about it, as we are. And, with that in mind, I'd like to propose the following amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to propose
THAT Motion No. 173 be amended by
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to this motion.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Tourism
THAT Motion No. 173 be amended by
(3) in the third paragraph, deleting the words after "Government of Yukon" and substituting for them the words "to continue to involve all Yukoners in the tourism strategy consultations that were announced in the government's budget."
Hon. Mr. Keenan: On the amendment, I do believe it is self-explanatory, that it says that we want to continue to do the good work. Those are my only comments.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the Minister of Tourism for actually cutting short his speech today so that others of us could get up and speak on what the Liberal leader has described as wasted Wednesday, on which she occupied two and a half hours of what she describes as wasted Wednesday when there are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 members who indicated that they would like to address this very significant motion. So, I want to thank the Minister of Tourism for his courtesy of shortening his speech so that the other members could speak.
I'm not going to speak long either, because I'm going to recognize that it's important that we all speak on the Liberal leader's wasted Wednesday, as she likes to call it.
Mr. Speaker, my first reaction to this motion, when I saw it and it was tabled before the House, was, Hallelujah, the Liberals have been reborn. It was a revelation that the Liberals have discovered that there is a tourism industry in the territory and that they want to be involved in it. I thought that's really significant and then I thought about it a little more, and thought, "Now why would it come today?"
Now why would it arrive on a day like today, and they insist they do it? And then I thought, oh, I know. Someone from the Liberal Party may want to go to the convention - the TIA convention in Skagway - this weekend, and they want to take the message down to Skagway from the Liberal leader saying, "Look at all the nice things we said about you folks today." For the first time.
You know, I thought it was a bit unusual for the Liberal leader to be standing on her feet today and complimenting everyone in the tourism industry, including the department, when, if you talk to people in the tourism industry, including the department, they'll tell you it's been the Liberal Party in the Yukon and the Liberal leader who's been the biggest thorn in Tourism's side for two and a half years.
They've been very upset with the comments made by the Liberal leader, and her lack of understanding of the tourism industry, and even today, Mr. Speaker, as the Liberal leader described her understanding of the tourism industry, those people who she's criticized time in and time out in the department and in the industry, for the hard work they're doing, are going to be puzzled by the instant turnaround of the Liberal Party - the 180-degree switch. The born-again. Hallelujah, as I said.
This is a significant day in the history of the Yukon - April 21, 1999. But put it on your calendar, because probably within a day or two they'll be jumping to their feet, criticizing the tourism industry again. Or maybe they'll wait till next week, until after the convention's over with, so they'll be better received when they arrive in Skagway.
The Liberal leader rose today and appeared to be championing the cause of tourism, and I have some concerns about that, because the criticism we've heard from the Liberals in the past has been - they've been very critical of the purchase of the equipment at the airport to service the larger airplanes that have been coming in and bringing literally thousands - millions - of dollars into the pockets of Yukon businesses - critical of that purchase.
The government spent $200,000 on something like that, and they said they wanted to justify every penny of it.
The Liberals have been very critical - supportive in the beginning, I might add, but very critical now of what's going on at the Beringia Centre - but then again, very complimentary today of the Beringia Centre. So, it's kind of just like the wind, shifting from one side to the other. It's sort of a convenience.
My concern, Mr. Speaker, is that you can't have it both ways. I'm surprised - quite frankly, quite surprised by the approach the current leader of the Liberal Party has taken because that individual was, for many years, an executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and, hopefully, was very much involved in the tourism industry. She should have had a very good understanding of the tourism industry, and yet when we talked about the overseas flight, she was continuous in her criticism of what we were doing there, when businesses up and down Main Street, all over this town, and in Dawson City and other places, were saying that that was a good move.
And she continued to criticize. I don't know where the member was getting her negative criticism from, but I would guess that 95 percent of the tourism industry - maybe 98.8 percent of the tourism industry - is supportive of government initiatives to encourage overseas flights into this territory. It has extended our tourism season in the spring of the year, and it has certainly extended our tourism season in the fall of the year for many individuals.
So, I'm disappointed by the comments made by the Liberal leader in the past. But today, the Liberal leader took two and a half hours of her so-called "wasted Wednesday" and virtually wasted it on her apology to the tourism industry for what she's said for the past two and a half years.
And that's sad. I mean, the tourism industry wanted the Liberal leader to be on side two and a half years ago, and it's unfortunate that the member chose to do this today. I must say that I think a lot of these people in the industry will be saying, "Too little, too late," and will be very disappointed - in fact, probably insulted - by the comments.
I know for a fact, Mr. Speaker, that individuals in the Department of Tourism who burn the midnight oil and work so hard for this government to outperform almost every other jurisdiction in Canada have been literally in tears some days because of some of the initiatives that the Liberal leader has embarked upon in her criticisms of what they're doing. They have offered the Liberal leader briefings and information and everything else. It has all been ignored. Mr. Speaker, that's not fair. That's not fair to those people.
The Liberal leader has been born again today with her party and realized that one of the most important industries in this territory - she's discovered this today - is tourism. Mr. Speaker, one of the most consistent industries in this territory over the past six to 10 years has been tourism, with steady growth, large infrastructure growth, with people getting into the wilderness tourism marketplace, hotels, expansion on hotels, people getting into businesses, small businesses throughout this territory. This hasn't happened today. It has been ongoing.
Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I was extremely disappointed in what the Liberal leader said today, because she didn't say anything new. She just produced a page or two of Hansard that the Liberal leader or her appointed person can take down to Skagway this weekend to the TIA convention to show people, "Look, I'm not all that bad; look what I did on Wednesday."
The other concern I have about the comments that were made today by the Liberal leader were the suggestions and ideas that the Liberal leader has made on the floor of the House. Some of us on this side have been accused, and some on that side have been accused, from time to time, of presenting a huge wish list that would cost a lot of money. I would hate to sit down tomorrow to cost out what the Liberal leader's vision of tourism in the territory was. Because, like we all know, there's only so much money in this budget. It has to serve, I think, 16-some odd departments, and if we were to commit to all of the things the Liberal leader was going to build in her speech or do in her speech for tourism, which she just discovered here today, we would have to probably take half the budget Health and half the budget from C&TS, and half the budget from every other department, to build them.
So I think that, although it was an attempt to show support for tourism, I think it was somewhat irresponsible to make a commitment of the millions of dollars that the Liberal leader made here today.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader did make some useful comments with respect to the tourism strategy discussion paper.
I would agree with the comments made by the Liberal leader with respect to the timing. It is almost too late - well, it is too late now to go out and ask the businesses in the territory and people involved in the tourism industry where they want to go in the future. I say that because anybody I know who is in the tourism industry right now, today, is right up to here in getting ready for the season, which starts in two or three weeks. There are only seven days in a week and there are only 24 hours in a day, and most people that I know in the tourism industry have hardly any time at all, other than time to devote to their businesses, from now until the middle or the end of September. Anybody who knows anything about the tourism industry knows that that's the case.
You're going to get some selective comments now, but most of the people are going to go, "Oh, my God, I don't have time to comment on this," but they're going to feel obligated to do something and it's going to take away from what they're doing with their own business, and many of them are going to say, "Why are you doing it now?" The time to do it is in the fall and the winter. The time to do it is when they're not quite as busy. You have to spread this type of consultation over a longer period of time.
When we did our tourism summit, we did it in November/December, after the tourism season and before most of the people went off on their marketing initiatives, and we had quite a large turnout. I think 500 or 600 people turned out, Mr. Speaker, at that tourism summit. This is a great idea and it's a good suggestion, but my concern is that the timing is bad for going out now and trying to get input.
I think the minister is going to find that when they go out and they ask people how they feel about tourism for the future.
Mr. Speaker, I wasn't going to speak for very long and so I'm going to keep this short. I do want, though, to register some concerns here. The minister tabled an amendment to the motion, which we've received. The amendment to the motion, which was presented by the Minister of Tourism, we, on this side of the House can support it. I think that it talks about continuing to work with the Yukon people, and continuing to recognize the importance of tourism.
I think tourism over the past five or six years now has seen the most continuous growth of any tourism industry anywhere in Canada. The Yukon tourism industry is growing at an unprecedented rate compared to other jurisdictions, and I think that's wonderful for our industry. So, I think we should continue to recognize that.
I can support other parts of the motion, but I feel that there is a portion of the motion that is somewhat lacking.
And that is that we should be recognizing in our motion here today the significant event that happened, that the Yukon Liberal Party recognizes the importance of tourism in the territory, because that's significant, and I think that it's a day that we should mark. We should mark it, and not only, Mr. Speaker, should we not only recognize that this is a significant day to recognize that the Liberals have identified tourism as important, but we should urge the Yukon Liberal caucus to continue to recognize that tourism is important.
So, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to move an amendment to the amended motion. I'm going to amend the amended motion.
Mr. Phillips: I move
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 173 be amended by deleting the words "urges the Government of the Yukon to continue to recognize" and substituting for them the words "urges the Yukon Liberal caucus to recognize".
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Riverdale North that the amendment to Motion No. 173 be amended by deleting the words "urges the Government of Yukon to continue to recognize", and substituting for them the words "urges the Yukon Liberal caucus to recognize".
Hon. Mr. Harding: We're more than pleased to support this amendment by the Yukon Party, the official opposition. It's a responsible amendment that clearly points out that something miraculous has happened today. An event has taken place; the holy water's been splashed upon the Liberal leader.
It is such an amazing turnaround to see that member stopped from her attacks on the Tourism department and the tourism industry and somehow today become such an avid proponent, just on the eve of the TIA convention - miraculous.
Mr. Speaker, this was the mother of all wasted Wednesdays. The Liberal leader spent $2,200 wasting Wednesday to talk about a tourism strategy that was announced in the budget and that the minister had a press conference on two days ago.
Mr. Speaker, I don't understand quite what the Liberal leader was trying to do today. Last week we got a press release when we debated an important motion about something impacting very much the Yukon Territory, that there was no strategy announced two days ago on, and the Liberal leader said, "That was a wasted Wednesday."
Now, Mr. Speaker, we have her speak for over two hours about a strategy that the Minister of Tourism has already initiated.
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite - the Liberal leader - has been complaining there's not enough time to debate the supps, yet instead of taking time to debate the budget, she spends $2,200 of taxpayers' money with platitudes about the tourism industry, when for the last two and a half years she's been creaming it.
Mr. Speaker, we live in troubled and strange times, but we must rise above this, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: The time being 5:30 p.m., the Speaker will now leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Debate on the subamendment, the amendment and Motion No. 173 accordingly adjourned
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Mr. Fentie: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee is dealing with the Department of Renewable Resources.
Bill No. 14 - First Appropriation Act, 1999-2000 - continued
Department of Renewable Resources - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I have a clean copy of the contribution agreement with the Conservation Society. I can give one to each party across the way to look at.
The opposition had asked a couple of questions that I have some answers to, and I will just go over that very briefly so we can get on with debate on this department.
There was a question asked of how many positions are vacant, and how long they have been vacant, and how many do we expect to fill in this fiscal year, and what they have been budgeted for in this department.
We currently have seven full-time positions that have been vacant for an average of three and a half months. Recruitment action on most of these positions is currently in process and will be undertaken on all the vacant positions over the next few months. The seven are - I'll just give you the times for how long they have been vacant. In the environmental protection and assessment, environmental assessment analysis is a one-term position. It has been vacant since April 6, 1999. In finance and administration, we have a manager of information services, a permanent, full-time position, vacant since November 1998. A human resource officer position has been vacant since March 26, 1999. In policy and planning, a resource planning coordinator position has been vacant since November 1998 and the fish and wildlife fisheries biologist since May 1998. The director of YPAS is a new recruitment that is underway, and the job description is presently being classified by the Public Service Commission, and a conservation biologist for YPAS, and this is also a recruitment to be undertaken following the staffing of the YPAS director position.
There was a question also asked in regard to education packages respecting live-release fishing. The questions asked were: when are the workshops going to be held and when does the minister expect that these educational packages will be available to the general public?
The department is working on a number of educational initiatives about live-release fishing, and one of them is that the information in the 1999 fishing regulations synopsis was updated slightly to be a little clearer, and we have committed to working with the Tourism Industry Association to follow through on their requests to us to produce a package for educational purposes for the public on live-release fishing.
Also, the department is working with the Fish and Game Association toward a fishing workshop on April 25. The topics to be discussed will include fishing techniques and live-release fishing. The department is preparing a colouring book on fishing ethics targeting children and educating them on respect for fish. This is currently at the printer and should be available shortly.
The department also has educational videos available for the public and others on live-release fishing techniques.
The same question was asked in regard to revisions to the materials on bear and human conflict. The department has revised some of its educational material on bear safety. We are trying to target specific audiences such as recreational day hikers and home owners living on greenbelts, with educational materials directed specifically to them, and I can provide the following examples: Information on Bear Safety has been included in the new fishing regulations synopsis and similar information will be included in the hunting regulations synopsis this summer; bear safety information in the wilderness brochure has been revised; this brochure is printed in English, French and German.
A new pamphlet dealing with issues of concern to women has been designed and these are in addition to the ongoing educational programs and bear awareness courses offered to interested parties.
Mr. Cable:The minister, in the briefing, was asked some questions on greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide and whatnot, and provided me with a return, which included some pamphlets on climate change, and a description of what the carbon dioxide reduction was that took place in a number of areas of government activity.
Who's actually driving the climate change, or the carbon dioxide greenhouse reduction train? Is it Renewable Resources or is it a mixed bag of responsibilities?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The member knows that we have been engaged in talks with the provinces, and we're nationally committed to reducing greenhouse gases. We've taken the commitment back to our government and, throughout the different departments, we are trying in different ways to combat this. Economic Development, for example, has been doing some things, as well as Yukon Housing and within our department.
Mr. Cable: Well, allied to carbon dioxide reduction, of course, is energy usage reduction. Who is actually driving that exercise? Who is in charge of reducing energy consumption in government buildings? Is that the minister's department, Economic Development or Government Services?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, it's through Government Services.
Mr. Cable: I note in the material that the minister provided me that he indicated, "The government is in the process of developing an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in the Yukon." After that statement, he went on to say, "This is a first step in developing a greenhouse gas reduction strategy."
What is going on with respect to the taking of that inventory? What is the minister's department, in particular, doing?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have a contract with the Conservation Society to conduct a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the Yukon for the years 1990, 1995 and 1998, for $10,000. This contract will also respond to a recommendation from the energy commission. I think it's recommendation number 36.
Mr. Cable: That $10,000 contract with the Yukon Conservation Society - when is the inventory that they'll be taking going to be completed?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I have to get back to the member with that. I don't see anything in the briefing note as to a finalization of this inventory.
Mr. Cable: Okay. It would be useful to get a copy of that contract. The minister, I think, is nodding his head. I can read for myself what the term is. What is the next step after we get this inventory? What is the minister's department proposing to do?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the member knows that, I think, the Yukon is in fairly good shape. We don't have to do a whole lot to reduce air emissions and be below the national average. With things like green mortgages and so on that are directed strictly toward the reduction of greenhouses gases and energy efficiency and so on, I think that we could move a long way. I know that every department is trying to find ways of upgrading their buildings and replacing things like light bulbs and windows and so on so that there isn't the energy loss there.
But in work in the area of climate change, it started basically in 1998 and will continue, of course, through this budget that we're debating now and will include a continued public awareness initiative aimed at the general public with speakers in schools and so on. So, once the data is taken forward, we can bring it back to the general public, show them, with the work we've done through the Conservation Society, where we think we can make improvements or to just let them know what has taken place in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: I know there have been a number of meetings of the respective environment ministers - federal and provincial - over the last few years, talking about carbon dioxide reduction - greenhouse gas reduction. Has there been any formal commitment drawn up by this government as to what its target is for greenhouse gas reduction?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We, with the rest of the provinces, have committed to the Kyoto agreement of having our greenhouse gases reduced down to the 1992 levels by the year 2000, I think. I can't remember now but I think that's what it was. It was a national thing. There wasn't anything specific to Yukon. We didn't agree to anything specifically in the Yukon - to a number - because one of the things we talked about was that there are places in Canada we think that could take away from the impact of other provinces. Some provinces can take away the impact, if we were to reduce to that level, from other provinces. For example, Newfoundland versus Alberta. So we're taking as a national initiative at this point, but we, the Yukon, have committed, through our energy commission and as government, to do what we can to reduce greenhouse gases.
Mr. Cable: Back to the inventory, then. Does the minister see coming out of this inventory some sort of target for reduction? Just what is the purpose for taking the inventory?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: First of all, what we want to do, and what I think is lacking here in the Yukon - except for some real broad information regarding the number of automobiles and homes we have - are any details, at this point, and we want to get those details and see where we can target for the greatest reduction in greenhouse gases with governments, or in Yukon, or with the general public.
Mr. Cable: I think the minister indicated earlier - and these aren't his exact words; I can't remember what they were - that he seemed to think we were on track in the way we were going. That's what I got out of what he said. Does the minister not think that we have an obligation also, here in the Yukon, to reduce greenhouse gases by whatever the national average is?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I do believe that we have an obligation. I think some unfortunate things that happened in the Yukon, such as the shutdown at Faro, has really jumped us ahead of probably most places in Canada by not using the diesel that we have been using in the past. We've had people leaving the Yukon and, of course, that is a reduction in itself. We are committed as a government.
We are asking that every department follow the recommendations that had been put out by the energy commission. Yukon Housing has taken some steps with green mortgages, and I think it had a lot of effect, simply by the turnout at the Homeshow '99. So, we're committed. We haven't committed to a number, but we are committed to reducing greenhouse gases.
Mr. Cable: The minister's pamphlets on climate change - one of them, dated February 1999, talked about the theory of climate change in the Yukon, and it went into predictions. It said, "All over the world, scientists are studying the potential impacts of climate change on the earth's systems. Yukon-specific predictions include the following changes in Yukon climate: higher year-round temperatures, winters warming more than summers, with the winter warming being greater farther north and summers warming more in the south and central Yukon than in the north, due to the moderating effect of the Beaufort Sea and more snow in the winter with the change being greater farther north."
Where do these predictions come from? Is there some scientific document or is that anecdotal or what is it?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The department used a number of different areas to put together this information of earlier summers and melting in the north, and so on, from some scientific analysis and information that we got.
We haven't had a whole lot of study that took place up here in the north, but we've used the Mackenzie Basin study for a lot of the information. In there, it talks about the impacts on the north and the warmer weather in the north and on our north coast and the melting of our glaciers, which might lose approximately a metre a year, and so on. So, we've been using the information out of that study.
What we wanted to do, though, is try, with this creation of a climate change centre here, to have a study happen here in the Yukon. We haven't had one here other than for a portion of the northern part of the Yukon in the Mackenzie Basin study.
Mr. Cable: Just out of curiosity, has the theory that we're getting warmer temperatures been backed up by the temperature statistics provided by the weather office?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, it has, especially in the central Arctic where there has been recorded temperature changes up to about 5.6 degrees. This, with the northern part, shows that the increases are more over the last 10 to 12 years. I believe, from the information we got, it is 10 years, but that information's a couple of years old.
Mr. Cable: Has the minister's department - the part of his department devoted to agriculture - looked at what the effects of the temperature change - you know, it's something in the order of five degrees farther north; assumedly it's a little less here - will be on the agricultural industry in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, some of the things that, of course, could happen are just common sense ones, in that there could be longer growing seasons here in the north. We've had other things that could be felt with regard to our animals, and particularly of concern would be our Porcupine caribou herd, where a week's difference in warm temperature could mean plants growing at a time when the caribou thought they would be and are already gone or had already passed, and also the increase in insects.
Of course, there are many other effects that we think could be pretty major to Yukon, and we've been voicing that over the last couple of years in our meetings nationally about what we see here, just with our own eyes. The biggest one is with forest fires - the increase in forest fires in a dryer season.
Mr. Cable: I think the prediction for rain was more and larger storms - both winter storms and the heavy summer rainfall storms, with more thunder and lightning. Is the minister saying the predictions are for less precipitation in the summer here?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, I'm just saying that what we've been seeing here in the Yukon is dryer weather and hotter weather - and more forest fires. I don't know what the prediction for precipitation would be.
Mr. Cable: On another allied topic, in the budget briefing, one of the handouts said that work has also begun to amend the ozone-depleting substance regulations and the section is working with the business stakeholders involved. Could the minister tell us what is going on in that area and when he expects to have the regulations issued?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I believe that the amendments were just to keep up with the national amendments. They are very minor amendments. I don't have it in front of me here, but I can send it over to the member.
Mr. Cable: The minister can do that by way of letter too, if that's convenient for him.
On agriculture, is the government's department doing anything with the Agricultural Association? Is there any joint enterprise underway?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, other than the $10,000 that we have in agreement with them for this fiscal year. That's basically the amount that we give to them every year. Basically, what we're saying is that we're going to be giving it to them upfront. It's for things like the Harvest Fair, and there are a couple of other things that I listed off yesterday, but it's just the $10,000.
Mr. Cable: The Agricultural Association did what they thought was their version of the second part of the agricultural policy review. Then the minister's department issued a contract to do that with a consultant, and it seemed to me at the time that there was a double expenditure of money. What was the reason for that? Could the minister tell us?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I didn't get all of the question. Did you ask about the Agricultural Association versus what we're doing? Well, one of the things we felt the Agricultural Association was doing was going out and seeking people in the industry for their input into this agricultural policy review. What we wanted to do was to do a broad public consultation through a number of different people who could be affected by this. It could be the trappers or recreation or whatnot. We felt it had an impact on a lot more people than just the industry itself, so that's why we went out to do a more extensive consultation with the different people who are affected by this policy.
Mr. Cable: The minister had written me on January 14 setting out the schedule for the review, and it indicates the final report is to be prepared May 27 to June 30, 1999, and there are a number of other dates relating to the build-up to the final report. Is the work on time, according to the schedule that the minister has provided to me?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: From the information I have, it's still on time.
Mr. Cable: As indicated a moment ago, the final report should be in the minister's hands sometime between May 27 and June 30. What happens then? When does the minister think the recommendations will be analyzed and looked at?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The information that's being gathered for the policy review would be reviewed throughout the summer and then brought to Cabinet for their input and for us to look at and decisions to be made whether or not we steer it in a slightly different direction or adopt it as is, or whatnot. But it does come back to Cabinet after they go ahead and review and put together all the information throughout the summer.
Mr. Cable: What's the target date for having the updated policy in place? That's the second part of the agricultural policy - the one that Transnorth Consulting is working on. When do we expect the minister's department will have digested the recommendations and come up with a policy?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We had thought that it would be at the end of the summer, but we don't really know that, at this point, until we see what recommendations come out of this review.
Mr. Cable: The minister will recollect the questions from the last couple of days, where we were talking about what seemed like two different things on both sides of the House here. What I had thought was going on was some discussion as to the interplay between the area development regulation and the agricultural policy. Is it the minister's intention to put the policy into regulation form? I know it isn't now, and that may be part of the problem why we had this odd debate for the last couple of days.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That may be one option to take - to put it into regulations.
Mr. Cable: In view of the debate from the last couple of days, what would be the minister's preference - to have it all in regulatory form?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, it's a difficult one to answer at this point. We haven't seen what has come back and whether or not it would make sense, once we get the information, to go through a regulation or to keep it as policy. I know that this whole issue of the Hot Springs Road regulation has thrown a bit of a wrench into this whole thing, and is one of the reasons why, of course, we're going out and doing a review of the policy itself.
Mr. Cable: The minister's agricultural section is doing work on the old forestry reserve at the corner of the Hot Springs Road and the Mayo Road, and they've been working away on that area, I think, for a number of years.
What are the department's future plans for that site? What do we see happening out there? Is it simply going to be a number of demonstration plots or are we going to see plant breeding? What does the minister have in mind for the future of that area?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We are using it, of course, as the member said, as demonstration plots right now. We don't know at this point whether or not we're going to be making changes to that.
Mr. Cable: What are the minister's long-term plans with respect to demonstration plots, then? Do we see this old forestry reserve kept under the auspices of the minister's agricultural branch, sort of into the indefinite future?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: For the time being, it would remain as it is. We have no plans for that. I believe, though, that one of the things we wanted to do, of course, through the agricultural review is to get away from spot-land agriculture land, and we wanted to get it more into planned areas, and so on. I think that was one big part of the discussion in the ag policy review - so that we can recognize land that could be ag land - used for agricultural land - and this, of course, is part of the review.
Mr. Cable: Could I suggest to the minister that, in view of this global warming and these temperature changes that we're going to see, perhaps a little greater use for that plot might be in order in the way of plant breeding for plants specific to the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We could look at that, Mr. Chair. It's a good suggestion.
Mr. Cable: The minister and I had an interesting exchange of correspondence on taxidermy licences. I wrote to him on January 20, 1999, indicating that I didn't think the regulations permitted the conditions that the department wanted to put on a taxidermist's licence, and he wrote me back really quickly - February 8, 1999 - and laid out his position, which I disagreed with, and I wrote him a letter on February 23, 1999, and since that, there has been a deafening silence. Am I going to get a reply to my letter?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I did see your response to our letter, and I did bring it up again with the department. We will respond as soon as we can.
Mr. Cable: It was in the context of the Minister of Government Services' red-tape cutting exercise, so I hope the Minister of Government Services reads this exchange of correspondence really prodigiously so he can help cut down on the red tape that this poor taxidermist who approached me is subjected to.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: Right. There's nothing sinister, I have this to say to the Minister of Government Services.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cable: Settle down.
The minister's staff was asked some questions in the review that was given to us by the department and I was provided with a letter from the director of the agricultural branch - which I thank the minister and his staff for - outlining what had taken place at the abattoir that was set up with the assistance of the government.
Now, it appears that the number of birds and cows that had been slaughtered, according to the timetable that was given to me, is a little behind the timetable that was set out in the agreement with the abattoir owners. Where do we sit on that? Are the abattoir owners, in the minister's view, complying with the original proposal with respect to volumes?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we feel that they have been compliant. I know it's a bit behind. They were to go and do a number of chickens and birds this spring. The member has the five-year schedule. They're still sticking to that and they think that business will increase now that they've got the facility up and going and they know what to improve, and so on.
Mr. Cable: Part of the underlying rationale, I would assume, for the government putting money into the abattoir would be the increase in production of red and white meat. What has taken place in the central and northern part of the territory, the area that would most immediately be serviced by the abattoir? Are there more farmers raising chickens and cattle now?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't know if there has been an increase over the years, but we do expect that there will be. Whenever these chickens go through the abattoir, they're sold off. They're now in the stores in Whitehorse. You can buy the chickens that are processed in the abattoir. So, there is a lot more recognition of the fact that this place does exist and we believe that it'll be used a lot more than it is now.
Mr. Cable: I have a couple more questions on the abattoir.
The minister, as he's indicated, has in fact provided me with a slaughter schedule - it sounds a little grizzly, doesn't it? What is the number of farmers who are expected to use the facility this year? Does the minister have any information on that, or could he get it?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, I don't have that information.
Mr. Cable: Is he in a position to get that information?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can try to find what information we have in the department in regard to the number of farmers and farms wanting to use the facility.
Mr. Cable: The inspection of the facility and of the slaughter is being done by a veterinarian. Does the minister have the cost of the inspection contract?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm trying to find that information. I know that what we had in there originally was $36,000 to do the training, and so on. I had thought that it was around $25,000, but I can bring that information back to the member.
Mr. Cable: If the minister would produce the contract at some juncture, that would satisfy my curiosity. Could the minister do that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the minister to provide a little more detail on some of the expenditures in the budget.
The status of funding for the fish ladder - there is $25,000 in this particular budget, and the minister, in previous information, has sent me a copy of the agreement that has been in place with respect to the fish ladder. Now, this facility and, in fact, visitor attraction, is jointly operated and funded by Yukon Fish and Game Association; Yukon Energy have been involved; Tourism Yukon expressed some interest in it as well with respect to the briefing, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have been involved in this as well.
I understand that they recently learned that they weren't receiving the funding for one of the summer employment students with the Government of Yukon. I'm wondering, first of all, if there's a new agreement in place, and if the minister has received representation with regard to the $25,000, and if the minister can elaborate on whether there is additional funding for the fish ladder in the supplementary budget.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The department has been discussing the fish ladder contract with Yukon Energy and the Fish and Game Association. Because they did not secure dollars for these students, we wanted to talk to them and make a commitment to them by contributing to help cover off those costs. That is still being discussed. We don't have any additional dollars in the supplementary budget going to the fish ladder. We have the $25,000 that's going toward the fish hatchery.
Ms. Duncan: So, to be perfectly clear then, the minister is saying at this point in time there is no funding in the Renewable Resources budgets, either the budget presented or the supplementary, to assist the fish ladder. Could the minister confirm that that is the case?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There are no additional dollars in the supplementary, but how the dollars normally flow, I believe, is through the Department of Renewable Resources and into Yukon Energy. That's how the dollars get distributed to the Fish and Game Association.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister also indicated that there were discussions between the department, the Fish and Game Association and Yukon Energy. What's the current status of those discussions?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The discussions that have taken place have been going fairly well, and what we want to accomplish out of that is to put together an annual budget for the fish ladder linked to the hatchery.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, time is awasting, and we're looking at some time before there will be salmon at the fish ladder. I recognize that, but we also have a situation where the Fish and Game Association is a volunteer organization and has looked at strategic directions in what they can do as a volunteer organization and what they can't and where they should dedicate their resources. Is there a time frame on these discussions for when there might be resolution? Is the minister concerned at all, in terms of the time frame?
This is a very, very well-visited attraction, and it's also a key resource, an enhancement to a major Yukon resource. I would just like the minister's assurances that he shares the concern and sense of urgency about this situation and that there is a time frame on these discussions for reaching a resolution - that they won't drag on all summer.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have been looking into this issue to make sure that the fish ladder is managed properly and staffed properly. I know that we will have this, of course, in time and before the salmon get here. But we also want to be putting in place ahead of time the annual budget so that it's something that we can refer to every year and make sure that the right dollars are in place and the right people are in place to keep this fish ladder operating well.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, does the minister anticipate that development of an annual budget will result in a new management agreement? And what will be the organization or organizations that takes responsibility for that management agreement?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Of course, this is to improve the operation of the fish ladder. The management agreement will be with the Fish and Game Association, along with Yukon Energy and Renewable Resources. We'll all play a role in it.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister's saying, essentially, that the same parties will be involved in the agreement. It will just be a renegotiated new agreement that outlines a budget for the operation of the fish ladder in conjunction with the hatchery. That's what I understand the minister to have said. Can I just ask him to confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's correct.
Ms. Duncan: The minister's briefing information has indicated that the state of the environment report, which is due this year, will have monies budgeted to process that report and to table it in the Legislature. There isn't a time frame that I noted on that. Does the minister have a sense of a date for the presentation of the state of the environment report to the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The notes here say that the report will be on schedule for completion in late 1999, and published in the year 2000.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, at the risk of sounding like dueling briefing notes, the report says that the budget is for submitting the draft report to the YCEE - the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment - and the Legislative Assembly. If it's not going to be finished until the year 2000 - we're looking at a year, essentially, from now until next spring's sitting then, for that report, if I understand the minister correctly.
The Auditor General's report that was tabled in the Legislature this session had a section on environmental liabilities, and it indicated that the government had agreed to develop a process to deal with the recognition of environmental restoration costs, to identify, measure and report them. It had a paragraph with respect to financial statements providing information for known or reasonably anticipated costs of cleaning up the environment.
Is it the sense from the minister that the state of the environment report might include information that the Auditor General has suggested we examine?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I believe that would be part of the report.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps the minister could highlight that note and make the suggestion that he does review the comment from the Auditor General and that it be passed on to the YCEE.
There have been a number of issues arising out of the Department of Community and Transportation Services in conjunction with the minister's department. Some of them have been discussed in the Legislature with regard to the burning of cardboard and the disposal of some of the wastes at municipalities, hamlets and towns outside Whitehorse. There are also other issues such as bridges in the Yukon and whether or not the flaking paint is an issue.
Is it the minister's intention, since he has indicated that examining the costs of environmental clean-up might be part of the state of the environment report - has the minister given any thought to some of the issues arising out of Community and Transportation Services and whether they would be considered by the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment in their state of the environment reporting or in their examination of environmental liabilities that are the responsibility of the Government of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the state of the environment report, of course, is going to be dealing a lot with the Department of Renewable Resources, but they deal government-wide, so they look government-wide and at other departments.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would take it then that the state of the environment report would be examining some of the issues I've mentioned and that they might also give consideration to this environmental liabilities question, as noted by the Auditor General. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I believe that they will be looking at that. I was trying to think about where and what specific direction has been given to them by us on this, but I do believe that they take this on as part of their initiative, too - to look at every department.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister's notes also indicate that there's a budget line item for application testing for Y2K compliance. Now, assuming there is approval of the budget before the end of May, an expenditure on this line item - the contract may have been let - we're still getting on into 1999 for Y2K compliance testing.
It seems to me that that's a little late. Now, I know that the Public Accounts Committee would anticipate reporting on this issue; however, I wonder if the minister can address the point that this application testing seems to be a little bit late.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Through Government Services, Mr. Chair, we have been doing testing in the different departments. We feel that our department, the Department of Renewable Resources, will be Y2K ready, and the department has been working hard to get to that point, and we feel that we are very close.
Chair: Do the members wish to recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee is dealing with the Department of Renewable Resources. Is there further general debate?
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, earlier in the budget debate, during the Department of Community and Transportation Services, there was some discussion around recycling and the various municipal landfills and dumps.
The issue that I was bringing up with the minister at the time was the fact that there are some new solid waste regulations being developed, and part of that solid waste regulation is that there may or may not be a no-burn in municipal landfill sites by the year 2004.
The problem with the no-burn is that there has to be some support for local recycling initiatives in the various municipalities. In particular, I'm thinking of a letter that was sent to the government and copied to the various parties about the cardboard in Dawson City. The City of Dawson has gone to great lengths to separate their cardboard that's coming in from all the various businesses. They've got it stockpiled at the dump and they were of the impression that there was going to be some support from the Department of Renewable Resources - although they actually thought it was from Community and Transportation Services - to enable them to bring that cardboard into an area like Whitehorse, which could get it closer to the markets.
What are the initiatives that the Department of Renewable Resources is starting with municipalities to make that process work better in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We haven't started anything at this point. We wanted to get all the feedback from the communities. I know that Dawson is stating exactly what the member has stated in regard to cardboard and wanting to burn it if there wasn't a recycling program within their community.
At this point, I know that some of the communities do volunteer and this is going to be an issue with the municipalities wanting to design their landfills to accommodate recycling, whether it's metals or even batteries, or whatnot. Feedback hasn't come back from the municipalities in any detail yet, other than them stating their concern on designs and so on.
At this point, we're still compiling all the information that's being gathered from the comments in the report and we'll be spending the next few months reviewing and considering these comments. Some of the things I've heard in the member's conversation with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, so we'll be considering those comments. They're similar to the ones the municipalities are voicing.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I wonder if there's a timeline attached to those discussions and bringing in the information. Are we talking about coming to some sort of resolution or the beginning of a plan in three months' time, six months' time? After all, we are talking about greater and greater amounts of cardboard that are going to be piling up in the meantime, in a variety of municipal landfills.
Is this something we're going to be looking at finalizing this year? And the minister indicates it's not likely. Is it something that we'll be looking at next year - hopefully to be finished by the year 2000?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We want to be able to compile all the information and see what could be done - you know, across the Yukon or with individuals and so on. We haven't earmarked any dollars toward this at this point, and we want to be able to, first of all, gather the information and take it from there.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I think that it's always valuable to gather information before you make a decision. That's a useful exercise. It's also a useful exercise to have some sort of timeline in mind for the development of a plan. Can the minister commit to the House that perhaps there'll be a plan in place by the end of the year 2000?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, Mr. Chair. One of the things the municipalities has said - and that's why we haven't had the regulations come into effect until the year 2004 - is that they wanted some time to do some planning. Some are considering moving their landfills to a different spot and so on, so there's a lot of background work the municipalities need to do before any decisions are made.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I think that I can assume from that brief conversation with the minister that there isn't going to be a plan in place until the year 2004, when regulations finally come into effect.
I'm really concerned about that, because I think that it's a planning exercise that is the beginning of the building block. First of all, you decide if you are going to be doing any sort of recycling, and if you want to extend the life of your dump, then you're going to have to do some recycling, and you're going to have to look for places to put that material where it's recyclable. Municipalities have got five-year capital plans, and they have to make sure that they have processes in place to extend their dumps or the site of their landfills if they won't be able to burn by the year 2004.
So they're already making those plans. Municipalities are making their capital plans now to deal with the fact that they won't be able to burn in the year 2004. So my concern is that we aren't going to have a plan ready to go with the issue of recycling, which is, of course, an integral part of that puzzle until perhaps just before the regulation comes into effect in the year 2004. Are there any timelines about when we might get a plan in place to deal with this very important issue?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Not at this point, Mr. Chair. Some of the municipalities have requested this amount of time. Some of them have different levels in wanting to deal with this issue when they felt it was convenient to them, but they did feel that they will comply by the year 2004. So, across the Yukon it's at different levels.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I need to clarify, once again, with the minister - and we spoke about this once again during the Community and Transportation Services debate on the budget - and that is that by the year 2004 it is expected that municipalities will no longer be able to burn their garbage. Is that cast in stone? The minister is indicating, yes, it is.
There are a number of municipalities that are now saying they aren't willing to do that - that they want to be able to burn and that there are no adverse effects. Is there any point in going through a consultation process if the decision has already been made?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I did say to the member that the department is in the process of reviewing all the comments that have been received and will be considering changes to the regulations based on those comments. I know that some municipalities had problems with the issue of no-burn, simply because of costs. It's not that they weren't in favour of the no-burn policy. It was the cost that concerned them.
So, once we review all of these comments and consider possible changes to the regulations, I can't give the member any timelines as to when, or if, we would commit dollars at this point. It is something that I have to discuss with my colleagues to address this issue.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, it sounds like the minister is quite willing to make some changes to the solid waste regulations in other areas but he doesn't seem to be willing to move on the aspect of the no-burn by the year 2004.
Can the minister clarify once again - because this is a little bit of a different position than he put forth during the C&TS debate - that there will be no change in the no-burn by the year 2004 in the new solid waste regulations?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can't say for certain that there wouldn't be, but this is the whole basis of moving toward this. The year 2004 is the phase-out of burning in landfills. As the member knows, there are a number of different places that have already taken that action, including Whitehorse, Haines Junction and at the Mile 9 dump.
Also, Dawson has stopped open burning of solid waste but they still conduct some limited burning, and one of the issues the member raised was in regard to cardboard. What they wanted was to be able to continue to burn carcasses of animals that were either hit by vehicles or were taken out by dog catchers, and so on.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I'm still not too clear on the minister's position. Is this decision to have a no-burn by the year 2004 cast in stone, or is the minister open to some sort of consultation and input from the municipalities on this issue that is very important to them? The minister is quite correct. Some municipalities are doing it already. Some have no intention of ever stopping the burning in their communities because it doesn't seem to affect them adversely. Some landfill sites, for example, are up on bluffs and the wind carries away the smoke and it doesn't affect anybody, and it would be a tremendous cost for the municipalities to start to extend the size of their dumps - perhaps even having to line new cells.
I'm still trying to find out from the minister whether the decision to have a no-burn by the year 2004 is cast in stone or whether he is still open to input from municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Chair, that was our target: to phase out the burning of solid waste by the year 2004. Should there be some serious issues surrounding this that we have not seen at this point, it may sway us to look at it a little bit more carefully.
It seems to be working in places like Whitehorse, which has, of course, a much larger population that can deal with recycling and so on, but other places like Haines Junction seem to be doing okay. I don't see why other communities can't take that example, work toward the policy of no burning and work with the draft regulations that have put out to the general public.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I'll take that as the minister's commitment that he is willing to listen to municipalities and what they have to say in this process and that the decision to go to a no-burn in the year 2004 is not strictly cast in stone. That's what I heard the minister saying. That's certainly the impression that I got.
Just a simple reminder that the City of Whitehorse, for example, which has gone to a no-burn, is much closer to markets for recycling and they have recycling agencies within the city. They have at least two that are operating and they have more options than rural communities that do not have those options.
Mr. Jenkins: I have a number of questions for the minister on this same topic. The stated goal is to reduce the amount of material going into our landfill sites by some 50 percent. Could I ask the minister if he ever hopes to achieve this figure, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We believe, overall in the Yukon, that we're very close to that. The recycling programs are operating fairly well. A lot of volunteers, of course, have been taking their recyclables, milk jugs and so on, to the Recycling Centre; things that don't require any refund. They've also been bringing their cardboard, and so on. There is a lot that goes through the Recycling Centre. I know that this is a bit of a problem for communities, transporting those recyclable materials to Whitehorse. That's probably one area that would be worked on and looked at a bit more carefully.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister suggests that they're very close to reducing the amount of material going into our landfills by 50 percent. Has the minister done a cost-benefit on this, and how does he substantiate this position? Because everything that I've had indicated to me is that the actual volume of material going into our landfill sites is actually on the increase, not decrease. And a lot of the material collected by the respective agencies is collected, sorted and ends up in the landfill sites - maybe not in the same area that it originated, but eventually it ends up in a landfill site.
So has the minister done a benefit analysis of this area, and is there actually some sort of a study that he can point to to substantiate his position, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We don't measure the amount of waste that's going into landfills and take in what we think is being recycled. I know that nationally, for example, we've been working on trying to reduce waste by looking at packaging, and so on, and how they could reduce materials that go into packaging. So that in itself has been quite a big step toward reducing what goes into landfills.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm not interested in what we're doing nationally, Mr. Chair. I'm interested in what we're doing here in the Yukon - what we're doing to aid the cause of recycling. What can the minister point to that substantiates the statement he made that we have reduced our material going into our landfill sites by almost 50 percent. I don't believe the minister can point to any kind of information to achieve that end.
In fact, all indicators are that the amount of material going into landfill sites has increased over the past couple of years. I know that is the case in the area I am from, Mr. Chair, and we are probably spending 10 or 12 times on waste - sorting it, dump maintenance and enclosures - than ever before.
In fact, all of the residents of the community I'm from, Dawson City, have just had another $75 a year surcharge put on their annual bills for waste. So, I'd like the minister to point to some study or some kind of an overview that allows him to make that statement, Mr. Chair. I don't believe the minister can.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I cannot point to any study that has taken place with that. What we do know is that, through the recycling clubs, we've had rates increase in beverage containers by approximately 10 percent last year and also an increase with the recycling club of refundable bottles and cans, and so on. And we know that has risen dramatically over the last several years - over 91 percent of the bottles and cans that do go out are being recycled now.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, 91 percent of the bottles and cans that are sold in the Yukon are recycled, or that's what the information would conclude. What the minister is not entering into the equation is the amount of imports over the course of the summer that would drive up the amount of bottles and containers that are available around the Yukon. So, you appear to have a higher recovery than what is the norm.
I would ask, Mr. Chair, that the minister consider a study on this issue, because what we've got into now is a deposit and a refund on Tetra Paks, which in my opinion is unfair, because the deposit exceeds the refund. There is a recycling charge in there, on which GST is payable, I might add, Mr. Chair, so there's another cost to all consumers, and the amount of reduction in the landfill sites because of Tetra Paks is very, very minimal, if any.
Would the minister consider doing a cost-benefit analysis of the programs that are in place? Because at present, Mr. Chair, we have set up quite the bureaucracy, quite a number of recycling institutions, and some of them do not appear to have a benefit to Yukoners and do not achieve our stated goals of reducing the amount of materials going into our landfill sites.
Would the minister be prepared to consider such an undertaking?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, to the member. At this point, I haven't considered it and will not be. We feel that our recycling clubs have been working very well, and we've paid a lot of recognition to that. We've had very good response from students, and so on, who are using the recycling club. We feel that this is a good indicator for beverage containers, and so on. We'd like to continue to improve that and continue the recycling club.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, with respect to the draft regulations, the Government of the Yukon has conveniently exempted itself from these regulations for set landfill sites on federal land or on federal Crown lands or federal government facilities, such as landfill sites. Now, all of the Government of Yukon dumps are located on federal Crown land. That was stated here in the House by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services - which gives rise to the question: why are you exempting yourselves from your own regulations?
Chair: The Chair would remind members to direct questions through the Chair and not to other members directly.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We believe that these regulations will apply to all landfills.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, in Committee debate with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, that was not the case. The Minister of C&TS made it abundantly clear that all of the sanitary dumps or landfill dumps were located on federal Crown land and these draft regulations, proposed by this minister, specifically exempt - clause 4, "Federal government facilities or those on federal lands are exempt."
Why? Why is the government exempting itself for its own dumps? Why is that the case, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't have the draft regulations in front of me to look at, so it's difficult for me to be commenting on some of the things the member is reading out.
We have said, though, that this is a goal we have in regard to phasing out burning by the year 2004.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, obviously, Mr. Chair, the minister is not conversant with his own draft regulations that his department is dealing with, and this is going to place a considerable additional burden on the taxpayers of the Yukon.
Could the minister bring back, by way of legislative return, an explanation as to why the draft regulations exempt landfill sites on federal Crown land, which is where all the dumps operated by YTG are located? Can the minister bring back an explanation as to why they are exempting themselves, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can bring back information to the member on this, but the member knows full well that, in regard to devolution, this is going to fall right in line with our regulations.
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to just pick up on a point the minister mentioned in his last answer - the recycling club. Are there any changes anticipated for that program this year, and is it expected that the usual start-up date will be announced for that program?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have not looked at making changes. We wanted to maintain what took place through the recycling club and the amount of dollars that is required and so on, so we haven't made changes to it.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister has indicated in information that the designation of Fishing Branch as an ecological reserve is anticipated. Would there be a Management Board submission? It doesn't give a time frame. Does the minister have a time frame on that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It's not a Management Board submission; it is a final recommendation to Cabinet on the management plan, for Fishing Branch.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the exact reference - I should have phrased that more appropriately - if I could just locate the reference. I'll move on to ask the minister, with respect to the Bonnet Plume - the minister and I both attended the designation of the Bonnet Plume this summer, and there is some further work to be done, there are budget line items on the Bonnet Plume with respect to signage and so on. There's also to be an assessment of the tourism potential. Can the minister elaborate on that budget item, please?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can get back to the member on that. I can't find any additional information on this. I know that it'll come up in lines and so on, but with what I have here I can't find it.
Ms. Duncan: Fair enough, Mr. Chair. The minister can provide me with a written response on that. There is a note that it would be a completion of the assessment of the tourism market potential. I'm wondering if the minister can provide me, when he provides a written response, with an indication of who is doing this, and what the links are with the Wilderness Tourism Association, and the Department of Tourism, in that assessment, and when the public input might be provided in that regard.
The notes - just to back up to Fishing Branch ecological reserve - the note is to obtain Cabinet approval of the management plan, and designation of the ecological reserve, and I was looking for that time frame.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It should be around this summer. We've had the management plan already go to the First Nation and it's going through a public review, and so on, so it should be around the middle of summer.
Ms. Duncan: The notes and the minister's information indicate that there would be efforts made to develop management strategies for the recovery of two declining caribou populations - and I'm not quite sure if I'm pronouncing this right - the Chisana and the Kluane caribou herds.
The development management strategy for recovery certainly sets off some interesting discussions. It seems to me that the last time there was a discussion around this, there was a term used by a previous government called the Aishihik caribou management enhancement program, a euphemistic term for a wolf kill, Mr. Chair. What exactly is the department talking about in terms of management strategies for recovery of these two declining caribou populations?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It'll be similar to what we've done with some of the other herds. We'll do surveys, of course, first of all to determine what we're really looking at. We'll do some hunter management and record bag limits, and that sort of thing.
You never know, at this point, where it could lead. With the Carcross herd, for example, there have been a lot of First Nation volunteers not hunting, and so on. This is up around the Kluane area, so with the number of moose on the increase, I'm sure that the people in the area have a lot to choose from at this point.
Ms. Duncan: The minister has outlined the discussion around, certainly, the caribou herds, and you never know where it can lead. Certainly, there was a lot of public involvement with the caribou in the Southern Lakes region and public awareness, and also, of course, the Klondike Snowmobile Association sponsored and worked with doing a family effort toward viewing that herd.
I didn't hear the minister rule out an enhancement program, such as was implemented by the previous government. Is it an option that is being discussed for a management strategy?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, it's not a direction that this government has gone in, to do any wolf control - a term that the member wants to use. No. We're looking at the wolf conservation management plan and trying to work with that management plan and work it into wildlife management plans wherever.
One of the things that I know the member knows quite well is that the department has been leading on the sterilization. That is one consideration in the wolf conservation management plan, but there are others that the department has been working on and that I have asked them to work on to come up with options for us. That hasn't come to me yet.
Ms. Duncan: The technical evaluation of the Aishihik caribou recovery program is going to be completed this summer, and then results of the study are going to be made available as soon as they're completed. Does the minister anticipate another round of public discussion on that particular recovery program? Results will be made available, but do they anticipate a public discussion? There is also to be a scientific, technical evaluation, followed by an independent review. Does that put the results of the study further away than the summer? Or, is it going to be the results of the study, then the technical evaluation, and then the scientific evaluation, so that we're going to have a fall debate on this issue all over again? Or does the minister anticipate it to be just presented to the public?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, it's going to bump the timeline back. We've been told to do the technical evaluation and have the independent evaluation done separately.
Ms. Duncan: So, Mr. Chair, the minister has indicated that the time frame will be bumped back. Is there a new date then, other than summer? Are we looking at December 1999?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't know if it was a part of the notes the member has, but the technical evaluation is to be done by this summer, so the independent evaluation will be done afterwards. So, yes - in the fall.
Ms. Duncan: The issues around renewable resource councils - these particular councils in the communities, wherever I've observed them, are working really, really well, and they've been a model for other ways of work. At one of the general assemblies I attended last summer, there was a request from White River to move as Mayo did in advance of their land claims and establish a renewable resource council, and I've asked the minister about this before but I haven't noticed it being established. However, I have noticed that land claims discussions with that particular First Nation have moved further along.
Is there any thought that the White River renewable resource council might be established within six months or a year? Can the minister give me a time frame on that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I think that Mayo, when they developed their renewable resource council, was an exception. They were approximately three years ahead of ratifying their final agreement, but upon the date of ratifying, if White River ratifies their agreement, a renewable resource council can be formed. I know that Dawson jumped on this right away. We've got people sitting on their renewable resource council now. Selkirk and Carmacks are in full swing, so more and more are starting to make their presence known and are making recommendations to us.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I didn't hear the minister answer why Mayo was the only one that's been allowed to go ahead, preceding the ratification. The minister said that it worked very well, and everything I read and heard said that it worked very well, even though the appointment preceded the ratification of the land claim. Is there any reason why White River hasn't been able to go ahead? It has been a request, as I understand it, from the First Nation.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, it's a matter of funding. The dollars that are funding the First Nation final agreements are done upon ratification, so rather than having any additional dollars go out to that, we're just waiting for them to ratify their agreements. It's a matter of funding.
Ms. Duncan: The endangered species legislation - an extensive public consultation process in the last federal bill died on the Order Paper. There is also work that has to be done concurrently with territorial legislation. Is there a time frame for consultation on the territorial legislation? Does the minister anticipate it being called this year?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we didn't put a time limit on it. It wouldn't be this fall.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what the minister's saying is there wasn't a time frame at all put on the consultations. What time frame are we working with with the federal government in terms of their legislation and then concurrent legislation?
Can the minister give us any kind of a time frame, or elaborate on the development of this legislation?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, we have been requesting and commenting on the federal legislation to involve the comments of the Yukon, and until such time as we know what the final legislation is, and it goes through the House of Commons, we would then be more in a position to put good timelines on it.
Mr. Chair, I move that we report progress.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Fentie: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 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.
Mr. Fentie: 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 now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 21, 1999:
Restorative justice in Yukon: overview (Issue 1, April 1999) (Moorcroft)