Tuesday, November 2, 1999 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In remembrance of Grafton Njootli
Speaker: I would like to pay tribute on behalf of all members of this House to a former MLA, Grafton Njootli.
Grafton passed away in June 1999, in an unfortunate boating accident while travelling from Fort Yukon to Old Crow.
Grafton was born in Old Crow on March 10, 1947. He was first elected to the Legislature on November 20, 1978, as a Progressive Conservative.
He was the first aboriginal member to serve in the Legislature as a Member for Old Crow. He was appointed Minister of Health and Human Resources on December 14, 1978, and served in that capacity until May 29, 1979. He was appointed Deputy Speaker of the House on October 14, 1980, and served as Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committee of the Whole until April 14, 1982.
Grafton was a long-time advocate for community development and for the settlement of land claims.
A number of the members of this Legislature attended the funeral service for Grafton in Old Crow on June 22, 1999.
Grafton is greatly missed by many relatives and friends.
Are there any introductions of visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'd like to draw members' attention to the presence in the gallery of the former MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin, Ms. Norma Kassi. Would the members please join me in welcoming her.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Tabling returns and documents
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the 1998 annual report of the fire marshal, and I also have the Yukon Geographical Place Names Board's annual report for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that local water testing in the Yukon would aid the private sector and all levels of government in obtaining accurate water test results; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to promote the private sector development of a certified water testing laboratory in the Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
This will then bring us to Question Period.
Question re: Devolution
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Government Leader on devolution.
In a newsletter sent out to all government employees in May, the Government Leader announced that an agreement in principle on devolution would be signed on June 18. That didn't happen.
A second newsletter to employees stated that an agreement in principle would be completed by the end of October. We have passed that deadline as well.
Would the Government Leader tell the House: what's the new target date for signing an agreement in principle on devolution?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker, firstly, we would like to get an agreement signed as soon as we can or, at a minimum, ensure that the notice is given to federal employees as soon as we're assured that the basic, fundamental elements of the devolution agreement are satisfactory to Yukon people.
The difficulty that we have experienced in the negotiations is that there have been some outstanding issues, which I know that the member has been briefed on, with respect to the environmental provisions - to ensure that the Yukon government's, and consequently the Yukon people's, liability associated with environmental liabilities is covered off in the devolution agreement, and that the roles and responsibilities of all orders of government are clear.
So, Mr. Speaker, and as the federal minister has indicated as well, we're still targeting April 1 for the devolution accord to be completed, and we'll try to ensure that all details are done in time for that date.
Ms. Duncan: In the Government Leader's response, he made reference to the letters of offer to the federal government employees, and that is a very important part of the devolution deal - the transfer of some 300 federal employees to the Yukon government. In the letters of job offers to federal employees, several dates have been mentioned, and the Government Leader just referenced some of them. The letters have not yet gone out. A June 4 draft of the devolution agreement in principle said the letters would go out six months before the formal transfer date of April 1, 2000. That would have been October. December 1, 1999, and February 1, 2000, have also been mentioned as possible dates for these letters. When does the Government Leader actually anticipate that offers of employment would go out to federal government employees?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, the offers of employment will go out, as I say, Mr. Speaker, only when the fundamentals of the entire agreement are clear to Yukon government negotiators and First Nation negotiators, who are participating as well. It is most certainly the case that the human resources elements of this package are extremely important and we feel that we've made great progress, and in fact have satisfactorily concluded the major elements of an agreement with respect to those matters.
However, there are other issues that need to be resolved satisfactorily before we feel comfortable in triggering the devolution agreement itself. Once the offers of employment go out, Mr. Speaker, it's basically a train that will not stop.
So, what we're doing is ensuring that the basic fundamental elements of the agreement are covered off and we're working to that end now, but it takes two to tango. There are a number of parties at this table. We are representing the Yukon public's interests and we're working hard to conclude the outstanding arrangements.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, one of the other fundamental elements is the mirror legislation. The September newsletter from the government on devolution says that, before devolution can occur, the Yukon must have some new laws in place to exercise our new power, and this must be done by adopting the so-called mirror legislation. These will be Yukonized versions of things like the Yukon Waters Act, the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and so on.
The mirror version will be brought forward to the Yukon Legislature this fall for consideration, says the newsletter.
The NDP House leader has distributed a final list of legislation for the fall, and the mirror legislation is not on it. When will this legislation be brought forward for discussion?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, the mirror legislation, Mr. Speaker, is an intending part of the devolution package of activities. Once we are certain that the basic elements of the agreement are satisfactory to meet Yukon people's needs, then we will do everything from sending out letters of offer to federal employees, to also tabling mirror legislation in this Legislature. We have been working over the last year to draft the mirror legislation. It is substantially complete at this point, but obviously not yet tabled in the Legislature. I intend to transmit the mirror legislation to both the development and conservation communities to allow them to peruse the legislation and to reassure themselves that there are no substantive changes being sought in the context of passing mirror legislation.
Once that is done, and once the basic elements of the agreement are satisfactory, then the mirror legislation will be tabled in the House.
Question re: FAS, lack of service for adults
Mrs. Edelman: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. In both the restorative justice consultations and the health summit this past weekend, the issue of lack of service for adults with fetal alcohol syndrome in the Yukon was a major theme. Mr. Speaker, this government is doing a pilot project with the Options for Independent Living group, but this is only for a small group of individuals who have fetal alcohol syndrome.
Mr. Speaker, over and over again, we have heard from parents of FAS children that the only help that they can get from our government was after their child became involved with the justice system.
Mr. Speaker, why do adults with fetal alcohol syndrome have to commit a crime before they get help that they need?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would dispute the member's contention, Mr. Speaker, because I would say that the actual efforts that we're taking with the Options for Independence are designed to preclude individuals getting into trouble with the law. As a matter of fact, one of the selling points with this particular project when I first met with the group was that by providing a supported living environment, perhaps one of the things that we could do would be to keep individuals with this disability out of the justice system. To that end, we had support from our friends in Justice with regards to this project.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, it's too little, and it's too late.
Mr. Speaker, over and over again we hear about the lack of services for persons with fetal alcohol syndrome in the communities. This past June, there was a case of a fellow who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome who could not get the help he needed in his community, so he had to move into Whitehorse. He was in trouble with the law, and his lawyer spoke to the media on June 10, 1999. The lawyer said that his client "suffers from FAS or some form of mental disability, and he lives outside of Whitehorse. This makes it twice as hard for him to get the help he needs."
Mr. Speaker, unless you move into Whitehorse or you go to jail, you don't get the help if you're a person with FAS. What is this minister doing to get help out to adults and children with fetal alcohol syndrome who live in Yukon communities?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Mr. Speaker, what I can do is read from rather copious notes about all the projects that we are undertaking, if the member would like me to take that time.
But I can tell the member that we are taking this very seriously. We have begun to do work with individuals, particularly in the adult area. One of the things we support is the Mountainridge Residence, which is for young individuals with developmental and FAS problems and where we're trying to support them in productive lives, in occupations, in training. That's one of the reasons why we went with our Options for Independence. We'd like to extend those services out. This is a new area for us, in terms of adults, but we are working to achieve that.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, lots of talk, very little help for people today. It would be a lot easier to get help out to the communities, and get services to adults with FAS, if we just coordinated our resources a little bit better.
Mr. Speaker, in other places like B.C., Manitoba and Alaska, they exercise a great deal of common sense and coordinate the services that we do have for persons with FAS. That way they don't duplicate or waste resources, plus they can identify gaps in service more readily.
Mr. Speaker, this suggestion has come from FAS groups for years. Will the minister consider hiring an FAS coordinator for the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: At this point I think we are all providing a variety of services for individuals. One of the things that we hope to do is by better working with our friends in Justice - and I gave an example of the Options for Independence - as well as Education. I think we'll be able to develop a broad range of coordinated services for individuals in this regard.
Now, as we are debating this in second reading a bit later on this afternoon, I'll be very happy to provide the member with a list of services and programs that we have begun. I just thought, in terms of expediency, we can wait till then. However, if she'd like to pursue it, I can read at my leisure.
Question re: Canadian Airlines, continued daily service
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
Canadian Airlines has a long and distinguished record of service in the Yukon, and I know it is painful for many Yukoners to now hear about the dire financial situation Canadian is now in.
The president and CEO of Canadian Airlines, Kevin Benson, has stated publicly that if a deal can't be worked out, Canadian could stop flying. Should this most unfortunate situation occur, can the minister advise the House what contingency plan he has in place in order to continue to provide Yukoners with year-round air access to the south?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to answer the question. As the Member knows, Whitehorse - the Yukon - is a primary destination point from a south-to-north perspective, just for the magnitude of that business that guarantees that there will always be a daily service to the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Speaker, that is simply not the case. There is the business generated here in the Yukon; there is a requirement for north-south access but to just state that it'll always be there is simply not the case. Canadian Airlines might not be successful in finding a solution. They might have to curtail flying altogether, to all of their destinations.
Yukoners could well be left without a southern air connection for a good part of the year. I'd like the minister to explain how he is planning to cope in the eventuality that this might occur. What are the contingency plans of his government? What is the minister going to do?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, what the member says is wrong. We will not be left high and dry, if that's what the member is trying to insinuate. Fear mongering at its best, again. We are going to - and have - put out an analysis of the potential impact to the Yukon Territory from the airline restructuring. It's been commissioned by our government. Again, I would like to reiterate that Whitehorse is a primary point for a north-south travel destination and that the current level of demand for regular air service, combined with the overall yield, will still enable us to fill the void and to have a daily service.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, it's obvious the minister has not done anything. This government has spent multi-millions of dollars extending the runway at the Whitehorse Airport, and a new conceptual model of the terminal building - that's great - but if we lose our prime, year-round carrier, that is horrible.
And that could happen. Other airlines just do not have aircraft sitting on the tarmac waiting to service the north, Mr. Speaker.
Could the minister tell us whom he has talked to to ensure that Yukon's daily air service is maintained? What has been his approach to the federal government and are they prepared to help?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, the government has gone beyond due diligence and has met with the federal government. The Department of Transport understands that this has very serious implications for the Yukon Territory. We've written to Minister Collenette and let Mr. Collenette know that the implications for the Yukon are certainly not desirable, that we do need to have the void. They've assured us that they will be working to protect the Yukon routes, and it is within their mandate. I do trust that we can work with Transport Canada on these issues. I can assure the member that, when we do the potential impact to the Yukon, we will be able to share those impacts with the member. Again, the level, the destination, the good work that we've done in improving the airport, just with the three airlines that are coming to here, I think really proves that the Yukon is a year-round destination and also that we will continue to need and will continue to work for daily airline service.
Question re: Canadian Airlines, tourism marketing plans
Mr. Phillips: My question is to the same minister but it's more in a tourism vein.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I'd like the minister, if he would, to table the letter that he sent to the federal minister, and as well, if he could give us a date when this potential impact to Yukon from the possible ramifications to the Canadian airline industry will come to be - if he would tell us when that potential impact will be done. Because I don't think we have a lot of time, from the understanding that I have of the problems that Canadian Airlines is experiencing.
My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, is about our tourism marketing plans with Canadian Airlines. In the last few years, we've been marketing aggressively with Canadian Airlines and wholesalers in Europe and other destinations, urging them to fly Canadian Airlines, using them as our main carrier.
I'd like to ask the minister if the department has developed any contingency plans whatsoever to this date with respect to what we will do if Canadian Airlines itself - that airline - ceases to fly into the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I believe I'm answering it in the capacity as the Tourism minister.
Mr. Speaker, I do believe that the work that we're going to do is going to enable a daily service to the Yukon Territory with Canadian, hopefully. We're going to continue our marketing initiatives with Canadian. We're going to assure Canadian that we are there for them, as we always have been in the past. We'll still continue to do those type of issues.
We have had talks with Canada 3000. Canada 3000, as you know, has been coming to the Yukon Territory now, based on their own merit and their own initiatives, based on where the Yukon is going economically, which is straight around a corner and upwards.
Mr. Speaker, we've had those types of discussions with Canada 3000, and Canada 3000 is considering a daily service.
Mr. Phillips: Well, considering a daily service and offering a daily service are two different things. If Canadian Airlines were to cease flying to the territory in the spring of the year or early summer because of the financial problems that they have, all other airlines are busy at that time of year. Canada 3000 - and everyone else - has no equipment available.
Is there not any contingency plan, or is the department not concerned about peak periods, when these aircraft are all being used? Have we not developed any kind of contingency plan at all to deal with what could be a fairly serious problem for the Yukon Territory - for our tourists as well as the local people who have planned holidays and trips, and want to come in and out of the territory? We might be a few days without a daily service, maybe a few weeks. Aircraft just aren't sitting on the runway of other airlines ready to come here tomorrow. I would think that the Government of the Yukon would be looking into what could be done, and I'd ask the minister to seriously consider doing that at this time.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, what the member is saying is absolutely hypothetical. The Department of Community and Transportation Services and Tourism are both actively involved. We know the impact there will be on the Yukon Territory, and we have written letters to let them know that we feel that this should not happen.
Do we have a contingency plan? We are working with the federal government; we are going to continue to work with the federal government. We've approached Canada 3000, and we'll continue to do that type of work. So I suggest that the member is fear-mongering and being purely hypothetical.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Speaker, it appears that the Yukon's Minister of Tourism - who hasn't been here most of the summer because he's been flying all over the world - is more aware of Canadian Airlines' problems than Kevin Benson is.
It was Kevin Benson who said that if a deal couldn't be reached, Canadian Airlines would be grounded. I'm asking the minister, in light of those comments, what is he doing now to ensure that Yukoners won't be grounded if Canadian Airlines ceases to fly here, that other people who want to visit us won't be grounded trying to get here because they'd booked with Canadian Airlines? What is the minister doing? What's his contingency plan?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, when we have done the analysis, we'll certainly table it for the official opposition, if I may, and I'm sure it will be shared on that side of the House.
Mr. Speaker, again I say the Member for Riverdale is doing a bit of fear-mongering. I will table the letters that we have written on behalf of government to Minister Collenette. I can assure the territorial people, and tourists who are coming here, that the Yukon will always be a daily, year-round destination, and that this government will continue to work to ensure it's so.
Question re: Immigrant investor fund
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development on his immigrant investor fund. The minister set this fund up earlier this year and told us in May that he had $28.5 million in applications from immigrants. And he told us that he expected that 80 percent of the applications would be cleared by the Immigration department, and that he would set aside 20 percent of that 80 percent for blue chip securities, and that when the smoke all cleared, he would have $16 million to invest in projects. Then he went on to say that while he was waiting to get his hands on the money, he would be developing investment and lending criteria with the private sector and with the Hong Kong bank. Now, we haven't heard much publicly from this minister, which is really strange for him. He's usually good at blowing his own horn. Could he confirm that what he said in May is still accurate? Is there $16 million expected?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm kind of hurt by the insulting tone of the member opposite's question. He's no shrinking violet, I'll tell you. Mr. Speaker, the immigrant investment fund - many Yukoners will remember that was the fund that we established. We were the last territory or province in the country to get involved in this particular initiative because we felt, as a territory, that we would be remiss if we did not try new things in the territory to help ourselves economically and to create new opportunities. At the time, the members in the opposition said they didn't think we would raise $3 million. Well, actually, we sold $28-million worth of subscriptions in this fund because the Yukon has a good investment climate, Mr. Speaker. And this money will be utilized in large part for the largest public/private partnership that's ever been undertaken in this territory, which is the new telecommunications initiative that we've announced, which will bring high-speed Internet service to all of the Yukon. It will bring distance education opportunities, the likes of which we've never seen, into rural Yukon.
And it will improve phone service for many, many Yukoners. So, I would say that it was a good investment. It proves the Yukon has a good investment climate. We're having some problems with the federal immigration system, in terms of clearing the applicants so that the monies can flow, but we've got meetings underway. Last week my officials were in Vancouver meeting with people on this very subject.
Mr. Cable: One of the minister's officials said in May, "We made it happen and we'll be ready to invest in the fall." Now, we just heard from the minister about one of the projected investments, but fall has been here for six weeks and we haven't heard much. Could the minister tell us what sort of projects he's looking at. Seriously, how many projects are there, and what kinds of dollars are going to go into them?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, my official was bang on the money. He said we made it happen, and the investments will come in the fall. We just announced that we're looking at $11 million of that fund being invested in the largest public/private partnership in the territory's history. That is the immigrant investor fund in the telecommunications industry initiative, which is going to bring high-speed Internet services to rural Yukon. It's going to bring phone service to a lot of Yukoners who don't have it presently, and it's going to present distance education opportunities to Yukoners throughout this territory. It's going to change the economics of rural Yukon. It's going to put them in touch with the rest of the world, on the same basis as the capital City of Whitehorse. And it's going to take us into the next millennium, much better prepared to compete with the rest of the world.
Mr. Cable: I think we went around that. What else is the minister looking at? What other projects have been brought to his table? What is he looking at besides the telecommunication project he just talked about? I can wait until the minister gets the message there from his colleagues.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, one day, Mr. Speaker, the opposition said that we are spending money too fast. The next day, they say we're not spending it fast enough. I just told him that we were investing $11 million of this fund. This a princely sum, considering all the applications haven't cleared yet through the federal immigration procedures that we have to go through in order to get the capital to invest in Yukon projects.
This portion has been allotted for the investment in this massive public/private partnership. We don't have all the money yet. So, what I'm telling the member is that he's going to have to wait because we don't have the money yet because there have been some problems. The Liberal government in Ottawa has had some real holes in their immigration procedures. There has been some difficulty in some of the immigration offices, like in Hong Kong. They were front-page news, in that there were some charges of corruption and allegations. So, the Liberal government's got a bit of mess on their hands.
So, we will get the money, Mr. Speaker, and when we do, we will invest it in projects like the one we just announced: the major telecommunications upgrade for the entire Yukon.
Question re: Open-custody caregiver homes
Mr. Ostashek: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Over a year ago, I raised a number of questions in this Legislature regarding open-custody homes, and I asked the government if they would consider making changes to their policy to ensure that residents were kept fully informed of decisions about locating open-custody homes in residential neighbourhoods.
At that time, the minister said he would review the existing policy and would be looking at ways of keeping people informed.
That was some 18 months ago, Mr. Speaker. Since then, we haven't heard a word from this minister.
My question to the minister: has he reviewed the policy of open-custody homes and are any changes contemplated or have any changes been made?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Currently, we've got four active open-custody caregiver homes in the Whitehorse area, and these open-custody homes require a period of stabilization prior to placement. We have a selection process for open-custody caregivers, and we use a series of criterion regarding suitability of a youth for open-custody placement. The youth has to be in school or have a job, and they cannot be convicted of a crime of violence or have a history of running away.
We share the concerns that people have with regard to public safety, but I have to emphasize that one of the issues around the placement in open custody does reside with courts, and in some cases we have recommended against the placement of children in open custody and have been overruled by the court.
We are sharing the concerns that people have with this. The appropriateness of placing someone in an open-custody home, and where that home is located, is a major decision.
Mr. Ostashek: I'm very, very disappointed in this minister, because it doesn't appear that he took our concerns very, very seriously when we raised them over some year and a half ago. We're not talking about the people who are put in open-custody homes. That was not the debate at the time. The debate was about open-custody homes being established in neighbourhoods, and the neighbours not even knowing that they are there. Other jurisdictions identify the homes in those neighbourhoods, and we asked this minister to review the policy of this government and to see if we could not publish the addresses of the open-custody facilities in the neighbourhoods. We didn't ask anybody to be named. We didn't ask who was being put in them. We asked for a simple review of the policy, and the minister, from what he's answered in the first question, hasn't even taken the request seriously.
Will the minister review that and get an answer back to us in an appropriate length of time?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I have to remind the member that I said we only had four open-custody homes in Whitehorse, so if he has a particular concern about one, I would suggest that he relay it on to me.
We haven't had a great deal of complaint about this from individuals. I can tell the member that there are some restrictions of the Young Offenders Act currently, soon to be the Youth Criminal Justice Act, with regard to publication of names, and also identification criteria of young people in a particular neighbourhood. We have been sensitive to the appropriateness of placing people in open custody, and the placement of those homes, and that's something that has been a central feature. We are concerned about who we place in those homes, but, as I said, in some cases, that is beyond our control.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, the minister can try to squirm out of this if he wants, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the establishment of open-custody homes in residential neighbourhoods, and people in the neighbourhood not being aware that they are there.
My constituents have not said they shouldn't be there. All they want to know is that they are there, so that they can act accordingly. That's all that we asked of this minister, and it appears that this minister hasn't done anything with respect to that at all.
Another request that was made at the time was the term of classifications of open-custody homes. The minister said that he would look into that as well, because we understand that that is done in some jurisdictions.
Once again, Mr. Speaker, nobody has asked for anybody to be named. Nobody has asked the minister to advise who is being put into those homes. All that's being asked of the minister and the government is that the addresses of these homes be public information so people can act accordingly in the neighbourhood.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I'm fascinated, Mr. Speaker, by what the member means by "act accordingly". That has a somewhat ominous tone.
We try to act responsibly, and we try to act responsibly both in terms of the neighbours and the young people in our charge. As I said, there are only four of these homes in the Whitehorse area. We have not received complaints; if the member does have a specific concern, then he should inform me.
I can tell him that the home that he was concerned about last year is no longer functioning as an open-custody home. So if the member has some specific concerns, perhaps he can bring them forward to us.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of opposition private members' business
Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the item standing in the name of the third party to be called on Wednesday, November 3: Motion No. 176, standing in the name of the Member for Porter Creek North.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I'd like to identify the item standing in the name of the official opposition to be called on Wednesday, November 3, 1999, and that is Motion No. 174, standing in the name of the Member for Porter Creek South.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 78: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 78, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Sloan.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The amendment to the Public Health and Safety Act - I'm sorry, thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I move that Bill No. 78, An Act to Amend the Public Health and Safety Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services that Bill No. 78, entitled An Act to Amend the Public Health and Safety Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I apologize for my ardour in jumping to my feet there.
The amendment to the Public Health and Safety Act provides for the reporting by every medical practitioner of persons under their treatment suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. This reporting will provide a factual basis for examining the incidence and prevalence of FAS in the Yukon.
The statistical information will assist us to better target our service and prevention efforts, and over the long run measure our progress in addressing this serious health problem.
When a physician makes a diagnosis of FAS in a patient, the physician will make a confidential report of this to the medical officer of health in the communicable disease control unit. This is now done for a number of other medical conditions, including tuberculosis.
The registry will make some statistical information public. Information made available to the public may describe, on an aggregate basis, factors such as age, gender and/or geographic location.
Information on ethnic origin will not be collected nor provided by the registry. We believe that categorizing this issue along ethnic lines would not be useful nor conducive.
Statistical information will not identify individuals. It will not be possible to identify any individual by the information provided by the FAS registry. If disclosing the name of the community where a person resides is likely to reveal the identity of the person suffering from FAS, the name of the community will be kept confidential, or only the broader community or region with enough population that the person's identity would not be likely to be revealed will be named. These rules are specified in the draft regulations and are in keeping with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
These provisions for privacy also mean that other people working with the individual will not be provided with the information as part of the reporting requirement. Information that a person has FAS will not be provided to teachers, social workers, nurses or other people working with the individual as a result of the reporting requirement. Only non-identifying, statistical information on FAS will be provided by the registry.
The registry will not affect the relationship of physicians with families, guardians or other workers. Referrals will still be made when appropriate in order to provide the best possible care for individuals with FAS. This action is separate from the reporting requirement.
We considered making an amendment that would allow us to require the reporting of any non-communicable disease or conditions as we considered useful or necessary. This would involve having reportable conditions designated by Cabinet-approved regulation. Examples of this could include accidents and injuries, mental disorders or heart disease. We've opted instead to openly amend the Public Health and Safety Act to require the reporting of the specific condition of FAS. In the future it may be appropriate to require for other specific conditions as well.
If so, the act will be further amended to require such reporting. The process we have chosen - that of amending the act - to require the reporting of a specific condition is one that is open and transparent, a process that we believe contributes to building trust in government.
There is a concern that compulsory reporting requirements will exacerbate an attitude of blaming women who drink during pregnancy. We believe that there's nothing to be gained from blaming anyone for this problem. We do wish to ensure that women have the support to stop or reduce drinking during pregnancy, and we will put our prevention efforts toward that end.
The reporting requirement will be put into effect April 1, 2000. The intervening time will be used to consult with medical practitioners on the use of diagnostic criteria in identifying and reporting the diagnosis of FAS, and to review, with interested parties, the form of statistical reporting that would be most useful.
Fetal alcohol effects is not a definitive medical diagnosis and thus there would be no requirement for reporting that condition. We believe that this is an important step of contributing to our knowledge of the extent to which FAS is affecting our territory. It will help us better address the issue and measure the success of our efforts.
The serious and preventable condition of FAS cannot be solved by one branch, one department, one government or one registry. It takes a community to address and affect this problem. Much is now being done to address the problem of FAS. Significant resources are being dedicated by the government toward the prevention of FAS and toward the support of people with FAS and their families. Some of these services include those offered by Health and Social Services, which include summer day camps for boys and girls with FAS, when referred by Family and Children Services social workers, Department of Education and families; the Mountainridge Residence, a group home for poor teenage FAS boys who require a level of supervision and structure throughout the day.
In recognition of the life-long support issues faced by children with FAS, we've created the residential program unit. One of the important functions of this unit is to plan for future residential requirements of both adults and children - what is required now and what will be required in the future.
The Child Development Centre is funded 100 percent to serve preschool children with developmental and/or behavioral needs, including outreach services to children in Yukon communities. Twenty to 24 percent of the children served have FAS or FAE.
Special needs childcare - financial and program assistance, over and above the usual assistance provided to childcare centres is now available to service special needs children, including those with FAS/FAE.
And, just along with this, I've had some conversations with individuals from the Yukon Child Care Association, where I got some feedback on how well this is working, and there seems to be a good level of satisfaction in that regard.
Respite care - respite care is provided to families and foster caregivers who need brief periods of relief from the needs of children in their care. This program is available to anyone who needs the service, including a number of families and foster families with FAS children.
Childcare support workers - one-on-one support is provided by a childcare worker to work with a child or teen in need of intensive support. This service is provided as needed and serves many young people with FAS. This worker may also provide support to a young person in an educational setting or in special day programs tailored for the young person who cannot attend regular school programming.
The healthy families program/family support worker - this program facilitates early identification and support of children at risk of future health and/or social problems. Early support to families has been shown to enhance a child's likelihood to succeed in school and in life in later years, and reduce the need for ongoing health and social service supports. Initial screening is done by a community health nurse or Alcohol and Drug Services, after which the families are offered visits by a family support worker.
A family support worker works with those families who are at a high risk of bearing FAS children, including those who have had at least one FAS child and who demonstrate a history of alcohol abuse.
Family support workers can provide support and encouragement to try to prevent the birth of further FAS children.
In response to the needs of adults with FAS, Social Services has undertaken a number of initiatives. Persons affected by FAS and requiring special supports within the community can receive those through the adult service unit. For example, a one-on-one worker can be assigned or special housing arrangements can be made.
The branch also supports day programming options that would benefit this client group. Research is underway to determine the best way to provide employment support to individuals affected by this condition.
The Department of Justice is working to accurately identify the number of offenders affected by FAS so that appropriate services can be planned and provided for them. A needs assessment protocol is being developed with the assistance of the University of Washington. What is proposed is a final review for preliminary screening, followed by suggested participation in further diagnostic activities where indicated. Accurate understanding of the issue of FAS among offenders will facilitate appropriate service provision, and appropriate protection of the public.
Justice and Yukon Housing Corporation are cooperating with the funding from CDF, Crime Prevention, and victim services trust fund. The Options for Independent Living Society is now preparing to open a pilot housing project for FAS adults. An apartment complex from Yukon Housing will have a live-in manager to provide a supported living environment for FAS adults.
Justice and Education are also cooperating in a number of ways. The departments are using the services of Deborah Evenson from Alaska, an educational expert in FAS/FAE, to provide staff training in learning institutes and interventions, which have been demonstrated to work effectively with FAS. Also in this regard, Health and Social Services also worked with the Yukon Teachers Association this past fall to sponsor presentations by Ms. Evenson on techniques to work with FAS students.
No two students with FAS/FAE learn and function in exactly the same way. IEP is one manner in which education endeavours to address specific needs of individual students.
Ongoing service, in-service and training programs on FAS/FAE and other related areas relating to special needs children are being offered to teachers on a continual basis. Research materials are made available to the teachers in schools and they have access to the most current information on FAS and FAE.
Prevention activities are provided through a number of avenues. Health and Social Services provides programming for school-age children, workshops for professionals on the use of a screening tool to assist in the identification of women at risk of having babies with alcohol-related birth defects, and support for the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society of the Yukon to obtain federal funding for an awareness project for pregnant women. Prevention efforts are increasingly being targeted at those at risk. Broad public awareness campaigns have value in raising knowledge in the general population but generally are not effective in reaching people most at risk. Prevention messages are endeavouring to encourage people to seek help and not to stigmatize or blame anyone for having problems.
Pregnant women at risk are given priority by alcohol and drug services. Planning is underway for a women's addiction program in the next fiscal year. Planning involves response to recommendations from women's organizations to provide treatment specifically geared to the needs of women.
We recognize that women in rural Yukon tend to be at greater risk from alcohol-related harm from their own drinking and that of others. To address these needs, there are a number of things that we have been doing. We have been working with CYFN to develop an effective after-care system in rural Yukon to support people returning from addictions treatment programs. Two ADS prevention workers have been signed to this initiative. This will complement and augment the work already being done by First Nation NNADAP programs that operate in every community, providing support for programs developed in the community, such as those developed by the Northern Tutchone Council at Tatl'a Man Lake and by Champagne Aishihik.
ADS will also work at broadening the base of agencies and people involved in addressing FAS/FAE, because there needs to be a large integrated community-based approach to this problem. Alcohol prevention services are in addition to the other efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm to Yukon people.
We take pride from the work being done to address these problems arising from alcohol abuse in the territory. We look forward to continuing to work in the Yukon community to address these issues in a cooperative and consultative manner.
We support the FAS reporting requirement as one small step in the progress toward the goal of reducing the impact of this serious condition on Yukon people, and I hope that members of this Legislature can support that goal.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, if things are going so well with fetal alcohol syndrome programming in the Yukon, why is it that it came out as such a huge concern at the recent health summit and during the restorative justice consultation?
I am having a little trouble swallowing the minister's long list of wonderful things that we're doing for people in the Yukon who have fetal alcohol syndrome.
When we do finish this - and bearing in mind that there's not going to be actual diagnosis of FAS in the reporting of FAS until April 1 of next year - are we going to be allocating sufficient resources in order to deal with what we find? What if the numbers are huge, particularly in Whitehorse? What is this government going to do? Is there any commitment?
All we hear from the minister, again and again and again, is that we are doing all sorts of wonderful things already, and that things are just peachy so that maybe things are perfect out there, that everybody with fetal alcohol syndrome in the Yukon, and their families, are being totally serviced by this government - things are just perfect. Well, that doesn't seem to be clear to the people of the Yukon. I'm wondering why that message isn't getting out.
What sort of training are we going to do for diagnosis? Who's going to pay for it? What is it? Will we be sharing those results with other jurisdictions? At what point are we going to be coordinating services for FAS and FAE? How are we going to deal with fetal alcohol effects? Fetal alcohol effects is one of the hardest things to deal with as far as diagnosis and treatment plans.
We've heard over and over and over again from people that the only way that they got help for their child or that they got help for the adult in their family was by going and getting in touch with the justice system.
That's not the best way to get help.
The minister talks again and again and again about prevention programs, and those prevention programs for many years have been funded by the federal government. And there's been no talk in this House - and I've asked the minister repeatedly - about taking up that funding when it expires at the end of next year. What about the Cap C programs in Dawson? What about the prenatal nutrition programs in Liard task force basin? What about the ones at Skookum Jim's? What about the Teen Parent centre? Certainly, they're part of the healthy family initiatives, but they're funded by the federal government. When is the minister going to stand up to the plate and take some responsibility for that? Those are great programs, and I don't want to see them go down.
This minister talks about fetal alcohol syndrome in terms of an issue that's already been dealt with, but it hasn't been dealt with. Now, he also talks about how fetal alcohol syndrome is something that happens when the mother drinks, and there's an awful lot of evidence to suggest now that it's not just when the mother drinks, but when the father drinks as well. And there are some schools of thought out there that say that when you do that to an embryo, you're causing an injury.
When we open this act, there's an opportunity for us to look at a lot of different things to do with injuries.
Now, the number-one issue of children's health is injuries, and the minister knows that. They're both intentional and unintentional. Children fall, and sometimes they're pushed. For measuring a healthy child, legislation must include the means to monitor and report intentional and unintentional injuries. The Yukon has a process to start with intentional injuries - for example, the mandatory reporting of abuse under the new Family Violence Prevention Act - and the Yukon has no reporting mechanism for non-intentional injuries, like if a child falls down the stairs, or a way to measure the consequence of unintentional harm environments that are not safe.
And I've got a great example for the minister. Let's say we've got a child who comes in October with a broken arm to the Whitehorse General Hospital, and in November the same child comes in with a concussion from falling down the stairs, and in March comes into the nursing station in Dawson with a burn. There is no way of tracking that that child is being abused; there is no way of tracking that that child is perhaps having an awful lot of injuries. What goes into the record is that there is Jane Doe - and all children who are female are Jane Doe - who is going to be coming in, and that they are going to be having injuries. And there's a list of all the injuries that happen, but they are not attached to the child.
So, we're missing a real opportunity here to track those injuries with children. It's an opportunity, and the minister talked about amending it at some point in the future. He knows that there is an opportunity in the future to add things like the reporting of accidental or unintentional injuries. Why don't we amend it now?
The minister has been spoken to by a number of different groups in the community. He's been spoken to by a number of members of the medical community, and they're saying that this is a real opportunity. We're opening up the act. Let's do something else. We had an opportunity when we opened the Children's Act to look at mandatory reporting of abuse, and we didn't do that. We had an opportunity when we opened up the Children's Act to look at grandparents' rights and to do a review of that act. And here is another act where we have another opportunity. We're opening it for one small thing that affects so many of us here in the Yukon, and we could do so much more if we just added another amendment at this point.
Unintentional or intentional injuries to children need to be tracked in the Yukon. We know that most injuries are predictable, and they're often preventable. Some experts argue that all injuries are preventable. It is the responsibility of legislation to preserve and protect Yukoners' health. By measuring the number and kinds of injuries, we can determine the risk so that we may work toward reducing injuries.
The U.S. child safety research on injuries illustrates data showing that 40 percent of deaths and 50 percent of injuries occur in and around the home, and that a disturbing number occur in children from poor families in rural communities, especially in areas similar to the Yukon - isolated, widely spread populations with few organized centres of trauma care. Only those injuries serious enough to need emergency-room attention are reported in the Yukon. In Yukon, the majority of injuries are reported by Whitehorse General Hospital. Mandatory reporting of all injuries allows frontline practitioners - that's physicians and nurse practitioners, community health reps and public health nurses, ambulance attendants, et cetera - across the territory - the tool to recognize and ask those questions that are comparable across all medical offices and all nursing stations in the Yukon. Reporting injuries provides a means to measure. It paints a picture that allows us to see, and what is seen is disgust.
Reporting of injuries also serves to examine what is working and what could be improved. Mandatory reporting of injuries is a simple and reasonable way to monitor and pay attention to children's health. Reporting of injuries allows us to measure the impact, prevention and promotion programs, and that makes a lot of sense. I mean, if we've got a great program out there that's actually preventing injuries to children, then we should allocate more resources toward that. If we have one out there that supposedly is reducing the number of injuries to children, and the number of injuries continues to go up and up, then why would we continue to fund that program?
We have to have measurable ways of bringing down injuries to children.
We can save on duplication, and build and support existing programs and services, and it allows us to determine the priorities for injury control initiatives.
Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of opportunities here when we're opening up this act. Certainly, I'd be the first one to call for a diagnosis of FAS in the Yukon. I know so many families that have been so desperate for a diagnosis of FAS. I know people who have spent $800 trying to get a diagnosis of FAS for their child when they knew their child had FAS. They went to the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon, and they got Dr. Moodie to diagnose their child with FAS so they could finally get the resources that they needed.
Mr. Speaker, we have another opportunity here to save some kids, and give them the opportunity - all of us - to prevent some injuries, with children in particular, in the Yukon. It happens every day in the Yukon. There are kids out there who are having accidents, and we all know that they're not accidents. This is an opportunity for us to track those accidents right across the Yukon and to make sure that those kids are safe. This is our opportunity. We can open up this act; we can make that amendment. The minister's heard the plea. He's heard it from the community; he's heard it from the community health representatives; he's heard it from the doctors, the nurses, the ambulance attendants, who deal with this every day.
Mr. Speaker, I hope that he hears what I have to say, and he considers that amendment.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm pleased to rise and speak to this new bill, Mr. Speaker. The minister summed it up quite succinctly. The minister's own words were, "One small step." One small step in an area that affects a great deal of the Yukon.
Now, why are we taking this one small step and only that one small step, when the minister is sitting in a position and has the authority to address this issue head-on? I don't know. I don't know, Mr. Speaker. It defies common sense. It defies logic. It defies all of those factors that we look at when we're concerned with the health, the care and the well-being of Yukoners.
FAS is the only alcohol-related birth defect for which definitive diagnostic criteria exists. FAS children exhibit slow growth, damage to the central nervous system, and facial abnormalities. A child must have all of these signs to be diagnosed as having FAS. That's been known for quite a period of time, Mr. Speaker.
While FAE is harder to diagnose, it can be done. All we have to do, Mr. Speaker, is look to our neighbours to the west, who have similar problems as Yukon does with alcohol abuse.
Alaska is addressing this issue. It is addressing this issue head-on. There was a meeting some time ago, at which the minister spoke - a meeting of the western provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta. If the minister would care to go back in his notes and look at what the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission has done, they've devoted energy, money, but above all their initial approach was to identify those who are afflicted with this condition.
That's the first step that must be taken, Mr. Speaker. And for years - the past three years in this House - this minister has stood on his feet and flatly refused to identify individuals for fear of labelling that child. Well, if you can't identify who has this affliction, how can you treat it? It's very difficult.
Mr. Speaker, it's the behavioral problems associated with FAS that are the most costly to society. A recent Health Canada report states that beyond health care costs, FAS brings the costs of special education, foster care, prisons, social assistance, reduced productivity and loss of human potential. This loss of potential is sometimes greater for those who have alcohol-related birth defects, but they're not physical characteristics of full-blown FAS.
So when we look at the full gamut of those afflicted with FAS/FAE, this is but the first step that the minister's taking. As the minister summed it up, it is one small step.
And it's about time that the minister is taking this one small step. This issue has been put on the table by the CYFN, the Yukon Teachers Association, numerous doctors, and many, many other support groups. Our party brought forward a position paper in 1995, and yet this Yukon Party position paper was allowed to die.
Mr. Speaker, FAS/FAE is one of the most costly components to deal with in our society.
I'm sure it's being identified as one of the most costly areas in the minister's own portfolio, if he were to pull together all of the costs associated with this affliction.
I only hope that our support for this bill, for this one small step, will not hinder and stop the minister from bringing forth a more comprehensive review of this act that will address the totality of the situation, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I think that in speaking to the amendment that's before us to the Public Health and Safety Act to recognize fetal alcohol syndrome as a reportable disease, we need to take a step backward and consider what kind of a society we want to live in. We want to live, I believe, in a society where people's basic needs are met for shelter, for food and clothing, for safety and for education. We want to live in a healthy and caring community where there is less violence and abuse, and, indeed, where there is no violence and abuse.
What are we doing, then, to improve the quality of life to ensure that every Yukon child is safe and healthy and that every Yukon community is a good place to live? This legislative amendment is only one answer to that.
Our government recognizes that early intervention is important. The healthy families program this year is allotted $306,000. The healthy families program supports families and, in particular, parents with children between birth and the age of five.
We are also investing in reducing youth addictions. Positive action for Yukon youth was a partnership between the Yukon and the federal government, and we need to do more of working collaboratively with other governments, with municipal and First Nations and federal governments to deal with the problems of addictions and to create healthy societies.
We have invested enormous amounts of funds and energy into increasing the recreation and leadership programs available for our young people, so that they can develop a positive self-image. Solving problems that are associated with FAS requires a large integrated community response. It requires personal and community responsibility. FAS is 100-percent preventable, and it is linked to alcohol abuse, so we're doing a number of things to increase the prevention.
We have programming for school-aged children. The focus of that is raising the age at which children would take their first drink. We have workshops for professionals. We're developing a woman-only addictions treatment program and working with non-government organizations, as well as different departments of government.
At the recent YTA conference, there was a two-day workshop on FAS and on ways to work with children effectively. The Teen Parent Centre has been supported for awhile, and FASSY has developed a new "Alcohol and the Unborn Baby" kit, which is being provided not just to moms at the Teen Parent Centre, but at medical clinics and at health centres throughout the territory.
There is an outreach youth worker at the Youth Achievement Centre, supported by both alcohol and drug services and family and children services.
The early intervention measures have to be followed by successful intervention in the school system. We provide ongoing in-servicing on FAS and FAE that's offered to all schools. We have teachers supported to attend conferences in the Yukon and elsewhere. We have new resource guides that are available in the schools on the physical characteristics, the educational needs, and the behavioural characteristics of children with FAS.
There are many descriptions of specific strategies that can be used to help meet the challenges in classrooms. We're using new research into learning styles to plan programs that meet those children's needs. Our teachers develop individualized education plans for students with special needs, including students with FAS, in conjunction with the parents, the school administration and resource people in the Department of Education. We do need to do more, Mr. Speaker. We do need to respond to the current research that's being done in other jurisdictions, and we recognize it as being of critical importance.
I would respond to some of the comments of the members opposite that medical doctors can do a diagnosis and have been able to do a diagnosis before this legislation came forward. This legislation provides for mandatory reporting of FAS. That's the only difference. It was recommended by the Yukon's chief medical officer of health, and I think we can be proud of the fact that medical doctors in the Yukon are probably more aware of current research and more able to diagnose than in other jurisdictions.
Mr. Speaker, this action is one of many that are being taken to create healthier communities. I think it is a good amendment, and I applaud the Minister of Health for bringing it forward.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cable:We'll be supporting the amendment. We think it's a good amendment. But when we get to Committee, I'd like to telegraph to the minister that I'd like some further explanation or further information on how the information that is gathered from the doctors will be protected and also how it will be used to benefit the affected child. I think the Minister of Education spoke about that a moment ago. I'd also like some further information on how the information that will be gathered will be integrated with the Minister of Justice's FAS efforts in the criminal justice system.
Looking forward to that, I emphasize that we are very much supportive of this initial move by the minister to deal with the FAS problem in the territory.
Mr. Hardy: Excuse me, I have a cold today so I'll have to wade through the thickness in my head from fluids. I think a lot of people are getting it.
The changes that are being proposed - which I support totally, and it's nice to hear that the official opposition supports as well - are a step in the right direction to address a serious concern that seems to be most predominantly in the north.
One thing that we often have to remember are the rights of citizens, and people with FAS are also citizens, whether they're children or adults. They have a role to play in our society. There's a role that the government also has to play to ensure that they're given the skills to participate fully within our society.
There's a responsibility of all citizens when we deal with illnesses, and we deal with tragedies, and FAS can be considered a tragedy in a sense. It is totally preventable, and regrettably, in our society, it comes about through alcohol abuse - drinking during a pregnancy. But there's a responsibility for the parents; there's a responsibility for government - and other levels of governments as well, not just the territorial government - if we want a healthy, vibrant society to live in, one that ensures that all people are participating.
But there's also - I've heard some criticism about, "Well, what are we doing?" from the Member for Riverdale South.
There seems to be a general theme. It's always like we're not doing anything unless it's what her suggestion is, and I think the member, my colleague from Whitehorse West, listed off a variety of activities that affect people with FAS, and that also affect the families.
I really am impressed with the amount of work that the departments are doing, and believe that they should be mentioned again, to ensure that she does understand that there is a lot of work being done, and maybe she will actually acknowledge some of it once in awhile, instead of always trying to find fault. It's a dangerous trap to get into, I believe, in the opposition, to always find fault with everything the other side does.
Occasionally, there is a benefit to recognizing good that's being done as well, and that may go both ways on both sides, whether it's from the government for the good work that the opposition does, but it also has to come back as well, once in awhile, especially if we're actually going to represent all people of this territory, and we do have a responsibility to do that.
Some of the work of Health and Social Services includes the summer day camps - I'm not going to read it all, word for word, but I will go through a variety of it. The summer day camps for boys and girls with FAS, Mountainridge Residence, a group home for teenage FAS boys who require a high level of supervision and structure, a residential program unit, the Child Development Centre, which is funded 100 percent to serve preschool children with developmental and/or behavioural needs. Included in that are Outreach activities.
And the figure is 20 to 24 percent of the children served have FAS or FAE. Special needs childcare, financial and program assistance are under that program. Respite care, childcare support workers - one-to-one support is provided by a worker to work with a child or a teen in need of intensive support. Healthy families program, family support workers - all are directly connected to children and adults with FAS and the families.
The adult service unit is another one-to-one situation where workers are assigned to work directly. Day programming options available - there's also employment support for individuals. This is talking more with the adults that are affected by FAS.
There will be funding from the community development fund and the crime prevention and victims services trust fund. The Options for Independent Living society is now preparing to open a pilot housing project for FAS adults. I believe that's a benefit.
There are services being provided by Deborah Evenson, from Alaska, to help with staff training in this area. Individual education plans are being developed and implemented for children with special needs. Again, FAS and FAE fall in this section as well. There are in-service or training programs on FAS and FAE assist the staffs so that they can assist the families and the people with FAS and FAE. And there are prevention programs.
The list just goes on and on and on, and anybody who believes that nothing is being done mustn't be reading or studying or studying the situation thoroughly, and it worries me when there's criticism without knowledge.
So, I'm very proud of the work that's being done by this minister in this area, and though it may not be the perfect pill, the perfect answer and the perfect diagnosis that instantly cures all problems, it's one more piece to the puzzle of ensuring that we have healthy communities and a vibrant society that all people can feel they can share in, no matter what their afflictions, disabilities or diseases.
I see, in our society, FAS adults living a productive, happy life through the efforts of the whole society, of all people participating - one that cares and recognizes the rights of all. And I see us, as a government, reflective of this caring society and being responsive to it.
So, I applaud the minister on this initiative and I expect to see a lot more work done in this area and know that the benefits will be for those people.
Mr. McRobb: I'll be brief in my support for this amendment. I, as well, am very appreciative of the good work being done by people in the departments for the people of the Yukon and particularly for those people suffering from FAS and for their families.
I would like to note that some of my constituents, most notably the Northern Tutchone Council and Champagne-Aishihik First Nations, were consulted on this, and this work will help to develop an effective after-care system in rural Yukon to support people returning from addictions treatment programs.
In the Kluane region, we have the Aishihik Lake treatment centre, of which we're very supportive.
This amendment will certainly help to continue where the treatment centre leaves off in developing an effective after-care system, and also augment the work done by the First Nation NNADAP programs that operate in every community.
So I would like to, once again, commend the department for listening to the people and doing the good work to bring this amendment forward.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Just a few points I'd like to discuss, as we go through this. I've been involved in education for the better part of my time before arriving in the Legislature, and a good deal of that time has been spent - I won't say how many years, because it would date me even more than my grey hair already does - but many of those years have been spent in northern education, in both Manitoba and then, later, in the Yukon.
When I first came to education, especially in northern education, I became aware, working first of all in elementary and primary schools, of problems with students: issues of impulsivity, issues of poor memory, issues of being unable to process information, issues of being able to associate consequences with actions. To be very frank, when I first was involved in northern education, none of us really had a concept of what we were dealing with. None of us knew. We knew we had problems; we knew that there were issues. When you get a CTBS score on your school, and your kids don't even rank in the first percentile, you've got a problem.
But while we knew we had some issues, we didn't know what those issues were, and it really was, perhaps, a bit over 20 years ago that we began to be able to put a term or a name to that issue.
I recall when I was principal of what is now Johnson Elementary School in Watson Lake, we had one of the first researchers in this field, Dr. Asante, out of Terrace, B.C. Dr. Asante was doing work in the Yukon. He was doing some clinical studies in the Yukon. And he, because of his experience working in northern communities in northern B.C. and the Yukon, had begun to notice the same patterns, the same physiological patterns, the same intellectual impairment patterns, the same developmental patterns in many of these communities. And he began pulling his work together, his observations, with research that had been done among urban populations in France and Scandinavia, where the same kinds of incidents were showing up. The same kinds of difficulties were showing up. And I can recall Dr. Asante spending time in our school - spending a considerable amount of time doing studies of children, doing observations of children, and sitting down with the staff at the end of his period in the school - and for the first time giving us a term, or a name, or, if you will, a classification of those kinds of behaviours, those kinds of impairments. Now, to be very frank, for many of us, this was the first time we heard the phrase "fetal alcohol syndrome". What he was able to do was that he was able to illustrate to us some of the problems we saw in some of our students, and how they were mirrored in some of the classical, if you will, physiological signals of students.
I can remember him showing a slide of a child from France, with many of the same kinds of physical markers in terms of placement of ears, head size, absence of the philtrum and so on. For the first time, many of us were able to identify and pull together some of those terms. It gave us some indication of what we were dealing with, where we were going, and perhaps some of the issues that we had to deal with.
In those 20-plus years that have passed since then, we've learned a lot; society has learned a lot about this condition, the impact on people's lives, the issues around how this condition can be prevented and what the long-term impact is. We, like many people, assumed it was something that could somehow be treated. We assumed that if it is a problem of short-term memory, maybe what you need to do is more of the same. Maybe if it is a problem of understanding consequences and effect, maybe we just need to emphasize that more. What we didn't realize then, and have learned in the intervening years, is that these are permanent disabilities and, quite frankly, even though there are effective techniques that can be used with people with FAS, making those simple kinds of correlation, simply doing more of the same, does not work. We have to approach it in a different way.
So, we're very cognizant that this is something that has developed. This is something that we face. Interestingly enough, the other areas where there are high proportions of FAS tend to be in the Scandinavian countries, countries which have rather high living standards, high standards of education and so on, but also - and perhaps this is a reflection on our climate or our latitude or something - proportionately high alcohol consumption rates.
So this is an issue that faces not only the Yukon but all around the world. For example, I believe some of the statistics that I've seen indicate - and these are statistics primarily drawn from the United States - that some 25 to 31 percent of women in the United States drink enough while pregnant to damage their babies. Now, you'd wonder, given what we know, that that still goes on. But clearly, the understanding of this condition may not be as well understood in the larger world as we think. I think probably in the Yukon, probably in the north, we're far more cognizant of this.
To be very frank, in my discussions with colleagues at national meetings -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Thank you. The people who seem most aware of this tend to be in the west and tend to be in the north. I spent considerable time with my colleague from Nunavut, Ed Picco, and Floyd Roland on this issue at the Health ministers meeting, and while I can discuss this with colleagues from Alberta, certainly Saskatchewan, who are aware of the problem, particularly in the northern areas, and certainly Manitoba, I find that when I move east of the Ontario-Manitoba border, often it draws a blank. It's only now - quite frankly, it has really only been in the last few months that there's even been an indication of interest on this from our Ontario colleague, and I have to commend her. Elizabeth Witmer, the Ontario minister, has received a report on health issues in northern Ontario, and the question of FAS emerged very, very clearly.
We had some discussions about this at our most recent Health ministers meeting. So, there is an awareness growing, but it still tends to be confined in the northern and western parts of the country.
So when we look at this, I think what we have to realize is that this is an issue that we've come to terms with over the last 20 years - perhaps as much as 25 years - and it's still an area of investigation, still an area of development.
The member suggested that somehow, by listing the things that we're doing, I'm somehow suggesting that's enough, or that's a fait accompli, or here's where we are and we're not doing anything further. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is an issue that we are now wrestling with. We are making progress, I believe, but there's a long, long way to go, and I am not for one moment - not for one moment - suggesting that we have reached the pinnacle and we're going to stop. What I'm suggesting here is that we have a better sense of what this issue is, and we have a better sense of the kinds of programs that we have to do.
Ten or 15 years ago, if you talked about FAS, you were talking about an educational program only, that somehow this was a program that was dealt with in school, that the kids hit 18 years old and, magically, they were cured. Well, that isn't the case. We looked at it as an educational problem, but it's not exclusively confined to education. We are now dealing with issues of employment, issues of individuals wrestling with - and society wrestling with - supported living. We are wrestling with issues around justice, where individuals with poor impulsivity control are going back and back and back into the justice system, not because they're criminally inclined, but because they lack the normal process where we learn supposedly from our mistakes, and supposedly, if we learn from our errors, we learn from societal sanctions and we don't do the crime again.
Individuals with FAS do not always have that and, consequently, they are disproportionately represented. So, I'm not for one moment suggesting that, with this particular amendment, we're clearing up the problem. I'm not suggesting that at all. What I am suggesting is that, as we proceed, we're gaining a better understanding; we're gaining a better sense of the magnitude of the problem, the nature of the problem, the multi-dimensionality of the problem, because we have to understand that it is not education exclusively; it is not health exclusively; it is not justice exclusively, but it is a societal problem. It is one that we, as a community, have to come to grips with. And, when we say "we", it doesn't just mean government; it means socially responsible actions by individuals in our community. It means communities taking ownership of those issues, and I believe that is what's happening, I believe people are coming to terms with this.
Now, a number of points were initially brought up, and I think I'd like to address a few of them. On the question of the diagnosis issues - just around that - perhaps I could provide a little more information to the members about the nature of the implementation. We're proposing this begin on April 1, 2000. Now, between now and that period of time, physicians will be aware of the mandatory requirement to report FAS but to simply say they are now required to report FAS, without giving legitimate diagnostic tools, is simply ridiculous.
So, what is happening between now and April 1, our medical officer of health will be communicating with physicians to discuss a series of diagnostic guidelines, and there are a variety of diagnostic tools - some out of the University of Washington, some out of other areas - that have been developed.
What we'll be working with the physicians to do is to develop some common diagnostic tools. There are a variety of these tools out there. What we need to do is we need to arrive at some commonality on the kinds of tools that we're working with, so that people have the confidence to be able to make an accurate diagnosis.
We will also make physicians aware that, as with any disease, they will be able - if they do not feel confident in this regard - to make reference to a pediatrician for confirmation. So it may be that, even though a physician has some suspicion, they may be able to make reference to a specialist in that regard, for further diagnosis.
The whole area is going to be worked on between now and April 1, so that we do get cooperation and common agreement on diagnostic criteria.
Also, between now and April 1, we are going to have some further discussion with key stakeholders on this whole issue of how diagnosis will work. This will include some discussion with First Nation representatives, through the health partnerships. This is a group composed of First Nation and Health and Social Services programs, as well as departmental personnel who are working together.
This will be one of the ways that we can address some of the First Nation concerns about the required reporting of FAS. Now, that being said, I have to say that as recently as a week ago I still was having concerns raised to me by First Nation representatives about the nature of the diagnosis. There is real concern - and I don't think that we can simply dismiss it - from First Nations about the whole concept of labelling. Many people in First Nation communities are really concerned about this issue of labelling.
I think that, hopefully, I was able to allay some of those fears, in terms of how we are protecting information, how we are planning to utilize the information, but I do have to say, and I have to say to members in this Legislature, that there is concern out there, and one of the things we're going to have to do is work with our First Nations partnerships in allaying some of those fears and explaining our position. Even though we've done this before, I think we have to do it yet again, and explain to an even further degree.
As I said, I thought many of those issues had already been resolved but, as late as just over two weeks ago, the issue was being - well, just a little bit over a week and a half ago the issue was still being raised to me, so obviously there's some work to do there.
With respect to FAE, the member is right, in terms of saying that FAE is considerably harder to diagnose. We had some discussions with our medical officer of health on this issue, and he was quite frank. He said that with FAS, you've got the physiological markers, you've got all those indicators, and combined - and this is essential - and combined with the revelation of prenatal alcohol consumption, one can make a diagnosis. FAE is somewhat different, because many of the effects of FAE can be mirrored by a variety of toxins within the prenatal environment.
So we'll continue to work on the issue of FAE. Hopefully there will be more and better diagnostic tools coming forward that may allow us to work in that realm. But for right now, the recommendation has been to work on the issue of FAS and to focus our energies on that.
With regard to the member's concern about asking me to take on federal funding, I would cheerfully take on many of those federal programs that have come to an end if and when my federal colleagues decide to restore the Canada health and social transfer to what it was before they sliced and diced it.
You know, we had a meeting last week on the whole question of social union and, once again, the issue of Canada health and social transfer emerged as an issue. We have issues that we would like to be able to deal with. We would like to be able to put more resources into certain areas.
Speaker: The member has two minutes left.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Oh, good heavens, only two minutes? I haven't even warmed up to my subject, Mr. Speaker. There's so much to talk about, but I can tell the member that this was universal. It came from all party stripes, and it came from all jurisdictions in the country - restore the CHST.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Even the Liberals. And, I was amazed. I was amazed, quite frankly. Now, let me see. I'm just trying to think of Liberal governments.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan:Newfoundland. Yes. Newfoundland was interested in this as well.
So, I would say that this was an issue that was key - the restoration of CHST - and when the member manages to put the strong arm on Mr. Martin, and a squeaky voice comes over the phone saying, "I give up. I give up. I'll give you the money," I'd be happy to take over all the programs. However, I should point out that in terms of such things as the healthy families initiative, which we've undertaken and put forward money in terms of $306,900, that's our money, in terms of territorial money, that we're putting forward.
When we talk about such things as school nutrition programs, that's money that we're bringing forward, and when we bring forward a variety of these issues, those are things that we're bringing forward. So -
Speaker: Your time has expired.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Cable: Agree.
Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Mr. Ostashek: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 78 agreed to
Bill No. 80: Second Reading
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 80, entitled An Act to Amend the Chiropractors Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 80, entitled An Act to Amend the Chiropractors Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Chiropractors Act has not been amended since it came into effect in 1958. These amendments reflect the changes that have evolved within the profession of chiropractic over the past four decades. They include provisions that will modernize the legislation and will strengthen and clarify registration, licensing and practice requirements to protect the level of health services provided to Yukoners.
The Chiropractic Council of Yukon has been lobbying the government for changes to the legislation for the past several years. The chiropractors have asked for a clear and concise definition of "chiropractic" to recognize that assessment and diagnosis are prerequisites to treatment. We have also added a definition for "adjustment" to define the principal treatment method administered by chiropractors.
To further protect the public interest and establish consistency within the profession on a national scale, Yukon chiropractors wish to be formally guided by the Canadian Chiropractic Association's Code of Ethics and practice guidelines. In keeping with the requirements of the provinces, we will now require that, in addition to proof of obtaining a chiropractic degree, applicants must also prove that they have passed board examinations at both the national and provincial level. This will confirm that not only have they obtained certification on testing their academic and theoretical knowledge, they are also certified in a clinical testing of their hands-on ability to engage in the practice.
We have also strengthened requirements to renew annual practice licences. Registered chiropractors will be required to provide proof of having completed a minimum of 36 hours of continuing professional development education and must have practised for at least 200 hours in the previous licensing year. The Yukon will now maintain the same high standards as are required in other Canadian jurisdictions.
A chiropractor will also now be recognized as, and may use the title, "Doctor of Chiropractic". This provision is consistent with other health professions, such as Doctor of Optometry, and Doctor of Dentistry.
Optometrists pay licensing fees. To enhance public protection, chiropractors who practice in the Yukon must also hold a minimum of $1 million in professional liability insurance. This also establishes consistency with other jurisdictions.
We have amended the penalty provisions, Mr. Speaker, by establishing a graduated fine system based on the frequency of offences and penalties that will hold the profession more accountable to the public.
We have also amended the act to provide for greater administrative efficiency by replacing the Executive Council member with a registrar. The registrar will be appointed by the minister. This provision will provide a direct link to administrators for both members of the profession and their patients.
Throughout the amendment process, Mr. Speaker, we have worked very closely with local chiropractors. We have consulted with and received support for these amendments from the Yukon Medical Council, the Workers Compensation Health and Safety Board, the Department of Health, the Association of Yukon Occupational Therapists and the Yukon Council of Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, the amendments to the Chiropractors Act will bring the Yukon in line with the rest of Canada and will allow doctors of chiropractic to practise better service with greater protection for Yukon residents.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, we have spoken at some length with members of the chiropractic profession here in the Yukon, and they are very much in support of these amendments to their act and, indeed, have been working with the department since 1994 to bring forward some of these changes. I have a few questions for the minister, and I wonder if she could just sort of give us some answers at some point, probably in the clause-by-clause in Committee.
In our discussions this morning with the department, we found out that this is indeed the first medical professions act that requires liability insurance and, in this case, they're asking for $1 million minimum liability insurance. Is this a trend? Are we going to be using this clause in other medical professions acts as they come forward for amendment and review?
The second thing that I'm wondering about at this point in the game is that there is also discussion about the fact that the amounts that are coming up for fines have gone up, like from $500, I think up to $10,000, which is a considerably large increase over time. And I understand that it's about time that change has been made but I'm wondering, have there been a number of fines in the past, and if there have been, if people have been fined in the past, what are the number of people who have been fined under the old act, I guess.
The other thing is that in this act, we talk about if a chiropractor goes into an inquiry, and they're found guilty of whatever offence, then they will have to pay the cost of that inquiry. Is there any provision being contemplated similar to what they have in the Medical Profession Act to talk about patients who may be bringing forward vexatious complaints - a number of complaints - over and over and over again over time so that they may have to pay inquiry costs or perhaps complaints from other professions that they may have to pay inquiry costs if they bring these complaints up over and over and over again.
If the minister can just answer those questions when we get into Committee of the Whole, it would be greatly appreciated. But, by and large, we very much support the amendments to this act. It sounds like it's been a long time in coming, and it's very much supported by the profession.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party supports the amendment to the Chiropractors Act. I would like to thank the Justice department staff for the briefing this morning and their quick response in getting us some of the letters that we wished we would get.
I'll just make a comment in that respect - and I made it to the officials this morning - that in the future when we're dealing with these acts that are amendments to these types of things, if there are letters of support from groups and individuals affected, it would be useful to have that provided ahead of time so that we wouldn't have to ask for it and get it possibly at the last minute, or not get it at all because of timing. So, in the future, if the minister could make note of that and just make sure that if there are letters available -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Phillips: I hear chirping from the Member for Watson Lake in the back. I look forward to his comments on this bill after I speak.
Mr. Speaker, we do support the bill. I've read through the notes that were provided to us from the association, which for the most part recommends many of the changes that are in the bill. The explanations this morning, in our view, were sufficient for us to support the bill, and thus, we will be supporting the bill as put forward by the minister.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, she will close debate. Does another member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I would call question.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 80 agreed to
Bill No. 81: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 81, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 81, entitled An Act to Amend the Management Accountants' Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 81, entitled An Act to Amend the Management Accountants Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Society of Management Accountants of Yukon is a self-regulating organization, sanctioned under the Management Accountants Act. Bill No. 81 continues the tradition of self-regulation by management accountants whose mandate is to serve the public interest by promoting and increasing the knowledge of its members in all things relating to their field of accounting.
Over the past five years the society has lobbied for changes to the Management Accountants Act to remove conflicts that developed as a result of new bylaws that were passed by their members. These amendments are mainly housekeeping amendments.
For example, there are several references throughout the act to "registered", "general", "industrial", and "registered industrial" members. The new bylaws no longer include these categories of membership, making these references obsolete.
We have also modernized the language in the act to reflect gender inclusion within this occupation.
We have been informed by the society that the name of the profession has changed from management accountants to certified management accountants. We have amended the name of the act and the name of the society responsible for administration of the act to recognize the current title and the proper title of the profession.
Another amendment necessary to correspond to society bylaws was to repeal the term "council" wherever it appears, and replace it with the term "board". The single most substantial amendment, Mr. Speaker, is the repeal of the disciplinary provisions. Section 9 of the act allows for bylaws to be established to regulate the admission, conduct, suspension and expulsion of members of the society. There is a very specific comprehensive disciplinary system established in the bylaws, so there is no need for parallel references in the act.
Comments on the proposed amendments were sought from the chambers of commerce, and neither organization voiced any concerns. I'm pleased to bring forward the amendments to the Management Accountants Act, and to support the certified management accountants.
Mr. Cable: I'd like to thank the minister and the officials for the briefing this morning and, as the minister indicated, the act is essentially a number of workshop amendments to reflect changes in the profession that have taken place since the original act was passed. We received from the minister's department assurances in the form of a letter from the president of the society that they are in agreement with the amendments, as presented in Bill No. 81 and, based on that and based on what we have heard the minister just say, we will be supporting the act.
Mr. Phillips: The Yukon Party will be supporting the act presented by the minister. We appreciate the briefing we had this morning and, as the Member for Riverside has said, this is really just housekeeping somewhat, to bring it up to speed with the society changes and the way they want to govern themselves, and we'll agree with the proposed changes.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 81 agreed to
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, 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 the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of members to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Committee will recess for 15 minutes.
Bill No. 78 - An Act to Amend the Public Health and Safety Act
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Bill No. 78. Is there any general debate?
Mrs. Edelman: When we were talking about this at second reading, the minister didn't respond to any of the issues around the mandatory reporting of injuries or the reporting of injury. Now, under the old system, we do have reported the number of broken arms, say, in the territory, but not that a particular child is having a lot of accidents. So no one is investigating - whether that's intentional or unintentional - whether those injuries are happening to this child because someone is making them happen or because it's actually accidents.
I think that this is an important issue, and I want to ask the minister again. Obviously I'm not getting very far because he doesn't even respond. I'd like him to at least consider bringing forward a greater amendment to this particular act. We still have lots of opportunity; this is only the second day of the sitting, although sometimes it seems like it's a lot further in. We do have opportunities this time to add to this act, and I'm hoping that, at some point, the minister would consider that. He did talk about making other amendments at some point in the near future. Is this one of the amendments that the minister is considering, and what's the timeline?
Hon. Mr. Sloan:The reason that I didn't get to respond to many of the things is because I was untimely cut off, and I was just warming up to my subject there when I probably would have gotten to that.
With reference to the issue of other issues - whether they be cardiac issues, as the member has made reference to injuries - this is a fairly discreet amendment, and it's amended for a specific condition that we wanted to get some baseline information on.
We are working with other jurisdictions on such issues as injury prevention and so on and so forth, and I think the member is probably making reference to some of the comments by, I believe, Dr. Noseworthy at the health summit meeting on the weekend, about the whole question of injuries and injury prevention. With respect to, I suppose, intentional injuries - and I think what the member is getting at is the issue around possible child abuse, if I understand where she's coming from here.
There are already provisions for individuals who work with children, be they teachers or be they health professionals, who have some suspicion of an injury perhaps being untoward or whatever and perhaps the nature of the injury. I think doctors, public health nurses, nursing staff and teachers are quite cognizant of this. I know that, having worked in education, teachers are very, very vigilant about that. If children show up with injuries that cannot be readily explained, or if teachers notice that a certain child has perhaps a greater frequency of bruises, they will bring that forward, and I think most teachers are quite good at that.
At this point, we are not looking at including injuries. As I said, it is a discreet condition that we are including under this. That's not to say, for example, that we could not look at such matters in the future. What we would want to do is work with our medical professionals on identifying other conditions or other types of medical conditions - or diseases for that matter - that we may want to include in the future. This is a bit of a change to the Public Health and Safety Act. It is, from what we've been able to determine, a first step, when we compare ourselves to other jurisdictions, in including this kind of condition under that act.
I think we want to work with this to see how it develops. For example, as I made reference to earlier, we're going to have to work with our medical professionals in developing the correct diagnostic tools. I would imagine that, if we were moving into the realm of injuries - injury tracking and so on - we would have to do a lot of work with the YMA, with associated health professionals, the YRNA. I would say that we would have to begin those discussions and raise the issue with them, whether it's injuries or whether it's any other condition.
At this point, that is not being contemplated, but I'm not shutting the door on anything, I think, at future points. As has been demonstrated in this Legislature, I think when people are aware of the need, they can respond appropriately. I would assume that, if, at a future point, I, or any of my successors, were to bring forward a legitimate, well-reasoned kind of argument - be it on injuries or whatever - it would be also accepted and responded to positively.
Mrs. Edelman: I'm glad to hear that the minister is willing to work with the medical profession - many medical professions that work with children. I know that teachers have long been a good source for reporting of injury. However, we all know that there are some kids, and particularly kids in care who move all over the territory, and those are the ones who get lost. Those are the ones who fall between the cracks, and those are the ones who are most vulnerable, and they're the ones we need to spend a lot more time with.
So I hear the minister saying that, at some point in the future, he may look at this and other conditions as well.
The minister also made a comment that this was just the beginning of the work that we're going to be doing with fetal alcohol syndrome, and that it was a large problem, and that it had many, many facets. I would like to suggest to the minister that the families and the people with fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects are probably our best resource. These are the ones who can teach us most, and we have to remember to listen to them. So what I'm wondering is, as we go through this process, how are we going to be checking with those people to see that what we're doing works?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I think one of the things that it would be incumbent upon us to do would be to keep an ongoing dialogue with groups that have concerns in this field, to keep ourselves involved with groups that deal with the question of FAS.
As I said, one of the things that we brought in was the idea of supported child care, and I've raised that with the Child Care Association. I've asked them for feedback on how that particular process has been working, if they feel it has been positive. The results that I've had initially have suggested that it is very positive. And one of the operators related to me her own personal experience with a child who has a FAS condition, and just the amount of extra attention, the amount of one-on-one work. The child has made substantial progress. So I think that's one way we can do it.
The other way, I think, is consulting with groups that have an interest in this realm when we're contemplating future actions. By way of reference, we've been looking at programs having to do with, I guess, the special requirements of women and addictions.
So, one of the consultations I had in that regard was with FASSY. I asked them specifically about this. They fed us some information; they fed us some suggestions, and we've been looking at that and trying to incorporate it in what we're planning.
So I think it is incumbent on the department to work with groups. We've had considerable involvement with the Options for Independent Living group that came to us and discussed the concept initially. They outlined what they were planning on doing. They've kept us apprised, at all points, of where they were going. They received support from CDF. We've worked with Yukon Housing to see what kinds of things we can do just to sort of facilitate this particular step.
So, I think there is a lot of contact. There's a lot of ongoing contact between departments and those groups, and I'm certainly willing to commit to working with those groups in the future to help achieve the best that we can for individuals.
I think, as well, one of the things that I have been encouraged by is the cooperation that I've had from my colleague in Education and Justice, two departments that are sort of intimately involved with this whole issue. For example, we've been working with those departments to try and achieve some positive steps.
So, I think it's working with the groups that are in the field; it's working with the professionals in the field - our consultations with the YMA, for example. We've had consultations with the groups in the field in this regard, and professionals in the field. When I've gone around on visits to communities, consulting with groups in the communities, consulting with First Nations, consulting with our nursing staff, one of the things, when I've spoken with our nurses out in the field, is that they have given me feedback with regard to the efficacy of programs like CDC.
And that's part of the feedback that I got with regard to Child Development Centre, was the efficacy, or the effectiveness, that they have with children out in the communities, in terms of various developmental delays. And the nurses themselves have told me that these are valuable resources. So, you know, based on that we were able to increase our support to CDC, and at the time we did our support we had discussions with them about where we saw needs, primarily in rural Yukon, primarily in trying to get greater frequency of visits, primarily in terms of sort of getting a second team out there and working with communities. And those are the kinds of things that I heard from communities. I heard from, for example, rural members that this is something that's valued. I heard it myself. So, we're certainly committed to working with all the partners in that regard, and I'll try to keep that dialogue going.
Mrs. Edelman: A question for the minister, and he can probably give us a short answer to this one. Is the Department of Education, for example, going to be accepting diagnosis from any other source other than medical doctors? For example, right now they'll accept a diagnosis of FAS from Dr. Moodie, who is a doctor of psychology. Is there going to be a change in that?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm not sure if I can speak on behalf of the Department of Education. I guess what we're suggesting with this is because the information does have a private character and we are trying to conform to such things as I indicated, issues around privacy and so on, what we will do is we will make the information available to our medical officer of health for statistical purposes, but we'll also -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: That's true. My colleague reminded me that we report numbers, not people.
But what we will do is - say, for example, a diagnosis is reached, and the diagnosis is reached by means of an accepted diagnostic tool that I made reference to earlier, that we work out with the YMA on appropriate diagnostic tools. That information would then be combined with disclosure of parental alcohol abuse and would be then formulated into a diagnosis. The diagnosis would be shared with the parents. So, the parents would be aware.
Now, just because we hold that information, because the physician holds that information, that does not mean that that information will be readily available to educational sources. It will be incumbent on the parent to request the physician to reveal that to the appropriate sources, or perhaps the parent to reveal that to the appropriate sources.
So, for example, a parent who has a diagnosis from the physician that their child has FAS can make that choice - whether or not to share that with appropriate educational individuals or appropriate other individuals who may impact on them. For example, they may choose to share that with, for example, social workers, or social assistance, for means of securing perhaps such things as extra resources for their child in one way or another.
The information being held by the physician will also provide the physician with kind of a reference point for if they become aware of a specialist in that area, or perhaps they want to make a further medical reference on to another specialist. They'll now have that information at their fingertips. They'll be able to discuss it with the parent and say, "I suggest that you see perhaps a developmental psychologist in this regard", or, "I suggest that you see perhaps a specialist" - be it in Vancouver or perhaps a visiting specialist to try to provide a range of services to the child. That's how we're envisaging this working.
Now, with regard to the psychological assessment, it may be that the physicians themselves may choose to make reference to a psychologist, or, as I said earlier, if they don't feel particularly comfortable, they may choose to make reference to a pediatrician for some further confirmation or perhaps clarification of that diagnosis. So, I'm not sure whether I can speak on behalf of Education or not, but that's how we're envisaging this working.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I'd hate to ask for the long answer. I actually didn't even get an answer to that.
Now, Dr. Moodie, for example, who is a clinical psychologist, also does diagnosis for family and children's services, and that's accepted by the department. So, when Dr. Moodie, for example - or anybody else of that calibre with that amount of experience - makes a diagnosis, is that going to be added to Dr. Timmerman's numbers in his registry?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I understand the member's drift now. Okay, she was making reference to Education, and I think that's where we got lost.
I would presume that if the parent took their child to a psychologist for an assessment, that would be added. If the diagnosis is based on a medically accepted model, and the experience of the practitioner came up with that, it would be added into our demographics.
Mrs. Edelman: Thank you, Mr. Chair, that was much shorter.
The one thing that we've been bringing up over and over again as we pass legislation through this House, and it's the position of our party in many ways, is that we like living legislation, which means legislation that is regularly reviewed. We have for example the Education Act, which was brought forward by the former NDP government, which calls for mandatory review every 10 years.
The Public Health and Safety Act - you know this is our second group of amendments going through just in this term of office. What about doing a general review and going back to the public on this act? We heard at the health summit that there are a lot of issues that they feel are not being dealt with. Perhaps it's because people don't know what the legislation is, they don't know what the remedies are that are available, they don't know what we, as legislators, can do for them. So what I'm asking the minister is maybe when we're looking at this and we open up this act again, that we look at putting in a mandatory review period. It makes a lot of sense, especially in the medical field, which changes so quickly, that we go back, on a regular basis, to Yukoners and ask them if the legislation that we're producing here makes sense to them. Would the minister be willing to look at that?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I think that's certainly something that could be considered. I think one of the things, as the member was noting from the health summit, that I took away was not only were people asking about certain things, but what surprised me was that people didn't know about certain things. I was quite surprised when, for example, people asked me about respite and I said well, of course, we have the program that we began over at Thomson, which provides respite for families, particularly with frail and dementia. I was surprised people weren't aware of it.
Also, someone raised the issue of home care and said, you know, we should have home care in the evenings.
We've brought in home care in the evenings; we've brought in home care on weekends, so I think one of the things communicated to me was that perhaps we need to better communicate what the range of programs is. I guess, in that regard as well, I also find there are major areas of confusion, particularly around First Nations health care and Yukon government health care, and there's often a lack of understanding of the difference between those two realms, and that came out again at the health summit. A couple of the First Nation individuals asked about specific treatments and, quite frankly, some of those treatments are determined not by us, but by medical services branch. And I often find that there's confusion. I find this very, very frequently around medical travel.
So I think if there's a message for us to take away, it is that maybe we need to do a better job in terms of communicating and perhaps defining things a little better.
With respect to the whole process and the issues, we're looking right now - quite frankly, we were very pleased, to be blunt, with the health summit. Yes, there were issues raised, but I think there was a tremendous amount of good activity around there, a lot of good thinking. I think there were some very dedicated people who really began thinking about this and took a measure of ownership.
What we're trying to do right now is think around how we can keep that process going, as sort of an ongoing review, if you will - are there ways that we can get that out to communities? And perhaps, eventually, we may reach a point at which we may want to take a look at the Public Health Act at some future point.
But I think it is important that we keep our options open. I don't think any legislation is frozen in time, except perhaps with the Constitution, and even that one is subject to legal interpretation, and that is an evolving document as well.
So, I think all legislation has to evolve, and all legislation has to have a measure of flexibility.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I can't help but comment on how positive the minister is in dealing with this one small step in this act. For the last three years, our party and the Liberal Party have been hammering away at this minister, asking him to initially identify this affliction. Now he's taken, as a minister - and I will quote from the minister's final summation - "one small step".
I would urge the minister to go back to his department and look at what else he can do in this area, what else he can do to bring forward further amendments that will go much further to enhancing our ability to treat this affliction.
I give the minister some credit. After three years, the message finally got through, and he's brought forward this one amendment. I certainly hope he doesn't take that long for the next amendment, not that he's going to be there in another year, Mr. Chair.
Would the minister consider - and I'm sure his department has reviewed other areas of this act - bringing forward further amendments during this sitting of the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I've always adopted the situation that it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness, so we have approached it in a positive sense. Perhaps the member wasn't listening when I mentioned before that this is an area that has been fraught with many concerns. He may not care that, for example, our First Nation health partners have concerns around this and have concerns around the whole issue of labelling. I think there were a number of things that we had to do in terms of doing some reassurances and looking at this in a positive way, in a way that was non-judgmental and non-labelling, but we have chosen to take that step, and we have chosen to take it in a methodical manner.
The member himself said that they had a position paper in 1995. What happened? They got around to doing a position paper. That was terrific, but I might remind them that they had a number of years in government in which they did not take any steps. We have taken a step and we will continue to take steps, and we will continue to move ahead.
You know, I'm trying to begin this session with a more positive tone, but I'd like to remind the member that the term "inertia" seemed to inflict the Yukon Party in the previous incarnation, and that inertia not only means the ability of something to move forward and keep moving, but it also means the ability to stay still and do nothing, which I think they were marvelously adept at.
We have made a step here. It is a beginning step. We will learn from this process. We will learn of possible problems. We'll learn of possible solutions in bringing not only the condition of FAS forward, but other conditions in the future, and we're committed to working through the process and working with those groups that do have needs, and working with our health partners.
I would suggest that I'm not anticipating at this point any further developments in this regard in this session. We will be working with our health partners - the Yukon Medical Association, the Yukon Registered Nurses Association, the associated health partners, our First Nation health partnerships. We'll be working with those people, and if issues do appear, if amendments are required, we will do those in time.
I would just tell the member that with respect to my tenure in this position, he perhaps shouldn't be too cocky about that. Circumstances can sometimes prove him mistaken.
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, the minister is proving to be very positive, and this tack is a very small step, as he said.
All of the other jurisdictions are taking strides, not steps, and I refer to Alberta, Alaska. They're making strides. A lot of other jurisdictions in Canada are making strides, not steps.
Can I ask the minister what changed his mind? For three years he was vehemently opposed, for fear of labelling individuals with FAS/FAE. That's why this change hasn't come forward previously. Now, all of a sudden, it's a very positive and a great stride. Now it's all the minister's idea. But before you can diagnose and treat an individual, you have to identify the individual, and you have to identify the affliction.
Now, this will carry us forward. We still have a great number of individuals in the Yukon who are afflicted with FAS and FAE. Nothing that we do here today is going to enhance or improve their quality of life or their ability to be assimilated into society or their ability to improve and make a positive contribution to society here in the Yukon, because for some of them, many of them, it's too late. Sad to say, but it is. Had they been identified earlier and treated, they would have had much more of a chance in society, Mr. Chair.
I would, once again, like to ask the minister what lights came on over in his department or in his office that made this change of heart on his part come about so that he accepted and brought forward this initial change to the Public Health and Safety Act?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think what we're getting here is an interesting example of pontificating. I would suggest to the member that I have been involved in education for a considerable amount of time. I've been aware of the problem, and I've been also aware of some of the issues.
We have been wrestling with this issue for some considerable time. I've been aware that this issue has been around in my time in education and I've certainly been aware of it. I've been aware that this has been an issue that's been wrestled with by Health and by Social Services individuals.
When the issue of diagnosing individuals of this kind came forward, initially it was brought forward in the idea that, in a manner that I didn't feel respected confidentiality, the uniqueness of the individuals. I didn't feel that the procedures that were being brought forward did full service to children. In my time in education, I've seen many children diagnosed, and I've seen many children misdiagnosed with FAS. I've seen many children, with conditions other than FAS, be labelled as FAS and thereby dismissed as not being able to learn. I've seen children sometimes labelled as being problematic, being behaviour problems, et cetera, et cetera, who had symptoms of FAS or FAE, often with not being clearly understood and so on.
I wanted to make sure that the procedure that we brought about gave the greatest amount of scientific certainty, that it protected the confidentiality of the individuals - of both the children and their families. I also wanted to be confident that it was something that communities felt a level of comfort with. Now, perhaps the idea of being respectful of those issues, being respectful of those concerns, being respectful of those sensitivities is one that doesn't fit in with the member's view of society, but I believe that we do need to address these particular points of view.
The member says that we're making steps while everyone else is making strides. Mr. Chair, I can read off yet again - and I can even elaborate in further detail if the member would like - some of the other things that we're doing. I can go on on this.
Now if he considers that that is nothing, if he considers that that isn't positive progress, then I would suggest that he is mistaken. Alberta has made a commitment in this regard. That's to be applauded. Other jurisdictions are making steps. That's to be applauded. But I also think people are aware of some of the steps and some of the programs that we are making, For example, the healthy families initiative that we have begun is now being looked at by other jurisdictions. We've had, for the first time, at a meeting with a federal minister, the issue of FAS emerged with the Hon. Jane Stewart, and that's encouraging.
But I believe that we are making progress and that we will continue to make progress and we'll continue to make advances, but I am also aware of the fact that the government has a responsibility to work with the people that it most often deals with, and to work with people in a respectful and consultative manner, and that's what I believe we've done on this issue.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, our party will be supporting this bill in final reading. I'm just disappointed with the minister, that it's taken him three years to get to the stage that we're at today. The minister has within his department and his own resources the ability to do much more within existing financial constraints. That he doesn't do so is a disservice to Yukoners afflicted with FAS/FAE.
I would be very, very hopeful that whatever light came on that the minister saw that allowed him to clear his conscience and bring forward this bill will once again come on, and he will bring forward further amendments to it that will enhance the ability of our professionals to deal with FAS/FAE-afflicted individuals.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can assure the member that my conscience is clear. I guess the only thing that amazes me is that it's taken so long for the Yukon Party to find a social conscience.
Mr. Cable: I've got a few technical questions for the minister.
The amendment that he's proposing states that there'll be regulations providing for the reporting by every medical practitioner of persons under their treatment suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. Does he see that as a positive duty or is it a passive duty? Just let me paint a couple of word pictures. Let's say the minister goes into the doctor's office suffering from a bacterial infection of some sort, where neither the diagnosis nor the treatment has anything to do with FAS, or I go in with a broken toe and there's no real reason for the doctor to look at me and see whether I have FAS. Is the doctor going to be obliged to look at the minister and to look at me, in situations that have nothing to do with FAS, and determine whether we have FAS, or is the doctor simply obliged in a passive sense that if he, in passing, in the diagnosis, thinks there is FAS, he then has an obligation to determine whether there is FAS and report it? Where is the minister coming from on this?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I sense a legalistic net being woven there.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The member raises a very good point. We have a high number of female medical practitioners, I should point out.
Quite frankly, what we're doing is that we are leaving this to the medical judgment of the practitioners who, I think, can exercise it, based on the age of the individual, possible clinical symptoms that they would exhibit.
I would suspect that a good deal of the initial referrals would come from parents who bring their child in for periodic checkups, and physicians do go through a series of developmental checks for children. As well, in many of our rural communities, the nurses are the frontline, and if they were to discover any developmental abnormalities in a child, they would make reference to the physician, too. And then, I think, the physician would be obliged, if through their own examination or through referral, to investigate that further, to take a look at some of the physiological signs, and perhaps talk to the parent about maybe the prenatal situation, and, based on that kind of information, to utilize a diagnostic tool with some further investigation with the parent to make the diagnosis. I think that we must count on the professional judgment of physicians.
Now, that being said, I think we also have to recognize that physicians are in many ways human, and may even have some of those human failings that all of us have, and some reluctance to make a judgment that might impact on a child's life. So I think this is not going to be 100 percent. It's not going to be infallible. But I think what we're doing is that we're providing the physicians with a tool. We're providing the physicians with, in a sense, an obligation to look at this as now a condition, to perhaps look at it a bit more closely, and then to move on the reporting.
I don't know if that addresses those issues that the member is referring to, but I think that the physician would use their own professional judgment and the circumstances - no doubt, the issues around age and so on and so forth in developmental delays - to initially make those assessments and judgments.
Mr. Cable: I think we have to be clear with the medical profession what their obligation is. If somebody brings their child into the doctor's office for the express purpose of determining whether the child has FAS or FAE, then assumedly the reporting mechanism that the minister is going to draft will pop into action. But what happens if, in the course of another diagnosis such as what I just painted to the minister a few moments ago, the doctor thinks to himself or herself this child, or this adult, probably has FAS. Will the obligation extend that far - to the doctor?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, in that case, if a person brings in a child, say it's another related - as we all do with our children, we bring them in for everything from a flu shot to ear aches or whatever, and if during the course of the examination the physician would notice perhaps some significant delays in the child's development in respect to age or perhaps some the physiological markers that may afflict - quite often afflict - FAS children in terms of, for example, placement of ears on the head or perhaps the size in relation to age, as I said, some of the other physiological markers such as eyes, absence of philtrum - very often these children may also have cardiac and renal problems. If these conditions are sort of noticed and it's drawn to the physician's attention, I think, in this case, the physician would be obliged to look at FAS as a possible diagnosis and begin the process of using the appropriate diagnostic tool to see if that is indeed the case. I think it would extend that far, not simply a person bringing in their child with a suspicion of FAS.
So I think that there would be, if the member wants to refer to it as an active obligation, we would see it as an active obligation. In the same way that, right now, the Public Health and Safety Act - I might come in with something, as the member said, a broken toe, but in the meantime, I'm coughing vigorously, I'm complaining of some of the symptoms which might indicate onset of tuberculosis - I've got this recurring cough; I've perhaps got some blood that I'm coughing up. I think that the physician quite likely would look at other alternatives, and they may include TB. So I think physicians, on the whole, are very active in looking at other alternatives, and we would see this as being an act of duty.
Mr. Cable: Now, this issue came up in the House some time ago, and one of the pitches, I guess we could say, from this side anyway, was that we wanted to determine the scope of the problem of FAS and FAE in the broader community. Now, what's going to happen here is, I gather, that next April 1, this obligation on the doctors is going to start for them to report. And what I'd like to find out from the minister is this: what is he going to do with this information? How are we going to collect the stats to show the scope of the problem? Is there going to be a control stat of non-FAS people, or how are we going to determine the dimension from the sort of random reports that are going to come in from doctors?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I'm not and I will not pretend to be the expert in epidemiology or medical statistics, but what we will be doing is collecting information based on age, gender, geographical location, frequency. This information will be conveyed to the medical officer of health at the communicable disease control unit, and then those stats will be put into some kind of usable form. For example, we'll probably be tracking incidents over a period of time. How frequently are we dealing with primarily males versus females and so on and so forth. Those will be issues for the medical officer of health to determine: how those stats can be best collected, how they can be best put in usable form; what form those would be reported in; and what would be the use of those statistics in terms of whether we would, for example, be sharing them on a national basis, would we be trying to draw comparisons between ourselves and similar jurisdictions, and so on and so forth.
I don't pretend to be an expert in epidemiology. I can certainly look into information on perhaps some of the methodology that they're going to be using and convey that on to the member.
Chair: Is it the members' wish to have a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Five minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee is dealing with Bill No. 78, An Act to Amend the Public Health and Safety Act. Is there further debate?
Mr. Cable: Before the break, we were talking about what we're going to do with the data that the minister gets from the reporting provision of the amendment, and I think he indicated, both in his opening remarks and a few moments ago, that the data will be broken down by ages and gender and whatnot. What about the overall dimensions of the problem? Is that one of the minister's goals in bringing in this amendment?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, very clearly it is. It's one of the things I think we need to have a sense of, particularly on the prevention side if, in fact, the efforts that we're making on the prevention side are bearing fruit and what the global picture is. That's what we hope to gain by getting some of the statistical data, by being able to track it over periods of time, for us to get an indication of whether the problem is increasing, or is it diminishing? Are incidences of the problem increasing in some areas and diminishing in other areas and so on? What kind of message does that have for us in terms of where we're putting our efforts, as far as prevention and so on?
So, I think, yes, we are trying to get a scope of the problem.
Mr. Cable: I can see that what the minister's doing might give us some relative data, say comparing the year 2000, when the stats begin, to the year 2001, but how is the overall dimension of the problem going to be discovered? We have people walking into doctors' offices on a voluntary basis, of course, and randomly being analyzed for FAS. Where does that take us? What do we do with the data?
There's no control data that is at least apparent from the amendment. Perhaps the minister's officers have thought it through. If 10 people walk into Dr. X's office, and he or she determines that one person has FAS, what does that mean? It has nothing to do with the total population in the Yukon. Where is the connection to the whole population of the Yukon going to come in?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think one of the problems that we've had up to now is, we haven't had accurate statistical data on, not only FAS, but on a whole variety of other medical issues. As a matter of fact, we've only really been collecting statistical data in this territory for about nine years, so it is very difficult for us. For example, one can see this on health status reports. We often have difficulty making correlations between where we are now and where we've been in the past, and so on.
With regard to the global picture, what we hope to do, by passing this amendment, is twofold: one is to begin to collect the data in an accurate manner. The other aspect, which I think is less easily defined, is to create an atmosphere in which physicians would be more aware of the problem, and perhaps more willing to look at FAS as a potential diagnosis for conditions that they may have seen before.
With regard to statistical analysis on this, I imagine that is an issue for statisticians to determine. I'm not sure, for example, when you begin to collect data on something, if it does give you a particularly accurate picture initially. But I think, over a period of time, it will begin to flesh out the scope of the issue, perhaps some of the dimensions of it, in terms of such things as age, perhaps geographical distribution and so on.
I don't think we can do this right away, and I don't think we will have an accurate picture for a period of time, but we have to begin someplace, and this is one of the things that we're beginning. I think the other aspect to it is, as I referred to, perhaps to encourage physicians to be more alert to this particular problem as a diagnosis and, hopefully, to create an atmosphere in which people feel more comfortable with seeking that kind of a diagnosis.
I think probably, in the past, there have been families that may have a suspicion of this, but because of the perhaps pejorative nature of being identified and so on, there perhaps might be a reluctance to bring it forward.
So I think that's the other aspect of what we'd like to do with this amendment.
Mr. Cable: Neither the minister nor I are statisticians, but I wonder if he could give me a legislative return, after he talks to the appropriate statistics people, as to whether they can crunch this data and provide an analysis of the dimension of the problem from the way that the statistics will be collected. Can the minister do that, please?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, I will. What I'll do is that I'll send the member's request to our medical officer of health, and perhaps ask for a view there from a public health point of view and epidemiology point of view, and it may also be worthwhile for us to have some consultations with the statistics branch on this, as to how they would suggest doing that, and I'll provide that by means of a legislative return or perhaps just in the form of a letter, and I'll make the same information available to the other party.
Mr. Cable: On another topic, the Minister of Justice, I gather, has either collected or is collecting data on people convicted and housed in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
Is the data that the minister - that's the Minister of Health and Social Services - is going to collect, will that be meshed with the data that the Minister of Justice is going to collect in the criminal justice system?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I think there would certainly be an attempt to integrate the information. Now, once again, how one does that is, I think, a matter that would probably be best left to those people who are competent in that area, but I would see that there would be some measure of integration.
The member referred to the idea of getting a sort of a baseline sense of what the global nature of the problem is in the Yukon. No pun intended but I think that, if some of the ideas of the Department of Justice are correct, in a sense they have, no pun intended, a captive audience in a way, or a captive population, that they might be able to extrapolate from. So if, for example, FAS individuals are overrepresented, as is the suspicion, in our correctional facilities, and we can get perhaps a sense of how many individuals this is or the frequency, perhaps extrapolating the number of people incarcerated as a proportion of the - and I'm just speculating here from a statistical point of view - the number of people incarcerated to the general population, if we then look at the number of people perhaps that we can identify with FAS within that incarcerated population, perhaps that can be extrapolated in a larger sense of the overall population.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I believe the phrase in the Bible is: "some fell on stony ground."
I'm just speculating that perhaps there would be some way in which we could mesh the data that we collect with the data that's being collected by Justice.
Mr. Cable: I can see the minister's probably just thinking this through at the moment. He did get into the privacy considerations, though, in his opening remarks, and I forget exactly what he said, but I think the information was just not going to flow indiscriminately into the community. So I'm wondering how he's going to liaise with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Justice's officials to coordinate the collection of crime data with FAS data.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Just in general, if I could just repeat that what we're doing is - the rules, as specified in the draft regulations, will be drafted in a manner in keeping with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We're at a point of initial drafting right now. They're working through and they'll be consulting to make sure that we're not in variance with those provisions. It may be somewhat more problematic with Justice stats because there may be, because of the nature of the population, a greater likelihood of the identity of an individual being revealed. Those are some things I think that our department will have to be working with Justice on to make sure that we do integrate those stats and, when we do convey them, that we don't do it in a way that might inadvertently reveal an individual's identity. But I'm sure that, by working in concert with Justice, we can work through some of those problems there.
Mr. Cable: Who is the minister going to put these draft regulations to? I think he talked about liaising with the First Nations and with the medical fraternity. Is there anybody else who he is going to be discussing these regulations with?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The regulations have been drafted in line with the principles of the act. When we're going to be talking with the medical profession, we're going to be talking primarily on the nature of the diagnostic tool, the actual instrument or instruments that the physicians are going to be utilizing, because there are a number of diagnostic tools that are available, and I think what our medical officer of health will be doing is talking with physicians and talking with his professional colleagues on what kinds of tools work most successfully for them, what are the least onerous in terms of completion and filling out and so on and so forth.
With our First Nation partners and our other health partners, I think what we're going to be doing is trying to explain as much as possible the nature of these changes. I don't think we'll get into too much in terms of technical data, but I think we do need to be sending some reassurances that these draft regulations will be drafted in such a way as to protect people's privacy. We will be consulting with Justice that these regulations do meet those kinds of tests - the tests of protection of privacy and so on - and we'll be drawing on the legal expertise of our friends over in Justice in that regard.
I should say that we'll probably also be working on this and running these by our ombudsman and privacy commissioner as well.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Chair, I move you report Bill No. 78, entitled An Act to Amend the Public Health and Safety Act, out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: We are now dealing with Bill No. 80.
Bill No. 80 - An Act to Amend the Chiropractors Act
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Just in response to the comments that were made by the opposition on the amendments to the Chiropractors Act, and I understand the question was also raised at the briefing this morning - firstly, whether there are any thoughts of establishing a provision to stop vexatious complaints. There is a provision in sections 15(3) and (4) in the present act that allows the board of inquiry to require a complainant to pay up to a $500 security deposit. If the complaint is unfounded, the board can direct that part or all of the security posted be paid to the registrar.
The critic also asked whether the establishing of liability insurance might be considered in similar health professional legislation. That is something that we will examine as other health profession legislation is considered for amendments. I also understand that all Yukon physicians are covered by malpractice insurance, which is paid by the Yukon government.
The critic also asked about the high cost of fines and how many chiropractors have been fined and in what amounts under the current act. There have been no complaints that have resulted in a fine having been paid. On the question of the increase in the fines, this is consistent with other jurisdictions, and is in place to hold the profession accountable. Members of the chiropractic profession wanted to see the fines raised because people deserve high quality of care, and they were in support of the fines, as they were of the other amendments that we're bringing forward.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Phillips:Just one question, and that is about the liability insurance. We were informed this morning that all the businesses - people practising chiropracty in the Yukon presently, with the exception of one, carry a $2 million liability, and one carries $1 million liability. I'm just wondering why the government chose, when setting the standard, the lesser of the two. In many cases nowadays, $1 million for a medical or medical-related case is maybe not enough, and I just wonder, in particular with small chiropractic businesses in the territory, whether or not they would be able to withstand a lawsuit, for example, that went well over $1 million and how the individuals would deal with that after that happened.
As we were informed this morning, all of them but one carry $2 million now. Why didn't we go to $2 million?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we considered that question, and we canvassed the practice in other jurisdictions and found that $1 million was the standard that has been used elsewhere. Certainly, chiropractors have the ability to increase the level of liability insurance that they carry, but if they choose to carry the $1 million, then we're prepared to support that.
Mr. Phillips: The minister said they canvassed other jurisdictions. That's fine if other jurisdictions just carried $1 million, but my concern is this: is there some kind of record of cases in the past few years of whether the complaints or the uses of the insurance have exceeded $1 million, or have they all been under $1 million? Is that why everyone is choosing $1 million, because 90 percent of them or 95 percent of them are under $1 million, or have they been over $1 million? Is there some kind of evidence to show that $1 million is adequate - not that it's just the standard, but that it's adequate for lawsuits that have been developing?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I believe that we're well-served by the chiropractic professionals in the Yukon, and the statistics that we have, of no records of complaints or findings of fault where fines have been issued, supports that.
I can ask for a further investigation as to whether claims have exceeded $1 million and whether chiropractors have been found in difficult circumstances where their liability insurance wasn't adequate, but what we found when we did speak with other jurisdictions were some experiences where the $1 million limit was in place and was serving as adequate.
Chair: Seeing no further debate, we'll go to clause 1.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
On Clause 9
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Clause 10 agreed to
On Clause 11
Clause 11 agreed to
On Clause 12
Clause 12 agreed to
On Clause 13
Clause 13 agreed to
On Clause 14
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 15
Clause 15 agreed to
On Clause 16
Clause 16 agreed to
On Clause 17
Clause 17 agreed to
On Clause 18
Clause 18 agreed to
On Clause 19
Clause 19 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 80, entitled An Act to Amend the Chiropractors Act, out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: Committee will now proceed to Bill No. 81.
Bill No. 81 - An Act to Amend the Management Accountants Act
Chair: Is there general debate?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I have a question for the minister with respect to this piece of legislation. There's been some discussion in recent years with respect to the audit functions that can and cannot be performed by certain levels of accountants. For example, Yukon has, in the past, made accommodations in this regard. Has the audit function been discussed with the Society of Management Accountants, and was there a request for changes, or is it something that is to be dealt with at some other point in time?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The amendments to the Management Accountants Act that we have before us were at the request of the society, which has been lobbying for changes to the act to update it, and to use current references in it.
I don't have any notes that indicate the audit function was discussed in particular, but I know that during the discussions between the department and the profession that they covered a number of details to do with the administration and also to do with the current knowledge and the nature of the profession, which is now as certified accountants.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, can the minister advise if there were any changes requested by the society that were not accommodated in this piece of legislation?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'm not aware of any requests that were not accommodated. The Society of Management Accountants is in support of the legislation, and I'm not aware of any outstanding issues.
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Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that you report Bill No. 81, entitled An Act to Amend the Management Accountants Act, out of Committee without amendment.
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 a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 78, An Act to Amend the Public Health and Safety Act, Bill No. 80, An Act to Amend the Chiropractors Act, and Bill No. 81, An Act to Amend the Management Accountants Act, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. 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 5:11 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 2, 1999:
Yukon Geographical Place Names Board 1997-98 Annual Report (Keenan)
Fire Marshall 1998 Annual Report (Keenan)