Tuesday, December 12, 2000 - 1:00 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.
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I have a legislative return in response to a question from the leader of the official opposition regarding the status of the youth directorate.
I have a legislative return for the leader of the third party regarding an oral question on housing starts.
I have a legislative return in response to the leader of the third party, the Member for Klondike, with respect to government employees.
I have a legislative return for the Member for Klondike with respect to the statistics bureau.
I have a legislative return in response to a December 5 question from the leader of the third party regarding travel costs to Old Crow.
I have a legislative return in response to a December 5 question from the Member for Klondike regarding the transfer to Government Services, and I have a legislative return for the leader of the official opposition regarding a contract to develop a paper to create a Juneau office.
Speaker: Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?125
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the resolution of outstanding Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board appeals is not proceeding quickly enough; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board to settle all appeals which are more than three years old; and
THAT this House urges the President and Chair of the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board to report progress on this issue to this House, starting with the spring 2001 sitting of the Legislature, and continuing for every subsequent sitting of the Legislature until the issue is resolved, at times to be arranged by the Minister responsible for the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.
Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that, until such time as the responsibility for forestry is transferred to the Government of Yukon, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development remains responsible for managing forestry on non-settlement land in Yukon; and
THAT this House urges the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Yukon First Nations to work together to expedite the Timber Harvest Agreement process so that lumber mill operators will have long-term access to timber while ensuring harvest levels are sustainable.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Timber harvesting, long-term agreements
Mr. McRobb: My question is for the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Is this minister aware that the federal government is planning to initiate an interim timber harvesting process in the lower Beaver-La Biche Y-01 forest management area?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I have heard a rumour to that effect, but nothing substantial has been exchanged by way of information between Canada and the Yukon.
Mr. McRobb: Talk about being out of touch, Mr. Speaker.
The previous government worked long and hard with all stakeholders to develop a Yukon forest strategy. The federal government endorsed that process, yet here it is, once again, doing its own thing without consulting Yukon people.
The Kaska First Nation, for one, has made it clear in the past that it won't support a timber harvest in Yukon Y-01 before agreement is reached on a planning process to establish a forest management plan. This has not happened.
What has this minister done to prevent this interim THA process from moving forward? Has he expressed his concerns to the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, we have expressed interest. As a matter of fact, we have put our watermark on the draft THA document that went out for review. In the short term, we are working with the federal government, and unfortunately there was an election that delayed the process. In the long term, we are working on the devolution process as well, Mr. Speaker. That will give us direct control over the resources. It is really unfortunate that the NDP are criticizing us now when they had four years to do something.
Mr. McRobb: Well, I can't believe that the minister would mix apples with grapefruit. We developed the Yukon forest strategy in consultation with stakeholders. This minister is even unaware that the federal government is moving to release a THA, to export jobs outside the Yukon.
Now, earlier in this sitting, the Member for Whitehorse Centre brought forward a motion saying that this government will work in conjunction with the federal government stakeholders and First Nations to create a fair and equitable timber harvest agreement process. There is no fair and equitable process in place yet, but DIAND is moving ahead unilaterally for the process to allow logging in the La Biche and Beaver River Y-01 areas.
Given the special relationship between this government and Ottawa, what specific action does this government plan to take to stop this process until the proper consultation has taken place?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It's unbelievable that the members opposite are taking hearsay as hard fact evidence, and they know full well that we are intimately involved with the federal government in reviewing the process that's going to go on. A colleague of the Member for Kluane criticized this government earlier this year for not getting South Yukon Forest Products a long-term timber harvest agreement. Yet, when he was the forest commissioner, he was opposed to long-term THAs.
So, I'm not really quite sure what the Member for Kluane is suggesting by way of their understanding of things. I would caution the Member for Kluane that taking rumour and hearsay as fact is not going to be helping anybody out at this time.
Question re: Timber harvesting, long-term agreements
Mr. Fentie: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development on the same issue. Unfortunately, the Premier's Minister of Renewable Resources doesn't have a grasp of this issue at all. His answers reflect that. This minister, in her capacity of Minister of Economic Development, should be well aware of (a) where the region is that this proposed THA is to be implemented; and (b) what it means to Yukon.
What it means, Mr. Speaker, is that if this THA goes ahead in the La Biche area, there will be absolutely no benefit for Yukoners. There will be wholesale raw-log export, with no jobs - with loss of jobs to Yukoners. What is this minister going to do today to at least inform DIAND and the federal officials that this situation is unacceptable to Yukon people?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Directing the question at the Premier, along the same line, I don't think is, again, going to be helpful. Unfortunately, with the delays caused by the election, it is the policy in Canada not to move forward or make statements or take actions during an election. We respected that process. We are also aware that the consultations are continuing with DIAND, and they have hired a contractor to conduct those consultations. My understanding is that they are going to continue on for a while longer. We are also aware that industry is very anxious to get on with this process but we're holding DIAND accountable in that we want to be sure that our stamp is on it, that we are looking after industry's interests as well as conservation interests. So, the ultimate end is that there will be workshops done in the communities to get equitable THA permits established.
Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, there is much more to this. The implications of this issue go far beyond the Minister of Renewable Resources answers and what he's saying. When this happened prior to today - one year ago legal action was started by the Kaska Nation on the federal government. I don't think I have to explain to the Premier, in her capacity as minister responsible for the land claim process, what that would mean. If the federal government proceeds with a THA process in the forest management unit of Y-01 - which is the far southeast corner of the Yukon - the Kaska people will trigger legal action, which means land claim processes stop, any economic development stops. What is this Premier prepared to do now to avert that situation? This is crucial to the Yukon Territory, specifically to the southeast Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: We are very, very aware of the scenarios that are being presented by the member opposite and we are acting on those scenarios. We are keeping constant and vigilant attention with respect to what DIAND is doing or proposing or rumoured to be proposing for the southeast Yukon.
And I do agree with what the member is saying, particularly about the Y-01 area. I will have my officials confirm and substantiate the rumours that are abounding out there. Because of the volatility with respect to THAs and because we are trying to find an equitable answer for all interested parties, we are proceeding rather slowly. We recognize that the federal government has total jurisdiction over the forests, but they are somewhat grudgingly allowing us to provide input and to monitor their actions.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I don't think this minister, and especially the Premier, understand the gravity of this situation. The minister is calling this a rumour. It's not a rumour; it's in writing to every stakeholder in this territory, including outside interests in Fort Nelson. It not only states the volume, it states the area and the reasons why they are going to proceed. Now, we want action out of this government because it does no good to Yukon people to export those logs out of the La Biche and jeopardize the land claim process in the southeast Yukon, which will in fact jeopardize and compromise our economic future in this territory for decades to come. We need action out of this government. What is this Premier going to do to avert this situation? We, on this side of the House, when faced with this issue, took a stand and a position and we demanded that the federal government stand down on access to timber on the La Biche. Will this government do the same thing today?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The Member for Kluane was obviously waving a document behind the head of the Member for Watson Lake, alluding to the fact that they have, in writing, substantiated evidence that the federal government is moving forward. I might suggest that they table the document and show us what they're supposedly indicating the rest of Yukon knows.
We are working with the federal government, Mr. Speaker. We are working with First Nations; we are working with other stakeholders; we're working with industry.
As the member opposite knows, trying to address the needs and keep the workforce going is an incredibly complex issue. We want to see workers in this territory at work as well, Mr. Speaker.
Most definitely, though, the bottom line is that we want to have a sustainable forest industry here.
Question re: Land claims, creation of parks
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Premier. Mining exploration and development in the territory is at an all-time low, largely because of the anti-mining policies of Liberal governments both here and in Ottawa. When I raised the concern of the new Asi Keyi Park being established in the Kluane area over existing mining claims, the Premier pretended not to know about the creation of the new park, blaming her officials for not briefing her. No one except the Premier is accepting that story. However, it does raise the issue of what excuse the Premier will use the next time something like this happens.
Will the Premier give a commitment here today that, for the other six outstanding land claims, no mining claims will be included in special management areas and that no more parks will be created in secret at the land claims table? Will she give that commitment here today to help restore some certainty to the mining industry?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, we are doing four immediate things that are of assistance in restoring investor confidence in the Yukon, including the mining industry. One of those is the settlement of land claims, and the member opposite knows very well that I'm not going to negotiate land claims on the floor of the House.
We have also continued to work very hard on devolution, the transfer of responsibilities from the federal government to the territorial government, which would also provide greater certainty for the industry.
We have also done two other things that are under our immediate control. One is the mining incentive program and the second is the lobbying for the federal tax credit, which we undertook at the federal level - quite successfully, I might add.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, a $2,642 "Welcome Back to the Yukon" at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver and a few disparaging remarks made by the Premier about the Minister of Department of Indian Affairs aren't going to cut the mustard and restore confidence in the mining industry in the Yukon.
I would ask the Premier to host a "Welcome Back to the Yukon" luncheon here in the Yukon where the Premier would make a commitment that no more mining claims will be included within park boundaries and that no more parks will be created at the land claims table or by the protected areas strategy. Will the Premier make that commitment?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad that the member opposite voices his opposition to two of our key initiatives: first, the settlement of land claims, and, two, fixing the protected areas strategy. We are working very hard on both. We have a term in government to see some success and we intend to do that.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, after the mining industry is gone and has moved out of the Yukon completely, which has just about happened, there won't be any reason to welcome back the mining industry to the Yukon, because there will be no land left on which they can stake claims.
Now, the Nature Conservatory, the largest private international conservation group in the world, was involved with the Government of Yukon, the Government of Canada and the Vuntut Gwitchin in the purchase of the mining claims for the Fishing Branch. Was the Premier briefed on this purchase, and has she had any discussions with the Nature Conservatory about purchasing any other mining claims in the Yukon, such as the claims in the Tombstone area that she is proposing to buy out?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I have had no such personal discussions.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation, opportunities for carpentry apprentices
Mr. Keenan: Today I have a question for the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Last week, the minister wrote to the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation about a housing unit that the corporation is making available in order to provide work and training opportunities for apprentices in the carpentry field. Can the minister explain the nature of this project and tell the House exactly how many jobs it will create?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Housing Corporation, along with Government Services, transferred a house by way of contribution agreement to the Nacho Nyak Dun to alleviate the winter works project for the apprentices for Nacho Nyak Dun. I believe there were six to eight workers. We managed to create the job by meeting with the Chief of the Nacho Nyak Dun, the community and the coordinator, Mr. Duane Battaja. We have managed to arrange some work for the winter project for this apprenticeship program that the Nacho Nyak Dun is running.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister's letter made it very clear that this one project can't provide the jobs for the Mayo residents who took the carpentry training to work on the Mayo school that has been non-existent so far. But here in the House, as well as in public meetings in Mayo on November 10, this government made a very clear commitment. It made a commitment to ensure that the people who took the carpentry training would get jobs this winter.
Now, will the minister tell us what else he is doing to honour that commitment, either as the minister responsible for housing or the Minister of Government Services?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, I believe that in this meeting we looked at trying to provide some jobs, and I believe that we have met that need. We have met that need by providing a house. We looked at a number of options. That was not the only option we looked at. We looked at other departments that might have jobs available, in terms of carpentry apprenticeship. This is the only option available that we could take. We are still looking at other options. I believe we met our agreement saying that we would be looking at the community and we will be looking at departments for jobs, and we still are.
Mr. Keenan: The comment - I believe, "we met" - is absolutely wrong. Mr. Speaker, it is also contrary to the fact. It's sounding more and more like just another broken promise. Say anything to get elected or to wiggle out of a crisis that they have created, but when it comes to actually doing anything, Mr. Speaker, that's just another chapter that we haven't seen.
Yesterday, the Education minister referred to five people who would be getting work this winter, not the 11 who actually took the training. This minister had a hand in breaking the commitment to the people of Mayo, so he was part of the problem and the minister should be a part of the solution.
Will the minister agree to work directly with the First Nation and the Village of Mayo to identify a project that will provide jobs for the Mayo residents who took the training program, and will he do so by the end of this month, for all of the people who took the course?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, I believe that in the meeting that the Chief of Nacho Nyak Dun, Dale and I had, we required four to six jobs. We asked for that, and we have met that need. We've met the need expressed by the chief, who said it was four to six jobs. I didn't know if there were additional jobs. What we've done is that we've provided an opportunity for those four to six jobs to be met. Again, I will state that we are looking into future opportunities, and I am going to different departments to meet that mandate.
Question re: J.V. Clark School, government commitments
Mr. Fairclough: I would like the minister responsible for Yukon Housing to get updated on the agreements that were made in Mayo by the Premier and the Minister of Education.
I have a follow-up question to the Minister of Education on the same issue my colleague raised. Yesterday the minister indicated that this government would honour the commitments that were made at a meeting in Mayo on November 10. One of those commitments is that the footprint of the school would not be changed, and the joint council of Nacho Nyak Dun and the Village of Mayo made it clear that significant changes would not be acceptable. Is that one of the commitments that this government will be honouring?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, an official of the minister's department attended a meeting of the J.V. Clark School last week without advance notice. He provided a list of proposed design changes and said a cut of $700,000 has to be made in the construction costs. Many of these changes are significant and I would like to table them now. Why is the minister insisting on changes that are not acceptable to the community?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The fact is that some of those changes are acceptable to the folks up in Mayo. Just to set the record correct, when the Premier and I were up there visiting and talking to the residents and listening to the residents, the Premier did walk around the room, as did I, to talk to the residents during a brief break during our discussions. The instructions that we got and the words that we heard from the residents were that if there was anything that they didn't like that was proposed for a change, that wouldn't be done. The Premier had committed to that. So we let them know, and they understood, that changes had to occur to bring the cost down so that contractors could prepare their documents to fall in line with budget items. So that's what we've been doing, Mr. Speaker, and we have been keeping them informed.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I tabled a letter to the minister yesterday and I don't believe that they are accepting that signed letter from the Chief of Nacho Nyak Dun and the village council of Mayo. I ask the member to again read and get up to speed with what he has committed to the community. Now, schools in Whitehorse can go overbudget by some $400,000 as in the supplementary budget, but not Mayo. The Hamilton Boulevard project can go overbudget by $500,000, but not Mayo. A private developer just has to ask and this Liberal government is willing to drop all of its conditions on a $700,000 grant of taxpayers' money, but when it comes to Mayo, the pencil sharpeners are out with a vengeance. Does this minister intend to ignore community objections and put these design changes in effect in order to meet the December 31 deadline for retendering the project?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, as I have said time and time again - but obviously the members opposite don't want to hear the answer. I mean, their script doesn't allow for an appropriate answer to be absorbed. They just move on to step 3.
The fact is that we have committed. We made several commitments to the residents in Mayo, and we are honouring those commitments. We are following through on those commitments. We are keeping in touch with the residents, with the councils up there, on moves that we are making. They were aware that we did have to make changes to modify the budget. One, which had been brought to the Premier's attention was the wood floor in the gym, for instance. There was a proposed change, they said no, the Premier said fine. So we're not going there.
The list that the member opposite has obviously provided and continues to wave across the floor is one that we are following through on. Those were design changes by the architect. We're taking them up to consult further with the folks in Mayo and we'll continue to do that, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Alaska Highway reconstruction
Mr. McRobb: Well, answers like that are only appropriate in the minds of the minister. My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
Last week, the minister made a commitment to the House to reconstruct old sections of the Alaska Highway between Haines Junction and Whitehorse in the next three years. This is good news for my constituents, as well as for everyone who drives the Alaska Highway.
Will the minister tell us what section of the highway will be done first, and when the first contract will be tendered?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I don't have the specific information with me on which part of that section we will be dealing with first.
Mr. McRobb: I would like to suggest to the minister that there is an opportunity to employ many Yukoners in the next three years on this project. Now, the Minister of Education has said he supports the previous NDP government's approach of using training trust funds to help Yukon people gain skills for future employment. This approach was very successful in training workers for the Shakwak project.
Will this government be initiating training programs right away to ensure that a maximum number of Yukoners will be trained and ready to work on this highway project?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I thank the member opposite for the question. I will look into that.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, with a public expenditure of this size, $30 million, it is important to ensure that Yukon contractors will fully benefit from this work, instead of contractors from outside the territory. This Liberal government hasn't made any clear public commitment to honour the Yukon hire policies adopted by the previous government, following widespread public consultation.
Will the minister work with the Minister of Government Services to ensure that Yukon contractors will be the first to benefit from public spending on this Alaska Highway reconstruction project?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I will certainly work with the Minister of Government Services to ensure that Yukon hire provisions are carried out.
Question re: Child care worker training
Mr. Keenan: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services here today.
A report released by UNICEF yesterday calls early childhood care "a human rights issue and part of every child's birthright". Many studies, including a recent You Bet I Care study, shows that the two most important factors related to quality in child care are specific training and the wages. Now, the training requirements for the child care regulations came into effect this fall, and that was following a five-year implementation period.
What is the minister doing to support child care providers in meeting the current regulations?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, we have in place a number of initiatives at this point and are building on this very noble cause. We are trying to work with our child care providers. We have professional development funds that help our child care providers. Additional funds will be flowing to the Yukon shortly, and we will be looking at ways and means of trying to divide and distribute that among our child care providers.
These are all preliminary at this point.
Mr. Keenan: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker, but the comment "flowing shortly" just does not cut it again.
The previous government put significantly more money into direct operating grants. It raised the ceiling for parent subsidies, and it attempted to increase the wages through the wage enhancement portion of the direct operating grant. Wages for child care workers in the Yukon are very low. Even people with a two-year college diploma can't earn enough to meet their basic needs. Yet, there is nothing in the supplementary budget to address this problem. How is this Liberal government working to improve the wages and the working conditions of child care workers in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, we recognize that the key people in child care are the providers. We recognize that, as do most people across Canada. In order to have the best care, we have to provide training and appropriate wages so that these people can live a life that they would like to. I think the important part here is to again ensure that when we make these decisions, based on the initiatives of the federal government, which are going to be flowing in our direction in the next while, that we are putting it in the right pockets.
Mr. Speaker, those issues and those areas are now being worked on, and I would expect that, in the next month, we will have some ideas as to how we're going to distribute the additional funding that the federal government is putting forward in this area.
Mr. Keenan: Again, Mr. Speaker, it is recognition. We have to do this. Well, the question is very simple - no consulting - as we know what the problems are. The question is when?
Now, it's well-established that investment in child care in the early years is critical for lifelong health and learning. And $1.00 spent today will save $7 later on down the road. Now, this minister seems to be in favor of prevention in the health care field, but his actions certainly don't show the same approach when it comes to the social services issues.
Given the poor wages and the working conditions in the child care field, it is getting more and more difficult for child care operators to recruit and retain workers. Will the minister now make a commitment to address this issue on a priority basis, please, and to include the necessary funding in the main budget next spring? It's not recognition; it's when.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I always have to smile at the dramatics of the member opposite. It's great. If there were an Emmy award to be given, I might even give it to that member opposite - I might.
Yukon was one of the seven Canadian jurisdictions that voluntarily participated in You Bet I Care, the child care study that was done in 1998. And I will give credit to that government of yesterday, as it was during their watch.
The two studies in this report were funded by the child care division of Human Resource Development Canada and carried out in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. In the family daycare area, the Yukon received the second highest rating in the study of those areas evaluated. In the infant and toddler area, Yukon also received the second highest rating in the study.
In the preschool area, Yukon tied with Ontario for third place in the study, so I think you can see, Mr. Speaker, there have been some good initiatives there. We are going to continue with those good initiatives. There are more dollars that will be flowing to the territorial government in the next, as we all understand - an election was just held so those rules and directions weren't laid out very clearly as to how we would receive these dollars. That is where we're going to put the emphasis. We're going to put the money in the pockets of those people who are most dear to our child care at this point, and they are the child care workers.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of opposition private members' business
Mr. Fentie: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the official opposition to be called on Wednesday, December 13, 2000. They are Motion No. 63, standing in the name of the Member for Watson Lake, and Bill No. 101, standing in the name of the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes.
Mr. Jenkins: 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, December 13, 2000. It is Motion No. 41.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Ms. Tucker: 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 that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Good afternoon, everybody. I now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Do members wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 2000-01 - continued
Department of Education - continued
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures - continued
On Advanced Education - continued
Chair: I believe Mr. Eftoda had the floor.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some things that came up in general debate on Education yesterday. The Member for Klondike said that when he supported areas -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Jenkins, on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: We have cleared general debate. We have cleared and we've gone through it and we're in line-by-line, and it's constantly brought to our attention that we've cleared that area and we can't go back into it.
Now, what we see is the minister with a photo opportunity. The television camera is rolling today, and all he wants is an opportunity to rehash and reinvent the wheel and state a different position.
Chair: Mr. Eftoda, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, on the point of order, the member opposite had asked for clarification on some points, and I am prepared to provide that clarification on some points that were brought up yesterday.
Chair: On the point of order, I believe, in this case, that as long as we have facts pertaining to advanced education, I cannot make a ruling at this point, as the minister has said about exactly eight words. As a result, if I find that this is irrelevant, I will certainly bring it up. There is no point of order.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The Member for Klondike said that when he supported areas in the supplementary budget, he would endorse them and pat us on the back for doing something about them.
I'd like to take the Member for Klondike back to the first sitting in this Legislature - back to June, when we tabled our first supplementary budget. In June, this government tabled a supplementary budget, which included $250,000 in mining incentives for junior mining companies, to the benefit of people in the Member for Klondike's own riding.
It also included an additional $496,000 to financially assist post-secondary students - that's an increase of 20 percent in an area that hadn't been touched since 1983. And almost $200,000 to fund a youth leadership project across this territory, most notably to the benefit of youth in the rural communities.
I want to be very clear about this, Mr. Chair. Which of those three important areas did the member opposite not support, because he voted against that supplementary budget, as did the official opposition? Yesterday, he said that, when he supported issues, he would endorse them. Well, Mr. Chair, he voted against the money going to youth, he voted against money to post-secondary students, and he voted against money going directly to mining. That's not an endorsement.
Now this Liberal government has tabled a new supplementary budget. Let's just take a look at this supplementary budget for a second. This budget includes many incentives of this government, including many that focus on education and education-related matters.
This budget includes funding for the older-workers pilot project and money for the seniors housing trust. It includes $300,000 in new spending for legal aid. It allocates an additional -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Jenkins, on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, on a point of order, all we have is the minister with a photo opportunity and with spin doctors working overtime, presenting a picture to paint the Liberals in a wonderful picture frame. We are in line-by-line debate on the Education budget. That's where the minister should be focusing - not all over the wall, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Mr. Fentie, on the point of order.
Mr. Fentie: On the point of order, I would have to concur with the Member for Klondike. What we have here is a case of the minister trying to reel off reams and reams of useless information in front of the camera. If the minister were really intent on expediting the business of this House, he would simply table his responses for the Member for Klondike, and we could get on with the line-by-line debate in Education that we are on.
Further, anything the minister has said to date has absolutely no relevance to the particular area we are in, in terms of the line-by-line debate in the Department of Education.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, my comments are not out of order. I am responding to specific points that the Member for Klondike made yesterday. We are doing what we said we would do. We are responding to the questions. The member often chastised my colleague from Community and Transportation Services for not having the answers. Now I am providing the answers that he asked yesterday, filling in the gaps, and giving him what he wants. And he is disagreeing with that. I think that yesterday in this Legislature the Member for Klondike stated that he would endorse and support initiatives of this government that were, in his opinion, good.
Chair: On the point of order - I will not entertain any more new points of order on this direct line of questioning. How a member chooses to state his case is certainly not the Chair's decision. How a member chooses to use his time - the Chair thinks that he can only rule on the relevance. Until the Chair hears the debate in its full entirety, relevance is hard to decide.
So, in this case, I believe there is no point of order. When it is apparent and I believe that there is an irrelevant statement in the line-by-line, I will interrupt. I will not entertain any more interruptions from the floor.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I'll even start exactly where I left off, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
This budget allocates an additional $700,000 for student financial assistance. There is almost $400,000 for highway maintenance, another $200,000 for tourism, and over $600,000 to aggressively promote the Alaska Highway pipeline. There is an additional - an additional, Mr. Chair - $7.2 million for health care. We all know that our children and students are much more likely to succeed in their educational endeavours if their health and well-being have been properly addressed, and we are working diligently on that.
Mr. Chair, these are good initiatives. The money in this supplementary budget has been allocated to areas where Yukoners have told us they want them. The funding for the older- workers pilot project is coming from the Department of Education - advanced education. The money for student financial assistance will assist Yukon students in receiving a higher level of education. These students, in turn, can then have greater opportunity for employment. They may want to work in the tourism field, and we have put money there.
They may want to work on building, maintenance, construction or design of our highways and this government has been putting money there, also.
Mr. Chair, since 1992, under first the Yukon Party and then the NDP, the amount of money the territorial government has spent on highways has been slashed from $22 million down to less than $4 million. Unlike other governments who have cut funding for highways, this government is increasing highway maintenance.
Mr. Chair, this government has put $200,000 into the supplementary budget for substitute teacher salaries. We recognize that our elementary and secondary students deserve the best education that we can provide. They deserve an appropriately funded education system and we are demonstrating that.
So, Mr. Chair, I would ask the Member for Klondike again, which of these important areas does the member opposite not support? He told everyone in this Legislature yesterday that he would be voting against this supplementary budget.
Yesterday the Member for Klondike stated that when he supported issues, he would publicly endorse them. Well, he is going to vote against money going to youth. He is going to vote against money going to post-secondary students. He is going to vote against money going to health care. He is going to vote against money going to tourism and to economic development. These are all very important issues to our youth, to our students and to our educators.
Mr. Chair, I have also heard criticism from the Member for Kluane. The Member for Kluane has criticized me and other members of this caucus for attending important community events, such as the opening of the school in Ross River.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the Member for Kluane referred to these things - just as the Member for Klondike hollered across the floor right now - eating cake, ribbon-cutting ceremonies. I want to make sure that I have it on the record that this government believes it's important to attend these events in our neighbourhoods and in other Yukon communities.
Mr. Chair, although the Member for Kluane may not appreciate it, we have, on this side of the House, appreciated the hard work that various NGOs and community groups and communities put into our society. We think it is important and respectful to attend as many events as possible. I try to attend as many education-related issues as I can.
Mr. Chair, is the Member for Kluane saying that we shouldn't attend these events? Is the Member for Kluane saying that when we are invited to events by communities and NGOs, we should ignore them? Should we not have congratulated the community of Ross River on their new school?
It is of great concern to me that the Member for Kluane simply sees these important celebrations of accomplishment as simply eating cake and ribbon cutting. That kind of characterization really minimizes their importance, Mr. Chair.
It is also interesting to note, Mr. Chair, that while the Member for Kluane takes great umbrage at my attendance and the attendance of others at these important community events, he was one of the first to run out the door for snacks and goodies at the Foothills office opening.
Chair: Order please. It is out of order to comment on absences of the members from the House, and I believe in this case that could be construed as that. So, please be careful.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: This, Mr. Chair, is an opening for a well-respected business, doing important work in this territory. Work on the Alaska Highway pipeline, an initiative that the members of the NDP have stated they don't support on more than one occasion, yet, Mr. Chair, the member could hardly contain himself at the opening of taking advantage of the nibblies table.
Mr. Chair, this is just another NDP flip-flop. One day they tell us that we shouldn't be attending these important events, but then we see them showing up for the events as well - showing up for events that relate to issues they have publicly stated they do not support, such as the Alaska Highway pipeline.
I would encourage all of the members opposite to respect the hard work being done and to celebrate with our communities at important events. I would encourage all members of this Legislature to attend school openings and other celebrations. I would also ask that the Member for Kluane show a little more respect for the importance of these things and not belittle the attendance of members at these events when he is speaking in this Legislature.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm amazed that the minister rambled all over the full spectrum of what the Liberals have accomplished and what they're proposing to accomplish. But the bottom line is that we're in Education. If the minister wants to talk about the supplementary budget in its entirety, I'm prepared to do that and go there.
In opposition, it is our responsibility to hold the government accountable. Because we vote against the supplementary budget or a main budget, Mr. Chair, does not mean that we do not support components or the majority of that budget. In fact, a great amount of the time we do.
Contrast that, Mr. Chair, to what this Liberal government is doing. They have taken the NDP budget, voted against it in opposition, then tabled it as if it's their own budget, and then supported it, and told the world that they are going to implement this budget in its entirety. Then they cancel the Mayo school project and start snipping out various components of the budget that they don't agree with. They are just cherry-picking the areas they want to address. That is a problem.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair: Mrs. Edelman, on a point of order.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: The member opposite is factually incorrect. The Mayo school project has not been cancelled.
Mr. Jenkins: There is no point of order, Mr. Chair.
Chair: On the point of order, actually I tend to agree with Mr. Jenkins in this case. There is no point of order and no rules were broken.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Now, before I was so rudely interrupted, as I frequently am by the Liberal government of the day, we were debating this budget and this line item. And we were looking at the various levels of education being provided. This minister has created a double standard. There is a double standard for the provision or the level of education here in Whitehorse and rural Yukon - there are two standards that have been established by this minister. And furthermore, even in Whitehorse there are two standards. There is one level of education being provided in our public schools and another level of education being provided in the Catholic schools here in Whitehorse. Why else would there be a waiting list to attend the Catholic schools here in Whitehorse, other than a double standard created by this minister?
We are supposed to have a uniform and consistent set of rules across the Yukon. We are supposed to deliver a consistent level of education across the Yukon, but that is not the case. There is a double standard. There is a double standard being created by this minister between Whitehorse and rural Yukon, and another standard here in Whitehorse being created by the public schools, in that the Catholic schools are offering a much better quality of education from what the information I have says, and that has led to a waiting list of individuals wanting their children to attend these schools.
Now, does the minister have any insight into this and why this double standard is being created? Why is he supporting this double standard? If you want to get into education, let's look at education, let's deal with it. But this minister just skirts around the periphery and won't even entertain questions and he hides behind the main issues.
The bottom line, Mr. Chair, is that the best thing we can provide for our children here in the Yukon is a great home, a wonderful health care system, and the best in education that we can provide. Now, no one is going to argue those three points, but this minister takes the initial camera time in the House and gets off on a tirade. His spin doctors are working overtime.
I submit that previously the Chair has ruled that when we're in general debate and it is concluded, we should be in line-by-line debate. That doesn't allow the flexibility to move back in. That has been questioned and the Chair might refer to page 526 on July 5 of Hansard where the Chair ruled accordingly, Mr. Chair. So, I would ask the Chair to take up that position.
Also, Mr. Chair, I'm very, very concerned with the double standard being created by this minister. We have also learned that, in spite of the fact that the -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Eftoda, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: On the point of order, Mr. Chair, the Member for Klondike continually states that we're establishing a double standard for schooling in the Yukon Territory, and I beg to differ on that point.
Chair: It is not valid, through a point of order, to correct a member's statements in the House or to beg to differ. That's what debate is for. Please do not abuse points of order to correct information, because it is not a valid point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, seeing we're in debate, Mr. Chair, can the minister explain why there is such a waiting list to attend the Catholic schools here in Whitehorse over the other public schools? Why is there a waiting list? Why do parents want their children to attend the Catholic school system here in Whitehorse over the other schools? That would suggest that the education being provided there is superior to what the other schools offer, which I submit is a double standard.
I would be of the opinion that what the minister's department should be doing is having consistency across the board in the level of education being provided at all our public schools. But, Mr. Chair, that does not exist in the Yukon. There are two standards. There is one standard here for rural Yukon and there is another standard for Whitehorse. In Whitehorse, there are also two standards. This minister is responsible for it.
If we want to debate that, I am open. I would like to hear what the minister has to say about that area.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I would just like to respond with respect to the Catholic schools. I certainly can't say for certain - and basically, really, it is an opinion, but I would expect that there is an impact of the Christian value-based philosophy within the school, and of like-minded parents and students. These are expressions that are certainly a personal opinion because I went through the Catholic schools here in Whitehorse myself.
There is broader parental support for the philosophy within the schools, which translates into support for the code of conduct and the programs within Catholic schools. Students, quite frankly, are there by choice. They themselves choose, along with their parents, and Vanier represents right now a middle-sized school, which, for some, offers an increased feeling of community. But on the curriculum side of things, it's the exact same curriculum provided by all schools throughout the territory. There is definitely, definitely, definitely no double standard.
Chair: Order please. While I understand Mr. Jenkins' point of view on the amount of time taken by Mr. Eftoda on his previous speech, he did refer to advanced education, and I am going to call order on debate that we refer now to the lines on advanced education. I do fail to exactly see the relevance of Catholic schools to advanced education, so I would like to refer to advanced education, line by line.
Mr. Jenkins: We had some explanation given to us yesterday, Mr. Chair, as to the breakdown of the $1.2 million in advanced education. If my memory serves me correctly, we were dealing with site-based management and the minister was going to provide an explanation of that area.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I did provide an answer to that question on that. I also committed to supplying a list of the schools and the amounts that are used by the schools for site-based management in the public schools.
Mr. Jenkins: We were also going to enunciate the Department of Education's policy with respect to air-quality testing. We did learn that they didn't have one. What we learned, Mr. Chair, is that all the Department of Education has was on-demand requests. If someone raised a concern then it was looked at. I would like to know why the Department of Education doesn't have air-quality testing carried out on a regular basis within our schools, from Yukon College all the way through the whole system. Why is there not a constant monitoring program, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, again, I did answer this question from the member yesterday, with respect to public schools and air-quality testing, and I also indicated to him that I will consider the suggestion made and offered.
Mr. Jenkins: I have some serious concerns with the minister just taking it under advisement. Here in the Yukon, we probably have more tests conducted on the effluent flowing out of our sewage systems than we have on the potable water supply and, indeed, on air quality. And having been involved in certain aspects of air handling, Mr. Chair, I'm also very concerned that we have to bring an individual all the way from Montreal, from McGill University, to look at air quality in the Mayo school.
Air-quality testing facilities exist in all of the major cities in western Canada. Why did we end up going all the way to McGill University for an expert when there are numerous experts all across Canada? In fact, the minister only has to check with the Department of Education in British Columbia, and the various school boards have had numerous problems with portable classrooms and with air quality. There's a whole testing facility in Vancouver. The various school boards in British Columbia have used it quite extensively from time to time. They have had more problems, given the number of schools they have in British Columbia, than we have here in the Yukon. But given the tightness of construction and given the extremes of temperature that we experience here in the Yukon, Mr. Chair, it's more than an area that I just want the minister to take under advisement. I want the minister to ensure that air quality in our schools is satisfactory at all times. That is a given. It's the same as when I want the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to have tests in place to ensure that our potable water supply is safe at all times.
The last thing I want to see here in the Yukon, Mr. Chair, is another Walkerton with respect to a potable water supply, but the same thing can occur in our school system, and very, very rapidly. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen in trailer units.
So, the minister might brush aside the suggestion to institute this kind of a program, but what I believe should be developed is an air-testing program that constantly monitors the quality of air in our schools, and not just at the beginning of the season. When the temperature drops is when we're going to have the most problems. In a lot of cases, air-handling systems are reduced because the amount of makeup air being brought in, Mr. Chair, is reduced significantly because we have to bring it from minus 30, 40 or 50 degrees Celsius up to plus 20. So, it costs a lot of money, and the minister has recognized that in his budget with the amount of money he has earmarked to pay for added fuel. There is an issue surrounding air quality, and it has occurred right here in this building, Mr. Chair, and it took quite some time to sort it out.
So, Mr. Chair, it is an area that should be dealt with, and we should have in place a constant monitoring program.
Now, I'll leave this one alone if the minister wants to assure me that he will examine it thoroughly and bring into place a policy that ensures air quality meets an acceptable standard in all schools at all times. I just don't need an answer if he'll take it under advisement, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair. I thank the Member for Klondike for his comments.
Advanced Education in the amount of $1,210,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
Mr. Jenkins: Could we have a breakdown, please?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: There is a request for libraries and archives, all for funding in the personnel allotment area, Mr. Chair.
Libraries and Archives in the amount of $234,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the recoveries? Are there any questions on the revenues?
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Education in the amount of $5,506,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Education Support Services
On Staff Support, Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Staff Support, Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Education Act Review
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, is that additional $102,000 for the patronage appointment of the Liberal individual to this position?
Chair: Is there any further debate on the Education Act review?
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I asked a question of the minister. Is the additional $102,000 requested to go toward the patronage appointment of the Liberal individual to oversee the Education Act review? Yes or no?
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: I can't understand why the minister is strangely silent on that issue, Mr. Chair. We have a line item here - the Education Act review. We have voted, to date, $272,000. There is a request for an additional $102,000. My question to the minister, once again, is this: is that $102,000 to go toward the Liberal patronage appointment of Mr. Taylor to oversee the Education Act review? Yes or no?
Chair: Is there any further debate on the Education Act review?
Mr. Jenkins: It's a direct question and I expect an answer from this minister. Is it because he can't answer the question? Is he going to send me back a legislative return on this line item, Mr. Chair? May I have a legislative return on this line item?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: If the member would ask an appropriate question, I would be more than willing to answer.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, can we stand this line aside until we can get some answers on it?
Chair: Mr. Jenkins, are you moving that?
Unanimous consent re standing aside budget line item
Mr. Jenkins: I move that we stand aside the Education Act review amount of $102,000 in the supplementary until the minister can be more forthright in his answers.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that the Education Act review line be stood aside. Are we agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Chair: You do not have unanimous consent of the House. Is there any further debate on the Education Act Review in the amount of $102,000?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I still haven't received an answer from the minister. I want to know if this $102,000 in additional monies that is being requested is to go, in part, toward the political patronage appointment of Mr. Taylor for the Education Act review. Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I again repeat that if the Member for Klondike wishes to phrase the question more appropriately I will be more than willing to answer.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, what would the money be for? Could the minister advise the House what this $102,000 is for? It pretty well corresponds to the position that was created for the deputy minister position level salary for the review of the Education Act. Is that what it is for, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, these are for costs associated with the Education Act review.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, virtually all of these line items are associated in some form or other with the educational aspects of the department, so the generic answer that the minister provided, that this $102,000 is associated with the Education Act review, just doesn't wash.
I would urge the minister to provide a complete detailed breakdown of what the $102,000 in supplementary request is for. It would appear to closely resemble the amount of money that is earmarked for the position of the chair of this Education Act review, because that individual is at the deputy minister level, salarywise, and the salary range would be in that order of magnitude. Is that what the additional $102,000 is for? Would the minister please provide a breakdown of that $102,000? Pretty please with jam on it. Will that work?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I will appropriately answer the question. This is a request for funding to cover salaries and other costs associated with the Education Act review, which also includes travel and consultations with the communities. It also includes superannuation funding and the YEU increases for the positions included within this project, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, would the minister be so kind as to provide a breakdown of that $102,000. We know it's for salary and we know it's for travel. What is the amount associated with each area?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, this was a lump sum amount. I did explain what this lump sum amount was identified for. There is no specific breakdown for that.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, I take exception to that response, that there's no breakdown to that $102,000, that it's just associated with salary, travel and superannuation.
Now, in all other line items, a breakdown is provided. Could the minister please provide a breakdown of that line item - the $102,000 - as to the actual dollars associated with each of the areas that the minister outlined - salary, travel and superannuation.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I will have the department provide that information to me, and I will then forward it on to the Member for Klondike.
Mr. Jenkins: So I can expect a legislative return on this. Will the minister be providing this by way of a legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the member just stood up in the previous question and asked for a memo with a breakdown. I'm going to provide that to him.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, just so we don't confuse the issue, I'm going to be receiving a memo and the timelines. Can I expect to see that before the end of this week?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: The breakdown is probably going to be very interesting, because I suspect, as do most people who look at this, that most of this money will be going toward the salary and travel for the political patronage appointment made to oversee the Education Act review.
So we are left with no choice but to be left in the dark once again by this Liberal government as to what the breakdown is and what the allocation is. Here is an open and accountable government that can't provide information. We will look forward to receiving it in due course.
Mr. Fairclough: I also asked the question to the minister in this line item in general debate, and I would like clarification on it too. The member can send that information to me. There seemed to be a bit of mixed messages coming forward on this line item. In the Education briefing, this line item was to go toward superannuation and salary only for the Education Act review, and I've heard travel in here, so I am a bit puzzled about this particular line item and what it really is for.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I will provide the same information to the leader of the official opposition.
Chair: Are there any further questions or debate on Education Act review?
Education Act Review in the amount of $102,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
On Facility Construction and Maintenance
On F.H. Collins School Upgrading
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps just a breakdown as we go through. I know we will have some questions on the Mayo community school, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair, I will provide a breakdown. The F.H. Collins School upgrading was a revote amount and was required to complete flooring upgrades in classrooms and hallways in various areas of the old wing. Work was completed during the summer of 2000.
F.H. Collins School Upgrading in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
On Mayo Community School
Mr. Jenkins: Well, since we cancelled this project, why do we need another $76,000, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair, I see the Member for Klondike sitting back chewing on the backside of his glasses and just giggling with glee at this because he continually espouses that the school was cancelled, when in fact that is not the case.
The $76,000 was a revote and used to complete the design work. This is independent of the construction that has been postponed until the spring of 2001.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, let's just look at this and just examine what it's going to eventually cost.
The minister in debate, yesterday, indicated that the redesign of the school and the retendering of it is going to come in at some $50,000 above additional costs. And given that the contract and the tender documents have to be altered significantly so that the government is not charged with selecting bids, the only way around it is to significantly redesign the facility and make some changes. We know now that the government is proposing to chop out almost three-quarters of a million dollars in costs in the Mayo school. This we've learned because the people of Mayo are, in large part, vehemently opposed to any alterations to what was agreed to.
So, it would appear, Mr. Chair, that at the end of the day, we are going to see a significant increase in the total contract cost as a result of redesign and retendering. And how that is going to be offset is by chopping out a lot of amenities in the school to the tune of some three-quarters of a million dollars, Mr. Chair.
That I find quite upsetting, especially given this government's commitment to institute, without reservation, the NDP's capital budget and O&M budget. We're seeing now that they are cherry-picking the areas and removing from that budget most of the aspects pertaining to rural Yukon, and just concentrating on Whitehorse. That I find very, very upsetting.
So, I'd like to know from the minister just where we're at in this redesign, retendering and coming to an agreement with the Nacho Nyak Dun, the village council and the school committee that was assembled to oversee this. We have to have an agreement. I know it's not all together yet, and I know we're not in agreement. The government is singing from one page and it looks like the residents of Mayo have another songbook. They're still singing from the old songbook, and they're still saying, "Hey, you promised to deliver and we want you to uphold that promise."
Now, just where are we at with negotiations with Nacho Nyak Dun, the Village of Mayo and the committee that was put together to oversee this project in Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I believe in general debate on the Education budget I did answer when the leader of the official opposition had questioned me on this. We did again review the circumstances leading up to the postponement of the school, and I also did, at that time, provide details on where we are now and where we're going to be on March 31, 2001, namely hammering nails, building the school in Mayo.
Mr. Jenkins: So, the target date for the opening of the school is now firmed up? When is it?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: As we had indicated to the people of Mayo when we were up there - and the member was sitting in the back of the room, listening - we had indicated that our target is still January 2002.
Mr. Jenkins: If that target is not achieved, Mr. Chair, will the minister do the honourable thing and resign?
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, obviously, it's pie in the sky, because the minister is not going to stake his career on it, because it's still out there. It's still a date that could be amended or altered. There is still a lot that could go wrong. Delays could be added to delays and delays.
It's amazing, Mr. Chair. I would have thought, given how adamant this Liberal government was in opposition and how adamant they were when they were selected to govern the Yukon about how we have to pass this budget - it was a previous NDP budget - because we have to get things going in the Yukon, and we have to ensure that there's employment, and we are going to honour all the commitments in this budget. We have seen a delay now, Mr. Chair. We've seen a postponement of the Mayo school project, and it's coming back in and the minister is refocusing on it.
But he still doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to hang his hat on the completion date, because he knows that it's just a target date and can be changed. It could be further off than what the minister is telling everyone now. If the minister had the intestinal fortitude to say that that date is hard and fast and we're going to meet that date, he would also hang his hat on that. But he won't, and that says a lot, Mr. Chair.
It says an awful lot. The minister doesn't have confidence in his own ability or confidence in Yukon to deliver the product. I submit, Mr. Chair, that the contractors, if they're awarded the contract, would, by and large, complete by the completion date. We have a very good workforce here in the Yukon. All the minister has to do is award the contract, but because it came in at $500,000 overbudget and because he's trying to chop $175,000 out of this project and because now it is delayed, postponed, delayed, cancelled, we can't get any certainty from this minister because he won't hang his hat on it.
Why is the minister so unsure of himself that he won't hang his hat on this initiative as to its opening date?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, as the member so eloquently put it, and I'm glad it has finally sunk into the cranial membrane of his, yes, it is a postponement. He's got that fact straight now and I'm pleased to hear that.
It isn't I who am building the school, but we are going to make every, every, effort because we were there just as he was and felt the community's need on this issue. It was very emotional; it was very stressful when the Premier and I were there, and we are committed to getting that school started in the spring and finished by January of 2002.
Mr. Jenkins: The only concern I heard the minister express was that there was a great number of different-sized windows. Wouldn't it have been prudent to issue a change order to the contractor, after awarding the contract, to change the size and standardize windows? Has that area been explored and costed out? I'm sure, at the end of the day, it would have been easier to go to Mayo and tell the people of Mayo that we're going to go ahead and start the school project but we have a few change orders and one is a consistency of window sizes?
The best thing that could happen in Mayo is to have that new school on the appointed time that it was supposed to be received, not on the maybe questionable time that it might be delivered by this minister. Why couldn't the minister have just gone in and awarded the contract and then issued a change order to the contractor to standardize window sizes to any one of the number of sizes, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Again I want to thank the member opposite for recognizing that it was a postponement to the start-up of the Mayo school. The fact remains that the successful bidder was approximately $1 million overbudget, and I am sure that the member opposite would have been the first to stand on his feet to criticize this government for spending money that we didn't have. So we did the responsible thing; we postponed the school. We are going through modifications, and I would ask the member opposite if he would be willing to give up his job if the school isn't opened in January 2002?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, yes, I would if I had care and control of the project and the minister wants to transfer the responsibilities over to me. I would make sure that the contract was awarded and that it would proceed with all due diligence. Why can't they do the same, Mr. Chair? Now, obviously there are some problems over there with that new Liberal government and their fiscal responsibilities in light of the fact that the $65-million surplus that they have is not adequate to meet their needs. What was expected by the Yukon population is that initiatives would be taken by this government to create employment this winter for Yukoners and to create that employment here in the Yukon, Mr. Chair.
The employment that's being created is in the Northwest Territories, Alberta and British Columbia. Here we have a THA that's probably going to be issued by the federal Liberal government here in the Yukon for a B.C. firm to come up, grab some timber and take it south. This is how this wonderful relationship between the Yukon Liberals and federal Liberals is helping us out.
One of the projects that could have been focused on and could have been delivered by this Liberal government is the construction of the new school in Mayo. The new school in Mayo could have created a tremendous number of jobs this winter. But it's cancelled. It's being re-engineered. The architects are working overtime, and the minister is working overtime scooting back and forth to Mayo with his officials, trying to sell a reduction in the size of the school or the scope of the school. They are trying to cut out of the school some three-quarters of a million dollars of cost, one way or the other. I've heard from the minister directly that the only area where they are trying to save money is by standardizing window sizes because there is a multitude of window sizes.
So, I submit this to the minister: why didn't they proceed with the project and issue a change order to the general contractor to standardize the window sizes? It's a very simple question.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I've already answered the question with respect to the contract.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, I don't know how this is going to play out, but I'm sure that, at the end of this session, the people of Mayo will, in all probability, be forced by this government to take something less than what they anticipated or expected and less than what was agreed to. That's what this government wants to do. They want to reduce the scope of the project by some three-quarters of a million dollars.
While this Legislature is sitting, this minister probably will not do that, but as soon as this Legislature rises and this minister can scurry up to his office and run around the Yukon Territory and eat cake and cut ribbons, Mr. Chair, and not address his responsibilities, he'll probably cut the project and tell the people of Mayo that that is what they're going to receive. That's what I take exception to, and that's what I find very, very repulsive.
Everyone was in agreement on this project. All the people of Mayo were virtually unanimous, from my understanding from my time in Mayo. And you don't very often see that initiative come out of a community. I applaud the residents of Mayo for being virtually unanimous in their direction and support, so much so that the town of Mayo anted-up some $480,000 of the capital cost for this school, just so that they could include other initiatives in that school that have been provided previously by the Government of Yukon to other communities around the Yukon.
Now this minister has the audacity to go back to Mayo and want to cut some three-quarters of a million dollars out of the cost of that school. I think that, at the end of the day, when he tries to sell that, it's going to be a sad day for Yukon, and I would urge him to move on, move forward with the project, and get it out to tender. It's supposed to be tendered by the end of the year. Our window of opportunity is very, very narrow, Mr. Chair. I don't know when the closing date would be, but usually by the time a tender is closed and awarded and the contractor gets to mobilize and get to work on a project of that order of magnitude, it is quite substantial.
It is not a highway construction project where we just have to move in equipment. There are men, equipment, and materials - there is the whole gamut.
We still haven't finalized the design, because the minister is off on one wavelength and the residents of Mayo are saying that they just want what was agreed to previously. Now how is the minister going to cut three-quarters of a million dollars out of the school project? Perhaps he can share with us an insight as to how he is going to do this.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Again, I have already answered that question many times in the House. If the Member for Klondike wishes, he can review Hansard.
Mr. Jenkins: I do not recall an answer provided by the minister as to how they are going to reduce the cost of the Mayo school by three-quarters of a million dollars. The only area that the minister elaborated on was the multitude of window sizes and that they were going to standardize window sizes. That was it. Now, could the minister please advise the House how they are going to reduce the cost of the Mayo school by three-quarters of a million bucks? Probably by not putting a roof on it, so that they have adequate air exchange.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I will provide the list when it is finished. I am more than willing to supply members of the official opposition, as well as the leader of the third party, a detailed breakdown.
Mr. Jenkins: Okay, now we are getting close to reality, in that the minister doesn't know. It hasn't been finalized, but they know and the direction has been given that we have to chop three-quarters of a million dollars out of this Mayo school. That, I have grave concerns about. How it will be accomplished has yet to be determined. There were probably various suggestions and scenarios put forward, but that's it.
But the biggest thing is that the people of Mayo have spoken and they have said, "We just want what you promised us previously."
Now, I attended that very emotional meeting in Mayo, and the minister should be paying heed to what was said there. Those residents of Mayo who have students in that school are being deprived of a safe environment in which to receive their education.
Mr. Chair, this minister is responsible for the cancellation of the project and the postponement and the retendering of it. The buck stops with the minister, Mr. Chair. Unless, of course, he can stand on his feet and say that the Minister of Finance or the Premier said that we had to cancel it and that's where we're at. But it was probably a Management Board decision, of which this minister is a part, Mr. Chair, and the reason it was made will probably never really be known.
When can we expect to see this list of the areas that are going to be cut from the Mayo school, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I do believe that the leader of the official opposition did provide an outline of items that are being considered in the school. And, because it's a tabled document, I'm sure the Member for Klondike will get a copy. Again, I almost had the Member for Klondike convinced, I think, that the Mayo school is only being postponed - it isn't cancelled - but, like his colleagues on the other side of the House, he continues to flip-flop and I'm not sure exactly what he's saying.
We are listening to what the people in Mayo are saying. We have made two trips, and as the Member for Klondike has indicated, if it requires more trips, I'll be more than willing to go up and discuss the situation with the folks up in Mayo. I'm already committed to that. We are listening to what they're saying. We can't provide a detailed list to the member at the present time, because we are still discussing with the councils in Mayo, with the school, with the residents, with the architect and numerous things. I'm sure the Member for Klondike can understand what's entailed in that area.
It really amazes me. The fact that he was in attendance in that school and did feel the emotion - and I would have thought he would have felt compassion for the folks in Mayo, in that the continuing rhetoric that he uses in the House to continually stir the emotion, not only of the parents, but also of the students in Mayo.
They know they are going to get a new school. They are going to get a beautiful school up there. The foundation is already there. The school can be no smaller than that. We have already assured the residents that all classroom sizes are going to remain the same. We indicated to the Nacho Nyak Dun that their First Nation room is going to be exactly the same.
We are also responsible to other Yukoners, Mr. Chair, and how we handle their finances. It was unfortunate that the tendering process did come in $1 million overbudget. I believe it was overbudget by 17 or 18 percent, which is fairly substantial. Acting responsibly for all Yukoners, the most prudent thing to do was to postpone. We are making best efforts to get these modifications in design and approvals through the appropriate consultations and get on with the project.
I don't think there's anyone in this House at the present moment, Mr. Chair, who is more looking forward to eating cake and cutting the ribbon for the opening of the Mayo school than I am.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I guess that when that's all you're capable of doing, I guess you look forward to what you are capable of doing. But at the end of the day, there are quite a number of hurdles to be dealt with for the creation of the new school in Mayo, given that the government seems to be quite adamant that they're going to reduce the cost by some three-quarters of a million dollars and given that the government appears to be quite adamant that they're going to reduce the cost. There doesn't appear to be any wavering on the government's side with respect to that reduction in cost.
So, in conclusion, the minister is adamant that that school is going to be up and running by the time stated by the minister, and if it is not, Mr. Chair, I would expect him to do the honourable thing at that juncture and resign as Minister of Education. Obviously, what we're told and the steps being taken by this minister are not adequate to meet the needs of the residents of Mayo, and they will be receiving something that they didn't agree to. They will probably be told that this is what they're getting and they should be thankful for what they're receiving, and that's it. So much for an open and accountable Liberal government that says it does what it says it's going to do, Mr. Chair. You can say that, but in order for it to be accepted, you have to carry through and provide what you say you're going to provide. All we have seen is a tremendous amount of back-pedalling on projects, especially in rural Yukon.
We have a double standard with the provision of education in rural Yukon and Whitehorse; we have a double standard with the level of education in Whitehorse between the Catholic schools and the other public schools. We have a double standard with respect to the provision of capital projects in rural Yukon, Mr. Chair, for Old Crow, Ross River and Dawson City. These communities have a lot of amenities added into their school because it's used for a whole series of different initiatives, and at no cost to the communities. Yet, Mayo comes to the table, they write a cheque to the Government of Yukon for $480,000. The government takes their money, invests it, but is not apparently wanting to live up to and honour the agreement they have with the Nacho Nyak Dun, the Village of Mayo and the school council committee that oversaw the construction design.
That's appalling. But we will see what it looks like next February when we get into general debate on Education again, because by then a decision will either be made or not be made by this minister and his department. I am hoping that it will be made. I am hoping that it will be what the people and residents of Mayo expect and what they have been told they are going to receive.
Mr. Chair, I have no further debate on this line. I am just very, very appalled at the way that this minister has treated this whole initiative with the construction of the school in Mayo. It should have been proceeded with on time. If there was an issue over the different sizes of the windows, that could have been negotiated with the contractor and a change order could have been issued to the contractor with the subsequent reduction in costs, if indeed there would have been as a consequence of standardizing window sizes.
It appears on the surface to make some sense, but really, how much of a cost-saving would there have been? I suggest to the minister that it would be nowhere near the three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar cost reduction that the minister is demanding now from the residents of Mayo.
And it's interesting to note that the minister can't provide the information, but the leader of the official opposition can, as to where these initiatives are going to take place - where they are going to be cutting or proposing to cut costs out of the school. Just what kind of a handle does this minister have on his area of responsibility, when he can't provide the information but the leader of the third party can? That in itself is appalling, Mr. Chair. Has the minister got any explanation for that?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: No, no. We are going to stay. We are going to get it all cleared out.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: That's fine. We are fine. I want to provide all the answers that I possibly can to the leader of the third party.
The fact is that we are in consultation with the folks in Mayo, Mr. Chair. I am aware of the discussions that are happening between the department officials and the school and the discussions with respect to the modifications. I wanted to provide a more detailed and comprehensive list at the appropriate time to the House. I have already committed to do that, but it's very important to say that the Mayo school is slightly different. It is larger, to accommodate what the community, in their wisdom - I mean, this is what it's all about. It's about partnerships; it's about working cooperatively with the towns and communities in the rural areas. Quite frankly, I don't think that if the government wasn't approached, there wouldn't have been a weight class added on, or that there wouldn't have been a better community resource if both the municipality of Mayo and the government didn't have the foresight to enter into new ways of doing business.
I'm sorry that the member is so disappointed and so appalled. I'm sure that his comments are heartfelt, but the bottom line - or, to use the member's favourite phrase, at the end of the day - is that I wish that he would show compassion for the folks in Mayo. I'm sure that they know we are doing our best, we are going forward and will be starting construction in March. We will be opening the doors to the school in January 2002, and I most wholeheartedly welcome the Member for Klondike.
I also want at this time, as every time the issue has come up with respect to the opening of the Ross River school - for the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, I would like to express the oversight that was experienced in Ross River when we were opening the school there, and he wasn't asked to speak.
That was very, very unfortunate and it won't be happening again as we will extend an invitation to the leader of the official opposition for the opening of the Mayo school.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I don't think the opposition is really all that much concerned with cutting ribbons and eating cake. We're more concerned with ensuring that these projects meet the needs of the communities.
Well, that's what opposition is all about. It's keeping the government accountable, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what the people of Mayo have done and how unified they have been in their position in dealing with the Government of Yukon. I'm sorry I don't have the same respect for the minister responsible, to bring this project to fruition, in that it has been cancelled, delayed and postponed in whatever way you want to refer to it. What it does say to the people of Mayo is we see that that project is overbudget because it's in rural Yukon and we're not going to proceed with it. Now we're in consultation to cut three-quarters of a million dollars out of the cost of the school. I'm hoping that that consultation won't be reduced to dictation as to the direction that the government is going to be taking with respect to eliminating three-quarters of a million dollars out of that budget. I see that looming very, very strongly on the horizon, Mr. Chair, and I'm extremely concerned that consultation will eventually end up in the minister dictating how the school is going to proceed to the community of Mayo.
So, I'm hopeful that the timelines that are currently outlined for the construction of the Mayo school will be realized but, given that the minister is not prepared to hang his hat on it, that doesn't instil much confidence in the ability of this government to deliver as they say they're going to deliver, Mr. Chair.
Mayo Community School in the amount of $76,000 agreed to
On Modular Classrooms
Mr. Jenkins: An explanation, please, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: This is another revote, Mr. Chair, to fund part of the relocation of a modular or portable classroom from Hidden Valley School to Vanier High School. The relocation is complete. The total cost of the relocation was $22,000, of which $17,000 is from a revote and a further $5,000 came from various school alterations.
Modular Classrooms in the amount of $17,000 agreed to
On Special Needs Infrastructure
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps as we go through, line by line, the minister could just stand on his feet and give us some explanation?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The special needs infrastructure is another revote that will allow for small renovations in the area of special needs and facilities for special needs students.
Special Needs Infrastructure in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Site Improvement and Recreation Development
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Just to show that we're willing to cooperate with the member opposite as he has asked, I will stand up and clarify the points.
The site improvement and recreation development for $63,000 is another revote that will provide funds to tender or complete several projects in schools, including the Vanier site work of $20,300. These are funds that were added to the current year budget to extend the parking lot, upgrade the fire lane and build an outdoor basketball court, Mr. Chair.
On the Old Crow school grounds, there is $24,500, which is a final payment of the $75,000 contribution agreement paid to the band for grounds maintenance at the school. This project is complete and final inspections will take place in the very near future.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Sorry, to the Member for Klondike. I presupposed that I was finished, but not quite. The Del Van Gorder tennis court at $3,800 - funds were allocated to convert the old tennis court to a hard-surface play area. PCSS site development phase 2, $14,500 - work involved paving of the parking lot next to the ball diamond.
Site Improvement and Recreation Development in the amount of $63,000 agreed to
On Various School Facilities Renovations
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: These are primarily revotes from various projects in the schools, and they include, for the Porter Creek school, a generator design of $11,200. This is for the design of a generator system that will handle the whole school. This is an EMO-designated school and requires a generator system. The Robert Service School has minor renovations of $12,200. Funds were used for minor renovations to increase teaching space. Work is still in progress on that project. The St. Elias boiler upgrade for $3,600 is for work carried over from the year 1999-2000 for building additions on the boiler room, and this work is complete. For the Watson Lake Secondary industrial arts wing renovations, the design cost is $24,600.
Mr. Jenkins: Does the department have any policy with respect to the provision of backup electrical power in the rural schools and schools in general, Mr. Chair? I know that a couple of them are designated EMO schools, but what is the policy?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, there isn't a specific policy on this aspect of generation, but what has been happening in the communities is that, where secondary source and renovations are occurring, this generator is being put in place.
Mr. Jenkins: Let me get this right. We don't have a policy, but we're doing it. So there obviously has to be a policy at the time of renovation, because I'm seeing more and more emergency power supplies being established at nursing stations, seniors residences and schools. So there has to be some initiative driving this. Rural RCMP detachments have a measure of backup power, so there must be some policy there. It's not just something we're going about willy-nilly.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I guess we'll go the other way. Can the minister table a list of all the schools that currently have backup power and currently are without it? Just table a document.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair, I will do that.
Various School Facilities Renovations in the amount of $52,000 agreed to
On Air Quality/Energy Management Projects
Mr. Jenkins: That was an area where I wanted some sort of a policy developed for consistent testing of air quality. So we're obviously into that area somewhere along the line, but just what is the scope of it, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, this is specific to Whitehorse Elementary School, and it's a revote amount to complete an IAQ renovation and install an override switch on the air system at this school. This project is complete.
Air Quality/Energy Management Projects in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Capital Maintenance Repairs
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Capital maintenance repairs of $40,000 breaks down as follows: this is a revote and is required to complete several projects started in 1999-2000, which includes Carcross flooring of $4,100 to correct repairs not up to standard. Work will be done during the Christmas break.
There will be a boiler upgrade at Christ the King Elementary School for $2,500. Work is to be done in the spring to upgrade the boiler system that has become unreliable.
The Del Van Gorder School doors are being upgraded for $10,300. These are exterior doors that require reinforcement. This work is continuing and will include other exterior doors.
The Eliza Van Bibber wood-chip system repairs for $18,900 are ongoing repairs and are required. Funds are set aside as contingency for potential future problems.
$3,200 is for the Porter Creek gym divider. This work involves repair to old dividers that had to be done during the summer when school was out. So, money was revoted to the spring/summer.
The Ross River septic system had to be cleaned out for $500. Again, this was done during the summer.
The Wood Street school outlet, $500 - this work involves some minor electrical maintenance and installation of car plugs and a photocopier outlet.
Mr. Jenkins: I notice one of the initiatives was a wood-chip boiler repair. We have had several of them installed in schools throughout the Yukon, Mr. Chair. Is there actually a study being done as to how economical these are proving to be? Some of them have been installed and removed - Pelly Crossing. Just how effective and efficient have they been? Has the department done an overview of this and is there any kind of paper on it?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: No, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: How do we determine when they're viable and not viable, or do we just keep repairing them? The one in Pelly Crossing, to the best of my knowledge, is no longer in use. When do we make the determination to go one way or the other? The school in Old Crow used to be heated with wood-fired boilers; the current one is heated with oil. When do we make the determination?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The common practice is that when there is a major maintenance or another situation at a school, or a cost-benefit analysis done on the supply, then this situation is looked at, particularly when the boiler has reached the end of its economic life. Other considerations are made at that time.
Capital Maintenance Repairs in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Ross River School Replacement
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the Ross River school replacement of $187,000 - the project cash flow was identified as a required revote of $171,000 in expenditures associated with construction, less the transfer of $148,000 back to the advanced education trust training fund, less the transfer of $210,000 to Christ the King Elementary School for roof repair, and the above resulted in a net lapse of $187,000 on this project. The final cost of this project is now estimated to be $7.1 million, and included in this total is a budget of $150,000 for grounds improvement, which will be completed in the summer of 2001.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, if we can use that financial model for Ross River, why can't we use that financial model for Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I'm not quite sure what financial model he is referring to?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, it appears that there are training trust funds and there are advanced education funds for the school in Ross River.
Now, more than one pie was selected for the funds flowing into the capital costs of the school in Ross River. The minister has come right out and said that, and there was actually a lapse. It came in underbudget. Now, if that's the model we used for Ross River for the construction of the school there, why can't we use the same financial model for the Mayo school?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Obviously this requires a little bit more detail, Mr. Chair, and I will try to provide that to the member opposite. In March 2000, Education was advised that the construction phase was proceeding very well, and, in fact, if the rate of expenses kept up, the contract would not have sufficient funds within the current year allocation to pay for the work. The funds required were approved as part of the next fiscal year budget - that being 2000-01. Education examined the other projects within its control and determined that two of them would not be completed and, in fact, would require a revote of existing dollars so that funds could be freed up to provide the necessary cash flow for the Ross River project.
Both of these projects were in advanced education - $100,000 in training trust funds, and $48,000 in the youth strategy. A suggestion was made that Education transfer these funds from these projects to the Ross River project to cover the anticipated cash flow shortfall for the 1999-2000 year. In order to meet the transfer deadlines, Education made a decision to use known lapses to cover the anticipated shortfall in Ross River for 1999-2001. In late April, beginning of May, information from the contractor indicated that they were not going to be billing, as originally thought, for the work completed by March 31, 2000, and, in fact, the project was now anticipated to come underbudget. This meant that additional funds could be reallocated from the approved 2000-01 cash flow for other priority projects.
This project is now projected to lapse about $400,000, which includes $187,000 in lapses identified in the supplementary and $210,000 transferred to Christ the King Elementary School roof-repair project.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, what that says to the House is that where there's a political will to see a project concluded and proceeded with, it can't be done by moving money around within the department. That was clearly demonstrated by the NDP government when their minister was responsible for Education and for a construction project.
My question remains the same. Why couldn't the same financial model be used to proceed with the construction of the Mayo school? Is it because there was no political will to proceed with the construction of the project, Mr. Chair? It is what one must conclude, given that there are all sorts of examples as to how to move money around internally to meet shortfalls, so that, at the end of the day, it looks like there is a surplus.
The exercise is to build a school in Mayo, not to see how we can cut three-quarters of a million dollars out of the project in Mayo and sell it to the residents of Mayo. That is the direction that the minister is taking. There is a good financial model as to how to move money around when you want to see a project proceed. Why can't the minister follow that same financial model with respect to the Mayo school?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: This was just a cash-flow adjustment over the fiscal year-end. No such lapses have been identified from this year, Mr. Chair, from which funds could be reallocated to the Mayo project.
Chair: Is there any further debate on the Ross River school replacement?
Ross River School Replacement in the amount of an underexpenditure of $187,000 agreed to
On Vanier Catholic Secondary School
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, this $10,000 was a revote.
Vanier Catholic Secondary School in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On School Initiated Renovations
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I like to see the member opposite exercise a little. The school-initiated renovations is something we have already spoken to in general debate, and I had agreed to provide a list to the members opposite, which I am still committed to doing.
School Initiated Renovations in the amount of $153,000 agreed to
On Connect Yukon
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Again, Mr. Chair, in general debate I had provided an answer to the member on this $1,975,000, but I will provide additional information. This project was originally budgeted in Government Services and is now being revoted to Education. The funds will be used to continue the implementation of Education's part in the Connect Yukon project called EduNet. The work completed in 1999-2000 involved planning. The work during the summer of 2000 saw the installation along the Alaska Highway and the summer of 2001 will see work continue along the Klondike Highway north to the Member for Klondike's own town.
Mr. Jenkins: So, when will we see this initiative concluded and Internet access provided? I would suspect that that's going to be part of the component. If not, I would appreciate the minister correcting that because we do currently have Internet access in the libraries and most of our public schools. Is that going to be expanded or enlarged? Just where are we headed?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair, I am very happy to report that in the school in Dawson there is currently only a single line. What this project will afford - the member was asking when this will be done. As I just indicated, installation along the Alaska Highway was done this year and will continue in the summer of 2001 along the Klondike Highway, north to Dawson.
Currently, as I just mentioned, there is a single-point Internet access, but what we're looking to improve is multi-point for students in classrooms and in the library.
Mr. Jenkins: Currently, the fibre optic cable is buried as far north as Carmacks. It hasn't proceeded any further than that. I was just curious as to what the timelines are. Will we see this installed in the schools? Because to bury the cable and actually make the connection on each end are two different animals. So, we will see the cable buried. Will this improved Internet access be available at the school in Dawson City for the fall of 2001?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the actual cable installation along the highway is part of the Connect Yukon project and will be conducted with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. What the Department of Education specifically looks at is the network within the school. So, as I just mentioned, we will be providing multi-point for students in the classroom and in the libraries when the Connect Yukon connection makes its way up to the Town of Dawson.
Mr. Jenkins: So, let me get this straight. This $1.9 million is basically just to wire the schools. Is that what it is?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Basically, Mr. Chair, yes, that's correct. It's for all rural schools and, as I indicated in general debate, for the Whitehorse high schools as well.
Mr. Jenkins: What server is going to be used for the Internet access, Mr. Chair, and what kind of ongoing O&M is going to be accruing to the government for this initiative?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: With respect to the server, it's an S-Net server and it's housed within the Department of Education's building.
Mr. Jenkins: What kind of ongoing O&M are we looking at annually, Mr. Chair, for this initiative?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I hope the question is with respect to the S-server in the Department of Education building. That will be maintained through normal methods of software upgrades and continual updating of the server within the department building.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, that's just the server. It's down here in Whitehorse over in the Education department. Now, we're cabling all of the rural schools into that server. Now, we're cabling the one high school in Whitehorse into that server. There's going to be an annual O&M cost to maintain this wonderful system throughout the Yukon. Do we have any estimate as to what kind of costs we're going to incur?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I am not quite sure if I can provide the appropriate answer, Mr. Chair, in that schools currently have, as the member indicated is the case in Dawson, dial-up charges with another local server here in town to get on the Internet.
So, really, when this system is in place, O&M costs will be reduced because they won't have to dial up to a server.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, Mr. Chair, Mr. Chair. Here we have a Connect Yukon initiative. No one is knocking the initiative. It's a good initiative. We are wiring all the schools together and spending $1.9 million. We do not even have an order of magnitude estimate as to what the ongoing O&M is going to be to the Department of Education to maintain this system. All we have is what it's going to cost to maintain and upgrade the server here in Whitehorse. Really, are we going to buy space from the owner of the fibre optic cable - Northwestel - or do we have a dedicated T3 line? What is it? There is an associated cost to renting that line, because we are not its owner. It will be owned by Northwestel.
Currently in Dawson there is an Internet service provider that you dial into, as there is in Whitehorse. Or you can operate through the television company here and get a cable modem. There are various options and various ways, but, either way, you have to rent or buy service from a service provider. When you do that, Mr. Chair, there is an ongoing cost associated with it. What appears to be occurring is that the department is buying or renting space along a fibre optic cable from the respective communities to the main server here in Whitehorse.
That's great. Now, what is that cost going to be? Because we are branching out to all of the rural schools. What is the annual O&M cost going to be? Or how much money do we send the cable company, Northwestel, for this use of the fibre optic cable?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I guess the question is becoming a little clearer, Mr. Chair.
With respect to the schools component, we have identified the capital costs. And with respect to the lines that are off-school properties, I believe that that is within the jurisdiction of Government Services; they will be looking after those costs. They will probably have a line item for that in the minister's budget.
So, the only O&M costs, really, for the schools are software upgrades for the equipment used in the schools, and for the server, specifically; the connect points between the Department of Education and the schools are under another jurisdiction. I hope that adequately provides a response to the member.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister just confirm that the ongoing monthly charge for the line rental between the Department of Education in Riverdale and the various outlying schools will not be a charge to the Department of Education, and that it will be a charge to Government Services? Because what we have is a Connect Yukon initiative that is now spread between four different departments - actually five. We have it in Government Services, in Community and Transportation Services, in the Department of Finance, in the immigrant investor fund and in the Department of Education. So we currently have five little tentacles now where money flows from and to. It gets harder and harder to trace all the tentacles as time goes on. So, if the minister could just confirm that information and send over a letter in response, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I can answer the member right now - to the initial question in the dissertation he just provided, and the answer is yes.
Connect Yukon in the amount of $1,975,000 agreed to
On Christ the King Elementary School Roof Replacement
Christ the King Elementary School Roof Replacement in the amount of $210,000 agreed to
On Catholic Elementary School Expansion
Mr. Jenkins: An explanation, please.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair. The $200,000 is to facilitate the movement of the Catholic school system to the same two-tiered system as exists in the public school systems - for example, grades kindergarten to 7, and 8 to 12.
The funding is for the design and has been tentatively broken down to the following: $120,000 for Christ the King Elementary, and $80,000 to the Holy Family School.
The requests for proposals have been issued, and it is expected that more information on these projects will be available around this time or toward the end of the year.
Mr. Jenkins: It's interesting to note, Mr. Chair, that when you take all of the capital items in the supplementary budget directed to schools in Whitehorse, we soon are very, very close to the overrun in the Mayo school. So, once again, we submit that if it's a project for Whitehorse it's proceeded with; if it's for rural Yukon, it's cancelled.
Just take a few seconds and add up the additions to the supplementary for Whitehorse-based initiatives to the schools and the Department of Education. It's very, very close to the overrun in the capital budget for the school in Mayo.
Catholic Elementary School Expansion in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Porter Creek Secondary School
Porter Creek Secondary School in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Tantalus School
Tantalus School in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Instructional Programs
On Distance Education
Distance Education in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
On School-Based Equipment Purchase
Mr. Jenkins: An explanation, please.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The $80,000 is allocated to site-based equipment, and these are funds managed by the school administrators, who can revote amounts that are not spent from the previous year. This $80,000 was a carry-forward from the 1999-2000 year for special projects.
School-Based Equipment Purchase in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
On School-Based Information Technology
School-Based Information Technology in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
On Training Trust Funds
Mr. Jenkins: Well, if we had put these training trust funds into capital projects in Whitehorse, we'd be well over the cost overrun for the Mayo school. It shows what the emphasis of this Liberal government is on. What are we doing here with these training trust funds, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, I hope that the seniors in the territory heard that one, because it was a direct attack on them.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It certainly is.
$200,000 of the $535,000 is from the federal government for the older-workers project. And the older-workers project that the member opposite just criticized as not being a worthwhile one is designed to help reintegrate older workers - older workers between the ages of 55 to 64 - to help and assist them to re-enter the work force.
Funding of $200,000 for this project was supplied by the federal government. This is the funding for the project announced in June of this year. There are three partners in this project, Mr. Chair. Education is one of the partners supplying $75,000; Health and Social Services is supplying $20,000; and Canada's Human Resources is supplying $200,000. This project is being funded for two years, and HRDC will provide up to $600,000 for the whole project.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Excuse me, Mr. Chair, I know the members opposite are wanting to clear, but the Member for Klondike has asked for clarification and explanation and I am going to provide detail.
So, $235,000 is a revote in the training trust fund dollars; $45,000 was for the Challenge greenhouse project designed to deliver a landscape and greenhouse training course that bolsters the participants' self-esteem and increases their employability skills; $200,000 is for youth at risk. There is an agreement with the college. The project is currently underway. Mr. Chair, there is an additional $100,000 that was transferred from the Ross River school, and these funds were transferred to the public schools during the 1999-2000 year, with the understanding that they would be returned to advanced education from the Ross River project funding when it was available in 2000 and 2001.
Training Trust Funds in the amount of $535,000 agreed to
On Youth Strategy
Youth Strategy in the amount of $48,000 agreed to
On Special Investment Fund
Mr. Jenkins: Can we have an explanation, please?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The folks across the way are going to enjoy this one, because I think it's about three pages long. So, if you will bear with me -
There is a special investment fund of $138,000. This was a revote and is required to develop phase 4 of the student financial assistance program. The request for the proposal to develop phase 4 of this system is being developed presently and is estimated to be available to the public by the end of December 2000.
I hope I'm not keeping the Member for Klondike awake while I provide an answer to his question.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Great. I'm happy to hear that. The member said that he could hear me in his sleep and still understand it.
The special investment fund was developed in 1995-96 to assist the provinces and territories in developing a common system to improve student services and information data. Since its inception, the student financial assistance unit has upgraded their current system, automated manual processes and/or assessments, purchased software and hardware and computer components under this fund.
One hundred percent of the fund for the project has been provided by the Government of Canada.
Special Investment Fund in the amount of $138,000 agreed to
On Yukon Work InfoNet Website
Yukon Work InfoNet Web Site in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Libraries and Archives
On Community Library Development Projects
Community Library Development Projects in the amount of $47,000 agreed to
On Gates Foundation Gift
Gates Foundation Gift in the amount of $220,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on capital recoveries?
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Education in the amount of $3,962,000 agreed to
Department of Education agreed to
Department of Economic Development
Chair: Is there any general debate on Economic Development?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I am pleased to introduce the 2000-01 supplementary budget for the Department of Economic Development.
The biggest change is the projected increase of $4.1 million in revenues from oil and gas royalties due to pricing and volume increases in oil and gas production. Correspondingly, departmental budget expenditures have increases $375,000 to provide for the increase in First Nation royalties share. The O&M budget shows an increase of $361,000 related to the collective agreement and superannuation changes. In the capital supplementary, the major increases are additional funding to support this government's efforts to secure the Alaska Highway pipeline project, $612,000; the revote for the centennial anniversaries program for the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre, $424,000; collective agreement and superannuation increases of $102,000; $455,000 for over-commitments associated with the community development fund; $25,000 for l'Association des franco-yukonnais Centre. And there are also two new items in the capital supplementary: microloan program, $105,000 for assisting small businesses and training for individuals; infrastructure development, $300,000 to cover ongoing costs associated with the ports initiative, the development of oil and gas regulations, the mentorship pilot project and the air access review. And I certainly welcome the members opposite's questions.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, let me begin by saying that, in receiving this supplementary budget and in particular reviewing the Department of Economic Development, it was extremely deflating. There was a lot of hope out there. There was much hope among Yukoners, given the Liberal government's commitment in the last spring and summer sitting, that this would be their day in the sun, that this supplementary budget would be their plan, their priorities, their expenditures to address their commitments to the Yukon public. Unfortunately, it doesn't even remotely compare to anything of the sort.
Furthermore, this particular department and the budget developed by the minister opposite doesn't even reflect the department's objective. It doesn't even reflect the objective, Mr. Chair.
It's a sad day in this territory when we have a Minister of Economic Development and a department whose objective is to provide economic development in this territory, to provide jobs and benefits for Yukon people, and it does nothing in that area at all.
I can't even begin to label what kind of departmental budget this really is. On the one hand we see substantial increases in oil and gas revenues, yet there's nothing being done with those substantial increases that would reflect benefit to Yukoners at a time when it's so desperately needed. Fiscal management means more than hoarding money and waiting for a better time in the government's mandate to start making expenditures.
There is too much similarity here to how the federal Liberals operate. That's what they do. They wait until they pull the election plug, and then they carpet-bomb ridings, everywhere they can, with money to buy votes. There is a lot of money available for this government - lots of money available.
This minister is also the Minister of Finance. Her own report from the Auditor General corroborates the statement that there was $64 million available at the fiscal year-end on March 2000. All projections leading into the fiscal year-end on March 2001 show at least a $45-million surplus - money in the bank. Yet here we are debating a department's supplementary budget that does very, very little - in fact, it does nothing - to address the economic disaster that we are in today.
So we in the official opposition don't see a lot of merit or reason to spend a great deal of time barking along with the minister opposite in general debate on this budget. There is nothing in here to debate. What we will be doing is spending a great deal of time - quality time - on the supplementary budget that we, the official opposition, brought forward, which does, in fact, through a $7.7-million expenditure of this massive surplus, address the needs of Yukoners and does directly create benefits and jobs for Yukon people, specifically in rural Yukon, where the need is the greatest.
First of all, before I sit down and turn this over to our illustrious colleague from the Klondike, I would like to make a few points.
The Yukon's economy has long since been made up of a number of components. Briefly, some of the main components are mining and forestry. Now that the NDP has managed to pull together the opposing forces in oil and gas, create the Yukon Oil and Gas Act, and we have the common regime with First Nations, we now have the potential for the oil and gas sector to be a main component of our economy. Tourism, which has been a component of our economy, today seems to be the only area of our economic fortunes in this territory that is managing to at least produce some cash flow for this territory.
Then, of course, we have small business. Small business in this territory is very diversified. Unlike other larger centres and regions in this country, small business in the Yukon survives on its ability to do any number of things - any number of things on a yearly basis that may have them involved in mining, that may have them involved in forestry, that may have them involved in tourism, that may have them involved now in oil and gas, and that may have them involved in road building.
More importantly, they are heavily involved in government expenditure in this territory - have been for a long, long time and will continue to be, until this territory achieves self-sufficiency. We're nowhere near that today. Therefore, our small business community is, to a great degree, dependent on what its government of the day manages to do to stimulate its ability to earn revenue and inject, most importantly, cash flow into this territory's economy.
If we can compare cash flow to fuel in an engine, then it's very simple to deduce that, without cash flow, our economic engines stop and don't operate. And that's the situation we are in today.
Mr. Chair, I think we all - the official opposition, the third party, Yukoners, department officials, public servants, everybody - are willing to give this minister a chance. Seven long months later, it's evident that we have a problem here. It's a small wonder, then, that the official opposition brings forward a motion asking this minister, in effect, to step aside, because her plate is obviously much too full with her other duties. If the minister is not too busy reading the paper, I will continue. And the Minister of Tourism would maybe do well to listen to some of this.
Furthermore, Mr. Chair, it's small wonder that we brought in the motion asking this minister to step aside. It's evident that there's much too much on this minister's plate. It's not humanly possible to focus on all these areas. This minister has taken on, first off, the most important element in this territory - the leadership. That itself comes with an extreme requirement to focus on those duties.
This minister has also taken on one of the longest, hardest issues that this territory has faced - the settlement of its land claims. This minister is also the Minister of Finance. This minister, as minister responsible for the Executive Council Office, also has such things as devolution and, as I mentioned, land claims and other items that require a great deal of her attention. The economic disaster that we're in does, in fact, reflect this minister's inability to spend enough quality time and focus on the portfolio of Economic Development.
The numbers are there, Mr. Chair. The Liberals have a luxury of numbers. The disappointment in the newly elected Member for Faro's face when he was not immediately ushered into Cabinet was evident. This Member for Faro is definitely going to want to step into the inner circle. This Minister of Economic Development may be well-advised to take a serious look at that. This may be the person who can help us climb out of this deep, dark hole called our economic disaster, driven by this Liberal government, which we're in.
Moving on, Mr. Chair, the Minister of Economic Development, given all those facts regarding her inability to be able to focus on this department - I see now the Minister of Tourism and the Houdini of health care over there, the Minister of Health, the Member for Porter Creek North, giggling away. Well, let me tell you - the people in Watson Lake, the people in Dawson City, the people in Mayo, the people in Pelly Crossing, the people in Haines Junction, the people throughout this territory, like Faro and Ross River, don't think their economic situation is a funny thing. They take it very seriously and they're going to hold this group accountable when that judgement day comes.
This Minister of Health is notorious, sitting back there giggling away at the plight that Yukoners are in, and the minister would be well-advised to sharpen up because this situation is not a joking matter. It is, quite frankly, a disaster - a disaster brought upon the Yukon people by this Liberal government.
Now, Mr. Chair, the minister opposite, given the fact that she has no time to focus on the Department of Economic Development, has been hanging her hat and grasping at straws on a number of fronts.
Let's look at the mining sector. Constantly we hear from this minister the words "Copper Ridge and Expatriate." Now, Mr. Speaker - sorry, Mr. Chair. Someday, you may be Mr. Speaker. Mr. Chair, let's look at the realities here. Copper Ridge is not going anywhere today or in the near future. It is a junior company struggling to find investment capital in the mining industry in this country where none exists. That's a serious problem and the minister should have been well-advised, if she would have had the time to focus on this department, not to go down that road.
Furthermore, Expatriate has a long ways to go to become a contributor to our economy and add cash flow to the economic engine of mining in this territory. It has a long way to go. There is a need to address our economic situation now and not grasp at what may hopefully be in the future a very integral part of our mining industry.
We know the ore is there. The whole mining world knows that the ore is there and have for a long time. The bottom line is the profitability of that particular mine site. And today's market conditions in today's environment - it just does not work. And that's why companies in the mining sector continue to struggle. And this minister mistakenly, through an error of judgement, has tried to hang this Liberal government's fortunes on that sector and it is not going to work.
I urge this minister to understand where the mining industry in this territory really is, stop playing politics, stop trying to inject some sort of hope into the Yukon public by making flippant statements about companies like Copper Ridge and Expatriate when they are, in effect, doing very little to assist us in this territory in the economic situation that we find ourselves in.
We all agree and hope that they are going to become a major player in the future. I think we all, collectively, will do everything we can to ensure that happens, but it's not going to be today or in the near future.
Furthermore, the minister has to get a grasp on the biggest problem in this territory, and that is this Liberal government's colonial masters in Ottawa. If we could single out one reason, beyond where world metal prices are today, why our mining industry is in such dire straits, it would be labelled, "federal Liberal government". They have yet to consistently apply land use regulations and issues in this country. They have yet to meet timelines on anything, whether it be a water permit, a land use permit, the removal of vegetation permit, or even just returning a phone call. Ottawa does not respond to the needs and desires of what we require in this territory. They never have and never will. As long as we are dependent on what the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is going to do in this territory, we are going nowhere.
It's a small wonder why the First Nations want self-government. After you have to deal with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development on one issue, like mining or forestry, you will understand readily and clearly why the First Nations of this territory are demanding self-government. It's so that they can get out from under that bungling, incompetent bunch in Ottawa called the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
Mr. Chair, this minister and this Liberal government cannot continue to take a back seat to the federal Liberals.
When it comes to our economy, its time to stand up and be counted. And, that may mean confrontation with this government's colonial masters in Ottawa.
The special relationship here, Mr. Chair, has to be one where this Liberal government, because of similar political ideals, can break through that granite wall in Ottawa when it comes to this territory's economy. That's what this government should be doing.
The mining sector reflects the fact that they're not.
Mr. Chair, forestry is another area that the federal government had bungled for decades and continues to do so today. I used to like to call their approach to forest management "crisis management" because they only manage from one crisis to the next and hope there are no forest fires at the end of it all so they can lapse all that money.
It has been the shoddiest - shoddiest - attempt, over the decades, at managing Canadian forest - never mind Yukon - and our land in this country. If you look at other areas in this country, the Department of Natural Resources, NRCan, runs the show. They don't have this kind of bungling, stumbling approach to forest management. They actually get the job done. They not only allow sustainable development, they encourage sustainable development. Mr. Chair, on the forestry front, this minister, as Minister of Economic Development, had a golden opportunity to show what this Liberal government was really made out of.
They turned their backs on 125 jobs, plus more that aren't direct jobs. They shut down what was the beginning of a major manufacturing sector in the southeast Yukon by their inaction, by doing nothing. This did not have to be a $2-million loan, a $4-million loan. What this had to be was a minister in charge of a Department of Economic Development leading a government in this territory that took action and found a solution to the issue.
Now, the minister made the excuse that when it comes to the forest sector in the southeast Yukon, one particular corporation's proposal didn't make business sense. Well, that is as lame a duck of an excuse as you can get, because without security of timber in the long term, there is no business case for any forest company. This Premier, this Minister of Economic Development and this Liberal government didn't even stand up to address that fact. And yet today we find out that they have simply taken a back seat from the federal government's headlong approach to raw-log exports out of one of the richest regions in this territory with absolutely no benefit to the Yukon people.
Now, the Premier thinks that's funny, but for years the federal government has been allowing Yukon resources to be extracted with nothing accruing to this territory and its people - lots accruing to people in Fort Nelson, but certainly nothing here. And this government has taken a back seat in that regard.
Mr. Chair, the more we go on about this, the worse it gets.
Furthermore, this Minister of Economic Development, who has this all-important issue of land claims to deal with, and this Liberal government, which also made that their top priority, has missed a very important link to this issue. If land claims are their top priority and they are intent upon settling them, then what's going on in southeast Yukon is not compatible with that approach - not compatible at all. This minister does not have enough time to focus on the portfolio of Economic Development but, in trying to do something there, is now neglecting her portfolio on the Executive Council Office side and the settlement of land claims.
Southeast Yukon is one of the richest, if not the richest, region in this territory. The settlement of the Kaska land claim is all-important, yet this government sits idly by while the federal government may jeopardize that for decades to come with a THA in the La Biche area. I ask you: what are you doing? How can you sit idly by and allow that to happen?
Chair: Order please. I would just remind members to refer remarks to the Chair.
Mr. Fentie: I was merely testing you, Mr. Chair, to see if you were still awake.
It is a serious matter, because any legal action or any setback on the land claim front in the southeast Yukon will have a devastating effect on our economy for years to come, but this Liberal government continues to do nothing. On the oil and gas front, they keep telling us that they are going to aggressively promote the pipeline, which may or may not happen. There is no project yet. There is nothing to even review environmentally. The flag hasn't dropped. There is no project. What we are missing, though, under this government's leadership on the economic development front is millions upon millions of dollars of investment in the forest sector and in the oil and gas sector in the southeast Yukon. Well, the Minister of Economic Development is looking at me like I just fell out of the sky.
It's a fact that the oil industry and the gas industry would love to get into the southeast Yukon. The forest sector could go operating tomorrow. Tomorrow we could have workers in the forest sector in a big way, not in a small way, but in a way that maximizes benefits for Yukoners through sustainable development, which, to a great degree, has been completed.
It's not an issue of sustainability any more. It's not an issue of economic viability any more. All of the components are there. What this government hasn't been able to do is put those pieces together in a way that will work. So, we have lost out there, too.
Mr. Chair, it goes on and on and on. But unfortunately, this Minister of Economic Development has now put all of the onus on her Minister of Tourism to show that we do have something of an economy in this territory. Unfortunately, today, tourism and what it brings to this territory last approximately 90 days. The people in this territory, especially the small business entrepreneurs who are diversified and have to be able to work in any number of areas to survive year in and year out to make a living and pay their bills, can't survive on just tourism.
So, this Minister of Economic Development has let down this territory, the Yukon public and this Legislature, and this supplementary budget reflects that. It's testimony to that.
Mr. Chair, we will focus a great deal in the official opposition when it comes to line-by-line, because we will be seeking from this government and from this minister a new supplementary - expenditures that will do something when it comes to benefiting Yukoners and economic development in this territory and surviving this long, hard winter. Winter works - we will focus a great deal on that.
Before I hand this over to the Member for Klondike, another issue that is glaring in this minister's inability to grasp the economic situation in this territory and what our economy is built on, what its components are and where it's going, is the ports.
Now, this is the Liberal government who committed to the Yukon public that they were very much focused on and put a very great deal of emphasis on infrastructure. Well, I ask you, Mr. Chair, what, if not the port, is infrastructure? It is an important infrastructure, because it changed the Yukon from being a north-south territory with its ability only to derive benefit in a north-south flow, to an east-west territory, expanding our horizons, increasing our markets, and maximizing benefits for Yukoners.
And this Premier, this minister, should well know that when the Yukon Territory and the government of the day - the NDP - were trying to get Faro back up and running in the 1980s - this Premier and this minister should well know, given any sort of detailed briefing from her department people and those who are involved and are still in government, that the minute the Alaskans sensed our need in this territory, they played hardball with this territory. The ownership of ports in Alaska would have given us guaranteed, certain access to tidewater forever, as long as we so desired. This is an example of a Minister of Economic Development who can't even see across the street when it comes to vision. That was a very important infrastructure. With a $64-million budget, they couldn't even make that decision.
So not only do we have a minister who just doesn't have the time to spend on this portfolio, we now have a minister who is having problems with fiscal management in her capacity as the Minister of Finance; we've got a problem in the land claims front. The list goes on and on and on. This minister's overloaded. I would suggest that this minister take this portfolio, at least, and hand it off to somebody, and let's go to work on our economic disaster that we have found ourselves in, thanks to this Liberal government.
The economic trends in this territory were evident. The workforce was increasing month by month. Investment - private investment - was flowing into the territory diversifying our economy. Programs like the community development fund, trade investment, tourism marketing, fire smart, helping those diversified small business - work year in and year out, earning a revenue, spending their money in this territory, having input into our economic engine, Mr. Chair.
We have to do something here and it has got to be done quickly before it's too late. I would suggest that a great deal of time spent in general debate on this particular department and, furthermore, on the rest of this supplementary budget is not going to be very fruitful. What we need to see from this government opposite is some recognition of the problem we're in and a desire to truly find answers, to find solutions, to make things work. And that is why we in the official opposition brought forward our own supplementary budget. Not because we're trying to be mischievous but because we knew that if we could convince this government across the floor, with a mere $7.7-million supplementary, we could put hundreds of Yukoners to work this winter. It means a lot.
So, without further delay, I will turn this over now to our Member for Klondike. And I look forward to line-by-line debate with the Minister of Economic Development.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Order please. The time being close to 4:30 p.m., do members wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 10-minute recess.
Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will proceed with general debate on Economic Development.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, Yukoners are coming to the conclusion that, upon electing this Liberal government, they're not fulfilling their promises and doing something on the economic front. In fact, we have gone from a recession under the previous NDP government to a depression under this Liberal watch. Over the past number of years, we have seen a downhill spiral in the mainstays of the Yukon economy. There were some spikes but, by and large, the downhill trend continues.
If we look at the traditional mainstay of the Yukon economy - mining - and see where it is at today, Mr. Chair, we have to recognize that the last mine operating year-round in the Yukon - Viceroy, the Brewery Creek mine in Dawson City - will be closed very, very quickly. In fact, the only work that's being done on the mine site, other than running the heap leach operation is to disassemble the equipment there.
The Caterpillar equipment is being taken apart, loaded out and shipped out of the Yukon - moved elsewhere, where there is activity. It is being moved elsewhere, where there are governments in place that are doing what is necessary to ensure that economic activity and the extraction of resources in an environmentally sound way can proceed.
Mr. Chair, the message coming out of this Liberal government to the mining community is a very mixed one, indeed. On one hand we have the Minister of Economic Development going around, hosting "Welcome back to the Yukon" initiatives, inviting the mining community back, and putting in place new rules for investment and depletion allowances in order to give the appearance that we are a better area to invest our mining dollars in.
At the same time that this is occurring, claims that were legitimately staked in the past are being gobbled up by the creation of new parks.
Now, we do have legislation in place that spells out how a territorial park can be created, and we could use this legislation to create new parks, if that is the wish of the majority. But the opinion of a minority appears to dominate with respect to the total land mass of the Yukon that is going to be turned into parks.
In fact, if you look at what has been created by the federal Liberal government and Yukon government, acting in unison, it is alarming, and grows more alarming every day, as there is the potential for six more parks to be created in the Yukon in the same manner that the Asi Keyi Park was recently created. And this is in spite of the fact that there might be legitimately staked and maintained mining claims in the areas that those parks are created. They are kind of overlooked, or given no consideration whatsoever.
So it's a very, very mixed message going out to the mining community, and that is coming home to roost, in that the mining community is no longer investing in Yukon. The traditional amount of dollars that has been spent on exploration here in the Yukon has dwindled down. Now, Mr. Chair, if you look at it in constant dollars, it has recently been the lowest that it has ever been in the history of the Yukon. And for an area that was founded on mining, that in itself is appalling.
Mr. Chair, it's not because we do not have a great, expansive territory and a vast amount of undeveloped mineral potential. We do. Mineral deposits do not stop at the border, as the Minister of Economic Development would lead us to believe. Her position with respect to the Pogo deposit just over the border in Alaska is that that deposit stops right at the border. Well, that deposit might stop right at the border, but that mineralized zone does not. It continues all the way through the Yukon and exits into northern British Columbia. And it's called the Tintina Trench.
It's probably the most highly mineralized zone that one could ever hope to spend any time looking at, Mr. Chair. And if you look at all of the mines that have existed in that belt, and if you look at all of the existing permitted mines that currently exist in the Yukon, they're all within that range. So we do have the mineral potential; we just don't have the political will to see the mining industry come back. We have to put in steps that can be met and agreed to by both parties, but what we have is a set of steps or regulations that sets out a timeline. And that timeline for the permitting process for a new mine could be as long as five years here in the Yukon before anything is definite, and even after that we're not sure that that is the case.
Contrast that to other jurisdictions, Mr. Chair, which in some cases have more strict environmental regulations, and we see that Yukon certainly has a problem. And that problem is manifesting, and the mining community is staying away. They're elsewhere. There are now more Canadian mining companies with more operations outside of Canada than there are inside of Canada.
That's a very interesting overview, Mr. Chair. And if we look at the other area where we have tremendous potential and we're not realizing any benefits, it is the oil and gas industry, Mr. Chair. We have untapped reserves in southeast Yukon. We also have producing gas wells in the Kotaneelee that are tied into the system and gas is currently being piped out to the south from that area. In fact, because of the royalty position, we're seeing an increase of some $4.1 million in this fiscal period for the royalties as a consequence of the increase in the price of gas, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, that oil and gas potential exists in the northern part of Yukon, the Eagle Plains area and indeed in the waters offshore in the Beaufort Sea on Yukon's northern shore. But what is happening in these areas, Mr. Chair? Well, there's not very much. Anderson has got a program up in the Eagle Plains area that is very, very small in contrast to the program that currently exists in the Northwest Territories. And we all know that the Beaufort Sea, adjacent to the Yukon's northern boundary, is not even an area that Yukon controls, because this minister is not even interested in ensuring sovereignty over our northern waters. The boundary is a historic high-water mark in the northern part of Yukon, and any benefits from oil and gas potential in the Beaufort Sea will not accrue to Yukon, Mr. Chair. They'll accrue to the Northwest Territories.
Even if we see a pipeline extended across the northern part of Yukon, which might well be the case, it will be in waters belonging to the Northwest Territories. They are not even in Yukon waters, even though they will be very close to Yukon's shore.
Why isn't this challenge being taken up by this Liberal government with the federal Liberal government? It's probably because they don't want to upset the federal Liberals. It's easier for them just to remain in the colonial status that they currently enjoy and share the limelight of flying off to Ottawa and sitting at the Prime Minister's table. But the benefits of dealing with the issues head on are probably too much for this minister because it's a very, very important issue. At the end of the day, it's going to come home to Yukon, especially if a pipeline is established across our northern shore.
It will be offshore, and everybody is pretty hard-pressed to fathom how they can plug in a pipeline at the bottom of the ocean. Mr. Chair, it already exists. It is already in place. One has only to look at Norway, which has developed amazing technology for dealing with finds of gas under the ocean and installing pipelines, at considerable depth, to transport that gas to market.
They've done a wonderful job. I am fortunate enough to have a shirttail relative who lives in Norway. He is a diver - not in the sense that you and I know, Mr. Chair - but he spends his time in a chamber at the bottom of the ocean welding pipes together to transport the oil and gas to their markets. He usually works down there for quite a period of time. He comes up, takes some time off and then goes back. He is paid extremely well for his expertise. These are the kinds of jobs we could have. But, no, the pipeline is going to be in waters that belong to the Northwest Territories, if indeed it even comes across our northern shore. There is a good potential that it will. It is between $1 million and $2 million less expensive. The technology exists. And it's a way to take oil and gas away from existing Canadian markets south.
The hype here - and we have all our eggs in one basket with this Liberal government - is that the Alaska Highway pipeline is going to be the be-all and end-all, and that it is going to create wealth here in Yukon. Well, I say to you, Mr. Chair, that that may or may not be the case. If it does or does not happen, that decision is quite a way off and the benefits that could accrue to Yukon may not be as significant as we are being led to believe. In fact, if you look at some of the initial actions of this government - such as the cancellation of the option of a dock in Skagway, which could be the entry point for pipe coming up to build the Alaska Highway pipeline - we could probably have made it pay on just that one initiative alone.
But no, it doesn't appear to be the case. The only trucking that we are going to see is probably trucking from other jurisdictions coming into the Yukon to haul out our equipment from the mine sites that are being decommissioned and to haul pipe in for the construction of a pipeline that may or may not come, Mr. Chair. But even the Minister of Community and Transportation Services can't get it right when it comes to trucking.
Truckers from British Columbia can come up to the Yukon and conduct business in the same manner as you and I, Mr. Chair. But let a Yukon trucker go to British Columbia and it's a different set of rules. There isn't anything reciprocal in this arrangement. It's a one-way street. The number of ministers who appear to be asleep at the switch is growing. The number of ministers who are just paying lip service to their portfolios is growing. Because really, when you start looking at the options and opportunities for Yukoners, they are shrinking at a very alarming rate.
If we look at forestry, we have a wealth of timber here in the Yukon and it can be sustainable. It can be sustainably harvested and it can be dealt with by mills that currently exist here in the Yukon. But what we are probably going to be seeing are companies from British Columbia coming up and buying raw logs and truckers from British Columbia coming up and trucking them south.
Well, I can see why the Minister of Community and Transportation Services wants to arm our weigh scale operators and give them bullet-proof vests, because there will probably be more of an uprising from Yukon truckers as to why they can't get work and why all the work is going south. It's because this minister has failed, Mr. Chair, to negotiate an arrangement for Yukon truckers to operate in British Columbia in the same manner that truckers from British Columbia can operate in the Yukon. It's just a straightforward understanding between two separate jurisdictions, but this minister has failed to negotiate that kind of an arrangement. So, who suffers? Once again, Yukoners. They end up moving elsewhere to find meaningful employment.
It doesn't matter where we look, Mr. Chair, in this economy - the mining sector, the oil and gas, the forestry. The three resource areas that have driven the Yukon economy in the past are all close to extinction here, and those that are surviving and left to operate have the wrath of the bureaucratic maze, with documentation that is growing at the most alarming rate you could ever find in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world. There are requirements now on the mining industry for fulfilling obligations and paperwork on a basis that has never before been witnessed anywhere.
And there are many, many duplications, depending on whether it's the Water Board or the Indian and Northern Affairs mining inspection division, and for each grouping of claims. The requirement for paperwork is accelerating at a level that has never before been seen.
At the same time, we have a group of environmentalists here, funded in part by the Government of Yukon, spending hours and hours and hours in the mining recorder's office and in the Water Board office, going through these documents to find out which miner has tripped up and is not correctly filing the required documentation. Then, they bring it to the attention of the authorities to ensure that steps are followed in a prosecutorial manner.
Mr. Chair, I was under the impression that the regulations were put in place so that mining could take place in an environmentally sound manner, not to create a whole bunch of jobs for environmentalists who are bound and determined to shut down the industry, nor create an additional layer of bureaucracy that appears to be duplicating each other's responsibilities.
And what is this Liberal government doing here in the Yukon? They aren't doing anything - paying a bill at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver for lunch. That's about the extent of it. Apologizing for the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, who will be continuing in his role, I'm told. So, we're going to end up with the same minister after this recent election. Mr. Nault will be back, and I'm sure his position won't be altered with respect to land claims, mining or any economic activity here in the Yukon.
So, what will we have? We'll have the Premier of the Yukon apologizing for the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, because under Mr. Nault, one cannot expect to see any progress or change on what has been the main focus of virtually every government that's been in power here in the Yukon for quite some time, and that's the settlement of the Indian land claims.
Mr. Chair, there are two fundamental issues that this minister should be addressing in order to ensure that the Yukon moves ahead.
One is the Crown in right and the other one is our northern offshore boundary, and on both of these areas, virtually every minister who has been asked this question, Mr. Chair, has ignored it and walked all around it. But both of these areas are of critical importance to the Yukon and to the future of Yukon, Mr. Chair.
Now, when these questions were asked of the previous government leader, Mr. McDonald, he had an agenda. And the timetable for addressing these issues did not fit into his agenda, so he had a legitimate excuse.
What we have now is a new government, a Liberal government, that we're told has amazing connections in Ottawa. In fact, the umbilical cord is firmly reattached between the Yukon Liberals and the federal Liberals, and something will happen. Well, all we've seen happening under this Liberal government here in the Yukon, Mr. Chair, is another colonial power established over Yukon and a further dependence on Ottawa for funding - funding of all sorts, Mr. Chair.
We have seen no progress. We were hopeful, Mr. Chair, that we could see some winter work created under this Liberal regime, but all of the projects that governments have traditionally used in the past to stimulate the economy quickly, such as the trade and investment fund - it's very interesting to note that we're seeing a surplus and a reduction in these line items in this Economic Development supplementary budget, Mr. Chair.
There is a surplus. And this is a government that promised that they were going to adopt the previous NDP's budget and they were going to fly with it - and they did. But for some reason, they curtailed a lot of the expenditures in a multitude of areas.
One would suggest that it was for purely politically partisan reasons. But I have a problem with that. There has to be an agenda there. If we look at the surplus in the trade and investment fund, the community development fund and the fire smart fund as to what kind of jobs they would have created this winter, I think that the Yukon would have been much better off if this Liberal government had put their money where their mouth was, instead of cutting it out of the budget and curtailing and examining these three initiatives. Why does an initiative have to stop before it can be examined? Why can't it be examined at the same time that it is continuing?
If you want to look at a management audit or financial audit of any of these initiatives, there are usually windows on these initiatives and one can examine them in isolation of discontinuing the program. But what we see is a virtual full stop by this Liberal government on these areas and then an examination taking place. Well, I submit that that needn't be the case. These projects could be allowed to proceed at the same time that an examination takes place, whether it is a financial examination or a management examination.
They can go on simultaneously, but there has to be a hidden political agenda wherein this Liberal government wants to see the demise of these three initiatives and these three very worthwhile projects that on occasion have been abused, but so has really every aspect of government and government funding on occasion. So, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We have a wonderful opportunity to stimulate the economy with these three initiatives alone.
We have an opportunity to plan for the future, but what are we seeing? We're seeing a government that is more concerned with the hype of a pipeline and funding a private real estate developer by spending some almost three-quarters of a million dollars ...
Speaker: Order please, Mr. Jenkins. You have less than two minutes.
Mr. Jenkins: ... on Argus' property on their on-site levies - never mind off-site levies, which it was earmarked for, Mr. Chair.
So, at the end of the day, what do we have? We have a government that campaigned on their very close connection between themselves and Ottawa. We haven't seen any evidence of that occurring. They campaigned on being open and accountable. You can't get answers out of these ministers, because they either don't know or they don't understand or they have something to hide. Now, I don't know what it is. All we have is the colonial status of Yukon coming to the forefront, and we have a group of apologists for our federal Liberal government in Ottawa.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
We will proceed then, line by line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Corporate Services in the amount of $335,000 agreed to
On Mineral and Oil and Gas Resources
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister provide a breakdown as to where that's going, please?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. $59,000 of it is for collective agreement and superannuation increases; $375,000 is the increase in First Nations royalties share that I outlined in my opening comments; and $93,000 is additional legal regime development and management costs.
Mr. Jenkins: Regime and management costs - what kind of regime costs are we looking at? What's that all about?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the oil and gas regulations developed pursuant to the Yukon Oil and Gas Act passed in this Legislature - the oil and gas regulations that have been developed. And there are a number that are in progress. The funding is being spent in developing these additional regulations.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister confirm that all of the funds that are supposed to be flowing to the First Nations are flowing in conformity with the act?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, these monies would be sent in accordance with the act and with the appropriate regulations. Whether or not the actual cheque has been sent as of this date, I don't have that information at my fingertips.
Mr. Jenkins: Under the previous government, there were some accelerated payments to the First Nations that didn't appear to conform in all respects to the act. Just where are we at? Are those payments that have gone through now conforming to the act? Because we're being asked to approve them.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The member opposite is incorrect. The money that flowed was under the Kotaneelee funds. This is other oil and gas resources. The money that was approved was accumulated prior to YOGA and it is a separate issue for discussion and is not contained in this line item.
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps the minister could earmark as to where it pertains in this discussion so we can deal with it.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, Kotaneelee funds are not in this supplementary budget.
Mineral and Oil and Gas Resources in the amount of $527,000 agreed to
On Corporate Policy
Corporate Policy in the amount of an underexpenditure of $7,000 agreed to
On Trade and Investment
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, could the minister give us an explanation on that reduction?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. In the trade and investment line, this is O&M expenditures and there is an $84,000 increase for collective agreement and superannuation increases, but due to staffing and reallocation, there was a $203,000 decrease and hence a net decrease of $119,000. This is not the fund. This is the O&M expenditures.
Mr. Fentie: We're interested on this side in the staffing relocation. What does that mean?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there were a number of positions that were put in trade and investment that actually belonged in other branches of the department, for example, the oil and gas senior planner and research analyst. Some of those positions were lumped into trade and investment for previous budget purposes and they have been reallocated to their rightful place.
Mr. Fentie: The previous budget - is that the main budget for 1999-2000 or 2000-01?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: 2000-01.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we're seeing the economy of the Yukon going down, and this is one area on which we could have put an enhanced emphasis. We obviously had the money budgeted. Why wasn't a concerted effort made by the minister to ensure that we did some more stimulation of that area? If you look at the O&M side, there is a saving of $119,000, and on the capital side there is also a $241,000 saving. When you put them both together, what is says is that there is no one in the office to look at projects or initiatives and get them rolling, because we're saving at both ends. We're saving on the money to go into the projects, and we're saving on the staffing level to deal with these projects.
Now, given the state of our economy, why was that political decision made, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, again, I would note that the staffing reallocation - in the previous budget, there were a number of positions, such as senior planner, oil and gas. It didn't belong in trade and investment, but for budget purposes it was put in that line item. We have put the oil and gas senior planner in the oil and gas unit, where it appropriately belongs. The member's assertion - or supposition, or incorrect deduction - about political decisions and how these decisions were arrived at is incorrect. This was a staffing reallocation in this line item. When we're at the trade and investment fund, I will be happy to explain the $241,000 decrease.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, all I see is a savings on both the staffing level and a savings on the fund level, which would suggest that, somewhere along the line, a political decision was made to curtail reviewing programs or looking at them. So if you don't have the staff in place, you can't look at the projects. You subsequently can't give out money.
That becomes abundantly clear when we look at this minister's budget, because there's a savings in O&M costs of some $119,000 and also on the trade and investment side of the equation, on the capital side, there's a further savings of some $241,000. Now, when you tie them together - I'm sure the minister has another explanation, Mr. Chair - given the state of our economy and given the number of initiatives that have been denied, where and why was that decision made to get out of this trade and investment fund and its various opportunities for Yukon businesses?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what the member sees is what the member wants to see. What he's not hearing is my response. There are five positions, in fact, that we are discussing. These positions were put in this line item by the previous government to show an increase in activity in trade and investment. They did not, in fact, belong in there. The senior oil and gas planner belongs with the oil and gas unit, not the trade and investment unit. The research analyst belongs in corporate policy, not just trade and investment. They're fulfilling departmental objectives.
There was a position that was new that was transferred from the Yukon Housing Corporation that genuinely has to do with trade and investment, and there is an information and technology administrator who serves the whole department, not just the trade and investment unit. And there is one other new position. Those are the positions that were put in to inflate the previous budget, and they are part of the reallocation of this money, in that we have put these positions where they belong. That's what we have done.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, they still tie together. We have seen a tremendous reduction in the amount of money that this government is giving out under the trade and investment fund. We have seen a tremendous reduction in the amount of money this government is giving out in the CDF funding and fire smart programs. There are problems with all of them at some level, but some of the initiatives were very, very good and created a lot of employment, especially in rural Yukon. But when you look at this minister's budget and you look at Economic Development and you tie together two surpluses - a surplus in the trade and investment O&M, which is explained by a reallocation of staff, and when you look on the capital side at a surplus of some $241,000, there are a lot of projects out there.
Now, there has to have been a conscious decision made by this Liberal government, Mr. Chair, to curtail expenditures in that area, thus the saving on the capital side. And that can only be achieved by reducing the staffing levels for overseeing these areas. So, they do tie together, I submit, Mr. Chair.
Maybe there has been a reallocation internally, but when the concept of this trade and investment fund was first advanced, a certain sum of money was set aside for the staffing and a certain sum of money was set aside for the flow-through to the proponents. And we're seeing a very unusual saving in both of those areas, Mr. Chair - a surplus. And we're seeing the state of the Yukon economy in the toilet, and we're seeing a whole bunch of applications in the wastepaper basket.
How can this minister rightfully stand on her feet and be called the Minister of Economic Development? That's not even fair, Mr. Chair.
Now, if we're going to do something, let's rightfully look at putting this money to good use, rather than declaring a surplus. And let's put an adequate level of staffing in the department to oversee these trade and investment initiatives. That's what it's there for. That's what the budget was initially approved for.
Mr. Chair, it might have been an NDP budget, but it was approved and brought forward by this Liberal government. And yes, when the NDP brought it forward the Liberals voted against it. But when the Liberals brought it forward, they said, "We're not going to change anything. You're going to get everything that was in that budget." That's what they told Yukoners. But what we're seeing here, at the end of the day, is something else.
What we're seeing is a reduction in staffing complements for the O&M on the trade and investment area. What we're seeing is a surplus on the capital side for actual funds to flow through to the various initiatives. That says only one thing, Mr. Chair: this government is really not interested in this type of initiative, and they're getting out of it. There was virtually a million dollars in the trade and investment fund, and it's being reduced by a quarter of a million dollars.
At the end of the day, where are we at? We're here, discussing a budget and discussing the poor state of the economy, discussing economic development. The money was there. Why wasn't it spent as it was envisioned? Why wasn't someone in the trade and investment portfolio given a position of responsibility to address the needs of the requests that were flowing into the office? Because many, many requests have been denied. Why is that so, Mr. Chair?
Mr. Fentie: Maybe we can go about it this way: I have here a long list of the trade and investment fund projects. Now, I understand a little bit about what the minister's saying when she makes the comment that some of these people have been moved into other branches. There's also still a sizeable amount of O&M in the trade and investment branch, which is reflected in the budget.
My question, then, for the minister would be this: given the fact that the $119,000 reduction for the most part reflects moving people out of trade and investment branch into, as the minister put it, areas where they belong, how then should this government decide to proceed? Once they review the trade and investment fund, how would they go about reviewing this long list of applications to the fund?
Now, an example would be oil and gas. One of these people went back to the oil and gas branch. In our view in the official opposition, oil and gas is very much about trade and investment, especially in terms of attracting investment in the oil and gas sector.
So, how would the minister then proceed with reviewing applications, for example, in the oil and gas sector when it comes to trade and investment expenditure?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, after these five FTEs that I've spoken about are reallocated more appropriately, the 10.5 remaining individuals in that particular branch include the director of oil and gas, business development and mining facilitators. So there are, among others, marketing activities, marketing promotion and an export and trade facilitator. There is staff there that is perfectly capable of reviewing applications.
Chair: Is there any further debate on trade and investment?
Trade and Investment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $119,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $736,000 agreed to
On Mineral and Oil and Gas Resources
On Oil and Gas Resource Revenue - Royalties
Chair: Are there any questions on the revenues?
Mr. Fentie:Well, obviously, Mr. Chair, when we look at this portion of the department's budget, we have, with any stretch of the imagination here in Yukon, a lottery win. A $4.1-million increase in revenue for this quarter.
What I'm trying to ascertain, Mr. Chair, is this: given the fact that this is new money and money that was not accounted for and that this is a boon to us because of the increase in gas prices and oil prices and what we're earning from our producing well in the Kotaneelee, why then would this Minister of Economic Development not immediately turn to this $4.1 million and use it in a manner that would reflect job creation and benefits for Yukoners? The argument that this government is broke doesn't wash. The whole territory knows that that's not the case. And now we even have added revenue that is not being used in a very responsible, fiscal manner. Why wouldn't this minister use the $4.1 million to create jobs and benefits for Yukoners now?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I'd just remind the member opposite of a number of points. Yes, this is additional value to us. Yes, this is an estimate. And I remind the member opposite that, with regard to this revenue, there are formula financing offsets and there are also revenue-sharing arrangements that have to be taken into consideration. So there are a number of points that must also be considered in any of this revenue received.
Mr. Fentie: Well, that's what budgeting is all about. How much of this $4.1-million increase in revenue would be available for the department to expend on creating jobs for Yukoners?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The member opposite was right in his first statement - that's what budgeting is all about. And the revenue estimate is shown in the projections and is outlined, and the budget that we have for debate is before the member.
Mr. Fentie: That one went over the top of my head as far as an answer goes. I asked how much money was left in the $4.1 million projection, which probably is more right now because the prices have increased. So we are earning more. Now, after the minister did her due diligence on this budget - if that is, in fact, the case - the minister would have then come to the conclusion that there was X number of dollars left available to the department and this government after revenue sharing, after formula financing, after, after, and after. Net - how much money was available for this minister to use to help create jobs and benefits for Yukoners this winter?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I have answered the question. The revenue is considered part of the overall revenue of the territory. And after, after, after, after, after - this is the budget document. This is the supplementary budget document that we have before us.
And the work that is being generated in the territory by territorial expenditures has been the subject of much debate and, indeed, the subject of a motion that I heard the member brought forward yesterday, and I now see before me. And I heard the member this afternoon engage in debate on it, as I heard the Member for Klondike. And, indeed, certainly my performance as Economic Development minister will be judged.
Mr. Fentie: A very profound statement by the minister.
My point is we not only have a massive surplus; we have increased revenues. We have any number of reasons why this minister could have done something this winter, other than bring forward this budget for this department. I'm sure that a number of the officials in the department were ready, willing and able to show this minister where some expenditures could have been made through this department that would have gone a long way to address the serious situation we're in this winter, especially in rural Yukon.
So, given all the positive signs and all the positive factors with surplus, with increasing revenues and with all that was happening, why wouldn't the minister do the right thing and put a few dollars toward helping Yukoners this winter? What's the reason for this minister refusing to do that?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I would remind the member that, first of all, with respect to the $4.1 million, this is an estimate. This is not an actual deposit in the bank at this point in time.
First and foremost, we have done a number of things in terms of investing, diversifying, and working with Yukoners with regard to the Yukon economy and to rebuilding it. Government has invested in the Yukon economy by doing a number of things contained in this supplementary budget, and we have discussed them at length. The member opposite has heard my list of initiatives before, and the answer is the same. If the member opposite wants to go on at great length about what this government is doing in terms of the Yukon economy, well, I'm prepared to do that. We can talk about money in the information technology budget, funding that the NDP cut. We can talk about restoring funding for historic properties, funding that the NDP cut.
We can talk about the mining incentive program, student financial assistance, individualized educational plans and the assistance there and the investors in the Yukon economy, including the Northern Lights value-added mill, for which I attended the opening. I missed the member opposite's attendance.
We can talk about the development with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, and some of the capital building projects and full-time equivalent jobs that are being created by that work. The list goes on.
The member opposite asks what we're doing. I have told him many, many times in this House. Again, to borrow a phrase from my learned colleague, the Minister of Education, there is no answer for those who will not hear, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fentie: First off, the minister mentions capital projects. Well, the reason the capital projects are happening is because of the budget - the main budget that this government brought forward and passed. Those are the reasons why - thanks to the former NDP government - people are working on capital projects.
Secondly, the member makes mention of the grand opening of the Northern Lights value-added plant in Whitehorse. Well, let me point out that the supply of fibre that the value-added plant is depending on right now, for furniture blanks and any number of other things, comes from a mill that this minister turned her back on and shut down.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fentie: Well, now, here we go - ask my constituents. Let's play a little ask-the-constituent game with this minister.
In the first place, during the election, two parties committed to ensure that the forest industry kept running in Watson Lake - in the southeast Yukon - which included south Yukon, Discovery Forest Products and all kinds of small operators.
Well, over 70 percent of the southeast Yukon voted for that, not the Liberals. This minister is then, when it comes to Watson Lake and the southeast Yukon, making decisions against the will of the majority of the people in that community, and she obviously doesn't know what she's talking about. That mill wasn't going to burn at all. In fact, I don't even think this minister understands the forest industry and what sawmilling really is all about, because to get to a value-added plant and secondary manufacturing, you have to establish primary breakdown. The minister doesn't have a grasp on the development of a manufacturing sector in forestry. That's one of the major problems here with this budget and why it doesn't reflect what's required and needed in this territory. The minister is lost, floundering.
Now, I know the Liberals are good at cutting ribbons, but ribbon cutting is just one small, little blip in time. It's a hiccup. What about keeping it going? What good is it if it can't get access to fibre? The ribbon cutting is long forgotten.
Now, this minister thinks that, just because she showed up at a grand opening of a plant here in Whitehorse, all is well. And that's not the case, not the case at all. And time will bear that out.
Now, the minister also goes on to say that the $4.1 million is an estimate. Well, so is the budget; it's estimated. Furthermore, when it comes to estimates, look at the lapsed funding that is going to come into this government's coffers at fiscal year-end, March 2001. The last quarter was something like $17 million lapsed by departments in this government's watch.
If we extrapolate that to March 2001, this government is sitting on a minimum of $45 million, but they can't shake a few dollars loose to put Yukoners to work in Mayo, Faro, Ross River, Pelly Crossing, Dawson City, Watson Lake, Haines Junction, Destruction Bay, Burwash Landing, Beaver Creek - the list goes on and on and on. With all that available to this government, these are the answers we, on the opposite side of the House, get when it comes to this minister's purview of the Department of Economic Development, among others.
With $45 million estimated for surplus, money in the bank, in March 2001, why won't this minister help Yukoners out? She has the ability to put hundreds of Yukoners to work this winter with one stroke of the pen. Why won't she do that?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the members opposite see winter works as some kind of a panacea, and the members opposite refuse to listen to what is going on in terms of government expenditures and what is currently taking place in communities.
Let's talk about some of those capital projects. There are a number of them in Dawson City. I see that the Mayor of Dawson has joined us and is watching this debate. I have spoken frequently with that particular individual.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Great trepidation under his community under our watch - for his community under our watch. Well, that's an interesting point of view.
Let's talk about the construction going on in that particular community and not -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Duncan:Now we take credit, now we don't. It's no wonder they have renamed the Member for Watson Lake "Flip-Flop Fentie". It's no wonder.
Mr. Chair is giving me the look. I'll withdraw it. I will withdraw that remark.
Mr. Chair, our commitment to Yukon people -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the members opposite do not want to know the jobs that are happening in the communities and they don't want to take a good hard look at the expenditures in the supplementary budget, which include half a million dollars on winter gravel crushing and $90,000 spent on highway camp facility maintenance. Work on the Shakwak will be resuming this spring and the members opposite will say, "Thanks to the NDP for putting it in the budget," and the Yukon Party will stand up and say, "Thanks to our lobbying from the previous government." The person who really deserves the credit is the individual who was a proponent of the transportation bill in the American houses that saw the Shakwak money flow to the Yukon.
The real issue, Mr. Chair, is the Yukon economy and, as my colleague the Minister of Health says, where we're at. We are investing in the Yukon economy. We are taking revenue - yes, from the formula financing and from increased revenue, estimated in the $4.1 million in this particular line item and we are investing in Yukon infrastructure and in Yukoners with this supplementary budget. That money - individuals employed in our education system as educational assistants. There's increased money for that line item and to have additional individuals employed.
There is additional money in the supplementary budget to fulfill the capital works, to see them completed. For example, we just finished the Ross River school as one of those items. There are a number of them. And those items have put Yukoners to work. The member opposite opened his remarks by talking about a government - and he referenced a Liberal government that threw money around in a vain attempt at vote buying.
Well, in terms of throwing the money around, I think the member would be well-advised to hearken back to January of this year and look at some of the expenditures that were approved in the closing days of the previous government.
We have examined Yukon's financial resources. We have examined the needs - needs like health care, like financial assistance for students, like education needs, like infrastucture needs. Our capital infrastructure - if the member opposite cares to examine the level of expenditures in the Community and Transportation Services section of the budget on Yukon's infrastucture, he would be borrowing phrases from the Member for Klondike and using words like "shocked" and "appalled", and "At the end of the day, it wasn't nearly enough to maintain Yukon's road infrastructure." We are desperately in need of putting more money into Yukon's roads and highways. That has been made very clear to us, it was very clear in opposition, it has been very clear in government, it was very clear in the election campaign. The member has only to examine our platform in detail to see that point.
Again, I would remind members opposite that the increase in royalty income is due to volume and price increases. It is an estimate.
Again, I would remind members opposite that we have a revenue-sharing arrangement with the First Nations and that there are formula offsets to this money. It is not simply, as the member would like to portray it, some kind of windfall that we should be using to create short-term employment without a long-term vision for the Yukon.
Mr. Chair, the members opposite have used their time today to put forward the motion and suggest that this government has done nothing in terms of the economy and that we are - the Member for Klondike used the word "incompetent". And on and on the list goes.
Mr. Chair, with the economic devastation suffered under the previous government, it is going to take some time to restore the Yukon economy. We are doing that, and we will continue to do that.
Mr. Chair, in light of the hour, I would move that you report progress.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Fentie, on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: I would say, Mr. Chair, that given there's 10 minutes left on the clock for us to conduct the public's business in this Legislature, the Premier should not be getting on her feet asking for us to report progress. There has been no progress from this Liberal government when it comes to the economy - none whatsoever.
Chair: Order please.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: Order please. Order please. Mr. Fentie, order please.
It's not a debatable motion, so it's not something that you can do anything about.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: Excuse me. Order please.
It has been moved by Ms. Duncan that we do now report progress.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I believe the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to
Ms. Tucker: Mr. Chair, I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by Ms. Tucker 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. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 2000-01, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare that report carried.
Ms. Tucker: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:55 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 12, 2000:
Youth Directorate: status of 'Yukon Youth Directorate'
Oral, Hansard, p. 764
Executive Council Office (Bureau of Statistics): response to questions asked during 2000-01 Supplementary Estimates re housing starts
Oral, Hansard, p. 773
Travel costs to Old Crow (August 14, 2000)
Oral, Hansard, p. 777
Public Communication Services program: transfer to Government Services
Oral, Hansard, p. 774
Juneau office: contract to develop a paper to create
Oral, Hansard, p. 775