Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 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. Mr. Roberts: I have two items here to table, Mr. Speaker.
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?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that:
(1) a report issued earlier today by the Canadian Institute of Health Research recommends that Canadian scientists be allowed to do research on human stem cells under certain guidelines;
(2) according to the recent national survey, the vast majority of Canadians do not support the cloning of human beings but the majority support the cloning of human organs to treat medical conditions;
(3) the Government of Canada currently has no cloning laws and is currently operating under a voluntary moratorium; and
(4) this issue evokes many moral and ethical issues; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to debate this issue with Canadians and create legislation that will reflect the public's position on the issue of human cloning.
Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation post a list of all contracts, including all sole-source contracts, issued by the Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation since the Yukon Liberal Government took office, on the Yukon Government's Web site in the same manner that the Department of Government Services posts the contracts of other government departments and corporations; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Government to post contracts for all government department and corporations on the Yukon Government website within 30 days of contracts being issued.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the five-point plan put forward by the resource users coalition group to correct the deficiencies in the Yukon Protected Areas Strategy should be adopted by the Yukon Liberal Government and include the following provisions:
(1) give the secretariat supporting the Yukon Protected Areas Strategy independent status so that it is not tied to either the Department of Renewable Resources or the Department of Economic Development;
(2) conduct full-scale assessments of protecting a particular area in addition to the full-scale environmental assessments that are currently being done;
(3) establish a cap on the total amount of area that can be protected under the strategy;
(4) guarantee access to land that may be blocked through the creation of a protected area; and
(5) create no more protected areas until the completion of the seven outstanding Yukon Indian Land Claim Agreements.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Yukon hydrogen project, sole-source feasibility study
Mr. Fairclough: I have a question for the Premier. I'd like to clear up some confusion that arose as a result of yesterday's Question Period. When did the Premier first become aware that the Yukon Development Corporation has entered into a contract with GS Energy Systems Inc. to study the feasibility of a possible hydrogen project?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, this question is one that, I believe, can be addressed by providing a legislative return to the member opposite. Those are issues that I think are a matter of course, and I don't think there is any major issue with at least letting the member have that kind of information.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, I asked the Premier when she became aware of this. It just takes a simple answer to the question. I don't know why the government is trying to divert away from the question that is being asked here. Now I will ask another question and maybe the Premier can stand up and answer the first question.
Second question and follow up: can the Premier explain the discrepancy between what she told the House yesterday, what she told the media shortly afterwards and what she told the conflicts commissioner in her letter on June 4? Can the Premier answer that question?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I think first of all, Mr. Speaker, that we have to realize that there is no real issue here. The Premier wrote to the conflicts commissioner after we were sworn into office, as we all did. The conflicts commissioner recommended that the Premier do a couple of things. First, she should abstain from all formal discussions and decisions involving her brother's businesses. Second, the Premier had to request that another Cabinet minister act for her if an issue involving her brother's businesses came up in one of her departments. The Premier did all of that; therefore, there is really no problem. We did what we were required to do.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I asked the question of the Premier, and one of the things that the Liberals can do is update the public on who the Premier is now.
From what we understand from the media reports, the conflicts commissioner advised the Premier to put some distance between herself and the project, and we understand that he may have even recommended that the Premier assign the YDC and YEC portfolio to another minister. According to this morning's news report, that recommendation was made on May 5, before Cabinet was sworn in.
If this is the case, why did the Premier even give herself the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation portfolios in the first place, knowing that a close family member had a business relationship with YDC? Why did she do that?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I think, Mr. Speaker, once again decisions are made based on appropriate judgements, looking at respective resources. And when those decisions are made, they are made in the best interests of Yukoners. Because other people decide to make other situations out of this, there's not much I can do about it. I believe the objective here is to offer good service and good support for Yukoners. It has very little to do with what I would call this fantasy that has been created around this issue. I believe the members opposite are very good at creating an issue where there is no issue. This has been done on many occasions, and I don't know how we can clear the record other than state it very clearly.
There is no issue here, Mr. Speaker. There never was, there never will be, and to create one is leading Yukoners to believe that the opposition really has no questions. They are looking for issues. They have no questions. They haven't had any for the last three sessions, and this session once again proves that they have no real questions. Let's get on with governing instead of worrying about fantasy.
Question re: Yukon hydrogen project, sole-source feasibility study
Mr. Fairclough: Well, the Liberals call this a fantasy. We think it involves the public in a decision that has been made by this Liberal government. And, Mr. Speaker, if there's nothing to hide, then why doesn't the Premier answer the question? If there's no issue here, why doesn't the Premier answer the question?
Now, what we're merely trying to do is give the Premier an opportunity to clear up a rather murky situation, and I'm sure that she would like to set the record straight.
So my question again is to the Premier: was the Premier's decision to reassign the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation portfolio last month as a result of advice from the conflicts commissioner, or were there other considerations?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, allegations, statements, fantasy, the question of the whole issue of reassigning - obviously we look at what various roles we play. After a time, we find that maybe we should divvy up or share some of those responsibilities, and mainly because of the responsibilities that I had, as the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board, we felt that this would be a very good fit.
We are looking at governance; we are looking at how arm's-length corporations work with government. So it was felt, when the move was made, that this would fit very nicely with how we are trying to address the issues with any of these arm's-length corporations. That's the only reason. It has nothing to do with anything else, and to assume or to intimate that there's something else behind this, again tells me and tells the House and tells people in the Yukon that we're looking for issues instead of getting on with governing. That's really why we're here - legislation, Mr. Speaker, to better the ways of Yukoners, not to be out looking for smear tactics in order to attach some label to an issue that's not there.
Mr. Fairclough: It sounds like a cover-up to me. The Premier had to do it. It was a recommendation from the conflicts commissioner. She had to do that, Mr. Speaker. It is the Liberal side that is creating the issues out in the general public.
The previous government was very interested in pursuing energy alternatives, including wind, solar and microhydro and including the fuel-cell technology. Now, one of Canada's leading companies for fuel-cell technology is Ballard Power Systems. During the last federal election campaign, the Prime Minister gave Ballard a big publicity boost and it became a kind of poster child for alternative energy technology. One of the key requirements for fuel-cell technology is hydrogen.
Maybe the Premier can stand up and answer this question: has the Premier or anyone in her office had any discussion with the Prime Minister or the federal Energy minister about the Yukon's potential to help supply the markets for hydrogen in the east? Can the Premier answer that question?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge - and at this point, I will be very open with you - the answer is no.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure that we're going to get to the bottom of this. Every day, we see the government stand up and answer questions - or attempt to answer questions - in this House, and something else comes out in the media or the next day different from what they had said in the past.
During the recent climate change conference in Whitehorse, the feasibility report on Yukon Energy's hydrogen project was prominently on display. Now, the Premier has admitted publicly that a new economic development agreement is on the way soon. With its multi-million dollar commitment to the Mayo-Dawson power line, the Yukon Development Corporation probably can't take another big commitment like the Yukon hydrogen project.
Perhaps the Premier can answer this question, and not slough it off to another minister. Is the government or any Crown corporation involved in any negotiations with the federal government about funding for a Yukon hydrogen project? Are they in negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Again, it sounds like a witch hunt. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but we can't buy into that.
First of all, just to clarify the record, there is the idea out there that this move to provide me with this new portfolio was all done in secret, in hush hush, and behind closed doors. Well, it wasn't. It was widely reported in the media, and I am happy to say that the Premier had confidence in me to be able to take on this portfolio. I am very pleased to be able to take on this responsibility. As I have shared with you earlier, I have always had a keen interest in corporations, and I am already responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, the Yukon Hospital Corporation Board, and the YEC portfolio as well. So, it fits. That is why I am responsible for energy, for development, for processing, for whatever - the connection, and whatever that means from arm's-distance.
The members opposite know full well what arm's-distance means. It means that that corporation makes their decisions. We, as government, either endorse their decisions or we could provide them with some direction. The members opposite are masters of flip-flop, Mr. Speaker. They are doing gymnastics over there. Trade departments, switch departments, give up departments, and now they are upset because the Premier transferred a department. I can't answer what their response is, but obviously we are open and accountable. We always have been and we always will be.
Question re: Argus Properties, payment for work on mall site
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Minister of Economic Development. Now, I don't expect the minister responsible for Liberal damage control to stand up and answer.
Back on September 11, 2000, the Premier's chief of staff met with Argus officials in Vancouver. Subsequently on December 6, 2000, the Mayor of the City of Whitehorse reported in the media that the Yukon government ordered the City of Whitehorse to pay invoices from Argus Properties, despite city objections to the payment. The mayor was quoted at the time as saying, "We did not feel that it was appropriate. We did not feel the reason for payment was part of the development agreement. But once the government said 'pay', we were obligated to pay. It was not our money." The $750,000, in fact, was public money that the city received from the Yukon government and was ordered to pay to Argus.
Can the Premier advise the House when the secret mediation talks involving her government, Argus and the City of Whitehorse, started earlier this month, are scheduled to resume? And, should they fail, is binding arbitration the next step, or will the parties be proceeding to court?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is factually challenged. The Argus mediation discussions are not a secret. Those who are interested enough to ask are well aware that there are mediation discussions and they are scheduled to resume in April.
Mr. Jenkins: "Factually challenged" - I ask a question; I can't get an answer. They're starting again. What happens if they fail? Is binding arbitration the next step, or will the parties be proceeding to court?
Mr. Speaker, previously, this Liberal government sided with Argus against the city in the interpretation of the agreement, so what role is the government playing in the current talks, and can the Premier assure this House that members of her political staff are no longer directly involved in these negotiations?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the member is incapable of listening, as well. I gave the answer he requested in my first response. I stated that mediation talks were resuming in April, and I also stated that they were not secret. That was the question the member opposite asked. The Yukon government is one of three parties involved in this mediation, and we are a strong, solid participant, and we are working toward a successful conclusion. Beyond that, I will not comment on mediation.
Mr. Jenkins: I asked the Premier a three-part question. She responded to a third of it, Mr. Speaker. Now, a lot of public money has already been spent on a big, still-empty field of gravel; so will the Premier make a commitment to this House that no more public money will be paid to Argus as a consequence of these secret talks? Will she make that commitment?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I will not agree with any of the comments that the member opposite has made. I have stated that we are a party to the agreement, that the agreement is in mediation discussions, that the mediation discussions resume in April, that the Yukon government is, as it has always been, a strong and able participant in the mediation. Beyond that, I will not comment further.
Question re: Premier's family, outstanding debts to YTG
Mr. Fentie: I have a very simple question for the Premier today, in her capacity as Minister of Economic Development.
To the minister's knowledge, does any member of her immediate family have any outstanding debts owing to the Government of Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no.
Mr. Fentie: I didn't realize that the Minister of Health is now the Minister of Economic Development, so I apologize to the Premier.
My follow-up question is to the Premier. In the annual report of the Business Development Advisory Board, there is a listing of a $90,000 loan to Total North Communications Ltd. for a point-of-information systems project. Can the minister advise the House if that loan has been fully repaid or if it has been forgiven?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, I don't know every fact that goes on with government, such as who borrows or pays back. That is not my role.
If that's the objective of the member opposite, obviously we are in the wrong business. I thought we were here to govern the Yukon. If that's a problem that the member opposite has with individuals who owe money to the government, then obviously that could be done in another way. It's not the first time that people have owed money to the government. As a matter of fact, there are many outstanding debts that are owed to the government by many people. I'm not sure what that has to do with energy, but I think it's just part of that innuendo or fantasy, or whatever is coming out of that. We are not interested in that. I don't think Yukoners are interested in that.
Mr. Fentie: Well, Yukoners are interested. They're interested in the fact that this government claims to be open and accountable. They're interested in the fact that this government has claimed that it will develop a level playing field, and they're also interested in fiscal management and if there are monies owed to the Yukon government by companies or individuals.
Let me follow up, Mr. Speaker. The list of outstanding loans released by the minister's own department last year doesn't mention this loan. We have also been unable to find any record of settlement in any other agreement involving the same remote radio units purchased by the government from the same company.
Has the Premier ever given any directions to her department regarding the disposition of reporting of either of these transactions?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Once again, I would hope that the member takes vigilance with every individual who owes money to the government. I would hope the member opposite would do that. I would hope that the member opposite would take that time and energy to expose all the individuals in the Yukon who owe money to the Yukon government because I believe it's a long list, Mr. Speaker. If the member opposite wants an answer to the question, the answer is no.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, shutdown of intensive care unit
Mr. Keenan: I have a question, Mr. Speaker, for the minister of damage control and, as we all know, that's the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Can the minister confirm that the intensive care unit at the Whitehorse General Hospital has experienced shutdowns from time to time due to a lack of staff?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, once again, the simple answer and the short one is yes, there have been some shut-downs, but again that's an arm's-distance corporation. They make decisions based on what they can do, and obviously they have made a decision that, even with my influence, my role, I would not be able to do, because it's an arm's-distance corporation.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, we have this minister who hides behind the arm's-length corporations, yet just a couple of questions ago, he was saying how much he could influence those corporations. So I would like him to get out of his fantasyland, get out of the Tinkerbell mode, spread a little pixie dust on his own side of the House and get some answers over there.
Mr. Speaker, intensive care services cannot be scheduled. If you break an arm, if you have a heart attack - those types of accidents cannot be scheduled. So does the minister have any information about this impending shutdown of the surgical unit at the Whitehorse General Hospital?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the member opposite. The member opposite talks about intensive care. It wasn't intensive care, Mr. Speaker, it was same-day surgery. They have shut down some of the operations there. They're still operating, but they're not operating as frequently as they have in the past.
There has been no change in emergency services. They have rearranged staffing, and they continue to try to recruit surgical nurses. That's where the problem is, Mr. Speaker. It's the very issue that we spent the whole afternoon on yesterday, looking at recruitment. They're very difficult to find. So, yes, we are experiencing some problems in the short-stay surgical.
Mr. Keenan: The minister knows everything about everybody else's department but does not know about his own Health department.
Mr. Speaker, to quote the Member for Watson Lake, that's an outrage. It's disgusting. In April there are going to be no surgeons in the Yukon Territory. The hospital is looking at shutting down the surgical unit at that point in time. So that is for the minister's information. Mr. Speaker, that's definitely a sign of the effect of the lack of medical doctors, nurses and technicians in the territory at this point in time.
Now, it seems just yesterday, as the minister mentioned, he had all the answers, and I can actually quote from the Hansard right here, "Cabinet recently approved the department's interim action health plan. That's phase 1, to recruit and to retain." On June 15, this minister committed that there would be no reduction in health services during this Liberal government's mandate.
Speaker: Order please. Will the member please ask the question. One minute has expired.
Mr. Keenan: Given this commitment, will the minister further commit to taking every action possible to prevent further interruptions of these essential services, now that he has been informed?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, we do operate very closely together, but again, I have to remind the members opposite that arm's-distance corporations make their own decisions. We can influence, we can try to influence, we can tell them what we think should happen. But really, the final decision is theirs. We don't politically interfere - not like the members who have had a reputation for that in the past. We don't do that. We stay on the high road. If we have problems -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, we will be alerted as to what our part can be in this whole issue. If that's a problem, then we will obviously be well-informed as to how we can help solve the problem. We do not solve the direct problems of Crown corporations. They are there to solve their own. They have their own board, they have their own chair, they have their own CEOs. We do not politically interfere.
Question re: Minister of Community and Transportation Services, North American Tungsten shares
Mr. Fairclough: I have a question for the Premier or whoever wants to answer the question on that side of the House.
The Premier and the Member for Riverside have had discussions with North American Tungsten about how the Yukon government could help facilitate the reopening of the Cantung mine. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services has told the House that her department had been involved since February 26 regarding necessary roadwork on the Nahanni Range Road. If the Nahanni Range Road is improved and the mine reopens, this could improve the share value of North American Tungsten, including the 1,000 shares listed in the disclosure form of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. To the Premier's knowledge, has the Minister of Community and Transportation Services divested herself of those shares? And when did she do so?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The member is asking about the Nahanni Range Road and my shares in North American Tungsten. I am writing to the conflicts commission on that issue. Yesterday afternoon, I asked the Clerk for a copy of my disclosure statement from last year, because his note about getting this year's statements done was on my mind. Upon reviewing it, I was reminded that I do, indeed, hold 1,000 shares of North American Tungsten, purchased July 31, 1997, at 50 cents a share. That was over a year before my election as an MLA.
In the letter to the conflicts commissioner, I am asking for instructions on how to proceed on this issue. These stocks were declared to the conflicts commissioner; he is well aware that I hold them. Until I receive those instructions, Minister Eftoda will be answering questions about the Nahanni Range Road.
Mr. Fairclough: Did the minister take part in any Cabinet or caucus discussions regarding the Nahanni Range Road while she owned those shares?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: No Cabinet discussions on the Nahanni Range Road have taken place as yet.
Mr. Fairclough: Did she issue any instructions to her department about the Nahanni Range Road while she owned those shares?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, obviously the message isn't getting across to the members opposite. As the Minister of Community and Transportation Services indicated, questions directly related to the road activity will be answered by me, until she receives an answer from doing what is the honourable, open and accountable thing - contacting the conflicts commissioner to get clarity on this issue. She has informed the member opposite that I will answer.
There have been discussions with the department about upgrading and working on the road. To the best of my knowledge, the transportation maintenance branch has not done a whole lot of maintenance on the road. It is responsible for protection and infrastructure on the highway from kilometre 0 to 134.
We are aware that the company is reinvestigating its property at Cantung. We will be proceeding with looking at the current condition of the road and what is required to bring it up to usability after the company itself makes a decision on Cantung.
Question re: Social assistance rates
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services. I'm not so sure who is going to jump up and answer it, but that's who the question is directed to.
Last spring, the Premier, being an open and accountable premier while in opposition, said an increase in social assistance rates to help the poorest of the poor was long overdue. This government announced their changes in the social assistance program this winter, and of course increased rates were not a part of those changes as promised by this Liberal government.
So, will this minister implement an increase to social assistance rates, as promised, to really help those on social assistance who need it most?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, yes, I agree. We have responded in one form with at least the utility increases, especially hydro and fuel. Those increases are automatic, so all SA recipients were able to claim those increases.
We haven't increased the general rates across the board because we have chosen to move in another direction, trying to help single parents in their ability to maintain their children in their home from the ages of zero to six. Up until this point it was from zero to two, so we believe that we have made a better decision in trying to help those people who are very anxious to stay home with their children and also to look at what their opportunities would be in the future.
Mr. Keenan: Isn't it funny that you can campaign one way and then, certainly, when you have the reins of authority in your hands, you can choose to move in another direction. That is appalling, absolutely appalling. I mean, there was an article in the paper just recently that highlighted the needs of the poor in the Yukon. The Whitehorse food banks and food banks in the communities are running out. The soup kitchens are crowded. Homelessness is a problem. We have people who can have a room for the night but they don't know if they can have it for two nights. Yukon folks are watching. Look at the cartoon that was in the paper just awhile ago depicting the heartlessness of the member opposite. Those things just don't happen because you moved in another direction. My goodness, Mr. Speaker, given the increasing needs of Yukon's poor, will the minister show that he does have a heart and do the right thing by increasing social assistance rates, not putting a lateral move on anything, but increase the rates as the Premier had promised while she was in opposition.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I think the member opposite is confused. That was a platform statement that their party, the government of the day, made; we did not make that statement that we would increase the rates across the board. We said that we would look at how we can help single parents and we also said how we can develop exemptions for those who wish to get back into the workforce. And we did that, Mr. Speaker. It is taken right from our platform. We were asked by many people who work with SA clients that we not try to fix the rates - that doesn't solve the problems - but to fix the system. And that is what we are doing. We are trying to address the system.
If you go back into any kind of creative SA development that is taking place across the nation, it is not fixing the rates, it is fixing the system so that people can get off SA and believe that they can do something for themselves. They don't need to be constantly supported if they can get other ways of finding how they can move into the workforce. That is what we are hearing. That is what people want; they don't want to be on SA. There are those people who need to be on SA; we recognize that. But for those who want to get off SA, they want us to fix the system, and that is what we have done. We are slowly working at fixing the system. Will we fix it up completely overnight, in 11 months? I doubt it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I know who's confused in this room, and it certainly is not anybody on this side of the House.
Mr. Speaker, people are starting to see through these folks over there. You can spin, you can spin, you can spin, but all that spinning does is just dig you a little deeper hole.
And for the minister to stand on his feet and say that he was asked by recipients, by clients? Well, I challenge the minister. If he'd just send one of those people over to my office, I won't pursue this line of questioning any more - just one of those people, because I've had dozens come in and speak to me about that. The Premier accepted the budget as is, and then they spun it for two months, and when it was over, they did the wrong thing.
I'd like to talk about training, and I have a question now. You adopted the budget that had $70,000 in that, and it seems to have disappeared. Now, that was for educational upgrading for welfare recipients. It was to give those folks the skills that they need to get off welfare. Now, we just heard the minister speaking about what he has done, yet it has disappeared from that factor. Will this minister commit to implementing the funding for educational opportunities for those on social assistance and increasing the rates for those who need it the most?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: It gives me another opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to talk about what we really have done. We've increased the age exemption from two to six, and this change will allow exemption from requirement to seek employment or training when an applicant is taking care of one or more children under six years of age. That's the first time that has been moved for the last number of years.
We have also increased the flat rate exemption from $50 to $100 for singles and from $100 to $150 for families per month. We have also increased the maximum allowable utility rate by $100 in each category. In addition, the department will be undertaking a review of its current welfare and employment services and exploring the feasibility of programming and emphasizing self-sufficiency through wage supplementation.
We're just beginning, Mr. Speaker, to try to fix the system. Throwing money at it doesn't solve the problem. We have just increased the O&M of many NGOs for the next number of years. That hasn't been done for years by previous governments. We've raised foster rates by $100,000. They haven't been touched for at least nine years, Mr. Speaker - talk about a government doing something in 11 months. Previous governments didn't even address that issue, and yet now they cry that they did so much.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. 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. We will continue with general debate, Community and Transportation Services, on Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2001-02.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 2001-02 - continued
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
Chair: I believe that Mr. Jenkins has the floor. Mr. Jenkins, you have approximately five minutes.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, when we left general debate last Tuesday evening, we were exploring with the minister a whole series of areas under her responsibility, and I had some very serious concerns with the way that businesses in the Yukon, especially rural Yukon, were being treated by her department. And I refer specifically to the mining roads in the Klondike district and their early opening and the removal of the glaciers from those roads.
This is not a new situation. Every year, the mining community has to come, virtually on bended knees, to the minister and to the department to get the mining roads opened in March. And then we learn of another mine that is going into operation, and it's in the Northwest Territories. We learn that there is only $10,000 budgeted for the Nahanni Range Road but that this government has been approached - the Department of Community and Transportation Services and the minister herself have been approached - by the mine operators, North American Tungsten, which has purchased the assets of Cantung. And we're going to be spending an amount approaching $1 million a year to maintain the road. Now, that's exclusive of the capital costs that are going to be associated with the replacement of a number of multiplexes along that road, with the additional requirement for equipment and the requirement to maintain the Tuchitua camp year-round. Currently, that camp is only maintained seasonally.
So, the question that demands an answer, Mr. Chair, is why can't the playing field be level with respect to Yukon businesses and the mining sector, as they are to businesses in the Northwest Territories? The minister failed to respond with a legitimate answer and justification as to how the government could spend $1 million a year opening the Nahanni Range Road and maintaining it year-round for North American Tungsten in the Northwest Territories, and not spend anywhere near the amount approaching that sum on all of the mining roads here in the Yukon, Mr. Chair.
In fact, even if we look at the rural roads program, under the previous NDP government there was $1 million a year spent on rural roads. This government campaigned on a pledge to pump more money back into highways, to pump more money into road upgrading. And what do we see, Mr. Chair? We see the amount in rural roads being reduced from $1 million a year to $400,000 a year. What benefits are accruing to Yukon? The Liberals campaigned on one position, and they do something else.
Let's look at the airport in my community of Dawson, Mr. Chair. It is going to take almost $4 million to bring it into conformity, and to bring it up to standards and pave it will take another $8 million - $12 million. Where is the government's representation to Ottawa to find that kind of money? I don't believe that they have made any headway whatsoever on this extremely important initiative. The whole economy of the Yukon is based on a tripod: transportation, communication and energy. And in every area, all we see are ever-escalating costs to the end consumer and no increase in the level of service.
In fact, it's going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain the existing level of service. So I'd like to know this from the minister: why the double standard, and who is benefiting from the opening of the Nahanni Range Road, vis-à-vis the mining roads in the Klondike, and what is going to happen to the airports? When are they going to be brought up to the important standard?
Now, I'm not looking for the minister - the stand-in minister - I guess, Mr. Chair, the easiest way is, anybody over there who wants to answer the question these days, stand up and answer it, because we can't seem to get an answer from the proper minister.
Let's just throw the question out to anybody in the Liberal government who wants to answer it, who can answer it.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I explained to the Member for Klondike earlier this week that the mining roads in the Dawson area are being opened on schedule. The work was scheduled to be done, and it was carried out, as scheduled, not because of his call to me, but I called the department and was told, "Yes, we're starting on that right now, as we had planned to do."
As for the Dawson Airport, we have been working closely with Ottawa and we are hopeful that we will have a positive announcement on that shortly.
Mr. Chair, the Member for Klondike raised a number of questions in debate, when last we met in Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, on Shakwak contract letting and spring load restrictions. He asked if we could confirm that contractors could work on this project during the winter and during the spring, and if, in fact, a lot of this work will take place this fall and next winter. He also asked what was the downside for allowing them overweight permits to mobilize their equipment to the job sites along the Shakwak highway projects.
Mr. Chair, I have a summary of anticipated commencement dates for the three major construction contracts on the Shakwak project, and, as I indicated to the member on Tuesday, based on historical records, 75-percent loading restrictions will be removed by May 1, and 100-percent loading restrictions will be removed by June 1.
Construction on kilometre 1664 to 1674, the Jarvis River area - tenders close April 19 and the award will be by April 26. The contractor would be able to begin mobilization of the construction camp and some light equipment, up to D-8 dozer, including crusher, to the site by May 1. The first phase of this project is the setting up of camp, grubbing of the right-of-way, clearing and stripping of gravel pit and rock quarry, crushing of granular material for surfacing the detour road, and supplying culvert material. All of this work could be undertaken as soon as the equipment is taken to the site. Heavy loads, scrapers, rock trucks, large dozers and large backhoes could be taken to the site beginning June 1. By June 1, the frost should be out of the ground and the contractor could commence work on the detour road and begin the excavation of rock from the rock quarry.
The effect of load restrictions on the progress of this project will be minimal. The project is on schedule. It does not involve winter construction and it was never planned to. It was always planned that this work would be completed in the summer of 2001. As for construction, kilometre 1684 to 1691.6, Silver Creek, tenders close May 17. The award will be by May 24. The contractor would be able to commence hauling light loads immediately upon award and would be able to commence hauling heavy loads within eight days of the award. Load restrictions will have no effect on the commencement of work on this project.
This project was originally planned for tendering in February and is, unfortunately, approximately two months behind schedule. Delays were caused by the necessity to redo some sections of the topographic survey, which had been completed by a contractor last summer and fall. In addition, concerns were expressed about proposed work in the vicinity of Silver Creek. Significant modification had to be made to the tender package to avoid these concerns. This is a two-year contract that will be completed in 2002.
As for the Burwash Landing to Duke River section, kilometre 1757 to 1768, the tenders close June 14 and the award will be by June 21. The load restrictions, as I said Tuesday, will be off before the contract is awarded. This project is on schedule and has always been planned for later in the season in order to minimize disruption in Burwash Landing during the tourist season. Now, it's true that a lot of winter work had been carried out on the Shakwak project in the past. That was as a result of the advantage of handling ice-rich permafrost while it was in a frozen state. So, contractors grew to expect winter work, but we are now out of that particular area of extensive ice-rich permafrost and the rest of the work is more typical of normal highway construction, and that is best accomplished during the summer.
Mr. Chair, the Member for Klondike had asked on Tuesday about the construction permits for Shakwak construction, if all of the permits necessary for the construction were applied for and obtained in a timely fashion, and he had asked if the minister could confirm that the reason that these contracts weren't let at an earlier date was because all of the appropriate permits were not in place. Well, Mr. Chair, as for land use permits, for kilometre 1664 to 1674, the permit has been applied for and is expected to be issued during the tendering period; for kilometre 1684 to 1692, the permit has been applied for and is also expected to be issued during the tendering period; for kilometre 1758 to 1768, the permit will be applied for in April and is expected to be approved prior to tenders closing.
For kilometre 1664 to 1674, the water licence has been applied for and approval is expected by late May or early June. The water licence on this project is for relatively insignificant non-critical work and will not delay construction. For kilometre 1684 to 1692, the water licence has been applied for and only pertains to installation of a culvert at Christmas Creek. This installation has a fisheries timing window of July 1 to September 30, and the licence is expected to be approved in advance of this window. For kilometre 1758 to 1768, the water licence will be applied for shortly and is also insignificant in terms of construction progress. It's just needed in case additional amounts of water are necessary for road-compaction procedures.
Mr. Chair, on Tuesday the Member for Mayo-Tatchun asked about the Carmacks grader station, how much it would cost to move it, and if funding had been identified to move some of the material stored in the current yard and if it would happen this season.
The estimated costs for the new Carmacks grader station are $2.2 million. There was no funding identified in the 2000-01 or the 2001-02 budget to move any of the maintenance materials from the current yard to the new site, as I indicated to the member on Tuesday. The preferred site for a new grader station is on the Carmacks airport lands, and a parcel of the airport land has been reserved for this purpose.
Mr. Chair, also on Tuesday, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes inquired about BST on a road in the Johnsons Crossing area - whether the road going down underneath the bridge and around could get BST and, if not, could a cost-benefit analysis on applying the bituminous surface treatment to the road surface be done. A cost-benefit analysis to apply BST to this road has been performed. The department currently spends approximately $2,500 per kilometre to maintain this road as a dust-treated gravel surface during summer months. The dust treatment currently used is calcium chloride.
In order for BST to be a cost-effective replacement for dust-treated gravel, the traffic volumes would have to be much higher than they are at present. As traffic volumes increase, the cost for summer maintenance of a gravel road increases to the point that BST becomes a cheaper alternative. In this case, the summer maintenance costs would have to increase to about $5,000 per kilometre to make BST cost beneficial. The department will attempt to apply the calcium chloride dust palliative earlier this season than last, in an attempt to enhance the quality of life enjoyed by the Allen family.
Mr. Chair, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes had asked a similar question about the Teslin cottage road, and a cost-benefit analysis to apply BST to this road has also been performed. The department spends approximately $1,500 per kilometre to maintain this road as a dust-treated gravel surface in the summer. Calcium chloride is currently used as the best treatment.
Traffic volumes on this road also would have to be much higher than they are at present in order for BST to be a cost-effective replacement for dust-treated gravel.
The summer maintenance costs would have to increase, as in the road at Johnsons Crossing, to about $5,000 per kilometre to make BST cost beneficial.
Mr. Chair, the Member for Klondike had asked another question about the Shakwak project on Tuesday about the Shakwak construction camp water licence requirements. He had stated that the Water Board requires that contractor construction camps of 50-plus persons have water licences for their operation, and asked what I was prepared to do to expedite these kinds of water licence requirements that are currently before contractors.
Mr. Chair, the issue of sewage disposal licence requirements has been discussed between Community and Transportation Services, the Yukon Territorial Water Board and DIAND water resources. DIAND water resources informed both Pelly Construction and Golden Hill Ventures last season that they would have to apply for water licences for their camps in the Donjek area if they were to have more than 50 occupants. DIAND water resources has stated that contractors will have to apply for a water licence immediately upon the contract being awarded, and DIAND has agreed that they will not hold up any projects because the licence is not yet in place.
Community and Transportation Services is reviewing application requirements for next year, 2002, with the regulators to ensure that construction delays are not encountered.
The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes had asked on Tuesday about the Carcross sewage treatment project and whether that would be delayed as a result of the proposed four-valley resort development. The water licence for the Carcross sewage treatment project has been signed off and site work has started. The proposed hotel project will not hold up construction of the sewage treatment project.
The hotel project has to determine its sewage disposal needs and review various treatment options. These will be reviewed in due course, and any amendments to the water licence will be determined through the project review stages for the four-valley resort project.
Mr. Chair, the Member for Kluane had asked on Tuesday about the $317,000 recovered from Canada under DFAA for the Burwash forest fire. He had inquired if this money provides an increase in the amount of money available to this government for next year's budget and how money received that wasn't forecastable in certain dollars could be applied to past expenditures.
In the 1999-00 budget, the expenditure on account of the Burwash forest fire was estimated at $754,000. The actual expenditure was $755,000. Recoveries related to this expenditure were also budgeted in that year. The actual recoverable amount claimed under DFAA was reported in the 1999-00 fiscal year. As such, the recovery was budgeted and is applicable to the 1999-00 fiscal year. The $317,000 received represents a portion of a total receivable that was part of the 1999-00 year-end surplus. It does not increase the amount of money available. To the contrary, the amount of money available will be reduced by the amount we are unable to recover, and this has been confirmed with the Department of Finance.
Mr. Chair, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes had asked about the Johnsons Crossing highway access and whether reconstruction of it was anticipated in the near future. The department committed to reviewing this access last year and had full intentions of upgrading it from within existing budgets. It was anticipated at that time that a few loads of gravel could be placed to reduce the grade and improve the access point at the highway. The transportation engineering branch subsequently reviewed this access and, in addition, highway maintenance will be in that area for spring inspection next week and will take another look at the access to determine what exactly needs to be done.
The Member for Mayo-Tatchun asked on Tuesday about the Carmacks recreation centre and the capital funding agreement with the Yukon government. He wanted to know where the numbers are and when they changed, what the additional figure is that the Government of the Yukon will be providing to the Village of Carmacks for this project and who is putting that amount of money for that additional cost into this project - is it the village or is it the Government of the Yukon?
The original agreement was signed on May 19, 2000, and I do have copies for the member opposite, the leader of the third party and for the Clerk. At that time, the estimated cost of the project was $3 million. Yukon agreed to provide a total of $2 million, with $1 million to be paid in 2000-01 and $1 million in 2001-02. The village agreed to cover the remaining $1 million. In June of 2000, Mayor Luke Lacasse, as a result of the bids, advised that the project would cost $3.7 million, and he sought additional funding. Yukon agreed to provide an additional $350,000 toward the project in the 2002-03 capital budget. The March 14 statement of expenditures received from the village revised their forecast of total expenditures to $3.85 million. The community and the Yukon government are now in the process of amending the original CFA to reflect an additional $350,000 being contributed by Yukon in our 2002-03 capital budget. The amended CFA will reflect current estimates for the total project cost and a total Yukon government contribution to the project of $2.35 million.
The Member for Kluane had asked on March 26 about the highway sections for reconstruction of the road to Haines Junction. He asked if I could provide a map of where the four sections are located and exactly from what points they start and stop, and I have a map indicating the locations for filing.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. McRobb: I appreciate the information returned by the minister. I would like to ask her if she would mind providing a ministerial statement providing a little more information on the Burwash recovery of this $317,000, maybe showing exactly where that money will be applied, setting out the terms in a very clear manner, if she would provide that, please.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I thought I had just answered that question. Did I hear the Member for Kluane say he wanted me to do a ministerial statement on that topic?
Mr. McRobb: That's correct, Mr. Chair, and for the record I did hear the minister. I was listening intently, but what I would like is, if she wouldn't mind - pardon me, a legislative return, not a ministerial statement. There have been quite a few ministerial statements lately, and, you know, the Liberals probably wouldn't object to doing another one, especially when the camera's rolling, but this is a legislative return. If she wouldn't mind putting out all the details and indicating where we can look to find where that money goes and any other information she's able to provide, I'd appreciate that.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Yes, Mr. Chair, we can do that. I didn't think I was hearing correctly, because every time we do a ministerial statement, the opposition tells us it isn't a ministerial statement. But I can certainly provide a legislative return with that information.
Mr. McRobb: And I thought they didn't listen, Mr. Chair. Obviously I underestimated some of them.
Anyway, I don't have a whole lot more in general debate. I thought I finished the other day, but, as we know, through the passage of time, one becomes aware of more and more issues every day, and there are a couple that I would like to ask right now. No doubt this will displace our debate time, once we get into line-by-line.
Can the minister give us an update on the Burwash sewage lagoon, exactly what work will be done this year, and when it will be completed? This is something that was started under the previous government, Mr. Chair, and something that I have followed since the project was created, and I would appreciate it if she could just provide some more information on that for us.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There is, in the budget this year, $200,000 for a new sewage lagoon in Burwash. Regulatory approvals are being sought in the 2001-02 fiscal year, and detailed design will follow approval of the water licence. In 2002-03, the decommissioning of the existing Destruction Bay lagoon will be completed.
Mr. McRobb: All right, I thank the minister for that.
Now, the other day we discussed the need for an increase to fire hall security, given the rash of recent break-ins, and the minister did indicate that she would be interested in looking at that. Can she indicate for us if she has been able to make any progress about beefing up security for our fire halls?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I indicated at the beginning of March, the department is investigating these recent concerns and the fire marshal's office was to be holding a number of meetings to start to determine the appropriate security measures. I do not believe that he has completed those meetings yet.
Mr. McRobb: Now, if, through that consultation, it's determined that certain measures could be implemented right away, no doubt there will be a cost to doing that. Can the minister indicate if there is money within this departmental budget to cover those costs, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As we don't know yet what, if any, those costs would be, it would be premature to suggest a figure. There is not, at this moment, money in the budget for that purpose, because we don't know what the expenditure potentially could be.
Mr. McRobb: My colleague from Old Crow has raised a few issues I would like to follow up on. She would like to know when the community may expect upgrading to the maintenance camp in the community. Could the minister indicate what her plans are in that regard?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There's nothing identified in the current budget for upgrading of the maintenance camp in Old Crow. If the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin could be more specific as to what the problems are, perhaps we could begin to address them.
Mr. McRobb: I understand that it mainly pertains to the equipment, the standard of equipment or shortage of equipment experienced at a maintenance camp. Does the minister have any plans about upgrading that equipment?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We will be checking with the maintenance foreman there to see what difficulties he may be experiencing.
Mr. McRobb: That would be appreciated. I understand from my colleague that the equipment is extremely old. For instance, the grader, I understand, is a 1979 model. The definition of classic cars, I believe - it is 20 years before a car becomes a classic. So, in this case, I guess, we have a classic grader in Old Crow. It might be time to take a look at upgrading.
My colleague would also like to know if the department plans any increase in the frequency of visits by the mechanic. I understand that such visits occur primarily when there are breakdowns of equipment and repairs are needed, rather than implementing thorough maintenance schedules. Can the minister provide us with comments on that, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There is a schedule for preventive maintenance on equipment at all our grader stations, and Old Crow is included in that. Because of the amount of road in Old Crow, those visits aren't required to be scheduled as frequently as they are in areas where a great many kilometres are covered on a regular basis. That same reasoning would apply to the Old Crow grader, Mr. Chair. It wouldn't have nearly as many kilometres on it as the ones that are in use at the other grader stations.
Mr. McRobb: I understand that what we just heard may not satisfy the situation but I would be satisfied if the minister would undertake to check into that and possibly respond at a later time in a more comprehensive way.
I would like to turn to the issue of land use planning. The minister will recall that recently she received some correspondence from me about progress on the land use plans in both Golden Horn and the Ibex areas. Can she give us an update on that now, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I signed off the Ibex plan last week, as the chair of the local committee had been advised, so we have accepted it as a working document. The Golden Horn local area plan steering committee has submitted their local area plan to the department for review, and we're very appreciative of the work that has gone into the development of this plan and the Ibex plan as well.
In Golden Horn, one aspect of the proposed plan includes a provision for the subdivision of commercial and light industrial lots and we have heard from some residents who are opposed to this provision. So, in order to gauge community perspectives on subdivision, the department undertook a survey during the winter to seek residents' input. The department is reviewing the survey responses and will be notifying the steering committee and residents of the planning area of the results as soon as the department has finished with the analysis.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for that and would ask if she would copy us with that same information and also provide a copy of the Ibex plan that she signed off, please.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. I can send the member that information.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair. We're getting down to the nitty-gritty here. I've heard a concern from truckers about signage at the weigh scale not clearly indicating that they're not open. Mr. Chair, this causes them to pull into the weigh station, only to be disappointed by it not being open and having to pull back out. This causes them delays and also increases the chances of an accident caused by the large vehicle having to turn off and turn back in needlessly. I understand that this concern is not new. Can the minister indicate if she's prepared to look into this and prevent it from occurring again - if we can have the signs out on the highway indicating the scales are closed when, indeed, they're not open?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Could the member indicate which weigh scales he's talking about? The Cassiar Junction one has been closed for some time, and I don't believe there are signs indicating a weigh scale. Whitehorse and Watson Lake are open 24 hours, to the best of my knowledge. If the member is aware of a problem, I hope he'll share it.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, the problem is with the station in Whitehorse, I believe. I know from past experiences that even scales that are open 24 hours a day sometimes are closed, and that could be the root of the problem here.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I'll certainly look into that and try to ensure that, should the weigh scale need to close, there is adequate signage placed.
Mr. McRobb: There's a concern on the Klondike Road, near the Annie Lake turnoff - it needs some line painting and, also possibly, a no-passing sign. This is near the Six Mile River bridge. Is the minister aware of this, or would she like some more information? I could possibly provide her something in writing to provide more detail.
Can she undertake to look into it and resolve any outstanding concern at that location, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I was going to say yes, and then the member finished his question, and now I'm confused. I'm familiar with the South Klondike Highway near the Annie Lake Road turnoff, but that's nowhere near the Six Mile River bridge. So, if the member could be more specific -
Mr. McRobb: I do have the name of a person who lives nearby, but I'll refrain from putting that on record and I'll send the minister a note, and we can deal with it that way. I see her nodding, and that's fine with me.
Mr. Chair, I would like to follow up on the issue of the Nahanni Range Road by asking the minister if the department has a long-term plan developed yet to deal with the reconstruction or maintenance on this road; what type of planning has it done to prepare for the reopening of this mine, which I understand can be imminent? Can the minister provide us with some information on that issue, please?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: As the minister respectfully informed the House today during Question Period, she disclosed information to the House, so that there would be even no perception of bias, indicating that she did, indeed, possess shares with respect to the Cantung mine opening and the new owner.
She also indicated that she would, in an open and accountable way, not be responding to questions with respect to that road. She is the most knowledgeable about the road, as is the department, so she has deferred to me to answer in her stead. I am not as familiar as the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is. I will do my best to accommodate. I would hope that the Member for Kluane will, under the circumstances, accept this arrangement.
It is now well-known that North American Tungsten will be opening up the Cantung site. The question has come up repeatedly in the House with respect to the access road from Watson Lake. There have been discussions between the department and North American Tungsten. They are presently working out the details. The department is working on the budget estimates in order to, first of all, open up the road. Negotiations are ongoing with respect to the maintenance of the road and associated O&M costs. But those numbers will not be ready for another few weeks, as this involves negotiations with the mining company.
Mr. McRobb: I thank the Minister of Renewable Resources for that answer. I do understand the situation of the potential conflict, and I don't wish to muddy those waters at all. When I referred my question to the minister, I fully understand why the Minister of Renewable Resources is answering, but I don't wish to engage in discussion about any relationship between the minister and the mine and how it might affect how the government treats that road at all.
Mr. Chair, just to clarify the undertaking I just heard from the Minister of Renewable Resources, will we be receiving information on the estimated cost to upgrade the road so it is adequate for super B, which is commercial truck traffic? Will we also be receiving cost estimates for the operation and maintenance of that road? Is that what we can expect?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I believe that is what I have indicated. The department is currently working with the new owner of the mine and they expect that figures will be available within the next few weeks with respect to the question the member opposite just asked.
Mr. McRobb: I'm getting the indication this mine could be opening up very soon. Does the acting minister have any knowledge as to a date of that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, as the member opposite well knows, on roads that haven't been maintained - as he well knows, this particular road is probably still snow-covered and glacier-flooded and all those factors. I think that the mining company itself is looking at the access route to the mine site, and the discussions that have occurred and are occurring between the department and the mine owner are intensively looking to have things open, I believe, around the middle of April so that they can start getting their equipment in there.
Mr. McRobb: Can the acting minister indicate if there was maintenance on the road this past winter and to what degree any maintenance occurred? Was it all the way to the mine site or just partial on the road? Can he enlighten us on that, please?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, there was no maintenance on this road this past winter.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair.
On the matter of the potential agreement with North American Tungsten on the maintenance of the road, has there been any progress regarding the Yukon government's assumption of the maintenance duties on the road into the Northwest Territories section?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I believe that, from the government's perspective, there has been no consideration of looking at that portion of the road from the Yukon border extending into the Northwest Territories. As I have indicated already, there are discussions underway on just exactly what the responsibilities and O&M on the road will be. These negotiations are currently occurring with the company.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair, just getting back to the maintenance of the road this past winter, is the department aware of any instances where the company itself actually did any maintenance on the road?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the Government of Yukon is not aware if there has been any maintenance, upgrades or work done on the road this winter by the company.
Mr. McRobb: Now, as far as weigh scales go, from what I understand, the commercial traffic shipping out tungsten, if indeed it does occur, would be through the Port of Skagway. Can the minister indicate which weigh scale will be used to help regulate the traffic coming out of the mine?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, there has been no indication from the mine operators themselves how they plan to be moving ore out of the mine site. Traditionally, when the mine was operating previously, they did truck ore down the highway. There has been no indication yet from the mine operator that they will be taking it out of the port of Skagway.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, I understand that previously the ore was exported through the port of Skagway. I'm not sure if that was the last mode of transportation before the shutdown, but I'm also aware, I believe, when he refers to "south", that indeed was probably the Port of Stewart, on the Stewart Cassiar Road. Has the department investigated the possibility of having to beef up maintenance or any other infrastructure required if the port of Skagway is indeed the port of choice in this company's decision?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Again, Mr. Chair, the mining company really hasn't indicated which access road out of the territory they would be using with their ore carriers. As I understand, as well, the member, to his recollection, suggested that previous mine owners had used the port of Skagway. That may very well be true, but government officials within C&TS don't recall that factor.
You're right, they may even have used the port of Stewart. The thing is that the mining company has not indicated yet which definitive route they are going to be using, and the second part of that is that the ore carriers themselves - there won't be the extent like the Faro mine site, when they trucked ore out. I understand that the carriers out of Cantung will be fewer by far.
Mr. McRobb: I'm not so sure about that, Mr. Chair. I did some quick math, dividing the tonnage quoted from an official with North American Tungsten by that typically carried on a super B, and I recall that figure being something in the order of 10 loads a day. Including return traffic, that might be up to 20 trips a day over that road.
Now, I see the deputy minister shaking his head. Maybe the acting minister can get up and provide me with a new, improved understanding of that situation.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I always do appreciate the commentary that the members opposite provide on the actions of this side - quite often, interpreting what's going on. Now I see the member opposite twisting his face in agony, like I'm not giving the right and appropriate answer.
The best answer I can give, as negotiations are still ongoing with the mine, the best understanding and best information that we have right now is that there will be few trucks going back and forth on the road per week.
There are possibly two to five trucks per week at this particular time. This is the best information we have now. I was also advised that North American Tungsten has informed a colleague of mine that they will be transporting the ore to the railhead at Fort St. John.
Mr. McRobb: That latter information was helpful, but I would remind the minister that when he points his finger, there are three pointing back at himself. Here is a clear-cut case on the record, once again, that when he is pointing the finger over here, accusing us of something, he in fact is doing the same thing - exactly what he is accusing us of at the time. That was the commentary, Mr. Chair, and I draw your attention to the twisted-face comment - the ad-libbing in on the comments. That's exactly what he was doing.
Now, it's a good thing he provided an upgraded answer on the expected mode of transportation out. I was about to raise the aspect that it is the government's role to be aware of this information and not just sit back and wait until somebody tells it of a preferred route. The Yukon government has a right to know. It is the one that must assume the responsibility for highway maintenance and any upgrading. It has something to lose and something to be responsible for. It has possibly something to gain with respect to road maintenance and highway usage.
In other words, it is an important player in the process, and needs to know. So, I would remind the acting minister that just sitting back and waiting to hear from the mine about which route it might take is just not good enough. We are discussing now the budget for the coming year. It's disappointing to see just how little there is in this budget to upgrade and maintain the road, given the very close nature of the opening of this road.
It's very disheartening to see that the government hasn't planned ahead to take this situation into account. Now, I understand the rather suddenness of these investors. However, North American Tungsten just wasn't born yesterday, Mr. Chair. I recall reading press releases on announcements from the company two, three years ago. There was speculation at that time about the increase in the price of tungsten because of world stocks drying up and the need to possibly reopen this mine, so it should not have come as any surprise. The upgrading we did last year on the road to that bridge was an indication that our government was aware of the prospects of this mine opening. What is there in the Liberals' budget? Nothing. What's in the Liberals' long-term plan? Nothing. The page was blank.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McRobb: The new Member for Faro says that's not true. I would draw his attention to the budget book and the section entitled "Long-term plan". He will find, as we did, a blank page. That's what I'm talking about, Mr. Chair. There's no long-term plan.
Speaking about long-term plans, one of the things that occurred to me in the last couple of days was that I did request a copy of the five-year plan back on December 7, and the real minister did undertake to get that back to me in the spring budget.
So, I would like to ask, where is it?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, the five-year plan is not yet complete.
Mr. McRobb: Okay, Mr. Chair, can the minister indicate why, then, I was promised that it would be included in the spring budget? Here we are more than a month after the budget was released and it is still not ready? And, also, Mr. Chair, can she indicate when I might expect this five-year plan?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: It is now expected that the five-year plan will come with the capital budget in the fall.
Mr. McRobb: Well, here we go again, it's the old circle game. The old circle game, Mr. Chair. You know, that brings back memories of last June and July when we were asking where the Liberals' plans were and where their spending commitments to back up their promises were. They said to wait until the fall. Wait until the fall. Well, the fall came - what did we hear then? They said, "Wait till the spring. Wait till the spring." Well, it's spring and now they are saying, "Wait until the fall," again. Well, that's more than full circle; that's a whole circle and a quarter. I would urge the minister to take her commitments a little more seriously. When she promised that I would receive the five-year plan in the spring budget on December 7, I took her at her word. And we see that I was wrong to do that. I must apologize to anybody whom I might have in turn led to believe that I would be in receipt of that information. But I will learn for next time. Hopefully there won't be a next time because I will pursue this matter in the fall and expect to see, at that time, a five-year plan in the capital budget.
I might have additional concerns that I wish to follow up on at some point, but right now I would just like to say that that pretty well concludes the general debate, if the minister can confirm that this five-year plan will indeed be in the fall capital budget.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I would remind the member opposite that the long-term capital plan for the previous government was approximately 18 months after they took office. I think we will beat that record, but I anticipate that it will be done in the fall.
Mr. McRobb: Well, I guess we're not finished after all, Mr. Chair, because I'm going to have to respond to that jab by the minister. I think I alluded to this matter. I addressed this matter back around March 13 somewhere, because the minister at that time held the same belief, and I would have expected her to listen to what I said at that time, but obviously her opinion has not changed.
I'll go through this again, Mr. Chair. The previous government did not campaign on introducing these long-term plans like this Liberal government did. We developed the concept midstream and implemented it for the benefit of all, because the previous government was open and accountable, and we had lots to offer. We weren't like the Liberals when we were discussing ways to improve the economy and they walked out of the House in a motion debate. And on the only other occasion when we tabled an economic motion they didn't have anything concrete or substantial to offer. We heard maybe about gambling, the Liberals' only suggestion about how to get the economy going. Well, Mr. Chair, expecting any kind of economic initiative out of this Liberal government is a gamble, and don't bet on it unless you're prepared to lose.
They still have very little to offer, and they're completely saturated in finger pointing and turning back the calendar, and trying to make themselves appear to be better than the previous government.
Well, Mr. Chair, I want you to think about what I just said. The previous government implemented long-term plans, and it delivered. This Liberal government, in opposition, said it would bring in long-term plans immediately. It hasn't. We didn't see one in the supplementary budget last June. We didn't see a long-term plan in the supplementary budget in November and in the mains tabled in February there was still no long-term plan.
This was an election commitment. Now, I know, Mr. Chair, you can say, "Well, we still have a couple of years or so before the electorate pushes the eject button on us and, in that time, there could be an opportunity when we actually do come up with a long-term plan." That's fine; I can accept that rationale; however, it doesn't jibe with the raised expectations this Liberal government gave Yukoners.
Let's go back to the now Premier's luncheon remarks to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce. I believe it was in January 2000. Mr. Chair, I have a transcript. If you would like a copy, I can send one over. Clearly, it says that a Liberal government, if elected, would not wait until the end of its mandate before it did what it said it would do in the way of spending. It would do it right away.
Well, we're not seeing that, Mr. Chair. Clearly, this government is not doing what it said it would do.
There are all kinds of examples to further substantiate that this government isn't doing what it was elected to do. Look at the restoration of the highways budget. We went around this bush already on how little is in this budget to restore the highways budget in the Liberal interpretation.
Back in December, I asked the minister what it would take to restore the highways budget, both in terms of O&M and capital. After about an hour and a half, I finally received an answer, and if I can recollect on my feet at this time, it was something in the neighbourhood of $2 million to $3 million in O&M, exclusive of any increases in fuel or wage agreements, et cetera. It would be at least that much in real terms. And secondly, in terms of capital, it would require between $20 million and $25 million a year.
What has this Liberal government done? In terms of O&M, if you subtract the fuel and the wage increases and account for inflation and so on, there hasn't been a whole lot in terms of increase.
Now, what's really embarrassing is on the capital side of the ledger, Mr. Chair, where the net increase overall in the territory is only $500,000. Does that include the rural roads upgrading program that they removed $600,000 out of? Because I think this government is robbing Peter to pay Paul.
We heard the minister admit, a few times already, that some of the construction projects this summer wouldn't be able to proceed unless they rob the rural roads upgrade program budget. Well, that's robbing Peter to pay Paul in terms of increasing the highway budget, Mr. Chair. Well, at the risk of repeating the words of the re-elected Member for Riverdale South, it is highway robbery.
So, Mr. Chair, what we see is a shuffling of the numbers and very little action in terms of fulfilling its promises. There's very little action. This government is not doing what it said it would do when it said it would do them.
Mr. Chair, if I were the re-elected Member for Riverdale South, I might speculate that maybe the Liberal government is saving up a war chest for an election budget, to go out and buy votes. As a matter of fact, Mr. Chair, that sounds awfully familiar. I refer you to the now Premier's remarks at the luncheon, barely one year ago. What brought on the promise and the raised expectations in the public that this Liberal government would deliver upfront, and not at the back end of its mandate, was based on the accusation that the previous NDP government was going to come in with a record capital budget and buy a wagonload of votes. That's what caused the now Premier's commitment to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce. It's in the transcript.
I see the Acting Minister of Community and Transportation Services looking somewhat dumbfounded. I will send him over a copy of the transcript too.
I will send them all a transcript if they would like, because I think that it is high time that they read what their government promised. I am not quite finished with the remarks made by the re-elected Member for Riverdale South, because it wasn't just last year's budget that was called an election budget; it was the one before.
As a matter of fact it was rather humorous, Mr. Chair. It seemed that every budget brought in by the previous NDP government was called an election budget by the Liberals, because it was so good and it had so much in the way of programs and projects for Yukoners that it just dazzled them. They said, "Oh, my God, it must be an election budget." I refer you to the record.
Well, when are we going to see an election budget out of this government? Because this one here sure isn't it. This one here sure doesn't deliver, and we know that they are all pleading poverty. They are all saying how little of a surplus there is, but we know. We will discover differently, once the Auditor General's report rolls in. There will be some big numbers with lots of zeros. We hope that some Yukoners can remember back to the discussion and how they pleaded poverty and how the Premier said that there was only $6 million in the surplus. We will point out the difference. So, what this government accused the previous government of doing - buying votes, saving up for a war chest - is in fact exactly what it is doing. And that's becoming very clear.
After all the considerable debate within the Department of Community and Transportation Services in addition to the general debate on the budget and with all the other information that has come out from here and there, Mr. Chair, it is becoming obvious that this government is starving people in the territory with the intention of coming in with their big food basket in the final year and buying votes. They won't be able to buy the votes of everybody who is here now, Mr. Chair, because more people will leave in hunger for a job. They know that.
Well, Mr. Chair, I can talk about crass politics and how such action would be despicable, but I'll leave that topic for another day. But somebody must hold this government accountable. Somebody - it can't always be us.
Mr. Chair, what amazes me is we know on this side of the House that we can't catch everything. We don't catch all the mistakes and blunders and suspicious dealings. It's impossible for us to get them all, and we need help holding this government accountable because there's a whole lot to hold it accountable for. We just do the best jobs we can, Mr. Chair, and, as you know, this is only a part of our job. We on this side take other aspects of our jobs seriously, too, like getting out into our ridings and talking to people and helping people with their concerns. We can't devote all our time to holding this government accountable or chasing all the rabbits on all the leads.
So I know the members opposite have heard me on several occasions raise matters that point out the differences between what they said they would do and what they're doing now.
I hope to find the time this summer to roll up all these issues so I don't have to rely strictly on memory. I can simply roll through them, just in bullet form. I know, Mr. Chair, it would probably take an hour, even in a condensed format to do that, but I know the members opposite would look forward to this condensed version of War and Peace.
The acting minister would like a copy of that as soon as possible. I'll see what I can do to accommodate him.
It's difficult to just focus on to whom I am addressing my comments, Mr. Chair. Let's see, there's the acting minister, the real minister, and the deputy minister, and maybe a few more wannabe ministers.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McRobb: Thank you. The Member for Mount Lorne assisted me with that comment. It's quite obvious to us on this side it's quite true.
Mr. Chair, they might not have long to wait, because there could be a couple of openings coming up very soon. Yes, Mr. Chair, the vultures are circling overhead now. They know there could be some fresh meat on the table soon. We'll have to wait and see.
But, back to the department, Mr. Chair, I would urge the minister to avoid these last-minute provocations and these little jabs about how the previous government didn't do it either, and let my comment sink in, because I've recounted at least twice now the recent historical events regarding the tabling of long-term plans.
The member should realize by now that I'm fairly well-versed in recalling those events and could probably do it fairly automatically. And if they don't want to have to go through it all again, please just avoid taking those jabs and accept the fact that people had expected a long-term plan by now and this Liberal government hasn't provided it. That's fine. Maybe the Liberal apologist can stand up at some point and defend the government's inaction about providing long-term plans. Maybe he can get into the action, too. Mr. Chair, that's fine. But if I were a Liberal minister over there, that's not really an issue I'd want to go to because they're quite vulnerable on it.
Now that I have pointed out again the production from the previous government about providing long-term plans and, as well, the now Premier's promises to Yukoners that it would provide long-term plans right upfront in the context of all the missed opportunities to date, including this main budget - I would give a little bit of political advice to not only the C&TS minister, but to the others as well, plus the wannabes who could be in there by the next time I'm up: don't insult us, on this side of the House, about long-term budgets.
Mr. Chair, now is the time to test how the minister is going to take this, because if we could just move on, I think that concludes the general debate.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Fairclough: I have a couple of follow-up questions for the Minister of C&TS. I thank her for sending the information over to me with regard to the rec centre in Carmacks that is being built.
The numbers are a bit different from what I gathered from the mayor and council in Carmacks, and I appreciate having updated material on this, although this goes back to June and July of last year.
I'm not sure that, at the point, the mayor and council really had all the numbers gathered. Because what I referred to at that time was $3.3 million. I understand that is what has gone up from $2.5 million because of the sprinkler system and so on that had to be installed.
But I am wondering about the rationale in the Yukon government's portion of monies on this. The Village of Carmacks had put close to one-third of the dollars into this particular project. Is that something that was negotiated with the Village of Carmacks, or was the department following a formula of some type? Because I believe that the ongoing agreements that have been put in place in the past said that the government would put in approximately 90 percent. I am just wondering where these numbers and the percentages came from?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Village of Carmacks had signed the capital funding agreement knowing what their share was and what our share was. And from the time that I became the minister, as far as I knew, the figure was always $3 million because that is the figure in the agreement.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, my question was about the percentage that the village is putting into this project. The numbers have moved up to $3.7 million now, and the $700,000 is split equally between the Government of the Yukon and the village, and it moves the village into putting quite a bit more money of their own dollars into this project. This is not common practice, so I ask the member if this is going to be thought through again and if the break will be given to the village. Obviously this amount that they are putting in is certainly way over two years' worth of block funding.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: To the best of my understanding, this project was never a 90-percent/10-percent split, and when the mayor came to speak with me last June to tell me that the project was $700,000 over budget, I agreed to meet him halfway, as I said Tuesday, on that $700,000. The Yukon government agreed to provide an additional $350,000, and the Village of Carmacks agreed to pay an additional $350,000.
Mr. Fairclough: I did not see any money in this year's budget, the budget we're debating today, for any planning dollars or any dollars for water and sewer for the Village of Carmacks; when can we expect that?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We haven't yet finished discussing with the Village of Carmacks where it wants to go on water and sewer. As for the sewage treatment there, the village is looking at options to address those requirements, and we have some committees established with representatives from all the stakeholders. There is some site investigation work that has been done, and we anticipate selection of the final site and the system to be used sometime this spring, Mr. Chair. We're working very well with the village on the preliminary work for these projects.
Mr. Fairclough: It's our understanding that the Yukon government will be funding approximately 90 percent of this project. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: This government has indicated to the village that the cost-share agreement for the sewage treatment would likely be in the 90-percent range for allowable expenditures, to a maximum of between $3 million and $5 million. So, the dollar figure there is more important than the percentage, and the options being examined will fit within that range.
Mr. Fairclough: So, does the Yukon government have a specific system in place for water and sewer in Carmacks? You could have mechanical, for example. Are they examining the mechanical system?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The system is the Village of Carmacks' system, and they are looking at the options and, as I said, we expect, sometime this spring, that the village will choose the system and the site.
Mr. Fairclough: So, Mr. Chair, without knowing what the final costs are to the different types of systems that are there, I believe one that has been favoured a lot in that community is a mechanical system, and the one they presently have. They looked at other options, and so on, that can go in and around the town, but what happens if it goes beyond the $5 million, your maximum amount? Say it was at $7 million. What will the Yukon government do at that point?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, that's a hypothetical question, and I'm not going to go there. The government and the village are working on the options.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, it's not a hypothetical question, because the minister has put a cap on this. Normally, it's 90 percent. We say, "Up to this amount, take the system - whatever system - that can fit within these dollars or throw your own money into it." Now, one of the systems that makes sense in that community is a mechanical system to take care of the whole community, just because of the way the community is situated. It could be higher than the amount that the government is looking at. I would like to know if there are going to be more talks with the Village of Carmacks and the First Nation on this, because it's not just the village that is looking at the design of this project. It is the First Nation, which is not part of the municipality, but is within it. They are the majority of the community.
I ask again whether this amount of dollars is going to be looked at, or can the minister take it back and look at it a bit more carefully? There are projects within the community that are costing more than the village thought they would. I don't want to see a town like that end up with a system that can't handle the community's needs down the road.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I agree with the member's last statement. In our discussions with the village, we had said that we expected the cost-share agreement to be in the 90-percent range, to a maximum of between $3 million and $5 million. To the best of my knowledge, the options that they are looking at are falling within that range. So, anything beyond that is hypothetical.
Our relationship with the village is a good one. We have managed to talk out problems in the past. I would assume that we will be able to do that in the future.
Mr. Fairclough: But I believe the First Nation is involved in this project, too, and that they are full participants in the design of this project. For example, the community boundaries - the village has land within the community boundaries and so does the First Nation. What we would probably end up seeing is proper compatible land use between First Nation's land and that of the village. I believe that the Yukon government has suggested they design a system for the community and has rejected what they might want. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I don't believe that's the case. I would point out to the member that the capital funding agreement is between the Government of Yukon and the Village of Carmacks. I understand that the village and the First Nation are talking together about this project, but the government's agreement is with the Village of Carmacks.
Mr. Fairclough: Are there any talks with the First Nation on a different system?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The agreement is between the Government of Yukon and the municipality, the Village of Carmacks. I understand and expect that the village and the First Nation would be working together to ensure that the best system for the community is achieved.
Mr. Fairclough: I hope that's recognized by the Yukon government, too - that the First Nation is a big role player in that community. After all, as of last year, they were approximately 65 percent of the community, and the number has probably gone up to about 80 percent now, in one year, because of people leaving the community.
I just need some straight answers about the needs and wants of that community. They are looking at a mechanical system that would cost more than $5 million. Will that be supported by the Yukon government?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I know that the Mayor of Carmacks is very interested in making sure all residents of the municipality are satisfied with the system that is ultimately achieved. I have indicated the cost-share agreement and the expected expenditures. I don't know what more I can tell the member at this point.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, all I'm getting at is there are several different plans to take care of the sewage issue in that community. The water licences are up, just like Dawson's is, and they're looking at their options. At least one of the options that they're favouring right now is over and above the dollar amount that the Yukon government has committed to. That's why I asked whether the Yukon government will be interested at all in funding one that the community may choose, or does the community just have an option of taking the $5 million and throwing the rest in on their own?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I'm trying to indicate to the member that the Yukon government is working with the village. There is a budget for this project. The final site selection and the final system selection are going to be made sometime this spring. The member seems to be trying to create a problem where, to the best of my knowledge, none exists.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, the minister's wrong, Mr. Chair. There is a problem. The community is in favour of a system, and from what they gather, it's over and above what YTG is targeting for dollars. So they're handicapped there. They have to go to a different one and start looking at different sites. That's why I asked the minister whether or not they're at all interested in what the community comes up with, or is this the direction that's coming from YTG right now - you have between $3 million and $5 million and find a system that fits within that; is that how it goes?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I have indicated to the member, there is a budget for this project. The member is suggesting that it is likely that the community will choose a project that is significantly over the budget. If that is the case, that will raise a number of problems that would have to be addressed. At this point, the government and the village, to the best of my knowledge, are working together well on this project, and the village will be making its decisions sometime this spring.
Mr. Fairclough: It is not going all that well, because what comes back to the community is, "Here it is, fit the project in this amount of dollars," and, "You may as well not look at this one," even though it makes sense to the community. And that is why I ask these questions about whether or not government is interested in the needs and the wants of the community.
Carmacks is, I think, one of the only communities in the Yukon that has a mechanical system. It was put in as a pilot project and it never worked properly right from the beginning. Technology has come a long way, and there is still a lot of interest in having that system there. Part of the problem is that this sewage system in the community only services about 40 percent of the community - only 40 percent right now - and it is to its max. It doesn't at all service the First Nation, which should be serviced. They do pay the property taxes, and this is part of the service that you normally get in the community. That is why I am asking the members opposite. You are not just dealing with the village here, which is talking to the First Nation; you are dealing with both communities.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Yukon government is aware of that, and the new facility is being sized to accommodate the entire community.
Mr. Fentie: I just want to quickly explore something with the minister, as it relates to her department, C&TS, and forestry. This has been a long, ongoing problem, and it has to do with regulations on our highways.
We have a situation right now in forestry, under the federal regime, whereby their abilities to restrict raw-log export out of this territory are extremely limited. Even the 1995 process that they put into place - with a 60-percent component of manufacture before a 40-percent component of export could take place - was found to be illegal; it contravened Canadian law.
Therefore, should we get into a situation again where prices for round logs reach a level that is viable for outside mills, we will again see a mass exodus of logs from this territory.
What I want to explore with the minister is this: the one thing we in Yukon do have control of, for sure, is highways. Her department may or may not - I merely want to explore this with the minister - have an avenue here to help this situation. Because those highways are maintained at a cost to the Yukon taxpayer, my thinking is that we may want to look at how we've deregulated and if there's any possibility that we can put on some sort of conditions or restrictions that would help us ensure that a mass exodus and flow of logs doesn't take place again and that we can ensure that we maximize the benefits that we can derive from the fact that raw-log export may happen for Yukoners.
Can the minister maybe just commit to have her department give a serious look and research the possibilities that may be there for C&TS to assist in this matter, because of our control over highways?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I know that the movement of vehicles across provincial or territorial borders is a federal matter.
As for the other, I don't believe it's something that would fall within Community and Transportation Services' scope. But I will undertake to check for the member and, if I require further clarification, I will be calling him.
Mr. Fentie: The area in which I see the minister's department having a role is in regulation. We deregulated timber in this territory, along with basically everything else, following the federal regime. Is there any possible way that we can look at regulating logs again? I'm talking about Yukon timber. Can we regulate Yukon timber again?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I honestly have to tell the member that I don't know. But I will check and see if there is anything about the situation he describes that falls under the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
Mr. Fentie: I thank the minister for that. It follows up on what we did here yesterday in this Legislature. If there is anything in there, I would ask then that the minister, along with related departments, like Economic Development and Renewable Resources, send that same message over to DIAND that the department is willing to participate in ensuring that DIAND, in its usual manner, does not run amuck here and compromise our future, which is basically the thrust of what we were trying to achieve, in things like we did yesterday.
I have some other items I would like to explore with the minister: airports, air traffic, air access and so on and so forth.
The possibility of Canada Tungsten reopening poses a situation for Watson Lake as a community that we may then have enough passenger traffic to warrant air service again. Secondly, the opening of the mine also puts into play the need for air freight. Obviously, in the past when Canada Tungsten was open and running, air freight was a daily occurrence basically because of the requirement of fast service, the need for parts or whatever it may be to arrive as quickly as possible so downtime is limited.
Would the minister be willing to discuss with groups like the Chamber of Commerce in Watson Lake, the mayor and council, Liard First Nation, anything she can do in her purview around airports that may (a) provide information to the community, (b) provide assistance in trying to re-establish air service - and those types of things? Would the minister commit to that?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: It's certainly possible to go and talk to people and provide what information we can. The ultimate decision on whether air service of a scheduled nature would occur in Watson Lake again is up to the private sector, of course, but conversation could take place.
Mr. Fentie: I thank the minister for that. I was actually going to try and set up a meeting with the minister on this issue. I realize, though, that the minister is busy, and what I think this is really all about is people getting informed. Obviously there's a lot of desire suddenly to see an air service reappear in Watson Lake, and I think the minister and her department could assist those who are striving to try and achieve something in that area by informing them of some of the realities of the situation and maybe help steer them in the appropriate directions. That's all I'm asking here of the minister.
I have another brief set of questions I'd like to ask, but in Question Period today it was evident that the minister is not going to speak about the Nahanni Range Road. Is there any way that we could quickly get this over with, and then we could probably move into lines? I'm sure the critic is finished. So I just have a few brief comments and questions to make, Mr. Chair.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fentie: With regard to the Nahanni Range Road and the possibility of Tungsten reopening, first and foremost, I would assure the members opposite that their endeavours in this regard are not going to receive any extreme opposition from this side. Providing that whatever reasonable arrangement that may take place is developed, we would be supportive of the initiative. The minister, I see, is hurriedly leaving the House anyway. Mr. Chair, can the acting minister -
Chair: Order please. I just want to remind members not to comment on absences and comings and goings of members, as that is against the rules.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I just couldn't help myself.
The acting minister - first off, I'd like to make a few comments. The community of Watson Lake - and the companies and people in it - have an intimate knowledge of the Nahanni Range Road, the material that's available, everything that goes with what may be this potential road upgrade.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fentie: The Member for Kluane is correct. They've bounced through every pothole on the road for many, many years. What I'm trying to achieve here is that we have a need, we have equipment sitting, we have expertise sitting, and the jobs that could be created from this would be extremely beneficial to the community of Watson Lake.
It's a situation that - what I am asking is that, as the government proceeds along with what may develop here and evolve here, around the mine site, we somehow give due consideration to that need and to the fact that the expertise, the equipment and all that is required sits in the community. Can the minister maybe reflect a little on that and shed some light on that question?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I am just going to provide the member opposite with some current information that the acting minister is perhaps unaware of. From the Economic Development perspective, we have been aware of the representations with respect to constituents in Watson Lake, of whom the member is speaking. The president of the Watson Lake Chamber of Commerce has written to me, and I promptly responded. He has been in touch with the president of the company, and the president of the company has also sent me a copy of the response saying that they are very interested in working with the people in Watson Lake and doing contract work within Watson Lake. I think that the member opposite might find that of interest, given his concern for the constituents in Watson Lake - that this government has played the facilitating role and also has clearly expressed our support for the community to the proponents of the mine project.
Mr. Fentie: I appreciate the answer and I have no further comments or questions.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on Community and Transportation Services?
Seeing no further general debate, we will continue right now and go line by line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Office of the Deputy Minister
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Mr. McRobb: We had some discussion yesterday about the computer equipment, and the minister advised me that I would learn how essential this computer equipment is once we got into line-by-line. Mr. Chair, can she indicate which line I can expect to become informed on?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That would be in the capital section of the budget.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair, I'll look forward to that, and I don't have any other questions in general debate on office of the deputy minister.
Chair: Any further general debate?
On Deputy Minister's Office
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister oblige us by giving a breakdown on each one of these items, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Certainly, Mr. Chair. The $313,000 consists of $297,000 for personnel, including the salaries and wages for the deputy minister, a secretary and an administrative support assistant; $16,000 for other, primarily for travel at $9,000 - of that $9,000, Yukon travel is at $1,000, and employee travel out of territory is at $8,000 - communications is $2,000; and other program materials at $5,000.
Deputy Minister's Office in the amount of $313,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I believe that the member would prefer that I read all of these.
For the office of emergency measures, the O&M budget is $692,000, consisting of $370,000 for personnel, including the salaries, wages and benefits for a director, an emergency planning coordinator, telecommunications manager, administrative officer and administrative assistant; $322,000 for other, and of that, $37,000 is for travel, of which $29,000 is for in the Yukon and $8,000 is for outside the Yukon; $13,000 for honoraria for volunteer duty officers; $19,000 for various contract-related services; $221,000 for repairs and maintenance of mobile and portable communications equipment; $11,000 for rental expense; $12,000 for program materials; $35,000 for utilities; $450,000 for communications relating to circuitry, licensing and network charges; $26,000 for training; and $23,000 for other program materials, such as supplies, postage, freight and other items. This is offset, Mr. Chair, by $525,000 in internal recoveries received from government departments and external agencies that use the multi-departmental mobile radio system.
I would also point out that, comparing this with the O&M of previous years, we have an increase of $24,000 from the previous fiscal year. This consists of a $10,000 contribution to the search and rescue conference; $7,000 is the impact of the collective agreement; $4,000 is for changes in the benefit plan; and a net of $3,000 for smaller items.
Mr. McRobb: I'm aware that the department is looking at replacing the MDMRS. Can the minister give us an idea of how that will be done and whether they have investigated new wireless technologies?
Last week or so, we heard from Bird Satellite Communications about the prospects, for at least commercial purposes, of being able, within two years, to receive digital Internet services from new satellites. One would expect that telecommunications or voice telephone could be included in such services. Has the department investigated the prospects of that? If there's anything there, how would it be integrated into whatever plan the department might have to replace the MDMRS?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: MDMRS replacement information fits into our capital budget. Would the member like to deal with it now or when we get to the capital budget?
Mr. McRobb: It appears as though the minister has the information now. We would prefer it at this time, if she wouldn't mind.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I'll try to be brief. In the proposed capital budget, there is $24,000 for MDMRS replacement. The current system is based on 1984 technology. It took about five years to plan and implement the system that the government is using now, and the next-generation system will likely require the same period of time. In 2006, the system will be nearing the end of its useful life. The maintenance agreement with Northwestel will expire, and the system won't meet the business needs.
So, strategic planning, including a needs analysis and a technology review, must be completed prior to 2004, and I am confident that that technology review will be looking at all available technologies because we're looking at getting the best possible system.
Mr. Fairclough: One of the issues that came up recently, in the community of Carmacks, was the flooding of the Nordenskiold River over the banks and flooding some basements. One particular person still has water in their basement because the water is so high all year. There is a fear in the community of having this one-lane bridge wiped out because of the thick ice and the high water that's in that river right now.
Emergency measures dealt with this and had all of their gunny sacks taken to the community of Carmacks and, when needed elsewhere, had to pull them all back out because that's all they had. They had approximately 5,000 gunny sacks. I'm wondering whether the government has access to additional material like that immediately, or are we looking at increasing those numbers?
I'm particularly worried about this year with the high waters that we have around the communities in the Yukon.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Thank you, Mr. Chair. That's a good question. I don't know the answer, so I'll have to get back to the member on that.
Mr. Fairclough: In regard to floods, it's a concern in Dawson and in a number of different communities, particularly with the high waters this year. I'm wondering if either the emergency measures department, along with Community and Transportation Services, have been coming up with some plans on how to deal with this matter this coming spring?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: DIAND water resources does monitoring on a regular basis. The EMO area is in constant contact with them, and the emergency measures groups in the municipalities also are aware of this. To this point, there has been no problem this spring, but EMO is always aware of the possibility that there may be, and they'll move as quickly as they can if things start to change.
Chair: Is there any further debate? Seeing no further debate...
Emergency Measures in the amount of $692,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Are there any questions on the statistics?
Office of the Deputy Minister in the amount of $1,005,000 agreed to
On Corporate Services Division
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Human Resources
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $424,000 is $404,000 for personnel. That's salaries, wages, benefits for the director, two personnel assistants, one full-time and one half-time personnel officer, an administrative assistant and a human resources clerk. The $20,000 for other includes $6,000 for travel in the Yukon, $7,000 for communications, and $7,000 for other program needs.
The O&M comparison with previous years - there's an increase of $39,000 from 2000-01 to 2001-02, resulting from a half-time clerical position to support data entry into the human resources information system. That was increased to full-time at $29,000, the impact of collective agreement increases, $7,000, and changes to the fringe benefit plan, $3,000.
Human Resources in the amount of $424,000 agreed to
On Finance, Systems and Administration
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That $944,000 consists of $903,000 for personnel. That includes a director, eight indeterminate and a half-time, on-call auxiliary position for finance and administration operations, two records maintenance staff and three information systems related full-time equivalents. $41,000 for other includes $6,000 for contract services; $2,000 for repairs and maintenance; $13,000 for supplies for the whole of corporate services; $15,000 for communications; and $5,000 for other program items. There is an increase of $52,000 resulting from the impact of collective agreements for $17,000, changes in contribution to benefit plan for $9,000, and the program area now covers the full cost of a systems support technician position at $19,000.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister break down for us the six-percent increase in O&M, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That is the $52,000 from the collective agreement increase, the contributions to the benefit plan and the full cost now of the systems support technician position.
Finance, Systems and Administration in the amount of $944,000 agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $414,000 consists of $406,000 for personnel. That is for the director, three policy analysts and a communications analyst; $8,000 for other; $3,000 for communications; $2,000 for travel; $1,000 each in the Yukon and outside the Yukon, and $3,000 for other program needs. There is an increase of $17,000 from the previous year from the impact of the collective agreement at $9,000; changes in contribution to benefit plan of $5,000, and $3,000 in other smaller items.
Policy, Planning and Evaluation in the amount of $414,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Corporate Services Division in the amount of $1,782,000 agreed to
On Transportation Division
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Seeing no general debate on Transportation Division, we'll go right to Activities.
On Transportation Engineering Administration
Chair: Is there any debate on this?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $533,000 consists of $473,000 for personnel - salaries, wages and benefits for the director, four indeterminate staff and a half-time casual administrative assistant position - $60,000 for other; $6,000 for travel, $1,000 in the Yukon and $5,000 outside the Yukon; $7,000 for membership fees; $25,000 for communications; $9,000 for training; and $13,000 for other program requirements. There's an increase of $22,000 in O&M over the previous year, mainly from salaries and wage increases of $18,000 - $9,000 of that was the impact of the collective agreement, $4,000 from changes in contribution to benefit plan, $5,000 in smaller personnel items. There's a $3,000 increase in communication Centrex charges, and a total of $1,000 in other smaller items.
Transportation Engineering Administration in the amount of $533,000 agreed to
On Highway Maintenance Administration
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That's $987,000 for personnel. Salaries, wages and benefits for 13 FTE positions are included in that, and $182,000 is for other, $57,000 is for travel - $50,000 of that is for in the Yukon and $7,000 is for outside - $48,000 is for vehicle usage, $8,000 is for supplies, $7,000 is for advertising, $47,000 is for communications, and $15,000 is for various other requirements of the program. There's a $46,000 increase in O&M from the previous years, of which $44,000 was collective agreement changes in contributions to the benefit plan and the other $2,000 was for communication Centrex charges.
Highway Maintenance Administration in the amount of $1,169,000 agreed to
On Highway Maintenance
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Of that $31,624,000, $10,947,000 is for personnel. That's salaries, wages and benefits for approximately 190.58 FTEs for the maintenance of highways. $20,677,000 for other is for various maintenance expenditures, other than labour costs. It is mainly for program materials and charges for the use of equipment in the road equipment fleet. The increase from the previous year is $1,966,000. Of that, $193,000 was an increase to the collective agreement, $101,000 is for a change in contribution to the benefit plan, $182,000 is additional funding for brush and weed control, $275,000 is for gravel crushing, $300,000 is for BST oil, $200,000 is for BST patching, $200,000 is for line painting, and $100,000 is for gravel resurfacing.
There has been an increase in the cost of fuel for heating, and the operation of ferry and sundry equipment, at $354,000; and the other $61,000 is for smaller items.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister indicate, out of that seven-percent increase, how many additional FTEs are created?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I don't have last year's budget in front of me. There may have been a slight increase, or there may have been a slight decrease. I will have to get back to the member on that.
Highway Maintenance in the amount of $31,624,000 agreed to
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Of that $5,724,000, there is $2,383,000 for personnel, including salaries, wages and benefits, for 5.15 FTEs in branch management, 9.45 FTEs in community airport operations, and 15.5 FTEs in Whitehorse Airport operations. The personnel budget also includes $365,000 for internal labour charges from other program areas, such as highway maintenance, which supports maintenance work on aerodrome runways. There is $3,341,000 for other. Of that, $100,000 is for travel - $61,000 in the Yukon and $39,000 outside the Yukon. Included in that is observer-communicator training and Nav Canada meetings; $1,150,000 for contract services, of which $1,045,000 is for the provision of observer-communicator services; $585,000 in repairs and maintenance, mainly for facilities maintenanced by the Government Services department; $216,000 mainly for runway maintenance supplies; $203,000 for heating fuel and lubricants; $85,000 for communications; $42,000 for insurance; $407,000 for utilities; $459,000 in internal charges for equipment usage in grounds and runway maintenance; and $94,000 for various other program items.
There is an increase of $263,000 from the previous year in the O&M. Of that, $35,000 is increases in the collective agreement; $18,000 for a change in the contribution to the benefit plan; the addition of a program officer for $60,000; the increase for heating fuel, $51,000; funding for runway snow removal to the standard required by medevac carriers, $90,000; and a total of $90,000 for smaller items.
Mr. McRobb: The minister might be aware that, in the departmental briefing we requested a breakdown of the budget allocations for each highway maintenance station. Can she provide us with information in the same format for each of the airports in the territory?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That information is currently not available in the form he is requesting, but we will undertake to pull it together. It may take some time.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you, Mr. Chair, I would appreciate that.
I am also interested in finding out what the current landing fee structure is for commercial aircraft. Can the minister provide us with that information?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I don't have that information in front of me, but I can get it.
Mr. McRobb: That's fine, Mr. Chair.
I'm also wondering if there's a difference in the fees, dependent upon whether the aircraft is domestic or international. I'm sure the department is well aware of this issue. Can the minister get back to me on that as well, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I will attempt to do that, yes, Mr. Chair.
Mr. McRobb: All right. More specifically, on the cost to land commercial aircraft such as 700-series aircraft and specifically the 757 here in Whitehorse in comparison to other places such as Zurich. I'm sure the department has this type of information. I would appreciate that, too. Can the minister undertake to provide us with that, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I had thought it was 767s that were coming here from Europe. I don't have landing fees for Zurich in front of me. I don't know if the department has those either, but we can ask someone to do a bit of research and see if they can come up with that figure.
Mr. McRobb: That's all I'm asking, Mr. Chair, and that's fine.
Now, I understand that the Whitehorse Airport is operated at a loss. Can the minister confirm that and also provide us with the financial situation on the Whitehorse Airport?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Yes, the Whitehorse Airport does operate at a loss. The government subsidizes its operation, and I can see that the member gets that information.
Mr. McRobb: I'm just wondering about this whole matter, because we are paying higher fares as Yukoners - that's no secret - and higher freight rates, and the airport is being subsidized by us taxpayers and travellers. Yet we are giving aircraft a major discount when they land here.
I would like to hear the minister's views on that and whether she plans to do anything about this situation in the near future.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We can get back to the member with the information he is requesting.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Airports in the amount of $5,724,000 agreed to
On Transport Services
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, the $2,684,000 consists of $2,179,000 for personnel - that's salaries, wages, and benefits for four FTEs in administration, 14 FTEs in motor vehicles, and 17.4 FTEs in weigh stations - $505,000 is for other - $51,000 for travel, $36,000 in the Yukon, $15,000 outside - $19,000 for honoraria for the Motor Transport Board, Driver Control Board and National Safety Code Appeal Board; $44,000 for contract services; $20,000 for repair and maintenance; $64,000 for internal charges from the Department of Government Services for vehicle usage; $65,000 for supplies; $16,000 for advertising; $52,000 for program materials; $48,000 for utilities; $60,000 for communications; $17,000 for printing; $25,000 for hosting the conference of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators; and $24,000 for various other program needs, including training and publication.
The O&M increase from the previous year is $125,000, of which 85 percent was for salaries and wages, collective agreement, and changes in contribution to the benefit plan, as well as $25,000 in that 85 percent for hosting that conference; $10,000 for a new carrier profile system, and a total of $6,000 in other smaller items.
Transport Services in the amount of $2,684,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Are there any questions on the supplementary information?
Are there any questions on the statistics?
Transportation Division in the amount of $41,734,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Mr. Fairclough: Maybe I'm not in the right spot here, but in regard to replacement of equipment in the communities, for example, in Mayo, with their fire truck, does it fall under this section here or capital?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: A fire truck for Mayo would be a Village of Mayo issue.
Mr. Fairclough: The Government of Yukon has done some repairs to the Village of Mayo's fire truck and, in there, it's clearly stated that it's good until a useful life has expired, which was three years. They've done the repairs for three years and, at that point, the Government of Yukon was going to look at replacing it.
So, I see that it's not in this budget, but are there plans to replace that fire truck in that community?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Village of Mayo fire truck is the municipality's responsibility, but the member may be referring to another piece of equipment that the government gave them some years ago for use in the periphery areas. Can he confirm if that's the piece of equipment he's talking about? If so, I can find out for him.
Mr. Fairclough: It is the fire truck in the community. I'm not sure whether it's their backup truck or not at this point, but there was work done on it by the Yukon government. Basically, it has promised replacement after its useful life.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I can look into it for the member and find out.
Mr. McRobb: I think this is the opportunity to talk about block transfers to municipalities. It's no secret, Mr. Chair, that the previous government increased that amount, twice I believe, and even so, the Liberals in opposition weren't satisfied with that and certainly promoted further increases.
Can the minister indicate if, in this budget, they have increased the block transfer to communities?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: No, municipal block funding is not increased in this budget before us.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair. We also increased the funding to the Association of Yukon Communities. Can the minister indicate whether there is any such increase in this budget?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The grant to the Association of Yukon Communities remains the same for the coming fiscal year as well.
Chair: Seeing no further general debate, we will continue.
On Assistant Deputy Minister's Office
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $199,000 includes $191,000 for personnel, including the salaries and benefits for the assistant deputy minister and secretary; $8,000 for other - $6,000 of that is travel. $2,000 of that is for in the Yukon; $4,000 is for outside, and there is $2,000 in various other program items.
Assistant Deputy Minister's Office in the amount of $199,000 agreed to
On Lands and Property Assessments
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $3,580,000 consists of: $1,118,000 for personnel, salaries and benefits for seven positions in lands disposition and nine staff in property assessment and taxation; $95,000 for other - $16,000 is for travel in the Yukon; $10,000 for contract services; $15,000 for rental expenses of assessors and land officer vehicles from the Department of Government Services; $8,000 for supplies; $13,000 for advertising; $23,000 for communications and network, and $10,000 for other program needs. $2,367,000 is for transfer payments for home owners grants; there's an increase of $129,000 in O&M from the previous year, resulting from increases in collective agreement, at $22,000; a change in contribution to the benefit plan of $11,000; and an increase to homeowner grant funding, of $100,000, offset by net reductions of $4,000 in smaller items.
Lands and Property Assessments in the amount of $3,580,000 agreed to
On Public Safety
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $1,654,000 consists of $1,154,000 for personnel, salaries and benefits for 15.5 FTEs in administration, electrical, mechanical, building, plumbing, safety and fire protection areas. There is $500,000 for other. Of that, $61,000 is for travel, $54,000 in the Yukon, $8,000 outside; $55,000 for honoraria for fire volunteers; $17,000 for contract services; $10,000 for supplies; $11,000 for program materials; $69,000 for repairs and maintenance; $95,000 for vehicle usage; $111,000 for utilities; $34,000 for communications; and $37,000 for various other requirements of the program. There is an increase of $64,000 in O&M from the previous year. Of that, $48,000 of that was from salaries and wages from the impact of the collective agreement and $11,000 in changes in the contribution to the benefit plan. The increased heating cost at $6,000; $7,000 honoraria for the Hootalinqua fire hall; and $3,000 in other smaller items.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, the only comment I have on this item is the public notification of safety issues, and I will note that in the past year there have been a few examples. There has been some concern about a lack of public notification on highway closures and closures to secondary roads - a few of them in my riding, Mr. Chair - such as the detour through the Old Alaska Highway in Ibex, the road closure on the Aishihik Road, and the mudslide on the Alaska Highway on the south end of Kluane Lake.
Mr. Chair, it would seem that just because some information is posted on the Web site, there's no reason to expect it to be generally consumed by residents in the territory on a fast basis. Other means of communication are also required. And, for many, they need to be notified immediately in order to prevent a wasted trip and so on.
So, I would urge the minister to do what she can in speeding up the notification to the public, as well as enhancing it. If she has any comments on how she might do that, I'd be interested to hear what they are.
Public Safety in the amount of $1,654,000 agreed to
On Sport and Recreation
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $2,408,000 consists of $420,000 for personnel, salaries and benefits for the director, one administration staff and 3.5 positions in community recreation, active living and sports; $183,000 for other, of which $35,000 is for travel, $17,000 in Yukon and $18,000 outside; $5,000 for honoraria; $41,000 for contract services, $30,000 of which is for active living; $50,000 for repairs and maintenance; $11,000 for supplies and rentals; $8,000 for program materials; $9,000 for communications; $17,000 for training; and $7,000 for various other program requirements.
There is $1,805,000 for transfer payments for contributions to various recreation and sports groups: Yukon recreation groups, $143,000; contribution to local authorities, $296,000; active living, $50,000, with that additional $30,000 in contract services and training; Yukon sport governing bodies, $441,000; Sport Yukon core funding, $115,000; Arctic Winter Games, $520,000, including an annual payment of $30,000; Canada Summer Games, $60,000; elite athlete coaching and officials grant, $45,000; aboriginal sport and recreation circle, $40,000; and $95,000 for various other smaller contributions.
Chair: The time being 4:30, do members wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We'll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are on line-by-line debate on municipal and community affairs division, sports and recreation.
Is there any further debate?
Mr. McRobb: I just have a couple of questions regarding the Arctic Winter Games. Now, I understand that the games are coming in at about $520,000. How can the minister be assured that that money was spent and if it was spent in the best interest of the public?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I am not sure that I quite grasped where the member was going for that. The $520,000 is for the 2002 Arctic Winter Games to be held in Nûk, Greenland and Iqaluit, Nunavut. I am not quite sure if I grasp what he was getting at.
Mr. McRobb: It's just about accountability. That's a significant amount of money. Can the minister assure us that it is being spent in the best possible and most efficient way that will help our athletes participating in the games?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I believe the member is after something specific here. If he would just ask it, I could probably provide him with an answer. I'm as confident as the previous administration was, and the administrations before that, that the money spent on Arctic Winter Games is going to a good cause in the development of our athletes.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair, the allotment to the Canada Winter Games - I didn't catch all of the breakdown. Can the minister indicate if that was part of this line?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: $60,000 for the Canada Summer Games.
Mr. McRobb: That's correct, Mr. Chair. There has been communication with the public recently about the contributions from the Yukon government toward that event, and I've noticed, Mr. Chair, that past contributions from the previous government have been neglected mention, even though those contributions were significant. So I would just point out that, indeed, some longer term planning did take effect.
I have another question or two on the section under O&M recoveries, which can probably wait until we get to that section, Mr. Chair. Other than that, I'm prepared to clear this item.
Sports and Recreation in the amount of $2,408,000 agreed to
On Community Services
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $16,582,000 consists of $696,000 for personnel, and that includes salaries and benefits for the director, 4.3 FTE positions in community planning and four FTEs in community administration. There is $100,000 for other, which includes $13,000 for travel in the Yukon, $4,000 for honoraria for Yukon municipal board members, $19,000 for contract services, $11,000 for supplies, $8,000 for rental expense of community advisor vehicles from the Department of Government Services, $16,000 for program materials, $19,000 for communications and network and $10,000 for other program requirements.
There is $15,786,000 for transfer payments, $3,734,000 for grants-in-lieu of property taxes, $11,817,000 for comprehensive municipal grants, $69,000 for community local advisory area operations and maintenance grants, $100,000 for the Association of Yukon Communities and $66,000 for the Selkirk First Nation pending local service agreement.
There is a decrease in O&M from the previous year of $3,000. The community development officer position was budgeted at a higher level in 2000-01 - $22,000 - and a vacant position was budgeted at the starting range - that was a difference of $4,000. That's offset by increases resulting from the impact of the collective agreement, $16,000, and changes in the contribution to the benefit plan, at $7,000.
Mr. McRobb: I'm looking for a community breakdown of the block funding, and I can't seem to locate it in the material I already have. If it's not there, can the minister provide us with that, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: For Whitehorse, $5,172,775; Faro, $1,377,189; Dawson City, $1,182,121; Watson Lake, $1,337,870; Haines Junction, $664,479; Mayo, $763,053; Teslin, $659,409; and Carmacks, $659,973.
Mr. Fairclough: I was just wondering if I could get a breakdown of the $66,000 that went to the local service agreement with the Selkirk First Nation?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Sorry to take so long looking for this particular piece of paper, which I thought I had but which I don't seem to have. I am going to have to get back to the member on that. I don't know the specific breakdown of the $66,000 off the top of my head.
Community Services in the amount of $16,582,000 agreed to
On Engineering and Development
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $821,000 consists of $335,000 for personnel - that is $147,000 for salaries and benefits for two administration staff and $188,000 for internal labour charges from garage operations for repairs to water and sewer trucks and from highway maintenance for maintenance of dumps and access roads. The $486,000 for other includes $7,000 for travel in the Yukon; $165,000 in contract services, mainly for water delivery and dump maintenance; $148,000 for various repairs and maintenance; $15,000 for vehicle rental charges; $29,000 for program materials; $53,000 for utilities; $36,000 for fuel for water and sewage trucks; $21,000 in internal charges - I believe that is the vehicle part of the maintenance of dumps and access roads - and the balance of $12,000 for various items.
There is an increase of $51,000 in O&M from the previous year, resulting from $10,000 for various salary and wage increases, $8,000 for landfill monitoring, $7,000 for heating and vehicle fuel, $5,000 for hazardous waste disposal, $5,000 for the monitoring for the Marsh Lake water licence, $5,000 for a mosquito control vehicle, and $11,000 in smaller other items.
Engineering and Development in the amount of $821,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Are there any questions on the statistics?
Are there any questions on the recoveries?
Mr. McRobb: Yes, Mr. Chair, in this section I have a few questions. Regarding the MDMRS, the multi-departmental mobile radio service, can the minister indicate who the external users would be that are listed? I would also like to know what kind of policies are in place to govern the use of the system by external users.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I know that the RCMP is one of the main external users, but I can get back to the member with the other information.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair, perhaps in her correspondence the minister can include an explanation to indicate why they are undertaking a needs assessment process for the possibility of replacing the system. Also, can the minister give us an idea of what kind of system she might be considering as a replacement for the system? I know we covered that in general debate, but I'm not quite sure if the point of return in information covered that holistically, as I'm requesting now, but if it doesn't, I would expect an upgraded response.
Mr. Chair, can the minister include those items in the return?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: During earlier line-by-line debate, I had talked about the MDMRS system. The feasibility study is because the system is old and will need replacing by 2006, and a variety of options will be looked at so that we're sure we're getting the best technology. As I said, the system is based on 1984 technology, and the maintenance agreement with Northwestel will expire, et cetera. So the new system must be selected in the year 2004.
Chair: Are there any questions on the revenues?
Are there any questions on the transfer payments?
Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of $25,244,000 agreed to
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I was wondering if I could get via legislative return from the minister, rather than going through each section throughout O&M, just the ministerial and MLA travel that was paid by the department. Can I get that by legislative return? And also can I get the increases or decreases in FTEs throughout the whole department in O&M?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I can provide the member with that information in a legislative return.
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Community and Transportation Services in the amount of $69,765,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now proceed to capital.
On Capital Expenditures
On Office of the Deputy Minister
Chair: Is there any general debate on the capital?
Mr. Fairclough: I would just like an explanation on the decrease.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I'm just trying to determine what exactly the member is asking. If he's asking for the decrease in the office of deputy minister, I can best explain that by going line by line on that section.
Chair: We're in general debate on the capital of the office of the deputy minister. We can go line by line once the general debate clears.
Seeing no further general debate, we'll go line by line, on capital.
On Emergency Measures
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $78,000 for emergency measures consists of three projects: $30,000 for improvements to the joint emergency operations coordination centre to meet post-earthquake standards by adding steel bracing to the building; $12,000 to purchase emergency measures equipment, such as ground search and rescue equipment, sand bags, and improvements to the storage staging area at the Whitehorse Airport; and $36,000 for acquisition of various types of telecommunications equipment to improve and maintain the effectiveness and efficiency of emergency response.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Emergency Measures in the amount of $78,000 agreed to
On Connect Yukon
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $1.7 million is under the existing capital funding agreement with Northwestel toward the development of new Yukon telecommunications infrastructure for the provision of high-speed data and Internet services. This is the part of the total planned contribution of $14.5 million under capital funding from the government.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister provide a breakdown of how that money will be spent, as well as whether there are any changes in the objectives of the program, any changes in the number of projects being undertaken, and any changes in the proposed timeline for the completion of these projects?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $1.7 million is a regular payment, as outlined in the contract, which the member already has a copy of, and there have been no changes to the contract, as signed in April 2000.
Mr. McRobb: All right. What about the objectives of the program, Mr. Chair? I asked about the number of projects being undertaken and timelines. Can the minister explain if there are any changes in any of those, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There have been no changes since the contract was signed in April 2000.
Mr. McRobb: Now, on the Marsh Lake infrastructure project, can the minister indicate whether it has fulfilled its objectives and whether it is coming on budget? Or are there any changes expected either in expenditures or anticipated recoveries for that project?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Marsh Lake infrastructure build was a separate project, and it was in the 2000-01 fiscal year. It was not a part of Connect Yukon, and as far as I know, it was completed on time and within budget.
Mr. Fairclough: For the Connect Yukon project, there is a reflection in here on the transfer payments. In other words, the department is getting the money back, but is this money coming out of the general revenues of government or are we seeing monies coming out of the immigrant investor fund?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $1.7 million is the money that the government is paying to pay back the immigrant investor fund.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, we see that there is a $1.7-million expenditure here and a transfer payment of $1.7 million. Is that where it's reflected going back into the immigrant investor fund? I'm a little lost. I haven't seen anywhere, in any of the government spendings, money coming out of the immigrant investor fund.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: It's the same $1.7 million.
Mr. Fairclough: These are monies going back to the immigrant investor fund. Is it that the Yukon government will basically be paying out for the total amount? Why would it be coming out of the immigrant investor fund and being paid here, and not coming out of the fund itself? Where do we see those transactions for this Connect Yukon?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: This is a very complex area - the funding of this project. My department is dealing with the implementation of this project, and the information has previously been provided to the members opposite. I would be glad to get the member the information in a legislative return.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I haven't seen that information, and we have an expenditure here that the minister would like us to approve and pass in this House, and I'm not sure where it's coming from and whose money is going toward this project. I cannot see anywhere here monies coming out of the immigrant investor fund toward Connect Yukon.
I would like a bit more of an explanation on this before we move on.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, last April, under the previous government, the Yukon government entered into a contractual agreement that effectively has the Yukon government borrowing money from the Yukon government fund, the immigrant investor fund. A separate corporation was established to flow the funds for the project, 19596 Yukon Incorporated. The Yukon government is contributing a total of $23.5 million to the Connect Yukon project over five years. $14.5 million is from Community and Transportation Services for capital, loan payments, including interest payments. That $1.7 million is part of that $14.5 million. There is $2.5 million from Education department capital for equipment purchases in schools to take advantage of the high-speed data services available under Connect Yukon, and $6.5 million total, over five years, for purchasing data services. Northwestel is contributing $3 million in capital, plus the O&M costs associated with the new infrastructure. Mr. Chair, it was the previous administration that set this project up, and we are following what was laid out in the contract.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I'm only trying to get at the monies and how they move from the fund or from government into the fund and how the project is going to be paid for. That's what I'm trying to get at.
I know what the member just read out, but it just doesn't look right in here. If there is no more to it than that, then I would not need any more information than what the member just read out, but if there is more to it, I'd like that information forwarded to me by the minister.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have said I will get the member the information.
Connect Yukon in the amount of $1,700,000 agreed to
On Community TV and Radio
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Twenty thousand dollars is required for the purchase of two transmitters.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister indicate the purpose of those transmitters and whether they're mobile or stationary and, if the latter, where they'll be stationed?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That's part of the regular community radio and television system around the territory, which the department uses to carry the CBC signal, and the transmitters are replaced on a regular schedule.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister indicate which communities will receive the new transmitters?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I don't know specifically which communities these two transmitters will go to, but this is part of a regular schedule. Some are replaced, I think, every year.
Community TV and Radio in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Multi-Departmental Mobile Radio System
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That $44,000 is $20,000 to purchase additional mobile and portable radios and $24,000 to prepare a needs analysis, as I have mentioned, to begin the replacement process for the MDMRS system.
Mr. McRobb: This is probably just as appropriate an opportunity as any other to raise this matter. The Aishihik Lake Wilderness Treatment Centre has expressed a concern regarding communication, or lack thereof, in that region. Now, I'm also very familiar with the situation out there, being a part-time resident, but I'm not citing my own case here. I can make out quite well on my own, thank you, and sometimes it's kind of nice not to have a telephone ringing nearby.
But the centre is very important for obvious reasons, and traffic along that road certainly has to endure the hazards of a remote location, and lots of things can happen, Mr. Chair. As a matter of fact, almost on a yearly basis, things do happen, not only to people involved in the centre, but also government employees. Renewable Resources conservation officers, for instance, run into problems on the road. I'm wondering if the department has recently considered - and I use the word "recently" because I raised this matter with it about a dozen years ago - implementing this service on the north section of that road for use by the centre.
I know it's phasing out the system, so we might get somewhat of a dynamic answer here, but what has the minister considered about fulfilling this need?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Number one, the multi-departmental mobile radio system is a government radio system. And number two, I am aware that SAT phones work in that location. The government employees who would be on that road - Renewable Resources or otherwise - would be equipped with MDMRS radios themselves, so, since there is a service available that will work in that location, I'm surprised the centre hasn't considered SAT phone, but MDMRS is a government radio system.
Mr. McRobb: Well, the centre has considered a satellite phone and I know that they do currently own at least one M-SAT radio. But it is pretty difficult to give everybody an M-SAT radio who is travelling up and down the roads in that area. I am also aware of the possibility of combining on these hilltop towers that help to supply the system, providing for other users. I learned that when I explored this matter some 12 years ago. So, even though the system itself is basically exclusive to government employees - it is not always, but usually - the infrastructure can assist other users. That is the context in which I ask the question. So, does the minister have any plans to help fulfill the need for communications out there? It is part of the program's objectives, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Well, over the years there have been many requests from members of the public and other non-government groups for access to the system. That has not been possible. At this time, we wouldn't be able to consider such a request for one group like the centre.
Mr. McRobb: Well, the centre is a very important group. There are also other individuals using the facilities at the Aishihik village, as well as other Yukoners and tourists and so on who visit the area. It is void of communication. I would like to note that I don't believe that government employees can access the governmental system from all locations in that area.
I would just caution the minister about that, because I think it is still that way.
Mr. Chair, there is a need to provide telecommunications infrastructure. This centre can possibly service hundreds of people over the next four or five years. That is a significant number, and that's in addition to the other traffic in the area.
The department is looking at the area of telecommunications in general, and I would like to know whether it's tied to the MDMRS or some other system. I'd like to know what the minister's plans are, or if she intends to take a look at this in the near future.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Having looked at the map, I'm aware now that the upper end of the Aishihik Road would not be reachable by a tower. We would not be installing one in the next few years, especially not while we're in the development stage for a new MDMRS system.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair, but that doesn't quite answer the question I asked about what plans she might have. Perhaps she can allude to that in answering who is providing these radios for the $44,000 for the coming year. Is this a local supplier?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The figure is $20,000 to purchase additional radios for the coming year. Those will be tendered in the normal way.
Multi-Departmental Mobile Radio System in the amount of $44,000 agreed to
Office of the Deputy Minister in the amount of $1,842,000 agreed to
On Corporate Services Division
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Mr. McRobb: Yes, Mr. Chair. I'm trying to recall the advice given me by the minister about which line item it is to discuss the essentials of that non-essential computer equipment. Can she give me a yea or nay if this is it?
I see her nodding, Mr. Chair, so here's the opportunity for her to try to impress upon us how essential this computer equipment is.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: It's best to do this in line-by-line because it is about a number of pieces of equipment in a number of different areas.
Mr. McRobb: Well, there's only one line, Mr. Chair, so it doesn't really matter much. I can't see why the minister can't - I thought she was anxious to get to this spot to try to have us learn how important this equipment is.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Well, the $197,000 - there's $173,000 for enhancements and maintenance of common departmental systems and infrastructure, $25,000; program area-specific application systems maintenance at $41,000; a feasibility study to look into options for old mainframe-based application systems at $30,000; and workstations and peripheral equipment upgrades and replacement at $77,000. The office furniture and equipment is $24,000 for purchase of photocopiers and fax machines for the transportation division program areas.
In the deputy minister's office, there will be a network printer upgraded at $4,000; it isn't a computer. In human resources upgrade - one workstation to standard, $3,000. There are a number of those that will be done on upgrade yearly. Community and Transportation Services has a workstation replacement strategy, and Community and Transportation Services tends to have the oldest computers in government. I think we're still using some 386s, and maybe even some 286s, Mr. Chair.
In finance systems and administration - upgrades to various departmental financial processing and reporting systems at $8,000; a labour and equipment rate analysis reporting system at $5,000; upgrade two workstations to standard at $6,000; and upgrade departmental networking components at $12,000.
In policy planning and evaluation - upgrade one workstation to standard, at $3,000, and the same thing will happen on a number of other workstations over the next few years; transportation engineering, upgrade two workstations to standard at $5,000 each, and these are required to be more powerful computers; and purchase one new colour laser printer at $5,000.
In airports, upgrade one workstation to standard, $3,000; in transport services, $15,000 for system upgrades and enhancements; $13,000 for replacement of printers in workstations; and $20,000 for integrated systems development project.
That includes upgrade the National Safety Code system, $5,000; upgrade the vehicle registration system, $2,000; upgrade the weigh scale system, $7,000; upgrade the interprovincial records exchange, $1,000; prepare the preliminary analysis and design for integrated systems, $20,000; upgrade three workstations to standard, $3,000 each, for a total of $9,000; and replace four printers in Faro and Haines Junction.
In transportation maintenance, replace some obsolete equipment, a laptop, $4,000; four workstations, $15,000; and a printer, $1,000. In lands and property assessment, a property assessment title and taxation system study and preliminary analysis, $10,000; upgrade one workstation to standard, $3,000; replace two computer-assisted mass appraisal laptops for field use, $9,000; and purchase a new network printer for the assessments branch, $4,000.
In public safety, replace some obsolete equipment, one workstation, $3,000 and one network printer, $4,000. In sport and recreation, upgrade one workstation to standard, $3,000. In community services, upgrade a workstation to standard at $3,000, and purchase a new laser printer, $4,000. In engineering and development, replace one obsolete workstation, $3,000. In transportation engineering, replace a photocopier, at $7,000.
In airports, purchase a photocopier, $6,000. In transportation services, replace a photocopier that is uneconomical to maintain, at $7,000. This is at one of the weigh stations. It is more than 10 years old and the vendor will no longer service it. In transportation maintenance, purchase two fax machines for highway maintenance camps, at $4,000.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair. This was one of the areas where we questioned whether it could be diverted to public projects, because there are some concerns in this area.
Now, we understand that it is always nice to have new computer equipment. It seems that every few years I break down and buy one, too. But a lot of us recognize that this technology and equipment devaluates very rapidly. It's about the same as investing in an ice cream on a hot day. For computer equipment, it has a shelf life of about two years. What I would like to know is where we are going in the bigger picture about buying computer equipment.
Can the minister, in all that information and numbers that she gave us, give us some idea as to what percentage of the whole department is being updated with computers here? Is it 50 percent, 75 percent or all of it? Just so that we on this side can get a better grasp of the bigger picture as far as investing in computer equipment and what we might expect in the near future.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I can get the member a really, really, really detailed answer on that. I just don't have it at my fingertips, but we replace equipment on a regular schedule and it is by no means all of it. It would be less than 25 percent that would be replaced in the coming fiscal year - probably far less.
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $197,000 agreed to
Corporate Services Division in the amount of $197,000 agreed to
On Transportation Division
Chair: Is there any general debate?
As there is no general debate, we will go directly to line by line.
On Transportation Facilities
On Transportation Facilities and Equipment
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $1,085,000 is for five projects: replacement of the Watson Lake station building, at $30,000 for the design of the facility; Whitehorse grader station work at $50,000; capital maintenance of $450,000 for rehabilitation and major maintenance at highway maintenance camps, weigh stations and airport facilities; $405,000 to purchase mechanical equipment, such as a snow blower, runway sweeper, packers, generators and chainsaws for highway maintenance and airport operations; and $150,000 will be used to replace the engines and marine gears for the George Black ferry in Dawson.
Chair: We'll continue then.
Transportation Facilities and Equipment in the amount of $1,085,000 agreed to
On Transportation Planning and Engineering
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $784,000 includes funding for the transportation capital planning section, which is responsible for planning and analysis of transportation infrastructure and related facility needs of the territory. Transportation engineering support and highway inventory management for items such as traffic counting safety studies; the BST management system; engineering work that arises on short notice for various minor projects too small to list separately in main estimate submissions for replacement of small engineering-related equipment items; land and granular resource management for management of all lands required in the delivery of programs - for example, for rights-of-way, et cetera - identification of granular material sources and development and maintenance of granular site development plans; bridge assessment to identify structural or other deficiencies on a timely basis; and aviation planning and engineering for feasibility and pre-engineering work on aviation projects.
The bridge assessment is $100,000; transportation capital planning is $300,000; engineering support and highway inventory management is $200,000; land and granular resource management is $139,000; and aviation planning and engineering is $445,000.
Mr. McRobb: I understand the communication activities are about $25,000. Can the minister expand on that, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Can the member please clarify what he's meaning?
Mr. McRobb: I have a note here that says there is about $25,000 for communications in the transportation engineering division. Is this the wrong place?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Yes, that would have been O&M. There was a communications figure in almost every section in the O&M.
Transportation Planning and Engineering in the amount of $784,000 agreed to
On Highway Construction
On Non-YTG Funded:
On Alaska Highway - Shakwak
Alaska Highway - Shakwak in the amount of $23,500,000 agreed to
On YTG Funded:
On Alaska Highway
Alaska Highway in the amount of $3,233,000 agreed to
On Klondike Highway
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $135,000 is two projects: $25,000 for engineering work to find a long-term solution to the stability problems at kilometre 351, five kilometres south of Carmacks; and $110,000 to provide for parking needs at the Five Finger Rapids pull-off and parking area.
Klondike Highway in the amount of $135,000 agreed to
On Campbell Highway
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Campbell Highway, $900,000 is for the completion of the Margaret Thomson hill at kilometre 374, and the rebuild of the Buttle Creek section, kilometre 405.8 to 406.3.
Campbell Highway in the amount of $900,000 agreed to
On Tagish Road
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $200,000 is to continue with reconstruction to achieve a rural collector undivided, or RCU, 80-standard with BST surfacing from Jakes Corner - kilometre zero - to the Tagish bridge - kilometre 20.6. Work planned for O1O2 is to complete reconstruction, BST and revegetation between kilometre 0 to 2 on the Tagish Road, and kilometre 0 to 1 on the Atlin Road.
Mr. McRobb: This represents a decrease in funding for the Tagish Road of nearly 80 percent. Can the minister give us an explanation as to why that is and, also, what her future intentions are in the way of capital expenditures on the Tagish Road?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $200,000 will deal with the specific work I outlined. The capital planning is now underway, and it's our intention to finish that work, but we haven't yet determined the specific time it will take.
Mr. McRobb: That's fine, Mr. Chair, but I didn't hear an answer to my question about why it decreased 80 percent this year.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, capital funding is by project, and the $200,000 will finish those specific projects. The member is assuming that the same funding would appear every year, but that's certainly not necessarily the case.
Mr. McRobb: Okay, Mr. Chair, but there are plenty of other projects that could be undertaken on this road; is there not?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Yes, Mr. Chair, there are, and I expect to undertake them in future years.
Tagish Road in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Silver Trail
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $15,000 is for design and regulatory approvals to replace a culvert at Crystal Creek between Elsa and Keno at kilometre 109.
Silver Trail in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Pavement Rehabilitation
Pavement Rehabilitation in the amount of $750,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $535,000 is for two projects: bridge rehabilitation at $500,000 for the Lewes River bridge at Marsh Lake; safety retrofits and rehabilitation of timber bridges on the North Canol Road; and the Upper Liard River bridge at $35,000 to provide lighting along the pedestrian walkway. I think that is actually three projects.
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of $535,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
Other Roads in the amount of $400,000 agreed to
On Aviation/Yukon Airports
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $1,355,000 consists of two projects: Whitehorse Airport at $1,305,000 for phase 2 construction of a new water main from Two Mile Hill to the Whitehorse Airport property, $50,000 of that is recoverable from the City of Whitehorse. That project, I believe, began last year. As well, airport airside improvements at $50,000 for runway and taxiway intersection, surface and drainage improvements at the Pelly Crossing airstrip.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister explain why there is a nine-percent drop in the capital for these airports?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Again, capital is not a specific level of funding; it is project by project.
Mr. McRobb: Well, we can have a lot of fun with that one, Mr. Chair, given the Liberals' record in opposition about pointing out any decreases in capital expenditures, which she still continues to do, especially in areas like highways and so on. But I'll leave that debate for another day.
Airports in the amount of $1,355,000 agreed to
Transportation Division in the amount of $32,892,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Seeing no general debate, we will proceed with line-by-line.
On Public Safety
On Major Facility Maintenance
Major Facility Maintenance in the amount of $22,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $412,000 includes $42,000 for fire fighting equipment territory-wide to provide funding to equip volunteer fire departments to the standard of the fire protection policy; $35,000 for assessment of and design of renovations for the Pelly Crossing fire hall; $13,000 for the purchase of four self-contained breathing apparatus with tanks for the Golden Horn fire hall; $200,000 for the addition of a fire truck to the fleet; $100,000 for firefighting equipment for the Mayo Road fire hall; and $22,000 to build fire caches in remote locations around Tagish.
Mr. McRobb: I won't be long on this one, because we've touched on it a couple of times already - the need for security at our fire stations. I notice there's a drop of 15 percent in the allotment for fire protection between this and last year, and I'm wondering if the minister can explain that to us. Now, I know she might stand and say that capital funding is by project, and that's fine but, overall, Mr. Chair, it's incumbent upon the minister to look at an area like fire protection, and assess the needs overall, and not just drive it on a piecemeal basis, but also look at the bigger picture. In terms of security, there's no doubt that should be a significant part of the bigger picture.
So, if consultation results in recommendations on expenditures, can the minister explain where that money would come from? Would it compete with some of the items she has identified, or would there be more money from another line item shuffled into this area?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I had indicated earlier to the member, we have no idea yet what the potential cost will be, as I'm awaiting the results of the fire marshal's consultations. I would point out that, in the larger picture of the total capital, in 1999-00, $192,000 was budgeted. The 2001 forecast was $482,000, and this year's estimate is $412,000 for the coming fiscal year. The Mayo Road fire hall was built in the last year, which was a major portion of that. So the $412,000 is actually a pretty good figure, and it does include the addition of a fire truck to the fleet, which is a major capital expenditure.
Fire Protection in the amount of $412,000 agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
On City of Whitehorse Recreation Facilities
City of Whitehorse Recreation Facilities in the amount of $1,000,000 agreed to
On Carmacks Recreation Centre
Carmacks Recreation Centre in the amount of $1,000,000 agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That's two projects: $50,000 for repairs and upgrade of existing recreation facilities and small capital projects in unincorporated communities; and $100,000 to finish the insulation and air exchange work for the Ross River's recreation centre.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Community Services
On Reserve Fund for Dawson City Projects
Reserve Fund for Dawson City Projects in the amount of $2,900,000 agreed to
On Community Planning
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, there are three projects: photography and mapping required for air photography, orthophoto mapping and topographical and cadastral mapping for communities as requested.
We'll complete the development and implementation of new zoning regulations for Golden Horn and district planning zoning to respond to various rural areas and communities, where situations arise and the need exists to consider land use reviews or zoning regulations.
Community Planning in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On Public Health/Roads and Streets
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $260,000 represents five projects: water and sewer project planning and assessment at $30,000 to carry out required work of smaller scales and emergency nature; project management at $100,000 to cover the cost of project administration and technical support to address emerging community infrastructure needs and policies; planning various sites at $60,000 involves feasibility study and site analysis to determine the land development potential in various places; regulatory monitoring of groundwater at $20,000 to develop a methodical program to monitor groundwater wells at various sewage treatment and disposal facilities; and infrastructure assessment at $50,000.
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $260,000 agreed to
On Water Supply, Treatment and Storage
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That's two projects: Ross River water system improvements at $55,000 to modify the fire hall water supply, and public water supply at fire halls, at $30,000, to address potable water availability in the unincorporated communities.
Water Supply, Treatment and Storage in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That's for three projects: $500,000 for Carcross sewage treatment, for the construction of primary and secondary storage facilities and other related work; $200,000 for the new sewage lagoon at Burwash and decommissioning the Destruction Bay sewage lagoon; and $50,000 for completion of the water use licence application to upgrade the septic sewage disposal pit at Ross River.
Mr. McRobb: I have a question on the federal infrastructure program. Is that account handled separately or is it part of the recoveries for this department? Because, as we know, it deals with areas such as water supply treatment and storage?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: It will eventually show as a recovery. The program was announced last fall but hasn't actually begun yet, so it doesn't show in here.
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $750,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Four projects: no-burn garbage dump improvements at $100,000 to prepare waste management plans for 19 sites serving unincorporated communities; Southern Lakes solid waste at $50,000 for a study on options for solid waste disposal in the area; solid waste disposal facility improvements at $50,000 for site improvements and construction in various places, and solid waste pilot projects at $140,000 to assess the implications of going to a no-burn method of solid waste disposal in the territory.
Solid Waste in the amount of $340,000 agreed to
On Flood/Erosion Control
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There is $50,000 for placement of gravel on the eroding portion of the Porcupine River in Old Crow and $40,000 for remediation work on the Ross River dyke.
Flood/Erosion Control in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
On Equipment Purchase
Equipment Purchase in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Road/Streets Upgrade
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There are four projects: $200,000 for road improvements and BST of Carcross roads; $75,000 to upgrade sections of the sawmill road at Ross River - initial work was done on that last year under the rural roads upgrade program, and we put it in as a line item this year - $20,000 to investigate problems and make miscellaneous improvements to various roads in unincorporated communities and areas; and $20,000 for consultation and preliminary design study for an all-weather second access road for the Taku subdivision at Tagish, which is sadly needed.
Road/Streets Upgrade in the amount of $315,000 agreed to
On Land Development
Industrial in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
Recreational in the amount of $870,000 agreed to
Residential in the amount of $2,250,000 agreed to
On Land Central Services
On Miscellaneous Projects - Recoverable
Miscellaneous Projects - Recoverable in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable
Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of $11,249,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the recoveries?
Are there any questions on the transfer payments?
Are there any questions on the multi-year capital projects?
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $46,180,000 agreed to
Department of Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Chair: The time being 6:00, I shall now rise and report progress.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: 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. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2001-02, 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 the report carried.
The time being 6:00 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled March 29, 2001:
Hydrogen venture: letter (dated February 14, 2000) from the President and Chief Executive Officer, Yukon Development Corporation to Gordon Duncan and Swede Martensson (Roberts)
Hydrogen Project: consulting services agreement (dated July 21, 2000) between Yukon Energy Corporation and GS Systems (Roberts)