Tuesday, May 1, 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.
In recognition of Yukon's young authors
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I am pleased to rise today to pay tribute to the many young Yukon writers who came together for the 23rd annual Young Authors Conference just the latter part of last week.
For two days, about 60 students from schools from right across Yukon took part in this extensive workshop at F.H. Collins Secondary School. This celebration of Canadian literature was sponsored by the Canada Council, the Writers' Union of Canada, the Playwrights' Union, libraries and archives, and the Department of Education. As well as being one of the sponsors, the Department of Education encouraged all secondary schools in Yukon to actively participate in the Young Authors Conference.
The students worked very hard to get the opportunity to attend. Once they were at the conference, the students developed their manuscripts with the help of established Canadian writers. They were inspired by professionals who are living their dreams. They learned in a hands-on way about what it takes to be successful in the world of Canadian literature and publishing.
This was a marvellous learning experience and was an example of the educational opportunities we provide to our young people right here in the Yukon.
Today I pay tribute to all the young writers who took part in that conference. But I would like to give special recognition to the five Yukon students who received their awards. They are: Stacey Sellars for junior fiction; Kristen Young for senior fiction; Angela Dunlop for junior poetry; Rae Mombourquette, senior poetry; Amy Darling, the McCall award. Congratulations to them all, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to thank the organizers of the Young Authors Conference. This wonderful and enriching event could not have been achieved without your very hard work. I am sure all members will join me in congratulating our young writers and wishing them only the very best as they pursue their literary dreams.
In recognition of Lance Koschzeck
Mr. Kent: I rise today to pay tribute to a constituent of mine, Lance Koschzeck, who recently returned from Ottawa, where he was presented with the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. At this time, will all members of the Legislative Assembly please join me in welcoming Lance to our gallery?
Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award was created in 1995 to recognize Canadian caregivers and volunteers, the unsung heroes of our country, whose voluntary contributions have strengthened community values and inspired commitment and dedication in others.
This description fits Lance to a T.
For more than two decades, Lance has devoted countless hours and immeasurable energy to a number of community projects and organizations, including the Army Cadets, Biathlon Yukon, the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society.
The feather in Lance's cap is his 20-year-long promotion of biathlon skiing within the cadet program. Several of the young men and women he has trained have gone on to compete at the national level.
He has spent endless evenings and weekends working with youth at a wide variety of community events. He is an ideal role model to these youth, and he's teaching them how to be good citizens.
Lance is a member and former president of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 254, and he has been deeply involved with this organization and the community organizing poppy campaigns and local Remembrance Day ceremonies. Lance even plays the bugle at the Remembrance Day ceremonies.
For the past two years, Lance has also taken on the duties of executive director of Rendezvous. Like anything Lance takes on, he has been very dedicated and has put his whole heart into ensuring one of the Yukon's major attractions remains a success. As one of his staff members commented to my office, "He is in at 6:00 a.m. and here until the evening. He is a detail person and he takes care of business."
And Lance is in the business of working to make his community and the Yukon the best he can possibly make it. We need more people like Lance Koschzeck.
Again, Lance, congratulations on receiving this prestigious award.
In recognition of Sexual Assault Prevention Month
Ms. Netro: I rise today on behalf of the official opposition to recognize the importance of Sexual Assault Prevention Month.
Sexual assault is devastating to those who are assaulted. It is a form of violence that is overwhelmingly directed toward women and girls, although we all know that men and boys are also victims. The easy access to date-rape drugs that can be added to any beverage, leaving anyone vulnerable to sexual assault. It is unfortunate that we must now be vigilant and that we accept beverages only from a server and keep our beverages in sight to prevent someone from adding unwanted drugs to them.
Recent statistics are alarming, especially when we remember that many sexual assaults go unreported.
As a society, we need to show that respect for all people means that we do not tolerate assault of anyone. Whether the victims are women or men, girls or boys, sexual assault is not acceptable. In Yukon, we have a number of organizations that are involved in the prevention of sexual assault. We have a number of programs that deal with the victims and offenders of sexual assault, and we have a number of programs that are designed to educate the public and students about sexual assault.
It is my hope that one day we will no longer need these programs, but that day is not coming soon, so it is necessary to continue to support all those who work to prevent sexual assault or to provide support following sexual assault.
Mr. Jenkins: I am also pleased to join with others in paying tribute to Sexual Assault Prevention Month as an opportunity to raise public awareness and reinforce the message that sexual assault is a crime and that violence against women in our communities will not be tolerated. Indeed, this is a big job.
Under the Criminal Code, a very broad range of experiences qualify as sexual assault, ranging from unwanted sexual touching to sexual violence resulting in wounding, maiming or endangering the life of the victim.
Sexual assault is a form of violence that can occur anywhere - at home, work, school and on the street. No matter how you look at it, sexual assault against women is a sad and horrible reality of our society that continues to be alive and well today. According to StatsCan, it is estimated that over half of Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.
While it is difficult to determine the actual extent of violence against women in the territory, an examination of reported assaults, as well as the use of programs and services, such as those provided by the women's shelter and the family violence prevention unit, indicate that many women are victims of sexual assault and physical abuse.
In a 1998 survey, 56 percent of female victims who reported sexual assaults to 169 police forces in Canada were under the age of 18 years. Because young women are particularly at risk for sexual assault, it is essential to provide public education tools that raise awareness among the public, and especially among our young people, about sexual assault and other forms of violence against women.
Violence, whether it takes the form of sexual assault, harassment or abuse, affects us all and we must all take responsibility to end it by increasing our efforts to change the way people think and behave toward women and by supporting community efforts and ensuring that our legal and enforcement remedies are effective and fully utilized.
Thanks to the ongoing work of the Women's Directorate, women's organization and women's shelters in the Yukon, we are finding new ways to challenge people to think about violence, about prevention and about what we can all do to make a difference.
Having said this, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important work being done to prevent violence against women and to renew our commitment to a safer well-being for all Yukon women.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, May is Sexual Assault Prevention Month, and I rise in the House today to pay tribute to the women and men who work hard at preventing sexual assault.
The statistics say it all. In 1999, the Yukon recorded 101 separate incidents of sexual assault. This includes assaults against children and youth. When we understand that these are only the reported assaults, we realize one thing - the rate of sexual offences in the territory is intolerably high.
As in the past few years, people in government and non-governmental agencies, in women's groups and in the RCMP have formed a working group under the lead of the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre. Their aim is to increase awareness about the issue of sexual assault all year-round, but particularly during the month of May.
During May, volunteers in the community will lead events, such as assertiveness training, awareness training and a movie night for men and women to view, Tough Guys: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity. The Women's Directorate will run the successful teen radio play, A Little Respect, every Wednesday in May on CHON.
These are only some of the events planned for the month. Preventing sexual assault is everyone's business, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have for tabling a legislative return from the Department of Community and Transportation Services in response to a question in the House by the MLA for Mayo-Tatchun relating to Connect Yukon and the immigrant investor fund.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the Internet statement of use and the e-mail statement of use as they appear on the government Web site. This is in response to the question from the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling two documents: the Yukon Workers' Compensation annual report and the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal annual report.
Speaker: Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Strategic highway infrastructure program
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I rise today to speak about this government's commitment to improving the Yukon infrastructure. I also wish to inform the House of our success in obtaining significant new funding to improve the Yukon's transportation infrastructure. Mr. Speaker, all Yukoners know the importance of our highway system as a vital link between communities. Yukoners also know that this government is committed to improving our highways and other infrastructure as a vital step toward rebuilding our economy. This government has been working with the other territories and provinces to lobby the federal government for funding to rebuild our transportation infrastructure.
We have also made the point that allocation of funding should not be based solely on population. In April of this year, the federal Transport minister announced the start of negotiations on a strategic highway infrastructure program, or SHIP. This program will result in the spending of $600 million on Canada's transportation infrastucture over four years. After further discussions with the federal government, we now know the Yukon's share of this federal funding will be $4.4 million over the four years of this program.
The program is designed as a matching grant, which means that for every dollar we receive from this program the Yukon government must also spend a matching dollar. This announcement proves that our argument has made some impact in determining how the funding should be allocated among the provinces and territories.
Many other jurisdictions were arguing that the money should be allocated strictly on a per capita basis. We argued successfully to have the amount of national highway system each jurisdiction maintains to also be factored in the equation.
In the Yukon we have 4.5 percent of the national highway system. The Department of Community and Transportation Services has identified several possible projects along the South Klondike Highway and the Alaska Highway, which are being considered for funding under this program. The department is finalizing its recommendations, which will be presented to the federal government so that construction can get underway early in 2002-03.
Let me stress again that this government understands the value of maintaining and improving our highway infrastructure. Highways are not only a vital link between our communities, they are also a vital link to our economic future. These projects will not only provide jobs to Yukoners in the short term, they will also contribute to the creation of long-term jobs in other sectors of our economy such as mining and oil and gas development.
This is another example of how this government is keeping our commitment to Yukoners.
Mr. McRobb: It gives me great pleasure to rise in response to this ministerial statement.
Once again, I must protest that it does not meet the legislative guidelines for ministerial statements, which are supposed to be "a short, factual statement on new government policy", and, Mr. Speaker, I would direct you to the text of the ministerial statement. Nowhere to be found is the word "policy". Rather, this ministerial statement is really an extension to a press release, which I'm sure is also coming out today, and the Liberal government sees fit to use up camera time here in Question Period to reannounce their program. This is nothing more than more self-glorification by this Liberal government.
It is good news, however, Mr. Speaker, that, out of the $600 million across the country, the Yukon will be receiving $4.4 million over four years. But I note that nowhere in the so-called ministerial statement did the minister acknowledge the role of the previous Yukon governments that lobbied for several years and laid the foundation for this agreement.
I notice some of the members chuckling over there, Mr. Speaker, but I would just assume they're not aware of the history connected to this initiative.
Mr. Speaker, the previous government recognized that the Alaska Highway is a vital territorial route and also an international highway. It is significant in terms of Canada as a country in providing an important transportation corridor between Alaska and the southern United States, as well as providing a corridor for Yukoners and people coming to visit the territory.
Mr. Speaker, in terms of funding, this announcement reminds me of the federal infrastructure program that was ballyhooed in the Liberals' throne speech. But nowhere did this Liberal government admit that the funding it arranged with the federal government was, in fact, less than the previous federal infrastructure program funds obtained by the previous two governments and enhanced by the previous NDP government in 1994. So, Mr. Speaker, it always pays to look into these matters a little more in-depth to discover the truth and not just rely upon what we read or hear about in these so-called ministerial statements.
Now, I hope the department will look at pushing up some very important projects in light of this announcement. For example, there is the four-year project, the Champagne bypass section, that is very important to Yukoners and to my constituents in particular. It was revealed after the original announcement, which Yukoners were led to believe was a one-year project, that it is, in fact, a four-year project. Perhaps now the minister can take another look at this project to try to move it up so that it is completed at least within this - and only - term of this Liberal government.
Now, Mr. Speaker, there are other road projects as well. This Liberal government cut construction to the Tagish Road - drastic cuts. Will they replenish that budget? They cut the rural road upgrade program by 60 percent. Will they replenish that budget? The minister backtracked on her commitment to me in December that the entire $35-million reconstruction of the Alaska Highway from here to Haines Junction would be done within this government's term. Where are those dollars?
Instead, they are now looking at new projects. I ask, "Where are the priorities of this government?" Do they have a plan? That reminds me that, in December, the minister undertook to provide me with a four-year -
Speaker: Order please. The member has 30 seconds.
Mr. McRobb: It still has not been provided. This government is like a ship without a rudder. It's somewhat ironic today to respond to a ministerial statement that's actually called a "SHIP", because it really is a ship without a rudder.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, hallelujah. The Liberal ship has arrived in the form of a $4.4-million strategic highway infrastructure program, thanks in part to the previous government's initiatives. This Liberal government has made much about knowing the importance of Yukon highway systems, but Yukoners haven't seen much in the way of financial commitment to back that up.
On page 14 of the budget speech, there is a very revealing graph, which shows capital expenditures on highway construction from 1992-93 through to 2001-02 excluding Shakwak funding. What that graph shows is that, even with this additional $4.4 million from the federal government to be matched by another $4.4 million from the Yukon government, the level of funding for capital expending on Yukon highways will still not equal the funding provided under the previous Yukon Party governments between 1992 and 1996. It's clearly amplified in the minister's own document.
Look at the situation today, wherein this Liberal government inherited a $60-million surplus, courtesy of the Yukon Party government and the McDonald NDP government, whereas the Yukon Party government maintained its high spending on highways and it was saddled by a $64-million deficit from the previous Penikett NDP government.
Now, you add to that $60-million surplus the $42-million windfall from formula financing, and you have a surplus today of over $100 million, and there isn't anything happening in the Yukon, Mr. Speaker. That has to be a credit to these Liberals.
Mr. Speaker, the money allocated for highway capital projects doesn't even come close today to matching the Yukon Party government's record. So much for this Liberal ship coming in, Mr. Speaker. This Liberal government has missed the boat when it comes to capital spending on Yukon highways.
Mr. Speaker, even today in my own riding, there are two roads in need of immediate upgrading: the Dome Road and the Sunnydale Road. I would urge the minister in her response to make a commitment to fix the Dome Road before the onset of the visitor season because the Dome Road is sloughing to such an extent that it is in danger of falling off the side of the Dome Mountain, Mr. Speaker, and it may cause an accident. It must be repaired immediately.
I also want to express my concern about what this Liberal government is attempting to do with the Shakwak funding. Because of the disastrous economic policies of this government, the minister is trying to extend the Shakwak project and is preventing road builders from going to work now. It is obvious that this government wants to double the time the Shakwak project will take because it wants to maintain at least a minimum level of highway construction during its remaining short term in office. I would like the minister in her rebuttal to explain why she has given instructions to delay the Shakwak project, why she has given those instructions to her officials, and I'm sure she is going to deny it.
Yukon road builders know what is going on and we all are justifiably upset. The fact is that the minister is big on talk about the importance of highway infrastructure but is very wide on delivery. It's time for this government to put its money where its mouth has been. Do something with the highways.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Well if that weren't such a pitiful display from the Member for Klondike it would be almost funny.
We have just awarded the first of several Shakwak contracts for work this year. There is no delay. The Shakwak project is proceeding on time, on schedule and within budget.
My ministerial statement was short and factual. Our policy is to restore funding to highways and that is not news to Yukoners. The $4.4 million we are talking of today is part of this government's overall policy of working hand in hand with all governments to improve the infrastructure of this territory.
Over the next little while we will be looking at areas that need upgrading on the Klondike Highway and the Alaska Highway.
We are already spending more on the Champagne bypass this year than the entire highway budget of the previous government for last year.
With new funding, that project will be substantially done this year and finished off next year. The former government received many millions of dollars that should have gone to highways. What did they do with that money? It didn't go to the highways, Mr. Speaker.
This government is practising what we preach when it comes to infrastructure spending. We are deeply committed to restoring and improving our infrastructure. Our policy of improving infrastructure is already bearing fruit in many Yukon communities. The airport in Dawson will see substantial upgrades this year, a direct result of this government's cooperative approach to achieving common goals with Yukon communities. The Champagne bypass will finally get underway. I'm sure the people in Kluane will be greatly relieved to see the road improved in the years ahead. A new school in Mayo is already under construction. A sewage lagoon in Carcross is beginning to take shape, and all of these projects are just the beginning of what will be a host of construction opportunities for private sector companies that will partner with this government to improve the quality of our infrastructure and the quality of the lives of Yukoners.
The federal government has announced $600 million worth of funding, under the strategic highway infrastructure program. The Yukon's share of the $600 million is proportionally more than if the formula had been based only on our population. We are encouraging the federal government to find more money to build the national highway system. We will be working with other provinces, territories and the federal government, both now and in the future, to address the very real need to put more money into our highway systems.
Mr. Speaker, some members opposite will try to tell their constituents and the media that our collective cup is half-empty. I am here today to tell you that the future is beginning to look much brighter for Yukon companies and Yukon citizens.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: School capacity study
Ms. Netro: My question is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday the Minister of Education said that there has been no decision on the future of the Takhini Elementary School. He did not say a word about the future of Whitehorse Elementary. Yet last week he left CBC radio listeners with the very clear impression that both Takhini Elementary and Whitehorse Elementary might be on the chopping block, because they are, in his words, "pretty old".
Can the minister explain why he deliberately avoided any reference to Whitehorse Elementary in his answer yesterday?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I do apologize to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin in not completing my answer yesterday. Of course, the Whitehorse Elementary School is part of the capacity and enrolment study that's going on now. We're in phase 1 of that study. It's just the beginning. There is an assessment going on for all 10 elementary schools in the Whitehorse area, so I want to include Whitehorse Elementary School in that we will not be prejudging the recommendations that come forward from the study.
So, just as I mentioned yesterday with respect to the Takhini School, yes, the Whitehorse Elementary School is being evaluated under the study as well.
Ms. Netro: We know what the Member for Whitehorse Centre told members of the francophone community last year. The French immersion programs would be moved from Whitehorse Elementary to a new Grey Mountain school and Whitehorse Elementary would become a downtown campus of Yukon College.
Not once has this minister or any other minister flat out denied that this is what the government is thinking of doing.
Will the minister set the record straight? Will he either confirm or deny that this is the game plan his government has been working on for months?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, Mr. Speaker, I do have to take exception to that comment from the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin. Oh, yes, I do, because it is factually incorrect. This government does not have any game plan. We are respecting the consultation process with respect to the enrolment and capacity study. Right now, we are in phase 1 of a four-phase approach to this evaluation process. There are 10 elementary schools that are being looked at. Some are older, some are newer, and we are looking at the demographics of the whole of Whitehorse. So I'm not going to presuppose the recommendations that are going to be coming forward from the consultations that are going on now with Yukoners, with school councils, with administrators, with parents.
It's a full consultation that's going on with all people who are touched by our Yukon elementary schools right here in Whitehorse, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Netro: Well, it's hard to get a straight answer from this minister. The Whitehorse school review will be based on demographics only, but some decisions have already been made to fulfill Liberal campaign promises. Yesterday, the minister flat out suggested that I misled the House, and I resent that. Let me quote from the Yukon Liberals' platform document of 1996: a Yukon Liberal government will "Build a second K-7 school in Mount Lorne pending confirmation of student numbers."
Once again will the minister set the record straight: does the 1996 campaign promise still represent the position of this Liberal government?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I would also like to remind the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that, within the campaign literature of the NDP in 1996, they also had indicated that they were going to rebuild the Grey Mountain school. They categorically announced that they were going to do it but they didn't do it. As is typical with the NDP, they like to dangle a carrot in front and then change their minds, which they continually do. They want to be lauded on the good things.
And we on this side of the House have acknowledged the good things the former government did. If we stretch our memories back, we can even acknowledge what the Yukon Party did way back when in the dark ages.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: And that is a stretch, that's right.
We are following through on the commitments that we made. We are replacing Grey Mountain Primary School. We have said that time and time again. We are open and accountable and we will admit it. Unlike what the member's party did in the 1996 election in their literature that said they were going to replace the Grey Mountain Primary School, we are going to do it. But we also respect that the enrolment and capacity study that is going on will not prejudge the outcome of those recommendations that come forward. As a matter of fact, after those recommendations come forward, they are going out again for further consultation. So there will be a full anticipated result and sound judgements as a result of the enrolment and capacity study toward the end of this year.
Question re: School capacity study
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the same minister. I find it very interesting that in response to the previous question, the minister speaks of "respecting the needs". I find that interesting.
We recently received a letter, and the minister also received one, from the Teslin School Council, requesting that he consider a new school for Teslin. Yesterday, the minister said that if residents of Golden Horn - and I must point out that Golden Horn is a Liberal seat - wanted a new school, then "They would be certainly considered by this Liberal government".
Now, the residents of Teslin, which, of course, is not a government riding, not a government seat, not only want a new school, but they need a new school. So, will the minister outline the process that will result in the serious consideration of Teslin's request for a new school?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I did receive the letter from Teslin. I just received it yesterday. It's a new one to me that the Teslin community is requesting a new school, and we'll certainly be looking at it.
As I just acknowledged in previous answers, there are plans that were established and initiated by the previous government. We are still following through on those plans because they were promises that we said we would follow up on; namely, the Tantalus School and Eliza Van Bibber School in the communities, in the riding of Mayo-Tatchun. So, we are following through on those commitments.
And with all due respect to the letter I received from the Teslin community, I will be responding in due course after I have had a chance to discuss it further with Department of Education officials.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to point out for the record that the minister did not answer the question. What the minister did allude to is this process of cherry-picking, depending on who holds the riding - the process of identifying a new school.
Now, the reasons contained within the letter the minister received included some health concerns. The school is 35 years old and has two portable units. Underneath these portable units, there is fungi growing, and the minister knows that because it has already been brought to his attention. Four teachers had complained about it, the public safety branch came down and did tests on it, and they agree.
Now, given the health concerns, will the minister ensure that Teslin's needs are a departmental and ministerial priority? And will the minister, again, please answer the question in the process?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry.
I thought I had answered the question, in that I just received a letter from the community yesterday and we will be looking at the request in all seriousness. I'm giving that commitment to the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, and I will be discussing it more with the officials over at the department. I do appreciate the acknowledgement from the member that the department did respond to the concerns about the fungi, mainly mushrooms, in the crawlspace under the trailer units at Teslin school, and those issues are being addressed as we speak. They were even addressed as early as late February, I do believe. So those issues are being looked after.
We're very, very concerned about the health and welfare of our students and our educators. Those aspects certainly have been looked after, but getting back to the school issue in Teslin and the rebuilding, it's very, very important to remember that education is more than just building new schools. It's programming right from kindergarten through 12 in the best environment that we can provide.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, again, I have to take exception to the minister's waffling around on that side of the House. Not only are we growing mushrooms and fungi in that school, but other concerns include the lack of support and the lack of support staff to provide help to the children with very special needs. Many years ago, these two portables were added. Now, the minister did say yesterday in respect to Grey Mountain School that "Previous governments had not addressed the community needs," again, a direct quote from the minister, "forcing students to be educated in small, trailer-like units for years and years."
Well, Teslin has also had students in these units for years and years. So will the minister make the same commitment to the town of Teslin that he has made to the Grey Mountain Primary School? Will the minister please make that commitment?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker, he is absolutely right when he says that these students have been in trailers for years and years and years - not only in Teslin, but in Mayo at the Eliza Van Bibber School, and as well in Dawson where students are attending classes. Why didn't the members opposite address these concerns? Poof, all of a sudden they are an issue.
I can't imagine that these issues were unknown by previous administrations and previous governments since we started having government in the territory. But no, all of a sudden it's our problem.
We are looking at it in a very responsible, accountable and open manner. And we will continue to do that.
Question re: Protected areas strategy
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. In appendix 2.1 of the Yukon protected areas strategy implementation review appendices, there is a table, prepared by Renewable Resources officials, establishing a 5,000 square-kilometre benchmark for defining a minimum reserve area to maintain ecological viability. With 16 ecoregions yet to be withdrawn at 5,000 square kilometres each, that means that a further minimum of 80,000 square kilometres will be withdrawn from the Yukon for non-development. However, if I go to my debate on my motion on the Yukon protected areas strategy on April 11 of this year, the minister said that my math on the extent of this withdrawal is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Will the minister therefore advise the House what is right, right, right? He has now rejected the 5,000 square-kilometre benchmark recommendation by his officials. What new minimum benchmark has the minister established? If the 80,000 square-kilometre figure is wrong, will the minister tell the House what is right?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member opposite knows that he is wrong, wrong, wrong. I would like to actually know, Mr. Speaker, what the Yukon Party's commitment is with respect to Yukon protected areas. During the election this time last year, the then Government Leader had committed fully to the protected areas strategy, and in its original format, which is what we are still using.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, yes, yes.
So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if he is going against the wishes of the previous party leader as well as Minister Mickey Fisher, who was the Renewable Resources and Economic Development minister of the day, when he said, "What we want to do is identify 23 ecoregions in the territory and we want to identify a potential park in each one of those ecoregions."
Mr. Jenkins: The Yukon Party still subscribes to and supports the Yukon protected areas strategy but not as the picture is being presently painted by this minister, who is determined to create one massive series of parks in the Yukon, Mr. Speaker.
And the minister's own officials can't be wrong in doing the simple math calculation. The minister has a duty and a responsibility to tell Yukoners and potential investors just how much land he is proposing to withdraw. What is the extent of the land area the minister is withdrawing for goal 1 protection? Can the minister please be specific?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker, he would love me to be specific. I would ask the respect from him to do the same because I believe that the former leader of his party fully understood what constituted the protected areas strategy and how we go about establishing goal 1 areas.
What the leader said at that time - and I quote from the Yukon News, on Monday, April 20, 2000 - "There is nothing wrong with the protected areas strategy as it is currently drafted. The problem lies in how the NDP government has implemented it. He wants to enshrine the protected areas strategy in law so the government of the day has to follow the rules. This is the only way" - the only way, Mr. Speaker - "to restore investor confidence in the process and in this territory." Those are quotes directly from the former party leader.
So I think that we are following true to the commitment made by the previous members of the member's party.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, those words are very succinct and specific, and I would urge the minister to pay heed to them and accept them. But it is ludicrous for the minister to not agree to establish a cap on the amount of land to protect. That's what the protected areas strategy is all about. The Yukon and other jurisdictions agreed to protect 12 percent of their land area by the year 2000 - a goal that the Yukon has already exceeded.
If the minister is not prepared to put a cap on the amount of land yet to be withdrawn, will he put the Yukon protected areas strategy on hold in order to help restore the Yukon's economy, which has been devastated by his interpretation of this policy?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, as I said during the debate that we had on the YPAS, the member opposite just doesn't get it. He doesn't have a clue about -
Speaker: Order please. It has been ruled previously in the House that to refer to members with those words is unparliamentary and I would ask the member to keep that in mind, preferably withdraw it, and continue.
Withdrawal of remark
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the wise ruling, and I will offer to withdraw, but he has very limited, minuscule knowledge of the whole of the strategy. Unfortunately, he just takes little snippets and then wanders off in la-la land, trying to fit the whole picture around it without fully comprehending. Mr. Speaker, I would even submit that the people leaving the territory are a result of his negativity on how business in general is conducted in the territory, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Wage rates for injured workers
Mr. Keenan: Oh, boy, Mr. Speaker. Today I have a question for the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.
Now, on November 28, 2000, when the board witnesses appeared in the Legislature, I asked them why had they not corrected a discrepancy in maximum wage rates paid to injured workers. Now, workers injured prior to the 1993 act are limited to maximum wage rates of $45,000. The president did report that the only way to get around a discrepancy in wage rates between the old and the new acts was by way of a legislative amendment. So has the president brought forward a solution to the minister in the form of draft legislation?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: We have discussed that issue with the board. We obviously know it's a problem. If it had been done right under the former administration, I guess we wouldn't have a problem. That's the reason why we have a problem. It could have been done inclusively when the legislation was opened last time.
We are considering it, we're looking at it, and we obviously don't want to rush into anything at this point in time. We want to make sure we do it right.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think Yukoners are getting mighty tired of hearing that old mantra of blaming the previous government - "We don't want to rush in; we want to consult." I mean, with the examples of consulting from Renewable Resources to Tourism around this government, you can see that they're not receiving any instruction.
I wrote to the minister about this and several other matters on February 9. It was a letter that I had copied to the minister. It took over a month to receive an answer from the minister, and in the letter the minister said simply that he had passed it on to the president.
So what exists now is a two-tiered system of compensation, and this two-tiered system discriminates against the workers who were injured before 1993. The board president did say that it could be corrected by way of a mere amendment to existing legislation.
Now, this government has brought forth 11 pieces of legislation during this budget sitting, which they profess to be of a housekeeping nature, so why didn't the minister bring forward a piece of legislation that was truly of a housekeeping nature to address this inequity? Why did the minister not do that?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I had a wonderful ride this morning, Mr. Speaker. I was thinking about all the issues that I had to respond to.
It's always interesting that the members opposite definitely want to take credit for everything that's good. But any time anything goes wrong - "Oh no, that's not us. It was somebody else." Yet they have been the government in the past, so I find it very interesting. They always want to expound here in the House and say: "That was our policy. We did that. You didn't have anything to do with that."
Obviously, Mr. Speaker, we have delivered and are going to deliver. We have delivered time and time again.
I could just go off on the list here that is pages long, Mr. Speaker, about what we have done, and we are not going to move quickly into an area that has had problems over the last number of years. We want to make sure that we do it right and obviously that takes time. We have to consult, and we do it honestly. Hopefully in the future, members on the opposite side will understand that when they see the good legislation come forward.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the minister should stop riding that bike in the morning and just start to concentrate a little bit on the issues that are coming to the member here, because they're just blowing right out of his head.
Now, Mr. Speaker, this is the situation, if I can lay it out. Workers injured prior to 1993 have had their maximum wage rate frozen at $45,000. For workers injured since the 1993 act, a maximum wage rate of $62,400 was recently approved. This is fundamentally unfair and I'm sure the Speaker will agree.
This government has muzzled its backbenchers and refused to bring forward a motion for debate to ask for a clearing up of the backlog of WCB issues. This motion, sponsored by the Member for Whitehorse Centre, already had the unanimous consent and support of this House, so I'm sure he's very impressed with the minister's words of "not moving quickly".
This government also refused to bring forth a simple legislative amendment to enshrine the authority of the workers' advocate to represent injured workers in court.
So, Mr. Speaker, will the minister do at least one thing for injured workers? Will the minister bring forward a legislative amendment this fall to give workers injured prior to 1993 access to the same maximum wage rate as workers injured after 1993? Will the minister do that?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, we are committed to doing the right thing. It is very obvious that, over the past year, we have done many good, positive things for Yukoners. Obviously the relationship that we have working with people in the Yukon is paying off. They appreciate the fact that we are consulting with them.
There have been many positive things that have taken place with the Workers' Compensation. I wouldn't say that we are there completely yet, Mr. Speaker, but remember that we took over with a real mess on our hands. We have been working very hard in trying to clear up all those back issues. Yes, there are some very hard-working people.
Members opposite will have a copy of the report from the board and one from the review tribunal, as well. I would suggest that they read these copies and they will see that a lot has happened in the past year. We are committed to ensuring that we are fair and honest to all Yukoners, Mr. Speaker. If there's a problem with the legislation or regulations, we will make sure that we make the changes.
Question re: Chronic disease program, breach of confidentiality
Mr. Fentie: Well, I'm very happy to hear that while the minister is riding his bike he is thinking about all the issues he has to deal with. I have an issue for him and hopefully the wind hasn't blown it out of his mind and onto the scrap heap of what was once health care in this territory.
Mr. Speaker, some time ago, through writing him and after being forced to bring the same issue to the floor of this Legislature, I asked the minister to deal with the serious issue of delivery of health care to a Yukon resident and also the possibility of a breach of medical confidentiality.
But before the minister gets up to say that he cannot discuss personnel matters on the floor of this Legislature, let me say that ample time has passed for the minister to take action. Will the minister now tell this House what steps he has taken to deal with this very serious matter?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I just find it shocking how the members opposite use words to inflame issues. I am very concerned at how the Yukon public is being treated. I am really concerned that when statements are made like that without substantial backup, it makes it very difficult for us to even respond.
There is no breach of any confidentiality at this point. I know the members opposite would like that to be wherever to ensure that what they assume is a problem is not. Any time an issue is brought to my desk, we respond to it, we deal with it, we investigate it. I have let the member opposite have a copy of what we have done. The member opposite is obviously not approving of what we have done, so there is not much I can do about that. The member opposite still believes that there is a problem, and if the member wants to present his evidence in the House here, he is free to do so.
Mr. Fentie: Well, there is a problem and I believe there is a problem, and it's the minister who is the problem. The minister's inability to manage his own department is what's creating severe problems out there in the Yukon public. The Yukon public is shocked at this minister's handling of his own department. The minister has done nothing in regard to this issue but provide me with a briefing and a letter that did not even address the issue that I brought forward to him.
This Yukon resident has been neglected - their right to the delivery of health care from this minister's department. Now, the minister passed on some advice that the Yukon resident, my constituent, should deal with a person in the minister's department - a person who may very well have breached medical confidentiality.
Does the minister believe that that advice is sound?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, once again, I am saddened when I see what the members opposite are doing, chastising good public servants for doing their jobs. I'm really saddened by that.
The members opposite know that confidential information and material cannot be discussed here in the House. Why do they persist in bringing it up here? This is not the place to discuss it. This is medical information; it's very serious. This is not to be taken lightly. Mr. Speaker, it's very important that the members opposite realize that this is a serious issue, and we look at it seriously, and we're dealing with it.
Mr. Speaker, it's very important that, rather than working against the process, maybe the members opposite should work for it, because they were part of it by setting it up the way it is at the current moment. It has never been changed.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, this is a disgrace. This minister's action on the floor here today of this Legislature is a complete disgrace. I'm not chastising anybody in the department; I'm chastising the minister for not taking action. I have a constituent dealing with a life-and-death issue, a constituent who has been denied the right to medical care from this territory, and a constituent who is facing not only the stress of the health problem but harassment and the possible breach of medical confidentiality. And this minister stands on his feet and accuses me of chastising a department official - what a joke. This minister should resign immediately. Will this minister now take action and deal with this matter as he is duty-bound?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Once again, a confidential medical situation, and the member wants to discuss it on the floor. That is unacceptable, Mr. Speaker. This is a very serious matter and I believe the members opposite are making light of it. They want it to be a public spectacle. I will not do that.
We are dealing with it; we are working on it. If the member has other information that we do not have, the member knows how he can get that information to me.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of government private members' business
Ms. Tucker: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to inform the House that the government private members do not wish to identify any items to be called on Wednesday, May 2, 2001, under the heading of government private members' business.
Point of privilege
Mr. Fentie: Pursuant to Standing Order 7(1), I rise today with grave concern about a question of privilege. Mr. Speaker, that question of privilege is this: my ability to perform my duties as (1) a member of this Assembly and representing my constituents and (2) as the House leader for the official opposition and, indeed, as an opposition member are being severely impeded at every turn by the Liberal government across the floor.
Mr. Speaker, throughout this sitting there has been evidence that this action by the government across the floor is taking place. Recent developments show clearly that they have no intention of being an open and accountable government, as they have made the claim they are.
Mr. Speaker, not only has my privilege been breached, but indeed the privilege of every member on the opposition benches has been breached.
Mr. Speaker, we have to look at the fact that, countless times, the members opposite, given the opposition's desire and duty to hold the government accountable, have provided erroneous information. The members opposite continually refuse to be open and accountable, to be forthright, and to answer questions on the floor of this Legislature in the manner in which the questions have been asked. We as the opposition have no choice but to constantly try to extract from the government side what really is going on with respect to that government leading this territory.
Mr. Speaker, further to that, recent developments by the Minister of Government Services, in the debate of Government Services, with constant answers in Committee of the Whole that he will get back to the member opposite, are simply unacceptable in terms of our ability to debate the biggest budget ever in this territory.
Furthermore, the members opposite have broken an existing agreement that they wanted signed in regard to what this sitting is all about. They have overloaded the agenda of this budget sitting with substantive legislation. And though they claim that this is not the case, the Minister of Justice herself has stood down one bill because it is substantive. And the debate that was conducted in this House on the substantive bills will clearly show that we on this side of the House have done our duty, and we are making the correct point - that substantive legislation was brought to the budget sitting.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, it's important to note that the government side claims that we in the opposition have been wasting time, yet close to 50 percent of $535 million, in the limited amount of time that we have had to debate the budget, has been cleared. Yet, today in the House leaders' meeting, the government House leader informed us that they intend tomorrow to bring a motion to the floor of this House to extend hours of this sitting, with some nine departments left in the budget to be debated. Is this some kind of a joke?
Furthermore, the opposition, in a very professional, open and accountable manner, brought forward a motion to the floor of this House to extend beyond the 35 days of this sitting, so that we could do our job and debate the government side on the biggest budget ever in this territory. It is our duty to hold this government accountable for these expenditures on behalf of the Yukon public.
I accuse the other side openly and publicly of doing everything to hide from debate. They are doing everything they can to impede debate and doing everything that contradicts their commitment to be open and accountable. This is a democracy. This Assembly and the little regard that the members opposite show for this Assembly is a disgrace. What they have done is very disrespectful and we must make a stand as the opposition to ensure that we can do our jobs in representing our constituents.
This breach of privilege is a very, very concerning. It is something with which the members opposite have to come to grips. They can no longer, in this heavy-handed, ram-it-down-your-throat manner, continue to conduct the public's business in this way.
This is wrong, Mr. Speaker, and the members opposite know full well that if they wanted to be cooperative and truly be held accountable they would have simply accepted the extension of this sitting given the number of days taken up in debating legislation that shouldn't even have been brought to the floor of this Legislature this budget sitting.
I am asking you to rule on this breach of privilege because it is a grave, grave breach of privilege for me as a member of this House and an MLA from the southeast Yukon and for indeed every member on this side of the House. We cannot conduct the public's business in this manner and be able to say to the Yukon public that we have done our jobs.
The members opposite are duty bound to correct this situation and truly show with some credibility that they are open and accountable by doing the right thing.
Ms. Tucker: On the point of privilege, there is no point of privilege. There were a number of pieces of legislation on the Order Paper for this session. Briefings were offered to the opposition in late March. They were declined. They have been repeatedly declined. Of the housekeeping pieces of legislation that were on the agenda, six of those were agreed to as being housekeeping legislation. Two other pieces of legislation have been sitting on the Order Paper and the members had briefings last fall. They were ill-prepared to debate. They were offered further briefings - declined. This government has made every effort to be open and accountable and the fact that we have given notice that we will be bringing forward time extensions is an indication of that openness. The MOU does not expire until tomorrow. We have attempted through SCREP meetings, we have attempted through House leaders' meetings, we have attempted through correspondence to get the cooperation of the members opposite.
On February 28, we asked the opposition to put forward members for the committee on major boards. We still haven't even got a response. That is typical of all the efforts that we have made to contact and negotiate with the opposition.
Previous oppositions have managed their time and dealt effectively with it. I challenge anyone to go and look at the Hansard at the types of questions that we've had to deal with and the calibre of debate, and they will see quite clearly that what is going on here is ineffective, incompetent opposition.
Mr. Jenkins: On the point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, there is a very serious point of privilege that has been raised here in this Legislature today by the official opposition House leader. That position has been well-amplified by the official opposition House leader, and I certainly have to concur with what has transpired to date. We have a memorandum of understanding that was agreed to and re-signed by all parties. The current government has abdicated its responsibility to this MOU by selecting sections of it that they wished to abide by, and sections of it that they wished to circumvent or not acknowledge. I refer specifically to the memorandum of understanding and the position taken that there will be only bills of a housekeeping nature brought forward in this Legislature. That certainly wasn't the case, Mr. Speaker.
Bills that were acknowledged and accepted as housekeeping bills were passed by the opposition very quickly.
The balance of the bills required extensive debate and we're going to learn, Mr. Speaker, in the next little while, the extent and the implications of the changes that are being imposed and rammed through this Legislature. It's the Liberal position that they don't want to debate these bills.
Furthermore, we have attempted at great length to question the ministers responsible on their specific portfolios, and just yesterday it became abundantly clear that the minister responsible for Government Services was not conversant and did not have an understanding of so much of his portfolio that it was impeding progress in general debate in Committee of the Whole in this Legislature. So much so that this session will probably produce the greatest number of legislative returns ever witnessed in this Legislature, and that material will be provided after we were told we have to approve the budget, not before.
Mr. Speaker, it is our responsibility to hold the government accountable. That's what opposition is all about, and the tool of holding them accountable is debate in this Legislature. By controlling the agenda to the extent they have and varying from it to the extent that they have, this Liberal government has managed to cast the timelines severely away from where we should be in this spring session, which is budget debate - budget debate on the largest budget that the Yukon has ever witnessed.
That is what we're here for, Mr. Speaker. That is what we want to do. In fact, I have given up a motion so that we can proceed with the budget debate. And that was only passed reluctantly.
Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you look upon this point of privilege as a very serious point of privilege that is being raised by the House leader of the official opposition. I certainly concur with the position that he has taken. I know that you will render a fair and just overview of this request on this point of privilege.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: I think the Chair has heard sufficiently for the Chair to make a ruling. However, the Member for Whitehorse Centre is on his feet. I will recognize the Member for Whitehorse Centre and allow the member to have the floor.
Mr. McLarnon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The reason why I am rising is to remove the partisanship from this debate and argue specifically on what our Standing Orders are asking you as Speaker to decide, which is a prima facie case of whether privilege has been broken.
What I present to you, Mr. Speaker, is that we have seen the opposition waste the time of this House once again for political points - nothing reflecting anywhere in our Standing Orders where our privilege has been broken. What we have seen here is arguing about rules and agreements made outside of our Standing Orders. They are an addendum in this book. They are not part of the Standing Orders. They are not entrenched. They have nothing to do with the rulings in the House - more to do with how we treat each other as political opponents and adversaries.
They have nothing to do with privilege and nothing to do with the ability of members to perform their jobs in this House. No rules were broken. What we have seen is shameful. What we have seen here is political gamesmanship at its highest and ugliest point.
I went through their meetings, Mr. Speaker, and what we saw in the meetings have nothing to do with the privileges of members in this House. It was just a simple way to agree to do business. Those simple ways were betrayed all the way through. I know briefings were offered under the MOU. I know timelines were given, and I know the list of legislation was given with enough time for there to be warnings and for objections to be raised. The only time those objections were raised was as the bills were put in front of this House. The games were played at that point - shame. Shame on members who want to reform this House and make it a better place for Yukoners - shame. Shame.
I have sat in SCREP meetings and told about the need expressed to us by Yukoners to make this Legislature a better place - more businesslike, reflective of the needs of the territory. The grandstanding I have seen over the last few weeks is embarrassing. It embarrasses me, as a legislator. The reason why we're here is to make sure the Yukon public is served properly.
What we have done here in the last three weeks is to put forward political points of view, to put forward smoke and mirrors, and to put forward false issues. What we have got here is not a prima facie breach of privilege. What we have here are political games being played. It's an embarrassment for a person who came in and told his constituents that he was going to make a better place, because what I'm seeing here now are more games being played at the cost of the Yukon public. Stop it.
I'm asking the Speaker to understand that no rules were broken here. And as far as the political party that brought this up, this is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black because the improvements I have seen, from what I have been told, are already well improved. We have done something better. We are serving the opposition in a better way than this party was served on this side.
And the reason why is that we learned in opposition what is needed by politicians to do their jobs. The changes have happened; the changes are going to happen. This House demands that we do our business better, and I am honestly upset about the fact that we have seen a political game being played again, with a day left on an MOU from an opposition that has never had an intention of keeping that MOU.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Order please. The Chair will now provide a ruling on the question of privilege raised by the official opposition House leader.
The official opposition House leader met the notice requirement found in Standing Order 7(1)(b) by submitting a written notice to the Office of the Speaker at 10:59 a.m. on today's date.
Standing Order 7(4) states that the Speaker must rule on (a) whether there appears, on the face of it, to be a case of breach of privilege, and (b) whether the matter has been raised at the earliest opportunity.
The normal practice of this House has been that, to meet the "earliest opportunity" requirement, a question of privilege must be raised at the time the event occurred or on the next sitting day. With respect to the matter raised by the official opposition House leader, the event has not taken place. The official opposition House leader has informed the House of information provided to him during a House leaders' meeting. He has stated that the government House leader notified the other House leaders of an intention to move a motion to extend sitting hours.
The Chair must inform the House that discussions which occur in private between House leaders do not have a formal place within the proceedings of the House. Members, therefore, should not expect the Chair to provide rulings based on information on what takes place in such meetings.
Further, in his written notice to the Chair, the official opposition House leader made reference to the memorandum of understanding reached between leaders in this House.
The Chair must inform the House, as has been done in the past, that the memorandum of understanding is an agreement between leaders. It does not form part of the rules of this House and the Speaker has not been provided direction by the House to take notice of or to enforce its provisions.
With respect to the question raised today by the official opposition House leader, the most important point is that the event that the official opposition House leader objects to has not occurred. The Chair cannot make findings or rulings in advance of events because there is no certainty the events will occur at all. Even if certain events should occur, no one can be aware now of all the circumstances that would apply.
Keeping that caution in mind, this is a situation where the House has provided an explicit rule, being Standing Order 2(6), which identifies the procedure for extending sitting hours. Since the House has done that, it must be concluded that the House itself has already determined that a motion to extend sitting hours would not be in violation of any perceived privileges.
The Chair, therefore, does not find there to be a prima facie breach of privilege.
This concludes the ruling. The House 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 everyone. I now call Committee of the Whole to order. Do members wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Thank you. We will take a 15-minute recess and return at 2:40 p.m.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with general debate in the Department of Government Services on Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2001-02.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 2001-02 - continued
Department of Government Services - continued
Chair: I believe Mr. Jim has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the members opposite asked me a lot of questions yesterday on a number of very detailed issues. In some cases, I committed to providing legislative returns with answers to the questions. These returns will be forthcoming as soon as possible.
I do have some of the key answers the members asked for, which I can provide verbally. Again, where legislative returns were promised, the information will also be coming in that form.
There may be some other minor issues on which I committed to get back with an answer. These will also be forthcoming as soon as my officials can pull the information together.
Mr. Chair, yesterday at the request of the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, I committed to providing the House with information on service improvement initiatives. This government is committed to service improvement and to improving the way that the Yukon government interacts with citizens. We committed to that ideal in our election platform and again in our throne speech. As always, this government does what it says it's going to do. The member asked for specifics. The member didn't ask policy questions. The member asked for specifics, the member asked for initiatives. We have those. We have specific initiatives underway that will improve government and make it easier for citizens to deal with government.
Our goal, our vision, is to gather the very best ideas on citizen-centred service delivery and to implement these ideas over the course of our mandate. Five elements drive satisfaction with the services government delivers: timely service, staff knowledge and competence, an approach to service that is not only courteous and friendly but goes the extra mile to assist the citizen. Fairness and outcome - that is, did the clients get what they needed?
Mr. Chair, my government will be focusing on these five elements, and we will continue to work hard with citizens, businesses and the public service on these. The following service improvement initiatives, some of which I mentioned yesterday, are currently underway within the Government of the Yukon and in collaboration with our partners.
Escape red tape - the escape red tape on-line suggestion box is still available to all Yukoners. We have already acted on suggestions from the escape red tape project. These include the change-of-address project, acquisition cards, the blue pages and the Gazette on-line. Looking toward the future, we are examining the feasibility of an integrated business registration system.
The change-of-address project allows citizens to submit an address change to the government using one universal form. Previously, separate change-of-address requests had to be submitted to every department that a citizen dealt with. Over the next year, we will be evaluating and expanding these innovative programs, which have caught the attention of several provincial governments.
The City of Whitehorse has just agreed to become part of the system, taking the project in a very exciting new direction.
The integrated business registration system provides one-window services to the business community. It is convenient for business clients to supply information once, such as the Tombstone information, and have this information submitted to several government departments where services are being sought. This improves efficiency for businesses and reduces duplication when accessing government services.
An integrated system allows business to enter information through a one-window approach. Other jurisdictions are examining electronic service delivery options that allow a new business to register their information with multiple contact points. An integrated registration system consolidates processes. Privacy is protected.
When clients select where their data is sent, registration data is captured through one source and then used by multiple program areas.
My department will be consulting with the business community on the feasibility of such a business registration approach. If it proves feasible, this will be a very significant service improvement for Yukon businesses, making business start-ups easier and making a dramatic contribution to the reduction of red tape.
The blue pages, the new Northwestel phone books, are being delivered this week. The electronic launch is next Friday, May 11. This is an exciting and leading-edge initiative. We are the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide electronic blue pages for their citizens.
Our office of strategic management will coordinate program changes across government if it will help reduce gaps and overlaps, and it will coordinate efforts to restore confidence in government.
The internal audit unit undertakes reviews to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs. The office provides recommendations for improvements of its leadership program.
This program originates from consultations that Government Services had with the business community on how to reduce red tape. Businesses often have a hard time pinpointing exactly what they mean by "red tape". The real issue behind what many business people call red tape is unsatisfactory service.
However, we don't accept that service quality is a universal problem in government. There are isolated cases and, unfortunately, those are the cases that people remember and talk about over and over again, creating negative stereotypes.
The purpose of this service leadership program is to accept that there is already, within government, a wealth of service experience and professionalism. If we can demonstrate that the government is truly service-oriented, we can begin to reverse negative public perceptions.
Three course offerings of the service leadership program are scheduled for the coming year. This program has been highly successful in the past, so much so that the upcoming sessions will focus on topics raised from the various sessions. For example, service standards and better internal communications, government signage - and planning is underway for improved signage in two pilot sites. The pilot sites chosen are the main administration building and the Law Centre. The initial analysis on the sites is complete, and recommendations are being developed for review and input by the staff.
The Yukon Gazette - the Yukon Gazette is currently on-line and available to Yukoners. We are looking into future enhancements.
Our better ideas program - we committed to the better ideas program in our throne speech and we are moving on this important initiative to gather grassroots service improvement ideas from front-line public employees. We expect our future service improvement workplans to be largely dictated by the input we get from the better ideas program. Our leadership forum - number 6 in the highly successful challenges of leadership series is on attracting, developing and retaining talent north of 60. Retention of front-line staff is one of the top topics scheduled for the forum. Retaining front-line staff is a critical component of citizen-centred delivery and service improvement.
This is a list of current initiatives; however, service improvement to Yukoners is not a static process. Our workplan is a living document. We are continually gathering ideas from many sources and we will initiate other initiatives on an ongoing basis through consultation and collaboration as we move toward the future of our citizen-centred government.
Yesterday there were a lot of detailed questions that were being asked. For example, "How many trusses were in the Mayo school building?" Do the members opposite know how many trusses there are in their own house or in their own homes? Probably not and more than likely not. Ridiculous questions are being asked by the members opposite and that is the sad part of this today. The sad part of it is that these ridiculous questions are not out of the interest of the members opposite, but they are political gamesmanship.
And the sad part for Yukoners today is that it is at the expense of taxpayers of the Yukon.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the minister must have felt somewhat relieved to get some answer time today, given that all his responses yesterday were basically "I do not know," "I'll get back to the member," or "We'll provide a legislative return." I really have to take exception to the minister's position on questions regarding structures and the trusses in the Mayo school. The question to the minister was this: how many of the trusses were defective? We subsequently have learned that there may be a $4,000 cost to the Government of Yukon for such defective trusses.
That may or may not be the case, Mr. Chair, but that's a major issue today, in that the government has signed off and accepted responsibility for the foundation and the subfloor in the Mayo school, and their engineers now have to either confirm that it is satisfactory for the contractor to proceed or not to proceed. And we are aware that there are deficiencies in the subfloor. We know that the flooring has become wet over the course of the winter, and we know that the laminations in the plywood are coming apart, and we know that there might be, structurally, a problem in this area. And we went to great lengths to extrapolate this information from the minister. Other than the access to his briefing note, his understanding of this issue was very, very minor.
All the other questions posed to the minister yesterday were on policy issues, and we received very, very little positive response, Mr. Chair.
That being said, let's look at some of the other policy issues with respect to the transfer of responsibility from other departments. Let's specifically go from Executive Council Office to Government Services. The French language and photography units were transferred. What is the advantage of now containing these entities under Government Services from where they were before? Can we have a little background on the policy that dictated this change, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, upon listening to the member opposite, as I explained yesterday, earlier on, the trusses are fine. They had been approved by truss engineers and there are some problems with the delamination of plywood. It is estimated that this will cost approximately $4,000 to fix.
It's also very apparent that this is a sad day for Yukoners to have these detailed questions. Does the member opposite know what colour the pillows are in room 10 of his hotel? Does the member opposite know how many trusses he has in his hotel and what sort of construction it is? Those were the questions that I was faced with yesterday. Those were the questions that I declined to answer at the moment, because the information was not right in front of me. Those are not policy questions. They are detailed questions and should not be brought forth in this House.
In any case, with respect to the transfer of Bureau of French Language Services to Government Services, this unit of 10 people has been transferred from the Executive Council Office to Government Services. There were no changes in staffing or in the level of French language services provided by the Yukon government.
The transfer was made so that ECO could focus on its strategic role of supporting the Premier's office and Cabinet. Government Services is in the business of delivering operational support services and can operate the French language services bureau very effectively.
Mr. Jenkins: For the minister's information, now that he has asked, the colour of the pillows in the hotel are white, and there are 472 trusses in the main structure. There are two - one on each end - that are double-trussed. That information is readily available to anyone who has an understanding, but that's not what we're here to debate, Mr. Chair.
If the minister does want this kind of information, it's quite easy to provide, but let's do it outside the Legislature because we are here to debate the budget, the impact of the budget on the Yukon, and the costs that may or may not be incurred as a consequence of this government's position with respect to the Mayo school to cancel its construction in the last fiscal period and move it into this one. We know that there are going to be additional costs incurred.
Can the minister also outline for the House what additional costs may be incurred by the delay or the postponement of the construction of the Mayo school or the cancellation of this project, in whatever way he wants to proceed? What other costs have been identified by the department that are going to be brought forward subsequent to the completion of this contract?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, it is a $4,000 cost for the laminated - may be. Engineers have confirmed no additional costs, other than the estimated $4,000 that has been identified at this time.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, there are a number of other areas where shortcuts have been taken by Government Services in this contract and another series of reductions in costs have been realized. Does the minister have an extrapolation of the additional O&M costs that will be incurred by the Department of Education as a consequence of the downgrading of the R-value of the building and sundry other areas where cost reductions have been effected during the course of construction?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the O&M costs reflected are the Department of Education's responsibility.
Mr. Jenkins: That I'm aware of, but Government Services is constructing the building. There have been significant changes made in the envelope of the building with respect to windows and their R-value, and the R-value type of insulation and a resulting reduction in the R-value. That is going to translate into increased O&M costs.
Now, the minister went on at great length to say that there are more windows in the building, and this is going to result in more use of natural daylight - the problem being that there is going to be no natural daylight in December and January. So, we really have a dependency on electric light - artificial light - for a great period of time.
So, Mr. Chair, I want to know what the additional O&M costs are projected at, as a consequence of this Liberal government's initiative to cancel the Mayo school project, downsize the type of insulation and the R-value of the envelope of the building. That's what I'm looking for, because that impacts on the whole government. It doesn't impact just on Government Services; it impacts on the Department of Education.
And there was a commitment by the Yukon government to build only energy efficient buildings. Currently, windows would be low-E windows if they were double-paned or if they were triple-paned. And the specs previously for the Mayo school were triple-paned. Currently they are only double. There has been a reduction in the R-value. This is not detailed information. It's a conscious decision made by the department to reduce costs. If you reduce your capital costs in these areas, you normally and usually increase your O&M costs. So the government of the day, the Liberals, are saying, "We are reducing the capital cost and we saved this much money," when the reality of it is that they are going to spend that much and considerably more in ongoing O&M costs over the life of that structure.
That's where we are at and that's what I am trying to explore with the minister, but he deflects that to the Minister of Education saying, "We don't really care. It's the Education department that is looking after the O&M." Is there not a policy in government that we only build energy efficient buildings, or has that also gone by the wayside?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Not only does this Mayo school enhance the learning experience of Mayo students and lend itself to any number of community events, it is also energy efficient. We previously discussed the C2000 energy status of the building. Once again, very few buildings in Canada have achieved the C2000 status. Thanks to the assistance of the federal government, which provided us with energy management expertise, we were able to achieve C2000 on the Mayo school.
Mr. Chair, in the building of this type, approximately 30 percent of building energy costs are for lighting. Through the innovative and generous use of windows, natural lighting in the Mayo school has replaced the need for much of the synthetic lighting. The students, staff and community members will be able to enjoy natural light throughout the year. It is a credit to the foresight of the building planning committee that it has put an emphasis on the importance of both natural light and energy efficiency. Once again, we still remain with a C2000 energy efficient building.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm familiar with the model of which the minister speaks, Mr. Chair, and those remarks with respect to lighting do not always hold up. It depends on the cost of the energy, and today we're experiencing much, much higher costs associated with air handling, make-up air, the manufacture of make-up air, and the production, especially when the ambient temperature in the exterior goes as low as it has. So the model that the minister speaks of does not hold true across the full spectrum. It is a specific model applied to normal, outdoor ambient temperatures in southern locales, and the same is not the reality here in the Yukon.
So that said, I urge the minister to give careful consideration to any of these structures with respect to reducing the exterior envelope's R-value and especially the R-value of the windows. A small reduction in capital cost might be realized, but the resulting O&M costs are usually significant. That's my concern, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, the other area on which I was seeking clarification from with respect to policy is we have now moved the Bureau of French Language Services and the photography unit from Executive Council Office to Government Services. Was that a clear change delineated at the fiscal year-end, or when did this all take place?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the information that I have here is that I think it happened during the last fiscal year.
Mr. Jenkins: Do we have a clear-cut line for this change? What was the effective date of the transfer?
Hon. Mr. Jim: That information is not in front of me right now, but I certainly can get it to him shortly, within this session.
Mr. Jenkins: The member might think this is a frivolous question, but let me explain the rationale behind it.
Executive Council Office's costs have gone right through the roof. They are way, way overbudget this last fiscal period. Two areas were transferred out of the Executive Council Office. Now, when we go into the supplementaries this fall, we will have to ascertain what actual costs the Executive Council Office has realized. The budget that was approved for the Executive Council Office included these areas. Now, they have transferred out the French language services and the photography unit. At a specific date there should have been a transfer of some funding from the Executive Council Office to Government Services. That may or may not have taken place for the balance of this fiscal year.
So, when I get into the Executive Council Office, I'm sure what the minister is going to say is that it is not his responsibility and that it's over in Government Services. We have to set the stage and understand the movement of money. That's where we're at, Mr. Chair.
I would appreciate that information being forthcoming and that will be coming by way of another legislative return, Mr. Chair, I would trust. Could the minister just confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, at no point in this part did I ever think this was a frivolous question. I believe the member opposite has some motives as to his questioning, and we'll get back to this member shortly on the question, within this sitting.
Mr. Jenkins: By way of legislative return? Can the minister confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, we'll get back to him within this sitting.
Mr. Jenkins: I just would like the minister to confirm that it will be by way of legislative return. I'm asking for information. He can't provide it on the floor of the House. It's easier to track legislative returns than it is a whole series of information that may or may not flow in a timely manner. I'm looking for a legislative return. Could the minister please confirm that this information will be provided in that manner?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, yes, we will.
Mr. Jenkins: With respect to the policy surrounding technology and telecommunications, we have also had a movement of responsibility, and the Connect Yukon is now out of Government Services. It's back in Community and Transportation Services.
What I want to know is this: what is the current policy for the role of Government Services in technology and telecommunications in this area, and what has been moved out of the department, if anything, other than Connect Yukon? Where does the department sit today with respect to technology and telecommunications as to their role? What is the current policy?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, we monitor the DRC improvement program. The only thing that has been changed is the implementation of Connect Yukon, and that has been moved to Community and Transportation Services.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the minister if he would kindly send to the official opposition any legislative returns that are being requested for and by the leader of the third party. Would the minister please do that?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Yes.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, with respect to technology in telecommunications and policy, there appears to be considerable overlap between Government Services, Economic Development, and Community and Transportation Services. Which department is playing the lead with respect to submissions to CRTC? Will it be Government Services, Community and Transportation Services, or Economic Development? Further, with respect to the position that Government Services has on private/public technology partnerships to foster healthy technology in telecommunication industry relations, which is playing the lead role there - Economic Development or Government Services? It seems to be a pretty mixed bag currently.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, Government Services has been taking the lead with the CRTC.
Mr. Jenkins: With respect to the public/private technology partnerships, a lot of that seems to be within Economic Development currently. What is transpiring there? Who is playing the lead role there, and what is the current policy of this Liberal government in this area?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, in respect to technology partnerships, Government Services works with Economic Development. Sometimes we had Economic Development take the lead and sometimes we have taken the lead.
Mr. Jenkins: Is there a policy in place on these areas as to who takes the lead and why and the rationale behind it?
Hon. Mr. Jim: In respect to technology partnerships, again, we have taken it as a collaborative effort and it has worked out fairly well in the past.
Mr. Jenkins: So who is the lead agency in these initiatives? Government Services or Economic Development?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Technology partnerships mean that we work together and it depends a large part on initiatives that have been taken. In the past both Economic Development and Government Services have worked together in a joint effort to meet their goals and objectives.
Mr. Jenkins: But if you look at the program objectives that Government Services has for this area they are quite specific. The minister only has to turn to page 712 of his budget book. It's to promote public/private technology partnerships and foster healthy technology and telecommunication industry relations. And it goes on to further say, "...to coordinate Yukon telecommunications and broadcasting policy and regulatory matters." But when we look at the reality of the situation it is a pretty mixed bag as to who does what and when.
What I want to know is if this Liberal government has any policy other than this mixed bag as we collaborate together, as to who the lead agency is. Is it Economic Development? Is it Government Services? Is it, from time to time, Community and Transportation Services?
Who is the lead agency? Economic Development's mandate is very, very broad and the brush that paints the strokes for Economic Development can pick up this area. Community and Transportation Services has basically only been responsible in the past for the multi-departmental mobile radio system, and they have subsequently picked up the Connect Yukon initiative. What I want to know from the minister, Mr. Chair, is what is the government's policy with respect to these initiatives? Which is the lead department and who drives the bus?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, technology partnerships means that it is a joint effort of Economic Development and Government Services. We look at collaborating one another's ideas and potentials. We take the lead in certain aspects. One aspect is providing information technology and the capabilities of technology. We also take a lead on the infrastructure development aspects. I really don't know what it is that the member opposite is trying to obtain.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I'm trying to get to the root of government policy on these initiatives, as to what department controls what and how. That's all, and the minister has very little understanding, if any, of government policy in this area and is just citing some briefing note that doesn't really dovetail it with the policy that may or may not exist. I suspect there isn't any policy internally, nor has any been developed. If you look at what has transpired in the past and how these initiatives were moved around, there isn't really any rationale as to why some of them are housed in Community and Transportation Services, why some of them are housed in Government Services, and why some of these initiatives are housed in Economic Development.
I would be of the opinion that public/private technology partnerships would be an area that would be covered off by Economic Development, and they would be the main arm, as they have been in the past. After a contract is in place or an arrangement is in place, it is more or less just passed off to Government Services to administer.
That appears to be what has transpired in the past, but let the record reflect that there doesn't appear, on the surface, to be any semblance of government policy in this area, and this is a sad day.
The minister also spoke, during his preamble, of the internal audit and the service leadership unit. Could the minister advise what the internal policy is with respect to the internal audit? Who fulfills what role? Once again, I would have thought that this would have come under the Department of Finance and an internal committee off the Department of Finance, or an appendix to the Department of Finance. Can the minister advise how this internal audit works in Government Services? Or is it specific to Government Services?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, with respect to the minister responsible for the Executive Council Office, the internal audit is under the minister responsible for the Executive Council Office. The only reason why I mentioned it earlier is because it fits into the services of government.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister is saying that the internal audit group works under Government Services for all government departments.
Hon. Mr. Jim: No, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: What is the minister actually saying? Where does the internal audit function? It's connected to the Department of Finance, I would assume, and to the Executive Council Office.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, that responsibility lies with the minister responsible for the ECO.
Mr. Jenkins: So what was the minister referring to with respect to the internal audit for his Government Services? Is it just an internal audit for Government Services to monitor the ongoing initiatives that the department has underway and the contracts that it has underway?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, once again, Government Services is providing a service to undertake reviews to determine the effectiveness and efficiencies of government programs. The office provides recommendations for improvement. This impacts on the service improvement program.
Mr. Jenkins: We're not going very far very fast, Mr. Chair.
The minister also went on at length to elaborate on the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide blue pages to the population in the phone book. What's that all about?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, I have to mention again to the Member for Klondike that this is an exciting and leading-edge initiative and that we are the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide electronic blue pages to our citizens.
Mr. Jenkins: When the minister says "we", to whom is the minister referring? Is this a collaborative effort between the Government of the Yukon and Northwestel? Who is "we"?
Hon. Mr. Jim: It's "we" as in Northwestel, YTG, the First Nation governments, City of Whitehorse and a number of different municipal governments.
Mr. Jenkins: I guess now we know why Northwestel cranked up our phone bills like they have recently, to pay for these firsts that we are receiving that we may or may not use. It must be pointed out that the minister could have lobbied Northwestel or the CRTC a lot more effectively to reduce the basic costs of telephone access. We now have the highest telephone access charges in North America. It's pretty interesting where we are headed. If you compare that to other jurisdictions or other population centres, I know our personal private phone line in the Lower Mainland is just around $20 a month. In Calgary my daughter's phone is of the same order of magnitude. Back in Quebec, it's right around that same amount. We now have the highest access charges of any jurisdiction, so I would like to thank the minister for his efforts on behalf of Yukoners to provide this wonderful costly service that he has lobbied so effectively for. I believe that he could have done a better job because basic telephone access is now going to be beyond the reach of a lot of Yukoners. It is very, very expensive and growing in costs. Is the minister not aware of this area? To stand up and take credit for an announcement that we are a leader in Canada in some of these areas when we haven't got the provision of basic phone service is appalling, Mr. Chair.
It's simply appalling. There are areas of Yukon where you can't get a basic phone - many, many areas in very close proximity to our principal centres. Yet, we're on the leading edge of technology with respect to the phone book - whippy dingy doo. That's really what Yukoners need. The reality of the situation is that what Yukoners are looking for are affordable telephone rates. All the bells and whistles can come later. We know we're paying for all the bells and whistles now.
Is this the thrust of this new Liberal government's policy - to provide all the new, modern bells and whistles and to be the first in Canada, rather than to provide access to basic telephone service to all Yukoners? Why has there been this change in government policy?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, once again, the Member for Klondike seems to lead the Yukon's public eye in a different direction.
There have been no impacts on our phone rates because of the electronic blue book. It is not a costly service. Many citizens ask for better blue pages. We are delivering. This government is delivering. Northwestel has to provide basic phone services, and they are doing that through their service improvement plan. We did get a good rating from the CRTC, and we on this side of the House lobbied CRTC. We made the effort to lobby CRTC.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, there are some serious concerns out in the general public that the cost of a basic telephone service is now the highest in North America. Basic telephone service is considerably less in virtually all other jurisdictions in Canada. Depending if you look at a private residential line, which is what we should be looking at and comparing apples to apples, the minister will find that to be the case. You have to go to an auxiliary service with a whole bunch of add-ons that, by and large, are only available here in Whitehorse. They're not available in rural Yukon, such as caller ID and the like. You have to understand the seriousness and importance of this area, because it remains a fact to this day that there is very little improvement in the provision of telephone service to the outlying areas of Yukon.
Improvements are on their way, but Yukoners are paying for them and paying for them very, very dearly, either directly as a ratepayer or indirectly as a taxpayer through the Connect Yukon initiative, which is no more for the provision of telephone service than we were initially advised that it would be.
Mr. Chair, has this Liberal government developed any policy with respect to the provision of telephone service to rural Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Jim: The Member for Klondike seems to forget that we live here, too. We as Yukoners have to live here, as well. We understand that there is concern with the phone rates in the Yukon.
We lobbied the CRTC. We made government submissions - 31 recommended government submissions - to the CRTC in July 2000. Some of the key ones include the long-distance rates. The Yukon's position is that the long-distance rates have to come down immediately so that they are comparable with southern Canada. But Yukoners cannot afford the proposed $5.00 per month for the local line price hike.
The CRTC response - and they are the guys who make the decision - is that it approved a 10-cent-per-minute long-distance plan for off-peak hours to be capped at $25. They approved a $3.00 per month increase for residential service and $5.00 per month for businesses.
Another Yukon position that we had with this government is on Northwestel's proposed service improvement plan. Should we proceed as quickly as possible to help get telephones and low-speed Internet out to areas that currently don't have that service? CRTC's response was that the four-year service improvement plan has approved some of the slight modifications. Smaller communities will not receive call-management services, such as caller display and some of the other things that we do carry on the telephone end. Northwestel is to encourage other Internet service providers to provide Internet services, versus providing it directly.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister was courteous in providing the opposition with a copy of his presentation to CRTC previously, Mr. Chair, and if it weren't for the official opposition pointing out the areas that they were remiss in addressing in their presentation to CRTC and the minister subsequently writing a letter to CRTC advising them accordingly, we'd be no further ahead than we were before. It was probably only as a consequence of the minister's subsequent letter to the official presentation of the government that some movement was made on CRTC's part.
But the presentation that this government makes to CRTC is of critical importance in their decision-making process, Mr. Chair, and I'm sad to see that this new, novice Liberal government hasn't concentrated the time and effort on developing a policy that will bring telephone service to all Yukon. Basic access to telephone service - that's what we're looking at, because there is a considerable difference in the quality of service and the speed of service that's being provided in rural Yukon, vis-à-vis Whitehorse. You only have to have Internet access in a community like Faro or Dawson and in Whitehorse to recognize the difference in the speed. It's like night and day. You only have to have an apartment here in Whitehorse, where you reside when this Legislature is sitting, to know how much you pay for your basic telephone service here, with all the bells and whistles, and you know how much you pay for it in my community of Dawson for the same service, to recognize there is a distinct difference in what can be obtained, how it's obtained, and just the level of service that is provided.
It's like night and day. Yes, there have been improvements made, but we still have a long way to go in rural Yukon. Unless this government develops a succinct, specific policy to address this area, we are going to be no further ahead, other than we are going to see ever-increasing bills from the service provider. So Yukoners are getting it both ways: our bills for basic telephone service have gone up, and our taxes have to reflect the cost of the Connect Yukon initiative, which is debt serviced by the Government of Yukon. So we are getting it both ways.
When is the department going to come up with a firm policy on telephone access for all Yukoners? Or is it even in the hopper?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Northwestel, through the service improvement plan, is bringing basic telephone services to Yukoners and to the communities of the Yukon. It's a four-year plan. Overall our costs have gone down because we have a 10-cents-per-minute - which is $25 per month - plan overall.
Mr. Keenan: I just have to jump in here on the Northwestel initiative. I would like to ask the minister: is the minister aware now that Northwestel is in the communities talking about a modified service plan? And could the minister please explain what that modified service improvement plan might mean to communities?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, in bringing back some answers to the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, first of all, I'd like to say that we did our submission to the CRTC. The member opposite tabled their issues with the prices that we have recommended to CRTC on this side of the House. The other thing is that our costs have gone down. With respect to the modified systems that the member opposite was talking about, I do not have that information in front of me. It is a new initiative. I will certainly look into this.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I'd just like to point out that I made the minister aware yesterday, in this House, of a meeting happening last night. I have been reported to about that meeting, and I would like to point out that there was not one person from the Department of Government Services, in which department this belongs, at the meeting. The community was very disappointed. The president of Northwestel and others were there at the meeting. What they are attempting to do is to attempt to water down the service improvement plan as accepted by the CRTC. They even have language out there now that's calling it a "modified service improvement plan". If the community does not meet the model that Northwestel is plugging, then I don't know what is going to happen to the community. Northwestel has sent out a questionnaire to the community. Most of the replies that have come back to Northwestel have been negative, not positive.
Thank God for the official opposition making a presentation to cover up in the lapses that came from the territorial government's presentation, for this is what is happening there now. Northwestel will demand $25 a month for Internet, $30 a month for basic service, $20 a month for their long-distance services, $10 a month for their caller ID. This is well beyond the capacity of some people's incomes. We're talking in the $100 range now for just a modified, basic service. Again, thank God for the official opposition and their presentation, because through this presentation of the official opposition, we had stated that long-distance charges must come down. I will ask the minister to table something at the appropriate date that says that the minister made that presentation, because the minister did not. It was this group.
So now what we have is Northwestel under direction, with no watchdog other than the people themselves, as the minister had said, going out and not involving the community. There has been no training component at all brought into this issue. There are many people within the community who have the IT knowledge that could work with this. So there is no local capacity, there's no training, there's no involvement of First Nations. There's nothing to do with the service improvement plan. They're flogging a new model called the "modified service improvement plan".
There is another meeting tonight taking place at the Gold Rush Inn. Northwestel is going to be talking about the Lake Laberge riding, which is held by the minister sitting behind you. I would suggest to the minister that the minister should have some of our technical people from the territorial government at that meeting so that they might be able to come back and brief the minister tomorrow about the desires of Northwestel to modify the service improvement plan brought forward. Will the minister take it upon himself to be at that meeting?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, once again I have to point out that the members opposite seem to have this ability to steer the Yukon public eye in a different direction all the time. Not only did the member opposite say - and I challenge this, too - that he made a presentation to the CRTC hearing. I would challenge that, because at no time did I see the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes make a presentation at the CRTC hearing - absolutely not.
Not new initiatives - new development.
I will be asking my officials to look into this and brief me. I commit to pursuing this with the CRTC if necessary.
No, long-distance service costs did come down.
The service improvement plan - and I will also look to see if one of my officials can be there tonight at this meeting.
Mr. Keenan: I have just one further statement and then I will turn it over to the Member for Klondike, who has done such an elegant job of making the minister accountable.
I did say that it was the official opposition that brought forth the issues on behalf of the grassroots people. We have done and will do that, and I'm sure that the assistant deputy minister or whoever the gentleman to your left is will bring forth the appropriate paper to the minister so that the minister will see that.
I would suggest that the minister should be involved in this meeting tonight and have a hands-on feel. The minister doesn't have to make a presentation. The minister should be listening to what some of the problems are out there.
And I'm telling the minister something new. The minister is flogging a service improvement plan that is now called a modified service improvement plan with a model that is totally different out there.
I have to say to the Member for Mount Lorne that she should be concerned for the Annie Lake Road, as well, as I am concerned for my riding on the Lewes Lake Road. That is my riding. All of the others are affected by this issue. It is a serious issue. So I would like for somebody - I think the minister should be there. So, once again, will the minister be there this evening?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, this minister is certainly not "flogging", nor is any other minister of this government.
The service improvement plan - the CRTC will hold Northwestel accountable. CRTC will hold Northwestel accountable on this service improvement plan.
I will make an effort to be there this evening.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, this is a very serious issue surrounding the provision of telephone service in rural Yukon. There is not much of a problem in Whitehorse and the initial Whitehorse peripheral areas, but beyond that and in very close proximity to Whitehorse, and especially in rural Yukon, there are and continue to be very, very serious problems.
I'd urge the minister to sit down with his colleague, the Member for Faro, and ask him about his telephone service in Faro and how good it is. I'd be happy to apprise the minister as to the level of service that is being provided in my community, or especially in the goldfields surrounding Dawson. It's very, very interesting, and it's very interesting to see where Northwestel is concentrating its efforts today, Mr. Chair. Through some of its wholly owned subsidiaries, there have been vast cell networks installed up in the Mackenzie Delta, similar to the Fort St. John/Fort Nelson corridor and over into the Beaton River area. Very, very interesting. And that has come about because of the requirements of the oil patch.
We have the same potential for oil exploration and development and gas exploration and development as these other jurisdictions, but this novice Yukon Liberal government, Mr. Chair, is missing the boat.
And there's no incentive for the telephone company to provide these services. About the most reliable service that is provided in rural Yukon is the old radio telephone. That's the way it is currently. It's still reliable and it's still available 24 hours a day and it works. I can't say the same for the other means of communications that have been provided to rural Yukon, especially Ruraltel and some of those initiatives. I would urge the minister to sit down with his colleagues and come forward with a plan. Unless there is some effective lobbying of the monopoly that this telephone service provider has, the only area that is going to see an enhancement in its service will be Whitehorse unless we pay, and pay dearly.
I would like to explore with the minister some of the areas surrounding contracts. Now, there is an incentive for Yukon contractors and there is a policy in place. The Northwest Territories has a policy that differs somewhat from Yukon but for their contractors to come over and bid on jobs in the Yukon, there is one set of rules. For our Yukon contractors to bid on jobs in the Northwest Territories there is another set of rules that actually considerably detract from Yukon contractors obtaining business in the Northwest Territories. Has the minister responsible for this area made representation to the Government of Northwest Territories to put Yukon and the Northwest Territories on an equal footing?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the Premier and I have been lobbying with the Northwest Territories government, urging them to adopt our business incentive plan.
Mr. Jenkins: We have been lobbying them and urging them.
Mr. Chair, history has a funny way of repeating itself, and there were tremendous amounts of disincentives, if we want to look at two other adjacent jurisdictions in Canada that had difficulties. I refer specifically to the Province of Quebec and the Province of Ontario. The Province of Quebec specifically excluded all the contractors from Ontario from coming in and working in their area. They had to jump through hoops and over barrels, climb ladders, and jump over the moon in one fell swoop - it was just about impossible - and Ontario had a wide open policy.
The contractors in the Province of Ontario went to their government and said, "Hey, look. The playing field should be level." What subsequently transpired is that the Province of Ontario went to the Province of Quebec and said, "We are going to impose the same rules on your contractors that you have on ours."
Now, that appears to be where we're at with respect to the Northwest Territories. The only problem is that there's very little work in the Yukon as a consequence of the devastating economic policies of this Yukon Liberal government, and there is a tremendous amount of work in the Northwest Territories. It might not be an opportune time to lower the boom over there. In fact, there might be an opportunity for some of the Liberals to go to the Northwest Territories and undertake the census. They are seeking people, and there is a shortage of individuals to hire.
Mr. Chair, we have to come to some understanding with the Northwest Territories on a level playing field with respect to contracts, and there are a great number of Northwest Territories contractors who come over here and bid on initiatives. Yukon contractors are at a disadvantage in the Northwest Territories. I know the minister's aware of it. What further steps are he and his Liberal colleagues going to take to right this wrong?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, we certainly can't force the Northwest Territories to adopt our incentive model, just the same as I can't force the Member for Klondike to jump into the glacial lakes of Kluane. I cannot do that; he won't go for it. But my officials and I will continue to lobby them. Is the member opposite suggesting that we impose sanctions on Northwest Territories contractors and not allow them to bid?
Mr. Jenkins: Is the Government of the Yukon prepared to adopt the same standards for contractors from the Northwest Territories bidding on projects here as the Northwest Territories has in place for Yukon contractors bidding on jobs in the Northwest Territories?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, no.
Mr. Jenkins: So much for the level playing field, so much for fairness, and so much for opportunities for Yukon contractors and so much for the disincentive that currently exists, because any of the Yukon contractors who are working in the Northwest Territories who have bid on the jobs over there, they've won those jobs because of their pricing.
And it is only because of their expertise in the areas that they are as successful as they are, because their government really provides a trade barrier.
Is the minister aware of whether or not that type of incentive for contractors in their areas is acceptable under the free trade agreement?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, I said no, with respect to sanctioning contractors. However, I will ask the Premier to pursue this with ministers on internal trade. Currently, the Northwest Territories business incentive program is a proud father under - grandfather - the agreement on internal trade - I apologize, I can't even read my own writing sometimes - even though it is consistent -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: Order please. Members will understand that there is one member on the floor at a time. Mr. Jim has the floor. Interjections will not be allowed.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Well, it is consistent with the principles.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, this is very, very agonizing.
I know that the minister isn't up to speed with respect to the policies that his department has in place. I know he's not conversant with how his department runs, and I know he's not conversant with the flow of funds internally within his department.
It's not going to serve any further purpose at this juncture to go on in general debate. It's not going to serve any purpose at all. But Mr. Chair, I think that in all fairness, this minister owes a responsibility to this Legislature to become completely conversant with the policies, procedures and the budget that he has to represent in debate.
I'm going to stand down any further questions at this point, but for the next session - for the next budget - I think it is indicative that we as the opposition hold this minister accountable and question him in more thorough detail about these areas. It's not serving any purpose at this juncture to go on any further. The minister just doesn't know.
Now, this is the first year. By the second year, I believe it is imperative that he have a complete and thorough understanding of the policies and how Government Services operates. I will be prepared to question the minister in complete detail at that time, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, there are a number of factors for the information not being available right now - being new is one, and also being new to my team from Government Services. We have made a few shifts and a few improvements. The corporate history isn't there at hand, and especially, it is that these detailed questions keep on coming, and the information is not here at hand - it's bad, bad political gamesmanship that's being played here. It's a very sad day for Yukoners - for the taxpayers of the Yukon.
Mr. Keenan: I would just like to concur with everything that the Member for Klondike has said at this point in time in holding the minister accountable. I believe this is the third sitting within the session and the minister has had plenty of time to become apprised of the situation. I tried to let the minister know that the minister has to know the budget inside out and every policy at length. You have to think ahead into these questions. I certainly agree with the minister. It's a sad, sad day when the minister can't stand on his feet and answer questions in this House to that detail - it's very sad.
So I too will let the minister off the hook at this point in time and move forward. We certainly wish to get the job done but we wish to let the minister know that the minister has definitely got to - I was going to say "pull up his socks", but maybe we should just check to see if he has got some socks on that need be pulled up.
Hon. Mr. Jim: We have continued to answer questions here as best as we can. There were a number of times when the previous government was asked to get up off their knees, Mr. Chair.
We are working very hard to govern this Yukon differently and try to improve services and the quality of life for Yukoners. We are not here to talk about details like the number of trusses or how many hairs there are on a bull moose. We are here to talk about policy. This House reflects upon policy.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Keenan, on a point of order.
Mr. Keenan: I believe there has been a falsehood I will point out for both the Member for Klondike and me. There has not been one question asked about the number of hairs on a bull moose. We do not expect the minister to have that in the minister's basic knowledge. I would ask the minister to withdraw that.
Chair: On the point of order, there is no point of order. Continue, Mr. Jim.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, I'll just say that it is a sad day for Yukoners. It is a sad day for Yukoners when we have to sit in this House and listen to a number of detailed questions for a government department that provides services to government, to different departments. This government has a lot more issues at hand that need to be talked about, rather than talking about the quality of service to be provided for its own government departments.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, that being said, I couldn't but provide the minister with an overview of what our position is. The minister has failed, and failed miserably, to provide any semblance of an outline of his government's policy on all the issues that I have raised with the minister. In fact, this session will probably see the greatest number of legislative returns because the minister doesn't know the policy or the position of the government. That is the issue, Mr. Chair.
And with respect to detailed information, there is nothing further from reality than a question on these areas that are of importance. The reality is that, in the Mayo school, there are a number of trusses that may or may not be defective. That was the question put to the minister. How many are defective, and what was the cost going to be? That was the question. There is also the flooring - the plywood subfloor. The glue is coming apart and the plywood will probably have to be replaced. The minister, after extensive debate on this area, said yes, we might be exposed to about a $4,000 expenditure.
Well, if the minister had of been upfront with that information at the onset, we could have moved forward, but it was like pulling hen' teeth, or maybe the minister couldn't find his briefing note on that area. But, Mr. Chair, I will expect this minister to be fully conversant with the policies for this area of his portfolio in the next session, and I will be questioning him in detail on those policies, as well as the supplementary budget.
I believe it's only fair that the minister accept his responsibilities that he has as a Cabinet minister and undertake a thorough and complete briefing on these areas and learn what he has to learn, because there certainly is a vast lack of understanding on this minister's part of his area of responsibility, which he is charged with, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, we work very hard on this with this government. We've managed to come home with a lot of money - millions of dollars. In the last year's sitting, we've managed to do a lot of good for the people of the Yukon, and to sit here and listen to - this government knows what the members opposite are trying to do, as they were trying to do with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. They're saying that we're not giving the answers. They don't know their issues.
The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chair, that these questions are detailed questions. They're not policy questions. They're not questions that need to be brought forth here, so that we have officials from our departments running around until midnight and being back to work at six o'clock in the morning just so they can answer these detailed questions.
Is this government? Is this the way government should operate? I think not, Mr. Chair. I think not.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, no one is asking the minister's officials to run or work until midnight and be back for six o'clock in the morning. We're asking the minister to understand his portfolio, to understand the questions posed to him, and to answer them. He has a responsibility to his government and to Yukoners and to this Legislature to understand his portfolio and to be able to answer questions on policy.
There are very few, if any, detailed questions, and on those detailed questions, the minister obviously had a briefing note on most of them. I would urge the minister to consider his position and go back and learn his portfolio.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, we are learning our portfolios. This government is learning its portfolios. We are working very hard to make sure that we accommodate the members opposite with the questions that they have raised.
We are here with a number of different issues. As the Member for Klondike will probably never, ever know what it's like to operate in government, we are working on a number of different issues: the economy, social issues, the present situation with different First Nation communities. We are working very hard on a number of different issues. We don't have the time to dot the i's and cross the t's in the Web sites. We are looking at policy and at changing policy for the betterment of the people of the Yukon.
Mr. Jenkins: It would be nice if the minister understood the current policies and could recite them so we could move forward. That's all we're asking, and that isn't the case. This minister doesn't understand his portfolio. That is abundantly clear when we get into general debate. We might as well move out of it and move forward. I'm prepared to clear this general debate and move into line-by-line.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I'm just getting sick and tired of sitting here, listening to these Liberal commercials and listening to the political haze. I do have to say that this litany of excuses is exactly that; it's just a litany of excuses.
I would also like to point out that the minister does not know his portfolio. I just have to concur - and it doesn't happen often, but I have to concur with the Member for Klondike that, in this situation, the minister does not know. The minister is getting an olive branch here, that the minister should go home and do his homework. Welcome to the big house.
Chair: I would ask the members to remember the ruling that I came up with. A statement of opinion is certainly welcome. Consistent statements of opinion in such a way are tending to get abusive, and this isn't an area where we abuse people. We discuss policy. Thank you very much.
Is there any further general debate?
Seeing as there is no further general debate, we will continue directly into line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Chair: Is there any general debate on corporate services?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: Financial summary? No, the financial summary is the last thing to clear. So we'll move right into corporate services. Is there any general debate on corporate services? Seeing as there is no debate on corporate services, we'll continue straight to line-by-line.
On Corporate Support Services
Corporate Support Services in the amount of $2,373,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Are there any questions on the statistics?
Mr. Keenan: The minister may supply by way of legislative return, if the minister could, on the statistics in corporate services. I'd like to know what percentage of this year's construction contracts are sole sourced. I'd like to know what percentage of this year's non-construction contracts are sole sourced, and I'd like to know if this would represent an increase or a decrease over last year.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Agreed.
Chair: Any further questions on the statistics?
Corporate Services in the amount of $2,373,000 agreed to
On Information Services
Chair: Is there any general debate on information services?
Seeing no general debate on information services, we will continue straight into line-by-line.
On Administration and Finance
Administration and Finance in the amount of $422,000 agreed to
On Production and Network Services
Production and Network Services in the amount of $4,320,000 agreed to
On Client Services
Mr. Keenan: I understand that this is down by 19 percent and I would like to know how this is actually reflected and why it is reflected that way. Again, if the minister doesn't have it, certainly a legislative return would be adequate.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the 19-percent decrease from the 2000-01 forecast is due to a personnel reduction of a business analyst and a decrease in miscellaneous support costs.
Client Services in the amount of $301,000 agreed to
On Service Agreements
Services Agreements in the amount of $240,000 agreed to
On Records Management and Communications
Records Management and Communications in the amount of $333,000 agreed to
Planning in the amount of $496,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Seeing no questions on the allotments, are there any questions on the statistics?
Information Services in the amount of $6,112,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now proceed to the next branch.
On Supply Services
Chair: Is there any general debate on supply services?
Seeing no general debate on supply services, we will proceed right to line-by-line.
Administration in the amount of $426,000 agreed to
Purchasing in the amount of $457,000 agreed to
On Queen's Printer
Queen's Printer in the amount of $314,000 agreed to
On Asset Control
Asset Control in the amount of $210,000 agreed to
On Transportation and Communication
Transportation and Communication in the amount of $955,000 agreed to
On Central Stores
Central Stores in the amount of $243,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments? Seeing no questions on the allotments, are there any questions on the statistics?
Supply Services in the amount of $2,605,000 agreed to
On Technology and Telecommunications
Chair: We'll now proceed to technology and telecommunications. Is there any general debate?
Mr. Keenan: I'm just wondering on this issue, again, by legislative return, are there any further initiatives planned under these programs?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, there are no further initiatives being planned right at the moment.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on technology and telecommunications? Seeing no further general debate on Technology and Telecommunications, we'll go straight to line-by-line.
On Administrative and Regulatory
Administrative and Regulatory in the amount of $108,000 agreed to
On Infrastructure and Technology Support
Infrastructure and Technology Support in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Seeing no questions on the allotments, does the total technology and telecommunications budget of $183,000 clear?
Technology and Telecommunications in the amount of $183,000 agreed to
On Property Management
Mr. Keenan: Just in terms of the expenditure, if I might be able to at this point in time, we have a 32-percent decrease in the transfer payments and I'd like to know what that does reflect.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, there was a $38,000 reduction in transfer payments. After the first year of operation, we were in a better position to estimate the costs for the trolley car.
Mr. Keenan: I just have one other question, and I'll put it out here. It appears that there is a $37,000 decrease in building maintenance. I'd like to know why. What maintenance activities have changed, and could we have a breakdown of how these savings have been achieved? Again, Mr. Chair, a legislative return would be fine.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, it is a savings in maintenance, which is not unusual.
Mr. Keenan: I would like my questions answered, and if the minister wants to answer them by legislative return, that would be fine. I do not find the answer, "It's not unusual" acceptable. There is a $37,000 decrease in building maintenance. I'd like to know why. I'd like to know what maintenance activities have changed and if there is a breakdown of how these savings were achieved.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, a $37,000 reduction isn't unusual for an $11-million budget.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, are we still in general debate?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I'm not asking for the recital of old Tom Jones' songs in this House. I'm not. I do not find "It's not unusual" to be an adequate answer. It can be done by way of legislative return. If it's not in the minister's knowledge base at this point in time, that is fine. The minister can provide the answers by legislative return.
There is a $37,000 decrease in building maintenance. Why? What maintenance activities have changed? There could be a policy change; there could be something there. I'd like to know. Could we have a breakdown of how these savings have been achieved? I have three questions. Will the minister answer them by legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, I will provide the details of the $37,000 decrease.
Chair: Is there any further debate on property management?
Seeing no further general debate on property management, we will continue to line-by-line.
On Realty Services
Realty Services in the amount of $11,869,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Are there any questions on the statistics?
Mr. Jenkins: On the statistics, could the minister advise the House how much government space is leased that is unoccupied at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, there are no office space vacancies at this time.
Mr. Jenkins: I noticed a notation on the bottom of the statistics page that says, "Commercial and special purpose space has been redefined resulting in the transfer of buildings to appropriate departments." Could the minister elaborate on how they have been redefined, what has been redefined, and what has the redefining of these areas resulted in?
Hon. Mr. Jim: We will certainly get back to the Member for Klondike on this one.
Mr. Jenkins: It becomes brutally obvious as we proceed that the minister does not know his department. I am very, very disappointed. The page is "property management, statistics, commercial space" and it's a note. All I am asking for is clarification on that note on the bottom of the page as to what it pertains to, how things have been redefined and what its end result has been.
If the minister would have gone through the briefing book before he entered the Legislature, I would have thought that something like that would have twigged a response and a question from the minister.
I would like to ask the minister if he has even opened the budget book on Government Services before he entered this Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Once again, we are certainly getting a certain amount of personal interest coming from this Member for Klondike on what it is that I do and I don't do. Again I would like to point out that the major change is to leased space in Whitehorse for the French language services' new office space at 2,000 square feet.
Property management maintenance staff moved to owned space on Range Road - 5,041 square feet. The Renewable Resources increase in lease spaces on Burns Road - 3,400 square feet. Consolidation of Justice offices, the Tutshi Building, into owned space - 2,536 square feet. Consolidation of Economic Development and other leased spaces - 1,191 square feet. These are major changes in that they were leased spaces in Whitehorse. Major changes in leased spaces with regions - consolidation of office space for various departments, 3,191 square feet.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, my original question still remains unanswered. It was a simple question. The statement was made that commercial and special purpose space has been redefined, resulting in the transfer of buildings to appropriate departments. What has been redefined, how, and what has the result been? If the minister hasn't the ability to answer it, I'm going to look forward to another legislative return.
Could the minister confirm that that information will once again be provided to the opposition by way of legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, if the member so wishes, we will get a legislative return to him. We'll continue to have our officials continue to work until midnight and then come back to work at 6 o'clock in the morning so that the member opposite is satisfied.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I would certainly like to have the courtesy of having a legislative return for the official opposition here, if I may.
Mr. Chair, asking for information from the minister that the minister does not have in his knowledge base and that the minister should have in his knowledge base is not in the hands of the official opposition or the leader of the third party. It lies entirely with the minister opposite. So I do believe that the minister has definitely spoken out of turn, has taken a personal shot at both the Member for Klondike and the official opposition here. And I just have to correct the statement because it is up to the minister to control his political movements, and if his political movements or lack of political knowledge equates into overtime within the department, well, I'm sure the department employees know where the direction lies or the direction does not lie.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd just like to go on the record and state, Mr. Chair, that if my questions or the questions of the official opposition posed to the minister, of which he should have an understanding and be thoroughly conversant with - and if he is not in a position to respond to them and his department has to work until midnight and be back in at six o'clock the next morning, then that responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the minister and it should send a very, very definite message to the Premier that the minister needs training in the area for which he has been given the responsibility, or needs to be replaced. Whatever course of action the Premier wishes to take is her choice and hers alone.
The seriousness of these questions, the simplicity of these questions - they are virtually all policy questions. The non-answers coming from this minister are indicative of the quality of the debate being provided by this Yukon Liberal government. It just doesn't have it together.
Hon. Mr. Jim: I apologize to the public servants for actually mentioning them. I only used it as a description - a possible description - as to what might happen with the great and hard-working staff in government. I certainly didn't mean that as a literal statement, but as a comparative statement to what may and could happen in government.
Chair: Is there any further debate on the statistics?
Seeing no further debate on statistics, does the total carry?
Property Management in the amount of $11,869,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now proceed to French language services.
On French Language Services
Is there any general debate on French language services?
Seeing no general debate on French language services, we will go right to line-by-line.
Administration in the amount of $1,696,000 agreed to
On Inquiry Centre
Inquiry Centre in the amount of $135,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the allotments?
Seeing no questions on the allotments, are there any questions on the statistics?
French Language Services in the amount of $1,831,000 agreed to
Chair: Before we proceed to clearing the O&M and carrying the O&M budget, are there any questions on the recoveries?
Are there any questions on the transfer payments?
Mr. Keenan: Just in the allotments, I would like to ask for a breakdown of the transfer payments. If he could give me a breakdown of the transfer payments by legislative return, that would be fine.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Not a problem.
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Government Services in the amount of $24,973,000 agreed to
Chair: The time being 4:30, we'll take a 15-minute recess and return to capital expenditures. We'll return at approximately 4:50 p.m.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with the Department of Government Services. We will start on capital.
On Capital Expenditures
Chair: Since there is no general debate on capital, we can go right into departments.
Mr. Jenkins: (Inaudible)
Chair: Order please. General debate for the department happens at the beginning of O&M. If there is any general debate on departments, at that point you are certainly allowed to bring them up. But the general debate - and this has been the policy and practice of the House - on the whole department happens when we do the general debate at the beginning.
If you have specific questions or general debate topics on capital, you just have to wait for your department to come up on that subject.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: On capital, since it has already done. But you're certainly allowed to discuss the department in general on capital - by all means. So, Mr. Jenkins, is there anything you have questions on?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, I had some general concerns with capital. Government Services has been the lead agency on a lot of the computer initiatives, like HRIS, and I just wanted to know if all these new systems are in place and working. Are we going to incur any additional capital costs this fiscal period, or does it not require any? If it does, what are the areas that require more capital, and why? I just want a general overview of the new computer initiatives, and specifically HRIS.
Chair: Order please. I'll let that line of questioning happen now. It will just save time in the other departments once we get there.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the application development and support of $800,000 consists of the following: $300,000 for the version upgrade of HRIS; $100,000 for enterprise-wide licensing of PeopleSoft applications; $40,000 for finance management information systems enhancements; $10,000 for a needs software analysis of the corporate records management system; $265,000 for the land resource management projects; $25,000 for electronic service delivery projects; $60,000 contracted project management expertise, and; infrastructure maintenance of $449,000 for lifecycle replacements, repairs and maintenance of Whitehorse and community information technology's assets. These assets have an estimated value of over $30 million. Investment in these assets ensures the efficiency and effective operation of government's corporate information technology resources.
Mr. Jenkins: I was referring specifically to HRIS. Government Services was the lead agency on this computer initiative. Am I given to understand that the annual upgrades required for the system were for some $300,000? It was $300,000 that the minister earmarked for upgrades. Can the minister be specific? The HRIS system - what is the cost of the annual upgrades for that system?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, this is not an annual upgrade. It's a periodic upgrade, just as you would replace Windows on your computers.
Mr. Jenkins: That's what I was referring to. This is a software upgrade. What is the annual cost? The human resource information system must be upgraded annually, because it's basically the payroll system. So, with the tax tables, I know that, in the business world, my firms use ACCPAC. For ACCPAC, for the payroll system for that module, the annual upgrade is about $500. Is the minister telling the House that there's no annual upgrade on the HRIS? I would just like to know the order-of-magnitude costs of what we're looking at for the annual upgrades of these systems, now that they are in place.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, there is no specific annual upgrade. It's part of the $100,000 for enterprise-wide licensing of PeopleSoft applications.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I'm not very comfortable with that response. Now, the $100,000 upgrading and licensing of the various programs - I can understand that area, but I want to refer specifically to HRIS. That system was designed with a specific purpose in mind, at great cost to the Yukon taxpayers, and it has to be upgraded annually because there are new tax tables published annually. That information has to be provided and entered into it.
So there has to be an annual upgrading cost to that system. I'm not looking for the cost of entering new employees to the system and deleting those that leave or retire, what I'm looking at is the annual upgrading cost to the system to keep it current with the current tax system here in Canada.
Hon. Mr. Jim: It's not the $300,000 for the upgrade version of HRIS that we should be looking at. Perhaps the Member for Klondike would be looking at $100,000 for the enterprise-wide licensing of PeopleSoft applications, which is part of the licensing fee.
Mr. Jenkins: The licensing fees are for programs that we all have on our computer. We buy a program. We get the licensing fee that has to be paid every time the program is used, unless it is pirated, which sometimes occurs.
But the area that I want to explore, given that the HRIS was a topic of a lot of debate in this Legislature, is what the annual cost of upgrading that system is. It's obvious, from the flurry of activity, that the minister doesn't have that information available. I would be prepared to accept a legislative return on this area.
Hon. Mr. Jim: It's part of the $100,000 for enterprise-wide licensing of PeopleSoft applications.
Mr. Jenkins: Let's get a legislative return on this $100,000 and a breakdown as to what specific programs are covered, then we can have a look at it and examine it in detail.
Hon. Mr. Jim: It's part of the $100,000 for enterprise-wide licensing of PeopleSoft applications.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm asking for specific detail, and I understand it won't be readily available. I want a breakdown of that $100,000, as to what specific programs we're licensing. I can understand so many additions of Windows - Millennium or whatever edition we have - and all and sundry other programs we have. But I'm specifically searching for one area, which I don't believe was covered off in that $100,000. I would like to have the opportunity for the minister to provide the information by way of legislative return breaking down the $100,000.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, it's not a problem to provide the details on that $100,000, and we will do that.
On Corporate Services
Chair: Is there further debate on corporate services? We'll go right to line-by-line.
On Business Incentive Policy
Business Incentive Policy in the amount of $728,000 agreed to
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Corporate Services in the amount of $778,000 agreed to
On Information Services
Chair: Are there any questions?
Mr. Keenan: I'd just like a complete breakdown of the $1,870,000 for corporate computer equipment and systems, as to which departments they went into. That's all I have.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the breakdown is as follows: the corporate computer equipment and systems of $1,870,000 includes $275,000 in personnel costs, three FTEs. The personnel support all departmental projects and planning and implementing information technology solutions. Other funding includes planning and development at $346,000 to develop corporate strategies, standards and solutions to enable the government to benefit from new and emerging technologies, improved program delivery and to ensure there is a common, consistent approach to management of information resources across the government. The application, development and support of which we were talking about earlier was $800,000. $300,000 of that was for the version of upgrade of the HRIS, $100,000 was for enterprise-wide licensing of PeopleSoft applications; $40,000 for - and I've read it earlier and it goes on and on to include the $800,000.
Chair: Are there any further questions?
Mr. Keenan: I listened with interest, Mr. Chair, and I heard the minister say at the beginning of the breakdown of the $870,000, about $250,000 of that going toward personnel or FTEs. I remember that the Liberal machine, as it was in opposition at that point in time, did not think that FTEs should be incorporated or contained within the capital budget portions. I'm wondering if the minister still shares that and if the minister is now going to look at dividing it into maybe the O&M budget at some time. Can the minister tell me his plans?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, for the time being, we will continue to have it in capital, and I'm not really proposing a change to move it over to O&M.
Mr. Keenan: I guess that just begs the question then, now that the Liberals are in government, does the minister hold with the old Liberal mantra that "O&M bad, capital good" or has there been a complete change in the philosophical thoughts of the Liberal machine?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, these programs that we have are available in the corporate computer equipment and systems and planning and development. Our personnel support all departmental projects and planning and implementing information technology solutions. It's not about philosophy. It's about what it is that we're trying to have in capital. We will be looking at the capital budgets. In the fall we will be looking at a capital plan, but at this time, however, we are leaving it in capital and we're not looking at transferring it over to O&M at all.
Mr. Keenan: That's absolutely right. It's not about philosophy, Mr. Chair. I guess it's about understanding what it's all about. I have so often heard "O&M bad, capital good" from the Liberal machine at the time, and I'd just like to thank the minister for now agreeing with me - that there are very definitely good things within O&M such as FTEs and people working for the benefit of a service to deliver to the people. That is a good thing. So, I'd like to thank the minister for recognizing the NDP initiative of "O&M good too, capital good also" and understanding what it's about. So I thank the minister for that understanding and agreement.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, they fit into capital because these people work in capital projects.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Seeing none, we will go right into line-by-line.
On Corporate Computer Equipment and Systems
Corporate Computer Equipment and Systems in the amount of $1,870,000 agreed to
Information Services in the amount of $1,870,000 agreed to
On Supply Services
Chair: Is there any general debate? We will go right to line-by-line.
On Central Stores
Central Stores in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Acquisition of Used Assets
Mr. Keenan: Could we have a description of these? Why are we buying these assets?
Hon. Mr. Jim: The program includes $5,000 to purchase used assets from corporations and the federal government for recycling within YTG.
Mr. Keenan: Could the minister give us an example, please?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, Government Services might end up buying some used office furniture or a used chair. These are used assets.
Acquisition of Used Assets in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Queen's Printer Equipment
Queen's Printer Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
Supply Services in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now proceed to Technology and Telecommunications.
On Technology and Telecommunications
Chair: Are there any discussions on technology and telecommunications?
Seeing no discussions, we will go right into line-by-line.
On Technology Partnerships
Mr. Keenan: In the technology partnerships and the memoranda of understanding that are in place that capture them, I would like to know who are the partners. How do we choose one group over another group and just what kind of group might be expected to develop an MOU in partnership?
Hon. Mr. Jim: The program includes a $200,000 contribution to the Technology Innovation Centre, and $100,000 to develop telecommunications and technology partnerships with First Nations. The funding speeds the process of development of the organization's technological direction and encourages greater collaboration.
Mr. Keenan: Is it limited to strictly First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Jim: No, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Keenan: The other part of my question is this: what type of groups? What is expected of those groups?
Can I just go get a business licence and come running in to form a partnership? That's the type of detail that I would like because I do know some folks within my riding who might be able to take benefit of this issue. I know that, out of the $300,000 capital allotment, only $100,000 of it is for a partnership MOU, so could the minister please answer in that light. If not, a legislative return would be fine also.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, we provide a $200,000 contribution to the Technology Innovation Centre, and if the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes so chooses, he can apply through the Technology Innovation Centre.
Mr. Keenan: Just a simple answer to the $100,000 question that I asked him at the end - I did say that the $200,000 was out. It was $100,000 for partnerships, and I'm wondering what the qualifications and type of needs that could be brought forth are, et cetera. If the minister needs time to read the written message, take the time.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, it's the contribution that was given to the Council of Yukon First Nations for the development of telecommunications and technology.
Mr. Keenan: So am I to understand that it's already a done deal and that there's $200,000 for the Technology Innovation Centre and that there's $100,000 going over there for Council of Yukon First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Correct, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Keenan: I'd like to know what the sense is of asking other people, opening to other people, if there's no more money in the pot, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, his specific contribution was for the development of First Nations in general and to the community of First Nations to develop their own telecommunication technology and also partnerships. There is also a contribution of $200,000 whereby community groups in general can also apply through the Technology Innovation Centre.
Mr. Keenan: Of that $200,000 going to the Technology Innovation Centre, would the full $200,000 be available for partnerships to describe through an MOU?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the funding is to be used to provide seed money for projects that are in line with the established priorities of the council. The Yukon Technology Innovation Centre has funded 14 applicants. The projects range in size from $6,000 to $66,000.
Mr. Keenan: It's nice not to be famous, Mr. Chair. It's nice for people not to know who you are. I appreciate it. I really deeply appreciate it.
Mr. Chair, is the $200,000 that has been allocated - it's historical, I take it - been able to meet the demand?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, again, I can say that the funds are used to provide seed money for projects, and 14 applicants have made application to the Yukon Technology Innovation Centre, and projects range in size from $6,000 to $66,000.
There is a great demand, however. Screenings are done by the council to select the best projects, as is the case with different government funding programs that we provide through government.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Keenan: Just a bit of patience there, my friend from Kluane. You will get your day.
Mr. Chair, I appreciate what the minister is saying. I believe that there is a great opportunity in the Yukon Territory for this type of technology and this type of development, and I can hear the minister saying the same thing at this end. It's a good thing for communities.
Mr. Keenan: At this point in time, so that we might be able to get good services out there to the people who need them most, I would like to move
THAT Government Services capital budget line item "Corporate Computer Equipment and Systems" be reduced by $100,000; and
THAT Government Services "Technology Partnerships" be increased by $100,000.
Chair: Mr. Keenan, do you have a formal amendment or do you want to write one up?
Mr. Keenan: (Inaudible)
Chair: That will do. Sign it, please.
Order please. It has been moved by Mr. Keenan
THAT Government Services capital budget line item "Corporate Computer Equipment and Systems" be reduced by $100,000; and
THAT Government Services "Technology Partnerships" be increased by $100,000.
To ensure that this is done under proper protocol and that this is done under the official rules of the House, we're going to take a four-minute recess to ensure that we are doing this properly.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
After going through the practices and principles of government, the motion that was proposed by Mr. Keenan will have to be called out of order. There are a number of reasons. The supporting reasons are threefold. First, the amount that was actually going to be reduced from the information services budget has actually been passed by the Committee, so as a result it can't be recalled except with unanimous consent of the House. Since that was not asked for, it can't be reduced. Second, as Cabinet is responsible for allocating resources within the practices and principles of the parliamentary system under which we work, the only thing that private members can do - and that includes members of the opposition - is ask for a reduction, but not a reallocation of budget numbers. As a result, I will have to rule that the motion, as put, is out of order.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to put this behind us if I could, but I would like to ask the Chair if, instead of giving us reasons why we can't do something, he would give us the allocation of how we may do something.
May I have the Chair express that for me?
Chair: Well, it would probably involve a different style of government. I'm sorry, under the rules now, as I understand them, this was never allowed.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Fentie, on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, there is a way to deal with this issue. It is at the minister's disposal. He could take any suggestion from the opposition benches under advisement and provide a response to the opposition benches with regard to that issue without us having to reallocate funds or move amendments to a budget, which we cannot do. But he could take the suggestion and get back to us on (a) yes, they will do it; (b) no, and why the minister won't or cannot do it. Is that a way to address this issue?
Chair: On the point of order, points of order are specifically meant to seek regress or discussion under the rules of the House. What Mr. Fentie just suggested is definitely just a conversation that you can take outside of the House. The rules of the House and the practices and procedures do not allow this to be done on the floor of this Legislature. Whatever is being suggested that could happen outside the floor of this Legislature is not the Chair's ruling.
Is there any further general debate on technology and telecommunications?
Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I think I have proven to the minister that - well, maybe I don't have the minister's concurrence on it - there is a definite need for this type of initiative to be happening throughout the territory.
I do believe that, if government, in its wisdom, would look into this, $200,000 for the Technology Innovation Centre is adequate. $100,000 has already been focused out there. There are many more people within the territory, in the City of Whitehorse and in rural communities, that could, would and should have access to that type of funding.
I'm asking the minister if he would monitor it over the course of the summer to ensure that there is an adequate flow of resources to the people who need it most, in terms of helping to rebuild the Yukon economy. And if that is the case, would the minister look to bringing in a supplementary budget that would reflect that this fall?
Hon. Mr. Jim: I will monitor this over the summer, and I will discuss this further with my colleagues in the fall session.
Mr. Keenan: I hate to be a nitpicker here, but what I am asking the minister to do is to monitor it and, if there is a need, based on that need - not to ask the caucus in the fall session - I would be expecting the minister to bring forth resources in the fall session that we could debate, approve and pass, so that we could fill the need. If the minister proposes to go on the route that the minister is proposing, it will just provide a shortfall. I do not in fact wish a shortfall to be put into place. I wish the minister to monitor it over the course of the summer - the first quarter - and find out if there is a need. I understand that there is a need. We can expand the partnerships beyond what they are here, get some real jobs out into the rural communities where there is a definite need for those types of jobs and to bring forth a supplementary budget based on those needs. That's what I am asking the minister to do. Will the minister consider that?
Hon. Mr. Jim: As always, I have been monitoring, and I will monitor again over the summer and discuss this with the ministers and, again, look at the basis of need.
Technology Partnerships in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
Technology and Telecommunications in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
Chair: We'll now proceed to property management.
On Property Management
Chair: Is there any general discussion before we go into line-by-line?
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps just a general overview of which buildings are receiving the attention and the order of magnitude of costs on each of these projects, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, with our capital maintenance and upgrade we've expended, the program includes repairs and upgrades to various common office buildings or warehouses located throughout the territory. The repairs in 2001-02 include $75,000 for upgrading of the Whitehorse buildings; $150,000 for the sign shop retrofit; $40,000 for Mayo buildings; $50,000 for Haines Junction buildings; $20,000 for security upgrades; $6,000 for water treatment; $10,000 for DDC upgrades; $20,000 for HVAC upgrades and miscellaneous grades and $5,000 for special waste disposals.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I'm interested in exploring the issue surrounding water treatment. Is this for a specific building that the government has to treat the water coming into it, or is it just an overall initiative?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the water treatment is the equipment that is used to treat stuff before it goes into boiler systems.
Mr. Jenkins: I was aware that that was the purpose of it, but is it applicable to just a specific building or group of buildings, or is this a general program that the government has? This is a capital undertaking, so I would be of the opinion that we're either installing water treatment or a water softener unit at one of the highway camps or something, I don't know. That's the purpose of my question. Or is this an overall initiative with respect to water treatment?
Mr. Chair, it's not an important issue. If the minister could just send over another legislative return on this topic, it would be appreciated. What does it apply to? Or is it just a general upgrading of water treatment equipment? What are we doing with respect to water treatment?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the dollars available for water treatment are for those buildings that need it. It's a general treatment solution that is being used on those buildings that are in need of water treatment for their boiler systems.
Mr. Jenkins: Okay. Now we're getting down to something else. It is the boiler systems. It's the fluid that's being circulated in the boilers in government buildings. So, obviously, we do not have potable water. It's boiler water, makeup water, and the medium used to circulate throughout the heating and cooling systems. Is that what we're referring to?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, again, if the member needs a legislative return on this specific issue, we will certainly give it to him.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, that's fine, but initially, when I asked the question, it was water treatment. Now it comes down to water boiler treatment. That's fine. I just wanted to know the specifics of it. The minister didn't know; that's fine. If he doesn't know, send over a legislative return. I'm not trying to nitpick; I'm just trying to get to the crux of the expenditure. That's all.
This is of a capital nature, Mr. Chair. We're in the capital budget. Usually supplies for treating the boilers and the water are an expense. They're not capitalized. Are we redefining capital expenditure here, or something? The boiler treatment is an ongoing O&M expense and it's done on an annual basis, or a semi-annual basis in some situations. This seems to be a new initiative because it is being capitalized.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, it's $6,000 for the water treatment, and we'll go through this again. It's for boiler systems. I can only presume, as I'm not a boiler systems expert, that it is for the hardness of the water or treatment of the water that is being used in the boiler systems.
Mr. Jenkins: There is a lot of discussion presently ensuing around regulations and the potable water supply, and there's probably going to be a lot more government involvement in the regulatory end and the testing end and all of that area. That's what piqued my attention, Mr. Chair. That's the issue.
So I thank the minister for the information and I point out that he now has a better understanding of another area of his budget, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, this will be over quickly, too. It's the building development overhead. In the briefing, there was an item called "support costs" and I'd like for that to be broken down, if I may.
Another issue that I have here is that I know we have been spending over $2 million for waterfront landscaping and development, and I was wondering if the minister had anything up his sleeve - or not sleeve necessarily but I mean in the minister's vision, to be able to continue on the waterfront.
So, those two items - and if he doesn't have it, a legislative return would be fine.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Chair, the program includes $1,536,000 for 21.25 FTEs, providing project management to both property management and the department's capital construction projects.
In addition, there is $150,000 in contracted support and materials for build plans and design reviews and $104,000 in support costs.
Mr. Keenan: I thank the minister for that. That will suffice. Are there any other initiatives regarding the waterfront from this department?
Hon. Mr. Jim: We have nothing at the moment, Mr. Chair.
On Capital Maintenance and Upgrade
Capital Maintenance and Upgrade in the amount of $376,000 agreed to
On Building Development Overhead
Building Development Overhead in the amount of $1,790,000 agreed to
On Project Management Services
Project Management Services in the amount of $1,000,000 agreed to
Property Management in the amount of $3,166,000 agreed to
On French Language Services
Chair: Is there any general debate? We'll go to line-by-line then.
On Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Office Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
French Language Services in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
Chair: Before we approve the capital budget, are there any questions on the recoveries?
Mr. Keenan: I just see that there is a forecast of a $100,000 recovery in the 2000-01, in the estimates there. Can the minister just explain that? Have we lost a funding source, or what is happening?
Hon. Mr. Jim: That pertains to the community access program that has been discontinued by the federal government. However, we are currently looking at that as a possibility in the future. We are currently looking at that as a future possibility as part of our recoveries in the future and as part of one of the programs.
Chair: Are there any questions on the transfer payments?
Seeing no further questions on transfer payments, we will go to the beginning of the capital budget.
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Government Services in the amount of $6,170,000 agreed to
Department of Government Services agreed to
Department of Renewable Resources
Chair: Mr. Eftoda, do you need time for your official to come?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I would appreciate a few minutes, yes.
Chair: We will recess for five minutes in order for Mr. Eftoda to get his official in.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will begin with general debate for the Department of Renewable Resources.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Seeing the time is 5:45 p.m., and seeing that this department is quite detailed, I ask that we report progress.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Eftoda that we do now report progress.
Motion agreed to
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. McRobb, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, Mr. Chair, there is clearly 15 minutes for debate here this afternoon before you, yourself, have to report progress. The side opposite is always accusing us of trying to run up Hansard costs. Here is clearly an example where there is a quarter of an hour. This is about $300 in taxpayers' money. The assistant to the minister is present. We are ready to go with this debate. I would further suggest that the minister and his colleagues only want to put this off so that they can start off on camera time tomorrow. This is outrageous, Mr. Chair.
I suggest that we defeat that motion and continue on with the business of this House today.
Chair: On the point of order, Mr. McRobb, I cannot defeat the motion. Asking for reporting progress is a non-debatable motion. Clearly, the ayes have it. There is no point of order.
Ms. Tucker: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2001-02, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You've heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Ms. Tucker: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:48 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled May 1, 2001:
Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board (Yukon) 2000 Annual Report (Roberts)
Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal Annual Report (dated February 12, 2001): report to the Minister under section 18.2(c) Workers' Compensation Act (Roberts)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 1, 2001:
Connect Yukon - 19596 Yukon Inc.: information pertaining to Immigrant Investor Fund loan (Buckway)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1490
Internet Statement of Use: computer tips (Jim)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1950-1951
E-mail Statement of Use: computer tips (Jim)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1950-1951