Thursday, October 25, 2001 - 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I am pleased to introduce once again in the gallery the Mayor of Dawson, Glen Everitt, the chief administrative officer, Scott Coulson, and the treasurer, Dale Courtice.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the Yukon Public Service Staff Relations Act, I have for tabling the 31st annual report, 2000-01, of the Yukon Public Service Staff Relations Board.
Speaker: Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the Education Act, I have for tabling the 27th annual report, 2000-01, of the Yukon Teachers Staff Relations Board.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Fairclough: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) the Minister of Education has told this House that he supports training trust funds as a good way to develop a skilled workforce for the territory's economic future;
(2) the previous NDP government invested heavily in a wide range of training trust funds as a way of empowering Yukon workers and Yukon communities in the development of a job-ready work force;
(3) development of Yukon's oil and gas potential, the possible construction of a natural gas pipeline through the territory, as well as forestry, mining and other economic activities, all require trained, local workers if Yukon people are to gain the maximum economic benefits from such activities;
(4) many of Yukon's young, skilled workers have left the territory as a result of the Yukon Liberal government's mismanagement of the economy;
(5) the capital budget for 2002-03, recently tabled by the Finance minister, represents a drastic cut in the amount allocated for training trust funds, in spite of the Yukon government having a $99-million surplus at the beginning of the current fiscal year; and
THAT this House urges the Finance minister to introduce a supplementary budget that would increase the amount of money allocated to training trust funds for their current level, and to amend the 2002-03 capital budget to maintain that level of allocation, so that Yukon workers are in a position to benefit from future economic opportunities that arise in the territory.
Mr. Fentie: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) the community development fund created by the previous NDP government was an excellent vehicle for creating employment throughout the Yukon and for helping Yukon communities develop community infrastructure according to the actual priorities of the community;
(2) the current Liberal government has broken faith with the Yukon people by consistently eroding this popular program;
(3) the proposed capital budget for 2002-03 continues this erosion by once again cutting community development funding in half, to an all-time low of only $750,000; and
(4) the Yukon government began the current fiscal year with a record accumulated surplus of $99 million; and
THAT this House urges the Finance minister to amend her capital estimates for 2002-03 to bring the community development fund, now called Project Yukon, back to a minimum of $3 million per fiscal year, and to introduce a supplementary to the 2001-02 capital estimates to restore this fund to $3 million for the current fiscal year, in order to provide badly needed work in Yukon communities this winter.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Whitehorse trolley has helped preserve the railway history of the Whitehorse waterfront, because if it were not for the trolley, the railroad tracks would likely have been removed by now;
THAT this House recognizes that the White Pass and Yukon Route roundhouse, which currently houses the Whitehorse trolley, is now being threatened by demolition; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to work with the City of Whitehorse and the Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society to preserve the White Pass and Yukon Route roundhouse and to expand the trolley service from the Wal-Mart site to Schwatka Lake.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon Liberal government, and particularly the Minister of Health and Social Services, to utilize a small portion of the Yukon Liberal government's $99-million surplus to pay the full cost of acquiring at CT scanner for the Whitehorse General Hospital and forgo the requirement for the Whitehorse General Hospital to contribute $150,000 through fundraising toward the cost of the purchase price in order to enable the CT scanner to be made operational sooner.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Finance ministers meeting
Mr. Fairclough: I have a question for the Premier, Mr. Speaker. The Premier said that she won't be taking a Yukon shopping list to her meeting with the federal Finance minister this weekend. If she is not going to present Yukon's financial case, why is the Premier running her travel budget even higher instead of just joining the meeting by phone?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The federal-provincial-territorial ministers of Finance are meeting for the first time in well over two years. The meeting was originally scheduled for December 10, but it was moved up in light of the events of September 11 and a recent provincial-territorial ministers of Finance request for an early meeting with the Minister of Finance. While in Ottawa at this meeting, we will also receive presentations from the Governor of the Bank of Canada, as well as the head of the RCMP, CSIS - Canada's security and intelligence agency - as well as CCRA, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.
The question that the member asked, would I be taking a shopping list - this was the question of the reporter. The fact is that these meetings are very necessary and important. The option to teleconference as opposed to travel was not an option that was presented, given the security attached to this meeting.
Mr. Fairclough: The reason that this is taking place now is that the federal minister forgot to bring forward a budget earlier, Mr. Speaker. Here we are, debating the Yukon's biggest budget in the history of Yukon, and the Premier is off to Ottawa. In the meantime, with a $99-million surplus, she has a Health minister who is moaning about health care costs and publicly speculating about user fees.
Will the Premier at least assure the House that she will take a firm stand against any reduction, both in transfer payments for health care funding and programs that come with devolution?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I must correct the member opposite on a couple of points. Finance minister Paul Martin did not forget to table a yearly budget. He will be tabling a budget in December of this year, and the reason federal and provincial and territorial Finance ministers are meeting with him is to state exactly the case as strongly as we possibly can and as I have done for the last 16 months - the importance of health care funding and the importance of our transfer payments and a fiscal framework in this country, to use the words of the Finance ministers.
Mr. Speaker, it's very important that Yukon's case be presented, as it is important that every province and territory be represented at these meetings, and that's exactly what I intend to do, as strongly as I am able.
Mr. Fairclough: First we heard the Premier say that she will not be taking a shopping list with her to Ottawa, and now she's taking a case with her. Will the Premier make a commitment not to leave the Ottawa table until she has a firm guarantee about an economic development agreement, as the Minister of DIAND promised at a $100-per-plate Liberal fundraising dinner here in Whitehorse?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the promise, if you will, or commitment, for a northern economic development strategy was first made in the Finance minister's budget speech some years ago now. It is a commitment that we have diligently followed up on, as we have followed other federal commitments. We have achieved success in a number of areas - resolving, for example, the long-outstanding matter with respect to our formula, which has resulted in excess of $36 million being transferred to the territory. We have both prudently and wisely indicated how it is to be spent, with some kept in reserve, should the formula go in the opposite direction in some years hence.
The fact is, Mr. Speaker, we have presented our case - Yukon's case - very strongly at all of the provincial-territorial ministers meetings that our government has attended.
Question re: School busing contract
Mr. Fentie: Well, it appears that this meeting is a formality in Ottawa, and the Finance minister will be dictating to the Premier opposite on what we will be getting.
I have good reasons for the Premier to actually stay in this territory to deal with a very serious matter within her government. Mr. Speaker, the Member for Whitehorse West has admitted that he discussed the Whitehorse school bus contract with the owner of Diversified Transportation before meeting with the drivers last February. My question to the Premier is this: is the Premier satisfied that the member was simply doing his job as a caucus member, telling people he knew about the government's desire to seek efficiencies? Is that the case?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fentie: The Minister of Education has said that his colleague met the drivers, as he put it, at Timmy's. That was incorrect. The minister failed to advise the House that the Member for Whitehorse West had discussed the school bus contract with the owner before meeting the drivers. He also seems to be of the belief that the member did not attend a union meeting, even though the union representative said he did.
Will the Premier now stand on her feet and tell this House: did the Member for Whitehorse West attend a union meeting at which the subject of the Diversified drivers taking a wage reduction was discussed and subsequently voted on? Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: As I am the Minister of Education and this is a school bus-related contract that is administered by the Department of Education, I will answer the question.
The Member for Whitehorse West was just doing his job, the job he was elected to do, Mr. Speaker. He was meeting with friends, former colleagues, constituents and the general public, asking for ideas on how the government could stretch taxpayers' dollars. I said yesterday that I didn't think he had attended a union meeting, but the Member for Whitehorse West has freely admitted in several media interviews that he did attend a union meeting. So what, Mr. Speaker?
He is a former member of the union. Some of these people are his former colleagues, Mr. Speaker. Some of these people are his constituents. He was just doing his job, doing the job he was elected to do and working very ardently on behalf of this government, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fentie: "So what?" the minister says. The appearance of political interference in the tendering process under this minister's watch is, "So what?" I asked the Premier this question because it's the same minister, the Minister of Education, who has provided incorrect answers in this House and, indeed, to the public.
What we have here is not one meeting to discuss bus routes or government cost-cutting policies in general. There are three meetings in question - one with the owner, a casual coffee chat with the drivers, his former colleagues, and a union meeting where a vote may have taken place.
To the Premier's knowledge, did any of these meetings take place while the Legislative Assembly was in session? That's a question for an answer of yes or no.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the fishing trip keeps going on and on and on. I have indicated to the members opposite that the Member for Whitehorse West did not speak to these people after the tender was issued. I have told them that repeatedly, and the Member for Whitehorse West had also indicated in the press that he did not speak to these people after the tender was gone.
He did speak to Mr. Fedoriak and he was just doing his job, just like we all do. Heaven forbid we should talk to union people, the government people who work for us - the 3,500 employees who work for the government. A good number of them are also union employees, Mr. Speaker, and we talk to them every day.
So, the member was doing his job. The member was speaking to friends and colleagues. He was sharing coffee with these folks and he did nothing - absolutely nothing - wrong.
Question re: Tombstone Park, mining claims
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources on the Tombstone Territorial Park draft management plan 2001.
The Tombstone steering committee is proposing very restrictive guidelines for the use of and access to the Tombstone Territorial Park. As the minister well knows, the boundaries of the park were expanded dramatically to include several mining claims. The claims of two mining companies have recently been acquired; however, Canadian United Minerals still has claims within the park that it wishes to develop.
On page 2 of the draft plan, it states that mining claims in the park not only have to be managed by the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and the Yukon Placer Mining Act, but must also be in accordance with the management plan or, prior to approval of the plan, be in accordance with the plan's objectives.
Can the minister explain what gives him the legal authority to restrict mining access rights provided in the two federal acts through the imposition of the Tombstone Park management plan? Is the minister claiming to have legislative powers greater than the Parliament of Canada?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: No, I am not making that claim, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the plan states that no new summer or winter roads will be allowed in the park.
Should the Canadian United Minerals' claims result in a viable mine and require better road access to develop the mine site, will the minister ensure that the Tombstone Park management plan will propose no prohibition to the company obtaining that better access?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The Tombstone Park management plan has to be approved by Cabinet. It is still in draft; it is still being looked at; it is still being commented on. Cabinet will be having a look at it then and approving it.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, the Minister of Economic Development is already on record as stating that reasonable access to existing mineral claims in the park is part of the law that must be recognized and upheld. But I wanted to make sure that the Minister of Renewable Resources is aware of the supremacy of federal legislation, because the Tombstone Park management plan appears to be challenging the access right of the two federal mining acts. Will the minister make the members of the Tombstone steering committee aware of these access mining rights enshrined in federal legislation and instruct them to amend the management plan accordingly? Will the minister do that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The Minister of Economic Development and I are working cooperatively on these projects. We do recognize the federal laws that are in effect currently. The management plan for Tombstone is in draft right now. We are awaiting the process of review by the public at large before Cabinet sits down, reviews and makes decisions relative to the plan.
Question re: Government renewal process
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has suggested that 700 government employees attended meetings on government renewal to put forward ideas about how they can serve the public better. Is the Premier prepared to back up those assertions by making a full list of those suggestions available to the public?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of information in public comments that we have received. Those comments are being compiled and the thematic analysis is being undertaken on them. As to whether or not they are ultimately tabled in this Legislature is something that I will visit with the renewal committee that I am working on and get back to the member opposite.
Mr. Fairclough: I am only asking questions on answers that I have heard back from the Premier, and I am sure that she would be prepared to have that information forwarded to us. The Premier said that one of the two main reasons for launching a government restructuring process is the devolution of federal programs, which has seen many of the federal employees transferred to the territorial government. Can the Premier tell us how many suggestions for improving Yukon territorial government services came from the federal employees, and will she make those suggestions available to the public?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, all of the comments that have been made to us in these meetings are being compiled. As I'm sure the member opposite can appreciate, there is some work going on to compile those comments and do a thematic analysis of them. That includes the comments from the federal government employees who have also participated in this process.
Now, whether those comments are going to be tabled publicly in the House or not is something I have said I will visit with the renewal committee and will advise the member opposite on as soon as possible, and certainly before the end of this week.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, I hope that that information from the member opposite does come forward fairly quickly, as she is the one who brought it forward to the floor of this Legislature.
The process being used to give YTG a makeover has left government employees in a very anxious state about losing their jobs. By refusing to talk about potential job cuts, the Premier is even making the matter worse.
Can the Premier give her assurance that no government employee risks losing his or her job for any opinion that they may have expressed at a renewal meeting, in spite of this government's failure to introduce the whistle-blower legislation that they promised?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the comments made at the renewal committee meetings - as I have said, over 700 employees have attended them - are compiled as comments and put into groupings. For example, there are a number of specific suggestions. One of the ideas was a suggestion for a name for a department - Tourism, Small Business and Culture. At many, many, many of those meetings, public servants have said, "That's a horrible name. Don't use it." When I say "analysis", that's what I'm talking about. Those comments are being grouped. They are not being attributed to any one individual, and employees are always encouraged to speak freely to this government and the public. That's the sort of government we are - open and accountable.
I would also say, Mr. Speaker, that change is very uncomfortable for some people, and it is a difficult, changing time, particularly in our world affairs. However, change for many people also represents an opportunity, and that's how we view renewal - as an opportunity to provide better government to the people of the Yukon. That's how many, many public servants are seeing it as well.
Question re: Alaska Highway reconstruction at Marsh Lake
Mr. McRobb: Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, the highways minister admitted that the Marsh Lake section of the Alaska Highway has problems. However, instead of addressing the problem by hiring a road builder to fix the roadbed, this Liberal government wasted three-quarters of a million taxpayers' dollars chipsealing the surface of the road. This addresses only the symptom of the problem, not the cause. That's like putting a band-aid on an infected wound, Mr. Speaker. Can the minister tell us why the real problem wasn't addressed?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have a feeling the Member for Kluane hasn't been listening to my answers to this question all week. The road in question is along Marsh Lake. It's built on a marsh. That should give him some clues about the problems that were encountered.
The work completed this year involved reshaping very uneven pavement and putting on a BST surface rather than asphalt pavement. Before the rehabilitation work this summer, this section of road was severely distorted and we received a lot of complaints by the travelling public. A number of sections of the old pavement were a problem for many years due to unstable soil conditions. The member knows this very well.
The problem areas were hard to deal with from a maintenance perspective - I've already explained this - so we decided to reshape the road and surface it with BST until we know that the ground has stabilized.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister says they can wait for the roadbed top to stabilize and the road surface to change, but I submit that that road test itself won't withstand several other tests, including the test of time, the test of patience for motorists, nor the test of common sense and the wise expenditure of public funds.
Now, this road section was constructed using yesterday's -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Speaker: Order please.
Mr. McLachlan: The guidelines for oral Question Period ...
Speaker: Order please.
Point of order
Speaker: The government House leader, on a point of order.
Mr. McLachlan: The guidelines for oral Question Period clearly specify that the member is allowed a one-sentence preamble. Mr. Speaker, I believe by my count he is into his fifth sentence at this point.
Speaker: The official opposition House leader, on the point of order.
Mr. Fentie: I have been through countless Question Periods now, Mr. Speaker, and have yet to witness, unless by the good graces of the opposition, a one-sentence supplementary. And I would point out that the members opposite, a very short time ago, were in opposition asking questions. I can prove, through Hansard, that one-sentence preambles simply were not the case.
Speaker: Order please.
On the point of order, the Chair is familiar with the guidelines for oral Question Period, and I am very familiar with No. 7, which is as the government House leader raised. However, since I have occupied the Chair - and, I believe, as have previous Speakers - I have tended more to have the questions in line with the time allotment, which is one minute for the question and 1.5 minutes for the answer. The Chair normally gives a warning to the questioner at the 50-second mark that the one minute is about to expire, and the Chair normally gives a warning to the answerer at 10 seconds before the time is up. From time to time, questions and answers do exceed the time, and the Chair does everything in his power to try to make it fair and equal.
Therefore, based on the precedents since I have been in the Chair, I will tend to go along with allowing one minute for the question. Some sentences are very long and some sentences are very short.
According to my time, the Member for Kluane has used 32 seconds, and the Chair will allow him to continue with his supplementary until he reaches one minute, when I have to cut him off for time.
If the guidelines, which are simply guidelines, for oral Question Period have to be changed, then I would ask for the House leaders to give the Chair guidance on this for the future.
However, for the time being, I will ask the Member for Kluane to continue with his supplementary.
Mr. McRobb: Now, this road section was constructed using yesterday's road-building technology. It is located next to a large lake at near water level, which contributes to foundation problems that impact the surface layer of the road. What this road really needs is an upgraded roadbed. Can the minister tell us: was the foundation of the roadbed on this section constructed using geotextile, a.k.a. magic carpet?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I wasn't there when the work was being done so I didn't see whether geotextile was being used; however, I can inquire. I was over the road when the new surface had been applied. We know that BST doesn't provide as smooth a ride as asphalt. However, it is easier to repair with our local maintenance crews and it provides better traction in winter, which is a significant factor when you are in a low-lying area near a lake.
Paving the road won't solve the problem. It's a bigger and more expensive band-aid. The problem is instability of the foundation and, once we know that it has stabilized, then we will consider repaving it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: The minister said yesterday that paving was the ultimate solution. I am sure somewhere in her briefing note it will indicate whether this road section contains geotextile.
Yesterday the minister tried to validate the decision to cover this wound with a band-aid by comparing it to work done in my riding on the Shakwak project, but the minister failed to point out the major difference in that comparison. It is Americans who pay for all of the construction on Shakwak, and it is Yukoners who pay for all of the maintenance on that road section. That's what is stipulated in the agreement.
Can the minister tell this House how much of that three-quarter-of-a-million-dollar band-aid was applied to address the root problem with this roadbed?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I think it is better to apply a three-quarter-of-a-million-dollar band-aid than a million-and-a-half-dollar band-aid when you are working on the underlying problem, which is what we are doing. I have said that we know there are problems with that section. We knew there were problems before we did the work. The problems are working themselves out. The crews were out there yesterday; they are out there again today with the contractor, and I am confident that the difficulties will be resolved.
Question re: Education Act review
Mrs. Peter: My question is for the Minister of Education. Bill No. 47 appears to include more than recommendation No. 140 of the draft document of the Education Act Review Steering Committee. The new legislation seems to include recommendation No. 141. Will the minister confirm that recommendation No. 141 has also been accepted in the tabling of the Education Staff Relations Act ?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate if the member opposite would allow me to confirm the full extent and provide, at a later time, a full answer that is correct for her?
Mrs. Peter: The information that we require has been tabled. The new legislation does not appear to include recommendation No. 142. Will the minister confirm that recommendation No. 142 has not been accepted as is demonstrated by its exclusion from Bill No. 47?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Again, Mr. Speaker, I did not bring the draft of the Education Staff Relations Act with me, nor did I bring to the House with me today the draft recommendations from the Education Act Review Steering Committee. So, with the member's indulgence, I will get back to her with a legislative return on that.
Mrs. Peter: I will grant the minister the indulgence; however, we do require answers for our questions.
Yesterday the minister suggested that the Education Staff Relations Act was in response to negotiations with the Yukon Teachers Association to include temporary teachers under the collective agreement. Recommendation 142 would have removed the right of teachers to strike, which Yukon Teachers Association opposed. The minister cherry-picked the draft recommendations before the process was finished.
Will the minister admit that by including recommendation 141 in Bill No. 47 and not including recommendation 142, he is attempting to restore his credibility with the Yukon Teachers Association?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Again, Mr. Speaker, I have committed to follow up with full and complete answers to the member opposite; unfortunately, she is choosing not to accept that. We were very aware that the teachers did not want the right to strike removed from the new Education Staff Relations Act, so it's not in there. We are respecting and following through on our commitment to maintain an open and free dialogue between the Public Service Commission and the Yukon Teachers Association.
Just a footnote to these questions, Mr. Speaker: suggesting that I'm cherry-picking and that I'm not respecting the recommendations from the committee is very, very wrong. It's very, very unfortunate that the member opposite is so seriously attempting to discredit and not show respect for all the good work that the partner groups did - of the Education Act Review Steering Committee - in their full and very comprehensive consultations over the past two and a half years with school councils, First Nations, parents, students, groups and individuals in every community, Mr. Speaker.
I just think it's so very unfortunate that they are casting aspersions toward the Education Act Review Steering Committee.
Speaker: Order please. Would the member conclude his answer? Thank you.
Question re: Education Act review
Mrs. Peter: My question is again to the Minister of Education. Mr. Speaker, the minister has repeatedly insisted that he respects the process, although his actions do not support his words. We know that the minister is capable of changing his mind, as he did with the library closure. The minister has repeatedly said that he will not grant an extension, although the process should allow the steering committee to present their new recommendations for public input prior to the presentation of the final report.
So I would like to ask the minister this: is this your final answer?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Leader of the third party. Sorry, I understand that this is a new question - that there are no more supplementaries. Therefore, I am recognizing the leader of the third party on a new question.
Question re: Parks and Land Certainty Act
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question once again for the Minister of Renewable Resources. Now, the minister has released this very colourful, picture-filled brochure, announcing that he will be tabling a Yukon Parks and Land Certainty Act. It's for passage this sitting. This bill will, in fact, enshrine the controversial protected areas strategy in law. The resource users coalition group has put forward a number of provisions in the past to correct the deficiencies of this seriously flawed strategy, including such stipulation as putting a cap on the total amount of land that can be protected under this strategy and creating no more protected areas until all of the remaining land claims are settled. Can the minister advise the House of these stipulations and if those concerns of the resource users coalition group have been dealt with in this new bill?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, first and foremost, I would certainly encourage the Member for Klondike to review the bill. As the member is very, very aware, both the Minister of Economic Development and I have encouraged the group, which removed itself from the PAC - unfortunately it has been through an exchange of letters in the press - to meet with us to formally present their concerns and issues related to the YPAS. We did receive a letter back from the group suggesting that unfortunately this summer they could not all get together as a group and that they would be contacting us later in the fall.
Well, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, we have not heard from that group yet. But I will, in answering the member's question, indicate that, through whatever pieces of information we have received through the papers and through some correspondence, we have made every attempt to address a majority of the concerns, Mr. Speaker. We are a government that listens and we are a government that does what it says it will do.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, normally when any new bill is developed there is a consultation process that takes place across the Yukon. In this case, it hasn't.
Can the minister advise the House what consultation he has had, with whom, and with how many of the stakeholders, on this draft act? Because, certainly, the group of eight - or seven, or whatever it currently is - Mr. Speaker, have not had input. Who has seen this draft act? I can't find anyone in the public domain who has even come close to having had a look at it. Has any stakeholder group in fact seen it? And if so, which ones, and when? When did the consultation take place on this draft act?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker, in the House yesterday, both opposition parties indicated that this government doesn't listen. I want to correct one thing about the library issue. It wasn't because of the opposition that I changed my mind. It was because this government listens to the public at large, and that is why I changed my mind.
With respect to the question on the consultation process, I'm sure everybody in the territory has been involved or has heard of the consultations on the YPAS, Mr. Speaker, for the last two years, ever since the members of the official opposition dropped the ball on the issue. Quite frankly, I would certainly like to hear from the members opposite if the members of the official opposition really support the protected areas strategy and its related act.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, it has been stated many times by Cabinet ministers in this novice Liberal government that consultation is the backbone of the Liberal Party. To date, we have failed to see any on this major, major issue.
My final supplementary is to the Minister of Economic Development: has the minister met with the Yukon Chamber of Mines, the Yukon Prospectors Association and other members of the resource users coalition group to specifically discuss this so-called Yukon Parks and Land Certainty Act. If not, why not, and do the resource users group accept and support the provisions of this new act?
Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, since I was named Minister of Economic Development this past June, I have met with a number of business organizations and groups, and have discussed a number of things, including the Parks and Land Certainty Act.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
I will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Motions respecting committee reports.
MOTIONS RESPECTING COMMITTEE REPORTS
Mr. Clerk: Motion respecting Committee Report No. 1.
Motion respecting Committee Report No. 1
Speaker: It has been moved by the Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges that the second report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, presented to the House on October 23, 2001, be concurred in and that amendments recommended by the committee to Standing Orders 2, 11, 19, 42, 52 and 67 be adopted.
Motion respecting Committee Report No. 1 agreed to
Bill No. 8: Second Reading - adjourned debate
Mr. Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 8, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Duncan - adjourned debate.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: It is a pleasure for me to rise to conclude the second reading debate on the capital budget 2002-03 that was presented a week ago today. I won't be lengthy in my remarks today. I would like, however, if I might, to offer some constructive comments and respond to some of the comments that have been offered by some of the members of the opposition.
I note also, Mr. Speaker, that we are concluding our first week of Question Period in the House today, and this budget is so good that there hasn't been one question in Question Period about it. Instead the opposition members have focused their time and energy on other things, mostly personal as opposed to productive.
The Member for Mayo-Tatchun questioned the budget documents and suggested that they were wrong and invited me to rise on my feet and correct the member. So I will do that, saying that, in fact, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun said that the tax cuts that we as a government had implemented were not listed correctly. In fact, they are.
The tax cut, as I have noted, is 46 percent this year and it will go to 44 percent next year.
Another member of the House, the Member for Klondike, also suggested a budget leak had occurred. I would suggest to the member opposite that that is not the case. Public comments may be made with respect to the budget. The whole issue around budget secrecy has changed quite substantially in the last number of years and the member is quite wrong in his assertion.
Most of the public comments, Mr. Speaker, have been focused on there not having been enough public consultation about the capital budget we brought forward. Well, it is incumbent upon me as Minister of Finance to correct the members on that as well.
The practice in this territory has been for the Minister of Finance and the Deputy Minister of Finance to travel throughout the territory and have public budget meetings and meetings with First Nation chiefs, governments and municipalities. That was the practice in the past. What this government has done, in the spirit of the fact that our caucus works together as a caucus on issues, is all of us seek information and input from constituents and Yukoners throughout the territory. What we did was travel throughout the territory in January of this year and hold those specific budget meetings. Now, members criticize those budget meetings as being too late. In fact, many of the suggestions from the public found their way into the budget - many of those suggestions. For example, the Infrastructure Alliance will tell you that the suggestion for the Champagne corners project, as we refer to it, was their suggestion. Or that the construction of a marina and work on that particular piece of infrastructure was a direct request from the people in Destruction Bay.
That Dawson City - and members, I note with particular attention the interest of the mayor and city officials in the proceedings of our Assembly. Dawson City has worked very closely with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services on their financial arrangements, and that working relationship has been reflected in our budgets, as well.
The consultation with Yukoners did not stop with those January budget meetings. This summer, over 200 travel days throughout the territory, within the Yukon, were spent by members of this caucus and staff. Finance officials did not attend those meetings. That doesn't mean that discussion of finances and very real, very positive, very concrete suggestions from Yukoners were heard and are reflected in the 2002-03 capital budget.
The communities' wishes and desires from throughout the territory are reflected in next year's capital spending. And, Mr. Speaker, I would also challenge the assertion that this somehow does nothing for the economy. In fact, this budget, by listening to the suggestion of Yukoners to move this budget to the fall, has enabled the business community, on a variety of levels, from the infrastructure builders to the small- and medium-sized contractors, to meet with ministers and government officials following the budget's tabling and sit down and say, "Well, we see you plan to do X, Y, Z project. Here's how it can be more efficient, because we have time to work with it, to think about it, to plan for it, and to give you ideas on how best to tender it, to maximize not only job creation, but the public capital dollars." And that was our objective in moving the budget to the fall. It was a suggestion. It will be done. In fact, it has occurred in a number of cases.
The contracting and business community, who maximize jobs with these capital dollars, are meeting with ministers and officials to make sure that we do so. It's not only the roads, the schools and, yes, the public institution of the Correctional Centre that are recognized - those larger projects - but $270,000 for upgrading Yukon campgrounds is an important initiative. It's what Yukoners tell us they want to see.
Upgrading roads in the community of Pelly Crossing is something that the chief and council have presented to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and myself. They have said to us, in our meetings, "If you only have X amount of money to spend, this is what we want done first." Those sorts of projects, those community priorities, are what we see in the document. We are very proud of the document.
The Minister of Community and Transportation Services took her mandate letter seriously that said, "You will drive every road in this territory." She does that time and time again and visits with every single highway employee. In so doing, she hears first-hand this is what we need to do to make Yukon roads better.
I must say, having driven throughout parts of western Canada and observed a number of their construction projects on my way to the annual premier's conference, our roads are some of the best anywhere in this country. It is thanks to the hard work and presentation by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to her caucus colleagues when we are saying that this is how the capital budget should be spent, when we are reaching those decisions, after having listened and having heard all of the community input.
Mr. Speaker, the Budget Address also spoke not only about capital projects; it also provided an opportunity to report to Yukoners on the seven key areas of focus of this government, including achieving the devolution transfer agreement, Mr. Speaker. That is something no other government has been able to do - and many have tried.
We have achieved the initialling of that agreement.
We also spoke about the progress on land claims, Mr. Speaker - an important point - and also our work on a government-to-government basis with Yukon First Nations. This government is working hard. We pledged to work hard on the resolution of outstanding land claims, and we're doing it and we will continue to do it. While the members scoff at projects like the Mount Sima road reconstruction, that project is part of a working relationship with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. It's a public safety issue as well as an economic opportunity and economic development project.
That's what we mean, Mr. Speaker, when we say we want to maximize opportunities and maximize these capital projects. We want them to not only rebuild our crumbling infrastructure -
INTRODUCTION OF VISITOR
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I'm interrupted by the presence in the gallery of a former member, the former MLA for Riverdale North, Doug Phillips. Welcome to the gallery, Doug.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: And I noted the Member for Mayo-Tatchun asking for his help in Question Period. That should be interesting.
Health care is another particular issue, as we are all ageing - some of us are retiring, some of us are moving on. Health care is a growing concern in this country, Mr. Speaker, and it's something that we deal with at the premiers, at the Finance ministers and at the Health ministers tables.
The hard work and representation of the Yukon by the MLA for Mount Lorne on the Romanow commission is very important work. Mr. Speaker, the Romanow commission as well as Senator Kirby's work are addressing fundamental questions of health care in our country, like standard of care. We notice such differences as whether different jurisdictions pay for ambulance services or not, and whether they pay for medevac services or not. Those are the types of information that are shared and gathered and affect the costs.
The health care budget in the Yukon is something that the Minister of Health and Social Services grapples with on a daily basis. This year's health care capital budget does show a dramatic decrease, in spite of those comments. That is due to the construction of the new continuing care facility, and continuing care is another element, Mr. Speaker, that the provinces and territories are focusing on, again, in light of our ageing population. The costs of facilities, as well as ongoing rates charged, are very different across the country, and this is something that we are grappling with in our health care budgets, although it is not an element of the Canada Health Act, surprising to many members who pride themselves on their supposed knowledge of the Canada Health Act.
We have budgeted the $100,000 in new equipment at the Thomson Centre and $100,000 in renovations and equipment at McDonald Lodge in the City of Dawson.
Mr. Speaker, those are a direct result of comments not only from the community but from health care workers themselves. The Minister of Health and Social Services has travelled throughout the territory this summer, listening to Yukoners, speaking with Yukoners about health care, about the costs of health care, about what we envision our health care system to be and the services we want it to deliver and, yes, at what price.
In the capital budget, we have also talked about the Yukon tele-health project: innovative ways of delivering better health care to Yukoners. This includes a tele-mental health program, Mr. Speaker. As we approach the seasonal-affective-disorder season, this will provide better access to mental health services within under-served communities in the Yukon.
There is also a tele-family visits program, which is very important in recognizing the strength of the family within our public government.
I also spent some time in my budget speech talking about the effect of other economies on the Yukon and on our formula. The formula has been well-negotiated over the years and is something that we work within. We are also aware of some of the difficulties, including the effect a population drop may have on our formula. It takes some time for population figures to catch up and, as I indicated, we are anticipating them by summer 2002. We have budgeted accordingly and prudently for that, should that occur.
We also have been prudent financial managers in the territory's personal income tax cut. The result has shown results - $3 million less in taxes is what Yukoners are paying this year. Clearly, we are seeing the effect of that in our retail economy with retail sales being up two percent in the first six months of this year.
We also spoke about the proximity of the Alaskan economy and its effect on Yukon. Clearly, Alaskan spending has an effect on the Yukon economy, and a downturn in the U.S. economy has a broad-based impact on the Canadian economy. We are still actively engaged in the softwood lumber issue at the federal level and also the tragic events of September 11, 2001 - the effects of which are still being weighed and are certain to be a subject of discussion at Sunday's Finance ministers meeting, as they were at the Finance ministers meeting in Vancouver a short time ago.
Some of the other points that were made in the capital budget speech, Mr. Speaker, were the openness and accountability of our government in tabling the long-term plan that shows capital spending priorities for the next three years, updated estimates on the overall Government of Yukon financial picture through to the year 2005-06. And that gave Yukoners a look at the priorities we're working to achieve and the fiscal parameters within which we must operate.
The capital estimates cover the period April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003. They were tabled well in advance of that date, and we are debating a capital budget again in the fall because this government heard from Yukoners that that was the right methodology for the debate of budgets. They wanted to know what projects are coming up this spring, well in advance. That's what we did.
The O&M budget will be tabled, as per usual, in the spring of next year.
And for the second consecutive year, we increased capital spending. The estimates are over $118 million on capital projects. There are recoveries in that of $47 million, and our net spending is over $70 million. This represents a 14-percent increase over main estimates from this year and a 22-percent increase over the previous year. Again, the priority for our government was to use the capital budget, listening to community priorities and Yukoners to maximize the creation of jobs through direct spending.
It's most obvious in the highways budget. There is $7 million worth of work on the Champagne to Haines Junction section of the Alaska Highway - 14 kilometres of road and over 80 jobs. Again, we're also receiving $23.5 million in funding from our American neighbours to continue work on the Shakwak project.
Mr. Speaker, I must say that the Minister of Economic Development and I had the opportunity to travel this summer on some of those rebuilt sections of road to speak with the contractors, and over and over again we heard from them what a tremendous difference, finally, moving on that specific project had made. Yukoners were working, and other Yukoners are seeing the results of that work.
It is really evident to us, especially on that Champagne to Haines Junction section, because that re-engineering and re-survey work to straighten out those corners, we were told, was originally done in 1984. But no government has put the money - until the Liberal government was elected - into actually building the road - long, long overdue. It generates jobs, it puts people to work and it rebuilds our infrastructure.
Throughout the north highway - as we refer to it often, many Yukoners - the construction camps were full and many of the First Nation chiefs I spoke with, as well as road construction foremen and builders, owners of these companies - people were working. In fact, some of them couldn't find enough people to work this summer.
We have also dealt with the issue that Yukoners wanted us to deal with - Yukoners have more confidence in spending their money when they are protected from unexpected increases to their cost of living. To that end, there is a direct cash contribution in the capital budget of $3 million to continue the rate stabilization fund.
Mr. Speaker, that's an important element for Yukoners. It's part of an overall $12-million plan that has been announced by the minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation, and it sees the fund extended to March 31, 2005. This is a major investment. It allows local businesses and Yukon families to continue to take advantage of some of the lowest power rates in Canada.
My colleague, the minister responsible for Government Services, has also ensured that there is money set aside under the business incentive program - $600,000, in fact - from which contractor will benefit. That program provides a rebate to contractors on Yukon government projects when they hire Yukoners.
The Member for Faro has worked with his caucus colleagues in the work with North American Tungsten, and we are looking forward to an operational mine employing over 170 people by Christmas of this year.
The Yukon mining incentives program, the regional mineral development program, and the Yukon geology program, all of which received increased funding, are also of tremendous benefit and assistance to Yukon's mining industry. They amply demonstrate this caucus' commitment to the mining industry in the Yukon. Mineral resource assessments are also part of that.
We also continue work on oil and gas resources, and we are living up to our commitment to hold annual land sales, with our third annual disposition nearing completion.
Mr. Speaker, we believe that the Yukon's eight sedimentary basins have tremendous potential, and we will continue to work with that potential for the benefit of Yukoners. There have only ever been 71 wells drilled in the territory.
We will also continue, as we committed in the election campaign to do and as we have demonstrated for the first 17 months in office, to aggressively promote the Alaska Highway pipeline route. We will continue our efforts and, Mr. Speaker, I'm confident that we will continue to show the results of those efforts. We have certainly seen that, prior to the election, the Alaska Highway route wasn't even in the public discussion; now, you have only to pick up any copy of a national newspaper and you will see that our hard work in putting the Alaska Highway route on the national agenda has certainly been recognized.
Mr. Speaker, another area that we have worked very hard on is renewal, and it is also contained in the supplementary budget although not outlined specifically in the capital budget. The renewal has, I believe, been misunderstood by some of the members opposite, and that misunderstanding was amplified in a question asked today. That somehow those hard-working public servants offering their comments to renewal were putting their jobs at risk was what the member opposite suggested. That is ridiculous and that is not in any way, shape or form the attitude of this government. We welcome and appreciate very, very much those 700 comments, and we are working very hard to ensure we deliver as soon as we possibly can because change is a difficult time - that we deliver the results of their comments and the results of their hard work and the hard work of the renewal committee and the implementation teams.
We are not only working hard on renewal, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Tourism, who ably recognizes the significant role that tourism plays in our economy, and ensures that her colleagues recognize it as well, has also ensured that the forthcoming capital budget recognizes the value also of our heritage resources and the ongoing work at Fort Selkirk, which I had the opportunity to visit for the first time this summer when I was meeting with the renewable resource councils.
It is certainly a place that I hope all Yukoners have an opportunity to see at some point, for an appreciation of our heritage and an appreciation of the ongoing work that is being done to preserve that heritage.
As well, Rampart House has $50,000 and $110,000 for interpretation and signage at a variety of other heritage sites. They are part of an overall heritage budget that will grow under this government by over $150,000 in 2002-03. The member for another riding will recognize that that was a frequent question asked in opposition. We have also continued the arts fund in recognition of the arts community and the continued development of arts in the territory.
The capital budget is often, as I said earlier this afternoon, about infrastructure. We view infrastructure as not only our schools, roads, bridges, communications and recreation facilities, but sewer and water projects - the basics, Mr. Speaker, as well.
On schools, we are completing the construction of the Mayo school. I announced last Thursday work, finally, on a $3.2 million Grey Mountain Primary School. It's a commitment that we made in opposition and during the election campaign. We are doing what we said we would do, and we believe in the "little school that could", unlike previous governments. We are replacing that school.
We are also upgrading Vanier Catholic School. Improvements are finally being made - and they have been bumped for several years previously - at the Watson Lake high school, the Eliza Van Bibber School in Pelly Crossing and Golden Horn Elementary. This is over $3 million in improvements in our schools alone. Children deserve a safe, comfortable environment in which to learn.
The capital highways budget, Mr. Speaker, is substantial. There is not only the $7-million project on the Alaska Highway, there's $900,000 for the Campbell Highway, $800,000 for the Tagish Road, and we doubled the rural roads program. And there's $2.6 million for various pavement repair projects, which seem to be becoming a favourite in Question Period. There's also money for bridges to be upgraded.
These projects and others total over $40 million in the transportation division capital spending - 46 kilometres of highway reconstruction, 20 kilometres of new pavement, and a 22.6-percent increase over last year - long, long overdue money put into the highways and our roads throughout the territory.
We have not solely concentrated on the roads we drive on. We're also fixing our electronic highways. The completion of the high-speed Internet connection for most Yukon communities costs another $1.7 million this year, Mr. Speaker. And it has future costs of $9.4 million. Connect Yukon is an expensive obligation that is reflected in our long-term capital plans. There is a $7.7-million payment required in the year 2005. It's incumbent upon us - although we did not initially enter into the Connect Yukon agreement - it's incumbent upon us to maximize the opportunities that are presented by the investment.
The water and sewer projects, the basics, the construction of a sewage disposal plant in the Village of Carmacks is a multi-year project, Mr. Speaker, that will cost over $2.7 million. It's about the basics; it's about importance to communities. We are committed to meeting the basic needs of all Yukoners.
And in support of that, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services has committed to tabling a review of the sewer and water infrastructure needs and the costs for all Yukon communities within this session.
I mentioned earlier that the Minister of Government Services - the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, the Member for McIntyre-Takhini - has also budgeted $6.7 million to lend Yukoners for mortgage loans.
There is also recreation in support of many - in fact, all of our caucus believe in the healthy living and active lifestyle. We have continued our support for that with funding on four major recreation projects: $1 million to the Whitehorse multiplex; $2.1 million to the Dawson reserve fund, which includes money for their recreation centre; $350,000 to finish the recreation centre in Carmacks; and $180,000 for repairs to the recreation centre in Ross River. These capital dollars are coupled with a $750,000 recreation leadership endowment fund and our government's $8-million commitment to the Canada Winter Games. It is clearly a demonstration of a commitment to recreation, active living, healthy lifestyles and the Yukon people we serve.
I would be remiss if I did not mention our government's commitment to a major capital project in this particular budget, and that is the Correctional Centre. Successive governments have talked and talked about replacing the jail for 30 years. The Whitehorse Correctional Centre has now reached a stage where it is a hazard to both the inmates and the staff, and this government has heard and recognizes - and we are rebuilding that facility.
We are proceeding with construction. There is $3 million in 2002-03, and it's part of an overall $17-million project that will be completed by the year 2005.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that, overall, the 2002-03 budget delivered in the fall, as we committed to do, has outlined a capital plan for the next fiscal year and well into the future that speaks not only to all seven of our priorities, upon which we were elected and upon which we are delivering, but it speaks to Yukoners' priorities. We are committed to the people we serve. The 2002-03 capital budget is one important part of fulfilling our commitment to Yukoners.
As Yukoners, this government envisions a territory where opportunity is built upon the strength of our land, the diversity of our people, and the openness and accountability of our government.
Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would like to thank not only the members of my caucus, who diligently worked in the construction of this 2002-03 capital budget, but I'd also like to thank the Finance officials and individuals throughout the Government of Yukon - hard-working public servants who participated in the creation of this budget.
All Yukoners offered us their suggestions, ideas, criticisms and constructive suggestions. We have listened, and we will continue to listen to you, the Yukoners. We take pride in the capital budget that is before the House for a vote. It is the result of Yukoners' work with us.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to the debate on this particular bill.
Speaker: The hon. Premier has now closed debate on the motion for second reading of Bill No. 8 and the Chair must put the question. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Agree.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Agree.
Mr. Kent: Agree.
Mr. McLachlan: Agree.
Ms. Tucker: Agree.
Mr. McLarnon: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Disagree.
Mr. Fentie: Disagree.
Mr. Keenan: Disagree.
Mr. McRobb: Disagree.
Mrs. Peter: Disagree.
Mr. Jenkins: Disagree.
Mr. Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 10 yea, six nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 8 agreed to
Bill No. 6: Second Reading
Mr. Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 6, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Duncan.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I move that Bill No. 6, entitled the Fourth Appropriation Act, 2000-01, which I'm very eager to speak to, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 6, entitled the Fourth Appropriation Act, 2000-01, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: This Fourth Appropriation Act, 2000-01, is also recognized as Supplementary Estimates No. 3, 2000-01, or Bill No. 6.
This bill regularizes the operation and maintenance expenditures of several departments that spent in excess of their voted appropriations in the fiscal year that ended last March 31. Despite the fact that these departments have overspent their individual budgets, the government as a whole underspent its appropriation authority by more than $23 million last year.
The details of the monies being requested in the supplementary are spelled out in the estimates accompanying Bill No. 6, so I'll only speak to them in general terms.
The Department of Education is requesting an additional $526,000. This sum can be attributed to the settlement with the Yukon Teachers Association, the magnitude of which was unknown when budgets were last prepared, and utilities costs. Offsets reduced the impact of these items considerably.
Finance requires $18,000 to cover its overexpenditure. Additional costs in some treasury activities were offset by underexpenditures in others. A late-in-the-year payout by the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board for the supplementary benefits program put the department over its authorized budget. The Department of Government Services was overspent by $1.7 million. This was the result of the transfer of the French language services from the Executive Council Office to that department.
Health and Social Services is requesting a little over $1.2 million, which was spent for a variety of programs, including chronic disease, pharmacare, and group homes. This is a reflection of the challenges facing Health departments throughout Canada and challenges from which we in the Yukon are not exempt.
There are also challenges that are being addressed by the Romanow commission and the work of others, which were also addressed at the annual premiers conference in August and anticipated to be addressed further in a supplementary annual premiers conference in January next year.
Finally, the Department of Renewable Resources requires an additional $50,000 to meet their expenditures in the past year. This is a result of higher-than-anticipated costs in resource management and for several wholly-recoverable projects, or projects for which we receive funding. All of the funds that are being requested are for operation and maintenance purposes and, aside from the departments just mentioned, the remainder were underspent in operations and maintenance for the 2000-01 fiscal year. There were no capital appropriations that were overspent.
I would like to comment on our overall financial position. As of March 31, 2001, the Government of the Yukon had an accumulated surplus of some $99 million. This is due, in part, of course, to the special formula financing adjustment that we negotiated last year that increased the surplus by $36 million. I would like to recognize the work done with the Finance minister to achieve this result on behalf of Yukoners. It was a difficult and lengthy negotiation.
In addition, the Canadian economy and some of the inputs into our grant from Canada showed every sign of health in the past year. Even before the events of September 11, however, there were very clear signs that the American economy was slipping and that this could not help but have an adverse impact on Canada's economic well-being. The aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon will not help the situation that was already beginning to look less than ideal for world economic activity.
Mr. Speaker, no one knows how these events will shake out. We do know that they will probably not do our financial situation any favours in the short or medium term. Therefore, while our accumulated surplus may appear large, it's very wise, in times such as these, to have some ability to rely upon a cushion to overcome any difficulties, temporary though they may be. It's important that we have that accumulated surplus.
In addition, we have to be mindful of the fact that census figures will begin to come out next summer. In the past, we tended to gain financially from census counts, but that may not happen this time. We would hope that the population estimates provided by Statistics Canada for our formula calculations since the last census are accurate and that the census result will therefore be neutral for the formula grant. No one knows for certain whether this will even come to pass, and we may have to use an unknown portion of the accumulated surplus to cover a census adjustment.
I need not remind members that the surplus is being drawn down in the current fiscal year, such that we are projecting it will stand at only a little over $50 million by March 31, 2002. That is the figure that we must work with.
Our financial position is healthy and sound, but not excessive, given the uncertainties that we now face. We intend to maintain this health to the benefit and security of Yukon citizens, a goal I know that everyone in this House shares.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll look forward to second reading comments from members of the opposition.
Mr. Fairclough: I'll be brief in my comments to this supplementary budget.
The Premier has gone through and explained, in some departments, what took place, why there were increases, and the final result of the numbers that are expected to be passed here.
Mr. Speaker, I also again have to bring to the attention the promises that were made by this Liberal government out there during the campaign - the many promises - and also the many promises that were immediately broken.
The very first one, and the one that's most noticeable there, is that this Liberal government promised to introduce the NDP budget in its entirety. The changes that are before us now are that very budget. What we have seen this Liberal government do is to proceed to start picking that budget apart, and it's reflective of the numbers we have here today.
It's unfortunate, because at that time there were promises and commitments made by this Liberal government that were important, and it is from this supplementary budget that we will start looking at the trends that this Liberal government is following.
And, as we go through this budget, the supplementary budget, which shouldn't take very much time to go through, we'll be asking some questions in some of the departments, just for the member opposite to know.
But also in this budget, there is lapsed funding, which is identified here, that goes to show where this Liberal government failed to implement the entire budget. It is because of this that we find ourselves in the position of doing some catch-up work, some postponing of other important projects, like the Tantalus School in Carmacks, which people have been voicing themselves about quite clearly to this government; like the Mayo school, which was delayed; like many highway projects and projects in communities that have not been worked on, have been put to the side, have not been reflected in other budgets that are before us today.
We will be pointing out those trends quite clearly to the members opposite. We have to deal with three budgets in the fall sitting. Some of the changes that are in here are quite small, the French languages services, for example, being moved. A lot of the expenditures here are for small things like Workers' Compensation and the agreements that have been put in place for the employees, which I would have thought would have already been recognized in the budget. In Education, it was clear that those monies were to go toward the increase for - finally - the settlement with the teachers.
So, Mr. Speaker, in brief, I will be asking some questions as we go through the departments. I expect that there will be some explanation as we go through each of the departments, and I will be asking questions in there.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, this supplementary budget pertains to that very first initiative of this Liberal government, that famous NDP-Liberal budget which, when the Liberals were in opposition, they didn't support and, as soon as they gained power, they suddenly supported it and moved forward on that initiative. It was probably the first major flip-flop of this Liberal government.
So, I would expect that the NDP, now that they're in opposition, will be voting in favour of the supplementary, as they did the budget, because it was an NDP budget and it filled their political direction and their initiatives.
I must say, though, Mr. Speaker, that I'm extremely disappointed that the Liberals chose not to follow through on all of the initiatives that were outlined in the NDP platform. Some of them were very, very good, such as the CDF, fire smart - those are more or less on the capital side, and some of the other NDP initiatives like the Mayo school that was shut down. This government has clearly demonstrated that it does not possess the ability to instill investor confidence in the Yukon and turn the economy around.
There's virtually no winter works program in the current budget; there was very little, if any, and what there was was gutted in prior budgets. I'm disappointed in that, Mr. Speaker.
Some of the changes here are quite minor, and the order of magnitude of the supplementary is such that it shows that the budgeting during that period was reasonably accurate, Mr. Speaker. We only have to contrast that to the next supplementary for the expenditures incurred in the last fiscal period to see very, very clearly that the Liberal government of today here in the Yukon has very little control over their finances given the order of magnitude of the second supplementary.
But we'll deal with that later. I have a number of questions in line-by-line debate, Mr. Speaker, and without further ado, I look forward to some positive responses, quick responses, and ministers being fully versed in their respective departments as to the expenditures they incurred.
Speaker: If the Premier now speaks, she will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to review for the members opposite that this supplementary estimate regularizes operation and maintenance expenditures of several departments and the operation and maintenance expenditures that were in excess of the voted appropriations in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2001. Despite the fact that the departments overspent their individual budgets, the government as a whole underspent its appropriation authority by more than $23 million.
The Member for Tatchun - I just wanted to emphasize again that these were the O&M expenditures. There was not an overexpenditure in any capital projects and the teachers' settlement could not be reflected in the budget documents until it was achieved, which is why it is contained in the supplementary. That is why it wouldn't be reflected in any earlier document.
The questions that the members have in line-by-line debate - this is a small supplementary budget, in that it is, again, regularizing O&M overexpenditures, which we endeavour not to have occur. However, there are some circumstances that are beyond our control in this particular area.
I am certainly prepared to answer the questions in line-by-line on the particular department I am responsible for, which overspent by $18,000. I'm certain that the Health and Social Services overexpenditure is quite clear and that members support the higher than anticipated costs for the chronic disease, pharmacare and extended health programs and would certainly have us endure - and indeed pay - those overexpenditures.
Again, the Renewable Resources overexpenditure is largely a result of 100-percent recoverable projects and higher than anticipated expenditures in resource management. I have already outlined what the Department of Education overexpenditure is, in that it is a reflection of underspending in some areas and, again, the settlement with the Yukon Teachers Association.
I would encourage members to pay close attention overall to the economic discussions that are currently underway, as there is a great deal of discussion with respect to provincial growth indicators and estimates, as well as the federal budget, which is coming out in December.
So I look forward to members' line-by-line debate of the Supplementary Estimates No. 3, the Fourth Appropriation Act, 2000-01, Bill No. 6.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Agree.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Agree.
Mr. McLachlan: Agree.
Ms. Tucker: Agree.
Mr. McLarnon: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Disagree.
Mr. Fentie: Disagree.
Mr. Keenan: Disagree.
Mr. McRobb: Disagree.
Mrs. Peter: Disagree.
Mr. Jenkins: Disagree.
Mr. Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 10 yea, six nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 6 agreed to
Bill No. 7: Second Reading
Mr. Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 7, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Duncan.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I move that Bill No. 7, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2001-02, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 7, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2001-02, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I am pleased to introduce the supplementary estimates for 2001-02. They are Bill No. 7, the Second Appropriation Act, 2001-02, i.e. Supplementary No. 1. Both our income and our expenditures will be considerably higher in the current year, as will the annual deficit.
The majority of the new expenditures represent worthwhile new initiatives our government has decided to undertake now for the benefit of Yukoners.
In addition, these estimates also contain revotes of lapsed spending for the last fiscal year. These revotes account for almost $14 million of the $54 million being requested in this supplementary. The vast majority of the revotes are, of course, for capital purposes, with only about one-half million dollars being operation and maintenance.
I would like to speak for a few moments about the remainder of the sum, about $40 million, which we are asking the House to approve via this bill. When we received the special formula financing adjustment last year, we promised to dedicate it to several very specific purposes. We promised to devote $10 million to the establishment of a Yukon permanent fund, and the fulfillment of that promise is embodied in the capital main estimates for next year. We promised to hold $15 million in reserve as a contingency for a potential census adjustment to our formula, and we have done that. We promised to set aside $8 million for a Canada Winter Games infrastructure fund, and that promise has been carried out in the estimates that we are now discussing.
This fund will enable the Yukon to construct the facilities necessary to host the 2008 Canada Winter Games, should the bid be successful. It will ensure that our facilities are second-to-none for this important event, and it will leave a legacy of enormous benefit for the recreational pursuits of Yukoners for many years after the games are over.
Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased to have been able to carry through on this promise and one that I am sure all members of this House support.
We promised to use $3 million of the special adjustment to establish endowment funds, and this we have done in the supplementary. Endowment funds to benefit Yukoners will be enhanced or established with monies provided for in this bill. Ministers will be speaking to the specifics of these funds - I do want to mention briefly each of them now, as they are important steps to providing for the future of our citizens.
The historic resources trust fund, which was announced by the Minister of Tourism, will receive $436,000 to bring it up to the level it was supposed to have been at when it was announced by a previous government a number of years ago.
A $750,000 teacher mentoring endowment fund is being provided for to help fund a mentoring program that pairs older, more experienced teachers with new teachers.
A $250,000 youth endowment fund is being established through monies being devoted in the Department of Education.
$750,000 in the Department of Community and Transportation Services is devoted to the establishment of a community recreation leadership endowment fund, while the Executive Council Office has a similar sum for a Yukon Foundation endowment fund.
Mr. Speaker, we are proud to be able to announce these endowments, which will further the independence of the bodies to which they are dedicated. They are ample evidence of a government that worked very hard to negotiate and achieve the special adjustment, and I would especially like to commend the Finance officials who worked for years on this particular project, and to thank Minister Martin for his commitment. When I first raised this with him and asked for a review and an examination of our case, he committed to me he would be fair; he was fair and we appreciate the special adjustment.
We didn't just take that special adjustment and watch it disappear. We have created these endowment funds, the contingency, because, as we know, the formula can go up or it can go down. We have set the money aside in order to be prepared should the census figures this summer require us to be prepared. And these endowments will live on long after this government and other governments have passed. They are for the future. We are indeed, with this particular supplementary, building for Yukon's future.
There are other important expenditures contained in these estimates. They will see our infrastructure and our social safety net improved or maintained.
The additional $4 million in Community and Transportation Services is work on the Alaska Highway Champagne revision - it was accelerated as a result of this - and the same department - Community and Transportation Services - will spend $4.6 million at the Dawson City Airport for airside rehabilitation.
How could members opposite suggest that that's not a wise expenditure of Yukoners' money?
The supplementary also sees a million dollars more being brought forward for the reserve fund for Dawson City projects. The Housing Corporation will be loaning up to $4.9 million more under the mortgage financing loans program.
Mr. Speaker, this is a direct result of members of this caucus and Yukoners saying that this has been a good program, that this is jobs and work in Yukon. The popularity and uptake of this program far exceeded the expectation, and it goes some good way to making housing affordable for Yukoners. Yukoners are buying homes and clearly demonstrating their confidence in the Yukon, the Yukon economy and in this government.
We are all aware of the escalating cost of health care. It seems to me I have addressed that several times this afternoon. It's a matter that's posing a significant challenge to all governments, ours included. Perhaps it would be beneficial for this House, at some point, to have a full and frank discussion about health care, given the Romanow commission's anticipated report and the work of the Member for Mount Lorne, as well as the work of the minister responsible for Health and Social Services. We have worked hard at the national level and at the local level in dealing with our health care costs.
The supplementary seeks over $5 million in additional operation and maintenance monies for the Department of Health and Social Services. Half of this sum is for health-related expenditures; the remainder is largely split between family and children's services and social services programs, Mr. Speaker, and I challenge the members opposite to consider those expenditures worthy of their support.
There is no denying that this is a major-claim health cost on our financial resources. It's a claim that must be met, and for which I'm certain there is unanimous support in this territory, if not this Legislature.
I promised to Yukoners that it's a claim we intend to meet now and in the future without reservation. The Department of Education also requires a significant sum of new monies. This is largely due to the wage settlement with the Yukon Teachers Association, which accounts for more than $2.2 million, or over half of the requested additional monies. This item was not budgeted in the main estimates because no settlement had been reached when the estimates were prepared.
Mr. Speaker, although we are currently enjoying the direct opposite, fuel price increases over the past year have been a significant factor in the Department of Education's supplementary, as they are in several others. The items that I've just mentioned constitute the bulk of the funds being asked for in this supplementary bill. It also contains numerous other initiatives, which we are proud to bring forward to this House.
Mr. Speaker, ministers of our government will be pleased to speak to these matters at length when we are in Committee. At the beginning, I mentioned that our income for the year is projected to be considerably higher than was anticipated at the time main estimates were tabled in the spring. The majority of this is the result of increased recoveries associated with new program spending or revotes. In part, though, it's also due to the ongoing portion of the special formula financing grant and the health of the Canadian economy over the past several years.
Again, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of all members of the House and the public, I would just emphasize that our formula is a complex formula that is impacted by a variety of factors.
Those impacts are felt some time later. They're not necessarily as immediate as some might envision. The health of the Canadian economy ultimately flows into the inputs in the formula, and the past health over some previous period of time has been to our benefit. Consequently, as I encouraged earlier this afternoon, members must pay close attention because the Canadian economy's health has an impact on our formula.
Prior to September 11, there were very clear signs that the North American and world economies were slowing down, and the impact of the events of September 11 are unknown at present, and they won't be known for some time, Mr. Speaker. Whatever it may be, it will eventually affect us. It's very prudent then, Mr. Speaker, that we maintain an accumulated surplus. We can thereby soften any shocks that may occur, whether they result from economic events or a census adjustment that is unfavourable for the Yukon. Yukoners clearly want to see this type of prudent fiscal management.
This prudence is reflected in the supplementary, and I and all members of this government are proud to commend it to the House.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fairclough: I would like to respond briefly to this supplementary budget. Mr. Speaker, one of the points the Premier made is about prudence and good fiscal management. I'd just like to draw her attention to some of the numbers that are in here.
Just a matter of months ago, this Liberal government said to the House that the budget of 2001-02- the budget, not the supplementary - will leave an accumulated surplus in Yukon's bank account of $6 million.
That was the vision then. This was only a few months ago, if you recall. If they really believe that at this juncture, why would we have such huge increases of over $443 million, for example, in the capital? Is that good fiscal management? Is that good communications to the general public? I think not, and I think the general public out there is seeing through this Liberal government in how they handle their monies, in how they handle Yukon taxpayers' dollars, Mr. Speaker. It's very important for people to realize what has taken place - a few months ago and now that this government is asking us to approve a supplementary budget that they feel will fulfill their commitments.
Do we need to go through this every six months - another supplementary budget? Will we see another supplementary budget in the spring before the main O&M comes forward? We probably will, Mr. Speaker, and I think the general public out there is expecting that something is going to come forward from this Liberal government. And the simple reason is because they are not good, fiscal managers. When you go from telling the general public that we had $6 million a matter of months ago to now bringing forward a supplementary budget that would go beyond what the surplus is, that's pretty shocking to the general public when they see how this government is spending the money.
The other thing the Liberals said they would not do is deficit financing, but the projections right to 2005 show deficit financing throughout those years.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government made a commitment to Yukoners. It made promises, and this was the budget that was going to meet those promises and meet their commitments. That was the budget of 2000-02. Through pressure from the general public that is out there, and the fact that the Yukon economy is in a slump, this Liberal government has come forward with a very, very large supplementary budget, and why?
One of the reasons was that it would show good fiscal management. The projections over the year were way off - that is what they are telling us with this supplementary budget, that the projections were way off. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services was so far off that the increase to Community and Transportation Services was approximately 50 percent. Now, how could you be that far off your mark when you plan throughout the year? How could anyone be that far off their mark - 50 percent, give or take a percent? Take a percent from that, it is a failing grade. I believe that I should not say that is 50 percent - it is more than 50 percent. She has $46 million in Community and Transportation Services, with an additional $26 million - probably closer to 60 percent or 58 percent.
So the member opposite and the minister is not planning very well in her department. To tell people that this is what they were going to do for the year - that was their budget for the year - and that they were going to manage within the dollars that was given to the general public.
And we've had a go around about what we saw the accumulated surplus being, but the Premier and the ministers themselves in this House continually told us that, no, it was not $56.2 million, that in fact it was $6 million. They were saying that it was so bad when the NDP was in government that that was all they had left - $6 million. What happened in those few months? What happened over the summer? I believe that a lot of Yukoners started voicing themselves. What happened to the projects out there that this government promised would go through?
They promised to pass the NDP budget in its entirety. The first thing they did was to cut it to pieces and delay things like the Mayo school. It's reflective of that, Mr. Speaker, seeing that Education had huge lapses in the previous year, like we just read out in the supplementary budget, and so has Community and Transportation Services. So for the ministers to come forward and say that they will be good fiscal managers, I think their point is wrong. They should not even make that point - an assumption.
I believe they will be moving away from that when we hear this Premier speak the next time. We have seen them move away from some of the things that they have said in this House. One of them was, "We will do what we said we will do." Do you hear that in any of the speeches on the government side in this session? No, there is none of that at all. Not one of the ministers has said that.
Mr. Speaker, it's quite obvious they're moving away from their commitments, and the commitment was to look at the economy and rebuild the economy. That was the commitment in the 2001-02 budget. Well, what took place by this supplementary budget is that this government doubted themselves. They had to have another look at the budget and increase it, simply because they came to realize that, if they continued to tell the Yukon public that there was no money left in government, no accumulated surplus, that, by the time they finish this government in a year or two, we probably would have $200 million sitting there in the bank.
So, you cannot have that type of information going out. I think this government realized it and started to spend some of that surplus money. It's also a catch-up game on their part, some damage control, I believe, that this government is doing, because they did not carry out the commitments, they did not start the commitments they said they were going to do at the beginning of their mandate and, particularly, this budget, which they say is their own - the 2001-02 budget - but have a look at it really carefully and see what it follows and who they follow.
I think there's a lead that this Liberal government has followed, and that's the NDP lead. It's so strong it has gone right into the third budget, the 2002-03 budget, Mr. Speaker, and I'm referring to the long-term plans. They are the very budgets and the very initiatives that were once voted against, and they are now being worked on and money supplied to.
I guess one thing that the Liberals could say and be quite forthcoming to the general public about is that this budget shows how badly these Liberals have been handling the Yukon taxpayers' dollars. Admit it right out and move on from there, because that's what it is - huge increases in Education and in Community and Transportation Services. Well, who makes these decisions - the inner circle, all of caucus, all of Cabinet, or is it Management Board? Ultimately, in the end, it was to create jobs and certainty for Yukoners.
The commitment was to rebuild the economy. They laid out a number of commitments to Yukoners: maintaining quality health care, addressing alcohol and drug addictions, settling outstanding land claims, achieving devolution, developing infrastructure, and restoring confidence in government. That's what they were going to do.
One of the ways they were going to restore confidence in government was to be good fiscal managers. But that was a few months ago, and people don't forget that because it was something that this Liberal government trumpeted - good fiscal managers. And then they brought forward a supplementary budget that's very large - already pushing the biggest budget that the Yukon has ever seen even bigger. What does that tell you? It tells you that there are no plans, that the government has no vision, that it does not know what it stands for, and that it will not tell Yukoners what the government stands for, although commitments are out there to rebuild the economy and maintain quality health care.
Those commitments are not followed through, quite simply put, by the member opposite in showing the supplementary to the general public here. CT scanner - take that for example. It is in the 2000 budget. It is again in the 2001 budget and still no commitments are made by this government. It is a standard of care that the general public is expecting. There is still no commitment on that initiative. It is unfortunate because not only did it take so long and it is still not done, but it is proof that this government is breaking their promises, and that is the promise of introducing and committing to the NDP budget - it is a broken promise. So, this government has no plans, no vision and is made up of broken promises. That is a commitment for the future, down the road - broken promises. We have an update now from the Premier on a commitment to settle outstanding land claims. Finally we have an update and finally the Premier has been briefed on land claims. Well, one update is that there is going to be a ratification vote that takes place. Well, great. What did the Yukon government do to achieve that? I think that was a decision made by a First Nation. It wasn't that this Liberal government said, "On November 1, 2 and 3, First Nations vote on this." That wasn't the case at all; members opposite know.
But what else was there in land claims? Well, as a result of negotiations, Mr. Speaker, $200,000 in next year's budget is going to go toward the cultural centre as a result of negotiations. That's what is read in the budget speech - as a result of negotiations. That's an insult to the aboriginal people.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: The Member for Faro just shouted out that it's a bribe. Well, they are their words, Mr. Speaker.
We on this side of the House did not hear any updates from the Premier on land claims, nor do we expect any. Maybe I'll ask a question in the future about whether or not the Premier has been really updated on land claims and what has taken place to date. It would be a surprise if we get an answer, because I would expect the answer from the Premier to be, "We don't negotiate on the floor of this Legislature." That goes to show how much this government knows about negotiations.
Here we are, Mr. Speaker, with a very large accumulated surplus - $99 million. We went from $6 million to $99 million. Isn't that incredible? What does it mean? It means that this government is not spending the money that they told Yukoners they were going to spend. They are not committed to the projects that they told Yukoners they were going to complete.
They did not commit to the long-term capital plan like they said they would commit to. Instead, they made changes. They put in some of their own political campaign promises, and that's okay. It's unfortunate because what happens is that Yukoners are the ones who suffer from this.
They said they would consult with Yukoners. The 2000-01 budget - the Premier went out a month before the budget was released in this House and asked Yukoners for their input. How could that have taken place when the budget was already written? Being open and accountable, maybe we will try to find a spot in there? I think that's a reflection of why we have a supplementary budget, because they could not put it in the main budget at all. It's unfortunate. I know the Member for Faro agrees with me on that.
These were the words that were spoken by the Premier on the 2001-02 budget. This budget works toward making these commitments a reality. How many times are we going to have to introduce a supplementary budget to help them out on how well they thought out how government is going to spend money for a year?
This Liberal government may have to call the House to reconvene after Christmas holidays to deal with another supplementary budget to carry out their commitments, and some new numbers will come forward on what the supplementary budget is at that point.
They've taken away some of the tools from Yukon communities. It's unfortunate that that took place. They made a commitment in their first year to things like the community development fund and then proceeded to phase it out. At one point, because they knew it was a popular program, they decided to change the name to Project Yukon and make it tougher for people to apply for dollars through this program. Now we see, even in next year's budget, that Yukoners are going to have to wait a whole year to see that there's only $750,000 in that program.
But they totally couldn't get away from this community development fund, because some of the projects in there are demanding of some dollars, and that's reflected in this supplementary budget. As hard as they might try to get rid of this particular fund, Yukoners will speak out on it. I'm sure that if the Premier, the Finance Minister, went to communities, tagged along with some of the members opposite, the Health minister, for example, and talked to people about what their priorities are, we would have seen something reflected in the budgets that we have before us, Mr. Speaker. There are three of them. Instead, what we've seen is some Liberal trend, cutback, lapsed money, more money in the kitty. Throw some money in some endowment funds. Put away some dollars in the future. Yukoners need it now. We need work now, and we need some new initiatives coming forward from this Liberal government now.
I would say that the NDP budget was pretty good, but this Liberal government needs to have some new initiatives, and maybe some of their new members - like the Member for Faro - could give them some good new ideas. But what do we see? Do we see any support for the forestry sector?
This is the government that said they would produce, go out and, I guess, produce another working piece of paper - a timber harvest agreement. It was during their first year in office, Mr. Speaker, that they saw many people across the Yukon working in the forest industry. Because this Liberal government didn't do anything, had no vision and are still today not telling Yukoners very much about the forestry sector, we see this industry fall. It's unfortunate. We have seen one promise after another being broken.
The protected areas strategy - they'll make some changes, implement it. Already we have gone a year and a half past, and yet we've seen nothing, no work done on protected areas. Maybe the Member for Klondike feels differently, but what we've seen the minister do is cut out a couple of ecoregions and not have the Yukon commit to doing something on their part on the Northwest Territories' border.
It's unfortunate that this took place because now we're a year and a half behind schedule. A year and a half, I believe, that this government was afraid to bring forward such bold initiatives that Yukon people put together - some good direction, in my view.
Now, how was the supplementary budget developed? I mean, it has millions and millions of dollars in in the capital. It also has millions and millions of dollars in O&M. I can remember this Liberal government, how bad operation and maintenance was in government, but from their first day, it started to go up. The O&M is going up, and it doesn't seem to bother this Liberal government at all, now that they're in government. It's okay now.
And we have before us a $46-million capital budget and some recoveries and revenue changes that will be reflected in this.
This Liberal government also said that they would be addressing alcohol and drug addictions. That's what they said. They are good words to use, I suppose, when passing a budget like this.
But where's the follow-up work on this? What happened to the secretariat? Why isn't the staff hired yet? Where are the funds and what is taking place right now when there are people out there right now wanting programs to be funded? It gets refused, so that commitment by Health and Social Services is just not there yet. Well, what this Liberal government is saying to Yukoners is wait - wait, wait, wait - it's coming, but the fiscal year is half over. I hope that this Liberal government doesn't scramble at the end of the fiscal year and ask communities to go out and develop proposals so that they can spend this money - is that good fiscal management?
Now I believe that if this Liberal government would have talked to communities, talked to the First Nations and municipalities, they would have found something different. Even in my own community of Carmacks, all I needed to do was talk to them. This Premier said the budget was reflective of what they heard in communities. It is reflective of what they heard in communities and if they heard everything in the communities then maybe some of them would be reflected in the long term or even mentioned in the budget speech. But I don't believe that they listened to the community people at all because this budget would have looked a lot different from what it is right now.
They said, in regard to the economy, that they will rebuild the Yukon economy. That was a commitment right from day one and that is what they said again on the 2001-02 budget; they will rebuild the Yukon economy. Well, where did that go? What happened to rebuilding the economy? Did somebody forget to do that job? Who did they look for and what did they look for? That's what Yukoners are asking.
Well, what we've heard for a year and a half now is pipeline - pipeline, pipeline, pipeline. Get ready for it because there are going to be many jobs in building and constructing this pipeline. But what they failed to do is get people ready for it. If that was really the case, where are things like the training trust funds that the Minister of Education said he would put forward?
I believe this Liberal government is taking a different direction. It's a bit of a secret right now how they are going to rebuild this economy. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services said that part of the way they are going to rebuild the economy is by putting people to work on highways. We've seen many, many highway jobs this summer go to people outside of the Yukon simply because our skilled workforce is gone. That's what we need to do - attract them back to the Yukon, attract them back to the communities. Some things just happen without any input at all from this Liberal government.
The Cantung mine is one of them. The Premier praised how well the Minister of Economic Development is doing to get this mine up and going, but it is the very same government that chastised the NDP for putting money into the roads. Knowing that this could take place, that's what happened because of this Liberal government. What has taken place is that anything out there that might be positive, this Liberal government is trying to latch on to.
What it does show is that this government has no plans. It has no plans to focus on anything other than their dream and their baby, the pipeline. What happened to things like trade and investment, for example? Do you see a line item in the budget for trade and investment? Does this government support diversifying the economy? We've heard from a couple of the ministers the word "diversification", only in this sitting. I think they're starting to realize that Yukon has the potential to go in many different directions. We have a lot of talented people here in the Yukon, and we should not bypass that. We should be able to put some resources and some effort into making things work.
That was the first time that this Liberal government had mentioned those words, and I'm hoping to hear those words more from the Minister of Economic Development, and I'm hoping that the Minister of Economic Development would lobby the rest of his Cabinet colleagues and work toward putting money into the trade and investment fund.
I know I have the attention of the minister opposite, and I hope that he does take notes and write this down, because this is important, although the Premier does not support this move. I can remember a time when the Premier didn't support trade missions, for example. She was talking about how it did not benefit the Yukon. And it wasn't long after the election that we saw the Premier out on a trip to China - gone. It was a trip, and that was the same with the Minister of Tourism. She was going to concentrate close to home, and I believe it was a day after, or maybe it was two days after being sworn in, that she was already on the road, already travelling, even though there was no direction given to her to promote the Yukon. It was an opportunity to travel.
We've heard the Minister of Tourism say that she loves to travel. It's nice to travel and be able to go overseas to other countries and see things, but what we need is concentration here at home, and we haven't seen that from this Liberal government. We haven't seen it. It's not reflected in the budget that was presented to us, and I think it's a shame. I think this Liberal government needs to sit down with all of caucus and talk about financing, and get everybody up to speed on how to read the finances.
If only, several months ago, you said that there was a $6-million surplus in government and now, today, you tell us there is $99 million - that's bad fiscal management.
That's the message that this Liberal government is giving to Yukoners. Achieving devolution - that was an easy thing to do. Were there negotiations? How many times do you have to reach that point? I think that what people have seen in devolution that this Liberal government has been doing over the year is that they have taken their concentration away from their top priority, and that is settling the outstanding claims. Just listening to what took place over the radio today and yesterday - that maybe this Liberal government will finally have the resources to concentrate on settling outstanding claims, something they said they would do and put money toward. I'm hoping to see that take place because I believe it's a positive thing for the communities and First Nations to do, although we can't ask questions here. We're elected to ask questions but we're told that we cannot interfere with negotiations, that that would jeopardize the negotiation process.
I was fairly shocked to hear the Minister of Community and Transportation Services say that, simply because no negotiations take place here on the floor. If ever there were, they certainly wouldn't be put on the negotiations table, and I don't believe that the Premier is going to take anything that she hears here and give a mandate to the negotiators. I don't believe that. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, we asked the Premier whether or not there was a new mandate of this Liberal government. That was a tough question because it stumped the Premier.
So here we are, with a very large surplus, and this government is asking us to pass yet another supplementary budget to address the shortfalls of the previous budget - or the same budget. And that was only a matter of months ago. Some of them are very heavy, like Community and Transportation Services, for example. Monies that look like they're going to put people to work - but a lot of it in this supplementary budget is not going to be spent. It's put out there, put away.
Even in the 2002-03 budget, this money is put away for a rainy day, or when something happens, like what's taking place in the United States. In her budget speech, the Premier said that they'll be cautious in how they spend taxpayers' dollars - and then come forward with a large supplementary budget.
Mr. Speaker, I can see where this Liberal government was cautious in their spending, and that was with the very first budget, where we saw huge lapses in dollars. As a result, we have things like delays in some pretty important projects, which I know the Liberal government doesn't really see as wrong. With the Mayo school, for example, it didn't just put that particular project off by a year - or, it's going to be half a year, and hopefully no longer than that. Hopefully, after Christmas students will be in that school. But other projects were put on hold.
As a matter of fact, if the Liberal government went to Mayo and listened to them, I believe that they would have reflected in their budget, or even in their long-term budget, some monies to go toward the 100th anniversary of that community, and that is with a new building, a new recreation centre in the community of Mayo.
But maybe this government just happened to miss that. Maybe this government will do something, and I think what the Liberal government is doing right now is looking at the comments that are coming back from organizations, from NGOs, from First Nations and from communities in general, because a lot more could go into this supplementary to address things like winter works.
We asked members opposite to put money in the past, more money into things like the community development fund, which tackles priorities of communities. This government also saw how strongly the communities supported the fire smart program, for example, and it doesn't take very much to realize how important that fund was and is, looking at the community of Burwash, for example. I think we need to go beyond just the clearing that is put around communities and continue with reducing the fuels that can cause damage to communities when there is a fire, whether it is a forest fire moving in or whether it is a fire that has started within a community.
So where are we when it comes to the economy? That was a commitment that the Liberal government made, and they reinforced it with this supplementary budget and they forgot to address some of the basic desires of the community. Why did that happen? I will stress this, not once, but many times to the members opposite, and it is to just go and talk with people, talk with communities and get their views. If the Premier stood up and said that she, as Finance minister, will be making that commitment, that's fine, that's good. It should be done. I believe that that was something that the communities expected would take place before a budget was made. But it didn't take place in the 2001-02 budget because the budget was already written when the Premier went around to the communities. It didn't take place in the third budget, 2002-03 budget, because I believe this government was scrambling to put something together, because those were the changes. Work will be happening, people will be able to get these contracts and work on these contracts throughout the winter, and work will start earlier. That, of course, may be a good thing.
It is yet to be seen how this government handles those dollars and the restrictions put in place on the bidding process on the contracts. I hope that everything is on the up and up and it does come to these contracts, because there are a lot of questions to be asked in that regard yet.
There are some outstanding commitments that this government has to deal with that haven't been dealt with in the past, like the development assessment process, for example, that need a second look. First Nations want to make sure that it's done right and put in place, because it's all about how developers are dealt with in the Yukon through this one-window approach. It's a change from how things took place in the past. It's supposed to streamline the process.
Now, we cannot have a development assessment process put in place that is harder to use than what we already have, and it will take a lot of work to make sure that is done.
There are a couple of things that the minister said in the 2001-02 budget speech. I'm sure there are some things that have been said that the government regrets saying - for example, the $6 million. I couldn't see how this government was so far off in their calculations. I believe that all government needed to do was to go back to the Finance minister's department and look at the projections, for example, that the staffing have put forth to them. Members opposite could easily see there's more than what they're saying is in the budget.
We will be asking questions with regard to Economic Development. We will be asking questions on many of the projects not seen and reflected in this budget or the Supplementary No. 3 for 2000-01, which was in the 2000-01 main budget.
We'll have many questions with regard to education and to health and social services in the Yukon, and we will look and ask many questions with regard to the economy and how and what plan this government has in place. Perhaps, in a half hour or so, the government can lay out what their plan is for the economy.
Lay it straight out and, if there's a shift in direction, which could take place at any time, let the public know.
The 2001 budget brought forward to this House certainly doesn't have and doesn't spell out any new direction that this Liberal government is taking. It doesn't tell us what they stand for. It's certainly lacking in vision. Maybe it's begging and crying out for help.
I actually saw where the changes went - the cry for help. You didn't see a long-term plan tabled in this House for the 2001-02 budget. You didn't see that. But you do see it in the 2002-03 plan. And if you compare the two, you'll see who is leading in this whole process. It's good to know that a lot of what the Liberal government is doing is following in the footsteps of the NDP - the very, very same budget that they voted against.
Mr. Speaker, there are increases in both capital and O&M in the supplementary budget - over $11 million in O&M and over $40 million in capital. Obviously, this is going to require much debate on the departments. I'm hoping that we get some clear answers and that government is prepared, in every department, to bring those answers forward, and that we don't have to wait, day after day, for legislative returns - that it can be quicker.
We are being asked in this sitting, Mr. Speaker, to deal with a capital budget for next year. We are asked to deal with two supplementary budgets and bills. We cannot afford any delays in information coming forward to members on this side of the House in order to get through this sitting.
We have also gone from sitting evenings on Mondays and Wednesdays. That was a time that government could have taken to get information and have more answers brought to the Committee of the Whole, where most of the work is done, and move away from things like motions and so on. That was at least a couple of hours dedicated to move things forward. A lot of times, information during the supper hours came forward and was presented to the House. So we're also asked to do a bigger task in what sometimes seems like a longer time period for government to respond to the questions and that opposition needs to go on and continue on and debate the questions.
And some of them, particularly in regard to bills, if there are clarifications, for example, we need that to continue discussion and debate. So I hope that does come forward. After all, this government says that they are organized and they are good fiscal managers and they will improve decorum in this House, although that was pretty questionable in motion debate yesterday, Mr. Speaker. But hopefully things will improve in the days to come, because there's not much time to go through all this. And I believe that we're going through all the departments in this budget again, like the previous supplementary budgets. We do have all kinds of questions in regard to the different departments, and we will be asking questions in regard to them. We'll be asking constituency questions, and hopefully we'll get some clear answers. Because many of the questions that we do ask are questions that the general public out there are asking us to ask in this House. We need to take the answers back to them. If there are no answers, or if the answers are unsatisfactory to them, at least they know where things are going.
Oil and gas have been this Liberal government's big priority. That's the direction we're moving in, and it's almost as if this Liberal government had blinders on in looking at this.
This was a big boost. There will be a boom in the Yukon and then we will see a fall. That was to get all kinds of Yukoners working. It's too bad that the Education minister didn't push that harder and get that training trust fund in there, to get people job-ready, not only in oil and gas but in mining and so on, especially now, when people are leaving. People aged between 25 and 40 - our skilled workforce - are leaving. If we are going to be attracting our own people to these jobs, then we need to get them job-ready. Hopefully, people have heard that message and they will start funding the training trust fund and put more dollars into it and empowering communities and Yukoners.
Mr. Speaker, I have all kinds of questions when we hit line-by-line, but for now I will turn it over to the Member for Klondike.
Mr. Jenkins: This supplementary that we have before us, we are told by the Liberals that its main thrust is to rebuild the economy. We are also told that it is to provide quality health care. We are also told that it is to address the many other areas that have been ignored by previous governments, such as highways.
We are also told that it is going to assist them with the renewal of government. Yet, when we look at one of the most glaring portfolios, Economic Development, they are not spending all that was allocated.
What it shows, Mr. Speaker, is that this novice Liberal government has a lack of ability to manage and that they are poor fiscal managers.
The constant cry from ministers in this government visiting communities is that they are broke, that they don't have any money, and yet at the end of the last fiscal period a $99-million surplus appears. That is the largest surplus ever accumulated in the history of the Yukon. That inability of this government to govern is manifesting itself throughout the entire Yukon.
The biggest area where we witness this inability is in the economy. I don't know how many times I have to repeat what this government has to do, but this government has to restore investor confidence in the Yukon. That is the crux of the whole problem, and this government has once again failed miserably in that regard. All we hear is the pipeline hype of the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline, which may be a decade away and which has all-party support in this Legislature, contrary to the position that the Premier constantly tries to portray in the public domain.
The only pipeline that's working and working efficiently, Mr. Speaker, and is keeping the Yukon afloat, is the pipeline from Whitehorse to Ottawa, and the flow of money from Ottawa to Whitehorse. That's it. Without that pipeline, we'd be hard-pressed to even keep the lights on up here, hard-pressed indeed when you look at the total amount of the budget, when you look at the contributions made by the various sources, our own sources here in Yukon, and when we look at the tremendous amount in sources that are contributed by Canada. We're just a ward of the state. Yet this novice Liberal government goes merrily on - spend, spend, spend - creating more and more government all the time, and is destroying any private sector investment here in Yukon.
Let's look at health care. That budget is increasing, and it's increasing all over Canada, but the amount spent by this government in-house, running around like a chicken with its head off with respect to an issue like the CT scanner, is just ludicrous. It serves no purpose. It was budgeted for under the previous NDP government, of which this government took ownership, said that they were going to do it, postponed-delayed, postponed-delayed, and now at the end of the day it's finally going ahead, we trust. Yet the minister can't come to the plate and put all the money there that's necessary. He hides behind an arrangement that, I'm sure, was dictated to the Whitehorse Hospital CorporationBoard as to the amount of money that was going to flow.
I'm sure the minister will refer to this as "consultation". Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Minister of Health and consultation, I attended a meeting in my community this summer. The Minister of Health was there. All the issues that were discussed were issues the community wanted this minister to address. Dawson asked the minister to address the issue with respect to on-call fees for doctors. They asked the minister to address the issue of expectant mothers who were required to go to Whitehorse to give birth, for them to have assistance of a reasonable amount, or a place to stay here in Whitehorse while they awaited the arrival of a new offspring. And there was a whole series of questions regarding children in care, open custody or group homes, by whatever window the minister wants to try and hide behind.
There are a number of windows the Minister of Health was trying to hide behind but, unfortunately, they're all transparent. We can see through and see that he's there, yet he's failing to answer.
After being in attendance at this meeting, sometime later, the minister sent a letter, offering to establish a health committee to address the needs of the community.
Well, the minister clearly demonstrated that he does not possess the ability to address his responsibilities - very clearly, Mr. Speaker. That's just one area of the budget.
If we look at Justice, I listened quite intently to the Minister of Justice here in the Yukon attempt to explain the difference between restorative justice and community justice. It was pathetic, Mr. Speaker. One didn't know at the end of listening to the Minister of Justice what she was even speaking about. I'm sure that, based on what I heard, neither did she.
Mr. Speaker, we can go on and on. Community and Transportation Services - a tremendous increase, a lot of it justifiable. But when we look at the amount that's being spent in-house and the amount that's going to its end use, one has serious reservations and questions about the order of magnitude of the expenditure. If the expenditure was for a new piece of equipment or a new operator or overtime for that operator, I don't think we'd have any quarrel with the expenditure. But when the expenditure is by and large for a whole new department to oversee how one operator operates a piece of equipment, are we really getting our money's worth here? We certainly are not.
And this Liberal government touted at great length the expenditure at the airport in my community of Dawson. And, depending on if you're arriving in Dawson or departing Dawson, there are two different sums of money, because when you get off the airplane and look at the sign, it says four-point-something million dollars, and then when you look at the other side of the sign when you're leaving Dawson, it says $5 million. They can't even get the amount of expenditures correctly and posted correctly, Mr. Speaker.
Yet, at the end of the day, when this tremendous sum of money is spent on the Dawson City Airport, what will we have? We will continue to have a 5000- by 100-foot gravel-surfaced runway that is not going to enhance or improve economic development, Mr. Speaker. Yes, it will conform, by and large, to Transport Canada's current regulations: the windsocks will be moved to each end of the strip, all of the brush will be cut down, there will be some adequate parking, the tanker base will be relocated, and a quarter of a million dollars or more will be spent building a 1,300-square-foot building. It seems that when government undertakes any sort of an initiative, the price has to be double what common sense would lead one to believe that would be.
What Dawson needs is an airport that could be used as a tool of economic development. Now, I hope the Minister of Economic Development is listening, because his budget has been reduced. What the community needs is an airport that is hard-surfaced - and not with chipseal - and that can accept large, propeller-driven aircraft as well as a pure jet, because insurance carriers place restrictions on these types of aircraft and they do not permit them to land on anything but a hard surface. That's the biggest problem we face here in the Yukon. So there are really only two airports you can land at that conform to the insurance requirements. If you land and take off from a gravel-strip airport and you don't have a waiver on your insurance, you'll pay dearly.
So after a $5-million expenditure, Dawson has an airport that may or may not conform, but it certainly can't go beyond its current use.
We see Community and Transportation Services stepping in to the City of Dawson and their recreation centre, appointing a supervisor to run and approve all the expenditures for the city. We see a project manager in place over the project reporting directly to Government Services.
We see the Acting Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services as well as the Deputy Minister of Government Services in attendance in Dawson overseeing this project. Consequently, a stop-work order has been issued against the contractor, the project is shut down, the contractor can't get paid, we won't have skating in this arena this winter, for the second or third year in a row - this is in spite of some expenditure. We haven't got a firm handle on the total amount but it is approaching $6 million.
There are serious questions about the foundation, whether it adequately supports the artificial ice in the curling club and in the arena or whether it will indeed remain level. Yet, the government of the day is denying any responsibility for it. The minister firmly points the finger back at the City of Dawson when all of the arrows point to Community and Transportation Services and Government Services being firmly in charge of this project today, Mr. Speaker.
And who is going to suffer? Those of us who are resident in Dawson. So much for good fiscal management and so much for good management. Just like the renewal of government, another $895,000 initiative. We have all of the senior management, senior deputy ministers, running around the Yukon on this initiative and all it has managed to do is instill a great deal of apprehension and fright in a number of the Government of Yukon employees. The biggest issue being that the government leader, the Premier, won't provide any assurances that there will be guarantees associated with their jobs. Most workforces in government circles today have such a guarantee. Here in the Yukon, the Premier will not provide that. If you want to take a lesson in how to provide uncertainty, just listen to the Premier.
Let's look at Education. We have gone through an Education Act review at considerable cost and over a considerable amount of time. What the government has chosen to do is cherry-pick specific initiatives out of the Education Act review and implement them. Then, of course, one of the famous damage control initiatives by the Minister of Education was cancelling the school enrolment study which determines how many students are going to be going where, and the resulting projections are that you construct or reconstruct schools accordingly. It is ironic. Because the school enrolment study probably supported a different conclusion from the one the minister made, this study was cancelled.
The minister is taking us down a merry, merry path with the Minister of Education for Riverdale. Not for Yukon, for Riverdale. The next school that was to be replaced was Carmacks. One only has to stop in Carmacks and have a look. Adjacent land has been acquired; it has been cleared; it is ready, but what has transpired is that the Minister of Education for Riverdale is going to move all of the money over to rebuilding or creating another school in that area, rather than follow through on a study, which was the basis for all the previous schools that have recently been replaced, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Order please. I believe, just a couple of days ago, the Chair brought it to the attention of members that members are to be addressed by their constituency or ministers by their portfolios. I have never heard of a Minister of Education for Riverdale, so I'd just like to remind members of that, and ask the leader of the third party to continue.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, but I guess the facts speak for themselves with respect to the new title for the current Minister of Education as to where he represents and where he has put his money. So, I thank you for pointing that out.
Speaker: Further, I'll point out that the member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, given the events that transpired on September 11, we have an opportunity for our major industry other than government, which is our visitor industry, to produce some positive results. Citizens in the United States are what they call cocooning-down. They don't really want to travel any farther than to where they can get home very quickly. So there's an opportunity to attract visitors from adjacent jurisdictions, specifically Alaska, where the Canadian peso is a record buy these days.
There's also an opportunity to attract more Europeans here, and yet, Mr. Speaker, our visitor industry has been going on a downhill slide since 1998, which was our peak year. All of these opportunities are here, and this government has all the tools at its disposal, except for the foresight and ability, but it does have a mandate and it does have a surplus of $99 million, and it can turn the economy around. But I encourage them to listen and take heed, and learn what consultation means, because it certainly isn't to be interpreted as this government is currently interpreting consultation.
Mr. Speaker, there's a lot to be done, a lot that can be done. Sadly, I don't think this Liberal government is going to be able to do it, but I encourage them to attempt to because, really, it's the only hope we have.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: If the Premier now speaks, she will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Klondike, in his remarks, made some - I'm searching for a parliamentary word, rather than "nasty, cheap political shots", which would be unparliamentary. So, suffice it to say that we just endured the usual comments from the Member for Klondike.
To respond to each and every one of them, which denigrated the hard work of individuals, Canadians, the town council in Dawson and public servants, would be to dignify them with a response. I won't do that.
Mr. Speaker, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun was in error when he spoke, and I would just like to provide him perhaps with a revisit of some information that might be conducive to constructive debate in Committee of the Whole.
The budget last year was tabled on February 22. The budget was tabled; the operation and maintenance and capital for 2001-02 shows, on page S-2, an estimated accumulated surplus, March 31, 2002, of $6,013,000. On April 5, 2001, 37- or 38-plus days - a full month and more - after the budget was tabled, I announced publicly that the Yukon government had reached an agreement with the federal government on outstanding formula financing issues. Mr. Speaker, these issues were so far outstanding that former Yukon Party leader John Ostashek hadn't been able to resolve them, former Government Leader Piers MacDonald hadn't been able to resolve them, and we did on April 5. Those are the facts, Mr. Speaker.
The changes are technical to the formula. They resulted in the Yukon receiving an increase of $6 million annually in transfer payments from Ottawa and a one-time retroactive payment of approximately $36 million.
Mr. Speaker, Yukon Finance officials successfully presented the territorial government's case to the federal Finance department following representations that I had made personally again and again with the federal Minister of Finance.
At the time, April 5, 2001, I indicated that the additional financing would be allocated as follows: a $15 million one-time contingency reserve to address the depletion of the accumulated surplus, a $10 million one-time endowment to the Yukon permanent fund, $8 million to the Canada Winter Games permanent infrastructure fund, a $3 million one-time contribution to several new endowment funds, $4 million annually for capital spending, $2 million annually for operation of the new extended care facility - the operation and maintenance of which the previous government had not even attempted to budget for.
The Member for Mayo-Tatchun stood up and said, "Well, we didn't get enough information about this." It's from April 5, 2001 - how much time does he need, for heaven's sake? This has been announced publicly for a long time.
The March 31, 2002, accumulated surplus as shown in the 2001-02 mains - $6 million - was tabled on February 22, before this information had been realized.
I might also add that the member opposite says that our consultation tour in January by our full caucus and Finance officials did not make any difference to the budget. He keeps saying over, over and over again that the budget was done before we went into consultation.
Well, the member opposite should talk to the people who made representations and found those representations in the 2001-02 budget. We heard from people. The requests are there. We responded to them.
Just to go back to the $6 million surplus that was tabled, the $6-million figure should be compared to the $51-million figure shown at the bottom of page S-2 in Supplementary No. 1 for 2001-02. In very simple terms, the difference can be explained by a $36 million retroactive formula adjustment announced on April 5, plus the ongoing portion of the special adjustments - $6 million a year. These two amounts total $42 million. Six plus 42 equals 48, which is within $3 million of the $51-million figure. So to suggest somehow, in bringing forward a supplementary budget that spends money we achieved after tabling the budget in the spring, that spends it on behalf of Yukoners and spends it wisely and well, to suggest that somehow that is not prudent financial management is simply ridiculous, Mr. Speaker.
Let's look again at how the money is spent and suggest that any one of these initiatives are not priorities of Yukoners. To suggest that the Canada Winter Games is not a priority of Yukoners - tell that to the city council in Whitehorse and all the members of the Canada Winter Games team who commented and made representations. They said, "Help us work on this bid."
Tell the historic resources trust fund, which was initiated by the former leader of the NDP, Mr. Penikett - to suggest that not bringing it up to the level it was supposed to have been when it was announced by a previous government, because all the successive governments after Mr. Penikett didn't put one thin dime into that fund.
To suggest that achieving -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Duncan: No, Mr. Speaker, they did not. The members opposite did not put any money in that. To dare to suggest that putting money in advancing the construction and seeing the Alaska Highway Champagne revision finally and again, finally - considering it was surveyed in 1984 for those revisions - to finally see people working, in excess of 60 people, working on those revisions, to actually drive over a portion of this summer - to suggest that is not a wise expenditure of Yukon taxpayers' money is beyond my belief.
In spite of the criticisms by the Member for Klondike for the work on the Dawson City projects in advancing the reserve fund, as well as the Dawson City Airport - that is not what the community tells us. That is not what every single member of the city council said to us about the Dawson City Airport. They are very pleased to see that work underway.
The criticism of the health care expenditures - $5 million in operation and maintenance monies, half of that sum for health-related expenditures. What would the members opposite not fund? Would they not fund pharmacare? Would they not fund ongoing chronic care? Would they not fund extended care? They didn't plan for any funding for the O&M at the extended care. The short-sightedness of the Member for Watson Lake who suggests that, "Well, why would we plan for the operation and maintenance expenditures when it hasn't been built," shows just exactly the problems with the previous NDP government, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, it makes me incredulous to think that members are surprised and have no faith or belief in Grey Mountain Primary. The former Minister of Education, in an effort to duck this issue, tossed it to school councils and said, "You guys tell us which schools should be built first." And in the Whitehorse report, guess which school is to be built first? It was Grey Mountain Primary. And guess which school was to receive funding in the rural area? Tantalus. And guess where it is? And it wasn't for the reconstruction of the school. It was for the new wing. It amazes me that the members opposite fail to even see that the necessary repairs to other schools in their ridings are contained in the capital budget. They don't mention that.
Mr. Speaker, because there is also money in this supplementary budget for renewal, I'd like to take just a moment to address it.
The public is interested in renewal and so are public servants. The public has had years and years of governments who have asked them for their ideas but haven't implemented them. Years. The public has been sceptical of the desire of governments and politicians to really make change. Even so, the public has been talking to us. They are cautiously optimistic - finally a government that does listen and take action.
It's interesting, Mr. Speaker, that I don't hear publicly uttered in this House the comments that we overhear privately from some of the members opposite that "this government is doing a good job, and, you know what, they're doing more than what previous governments have done in 10 years." Funny, they don't say that. The members opposite will say it privately, but they won't say it publicly.
And the members have mentioned devolution. Things have to change for devolution. We need to build upon looking forward to that and to make sure things change for the better. This government is up for the challenge of renewal. The public are up for the challenge. And, most importantly, our public servants are up for the challenge.
We will spend what needs to be spent to make sure it's done right. Spending money is about choices. We worked hard with our public servants, with the federal Finance minister; we achieved the formula financing adjustment. And, in this supplementary, we have presented how we have worked hard with Yukoners to spend that money - to maximize job creation, to rebuild infrastructure, to work toward the Yukon's future.
Mr. Speaker, this supplementary budget, like the work of this government, deals with the issues of today, including health care, including rebuilding our economy, providing certainty, works toward the other initiatives of this government. It also looks to the future.
It recognizes the strength, commitment and the ability of organizations. It recognizes people. A teacher mentoring endowment fund, Mr. Speaker, pairs older, more experienced teachers with new teachers. It works with our partners in education, the Yukon Teachers Association. It works with the new teachers coming into our territory and graduating from university, who are full of promise and excitement about their new posting, and it helps work with them in their community.
There will be more information over the coming days and much discussion, I'm sure, and support from members opposite for community recreation leadership endowment funds, for the Yukon Foundation endowment fund. This is money that builds and works toward the future. We have also recognized the youth. We have done what we said we would do: we have managed the territory's finances well; we have expended money wisely for the future of the territory; we have rebuilt our infrastructure.
We are very proud of the supplementary estimates, believe them to be money wisely spent, and commend them to the House for their approval, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Order please. Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Agree.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Agree.
Mr. McLachlan: Agree.
Ms. Tucker: Agree.
Mr. McLarnon: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Disagree.
Mr. Fentie: Disagree.
Mr. Keenan: Disagree.
Mr. McRobb: Disagree.
Mrs. Peter: Disagree.
Mr. Jenkins: Disagree.
Mr. Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 10 yea, six nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 6 agreed to
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will take a recess until 5:00 p.m.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee of the Whole is considering Bill No. 6, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2000-01.
Bill No. 6 - Fourth Appropriation Act, 2000-01
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, again for the information of members opposite, this is regularizing O&M expenditures of several departments that spent in excess of their voted appropriations in the fiscal year that ended last March 31.
The overexpenditures are for very clear reasons and readily explainable. We look forward to providing members opposite with the information they request. We'll be happy to respond to any general questions in general debate.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I have a few questions in regard to this supplementary budget. I take note of the changes in the departments. There are some big changes in a number of departments and what is noticeable in this budget is the fact that we do have lapsed funds in both capital and O&M.
In this budget, we have a number that is a bit different than what the Premier has given with regard to lapsed funds in capital. The Premier said that there was some $23 million, and what we have here in the information provided is $20,870,000. So I would like to know why there is a difference in numbers.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the $23 million is the total of capital and O&M; that's where the $23 million figure comes from.
Mr. Fairclough: We have $5 million in lapsed funds in O&M and $20 million in capital. This includes the additional cost of Education, Finance, Government Services, and Health and Social Services. I take it that the $3,561,000 - that's the difference?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: My comment for the member opposite, the original comment that I made was that, despite the fact that these departments - and they are Education, Finance, Government Services, Health and Social Services, and the Office of the Ombudsman is listed there as well - overspent their individual budgets, the government as a whole - so that includes operations and maintenance and capital - underspent the appropriation authority given by this House by more than $23 million. So if the member opposite takes page S-6, the underexpenditure of $20.8 million, and page S-4, the $5.8 million underexpenditure and the $3.5 million overexpenditure, he arrives at the $23-million figure.
Mr. Fairclough: That's what I asked the Premier. Also, have there been any changes at all to the recoveries? It is at $10,609,000. I haven't heard that there are changes. I am just wondering if this is the total number of recovery for capital that is in there. I know that we do the same thing and subtract what is in O&M.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Yes, Mr. Chair, the way the member has outlined it is correct. There have been no material changes, other than what is noted here in this supplementary.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the Premier then tell me what the $7,228,000 - why that recovery didn't come out of Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I'm just getting the details of that particular recovery. Would the member care to ask another question while I'm getting that information?
Mr. Fairclough: I would like to know whether it's directly related to the fact that there is less spending in that particular department.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I can outline the details for the member opposite. There was a reduction in variance and a $200,000 reduction in the telecommunications and an $8,000 overexpenditure in the multi-departmental mobile radio system, MDMRS. There was a $15,000 overexpenditure under corporate services office furniture, equipment, systems and space.
Under Shakwak, there was a decrease in recoverable expenditure of 2.965, and the YTG-funded Alaska Highway improvements was a recovery from damage incurred to the Lewes River bridge.
In the City of Whitehorse, there was an underexpenditure of $323,000 and this was a recoverable expenditure, delayed due to a 2001-02 revote recovery.
There was a $2,000 underexpenditure in the Dawson Airport survey, and there is an $8,000 prior year adjustment, which is an expenditure. There is a $3,358,000 underexpenditure in reduced capital expenditure, reduced recoveries, offset by increase for future years development costs and by quarry royalties.
There was $10,000 in miscellaneous projects, and there were no recoveries because there were no recoverable expenditures due to a lack of demand. There was an underexpenditure in rural electrification and telephone, and the actual recoveries are amortized over 10 to 15 years, and they're recognized on a cash basis. So, it's not a reduction in recoveries due to any one specific item, but a combination of a number of smaller items and the two large ones I noted in the Shakwak and the land development cost recovery.
Mr. Fairclough: I wouldn't mind having that list afforded to me, but the other question I asked was whether or not it was directly related to the decrease in spending in that department.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Yes, Mr. Chair, it is related in that, for Shakwak, they didn't spend as much money and therefore the recovery isn't as much. They didn't spend as much in land development and the recovery isn't quite as much.
Mr. Fairclough: So when we do not spend these types of dollars, it actually means that Yukon loses out a bit more than what we see here, because it is not just the $20 million; it's what we could have recovered if we had spent that money. It is close to a 50-percent recovery. Well, it's maybe closer, I would say, to a 40- or 45-percent recovery from what is in Community and Transportation Services that has lapsed. It would only make sense that we use up those dollars to get the recovery back.
So, were there any projects that the members listed off that could have gone ahead, or what were the reasons for the delays?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the kind of detail that the member opposite is requesting is, first of all, best provided to him in a written summary of the information that I just read out, rather than having the member have to go through Hansard. With respect to specific projects that occurred within Community and Transportation Services, those questions are best directed to the minister as opposed to during the general debate on this particular summary. That type of specific detailed question is better answered by the minister.
Mr. Fairclough: I'm hoping that the C&TS minister has that information for us, but the reason why I'm asking these questions is that I'm trying to put all the numbers together that we have on the paper here. We have $8.5 million - almost $8.6 million - that has been lapsed in C&TS. And, from what I see, there's a pretty good recovery. If we had spent that money, we would have got back $7,248,000. I just can't see why. If there was an opportunity to go ahead and complete those projects, it wouldn't have cost us that much money - close to $1 million on an $8-million project.
I don't see the same thing - I know these are bigger capital projects, but I don't see the same thing in Education. We have a quite smaller recovery from the lapse in that department.
I'd like to ask the Premier this: we have a number of departments that have monies that were not spent, and it's also reflective in some departments of less recovery in that department. There are some, even though the monies weren't spent, where there is actually more recovery. I'm not sure if that's just a change in the type of funding that we get, say, from Ottawa and so on. I look at the Department of Health, for example. There is funding that was not used in that department - some $617,000.
And there's only $25,000 that was not recovered, or $9,000 more that we recovered. But for those departments that have lapses that have less recovery, are they all directly related to less spending in those departments?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in most cases, yes. However, we'd have to look at every individual case to provide the member opposite with details. I'd just like to add, with respect to Community and Transportation Services, that in cases where projects haven't proceeded and we haven't likewise obtained the recovery, most often those projects are revoted. Quite often, particularly in Community and Transportation Services, which has larger projects, those projects are weather-dependent. So it may be that a project doesn't proceed for one reason or another, and hence the recovery doesn't happen. In Community and Transportation Services, these are larger projects we're dealing with. Most often those would be revoted.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Chair, I'm not sure if I understand this right, because with, say, the Shakwak project - and if the project for the summer was not all completed, how does that get revoted? Because I believe that the government has the flexibility to decide what part of that road they want to do. It could be more than $25 million, but it stays within that block amount of dollars that we get back from Alaska. So how does that work with regard to a project like that?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I must advise the member opposite that the money is from the United States government; it's not the Alaskan government. That's an important point. They must recognize the source of the funding.
It's not a difficulty. If the project isn't completed in one year and the recovery doesn't happen in that year, it occurs in the next year. So the money has been voted; it's just a question of when it is spent and then it is revoted. So it doesn't present a difficulty for us. I would suggest that with respect to the recoveries in Community and Transportation Services and the specific details on the project, perhaps it would be best if I could just commit the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to providing the answers in writing to this line of questioning to the member opposite. He can have those certainly sooner, rather than later.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, that's fine, Mr. Chair, but in regard to this the Premier - the Finance minister - said that many of these projects are revotes. The Shakwak project isn't a revote in that every year we design what portion of road we want built. So really the funds go back into general funds, but it's not a revote because we can design it to be up to $25 million or even more if we want it. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Yes, the member is right in that we design specific projects for that particular year. If it doesn't happen in that particular year for one reason or another, such as weather, it can be revoted the next year and done in the next year's work, and hence the recoveries can happen. The member is thinking that it happens year to year to year, that we get the specific cheque, but in fact the negotiation - The member is shaking his head.
Mr. Fairclough: I know the negotiation amount, and it has to fit within what was negotiated. We could spend this money in four years or five years or three years - it's within the time period that's laid out, but more money could be spent in one summer than the other. That's what I'm getting at on this.
I would like to know how decisions are made for which projects are to be delayed or not carried through, in regard to the lapsed funding.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Sometimes it's not so much a decision that's made by government, but the decision is made for us by the weather or, in road construction, there are a lot of variables, and weather is one of them. So that would be the best answer I can give the member opposite - that once there has been a decision made, and a project didn't get done because of excessive rain one summer or something, then it's done the following year.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the Finance minister tell us on this side of the House which projects had a political decision behind them for not going through?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: None of them.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the Premier then explain why in Education, for example, there's such a high number in that department? It's certainly not the everyday running of schools or education. These are projects.
So maybe the Premier could tell me that.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the member opposite knows very well that the reason for the underexpenditure in capital projects in the Department of Education is the delay in the construction of the Mayo school - for very good reasons. For the member opposite to suggest they were anything but good reasons is wrong.
Mr. Fairclough: That was a political decision? Is that what the Premier is saying?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I am saying that was a good Management Board decision.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, at least we are getting a little clearer on this, because it wasn't two questions ago that I asked whether there were political decisions to have some of these projects delayed, and we just needed to move into another department to see that, in fact, there was. Maybe the Premier can tell us then - there was the Mayo school. I am sure there were other projects. What other projects were there in this budget that were delayed?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the Management Board and the Government of the Yukon make sound financial decisions based on good advice. We work with the public service and with the people of the Yukon in determining what capital projects, what operation and maintenance and what programming are delivered to the people of the Yukon. Those decisions are based upon the solid work of this caucus and the public service that works for us. The member opposite wants specific details of what capital projects were underexpended on page S-6. I would suggest to the member opposite that the focus of the Supplementary Estimates No. 3 is the overexpenditures in lines for votes 3, 16, 15, 12, 14 and 23. I am certain he knows very well about 23.
Mr. Fairclough: So is the Finance minister able to produce a list for us of those changes that her government has made that resulted in lapsed funding?
To be clear, Mr. Chair, the changes that have been made as a result of projects being delayed, cancelled and "looked at", in the words of the Premier, in a manner that might save dollars - that's what was taking place, and that's what has been said of the Premier, say, with the Mayo school, for example. So, rather than going through the whole thing, if we were provided with a list at least, we could have a look at it and speed this process up.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, if the member wants an extensive, lengthy list and the reason for it - for example, the Yukon Legislative Assembly has underspent its capital expenditures by $1,000. If the member would like a list of every single underexpenditure and the reason for it, such as "weather" or "obtaining a less expensive price", we will provide it. I'm not going to provide it on the floor of the House today.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's not what I want. With Shakwak, I realize that weather could prevent the completion of the project and that monies would come back. But decisions on other projects - to "delay" or "have a look at" them - have been made by the political people in government. The Premier just listed one example, the Mayo school. If it was a decision to see how monies could be saved, that's fine. Give us a list. I don't want to see the list coming back from the department as the member laid out. I want to see these political decisions that have been made by government.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there are a number of decisions made in the government - including in submitting reports - where departments elect, for one reason or another, not to proceed with a specific expenditure, or they underexpend on something, like they get a cheaper-than-budgeted-for photocopier or something.
Now, if the member wants that list, I'll get it for him, but I'm not going to get it today, and I'm not going to take up House time debating it. The member opposite wants to suggest, in his line of questioning, this government has somehow interfered with capital projects, and he's completely wrong - completely wrong. This government delayed one project, the Mayo school - delayed for one year. And I know the member opposite's going to stand on his feet and be angry as can be if he doesn't get an invitation to the opening of the delayed Mayo school. But that school's going to open, 35 years after it should have been built, thanks to the work of this government. It's going to be built on time and on budget, which is more than what the member opposite managed to accomplish in four years.
The fact is, we are debating or are supposed to be debating the overexpenditures in O&M in five departments. If the member wants a complete list of every underexpenditure in every single department and every single reason why, we'll spend time and we'll compile that for him. He's not going to find what he's looking for.
Mr. Fairclough: That's not what I was asking for, either, so maybe the Premier could listen up a little more carefully. I'm asking for projects like the Mayo school that this government decided, for political reasons or reasons of its own - not just departments out there on small things like TV monitors and so on, but projects like street lights or even sections of roads and so on. Were there projects like that changed in any one of the departments for whatever reason the government had at the time? Maybe it's a change in direction that this government was taking, for example in Yukon Housing. Maybe there's a change in direction that government was moving and there's a result of lapsed funding.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, to the best of my knowledge there are none. I will go back on the member's request and I will review every $1,000 underexpenditure contained in this supplementary and ascertain that, in fact, the answer I have given is correct, which I believe it to be.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Chair, there is some $20 million that hasn't been spent, and I know that some of the projects that are out there are fairly big. I don't want to know about the Shakwak because I know what takes place with that project. I know it can cost less because of things like weather. All I asked for were those political decisions that this government has made that resulted in this budget having lapsed funding. It can't be that big a list. It can't be.
The Premier admitted to one - the Mayo school. Now, are there others like that, other programming, say, for example, that might result in this type of move, such as in Yukon Housing? Was there a shift in direction that government has taken to maybe not have certain things carried out in, for example, that department?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I have already answered the question for the member opposite. I will go back and examine every one of the underexpenditures. I will advise the member opposite if there are any decisions - and I highly doubt that there are any. I will go back and Management Board will review the member opposite's request.
Mr. Fairclough: I would like to see that list. I don't like to see a list of all the small items that are in the departments - for example, whether it is them purchasing computer equipment - unless there was a shift in what government is doing. For example, in trying to connect all government departments with a computer system, if there was a change in the way government was going, for example, with that, and it was reflected in this budget, let us know. That is what we are asking. It's just a simple question. It shouldn't be hard to produce that.
There is $20 million that has been lapsed. This $20 million, which is close to what the norm is anyway, is not really a true figure out there for Yukoners, because what we do have is less than we estimated that we already spent over a year ago - $10,609,000 of less recovery. So, really what that means is that it's taking some $30 million away from government.
With that $20 million and the difference between what wasn't spent and the overspending in O&M, does the Premier feel that it was carrying on their commitments that they made in the election?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Yes.
Mr. Fairclough: So did the Premier then commit to a delay - during the election - of the Mayo school?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, this government committed to sound financial management and that is what we have provided.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Chair, it is clear that is not what has been taking place to date with this government, and when we look at all the numbers from this budget, the one that was tabled and the one after that - we are dealing with three budgets here. So if you look at how things have taken place over the two budgets, then it becomes unclear to the general public as to what we have out there for surplus, for example, to deal with.
As we are dealing with this lapsed funding, the Premier came forward and said that we only had $6 million the following year. But I couldn't understand why and how this would meet the commitment of government to the people when this isn't even a budget that was developed by the Premier. How does the Premier explain that?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the Supplementary Estimates No. 3 for budget 2000-01 are as presented. This bill regularizes O&M expenditures of departments that spent in excess of their voted appropriation in the fiscal year that ended the March just past.
So, the election was April 6, 2000. We came to government. No, April 17 - we were sworn in May 6. The election was April 17, 2000. We were sworn in May 6, 2000. The fiscal year had already begun, a budget had already been presented to the Legislature.
We elected to table, as previous governments had done during an election change, that budget. While we did not necessarily agree with everything contained in that budget, it would not have been prudent or sound to have started over from scratch, already two months into the fiscal year. We recalled the House, and the budget was passed. This is the third supplementary estimate of that budget. So, what this is, is the finals on that budget. It's the final figures for the departments. They have underspent in some areas, and several departments have overspent.
In order to regularize that, or to make sure that all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, and properly legislative authority has been given, we must come back to the House and have this supplementary budget passed to regularize those expenditures. That's what we're debating now. If the member wants to debate what the surplus will be at the end of the fiscal year we're currently in, I would encourage him to do that, during the debate on Supplementary Estimates No. 1. That's what we're looking for - that debate. This is regularizing O&M and capital expenditures for the fiscal year that just passed - for the fiscal year of the budget that the NDP passed and lost an election over.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Jenkins: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the members' attention to two constituents of mine in the gallery, Roberta Humberstone and her daughter, Plum, who are desperately seeking the assistance of the Minister of Health and the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Mr. Fairclough: I would love to debate that when we get to that point on the surplus, as I will on every one that comes forward from this government. Maybe the Premier can clarify this: did the Liberal government not promise to pass the budget in its entirety?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: We did, and we spent it, according to the directions. We also overspent in several departments, and we're now seeking House authority for those overexpenditures.
Mr. Fairclough: So I would say that, again, the Finance minister, the Premier, is admitting to a broken promise, that quickly into their mandate, of having a political decision not to spend money to build a school in Mayo. That's clear. It didn't happen. It was a political decision.
So how are the Premier and the government going to fix or relay this message back to the general public?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: We're going to open the doors to the Mayo school.
Mr. Fairclough: It's a little late, isn't it? School kids should have been in that school already, and we've even seen additional costs to date on that school.
That's great. For the people in Mayo, it's fantastic that that school is going through. And finally, with public pressure, this Liberal government is making it happen - public pressure. And I recall a lot, as a matter of fact, from the community, the cry from the community, to get this government to do something.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Chair, the Liberal government, in their decision, underestimated the power of the community of Mayo. The chief was quite vocal for his community in wanting to have the school dealt with quickly. The mayor and council of that community spoke up quite loudly. And still, at that point, the Minister of Education wanted to delay the school.
So, when I ask the Premier about lapsed funding - $20 million in the very first year of being in office - it's very interesting to know and to hear this government admitting to those public and political decisions that took place. Unfortunately for them, at that time they had to show dollars going toward the Mayo school and make sure this project took place. Late as it was, it took place.
The problem with the contractor - it just so happened that the same contractor that got the contract in the first place got the contract again. So, why was there such a delay? Cutting costs, the Premier says. What the community of Mayo has seen is this government cutting the size of the school down, the threat to redesign the school, the changes in the design the community wanted. This Minister of Education did not look favourably at that time at their requests.
And it's so unfortunate because the way schools are built now - and I'm hoping that's the case in the future - is that the community designs it. So the community of Mayo designed a school. The Minister of Education wasn't happy with it and put the brakes on it. Not only that, but there was a threat to the community to change that school - the way it looked, the windows, the shape. And it wasn't long before the community spoke up and demanded that the government be in their community to talk to the people. The Premier and the Minister of Education got first-hand what the community wanted when called to public meetings within that community. So it's a shame that this had to take place and that this Liberal government was not on the ball. That's what it says in here.
The Minister of Education was not briefed, did not know how the contracts were to be handled and wanted to take this on, on his own, as we have seen with other things in this House that this particular minister likes to meddle with.
Mr. Speaker, the community of Mayo is now faced with a school that is going to be built six months later. The Premier really wanted to get into this discussion of the school, so we're into it.
We've had other people coming forth saying - and if the Premier and the Minister of Education went, say, to the community of Carmacks, for example, they would have heard first-hand from that community what they wanted.
It was on the radio loud and clear from the chair of the school council yesterday, talking about the different problems that that community has been facing for years and the fact that the previous government actually did something about it. They put a lot of money - $350,000 - toward finishing the school that was built, the addition that was built some 20 years ago. The Mayo school was 26 or 27 years old, almost a historic building, for that matter. And this new one that supposedly is in Carmacks is not up to speed when it comes to the health and safety of our children. That's going to take this Liberal government some four years to address. In the year 2005, that's when they say they might have this community deal with this particular issue. Now they've gone away from a process laid out and went to a political process of having Grey Mountain School, for example, built just because they made a promise, rather than sticking to a good process laid out by the general public. It's unfortunate that that's where this government is going right now, and it seems to be that it's not just in that department.
I asked questions today about some of the lapsed funding that government is asking us to approve here, and the Liberal government said that this budget worked toward all their commitments in the election campaign - all the commitments - such as rebuilding the economy, better health care for our children.
And what do we see throughout this Liberal government's mandate to date? Well, it's certainly not going that route, is it? It isn't, and we don't see any expenditures, for example with trade and investment, but the Premier just said that this budget was working toward rebuilding the economy.
What happened there? All of a sudden it is not a good thing when you look at diversifying the economy; all of a sudden it is not what this Liberal government wants. When it looks at everything from the Yukon having its own ports, it's not what this Liberal government wants. Why? Why is it that we have gone to that point? Well, it is pretty easy. We have said it over and over in this House that this Liberal government doesn't have a vision; it doesn't have a plan in place for Yukon in negotiating right now with Alaska and having something out there. But there was no vision in what we can do as far as trade, and Yukon has been built around trade for so long. Look at our mineral sector, for example. That was an export.
There was money lapsed in this budget here when this Liberal government cried poverty and said that there was no money, and I'll give you one example that is in there - the community development fund.
There are lapses in the very department that runs this particular fund, the community development fund. As a matter of fact, Mr. Chair, this Liberal government said that they're going to rebuild the economy, but in this very supplementary budget we have seen - for example, in Economic Development - a decrease and a lapsed funding in operation and maintenance and in capital.
In the supplementary budget that is before us today, it's the same thing. There is lapsed funding and reduced funding in both O&M and capital in that department. So, what does that tell you? That this government is not working and not addressing the issues that Yukoners are asking this government to, particularly in the forestry industry.
That was one of the commitments made as far back as three or four months ago - that we would work to have timber harvest agreements. That process has been in the works for years, and it's unfortunate that we have gone that far.
We have $8.5 million in Community and Transportation Services, and I understand that some of it - and we normally have some in this department - would just lapse - projects that didn't get done. But as we go through the department itself, we will ask some questions, particularly in this department, and I hope the minister is prepared to answer some of the questions about some of the projects that were scheduled to be completed in that fiscal year.
But they weren't. They were cancelled, not because the work couldn't have been done but because this government chose not to do it. It's as simple as that.
We have already heard the government plead poverty before this supplementary was even looked at. They were pleading poverty, so I would assume that the government was looking for ways to cut costs so the lapsed funding would be tagged on to what they considered a low surplus, and maybe some of their issues and promises could be addressed in a different way.
I would also like some clear answers in regard to the Yukon Housing Corporation and the large amount of dollars that were lapsed there.
I think I have an idea where it may have come from. I don't think that this particular one was a shift in government direction at all. I think it was basically programs that weren't taken up by the general public and sometimes in that particular department we do get lapses. But there are others of interest and they are not millions of dollars; they are smaller amounts of dollars, but they still need to be addressed. Let's try to find reasons why these things took place.
I would like the list that the Premier has offered. We are going into a weekend, and I am sure that that could be provided to us so that we can go through it - even if it could be provided ahead of time so that we don't have to ask that many questions in that regard.
We have questions on Tourism and we have some questions in Renewable Resources and Justice on these things.
Also, like Community and Transportation Services, with Yukon Housing, the members opposite said there's nothing in here. But there is. If there's a particular program that is not offered to the general public because this government decided not to do it, then tell us before we finish off this supplementary. We would like to know, and if the Liberal government doesn't know, we would like to point out to them the direction they're going. So if we could have those particular departments review the numbers that are in this supplementary, then let's go through them quickly and not spend the time.
There are also other questions that I have in capital, of course, but also in O&M. Normally in O&M, they come very close to using all the money that's there. The departments are pretty smart about the whole thing, about how monies could be used, and a lot of times the budgets are pretty tight and it doesn't really give the departments all that much room to work. So why do we have such a large expenditure, for example, in the Executive Council Office?
Mr. Chair, given the time, I move that you report progress.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Fairclough that we do now report progress.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May we have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McLarnon: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 6, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2000-01, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Mr. McLachlan: 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. Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled on October 25, 2001:
Yukon Public Service Staff Relations Board 2000-01 Annual Report (Eftoda)
Yukon Teachers Staff Relations Board 2000-01 Annual Report (Eftoda)